Skip to main content

Another snowy, windy week, but with dangerous cold

Another snowy, windy week, but with dangerous cold:

Similar to last week, the weather pattern across Minnesota this week favored wind and snow, but this time with an Arctic Chill. Last week brought temperatures from 10°F to 15°F above normal with rain and heavy snow, as well as wind. This week temperatures have been from 12° to 25°F colder than normal bringing significant but fluffy snowfall to many areas and lots of wind.

Many climate stations have reported overnight lows from -10°F to -20°F this week, with at least six northern locations reporting -30°F to -35°F (Warren in Marshall County). Both Crookston and Red Lake Falls reported a daily high temperature of only -17°F on Wednesday, December 21st. The subzero temperatures are expected to prevail in Minnesota through the Christmas weekend.

Snowfall was widespread again this week across the state, but not the heavy-wet kind that we experienced last week. Many areas reported 4 to 12 inches. Some climate stations reported new record daily snowfalls this week, including:
9.0 inches at Grand Portage on December 20th
7.4 inches at MSP on December 21st
6.8 inches at Jordan on December 22nd
6.5 inches at Rosemount on December 22nd
5.0 inches at Milaca on December 22nd

Winds picked up this week as well, especially on Wednesday through Friday when many climate stations reported wind gusts from 30 mph to 40 mph. This brought dangerous conditions in terms of widespread Blizzard Warnings, as well as Wind Chill Warnings. Such warnings caused early closures for some schools, businesses, and institutions. Wind Chill Values ranging from -25 to -40°F were expected to prevail into the weekend.

After the snows of this week, some climate stations in Minnesota now report over 35 inches of snowfall for the month (Brimson, Two Harbors, Duluth, among them). In addition, since the start of the snow season in October, a few Lake Superior north shore locations have reported over 60 inches (68.2” at Wolf Ridge ELC in Lake County).

Weather Potpourri:

NOAA reports this week that with declining Arctic Sea ice levels in the past two decades the amount of ship traffic has greatly increased, especially in the summer season. In fact from 2009 to 2019 the amount of Arctic-wide ship activity has roughly doubled.

CTV news and Environment Canada were issuing warnings for blizzards and extreme cold this week across the nation’s central and western Provinces. High temperatures were only from -10°F to -20°F in some parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan with lows in the minus 30s F. In the Yellowknife Region of the Northwest Territories temperatures were as cold as -58°F.

Mean while in the Southern Indian Ocean Cyclone Darian was being monitored by satellite as its winds peaked near 135 mph, causing sea wave heights to reach up to 45 to 50 feet. Fortunately this storm is expected to remain well to the southeast of Diego Garcia according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

MPR listener question:

With Christmas week producing Wind Chills around the state ranging from -25°F to -35°F, we were wondering when was the coldest week leading up to Christmas?


Interesting question because we don’t have comprehensive historical data on Wind Chill back to the 19th Century. But some of the coldest weeks leading up to Christmas were in 1872, 1879, 1884, 1962, 1983, and 1989. In all cases temperatures ranged into the -20s F to -30s F in most places and Wind Chill readings were undoubtedly -30°F to -50°F. On Christmas Day of 1879 the Twin Cities reported -39°F, but nobody knows what the Wind Chill value was.

Probably the absolute coldest conditions braved for Christmas week were in 1983. Actual temperatures bottomed out for most places ranging from -25°F to -45°F. Wind Chill conditions ranged from -50°F to -65°F. While the Twin Cities, Redwood Falls, and Moorhead reported -54°F Wind Chill on December 23rd, residents of Alexandria reported -61°F Wind Chill.

Twin Cities Almanac for December 23rd:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 26 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 13 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for December 23rd:

MSP records for this date: highest daily maximum temperature of 58 degrees F in 1888; lowest daily maximum temperature of -17 degrees F in 1983; lowest daily minimum temperature of -27 degrees F in 1872; highest daily minimum temperature of 38 degrees F in 1877; record precipitation of 0.53 inches in 1996. Record snowfall is 6.2 inches in 1996.

Average dew point for December 23rd is 12°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 36°F in 1982; and the minimum dew point on this date is -37 degrees F in 1983.

All-time state records for December 23rd:

The state record high temperature for this date is 62 degrees F at Faribaultr (Rice County) in 1923. The state record low temperature for this date is -48 degrees F at St Vincent (Kittson County) in 1884. The state record precipitation for this date is 2.10 inches at Cass Lake (Cass County) in 1968. Record snowfall is 13.0 inches at Isabella (Lake County) in 1959.

Past Weather:

Over December 23 to 25 in 1893 a slow-moving winter storm dumped large amounts of mixed precipitation across the state. Many areas reported 1 to 2 inches of rainfall and some southeastern counties reported 2 to 3 inches. The rain turned to snow towards the end of the storm, dropping 1 to 2 inches in some places.

A winter storm spread across the state over December 23-24 in 1987. This storm deposited 5 to 12 inches of snow across many portions of southern Minnesota. Arctic air with subzero temperatures followed on the heels of the storm.

December 23, 2020 was decisively warm in southwestern Minnesota. Over a dozen climate stations reported afternoon highs in the 50s F, and some citizens took their lunch break to eat outside or go for a walk in the sun.


Although the sun will make appearances this weekend, temperatures will be very cold and blowing snow will be common around the state. A warming trend will start on Monday with a chance for rain or snow by late Wednesday and into Thursday. Temperatures will climb to above normal values for Wednesday and into next weekend.

Print Friendly and PDF


Don't Know where the earth's environment is heading. If you observed the temperature is going exactly the opposite as it was before. Where there used to be terrible heat, it is getting cold there. And where it used to be cold, the temperature there has started to remain normal.