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Extension > Minnesota WeatherTalk > January 2018

Friday, January 26, 2018

Looking Back at the Snowstorm of January 22nd

Looking Back at the Snowstorm of January 22nd:


Over the weekend just ahead of the January 22nd snow storm, many Minnesota communities reported record high temperatures as sunny skies and southerly winds were prevalent across many parts of the state. Temperatures climbed into the 40s F in many areas of the state, including 44 degrees F at Moose Lake and 45 degrees F at Brainerd (on the 20th), and where snow cover was absent or sparse even greater temperatures were reported like 46 degrees F at Worthington and 48 degrees F at Browns Valley on the 21st. In addition in many areas of the state dew points climbed into the mid 30s F, near record high territory for late January, and indicating a high amount of water vapor in the air mass over the state.

This helped to set up a significant snowfall across many parts of southern Minnesota on January 22nd, and especially across the Twin Cities Metro Area. During the peak of the storm, roughly 1pm to 6pm, maximum snowfall accumulation rates ranged from 1 to 2 inches per hour in many areas. With winds gusting from 35 to 47 mph in many southern counties blizzard conditions prevailed and caused the closure of many roads, as well as many school cancellations.

Because of the famous and record-setting snow storm of January 22, 1982 when many climate observers reported 16 to 24 inches of snowfall, the snow storm on Monday did not produce as many new daily records as thought. However some Minnesota climate observers did report either a new record daily snowfall amount or because of the high water content in the snow a new record daily precipitation amount (liquid) for the date. Among these reports were:
MSP 1.03 inches of precipitation
Amboy 10.0 inches of snow, and 0.62 inches of precipitation
Jordan 12.8 inches of snow, and 1.11 inches of precipitation
Rosemount 11.0 inches of snow, and 0.58 inches of precipitation
Worthington 10.0 inches of snow, and 0.95 inches of precipitation
Windom 12.4 inches of snow, and 1.03 inches of precipitation
Winnebago 14.0 inches of snow, and 1.08 inches of precipitation
Owatonna 14.0 inches of snow, and 1.15 inches of precipitation
St James 15.0 inches of snow
Waseca 16.5 inches of snow
Fairmont 13.5 inches of snow
Lakefield 1.17 inches of precipitation

At this time of year, any daily precipitation amount over 1 inch is unusually high. The new snow cover was widely welcomed by those who have been waiting to sled or cross country ski.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:


One of the NOAA Climate Blogs this week written by Deke Arndt features a look at climate extremes by state. This is an interesting read and gives some insight into the importance of having volunteer weather observers to not only report measured values from the instruments but also make commentary about unusual weather events in their area.


In the Southern Hemisphere New Zealand is reporting its hottest month of January in history, with temperatures in north Canterbury reaching 99 degrees F, unheard of territory. A vast percentage of January days have produced above normal temperatures across the country.


On Wednesday of this week Storm Georgina brought strong winds and heavy rains to many parts of the United Kingdom. Peak wind gusts in western Scotland approached 85 mph, while many other parts of the country reported wind gusts to 50 and 60 mph and some areas had heavy rains. Georgina was the 7th named storm of the winter season there.


A fascinating report called “The United States of Climate Change” was recently released and highlighted this week by the Weather Channel at Weather.com. This report looks at the state by state vulnerability to climate change and highlights some of the observed consequences. It is most comprehensive in detail and a very interesting read.

A quote from the Cloud Appreciation Society newsletter:

“The emotion is to be found in clouds,
not in the green solids of the sloping hills
or even in the gray signatures of rivers,
according to Constable, who was a student of clouds
and filled shelves of notebooks with their motion,
their lofty gesturing and sudden implication of weather.”

[From ‘Student of Clouds’ (1988) by Billy Collins]

MPR listener question:

I have heard you often say that in the middle of winter the temperatures pattern in Minnesota is often the opposite of that in Alaska. So I was wondering is that holding true again during this month of January?

