Anatomy of a January record; Near 40 again by Monday?

47 record high at MSP Airport Thursday

47 forecast high at MSP Thursday

24 average high at MSP Thursday

+ 23 degrees vs. average!

January 18th latest date in the season without a sub zero temp at MSP Airport

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It’s getting a little surreal to keep forecasting temps 20+ degrees above average this winter.

Another record setting Chinook warmed Pacific air mass is streaming into Minnesota today from the west. As the already mild air spills over the northern Rockies, it warms further on it’s descent into South Dakota. Temperatures surged Wednesday into the 50s and even 60s the Dakotas.

RECORD EVENT REPORT

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE RAPID CITY SD

133 AM MST THU JAN 05 2012

…RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE SET AT EAST RAPID CITY SD…

A RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE OF 63 DEGREES WAS SET AT EAST RAPID CITY

SD YESTERDAY. THIS BREAKS THE OLD RECORD OF 60 SET IN 1935.

RECORD EVENT REPORT

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BISMARCK ND

0621 PM CST WED JAN 04 2012

…RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE SET AT BISMARCK ND…WILLISTON ND…AND

JAMESTOWN ND…

A RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE OF 55 DEGREES WAS SET AT BISMARCK ND

TODAY. THIS BREAKS THE OLD RECORD OF 44 SET IN 2001.

A RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE OF 50 DEGREES WAS SET AT WILLISTON ND

TODAY. THIS BREAKS THE OLD RECORD OF 48 SET IN 2008.

A RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE OF 46 DEGREES WAS SET AT JAMESTOWN ND

TODAY. THIS BREAKS THE OLD RECORD OF 42 SET IN 2001.

It’s one thing to have mild air in Minnesota in January, but record highs are a special breed this time of year. It takes a pretty special set of rather rare circumstances to challenge records in January.

1) The jet stream is unusually far north in Canada. (This has been the case most of this “winter.”)

2) A strong surface low is tracking though Manitoba. The low acts as a “vacuum cleaner” sucking up mild air from the west and dragging it over Minnesota.

3) Southwest to westerly surface winds. This is the favored wind direction for the warmest temps in Minnesota. Downslope “Chinook” warming further modifies an already mild Pacific air mass as it spills over the northern Rockies into Minnesota.

4) Lack of snow cover. There is little or no snow on the ground from Hutchinson, just west of the metro, all the way to the Black Hills of South Dakota and into Wyoming and Montana.

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5) Sunshine on bare ground. The lack of snow, and considerable sunshine on bare ground means temps warm faster than it would over thick snow cover.

We should come close to the record of 47 degrees at MSP today. A veil of high cirrus clouds may dim the sun just enough to keep us a couple if degrees shy.

With no snow in western Minnesota, I expect temps to reach the 50s, and maybe even 60 degrees around Canby and Appleton! Pinch me, and remind me it’s still January will you?

Cooler this weekend; 40 again by Monday?

A cool front will slide through Minnesota tomorrow. Yes, this is the winter of the “cool” front. It seems those “real man’s” cold fronts of the past are few and far between in what passes for “winter” this year.

Temps will slide into the 20s and 30s this weekend, which is still a good 10 degrees above normal this time of year.

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As winds turn west again Monday & Tuesday, temps should rebound back to near 40 degrees in southern Minnesota. What a year.

Coldest days ahead?

Keep in mind we are now entering what should be the coldest (and snowiest) 4 weeks of the year in Minnesota. Our daily “averages” bottom out around January 20th, then begin the slow climb into spring like numbers as we move toward March. But then again, what real meaning does “average” have in Minnesota lately?

The GFS Model (Aptly named “Good For Speculation” by some cynical forecasters) wants to bring the first real shot of arctic, potentially sub zero air onto Minnesota around January 16- 20th. That may happen, but we’ve seen this movie beofre this year. The GFS keeps threatening a shot of arctic air, then backs off in the coming days.

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Let’s see what happens in the next 3-4 days before we totally buy into that scenario.

Temperatures are running -30 to -45 in the interior of Alaska. You would figure some of that bitter arctic air has to come south sooner or later.

The latest we’ve gone without a sub zero temp in the metro is January 18th. It looks like we’re going to push that record to the brink this year!

NOAA Weather Radio automated voice “Paul” kicks into holiday mode

This is just too silly for words. Somebody at NOAA has too much time on their hands, and a great sense of humor!

PH