Weather Blog

From 46 to 86 degrees -- in 20 minutes?!?

From 46 to 86 degrees -- in 20 minutes?!?
Wikicommons Photo of Duluth, Minnesota

One minute, you're seeing your breath. The next minute, you're sweating. Just another day in the life of a Duluth resident.

In one of the more extreme weather cases you'll ever see, Duluth, Minnesota had rise of 40 degrees -- in 20 minutes! But that's just the headline. Let's take a closer look at what in the world was going on in this little corner of Minnesota.

Near the shores of Lake Superior, there was a cold, northeast breeze keeping temperatures in the 40s. But just a few miles to the southwest, a very hot, southwest wind blowing in record heat from the Midwest. The boundary was as stark as it was incredible.

First, here is the time series from Duluth's Sky Harbor Airport, courtesy of UW Research Meteorologist Mark Albright:

  • 4:54 p.m. 46 degrees, northeast wind at 8 kts
  • 5:14 p.m. 86 degrees, southwest wind 27 knots, gusting to 37 knots (43 mph!)
  • 5:34 p.m.: 88 degrees, southwest wind 24 knots, gusting to 31 knots
  • 5:54 p.m.: 72 degrees
  • 6:14 p.m.: 45 degrees, back to northeast wind.

More crazy stats, you say?

According to the Duluth News Tribune, at 3 p.m., it was 87 degrees a Duluth International Airport and 45 degrees at Sky Harbor Airport -- a distance of 10.2 miles!

Or, even better, take a look at this plot:

The red numbers are temperature. The blue barbs are showing the wind direction. "KDYT" is Duluth/Sky Harbor Airport and what looks like "KSVN" (which is actually "KSUW") is Superior, Wisconsin. So you can see the conflicting winds and the fact that it's 45 degrees in Duluth, but 90 in Superior -- a distance of 3.9 miles. Incredible! Or for our Seattle-area readers, that's roughly the distance from the Space Needle to the West Seattle Bridge -- imagine a 45 degree spread over that short of a distance!

Read more about the event at the Duluth News Tribune