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Extension > Mark Seeley's WeatherTalk > 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

Top 5 weather-related events for Minnesota in 2012

A WISH FOR MERRY HOLIDAYS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL MINNESOTA WEATHERTALK CONTRIBUTORS AND READERS!

Top 5 weather-related events for Minnesota in 2012

The Minnesota State Climatology Office (Pete Boulay and Greg Spoden) put together the top 5 weather-related events for the year. The list includes:
1. Outrageously mild March, breaking the previous record warm March of 1910. Earliest 80 F temperature readings, earliest ice-out dates on many lakes, one of the earliest springs of all-time.
2. Northeastern Minnesota flood of June 19-20, concentrated in Carlton, St Louis, and Lake Counties where 8-10" of rain fell (Duluth). Severe damage to homes and infrastructure, FEMA declared disaster
3. Widespread drought, with over 83 percent of the Minnesota landscape in severe to extreme drought and most counties eligible for disaster assistance through USDA. Low flows and lake levels as well
4. Hot July, on a statewide basis the 2nd hottest of all-time (1936 is 1st), with Heat Index values well over 110 degrees F on some days, and some overnight lows in the 80s F
5. Non-winter of 2011-2012, on a statewide basis Jan-Mar was the warmest in history. Fewest ever seasonal Heating Degree Days, and also little snowfall except for the far north

For more discussion and details you can visit our web site and vote on these here.

Winter Storm of Dec 19-20

A strong winter storm passed over the region on Wednesday and Thursday (Dec 19-20) this week, bringing significant snowfall, high winds and blizzard conditions, especially in southeastern Minnesota, much of Iowa, southern Wisconsin, and northwestern Illinois. Difficult driving conditions were widespread (multiple accidents in IA and WI) and there were many reports of school delays and closures, especially in Iowa and Wisconsin. Preliminary snowfall amounts were record-setting for a number of communities on December 20th, including 13.3 inches at Madison, WI. Some of the Minnesota communities reporting record-setting amounts included:
9.7 inches at Minnesota City
6.6 inches at Wabasha
7 inches at Harmony, Grand Meadow, and Lake City
6.5 inches at Winona
6 inches at Spring Valley and Zumbro Falls
Several other observers reported 3 to 5 inches along the I90 corridor in southern Minnesota, while along I80 in Iowa amounts were even greater. A number of total snowfall reports over a foot came from Iowa (Des Moines 12.4") and Wisconsin (Madison 15.2"). All the snow was accompanied by winds ranging up to 35-40 mph or greater.

A relatively snowy December has already been reported by a number of Minnesota observers, including 19 inches at Cottage Grove and Madison (Lac Qui Parle County), 18.5 inches at Granite Falls, 18.1 inches at Forest Lake 17.9 inches at Marshall, 17.8 inches at Montevideo, and 17 inches at Lake City and Chisago City. More snow is forecast for the balance of the month as we near New Years.

Temperature record set at Rochester, MN

The National Weather Service reported this week that Rochester, MN has set a new record for the lack of sub-zero temperature readings in that city. They have seen a period of 335 days without a single below 0 F temperature reading (dating back to January 22 of this year). This breaks the old record of 333 days set in 1987. 

Weekly Weather potpourri

NOAA reported this week that there were 11 weather and climate extremes during 2012 that produced at least $1 billion in losses. These included 7 severe weather/tornado events, two tropical storm/hurricane events, and a year-long drought and associated wildfires. NOAA further estimates that the grand total in losses due to weather events and climate episodes in 2012 will exceed the total from last year (2011), surpassing $60 billion, mostly from drought and Super Storm Sandy. You can read more from a NOAA release.

The weekly Drought Update (Dec 18) from Brad Rippey with the USDA World Agricultural Outlook Board includes the following comments:
-There was another small drop ­ less than one-tenth of a percentage point ­ in overall U.S. drought coverage, from 61.87% last week to 61.79% on December 18.
-However, the portion of the contiguous U.S. in the worst category ­ D4, or exceptional drought ­ crept upward to 6.64%, the greatest U.S. coverage since November 22, 2011.
-Hay in drought (64%), cattle in drought (73%), and winter wheat in drought (63%) were all unchanged from the previous week.
-Hay in drought has been at or above 60% and cattle in drought has been greater than two-thirds of the domestic inventory for 24 consecutive weeks (July 10 ­ December 18).
-On the central Plains, winter wheat benefited from widespread snow on December 19. Any improvement in the central Plains’ drought situation will be reflected next week.

This week the United Kingdom Meteorological Office issued a global temperature forecast for 2013. They used recent trends in global climate data sets to estimate that 2013 will likely be one of the warmest ten years since 1850.

Weather reports from Europe indicate that the skiing season for the Alps is off to a great start. Early December snowfall has been heavy and powdery in the French, Swiss, and Italian Alps. Observers say conditions are great and comparable to the early skiing seasons of 1965, 1992, and 2007. You can read more here.

Parts of Russia are reporting one of the coldest Decembers in 70 years with many reports of daytime high temperatures remaining below 0 degrees F even in areas around Moscow. Overnight lows in Siberia have been as cold as -58 degrees F, near record values for December. Yakutsk reported a high on Thursday (Dec 20) of -22 degrees F.

MPR listener question

It seems that below zero degrees F temperatures readings in the Twin Cities are less frequent than they once were. Is this true?

Answer: Yes, indeed. From 1871 to 1990 the Twin Cities recorded an average of 29-30 days per year with an overnight low below 0 F. Since 1990 the average has been about 19-20 days. Further in 2006 and this year (2012) there have been only 3 such days, second only to 1931 when there were just 2 days with below 0 F lows.

Twin Cities Almanac for December 21st

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 25 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 11 degrees F (plus or minus 15 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for December 21st

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 56 degrees F in 1877; lowest daily maximum temperature of -10 degrees F in 1872; lowest daily minimum temperature of -24 F in 1916; highest daily minimum temperature of 38 F in 1877; and record precipitation of 0.71 inches in 2006; Record snowfall is 5.3 inches in 1920.

Average dew point for December 21st is 10 degrees F, with a maximum of 47 degrees F in 1967 and a minimum of -33 degrees F in 1989.

All-time state records for December 21st

The state record high temperature for this date is 64 degrees F at Lynd (Lyon County) in 1908. The state record low temperature for this date is -49 degrees F at Hallock (Kittson County) in 1916. State record precipitation for this date is 1.45 inches at Bricelyn (Faribault County) in 1948; and the state record snowfall for this date is 12.0 inches at Tracy (Lyon County) in 1920.

Past Weather Features:

This week in 1877 was one of the mildest spells of December weather in the history of the Twin Cities. December 21-23 brought three consecutive days with daytime highs in the 50s F and overnight lows in the upper 30s to mid 40s F.

December 21, 1916 was probably the coldest in history, with at least 45 Minnesota communities reporting morning lows of -30 degrees F or colder. In western Minnesota Angus never rose above -15 degrees F during the day. For many communities temperatures remained below 0 F until Christmas Eve when they rose into the single digits and teens F.

December 21-22, 1920 brought a heavy snow storm to southern Minnesota, with many observers reporting 6-12 inches of fresh snow. Blowing and drifting made traveling difficult for the Christmas season.

December 20 21, 1967 brought a very mild spell of weather to much of Minnesota. Over 20 communities reported daytime highs of 50 degrees F or higher. A strong cold front brought an abrupt end to the mild spell as temperatures plummeted into the single digits on December 22nd and snow fell on Christmas Eve.

Outlook

Cooler than normal temperatures over the weekend, but under some sunny skies. Some chance of snow on Monday under cloudy skies, then cooler again for Christmas Day (Tue). General cooler for the balance of next week as well, with some below 0 F readings.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Heavy snow

Heavy snow

Sunday, December 9th brought snow to much of the region, and some record-setting values to a few Minnesota communities. Among those with long-term climate histories reporting record snowfalls were: MSP-Airport with 10.5 inches; St Cloud Regional Airport with 11 inches; Montevideo with 12 inches; Milan with 10 inches; Chanhassen with 13.6 inches; Forest Lake with 13.5 inches; Marshall with 6 inches; and Hastings with 12 inches. According to Greg Spoden of the Minnesota State Climatology Office the 10.5 inches measured at MSP-Airport is the 4th largest daily amount for the month of December in history for the Twin Cities, trailing only 16.3 inches on December 11, 2010, 12 inches on December 28, 1982, and 10.8 inches on December 17, 1908. Many other observers reported amounts ranging from 8 to 17 inches. For some the liquid content of the snowfall was the greatest amount of moisture received in a single day since late July. Some of the record amounts of precipitation reported for December 9th included: 0.87 inches at MSP, 0.35 inches at Rochester, 0.49 inches at Winona, 0.82 inches at Milan, 0.87 inches at St Cloud, and 0.97 inches at Marshall.

December total snowfalls are already above normal in a number of areas. Madison, Montevideo, Chisago City, and Forest Lake have reported over 17 inches. Bird Island, Chanhassen, Red Wing, Hastings, and Redwood Falls have reported over 14 inches, while Princeton and Stillwater report over 13 inches.

New dewpoint records in 2012

Tracking as the warmest year in USA history, 2012 has already produced thousands of new daily temperature records within the nation's climate network. The Minnesota State Climatology Office also reports that several new dewpoint records were set during 2012. For the Twin Cities 12 new record daily high dewpoints (a measure of moist air) were set during the year, along with 4 new record low dewpoints (a measure of dry air). Those new record high dewpoints included 8 consecutive days in March, plus other dates:
3/16 57 F
3/17 60 F
3/18 59 F
3/19 60 F
3/20 59 F
3/21 56 F
3/22 60 F
3/23 60 F
4/16 63 F
5/27 70 F
11/10 56 F
12/03 54 F
Those new record low dewpoints included:
8/17 39 F
10/07 14 F
10/11 11 F
10/12 10 F

Weekly Weather potpourri

According to a new AP-GfK poll from over 1000 adult cell phone and landline users during the week of November 29-December 3rd (following Super Storm Sandy) four out of five Americans think temperatures are rising and that this is leading to weather and climate issues that pose serious problems. These poll results also showed a higher fraction of those who trust scientists only a little think that temperatures are rising and causing problems. You can read more about this recent poll here.

NOAA reports this week that 2012 is virtually certain to be the warmest year of record in the USA regardless of what the rest of December brings. You can read more here.

The weekly Drought Update from Brad Rippey with the USDA World Agricultural Outlook Board includes the following comments:
-The portion of the contiguous U.S. in the worst category – D4, or exceptional drought – remained virtually unchanged at 6% (rounded) for the eighteenth consecutive week (August 14 – December 11).
-Hay in drought fell slightly to 64%, but has been at or above 60% for 23 consecutive weeks – since July 10.
-Cattle in drought was unchanged at 73%, and has been greater than two-thirds of the domestic inventory for 23 consecutive weeks (July 10 – December 11).
-Winter wheat in drought was down slightly to 63%, although the hard red winter wheat belt – especially from South Dakota to Texas – remains deeply entrenched in drought.

