Yes, it has been plenty cold lately, but the frigid air that has kept the mercury below zero the past four days won't make it into the record books.
Even another full day Monday with below-zero temperatures won't be enough to make the cold snap one of the 10 longest in Twin Cities weather history. The mercury briefly ventured into positive territory on Thursday when it touched 1 degree, diminishing the chances of the arctic outbreak moving onto the top 10 list of extended periods below zero.
"We would have had a chance [at a record]," said Pete Boulay, assistant state climatologist. If it were not for that 1-degree reading, "we would have had a good streak going."
The temperature remained at zero or below for 130 hours from Jan. 22 to 28, 1897, the 10th longest on record. The record of 186 hours was set Dec. 31, 1911, to Jan. 8, 1912, according to the Minnesota Climatology Office.
Temperatures have remained at or below zero for at least four consecutive days in the Twin Cities 27 times since record keeping began in 1873, Boulay said. The most recent streak was 27 years ago.
"It is hard to get on the list with such a long span of records," Boulay said.
The mercury hit minus-4 degrees on Sunday at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, missing a record for the lowest high temperature for Valentine's Day by 1 degree. The lowest high temperature recorded on Feb. 14 was minus 5 in 1920.
"That was a record I was not sad about not breaking," said Chris O'Brien, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen.
But other places have set records. Temperatures bottomed out at minus-50 degrees east of Ely on Sunday morning, setting a Valentine's Day record. That was followed by a minus-46 reading Monday morning.
Other chilly readings on Monday included minus-42 degrees north of Hibbing in Celina, Minn., minus 39 in International Falls and minus 33 in Cambridge and Princeton.
The Twin Cities didn't reach a forecast record low of 25 below zero. The temperature bottomed out at minus 17, O'Brien said.
"The urban heat island was really cranking last night," he said.
Still, the cold is taking a toll. AAA is seeing an uptick in calls for service — 6,000 calls in the past nine days, compared with 9,000 calls in all of February 2020 — as temperatures deflate tires and kill car batteries, according to Jesse Simon, AAA Minneapolis spokesman. But AAA has suspended replacing batteries until the weather warms up, saying it's too dangerous in the extreme cold, Simon said.
Temperatures will slowly moderate throughout the week and have a shot at cracking the freezing mark by the weekend. Once the thaw begins, a return to the deep freeze is unlikely, O'Brien said.
"This should be the worst of it," O'Brien said. "As we get into February, it's harder and harder to get the cold air."
Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768