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Mixed precipitation this week with some records

Mixed precipitation this week with some records

The last week of January brought a good deal of moisture to the state in the form of rain, freezing rain, drizzle, sleet, and snow, along with some dense fog as well. Starting Sunday, January 27th dewpoints climbed into the 20s and 30s F, and sleet and freezing rain began in southern parts of the state about midday. By Monday hundreds of accidents had been reported on slick roads. The Twin Cities reported a new record amount of precipitation for the date with 0.49 inches. In Monday (January 28) reports there were also several record setting amounts of precipitation received, including 0.53 inches at Fargo (ND), Moorhead, St Peter, and Jordan, along with 0.65 inches at Worthington. Moorhead also reported a record snowfall on the 28th with 5.8 inches. As the colder air moved over the state on Tuesday, another round of precipitation brought mostly snow, and some record-setting amounts. New snowfall records for January 29th were set at the following locations:
12.0 inches at Detroit Lakes
10.5 inches at Breckenridge and Cass Lake
10.0 inches at Rothsay, Itasca State Park, and Bigfork
9.5 inches at Pelican Rapids (with a new precipitation record of 0.70 inches)
8.5 inches at Littlefork
8.0 inches at Kettle Falls, Kabetogama, and Bemidji
6.8 inches at Hawley

Yet another round of snow on January 30th came to southeastern Minnesota, where Rushford and LaCrescent reported a record 4.0 inches. For many these last days of the month rescued what was an otherwise dry January, bringing monthly precipitation amounts closer to normal or even a little above normal in many areas,especially in the north. The month ended (Jan 31) with dry air and another round of dangerous windchill values ranging from -20 to -40 degrees F. By Friday morning, February 1st Park Rapids and Fosston reported morning lows of -35 degrees F.

Preliminary Climate Summary for January 2013

Despite some cold temperature outbreaks the average January temperature reported by most Minnesota observers ranged from 1 to 2 degrees F warmer than normal. Extremes for the month ranged from 52 degrees F at the Waskish Airport on January 10th to -42 degrees F at Embarrass on the 24th. Grand Marais reported a windchill reading of -54 degrees F on the 21st.

Total precipitation for the month of January was mixed, with some significantly above normal values reported, and a few below normal values reported. Most of the above normal amounts of precipitation occurred in northern counties where many reported over 1 inch for the month. Grand Rapids, International Falls, Backus, Cook, and Kabetogama all reported over 2 inches. Snowfall was scarce in many western and southern counties with less than 3 inches reported in a number of places. In the north snowfall was abundant, with many areas reporting over a foot. International Falls, Kettle Falls, Kabetogama, and Orr reported over 20 inches. End of the month snow depths in northern counties ranged from 15 to 20 inches, while bare ground was still visible in parts of the Red River Valley. Frost depths ranged from 15 to 30 inches in the soil.

Freezing rain and ice visited the state on two or three occasions during the month leading to a number of accidents. Winds peaked on the 19th of the month with many observers reporting 40-50 mph gusts.

Weekly Weather potpourri

The NOAA Storm Prediction Center was busy this week. On January 30th severe thunderstorms in the southeast and mid-Atlantic states brought damaging winds, with hundreds of reports filed from TN, KY, AL, GA, NC, FL, SC, and VA among other states. There were also seven tornado reports filed from Georgia, some with significant structural damage to buildings and several injuries (among them in Adairsville, GA). SPC documented 37 tornado reports nationwide during January, a below average number for the month. SPC expects a quiet period through the weekend in terms of severe weather threats as we start the month of February.

Strong Tropical Cyclone Felleng formed in the Southern Indian Ocean this week and was threatening Madagascar with strong winds, high seas and heavy rainfall. There were reports of 8-10 inches of rainfall in eastern parts of Madagascar. Winds were gusting to 110 mph on Thursday (Jan 31) producing sea wave heights of 30 to 35 feet. The cyclone was expected to head south between Madagascar and La Reunion Island, then weaken considerably over the weekend.

The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) hosts its annual meeting in Vienna, Austria next week. It is a showcase for developments in wind energy technologies and services with participation by over 700 members from 60 countries. This year's conference will present a focus on economic opportunities associated with wind energy. You can read more about this organization and conference here.

