Unseasonable warmth to continue through the weekend in the Northland

The scene of people on the Lakewalk sans jackets on Friday resembled a September day more than the beginning of November in Duluth. Duluth is forecast to bask in temperatures 20 to 25 degrees above normal this weekend after a high temperature of ...

Lily Eby, 5, of Eagan, Minn., dips her toes into Lake Superior while at Park Point Beach in Duluth on Friday afternoon. Duluth tied its record high on Friday by reaching 69 degrees. The remainder of the weekend is expected to mild with above average temperatures in the 60s on Saturday and Sunday. (Clint Austin /

The scene of people on the Lakewalk sans jackets on Friday resembled a September day more than the beginning of November in Duluth.

Duluth is forecast to bask in temperatures 20 to 25 degrees above normal this weekend after a high temperature of 69 degrees on Friday tied the record for Nov. 4, first set in 1975, according to the National Weather Service.

If the unseasonable warmth continues for another week, the city could break a weather record set 134 years ago: Duluth has yet to see a hard freeze - when the temperature dips to 28 degrees and is cold enough to kill plants - this fall. Duluth's average date for its first hard freeze is Oct. 12.

The latest first hard freeze on record in Duluth is Nov. 11, set in 1882.

Breaking the record for the latest first hard freeze is a possibility, said William Leatham, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Duluth. The Climate Prediction Center is calling for above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation in November for the entire United States, he said.


The late hard freeze comes after months of above-normal temperatures in Duluth, and meteorologists are keeping an eye on another record that could be broken this month: the latest Duluth has received its first measurable snowfall - at least a tenth of an inch. The current record is Nov. 26, set in 2004.

"Looking at the two-week and also three- to four-week outlook, they've got above-normal temperatures for the Northland so I wouldn't be surprised if we give those records a run for their money," he said. "It's one of those 'we'll see' because sometimes we get cold shots of air when systems are moving out of the area. Although it's above normal throughout the month, that doesn't mean we won't see some cold spells at times. ...

"We'll have to keep an eye on that one," he said of the snow record, "although I assume at some point this month we'll probably start to see some snow - but who knows with the above-normal temperatures."

This weekend is expected to be in the top five warmest Nov. 4-6 periods on record in Duluth. The record high for Nov. 5 is 68 degrees, set in 1975, and 66 degrees for Nov. 6, set in 1916, according to Leatham. Duluth's normal high temperatures for the beginning of November are in the low to mid-40s.

October in Duluth was above normal in temperature and below normal in precipitation, Leatham said. October was the sixth consecutive month with above-normal temperatures and was the 17th warmest October that Duluth has seen since records began being kept in 1874. April was the last time Duluth had below-normal temperatures for the month.

"This past winter into summer, we were coming out of a strong El Nino and we're starting to go into a weak La Nina that's already started to form in the central Pacific. We have yet to see the effects in the Northland. The Pacific Northwest has already started to see the effects," he said.

The cause of the latest warm weather is complicated, but essentially the Northland has been between the two systems for the past two months, he said.

Duluth isn't alone in breaking a record for late-arriving freezing temperatures this fall. International Falls hit 32 degrees for the first time this fall on Oct. 8; its previous record for the first freeze was Oct. 6, set in 1919. International Falls experienced its first hard freeze on Oct. 13, which was tied for its fourth-latest first hard freeze.


International Falls also hasn't had a measurable snowfall yet; its latest first measurable snowfall on record is Dec. 8, set in 1999.

Duluth went below freezing for the first time this season on Oct. 9, when the airport reached 30 degrees. The record for the latest first freeze in Duluth is Nov. 6, set in 1900.

Despite the prediction of warm weather this month, it's still expected to give way to the predicted abnormally cold winter that typically comes with La Nina, Leatham said. The Northland is expected to begin feeling the colder-than-normal weather in December, he said. He added that there's also a chance for above-normal precipitation in the Northland this winter.

"It's going to be a big difference from last winter, where we were above normal for temperatures ... by over 5 degrees on average," he said.

Although northern Minnesota has been experiencing a warm spell, winter is around the corner - and Leatham suggested that residents take steps now to ensure they are prepared.

"Be ready if we have snowstorms. Have the right stuff if you're out and about traveling. Take it slowly," he said.

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