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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).


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:

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.


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.

Friday, October 5, 2012

October snowfall and temperature drop

October snowfall and temperature drop

The season's first significant winter storm crossed northwestern Minnesota this week over Wednesday night and Thursday, bringing strong winds, dramatic temperature falls, and significant snowfall to some places. Record snowfall reports for October 4th included:

4.5 inches at Hallock
6 inches at Karlstad (plagued earlier in the week by wildfires) and Crookston
7 inches at Roseau
3.0 inches at Grygla
3.5 inches at Grand Forks, ND
4.0 inches at Red Lake Falls, Thief River Falls, and Ada
8 inches at Angus
14 inches near Badger in Roseau County

All of these amounts broke the all-time state record snowfall for October 4th in Minnesota of 1.5 inches at Ashby (Grant County) in 1903. Lesser, though measurable amounts of snowfall were also reported from Bemidji, International Falls, Hibbing, Ely, and Cook. For many in eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota, this was the heaviest, and most significant early October snow storm since October 2, 1950. In far northern areas more snow is expected to fall on Friday, October 5th as well. Some lake-effect snow accumulation may occur around Lake of the Woods and threaten the state record snowfall amount for October 5th which is 4.0 inches at Indus (near International Falls) in 1952.

Supported by strong southerly winds ahead of the cold front temperatures soared on Wednesday into the 70s and 80s F in many parts of the state. Milan in Chippewa County hit a high of 83 degrees, while Madison (Lac Qui Parle County) reached 81 degrees. With the passage of the cold front Wednesday night, temperatures plummeted by over 40 degrees F in a period of about 16 hours. Milan fell from 83 F to 39 F, Madison from 81 F to 37 F, Fergus Falls from 75 F to 34 F, and Fort Ridgely from 80 F to 33 F.

Strong winds caused blowing and drifting of snow in northwestern Minnesota, along with very low visibility. Winds peaked overnight Wednesday and into Thursday ranging from 30 to 40 mph, especially in western areas of the state. These winds ushered in a much colder air mass, pushing temperatures to below normal values for the first time this month, and that looks like where we will stay for sometime. In fact, earlier this week the NOAA Climate Prediction Center revised their earlier monthly outlook for October and now call for temperatures to average cooler than normal for the entire month. Unfortunately we also desperately need surplus precipitation, but it is hard to see that feature in any of the forecast models.

Though uncommon, significant October snowfalls and blizzards have occurred in Minnesota's past.

Other significant October snowfalls and blizzards include:

October 11-14, 1820 up to 11 inches at Old Fort Snelling
October 21-22, 1835 brought the first 6 inch snowfall of the season to Ft Snelling and was a precursor to a harsh winter for the Great Lakes Region
October 16-18, 1880 paralyzing blizzard (drifts up to 20 feet) in southwestern Minnesota, written about by Laura Ingalls Wilder
October 18-20, 1916 a blizzard struck northwestern Minnesota with 5 to 16 inches of snow and zero visibility
October 23-24, 1933 brought a heavy snow to northeastern Minnesota, with amounts ranging from 7 to 11.5 inches
October 1-2, 1950 brought 1-5 inches of snow across northwestern Minnesota counties
October 7-11, 1970 brought some heavy snowfall to northern counties, record setting amounts of 6-14 inches for some, producing some road closures
October 4-6, 2000 brought snow to many northern Minnesota communities. Thief River Falls, Roseau, and Littlefork reported over 2 inches, while Baudette and Thorhult reported over 3 inches.
October 24-25, 2001 a blizzard with 55 mph hit northwestern Minnesota bringing snowfall of 10-14 inches, and huge drifts
October 12-13, 2006 brought snowfall to northeastern Minnesota, including 4-5 inches at Cook and Babbitt.

October wildfires

A number of wild fires were reported this week along and east of Hwy 59 in northwestern Minnesota between the towns of Hallock and Thief River Falls. The one at Karlstad forced evacuation of residents on Tuesday, October 2nd, but most were under control later on October 3rd, and dampened significantly by the snowfall on October 3-4. Wild fires are actually fairly common during the month of October, especially following summer drought. This was evident to Minnesota citizens even back in the 19th Century.

