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Some Record Snows and January Climate Summary

Some Record Snows on January 25th:

A slow moving winter storm brought heavy snowfall to portions of southern Minnesota and northern Iowa over January 24-25 this week. Snowfall reports generally ranged from 5 to 12 inches, especially south of I90. The wet of the heavy, wet snow caused some tree breakage, as well as sporadic power outages, and a number of schools closed on Wednesday the 25th. Some new daily record amounts of snowfall reported included: 11.5" at Mason City (IA); 9.0" at Grand Meadow; 8.0" at Austin and Spring Valley; 7.0" at Lakefield and Albert Lea; 6.0" at Rochester and Hokah; and 5.0" at Winnebago. The National Weather Service-La Crosse, WI Office posted a summary.

Preliminary Climate Summary for January 2017:

As we end the month of January early next week most of Minnesota's climate observers are reporting mean monthly temperature values that are from 5 to 7 degrees F warmer than normal. For the Twin Cities January marks the 17th consecutive month with above normal temperatures, while on a statewide basis it is the 9th consecutive month of above normal temperatures. Extreme temperature values for the month ranged from -46°F at Cotton (St Louis County) on the 14th to a high of 48°F at several locations over the 18th and 19th. In terms of record-setting daily temperatures, 31 daily record maximum temperature records were tied or set over the warm period from the 17th to the 21st, while over the same period 90 daily warm minimum temperature records were tied or set. Conversely, only three record low temperatures were reported during the month, all on the 13th, including a reading of -42°F at Cotton (St Louis County). In addition three new record cold maximum daily temperatures were reported, including -14°F at Thorhult (Beltrami County) on the 13th. Minnesota reported the coldest temperature in the nation four times during the month, including a reading of -42°F on the 13th and -46°F on the 14th both at Cotton (St Louis County).

Most climate observers around the state reported near normal January precipitation totals, but those in south-central and southeastern counties reported above normal amounts. In fact for southeastern counties it was the 7th wettest January in history (back to 1895) with an average monthly total over 2 inches. The driest part of the state was southwestern Minnesota where precipitation fell short of normal. Extreme values ranged from less than a quarter of an inch in many western communities to 2.65 inches at La Crescent and Austin.
January snowfall around the state generally was less than 9 inches in most places, although some observers reported over 15 inches. Northern portions of St Louis County had the most with Cook reporting 19 inches and Kabetogama reporting over 20 inches. In addition to the snow storm on January 25th (described above), some other storms brought record-setting daily values of snowfall around the state. On January 3rd new record amounts included: 9.2" at Kabetogama; 8.0" at Thief River Falls and Argyle; 6.5" at Orr; and 6.4" at Tower. On January 11th new record amounts included: 5.2" at Wabasha; 4.5" at Minnesota City; and 4.0" at La Crescent and Embarass.

January 10th and 12th were the windiest days of the month, with several climate stations reporting wind gusts over 40 mph on those dates.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

The National Weather Service in Chanhassen provided a nice summary of the January Thaw period which ended this week after 8 consecutive days with maximum temperatures above freezing in the Twin Cities. They also summarized the period for St Cloud and Eau Claire as well. It was not record-setting for longevity, but it certainly was unusual, embedded with over 96 consecutive hours above the freezing mark. (Thanks to NWS - Michelle Margraf for these data.)

NOAA scientists now offer a visual animation of Earth's temperature history to vividly see the pronounced warming that has occurred since 1880. See NOAA News Features for more.

The Midwest Regional Climate Center, along with Illinois and Indiana SEA Grant program have provided an online tool to assess flood vulnerability for critical facilities. This can be applied to a number of structures whether they reside along a designated floodplain or not. It takes about 45 minutes to 1.5 hours to do a complete assessment.

A recent study from Oregon State University scientists has documented the linkage between warm North Pacific Ocean water temperatures and toxic algal blooms that dominated coastal regions of the USA during 2015. The high levels of toxic algal blooms were related to the temporary closure of crab fisheries in Oregon and Washington.

Another recent paper from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst documents how the great volcanic eruption of Mt Tambora in 1815 altered the climate of the Northern Hemisphere during 1816 ("the year without a summer") and profoundly affected the fisheries off the coast of Maine. The alteration in climate changed the abundance and distribution of fish species in the area which lasted for years.

MPR listener question:

Seems like this run of cloudy days is the longest of the winter so far. I haven't seen the sun since last Thursday (Jan 19). Am I right?


Yes indeed. We have had essentially 7 consecutive days of complete cloud cover, the longest continuous period since the end of October (25th to the 31st). In fact solar radiation data from the St Paul Campus Climate Observatory show that from January 20-26 we measured only about one-third of average solar radiation, all of it coming from diffuse light from the clouds overhead. This is a record low value for the week, with data going back to 1963. See graphic (thanks to Dave Ruschy for this information).

Twin Cities Almanac for January 27th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 24 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 27th:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 47 degrees F in 1934; lowest daily maximum temperature of -10 degrees F in 1915; lowest daily minimum temperature is -23 degrees F in 1950; highest daily minimum temperature of 35 degrees F in 1944; record precipitation of 0.49 inches in 2013; and a record snowfall of 3.8 inches in 1916`.

Average dew point for January 27th is 1°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 35°F in 1944; and the minimum dew point on this date is -32°F in 1966.

All-Time State Records for January 27th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 61 degrees F at Lakefield (Jackson County) in 2002. The state record low temperature for this date is -54 degrees F at Pokegama Dam (Itasca County) in 1904. State record precipitation for this date is 1.55 inches at Canby (Yellow Medicine County) in 1944; and record snowfall is 18.0 inches at Hokah (Houston County) in 1996.

Past Weather Features:

An Arctic air mass brought record cold temperatures to the state over January 27-28, 1915. Low temperatures in the -30s F and -40s F were common in northern and central Minnesota. The temperature rose no higher than -15°F at New London (Kandiyohi County). As far south as St Charles (Winona County) the temperature dropped to -38°F. Abundant snow cover amplified the cold.

A slow moving storm brought a mixture of rain, sleet, freezing rain, and snow to Minnesota over January 27-28, 1944. Many areas received over an inch of rainfall, while areas of the Red River Valley received from 4 to 8 inches of snow.

Back to back storms brought heavy snows to many parts of the state over January 25-29, 1996. Many observers reported 6 to 10 inches of snow, but heavier amounts fell across southern counties. La Crescent, Lanesboro, and Spring Valley received over 20 inches, while Hokah reported 28 inches. Blizzard conditions closed many roads in southern Minnesota including Interstate90 where over 200 cars were abandoned. Snow drifts as high as 15 feet were reported in Houston County.

January 26-27, 2002 brought record warm temperatures to many parts of the state. Many areas of western and southern Minnesota reached the 50s F, while places like Lakefield, Worthington, Winnebago, Amboy, and Windom saw afternoon temperatures reach 60°F or greater.


Mostly cloudy over the weekend with a chance for snow flurries Saturday and perhaps more widespread snow on Sunday. Temperatures will remain a few degrees warmer than normal with highs in the 20s and 30s F. There will be an increasing chance for snow on Monday and Tuesday, then breezy and drier for the balance of next week.
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