NOAA reports this week that 2012 is virtually certain to be the warmest year of record in the USA regardless of what the rest of December brings. You can read more here.

An article in the current edition of Science describes how the insurance industry is documenting climate change and making adjustments for it. Insured losses due to weather and climate-related damages and disasters have average $50 billion per year recently, and more than doubled each decade since the 1980s. The industry is trying to diversify its exposure to such risks and more accurately price its insurance policies. You can read more about this study here.

Located near Pago Pago in the Southern Pacific Ocean, Cyclone Evan was producing over 30 foot sea waves with its 110 mph winds this week. It caused serious flooding and wind damage on the island late this week and was expected to strengthen before passing over Fiji this weekend. Slow dissipation will occur by the end of next week.

MPR listener question

With the recent heavy snowfall I was wondering what the greatest depth of snow has been for Minnesota, and perhaps in the Twin Cities area as well?

Answer: The greatest depth of snow recorded in Minnesota history was on March 28, 1950 at Pigeon River Bridge in Cook County, near the Canadian Border. The measured snow depth was 75 inches (as tall as I am). In the Twin Cities climate records the greatest depth of snow was 38 inches on January 23, 1982. The Twin Cities received 46.4 inches of snowfall that January, a record as well.

Twin Cities Almanac for December 14th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 25 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 11 degrees F (plus or minus 15 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for December 14th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 55 degrees F in 1998; lowest daily maximum temperature of -14 degrees F in 1901; lowest daily minimum temperature of -27 F in 1901; highest daily minimum temperature of 38 F in 1891; and record precipitation of 1.50 inches in 1891; Record snowfall is 5.2 inches in 1996.

Average dew point for December 14th is 10 degrees F, with a maximum of 39 degrees F in 1928 and a minimum of -22 degrees F in 1985.

All-time state records for December 14th

The state record high temperature for this date is 60 degrees F at Pipestone (Pipestone County) in 1912. The state record low temperature for this date is -48 degrees F at Detroit Lakes (Becker County) in 1901. State record precipitation for this date is 2.38 inches at Red Wing (Goodhue County) in 1891; and the state record snowfall for this date is 14.3 inches at Moorhead (Clay County) in 1927.

Past Weather Features:

Over December 13-14, 1891 a winter storm brought heavy rainfall to many southern Minnesota communities. Amounts ranged from 1 to 2 inches with mild temperatures in the 40s and 50s F. Farmington reported 2.50 inches a record amount of precipitation for two days in December.

December 13-15, 1901 brought Arctic cold to Minnesota, producing several record setting low temperatures. On the 14th over 30 Minnesota communities reported lows of -30 degrees F or colder, and several observers recorded minimum below -40 degrees F. At Beardsley the daytime high only reached -23 degrees F.

December 14-14, 1912 brought Indian Summer-like temperatures to southern Minnesota. At least a dozen communities reported daytime high temperatures of 50 degrees F or greater under sunny skies and south winds. Temperatures remained relatively mild for the rest of the month.

December 14-16, 1927 brought a strong winter storm to Minnesota producing a heavy snowfall. Many observers reported over 10 inches of snow. Some of the larger amounts included 20.3 inches at Moorhead, 18 inches at Grand Marais, 16 inches at Pigeon River Bridge, 13 inches at New Ulm, 12 inches at Detroit Lakes and Brainerd, and 10 inches at Willmar and Fort Ripley.

December 14, 1998 brought mild temperatures to Minnesota as dozens of cities reported daytime highs in the 50s F. The mild air kept temperatures above the freezing mark overnight as well.

Outlook

Warmer than normal temperatures with mixed precipitation on Saturday. Freezing rain and rain in some places, then snow later in the day, with accumulations of a few inches in central and northern areas. Drier on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday with continued warmer than normal temperatures. Then another winter storm for Wednesday and Thursday with possible significant snowfalls.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Mild Monday

Mild Monday

Warm, moist air dominated southern Minnesota on Monday, December 3rd. Many observers reported daytime high temperatures in the 50s and 60s F (in the range of 20 to 30 degrees F above normal). Some observers reported new records for the date, including 63 degrees F at Preston, 62 degrees F at Rochester, Caledonia, Theilman, and Madison (tied record from 1941), 61 degrees F at Marshall, 59 degrees F at Austin, Grand Meadow, and 58 degrees F at Browns Valley. In addition, some observers reported record warm minimum temperatures for the date as well, before a cold front caused temperatures to plummet. Preston after setting a record high of 63 degrees F, fell to a low of only 14 degrees F the next day.

MSP airport reported a noontime dewpoint on December 3rd of 54 degrees F, breaking the record for the date of 52 degrees F set back in 1951. According to the State Climatology Office it was at least the 12th new daily dewpoint record set at MSP this year. Other locations also reported mid-June like dewpoints in the 50s F including 52 degrees F at Mankato, and 55 degrees F at Waseca, Red Wing, and Rochester. By December 4th dewpoints had fallen into the mid-teens F, putting a distinct chill in the air.

Temperature extremes in December

There have been three years when December temperatures have reached 70 degrees F in Minnesota, 1939, 1941, and 1998. The all-time high is 74 degrees F at Wheaton on December 9th of 1939. Canby and Long Prairie reported 72 degrees F and 71 degrees F, on December 3 and 4 of 1941, respectively. Fifty-seven years later Chaska reported 70 degrees F on December 1, 1998, and a few days later Campbell and Redwood Falls reported 70 degrees F on the 6th. In December 1998 a number of citizens were still golfing the first week December, something to brag about.

On the other end of extremes, Pokegama Dam reported -57 degrees F on December 31, 1898, the state record low for the month. As recently as 1993, Tower reported -50 degrees F on December 27th, only two days after Christmas. Last December (2011) many northern Minnesota observers reported only 5 days with below 0 degrees F readings in the morning, while in some southern Minnesota observers reported no days in December with below zero F temperature readings. 2011 brought the 8th warmest December in state history.

Weekly Weather potpourri

Environment Canada released winter season climate outlooks earlier this month covering the December through February period. Their model suggest a warmer than normal winter along the border with the central and eastern USA (including Ontario and Quebec), and a wetter than winter as well, especially in Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec. You can read more about these outlooks at their web site.

After traveling across the southern parts of the Philippines during the week Typhoon Bopha had weakened to a tropical storm and was expected to dissipate over the South China Sea. On Tuesday and Wednesday (Dec 4-5) Bopha raked the large southern Philippines island of Mindanao with winds of 110 mph, heavy rains and high seas. There were many reports of power outages and washed-out roads. Hundreds of citizens were reported dead or missing and thousands were left homeless due to damages from the storm. NASA's TRMM satellite captured Bopha in 3-D near its peak intensity. You can view images and read about this here.

Another tropical cyclone formed in the Southern Indian Ocean south of Diego Garcia this week. It was expected to strengthen over the weekend.

A report card on Arctic Sea Ice was released by NOAA this week. It provides data and analysis for snow and ice conditions in the high northern latitudes. You can find text and images from this report at the NOAA web site.

Briefing highlight statements from Brad Rippey of the USDA World Agricultural Outlook Board for the drought-monitoring period ending 7 am EST on December 4 include:

-There was little change in overall U.S. drought coverage, as improvements in the Far West were offset by some drought expansion in the Southeast. The portion of the contiguous U.S. in drought fell slightly (less than one-third of a percentage point) and currently stands at 62.37%.
-The portion of the contiguous U.S. in the worst category ­ D4, or exceptional drought ­ remained virtually unchanged at 6% (rounded) for the seventeenth consecutive week (August 14 ­ December 4).
-Hay in drought was unchanged at 65%. However, that value is up five points from November 13.
-Cattle in drought was also unchanged at 73%. That value is up four points from November 13.
-Winter wheat in drought was unchanged at 65%, after being as low as 63% in mid-November.
-NOTE: Since the 1950s, there have been only two years when U.S. winter wheat abandonment reached or exceeded one-quarter of the crop: 1988-89 (25% abandonment) and 2001-02 (29%). Current U.S. winter wheat conditions are lower than those observed late in the year in both 1988 and 2001­and for that matter, current conditions are the lowest on record for this time of year (period of record, 1986-2012). The 1988-89 crop was planted during the drought of 1988 and was further harmed by a severe cold wave in February 1989. The 2001-02 crop was adversely affected by a La Niña-driven drought.

NOAA released a video update this week concerning the drought impact on agriculture and water resources in the USA as we enter the winter season. Short in length it is still well worth viewing. You can find it under the NOAA ClimateWatch section.

MPR listener question

It seems odd to me that so much of the state is designated to be in severe or extreme drought. I looked up precipitation totals at some locations in the state since January 1st of this year and some are in the surplus:
Chanhassen 31.15 inches, +1.30 inches
Duluth 29.69 inches, +2.07 inches
International Falls 23.96 inches, +0.59 inches
Even MSP airport shows 27.95 inches, only 1.45 inches short of normal
Given these numbers it is hard to understand why so much of the state is in drought.

Answer: Indeed, some observers have reported surplus precipitation for the year. Consider the community of Wright in Carlton County where they have reported 39.01 inches, 9.56 inches above normal. Bear in mind that 20 to 30 percent of the yearly precipitation in some northeastern communities came from one thunderstorm over June 20-21 (leading to the flooding at Duluth, Two Harbors and other communities). Nevertheless, many observers in the state are reporting significant shortages of precipitation in 2012. Some of these include:
Moorhead 16.42 inches, -7.89 inches from normal
Red Lake Falls 14.86 inches, -9.10 inches from normal
Madison (Lac Qui Parle County) 17.14 inches, -7.31 inches from normal
Grand Meadow 24.70 inches, -9.81 inches from normal
Waseca 24.57 inches, -10.01 inches from normal
Albert Lea 22.77 inches, -10.46 inches from normal
Austin 20.64 inches, -12.90 inches from normal

You can read more about the geographic distribution of precipitation and drought at our web site.

Twin Cities Almanac for December 7th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 29 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 14 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for December 7th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 54 degrees F in 1939; lowest daily maximum temperature of -1 degrees F in 1882; lowest daily minimum temperature of -20 F in 1972; highest daily minimum temperature of 41 F in 1894; and record precipitation of 0.56 inches in 1883; Record snowfall is 6.30 inches in 1927.

Average dew point for December 7th is 14 degrees F, with a maximum of 39 degrees F in 1951 and a minimum of -29 degrees F in 1972.