Much of the 19th Century fire history in Minnesota is documented from weather observer records, most notably those from Old Ft Snelling. From 1833 to 1874 observers noted prairie fires or forest fires in the Big Woods of southern Minnesota during 17 different Octobers (over 40 percent of those years). Sometimes the nighttime observer would note that the sky was bright in all directions as a result of these fires. In October of 1856 the infant communities of Henderson and Le Sueur were seriously damaged by wildfires. During October of 1861 wildfires burned most of the vegetation off the Dayton's Bluff area above St Paul. Perhaps the worst case of October wildfires happened in 1871. Following a serious summer drought prairie fires started near Breckenridge (Wilkin County) in early October and spread eastward and southward so that by the 7th fires were burning in Cokato, Howard Lake, Dassel, Lynd, Marshall, Windom, and New Ulm. The St Paul observer noted that "smoke hangs like fog.......... the air is full of cinders....and burnt spears of grass and twig fill everywhere." A summary of damages and deaths from those fires was never published for Minnesota, but that same month brought the devastating fires to Wisconsin (Peshtigo) and western Michigan (worst ever in those states), and the famous Chicago fire (started in Mrs. O'Leary's barn on October 8th). Those fires killed thousands of citizens in one of the worst fire outbreaks in USA history.

Weekly Weather potpourri

Bob Henson from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, CO offers an opinion about whether or not an El Nino episode will evolve yet this year and affect our winter season weather pattern. It is generally pessimistic that El Nino will have much effect on the North America weather pattern this winter.

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center was putting out warnings for Tropical Storms Maliksi and Gaemi in the Western Pacific Ocean this week. Tropical Storm Maliksi was off the east coast of Japan and slowly moving northeast, producing winds of 60 mph and wave heights of 18 feet. It was expected to dissipate by the weekend. Tropical Storm Gaemi was off the east coast of Vietnam and moving slowly towards the east with winds of 70 mph and sea waves of 21 feet. It was expected to weaken as it approached the coast of Vietnam this weekend.

Brad Rippey of the USDA World Agricultural Outlook Board once again provided a synopsis of drought in the USA this week. His summary statements include:

(as of October 2, 2012_>
-Nearly two-thirds (64.58%) of contiguous U.S. is in drought. The U.S. Drought Monitor record (January 2000 to present) was set a week ago, with 65.45% in drought.
-Hay in drought fell slightly to 67%, down two percentage points from last week’s peak.
-Cattle in drought fell to 73%, down three percentage points from last week’s peak.
-Winter wheat in drought stands at 71%. Nationally, planting was 40% complete by September 30. More than one-tenth (12%) of the crop had emerged, but emergence has been hampered by drought in several Central and Northwestern States, including South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, Oregon, and Montana.

All or parts of at least 55 Minnesota counties remain in severe or extreme drought this week according to the US Drought Monitor, and 96 percent of the state landscape is in moderate drought or worse. Most of the counties in extreme drought are in northwestern, southwestern, and south-central Minnesota. Much of the state's corn and soybean harvest is complete, and farmers will probably wrap up the fall harvest in another week or two. Similar to last year, fall soil sampling and fall tillage will be problematic in some areas because soils are so dry.

A new report from researchers in Australia documents that the fall season (April-May in the southern hemisphere) is becoming drier in recent years as the sub-tropical dry zone expands southward. South eastern Australia autumn dryness is related to a shift poleward in the major storm tracks across the region. This is a mechanistic explanation for the severe droughts that prevailed there over the 1997-2009 period. You can read more here.

An expert panel will call on Congress to create a Weather Commission to advise policy makers and lawmakers on weather/climate threats to the nation and mitigation of economic and infrastructure vulnerabilities to significant impacts from weather events and climate episodes. "Weather is immeasurably important to public safety and our economic competitiveness........and "improved weather information can be an engine of economic growth" are quotes from their recently release report. Can you read more about this at the UCAR web site.

MPR listener question

What do you think the weather will be like for the Twin Cities Marathon on Sunday morning (Oct 7)?

Answer: This may be one of the coldest ever Twin Cities Marathons. Temperatures may start out in the upper 20s F to lower 30s F with little or no wind. By the end of the race the temperatures may be in the low to mid 40s F. On the bright side, skies will be sunny, winds will remain light from the southwest, and it will be dry with no precipitation expected. It may be an environment more uncomfortable for the spectators than the runners.

