New state record for Ely area at -50

By Nick Wognum

Kurt Kruse knew it was cold Saturday morning after seeing 40 below zero at 11 p.m. He didn’t know his 50 degrees below zero reading on the shores of Snowbank Lake would set a state record.
Kruse is a volunteer for the National Weather Service and his reading was featured in a tweet from the Duluth office.
“We may have set a new daily state record low temp for Feb. 13 of -50 degrees F this morning at BNDM5, 25E Ely. We have several other stations in northern MN with low temps colder than -40!
There has been a weather station on Snowbank Lake since 1988 and Kruse said he took over two years ago.
“The thermometer is right outside my window, about 60 to 70 feet from the lake with a cable that goes to a display inside,” said Kruse. “I was kind of shocked when I woke up and took a look this morning.”
The electronic thermometer is calibrated to within .3 degrees. A reading is taken every 24 hours and today the official reading was at 7:02 a.m.
“When it was 40 below at 11 o’clock last night knew it was going to be a bit nippy this morning,” said Kruse.
There’s also the possibility Kruse could set another record on Sunday.
“Since I take the temperatures at 7 o’clock in the morning, when I talked to the National Weather Service this morning they asked me if it got any colder shortly after sunrise,” said Kruse. “At 25 after seven it dropped to 50.5 degrees below so tomorrow we’re going to have a reading of 50 below. We might set a state record tomorrow too.”
Kruse said he and his wife moved to Ely from Iowa three years ago after visiting the area for over 40 years.
“We got tired of driving back and from from Iowa so after I retired three years ago we got rid of the 500 mile drive,” said Kruse. “We wish we would’ve moved here 10 years before that.”
Prior to Kruse keeping track of temperature, snowfall and precipitation, Todd Cyriacks and Dennis Schmidt each volunteered for around 10 years.
The location fits with the National Weather Service’s goal to have cooperative stations 25 miles apart across the country.
“This is about the farthest east you can get from Ely before you get into the BWCA and the next one to the east is on the Gunflint Trail,” said Kruse.
Weather cooperators record daily high and low temperatures and during this time of year how much snow has fallen. The snow is then melted down to determine precipitation.
“The hardest time is in the winter when you have to melt the snow,” said Kruse.
Snow depth is recorded as well.
“We keep a couple of white boards on the ground. One you clean off every day and the other board you leave all winter so you can measure snow depth,” said Kruse.
The temperatures can be stored for put o 35 days in case Kruse is away from home.
“It really doesn’t take very long to do every morning and it’s kind of fun,” said Kruse.
As for a state record, Kruse said he asked the National Weather Service if he would get a gold star.
“They just laughed,” said Kruse.
This cold snap has produced some steady below zero days and nights.
“Another thing people might be interested in is this is the seventh day in a row, the longest streak of weather with an overnight low of at least 30 below and last night was the seventh night in a row,” said Kruse. “It’s also the longest streak we’ve had with daytime highs of five below or colder.”