Downward trend in temperatureMany 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 workshopThe 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 potpourriThe 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 web site.
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 questionHow 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 12thThe 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 12thMSP 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 12thThe 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.