- Associated Press - Saturday, March 11, 2017

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Weather experts say it’s difficult to know why Minnesota has had such high temperatures in February, but the long-term warming trend goes back about 45 years.

Temperatures in the Twin Cities and southern Minnesota soared into the 60s a couple weeks ago, Minnesota Public Radio (http://bit.ly/2n2PM2G ) reported. The Twin Cities is in the middle of an 18-month streak of warmer-than-normal temperatures overall.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources climatologist Kenny Blumenfeld said the decadeslong trend is the strongest in the winter. This year, he said, the state has had an unusually warm swing on top of that.

“Right now we have both,” he said. “We have the long-term trend and we’re at a moment of high, warm-weather variability.”

The consequences of all this warming are bleak for snow lovers. For example, the Loppet cross-country ski festival in Minneapolis made one of its most popular ski events a walk instead.

Blumenfeld said walking was often an unsafe experience as a lot of rainy days and temperatures hovering around freezing meant slippery conditions. A Hennepin County Medical Center spokesman said the hospital has treated more slip-and-fall injuries on snow and ice this winter than last winter.

Blumenfeld said he wasn’t surprised that forecasters’ predictions several months ago of a cold and snowy winter were wrong. He said an analysis done by Minnesota’s climatology office shows three-month forecasts are wrong more often than they’re right.

“If you were a betting person, you’d make more money betting the opposite,” he said.

Blumenfeld said La Nina years - when cold pools in the equatorial Pacific - are more difficult for the long-term forecasts to get correct.

“They based their forecast for the Northern Hemisphere on that cold pool, and in a lot of areas it just didn’t pan out,” Blumenfeld said. “And Minnesota was one of those places.”

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Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org

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