All-time state records for December 7th

The state record high temperature for this date is 69 degrees F at Grand Marais (Cook County) in 1913. The state record low temperature for this date is -42 degrees F at Pokegama Dam (Itasca County) in 1936 and at Tower (St Louis County) in 1976. State record precipitation for this date is 1.31 inches at Lynd (Lyon County) in 1927; and the state record snowfall for this date is 12.0 inches at Chaska (Carver County) in 1927.

Past Weather Features:

Very warm and sunny weather dominated the state in early December of 1913. Indeed that December was perhaps the sunniest in Minnesota history with 16 perfectly clear days noted during a month that is usually dominated by cloud cover. Many observers reported temperatures that were 15 to 25 degrees F above normal.

December 6-8, 1916 brought a strong winter storm to northern Minnesota. High winds and heavy snow caused large drifts across the landscape. Warroad measured 10 inches of snowfall, Roseau 10.5 inches, and a foot of snow fell at Baudette. It was a precursor to a long, snowy winter (196-1917) in much of the state.

December 6-7, 1927 brought another strong winter storm to parts of Minnesota with a mixture of precipitation. Where snow was the dominant form of precipitation some of the amounts were record-setting, including 19.5 inches at Maple Plain, 14 inches at Chaska, 11.3 inches at St Paul, 10.5 inches at Winona, 10 inches at Canby and Tracy, and 9 inches at Willmar and Campbell. Following the storm temperatures plummeted to below 0 F readings.

Arctic air dominated Minnesota on December 7, 1936 with 25 communities reporting morning lows ranging from -20 to -40 degrees F. The temperature rose no higher than -8 degrees F at Baudette and Virginia that day, and few observers reported readings about 0 degrees F.

December 4-12, 1939 was one of the warmest stretches of winter weather in state history. Over 30 communities reported daytime highs in the 50s F, some even reached the 60s F. An arctic cold front brought temperatures back to below 0 F readings by the 13th, but only temporarily. December 1939 proved to be the warmest in state history.

Probably the coldest December 7th in state history came in 1976. Over 60 communities reported morning lows of -20 to -40 degrees F. The daytime high at Cook, MN only reached -10 degrees F and many record cold values were reported.

Outlook

Winter storms over the weekend. Scattered snow Friday night into Saturday (perhaps 0.5 to 3 inches), then a more formidable storm Saturday night into Sunday. This second storm may bring amounts ranging from 3 to 7 inches with strong winds. Travel conditions on Sunday may be impacted. Sharply colder Monday and Tuesday, with lows falling into the single digits and below 0 F readings. Warmer on Wednesday with increasing cloudiness and a chance for more precipitation.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Preliminary November climate summary

Preliminary November climate summary

Most observers reported average monthly temperatures for November that ranged from 2 to 4 degrees F warmer than normal, with the larger positive departures in temperatures coming in southern counties. Extremes for the month ranged from -11 degrees F at Fosston (Polk County) on the 26th to 75 degrees F on the 10th at Rochester, Amboy, and Winnebago. The warm day on the 10th also brought extremely rare November tornadoes to the state. These storms were reported from Burnsville, Eagan, Mendota Heights and Mahtomedi, and were the 2nd latest autumn tornadoes in Minnesota history (there was a tornado near Maple Plain back on November 16, 1931).

Nearly all observers reported below normal precipitation for the month of November, except for a few spots in northeastern Minnesota where reports of 1.50 to 2.50 inches occurred. Grand Marais topped the list with 2.76 inches. Northern Minnesota observers also measured snowfall this month. Some receiving significant amounts included International Falls with 8.6", Duluth with 10.1", Red Lake Falls with 14.0", and Isabella with 17.0"

Ice began to form on many areas lakes during the second half of the month and many soils froze down to a depth of 4 inches. There was relatively more sun in the second half of the month than the first, and there were two very windy days on the 10th and 22nd when many places saw gusts over 40 mph.

The extent of drought worsened during November and many stream flow volumes were very low. Over 83 percent of the state's landscape is in severe to extreme drought as we end November. There will likely be little change in drought status during the winter months. You can read the latest drought update on our web site.

A snow lover's forecast

The National Weather Service in Medford, OR issued the following forecast for Mount Shasta in California this weekend. For snow lovers it must have brought all smiles, but look at the wind speeds!

-Friday Snow showers. The snow could be heavy at times. Temperature falling to around 15 by 4pm. Wind chill values as low as -13. Windy, with a south southwest wind 80 to 85 mph decreasing to 70 to 75 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 115 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 23 to 29 inches possible.
-Friday Night Snow. The snow could be heavy at times. Low around 14. Wind chill values as low as -13. Windy, with a south southwest wind 70 to 80 mph, with gusts as high as 115 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 21 to 27 inches possible.
-Saturday Snow. The snow could be heavy at times. High near 19. Windy, with a southwest wind 75 to 80 mph, with gusts as high as 115 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 22 to 28 inches possible.
-Saturday Night Snow. The snow could be heavy at times. Low around 17. Windy. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 29 to 35 inches possible.
-Sunday Snow. The snow could be heavy at times. High near 18. Windy. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 11 to 17 inches possible.
-Sunday Night Snow showers likely. Cloudy, with a low around 9. Windy.

Weekly Weather potpourri

A paper published in Science this week by Andrew Shepherd et al documents the accelerated loss in ice mass from Greenland and Antarctica over the period from 1992 to 2011. The study is based on an ensemble of data from satellite observations over the period and is the most comprehensive in recent years. Approximately 20 percent of the sea level rise observed over this period has been the result of this ice melt. You can read more about this paper here.

Typhoon Bopha was spinning this week in the western Pacific Ocean southeast of the Philippines. Winds on Friday ranged from 75-90 mph creating sea waves of 25-30 feet. Bopha is expected to intensify and bring strong winds, storm surge, and heavy rain to the Philippines by the middle of next week.

A huge tornado struck the city of Taranto, Italy on Wednesday (Nov 28) this week. It caused at least 20 injuries and damaged or destroyed several buildings and structures, including one of Europe's largest steel mills. Tornadoes, and especially in November, are relatively rare in Italy.

The United Kingdom Meteorological Office this week released an analysis of three global temperature data sets all showing the likelihood of 2012 ending up somewhere between the 4th and 14th warmest year since 1850. The analysis includes data up through October and is shown in degrees C.

A weekly summary from Brad Rippey of the USDA-World Agricultural Outlook Board summarizes the extent and impact of drought in the USA. Some of the highlights include:

-The portion of the contiguous U.S. in drought rose for the second consecutive week and currently stands at 62.65%. This represents the largest portion of the U.S. in drought since October 9.
-The portion of the contiguous U.S. in the worst category – D4, or exceptional drought – remained virtually unchanged at 6% (rounded) for the sixteenth consecutive week (August 14 – November 27).
-Hay in drought increased to 65%, up three percentage points from a week ago and up five points from November 13.
-Cattle in drought rose to 73%, up two points for the second consecutive week.
-Winter wheat in drought climbed a point to 65%, the second one-point increase in a row. The crop continues to struggle mightily in some of the hardest-hit drought areas. In South Dakota, for example, only 60% of the winter wheat had emerged by November 25, versus the five-year average of 100%.
-On the strength of wheat’s struggles in most of the Hard Red Winter Wheat Belt, from South Dakota to Texas, U.S. winter wheat conditions are the worst at this time of year since records of this type were initiated in the mid-1980s. More than one-quarter (26 percent) of the U.S. winter wheat was rated in very poor to poor condition on November 25.

A paper published this week by Dr. Ben Santer (Lawrence-Livermore National Lab) and colleagues in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that recent tropospheric warming and stratospheric cooling within the Earth's atmosphere is related to human activity. The measurements and models show a higher rate of warmer over the Arctic and a muted warming or even cooling over Antarctica. You can read more about this paper here.

Skywarn Recognition Day is Saturday, December 1st. The National Weather Service and American Radio Relay League will celebrate and salute the many Skywarn volunteer radio operators who assist with Severe Weather Operations and communications when these storms threaten the public.

MPR listener question


With the relative absence of snow around the Twin Cities Metro area so far this autumn I am worried about having enough snow to cross country ski this winter. What can you tell me about prospects for snow next month in December?

Answer: The long-term average December snowfall (125 years) in the Twin Cities area is 8.9 inches. In six of the last ten years we have exceeded that, including the record amount of 33.6 inches in 2010. In addition the mid-range climate models are suggesting that we will see above normal precipitation across the state during the first two weeks of December. So I would tend to be optimistic that we'll see some better conditions for skiing materialize next month. Record amounts of 40 or more inches during December have been observed in some northern locations over the years as well, including Duluth, Two Harbors, and Virginia.

Twin Cities Almanac for November 30th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 33 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 17 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for November 30th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 62 degrees F in 1922; lowest daily maximum temperature of 2 degrees F in 1896; lowest daily minimum temperature of -17 F in 1964; highest daily minimum temperature of 42 F in 1962; and record precipitation of 0.84 inches in 1934; Record snowfall is 8.0 inches in 1934.

Average dew point for November 30th is 17 degrees F, with a maximum of 48 degrees F in 1922 and a minimum of -21 degrees F in 1964.

All-time state records for November 30th

The state record high temperature for this date is 68 degrees F at Montevideo (Chippewa County) in 1922. The state record low temperature for this date is -45 degrees F at Pokegama Dam (Itasca County) in 1896. State record precipitation for this date is 2.64 inches at Waseca (Waseca County) in 1991; and the state record snowfall for this date is 18.0 inches at Willmar (Kandiyohi County) in 1985.

Past Weather Features:

Far and away the coldest November 30 in Minnesota history occurred in 1896. The month had brought abundant snowfall, 15 to 30 inches for many observers. An Arctic high pressure system crossed the state over November 29 to December 2nd, causing temperatures to plummet and setting all-time record cold for the month of November. On November 30th seven communities reported temperatures of -30 degrees F or colder, with Pokegama Dam recording -45 degrees F. Even daytime temperatures were extraordinary, as Roseau reported a high of only -19 degrees F that day.

November of 1922 was dominated by warm temperatures, cloudy skies, and abundant rainfall (not snowfall). On November 30th over a dozen Minnesota communities reported daytime highs in the 60s F, setting records for the date.

November 29-30, 1985 brought a winter storm to Minnesota with considerable snowfall in some areas. Duluth reported nearly a foot, while Willmar received over 18 inches. To end the month the observer at Tower, MN reported a snow depth of 49 inches, requiring snowshoes to walk outside.

Another snowy November was 1991 when the observer at Bruno (Pine County) reported a monthly total of 58.6 inches of snowfall. Duluth and Two Harbors also saw totals of over 50 inches. One of the bigger winter storms that month struck on the 30th bringing 10 to 16 inches of new snow to many communities.

