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February 2024

  • Monthly Summary


The average February temperature for the Midwest was 37.3°F, which was 11.0°F above the 1991-2020 normal (Figure 1). Based on final rankings, February was the warmest on record, dating back to 1895. The entire region was warm, ranging from 6°F above normal in the southeast to 14°F above normal in the northwest (Figure 2). Statewide average temperatures ranged from 6.8°F above normal in Kentucky to 14.8°F above normal in Minnesota. Final rankings list all nine states with a top four warmest February: IL (2nd), IN (2nd), IA (1st), KY (4th), MI (2nd), MN (1st), MO (1st), OH (tied 2nd), and WI (1st). The month was characterized by unseasonal warmth that persisted week after week. The only notable temperature drop came in late February, associated with a strong but short-lived cold front that traversed the region on February 28, dropping temperatures by 30-60°F in 24 hours. Most long-running weather stations across the upper Midwest had the warmest February on record, with those across the lower Midwest within the top 5 warmest (Figure 3). Locations regionwide had a record-setting number of days with high temperatures at or above 50°F. Wisconsin’s all-time warmest February temperature was set on February 27 when Kenosha reached 77°F. West Plains, Missouri, tied the state’s second warmest temperature for the month when it reached 89°F on February 28. The average winter (December-February) temperature for the Midwest was 32.7°F, which was 7.2°F above normal (Figure 4). The Midwest had the warmest winter on record, and it was the first time that winter temperatures averaged above the freezing mark.


February precipitation totaled 0.76 inches for the Midwest, which was 1.08 inches below normal, or 41 percent of normal (Figure 1). Precipitation deficits of 1.5 to 3.5 inches were widespread across the central and lower Midwest, with deficits of 0.5 to 1.5 inches across Iowa, Wisconsin, and Michigan (Figure 5). Only eastern Kentucky and northern Minnesota had above-normal precipitation. Statewide precipitation totals ranged from 0.32 inches below normal in Minnesota to 1.68 inches below normal in Illinois. Final rankings indicate Illinois had its 2nd driest February while Iowa had its 3rd driest. The Midwest region had the 6th driest February on record. Total winter (December-February) precipitation was 5.85 inches, which was 0.12 inches below normal for the season (Figure 4).


February snowfall totals were highly variable across the region, ranging from 15 to 20 inches across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to no measurable snow at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers (Figure 6). A swath of snow totaled 2 to 7.5 inches for February from St. Louis eastward through central Ohio, with most of it accumulating on February 17. Similarly, 2 to 7.5 inches fell in February across southern Minnesota into northern Wisconsin, with most of that snow from a single storm on February 15. Eastern Iowa and the surrounding region (Driftless Area) measured less than a half-inch of snow for the month, whereas that region would typically have 8 to 12 inches. The entire Midwest, except a small area of southern Illinois, had below-normal snowfall, with deficits of 5 to 25 inches across the upper Midwest (Figure 7). The region also had a remarkable lack of snow cover throughout the month as warm temperatures rapidly melted any snow soon after it fell. Much of the region saw bare ground for the majority of February.


Dry conditions expanded during February, ending the month with about 73 percent of the region abnormally dry or in drought compared with 54 percent of the region to start the month (Figure 8). Only Kentucky ended the month free of any drought or dryness. The epicenter of drought severity remained parked over Iowa, where 79 percent of the state was affected by moderate (D1) to extreme (D3) drought on the US Drought Monitor map (Figure 9). Abnormal dryness spread across Missouri, Illinois, and Michigan, while moderate (D1) drought expanded across the upper Midwest. Dry conditions resulted in several brushfires and hotspots in Missouri, Illinois, and Iowa.

February Tornadoes

Unseasonable weather patterns brought severe weather to the Midwest on multiple days. On February 8, a strong low pressure system funneled warm and unstable air into southern Wisconsin, northern Illinois, and eastern Iowa, triggering severe thunderstorms with hail and tornadoes (Figure 10). Two confirmed tornadoes touched down in Wisconsin, becoming the first recorded February tornadoes in the state. A tornado was also confirmed in central Illinois. On February 10, two confirmed tornadoes touched down in Indiana and Kentucky as a strong cold front traversed the lower Midwest (Figure 11). A potent weather system brought widespread severe weather to the central Midwest on February 27-28, including 22 confirmed tornadoes across Illinois (11), Indiana (1), Michigan (2), and Ohio (8), and nearly 200 preliminary reports of hail and severe wind (Figure 12 and Figure 13).

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