Coldest winter in 30 years so far, warmer pattern shift next week?


We're getting our Minnesota Winter Machismo back.

While you've been crunching on the snow in your driveway, your local National Weather Service gurus have been crunching the numbers. They tell us that so far this winter is the coldest in 30 years, depending on which numbers you measure.

The last time it was this cold...

  • Ronald Reagan was in the White House

  • Beverly Hills Cop was at your local theater

  • "Where's the Beef" and "I'll be back" were the big quotes

  • Prince was busting out hits "When Dove's Cry and "Let's Go Crazy"

Before you keep reading ...

MPR News is made by Members. Gifts from individuals fuel the programs that you and your neighbors rely on. Donate today to power news, analysis, and community conversations for all.

Talk about a blast from the past!

So far this winter is running about 7.5 degrees colder than average through December and January. Add up all the highs and lows and you come up with 10.2 degrees. That's it folks.

And that's only good enough for 17th coldest winter on record going back to 1894. Here are the teeth chattering details on our winter so far from the Twin Cities NWS.

660 MSP_2_month Average MEAN TEMPS_Dec_Jan_2014
Image: Twin Cities NWS

Chilly but quiet week ahead

This week looks chilly to downright Nordic again, but quiet with little or no snowfall.  The possibility of getting through an entire week this winter without any snow-choked commutes?


660 wsx
Image: Twin Cities NWS

Look for the dreaded wind chill advisories to return by Wednesday. Here's a closer look at the week ahead.

660 wkky
Image: Weatherspark

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Global Forecast System model has done a pretty good job forecasting temps so far this winter. Let's see how this week pans out.

weather geek comic

Storms detour south

One way to think of big arctic high pressure domes like the one pouring south from the Canadian prairies this week is like a 350 pound offensive lineman for the now Super Bowl Champ Seattle Seahawks. You're not getting through him, you'll have to go around.

When the Big Blue H is overhead, storms detour around Minnesota. This week two separate systems take the southerly route. System number one delivers 4 to 8 inches for parts of the eastern U.S., including New Jersey and New York today and tonight. System two winds up in the Southern Plains tonight, and dumps 6 to 10 inches from Kansas through Missouri, southern Iowa central Illinois Indiana-Ohio-Pennsylvania and onto Massachusetts.

660 adv nat
Image: NOAA

The big picture lays down a swath of heavy snow from Kansas City all the way to Boston. Iowa picks up snow with the cutoff near the Minnesota border.


The early Monday trends push the heaviest snows further south of Chicago toward the Illinois cities of Bloomington, Springfield and Decatur. But the Windy City could still pick up 2 to 4 inches this week.

NOAA's North American Mesoscale Forecast System model keeps the heavy snow band south of Chicago.

660 nam

The latest storms this week add to the already impressive (and growing) snow cover across the U.S.

660 sd
660 nsm_depth_2014020305_National

Pattern Change Ahead: Jet stream shift to bring milder temps starting next week?

It's been a long time coming, but it looks like we may just be about to break the back of the persistent arctic cold this winter. One thing climate forecasts watch for is shifts in the so called "Arctic Oscillation,"  a pattern that represents how so called atmospheric long waves are oriented in the Northern Hemisphere.

We've been feeling the effects of a "negative phase" AO this winter. There are signs the AO may go strongly positive starting next week, and perhaps again the following week.

660 ao
Image: NOAA

If this happens, expect the jet stream to begin blowing in milder Pacific air masses into Minnesota. The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts model is the most aggressive right now, spitting out temps in the 30s by the middle of next week.

660 wks euro
Image: Weatherspark

I'm not saying we're done with sub-zero cold this winter, but the trends lean toward many more days in the 20s and 30s (and maybe even 40s) the next few weeks.

Some hope for California?

California is suffering through the worst drought on record. They need an incredibly wet next two months to avert major disaster.

It's not enough, but the potential for some 3 inch rainfall totals and mountain snows in far northern California could be a blessing in the next week. Meanwhile the east gets soaked and snowed on, and Minnesota stays dry.

660 7 day precip
Image: NOAA

Have  a great start to the week!