Words of the Week: Earmuffs

Sometimes called "earlaps", earmuffs were invented by a young Chester Greenwood (15 years old) of Farmington, Maine in 1873. He grew tired of having cold ears when he was ice skating on frozen ponds in the winter, so he made small ear-shaped wire loops which he asked his grandmother to cover with pieces of fur. He soon refined this model for earmuffs and patented them in 1877. Demand was greater than expected, so he built a factory in Farmington, Maine. This and other inventions later in life made him a rich man. He died in 1937, but as a lasting tribute, the first day of winter (solstice) in Maine is referred to as "Chester Greenwood Day." So think about Chester Greenwood, the young inventor of 139 years ago, when you are putting on your next pair of stylish earmuffs.   

Outlook

Fog in areas early Saturday with chance for rain, and possibly light snow in the northeast by Saturday night. Dry on Sunday as temperatures will continue to be warmer than normal through the weekend. On Monday temperatures may even approach record high levels, then cool for the middle of next week. Increasing chances for precipitation on Monday, with rain in the south and snow in the north. Then warming again toward the end of next week with chances for snow on Thursday and Friday.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Record warmth this week, then temperature crash

Record warmth this week, then temperature crash

From Saturday, November 17th to Thanksgiving (Nov 23) temperatures averaged 12 to 25 degrees F warmer than normal around the state, with frequent sunny skies, similar to last year's spell of mild weather over November 23-26, 2011. Some new record high temperatures were reported around the state over Sunday through Thursday, including:

54 degrees F at Hibbing on November 18, 2012

53 degrees F at Hibbing on November 19, 2012
54 degrees F at International Falls on November 19, 2012
55 degrees F at Pokegama Dam (tied record), and Bigfork on November 19, 2012
56 degrees F at Cass Lake and Brainerd on November 19, 2012
57 degrees F at Grand Rapids on November 19, 2012

60 degrees F at Sherburn, Chaska, and Wells on November 20, 2012
63 degrees F at Marshall on November 20, 2012
62 degrees F at Forest Lake on November 20, 2012
57 degrees F at Brainerd on November 20, 2012

Numerous high temperature records were set on November 21st, too many to list here. Some observers reported 70 degrees F or higher, including 70 degrees F at Rochester and Sherburn, and 71 degrees F at Winnebago. Others setting records on Wednesday, November 21st included 69 degrees F at Fairmont and Waseca, and 68 degrees F at Marshall and Worthington. Numerous record warm minimum temperature records were set as well.

Thanksgiving Day (Nov 22) brought a record 60 degrees F to the Twin Cities (just after midnight) and 62 degrees F at Eau Claire, as well as a record tying 52 degrees F to Duluth. But, then the other shoe dropped during late in the day as temperatures plummeted, falling into the 20s F with windchill conditions in the teens and single digits. Snow was also reported by many observers, including 1 to 4 inches in central counties and 5-10 inches in northeastern counties. Many places reported wind gusts of 40 to 50 mph.

Thanksgiving Climatology

The mild temperatures of the recent holiday were a significant anomaly. Many locations saw afternoon highs in the 50s F. For the Twin Cities it was only the 11th time in past 141 years that Thanksgiving Day has brought a temperature of 50 degrees F or greater. It is interesting to note that 5 of those years have come since 1998. For southern Minnesota communities it was another dry Thanksgiving which is typical historically, as over 70 percent of the time the holiday brings a trace or no precipitation. You can read more about Thanksgiving climatology on our web site.

Weekly Weather potpourri

Parts of the United Kingdom received heavy rains this week, especially in the southwestern sections and in the Midlands where 2-3 inches of rain brought some street flooding. There were disruptions to traffic as well as railroads. Further rains were expected going into the weekend.

A article published recently in the International Journal of Climatology provides a documented data base of 195 coastal storm surge events dating back to 1880. A total of 62 data sources were used. This data base will be of value for coastal communities in planning for potential storm surge events. You can read more about it here.

According to a recent article in Geophysical Research Letters the accelerated loss of water from the Himalayan glaciers will lead to an overall shrinkage of almost 10 percent over the next several decades. As a result the fresh water discharged from this melting combined with the rainy season may lead to more flooding. You can read more about this article here.

MPR listener question

How often do we end November in the Twin Cities area without any measurable snow cover? Seems like we might be headed for that this year.

Answer: It is more common than you think. The climatology for the Twin Cities area shows that about 50 percent of the time there is no measurable snow cover on November 30th. This is somewhat surprising to many citizens.

Twin Cities Almanac for November 23rd

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 34 degrees F (plus or minus 10 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 20 degrees F (plus or minus 10 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for November 23rd

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 55 degrees F in 1905; lowest daily maximum temperature of 7 degrees F in 1898; lowest daily minimum temperature of -6 F in 1898; highest daily minimum temperature of 46 F in 2009; and record precipitation of 0.89 inches in 1983; Record snowfall is 11.4 inches in 1983.

Average dew point for November 23rd is 19 degrees F, with a maximum of 50 degrees F in 1905 and a minimum of -18 degrees F in 1950.

All-time state records for November 23rd

The state record high temperature for this date is 65 degrees F at Marshall (Lyon County) in 1974. The state record low temperature for this date is -31 degrees F at Tower (St Louis County) in 1898. State record precipitation for this date is 1.81 inches at Beaver Bay (Lake County) in 1983; and the state record snowfall for this date is 18.0 inches at Babbitt (St Louis County) in 1983.

Past Weather Features:

Probably the coldest November 23rd in state history occurred in 1898. Following a heavy snowfall over November 21-22 (up to 13 inches at Pokegama Dam), nearly every observer in the state reported an overnight low below zero F. Northern observers reported values from -14 to -31 degrees F, while at Crookston the temperature never rose above -1 F during the day.

Another cold wave gripped the state on November 23, 1900 when two dozen communities reported morning low temperatures that were below zero F. This followed a significant snowfall over November 19-21 as Arctic air settled over the state keeping temperatures cold until the 29th.

A strong winter storm passed across the northern part of the state on November 23, 1954. Winds of 60 mph were reported, along with some damages. In Wadena at least 9 store fronts were blown in and street signs and antennas knocked down. A nearby barn was blow off its foundation.

November 23, 1974 brought a very warm day to southwestern Minnesota communities. Many set net record highs with daytime readings in the 60s F, including Lamberton, Marshall, Pipestone, Tracy, Tyler, Worthington, Windom, and Springfield. It was a brief mild spell of weather as temperatures fell off into the 20s and 30s F the next day (Nov 24th).

November 23-24, 1983 brought very heavy snowfall to eastern sections of the state. Many observers reported amounts ranging from 10 to 20 inches. Visibilities were near zero in some areas and many Thanksgiving travelers were stranded or rescued by state troopers in 4-wheel drive vehicles.

November of 1985 brought both heavy snowfall and very cold temperatures. A strong Arctic cold front caused temperatures to plummet by 40 F or more on November 23rd. At New London (Kandiyohi County) the temperature dropped from a high of 36 degrees F to a low of -18 degrees F.

Outlook

 Cool weekend with chances for light snow in the northeast and southwest. Continued near normal to cooler than normal much of next week with some moderation in temperature toward the end of the week. Generally a dry week.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Roller coaster weekend

Roller coaster weekend

A low pressure system brought strong southeastern winds to the state late Saturday, November 10th (Anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald on Lake Superior in 1975), raising both temperatures and dewpoints to record-setting levels. MSP airport set a new high dewpoint record with a reading of 56 degrees F (breaking the form record of 55 degrees F in 1909) at 4:00 pm in the afternoon and also set a new high temperature record with a reading of 69 degrees F. It was the warmest November 10th since 1999. Several other Minnesota communities set record high temperatures that day as well including 75 degrees F at Rochester and Winnebago, 74 degrees F at Waseca, Fairmont (tied record), Albert Lea, and Wells, 72 degrees F at Zumbrota, Grand Meadow, and Preston, 71 degrees at Red Wing, 70 degrees F at Redwood Falls (tied record), 68 degrees F at Minnesota City, and 67 degrees F at La Crescent.

By evening thunderstorms had developed in many areas delivering up to 0.50 inches of rain in some places. Three rare November EF-0 tornadoes (winds 65-85 mph) were reported by the National Weather Service, one near Burnsville, another in Eagan, and a third around Mendota Heights. These tornadoes caused damage to many trees and also knocked down some power lines. In addition some straight line winds caused damage to trees as well. This incident was only the 4th time in Minnesota history that tornadoes have been documented in the month of November, and the 2nd latest fall date for such an occurrence. The others were: November 16, 1931, November 2, 1938, and November 1, 2000. You can read more here.

Following the passage of the cold front on Sunday, November 11, temperatures fell by over 40 degrees F in 24-hours (Rochester went from 75 F to 28 F) and many observers reported measurable snowfall, for the most part less than half an inch. Some observers reporting significant snowfall this week included 1 inch at International Falls and Grand Rapids, 1.5 inches at Cook, 1.7 inches at Moorhead, 2 inches at Lake Kabetogama, and 3.0 inches at Red Lake Falls. In the Twin Cities Metro Area, snow and ice caused many accidents on Monday morning (Nov 12).

On Monday (Nov 12) some observers reported daytime highs in the teens and twenties F, over 20 degrees F below normal. Fortunately the cold snap was short-lived and by Tuesday and Wednesday temperatures returned to near seasonal normals. Nevertheless the cold snap froze some soils down to 2-3 inches, and thin coats of ice began to form on many inland lakes. Friday morning brought the first single digit temperature readings of the fall season with 9 degrees F reported at Embarrass, Floodwood, Orr, Crane Lake, Cotton, and Hibbing.

Little change in drought status

Despite some reports of rain and snow this week, there is little change in Minnesota's drought status. Over 40 percent of the state's landscape remains in severe to extreme drought, with the most notable areas in northwestern and southwestern counties. Most observers reporting over an inch of precipitation so far this month are not in the drought-stricken areas of the state. These observers include Orr, Cook, Tower, Leech Lake, Silver Bay, Cloquet, La Crescent, and Caledonia. Unfortunately little moisture improvement is seen in the near future as the outlook through next week favors a warm and dry pattern across the state. You can read more about Minnesota's drought situation here.

Follow up on Kuehnast Program

Approximately 250-300 people attended the Kuehnast Program's "mini-climate school" last Thursday (Nov 8) to hear presentations about Canada's climate, urban climates, and climate change implications for severe weather. The sessions were recorded and the archived versions are now available online for viewing by those who missed the program. You can find the recorded presentations here.

New Seasonal Climate Outlook

New seasonal climate outlooks were released by the NOAA Climate Prediction Center on Thursday this week. For the December through February period they call for below normal temperatures across the high plains and western Great Lakes states, including Minnesota. This is based on some dynamical models as well as a persistent negative phase in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PD)), a measure of disparity in the sea surface temperature of the north-central Pacific Ocean and the eastern sections of the north Pacific around the Aleutian Islands and the Gulf of Alaska that persists for decades. You can read more about this here.

