Weather Forecast


Cold enough for you?

Drifting snow caused whiteout conditions Jan. 26 along Highway 61 after a weekend snowstorm blew through the area. Bitter cold and snow characterized January weather that tested the resolve of even the heartiest Minnesotans. (Photo by Paul Kampe)

Intense cold, strong winds and dangerous snow storms made January a month to remember in the annals of Minnesota winters.

The month started out cold after a blast of arctic wind Jan. 6 brought temperatures plummeting to near-historic lows across the state.

The wind chill index in Red Wing registered at minus 49 degrees that morning, according to National Weather Service data. Shortly after 6 a.m., Cannon Falls hit an even more frigid minus 54.

The freezing air mass — dubbed a “polar vortex” by meteorologists — was the coldest the state had seen in nearly a decade, according to the Minnesota Climatology Working Group.

The threat of cold prompted Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton to pre-emptively close schools statewide the Friday prior.

“I have made this decision to protect all our children from the dangerously cold temperatures,” said Dayton in a statement. “I encourage Minnesotans of all ages to exercise caution in these extreme weather conditions.”

Dayton’s decision was the first such closure since former Gov. Arne Carlson canceled school due to cold in 1997.

Many local schools chose to stay closed Tuesday.

But the closures did not stop there.

After a brief warming trend that included a monthly high of 41 degrees in Red Wing Jan. 12, below-zero temperatures and dangerous wind chill returned to the region and caused a new wave of school cancellations.

Red Wing Public Schools closed Jan. 23, 27 and 28 due to the cold, bringing the total number of cancellations in the month to five.

It was the most Supt. Karsten Anderson said he had seen for an entire school year — let alone a single month — in nearly two decades.

Although freezing temperatures captured headlines around the region, the area also saw its fair share of snow.

A winter storm system blew through the state Jan. 17 and 18, bringing several inches of snow to the surrounding area.

Kenyon was among the hardest hit cities, with 5 inches of snow recorded by the National Weather Service.

Blizzard conditions returned for another round the following weekend, causing whiteout conditions Jan. 26 on county roadways.

The month’s end brought no reprieve to the extreme weather, as a final winter storm dumped more than 5 inches of snow in parts of the state Thursday during the morning commute.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation reported dozens of spinouts and crashes throughout the Metro area.

Winter doesn’t appear to be going anywhere soon: The National Weather Service is forecasting more cold temperatures into next week.

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

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