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Snowy Week

Snow dominated the weather this week, especially over January 8-11. Daily amounts were generally modest, but made for difficult travel at times, especially commuter times in the Twin Cities area. Many climate observers reported multi-day snowfall totals ranging from 4 to 10 inches. There were some new daily snowfall records set at Minnesota and regional climate stations. Some examples:
On January 10th: 4.0" at Rothsay and Glenwood; 4.5" at Winona Dam; and 5.2" at Milan
On January 11th: 4.0" at La Crescent and Embarrass; 4.5" at Minnesota City; 5.2" at Wabasha; and 6.1" at Eau Claire, WI.

With the snow, came an invasion of polar air which made temperatures tumble to below zero F readings around the state. Minnesota reported the nation’s coldest temperature three times this week. On January 8th Cotton (St Louis County) reported a minimum temperature of -34°F. This was not only the coldest reading in Minnesota that day, but the coldest in the nation as well. Then on January 12 Hibbing reported -31°F, Embarrass reported -32°F and Cotton reported -35°F, coldest in the nation. Finally on January 13th, International Falls and Embarrass reported a morning low of -39°F and Cotton reported -42°F, coldest in the nation again. Fortunately moderating temperatures are seen for the coming weekend, with a more dramatic warm up starting by the middle of next week.

Summary of 2016 Minnesota Climate Features:

The Minnesota State Climatology Office has produced a summary of the major climate features of 2016 in Minnesota. You might find it to be interesting, with trend analysis as well as a description of the 5 most notable events.

The Winter Misery Index (WMI):

The WMI is used to rate each winter based on cold temperatures, snowfall, and snow cover calculated as number of days with 12" or greater. Index points are accumulated for everyday with a maximum temperature of 10°F or colder, minimum temperature of 0°F or colder, and or a snowfall of 1" or greater. Various caveats apply to more extreme temperatures and snowfalls.

The Minnesota State Climatology Office updated the Winter Misery Index for the Twin Cities this week. So far points accumulated for cold temperatures and snow have totaled 42 which is classified as "a Mild Winter." They note that 14 more points brought by cold temperatures or more snowfall will place this winter in the "moderate' category.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

NOAA posted an interesting article this week about billion-dollar weather and climate disasters which occurred around the country during 2016. Here is an excerpt:
"The year 2016 was an unusual year, as there were 15 weather and climate events with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the United States. These events included drought, wildfire, 4 inland flood events, 8 severe storm events, and a tropical cyclone event……. Cumulatively, these 15 events led to 138 fatalities and caused $46.0 billion in total, direct costs. The 2016 total was the second highest annual number of U.S. billion-dollar disasters (1980-present), behind the 16 events that occurred in 2011." Read more at the NOAA Climate web site.

Yet another interesting article from NOAA appeared this week quantifying the extraordinary warm year in 2016 for Alaska. This appeared under the title "2016 Shatters Record for Alaska's Warmest Year." It was their warmest year in history by a wide margin. Among the details reported was a notation that it was the first year in history that Nome's annual temperature was above freezing (32.5°F).

In contrast to Minnesota temperatures the Australian Bureau of Meteorology reported this week that a persistent Heat Wave was underway in portions of Queensland and New South Wales, where afternoon temperatures were consistently ranging from 107°F to 114°F. Some moderation will occur by Sunday afternoon with temperatures falling back closer to normal.

MPR listener question:

Recently you updated us on seasonal snowfall around the state, noting that it is generally below normal in the south, and above normal in the north. Which Minnesota location or area has received the most snowfall so far this season?


In general norther St Louis County has received the most snowfall this season in Minnesota, over 60 inches in many areas. Snow depth in that region of the state ranges from 24 to 32 inches. Among the official climate stations, Kabetogama is the winner with 73 inches reported so far.

Twin Cities Almanac for January 13th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 23 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 7 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for January 13th:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 48 degrees F in 1891, 1980, and 1987; lowest daily maximum temperature of -14 degrees F in 1916; lowest daily minimum temperature is -30 degrees F in 1916; highest daily minimum temperature of 34 degrees F in 1960; record precipitation of 0.37 inches in 1887; and a record snowfall of 6.0 inches in 1967.

Average dew point for January 13th is 9 degrees F, with a maximum of 37 degrees F in 1947 and a minimum of -33 degrees F in 1982.

All-time state records for January13th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 60 degrees F at Lamberton (Redwood County) in 1987. The state record low temperature for this date is -50 degrees F at Bagley (Clearwater County) in 1916. State record precipitation for this date is 1.41 inches at Grand Marais (Cook County) in 2008; and record snowfall is 15.0 inches also at Grand Marais (Cook County) in 2008.

Past Weather Features:

A fast-moving winter storm brought 6-14 inches of snowfall to portions of southern Minnesota on January 13, 1910. Schools closed in the Rochester area.

January 13, 1916 brought brutally cold temperatures to Minnesota. Over 25 climate stations reported morning low temperatures of -40°F or colder. The afternoon high temperature at Morris, Hallock and Fosston topped out at -25°F. Wind chill values around the state ranged from -55°F to -65°F.

A strong January Thaw prevailed over the 11th through the 14th in 1987, resulting in the warmest January 13th in state history. Over 50 climate stations reported daytime highs in the 50s F that day with a general absence of snow cover and bright sunshine.

A series of low pressure systems brought a week of daily snowfall to the state over January 8-14, 1999. The Twin Cities received over 15 inches making for difficult commutes on the perimeter highway system. In central Minnesota counties snowplows were called out on a daily basis to keep some highways open.

A very localized storm brought heavy snow to portions of the north shore of Lake Superior over January 12-13, 2008. Many upland areas away from Highway 61 reported 6-12 inches, while the area around Grand Marais reported 20 inches.


Most sunny over the weekend with temperatures climbing to above normal values by late Sunday. Increasing cloudiness Sunday night into Monday (Martin Luther King Day) with a chance for mixed precipitation, perhaps freezing rain in the southeastern sections. Chance of snow on Tuesday with warming temperatures for the rest of next week, and high temperatures that reach above freezing.

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