The precipitation outlook for remains one of equal chances for above or below normal values covering the December through February period.

Weekly Weather potpourri

NOAA announced this week that through new data sharing agreements it will have access to wind data collected by two of the nation's largest wind generator power producers in Oregon and Florida. These data will assist NOAA scientists in fine tuning forecast models. You can read more about this arrangement at the NOAA web site.

In South America where summer is approaching parts of southern Argentina reported high temperatures of 95-100 degrees F this week. These temperature values are on the order of 15 to 30 degrees F warmer than normal for this time of year.
A paper published in the current Bulletin of the American Meteorologist Society documents how the convective thunderstorm flash flooding in the high Himalayan desert during August of 2010 (8 inches or more of rainfall) was similar in dynamical characteristics to the famous flash floods in the USA at Big Thompson Canyon (CO) in 1976, and in the Black Hills of South Dakota in 1972. Satellite derived characteristics in these storms that are similar may help forecasters predict such storms in the future. You can read more here.

The World Weather Observations (WOW) web site operated by the United Kingdom Met Office is gearing up to expand their worldwide weather monitoring. You can view current observations from their network here.

MPR listener question

Was the interval between the Twin Cities tornado reports of Saturday night (Nov 10) and the measurement of subsequent snowfall in the area a record short one? Has this ever happened before?

Answer: The tornadoes occurred on Saturday night (Nov 10) near 11:00 pm, with a temperature of about 66 degrees F and a dewpoint of 55 degrees F. A little more than 12 hours later (11:40 am Sunday, Nov 11) the temperature was 30 degrees F with a dewpoint of 27 degrees F and a trace of snow was being reported. In another 24 hours 0.2 inches of snow was reported and the high and low temperature were 27 degrees F and 19 degrees F, respectively. Scanning the climate records for the Twin Cities I can find nothing analogous to this rapid shift from tornado occurrence to snowfall. The closest analogy for the Twin Cities is from November 16, 1931 when a tornado occurred near Maple Plain, and two days later the observer there reported a trace of snow. Elsewhere there are only two similar stories: On March 21, 1953 a tornado was reported near St Cloud, MN, and two days later on the 23rd St Cloud reported a low of 21 degree F with a trace of snow; and March 18, 1968 a tornado was reported near the Watonwan and Martin County border, followed three days later on the 21st by a trace of snowfall in the area.


MPR listener question


I wondered why the National Weather Service uses average temperatures from only 30 years to define what is "normal" for a location? Why not longer periods of time?

Answer: This standard period length for averaging climate measurements is mandated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) for all government weather services. It is the minimal period of time required to provide meaningful statistics, but more importantly it helps to maximize the number of climate stations for which averages can be computed. This is especially important for countries that do not have lengthy climate records. This standard helps scientists compare the averages from climate stations over a wide geographic area. In Minnesota we do have some community climate records that go back well over 100 years.

Twin Cities Almanac for November 16th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 42 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 26 degrees F (plus or minus 10 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for November 16th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 68 degrees F in 1953; lowest daily maximum temperature of 17 degrees F in 1927; lowest daily minimum temperature of -2 F in 1933; highest daily minimum temperature of 50 F in 19138; and record precipitation of 1.27 inches in 1996; Record snowfall is 10.5 inches in 1909.

Average dew point for November 16th is 27 degrees F, with a maximum of 59 degrees F in 1931 and a minimum of -10 degrees F in 1959.

All-time state records for November 16th

The state record high temperature for this date is 75 degrees F at Marshall (Lyon County) in 1939, at Wheaton (Traverse County) in 1953, and at Marshall and Milan (Chippewa County) in 2001. The state record low temperature for this date is -27 degrees F at Big Falls (Koochiching County) in 1933. State record precipitation for this date is `4.10 inches at Two Harbors (Lake County) in 1909; and the state record snowfall for this date is 18.0 inches at Fairmont (Martin County) in 1909.

Past Weather Features:

One of the snowiest mid-November periods in state history occurred over the 13th to the 16th in 1909. Many observers reported 6 to 12 inches, and some received up to 20 inches. Over 20 inches fell at Fosston and Fairmont.

November 16-17, 1911 brought 2 to 8 inches of snowfall to eastern Minnesota communities, including the Twin Cities area. Following the snowfall temperatures fell into the single digits F.
Well after dark, at 9:35 pm on November 16, 1931 a tornado touched down in Hennepin County near Maple Plain. It pack winds of 113-157 mph (F-2) and was on the ground for 5 miles. All barns and outbuildings of one farm were destroyed by these winds. This remains the latest fall season tornado ever reported in Minnesota.

November 16, 1933 brought arctic cold air to the state, as 36 communities saw the thermometer fall below 0 degrees F with daytime highs just in the teens F. Fortunately by month's end 50 degrees F returned to many places providing some relief from the cold.

Over November 15-16, 1939 a spell of Indian Summer weather prevailed as most observers reported daytime highs in the 60s F. Six communities topped out at 70 degrees F or higher. It was generally a warm, sunny, and dry (5th driest in state history) November that year.

November 15-17, 1953 was the warmest such period in state history. At least 36 Minnesota communities reported daytime highs of 70 degrees F or higher. It was the last gasp of mild fall weather as snow dominated the Minnesota landscape from November 20th to 30th. Some observers reported at least a trace of snowfall everyday during that interval.

A major winter storm crossed the state over November 15-17, 1996 bringing a mixture of rain. freezing rain, sleet, and snow. Some areas of northwestern Minnesota received over a foot of snow, while heavy rain fell in eastern sections of the state, setting record amounts in some cases. Many observers reported over a month's worth of precipitation, 2-3 inch amounts. Bruno, Santiago, and Wolf Ridge reported over 4 inches in one of the wettest periods in November history.

One of the mildest mid-November periods occurred over November 10-18, 2001 with many daytime temperature reaching the 60s F. Dew points were summer like as well ranging from the 50s to lower 60s F. Many golf course were open for business.

Outlook

Above normal temperatures are expected to dominate the weather into the weekend and next week, as temperatures average several degrees warmer than average and we see frequent sunny skies. Little chance for precipitation, except for Monday. Then dry and mild much of next week through Thanksgiving Day. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Highlights of the Kuehnast Mini-Climate School

Highlights of the Kuehnast Mini-Climate School

The 20th Anniversary Kuehnast Endowment Event was held at the St Paul Campus on Thursday, November 8th. The format was a "mini-climate school" with presentations on three important topics: Canada's Climate; Urban Climates; and Severe Weather in a Changing Climate. Some highlights are described below:

David Phillips from Environment Canada asked the critical question: "Is climate changing faster than we can adapt?" Certainly temperatures are changing across Canada: Western provinces are warming more significantly than eastern provinces, especially in winter and spring, while polar regions are warming remarkably in fall and winter. The number of unusually warm nights is increasing, and glaciers for the most part are retreating. Extreme weather is in evidence, especially in the variability of wet versus dry growing seasons for Canada's farmers. Episodes of very strong winds are increasing in some areas as well.

Sue Grimmond from Kings College, London spoke about the need for cities to adapt and become more efficient in their energy and water use. The variability in land cover, mixture of architecture, and impermeable surfaces affect the climates of urban areas in many ways: wind flow and dispersion of pollutants, air quality, surface runoff, human comfort, and radiation balance among many attributes. More widespread monitoring and modeling is being done worldwide in big cities to better understand the urban climate. Albedo (reflectivity) of roofing materials, along with vegetation and green space have large effects in modifying the climate of cities, especially those that have little of these characteristics in place. More monitoring of city environments is likely in the future with continued development of economical sensor technologies and computer capacities to process the data and use them in real time.

Harold Brooks from the NOAA Severe Storms Laboratory in Oklahoma said the occurrence and distribution of severe convective storms is becoming more variable. The intensity of tornadoes and hail is a function of wind shear aloft. In a modeled future climate for our area, convective energy (updrafts) is expected to go up, but wind shear is expected to go down, offsetting each other somewhat, though the environment overall is expected to be more favorable for severe storms. He has mapped areas of severe convective storms worldwide. In more northern latitudes tornadoes may come earlier in the year, while in some areas like China, hail may become less frequent.

A recorded version of the Kuehnast 20th Anniversary presentations will be available next week on our web site. If you wish to view it, go here.

Dig It: The Secrets of the Soil" opens at the Bell Museum

The Smithsonian Exhibit on American Soils "Dig It: The Secrets of the Soil" opened at the University of Minnesota Bell Museum (Minneapolis Campus) on Thursday, November 8th. It will be there for a 9 month stay. It is a fascinating exhibit on the distribution of important soil properties and the value of soils to our nation, with several visual and interactive displays. I would encourage all school science teachers to consider planning a field trip to the Bell Museum to share this wonderful exhibit with students, perhaps even motivate some science fair projects. You can read more about it and plan your visit by going here.

Cool, dry climate pattern continues

Through the first full week of November the cool, dry weather pattern that dominated October has continued. Most observers report average temperatures that are cooler than normal, with teens F at night and 30s and 40s F during the day. Precipitation so far this month has been a few tenths of an inch, as only a few places have reported over 0.40 inches. Minnesota's drought situation has remained static with over 40 percent of the landscape still in severe or extreme drought. A winter storm is expected to bring some significant precipitation to northwestern counties into the weekend.

Weekly Weather potpourri

The NOAA National Weather Service is observing Winter Hazards Awareness Week in Minnesota. There are many educational and information based materials available on their web site, including winter automobile safety recommendations. You can read more here.

Highlights for the drought-monitoring period ending 7 am EST on November 6 from Brad Rippey of the USDA Office of the Chief Economist include:

-The portion of the contiguous U.S. in drought fell below sixty percent for the first time since July 3 and currently stands at 59.48%
-Hay in drought dipped to 61%, down one percentage point from a week ago and down eight points from the September 25 peak.
-Cattle in drought remained unchanged at 69%, but is down seven points from September 25.
-Winter wheat in drought also remained steady at 65%, ending a six-week decline in drought coverage. In some of the hardest-hit drought areas, winter wheat has been very slow to emerge this fall – and the crop is running out of time before cold weather permanently arrives. For example, only 33% of South Dakota’s crop had emerged by November 4, versus the five-year average of 93%.
- Nearly one-fifth (19 percent) of the U.S. winter wheat was rated in very poor to poor condition by November 4­a list topped by South Dakota (52 percent very poor to poor), Nebraska (49 percent), Oklahoma (30 percent), Colorado (28 percent), and Texas (24 percent).

The current edition of the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer magazine (Nov-Dec) showcases articles on Rainy Lake and the Rainy River. Both are well worth reading.

