January 2023 Saint Cloud Weather Summary




Halfway Through a White, Wet, and Marginally Mild Cold Season

January 2023 St. Cloud Weather Summary

5th Snowiest Season Through January

The end of January is a little past halfway through the St. Cloud, Minnesota, snow season (normally November through March and sometimes October through April). To this point, St. Cloud State University, the official St. Cloud snowfall site, has received 46.3 inches of snow, 20.3 inches above average. The average for an entire snow season is only 1.6 inch higher at 47.9 inches. The snowfall total through the January ranks as the 5th snowiest first 5 months of the snow season in St. Cloud records, and the snowiest since 1996-1997. The record is 54.2 inches, set in 1936-1937. Elsewhere in Minnesota, there has been generally more than 3 feet of snow in the eastern two-thirds of Minnesota (set to season snowfall) with over 4 feet (red) in much of east central and northeastern Minnesota. Duluth has seen more than 80 inches of snow so far this season.

January 2023 accounted for 18.6 inches of that snow. That total was more than double the 8.8 inch average and ranks as the 10th snowiest January on record. That included 13.8 inches of snow on January 3-5, the 13th largest snowfall in St. Cloud records, ranking even higher than the infamous Halloween Blizzard of 1991 (13.3 inches in St. Cloud). The January 3-5 storm is the second top 20 single storm snowfall of this season (December 13-18 was the other one). It broke a daily record for January 4 snowfall (7.0 inches). January 3 and 4 each had more than 5 inches of snow, bringing the seasonal total of 5-inch days to 3. There had been only 2 days with at least 5 inches of snow in the past three seasons combined.

There is more than a foot of snow on the ground (medium blue on the Minnesota snow depth map from the Department of Natural Resources) with a foot and a half (purple) in the eastern half of north central and northeastern Minnesota

Third Wettest November Through January

The amount of liquid precipitation between November and January at the St. Cloud Airport has been 5.61 inches, more than double the three-month average of 2.92 inches. This is the 3rd highest November through January precipitation total in St. Cloud records. January's share of that precipitation was 1.60 inch, just 0.12 inch short of the 10 wettest Januaries. The precipitation total in each of December (1.90 inch) and January have nearly equaled the average 3-month precipitation for the entire winter (Dec 1-Feb 28), 2.32 inches. So, our current 3.50 inch total since December 1 is already in 10th place among the wettest meteorological winters and we still have a month to go.

Last Time It Was So Wet So Early.....

1996-1997 again holds the record for November-January precipitation with 6.54 inches. All of that snow and moisture in 1996-1997, with more than 100 inches of snow in west central and northwest Minnesota for the entire season, culminated in the worst Red River flooding in Grand Forks (city was under water for a month) and the second worst Red River flooding in Fargo-Morehead. The Minnesota River also produced major flooding in that season. We don't have 100 inches of snowfall yet in that area. And, the camel that broke the straw back was an April 4-6 blizzard, which fell just as the frozen rivers were thawing. That snow, once it melted, pushed the flooding to record levels.

However, 1964-1965, the snowiest cold season of all in St. Cloud (87.9 inches), does not appear in the top 10 snowiest seasons through January. That's because nearly 69 inches of it fell during February through April, including 51.7 inches in March 1966, the snowiest month in St. Cloud records. The 2012-2013 season (4th snowiest season with 78.5 inches) also had a major late season contribution with over 57 inches in the last 3 months. The other recent top 5 snowfall season, 2013-2014 (75.5 inches), ranks 10th in October-January snowfall.

Steady Parade of Wet Storms That Stall Out Producing Heavy Precipitation

It requires a lot of moisture to be able to produce such high snowfall totals. The overall weather pattern in January produced a continued sequence of landfalling Pacific storms, some of which moved northeastward through the Plains. That allowed some Gulf moisture to creep into these systems. The extra step in these top 20 snowfalls was that the storms tended to intensify, then stall near Wisconsin or Iowa, producing a prolonged period of precipitation. It takes that extra time to be able to produce widespread snowfall of a foot or more in Minnesota.

Temperatures Were Running Near Record Warm Levels First Three Weeks

Soon after the January 3-5 storm, the Pacific storm track split into two branches, one tracking from the Rockies through the Central Plains and Northeast or Mid-Atlantic, and the other well to the north in central Canada. This kept the really cold air trapped in Greenland for much of the month, allowing Minnesota to be at a near record mild pace through the first three weeks of January. However, the pattern changed to a northwest-to-southeast flow pattern during the last 8 days of the month. This allowed arctic air to move back into the central part of the Canadian Arctic Coast, then move southeastward into the Plains. That cool down was not as cold as the arctic outbreak just before Christmas, but stopped the streak of low temperatures nearly as mild as the average highs seen earlier in the month, and eventually produced 6 days with a lows of zero or colder, including three straight days in the minus teens. The last two days of the month had lows of -18, the coldest of the season so far. So, the entire month ended up with a 17.2 degree average, 5.4 degrees above average, but merely the 22nd warmest January in St. Cloud records.

January 2023 Temperature Trends in St. Cloud
Dates Average High (°F) Average Low (°F) Mean Temperature (°F)
Jan 1-23
23.1 (would have been 2nd mildest Jan)
Jan 24-31
January Overall
17.2 (22nd mildest Jan)

The mild first portion of January produced 4 record warm temperatures and a tie for the 5th. The low never dropped below 30 degrees on January 15-17, setting 2 records and tying a third, and the average temperature on January 15 and 16 was 34 degrees, breaking the record warm averages for those dates.


