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Widespread Subzero Temperatures This Week

Widespread Subzero Temperatures This Week:

December 5-8 brought some of the coldest temperatures in many months to Minnesota. Over 40 counties reported subzero temperatures this week. A sampling includes -27°F at Warren (Marshall County), -24°F at Warroad (Roseau County), -22°F at Baudette (Lake of the Woods County), -21°F at International Falls (Koochiching County), and -20°F at Kabetogama (St Louis County). Just to the south of the Twin Cities at Rosemount it was -1°F and in the southwestern corner of the state at Pipestone it was -2°F. Cold as these temperatures were, no new cold minimum records were set from the long-term climate network. If snow depths were greater and more widespread around the state, I am sure these subzero readings would have been even colder. Soil temperatures in the top 6 inches have fallen into the upper 20s F in many areas now.

Health Effects of Winter Weather Revisited:

Though many Minnesotans truly enjoy the winter season, it also tests our health. Shorter daylengths and increased cloudiness are contributors to the depression felt by those who suffer from Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD). Snow shoveling, slippery sidewalks, and treacherous roads test our stamina, sure-footedness, and driving abilities. Remember navigating ice thickness on lakes is tricky (at least a foot is recommended thickness for cars). It is often best to do your own measurements. Contagious flu bugs usually make an appearance and circulate among us. And perhaps the most widely felt effect of winter is the Minnesota desert, the extraordinary low indoor humidity we are exposed to on most winter days. Relative humidity values sometimes fall into the single digits. This is what produces our dry noses, lips, hands, throat and feet, as well as that annoying static shock we get from touching metal objects.

There are a number of methods to combat the Minnesota desert, including the use of humidifiers, house plants, keeping exhaust from clothes dryers indoors, hanging laundry on drying racks inthe basement, not running kitchen or bathroom exhaust fans in order to keep water vapor indoors. I would be interested in hearing if listeners have other methods to keep indoor humidity levels tolerable in the winter.

Weather Potpourri:

The Weather Underground reported this week that Barrow, Alaska (now known as Utqiagvik) recorded its warmest temperature ever in December with a reading of 40°F on Monday the 5th. Located at 71.3 degrees north latitude, this city is the USA’s northernmost climate station. Monday's high was 37 degrees above Utqiagvik's average high for early December and represents the highest temperature reading there for any date between October 30 and April 22.

The Australian Weather Bureau has predicted extreme heat for northern Australia this coming weekend with temperatures topping 104°F some areas. The heat is expected to dissipate next week, but the Bureau warns that many of there outlook models suggest more heat is in store for this summer. The Conversation published further comments about this story.

This week’s AGU-EOS Bulletin features an interesting article about dust from the diminished Aral Sea in Central Asia. Long used for irrigation water supply since 1959, the Aral Sea has declined to a small fraction of what it once was. As a result, much of the lake bed soil is now vulnerable to loss as dust when high winds blow across the region, most notably in Spring and early Winter. The added dust load is detrimental to the air quality of several cities in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

MPR listener question:

We were discussing snowing Christmas seasons at the Bear’s Den in Bryon (Olmsted County) the other night and wondered what is the deepest snow cover we have had at Christmas here? The guys thought you might know.


Late 19th Century and early 20th Century snow depth records for your area are sparse. But from what I can find, the snow depths during Christmas of 1946 and 2010 were close to 30 inches at Bryon, making it difficult to walk around, at least where it was not shoveled. We would have to have a very snowy next couple of weeks to come close to that level of snow depth. BTW, historically, snow depths in northern Minnesota communities have exceeded 50 inches in some years, and were as high as 75 inches in the winter of 1949-1950.

Twin Cities Almanac for December 9th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 31 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 17 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for December 9th:

MSP records for this date: highest daily maximum temperature of 58 degrees F in 1939; lowest daily maximum temperature of -5 degrees F in 1977; lowest daily minimum temperature of -27 degrees F in 1876; highest daily minimum temperature of 40 degrees F in 1899; record precipitation of 1.19 inches in 1899. Record snowfall is 10.5 inches in 2012.

Average dew point for December 9th is 11°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 38°F in 2015; and the minimum dew point on this date is -25 degrees F in 1977.

All-time state records for December 9th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 74 degrees F at Wheaton (Traverse County) in 1939. The state record low temperature for this date is -39 degrees F at Warroad (Roseau County) in 1909. The state record precipitation for this date is 1.31 inches at Minneapolis (Hennepin County) in 1899. Record snowfall is 17.0 inches at St Francis (Anoka County) in 2012.

Past Weather:

An unusual December storm brought some heavy rains to southern Minnesota over December 9-10 in 1899. Many areas reported an inch of rain or more, with no snow, as temperatures remained in the 40s F.

An Arctic air mass brought extreme cold to the state on December 9, 1909. All climate stations in the state reported subzero temperatures in the morning, with readings of -30°F or colder in three northern counties. The high temperature at Hallock (Kittson County) only reached -15°F.

Several Minnesota communities enjoyed some mild afternoon temperatures in the 50s and 60s F on December 9, 1939. There was no snow on the ground, so that the sun’s energy could be absorbed more readily. Some chose to take their lunch break outside.

A slow-moving weather system brought large quantities of snowfall to Minnesota over December 8-10 of 2012 Many climate stations reported 10 to 19 inches of snow. A blizzard warning was issued by the National Weather Service for many southern and central counties and a number of roads were closed for a time.


Partly to mostly cloudy skies over the weekend with temperatures near or a bit above normal. Warmer than normal temperatures for Monday and Tuesday, with chances for rain/snow and even freezing rain increasing over the Tuesday through Thursday period. Some areas may see a good deal of rain or snow. Cooler and drier by next weekend.

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Ark Johnson said…
Wonderful reading your weekly reports over here in Sweden, Mark. The moniker”Minnesota Nice” has been around as long as I can remember. There should be a new one. “MinnesotaTough”. Over here all temperatures are given, as you’d expect in degrees Celsius. Well when winter approaches and temperatures finally go into the negative range(below 0degrees C) invariably many Stockholmers seem literally paralyzed ! Growing up in Minnesota, it seemed it wasn’t cold untill it was below zero(F). Yikes that’s minus 17 degrees (C) over here. And a lot of Stockholmers would be dressed in 9 layers bundled up inside drinking coffee!
Skol Minnesota!
Merry Christmas Mark, you’re great!
Mark Johnson