Twin Cities Almanac for October 5th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 64 degrees F (plus or minus 10 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 44 degrees F (plus or minus 7 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for October 5th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 88 degrees F in 2011; lowest daily maximum temperature of 37 degrees F in 1952; lowest daily minimum temperature of 25 F in 1952; highest daily minimum temperature of 63 F in 2007; and record precipitation of 2.31 inches in 1911; Record snowfall is a trace in 1952 and 1991.

Average dew point for October 5th is 42 degrees F, with a maximum of 67 degrees F in 2005 and 2007 and a minimum of 14 degrees F in 1935 and 1952.

All-time state records for October 5th

The state record high temperature for this date is 98 degrees F at Beardsley (Big Stone County) in 1963. The state record low temperature for this date is 11 degrees F at Pine River Dam (Crow Wing County) in 1988 and at Tower (St Louis County) in 2000. State record precipitation for this date is 6.61 inches at Wild River State Park (Chisago County) in 2005; and the state record snowfall for this date is 4.0 inches at Indus (Koochiching County) in 1952.

Past Weather Features:

October 4-7, 1879 brought a taste of summer to Minnesota as temperatures soared into the 80s F for 4 consecutive days in many areas. Duluth reported a high of 78 degrees F on October 4, a record at the time, while the Twin Cities reached a high of 87 degrees F on the 5th, a record high not broken until 2011.

October 5-6, 1911 brought heavy thunderstorms to portions of southern and central Minnesota. Rainfall amounts ranging from 3-5 inches were reported from Pipestone, New Ulm, Mankato, St Peter, Redwood Falls, Farmington, Zumbrota, St Paul, Stillwater, and Glencoe. Farm fields were flooded for days.

October 5, 1935 was one of the coldest in state history. Several observers reported lows in the teens F, including 13 degrees F at Argyle, Hallock, and Beardsley, 14 degrees F at New Ulm, Crookston, Detroit Lakes, and Campbell, and 16 degrees F at Big Falls, Pokegama Dam, and Wadena. The daytime high at Albert Lea was only 39 degrees F, and only 36 degrees F at Brainerd.

The warmest October 5th in state history was in 1963 when over 30 Minnesota communities saw the temperature rise to 90 degrees F or higher, topped by 98 degrees F at Beardsley, the highest temperature ever measured in state so late in the year.

October 4-6, 2000 brought snow to many northern Minnesota communities. Thief River Falls, Roseau, and Littlefork reported over 2 inches, while Baudette and Thorhult reported over 3 inches. After the snowfall temperatures fell into the low to mid 20s F in many areas, and as low as 18 degrees F at Embarrass and 11 degrees F at Tower.

One of the worst ever October flash floods occurred over October 4-5, 2005 in east-central Minnesota. Heavy thunderstorms persisted over eastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin on these two days, resulting in rainfall totals that ranged from 5 to 9 inches across parts of Pine, Isanti, Chisago, Washington, Morrison, Anoka, and Dakota Counties. Several roads were flooded, and I-35 was closed for a time between Rock Creek (Pine County) and Harris (Chisago County). All-time record single day rainfall totals for October were reported from Wild River State Park (6.61"), St Francis (6.24"), Mora (5.78"), Hinckley (5.43"), Cambridge (5.20"), and Stillwater (5.04"), among others.

It was 90 degrees F on October 5, 2011 (last year) at Granite Falls, MN. Today's high is expected to be in the mid 40s F there.

Word of the Week: Roebber Method

The National Weather Service uses the Roebber Method in snowfall forecasting. It is based on research done by Paul Roebber of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The Roebber Method helps in determining the snow/water ration or snow density. Important factors considered in this method include solar radiation, vertical temperature structure, vertical relative humidity structure, and surface condition in terms of compaction and snowpack metamorphism. The Roebber Method was developed in 2002 and is still in use. In fact this method was used by forecasters for estimating snowfall from the winter storm in the Red River Valley this week. You can read more about the Roebber Method here.


Cool and dry weekend coming up with temperatures well below normal. Warming trend on Monday, with increasing clouds and a chance for scattered precipitation. Temperatures will be closer to seasonal normals. Then cooler again for the rest of next week, with a chance for precipitation towards next weekend.
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