We have been talking about how cold this winter has been for the last several weeks with plenty of graphs, charts, and numbers. But let's be honest… how much of that actually sinks in? It can be tough to grasp the concept of climatology which is why there are so many misconceptions AND so many "experts" that all seem to be screaming something different. Well, I will be posting more of these graphs and charts on here in the coming days because it's great information, interesting, and impossible to show in any other way. However, there are a few pictures below that show you some of this wicked cold in a little bit different light which might make it easier to grasp just how cold it's been over the last 8 weeks. The following 3 images come from Dr. Ryan Maue via Twitter.
First we have a color coated representation that shows the percent of time we spent below freezing during the month of January.
No big surprises right? Not shocking that our coldest month has our area experiencing a solid 90% of our month below freezing. But look at areas that were unusually warm or cold in the image below.
This shows the departure from average in hours spent below freezing. It is really cool because I have never seen comparisons in the amount of hours over a large area… its usually just based on one point, like MSP for example. This shows that the southeast U.S. spent a much larger amount of time sub-freezing than normal… in some cases 150 hours more than normal; that's 6 days! A lot when you think about it in that context.
So now look at the amount of hours spent below zero as compared to average.
Clearly, many areas of the country average less than 20 hours below zero, so you wouldn't see much of a change anyway. But the Upper Midwest, Great Lakes, and Northeast do spend a decent amount of time below zero in an average year. Well, whatever was "average" was destroyed this year. Our area had subzero readings for an average of 180 hours more than normal! Wow! That's averaging 7 days over what is normal, which is already high considering it is our coldest month.
With these cold temperatures comes dangerous wind chills and wind chill advisories. To get a wind chill advisory or warning issued by the National Weather Service, wind chills need to be 25 below or colder. Feel like that has happened a lot this winter? Well, you'd be right. Here are the number of warnings or advisories issued by the NWS over the winter so far… remember these are number of advisory statements, not the number of days. The photo courtesy of the Iowa Environmental Mesonet.
The National Weather Service office in Chanhassen has issued statements 32 different times through the winter with the Duluth office coming in at 45. To put that into perspective, in many but not all cases, there are 2 statements issued per wind chill advisory/warning. So, if you want to talk about number of days, there has been around 20 days with an advisory/warning in place. Crazy!