Record broken: Snowiest February in Twin Cities with more to come

A Minneapolis snowplow clears a sidewalk.
A city of Minneapolis snowplow clears a sidewalk on historic Milwaukee Avenue Wednesday.
Evan Frost | MPR News

The Twin Cities has amassed 30.4 inches of snow this month, making it the snowiest February in history. And there are eight days left in the month with more snow in the forecast for this weekend.

Wednesday's blanket of snow helped push the metro area past the previous record of 26.5 inches recorded in 1962.

Officials canceled schools — again — across the state Wednesday. For about 40 minutes Wednesday morning, fast-falling snow and low visibility forced officials to shut down runways at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Statistically, though, February is not Minnesota's snowiest month. That honor falls to January, according to National Weather Service data. From 1981 to 2010, the average January snowfall exceeded February by more than 4 inches.

And it may be hard to believe today, but there have been relatively dry Februarys in recent years — like in 2017 when it set the least-snowy-ever February in the Twin Cities, with 0.3 inch of snow.

Tyler Hasenstein, a meteorologist for the Twin Cities National Weather Service, said jet stream patterns that favor heavy snowstorms have caused the heavy banding of the snowfall across the state, especially southern Minnesota.

"The jet stream steered these storms toward us and that's why we had several days of this month where we just had a decent amount of snowfall," Hasenstein said. "It ended up adding up to the record-breaking February that we've had."

Besides the Twin Cities and St. Cloud in Minnesota, Eau Claire in western Wisconsin also set a record amount for its snowiest February.

Hasenstein said anyone who plans to travel the area this week should regularly check transportation department websites for road conditions and prepare an emergency kit in a car that includes food, water, extra clothes, blankets and some basic car maintenance tools like jumper cables.

Keep those shovels and snowblowers handy

The forecast remains white for this weekend.

Two more snowstorms are expected to dump between 6 to 12 inches of snow across the state starting late Friday and again late Saturday.

March is forecast to be drier, but winter is hardly over:

"We are on track to see colder than normal conditions at least for the first half of March," said Hasenstein. "But that also comes with what looks like a downtrend in the amount of precipitation we'll be getting, so a little bit colder and a little bit drier at least into the first half of March."