Answer:

Indeed that appears to be the case. Most observers throughout Minnesota are reporting mean monthly temperatures so far (Jan 1-24) that are 2 to 4 degrees F cooler than normal. Here are some values for January 1-24:
MSP 15.2 degrees F, -0.2 F cooler than normal
Rochester 12.6 degrees F, -3.0 F cooler than normal
Duluth 9.8 degrees F, -0.4 F cooler than normal

Now here are the corresponding values (Jan 1-24) for three major climate stations in Alaska:
Point Barrow -4.3 degrees F, +8.8 F above normal
Fairbanks -1.3 degrees F, +6.8 F above normal
Anchorage 22.4 degrees F, +5.2 F above average

I might further add that 37 new daily high temperature records have been set so far this month in the Alaska climate network.

Twin Cities Almanac for January 26th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 24 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 8 degrees F (plus or minus 16 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for January 26th:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 52 degrees F in 1931; lowest daily maximum temperature of -9 degree F in 1904 and 1972; lowest daily minimum temperature of -26 degrees F in 1897; highest daily minimum temperature of 35 degrees F in 1911; record precipitation of 0.37 inches in 1910 and 1916. Record snowfall on this date is 7.4 inches in 2004.

Average dew point for January 26th is 1 degree F, with a maximum of 37 degrees F in 1944 and a minimum of -41 degrees F in 1946.

All-time state records for January 26th:


The all-time state high temperature for today's date is 63 degrees F at Winnebago (Faribault County) in 1944; the all-time state low for today's date is -55 degrees F at Pokegama Dam (Itasca County) in 1904. The all-time state record precipitation for this date is 1.00 inch at Grand Marais (Cook County) in 2004. Record snowfall is 24.0 inches at Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge (Becker County) in 2004.

Past Weather Features:

January 26, 1904 was likely the coldest in state history. With abundant snow cover, temperatures dropped to -30 degrees F or colder in 25 Minnesota communities, including as far south as Caledonia (Houston County) where the high temperature was -13 degrees F after a morning low of -30 degrees F. In the north, the afternoon high temperature at Tower was just negative 20 degrees F.

Back to back snow storms over January 26-29, 1916 delivered 15 to 25 inches of snow to many parts of central and northern Minnesota. Schools and businesses were closed and railroad service was hampered for days before the snow, sometimes in drifts of 15 feet could be cleared from the tracks.

January 26, 1944 was the warmest in state history with 30 climate stations reporting an afternoon high temperature of 50 degrees F or greater. Seven communities saw the mercury climb above 60 degrees F. Some city employees in Montevideo took lunch outside at picnic tables as the temperatures had climbed to 64 degrees F.

Over January 25-27, 2004 a massive snow storm blanketed the state. The heaviest snow fell in northeastern counties where Duluth reported over 27 inches and Two Harbors over 30 inches. Some northern Minnesota roads were closed to traffic until plows could remove the bulk of snow, which had accumulated in 10-12 foot drifts.

Outlook:

The weekend will start with warmer than normal temperatures on Saturday in many areas, then increasing cloudiness, chance for snow flurries in the north. Temperatures cool to below normal values for Sunday and Monday, then a warming trend for Tuesday and Wednesday with a chance for snow. Below normal temperatures will prevail for Thursday through Super Bowl weekend (Feb 4).



Friday, January 19, 2018

Patterns of cold temperatures in January

Patterns of cold temperature in January:


Many citizens have said “enough with the cold already” bring on some thawing temperatures. Well we are in the midst of our 2nd January thaw (bearing in mind the first one was over January 8-11). The first half of the month was dominated by cold temperatures with two-thirds of the days reporting cooler than normal values as well as numerous subzero nights. Overall temperatures during the first two weeks were 4 to 6 degrees cooler than average. Dozens of climate stations have reported -30 degrees F or colder so far this month, while Embarrass, Cotton, Ely, and Walker have reported -40 degrees F or colder. In fact Minnesota has reported the nation’s coldest temperature on seven dates so far this month.

