The calendar may say it’s the deep of winter, but no one who stepped outside into the warm sunlight and melting snow Thursday is likely to be convinced.
Brainerd hit a record high temperature of 50 degrees just before 3 p.m. The average temperature for this day is 26 degrees. The last record was 42 degrees, set in 2001.
It was a perfect day to take down Christmas lights, splash through water puddles, or just stand in shirt sleeves outside and listen to the water pour off rooftops as what little snow that remained melted quickly.
“A lack of snow cover and warm southwesterly winds are the main culprits for the warm weather,” said Kevin Kraujalis, National Weather Service meteorologist based in Duluth. A low pressure system over southern Canada and a high pressure system over the Central Plains combined for a strong westerly flow from the Pacific to bring in mild temperatures in North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
“A lot of places set record high temperatures,” Kraujalis said. “This will probably be the warmest day we have for a while.”
If people haven’t taken their Christmas decorations down during this mild stretch, they may have a limited number of days to do it. Weather models incidate more seasonal arctic air could arrive by the third week of January.
“When you get this warm for so long usually there is some pretty chilly air bottled up some place that is looking to spill over,” Kraujalis said. “It’s kind of late coming, but it’s coming.”
After a mild first half of winter, Kraujalis said he doesn’t think the second half will be as easy. The best advice for those who don’t enjoy the cold, is enjoy it while it lasts.
Thursday’s record-setting temperature is tied for the seventh warmest day in January going back in the record books from 1899-2012, the National Weather Service reported.
The warmest January day on record was 56 degrees on Jan. 25, 1981. Thursday’s 50 degrees tied other January daily records — Jan. 26, 2002, Jan. 19, 1981 and Jan. 20, 1944, which all reached the half century mark. Other notable January highs came at 55 degrees on Jan. 23, 1942, 54 degrees on Jan. 26, 1973, 53 degress on Jan. 9, 2003 and Jan. 22, 1942 and 52 degrees on Jan. 14, 1987.
Duluth also set a record high Thursday reaching 47 degrees, as did International Falls at 46 degrees. In the state, the warmest temperatures topped out at 61 degrees in southwestern Minnesota at Marshall, Canby and Madison.
To hit the 60-degree mark in January is an event that’s likely only happened a handful of times, Kraujalis said.
While the cold weather is coming, temperatures will remain mild — although not to Thursday’s record-setting standards. The National Weather Forecast calls for highs of 37 degrees Friday and a high near 40 Monday and Tuesday of next week. But by next Thursday, the chill may really be in the air as the high struggles to reach a double-digit high at 12 degrees.
Kraujalis said even with the ice-making temperatures, there is little chance for significant snowfall as the pattern appears to be cold but dry.
“Chances of any major snow storm is pretty small even with the arctic air,” he said. Although a couple of Alberta clippers may bring a couple of inches of snow. The computer weather models are calling for snowfall that will be slightly above normal from a line from Aitkin to International Falls. In the Brainerd area, the three-month outlook calls for more normal winter weather for the second half of the season.
After this extended pattern of mild weather, normal winter days may feel a little cool.
Kraujalis said: “Even when we get to next week’s little cold spell, I think it will be a surprise.”
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at 855-5852 or firstname.lastname@example.org.