SUBJECT: Our Spring, I mean Mild Winter, Continues January 2002 St. Cloud weather summary  

FROM: Bob Weisman

Earth Sciences, St. Cloud State University

The ridiculously warm weather of this non-winter continued in January 2002. According to the statistics recorded at the Saint Cloud Municipal Airport, the average January temperature was 21.2 degrees, 12.5 degrees above normal. This warm temperature tied January 1891 for the fourth warmest January in the 122 years of Saint Cloud temperature records. January 2002 did fall 0.8 degrees short of January 1990 which had an average temperature of 22.0 degrees. January 1990 was the second warmest January on record.

There were only three days with below normal average temperatures during the month: January 1, 2, and 18. There were also only 3 days with below zero lows during the month. The normal is 16. Itís early, but we have a chance to break the record for the fewest number of below zero lows. That record is 16, set in 1997-1998. So far, we have had only 4 days with a low below zero. In February, Saint Cloud averages 12 days with a below zero low; the average for March is 3.5 days. So, just having near normal conditions would bring us very close to this record, and we certainly havenít been near normal so far this winter.

January 2002 marked the third consecutive incredibly warm month. November 2001 was the warmest November on record with an average temperature 12.1 degrees above normal. December 2001 was the thirteenth warmest on record with an average temperature 9.8 degrees above normal. This sustained warmth made the three-month period of November 1 through January 31 the warmest November through January period on record in Saint Cloud. The average temperature of 29.0 degrees beat November 1913 through January 1914 by 0.3 degrees. Our temperature for the past three months averaged 11.7 degrees above normal.

The warm weather came with very little snowfall. Only 3.5 inches of snow fell in January 2002, the 19th lowest January snowfall total on record. However, January 1990 was even browner. Only 0.1 inches of snow fell during January 12 years ago, the lowest January snowfall on record. Normally, January is the snowiest month of the year, averaging 10.1 inches per month.

The seasonal snowfall now stands at 18.6 inches. This is not a record low, since we have had 5 years where the entire seasonal snowfall was less than 18 inches. The most recent occurrence was the winter of 1986-1987 when 16.7 inches fell during the whole season. The most recent relatively snow-less winter was in 1999-2000 when only 28.1 inches fell during the season. In a normal winter, we would double our current seasonal snowfall by the end of April, but it certainly hasnít been normal.

The melted precipitation for January 2002 totaled 0.28 inches, the fourteenth lowest January precipitation on record. Again, January 1990 was drier, producing only 0.06 inches, the third lowest January total on record.

The net result is that we are having our fourth mild winter in the past five years. In addition, there are signs that El Nino, the anomalous current of warm ocean water in the tropical Pacific, has begun to rise. El Nino has nothing to do with this mild winter, but could affect next winterís weather. Two SCSU students, Tina Fischer and , recently researched conditions in Minnesota during an El Nino year. Both showed that an El Nino event strongly favors a mild winter. So, if this El Nino gets strong enough, the odds strongly favor another mild winter in 2002-2003.

SUMMARY FOR JANUARY 2002               JAN 2002         NORMAL
Average high temperature (oF)            30.0            18.6
Average low temperature (oF)             12.3            -1.2
Average temperature (oF)                 21.2             8.7
Warmest high for this month (oF)          49 on the 8th (broke record;
                                                         see below)       
Coldest high for this month (oF)          11 on the 18th
Mildest low for this month (oF)           34 on the 9th (broke record;
                                                          see below)
Coldest low for this month (oF)           -9 on the 18th

Record temperatures (oF):
Daily record warm high:                   49 on the 8th (old record: 46 in 1990)
Daily record warm mean:                   35 on the 8th (old record: 34 in 1990)
                                          40 on the 9th (old record: 38 in 1900)
Daily record mild low:                    
January                                   0.28           0.74
Greatest in 24 hours                       .17 on the 13th                                                    

January                                    3.5           10.1
Greatest in 24 hours                       2.2 on the 13th 
Season (2001-2002)                        18.6           26.3

1999-2000  0.0  1.1  4.5 10.8  8.4    T  3.3  0.0   28.1
2001-2002  0.5 11.8  2.8  3.5                       18.6
NORMAL     0.5  6.8  8.9 10.1  7.0  9.8  2.3  0.1   45.5

     ST. CLOUD TEMPS--JANUARY   (122 YEARS; AVG =  9.1 F; SDEV =  6.6 F)

        WARMEST                          COLDEST

     22.8 F  1944                     -5.7 F  1912
     22.0 F  1990                     -4.8 F  1936
     21.8 F  1931                     -3.6 F  1887
     21.2 F  1891                     -3.5 F  1888
     21.2 F  2002 - Tied for 4th      -3.1 F  1982
     20.4 F  1921   warmest ever      -2.5 F  1979
     19.6 F  1900                     -2.2 F  1977
     19.4 F  1919                     -1.5 F  1966
     18.8 F  1914                     -1.4 F  1929
     18.6 F  1942                     -0.4 F  1883


       29.0 F  2001-2002 - Warmest on record
       28.7 F  1913-1914
       26.8 F  1918-1919
       25.9 F  1899-1900
       25.8 F  1890-1891
       25.5 F  1931-1932
       24.5 F  1930-1931
       24.2 F  1941-1942
       24.0 F  1881-1882
       23.8 F  1905-1906
       23.8 F  1999-2000


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Last modified: February 1, 2002