Warm winter startles even the experts
"I don't think anyone saw that February would go down as one of the warmest Februarys on record," said Kenny Blumenfeld, a climatologist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Temperatures soared into the 60s a couple weeks ago in the Twin Cities and southern Minnesota. Across the state, it was in the Top 10 or higher for the warmest February on record. And overall, the Twin Cities is in the midst of an 18-month streak of warmer-than-normal temperatures.
"We can't say we know entirely why, but we need to mention that we're undergoing a long-term warming trend going back four and a half decades," Blumenfeld said.
The trend is the strongest in winter, and February has one of the strongest warming signals of all the months. On top of that, we experienced an unusual warm swing, he said. "Right now we have both. We have the long-term trend and we're at a moment of high, warm-weather variability."
We know warming temperatures and heavy rains are associated with a changing climate. But even with that understanding, this winter was startling. What we don't know yet is whether this winter will remain an outlier, or become a new norm that won't seem unusual to our kids and grandkids when they look back on it someday.