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Highly fluctuating temperatures

Highly fluctuating temperatures:

On a statewide basis the first week of 2020 was over 14°F above normal, a mild start to the year. It was 48°F at Preston (Fillmore County) for New Year’s Day. A good deal of cloud cover, as well as higher than normal wind speeds help keep the temperatures above normal throughout this interval. No long term daily maximum or minimum temperature records were set during this warm period, although at Wheaton (Traverse County) on January 3rd they tied the record for the warmest minimum temperature with a reading of 33°F.

Following a cold front passage on January 7th, temperatures plummeted to subzero values around most of the state. In fact it fell into the -30s F at Isabella, Cotton, Kabetogama, and Baudette. A reading of -30°F on the morning of January 8th was a record low at Kabetogama. Warroad only saw of a high temperature of 3°F on the 8th as well. The -34°F reading at Isabella (Lake County) was the nation’s lowest temperature on the 8th and the first time Minnesota has been coldest in the nation in 2020.

Outlook models suggest a colder and snowier weather pattern will dominate Minnesota during the second half of January.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

NOAANational Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) have compiled a summary of weather and climate disasters from the past decade (2010-2019) and they are summarized in an article by Adam B. Smith. This excerpt from the article should catch the attention of the insurance industry: “In broader context, the total cost of U.S. billion-dollar disasters over the last 5 years (2015-2019) exceeds $525 billion, with a 5-year annual cost average of $106.3 billion (CPI-adjusted), both of which are records. The U.S. billion-dollar disaster damage costs over the last decade (2010-2019) were also historically large, exceeding $800 billion from 119 separate billion-dollar events. Moreover, the losses over the most recent 15 years (2005-2019) are $1.16 trillion in damage from 156 separate billion-dollar disaster events.”

Over the past two months the Australian Bureau of Meteorology has been documenting some extremes records of drought, high temperatures, and bush fires. Many of these records are unprecedented in the context of their historical climate measurements. The increase in extremely hot days is contributing to observed trends in fire danger across many parts of Australia over the past few decades, especially in the southeast during the Southern Hemisphere spring months of September-November.

NOAA announced earlier this week that 2019 was the 2nd wettest year in the historical record for the USA. For the states of ND, SD, MN, WI, and MI it was the wettest year in their historical records. In addition, NC, GA, and AK reported their warmest year in history. For the first time on record, Alaska's annual average temperature was above freezing (32.2 degrees), 6.2 degrees above the long-term average. You can read more about this from NOAA and from Brian Donegan at the Weather Underground.

High nutrient concentrations cause water quality problems in lakes, and as the climate warms, these issues will only get worse. A new model assesses future scenarios and explores solutions. Perhaps this new model which was used in Norway can be applied to some of North America’s lakes as well. You can read more from the Journal of Geophysical Research.

MPR listener question:

What is the longest period in the climate record with consecutive morning low temperature readings that are subzero?


Not sure what Minnesota location you are talking about, but I will give a couple of answers. In the Twin Cities climate record, the longest such period is from January 18, 1936 to February 22, 1936, a period of 36 days. For the Red River Valley the record is from Moorhead, MN and spans from January 10, 1936 to February 22, 1936, a period of 44 days.

Twin Cities Almanac for January 10th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 23 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 7 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for January 10th:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 52 degrees F in 2012: lowest daily maximum temperature of -14 degrees F in 1912; lowest daily minimum temperature is -30 degrees F in 1886; highest daily minimum temperature of 33 degrees F in 1928; record precipitation of 1.13 inches in 1975; and record snowfall of 4.0 inches also in 1976.

Average dew point for January 10th is 3 degrees F, with a maximum of 39 degrees F in 1980 and a minimum of -39 degrees F in 1982.

All-time state records for January 10th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 58 degrees F at Madison (Lac Qui Parle County) in 1990 and at Granite Falls (Chippewa County) in 2012. The state record low temperature for this date is -52 degrees F at Pokegama Dam (Itasca County) in 1905. State record precipitation for this date is 2.12 inches at Grand Portage (Cook County) in 1975; and record snowfall of 15.0 inches at Brainerd (Crow Wing County) in 1983.

Past Weather Features:

On a statewide basis the coldest January 10th came in 1912 in the midst of a two week long Cold Wave. Every climate station in the state reported subzero temperature readings, with numerous communities reporting -40°F or colder in the north. The daytime high only reached -26°F at Angus (Polk County) in the Red River Valley.

One of the worst blizzards of the 20th Century occurred over January 10-12, 1975. Mixed precipitation (rain and snow) fell during the storm accompanied by constant wind of 30-50 mph, and gusts as high as 80 mph. Snow drifts piled up to 15 to 20 feet on Minnesota roads and highways. There were 35 storm related deaths, widespread power outages, and business and school closures. Numerous precipitation and snowfall records were established by this storm, with over 2 feet of snow in Crow Wing County. The National Weather Service was praised for its accurate weather forecasting.

The warmest January 10th in history was in 2012 when over 55 climate stations reported afternoon high temperatures in the 50s F. Little snow cover that winter allowed the sun’s energy to heat the landscape, as peak temperatures were reached between 2pm and 3pm.


Cooler than normal, but dry and sunny through the early part of the weekend. Then increasing cloudiness on Sunday with a chance for snow flurries later in the day. Temperatures will warm a bit and be closer to normal for Sunday through Tuesday. Another chance for light snow will come later on Monday and early Tuesday. From Wednesday through next weekend temperatures will be trending sharply downward, several degrees colder than normal.

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