-20 at Ash Lake (northern St Louis County off Hwy 53) this morning
(Coldest spot in the nation! Thanks to Mark Seeley for this report)
-17 in Crane Lake, Minnesota this morning! (Near the Boundary Waters)
Near 0 in the metro by Saturday morning?
-20s in Europe cold wave
+50 50 degrees warmer in Alaska than this time last week
Cold air on the move around the northern hemisphere
More like winter than "spring" in Minnesota next 2 weeks
Rare tropical disturbance in Florida in February?
"Something is definitely up with the weather, and it is clear to me that over the past two years, the climate has shifted to a new state capable of delivering rare and unprecedented weather events." -Jeff Masters describing radical changes in weather patterns over the past 2 years.
Cold Air on the move:
Northern Minnesota finally woke up to real winter this morning.
Sub-zero temps blanketed the northland, and a north wind is making it feel increasingly winter-like in the south too.
Crane Lake dipped to -17 this morning. Ash Lake to -20. That's pretty respectable for February.
The cold will linger today and tomorrow, before a brief milder spell Thursday precedes the next (more arctic) front Friday.
Yes, it's finally going to feel like winter around here by the weekend...even if the lack of snow means it still looks like early spring in much of southern Minnesota.
Shifting weather patterns:
Until 2-3 weeks ago, the cold air had been mostly bottled up around the poles and in Alaska. That's changing.
Cold is also moving into the lower 48 United States this week, and it looks like it may hang around for a couple of weeks.
The "Broken Winter" of 2011-'12 appears to be "fixed" in Minnesota, at least for now. February may end up being the coldest month overall this winter in Minnesota.
Is this the new normal?
The incredible record and highly unusual weather patterns of the past 2 years are causing some meteorologists (including me) to ask if a bigger shift has occurred. The weather maps we're looking at just don't seem to fit seasonal pattern we studied in school and have observed over the past 25 years.
When you look at weather maps everyday for decades there are seasonal patterns that evolve. Those patterns just don't seem to fit anymore.
Over the past two years we've seen several events that are so out of place compared to "normal" that it makes us wonder if the overall climate has shifted so much that we don't recognize what we're looking at anymore.
Consder these events of just the past two years.
-Tornado alley shifted north in 2010, Minnesota lead the nation in tornadoes in 2010
-A record number of "Billion Dollar Weather Disasters" in 2011
-The "Broken Winter" of 2011-'12
These events are causing many of us, like Weather Underground's Jeff Masters, to ask if we're witnessing climate shifts unlike anything we've seen before.
"I discussed in an appearance on NPR's All Things Considered on Friday just how unusual the atmospheric flow patterns have been this winter, and today's rare tropical disturbance over South Florida is symptomatic of how whacked-out our 2012 atmosphere has been. In isolation, the strange winter weather of 2011 - 2012 could be a natural rare occurrence, but there have been way too many strange atmospheric events in the past two years for them all to be simply an unusually long run of natural extremes. Something is definitely up with the weather, and it is clear to me that over the past two years, the climate has shifted to a new state capable of delivering rare and unprecedented weather events. Human emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide are the most likely cause of such a shift in the climate, as I discussed in my post last week, Where is the climate headed?"
It's a great question.
I can tell you this for sure. The weather maps I'm looking at in the past two years bear little resemblance to what I've seen over the past 25 years of watching daily weather patterns.
Forecasting the weather for Minnesota these days is like forecasting for some strange land I am not familiar with. It's like a roller coater ride I can't get off, and I'm not sure where it's headed. The thing is, we're all on this ride together...and I don't know where we're going to end up.
4th warmest January on record for the USA according to NOAA
7th warmest January in Minnesota according to Mark Seeley at UM (preliminary)
4th warmest start to meteorological winter (Dec & Jan) on record in the Twin Cities
Sub-zero again overnight in northern Minnesota
Near zero Friday & Saturday morning in the metro?
USA: 4th warmest January on record:
The data is in from NOAA for January, and this will go down as the 4th warmest year opener on record.
More details from NOAA:
"Climate Highlights -- January
•The average contiguous U.S. temperature in January was 36.3 degrees F, 5.5 degrees F above the 1901-2000 long-term average -- the fourth warmest January on record, and the warmest since 2006. Precipitation, averaged across the nation, was 1.85 inches. This was 0.37 inch below the long-term average, with variability between regions. This monthly analysis is based on records dating back to 1895.
