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Extension > Mark Seeley's WeatherTalk > January 2015

Friday, January 30, 2015

Preliminary Climate Summary for January 2015

Preliminary Climate Summary for January:


January 2015 started out much like last year with a spell of much colder than normal temperatures.  At least five communities saw temperatures plummet to -30 F or colder during the first half of the month.  But unlike last year, the second half of the month brought a long stretch of warmer than normal temperatures to the state, more than offsetting the earlier cold spell.  Most observers report a mean January temperature that ranges from 3 to 5 degrees F warmer than normal, marking this month among the top 20 warmest months of January in state history.  Extremes for the month ranged from -35F on the 13th at Cook (St Louis County) to 49F at Milan on the 19th and at Wells on the 26th. 

Most observers reported a drier than normal month of January.  In fact a number of locations reported less than half of normal precipitation.  On a statewide basis it was the driest January since that of 2008.  For most climate stations the monthly total snowfall was very sparse.  Only a few northern Minnesota locations reported near normal or above normal snowfall for the month.  Those included: International Falls 19.6"; Ely 16.8"; Isabella 16.0", and Orr and Kabetogama 15.8".  Some of these totals may grow higher as there is another chance for snow on Saturday, the last day of the month.  As the end of the month nears, the U.S. Drought Monitor puts 98 percent of the Minnesota landscape into the drier than normal category and roughly 6 percent into the moderate drought category.  Further, an analysis by the DNR-State Climatology Office shows that well over half of the state landscape has 2 inches or less of snow cover, something not seen since late January of 2007.

Another significant climate feature of January was the relative absence of sunny days.  For some locations in the state January brought only 4 or 5 sunny days, the rest being partly or mostly cloudy.  There were some days with fog, freezing drizzle, and freezing rain as well, including Wednesday (Jan 28) of this week.
 

MPR Coverage of Climate Change in Minnesota:

MPR listeners should be aware that the newsroom staff are preparing to bring a multi-faceted examination of climate change and its consequences for Minnesota in a series of reports coming up on "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered."  Two of the main contributors, Dan Kraker and Elizabeth Dunbar will share their perspectives on preparing this story during the "Morning Edition" program next Monday, Groundhog's Day, famously known as the coldest day in Minnesota history because of a reading of -60F at Tower, MN on February 2, 1996.  I encourage you to listen in.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

A historic blizzard brought heavy snow and white-out conditions to portions of the Northeastern USA over Monday through Wednesday this week (Jan 26-28).  Many cities received over 30 inches of total snowfall including South Boston, Plymouth, and Worcester, MA, along with Putnam and Thompson, CT.  Scores of daily snowfall records were shattered on January 27th including 22.1 inches at Boston, MA and 22.2 inches at Portland, ME.  In addition 40 mph to 60 mph winds were measured in a number of places causing huge snow drifts to be formed.  Winds exceeded 70 mph at some locations.  Chatham, MA reported a gust to 75 mph while the Mt Washington Observatory in NH reported wind gusts up to 107 mph on January 27th.
A car is nearly submerged in a snow bank in Hull, Mass., Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015. Massachusetts was pounded by snow and lashed by strong winds early...

Two Tropical Cyclones in the Southern Indian Ocean (named Diamondra and Eunice) were being monitored this week.  Diamondra died out to sea, while Eunice intensified producing nearly 40 foot wave heights and winds over 150 mph.  It was moving in a southeasterly direction south of Diego Garcia and was expected to diminish by early next week without affecting any nearly islands.
http://www.usno.navy.mil/NOOC/nmfc-ph/RSS/jtwc/satshots/09S_301130sams.jpg

For the second time this month eastern sections of Peru were hit with widespread flooding.  Thousands of residents were displaced from their homes as heavy rains continue this month and are expected to persist into February. This week alone some areas have seen over 12 inches of rainfall.


A paper published recently in Geophysical Research Letters by University of Arizona researchers documents the rate of loss in the ice cap on Iceland due to climate change and the associated rise in the landscape, measured at a rate of about 1.4 inches per year.  The uplift in the landscape is directly related to the loss of ice on the surface.  

