Coldest day in 10 years but records stand, January thaw ahead

Image: Twin Cities NWS


You know you live in the Frozen Tundra when -23 degrees is not the coldest day on record.

The good news? You've just survived the coldest day of the winter in Minnesota.

The core of the coldest air is gradually sliding out of Minnesota. It will still be very cold for another 36 to 48 hours, but the worst is almost behind us now.

Here are the latest numbers on our polar vortex fueled Arctic superfront.

  • -23 degrees at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Monday morning (record of-27 degrees in 1912 still stands)

  •  10 years since we've been that cold at MSP Airport (we hit -24 degrees on Jan. 30, 2004)

  • -12 degrees "high" temperature at MSP Airport Monday (record of -14 stands)

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  • -40 degrees at Babbitt and Brimson Monday morning (coldest temps observed in Minnesota Monday)

  • -46 degrees at Embarrass Jan. 2 and Jan. 3 (coldest temp observed in Minnesota so far this winter)

  • -63 degrees wind chill at Grand Marais Monday (coldest observed wind chill in Minnesota Monday)

  • -20 to -23 degrees low temperatures in the metro early Tuesday morning

  • -30 to -50 degrees wind chills early Tuesday morning

  • 0 degrees likely high at MSP Airport Tuesday afternoon

  • +55 degrees temps likely 55 degrees warmer by next weekend in Minnesota


Slight moderation Tuesday

Tuesday morning will be bitterly cold again, but you'll notice the drop in winds as temperatures push toward the zero mark Tuesday afternoon in the metro. Here's a look at the slightly moderating temp trends the next 48 hours for the Twin Cities and southern Minnesota.

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Image: Weatherspark

Minnesota's polar vortex goes global

Minnesota's latest polar vortex invasion has generated global attention.

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Image: Environment Canada

Monday was one of the most insane days I've had during seven years as chief meteorologist with MPR News. My Twitter feed, cell phone and email lit up with requests from around the globe to talk about our Arctic superfront.

In the past 36 hours I've fielded inquiries about our cold wave and/or done live hits with  ABC Radionational  and Summer Breakfast in Australia, To The Point on KCRW in Santa Monica, Calif., and the BBC in London.

It's amazing to hear the reaction in the voices from radio colleagues around the world to how we are still able to function in temperature this extreme in Minnesota. We wear our cold weather skills as a badge of honor, and that amazes much of the world.

Warming trend ahead

Temperatures recover as we move forward late this week. After a month of sustained cold, we're overdue for a warm correction. Thursday's warm front will be noticeable, and temps should reach the 30s again in southern Minnesota and the metro this weekend.

Fifty-five degrees warmer by Sunday afternoon vs. Monday morning? It will be a welcome change for many Minnesotans.

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Big Picture: Cold waves and climate change?

It's tempting for some to use a cold month or outbreak to climate change. It's also bad science. Even though we've had a good run of cold in the past month, the longer term trends are clear for Minnesota. We're seeing far fewer extreme cold events than in decades past.

Here's a interesting graph from Climate Central that shows the clear drop in the number of -10 degree nights in the Twin Cities in the past few decades.

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Image: Climate Central

Worst of winter cold behind us after this week?

It's a fool's errand to declare winter on the run in early January in Minnesota, so you wont hear that in this space. But I still think the worst of winter's cold may be behind us after this week. As I said earlier this winter, I think this winter will be front-loaded with cold. There are still signs we may trend milder the second half of winter.

Exhibit A?

The upper air pattern looks much more 'zonal' (west to east) the next few weeks. A zonal flow blows in milder Pacific air from Seattle instead of  bitter Arctic air from the Yukon. Looking ahead two weeks, I see far more days with highs in the 20s and 30s, and far fewer (but some) sub-zero nights.

The Euro model is the most optimistic on the warm up. Nearly a week above zero with highs in the 20s and 30s starting Friday? What a concept.

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Image: Weatherspark

Hang in there!

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