HydroClim Minnesota for Early February 2015

A monthly electronic newsletter summarizing Minnesota's climate conditions and the resulting impact on water resources. Distributed on the first Thursday of the month.

State Climatology Office - DNR Division of Ecological and Water Resources, St. Paul
distributed: February 5, 2015

What happened in January 2015:

  • January monthly precipitation totals were below historical averages in nearly every Minnesota community. In many locales, a monthly precipitation totals were less than one-half of the long-term average. Monthly snowfall totals were near the historical average in only a few far-northern communities.
  • There were no major winter storms in Minnesota during the month of January. However, two fast moving weather systems - one on the 3rd, the other on the 8th - brought moderate snow and high winds that led to blizzard conditions in some areas. For the second month in a row, a persistent cloud cover was a dominant weather feature.
  • Average monthly temperatures for January in Minnesota were above historical averages, ranging from two to five degrees above normal. The first half of the month featured below-normal temperatures. However, warmer than average temperatures during the second half of the month more than offset the cold start. Extremes for January ranged from a high of 49 degrees F at Milan (Chippewa County) on the 19th and Wells (Faribault County) on the 26th, to a low of -35 degrees F at Cotton (St. Louis County) on the 13th.

Where we stand now:

  • Snow depths are highly variable across Minnesota. Less than three inches of snow cover is on the ground across large sections of west central, central, and southwest Minnesota. Whereas, portions of southeast Minnesota report six inches of snow depth. Much of northeastern Minnesota, inland from Lake Superior, has a foot or more of snow cover. Snow depths are well below median for this time of the year in most Minnesota communities.
  • The U. S. Drought Monitor, released on February 5, indicated that Abnormally Dry conditions exist over nearly all of Minnesota, the result of a dry late summer and autumn, and a snow-sparse winter. Two small areas of west central and north central Minnesota are placed in the Moderate Drought category. The Drought Monitor index is a blend of science and subjectivity where drought categories (Moderate, Severe, etc.) are based on several indicators.
  • In their final report of the season (November 24), the Minnesota Agricultural Statistics Service reported that topsoil moisture across 20 percent of Minnesota's landscape is described as Short or Very Short.
  • Soil frost depth under sod ranges from 10 to 30 inches at Minnesota observing locations.
  • Minnesota lakes and rivers are ice covered. Lake and river ice is never completely safe. Caution is always advised when venturing onto the ice.

Future prospects:

  • The February precipitation outlook offers equal chances of below-normal, near-normal, or above-normal conditions in all Minnesota counties. February is Minnesota's driest month on average with precipitation normals ranging from near one-half inch in northwestern Minnesota to just over one inch in far eastern sections of the state. The median snow depth at the end of February ranges from under five inches in southwest Minnesota to over 18 inches on the ground in northeastern Minnesota (greater than 30 inches in the Lake Superior highlands).
  • The February temperature outlook tilts towards above-normal conditions in the western one-half of Minnesota, with equal chances of below-normal, near-normal, or above-normal conditions for the eastern one-half of the state. Normal February high temperatures range from the low teens in the north to near 20 in the south early in the month, climbing to the mid-20s to low 30s by month's end. Normal February low temperatures range from near minus 10 degrees in the far north to the single digits above zero in southern Minnesota early in the month; ascending to the low single digits in the north, mid-teens in the south by the end of February.
  • The 90-day precipitation outlook for February through April offers equal chances of below-normal, near-normal, or above-normal conditions across Minnesota. The February through April temperature projection also indicates equal chances of below-normal, near-normal, or above-normal conditions.
  • The National Weather Service produces long-range probabilistic river stage and discharge outlooks for the Red River, Minnesota River, and Mississippi River basins. These products address both high flow and low flow probabilities.


Greg Spoden, DNR Climatologist

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