MPR Listener Question: 

It has been a difficult winter to find suitable landscapes for snowmobiling or cross country skiing>  Are there any parts of the state that have had consistently good conditions for these activities.

Answer: 

Yes, but only in far northeastern Minnesota, across portions of Lake and Cook Counties upland and away from Lake Superior.  Some observers there have reported 35 to 55 inches of snowfall since mid-November.  In far northern Koochiching County (east of International Falls) and northern St Louis County (near Ely) conditions range from fair to good as well.  You can find more details at the DNR web site.
http://www.golden-eagle.com/downloads/Pictures/WebCam/Camer1.jpg

Twin Cities Almanac for January 30th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 21 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 2 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for January 30th:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 48 degrees F in 1879 and 1989; lowest daily maximum temperature of -19 degrees F in 1887; lowest daily minimum temperature is -30 degrees F in 1887; highest daily minimum temperature of 35 F in 1931; record precipitation of 0.49 inches 1878; and record snowfall is 3.6 inches in 1947.

Average dew point for January 30th is 2 degrees F, with a maximum of 34 degrees F in 1923 and a minimum of -34 degrees F in 1951.

All-Time State Records for January 30th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 56 degrees F at St Peter (Nicollet County) in 1989 and at Granite Falls (Chippewa County) in 2012. The state record low temperature for this date is -52 degrees F at Duluth (St Louis County) in 1899.  State record precipitation for this date is 2.00 inches at Crane Lake (St Louis County) in 1927; and the state record snowfall for this date is 16.0 inches at Worthington (Nobles County) in 1947.

Past Weather Features:


An Arctic air mass brought a 5-day Cold Wave to Minnesota over January 27 to 31, 1899. Most cities saw overnight temperatures plummet into the -30s and -40 F, while Leech Lake, Duluth, and Pokegama reported -50F or colder.  On January 30th the temperature only rose to a high of -18 at Roseau.

January 29-31, 1947 is remembered for a heavy snow storm across central southern counties in Minnesota.  Many observers reported 8-10 inches, while some received over a foot of snow, causing school closings and transportation delays.  Winona and Worthington reported over 16 inches, while Grand Meadow reported 18 inches.

A spell of very mild weather prevailed across the state over January 28 to February 1, 1989.  Most observers reported daytime temperatures in the 40s F, while a number of southern and western communities saw the mercury climb into the 50s F.  Lamberton and Springfield reported January record highs of 57.  Less than a week later Arctic air invaded the state pushing temperatures into the -20s and -30s F.

A mid-winter storm brought rain, ice, sleet, and snow to Minnesota over January 29-30, 2001.  Some areas reported record amounts of precipitation including 1.48 inches at Springfield, 1.69 inches at St Peter, 1.42 inches at Montevideo, and 1.22 inches at Canby.
 

Outlook:

Warmer than normal temperatures Saturday with a chance for snow in southern counties during the evening and early Sunday.  Colder temperatures settling in for Sunday with sub-zero F readings in the north.  Chance for snow again Monday night into early Tuesday with continued colder than normal temperatures through the first full week of February.  Some moderation in temperatures by next weekend. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Snow Update

Snow Update:

This week brought a light dusting of snow to many Minnesota communities.  Most received less than an inch, although a few observers reported 1-2 inches.  This trend is disconcerting for snow lovers as the seasonal snowfall totals continue to lag behind normal, and especially when compared to the numbers from the past two winters. 

So far this month only a few places have seen over 10 inches of snowfall, and when considering the seasonal snowfall totals going back to last November most places in the state have seen less than 25 inches.  Some of the snowiest places this winter include Embarrass, Kabetogama, and Chisholm with over 30 inches, International Falls with 36 inches, and Isabella with 45 inches.  Conversely, Pokegama Dam in Itasca County, normally a snowy spot in the state has reported less than a foot.

For the balance of the month it looks like there will be several opportunities to see significant snowfalls, including Saturday and Sunday nights of this coming weekend.  The northeastern counties like Aitkin, Carlton, St Louis, Itasca, and Lake experienced some unfortunate freezing drizzle and rain on Friday morning, January 23rd.  School starts were delayed and travel was icy for sometime.

