Crashed Ice: -42F in Embarrass; Warmer days and snow ahead?

-42F in Embarrass this morning (coldest temp so far this winter in Minnesota)

-40F in Babbitt

-36F in International Falls, Cook & Crane Lake

5 sub-zero mornings so far in the Twin Cities this winter

3 sub-zero days last winter

22.5 number of sub-zero days in an “average” winter in the metro

+1.8F temps vs. average so far for January 2013 at MSP Airport

Hope warmer days coming soon!

30s in the metro by Monday?

Snow tonight Alberta Clipper system brings snow to Minnesota tonight


Weird Winter of 2013

Things got a little weird in the Weather Lab overnight.

First a bang and a clatter. Too late in the winter for Santa right?

Then…no water pressure.


As we wait for help…and news of what happened…and how much it will cost us, all sorts of wintery nightmares ran through my mostly sleepless head last night.

Did a pipe freeze and burst? No water in the basement…whew. Maybe outside? Images of an instant ice rink on my front walkway and a geyser creating twisted icy sculptures ran through my head. Will they have to dig up my front lawn just in time for our guests from Chicago this weekend? Will they have a hot shower??? Will I have a hot shower after our hockey games in the North American Pond Hockey Championships this weekend?

It’s all still a mystery at this point.

Stay tuned.

One thing I know for sure, the lack of significant, insulating snow cover in the metro and southern Minnesota combined with our barbaric cold this week is driving frost depths down deep into the soil.

Check out the plummeting soil temps at Waseca this week, where soil temps have fallen to 29F nearly 2 feet down. At least the frost depth has not yet reached 40″.

276 Waseca soil temps.PNG

Image: MN Climate Working Group

-42F in Embarrass: Coldest in Minnesota so far this winter

The concept of pipe rupturing cold is very real up north, where Embarrass recorded a low of -42F this morning. -40 in Babbitt this morning is no slouch either.

276 Embarrass.PNG

The -42F at Embarrass is the coldest reading in the State of Minnesota so far this winter.

Let’s hope it stays that way.

Talk about keeping out the riff raff, as my father used to say back in the 1970s.

1 cold thermo.PNG

5 & Counting:

Today marks day #5 of sub zero low temps in the metro this winter.

Last winter we only managed to eke out 3 days. The 30 year average is 22.5 days for MSP.

Looking ahead, I see one more sub-zero start possible Saturday morning…then a few more later next week. My guess is we may end up somewhere around 10 for the entire winter.

Looking at the overall trends, one measure of our warming climate is to count the dwindling number of sub-zero low in the metro. We averaged closer to 35 sub-zero days in the 1970s.

In the past 4 decades there is a distinct trend toward fewer sub-zero days in the metro. Now it’s 22.5…and dropping fast.

CC sub zero lows trend.jpg

Image: Twin Cities NWS

At the current trend line, we may be averaging around 10 days by 2030…and closer to 0 by 2040.

I don’t know if we’ll ever achieve all sub-zero free winters in the metro…but winters with few sub-zero readings will be much more common for our kids than the 30+ days below zero we grew up with.

A “real” winter this year:

Compared to last year, this is a pretty real winter in Minnesota. Here’s where we stand so far with temps in the metro and most of Minnesota this winter.

December +3.7F

January +1.8F so far (and rapidly approaching average)

An “average” January in Minnesota? What a concept.

Looking ahead, February looks to open on a cold note then modify to a milder weather pattern as the month unfolds.

There are some signs we may see a thaw starting around February 7th.

Stay tuned.

1 snow 2.jpg


Searching for Snow:

An Alberta Clipper system will dive south into Minnesota tonight.

Snow develops in the Red River Valley today…and spreads south & east through tonight.

A fresh coating of 1″ to 3″ seems likely for most of northern Minnesota. The “Hill” above Lake Superior may see some “lake enhanced” snow totals as winds blow off the lake ahead of the system. 3″ to 6″ is possible in some areas by Friday morning.

276 snow.PNG

Image: NAM snowfall output via

The metro will likely see a few hours of light snow overight…starting later this evening. It looks like we’ll have to settle for less than an inch…but that may be enough to gum up some roads just in time for early AM rush hour Friday.


A second system brings a chance of light snow Sunday.

“Plowable” storm Tuesday?

The Euro model remains bullish on a more significant, potentially “plowable” system for next Tuesday.

276 euro.PNG

The GFS is still waffling on track and temp profile…bringing a mixed bag of sleet and potentially freezing rain to the metro…with heavier snowfall north.

It’s still too early 5 days out to say which is right…but I’m leaning toward the Euro solution as of now.

Then again maybe I’m just getting tired of looking out my weather lab window at the pathetic looking toothpaste masquerading as snow cover on my lawn.

Again…stay tuned.

Thawing out this weekend?

Here’s the really good news in the forecast. We will get a much deserved break from persistent cold by Sunday.

Temps should rise to near +30F (as in 30 above) by late Sunday…and 30s Monday & Tuesday.

276 met.PNG

Image: Iowa State

Excuse me while I sit on my front stop and bask in 30 degree warmth.

Will I have (hot) water by then?


  • Peter

    While there’s clearly a trend towards fewer sub-zero days, the extrapolation of the 30-year moving average line to 2050 on the graph should be ignored. The moving average line appears to assume that there will be NO sub-zero days in any year after 2013, which is clearly unrealistic.

    Unfortunately this is an easy mistake to make, since Excel doesn’t provide any sort of sanity check when creating this kind of extrapolation.

    Now waiting for a climate change denier to charge that this mistake “proves” the NWS is part of the conspiracy. In 3…2…1…

  • John

    I wonder what effect these relatively cold temperatures along with no snow insulation will have on semi-hardy plants. Many people try to push the boundaries on what can be planted in our hardiness zone. My thinking is some people may lose plants come spring:(

    I’m glad I went down 42″ with some footings I poured last fall!

  • Mark

    I’d wager that the coldest weather for most locations in the state is yet to come– in the first half of February. I’d also wager that most reporting stations in Minnesota will equal or surpass the average number of days per winter with below zero readings.