What is the winter like in Minneapolis and St. Paul? How long is the winter in Minnesota? How cold is the winter in Minnesota? How bad is the winter in Minnesota and will you survive it? Yes, you'll survive it (look at all the other Minnesotans who do) and here are the answers to your other questions. Also, read on for some winter survival tips.
The first question asked by newcomers to Minneapolis and St.
Paul, especially those from warm climates, is often "How bad are the winters in Minneapolis/St. Paul?"
Here's your answer: horrendous. Especially if you are coming from somewhere warm like California or Florida.
OK, the winters are not quite that bad. But almost that bad.
Sometime around late October or early November, the temperature plummets from mild or cool fall days, to below freezing, and we'll get our first snow fall.
Then, things won't change much until next year. Expect winter to end somewhere between late March and April. By April, the days should be mostly above freezing and much if not all of the snow will have melted.
Minneapolis/St. Paul is the coldest metropolitan area in the continental United States. And that takes into account our warm summers. So, if you guessed that the winter is very cold, you'd be correct.
The average winter temperature is around 10F.
The warmest winter days are around 30F.
Brrr, you say? By the time we get to February, a 30F day will feel very warm!
January and February are the coldest months. Temperatures around or below 0F are fairly common in these months. It's unusual for the temperature to get much below -15F in the metro area, but colder temperatures are possible.
Newcomers to Minnesota expect the cold, but they may not be expecting the windchill factor. The wind in Minnesota often seems to blow in directly from the North Pole. When the wind is blowing, it can turn an otherwise bearable day into an unbearably cold one. If there are high winds on a cold day, the windchill factor can make the temperature 20F colder. Expect to see some days with windchill temperatures of around -30F.
How Much Does it Snow?
Winter snowfall in Minneapolis and St. Paul averages around 60-70 inches annually.
Blizzards and snowstorms can bring in 3-10 inches of snow in a day or two.
Skiers and snowboarders get excited about fresh powder. Everyone else grumbles about having to shovel snow and about other people who can't drive in the snow.
Often after a blizzard, a beautiful crystal-clear day with brilliant blue skies will dawn, and it will feel almost warm. It's probably actually 25 degrees, but these days are perfect for getting outdoors for the housebound/office-bound at last.
The snow that falls stays there since it's almost always too cold to melt. Snow is everywhere that's not plowed or shoveled. The plows leave snow banks by the side of the road, which turn gray with road dirt.
Nearing the end of winter, as the mercury ventures above freezing, the snow melts partially into puddles during the day, then freezes into ice overnight. Watch your step.
When Does Winter End?
When does spring start? The worst thing about winter isn't the cold, it's the length. Spring is frustratingly slow to arrive when we've waited this long for warmer weather.
Signs of spring start in March, and it's exciting to see the horrible gray slush melt and by the end of the month, tiny green shoots poke up through the ground. You might spot buds on the trees.
Spring has very varied weather. April can have days warm enough for shirtsleeves and ice cream and cold enough for fresh snow to fall. Just when you think winter's over and the weather is warming up, the temperature dips again. And then rises...
and dips... and rises... But by the end of April, winter has lost its grip, the days are getting warmer, and summer is on the way.
Winter Survival Tips
- Get your winter wardrobe in order, your car ready for winter driving, and your house prepared for winter in advance. Surviving winter is all about preparation.
- Learn how to drive in the winter. If it isn't essential to drive in a snowstorm, then don't. And if you are driving on an unplowed street, slow way down. Also, know snow parking regulations for any city you'll be parking your car in or risk getting towed.
- Check the weather forecast regularly. Snowstorms can be accurately predicted some days in advance, and look out for blizzard warnings, and windchill warnings.
- It's not all watching the weather forecast and wearing 17 layers of clothes. Here's a list of fun things to do in the winter.