Summing Up Cold Season So Far

At the near halfway point of the snow season, the statistics show that snowier than average and wetter than average in much of Minnesota. Temperature-wise, there have been enough major arctic outbreaks to produce nearly a season's worth of highs of zero or colder (4). However, the count of sub-zero lows, including January 31, is now 21 days. That's less than halfway to the seasonal average of 42.7 days. And, the November through January average temperature is 1.4 degrees milder than average. More is summed in the table below

October-January St. Cloud Cold Season Scoreboard
  So Far This Season Average for Entire Season
Total Snowfall 46.3 inches (5th most total through January) 47.9 inches
Days with Measurable Snowfall 27 days 31.8 days
Days with 2 inches or more 8 days 7.6 days
Consecutive days with 1 inch on the ground

59 days

(Dec 8-Jan 31)

86 days
Nov-Jan average 21.6 degrees 20.2 degrees
Highs of zero or colder 4 days 4.3 days
Lows of zero or colder 21 days 42.7 days
Lows of -20 or colder 0 days 5.4 days

5.61 inch

(3rd highest in St. Cloud records)

2.92 inch

If you're looking for a prediction for the rest of the winter, note that the official National Weather Service forecast was that the Northern Plains would be colder than average with no trend in precipitation. Also, there was unlikely to be enough precipitation to ease the major pre-winter drought conditions from the Mississippi River westward. Yet, there has been major relief in the Dakotas into Minnesota and in parts of the southern Rockies, including Nevada and California. (set two week comparison of the US Drought Monitor to the latest versus November 22, the time of the forecast). So, I won't be entering that contest.

In Minnesota, the improved water conditions will help river and lake levels substantially when the snow melts. However, ground water recharge will require spring rainfall after the ground thaws.



January 2023 Statistics

Temperatures (°F)
January 2023
January Average High Temperature (°F)
January Average Low Temperature (°F)
Mean Temperature for January (°F)

January Extremes

Warmest High Temperature for January 2023 (°F)
January 15
Coldest High Temperature for January 2023 (°F)
January 30
Warmest Low Temperature for January 2023 (°F)

32 (set record; see below)

January 16
Coldest Low Temperature for January 2023 (°F)
-18 (coldest of the season so far)
January 30,31
Record Temperatures in January 2023
Old Record
Daily Record Warm Low Temperature
30 (tie)
January 15
30 first set in 1980
January 16
26 in 1958
January 17
30 in 1942
Daily Record Warm Average Temperature
January 15
33 in 1901
January 16
33 in 1973
Temperature Thresholds
Number of Days
January 2023 Days with High Temperatures <= 32°F
Cold-Season 2022-2023 Days with High Temperatures <= 32°F
January 2023 Days with High Temperatures <= 0°F
Cold-Season 2022-2023 Days with High Temperatures <= 0°F
January 2023 Days with Low Temperatures <= 32°F
Cold-Season 2022-2023 Days with Low Temperatures <= 32°F
January 2023 Days with Low Temperatures <= 0°F
Cold-Season 2022-2023 Days with Low Temperatures <= 0°F
42.7 (annual)
January 2023 Days with Low Temperatures <= -20°F
Cold-Season 2022-2023 Days with Low Temperatures <= -20°F
5.4 (annual)
Precipitation (in)
January 2023
January 2023 Precipitation (in)
  Top 10 Wettest Januaries
Precipitation Thresholds
Number of Days
January 2023 Days with Measurable (>= 0.01 inch) Precipitation
January 2023 Days with >= 0.10 inch Precipitation
January 2023 Days with >= 0.25 inch Precipitation
January 2023 Days with >= 0.50 inch Precipitation
January 2023 Days with >= 1.00 inch Precipitation
January Extremes
Precipitation (in)
Most Daily Precipitation in January 2023
0.63 inch
January 3
Record Precipitation in January 2023
Precipitation (in)
Old Record
No Precipitation Records Set
Snowfall (in)
January 2023
January 2023 Saint Cloud Snowfall (in)
18.6 (10th snowiest)
2022-2023 Seasonal Saint Cloud Snowfall (1 Oct 2022 - 31 Jan 2023)
Snowfall Thresholds
Number of Days
January 2023 Days with Measurable (>= 0.1 inch) Snowfall
Cold-Season 2022-2023 Days with Measurable Snowfall
January 2023 Days with >= 1.0 inch Snowfall
Cold-Season 2022-2023 Days with >= 1.0 inch Snowfall
January 2023 Days with >= 2.0 inch Snowfall
Cold-Season 2022-2023 Days with >= 2.0 inch Snowfall
January 2023 Days with >= 5.0 inch Snowfall
Cold-Season 2022-2023 Days with >= 5.0 inch Snowfall
January Extremes
Snowfall (in)
Most Daily Snowfall in January 2023
7.0 inches (set record; see below)
January 4
Record Snowfall in January 2023
Snowfall (in)
Old Record
Daily Snowfall Records
7.0 inches
January 4
3.0 inches in 1949


10 Brownest Januaries



Snowfall Through January (inches) St. Cloud
Rank Season Snowfall
1 1936-1937 54.2
2 1968-1969 54.0
3 1996-1997 47.8
4 1983-1984 46.7
5 2022-2023 46.3
6 1927-1928 45.3
7 1995-1996 43.2
8 1993-1994 42.7
9 1966-1967 41.1
10 2013-2014 40.8



November Through January St. Cloud Melted Precipitation
Rank Season Inches
1 1996-1997 6.54
2 1922-1923 5.78
3 2022-2023 5.61
4 1896-1897 5.51
5 1931-1932 5.35
6 1977-1978 5.33
7 1968-1969 5.05
8 1915-1916 4.99
9 1983-1984 4.70
10 1982-1983 4.64




Updated February 2, 2023

Historic temperature data provided courtesy of the Saint Cloud National Weather Service Office, and NOAA/NWS
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