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Coldest December stretch in 41 years

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news Brainerd, 56401
Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

After the past nine days, the warm-up for the early part of this week may make coats seem optional.

It hasn’t been this cold for this long in December since Richard Nixon was in the White House and gas was 36 cents per gallon.

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“Since 1972 it hasn’t been this cold in a December,” said Melody Lovin, meteorologist based at the National Weather Service in Duluth. The weather service looked at the coldest six day periods. This year the stretch from Dec. 6-11 was particularly cold with an average temperature of 5.8 degrees. The coldest December stretch on record was 1927 with an average temp of 7.5 degrees below zero. After 1927, the record books on cold Decembers is owned by 1972, which turned out to be a particularly cold winter.

This year tied for number 8 among the coldest six-day stretches.

The big chill started on the night of Dec. 6 when the temperature plunged to 14 below and never really recovered.

This winter started early enough that a white Christmas was never in doubt with snowfall was sealed into place by arctic air flows. Since Dec. 6, overnight lows have ranged from 10 below to 21 below. The normal low for this time of year is 4 degrees above zero.

Four of the last nine days topped out with high temperatures for the day in negative numbers. Sunday’s wind chills reached 31 below just before 8 a.m. It has all worked together to make December feel more like a January deep freeze. The normal high for this time of year is 23 degrees. The high temperature in Brainerd during the last nine days was 8 above. Remarkably a few degrees above zero without a wind chill now seems like a nice day.

Brainerd has already surpassed the average 9.7 inches of snowfall in December by accumulating 13.3 inches as of Sunday afternoon, with more snow likely going into Monday and a chance for snow by week’s end when the cold returns.

After the brief warm up of low- to mid-20s during the first part of the week, the cold is expected to make a comeback for the weekend. Light accumulations of 1 to 2 inches of snow is expected Monday with a chance for more snow Thursday as a storm system from Colorado hits the area. The storm is expected to be followed by another pull of arctic air. Daytime highs are likely to be back in the single digits with overnight lows below zero.

“It looks like we are not going to be quite as cold as we have been,” Lovin said.

For our three month outlook extending until February, the weather service models predict colder than average temperatures especially for northwestern Minnesota. On the plus side, the models aren’t trending for significant snowfalls.

RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at 855-5852 or renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Dispatchbizbuzz.

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Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
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