Absence of Below Zero F High TemperaturesFor Twin Cities residents we may be seeing a remarkable record weather streak come to an end by Martin Luther King Day (Monday, Jan 21st). The Twin Cities have not reported a daytime high temperature below 0 F since January 15, 2009 (high of -6 F). By Monday, this streak will be 1466 days long, the longest such streak in the Twin Cities climate record back to 1873. In addition the National Weather Service reports a remarkable absence of below 0 F minimum temperatures for the Twin Cities in recent winters as well, with only 3 such days last winter, and 1 so far this winter. This trend, but to a lesser extent is obvious in the recent data for International Falls as well. There the average number of days when the high temperature remains below 0 F is about 10 per winter. Over the past three winters it has just been 3 days. In addition, overnight minimum temperatures at International Falls fall below 0 F slightly 60-61 days per winter on average. Last winter brought only 35 such days, and there have been only 26 such days so far this winter, well below average.
You can read more about these temperature streaks and trends at the National Weather Service web site.
A measure of persistence in recent January warmthIn addition to the absence of below 0 F January cold, it is noteworthy to examine the signals of persistent warmth in the recent climate data for the month. Over the past 15 winters the mean value of January temperature on a statewide basis has been below normal in only three years (2004, 2009, and 2011). The other twelve have all been warmer than normal, and four have ranked among the 12 warmest months of January in state history (2001, 2002, 2006, 2012). In addition over 62 percent of all daily measures of temperature in January have been above normal values. These are measures of persistence. Some individual days have been 25 F or more above normal, such as last January 10 (2012) when the Twin Cities reported a high of 52 degrees F and a low of 27 degrees F. As Paul Huttner has shared on his Updraft blog, the signal of warmth in the winter months has been very pronounced in recent years.
New Seasonal Climate OutlooksThe NOAA Climate Prediction Center (CPC) released new seasonal climate outlooks this week. For the period from February through April the outlook calls for cooler than normal temperatures across parts of northwestern MN and North Dakota, equal chances for temperatures to be above or below normal elsewhere in the state. For precipitation the outlook favors above normal moisture for the Great Lakes region. Given the extent and magnitude of drought that is still gripping the state, the precipitation outlook is certainly heartening. In fact the CPC Drought Outlook favors improvement over the entire state by April 30th, and suggests a wetter than normal precipitation pattern may be in play across the western Great Lakes through May. You can read more of their analysis on the web site.
Weekly Weather potpourriThis week the U.S. Global Change Research Program released a draft of the comprehensive National Climate Assessment Report describing analysis of regional climate trends, impacts on infrastructure and possible future climate scenarios. This report makes for some interesting reading with contributions from over 60 people. You can find out more about it here.
It is over 1100 pages in length, so it might be wise to read it on line.
The USGS released a report this week on the devastating floods in northeastern Minnesota last June (2012). The report states that 13 USGS streamgages recorded the all-time peak gage heights following this storm. In some cases these peak flows were estimated to be 1 in 500 year floods, while in others they were estimated to be 1 in 100 year floods. Flood maps and profiles of damage and inundation were created for this report. You can view the report at the USGS web site.
The USDA World Agricultural Outlook Board briefing this week on drought (offered by Brad Rippey) reported the following highlights:
-Overall U.S. drought coverage decreased to 58.87% of the contiguous U.S., down 1.39% from last week. The decreased drought coverage came on the strength of heavy rain from the southern Plains the Mid-South and Southeastexcluding the southern Atlantic region.
- The portion of the contiguous U.S. in the worst category (D4), or exceptional drought, fell more than one-third of a percentage point to 6.31%.
- The percent of hay in drought (61%), cattle in drought (70%), and winter wheat in drought (60%) fell two percentage points from a week ago.
- For the 28th consecutive week (July 10, 2012 January 15, 2013), drought encompassed more than two-thirds of the domestic cattle inventory and at least 60% of the domestic hay acreage.
