The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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January 21, 2013

Bitter cold isn't that unusual in Minnesota, it just seems like it

MANKATO —  When there was not a degree to be had in Mankato, David Schaffran and his three friends were among the few enjoying the outdoors.

“Minnesota can be a huge bummer if you don’t stay busy,” he said.

The quartet was playing hockey — just knocking a puck around, really — in the Stoltzman Road rink. It was either hockey, ice fishing or snowboarding, and they’ve already spent a lot of time on Mount Kato this winter, he said.

The cold kept others indoors.

“We found some work inside today,” DeMars Construction owner Max DeMars said. “It’s kinda nice to have flexible projects when the weather does turn.”

Brian Berle, a UPS driver, didn’t have much choice about it but said it wasn’t as bad as he feared. Deliveries without indoor waiting areas are the toughest, he said, but added that dressing in layers with tight clothing is one way to beat the cold.

The high temperature in Mankato reached 0 degrees Monday. That means the day missed, by one degree, the distinction of having a high temperature of below 0 degrees. The last day in Mankato with a high of less than zero was Jan. 9, 2010, KEYC-TV Chief Meteorologist Mark Tarello said.

“The streak goes on,” Tarello said.

That this should be a multi-year streak at all is unusual for Minnesota’s climate.

“When you look back at the climate record for Minnesota, this was standard, run-of-the-mill cold air you’d have every winter,” National Weather Service Meteorologist Mike Griesinger said.

Using Twin Cities temperature data, there were only 13 years between 1872 and 1990 where there were no days with a sub-zero high. However, since 1991 fully half of the years have not come with a sub-zero high.

In other words, any given winter between 1872 and 1990  had only a 11 percent chance of not having a single one of these bitterly cold days. But since then these days have become much more rare, to the point where entire winters regularly go by without them happening.

The record for number of days with sub-zero high temperatures is 15, set both in 1917 and 1936.

But after all this cold there’s some good news this week, too.

Average high temperatures start increasing on Jan. 25, this Friday. All the way to 25 degrees.

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