Skip to main content

January Climate Summary

January Climate Summary:

Warm and dry describe the month of January 2024 in Minnesota. Despite having 8 or 9 colder than normal days in mid-month, many nights of subzero, the statewide average temperature for January will rank as the 10th warmest in history, over 7°F above normal. The last week of January brought temperatures that average 24°F above normal. In addition, some record high dew points were measured as well. When combined with the record-setting warm December, the first two months of meteorological winter (Dec-Jan) rank as the warmest in state history (surpassing 2011-2012). Of further note, the three-months of November through January rank as the 2nd warmest in state history, trailing only 2001-2002.

Dozens of daily high maximum temperature records were set within the state climate observation network, and well over 100 new daily records were set for warm minimum temperatures, as many nights brought fog and kept temperatures in the 20s and 30s F. No new statewide temperature records were set, although both Marshall and Canby hit 60°F on the last day of the month. Northern Minnesota communities saw the most astonishing records, especially on January 31st when daytime highs surpassed 50°F at places like Baudette, International Falls, Bigfork, Flag Island (NW Angle), and Hibbing. Many golf courses and bike trails were open for business.

Here is the relative ranking of the mean January temperature for a few locations:
International Falls recorded its 5th warmest January
Hibbing recorded its 8th warmest January
St Cloud reported its 10th warmest January
MSP reported its 11th warmest January

In addition, the first two days of February brought some record warm temperatures to Minnesota, including 51°F at St Peter and 50°F at Winnebago, and the forecast guidance suggests that more record-setting temperatures may occur over the first ten days of February.

Moisture-wise, January was drier than normal across most of the state. Only a few spots along the north shore of Lake Superior, and in southwestern and southeastern Minnesota reported above normal precipitation. Many climate stations reported less than half of normal January precipitation, including MSP with just 0.13 inches, St Cloud with 0.20 inches, Redwood Falls with 0.10 inches, Winnebago with 0.23 inches, and Faribault with 0.20 inches. For the Twin Cities (MSP) the 0.13 inches translates to the 4th driest January in history.

With the exception of far north-central and northeastern communities, most places were snow starved in January, with many observers reporting less than 4 inches. At many locations only 5 or 6 days brought snow, always in light amounts. Some places in northeastern Minnesota received 15 to 17 inches of snowfall.

Unlike most Januarys, clear skies were rare this month. The month was dominated by clouds or fog. Over a third of the days brought fog to many areas of the state, including several mornings with thick fog.

January warmth and dryness helped reduce the workloads of medical personnel who treat victims of accidental falls due to snow and ice according to the orthopedic clinic where my wife goes.

Happy Groundhogs Day:

Today, February 2nd, marks another Groundhog Day or Candlemas Day (changing the stock of candles in the church), the half way point of winter, and in 1996 the coldest day in Minnesota history, setting a state record of -60 degrees F at Tower, MN.  The Groundhog did not see his shadow this year, indicating an early spring is on its way.

The largest contrasts in temperature conditions on Groundhog Day occurred during the 1990s. In 1991 several communities reported daytime temperatures ranging from the upper 40s to mid 60s F and numerous records were set, including 48 F in the Twin Cities and a remarkable 66 F at Wheaton (Traverse County). Conversely in 1996 Minnesota marked one of its coldest days in history with morning lows of -50 degrees F or colder at twelve different locations, and a new statewide record low of -60 degrees F at Tower, MN. Not many states can claim Groundhog Day as marking their coldest temperature in history.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

According to the BBC, many parts of Europe are concerned about drought for this coming growing season. Rainfall and snowfall have been below normal in many areas. There is concern that their food production system may be hurt by this and provoke rises in food prices.

A new study from the University of Reading and published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society finds that the remarkable warm sea surface temperatures so prevalent during 2023 may become more frequent with climate change and provoke even more extreme measures of climate in terms of water vapor and temperature as we proceed into the future.

MPR listener question:

We are trying to find reason for hope to salvage the 2023-2024 snow season. Can you tell us how often February or March has been the snowiest month of the season in the Metro Area of the Twin Cities?


We have 139 years of record back to 1885. The data show that 19 times February as been the snowiest month (about 14 percent), and that 30 times March has been the snowiest month (about 22 percent). So there is about a 1 in 3 chance historically that either of those months produce the most snow during the snow season. Checking to see how often the February-March period brings above normal snowfall during an El Nino episodes, this too yields about a 1 in 3 chance.

Twin Cities Almanac for February 2nd:

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 2nd:

MSP records for this date: highest daily maximum temperature of 48 degrees F in 1991; lowest daily maximum temperature of -17 degrees F in 1996; lowest daily minimum temperature of -32 degrees F in 1996; highest daily minimum temperature of 31 degrees F in 2020; record precipitation of 0.80 inches in 1919. There was a record 8.8 inches of snowfall in 2016.

Average dew point for February 2nd is 3°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 34°F in 1987; and the minimum dew point on this date is -47 degrees F in 1996.

All-time state records for February 2nd:

The state record high temperature for this date is 66 degrees F at Wheaton (Traverse County) in 1991. The state record low temperature for this date is -60 degrees F at Tower (St Louis County) in 1996. The state record precipitation for this date is 2.00 inches at Caledonia (Housston County) in 1915. The state snowfall record is 20.0 inches also at Caledonia (Houston County) in 1915.

Past Weather:

Back-to-back winter storms brought heavy snowfall to Minnesota the first week of February in 1915. Many observers reported snowfall everyday of the week, in many cases totaling 10 to 20 inches. Some southern locations reported over two feet of snow.

Record-setting warm temperatures prevailed across much of Minnesota on February 2 of 1991. At least 25 counties reported temperatures in the 50s F, while observers in four western counties reported highs of 60°F or greater. International Falls reached a high of 55°F with 18 inches of snow on the ground.

The coldest February 2nd in state history was in 1996. It was also the coldest for many neighboring states as well. Twelve Minnesota climate stations reported a morning temperature of -50°F or colder. The daily high temperature at Red Lake Falls only reached -30°F. and Rochester reported a low of -35°F and a high of -20°F.


Continued very warm temperatures through the weekend with plenty of sunshine. The warm temperatures will dominate the first full week of February, perhaps modified a bit by chances for rain or slushy snow by late Wednesday and on Thursday.
Print Friendly and PDF