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October 31, 2014

Minnesota is (relatively) the coldest place on earth this year

We’ve all likely uttered the words “Minnesota feels like the coldest place on earth” – and this year, we were right. At least compared to what we’re used to.

Paul Huttner wrote on MPR News Updraft blog that temperatures in Minnesota are running 2 to 4 degrees cooler than average so far this year, and Minnesota and much of the Upper Midwest are the coolest places on earth relative to average temperature for the year thus far.

The map below, put together by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for its monthly State of the Climate report, shows most of the planet in red, signifying temperatures above average, while Minnesota is a dark shade of blue, showing it’s several degrees below average.

minnesota-coldest-place-on-earth (NOAA map - green)

So far, 2014 has been the third-warmest year on record globally – but not in Minnesota, especially after the year’s record-breaking winter. In January some news organizations pointed out that it was colder in Minnesota than it was on Mars (although that comparison was debunked by some experts).

But it wasn’t just the winter. Minneapolis’ below-average temperatures for the Home Run Derby earlier this month strengthened the “Minnesota is always cold” stereotype as some out-of-towners and national media outlets griped about the chilly weather.

So why is Minnesota so dang cold this year? Huttner says “who knows” is the “most honest answer,” but he does note that the polar vortex has been “a semi-persistent feature over the Upper Midwest this year.”

Minnesota towns have ranked among the coldest places on several scientific (and some not-so-scientific) lists in the past. International Falls has made several lists of the coldest places to live on earth in recent years, and Minneapolis was named the coldest major city in the United States by the Weather Channel.

Embarrass, Minnesota, was also featured in an article published by the United Kingdom’s Telegraph newspaper titled “What it’s like to live in the coldest place in America.”

Picture-perfect weather

Although Minnesota may be the coldest place to live on earth this year, this week proved differently. Temperatures were in the 90s Monday, with the heat index close to 110 for much of the state.

Monday’s hot and humid weather produced storms in northern Minnesota, which downed trees, knocked out power and flooded streets.

But temperatures started to cool off and the dew point dropped. Wednesday, the high is expected to be near 80 degrees with dew points in the 50s, nixing the sticky air that hung over many earlier in the week.

Huttner wrote Wednesday that “this is the best weather that Minnesota, or planet Earth has to offer.”

The chance for showers and thunderstorms increase across western Minnesota Thursday morning, and are expected to spread east during the afternoon, the National Weather Service says. There’s a chance for showers and storms Thursday night into early Friday for much of the state.

Temperatures for the weekend will hover around 80 degrees, with a chance of thunderstorms each night, according to the weather service’s forecast.