Light fluffy snow lingers in parts of the Northland tonight; more snow possible later this week followed by arctic air

  • January 2021 will end with an average monthly temp of ~7 degrees warmer than normal at Duluth, while precip for the month was ~0.40″ below normal. Snowfall this month was well below normal by ~10″. A complete climate report for the Northland for January 2021 will be issued on Monday.
  • Only 12 days with a subzero temperature so far this winter in Duluth. The normal from December 1 to January 31 is 24 subzero days, and the normal for the entire winter from December thru February is 35 subzero days. We have some work to do in February.
  • Some light snow and flurries will continue in parts of northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin tonight but accumulations should be under an inch.
  • Dry weather is expected in our area Monday and Tuesday as temperatures will be above seasonal normals as we kick off February!

Ice coverage on Lake Superior has increased to nearly 11% as of today, January 31, 2021, but this is still less than the normal of ~20% at this time of year.


…Snow chances later this week…

Our next shot for some snow in the Northland comes later in the week (Wednesday night-early Friday time frame) at the moment this doesn’t look like it will be a major snow event for our area since the trough approaching from the west looks fairly progressive, but should this system slow down and dig more to the west/south, that would open up the possibility for a more significant snow event impacting parts of the Northland later this week.

12z European model 500mb height forecast valid from February 3-5, 2021.


…A blast of bitterly cold air possible next weekend…

Computer models are starting to come into agreement in showing what could be a shot of frigid arctic air for many of us around the February 6 thru 9 time frame.

High temperatures only in the single digits and teens below, with overnight lows in the teens, 20s and 30s below are possible over much of the Northland around February 6-9.

Shown below is the 500mb height anomaly forecast valid from February 6-8, 2021 per 12z European computer model.



Long Range Outlook for February 2021

Top 5 snowiest Februaries on record at Duluth, Minnesota (dating back to 1884)

  • 36.4″ set in 2019
  • 33.9″ set in 1939
  • 33.5″ set in 1922
  • 32.1″ set in 2001
  • 31.5″ set in 1955

Top 5 Coldest Februaries on record at Duluth, Minnesota (dating back to 1875)

  • -2.1 degrees set in 1875
  • -1.9 degrees set in 1936
  • 1.1 degrees set in 1904
  • 1.8 degrees set in 1917
  • 2.7 degrees set in 1914

Top 5 warmest Februaries on record at Duluth, Minnesota (dating back to 1875)

  • 31.3 degrees set in 1877
  • 31.0 degrees set in 1878
  • 29.0 degrees set in 1998
  • 26.1 degrees set in 1931
  • 25.4 degrees set in 1882
February Climate Normals and Records for Duluth, Minnesota

Normal Temperatures in February

1st: High of 20 F
28th: High of 28 F

1st: Low of 2 F
28th: Low of 11 F

Averages and Records in February

Temperature: 15.1 degrees

Highest: 31.3 degrees set in 1877
Lowest: -2.2 degrees set in 1936

Precipitation: 0.81″

Wettest: 4.24″ set in 1922
Driest: 0.10″ set in 1896

Snowfall: 12.4″

Snowiest: 36.4″ set in 2019
Driest: 1.0″ set in 1896

10 days have at least 0.1″ snowfall
4 days had at least 1.0″ of snowfall

11 days have a subzero minimum temperature
7 days have a maximum temperature of at least 32 degrees

Astronomical Data for February

Sunrise on the 1st: 7:33 AM CST
Sunrise on the 28th: 6:49 AM CST

Sunset on the 1st: 5:13 PM CST
Sunset on the 28th: 5:53 PM CST

Here’s the monthly outlook for February 2021 from the CFS model. Source:

Temperature forecast:

The last 9 forecasts from the CFS model shows a split for northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin, with a few showing above normal temps (orange and red) and a few others, including the last 3 showing below normal temps (blues)

Precipitation forecast:

There is a better signal for precipitation to generally be above normal (green colors) in northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin in February 2021, but as is often the case with monthly outlooks, it all comes down to whether or not the storm track is favorable to bring precipitation to our area.