•Warmer-than-average temperatures were widespread across the contiguous United States during January. Nine states -- Arizona, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wyoming -- had January temperatures ranking among their ten warmest. Florida and Washington were the only states with temperatures near average, and no state was cooler than average.
•Many locations across the Northern Plains exceeded all-time warm January maximum temperature records during the month, including Minot, North Dakota, which reached 61 degrees F on January 5th. This surpassed the previous record of 59 degrees F for the city, set on January 28th, 1906.
•In contrast to the contiguous United States being much warmer than average, several towns across Alaska had their coldest average January temperatures on record -- Nome (-16.6 degrees F), Bethel (-17.3 degrees F) McGrath (-28.5 degrees F), and Bettles (-35.6 degrees F).
•Cities across the Northern Plains, Midwest, and Northeast had below-average snow fall during the month a result of warmer and drier than average conditions. According to data from the Rutgers Global Snow Lab, the average snow extent during January was 1.0 million square miles, which was 329,000 square miles below the 1981-2010 average. This marks the 3rd smallest January snow cover extent in the 46-year period of record.
•According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, as of January 31st, 2012, about 3.3 percent of the contiguous U.S. was experiencing the worst category of drought, called D4 or exceptional drought, about the same as the beginning of the month. However, the percent area of the U.S. experiencing drought of any severity increased from 31.9 percent at the beginning of January to 37.9 percent at the end of the month. Most of the drought expansion occurred across the Upper Midwest and the western states.
•The United States Climate Extremes Index (USCEI) and Regional Climate Extremes Index (RCEI) are sensitive to extremes in temperature, rainfall, dry streaks, drought, and tropical cyclones on the national and regional scale, respectively. During January, the USCEI was above average, driven by a large extent in warm maximum temperatures. The percent area of the U.S. experiencing extremes in warm maximum temperatures was 56 percent, which is the second highest value on record. Regionally, the West North Central, South, and West regions ranked 3rd or 4th highest for the extent of warm maximum temperature extremes."
Minnesota was "ground Zero" for January warmth. My MPR colleague and UM cimate guru Dr. Mark Seeley elaborates.
Topic: Preliminary climate summary for January 2012
"A very warm January prevailed across Minnesota. Many observers report mean monthly temperatures that are 7 to 9 degrees F warmer than average. Both Fargo-Moorhead and International Falls report their 5th warmest January in history, while on a statewide basis January 2012 appears to rank as the 7th warmest historically. Three new state record high temperatures were set for the month (on the 4th, 54 F at Marshall; on the 5th, 63 F at Marshall and Canby; and on the 10th, 59 F at Marshall). MSP International Airport reported only three mornings with below zero F temperatures, well below the average of eleven. The monthly temperature extremes were 63 degrees F at Marshall and Canby on the 5th, and -30 degrees F at Brimson (St Louis County) on the 20th. January was the 4th consecutive month with significantly above normal temperatures across the state, making the October (2011) through January (2012) period one of the warmest in state history. One final note on temperature: despite the dominance of warm temperatures, Minnesota reported the coldest temperature in the 48 contiguous states on four dates during the month.
It was also generally a drier than normal month, though some observers reported significant snowfall, and the largest monthly total for the winter so far. Some of those with significant January snowfall included: 14.9 inches at Orr; 14.1 inches at Kabetogama; 12.7 inches at Lanesboro; 11.4 inches at Grand Meadow; and 10.3 inches at Gunflint Lake. The last weekend of the month may bring additional snows to these areas as well.
Over January 9-10 strong winds were reported around the state with the advance of an arctic high pressure system. Many reported wind gusts from 40 to 50 mph.
Soil frost depths increased during January, starting out at just a few inches below the soil surface and dropping to as deep as 20 to 30 inches in places where there is little snow cover."
February started mild in Minnesota. Temps at MSP Airport ran a full +13.4 degrees vs. average for the first 6 days!
Our cooler weather pattern looks to persist for the next two weeks of February. We should creep back closer to what passes for "average" in Minnesota these days.
Stay tuned, and stay warm!