March will begin with another polar plunge

  • Article by: MARY LYNN SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 26, 2014 - 9:19 PM

Hang on to your balaclava. Arctic cold has Minnesota in an icy grip yet again, sending temperatures plummeting well below zero at night with daytime warm-ups that will struggle to reach double digits for at least another week.

At a time when temperatures should be in the 30s, Thursday’s high will barely climb above zero, with windchills making it feel as cold as 30-below. Weekend high temperatures are also likely to be stuck in the single digits.

“The story is cold, cold and more cold,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Tony Zaleski.

Some would say same old, same old as Minnesotans grumble through one of the more miserable winters they can remember.

Earlier this week, Minneapolis chalked up 44 days that dropped below zero since the start of December — putting it in eighth place all time for a record number of days below zero, Zaleski said. Another four days with below-zero temperatures would push the city into third place, he said.

About 65 miles north in St. Cloud, it’s even worse, an average temperature of 5.7 degrees making it the fourth-coldest winter on record. By the end of the week, it could push into first or second place, Zaleski said.

“It’s quite unbelievable,” he said.

The “winter misery index” created by the Minnesota Climatology Working Group, which charts, graphs and analyzes weather, has classified this winter as severe. Duh!

According to the National Weather Service, this meteorological winter — December through February — is likely to end up as the ninth coldest in the Twin Cities. As of Feb. 25, the average temperature during this period amounts to a whopping 10 degrees.

And that’s saying something, considering the extra heat generated in the urban core, Zaleski said. “Even the heat-island effect has been thwarted by the tremendous arctic cold.”

The good news is that Twin Cities temperatures might push into the 30s by the end of next week. The bad news: It could be followed by another arctic blast.

 

Mary Lynn Smith • 612-673-4788

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