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What is the Weather and Climate like in Minneapolis and St. Paul?

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Polar Bear at Como Zoo, St. Paul

Nice Weather For Polar Bears. Bear at Home in the Snow at St. Paul's Como Zoo

Clara James
What is the weather in Minneapolis and St. Paul like? Our climate is officially a "warm summer humid continental climate" which means it's very hot and sticky in the summer, and freezing cold in the winter.

Winter in Minneapolis/St. Paul

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 moving from somewhere warm like California or Florida.

OK, the winters are not quite that bad. But almost that bad. Here's what winter is like in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Somewhere around late October or early November, the temperature starts to plummet. The mercury drops below freezing and will stay there almost every day for the next six months. Temperatures with negative Fahrenheit values are quite common. The average winter temperature is around 10 degrees.

Blizzards which usually originate in the north pole, roll in, drop several inches of snow, and depart, leaving us to shovel and plow.

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/officebound at last.

Other days can be bitterly cold, especially when the wind blows. When the Arctic wind blows it can be impossible to take young children outside, and it's highly unpleasant for everyone else even with several layers on.

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 grey with road dirt, and to me, the most depressing thing about our winter is the grey everywhere.

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.

Spring in Minneapolis/St. Paul

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 grey slush melt, and green shoots poke up through the ground, and 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...

Spring is also known as pothole season as the freeze-thaw cycle makes holes in asphalt in the Twin Cities' roads and freeways.

Summer in Minneapolis/St. Paul

Once summer arrives, usually by May, it stays, and it's wonderful.

Summer is hot and humid. Summer is also known as roadwork season, so spare a thought for the busy construction workers toiling in the 85% humidity.

Summer temperatures average around 70 to 80 degrees, and the temperature is fairly consistent throughout the summer season. Heat waves with temperatures over 100 degrees happen but it's unusual for the weather to get that hot.

The worst thing about the summer? The mosquitoes. The nuisance level of the flying pests varies from year to year, but prepare to deal with them when spending time out of doors, especially at dusk.

Summer evenings are usually warm and pleasant, and outdoor entertainment and restaurant patios are very popular.

Summer storms are also part of this season. Count on frequent showers, and a couple of thunderstorms in any summer month. Storms can be severe with thunder and lightning, hail, strong winds, heavy rainfalls and flash floods, and occasionally tornadoes.

Fall in Minneapolis/St. Paul

Most Minnesotan's favorite season, if a couple of weeks can be called a season. By mid-September, it's not too humid, not too hot, and not too cold. Yet. The leaves turn gold and crimson, small children stomp through them, grownups complain about shoveling them (it's training for upcoming snow-shoveling) and everyone spends as much time outside as much as possible because they know winter is on the way.
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