Midwest Overview - February 2010
February temperatures were below normal for most of the Midwest (Figure 1). Only northern Michigan and northeast Wisconsin experienced above normal temperatures, up to 3°F warmer than normal. Southern Michigan, southern and western Wisconsin, and northeast Minnesota were near normal and the rest of the region was below normal. The largest negative temperature departures were in Kentucky, Iowa, northern Missouri with departures of 7 to 10°F below normal.
Iowa's warmest temperature during February was only 40°F, setting a new record low for February (old record 46°F in 1978) and tying the record for any month (December 1983 and January 1979).
Variable February Precipitation
Precipitation for the month was highly variable (Figure 2). Percentage of normal precipitation ranged from less than 50% to more than 200%. Areas with below 50% of normal precipitation were western Kentucky, northern lower Michigan, northwest Wisconsin, and northeast Minnesota. Only northwest Iowa and west-central Minnesota had more than 150% of normal precipitation. February snowfall totals were highest in Ohio and upper Michigan (Figure 3).
Southwest Minnesota and Iowa picked up over a foot of snow to add to the already deep snow on the ground in those areas (Figure 4). February snowfall in Iowa ranked 6th out of 123 years. In Ohio, several cities (Cincinnati, Columbus, Youngstown, Akron/Canton, and Mansfield) set records for February snowfall. The Wilmington, Ohio NWS has more details on central Ohio snowfall in February.
Winter temperature departures were nearly identical to the pattern for February (Figure 5). There were near normal temperatures from southern Michigan to northeast Minnesota, above normal to the north, and below normal to the south. The range of temperatures for winter was slightly smaller than the range for February, 2°F above normal in upper Michigan and -7°F in southwest Iowa.
Snowy Winter for Large Parts of the Midwest
Winter precipitation was slightly above normal in eastern Ohio and eastern Kentucky. To the west, totals were below normal across southern Missouri, western Kentucky, Indiana, and lower Michigan along with parts of Illinois and Ohio. Further to the west and north totals were mostly above normal with the highest percentages of normal from northwest Iowa to west-central Minnesota (Figure 6).
Winter snowfall totals were highest downwind of the Great Lakes where totals exceeded 60 inches for the December to February season. Totals of 40 or more inches also were recorded across Iowa, southwest Minnesota, the Illinois-Wisconsin border, and eastern Ohio (Figure 7). The Iowa statewide snowfall of 45.1 inches (23.3 inches above normal) broke the record of 44.7 inches set in the winter of December 1961 to February 1962.
Snow Accumulation Collapses Buildings
Buildings collapsed in both Iowa and Ohio during February due to the weight of snow. On the 20th in Altoona, Iowa (Polk County), an amusement park building burned to the ground after the roof collapsed and shorted out wiring. Another Iowa building collapsed on the same day in Mason City, Iowa (Cerro Gordo County). In Ohio, two buildings (Jefferson and Columbiana counties ) were damaged or destroyed as the weight of snow on them became too much for them to support.
Snow Depth Records in Iowa
The deep snow pack in Iowa is one of the deepest and longest lasting on record. In Sioux City, Des Moines, and Waterloo records for various snow, snow depth, and consecutive days of snow on the ground have either been set or were being approached by the end of February.
Severe Weather Yet to Reach the Midwest
The month saw no reports of severe convective weather such as large hail, tornadoes, and strong thunderstorm winds. The colder than normal weather, especially in the southern Midwest, helped suppress thunderstorm activity.