Warmer and drier

Some good weather news in the forecast today for rain weary Minnesotans. A drier and slightly warmer weather pattern is taking hold.

HPC 5-Day Rainfall indicates less than .10″ forecast for most of Minnesota.

This should give farmers a chance to catch up on spring planting as fields dry out. It will also give us a welcome respite from soaking rains. We may still see a few bouts of lighter showers, but no big soakers loom on the horizon.

It looks a bit warmer too. Today is the day our average high hits 70 in the metro. We’ll be closer to 70 than 60 for daily highs the next week. Watch for your local bank thermometer to flash 70 by weeks end.

On a previous post MPR listener Dan asked about the duration of this cold spell. It seems like it’s been going on since October, but really it’s only been since mid-January. Still that’s a 4 month duration!

May (-2.5 so far) is our 4th consecutive month with below average temps in the metro. The last time we had 4 consecutive months below average in the Twin Cities was 4 years ago in 2004 when May through August fell below the average.

5 months in a row below average does not happen very often at all, so the likelihood of us getting another month below average is slim. The last time that happened was 12 years ago in 1996 when March through August was all below average. The good news is that statistically, we’re likely to warm to above average soon.

To further break down the cold spell, think of it this way. Since February 1st we’ve had 64 below average days and only 37 average or above average days. That’s roughly 6 of every 10 days below average.

The flip side is true if you look back from October through January. We had 47 days below average compared to 76 days at or above average. That’s roughly 6 of 10 days above average. So even though it felt “colder” as we approached winter, we remained largely above average into January.

So our recent cold spell is remarkable and unusual both in magnitude and duration.

The good news is, at least statistically, it isn’t likely to last. The big bad James Bay Polar Vortex is showing signs of breaking down gradually over the next two weeks.

Stay tuned!


  • Dan

    Thanks for all the interesting stats and for responding to my comments. I guess I’m not crazy! (Well, maybe, but at least not on this subject.)

    I think part of this is psychological too – it may have been slightly above average from October to January, but it WAS, per the season, getting colder outside. That’s to be expected – but when you then hit significantly colder-than-average temps going into the late-winter and early-spring months, it’s a bit harder to take because that’s when you start really getting tired of the cold weather and hoping for a few nice days to lift your spirits (and stop your shivering). And, with a few minor exceptions, we really haven’t had those “breaks in the clouds” that usually come during these months. Thus, a high misery factor. Add in all the late-winter/early-spring snowfalls that we had, and it really feels like one of the most painful years, weather-wise, that we’ve had in quite some time. Since 1996, really, as you point out – that was the last time I can remember having this existential dread of “will the cold weather EVER end?”.

    Again, thanks for all the info and insight – really appreciate it.

  • Chris

    I think your statistics are a little misleading because most of the warmth in October to January occurred between Oct 1 and Nov 20. In the Twin Cities, December was 2.1 degrees below normal and January was a measly 0.1 above normal. So (assuming May finishes below normal) 5 of the last six months have been below normal and the lone exception was that +0.1 departure for January.

    Love the podcast and the blog. Keep up the good work.


  • Paul Huttner

    Thanks Chris:

    Good observations.

    I was really going directly to answer Dan’s questions going back to October and the actual number of days above and below average.

    Yes, December was below average, but with 16 days below average and 15 at or above, it was nearly a toss up for the number of days below average. Same exact numbers for January.

    We also had a “warm” spell from Dec 25th through Jan 13th, with 18 of those 20 days above average.

    The pattern featuring the polar vortex over Hudson/James Bay really set up on about Jan 13th, and has been pretty much in place since then.

    Also it’s interesting to hear some people call an end to “global warming” because of our recent cool spell. Remember winter 2007-’08 was actually slightlyABOVE (actually near) average both un the U.S. and globally. One average winter does not a cooling trend make.