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Snow Update

Snow Update:

This week brought a light dusting of snow to many Minnesota communities.  Most received less than an inch, although a few observers reported 1-2 inches.  This trend is disconcerting for snow lovers as the seasonal snowfall totals continue to lag behind normal, and especially when compared to the numbers from the past two winters. 

So far this month only a few places have seen over 10 inches of snowfall, and when considering the seasonal snowfall totals going back to last November most places in the state have seen less than 25 inches.  Some of the snowiest places this winter include Embarrass, Kabetogama, and Chisholm with over 30 inches, International Falls with 36 inches, and Isabella with 45 inches.  Conversely, Pokegama Dam in Itasca County, normally a snowy spot in the state has reported less than a foot.

For the balance of the month it looks like there will be several opportunities to see significant snowfalls, including Saturday and Sunday nights of this coming weekend.  The northeastern counties like Aitkin, Carlton, St Louis, Itasca, and Lake experienced some unfortunate freezing drizzle and rain on Friday morning, January 23rd.  School starts were delayed and travel was icy for sometime.

New Seasonal Climate Outlooks:

The NOAA Climate Prediction Center released some new seasonal climate outlooks on Thursday this week (Jan 23).  They call for equal chances of above or below normal temperature and precipitation over the February through April period across Minnesota.  Perhaps the most significant aspect of the new climate model outlooks is that they favor a warmer than normal spring season, starting with the March through May period and extending through the April-June period.  This would be a significant break from the past two spring seasons.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

"Icebox Days" were celebrated last weekend at International Falls with several special events, including: frozen turkey bowling, a can-crushing contest, a toilet seat toss, and the Freeze Yer Gizzard Blizzard Run.  A good time was had by all.   St Paul is currently celebrating the Winter Carnival, with ice sculptures, crashed ice course racing, concerts, and other activities.

Earlier this week NOAA scientists provided an analysis of the trends in Arctic Sea Ice, and especially the overall loss of old sea ice over the past several decades.  There is an animation of the loss of Arctic Sea Ice over the period from 1987 to 2014 that shows the enormous amount of change taking place there. 

Western Australia reported near record summer high temperatures this week with readings that ranged from 112F to 118F.  The heat was expected to moderate this week dropping readings below 100F in many places. 

The BBC Weather Centre recently rain a nice feature article on the ice fogs of China.  There are some Chinese landscapes that are frequented by ice fogs during the winter season and as a result they offer some spectacular scenery for visitors. 

 MPR Listener Question:

I noticed that our greatest single day snowfall so far this winter in the Twin Cities is only 3.4 inches back on December 27th.  What is the average annual maximum single day snowfall for the Twin Cities?


Data since 1884 show that the average annual maximum daily snowfall in the Twin Cities area is approximately 6 inches.  Of course there have been winters when that amount has never been measured, but on the other hand there have also been winters when 6 or more inches has occurred five times.  It is interesting to note that the month with the highest historical frequency for snowfalls of 6 or more inches is March.

Twin Cities Almanac for January 23rd:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 22 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 4 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 53 degrees F in 1942; lowest daily maximum temperature of -16 degrees F in 1936; lowest daily minimum temperature is -34 degrees F in 1886; highest daily minimum temperature of 35 F in 1909; record precipitation of 0.85 inches 1871; and record snowfall is 5.7 inches in 1949.

Average dew point for January 23rd is 6 degrees F, with a maximum of 40 degrees F in 1909 and a minimum of -42 degrees F in 1963.

All-Time State Records for January 23rd:

The state record high temperature for this date is 62 degrees F at Itasca State Park (Clearwater County) in 1942. The state record low temperature for this date is -55 degrees F at Warroad (Roseau County) in 1936. State record precipitation for this date is 1.43 inches at Stillwater (Washington County) in 1982; and the state record snowfall for this date is 17.0 inches at Stillwater (Washington County) in 1982.

Past Weather Features:

January 23, 1935 was extremely cold, with 30 Minnesota communities reporting low temperatures of -40F or colder.  The high temperature at Ada and Fosston that day was -20F.  The very next year, January 23, 1936 was arguably even colder with worse wind chill conditions.  The temperature at Warroad started out in the morning at -55F and never rose above -27F during the day.  Bear in mind that most homes were heated by wood stoves in those days as well.

January 23, 1942 was by far the warmest in state history.  Over 110 Minnesota communities saw the afternoon temperature reach 50F or higher that day, while Milaca and Itasca State Park reached 60 F under bright, sunny skies.  There was little or no snow on the ground.

January 22-23, 1982 brought a very heavy snow storm to the state, depositing over a foot of snow in many places.  Some areas around central Minnesota received 20 inches of snow.  This storm came on the heels of another significant snow storm only a few days earlier, so that over the course of the week many observers had received 30 or more inches of snow.  This produced a number of roof collapses, as well as problems with ice dams on many buildings.


Temperatures generally above normal into the weekend with a chance for significant snow later on Saturday and into early Sunday, then again on Sunday night and into Monday morning.  Snowfall totals from these back to back storms my range from 3-6 inches in places. Generally dry next week with milder than normal temperatures cooler down towards next weekend.



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