Mild temps continue with no major snow events through the middle of next week

Not a whole lot going on weather-wise in the Northland this week. Certainly not looking at any big snows or prolonged arctic air masses anytime soon, so our mild winter of 2020-2021 continues for now.

About the only issue/s I see through midweek would be the potential for some fog at times (stagnant weather pattern) and perhaps a little lake effect snow near Lake Superior Tuesday night and Wednesday.

Record to near record warmth at International Falls yesterday and today. Record high on January 3 is 41 degrees set in 2007, actual high was 40 degrees. Record high on January 4 is 38 degrees which was set in 2019, high so far today 38 degrees, and this ties the record high for today’s date.

Note: On average Duluth has 15 days with a subzero minimum temperature in January. We’ve had none so far this January, and chances we see any during the next 10 days look pretty low at the moment based on what I’m seeing in model data. Normal temps in Duluth through January 14 range from a high of around 19 degrees, while the normal low is around 0.


This week stays mild, and from the looks of it next week also looks like a mild one across northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin.


Look at these temperatures in the Northland on this early January afternoon!

Northland temps as of 2 PM Monday, January 4, 2021.

  • Pine River: 43 F
  • Aitkin: 43 F
  • Longville: 41 F
  • Brainerd: 41 F
  • Bigfork: 39 F
  • Grand Rapids: 39 F
  • International Falls: 37 F
  • Cook: 36 F
  • Duluth Airport: 32 F


There’s the system which brought a beautiful 5 to 10 minute burst of heavy snow or a mix of light freezing rain, sleet and snow to the Northland this Monday morning. It’s a strong wave, but is moving along quickly with very little impact.

Water vapor loop from Monday, January 4, 2021 (loop time 11:16 AM to 1:11 PM CT)



Only 4/20 or 20% of GEFS members show some snow (~2″ accumulation) in the Northland through January 11, the other 16 members or 80% of them show <1″ of snow in the Northland through early next week.

There are signs showing up in long range model guidance that the pattern may turn a little snowier toward mid to late January, but with how the long range computer models have been handling the pattern so far this winter I wouldn’t count on that happening just yet.


The main feature this week will be a rather strong mid/upper level low which digs SE into the Northern Plains late Tuesday, and then into the Central Plains and eventually southeast US late this week, but the track of this system is well west/south of the Northland to bring any precipitation to our area.

12z GFS model 500mb forecast valid from 6 AM Tuesday to 6 AM Friday.


As winds become easterly this may help to produce a little lake effect snow near Lake Superior Tuesday night into Wednesday, but the lake to air temperature difference looks pretty marginal to support any significant snow accumulation.

18z HRRR model simulated radar forecast valid from 6 PM Tuesday to Noon Wednesday.


Our El Nino La Nina pattern continues.

Temperature departures so far for the winter of 2020-2021 (thru January 3rd)

  • International Falls, MN: +8.6 degrees above normal
  • Walker, MN: +7.4 degrees above normal
  • Brainerd, MN: +6.0 degrees above normal
  • Duluth, MN: +5.3 degrees above normal

The temperature pattern so far this winter hasn’t resembled your typical La Nina at all as the cooler or below average temps have been found across portions of the Southern US, while across the North it’s been a blow torch for the most part, with only brief blasts of arctic air. Note: In a typical La Nina, the cooler air would be found across the north, while the warmer air would be found across the south.



2020 was a dry one across not only the Northland, but also across much of the Northern Plains.

Precipitation departures for 2020

Sioux Falls, SD: -10.03″ below normal
Duluth, MN: -9.70″ below normal
Bismarck, ND: -9.43″ below normal
Jamestown, ND: -7.73″ below normal
Sioux City, IA: -7.66″ below normal
Minot, ND: -6.25″ below normal
Fargo, ND: -3.20″ below normal
International Falls, MN: -2.78″ below normal

We have some work to do in 2021 to erase the widespread drought conditions which cover the Northern Plains and upper Midwest.

All of northeast Minnesota and pretty much all of northwest Wisconsin remains in Abnormally Dry or Moderate Drought conditions as of December 24th, 2020, and unless we get into a more persistent wet/snowy pattern over the next few months, drought conditions will worsen as we get into spring 2021 since precipitation deficits going back to 2020 already range from >9″ below normal at Duluth, to nearly 3″ below normal at International Falls.



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