New Seasonal Climate Outlooks:

The NOAA Climate Prediction Center released some new seasonal climate outlooks on Thursday this week (Jan 23).  They call for equal chances of above or below normal temperature and precipitation over the February through April period across Minnesota.  Perhaps the most significant aspect of the new climate model outlooks is that they favor a warmer than normal spring season, starting with the March through May period and extending through the April-June period.  This would be a significant break from the past two spring seasons.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:


"Icebox Days" were celebrated last weekend at International Falls with several special events, including: frozen turkey bowling, a can-crushing contest, a toilet seat toss, and the Freeze Yer Gizzard Blizzard Run.  A good time was had by all.   St Paul is currently celebrating the Winter Carnival, with ice sculptures, crashed ice course racing, concerts, and other activities.


Earlier this week NOAA scientists provided an analysis of the trends in Arctic Sea Ice, and especially the overall loss of old sea ice over the past several decades.  There is an animation of the loss of Arctic Sea Ice over the period from 1987 to 2014 that shows the enormous amount of change taking place there. 


Western Australia reported near record summer high temperatures this week with readings that ranged from 112F to 118F.  The heat was expected to moderate this week dropping readings below 100F in many places. 


The BBC Weather Centre recently rain a nice feature article on the ice fogs of China.  There are some Chinese landscapes that are frequented by ice fogs during the winter season and as a result they offer some spectacular scenery for visitors. 

 MPR Listener Question:

I noticed that our greatest single day snowfall so far this winter in the Twin Cities is only 3.4 inches back on December 27th.  What is the average annual maximum single day snowfall for the Twin Cities?

Answer:

Data since 1884 show that the average annual maximum daily snowfall in the Twin Cities area is approximately 6 inches.  Of course there have been winters when that amount has never been measured, but on the other hand there have also been winters when 6 or more inches has occurred five times.  It is interesting to note that the month with the highest historical frequency for snowfalls of 6 or more inches is March.

Twin Cities Almanac for January 23rd:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 22 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 4 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 53 degrees F in 1942; lowest daily maximum temperature of -16 degrees F in 1936; lowest daily minimum temperature is -34 degrees F in 1886; highest daily minimum temperature of 35 F in 1909; record precipitation of 0.85 inches 1871; and record snowfall is 5.7 inches in 1949.

Average dew point for January 23rd is 6 degrees F, with a maximum of 40 degrees F in 1909 and a minimum of -42 degrees F in 1963.

All-Time State Records for January 23rd:

The state record high temperature for this date is 62 degrees F at Itasca State Park (Clearwater County) in 1942. The state record low temperature for this date is -55 degrees F at Warroad (Roseau County) in 1936. State record precipitation for this date is 1.43 inches at Stillwater (Washington County) in 1982; and the state record snowfall for this date is 17.0 inches at Stillwater (Washington County) in 1982.

Past Weather Features:


January 23, 1935 was extremely cold, with 30 Minnesota communities reporting low temperatures of -40F or colder.  The high temperature at Ada and Fosston that day was -20F.  The very next year, January 23, 1936 was arguably even colder with worse wind chill conditions.  The temperature at Warroad started out in the morning at -55F and never rose above -27F during the day.  Bear in mind that most homes were heated by wood stoves in those days as well.

January 23, 1942 was by far the warmest in state history.  Over 110 Minnesota communities saw the afternoon temperature reach 50F or higher that day, while Milaca and Itasca State Park reached 60 F under bright, sunny skies.  There was little or no snow on the ground.

January 22-23, 1982 brought a very heavy snow storm to the state, depositing over a foot of snow in many places.  Some areas around central Minnesota received 20 inches of snow.  This storm came on the heels of another significant snow storm only a few days earlier, so that over the course of the week many observers had received 30 or more inches of snow.  This produced a number of roof collapses, as well as problems with ice dams on many buildings.

Outlook:

Temperatures generally above normal into the weekend with a chance for significant snow later on Saturday and into early Sunday, then again on Sunday night and into Monday morning.  Snowfall totals from these back to back storms my range from 3-6 inches in places. Generally dry next week with milder than normal temperatures cooler down towards next weekend.


 

 




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