Warm End to Winter
Temperatures were above normal once again across most of the Midwest
(Figure 1). Average temperatures were 8-12°F above normal across Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa during the last week of February. Ohio and Michigan were largely 4-8°F above normal, while Missouri and Kentucky were 2-5°F above normal. Temperatures reached record levels on February 28 through the morning of February 29, where maximum temperatures in the 60s were common across the southern half of the region (Figure 2). Record high temperatures were recorded on February 28 in Cedar Rapids, IA, Moline, IL (tie), Des Moines, IA, Waterloo, IA, Madison, WI, Milwaukee, WI, Chicago, IL, Urbana, IL and Springfield, IL. The records in Madison, Milwaukee, Urbana and Chicago had stood since 1895.
Wet to the East, Dry to the West
Precipitation varied across the region to end February as a major winter storm tracked through the eastern portions of the region. Between 1-2 inches of precipitation fell from southern Illinois through Ohio (Figure 3). In most cases, this was more than twice the normal amount for the period
(Figure 4). Further west, very little precipitation fell across Missouri, northern Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and southern Minnesota. Northern Missouri, northwest Illinois, southwest Wisconsin and eastern Iowa went completely dry. Snowfall during the week largely came from one large storm in Lower Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri, with northern Minnesota and the U.P. of Michigan seeing snow on multiple days
February 23-25 Blizzard/Heavy Snow Event
A strong storm system moved across the eastern half of the region from February 23-25, bringing strong winds, heavy rain, snow, and blizzard conditions. The storm began producing largely rainfall during the day on February 23 through the morning of February 24. (Figure 6) Over an inch of precipitation fell from southeastern Missouri through southern Indiana and central Kentucky. During the overnight hours, some snow fell in eastern Missouri and southwestern Illinois
(Figure 7). During the day on February 24 through the morning of February 25, moderate to heavy snow fell across southern and eastern Illinois into northern Indiana and Lower Michigan (Figure 8). Lower Michigan was hit the hardest with snow totals of 6-12 inches. Liquid precipitation equivalent in the snowfall was high (wet, heavy snow), leading to precipitation amounts of a half inch or more in areas where snow fell
(Figure 9). High winds also led to blizzard warnings in east-central Illinois through northwest Indiana. Wind gusts of 40-50 mph were reported with whiteout conditions. Many storm reports for that day can be found here.
Windy February 28
Warm temperatures across Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky were also accompanied by strong winds on February 28. Wind gusts in western Iowa neared 50 mph. Southern Illinois and western Kentucky also had wind gusts between 40-50 mph, with 40-45 mph wind gust common across central Kentucky and parts of Indiana. These winds knocked over a light pole in Urbana, IL (Champaign County) and West Frankfort, IL (Franklin County) while blowing shingles off a roof and causing a power outage in Crossville, IL (White County).