Northern Minnesota sees record lows as cold snap continues
DULUTH, Minn. — Wednesday morning, Dec. 27, was the coldest one yet of the deep freeze that has settled into the Northland, with Cotton reporting a low of 41 below zero, and International Falls and Hibbing reporting record lows.
Duluth didn't set a record low for Dec. 27 — but the city was at 70 hours of subzero temperatures and counting as of Wednesday night.
The abundant "sea smoke" rising off the relatively warm water of Lake Superior during the cold spell has drawn photographers and other spectators to the frigid shoreline in recent days, and video of the weather phenomenon was featured on the website of the BBC.
It's caused when relatively warm air rising from the lake meets the colder air above, and condenses into billowing steam or "smoke."
The National Weather Service in Duluth reported that Cotton was the cold spot on Wednesday morning at 41 below, followed by Embarrass at 40 below and Togo at 39 below.
International Falls dropped to 37 below, breaking the previous record for Dec. 27 of 32 below, set in 1924. Hibbing hit a low of 28 below, breaking the previous record of 27 below, set in 1964.
The Duluth airport reported a morning low of 23 below zero — that's more than 25 degrees below normal, but the record remains 28 below, set in 1917 and 1924.
Wednesday's subzero temperatures in Bemidji tied the record cold for Dec. 27, set 84 years ago.
According to Nick Carletta, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Grand Forks, Bemidji reached a temperature of 32 below at 8 a.m. Wednesday, tying the record for Dec. 27 set in 1933.
The temperature at the Duluth airport — the city's official weather reporting station — dropped below zero on Christmas Eve and had not climbed out of subzero territory as of Wednesday night — three days (72 hours) and counting. Wednesday's high was 3 below.
The subzero streak is likely to end today, with temperatures forecast to reach the single digits above zero. It beats the 63 hours below zero that Duluth saw last January, and as of Wednesday night appeared likely to beat a stretch of 82 hours below zero that Duluth experienced in January 2013.
But all of that pales when compared to the cold snap of 1996, Jan. 29 through Feb. 5, when Duluth recorded 164 consecutive hours of subzero temperatures. And the all-time Duluth record is 11 days without getting above zero — 264 hours, ending on Jan. 12, 1912.
Today's slight warm-up will be accompanied by some light snow in the Northland, the weather service reported. But another drop in temperatures is expected this weekend, with highs possibly staying below zero on Saturday and Sunday. Below-normal temperatures are forecast into next week.
The average high for Duluth at this time of year is about 20 degrees; the average low is 4 above.
Other Wednesday lows
Other low-temperature reports relayed by the Weather Service on Wednesday morning included:
• 38 below at Birchdale and Ash Lake
• 37 below at Littlefork
• 35 below at Ely, Crane Lake, Orr and Hill City
• 32 below at Babbitt
• 30 below at Grand Rapids, Moose Lake, Gunflint Lake, Makinen and Brule
• 28 below at Eveleth, Hayward and Saginaw
• 24 below at the Grand Marais airport, McGregor, Hinckley and Esko
• 22 below at Superior, Proctor, Virginia, Grand Portage and Hurley
• 20 below at Two Harbors
• 18 below at the Duluth harbor, Ashland and Maple