National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Potential Winter Storm Friday - Significant Impacts To Travel Possible

A winter storm will bear down on the region for Friday, bring snow with several inches of accumulation possible. Storm track could still shift, resulting in a subsequent shift in where the heaviest snows fall. In addition, blowing and drifting could occur along with a smaller threat for freezing precipitation. There will be impacts to travel - plan accordingly. Read More >

Winter Records for Rochester
(December - January - February)
Warmest Coldest
1) 26.3 1930-31 1) 5.6 1978-79
2) 25.5 2011-12 2) 5.9 1886-87
  2001-02 3) 8.1 1935-36
4) 24.7 1997-98 4) 8.7 1977-78
5) 23.7 1986-87 5) 8.8 1916-17
6) 23.4 1918-19 6) 9.0 1892-93
7) 23.2 1991-92 7) 9.2 1917-18
8) 23.0 1931-32 8) 9.3 1887-88
9) 22.6 1982-83 9) 9.8 1976-77
10) 22.5 1959-60 10) 11.6 2001-01
      1950-51
      1936-37
normal temperature is 18.6 degrees
Wettest Driest
1) 5.47 1887-88 1) 0.71 1957-58
2) 5.29 2010-11 2) 0.80 1963-64
3) 4.92 1982-83 3) 0.92 1941-42
4) 4.69 1950-51 4) 0.97 1956-57
5) 4.61 2015-16 5) 1.13 1986-87
6) 4.29 1932-33   1967-68
7) 4.25 1966-67 7) 1.14 1994-95
7) 4.22 2006-07 8) 1.29 2005-06
  1948-49   1930-31
10) 4.15 1970-71 10) 1.45  1917-18
      1913-14
normal precipitation is 2.92 inches


The true winter weather season normally begins in mid to late November and extends into late March. Periods of cold weather are still likely both before and after these dates but this four month plus period is the time when average temperatures are at or below freezing and most precipitation falls in the form of snow.

There are several tracks which storm systems may take to produce snow in southeast Minnesota. The heaviest snows usually develop when low pressure systems develop in the southern plains states and move northeastward into Missouri and Illinois. These storms often produce 6 to 10 inch snowfalls and may cause snows in excess of one foot.

More common are the lows which track southeastward from Alberta, Canada and the northern plains states toward the Upper Mississippi Valley. These lows, known as "Alberta Clippers", typically produce lighter snows in the 1 to 4 inch range. Widespread blowing and drifting of snow may occur with these systems if the area of low pressure is strong. This is because the moisture content of the snow tends to be lower with these systems, leading to "lighter" or "drier" snow, which is moved more easily.

The Rochester area will experience freezing or mixed precipitation when cold high pressure is in place at the surface and a warm front approaches the region from the south. The warm air is forced to rise, causing liquid precipitation to freeze as it falls into the cold air. Bouts with freezing rain are not that common, but can occur a few times a winter season, generally at the start or end of the "winter".

Winter is, on average, the cloudiest season of the year in Rochester with lengthy periods when low clouds cover the sky. These clouds are typically stratus or stratocumulus which develop on the western side of storms which cross the upper Midwest. Clear weather in the winter is most likely to occur when a fresh dry Arctic air mass moves south from Canada into the Midwest.

The prevailing wind directions during most of the winter are from the northwest, with average wind speeds around 13 mph.