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It's official: Minnesota just wrapped the warmest meteorological winter on record

Warm winter causes early start to fire season in Minnesota
Warm winter causes early start to fire season in Minnesota 02:12

MINNEAPOLIS — We're now into March, which means meteorological winter is behind us, and the last three months represent a season for the record books.

"Nobody alive has seen a winter like this in Minnesota," said Minnesota DNR climatologist Pete Boulay. "Eighty-five percent of all the days this winter have been above normal. So we only had 13 of them that were below normal."

That helped make this winter in the Twin Cities the warmest on record. December, January and February combined had an average temperature of 29.9 degrees. That's more than 10 degrees above average and a full degree warmer than the previous record set during the winter of 1877 and 1878.

Warmest winters on record in Minneapolis-St. Paul. WCCO

All winter, the Twin Cities set a total of 14 warm daily record highs/lows and a record number of 50-degree days — 18. Eleven of those 50-degree days occurred in February, which is also a monthly record, beating the previous record of six. The previous record for most 50-degree days in a season was eight, set during the winter of 1980-81. 

There were zero daily cold records set.

RELATED: Climate change top of mind for many Minnesotans during warm winter

Winter 2023-2024 monthly average temperatures in Minneapolis-St. Paul. WCCO

December and February were both also the warmest on record. All that warmth also played into a lack of snow, with only 14.3 inches so far for the season.

"Right now, that's the second-least snowiest winter on record. Of course, we do have March to go through and anything can still happen in March," Boulay said. "El Niño is part of it, and our ongoing climate change. Climate trends have been warming over time, especially overnight minimum temperatures. We just don't get as cold as we used to in the winter."

50-degree winter days in Minneapolis-St. Paul in the winter of 2023-2024. WCCO

If you're wondering what spring or summer will bring, Boulay says March will likely trend warm too. But, beyond that, he says it's a toss-up. 

"We're going to slowly transition out of El Niño. It'll become more of a neutral pattern in the summer and maybe even a La Niña again by winter, so don't expect next winter to be like this one," Boulay said.

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