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A Dose of Arctic Cold

A Dose of Arctic Cold

The passage of a strong cold front brought very cold temperatures to all of Minnesota over February 12-13 this week. Subzero temperature readings prevailed, with single digits below to teens below zero in southern counties and lows in the minus 20s F to minus 30s F in the north. Kabetogama reported the state low with -39°F on the morning of the 13th, which was also the nation’s lowest temperature. Then Isabella reported -40 degrees F on February 14th which was also the nation’s lowest on that date.

Windchill readings ranged from the minus 20s to as cold as -48°F in the north (Fosston). For many parts of the state this was the third or fourth episode of dangerous wind chill conditions this winter, others having occurred over December 16-18, January 11-12, and January 16-17. Many stations reported high temperatures on Thursday that were still subzero. The Twin Cities made it up to a high of 1 degree F.

Spring snow melt flooding potential is still high:

On Thursday, February 13th, the National Weather Service released an update for the risk of spring flooding this year. High levels of soil moisture, higher than normal flow volume on Minnesota rivers and streams, along with slightly above normal water content in the landscape snow cover are all factors that favor some chance for significant flooding. Fortunately frost depths in the soil are not unusually deep. The remaining unknown factors are the pace of snow melt that will occur as temperatures warm up, and the pattern of spring precipitation across the state (whether it will be above or below normal). Future updates will provide a better look at some of the uncertain factors, but the risk for significant spring flooding remains above normal in many areas of the state.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

AGU-EOS this week contains an interesting story about using the latest science to help communities to better respond to the rapid pace of climate change in Alaska. In many areas of that state climate is changing at a remarkable pace, threatening both community infrastructure as well as natural resources.

According to NOAA scientists January of 2020 was the 5th warmest for the 48 contiguous states. This was not due to a prolific number of record-setting temperatures, but to a persistent pattern that brought about normal temperatures for most the month, especially in the eastern half of the country.

MPR question:

You have spoken on numerous occasions about how the pace of climate change has accelerated in our state, especially with respect to precipitation (increasing in all areas of the state). But what regions of the state have seen the largest increases in average precipitation?


Most clearly the data show the largest increases in average annual precipitation have occurred in the southern counties of Minnesota, which are getting commonly 20 to 30 percent more than they used to 60 years ago. Western counties have seen increases of 10 to 20 percent and northern counties have seen increases of 5 to 15 percent.

Twin Cities Almanac for February 14th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 29 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 12 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for February 14th:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 50 degrees F in 1882: lowest daily maximum temperature of -5 degrees F in 1920; lowest daily minimum temperature is -25 degrees F in 1875; highest daily minimum temperature of 33 degrees F in 2002; record precipitation of 0.43 inches in 1950; and record snowfall of 6.4 inches also in 1950.

Average dew point for February 14th 11 degrees F, with a maximum of 42 degrees F in 1954 and a minimum of -33 degrees F in 1946.

All-time state records for February 14th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 66 degrees F at Windom (Cottonwood County) in 1954. The state record low temperature for this date is -47 degrees F at Bagley (Clearwater County) in 1906. State record precipitation for this date is 2.15 inches at Lynd (Lyon County) in 1919; and record snowfall of 22.0 inches at Grand Marais (Cook County) in 1936.

Past Weather Features:

February 14, 1906 brought record-setting Arctic cold to many parts of Minnesota. Most climate stations reported morning temperatures in the minus 20s F ot minus 30s F. Portions of Becker, Mahnomen, and Clearwater Counties reported readings in the -40s F. The temperature never rose about -4 degrees F all day at Crookston.

February 14, 1954 brought a touch of spring to the state, as many communities saw afternoon high temperatures climate into the 60s F. Several workers took their lunch break outside.


Early in the weekend will be mostly cloudy, but with warmer temperatures. Daytime temperatures will moderate in the 20s and 30s F Saturday through Monday, with a chance for snow on Monday. Then temperatures will decline by the middle of next week. Much of next week will be dry, with cooler than normal temperatures until late in the week, when temperatures will climb again to above normal values.

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