Brown and green grass is visible everywhere in the North Metro as the white stuff is just a rumor. Even snow patches are hard to find.
“Oh yeah,” said Minnesota State Climatologist Pete Boulay. “This is extremely rare.”
A year ago Minnesota was a winter wonderland with record amounts of snow. This year is the polar opposite.
“We’ve had 7.3 inches of snow so far for the season here in the Twin Cities and that’s 22 inches short of normal and we’re over 40 inches short of last year at this time,” Boulay said. “We had 55 inches of snow by this date last year. What a difference a year makes.”
January temps almost five degrees above normal
Even though there is plenty of winter left, this has been an unusual few months in a state used to ice and snow. January temps in the Twin Cities were almost five degrees above normal.
“Basically we’ve had 10 days of winter so far this year,” Boulay said.
Outdoor hockey rinks are puddles, baseball fields are almost in game shape and leaves remain on some trees.
“Really not January, early February weather at all,” Boulay said. “Feels more like sometime in March. Feels more like spring out here.”
If things continue at this pace then this could be a historic winter.
“Normal high is in the mid 20’s,” Boulay said. “Normal low is right around eight or nine degrees. Every day we’re about 20 degrees above normal…Right now we’re on track for the warmest winter on record since 1877-78.”
The mild weather could impact certain parts of nature.
“What we would be afraid of is things breaking dormancy, like plants, trees, things like that,” Boulay said. “If it stays too warm and we lose the frost then if we have a really cold snap in March sometime – we get down below zero or something – that could do some damage.”
On the flip side, despite the balmy weather, there were very few days with sunshine last month.
“We’ll wind up being probably the fifth gloomiest January on record.”
Boulay cites a couple of reasons for these above-average temps.
“This is a very classic El Nino,” Boulay said. “Then on top of that we have climate change that is always going on here and gradually warming our winters over time.”
Yup, it’s been an odd couple months. So far the Twin Cities winter has been more like something they get in the heartland of the USA.
“Kansas City, Missouri,” Boulay said. “If you want to know what a winter would be like in Missouri this would be about it.”
Boulay says Minnesota is currently not in a drought because of a rain event around Christmas that totaled up to three inches in parts of the state.