TO: University Communications

FROM: Bob Weisman, Earth Sciences

PHONE: 255-3247 (W)

DATE: 5 February 2001

SUBJECT: The January Thaw and Then Some
	 January 2001 St. Cloud weather summary

	After an extremely cold December, the atmosphere continued to
defy prediction in Saint Cloud by producing an extremely warm January.
The average January 2001 temperature at the Saint Cloud Airport was
15.9 degrees, 7.8 degrees above normal. This mild January was actually
warmer than any January since 1990 and ranks in the warmest 15% (23rd place)
of the 121 Januaries on record. Yes, that means it was warmer last month than
during any January during our 3 consecutive warm winters. January 1998 was
the warmest January of our 3 mild winters with an average temperature of 
only 15.5 degrees. There were almost as many days during January 2001 with
a high of at least freezing (10) as days with a low of zero or colder (12).
The warm days included a high of 42 on the 4th, which set a new daily
record by 4 degrees.
        The warm weather also was quite dry until the end of the month.
Only 5.4 inches of snow fell in Saint Cloud, about half of the normal
January snowfall. This total was the lowest January snowfall in Saint 
Cloud since 1991. Still, we have already exceeded last year's seasonal
snowfall of 28 inches and are well on our way to an above normal
snowfall year.
	The dry pattern dominated most of the month as the
main storm track stayed across the southern US while a secondary jet
stream kept the arctic air trapped in extreme northeastern Canada. The 
pattern did change at the end of the month, allowing a low pressure
system to tap Gulf moisture. While this storm of the 29th and 30th dropped
.52 inch of melted precipitation, only 2.8 inches of wet snow accumulated
in Saint Cloud since there was not enough cold air to keep the precipitation
as all snow. This is in marked contrast to the 18 inches of snow picked up in
Sioux Falls and the foot seen in some communities of west central and southwest
Minnesota. The .48 inches of melted precipitation which was measured on the
30th did set a daily record for precipitation.
       It does appear that a more northerly flow is developing for early 
February, so our mild weather will not continue.
       I don't know if this weather news is good, but some of the extremes
apparent in December have turned out not to be quite as extreme. The apparent
record low of -26 on Christmas Day turns out not to have been a record low.
Pete Boulay of the State Climatologists' Office has gone through the old 
handwritten records recorded by the National Weather Service when they had
an office in Saint Cloud. He has identified 10 days with lows of -40 or colder
in the 1880's when observations were being taken near the site of the current
dam in Saint Cloud. The record low for Saint Cloud on December 25 was not -25
as previously thought, but -42 set in 1884. He has also been able to show that
the all-time Saint Cloud record low is not -43 recorded on January 9, 1977.
The temperature has dropped to -50 twice: on January 2, 1885 and January 21, 1888.
Still, the day holding Saint Cloud's record cold average temperature (and the last
day that the temperature hit -40 in Saint Cloud) was set within recent memory: on 
February 2, 1996, the high was only -20 and the low was only -40. The -30 average
temperature for that day still stands as the coldest in Saint Cloud history. The
only air in the Northern Hemisphere which could threaten that record remains 
safely locked in interior Siberia, which is bad news for them, but good news
for us.

SUMMARY FOR JANUARY 2001               JAN 2001         NORMAL
Average high temperature ( F)            25.3            18.5
Average low temperature ( F)              6.5            -2.4
Average temperature ( F)                 15.9             8.1
Warmest high for this month ( F)          42 on the 4th (broke record;
                                                         see below)       
Coldest high for this month ( F)           4 on the 19th
Mildest low for this month ( F)           30 on the 14th (broke record;
                                                          see below)
Coldest low for this month ( F)           -17 on the 20th

Record temperatures ( F):
Daily record warm high:                   42 on the 4th (old record: 38 in 1898,
                                                        1964, 1985, 1989)
Daily record mild low:                    30 on the 14th (old record: 29 in 1906)               
January                                   0.78           0.74
Greatest in 24 hours                       .48 on the 30th (broke record;
                                                            see below)
Daily record precip:                      .48 on the 30th (old record: .34 in 1926)

January                                    5.4           10.1
Greatest in 24 hours                       2.4 on the 30th 
Season (2000-2001)                        34.0           26.3

1999-2000  0.0  1.1  4.5 10.8  8.4    T  3.3  0.0   28.1
2000-2001  0.0 10.6 16.2  5.4                       34.0
NORMAL     0.5  6.8  8.9 10.1  7.0  9.8  2.3  0.1   45.5


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Last modified: February 6, 2001