Novembrrrrrr: Unseasonable cold sets records in Brainerd, across country

Minnesotans in 2019 have already retired their lighter coats in favor of parkas and are digging under their car seats for window scrapers.

Bundled against the cold, Judy McDonald walks through downtown Brainerd Tuesday, Nov. 12. McDonald said she loves this time of the year and cannot wait to go snowshoeing. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

A high temperature nearly 30 degrees below normal for Veterans Day now has its place in Brainerd weather record books.

The mercury rose to just 14 degrees Monday, Nov. 11, destroying the previous record of 18 degrees set in 1986, according to the National Weather Service in Duluth.

“An early blast of cold arctic air will consume much of the eastern two-thirds of the U.S. over the next few days, making it feel like the middle of winter,” the weather service reported. “Numerous record lows and record low maximum temperatures are expected through Wednesday, as temperatures average 20 to 30 degrees below normal.”

Brainerd joined two other Northland cities in achieving record-breaking temperatures, according to a tweet from NWS: Hibbing, which saw a high of 9 degrees versus its previous record of 15 set in 1986, and Ashland, Wisconsin, which reached 18 degrees -- still 2 degrees below its 1950 record of 20. The city of Duluth tied its record set in 1920 of 16 degrees.

Tuesday morning saw a slew of record or near-record cold temperatures well below zero across much of the northeastern corner of the state, including 16 below in Effie, just north of Big Fork, and 15 below in the infamously chilly Embarrass. Brainerd did not dip into subzero territory, but came as close as possible with 0 degrees recorded in the early morning hours at the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport.


Despite the wintry weather, the weather service chose to look at the glass half full, advising Minnesotans to “expect a warming trend through the week.” Yet, the forecast predicts Brainerd residents will not see temperatures above freezing until Saturday, still well below average in an overall colder than usual autumn.

Contrast that with Brainerd’s record highs for this week, which range from the mid- to upper 60s. It was 66 degrees on Veterans Day in 2005, and in 1999, Nov. 13 saw a record 68 degrees. Meanwhile, Minnesotans in 2019 have already retired their lighter coats in favor of parkas and are digging under their car seats for window scrapers. The forecast called for gusty winds as high as 25 mph and snow overnight Tuesday into Wednesday morning, when the chance of precipitation increased to 60% before 9 a.m.

Nationwide cold snap

Minnesota isn’t the only state experiencing temperatures in the basement. The Washington Post reported a November cold snap of historic intensity has surged from the Plains to the East Coast. Hundreds of records are falling, some of which have stood for over a century. The arctic blast is not only sending temperatures toppling, but has also left behind a blanket of snow from parts of the Midwest to the central Appalachians and interior Northeast.

Snow covers 30% of the Lower 48, the second greatest Nov. 12 extent since monitoring began in 2003, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Snow and ice contributed to four deaths in motor vehicle crashes in the Plains and Midwest, according to In Chicago Monday, an American Airlines jet slid off the runway at O'Hare International in snow and high winds, but no one was hurt.

The snow and cold have also delayed or closed schools from Texas to New Hampshire, reported.

As the arctic front barreled eastward Tuesday, the core of the cold gripped a sprawling zone from south Texas to western New York, where dozens of record low temperatures were set.

Even normally mild locations witnessed a wintry blast. Temperatures in Houston and Galveston toppled 30 to 40 degrees in 24 hours from near 70 to the mid-30s. Wind chills made it feel like the 20s.


Pockets of subzero cold sunk as far south as western Kansas and most areas from Kansas north through the Great Lakes bottomed out in the single digits.

Here are some of the remarkably cold temperature milestones established through Tuesday morning:

  • Chicago dropped to 7 degrees Tuesday morning, setting a record low for a second straight day (a record low of 14 was set Monday) and its coldest temperature so early in the season.

  • Indianapolis fell to 8 degrees Tuesday morning, its coldest temperature so early in the season on record.

  • Des Moines, Iowa, dropped to 1 degree below zero Tuesday morning, only the fifth time it has dropped below zero in the first half of November.

  • Cedar Rapids, Iowa, tumbled to a record low of 6 degrees below zero Tuesday morning, crushing the previous record of 5, and the coldest on record so early in the season.

  • Paducah, Kentucky, broke its previous record low for the date by 6 degrees, tumbling to 15 degrees Tuesday morning.

  • McAllen, Texas, in the very southern part of the state, observed a wind chill of 31 early Tuesday after posting a heat index of 92 the previous afternoon as the air temperature fell to near 40 with winds gusting to 30 mph.

  • Minneapolis' high temperature on Monday of 18, tied its coldest on record for the date.

As the arctic front surged south and southeast Monday into early Tuesday, accumulating snow fell as far south as Tennessee. Nashville picked up 0.4 inches of snow Monday evening, only the seventh time measurable snow has fallen on or before Nov. 11. Cincinnati, Dayton, and Columbus witnessed record snowfall for Nov. 11, picking up 1-2 inches.
The heaviest snowfall has concentrated in the Great Lakes region, where up to 2 feet has fallen and some areas just downwind of the Great Lakes could see more. Detroit picked up 9.8 inches Monday into early Tuesday, establishing a new a 24-hour November snowfall record.

The interior Northeast also picked up some hefty snow amounts, especially in the mountains of New York, New Hampshire and Vermont, where some ski areas are opening early.

The Washington Post contributed to this story.

Chelsey Perkins is the community editor of the Brainerd Dispatch. A lakes area native, Perkins joined the Dispatch staff in 2014. She is the Crow Wing County government beat reporter and the producer and primary host of the "Brainerd Dispatch Minute" podcast.
Reach her at or at 218-855-5874 and find @DispatchChelsey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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