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Preliminary January Climate Summary

Preliminary January Climate Summary:

Despite some temporary visits by Arctic air masses which brought sub-zero temperature readings on at least 7 days, January mean temperatures around the state generally will end up ranging from 1 to 5 degrees F warmer than normal at most locations, a typical signature for an El Nino winter. Extremes for the month ranged from daytime highs in the mid 40s F on January 27th, to a low of just -36°F at Cotton (St Louis County) on the 12th.

January was generally drier than normal, falling 0.1 to 0.25 inches less than normal. Most observers reported less than a half inch of precipitation. Though snowfalls were relatively numerous, amounts were pretty modest. Most climate stations reported less than 6 inches for the month. Only a few locations in northeastern counties received over 10 inches for the month.

It was mostly a cloudy month with fewer than normal sunny days. Mean wind speeds were less than normal as well.

Annual Climate Adaptation Partnership Conference:

Thursday, January 28th brought the annual statewide Climate Adaptation Conference, hosted at the DoubleTree in North Minneapolis. Over 260 people attended, sharing and learning about climate adaptation going on in Minnesota. Awards were presented for exemplary work in climate adaptation to: the Macalester College Ready and Resilient Climate Adaptation Research Team (RRCART); the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Section; Sunny Ruthchild of Merryweather Farms in southwestern Minnesota; and Jason Edens, Director of Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL). Congratulations to these winners.

20th Anniversary of the Coldest Groundhog's Day in History:

On Tuesday of next week, February 2nd, we mark the 20th Anniversary of the Coldest Groundhog's Day in history. It was February 2, 1996 when 13 Minnesota communities reported morning lows of -50°F or colder, including the state record low of -60°F at Tower (St Louis County). It was -42°F as far south as Rushford. By February 8th Tower had warmed from -60°F to a daytime high of 48°F, a temperature rise of 108°F. The Minnesota State Climatology Office web site hosts more details about this episode in Minnesota's weather history.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

A large blizzard brought plenty of snow and wind to the mid-Atlantic states last weekend, closing down many services and highways in several states. Some storm total snowfall amounts included: over 30 inches in Baltimore, MD; 40 inches in Oakland, MD; over 3 feet of snow in Round Hill and Winchester, VA, and Somerset, PA; and over 30 inches at JFK Airport in New York. Many businesses and offices were closed early on Friday (Jan 22) as well as Monday, January 25th. NOAA's National Center for Environmental Information provided a detailed analysis of this storm, ranking it as a Category 4 on the Regional Snowfall Index.

Speaking of snow, heavy snow blanketed parts of Israel, Syria and the Middle East this week, bringing traffic to a stop in many places. Heavy snows were reported in Jerusalem and Hebron, and Palestinian Schools were closed for up to 3 days this week. Syrian refugees in Lebanon had to make do in makeshift shelters enduring the cold and the snow using fire pits and other forms of heat.

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NOAA scientists along with the University of Colorado released a new study this week suggesting that the USA could slash greenhouse gas emissions by 78 percent below 1990 levels over the next 15 years and meet growing energy demands by more widely deploying commercially available technologies to transition to solar and wind power systems.

Tropical Cyclone Stan developed off the coast of Western Australia late this week. It is expected to be a Category 3 storm by the time it comes ashore near Port Hedland this weekend, with winds from 90-100 mph and heavy rainfall.

MPR Listener Question:

After hearing you talk about some of the warmest years in Minnesota history last week on the radio with Cathy, my husband and I wondered what are the coldest years in Minnesota history and were they all many decades ago?


On a statewide basis, the coldest 10 years (including ties) in history back to 1895 are
1. 1917 statewide average temperature 35.7F
2. 1950 statewide average temperature 36.5F
3. 1916 and 1951 statewide average temperature 37.2F
4. 1904 statewide average temperature 37.3F
5. 1907 and 1929 statewide average temperature 37.5F
6. 1996 statewide average temperature 37.6F
7. 1924 and 1972 statewide average temperature 37.7F
8. 1979 statewide average temperature 37.8F
9. 1936 statewide average temperature 37.9F
10. 1903 and 1912 statewide average temperature 38.0F

So none of these are recent. The most recent is 20 years ago in 1996.

Twin Cities Almanac for January 29th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 25 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 8 degrees F (plus or minus 15 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for January 29th:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 49 degrees F in 1931; lowest daily maximum temperature of -15 degrees F in 1951: lowest daily minimum temperature is -29 degrees F in 1951; highest daily minimum temperature of 34 °F in 1906; record precipitation of 0.52 inches 2001; and record snowfall of 5.3 inches in 1967.

Average dew point for January 29th is 3 degrees F, with a maximum of 36 degrees F in 1983 and a minimum of -38 degrees F in 1966.

All-time state records for January 29th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 60 degrees F at Canby (Yellow Medicine County) in 1931. The state record low temperature for this date is -54 degrees F at Pokegama Dam (Itasca County) in 1899. State record precipitation for this date is 1.84 inches at Windom (Cottonwood County) in 1909; and record snowfall is 19.0 inches at Lutsen (Cook County) in 1996.

Past Weather Features:

An Arctic air mass gripped Minnesota over January 27-30, 1899 producing sub-zero temperature readings in every corner of the state. Eight communities reported morning lows of -40°F or colder, and the temperatures remained colder the -15°F all four days at Tower and Roseau.

Another Arctic air mass made a brief visit to Minnesota on January 29, 1908 pushing temperatures down to -40°F or colder in seven Minnesota communities.

A strong winter storm brought rain, sleet, and snow to Minnesota over January 28-29, 1909. There was even thunder snow reported in the Pipestone area. The mixture of precipitation produced some record daily amounts over 1 inch in places like New Ulm, Caledonia, and Redwood Falls. Some western Minnesota communities reported over 10 inches of snow.

Another strong winter storm brought a mixture of precipitation to the state over January 26-29, 1916. Many observers reported 12 to 25 inches of snow, with 3 foot drifts. Schools and railroads were closed. A severe ice storm struck the southeastern Minnesota counties bringing down trees, poles, and power lines. Some schools were closed for days.

The warmest January 29th in state history occurred in 1931. South winds and sunny skies brought warmer temperatures in the 40s and 50s F to almost all areas of the state except the north shore along Lake Superior. It was 52°F as far north as Moorhead. Over 20 communities reported afternoon highs in the low to mid 50s F.


Mild temperatures over the weekend and into Monday with chances for occasional and mixed precipitation, perhaps even freezing rain late Saturday. Transition on Tuesday with passage of a strong low pressure system to the south, may bring significant snow across portions of southern Minnesota. Colder temperatures for Wednesday through Friday of next week.
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