Bear in mind the cold aberration is unusual for us in that since 2002 two-thirds of all Januarys have been warmer than normal across the state, and four among the ten warmest in history. For the Twin Cities the first half of January is the coldest reported since 1999. However no new record cold values were recorded.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:


Earlier this week the Minnesota State Climatology Office updated the Winter Misery Index for the Twin Cities. So far it stands at 33 points, a mild class of winter despite the run of cold temperatures. The last winter with a “high” misery index score (207 points) was that of 2013-2014.


NOAA scientists write this week that 2017 was the 3rd warmest year globally going all the way back to 1880. It did not quite equal the record-setting back to back years of 2015-2016. Their analysis goes on to say that it marks the 41st consecutive year that global temperature was above the 20th Century mean value.


Tropical Cyclone Berguitta in the Southern Indian Ocean is expected to pass east of Madagascar this weekend and remain mostly out to sea. That is a good thing as it packs winds close to 80 mph and sea wave heights over 15 feet.


A powerful storm brought strong winds to portions of the United Kingdom on Thursday this week. Wales, the Midlands, and Southwestern England were hit by winds up to 80 mph. Thousands went without power for a time, and rail service was disrupted because of blown down trees.

MPR listener question:

We were having a debate the other day about when the winter average temperatures in Minnesota bottom out historically, and start a consistent climb upward. Some of us thing it is the 3rd week in January, and others thing it doesn’t happen until the 4th week. Can you give us a more precise answer?

Answer:

These dates vary around the state as far as when the winter temperature “bottoms out.” Based on the date that the average temperature starts to climb using the period from 1981-2010 here are the dates. You can see that some are in the 3rd week of January and others are in the 4th week of the month, but they are all within a week of each other.

MSP January 24
Rochester January 24
Duluth January 22
International Falls January 20
Hallock January 21
Moorhead January 23
Morris January 23
Brainerd January 26

So indications are that based on average temperature, next week is winter’s “turning point” for most of the state- something we can smile about.

Twin Cities Almanac for January 19th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 24 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 7 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for January 19th:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 49 degrees F in 1921; lowest daily maximum temperature of -10 degree F in 1943 and 1970; lowest daily minimum temperature of -34 degrees F in 1970; highest daily minimum temperature of 36 degrees F in 1908; record precipitation of 0.57 inches in 1988. Record snowfall on this date is 7.5 inches in 1988.

Average dew point for January 19th is 4°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 39°F in 1921; and the minimum dew point on this date is -41°F in 1985.

All-time state records for January 19thecember 29th:

The all-time state high temperature for today's date is 61 degrees F at Milan (Chippewa County) in 1900; the all-time state low for today's date is -47 degrees F at Bigfork (Itasca County) in 1963. The all-time state record precipitation for this date is 2.03 inches at Lake City (Goodhue County) in 1982. Record snowfall is 18.0 inches also at St James (Watonwan County) in 1988.

Past Weather:




The warmest January 19th in state history occurred in 1900, under bright, sunny skies and with little snow cover. Over 20 Minnesota communities warmed to 50 degrees F or higher by afternoon. A modest southwest wind kept the temperature above 32 degrees overnight at Pipestone, a very rare event during January.

Perhaps the coldest January 19th in state history was in 1994. On that morning 18 climate stations reported a temperature of -40 degrees F or colder. It was -32 degrees F at Rosemount, pretty near the Twin Cities. The afternoon high temperature at Fosston was just -27 degrees F.

A major winter storm brought heavy snowfall to parts of Minnesota over January 18-20, 1988. Across many southern and central counties snow totals ranged from 10 to 18 inches. Many schools were closed or started late, while a number of roads were closed due to large drifts.


