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Warm January Will Finish With Cold and Snow

Warm January Will Finish With Cold and Snow:

So far the month of January has followed the warmer than normal trajectory laid down by December. Most areas of the state are averaging 6 to 9 degrees F warmer than normal through the first 17 days of the month. For the Twin Cities climate record (1872-present) the first half of this January tied for the 5th warmest in history, trailing only those of 2006, 1987, 1880, and 2012. Earlier this month besides the back to back record high temperatures of 47°F in the Twin Cities on the 4th and 5th, a record high minimum temperature record was tied on the 7th with an overnight reading of 34°F.

But the other shoe will drop beginning this weekend, as temperatures generally average colder than normal for the rest of the month. The coldest temperatures of the month so far occurred back on New Year’s Day with some readings of -30 degrees F or colder up north. Some temperatures over the next few days may be that cold up north. But many places in southern Minnesota, including Rochester and the Twin Cities have yet to see a subzero temperature reading. This will certainly change during the second half of the month, though no major record-setting cold outbreak is foreseen. In addition there will be more chances for snowfall, especially in areas of the state that have seen little this month.

New Web Site:

For those who want to learn more about weather, climate science, climate change and its consequences, as well as Minnesota weather and climate history, there is a new web site designed by my daughter Emma Seeley that is available. You can book a presentation, a book discussion, or other event if you wish. "Once an educator, always an educator" is my motto.  It can be accessed at…

I hope you will take a look and consider using it.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

New research discussed in this week’s AGU-EOS newsletter highlights the linkage between the extent of Arctic Sea Ice and the passage of Arctic cyclones. It appears that with the continued loss of Arctic Sea Ice, we may see more powerful cyclones develop in this region.

Several scientists, including myself, provided the Minnesota House Energy and Climate Finance and Policy Division members with a briefing about climate change and its consequences for Minnesota during hearings this week at the State Capitol on Tuesday and Thursday.

According to the BBC on Wednesday of this week a severe sandstorm (called a Haboob) turned the sky orange around Cairo, Egypt and caused people to cover their mouth and nose with handkerchiefs or masks as the dust was extremely thick. Those with respiratory ailments were advised to stay indoors. Winds off the desert sands gusted to over 50 mph.

The Bureau of Meteorology in Australia reported that January 12-15 brought some of the all-time hottest days to many parts of the country. Parts of central and northwestern Australian saw daytime high temperatures ranging from 112°F to 120°F.

MPR listener question:

I was surprised to hear that the Twin Cities has not recorded a subzero temperature yet this winter. How unusual is this and what is the record for fewest subzero readings during a winter?


Indeed, the latest first subzero temperature reading in the Twin Cities is January 18th. This occurred in 1889, 2002, and 2012. The weather pattern for this weekend suggests that we will break this record in 2019 when we will see our first subzero temperature reading on either the 19th or 20th.

Overall for the winter season, the fewest number of days with subzero temperature readings occurred in the following winters:
2001-2002 just two days
2011-2012 just three days
1877-1888 just four days

Twin Cities Almanac for January 18th:

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 15 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for January 18th:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 48 degrees F in 1891; lowest daily maximum temperature of -16 degree F in 1994; lowest daily minimum temperature of -36 degrees F in 1887; highest daily minimum temperature of 33 degrees F in 1944; record precipitation of 0.31 inches in 1895. Record snowfall is 4.5 inches in 2014.

Average dew point for January 18th is 7°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 39°F in 1973; and the minimum dew point on this date is -40°F in 1967.

All-time state records for January 18th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 57 degrees F at Caledonia (Houston County) in 1996. The state record low temperature for this date is -51 degrees F at Babbitt (St Louis County) in 2005. The state record precipitation for this date is 2.28 inches at Jordan (Scott County) in 1996. Record snowfall for this date is 18.0 inches at Sibley Township (Sibley County) in 1866.

Past Weather Features:

Probably the coldest January 18th in state history was in 1967 when over 20 communities saw a morning low of -40 degrees F or colder. Snow cover was abundant across the state as an Arctic High Pressure system slowly move over the landscape. The daytime temperature never rose above -16°F at Morris.

Thirty-seven years ago this week, January 18-24, 1982 the snowiest week in Twin Cities climate history occurred. The week was preceded by a blizzard on the 15th and 16th which ushered in very cold arctic air. Then on January 20th (Wednesday) the cities were paralyzed by 17.4 inches of snowfall. In fact a band of 14 inches or more fell from Glencoe NE toward Chippewa Falls, WI. Two days later, on the 22nd (Friday) before the previous snow had been entirely dealt with, another 18.5 inches of snowfall hit the Twin Cities. By the weekend roughly 40 inches of snow had fallen during the week, producing drifts over 10 feet high. The month produced a grand total of 46.4 inches of snow, the highest of any January on record in the Twin Cities. Numerous buildings were damaged by the excessive snow load and eight people died of heart attacks while shoveling snow. The depth of snow on the ground in the Twin Cities reached an all-time record of 38 inches.

January 18, 1996 brought a brief respite from a cold, snowy winter for residents of southeastern Minnesota, where south winds and sunny skies marched the thermometer all the way up into the 40s and 50s F by afternoon. In Houston and Winona Counties where temperatures were in the 50s F, some motorists noticed that highway repair crews were outside working in shirt sleeves.


Partly cloudy and colder than normal over the weekend, with many subzero lows. There will be increasing clouds later on Sunday with moderating temperatures and a chance for snow, carrying over into Tuesday. Colder temperatures return by mid-week with a chance for more snow by next Friday.

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