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Minnesota's famed winter isn't what it used to be

In this Feb. 23, 2019 photo, Jason Kong uses an auger to drill holes in Lake Minnetonka in Wayzata, Minn., as he prepares to go ice fishing. Since 1970, Minnesota's winters have been warming at a rate of more than 1 degree a decade. State residents notice the change, and say winter isn't as cold as it used to be and the snow is less predictable. (AP Photo/Jeff Baenen)

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota is a state that has long identified with winter and enjoying the season is part of the culture. But Minnesota is among the fastest-warming places in the U.S.

Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show Minnesota winters have warmed by more than 5 degrees since 1970, at an average rate of 1.1 degrees a decade. Alaska and Vermont have also seen winters warm by more than 5 degrees since then.

The change is noticeable to many who enjoy outdoor winter activities, allowing fewer opportunities for cross-country ski races, snowmobiling, dog sledding, ice fishing and outdoor skating.

While this winter was marked by record snowfall in the Twin Cities and a polar vortex, some Minnesota residents are concerned that winter will never be the same again.

Amy Forliti And Jeff Baenen, The Associated Press