Midwest Overview - February 2011
Big Temperature Swings in February
February temperatures saw big swings in the middle weeks of the month. Very cold temperatures during the second week of the month switched to above normal in the third week. Averaged for the month, temperatures were above normal in the southeast and northeast Midwest and below normal in the west and along an extent into southern Michigan. The warmest location was eastern Kentucky at 2°F to 3°F above normal and coolest in southwestern Minnesota and west-central Missouri ranging from 4°F to 6°F below normal
(Figure 1). There were over 1000 daily temperature records set with hundreds of each type, low and high records of minimum and maximum temperatures.
February Precipitation Totals High from Missouri Bootheel to Lake Erie
High precipitation totals in February included 5"+ amounts from Missouri to Lake Erie. Even to the northwest of this swath, totals were well above normal (Figure 2). Only the upper Midwest was below normal with totals less than half their normal amounts. All nine Midwest states had locations above 150% of normal and most had areas in excess of 200%. Daily precipitation records were numerous in February with over 900 across the Midwest.
Multiple Snow Storms Affect Midwest in February
February began and ended with snow storms along with several more during the month. The month began with a blizzard that shut down large parts of the region for days. Another snow came just days later. The southern Midwest was hit with snow and record cold temperatures on the 9th and 10th. Following a mid-month thaw, winter weather swept back in on the 20th and 21st with a storm from the Dakotas moving across the northern half of the region. A storm swept across the middle of the region on the 24th and 25th. The last storm of the month brought snow to the north and severe weather to the south on the 27th and 28th. Daily snowfall records fell by the hundreds in February.
February snowfall records were set at multiple locations as the storms' snow totals accumulated. Chicago, Illinois
(Cook County), Flint, Michigan
(Genesee County), and Lansing, Michigan
(Ingham County) all set records for the month. Many other stations ranked among the snowiest but fell short of their records. Detroit, Michigan
(Wayne County) recorded its snowiest February in over a hundred years (1908). Snowfall totals were highest from southwest Missouri to northeast Illinois and from southern Minnesota to southeast Wisconsin along with most of Lower Michigan
(Figure 3). Totals were 200% or more in those locations with southwest Missouri totals approaching 700% of normal (Figure 4).
Severe Weather on February 27th and 28th
Severe weather broke out across the southern parts of the Midwest on the 27th and 28th as a cold front triggered severe storms
(Figure 5). Tornadoes, hail, and wind were all reported from Missouri to Kentucky and southern Ohio. 15 tornadoes, the strongest an EF3, across five states caused significant damage including numerous houses destroyed. Large hail and strong winds did further damage. The storms also brought heavy rains to the Midwest which caused flooding problems from Missouri to Ohio.
Flooding due to the heavy downpours was widespread (Figure 6). Ohio reported one death due to a vehicle washed into a river. In Kentucky, an Amish buggy carrying 9 people was overturned by a rushing stream killing four children. Additional flooding was a problem for large parts of Indiana and Kentucky as well as nearly the entire state of Ohio.
Winter Season Cold and Snowy
Winter in the Midwest was both cold and snowy for most of the region. Cold temperatures were dominant across the region with two significant thaws, one at the end of December and the other in mid-February. Outside of those two warm periods, temperatures were generally below normal
(Figure 7). Snow was plentiful for most of the region as well. Only isolated pockets outside of northern Michigan saw below normal snowfall totals (Figure 8). Winter season snowfall records were set at Peoria, Illinois
(Peoria County) and Rochester, Minnesota
(Olmsted County). The upper Midwest, including Upper Michigan in particular, saw closer to normal conditions for temperature and snowfall.