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Looking Back at the Snowstorm of January 22nd

Looking Back at the Snowstorm of January 22nd:

Over the weekend just ahead of the January 22nd snow storm, many Minnesota communities reported record high temperatures as sunny skies and southerly winds were prevalent across many parts of the state. Temperatures climbed into the 40s F in many areas of the state, including 44 degrees F at Moose Lake and 45 degrees F at Brainerd (on the 20th), and where snow cover was absent or sparse even greater temperatures were reported like 46 degrees F at Worthington and 48 degrees F at Browns Valley on the 21st. In addition in many areas of the state dew points climbed into the mid 30s F, near record high territory for late January, and indicating a high amount of water vapor in the air mass over the state.

This helped to set up a significant snowfall across many parts of southern Minnesota on January 22nd, and especially across the Twin Cities Metro Area. During the peak of the storm, roughly 1pm to 6pm, maximum snowfall accumulation rates ranged from 1 to 2 inches per hour in many areas. With winds gusting from 35 to 47 mph in many southern counties blizzard conditions prevailed and caused the closure of many roads, as well as many school cancellations.

Because of the famous and record-setting snow storm of January 22, 1982 when many climate observers reported 16 to 24 inches of snowfall, the snow storm on Monday did not produce as many new daily records as thought. However some Minnesota climate observers did report either a new record daily snowfall amount or because of the high water content in the snow a new record daily precipitation amount (liquid) for the date. Among these reports were:
MSP 1.03 inches of precipitation
Amboy 10.0 inches of snow, and 0.62 inches of precipitation
Jordan 12.8 inches of snow, and 1.11 inches of precipitation
Rosemount 11.0 inches of snow, and 0.58 inches of precipitation
Worthington 10.0 inches of snow, and 0.95 inches of precipitation
Windom 12.4 inches of snow, and 1.03 inches of precipitation
Winnebago 14.0 inches of snow, and 1.08 inches of precipitation
Owatonna 14.0 inches of snow, and 1.15 inches of precipitation
St James 15.0 inches of snow
Waseca 16.5 inches of snow
Fairmont 13.5 inches of snow
Lakefield 1.17 inches of precipitation

At this time of year, any daily precipitation amount over 1 inch is unusually high. The new snow cover was widely welcomed by those who have been waiting to sled or cross country ski.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

One of the NOAA Climate Blogs this week written by Deke Arndt features a look at climate extremes by state. This is an interesting read and gives some insight into the importance of having volunteer weather observers to not only report measured values from the instruments but also make commentary about unusual weather events in their area.

In the Southern Hemisphere New Zealand is reporting its hottest month of January in history, with temperatures in north Canterbury reaching 99 degrees F, unheard of territory. A vast percentage of January days have produced above normal temperatures across the country.

On Wednesday of this week Storm Georgina brought strong winds and heavy rains to many parts of the United Kingdom. Peak wind gusts in western Scotland approached 85 mph, while many other parts of the country reported wind gusts to 50 and 60 mph and some areas had heavy rains. Georgina was the 7th named storm of the winter season there.

A fascinating report called “The United States of Climate Change” was recently released and highlighted this week by the Weather Channel at This report looks at the state by state vulnerability to climate change and highlights some of the observed consequences. It is most comprehensive in detail and a very interesting read.

A quote from the Cloud Appreciation Society newsletter:

“The emotion is to be found in clouds,
not in the green solids of the sloping hills
or even in the gray signatures of rivers,
according to Constable, who was a student of clouds
and filled shelves of notebooks with their motion,
their lofty gesturing and sudden implication of weather.”

[From ‘Student of Clouds’ (1988) by Billy Collins]

MPR listener question:

I have heard you often say that in the middle of winter the temperatures pattern in Minnesota is often the opposite of that in Alaska. So I was wondering is that holding true again during this month of January?


Indeed that appears to be the case. Most observers throughout Minnesota are reporting mean monthly temperatures so far (Jan 1-24) that are 2 to 4 degrees F cooler than normal. Here are some values for January 1-24:
MSP 15.2 degrees F, -0.2 F cooler than normal
Rochester 12.6 degrees F, -3.0 F cooler than normal
Duluth 9.8 degrees F, -0.4 F cooler than normal

Now here are the corresponding values (Jan 1-24) for three major climate stations in Alaska:
Point Barrow -4.3 degrees F, +8.8 F above normal
Fairbanks -1.3 degrees F, +6.8 F above normal
Anchorage 22.4 degrees F, +5.2 F above average

I might further add that 37 new daily high temperature records have been set so far this month in the Alaska climate network.

Twin Cities Almanac for January 26th:

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 16 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for January 26th:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 52 degrees F in 1931; lowest daily maximum temperature of -9 degree F in 1904 and 1972; lowest daily minimum temperature of -26 degrees F in 1897; highest daily minimum temperature of 35 degrees F in 1911; record precipitation of 0.37 inches in 1910 and 1916. Record snowfall on this date is 7.4 inches in 2004.

Average dew point for January 26th is 1 degree F, with a maximum of 37 degrees F in 1944 and a minimum of -41 degrees F in 1946.

All-time state records for January 26th:

The all-time state high temperature for today's date is 63 degrees F at Winnebago (Faribault County) in 1944; the all-time state low for today's date is -55 degrees F at Pokegama Dam (Itasca County) in 1904. The all-time state record precipitation for this date is 1.00 inch at Grand Marais (Cook County) in 2004. Record snowfall is 24.0 inches at Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge (Becker County) in 2004.

Past Weather Features:

January 26, 1904 was likely the coldest in state history. With abundant snow cover, temperatures dropped to -30 degrees F or colder in 25 Minnesota communities, including as far south as Caledonia (Houston County) where the high temperature was -13 degrees F after a morning low of -30 degrees F. In the north, the afternoon high temperature at Tower was just negative 20 degrees F.

Back to back snow storms over January 26-29, 1916 delivered 15 to 25 inches of snow to many parts of central and northern Minnesota. Schools and businesses were closed and railroad service was hampered for days before the snow, sometimes in drifts of 15 feet could be cleared from the tracks.

January 26, 1944 was the warmest in state history with 30 climate stations reporting an afternoon high temperature of 50 degrees F or greater. Seven communities saw the mercury climb above 60 degrees F. Some city employees in Montevideo took lunch outside at picnic tables as the temperatures had climbed to 64 degrees F.

Over January 25-27, 2004 a massive snow storm blanketed the state. The heaviest snow fell in northeastern counties where Duluth reported over 27 inches and Two Harbors over 30 inches. Some northern Minnesota roads were closed to traffic until plows could remove the bulk of snow, which had accumulated in 10-12 foot drifts.


The weekend will start with warmer than normal temperatures on Saturday in many areas, then increasing cloudiness, chance for snow flurries in the north. Temperatures cool to below normal values for Sunday and Monday, then a warming trend for Tuesday and Wednesday with a chance for snow. Below normal temperatures will prevail for Thursday through Super Bowl weekend (Feb 4).

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Anonymous said…
Why do we combined the two storms this week into a total snowfall? Why aren’t the two back to back snowfalls in Jan 1982 combined?