The weather of Christmases past

Mark Seeley passes along a few interesting notes about Christmas Eve weather:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 25 degrees F (plus or minu 11 degrees standard deviation), while the average low is 9 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees standard deviation).

The highest daily maximum temperature ever recorded at MSP on Christmas Eve was 47 degrees in 1909, while the lowest daily max was a chilly -10 F in 1983. The lowest low temperature recorded was -31 degrees in 1872, while the highest low was a balmy 35 degrees in both 1877 and 1982. Last year set the record for snowfall at 5.2 inches.

When you dive into the state’s climatic database, the all-time high for this date is 57 degrees F at Northfield (Rice County) in 1888; the all-time low is -43 degrees F at St. Vincent (Kittson County) in 1884. The state record daily snowfall for this date is 15.5 inches at Isabella (Lake County) in 1959.

The 1870s brought several weather extremes on Christmas Eve. In 1871, December 23-24 brought 13 inches of snow to Whitewater in Winona County, a record amount. In 1872 Christmas Eve started out at -34 degrees F in the Twin Cities area and warmed all the way up to -4 degrees F. The next day brought 5 inches of new snow. In 1877, Christmas week was downright balmy with daytime temperature readings in the 40s and 50s F in the Twin Cities area. Even overnight low temperatures did not fall below 34 degrees F. Then in 1879 the bottom dropped out of the thermometer as Christmas Eve brought -19 degrees F and Christmas Day started out at -39 degrees F in the Twin Cities area, the coldest Christmas ever.

Over December 22-24, 1959 a three day snow storm brought 32 inches to Isabella in Lake County, one of their biggest snow storms in history. Snow depth on Christmas that year was over 3 feet, as snow shoes were needed to get around.

December 24, 1983 brought dangerous wind chill conditions to most of the state as values ranged between -50 and -60 degrees F. The last episode of dangerous wind chill conditions on Christmas Eve was in 2000 when values ranged from -40 to -50 F for a time.