News reports this week highlighted more intense air pollution in parts of China, especially in Beijing where residents were more frequently wearing masks. Smog was making the air quality hazardous in a variety of ways, cancelling airline flights and closing highways due to poor visibility and causing respiratory ailments among citizens. Snow and rain were expected to help clean the air by the weekend. You can read more about this here.

A new paper published by the University of New Hampshire documents that independent voters views on climate change are highly governed by recent weather conditions. Ten surveys were conducted of independent voters and all showed that their positions on climate change were swayed if recent days were unseasonably warm or unseasonably cold. Conversely, Democrats and Republicans held firmer positions on climate change, that were not dramatically influenced recent weather trends. You can read more about this study here.

A new paper in the journal Nature documents how precipitation patterns vary during warming periods provoked by increased solar radiation versus the current warming provoked by greenhouse gases. The research highlights that differences in sea surface temperature patterns have major effects on precipitation, especially convective storms. You can read more about this study here.

The NOAA Southeast Regional Climate Center has documented the climatology for all Super Bowls from 1967-2012. It is interesting reading to see how the weather has varied for this significant event despite the fact that most of the time it is played in the southern USA where the weather is relatively mild. Interestingly enough, next year's Super Bowl is scheduled for East Rutherford, NJ outdoors, so it could be played in snow and cold. You can read more here.

MPR listener question

I am still hoping this will turn out to be a snowy winter, so I can do more cross country skiing. What is the state record for snowfall in the month of February?

Answer: Several observers have reported as much as 40 inches of snowfall during the month of February, notably in 1922 and 1939. The statewide record is from Pigeon River Bridge (Cook County) where they reported 51 inches for the month in 1939. That is close to a year's worth in 28 days!

Twin Cities Almanac for February 1st

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 3 degrees F (plus or minus 15 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for February 1st

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 54 degrees F in 1931; lowest daily maximum temperature of -12 degrees F in 1996; lowest daily minimum temperature of -28 F in 1951; highest daily minimum temperature of 33 F in 1892; and record precipitation of 0.89 inches in 1922; Record snowfall is 6.7 inches in 2004.

Average dew point for February 1st is 3 degrees F, with a maximum of 35 degrees F in 1931 and a minimum of -35 degrees F in 1951.

All-time state records for February 1st

The state record high temperature for this date is 60 degrees F at St Peter (Nicollet County) in 1931. The state record low temperature for this date is -58 degrees F at Tower (St Louis County) in 1996. State record precipitation for this date is 1.85 inches at Fairmont (Martin County) in 1915; and the state record snowfall for this date is 18.5 inches also at Fairmont (Martin County) in 1915.

Past Weather Features:

A strong winter storm brought blizzard like conditions to southern Minnesota over January 31 to February 1, 1915. Snowfall amounts over 10 inches were reported by many observers, topped by Fairmont which measured 18.5 inches. It was the start of a very snowy February for many in Minnesota.

Another winter storm brought mixed precipitation and large amounts of snowfall to the state over January 30 to February 1, 1922. In western Minnesota many observers reported over 10 inches of snowfall, with huge drifts. A number of rural schools were closed for days until the snow melted.

February 1, 1931 was the warmest in state history. Over 35 Minnesota communities saw afternoon temperatures climb above 50 degrees F, while overnight lows remained in the 20s and 30s F. It was a precursor of things to come, as day after day was above normal. February of 1931 was the warmest in history at that time. It is still ranked as the 4th warmest in state history even today, surpassed only by 1998, 1987, and 1954.

February 1, 1996 was the coldest in state history. Arctic high pressure brought record-setting cold to most communities. Over 50 observers reported overnight lows of -40 degrees F or colder, and at least 10 observers were -50 degrees F or colder. It was -42 degrees F as far south as Rushford, MN.

Word of the Week: PING

A relatively new acronym, PING stands for Precipitation Identification Near the Ground, a program of NOAA's National Severe Storms Lab. As research attempt to calibrate NWS radar systems to estimate precipitation from radar return signals, they need ground truth, real observations of precipitation at ground level. In this context they are looking for more weather observers in our area to report when precipitation is falling, what type it is (frozen or liquid), and how much has fallen. If you become an observer for them it is easy to report your data via website access or over your mobile device (cell phone). You can read more about PING here.


Moderating temperatures with chances for snow on Saturday and Sunday. Continued chance for snow Monday and Tuesday, especially southern and eastern sections. More of a warming trend on Wednesday and Thursday with chances for snow by the end of the week.
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