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Extension > Mark Seeley's WeatherTalk > Content produced February 7, 2014

Friday, February 7, 2014

Content produced February 7, 2014

HEADLINES
  • Perspectives on the cold winter
  • Weekly weather potpourri
  • MPR listener questions
  • Almanac for February 7th
  • Past weather
  • Outlook


Perspectives on the cold winter

On last Sunday, February 2nd, Groundhog's Day, it was reported that Groundhog Phil saw his shadow, indicating six more weeks of winter. And where was the coldest place in the USA on Groundhog's Day? Embarrass, MN with -38 degrees F. Most citizens responded "enough already!" It has been a cold, snowy winter for many in the eastern half of the northern USA, including Minnesota. Read more at....
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/wp/2014/02/02/groundhog-day-2014-punxsutawney-phil-sees-shadow-6-more-weeks-of-winter/?tid=pm_pop

One of the most significant measures of this winter is the "persistence" of cold temperatures, with only brief respites of above normal temperatures. Since December 1st, 2013 nearly 70 percent of all days have brought colder than normal temperatures to Minnesota. There are several other "indicators" of how cold this winter has been:

A preliminary climate summary shows that Minnesota recorded the 4th coldest December-January combination in history (back to 1895) with a statewide average temperature of 3.8 degrees F, about 8 degrees F colder than normal. The only colder combinations of December-January were in 1917-1918 (1.4 F), 1976-1977 (1.7 F), and 1978-1979 (2.7 F). Neighbor Wisconsin also recorded its 4th coldest December-January combination with a statewide average temperature of 8.5 degrees F, also about 8 degrees F colder than normal. The only colder combinations of December-January temperatures in Wisconsin were 1976-1977 (5.2 F), 1917-1918 (6.6 F), and 1919-1920 (7.4 F).

Despite consistent snow cover, frost depth in the soil has progressed downward, even more so where snow cover is thin. Some reported frost depths from around the state:

St Paul Campus 18 inches
Waseca 25 inches
Morris 28 inches
Crookston 36 inches
Lamberton 44 inches

Since December 1, 2013 Minnesota has reported the coldest temperature in the nation 35 times, including twice already in February. This is a higher frequency than any other state, including Alaska which reported its mildest December-January combination since the winter of 2000-2001.

As of Friday, February 7th the Twin Cities reports 40 days with a low temperature of 0 degrees F or colder. This is the largest number of such temperatures since the winter of 1981-1982. So, a whole generation of Twin Cities residents have never experienced persistent cold of this kind. The last time the number of days with minimum temperature of 0 degrees F or colder exceeded 50 during winter in the Twin Cities was 1977-1978 when 53 such readings were reported. You can read more about this from Pete Boulay in the State Climatology Office at...
http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/climate/journal/at_or_below_zero_13_14.html

The Duluth Office of the National Weather Service reports that as of February 7th, Duluth has recorded 19 consecutive days with minimum temperature readings below 0 degrees F. If this pattern persists until Monday, February 10th, the historical record for consecutive days with low temperatures below 0 degrees F will be tied, 22 days, which occurred in 1936 and 1963. The forecast for Duluth suggests that overnight lows will remain below 0 degrees F into early next week. You can read more at...
http://www.crh.noaa.gov/news/display_cmsstory.php?wfo=dlh&storyid=100188&source=0

MPR's chief meteorologist Paul Huttner will help from Dr. Jay Austin of the Large Lakes Observatory in Duluth wrote about the extent of ice cover on Lake Superior in a recent Updraft blog. It appears the lake is nearly completely ice covered and has the most ice in 18 years. With continued cold temperatures Lake Superior may become as ice-covered as it was in 1979. There is a great deal of fast ice anchored to the shoreline that extends out through shallow waters. You can read more at...
http://blogs.mprnews.org/updraft/2014/02/polar-vortex-winter-lake-superior-freezes-over-a-month-early/

Further the cold winter has made the ice caves along the Apostle Islands in Wisconsin more accessible, and many people are going out to see them, as reported by MPR.....see
http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2014/02/05/regional/lake-superior-ice-cave-photos

Our energy bills are also impacted by the cold weather. Many communities in the state are reporting the highest number of Heating Degree Days (aggregate sum of mean daily temperatures below 65 F) for the period November 1 to January 31 since the winters of 1995-1996 and 1996-1997. This statistic is likely reflected in your large heating bill.

