Twin Cities 2002 Weather in Review

2002 started dry and ended dry with monsoon rains sandwiched in the middle. January 2002 continued the balmy weather from December 2001 with only one morning dipping below zero. -2 on the 18th was all that Old Man Winter could muster. The month finished as the 4th mildest January in the modern day record (1891-2002). There was some snow in January, but it was mainly a series of little snowfalls at the official snow-measuring site at Chanhassen. The month finished with 9.5 inches, which is several inches below normal for a typical January.

February continued the pattern of the non-winter of 2001-2002 with a month that finished fifth warmest on record. There was little snow to speak of with a measly 3.1 inches for the month. One notable event was a powerful Alberta Clipper on February 11th and 12th that brought little in the way of snow, but very strong winds. The peak wind was 47mph at the Twin Cities International Airport. As February drew to a close, Minnesotans were looking forward to an early start to spring. That was when winter decided to make a comeback.

March was a cold and snowy month. The coldest air of the Twin Cities 2001-2002 winter was on March 3 with a low of -3. That was the highest minimum ever recorded in a winter season (1891-2002) and broke the old record of -8F that was set during the winter of 1982-1983.

Heavy rain, with some thunder and lightning hit the Twin Cities on the evening of March 8th. A significant snowstorm dumped 9 inches on Chanhassen on March 14th. With a little snow the next day the deepest snow depth of the season was reached on March 15th with 10 inches. The total snowfall for the month was 15.7 inches, about 5 inches above normal. For temperatures, March finished over 7 degrees below normal and was the first below normal month since October 2001.

April 1st greeted the Twin Cities with an April Fool's Day snowstorm that left 4.6 inches on the ground with another 3 inches the next day. Another snowstorm with thunder and lightning struck on April 27. The lightning even knocked out the power to a few stoplights. 5.5 inches fell this time. When all the snowfalls of the month were tallied up April was the second snowiest with 20.2 inches.

Not all the precipitation was in the form of snow in April. In Eagan, hailstones the size of eggs to baseballs fell in the early morning hours of April 18th. Other places in the Twin Cities saw pea to dime-sized hail. April's temperature finished nearly a degree below normal.

May was a cool month finishing 4.7 degrees below normal. The precipitation was .41 inches below normal with a total for the month of 2.83. About half of that rainfall came on May 8th when 1.28 inches fell.

June brought with it summer rains that would last off and on the whole summer and would persist into fall. June was a wet month and finished 5th wettest on record with 8.30 inches. 2.95 inches fell on June 21at the International Airport. This was the 21st highest precipitation total to fall on a calendar day. Torrential rains fell over the western Twin Cities with the heaviest rains centered over Wright County. Delano reported 5.50 inches on June 24th. June was also mild and finished 2.7 degrees above normal.

July continued the warm and damp theme of the summer with 5.19 inches during the month, over an inch above normal. The average temperature was 77.0 which was 3.9 degrees above normal and enough to tie for 8th place for the warmest Julys. It was also the warmest July the Twin Cities had since 1988. The overnight minimum temperatures were warm as well and July finished with the 4th warmest overnight temperatures.

There were also some muggy spells of weather in July as well. The dew point temperature at the Twin Cities International Airport on Saturday, July 20 topped out at 80 degrees (from 8:00 pm and 10:00 pm). 80-degree dew points are rare in the Twin Cities historical record. Since 1945, there have been only twenty hours of 80-degree dew points recorded. Ten of those twenty hours came in a ten hour period on July 12 and 13, 1995. Dew point temperatures of 80 degrees were reported for at least one hour in three of the last four years. The highest dew point temperature ever recorded in the Twin Cities was 81 degrees at 11:00 am on July 30, 1999.

Gardeners in the Twin Cities could still ignore their garden hoses in August as Mother Nature continued to water their lawns for them. This time 8.30 inches were in the rain bucket by the end of the month. It was the third wettest August on record and Minneapolis-St. Paul was on its way to have the 4th wettest year in the modern record. A burst of Canadian air offered some relief from the warm and muggy summer on August 18th with a low of 50. In the end, August was a mild month with the average temperature finishing a few tenths of a degree above normal.

Another round of heavy rains hit the Twin Cities on September 5th and 6th with 2.27 inches of rain. September continued the warm and wet summer pattern with temperatures and rainfall above normal for the 4th straight month. With 91 degrees on September 8th, the Twin Cities finished with 18 days of 90 degrees or higher for the year. Normally the Twin Cities sees about 13 a year. A rare midnight tornado hit Albertville on September 10th but in all it was a rather quiet year for tornadoes around the Twin Cities with no tornadoes reported in either Hennepin or Ramsey County.

Thoughts of a gentle transition from summer to autumn were dashed with the 3rd coldest Twin Cities October in modern record. Except for a brief 75 degree high on October 11, the majority of the month was chilly with flakes of snow in the air in no less than 10 days during the month. Most of the heavier snows missed the Twin Cities. October finished with a little more than a half-inch (.6) of snow by the end of the month, exactly what the average is. Heavy rains on the 4th helped to give another wetter-than-normal month with 4.21 inches of precipitation, over two inches above normal. However, the last significant rain was nearly a quarter of an inch on October 12.

November was a big switch from the wet pattern the Twin Cities had been seeing since June. November was very dry and finished tied for the fourth driest November on record with only .09 inches of precipitation. Snow was scarce at Chanhassen with a measly 1.4 inches. Temperatures started off cool, but then moderated by the 7th. The month finished a around a half-degree (.6) above normal.

December continued the dry pattern that started in November. By Christmas only .21 inches of precipitation had fallen. The winter snowfall total by December 25th was 5 inches. This was the least amount of snow by Christmas Day since 1998. On average the Twin Cities sees about 20 inches of snow for the season by the end of December.

Here are some of the monthly Twin Cities records that were set in 2002.

January   4th warmest
February  5th warmest
April     2nd snowiest
June      5th wettest
July      8th warmest
August    3rd wettest
October   3rd coldest
November  4th driest


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Last modified: December 26, 2002