By Jeff Wagner

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Staring up the sky lately has been a dreary case of déjà vu.

Much of Minnesota has experienced had eight-straight cloudy days, putting a dull exclamation point on what’s been the gloomiest January on record.

Eighteen of the 29 days this month have been considered cloudy, while 11 of them were full-on overcast.

Meteorologist Brent Hewett releases a weather balloon into the air twice a day at the National Weather Service location in Chanhassen. It will measure temperature, wind speeds, humidity and dew points.

But you don’t need fancy equipment to tell you that cloud cover feels like the new norm.

“If you look hard enough you can see the sun behind it because it’s a thin layer [of clouds], but unfortunately, it’s just thick enough to hang on and make everyone’s day a little gloomier,” Hewett said.

He showed us a map depicting how the jet stream that hit the west coast is currently split in half to our country’s north and south.

“We’re just kind of stuck here in the void of the upper Midwest,” he said.

When you add the snow pack and mild temperatures, thin stratus clouds are created. In the summer, these conditions might lead to fog in the morning, but sunshine by noon.

“But this time of year we’re not getting any solar radiation, and without that solar radiation you can’t really break up the cloud deck,” Hewett said. “And we don’t really have any wind, so it’s been very stagnant, low-level moisture.”

(credit: CBS)

At the dog park in Lake Minnewashta Regional Park, an excited group of pups were speeding up and down the snow-covered hillside — likely unaware of the gloomy atmosphere that can put humans into a seasonal depression.

“After work when I get home, it’s kind of challenging to get out the door and take the dog out,” dog owner Carrie Lavold said. “But it’s worth it because then it kind of picks up my mood and I feel better when I’m out moving around.”

Although it’s been a while since we’ve seen the sun, its disappearance behind a stale shield of blah has made the outdoors feel inviting, even for January.

“I’d rather have the warmth for sure, because then you can get out a little bit more,” Lavold said.

Rosina Yue was also at the park with her dog. She said having lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a little break from the sunshine was welcoming, considering it was relentless out west.

“It’s sort of more neutral and it just feels good,” she said. “But I mean, I’ll be happy to see the sun, too.”

Hewett said according to recent forecast models, Minnesotans can expect to see sunshine as early as Saturday, with a higher likelihood on Sunday.

Jeff Wagner

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