On January 19, 2017 we were in the middle of a ten day run of temperatures that ranged from 15 to 25 degrees F warmer than normal. One of the most pronounced January thaws in state history.

Outlook:

Very warm temperatures continue through the weekend. Increasing clouds on Sunday, then a chance for mixed precipitation (rain and snow) later on Sunday and into Monday as a strong low pressure system passes. Snow accumulations will be significant in many places on Monday. Drier and cooler over Tuesday through Thursday next week as temperatures fall back to near normal. Then another chance for snow by Friday.




















Friday, January 5, 2018

Cold Start to 2018

 Cold Start to 2018:

Over the first four days of January most Minnesota climate observers were reporting temperatures that ranged from 15 to 20 degrees F colder than normal, as nearly all parts of the state are seeing overnight temperatures that are subzero. Since December 8, 2017, Minnesota has reported the coldest temperature in the nation on 13 dates with Walker, Kabetogama, Cotton, Camp Norris, and Embarrass all reporting minimum temperatures of -40°F or colder.

In fact over the 11 days since December 25th the Twin Cities temperatures have been subzero on 10 nights, which has only happened one other time in history, December 25, 1886 to January 4, 1887. This is very rare statistically to see cold weather dominate so consistently this time of year.

The Minnesota State Climatology Office has updated the Winter Misery Index for the Twin Cities using the climate data since October of 2017 up through January 5, 2018. The score so far is just 22 points, with 20 points coming from the recent cold spell, and just 2 points for snowfall.




In addition the MN State Climatology Office has recently updated the dates for lake ice-in, much of which has occurred over the past month or so. Most of the 2017 Lake Ice-In dates are prior to December 12, 2017.

December Weather Trivia:


For December 2017 Minnesota recorded a large temperature range. The state high was 64 degrees F at Albert Lea and other places on the 4th, while the state low was -45 degrees F at Embarrass on the 31st. This is a 109 degree temperature range. I can find only one other December in state history with a larger range of temperature. That was in 1898 when the temperature was 54 degrees F at Two Harbors on the 17th and -57 degrees F at Pokegama Dam on the 31st, producing a 111 degree range for the month.


A Look at Minnesota's Coldest Weeks in History:


Last week I remarked about the unusually cold week between Christmas Day and New Year's Eve when the statewide average temperature was -10°F. For the Twin Cities it was the coldest week between the holidays in 132 years and only the 4th time in history that the weekly average temperatures have been subzero. Those years have been 1886 with -4.7°F, 2017 with -3.0°F, 1924 with -1.8°F, and 1880 with -0.6°F. You can read more about these cold holiday periods from the Minnesota State Climatology Office web site.


Many people have asked me to list the coldest weeks in Minnesota history based on statewide average temperature. Bearing in mind that the numbers of climate stations have varied over the years and therefore affects the statewide average, I have come up with a top ten list. Here there are:

1. January 6-12, 1912, -20°F
2. February 6-12, 1899 -19.6°F
3. January 30 - February 5, 1996 -19.0°F
4. January 14-20, 1994 -18.4°F
5. January 15-21, 1888* -17.8°F
6. December 18-24, 1983 -17.1°F
7. February 1-7, 1895 -17.0°F
8. January 20-26, 1936 -16.7°F
9. December 18-24, 1872* -16.5°F
10. January 13-19, 1885* -13.5°F

Please note that the years marked by * indicated an estimated value for the weekly average statewide temperature using relatively sparse data sets.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:


A very intense low pressure system, at one time producing a barometric pressure reading of 28.35 inches brought strong winds, high waves, and mixed precipitation to the New England states on Thursday this week. Many roads and schools were closed. There were also widespread power outages and blizzard warnings were issued for parts of MA, RI, CT, NY, NJ, and NH. Several reports of over 12 inches of snowfall were received through National Weather Service Forecast Offices.