NASA is conducting a "Let It Snow" photo contest. They are soliciting digit photos of winter scenes from around the country. NASA's Precipitation Measurement Mission is sponsoring the contest and it is open for submissions through February 4, 2013. You can read more about it here.
Persistent smog and foul air continues to plague large parts of China this week. In Beijing hospitals reported up to a 30 percent increase in patients with respiratory problems. Low visibility and foul air has been persistent day after day due to inversion layers associated with high pressure across that country. It has been called one of the worst cases of air pollution in recent years. You can read more about it here.
On Friday parts of Western England and South Wales were being hit by a strong winter storm, depositing 4 to 8 inches of snow in many places. The UK Met Office was issuing many weather warnings and even a blizzard warning for parts of Wales. Bitterly cold weather is expected to prevail there through the weekend.
A paper published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences documents a sharp decline in the health of much of the Amazon Forest of South America where a mega-drought has persisted since 2005. NASA scientists and others have analyzed QuikScat satellite data and other data sets to determine the deficiencies in rainfall there, along with soil moisture declines. The imagery clearly shows impacts on forest canopy densities and health. You can read more about this study here.
MPR listener questionHas Minnesota ever seen 70 degrees F in the month of January?
Answer: No, but it has come close to that. On January 24, 1981 Montevideo on the upper reaches of the Minnesota River valley reported a high of 69 degrees F, truly remarkable for what is historically the coldest week of the year. This temperature is approximately 45 degrees F above normal!
Twin Cities Almanac for January 18thThe average MSP high temperature for this date is 25 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 11 degrees F (plus or minus 15 degrees F standard deviation).
MSP Local Records for January 18thMSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 48 degrees F in 1880 and 1891; lowest daily maximum temperature of -16 degrees F in 1994; lowest daily minimum temperature of -36 F in 1887; highest daily minimum temperature of 33 F in 1880 and 1944; and record precipitation of 0.31 inches in 1895; Record snowfall is 3.1 inches in 1895.
Average dew point for January 18th is 7 degrees F, with a maximum of 39 degrees F in 1973 and a minimum of -40 degrees F in 1967.
All-time state records for January 18thThe state record high temperature for this date is 57 degrees F at Caledonia (Houston County) in 1996. The state record low temperature for this date is -48 degrees F at Cotton (St Louis County) in 1967. State record precipitation for this date is 3.10 inches at Stewart (McLeod County) in 1996; and the state record snowfall for this date is 18.0 inches at Sibley (Sibley County) in 1866.
Past Weather Features:January 18-19, 1919 brought unusual mid-winter warmth to the southern counties of Minnesota. Many communities reported consecutive days in the 40s F. Both Luverne and Fairmont reported temperatures in the 50s F. There was little snow that month and lots of January sunshine.
January 18, 1944 also brought unusual warmth. Many communities reported temperatures in the 40s F under sunny skies. Zumbrota, Windom, Elk River, and Madison all saw afternoon temperatures in the 50s F with moderate southerly winds. January of 1944 was the 2nd warmest in state history.
With abundant snow cover, January 18, 1950 brought arctic cold to many areas as temperatures plunged to -30 F or colder in many areas. At least 7 Minnesota communities started the day at -40 degrees F or colder.
The coldest January 18th in state history occurred in 1967 as an Arctic high pressure system settled over the state bringing a temperature drop of over 50 degrees F in 24 hours. Temperatures fell to -40 degrees F or colder in 20 communities, and as far south as Theilman (Wabasha County) the temperature plummeted to -44 degrees F.
Perhaps the worst winter storm on January 18th occurred in 1996. It started late in the day on the 17th with strong winds up to 45 mph and mixed precipitation (rain, sleet, and snow). Freezing rain and severe icing occurred in some southwestern counties. Snowfall amounts ranged from 5 to 15 inches across western counties and large drifts were reported. Many roads were closed and the Governor order most schools closed as well. Dangerous windchills ranging from -30 to -60 degrees F followed the storm. Approximately 200 cars were abandoned on Interstate 90 and a water main broke in Marshall causing some local flooding.