The forecast for New Year’s Day 2008 is calling for colder weather, with daytime highs ranging from the single digits to the teens F around the state, probably the coldest first day of the year since 2002 and certainly a far sight from the 30s and 40s F last year. Many citizens recall the very mild New Year’s Day in 1998 with daytime highs in the 40s and low 50s F encouraging a few to go out and play a round of golf and brag about it.
But cold weather on New Year’s Day is pretty typical with sigificantly below normal readings about 40 percent of the time historically. The forecast for January 1, 2008 though cold is far from setting any records. There have been numerous years when daytime highs on New Year’s Day have not risen above zero. The last time for the Twin Cities was 1979 when the high was only -1 degree F. Probably the coldest New Year’s Day in the modern record was in 1974 when virtually every location in the state remained below zero, with a high of -24 degrees F at Hawley (Red River Valley) and -12 degrees F in the Twin Cities. Many locations started out that day colder than -30 degrees F, with Wannaska reporting -44 F.
Though climate records are less abundant for the 19th Century, observations from St Paul show a reading of -40 degrees F on New Year’s morning of 1860. I doubt that we would ever see that again, but you never know.