A Cold Start to Winter Even for Northland Standards

January 05, 2018 09:12 AM

Even for the heartiest Northlanders, this winter has been pretty rough. We’ve dealt with day after day of below zero temperatures, seemingly non-stop winter weather alerts, and ice is already forming on Lake Superior. Let’s not forget it's only the first week of January.

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If you're not a fan of the harsh conditions, then the three previous winters have been pretty docile. But as painful as this winter has been so far, it hasn't been all that bad. It’s just rough as of late.

In fact, for the month of December in Duluth, there have been 18 days with below average temperatures. However, they were mainly during the latter half of the month. Overall, the mean temperature for Duluth, which considers both the high and low temperatures, is 4.3 degrees below average which ranks this last December as the 28th coldest on record.

But when it's been cold, it's been real cold. We’ve already dealt with six entire days of subzero weather, and people have noticed.

Ian Scheibelhut is a college student in Duluth. Scheibelhut says he doesn’t mind the cold too much, but he’s looking forward to warmer weather.

“The cold days were pretty spread out last year. But it feels like this season we're getting hit again and again,” said Scheibelhut.

So what's causing all of the cold? Well, you have to look way up in the sky.

The upper atmospheric level pattern, specifically the jet stream, is in a bit of an abnormal position. A strong area of high pressure is sitting near the Gulf of Alaska. That has pushed the jet stream to consistently allow for arctic air to plunge south through the northland. The jet stream is so far south as times that places like Florida have received accumulating snow. Yes, Florida.

And although it's been a long time since the Deep South saw some of the white stuff, the jet stream was in a similar persistent position back in the late winter of 2013-14.

That winter was one of the coldest on record for Duluth. Temperatures were nearly 10 degrees below average marking it the 2nd coldest on record.

So will it change? In the short term yes. Just take a look at WDIO’s the 7-day outlook.

But will that change last? We shall see. But according to the Climate Prediction Center, the odds are leaning to a cooler-than-average January.


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