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Warm and record-setting start to January

Warm and record-setting start to January

After starting New Years Day cold, icy, and snowy, the first week of January has brought temperatures that range from 8 to 12 degrees F warmer than normal on average, with all-time record-setting values on the 4th and 5th. For January 4th many western and southern communities reported new record high temperatures including: 47 F at Redwood Falls; 49 F at Browns Valley; 50 F at Luverne; 51 F at Pipestone and Montevideo; 52 F at Madison, Milan, and Canby; and 54 degrees F at Marshall and Minnesota (both in Lyon County). The last reading is a new all-time state record high for January 4th, breaking the old record of 50 F at Worthington in 1930.

Even more remarkable were the temperatures measured on Thursday, January 5th. It was clearly the warmest January 5th in state history as scores of observers reported new record high temperatures and the former state record high, 57 degrees F at Crookston in 1902, was shattered by a reading of 64 degrees F at Minnesota (Lyon County) reached at 2:30 pm. Some of the new records included: 63 F at Marshall and Canby; 62 F at Granite Falls; 61 F at Madison and Montevideo; 59 F at Morris and Redwood Falls; 57 F at Pipestone, Wheaton, Willmar, Olivia, Tracy, and Luverne; 55 F at Fargo, Rochester, and Fergus Falls, and 54 at Moorhead and Worthington. Even as far north as St Vincent (Kittson County) and Baudette (Lake of the Woods County) hit 50 degrees F, while record highs of 48 degrees F and 46 degrees F were reported at Duluth and International Falls, respectively. The record warmth of January 5th carried over into Friday at Duluth, as at 12:01 am on January 6th they reported a new record high for the date of 45 degrees F! For some observers the temperatures were not only new records for January 5th but near all-time highs for any day in January. The state record high for January remained intact (69 degrees F occurred at Montevideo on the 24th in 1981).

Despite all of the January warmth, Embarrass, MN did report the lowest temperature in the 48 contiguous states on the January 3rd with -19 degrees F. They had warmed nearly 60 degrees F, hitting 41 F by the 5th.

Cold in Florida

In contrast to Minnesota's warm January, Florida residents were turning on their furnaces this week as some new record low temperatures were set on the mornings of January 3rd and 4th. In central and northern Florida counties some overnight lows in the upper teens to low 20s F were reported. As far south as Punta Gorda it was 29 degrees F. Temperatures are supposed to rebound into the 70s F this weekend.

Weekly Weather Potpourri

Many parts of Manitoba, Canada reported record-setting temperature on January 5th as well. Outdoor skating was suspended in most cities, including Winnipeg, which reached a new record high of 44 degrees F.

The new year started out very wet in parts of southeastern Brazil, bringing flooding rains this week to over 60 communities. Parts of the country north of Rio de Janeiro reported over a 10 inches of rain this week. A number of deaths were reported due to flood waters as the rains continued in the higher landscape positions creating huge volumes of runoff in watersheds that flowed through towns and cities. For the second consecutive January flood waters have forced the evacuation of thousands of homes there, complicated by a dam bursting as well.

According to the NOAA-Storm Prediction Center the nation has been spared any severe weather reports Next Day » through the first 6 days of 2012. Further their models show no severe weather threats on the horizon through January 8th.

According to Munich Re, one of the world's largest reinsurance firms, 2011 was the costliest year in history in terms of weather damages. It is estimated that total insured damage and loss worldwide was near one third of a trillion dollars. Earthquakes and tsunamis accounted for over half the loss. You can read more about their findings here.

MPR listener question

Do you see signs of real winter coming later this month? Surely we'll see below zero degrees F and some significant snowfall, won't we?

Answer: Indeed, it is too early to dismiss winter. Weather models are suggesting a transition over January 11-13 across Minnesota, as strong winds usher in colder air and a chance for significant snowfall at mid-month, especially in northern Minnesota. I don't know how long it will last, but it will certainly feel more like winter by late next week.

Almanac for January 6th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 22 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 5 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for January 6th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 49 degrees F in 1900; lowest daily maximum temperature of -14 degrees F in 1909; lowest daily minimum temperature of -27 degrees F in 1887 and 1912; highest daily minimum temperature of 35 degrees F in 1928; record precipitation of 0.40 inches in 1967; record snowfall is a 5.2 inches in 1932.

Average dew point for January 6th is 6 degrees F, with a maximum of 33 degrees F in 1965 and a minimum of -34 degrees F in 1942.

All-time state records for January 6th

Scanning the state climatic data base: the all-time high for this date is 53 degrees F at Bird Island (Renville County) in 1900. The all-time record low for this date is a very cold -55 degrees F at International Falls (Koochiching County) in 1909. The all-time record precipitation amount for this date is 3.00 inches at Fergus Falls (Otter Tail County) in 1997. State record snowfall for this date is 19.0 inches at Hinckley (Pine County) in 1997.

Past Weather Features:

This Saturday, January 7th, marks the anniversary of one of the state's most lethal blizzards. In 1873, the New Ulm observer called it the "most violent snow storm" he had ever witnessed, as within seconds visibility was reduced to less than 20 yards by snowfall and winds of 45 mph. The storm raged from the 7th to the 10th of January. Wind chill conditions, though unmeasured back then, were very dangerous, and with the absence of any visibility farmers strung ropes between home and barn so they wouldn't become lost going to tend their animals. Still, 70 people lost their lives and hundreds of livestock perished as well. This three-day blizzard was one of the longest lived of the 19th Century, leaving drifts over 10 feet high that blocked trains for days.

January 6-8, 1887 brought a cold wave to Minnesota, as many observers reported constant temperature readings below 0 F. Temperatures fell to -42 degrees F at St Vincent, -38 degrees F at Spring Valley, and -34 degrees F at Bird Island. It proved to be one of the coldest Januarys in state history.

January 5-7, 1909 brought another cold wave to the state with temperatures falling to -30 degrees or colder in over 30 Minnesota communities. And yet another cold wave dominated the first half of January in 1912 bringing many mornings with temperatures in the -30s and -40s F. On January 6th the observer at Hallock reported a daytime high of only -24 degrees F.

Conversely on January 6, 1900 a brief one day January thaw brought temperatures in the 40s F with several communities reaching into the 50s F.

Both 1994 and 1997 brought snowy starts to the month of January. In January of 1994 some observers reported snow over the first seven days, with amounts ranging from 3-10 inches on the 6th. Over January 4-6, 1997 northern observers reported 6-20 inches of snowfall and Eveleth reported a snow depth of 45 inches (where are the snowshoes?). Lutsen ended up with over 53 inches of snowfall that month.


Partly cloudy skies and above normal temperatures over the weekend, with little chance for precipitation. Continuing that way early next week, then a chance for snow towards the end of next week with strong winds and a significant cooling trend.
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