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Cold Start to February

Cold Start to February:

Following a colder than normal January, February has started out much colder than normal with most places in the state reporting multiple nights of subzero temperature readings, including minus 42°F at International Falls (Koochiching County), Kabetogama and Celina 2E (both in northern St Louis County). Many climate stations also reported subzero high temperatures on Thursday (February 3rd). The National Weather Service has issued Wind Chill Advisories and Warnings on multiple days, as well as at least one blizzard warning for northwestern counties where snowfall amounts were earlier in the week were modest (-2-3 inches) but winds were 40 to 50 mph in gusts.

Average temperatures are running from 9 to 12 degrees cooler than normal across the state through the first four days of February and the balance of the month is projected to be mostly cooler than normal as well. In this context the current soil frost depth which varies from 16-26 inches according to NOAA reports is likely to continue deeper as we push towards the end of the month, when frost depths often reach their maximum values for the year.

Hearty Congratulations to Climate Adaptation Award Winners:

Most sincere and respectful congratulations are expressed to the 2022 Minnesota Climate Adaptation Partnership Award Winners for their outstanding contributions in the practice of climate adaptation:

Sara Smith, Tribal Climate Resilience Liaison for the Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center/College of Menominee Nation. Winner in the Individual Category

Elizabeth Turner and Precipitate, the consulting firm that specializes in architecture and design for resilience and sustainability, with an emphasis on equity and justice. Winner in the Business Category

Jodi Slick and Lora Wedge with Ecolibrium3, a community-based organization in Duluth that specializes in building sustainable and efficient power systems (solar arrays) with attention to underserved communities and promoting best practices in energy conservation and deployment. Winner in the Organization Category

Rob Croll and Kristen Schmitt, and other members of the Tribal Adaptation Menu Team that coordinated among tribal, intertribal, academic, and government entities across Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan to produce a valuable and comprehensive guide to adaptation concepts, strategies, and approaches that utilizes traditional tribal knowledge as well as other scientific and cultural knowledge; this document has been used widely in workshops throughout the region. Winner in the Collaborative Category.

Katya Gordon, who for 10 years has been a community leader and climate activist in northeastern Minnesota utilizing newspaper columns, radio (KTWH in Two Harbors) shows, her own book and a series of community meetings to highlight actions and strategies to cope with climate change with an emphasis on social justice and resilience. Winner in the Communication Category.

You can read much more detail about all of the award winners at the Minnesota Climate Adaptation Partnership web site.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

Tropical Cyclone Batsirai is tracking toward Madagascar this week packing winds of 125 mph or greater and creating sea waves over 50 feet. It is expected to bring heavy rain and strong winds to Madagascar on Saturday and Sunday. According to BBC meteorologists this storm is expected to bring up to 20 inches of rainfall over the weekend.

Analyzing data from ice cores and automatic weather stations to study the loss of high elevation glacial ice, scientists from the University of Maine have determined Mount Everest is losing a volume of ice each year that probably took decades to accumulate. They conclude that climate change is driving the fast loss of glacial ice in the Himalayas and may eventually have great impact on fresh water supplies across the region. Their work is published in the journal Climate and Atmospheric Science.

In this week’s AGU-EOS Bulletin there is a featured article about the relationship of a cleaner atmosphere (due to the pandemic) and a decrease in lightning strikes, which are dependent on the presence of aerosols in the troposphere. Researchers found that there was an 8% decrease in lightning activity over Africa, Europe, Asia, and, to a lesser extent, the Americas. Speaking of lightning the BBC reported earlier this month on a nearly 500-mile-long bolt of lightning which occurred over the USA in the southeastern states. Visible on satellite imagery, this is the longest single lightning bolt every measured.

MPR listener question:

It seems that we had an unusually large number of days in January where the day’s high temperature occurred during the night. Is this correct and is it unusual daily weather behavior or something I just had not noticed before. Thanks


Yes indeed, you are correct on both perceptions. We had a large number of days when the maximum temperature occurred during the nighttime, and that is very unusual, but mostly in the other seasons of the year.

During the short days and long nights of January, the maximum hourly solar radiation values (both direct and diffuse energy from the sun) often occur between noon and 3 pm. Consequently, the daytime maximum temperature often occurs between noon and 4pm. This winter with little or not snow depth to the southwest of Minnesota, changes in wind direction and air mass can have profound effects on the daily temperature cycle and literally overmatch the peaking of solar energy to heat the land surface.

On twelve days in January the Twin Cities recorded the maximum daily temperature between the hours of 11pm and 3 am when the sun has nothing to do with it, and temperature was controlled by the air mass and wind direction (often southwesterly). BTW both wind direction and air mass also contributed to the very wide swings in daily temperature that were measured during the month (sometimes 40 to 60 degrees temperature swings withing 24 hours).

Twin Cities Almanac for February 4th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 25 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 9 degrees F (plus or minus 15 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for February 4th:

MSP records for this date: highest daily maximum temperature of 51 degrees F in 2005; lowest daily maximum temperature of -10 degrees F in 1907; lowest daily minimum temperature of -28 degrees F in 1886; highest daily minimum temperature of 35 degrees F in 2005; record precipitation of 0.34 inches in 1955. Record snowfall is 4.4 inches also in 1971.

Average dew point for February 4th is 3°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 37°F in 2005; and the minimum dew point on this date is -42 degrees F in 1947.

All-time state records for February 4th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 65 degrees F at Tracy (Lyon County) in 2005. The state record low temperature for this date is -52 degrees F at Detroit Lakes (Becker County) in 1907. The state record precipitation for this date is 2.05 inches at Fort Ridgley (Nicollet County) in 1865. Record snowfall is 14.0 inches at Halstad (Norman County) in 2008.

Past Weather Features:

Probably the coldest February 4th in state history was in 1907 when 15 climate stations reported a morning low temperature of -40°F or colder. International Falls reported a daytime maximum of -22°F.

A large winter storm crossed the state over February 4-5, 1945 and dropped from 4 to 9 inches of snowfall. It was the first of several snowstorms that month that brought of total of 20 to 30 inches to portions of northeastern Minnesota.

Warmest February 4th was in 2005 when over 50 communities reported afternoon temperatures of 50°F or greater. Little to no snow was on the ground and the overnight low at Marshall, MN was only 39°F.


Mostly a dry period coming up, with a warm-up to above normal temperatures on Saturday across the southern portions of the state, chance for snow in the north. It will be cooler on Sunday and Monday, then another warm-up to above normal temperatures for Tuesday through Thursday next week as temperatures rollercoaster during the second week of the month.

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