Minnesota's Balmy Winter, 1997-1998  

Twin Cities Data 

Duluth Data   

 The Winter of 1877-1878    

The winter of 1997-1998 was one of the warmest on record. Winter is often defined by climatologists as the months of December, January, and February ("meteorological winter"). Minnesota experienced unusually mild temperatures in each of these months. The state-wide average temperature for December, 1997 was 23.6 degrees F, which is 10.8 degrees above normal. January's average temperature was a mild 14.0, above the norm by 7.1 degrees. The month of February was extraordinarily warm, averaging 28.0 degrees, exceeding the normal by 14.9 degrees. The temperature for the 1997-1998 meteorological winter (December - February) averaged 21.9 statewide, which makes places this Winter second only to 1877-1878. The Winter of 1877-1878 is far and away the warmest Minnesota winter of the post-settlement era.

The warmest December - February temperatures in Minnesota's state-wide record are:

Rank Temp (F) Year  
1 26.0 (est.) 1877-1878 *
2 21.9 (est.) 1997-1998 *
3T 21.7 1930-1931 *
3T 21.7 1986-1987 *
5 19.8 (est.) 1881-1882  
6 19.6 1991-1992 *
7 19.5 1982-1983 *

An asterisk (*) indicates an El Niņo winter. Note that six of the seven warmest winters in Minnesota's recorded history occurred during El Niņo episodes.

The state-wide averages offered from the 1800's come from a very small sampling of climate stations. However, spatial averages derived from these stations in later years show a consistent relationship between the smaller sample and the state-wide dataset.

The 1997-1998 data offered are preliminary and subject to change. However, it is reasonable to expect the final data summary to indicate that the winter of 1997-1998 will rank with the warmest winters in Minnesota's recorded history. Because of biases introduced by instrument type, observation technique, number of available climate stations, and other factors; it is reasonable to assume that the winters ranked second through third are in a virtual tie for Minnesota's second warmest winter on record.


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URL: http://climate.umn.edu/doc/journal/warmwint.htm
Last modified: March 2, 1998