The Lost Winter of 2023-24

bare trees and bare ground
Where's the winter? Bare ground and trees with the long shadows of early February.
Image credit: Minnesota State Climatology Office.

This is an ongoing story.

Where is winter? The State Climatology Office has been looking for proof of this iconic season's existence since early December, but all we have been able to find are some traces of it that were left on the ground during mid-January, before melting away during yet another heatwave. A brief resurgence in February brought snow and hope to southern Minnesota, but was forecast to vanish within days.

The winter season can be defined meteorologically (December through February), astronomically (December 21 to March 21), or based on when we actually experience winter-like conditions, meaning cold and snow. By that latter definition, a typical winter lasts from November into March or even April, but this year, we've had only a total of about two weeks of it, and some of that was around Halloween!

Instead, the winter has been dominated by warmth and snowlessness. Winter heatwaves in December, January, and February have produced record high temperatures, record high minimum temperatures, and some "firsts" for winter warmth too. International Falls recorded its first January 50 F temperature in its history, and the Twin Cities broke its record for number of 50 F days for the season by early February. St. Cloud and the Twin Cities both observed their longest January Thaw on record.

Most areas in the state had received less than 50% of their normal snowfall through the middle of February, and had observed 30-60 days since December 1 with no snow on the ground.

The following table summarizes temperature statistics for the December through February meteorological winter.

 

December-through-February 2023-24 seasonal statistics for Minnesota's first-order climate stations. "Normal" refers to 1991-2020 averages. All values preliminary until February is complete.

StatisticDuluth

International Falls

RochesterSt. CloudTwin Cities
Avg Temp (F)----------
Normal Avg Temp (F)14.68.818.118.619.6
Avg Temp Rank----------
Highest (F)5053555557
Highest Low (F)4136443845
# Highs 50+ F1211613
# Record highs25666
# Record-high lows6115107

 

Updated February 21, 2024

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