More Brown Days

by Mark Lahtinen
January 11, 2024

Well we’re above average. Say what? No not for snow so far but we might have 2 inches plus on the ground after this weekend (3-5” predicted as this is written followed by some below zero temps and wind). That will be earlier than the average (January 19) for the 18 winters on record since 1949-50 when both Christmas and New Years had less than 2 inches on the ground (range- Jan. 2 to Feb. 11). For the winters from 1899-1900 to 1948-49 the average was about January 13 (range – Jan. 2 to Feb. 27). Daily snow depth records only go back to 1899-1900 on the MDNR Climate website.

The average natural snow ski days for the above were 32 for ’49-’50 ‘til present (range 9 to 69) and 49 ski days for 1899-1900 to ’48-‘49 (range – 13 to 79). The average natural snow ski season in the Twin Cities is 70 ski days.

This past December was the warmest on record at 34.3 F beating the previous record, 33.8 F, set in 1877. The winters with the warmest 20 Decembers on record had an average of 51 ski days (range 18 in 1941-42 to 92 in 1939-40). The 20 coldest Decembers on record averaged 88 ski days.

This past year was also the third warmest annual temperature on record at 49.9 F behind 1931 and 2012 which were tied at 50.8 F. What’s kind of scary is that 15 of the 20 warmest years on record have been since 1999 in the twin Cities.

December 2023 is tied with December 1956 with the 9 th least amount of snow in the month at 2.1 inches. The winter of 1956-57 had 10 ski days (the ‘50s were kind of Jekyll and Hyde with a lot of snow in the early decade and not much in the mid to late ‘50s). The winters with the 20 least snowiest Decembers averaged 35 ski days (range 9 in 1958-59 to 69 in 1948-49). The winters with the 20 snowiest Decembers averaged just under 100 ski days.

Seventy one percent of the 125 winters on record had 2 inches plus of snow on the ground at this time (January 11) of year. The peak is on February 1 when 81 percent of the years had 2 inches plus on the ground. Peak snow depth falls on about February 1 also with about 6 inches on the ground.

From Paul Douglas’ weather column in today’s (Jan. 11) Minneapolis Star Tribune we are 42 inches of snow behind last year at this time…48 last winter and 6 this winter. Of course, last year was the third snowiest winter on record and also one of only 3 winters with 90 plus inches of snow.

At least we have some cold coming in so that more artificial snow can be made and more Ks opened up and the Loppet World Cup courses finished off.

About the author...

Mark Lahtinen has been skiing since the late ‘60s woodies, 3-pins bindings, bamboo poles, and skied in tracks at Wirth at best. Starting about 15 years ago, Mark thought he could figure out winter snows -- too unpredictable, but he tries. Mark has some big spreadsheets and once in awhile can find some interesting data. Mark says: "I’m not a weatherman nor a climatologist nor do I play one on TV."