Snowfall Reports from January 30-31, 2021

Parts of the Northland saw quite a bit of snow Saturday into early Sunday, with amounts of 3 to 6 inches or more reported near Lake Superior, especially along the North Shore where Silver Bay reported 8″ of new snow! Here in the Twin Ports, snowfall amounts were generally in that 2 to 4 inch range.


  • Silver Bay, MN: 8.0″
  • 1 W Silver Bay, MN: 7.8″
  • 1 S Finland, MN: 7.0″
  • 6 N Knife River, MN: 6.0″
  • Rice Lake, MN: 6.0″
  • Beaver Bay, MN: 6.0″
  • 1 SSW Lester Park, MN: 4.5″
  • 1 WSW Two Harbors, MN: 4.0″
  • 4 SW Taconite Harbor, MN: 4.0″
  • 1 W Buyck, MN: 3.5″
  • Duluth Airport: 3.4″
  • Cook, MN: 3.2″
  • 1 SSW Ely, MN: 3.0″
  • 2 NNE West Duluth, MN: 3.0″
  • Ely, MN: 2.9″
  • 3 E Payne, MN: 2.8″
  • 7 NW Tower, MN: 2.5″
  • International Falls, MN: 2.3″
  • 6 NNW Grand Marais, MN: 2.3″
  • 1 NE West Duluth, MN: 1.8″
  • 5 NW Winter, WI: 1.5″
  • 3 N Amnicon Falls S.P.: 1.3″
  • Butternut, WI: 1.3″
  • 1 SE Cornucopia, WI: 1.1″
  • Coleraine, MN: 1.0″
  • Blackberry, MN: 1.0″


Blustery near Lake Superior tonight; some snow continues at times tonight and Sunday

Snowfall Reports from around the Northland for Saturday, January 30, 2021


  • 2 WNW Two Harbors, MN: 4.0″
  • 2 NNW Lester Park, MN: 3.0″
  • 1 WSW Ely, MN: 2.0″
  • 3 N Island Lake, MN: 2.0″
  • Duluth Airport: 2.0″
  • 3 NNE Duluth, MN: 1.8″
  • 2 WSW Lester Park, MN: 1.4″
  • 1 NE Lester Park, MN: 1.3″
  • 1 S Twig, MN: 1.0″
  • International Falls, MN: 0.3″

Some snow will continue to fall in parts of the Northland tonight and Sunday, but most of this snow will be on the light side with very minimal impacts for most of the area. The exception to this will continue to be near Lake Superior along the North Shore where heavier lake enhanced snowfall will persist tonight, and possibly even into the day Sunday as winds remain out of the east.

18z NAM 3km model simulated radar forecast ending Midnight Monday.


No real organization to tonight’s snowfall, except along the North Shore where the snow will be more widespread and persistent for most of the night, but elsewhere the snow will continue to be pretty patchy with some spots getting up to 2 inches, while others see less than 1 inch, or no snow at all.

Note: In the Northland – A Winter Weather Advisory continues until 6 AM Sunday for the North Shore including Two Harbors, Silver Bay, Isabella and Grand Marais.

Winter Weather Advisories (purple) remain in effect in parts of the upper Midwest tonight into early Sunday morning, while Winter Storm Warnings (pink) are in effect farther south, including the Milwaukee and Chicago areas.

We’ve certainly seen some heavier lake enhanced snowfall at times (green colors on animation below) today near Lake Superior, especially along the North Shore from just outside of Duluth to Two Harbors, Silver Bay to Grand Marais. Elsewhere the snow has been very patchy today since we really don’t have a whole lot of lift or moisture over our area.

Radar loop from 1 AM to 5 PM Saturday, January 30, 2021.


A strong low pressure system is making its way ENE out of the southern Plains and into the Midwest tonight. This storm has produced some severe weather including a few tornadoes this afternoon in northeast Oklahoma and nearby areas, while a dust storm and high winds impacted parts of Texas and Oklahoma today (black outlined area on map)

Goes-16 visible loop from Saturday, January 30, 2021.



…Update on next week’s storm threat…

What looked like an interesting system for mid to late next week has changed considerably in a matter of 24 hours, but we’ve seen this play out a few times this winter, where the computer models show a more active pattern developing for the Northland in the long range (typically 5-7 days out) only for those models to trend to a less active pattern in our area, and wouldn’t you know, the same thing is happening for next week per model data.

