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After a cold period, a reversal of temperature pattern

After a cold period, a reversal of temperature pattern:

Many places in Minnesota have seen temperatures average near 0°F or subzero since last Friday (January 12), certainly the coldest spell of weather so far this winter and the longest sustained period of below normal temperatures since last April. In fact here is the average air temperature since last Friday for a few selected communities, along with the departure from normal:

International Falls, ave temp -6°F, -10°F below normal
St Cloud, ave temp 1°F, -12°F below normal
Brainerd, ave temp -2°F, -12°F below normal
MSP, ave temp 4°F, -12°F below normal
Rochester, ave temp 0°F, -14°F below normal
Duluth, ave temp -2°F, -13°F below normal.

Many places have reported minimum temperatures this week of -20°F or colder. The morning of January 18th both Brimson and Tower reported -26°F as a minimum temperature. Despite the persistence of cold Minnesota reported the coldest temperature in the 48 contiguous states only once during the past week.

Noteworthy is that after this weekend, Minnesota will experience significantly above normal temperatures for the last 10 days of January. In addition, the outlook for February favors above normal temperatures for Minnesota, and that may persist through early spring. Given these outlooks it is highly likely that Minnesota will record the warmest meteorological winter (Dec-Feb) in state history, surpassing that of 1997-1998.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

The BBC features an interesting article about Frost Fairs that used to be hosted on the frozen river Thames in London occasionally during the harsh winters of the Little Ice Age (especially in the 17th and 18th Century). The ice was so thick on the Thames that carnivals were hosted with elephants on ice skates, food and drink booths, and bowling matches.

A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science finds that in many of the world’s arid subarid regions, where climate change models predicted increases in atmospheric water vapor (moisture), the opposite trend is appearing, as they are getting drier. This is puzzling to many scientists and may indicate a missing factor in some models regarding atmospheric dynamics or landscape feedback that promotes aridity. Obviously more study is needed to sort this out.

MPR listener question:

I have often heard you say that Minnesota reports the coldest temperature in the nation a several times each year and on occasion lows as cold as -50 degrees F are reported. But how many climate stations in the state have really recorded a value of -50 degrees F or colder?


A large number of communites and climate stations have seen temperatures of -50 degrees F or colder. At least 53 Minnesota stations, representing 22 of Minnesota's 87 counties have reported temperatures that cold. The list below shows the geographic distribution.

Pokegama Dam (Itasca County) Grand Rapids (Itasca County)
International Falls (Koochiching County) Orr (St Louis County)
Saint Vincent (Kittson County) Hallock (Kittson County)
St Cloud (Sherburne County) Baudette (Lake of the Woods County)
Bagley (Clearwater County) Detroit Lakes (Becker County)
Little Fork (Koochiching County) Wright (Carlton County)
Pine River Dam (Crow Wing County) Brainerd (Crow Wing County)
Bemidji (Beltrami County) Brimson (St Louis County)
Fosston (Polk County) Crookston (Polk County)
Ada (Norman County) Winton (Lake County)
Mahnomen (Mahnomen County) Park Rapids (Hubbard County)
Roseau (Roseau County) Warroad (Roseau County)
Red Lake Falls (Red Lake County) Itasca State Park (Itasca County)
Red Lake Agency (Beltrami County) Leech Lake (Cass County)
Duluth (St Louis County) Big Falls (Koochiching County)
Floodwood (St Louis County) Sandy Lake Dam (Aitkin County)
Marcell Ranger Station (Itasca County) Tower (St Louis County)
Embarrass (St Louis County) Rush City (Chisago County)
Cook (St Louis County) Stephens Mine (Itasca County)
Cotton (St Louis County) Moose Lake (Carlton County)
Bigfork (Itasca County) Fort Ripley (Crow Wing County)
Mora (Kanabec County) Willow River (Pine County)
Thorhult (Beltrami County) Tamarac Refuge (Becker County)
Hibbing (St Louis County) Meadowlands (St Louis County)
Remer (Cass County) Babbitt (St Louis County)
Ely (Lake County) Kabetogama (St Louis County)
Camp Norris (Lake of the Woods County)

Twin Cities Almanac for January 19th:

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 8 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for January 19th:

MSP records for this date: highest daily maximum temperature of 49 degrees F in 1921; lowest daily maximum temperature of -10 degrees F in 1970; lowest daily minimum temperature of -34 degrees F in 1970; highest daily minimum temperature of 36 degrees F in 1908; record precipitation of 0.57 inches in 1988. There was a record 7.5 inches of snowfall also in 1988.

Average dew point for January 19th is 4°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 39°F in 1932; and the minimum dew point on this date is -38 degrees F in 1977.

All-time state records for January 19th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 61 degrees F at Milan (Chippewa County) in 1900. The state record low temperature for this date is -50 degrees F at Fosston (Polk County) in 1996. The state record precipitation for this date is 2.03 inches at Lake City (Wabasha County) in 1982. The state snowfall record is 18.0 inches also at St James (Watonwan County) in 1988.

Past Weather:

January 19 of 1900 brought March-like conditions to most of Minnesota with daytime temperatures in the 40s and 50s F. With very little snow cover the landscape heated up under bright sunny skies and it reached 61°F at Milan (Chippewa County).

Arctic high pressure settled over the state on January 19, 1943 bringing morning low temperatures that ranged from -20°F to -40°F across Minnesota. Big Falls (Koochiching County) reported -45°F in the morning and only warmed up to -26°F in the afternoon.

A slow moving winter storm delivered a mixture of precipitation over January 17-19 of 1996. Freezing rain and ice build-up produced widespread power outages in eastern Minnesota, while western counties were under a blizzard warning with winds up to 60 mph. Many schools and businesses were closed. Snowfall totals ranged from 8 to 18 inches in many areas and northeastern communities reported over 20 inches of snow.


Continued cold and breezy on Saturday, then warming to near normal temperatures on Sunday under partly sunny skies. A warming trend will begin on Monday with winds from the south. The warming will last all of next week and bring periodic chances for snow flurries or snow showers of limited duration. Possible mixture of snow and rain showers on Tuesday and Wednesday in southern Minnesota.
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Coach Cooper said…
My Gage in rural Ely (St. Louis County) has had 3 readings this winter at -19. I can't get to -20 as reported for Ely. But I am on a hill. Terry