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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.

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.


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.

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.


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. 

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