What we’re seeing for next week is two pieces of energy, one in the northern jet, the other in the southern jet (black outlined areas on animation below) the models had been showing this system phasing quite well which meant a chance for a significant storm impacting parts of the upper Midwest and Great Lakes next week, but over the last day those models have all shifted toward a progressive and less phased system which results in only a very minor snowfall event (if any snow occurs at all) affecting the Northland mid to late next week.

Could the models change right back to a more organized storm for next week? Sure they could since the energy won’t be moving ashore into the western US until sometime late Tuesday and that’s when the models will sample this system better, so will see how this all plays out over the next few days.

12z Euro ensemble 500mb forecast valid from February 2-5, 2021.



Update on this weekend’s snow event, winter weather advisories issued for parts of the Northland

You got to love weather forecasting! Here we are less than 24 hours from a snow event, and you have two wildly different forecasts showing up from model guidance. European model shows about an inch of snow in Duluth this weekend, while the NAM shows a 6 to 10 inch thumping in Duluth. For what it’s worth, the Euro model has consistently shown the least amount of snow with this weekend’s event, while the NAM started out pretty dry, but has trended much wetter over the last few runs including the newest run this afternoon (18z) Only thing I can think of as to why the snow totals are so different would be the Euro shows very little lake effect occurring in Duluth, while the NAM is going all in on a fairly significant lake effect snow event this weekend. Bottom line is the snowfall amounts for this weekend are not set in stone as of late Friday afternoon, and big changes in snow totals are certainly possible with this weekend’s event.

Only 5% ice coverage on Lake Superior as of Friday, January 29, 2021, and this makes this forecaster somewhat nervous since we’re looking at a lengthy period of easterly winds this weekend. There’s a lot of open water (moisture source) to get some extra snow along the North Shore Saturday and Sunday, the saving grace would be the fact that the air mass will be relatively mild this weekend which may cut back on the amount of lake enhanced snow we end up seeing, but this is still a situation that needs to be watched closely, because there is a chance that snow totals along the North Shore end up being much higher than the 3-6 inches I’m going with.



Not making any changes to my snowfall forecast for this weekend, but as I alluded to above, I may have to up the totals a bit along the North Shore, and possibly even as far south as Duluth, but I would really like to see other models trend toward the NAM solution before making any big changes.

Should also be noted that the models are in good agreement on precip/snow amounts this weekend for the majority of the Northland, except along the North Shore including Duluth, so confidence is high on the forecast snow amounts shown below, except near Lake Superior (North Shore)

Storm track this weekend is very far to the south to give the Northland a whole bunch of snow, but a trough will extend north of a surface low moving ENE out of the Rockies, and that trough will help draw some moisture northward and this combined with some lift moving through at times will go on to produce some snow Saturday into Sunday.

Goes-16 water vapor loop from Friday, January 29, 2021.


  • Most of the Northland should remain dry tonight, although some lake effect snow showers and flurries are possible along the North Shore, and some patchy freezing drizzle and fog could develop during the night around the Brainerd Lakes area, and the risk for some freezing drizzle/fog could continue through Saturday morning.
  • Expect periods of snow Saturday through Sunday morning with some breaks in the snow likely.
  • Snow looks to end from west to east during the day Sunday, lingering longest around Lake Superior.
  • Easterly winds near Lake Superior could gust to around 15-25 mph through Sunday morning and patchy blowing snow could occur at times.

18z NAM 3km model simulated radar forecast valid from Midnight tonight to Midnight Monday.


Note: For the Northland, there is a Winter Weather Advisory in effect for portions of east-central Minnesota including the cities of Cass Lake, Walker, Brainerd and Aitkin from Midnight tonight to 6 PM Saturday for the combination of light icing (glaze) and minor snow accumulations.

A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for the North Shore of Lake Superior including the cities of Two Harbors, Silver Bay, Isabella and Grand Marais from 6 AM Saturday to 6 AM Sunday due to accumulating snow.

Plan on slippery road conditions in the advisory areas.

Regional view of the current weather alerts which are in effect this weekend.

Winter Storm Warning (pink)

Winter Weather Advisory (purple)

Winter Storm Watch (blue)