Skip to main content

Reversal of January Temperature Trend

Reversal of January Temperature Trend:

Following an unusually warm first half of January, the weather pattern in Minnesota has been dominated by northwesterly flow of air, and temperatures have generally averaged colder than normal on most days. For many areas of the state 8 of the past 9 days have been colder than normal, and many subzero minimum temperatures have been reported. In fact over the past week the coldest temperatures of the 2018-2019 winter have been measured, with over 30 climate stations reporting a minimum temperature of -30°F or colder. Ten stations have reported minimums of -40°F or colder, and for three days in a row (January 19-21) Minnesota reported the coldest temperature in the nation (including Alaska). In addition many Wind Chill readings in the minus 30s and minus 40s F were reported over the past week.

The temperature pattern of cooler than normal values will stay with us through the end of the month and into the first week of February. Record-setting cold values may not be in store but temperatures may average 10 to 25 degrees F colder than normal. In the end this will completely offset the very warm first half of the month and may produce monthly average temperatures for January of 2019 that are slightly cooler than normal, extraordinary since the first half of the month was among the warmest in history.

January 18th Snowfall in Southern Minnesota:

Snowfall was widespread across southern Minnesota either side of the I-90 corridor last Friday and Friday night. Many areas received over 6 inches of snowfall, and areas of northern and eastern Iowa reported 7 to 13 inches, closing some roads for a time. Some new daily record quantities were reported from some Minnesota communities. The following were new daily record amounts:
8.1 inches at Rochester
6.0 inches at Owatonna
10.5 inches at Grand Meadow
10.8 inches at Windom
12.0 inches at Winnebago
In addition, there were widespread -30s F temperatures reported on Saturday morning (January 19th) in northern Minnesota. Kabetogama reported -42 degrees F on Saturday morning. Wind Chill readings remained in the teens and twenties below zero for several hours during the morning of the 19th as well.

More about this storm can be found at the MNState Climatology Office web site.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

For those who cannot get enough of the cold, the Ice Hotel (Hotel de Glace) is open in Quebec City, Canada. You can visit, eat, drink, and even stay there if you wish. The structure is entirely made of ice. It has become a Canadian tradition for some.

A recent study has validated some skill in forecasting climate trends over the next few years. The study shows that skills are improving for near-term climate predictions when climate models are started from real-time observations of both the ocean and the atmosphere. These coupled ocean-atmosphere climate models also incorporate the effects of anthropogenic greenhouse gases and natural effects, such as solar variability on climate. You can read more about this study at the United Kingdom Meteorological Office web site.

An interesting paper appeared in the AGU-EOS this week highlighting a detailed study of the urban heat island of Tokyo, and how it might affect spectators during the running of the next Olympic Marathon race scheduled for August of 2020. There are indeed some very uncomfortable micro-climates within the city that heat up significantly.

MPR listener question:

What is historically the coldest Wind Chill reading reported in the Twin Cities and how often does is a Wind Chill value of -50°F reported?


The coldest Wind Chill for the period from 1905-2018 was -63°F for January 22, 1936. That was the winter when some Twin Cities street cars were reported to be frozen on the tracks. There have been 15 winters when the Wind Chill readings (by the NOAA-NWS algorithm used since 2001) have been -50°F or colder, the last one occurring in 1996.

Twin Cities Almanac for January 25th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 24 degrees F (plus or minus 15 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 7 degrees F (plus or minus 15 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for January 25th:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 58 degrees F in 1944; lowest daily maximum temperature of -16 degree F in 1904; lowest daily minimum temperature of -31 degrees F in 1904; highest daily minimum temperature of 42 degrees F in 1944; record precipitation of 0.50 inches in 1950. Record snowfall is 7.5 inches also in 1950.

Average dew point for January 25th is 5°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 48°F in 1944; and the minimum dew point on this date is -35°F in 1972.

All-time state records for January 25th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 67 degrees F at Springfield (Brown County) in 1981. The state record low temperature for this date is -55 degrees F at Pokegama Dam (Itasca County) in 1904. The state record precipitation for this date is 1.78 inches at Grand Meadow (Mower County) in 1967. Record snowfall for this date is 16.5 inches at Isabella (Lake County) in 1982.

Past Weather Features:

January 25, 1981 felt like spring in Minnesota. With little or no snow on the ground and a bright sun, and southerly winds afternoon temperatures climbed into the 60s F across western counties where many citizens took their lunch outdoors to enjoy the spring-like weather.

The winter of 1995-1996 was a snowy one. On January 25, 1996 an Arctic High Pressure system brought bone-chilling temperatures to the state with widespread readings of -30 degrees F or colder, and -50 degrees F at Tower. The daytime high temperature at Warroad and Hallock only made it to -12 degrees F.

A large, complex, and slow-moving winter storm brought heavy snowfall to the state over January 25-27, 2004. Many climate stations reported 10 to 20 inches of snowfall. Duluth reported a total of 27.1 inches while Two Harbors reported 30.5 inches. It was very slow and difficult driving along Hwy 61 by the Lake Superior shoreline.


Cold weekend coming up, with increasing clouds and some moderation in temperature on Sunday. Chance for widespread snow later on Sunday and into Monday, with accumulations of snow across most of the southwestern half of Minnesota. This will be followed by even colder temperatures next week, most of which will be dry. Subzero overnight temperature readings will be very common, and some areas may see a few days when the high temperature does not rise above zero.

Print Friendly and PDF