A report on the October World Meteorological Congress suggests that government weather services will move forward with a Global Framework for Climate Services intended to better serve decision makers in water, agriculture, food security, health and disaster risk management among all nations. The framework hopes to set some protocol and data standards for climate services which obviously need to be shared across country borders.

Environment Canada recently published a review of climate trends and variations in 2012. Canada reported a wetter and warmer than normal summer. In fact for some areas it was among the warmest summers on record.

MPR listener question

Is it true that November is generally the cloudiest month of the year for most of Minnesota?

Answer: Yes, approximately two-thirds of all November days are completely cloudy, slightly more in northern communities. Only about one day in six is sunny. It is no wonder that those who suffer from Seasonal Affected Disorder generally start to show symptoms in November, with both shortening days and dominate cloudiness.

Twin Cities Almanac for November 9th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 43 degrees F (plus or minus 10 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 28 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

 

MSP Local Records for November 9th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 70 degrees F in 1999; lowest daily maximum temperature of 22 degrees F in 1945; lowest daily minimum temperature of 12 F in 1945; highest daily minimum temperature of 52 F in 1999; and record precipitation of 1.28 inches in 1970; Record snowfall is 4.5 inches in 1983.

Average dew point for November 9th is 26 degrees F, with a maximum of 54 degrees F in 1977 and a minimum of -1 degrees F in 1913.

All-time state records for November 9th

The state record high temperature for this date is 83 degrees F at Springfield (Brown County) in 1999. The state record low temperature for this date is -15 degrees F at Milan (Chippewa County) in 1921. State record precipitation for this date is 3.08 inches at Cloquet (Carlton County) in 1983; and the state record snowfall for this date is 26.0 inches at St James (Watonwan County) in 1943.

Past Weather Features:

November 9th of 1921 and 1945 brought severe cold to Minnesota with many stations reporting below 0 degrees F morning lows and highs only in the 20s and 30s F. Temperatures remained cold for the balance of the month in 1921, but moderated significantly in 1945.

Over November 6-9, 1943 a major winter storm crossed Minnesota bringing high winds and a mixture of precipitation. Rain, sleet, glaze, and snow were reported around the state, bringing down power lines in northern Minnesota. Many parts of central and northern Minnesota reported 10 to 25 inches of snowfall, with drifts up to 15 feet in depth blocking roads in western counties. Hundreds of autos were abandoned on roads and trains were delayed for up to 48 hours. The locomotive of a train stranded near Windom was completed encased in a snow drift. High waves on Lake Superior caused some erosion damage, but most ships were safely anchored in Duluth Harbor. Farmers reported some loss of livestock and turkeys.

November 8-10, 1977 brought another major winter storm to the state, this time depositing 7-12 inches of snow in central and northern Minnesota. Some roads were closed for a brief period of time.

November 8-9, 1999 was the warmest in state history, with over 80 communities reporting daytime highs in the 70s F, and several locations even reporting 80s F. Golf courses were open for business, and many people took lunch outside. A sharp cool down came on the 10th with traces of snow in some places. Despite the brief cool down, November of 1999 was the 4th warmest in state history.

Outlook

Chance of mixed, wintry precipitation on Saturday in the central and north, with possible thunderstorms in the south. Chance of rain or snow on Sunday, then cloudy and cold on Monday. Cold temperatures will give more to more seasonable temperatures by mid-week. Generally dry as well.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Climate Trivia or Climate Change?

Climate Trivia or Climate Change?

According to Pete Boulay of the Minnesota State Climatology Office for many southern climate stations in Minnesota, including the Twin Cities and Rochester this year produced a climate anomaly worth noting. For the first time in history the average temperature for March (2012) was warmer than the average temperature for October (2012). This is a statistical singularity, but with changes in the extent of polar ice, and changing upper air patterns over North America perhaps this will happen again.

October Climate Summary

Most Minnesota observers reported mean October temperatures that were 1 to 2 degrees F cooler than normal, breaking a long string of months with above normal temperatures. Extremes for the month ranged from 87 degrees F at Wheaton on the 1st to just 8 degrees F at Babbitt on the 31st.

Precipitation for October was generally less than normal, except for some northern and southeastern counties where surplus precipitation was reported, mostly thanks to storms over the 4th and 5th and over the 24th and 25th. Those reporting surplus October precipitation included: 4.37 inches at Waskish, 4.35 inches at Hallock, 4.21 inches at Grand Portage, 3.63 inches at Argyle, 3.50 inches at Grand Marais, 3.92 inches at Lanesboro, 3.82 inches at La Crescent, 3.76 inches at Spring Grove, and 3.69 inches at Caledonia. Some record setting snowfall amounts occurred during the storm of October 4th. Those reporting significant snowfall in October included: 14 inches at Badger (Roseau County), 8.5 inches at Camp Norris, 8 inches at Angus, 7.1 inches at Orr, 7 inches at Roseau, 6 inches at Babbitt and Karlstad, and 5.8 inches at Cass Lake and Cook.

Despite the good news that some Minnesota observers reported above normal October precipitation, drought kept its grip on much of the state during the month. Some observers reported less than one inch for the month, and most places across the middle of the state as well as the southwest and south-central counties were well below normal values. The dry October followed an unusually dry September as well, resulting in the 3rd driest September-October combination in history on a statewide basis, trailing only 1952 and 1976. As we end October well over 40 percent of the state's landscape remains in severe to extreme drought condition according to the USA Drought Monitor.

Super Storm Sandy's Aftermath

Sandy proved to be one of the largest hurricane born storms to ever affect the eastern USA. It was well forecasted by the NOAA National Weather Service, at least partially due to more frequent instrumented balloon launches (6 hourly radiosondes) which provide valuable data updates for their forecast models. In terms of overall economic consequence estimated from insured losses, commerce disruption, and damage to infrastructure it may rival or surpass 2005's Hurricane Katrina (estimated loss of $146 billion in 2012 dollars). Most damages were from winds and floods (both storm surge and heavy rains).

Wind gusts of 50 to 80 mph were reported along the eastern coast, with a maximum of 90 mph hat Islip, NY. Rainfall amounts were commonly 4 to 10 inches, with some higher amounts (record-setting in most cases), including 10.20 inches at Georgetown, DE, 11.91 inches at Wildwood Crest, NJ, and 12.55 inches at Easton, MD. In higher elevations 20 to 30 inches of snowfall was reported from portions of WV, VA, MD, NC, and TN (36" at Snowshoe, WV). Power outages affected nearly 8 million citizens, while hundreds of roads were closed along with bridges and tunnels. At least 88 deaths in the US states have been blamed on Sandy.

Jeff Masters and Christopher Burt of the Weather Underground also reported that Sandy brought new barometric low pressure records to many cities, including:
28.00 inches at Atlantic City, NJ
28.23 inches at Philadelphia, PA
28.31 inches at Trenton, NJ
28.46 inches at Harrisburg, PA
28.49 inches at Baltimore, MD

More about Superstorm Sandy can be found on Paul Huttner's Updraft blog.

Catch the 20th Anniversary Kuehnast Program

If you want to become more educated about climate science and climate change, please plan to attend the 20th Anniversary Kuehnast Program, "a mini-climate school" which will be held at the University of Minnesota St Paul Campus Student Center Theater on Thursday, November 8th, from 1:00pm to 5:00 pm. It is free and open to the public. We have three outstanding speakers lined up: David Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment Canada (Ottawa) will present “Canada: No Longer the Cold, White North”; Sue Grimmond, from King’s College (London, UK) will present “Current Advances in Monitoring and Modeling Urban Climates”; and Harold Brooks, research meteorologist at the NOAA National Severe Storms Lab in Oklahoma will present “Severe Thunderstorms and Climate Change.” Following the program we will go to the Bell Museum on the Minneapolis campus for the opening of the Smithsonian Exhibit on soils, called "Dig It." You can read more about the November 8th program here.

Weekly Weather potpourri

Highlights from the summary statements of Brad Rippey, USDA World Food and Outlook Board meteorologist this week concerning the USA Drought:

-About sixty percent (60.16%) of contiguous U.S. remains in drought, although this week’s value is down 1.63 percentage points from last week and down more than five points from the September 25 peak of 65.45%. Drought-easing or drought-eradicating rainfall has recently been heaviest in the Great Lakes region, the eastern Corn Belt, and ­ of course ­ in the Mid-Atlantic States associated with Hurricane Sandy.
-Hay in drought dipped to 62%, down two percentage points from a week ago and down seven points from the September 25 peak.
-Cattle in drought also fell two percentage points to 69%, and is down seven points from September 25.
-Winter wheat in drought decreased for the sixth consecutive week, although drought still covers nearly two-thirds (65%) of the production area. In some of the hardest-hit drought areas, winter wheat has been very slow to emerge this fall ­ and the crop is running out of time before cold weather permanently arrives.
-Over the next week, a fairly benign weather pattern can be expected across much of the U.S. Cool weather may limit further winter wheat development in the Great Lakes region and parts of the East, but late-season warmth will dominate primary production areas of the Plains and Northwest. Despite the Plains’ warmth, soil moisture shortages will continue to hamper wheat emergence and growth across the northwestern half of the High Plains.
-Computer simulations are suggesting the possibility of a strong storm system (a nor’easter) developing near the Mid-Atlantic or New England coast around the middle of next week. Atlantic beaches and coastal areas hammered by Hurricane Sandy will be especially vulnerable to additional damage if such as storm forms.

Across North America this week Eureka, Canada reported -27 degrees F while Death Valley, CA reported 89 degrees F.

A study released this week from the University of Maryland documents the potential infrastructure impact of sea level rise over the next 50 years in the Washington D.C. area. Many historical buildings, along with museums and government buildings will be threatened by this change. You can read more about this study here.

Two Mississippi State University economists discussed the potential financial impacts of Super Storm Sandy this week. They expect at least a $60 billion economic loss would result from disrupted work time, reduced tax revenues, and loss of commerce. You can read more of their comments here.

MPR listener question

My husband and I listen to you and Cathy every Friday from our home in Minnetonka. We are running behind schedule on our fall chores, and still need to plant bulbs in the garden. Can you tell me what the soil temperatures are now and when you think they will freeze?

Answer: Thanks for listening. Soil temperatures a few inches below the surface have tailed off into the upper 30s to low 40s F. So, there is still plenty of time to rake, dig, plant bulbs, and apply mulch or straw. Normally our soils in the Twin Cities area do not freeze up until the first of December or so. With somewhat milder weather expected through mid-November I think soil temperatures will moderate in the 30s and 40s F for a while.

Twin Cities Almanac for November 2nd

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 49 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 32 degrees F (plus or minus 9 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for November 2nd

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 72 degrees F in 1978; lowest daily maximum temperature of 16 degrees F in 1951; lowest daily minimum temperature of 9 F in 1951; highest daily minimum temperature of 57 F in 1938; and record precipitation of 0.72 inches in 1901; Record snowfall is 5.3 inches in 1992.