Elsewhere portions of Western Europe were being battered by winter storm Eleanor on Thursday as well. High winds and heavy precipitation were battering parts of France, Switzerland, and Spain. Power outages were widespread and many airline flights were delayed or cancelled. Ski resorts in the Alps were receiving abundant snowfall.

Over in the Southern Indian Ocean Tropical Cyclone Ava was bringing heavy rains and high winds to eastern parts of Madagascar. The storm was expected to persist into the weekend and early next week bringing several inches of rain (perhaps 8 or more inches) and wind gusts over 90 mph, along with sea waves of over 25 feet.

New research from the University of Utah is showing the air pollution has dramatic effects on Arctic cloud forms, much more so than forest fires Arctic air masses are highly sensitive to particulate matter which tends to get trapped by inversion layers in high latitudes. You can find more details of this research in the AGU journal Geophysical Research Letters.

MPR listener question:

Here at Embarrass, MN we reported a New Years Eve (2017) minimum temperature of -45°F and a maximum temperature of -15°F, for a daily mean temperature of -30°F. This was our coldest New Years Eve in history back to 1994. How does New Years Eve of 2017 rank in state history in terms of the cold temperature?

Answer:

Good question. BTW New Years Eve mean temperature of -30°F is no where near your all-time cold mean temperature record of -41°F on February 2, 1996. Based on statewide mean temperature reports for New Years Eve across Minnesota history back to 1895, here are the coldest five:

December 31, 1967 -17.8°F
December 31, 1973 -17.7°F
December 31, 2017 -15.9°F
December 31, 1968 -15.8°F
December 31, 1976 -14.4°F

So on a statewide basis it was the 3rd coldest New Years Eve in history. In addition many very dangerous Wind Chill values were reported that day including: -53°F at Staples; -48°F at Park Rapids; -46°F at Baudette, Wadena, and Warroad; and -45°F at Alexandria, Hibbing, and Roseau.

Twin Cities Almanac for January 5th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 24 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 8 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for January 5th:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 47 degrees F in 1885; lowest daily maximum temperature of -14 degree F in 1912; lowest daily minimum temperature of -28 degrees F in 1884, 1912, and 1924; highest daily minimum temperature of 33 degrees F in 1946; record precipitation of 0.63 inches in 1932. Record snowfall on this date is 4.7 inches in 1994.

Average dew point for January 5th is 5°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 39°F in 1915; and the minimum dew point on this date is -38°F in 1924.

All-time state records for January 5th:

The all-time state high temperature for today's date is 62 degrees F at Granite Falls (Chippewa County) in 2012; the all-time state low for today's date is -49 degrees F at International Falls (Koochiching County) in 1896. The all-time state record precipitation for this date is 1.92 inches at Byron (Olmsted County) in 1997. Record snowfall is 23.0 inches at Remer (Cass County) in 1997.

Past Weather Features:

The coldest January 5th in state history was in 1924. Over 50 communities reported a morning low temperature of -30 degrees F or colder, and six climate stations were colder than -40°F. With abundant snow on the ground the temperature at Grand Meadow in southern Minnesota never got higher than -16 degrees F that day.

January 4-5, 1997 brought a significant winter storm to Minnesota. Precipitation was mixed with rain, sleet, and snow. An ice storm caused numerous accidents and power outages in southern counties. Many northwestern counties were under a blizzard warning and several roads were closed. Many climate stations reported 10-20 inches of snowfall, with Pequot Lakes reporting over 23 inches.

By far the warmest January 5th in state history was in 2012. Over 35 Minnesota communities reported an afternoon temperature of 50 degrees F or greater, while Milan and Granite Falls exceeded 60 degrees F. For many climate stations the morning low temperature was in the upper 20s F.

Outlook:

Cloudy skies and a warming trend over the weekend with temperatures climbing to above normal values. There will be chances for snow and snow flurries each day, mostly central and northern areas. Then, another chance for snow by Wednesday and Thursday with temperatures later in the week dropping below normal.


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