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More temperature records, then snow

More temperature records, then snow

January 9-10 brought even more new high temperature records to the state and the region, adding to the previous weeks record-setting values. It was far and away the warmest first 10 days of January ever measured in Minnesota history, averaging over 20 degrees F above normal statewide (27.2 F versus a normal of 7.1 F). New temperature records were established for many Minnesota communities on January 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10, as a total of 163 new temperature records were reported, and 18 record temperatures were tied around the state. Three all-time state high temperature daily records were set.

On January 9th 37 communities reported new record high temperatures (values in the 40s and 50s F) topped by 57 degrees F at Milan and Redwood Falls, while on January 10th, new temperature records were set for 35 communities, including 59 degrees F at Marshall, which was a new statewide record high for the date In addition on January 10th automated stations at Morton, St Peter, Minnesota, and Blue Earth reported temperatures over 60 degrees F, but those won't be entered as records because of the absence of historical context with automated measurement systems.

Following January 9-10th warmth, the other shoe dropped as temperatures fell by 30-35 degrees F on the 11th. Strong winds ushered in a cold polar air mass. Many weather stations reported wind gusts from the NW of 30 mph or more. Some stations even saw winds peak over 40 mph, including 41 mph at Starbuck and Benson, 42 mph at Sauk Centre, 43 mph at New Ulm and Olivia, 44 mph at Madison and Appleton, 45 mph at Clara City, 46 mph at at St James, and 47 mph at Canby. The strong winds produced windchill values from -20 to -30 F in some western and northern counties. By Thursday (Jan 12) Bigfork, MN had seen their temperature drop to -1 degrees F, having seen a record 45 degrees F only two days before. And by Friday morning, Hallock reported -15 degrees F, much more typical of January weather.

The relatively fast moving cold front deposited measurable snowfall in places, especially southeastern and northern counties. Some of the amounts included: 3.5 inches at Hibbing; 2.0 inches at Bemidji; 2.4 inches at Orr; 2.5 inches at Tofte; 3.0 inches at Gunflint Lake; 3.4 inches at Preston; 2.5 inches at Rushford; 5.5 inches at Winona; 4.0 inches at Lanesboro and at Grand Meadow; and 7.3 inches at Caledonia. Areas of northern and western Wisconsin received even larger amounts of snowfall (13 inches at Ashland and 10 inches at Hurley, among others). More information on the weather change in January can be found here.

Snowfall will more commonly be in the forecast for the balance of January, as a series of weather disturbances pass. Still, many residence of the state wonder where the snow is. Duluth Airport has reported less than 13 inches of snowfall so far for the winter of 2011-2012. Their record for least snowfall in a season is 26.8 inches in 1899-1900.

Weekly Weather Potpourri

Portions of the United Kingdom have also been reporting a mild winter so far, with many daytime temperature in the 40s and over night lows from the mid 30s to mid 40s F. Under such conditions gardeners had noticed roses and daffodils were staying in bloom and gardens were being showcased on some of the BBC broadcasts.

The NOAA Storm Prediction Center reported the first tornadoes of 2012 this week. On January 9th (Monday) two tornadoes were reported in east Texas (Meadows and Dickinson) with somewhat minimal damage, while on January 11th (Wednesday) a tornado was reported in Ellenboro, NC where it caused some damage to buildings.

The National Weather Service in Alaska has reported exceptional snowfall amounts for many climate stations there. Valdez has reported over 95 inches of snowfall so far in January, following over 150 inches in December. Areas around Anchorage are also seeing record amounts of snowfall this winter.

NCAR scientists have studied down-scaled climate model output to assess the frequency of hail storms over Colorado. If the climate models are right in their prediction of warmer temperatures in the future, the frequency of pea-sized hail storms over Colorado may be diminished according to this report. You can read more here.

MPR listener question

I am missing the snow for cross country skiing, something I trained for this fall and have not had the opportunity to do. What is the snowiest 2nd half of January for the Twin Cities area.

Answer: Don't give up hope! We will definitely see more frequent chances for snowfall during the second half of January. Back in 1982, the Twin Cities recorded over 42 inches of snow during the second half of January, producing a nice 20-25 inch snow base for skiers.

Almanac for January 13th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 23 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 6 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for January 13th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 48 degrees F in 1891, 1980, and 1987; lowest daily maximum temperature of -14 degrees F in 1916; lowest daily minimum temperature of -30 degrees F in 1916; highest daily minimum temperature of 34 degrees F in 1960; record precipitation of 0.37 inches in 1887; record snowfall is a 6.0 inches in 1967.

Average dew point for January 13th is 9 degrees F, with a maximum of 37 degrees F in 1947 and a minimum of -33 degrees F in 1982.

All-time state records for January 13th

Scanning the state climatic data base: the all-time high for this date is 60 degrees F at Lamberton (Redwood County) in 1987. The all-time record low for this date is a very cold -50 degrees F at Bagley (Clearwater County) in 1916. The all-time record precipitation amount for this date is 1.75 inches at Owatonna (Steele County) in 1999. State record snowfall for this date is 14.0 inches at Beaver Bay (Lake County) in 1874 and at New Richland (Waseca County) in 1910.

Past Weather Features:

Powerful winds from Lake Superior combined with a strong winter storm produced 14 inches of new snowfall on January 13, 1874. This record was tied by New Richland (Waseca County) which reported 14 inches of snowfall on January 13, 1910. That 1910 winter storm also brought 12 inches of new snow to Fairmont, 11 inches at Grand Meadow, and 10 inches at Lynd.

January 12-13, 1916 brought a severe cold wave to the state. Over 40 Minnesota communities reported low temperatures of -30 degrees F or colder, while 17 communities were -40 degrees F or colder. This was one of 8 cold waves to hit the state in January 1916.

Temperatures in the 40s and 50s F prevailed during a pronounced thaw period over January 11-14, 1987. Very little snow cover was evident around the state in mid-January that year.

Word of the Week: WAA

This is actually a contraction used in National Weather Service forecast discussions to refer to "warm air advection", when air currents generally from the south, usher in warmer air across the region. A significant rise in temperature can occur, even overnight when WAA plays out over several hours. Sometimes the temperature rise can be larger than the daily change that occurs during the hours that the sun is shining.


Chance of snow through Saturday, with a gradual warm up in temperatures to above normal values for Sunday and Monday. Chance of snow again by last Monday and into Tuesday, followed by sharply colder temperatures. Another chance for snow towards next weekend.
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