Average dew point for November 2nd is 32 degrees F, with a maximum of 61 degrees F in 1987 and a minimum of -5 degrees F in 1951.

All-time state records for November 2nd

The state record high temperature for this date is 80 degrees F at Canby (Yellow Medicine County) in 1965. The state record low temperature for this date is -11 degrees F at Moose Lake (Carlton County) in 1951. State record precipitation for this date is 2.76 inches at Maple Plain (Hennepin County) in 1961; and the state record snowfall for this date is 24.0 inches at Two Harbors (Lake County) in 1991.

Past Weather Features:

November 1st is a significant date in America's weather history. On that date in 1870 systematic weather observations were taken at 24 sites across the nation, all of which were operated by observers in the U.S. Army's Signal Corps. Their observations were telegraphed to Headquarters in Washington, DC so that a national weather map could be drawn. These observations made on that morning were the first large-scale, synchronous (or synoptic) observations taken across the nation by the predecessor of the current National Weather Service. Seven days later, the mapped analysis of the weather caused the Signal Corps to issue its first winter storm warning to the public on Nov 8, 1870 for the Great Lakes Region.

November 1-2, 1935 brought extreme cold to northern Minnesota with many observers reporting lows below zero F, and single digit low temperatures were reported in the lower Red River Valley. Moorhead reached a high of only 16 degrees F on the 2nd. The remainder of the month was very cold as well.

Another extreme cold period came over November 2-3, 1951 as over 35 Minnesota communities saw the thermometer drop below 0 degrees F. It was -1 degrees F at St Cloud on November 2nd, the earliest below zero temperature ever reported in the fall season there.

A strong winter storm brought a mixture of rain, sleet, and snow to the state over November 2-3, 1961. Gaylord, Maple Plain, St James, Windom, and Young America all reported over 2 inches of precipitation (a whole month's worth in 2 days), while up north at Thorhult the observer recorded 6 inches of snowfall.

November 2, 1965 seemed a bit like summer as over 40 Minnesota communities reported daytime highs in the 70s F. It was short-lived, as daytime temperatures fell off into the 40s F by November 4th.

November 2-4, 1978 was possibly the mildest ever spell of early November weather with over 60 communities reporting temperatures in the 70s F. Golf courses opened and did a good business. It was a last gasp of Indian Summer as the second half of the month was dominated by heavy snow and cold temperatures.

Many snowfall and cold temperature records were set around the state over November 1-3, 1991 during the famous Halloween Blizzard. Several observers reported 15-30 inches of snowfall and many below 0 F overnight temperature readings. In fact that was the snowiest November in history for observers at Duluth, Two Harbors, and Bruno where over 50 inches of snow was recorded.

On November 1, 2000, at about 5:30 pm a tornado touched down near Prinsburg in Kandiyohi County. It traveled across a rural landscape for about half a mile, with a funnel diameter of about 30 yards. Unfortunately it destroyed a storage shed, tipped another shed on its side, and ripped off a portion of the roof on a third building of a family farm. Fortunately there were no injuries. This rare November event represents one of only a few tornadoes that have been recorded this month in Minnesota history. The historical probability of a November tornado in Minnesota is less than 0.3 percent.

Outlook

Mostly cloudy Saturday with a slight chance of snow in the north, continued cooler than normal temperatures. Chance of light rain or snow Saturday night and early Sunday. Getting warmer on Monday and Tuesday with a chance for mixed precipitation. Warmer yet deeper into next week with a chance for another more significant storm near the end of the week.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Significant rains for some

Significant rains for some

Small scale, but intense thunderstorms brought some heavy rainfall to parts of Minnesota early on Tuesday (Oct 23) this week. International Falls reported 1.07 inches, their heaviest rainfall since August 15th. Many others reported a quarter inch amounts or greater. Some of the largest amounts of rainfall were:

Champlin reported 2.11", Andover 1.64", Royalton 1.27", Maple Grove 1.69", Grand Marais 1.31", Waskish 1.16", and Little Falls 1.25"

The residual surface water vapor from the recent rainfall also contributed to dense fog advisories released by the National Weather Service this week.

Then over Wednesday night and Thursday additional persistent rains fell in southeastern Minnesota where Lanesboro and Harmony reported 2.15 inches, Spring Valley 1.77 inches, Winona 1.70 inches, Zumbro Falls 1.67 inches and Chatfield 1.30 inches. Elsewhere in eastern counties snow and snow flurries were widely reported on Thursday, though most were not significant amounts. Among those getting measurable snowfalls were Babbitt and Cook with 3 inches and Ely with 4.8 inches.

Total rainfall for the week was equivalent to an entire month of October for some, but these observers were few and far between. There was relatively little change in drought status across the state. You can find more on this here.

The Great Storm of October 26, 2010

Only two years ago a record-setting storm crossed the state. It was a strong, winter-type mid-latitude cyclone that encompassed much of the USA landscape, with a central low pressure core that passed directly across northern Minnesota. A number of weather observers reported new low barometric pressure readings, including 28.36 inches at Duluth, 28.23 inches at International Falls, and a statewide record of just 28.21 inches at Bigfork, MN (Itasca County), equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane. With such low pressure came extreme winds. Wind gusts of 60-65 mph were reported from any locations in the state, as well as in Wisconsin and Ontario, Canada. Wind-driven waves reached 26 feet at Campbell's Point on the northeast side (Canada) of Lake Superior. Fortunately all shipping on the lake had found safe port or harbor. In satellite image of the Earth that day, this storm was the single largest atmospheric disturbance visible, dwarfing Typhoon Chaba in the Western Pacific in scale.

Record amounts of rainfall and snowfall were reported as well from this storm. Some of the record amounts of precipitation included 3.49 inches at Two Harbors, 3.11 inches at Brainerd, 2.94 inches at Duluth AP, 2.91 inches at Cloquet, 2.79 inches at Moose Lake, 2.62 inches at Hibbing, 2.42 inches at Brimson, 2.02 inches at Mahnomen, and 2.00 inches at Thorhult. Some of the snowfall amounts included 5.0 inches at Brimson, 7 inches at Island Lake, and 7.7 inches at Duluth and Two Harbors.

20th Anniversary Kuehnast Event, November 8th

The 20th Annual Kuehnast Lecture Program will take place from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm on Thursday November 8, 2012 at the University of Minnesota St Paul Campus Student Center Theater. It is free and open to the public. The program will feature a “Mini-Climate School” with 50 minute lectures by three outstanding scientists: David Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment Canada (Ottawa) will present “Canada: No Longer the Cold, White North”; Sue Grimmond, from King’s College (London, UK) will present “Current Advances in Monitoring and Modeling Urban Climates”; and Harold Brooks from the NOAA National Severe Storms Lab in Oklahoma will present “Severe Thunderstorms and Climate Change.” For more on this program you can go here.

Weekly Weather potpourri

The NOAA National Hurricane Center was busy with forecasts and advisories on Hurricane Sandy and Tropical Storm Tony this week. After passing over Cuba and the Bahamas Hurricane Sandy is expected to bring rainfall and strong winds to portions of eastern FL, GA, SC, NC into the weekend, then VA, MD, NY and NJ by Tuesday. Sandy is expected to bring heavy rains and high winds to the east coast states early next week. TS Tony dissipated at sea by Friday. Sandy and Tony are the 18th and 19th named Tropical Storms of the North Atlantic Hurricane Season this year.

In the Western Pacific Ocean Tropical Storm Son-Tinh was bringing heavy rains and winds as high as 85-90 mph to parts of the Philippines. It was expected to head towards the north coast of Vietnam this weekend with high winds, heavy rain and sea waves of 24-30 feet. Remnants of Tropical Storm Murjan in the northern Indian Ocean off the horn of Africa was expected to bring heavy rain to the Somalia coast.

According to the Minnesota DNR the number of wildfires reported in September statewide was 186, the most in the month of September since 1976. Thankfully with the change in the weather this week the incidents of wildfires are expected to diminish.

A new NASA study shows that since 1978 the Arctic Ocean sea ice extent has shrunk, while that of Antarctica has grown. The loss and gain in sea ice at the poles is not symmetric. There has been a relatively larger loss of Arctic seas ice than gain in Antarctic sea ice. You can read more about this study here.

MPR listener questions

With the potential for Hurricane Sandy to strike the eastern coastal states next week and inflict a good deal of damage, I am wondering about the potential for disruption on Election Day the following Tuesday in terms of getting to the polls or infrastructure problems (street flooding, buildings damaged, etc). Have there been situations in past elections when the weather has caused major disruption?

Answer: On Election Day (ranging from November 2-8) in the USA the weather can be highly variable across the nation. On November 6, 1894 there was a fresh foot of snow in CT, along with high winds which hindered voter turnout. On November 8, 1960 there was an all day rain in Illinois, thought to have prevented a larger voter turnout for Nixon. In Minnesota foul weather has prevailed on Election Day a number of times, notably 1910 and 1936. On November 3, 1936 there was extreme cold (windchill values -25 to -30 F), heavy snow, and icy sidewalks. Nevertheless in Minnesota voter turnout was 1.1 million, more than 70 percent of the registered voters. I have not heard of hurricane weather and associated damages affecting Election Day.

In an opinion piece I read recently in the newspaper about energy subsidies the author said, "but since the wind generally blows at night, when people use electricity the least, it cannot form a dependable part of the base load supply." Is this assertion on when the wind blows correct?
Answer: No, it is not correct for our region of the country. Though there is large seasonal variability in wind speed (November and April usually show the highest mean wind speeds), wind studies in Minnesota and surrounding states have shown that mean wind speeds are about 150 to 200 percent higher during the day than they are at night. This is because the energy from the sun heats the Earth's surface and mixes the lower atmosphere.

Twin Cities Almanac for October 26th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 54 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 36 degrees F (plus or minus 9 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for October 26th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 83 degrees F in 1955; lowest daily maximum temperature of 32 degrees F in 1919; lowest daily minimum temperature of 16 F in 1962; highest daily minimum temperature of 59 F in 1989; and record precipitation of 1.54 inches in 1941; Record snowfall is 1.3 inches in 1959.

Average dew point for October 26th is 34 degrees F, with a maximum of 61 degrees F in 2000 and a minimum of 6 degrees F in 1936.

All-time state records for October 26th

The state record high temperature for this date is 93 degrees F at Chatfield (Olmsted and Fillmore Counties) in 1927. The state record low temperature for this date is -16 degrees F at Roseau (Roseau County) in 1936, the earliest autumn reading of 0 F in state history. State record precipitation for this date is 3.49 inches at Two Harbors (Lake County) in 2010; and the state record snowfall for this date is 10.5 inches at Park Rapids (Hubbard County) in 1913.

