Cold weather streak set records
During a six-day stretch between Feb. 11 and Feb. 16, southern Minnesota had to endure high temperatures below zero. The last time that occurred for six straight days in February in this area was 1936.
The lowest temperature during those six days in Minneota was -28 below set early Sunday morning. That broke a record low for that date previously set in 1875.
The coldest spot this past weekend was -50 below near Ely in northern Minneota. That broke the previous state record of -46 below in Detroit Lakes set in 1916. That made Minneota's high temperature of -8 below this past weekend somewhat toasty by comparison.
In the Twin Cities, the high of -9 below was the coldest Valentine Day on record dating back to the 1870s. The previous record of -5 below for a high temperature on Feb. 14 was set in 1920.
The lowest temperature on this date in Minnesota was -46 below in Detroit Lakes in 1916.
There is a break on the horizon, however. Temperatures are expected to reach the 20s by Friday (Feb. 19) and the 30s into this weekend. Those are the average temperatures for this time of the year.
"Usually a February cold snap is three days or less," KSTP meteorologist Jonathan Yuhas told the Mascot on Sunday. "This was the coldest Valentine's Day on record with a high of -9 below going back to the 1870s when records were first kept."
Even meteorologists have been surprised at the recent frigid temperatures.
"The daylight is longer and the February sun angle is the same as it is in October, which usually keeps bitter cold away," Yuhas said. "This cold built up in Siberia in December, then worked its way to the North Pole in January and then to us on February. I believe some warm days are on the way the next three weeks."
Temperatures through Tuesday morning were below zero. The -20 below temperature Sunday morning didn't quite reach the -25 below record low set in 1875.Monday's low of -25 below, however, tied the record low for that date (Feb. 15) set in 1875.
How long would a stretch of zero or below weather be to make the top ten list? The mercury would have to stay at or below zero for at least five full calendar days to have a chance of making the list. This stretch in February lasted five and a half days. Nine days is the all-time record set for any month, occurring from Dec. 31, 1911 to Jan. 8, 1912.
Road chemicals don’t work well with temperatures less than 10 degrees. But just because there has been no snow or ice, doesn't mean the pavement can't be slick. Much like when you breathe on your eyeglasses to clean them, car exhaust can freeze to pavement and create ivy spots on roads.
Another interesting things about this frigid stretch is that when walking or driving on the snow, you will hear a squeaking or crunching sound.
"When temperatures are below 14 degrees the moisture in the snow becomes ice and creates thinner ice crystals that connect to other compacted snow crystals," Yuhas explained. "The squeak and crunch you hear in the break of the ice connection in the snow crystal covering the ground.”
"The warmer the air temperature above 14 degrees, the more moisture in the snow. When you step on it, the moisture lubricates the snow crystals and all you hear is a ‘whoosh’ when walking on the snow as the ice/snow crystals slide and glide together."
Another interesting thing Yuhas has done when temperatures reach sub-zero temperatures is freezing unusual items and then demonstrating how they can drive a 16-penny nail into a block of wood. He has used bananas, oranges and even an egg.
And a fun thing for the kids to do amid sub-zero temperatures is to go outside and toss a cup of hot water into the air and watch it develop into a snow-like curtain.