It's cold but no record-breaker

  • Article by: PAT PHEIFER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 30, 2013 - 9:37 AM

Temps likely to hang near zero before hitting 20s by weekend.

Yep, it’s cold. But it’s not THAT cold.

An abrupt drop from Saturday’s record high might make it feel insufferable — windchills dipped Sunday into the dangerous territory of minus 30 and colder, prompting the National Weather Service to issue a windchill advisory for much of the state through noon Monday.

The average monthly temperature for December in the Twin Cities was 13.9 degrees, the Weather Service said. That figure was boosted somewhat by Saturday’s high of 47 degrees, forecaster Tony Zaleski said. But, while it’s still almost 6 degrees below normal, it isn’t close to 1983, when the coldest December in modern history was recorded, with an average temperature of just 3.7 degrees.

It wasn’t even close to the fourth-coldest December, in 2000, when the average was 7.6 degrees. The second- and third-coldest Decembers happened in the late 1800s. Nevertheless, Zaleski said, Sunday’s high of 0 and expected low of 15 below in the Twin Cities was far short of the normal high of 24 and low of  9.

On Sunday night, more than 4,500 Xcel Energy customers were without power for several hours in south Minneapolis after a cluster of outages that started just after 8 p.m. The two largest areas affected were south of E. 38th Street to the east and west of Hiawatha Avenue.

About 11 p.m., power was restored to much of those two areas, but outages spread to other parts of south Minneapolis, leaving 1,434 customers without power as of 11:50 p.m., according to the Xcel Energy website.

By 5 a.m. Monday, with the temperature in Minneaoplis at 11 below zero, more than 800 customers were still without power. Xcel's website predicted the the power would be restored by 8 a.m.

The cold prompted Spirit Mountain in Duluth to close its ski area Sunday. It was expected to reopen Monday with limited hours. The city’s Bayfront skating rink also was closed but is expected to be open Monday.

Across the northern part of the state it was bone-chilling cold overnight from Sunday to Monday.

International Falls reported a temperature of minus 36 around 5 a.m., while Ely dropped to minus 35. Other overnight lows included 29 below in Grand Rapids, 26 below in Warroad and minus 20 in Duluth.

At the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, the overnight low was minus 11. Elsewhere around the metro area: 18 below in Lakeville, 15 below in Blaine, 14 below in Eden Prairie and 13 below in St. Paul and Crystal.

On Monday, the metro area likely will see temperatures slightly above zero, and up to a couple inches of fluffy snow is possible.

The week ahead will be another roller coaster temperature-wise, with near- or below-zero highs through Thursday, then a brief warm-up, with Saturday’s high expected to be 24.

Another arctic cold front will slide into the state Sunday, accompanied by below-zero numbers.

There is hope, however.

Zaleski said that by mid-January the pattern should break, bringing temperatures closer to normal.

Pat Pheifer • 952-746-3284. Anthony Lonetree contributed to this story.

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