Past Weather Features:

An early winter storm brought snow to northern counties on October 26, 1913. Amounts ranged from over 10 inches at Park Rapids to just 2 inches at Pokegama Dam.

October 25-27, 1927 brought a strong Indian Summer spell of weather to southern Minnesota. Fifteen Minnesota communities saw the thermometer climb into the 80s F, and Chatfield reported consecutive daytime highs in the 90s F.

October 23-25, 1936 brought one of the coldest spells of weather ever for the month. Many daily temperature records were set with overnight lows in single digits, and afternoon highs only in the 20s and 30s F. Nine Minnesota communities reported temperatures below 0 degrees F, and northern lakes began to show ice cover.

A strong low pressure system crossed the state over October 26-27, 1941 bringing thunderstorms, high winds, rain, sleet, and snow. Many observers reported 1-2 inches of precipitation.

The very next year, October 24-26, 1942 brought one of the biggest October snow storms in state history. Blowing and drifting snow actually closed some roads as Bigfork reported 6.5 inches, Pine River Dam 7.1 inches, Babbitt 7.2 inches, Orr and Detroit Lakes 8.5 inches, Meadowlands and Pokegama Dam 11.0 inches, and Sandy Lake Dam 15.0 inches.

October 25-26, 1955 was perhaps the warmest in history statewide with over 35 communities reporting daytime highs in the 80s F. Many Twin Cities employees took lunch outside, while some played hooky and took to the golf course. Temperatures crashed by the end of the month with daytime highs in the 30s F.

October 26-27, 1959 brought snow followed by cold temperatures. From 1 to 6 inches of snow fell across northern Minnesota, followed by temperatures plummeting into the teens F.
Perhaps the stormiest October 26th occurred in 2010 when many observers reported record low barometric pressure readings, record high wind speeds, and record amounts of precipitation (see write up above).

Outlook

Cool and cloudy weekend coming up. Slight chance of snow in the west and south late Saturday and into Sunday. A bit of a warming trend starting on Wednesday, but temperatures will likely remain cooler than normal most of next week, with little chance for precipitation.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Downward trend in temperature

Downward trend in temperature

Many observers have reported below normal temperatures so far this month. In northern locations 9 of the first 11 days have been cooler than normal, with many chilly mornings in the 20s F. Friday morning, October 12th brought the coldest temperatures of the season so far to many areas. Many observers reported overnight lows in the teens F. Some of the lowest readings included 16 degrees F at Wadena and International Falls, 15 degrees at Brimson and Babbitt, and 14 degrees F at Hinckley and Embarrass. If this pattern persists we may see a significantly cooler than normal month in Minnesota for the first time since May of 2011. In addition shallow soil temperatures (4 inch depth) have fallen by 15-20 degrees F or more since the first of the month, and are now mostly in the 40s F.

Lake Superior surface water temperatures reached a maximum of 70 to 75 degrees F this summer, but have plummeted several degrees this month. Currently many areas of the lake are reporting surface temperatures in the upper 30s to low 40s F. Other smaller lakes around Minnesota have also seen a decline of surface water temperature. Lake Minnetonka has fallen from the low 60s F at the start of the month to just 50 degrees F late this week. Similarly Lake Mille Lacs has dropped from 59 degrees F to start the month to just 45 degrees F by October 11th. At Lake of the Woods water temperature has fallen from the low 50s F to start October to 39 degrees F on October 11th.

SMM climate science workshop

The Science Museum of Minnesota in collaboration with the Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media organized a climate science workshop for broadcast meteorologists at the Science Museum in downtown St Paul on Saturday, October 6th. It was well attended by a number of broadcast meteorologists from our region. Scientists from around the country presented their studies on how climate is changing and what the consequences are. In addition there were useful presentations on how to communicate climate science and resources to use in teaching younger students, and the general viewing audience which is the focus of broadcasters. In general it was a excellent program and hopefully provided our region's broadcast meteorologists with more tools and resources to engage the public about climate science. Both Paul Douglas and Paul Huttner described the workshop and highlighted some of the bullet points in their blogs this week. You can explore this information at these links:

http://minnesota.publicradio.org/collections/special/columns/updraft/archive/2012/10/science_museum_climate_confere.shtml
http://www.startribune.com/blogs/paul_douglas_on_weather.html

It occurred to me that such workshops would be most useful to some of our political leaders as well, as it would advance their scientific literacy and provoke more productive public discussion on the topic of climate change.

Weekly Weather potpourri

The United Kingdom Met Office earlier this month announced a series of educational videos and experiments they are making available to school teachers via their web site. There are several lessons offered, including topics such as hurricanes, precipitation, clouds, air masses, and climate. If you are a teacher and want to review this material, you can find it at the Met Office website.

Bill McAuliffe posted a good article in the Star Tribune this week about the state drought and its effect on Minnesota watersheds. The flow volume on many rivers is extremely low. The St Louis River near Scanlon in NE Minnesota was at record volume during the flood in June, and is now the 2nd lowest height in more than 60 years. You can read more about Minnesota's drought and rivers here.

A NOAA research team from the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, WA released findings of a study this week that revealed changing wind patterns in the Arctic which may affect weather across North America and Europe. During the 2007-2012 period prevalent arctic winds shifted from a west-east flow orientation aloft to a more north-south orientation. The new wave pattern brings warmer air to the arctic during the summer, and transports more cold air to lower latitude. These changing wind patterns are linked to the dramatic loss of arctic sea ice in recent years. You can read more here.

This week NOAA also released a summary of national climate conditions during September. Nationally it was the 23rd warmest September on record, and the 16th consecutive month with above normal temperatures. It was also a dry month, with near record setting low statewide values for monthly precipitation in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota. For the 2012 year so far the period from January to September has been the warmest first nine months in the USA climate records nationally.

Typhoon Prapiroon was spinning in the Western Pacific several hundred miles south of Okinawa, Japan. The storm was producing winds of 110 mph with gusts over 130 mph, and sea wave heights over 40 feet. This typhoon is expected to remain out to sea southeast of Japan over the next several days.

The NOAA National Hurricane Center was tracking two tropical low pressure systems in the North Atlantic: Tropical Storm Patty NE of Cuba was expected to meander near the Bahamas over the weekend, while a tropical depression just north of Trinidad and Tobago was expected to develop into the 17th named tropical storm (Rafael) of the season over the weekend. NOAA-NHC meteorologists were also tracking the development of a tropical storm system off the west coast of Mexico in the Eastern Pacific.

MPR listener question

How long ago did the National Weather Service begins it hurricane forecasting service?

Answer: Hurricane forecasting services started in Cuba in the 1870s. The US Army Signal Corps Service initiated hurricane warning services based in Jamaica and Cuba in the 1890s, then moved them to Washington, D.C. in 1902. The first season long, 24-hour hurricane forecast and warning service was initiated in 1935 by the Weather Service, using coordinated regional offices. The Miami office opened in 1943, and during the 1950s the National Weather Service consolidated hurricane forecasting expertise there as it evolved into the National Hurricane Center (NHC). It has remained in the Miami, FL area since then, though occupying different hurricane resistant buildings. In 1988, NHC took over responsibility for forecasts and warnings related to hurricanes in the Eastern Pacific as well as the North Atlantic.

Twin Cities Almanac for October 12th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 59 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 41 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for October 12th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 87 degrees F in 1975; lowest daily maximum temperature of 32 degrees F in 1909; lowest daily minimum temperature of 23 F in 1917; highest daily minimum temperature of 63 F in 1997; and record precipitation of 1.43 inches in 1997; Record snowfall is 2.50 inches in 2009.

Average dew point for October 12th is 39 degrees F, with a maximum of 64 degrees F in 1997 and a minimum of 14 degrees F in 1992.

All-time state records for October 12th

The state record high temperature for this date is 89 degrees F at North Mankato (Nicollet County) in 1975. The state record low temperature for this date is 0 degrees F at Fosston (Polk County) in 1917, the earliest autumn reading of 0 F in state history. State record precipitation for this date is 2.62 inches at Harmony (Fillmore County) in 1986; and the state record snowfall for this date is 7.0 inches at Bird Island (Renville County) and Jordan (Scott County) in 1959.

Past Weather Features:

Late season thunderstorms brought heavy rains to central Minnesota over October 11-12, 1899. Montevideo, Collegeville, and New London all received over 2 inches of rainfall. Fortunately the autumn harvest had been wrapped up and the rainfall was welcome to recharge the soil.

Perhaps the coldest October 12 in state history occurred in 1917. Storms had already brought traces of snow to northern parts of the state and an arctic air mass caused temperatures to plummet to record-setting levels, including 0 degrees F at Fosston, 5 degrees F at Angus, 6 degrees F at Hallock, and 9 degrees F at Thief River Falls. It was just 11 degrees F as far south as Pipestone. 1917 was the 2nd coldest October in Minnesota history (trailing only 1925).

Unseasonably cold temperatures visited the state again on October 12, 1919 when many observers reported overnight lows in the single digits F. Overall it was a cold and dry October in 1919 that brought below zero F temperatures to some parts of Minnesota.

A deep and strong low pressure system crossed the state on October 10, 1949 bringing long-lived destructive winds to many areas. Called an "inland hurricane" by the press, the storm brought 100 mph winds to Rochester, and winds up to 89 mph to the Twin Cities. The storm was blamed for 4 deaths and 81 injuries in the state. Wind-driven waves on Lake Minnetonka caused some serious shoreline erosion and damage to boats. You can read more about this storm in a review by Pete Boulay of the MN State Climatology Office.

An early winter storm brought 2-3 inches of snowfall to many areas of the state over October 11-12, 1959. Two or more inches fell at Hallock, Detroit Lakes, Milan, Redwood Falls, Willman, and Minneapolis-St Paul. It was short-lived, but another round of snowfall later in the month help set new total October snowfall records at Hallock (9.5"), Farmington (8.2"), and Young America (5.5").

Fueled by strong south winds and bright, sunny skies, October 12, 1975 was very warm. Over 33 Minnesota communities saw the thermometer reach 80 degrees F or higher, topped by 89 degrees F at North Mankato.

October 11-12, 1986 brought heavy rains to many parts of southern Minnesota, helping to top off a very wet year. Many areas received over 2 inches of rainfall, while Winona and Zumbrota observers reported over 2.50 inches.

October 11-13, 1995 brought very warm temperatures to the state as many observers reported consecutive days in the 80s F. Even Iron Range observers saw the thermometer soar into the 80s F. At some southern Minnesota locations overnight minimum temperatures never dropped below 60 degrees F.

Outlook

Warmer with showers and thunderstorms possible on Saturday, also heavy rain in some spots, mostly central and southern counties. Continued chance for showers early Sunday. Milder temperatures next week with a chance for showers again late Tuesday and Wednesday. Potential exists for a changing weather pattern that may bring more precipitation to us during the second half of October.
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