Present Climate Conditions


Historic Wind Chill Temperatures in Minnesota

What is the coldest windchill ever seen in the Twin Cities or Minnesota? The answer can be a little tricky because on November 2001 the formula on how to calculate the windchill was changed. Perhaps the coldest windchill the Twin Cities has ever seen was -67 degrees F with the new formula (-87 degrees F with the old formula) back on January 22nd 1936. The temperature was -34 degrees F with a wind speed of 20mph. All traffic in the Twin Cities was severely hampered and a number of fatalities were caused by the cold. Without a lengthy state-wide wind record, it is difficult to say when was the coldest statewide windchill. There are some candidate dates though besides January 22, 1936. On January 9th and 10th, 1982 temperatures of -30 degrees F and winds of around 40mph were reported in Northern Minnesota. This would translate to -71 degrees F by the new formula (-100 degrees F by the old formula.)

A few other recent notable cold wind chill temperature events are:

February 3, 1989 saw some of the coldest wind chill temperatures over the past 25 years. at 6am in the Twin Cities the air temperature was -22 degrees F with a wind speed of 17mph, creating a wind chill temperature of -49 degrees F (by the 2001 formula).

On January 18, 1994 Governor Arne Carlson ordered all Minnesota public schools closed due to the extreme cold and severe winter weather. Morning air temperature readings were -26 degrees F in the Twin Cities at 9am with a wind chill temperature of -48 degrees F (by the 2001 formula).

On the same date that the Minnesota state record minimum temperature record was set on February 2, 1996 (-60 near Tower) Governor Arne Carlson cancelled schools for cold a second time. In the Twin Cities at 6am February 2, 1996 the air temperature was -30 degrees F with a wind chill temperature of -48 degrees F (based on the 2001 forumula).

Governor Carlson cancelled schools for a third time on January 16, 1997. Wind Chill Temperatures were -32 degrees F in the Twin Cities.

The first wind chill warning that was issued for the Twin Cities under the new wind chill temperature formula established in 2001 was the arctic outbreak of January 29-30, 2004. The coldest windchill observed in the Twin Cities during that period was -43 degrees F at 8am on January 30, 2004.

In the wake of a winter storm on February 17, 2006, strong high pressure moved in behind it and created strong winds and dangerous windchills. The coldest windchill seen at the Twin Cities International Airport was -34 degrees F . The coldest windchill found statewide was -54 degrees F at Thief River Falls.

Governor Mark Dayton cancelled K-12 public schools statewide on Monday January 6th, 2014 due to extreme windchills that were forecasted well in advance. The coldest wind chill temperature in Minnesota on January 6th was -63 degrees at Grand Marais Airport at 9am with a -31 degree F air temperature and a 21mph wind. The coldest wind chill temperature in the Twin Cities was -48 degrees at 5am with an air temperature of -22 degrees F and a 15mph wind. Many schools also cancelled classes January 7th as well. The wind chill at 4am January 7th was -28 at the Twin Cities International Airport with an air temperature of -14 and a wind of 6mph. Statewide the coldest wind chill was -50 reported at Duluth at 4am with an air temperature of -23 and a west wind of 16mph.

Schools were cancelled at many locations again on Thursday, January 23. The coldest wind chill in the Twin Cities on January 23 was at 2am with a windchill of -37 degrees with an air temperature of -14 and a NW wind of 15mph. The coldest statewide wind chill was -51 at Park Rapids at 6am with an air temperature of -33 and as wind of 6mph.

Schools were cancelled for a fourth day across the Twin Cities on January 27 as well. Classes were also canceled for the day for the University of Minnesota. The coldest wind chill in the Twin Cities was -39 at 4am (-13F air temp and wind NW 20mph) The coldest wind chill statewide was -53 degrees at the Grand Marais Airport at 8am (-26F air temp, wind NE 16mph.)

Schools were cancelled once more across the Twin Cities on Tuesday January 28th. University of Minnesota classes were cancelled in the morning. The coldest wind chill in the Twin Cities was -29 at 9am with an air temperature of -12 and a wind speed of 8mph. The coldest wind chill in the state was -52 degrees at Fosston at 7am with air temperature of -33 degrees and a wind speed of 7mph from the south.

Recap of January 2014 month of cold wind chills. 
(brackets are air temperature in F and wind speed)

Date    Lowest Wind Chill    Lowest Wind Chill
        Twin Cities          Statewide and location
---------------------------------------------
Jan 6   -48 (-22F/15mph)    -63 (-31F/21mph) Grand Marais Airport
Jan 7   -28 (-14F/6mph)     -50 (-23F/16mph) Duluth
Jan 23  -37 (-14F/15mph)    -51 (-33F/6mph)  Park Rapids
Jan 27  -39 (-13F/20mph)    -53 (-26F/16mph) Grand Marais Airport
Jan 28  -29 (-12F/8mph)     -52 (-33F/7mph)  Fosston


Last modified: January 10, 2017
For more information contact: climate@umn.edu