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Climate Summary for January 2018

Climate Summary for January 2018:

Temperatures exhibited great variation during the month of January with daily departures that were over 20 degrees F above and below normal. Overall the mean temperatures for the month ended up from 1 to 2 degrees F cooler than normal, especially in NE and SE communities, to 1-2 degrees F warmer than normal in many other parts of the state. Extremes for the month ranged from 51 degrees F at Browns Valley (Traverse County) on the 20th to -46 degrees F at Embarrass (St Louis County) on the 14th. Minnesota reported the coldest temperature in the nation 8 times during the month, and on 6 of those dates the report was from Embarrass, MN. Four climate stations reported lows of -40 degrees F or colder, while five climate stations reported highs of 50 degrees F or greater.

For most of Minnesota January was drier than normal, with total precipitation (liquid water content) measured at 0.70 inches or less. Exceptions occurred in some south-central, east-central, and southeastern communities where precipitation totals for the month exceeded 1.50 inches. Grand Meadow (Mower County) reported 2.46 inches, their 3rd wettest January in history. Others reporting well above normal January precipitation included Waseca with 1.84 inches (14th wettest January) and MSP with 1.55 inches (20th wettest January).

As for snowfall, most locations in the state reported below normal snowfall for the month, with some exception in eastern and southern counties. Generally snowfall in western counties was below normal, and progressively more to the east. At least ten climate stations reported 20 inches or more, including the Twin Cities. Owatonna reported 23.1 inches of snow for the month.

Two other climate characteristics of note in January: the second half of the month brought much more sunlight than the first half, with several days having perfectly clear skies; for the southern half of the state it was a windy month of January with 8 to 12 days bringing winds gusts over 30 mph, and even 30-50 mph gusts during the blizzard on January 22nd.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

For Sunday, February 4, 2018 the Super Bowl will thankfully be played indoors at US Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis where it will be approximately 70 degrees F. The outside temperature will be the coldest in Super Bowl history with readings ranging between 0 and 3 degrees F and Wind Chill values of -10 to -15 degrees F. For the last Super Bowl hosted by the Twin Cities in 1992 in the Metrodome, the outdoor temperature was 26 degrees F. You can read more about the weather for Super Bowl weekend at the Minnesota State Climatology Office web site.

With the recent floods along the Seine River in Paris, there was a BBC Weather story about Parisians using the flood streets for wakeboarding behind the tow of a vehicle.

Powerful Cyclone Cebile was churning in the Southern Indian Ocean this week generating winds over 130 mph and sea waves of 30 feet. Strong as it is it was not presenting any threat to island nations there, through shipping traffic was diverted around it.

A new forecast published by scientists at the United Kingdom Met Office indicates the annual global average temperature is likely to exceed 1 °C and could reach 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels during the next five years (2018-2022).

In a news release issued this week NOAA scientists have produced monthly average temperature maps for each decade over the remainder of the 21st Century. The climate models that produced these maps use two different energy use projection scenarios and the maps show the disparity in the temperature increase among states. You can immediately notice a significant warming in Minnesota during the month of January, a trend that has been significant over the past two decades already.

This week there is an interesting article by Dr. Jeff Masters of the Weather Underground on the high wind speeds recorded during the passage of Category 5 Hurricane Irma over the Leeward Islands on September 6, 2017. The highest wind speeds recorded by NOAA instruments were between 115-120 mph, but a private weather station on St Barts recorded a wind gust of 199 mph before the instrument was destroyed by flying debris.

MPR listener question:

I noticed that we had two distinct multi-day thaw periods during January here in the Twin Cities, the 8th through the 11th, and again over the 18th to the 21st. It seems like we often get at least one January thaw period, but how often do we get two like this year?


You are right that multi-day January thaw periods are common in the Twin Cities climate record, but years with two distinct multi-day thaw periods are rare. In the 148 years since 1871 there have only been 9 Januarys that brought two such periods: 1880, 1900, 1942, 1944, 1947, 1987, 1992, 2006, and 2018. Another oddity in the data among these Januarys with two distinct multi-day thaw periods, 2018 is the one with the most subzero nights, eleven. In all the other Januarys on this list the number of subzero nights was single digits, and in January of 2006 there were no subzero nights. This serves as evidence for the great temperature variation during last month and wild swings in air mass characteristics last month.

Twin Cities Almanac for February 2nd:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 25 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 9 degrees F (plus or minus 15 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for February 2nd:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 48 degrees F in 1991; lowest daily maximum temperature of -17 degree F in 1996; lowest daily minimum temperature of -32 degrees F in 1996; highest daily minimum temperature of 31 degrees F in 2003; record precipitation of 0.80 inches in 1919 and 1983. Record snowfall on this date is 8.8 inches in 2016.

Average dew point for February 2nd is 3 degree F, with a maximum of 34 degrees F in 1987 and a minimum of -47 degrees F in 1996.

All-time state records for February 2nd:

The all-time state high temperature for today's date is 66 degrees F at Wheaton (Traverse County) in 1991; the all-time state low for today's date is -60 degrees F at Tower (St Louis County) in 1996. The all-time state record precipitation for this date is 2.00 inch at Caledonia (Houston County) in 1915. Record snowfall is 20.0 inches also at Caledonia (Houston County) in 1915.

Past Weather Features:

Back to back winter storms delivered very heavy snowfalls across Minnesota over January 30 to February 6, 1915. Rain, sleet, and ice prevailed in many parts of southern Minnesota, especially during the first storm. Then heavy snow fell, delivering 30 inches to Lynd in southwestern Minnesota (Lyon County), and over 2 feet of snow in Caledonia (Houston County) where the railroad was shut down for two days.

February 2-3, 1919 brought heavy snow to portions of central Minnesota where there were widespread reports of 8-10 inches.

Over February 1-4, 1983 a slow moving winter storm brought heavy snow to portions of southeastern Minnesota. Many schools were closed because school buses could not negotiate the snow packed roads and highways, where snow drifts packed 3 to 5 feet high. Portions of Winona County reported over 18 inches of snowfall.

The warmest Groundhog’s Day in state history was in 1991. Under sunny skies and southerly winds afternoon temperatures climbed into the 50s F in 30 communities across the state. Five climate stations reached the 60s F, and some citizens were seen taking their lunch outside at picnic tables. By far the coldest Groundhog’s Day in state history occurred in 1996 with an all-time state record of -60 degrees F at Tower, MN. At least 10 other climate stations reported low temperatures of -50 degrees F or colder, and it was as cold as -36 degrees F as far south as Zumbrota, Faribault, Amboy, and Preston.


Temperatures through the Super Bowl weekend and throughout next week will be several degrees cooler than normal, with many subzero nights. There is a chance for scattered snow showers on Saturday (1-3 inches in spots) and again on Monday. Then there will generally be a dry and cold pattern for much of next week.

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