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Warm Signature Persistence

 Warm Signature Persistence:

Since November 1st 75 to 80 percent of all days have brought warmer than normal temperatures to most parts of Minnesota. This is unusual persistence of warmth in terms of longevity (75 days) and rivals the similar November through January of 2015-2016, which started a very warm year for Minnesota (2016 was the 5th warmest year in state history). The other unusual aspect of the warmth has been the amplitude or wide deviation from normal. International Falls has been measuring temperatures that are 20 to 25 degrees F above normal so far this month. In fact for the entire first half of January the nation’s “Ice Box” has seen an average temperature that is over 19 degrees F above normal.

Back in November (2020) over the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th new statewide daily maximum temperatures records were set (all 80 degrees F or higher). Daytime high temperatures were running over 30°F above normal during this time. Statistically this is a rare amplified aberration. I can find only 8 other historical periods in Minnesota history when an extremely warm air mass persisted long enough over the state that new statewide high temperature records were set over 4 or more consecutive days. These periods were:
September 7-12, 1931 (daytime high temperatures of 102 degrees F or greater)
June 16-19, 1933 (daytime high temperatures over 100 degrees F)
May 16-20, 1934 (daytime high temperatures of 100 degrees F or greater)
May 27-June 2, 1934 (daytime high temperatures over 100 degrees F)
July 8-12, 1936 (daytime high temperatures of 110 degrees F or greater)
August 18-21, 1976 (daytime high temperatures of 103 degrees F or greater)
February 16-20, 1981 (daytime high temperatures in the mid to upper 60s F)
March 5-9, 2000 (daytime high temperatures in the upper 70s to low 80s F)

The fact that the current persistent and amplified warm spell in Minnesota began after the 5th coldest October in state history is further evidence for the extreme variability in climate pattern that our state can exhibit over a short period of time. Some Minnesota senior citizens may recall that a single year, 1936, brought the coldest February in state history (extreme of -53°F at Ada) and five months later the hottest July in state history (extreme of 114°F at Moorhead).

Longer range outlooks suggest that the last week of this January may bring near normal temperatures or temperatures a few degrees F colder than normal. It is likely that this will feel shockingly cold as we will have experienced about 85 days of unusual warmth across the state.

Minnesota Climate Adaptation Partnership Conference (MCAP)

The Minnesota Climate Adaptation Partnership (MCAP) has announced that the Annual Statewide Conference will take place via Zoom on January 20, 2021 from 9:00 am to 12:15pm. This conference which is all about sharing climate adaptation research, knowledge, and practice is always a highlight of the year for me. I will be presenting the awards again this year. If you are interested in registering please check out the information on the web site.

Online Book Launch at the Bell Museum on January 21, 2021

I am happy to be part of the online book launch for the new 2nd edition of “Minnesota’s Natural Heritage” published by the University of Minnesota Press and written by John R. Tester, Susan M. Galatowitsch, Rebecca A. Montgomery, and John J. Moriarty. This will take place online from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm January 21st. This is a great book on the state’s natural history and ecology, as well as an update about how climate change is affecting the state. Anyone who cares about our state’s natural resources should read this book and use it as a reference. I will be talking with the authors about it during the program. You can find out more and register at Bell Museum web site.

Weather Potpourri:

NOAA announced a new tool kit for school science teachers to use that illustrates regional climate differences around the USA. This exercise illustrates regional differences in temperature, precipitation, and solar radiation and highlights the impacts of these differences as the climate across the country continues to change.

The National Weather Service Baltimore/Washington D.C. Office forecasts sunny skies, with temperatures in the 40s F, no precipitation and light winds for the Inauguration of President Elect Joe Biden next Wednesday.

This week’s AGU-EOS Bulletin features an article about Perigold truffles (often used in cooking) and a study which suggests that they may become more abundant as climate change continues to affect Europe. For chefs and the culinary crowd they call this a climate change silver lining story.

MPR listener question:

We live in Canby, MN (Yellow Medicine County) and started out this month with about 3 inches of snow cover, just enough for cross country skiing. But it disappeared rapidly (we have had 3 days in the 40s F this month) and we have been looking at bare ground most of the month. Would you know if we have ever had a snowless month of January?


Yes, the climate history at Canby, MN shows that in 1961 there was no measurable snowfall during the entire month of January. That winter season (Dec-Feb) brought only 8.5 inches of snowfall to Canby. But I understand that Canby was under a blizzard warning on Thursday of this week and expected more snow Friday (perhaps 2-3 inches). So, I expect by the weekend you may see a white landscape again.

Twin Cities Almanac for January 15th:

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 15th:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 43 degrees F in 1990; lowest daily maximum temperature of -20 degrees F in 1888; lowest daily minimum temperature of -37 degrees F in 1888; highest daily minimum temperature of 33 degrees F in 1980; record precipitation of 0.45 inches in 1969. Record snowfall is 3.2 inches in 1953.

Average dew point for January 15th is 4°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 36°F in 1949; and the minimum dew point on this date is -39 degrees F in 1972.

All-time state records for January 15th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 57 degrees F at Winnebago (Faribault County) in 1914. The state record low temperature for this date is -53 degrees F at Moose Lake (Carlton County) in 1972. The state record precipitation for this date is 1.28 inches at Campbell (Wilkin County) in 1952. Record snowfall is 20.0 inches at Winsted (McLeod County) in 1982.

Past Weather Features:

Following the famous “Children’s Blizzard” of January 12, 1888 an Arctic air mass settled over Minnesota setting many record low temperature values. On the morning of January 15, temperatures across the state ranged from the -30s through the -40s F. The daytime high only reached -18°F at Rochester and -20°F in the Twin Cities.

Under sunny skies with warm south winds January 15, 1914 brought 50 degrees F temperatures to many parts of southern Minnesota. Railroad workers were seen taking their lunch break outside to enjoy the spring air.

January 15, 1953 brought 6 to 10 inches of snowfall across many parts of central Minnesota, closing some schools as well as some roads and highways.


Early Saturday may bring a few more snow showers. Following the recent snow, temperatures will fall back closer to normal for the weekend and much of next week, perhaps climbing to a few degrees above normal by Wednesday. It will be mostly a dry week as well until next Thursday or Friday.

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Unknown said…
As I have heard you on MPR, I realized that I was reading this in your voice. I can hear all your inflections, vocal tones, and pauses. I laughed knowing that this is a remarkable feature of our minds. Thank you for describing and analyzing our weather.