17 Months and Counting

Graph of January 2017 temperatures and departures in the Twin Cities
January 2017 temperatures and departures in the Twin Cities


January 2017 overcame a cold beginning, and finished with another uncanny streak of significant warmth across the state. The warmth propelled every long-term recording station in the state to above-normal monthly temperatures. The average monthly temperature in the Twin Cities has now been above the 1981-2010 normal for 17 months in a row.

The first half of the month was dominated by cold conditions, which bottomed out on the 13th, when temperatures dipped into the low -40s F in parts of far northern Minnesota. A warm regime set in by 16th, however, and didn't let up for the rest of the month. The period from the 16th through the 31st was the 5th warmest on record in Rochester, the 4th warmest on record in St. Cloud and the Twin Cities, the 3rd warmest on record in Duluth, and the 2nd warmest on record in International Falls. At the height of this warm-up, the Twin Cities, Duluth, and St. Cloud all set records for the number of consecutive low temperatures above freezing.

The last time the Twin Cities recorded a below-normal monthly temperature was August 2015. This appears to be the longest above-average monthly temperature streak of any kind on record in the Twin Cities, though it is worth noting that the "normals" refresh every 10 years, and procedures for calculating them have changed over time. As of this writing, only five months out of the last 32 (back to June 2014) have been below normal in the Twin Cities. The second longest streak on record was 16 months, from June 2011 through September 12.

This climatological decade (beginning January 2011), 70% of months have been above the 1981-2010 normals. In the previous climatological decade, 68% of months were above the 1971-2000 normals, and the Twin Cities has not had a string of 10 or more cool months since 1964-65. Indeed, the whole of Minnesota has been warming rapidly since about 1970, making above-normal temperatures more likely than below-normal ones, even as the baseline values are updated to reflect the warmer conditions.  

Twin Cities Average Monthly Temperatures

                Avg    Dept. from
Month     Year  Temp   1981-2010 Normal
September 2015  67.9   + 5.9
October   2015  52.1   + 3.2
November  2015  41.3   + 7.6
December  2015  30.2   +10.5
January   2016  17.6   + 2.0
February  2016  24.9   + 4.0
March     2016  41.3   + 8.5
April     2016  48.1   + 0.6
May       2016  61.3   + 2.2
June      2016  71.3   + 2.4
July      2016  75.2   + 1.4
August    2016  73.4   + 2.2
September 2016  66.1   + 4.1
October   2016  52.9   + 4.0
November  2016  44.1   +10.4
December  2016  20.9   + 1.2
January   2017  20.9   + 5.3

Last modified: February 1, 2017
For more information contact: climate@umn.edu