Below 32 Degrees in January and the "January Thaw"

With the temperature soaring into the 40's on January 31st, 2009 in the Twin Cities, the below freezing stretch was over. Looking back to 1891 in the Twin Cities, there have been only three years when the thermometer did not reach 32 degrees at least once in January. The years that did not have a high temperature of 32 or greater in January in the Twin Cities are: 1912, 1978 and 1979.

But what about a January thaw? A January thaw is loosely defined as having TWO daytime highs greater than 32 degrees in the month of January. Using this definition, there was not a "January Thaw" in the Twin Cities in 2009. The last time the Twin Cities failed to have a "January Thaw" (Based on two or more days with daytime highs greater than 32 degrees F) was in 1982.

Mark Seeley has more information on past "January Thaw" in his WeatherTalk article below.

Topic: Despite a short break, January cold continues....

Many Minnesota observers are reporting the coldest January since 1994.  At least 8 Minnesota 
communities have seen temperatures of -40 degrees F or colder this month.  Several western
and southern Minnesota observers finally saw their first January thaw this week.  Milan, 
Lakefield, Marshall, Redwood Falls, Worthington, New Ulm, St James, and Winnebago reported 
highs of 34 degrees F, while Mankato reached a high of 36 degrees F.  However, a number of 
observers have not yet seen a January thaw, something that is rather rare across the state 
as even International Falls sees a January thaw about every other year.  Based on two or more 
days with daytime highs greater than 32 degrees F the historical frequency of January thaws 
for various locations in Minnesota shows great reliability in most of southern Minnesota, 
and even parts of central Minnesota, but more like a 50/50 probability in the northern 
sections of the state.

Historical frequency of January thaws at various locations since 1948
(here defined as two or more days with daytime temperatures greater than 32 F)

Twin Cities 92 percent     Rochester 95 percent     Pipestone 92 percent
Fairmont 93 percent        St Cloud 87 percent      Morris 80 percent
Crookston 62 percent       Duluth 60 percent        International Falls 50 percent

It is interesting to note that the three consecutive years of 1977, 1978, and 1979 
brought no January thaw to most of Minnesota.  All three were dominated by abundant 
January snow cover and are ranked among the top 15 coldest in state history. 
The last year without a January thaw in most places was 1994.