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Valentine's Day one of the coldest ever in Mason City history
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Valentine's Day one of the coldest ever in Mason City history

From the Our environment: Winter 2020-2021 series
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Don't worry North Iowa, according to state climatologist Justin Glisan, there's an end to this cold snap in sight.

Forecasts project the temperatures will finally start to increase near the middle of this week. By next week, temperatures are slated to rise into the mid-30s.

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A man walks on a snow covered road as snow falls in Mason City on a Friday in January.

But before we break out the t-shirts and shorts, we still have to get through these next couple days — the tail-end of a cold-stretch that will be written down in the history books.

"The standout thing to me, and I think most meteorologists, is not the temperatures we're sitting at, it's the duration in which these temperatures have lasted," Glisan said.

These past two weeks have been the ninth-coldest stretch ever in Mason City for the time period of Feb. 1 to Feb. 15. The average temperature of 4.1 degrees is the coldest since 2014, when the two-week average was 4 degrees.

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And if Valentine's Day seemed a little colder than normal, that's because it was. In fact, Sunday's high of -8 degrees was the coldest Valentine's Day ever in Mason City. The low of -15 degrees was the fifth lowest on record. The all-time low record was -20 degrees set in 1936 and 1951.

Monday's high of -4 degrees and low of -20 degrees in Mason City was one of the coldest in history. The weather had some schools push up the start of its boys basketball playoff games to avoid the late night chill.

According to the state's climatology website, last week's temperatures  – which hovered in single digits with negative wind chills  – was a 20-to-25-degree departure from what it normally is this time of year.

Thankfully, there's an end in sight.

"If you look over the Atlantic into Europe, there's a big stable high-pressure system that's just blocking all flow from West to East, and that's why we've been stuck in this long-duration cold snap," Glisan said.

"So if you look at the outlooks moving into the end of February, we've actually started to see that transition from that blob of cold air, that stable configuration and the large-scale circulation start to destabilize itself," Glisan said. "Then it will start to retract towards the poles and we get into warmer temperatures. That's what we see starting this weekend."

Gunnar Davis covers education and sports. Reach him via email at Gunnar.Davis@GlobeGazette.com or by phone 641-421-0598.

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