Ice Fog at 46 Below Zero

Ice fog this morning as the temperature dropped to -46 at Babbitt, MN

The above picture is from Babbitt, Minnesota where a frigid morning low temperature of -46 degrees was recorded on January 21, 2011. The pictures were taken by observer Ryan Scharber. The pictures show ice fog, which is usually a shallow fog consisting of suspended ice crystals. Ice fog usually only occurs when temperatures fall below -22 degrees Fahrenheit (-30 Celsius) according to the AMS Glossary.  Normally, fog consists of tiny water droplets, or supercooled water droplets. However, when temperatures are as cold as they were this morning in parts of northern Minnesota, it becomes too cold for liquid water to exist, and small ice crystals can develop if the amount of water vapor in the air is sufficient.

Fast Facts

  • The lowest temperatures recorded in the NWS Duluth county warning area were -46 degrees at both International Falls, MN (ASOS) and Babbitt, MN (CO-OP).
  • The -46 degree low was tied for the 5th lowest on record at International Falls. Temperature records date back to 1897. The record is -55 degrees which was recorded on January 6, 1909.
  • The -46 degree low was tied for the lowest on record at the International Falls Airport. The official observing station was moved to the airport in 1939. This is tied with the -46 degree reading from January 6, 1968.

List Of Coldest Morning Lows

THE FOLLOWING ARE OBSERVED LOW TEMPERATURES THROUGH 900 AM FRIDAY
JANUARY 21 2011. TEMPERATURES ARE IN DEGREES FAHRENHEIT.

 TEMP    LOCATION                 ST  COUNTY           SOURCE
 ----    -----------------------  --  --------------   -------
 -46     INTERNATIONAL FALLS      MN  KOOCHICHING      ASOS
 -46     BABBITT                  MN  ST LOUIS         COOP
 -43     EMBARRASS                MN  ST LOUIS         COOP
 -43     BIGFORK                  MN  ITASCA           RAWS
 -43     ASHLAKE                  MN  ST LOUIS         MNDOT
 -43     EFFIE                    MN  ITASCA           RAWS
 -40     LITTLEFORK               MN  KOOCHICHING      COOP
 -40     BIRCHDALE                MN  KOOCHICHING      MNDOT

This report was posted on the website of the National Weather Service
Forecast Office in Duluth, MN:  http://www.crh.noaa.gov/dlh/
The arctic air the produced the frigid air in the upper midwest
this morning will sweep through the mid Atlantic and northeast U.S.
this weekend.

Tom Tasselmyer
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