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Midwest Weekly Highlights - February 22-28, 2014

Dry Week to end February - Below Normal Precipitation

After a soggy third week of February, the end of February saw little precipitation for much of the Midwest (Figure 1). The only area to receive 1" of precipitation or greater was the northern tip of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The rest of the region primarily saw less than 0.1" of precipitation, with the exception of northern Minnesota, extreme northern Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, northern Michigan, and eastern Ohio. The minimal precipitation for the region resulted in nearly the entire region being at least 0.4" below normal and up to 1.2" below normal in southern Kentucky (Figure 2).

The precipitation that did fall in the region almost exclusively came as snow (Figure 3). As expected from looking at the precipitation totals, the heaviest snowfall totals were in the areas of northern Minnesota, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and northern Michigan experienced the greatest snowfall amounts to end February. Northern Michigan received as much as 10" of snow, while the Upper Peninsula of Michigan received as much as 8". Snow depth on the week remained primarily unchanged, even with the minimal precipitation, due to temperatures remaining below normal (Figure 4).

No Mixed Bag of Temperatures, All Below Normal

Unlike the third week of February, the end of February saw the entire region below normal (Figure 5). A cold blast to end the month ensured that the entire region would be below normal for the week, with temperatures as much as 23°F below normal in parts of Minnesota. The majority of the region saw temperatures at least 10°F below normal, with parts of southern and eastern Ohio, all of Kentucky, and southern Missouri experiencing temperatures closer to normal. The below normal week resulted in almost all of the region experiencing below freezing average temperatures, with the exceptions being southernmost areas of the region (Figure 6). Northern Minnesota and isolated parts of Wisconsin continued to see average temperatures below 0°F. While southern parts of the region continue to see average highs into the 40's and 50's (Figure 7), the entire region continues to experience average lows well below freezing (Figure 8).

Great Lakes Ice Cover Update

With another round of cold weather in the books, the Great Lakes ice cover continued to grow. Historically (since 1973), only 2 years have eclipsed 90% total ice coverage (Figure 9). As of March 4th, the 2013-2014 season marks the 3rd time since 1973 that Great Lakes total ice cover was greater than 90% (Figure 10). The current season ranks 2nd with 91.0% total coverage. Currently, 4 of the 5 Great Lakes are well above 90% total coverage, the first time since 1994, with Lake Ontario being the lone exception, currently hovering around 40% (Figure 11).