Missouri, located in the heart of the United States, is a state known for its diverse weather patterns. From bitterly cold winters to scorching hot summers, Missourians are no strangers to extreme weather conditions. Missouri’s climate is shaped by various factors, including its location, topography, and proximity to large bodies of water. These factors can influence everything from temperature and precipitation to wind patterns and atmospheric conditions. With that in mind, let’s explore how this winter compares to Missouri’s warmest ever and what factors have contributed to the state’s unique climate.
Missouri’s Winter of 2022/2023
During the winter season of 2022/2023, temperatures soared significantly higher than the average, rising by 4 to 5 degrees. Based on preliminary data, it appears that the average temperature across the state for January was 37.3°F, which is significantly higher than the long-term average by 7.9 degrees.
Across a significant portion of the state, precipitation was above average, resulting in wetter conditions. Most areas received between 11 to 18 inches of precipitation, which was notably 2 to 6 inches more than the typical amounts. The highest levels of precipitation were observed in Southeast Missouri.
January stood out as the month with the most substantial increase in precipitation compared to the usual amounts, affecting a significant portion of the region. However, December and February also experienced higher-than-normal precipitation levels in certain areas. The highest recorded amount was 19.45 inches.
The snowfall amount in many areas remained below the typical levels. However, a particular stretch across the southeast of Missouri observed relatively higher amounts ranging from 7 to 13 inches. The maximum recorded snowfall amount was 13.1 inches. This snowfall primarily occurred during two events, one on December 22 and 23 and another on January 24 and 25.
Missouri’s Warmest Winter Ever
Historical data on Missouri’s winter temperatures shows that there have been a few winters where temperatures were notably above average. However, no data is available to determine which winter was the warmest in the state’s history.
Recent data released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration indicates that Missouri had its warmest average temperature for December 2021, with an average of 44.3°F.
However, the following winter month, February 2022, brought extreme freezing temperatures across the state, which were entirely different from the warm December that Missouri had just experienced. That February had an average temperature of 32.5°F.
In the latter half of 2021, the state and the nation witnessed temperatures higher than ever before, signifying a more extensive trend of increasing temperatures.
Similarly, the winter season of 2022/2023 has experienced significantly higher temperatures than the average, with temperatures rising by 4 to 5 degrees.
Missouri’s Average Winter Temperatures
During the winter months, temperatures in Missouri can range from mildly cold to bitterly cold.
Kansas City and St. Louis are two of the largest cities in Missouri and experience some of the coldest temperatures during winter. In January, the average daily mean temperature in Kansas City is around 26°F, while St. Louis experiences slightly milder temperatures at around 29°F.
Interestingly, the lowest temperature ever recorded in the state at −40 °F occurred in Warsaw on February 13, 1905.
Winter in Missouri is typically the driest season, with less precipitation than the other seasons. However, the state usually receives significant winter precipitation, including snowfall. The state’s northern region tends to receive more snowfall, averaging around 20 inches per year, while the southeast gets around 10 inches.
During the winter months, northwest winds typically prevail in Missouri. This means that the air movement comes from the northwest, bringing colder temperatures and snowy conditions.
Animals That Migrate to and From Missouri
Missouri is home to a diverse array of wildlife that migrates in and out of the state. Weather changes, food availability, and breeding patterns often drive these migrations.
Little Brown Bat
The fur of the little brown bat is lustrous and comes in various colors, such as reddish, golden, dark brown, or olive. Its face, ears, and wing membranes are of a black hue or dark brown. The ears of the bat are small in size and do not usually extend beyond its nose when laid forward. Additionally, its hind feet are large and feature long hairs that extend beyond the tips of its claws.
Aquatic insects, like mayflies, caddisflies, and midges, are the primary food source for the little brown bat. However, they also consume other insects such as beetles, gnats, moths, crane flies, and wasps.
During hibernation, the little brown bats typically seek shelter in limestone caves and mines located predominantly in the Ozarks. Come spring, they disperse and can travel up to 620 miles. In the warmer months of spring and summer, female bats live in nursery colonies located in hollow trees, attics, cliff crevices, under loose bark, and other secluded shelters where they can raise their young without disturbance.
With their regal and impressive stature, trumpeter swans are among the most striking birds in North America. These birds are characterized by their black bills, long straight necks, and white feathers. They can sometimes be confused with tundra swans. However, trumpeter swans are easily distinguishable by their deep, resounding, and trumpet-like call.
It has a unique feeding method that involves using its elongated neck to reach for submerged vegetation, which makes up a significant portion of its diet. Along with this, the swan also consumes invertebrates and, on rare occasions, fish eggs and small fish. During winter, the swan’s diet shifts to include grains, tuberous crops, and grasses.
Trumpeter swans typically choose freshwater habitats that offer plenty of dense emergent vegetation, such as inland waters and ponds, to breed and raise their young.
During the winter, these swans embark on a southward migration in small family groups, seeking open water sites along the Mississippi River in Arkansas and Missouri, as well as further west in Oklahoma.
As spring arrives, in late March and early April, the swans begin their journey back north to their nesting marshes, where they will spend the breeding season.
The canvasback duck is often referred to as the aristocrat of its kind, known for its distinguished appearance and its long, sloping forehead held high. Male canvasbacks are particularly striking with a rusty-colored head and neck that contrasts sharply with their whitish body, featuring black color at both ends. While female canvasbacks are predominantly pale brown in color, their unique head shape still makes them easily recognizable.
These ducks are known to be omnivores, consuming various foods ranging from seeds and plant tubers to mussels and insects. They are often observed in bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, and marshes. It prefers deeper water than other diving ducks belonging to the same genus.
During their seasonal migration in spring and fall, canvasback ducks are commonly spotted in Missouri. These birds thrive in “prairie pothole” lakes formed by glaciers and are found in regions stretching from Iowa to Alberta. However, they also breed in the interior of Alaska.
From afar, turkey vultures may seem black, but a closer look will reveal that they are actually dark brown. They have a unique appearance with a featherless head that is bright red in color and a pale-colored bill. In addition, the bird’s body and forewings are mostly dark. At the same time, the underside of the flight feathers, particularly along the trailing edge and wingtips, are lighter, providing a contrasting two-tone effect.
Fresh carrion is the preferred meal for turkey vultures, although they are willing to consume decaying carcasses if they have to. Wild and domestic animals make up a significant part of the bird’s diet.
In Missouri, turkey vultures can be spotted near areas with dead animals. It is common to see them feasting on roadkill along the sides of roads. Additionally, they can frequently be observed gliding through the skies above open rural areas.
They spend the winter months in South and Central America. Although they are typically summer residents of Missouri, they are starting to become more common in the southern half of Missouri in the wintertime!
The northern harrier is a medium-sized bird of prey with a sleek build featuring broad wings and a rounded tail. Its facial structure resembles that of an owl, with a flat appearance, and it has yellow legs and a small, pointed beak. The females are larger than the males, and both sexes have white rumps and tails banded with black.
These birds feed on small mammals and birds, but they can also hunt larger prey like ducks and rabbits.
Northern harriers are commonly seen in the state of Missouri in the wintertime. However, these birds tend to nest later in the season on dry ground in prairies, undisturbed marshes, or on elevated ground in low shrubby vegetation.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Sally Jacobs/Shutterstock.com
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