Incredibly warm January and winter continues in the Northland

82% of days from December 1 to January 14 had an above average temperature at Duluth, Minnesota, with only 18% of days below average during that same period.

  • Record warm low temperature set at Brainerd, Minnesota on January 14, 2021, with a low on Thursday of 29 degrees. The previous record warm low temperature for January 14 was 27 degrees set in 1906 and tied in 2001.
  • International Falls and Hibbing came within 3 degrees of their record high temperature on January 14, and today, January 15, Hibbing came within 1 degree of their record high temperature.
  • Low temps thru 5 PM Friday at all the major climate sites in the Northland are running record warmest for January 15, in fact low temps so far today are running 30 to nearly 40 degrees warmer than normal!
  • Lake effect snow doesn’t exist anymore. Marquette, Michigan has only had 27.2″ of snow so far this winter (Since Dec. 1) this is nearly -37″ below normal to date!

Coldest temperature in Duluth over the next 10 days is -2 degrees, and that’s not until next weekend (January 23) so there’s a pretty good chance will see that temperature modify going forward in time, especially since the computer models have absolutely sucked with the pattern this winter especially past about 3 or 4 days.

Yes, there’s no doubt that a cooling trend is coming, but temperatures will remain above normal on a few days, and fall back closer to normal on a few other days. Up and down temps on the way more or less.

Note: I don’t see any sustained arctic air masses impacting the Northland through the end of the month, cold shots, yes, but nothing sustained the way it looks now.

Note: Normal temps this time of year in Duluth range from around 20 degrees for a high, and around 0 degrees for a low


Average temperature so far this winter at Duluth, Minnesota is 20.8 degrees which is +7.5 degrees warmer than normal, while at International Falls their average temperature so far this winter is 19.1 degrees which is +11.1 degrees warmer than normal.

Winter of 2020-2021 has been a blowtorch across the Northern Plains and upper Midwest, with average temperatures since December 1st some 10 to 15 degrees warmer than normal from Montana to northwest Minnesota, and from 5 to 10 degrees warmer than normal in northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin.


Average temps are running so far above normal so far this month that the MRCC is running out of colors to show just how far above average it has been from the Northern Rockies to upper Midwest. This really is quite alarming, especially since January is typically the coldest month of the year in a lot of these areas that are running >10 degrees warmer than normal so far this month.

Incredible warmth in the Northland this month

Average temperature/departure from normal for January 2021 (thru the 14th)

International Falls, MN: 23.5 F; +19.3 degrees above normal

Duluth, MN: 23.4 F; +13.1 degrees above normal

Brainerd, MN: 23.4 F; +12.4 degrees above normal

Ashland, WI: 22.5 degrees; +9.1 degrees above normal

Hibbing, MN: 20.0 degrees; +13.3 degrees above normal

  • Last time we had a subzero temperature in Duluth was on December 29 over 2 weeks ago (low of -10 F)
  • No subzero temps so far this month in Duluth, normal in January is 15 days with a subzero temperature.

Top 5 list for fewest number of subzero minimum temperatures in January at Duluth, Minn.

Note: Weather records for Duluth date back to 1875

1) 1 set in 2006

2) 3 set in 1889, tied in 1891, 1898 and in 1932

3) 4 set in 1931

4) 5 set in 1921, tied in 1944, 2001 and in 2002

5) 6 set in 1944


Overall my snowfall forecast for Thursday’s system wasn’t too far off from observed snowfall totals in northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin, although I’m a little surprised by the lack of snow closer to Lake Superior where I thought there’d be at least a little slushy snow out of this system, just shows you how warm Lake Superior is right now where you’re getting an elevation snow event in mid January as the Duluth Airport (higher elevation) picked up nearly 2″ of snow, while precip was mostly drizzle below the hill in Duluth.

Impacts from this system were minimal in most of the Northland which was expected, you just aren’t going to get major impacts when one, temps are in the low to mid 30s, and two, snowfall rates are mostly on the light side while the snowfall duration was over 24 hours!

Snowfall map below from the National Weather Service in the Twin Cities

Snowfall Reports from the Northland for January 14-15, 2021


  • 2 N Moquah, WI: 6.4″
  • Outing, MN: 6.0″
  • Red Cliff, WI: 5.5″
  • Hill City, MN: 5.0″
  • 7 N McGregor, MN: 4.3″
  • Gile, WI: 3.0″
  • 1 SSE Oulu, WI: 2.5″
  • 4 NNE Stone Lake, WI: 2.3″
  • Blackberry, MN: 2.3″
  • 3 N Brainerd, MN: 2.3″
  • 7 WSW Pine River, MN: 2.2″
  • Sarona, WI: 2.0″
  • Seeley, WI: 2.0″
  • 3 E Wright, MN: 1.8″
  • Duluth Airport: 1.8″
  • International Falls, MN: 1.6″
  • Brainerd, MN: 1.4″
  • 2 W Iron Junction, MN: 1.3″

Still seeing some snow this evening over northwest Wisconsin and far eastern Minnesota, and rain or snow closer to Lake Superior, with movement of this precipitation to the south. Another one to two inches of snow accumulation is possible tonight in northwest Wisconsin, especially along the South Shore of Lake Superior.

What’s ahead in terms of snowfall for the Northland?

Not a whole lot through most of next week. Passing snow showers and flurries from time to time which could put down a light coating of snow in some parts of the area, but I’m not seeing any major snow events showing up in those trusty computer models at least through the middle of next week.


Blizzard conditions continue late this afternoon in parts of southwest Minnesota where travel is not advised (purple areas on map)


A large low pressure system continues to slowly move east across the Midwest today while bands of light snow and rain continue to move from NE-SW across parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin today.

Goes-16 satellite loop from Friday, January 15, 2021 (loop time 1 PM to 4 PM)



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