REGIONAL— The record books are now closed on January 2020 and it probably comes as no surprise to North Country residents that the month was both gloomy and mild. And that’s to be …
REGIONAL— The record books are now closed on January 2020 and it probably comes as no surprise to North Country residents that the month was both gloomy and mild.
And that’s to be expected, according to state climatologist Pete Boulay, who said cloudy conditions in January frequently come with warmer-than-average temperatures.
And this past January wasn’t just mild, it was exceptionally so, as temperatures for the month averaged nearly seven degrees above average across the region. That probably wasn’t enough to put this past January among the top ten warmest on record, but at 6.9 degrees above normal, it did make the top twelve at International Falls, which has the longest period of records of any station in the region.
Other area weather stations experienced similar departures from average. Embarrass, for example, was 8.3 degrees warmer than average, although some of that departure likely reflects the change in location of the weather station. Still, Babbitt’s official weather station recorded average temperatures for the month that were 6.3 degrees above normal, while Cook’s weather watcher reported that the month ran 5.8 degrees above average.
While the first half of January was closer to average, the second half was particularly warm, with temperatures often running double digits above average. That trend continued into the first couple days of February. When area residents woke this past Sunday morning, Feb. 2, to an overnight low in the upper 20s, it was nearly 35 degrees above normal, noted Boulay.
This past month’s persistent cloud cover helped to keep temperatures milder, particularly overnight, said Boulay. That’s because clouds act like a blanket on the Earth, helping to keep daytime warmth from escaping into space.
While long-term records on cloud cover aren’t available for most Minnesota weather stations, Boulay noted that this past month the Twin Cities recorded its fewest hours of sunshine since 1963. He said that pattern held true pretty much across the state.
Despite the mild conditions, the area did see plenty of snowfall. According to Boulay, snow depth in the area, which ranged from 20-36 inches during the month, was in the top ten for deepest snow at this point in the winter season.