Greg Spoden, Minnesota's State Climatologist notes that even by the standards of Embarrass, MN it has been a cold winter. Observer Roland Fowler of Embarrass reports 23 nights with temperatures of -30 degrees F or colder this winter, compared with an average of just 9.

MPR listener question

"There have been reports this winter about the deep and abiding cold perhaps increasing the mortality of forest insects like the Emerald Ash Borer (-30 degrees F or colder) and the pine bark beetle (-40 degrees F or colder), but what about agricultural pests? Do you think some of them will be set back by this cold winter?"

Answer: Most agricultural insects that overwinter in Minnesota are well adapted to climate conditions here according to University of Minnesota entomologists. Secondly, many of these species overwinter in the soil or in the vegetation of hedgerows and field boundaries. These environments are protected by snow cover as insulation, so the risk of exposure to lethal temperature conditions is reduced. However, there may be some higher mortality inflicted on certain agricultural pests this winter. For example soybean aphid eggs, often laid on common buckthorn or other vegetation may be exposed to the lethal temperatures we have had so far this winter. Temperatures colder than -29 degrees F are lethal to soybean aphid eggs, and certainly many places in Minnesota have seen temperatures that cold this winter.

Twin Cities Almanac for February 7th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 23 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 5 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP local records for February 7th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 53 degrees F in 1987; lowest daily maximum temperature of -14 degrees F in 1933; lowest daily minimum temperature is -29 degrees F in 1875; highest daily minimum temperature of 36 F in 1925; record precipitation of 0.94 inches in 1928; and a record 4.1 inches of snow fell on this date in 2001. Maximum snow depth on this date was 22 inches in 1967.

Average dew point for February 7th is 5 degrees F, with a maximum of 38 degrees F in 1965 and a minimum of -32 degrees F in 1972.

All-time state records for February 7th

The state record high temperature for this date is 62 degrees F at Browns Valley (Traverse County) and Madison (Lac Qui Parle County) in 1987. The state record low temperature for this date is -53 degrees F at Leech Lake Dam (Cass County) in 1899. State record precipitation for this date is 1.75 inches at Lynd (Lyon County) in 1928; and state record snowfall for this date is 14.0 inches at Campbell (Wilkin County) in 1946.

Past weather features

A snow storm dropped 9 inches of snow at Ft Snelling on February 7, 1857 and 14 inches at Princeton, MN. The winter of 1856-1857 was one of the coldest and snowiest of the 19th Century in Minnesota.

On a statewide basis the coldest February 7th in history occurred in 1933. Twenty Minnesota communities saw the thermometer drop to -40 degrees F or colder, and a few places fell to -50 degrees F. The high temperature at St Peter that day was -14 degrees F, same as the Twin Cities. The below 0 F weather lasted until February 10 when the temperatures finally climbed into the teens and twenties F.

The warmest February 7th in state history occurred in 1987 when over 70 Minnesota communities saw the mercury climb to 50 degrees F or greater. Dozens of observers reported reach 60 degrees F as well. It was 50 degrees F as far north as Walker and Itasca State Park, with little snow on the ground.

Outlook

Partly cloudy skies and cold over the weekend, with a chance for snow in the south on Saturday. Continued cold until Wednesday when temperatures will start to moderate closer to normal and there will be an increased chance for snow.

Further information

For older versions of the "Minnesota WeatherTalk" newsletter go to
http://www.climate.umn.edu/weathertalk/

For access to other information resources go to
http://www.climate.umn.edu/Seeley/
 
NOTE: News releases were current as of the date of issue. If you have a question on older releases, use the news release search (upper left-hand column of the News main page) or the main Extension search (upper right of this page) to locate more recent information.


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