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Extension > Mark Seeley's WeatherTalk > 2013

Friday, December 27, 2013

Preliminary climate summary for December 2013

Preliminary climate summary for December 2013


Clearly the coldest month of December statewide since 2000, this month brought average temperatures across the state that were 7 to 13 degrees F colder than normal, with many nights well below 0 degrees F. Some communities will report average monthly temperatures for December that fall within the coldest ten historically. Some of these locations include:

International Falls 3rd coldest
Mankato 4th coldest
Grand Rapids 5th coldest
St Cloud 6th coldest
Duluth 8th coldest
For the Twin Cities, an area greatly affected by the urban heat island, December of 2013 will rank 17th coldest (back to 1871), and for Rochester it will rank 14th coldest. On a statewide basis it appears that December 2013 will be ranked as the 7th coldest in history (back to 1895). Extreme values for the month ranged from 48 degrees F at Pipestone on the 3rd to -35 degrees F at Embarrass and Babbitt on the 24th and at Hibbing on the 8th.

December was also a wet, snowy month. Many northeastern Minnesota communities reported over 2 inches of precipitation, and some reported over 3 inches. Two Harbors recorded its snowiest December in history with nearly 55 inches of snowfall. The observer at Wright (Carlton County) also reported a December record with over 30 inches. Though not record setting many other observers reported well above normal snowfall amounts. Duluth reported over 40 inches, their 3rd snowiest December historically. Snowfall was also persistent in many places. Some observers reported that 20 or more days during the month brought snowfall. By month's end snow depths were well over 15 inches in the northern half of the state.

2013 climate highlights for Minnesota

Besides the exceptionally cold December, other climate aberrations captured our attention in 2013. For southwestern Minnesota residents the memory of the April 9-10 ice storm will remain for the rest of their lives. The ice storm closed roads and took out power to many communities for days. Certainly many Minnesota citizens will also remember the prolonged winter that brought record May snowfall amounts, delayed planting, and record late ice-out dates on many northern lakes. The storm over May 1-3, 2013 brought record-setting snowfall amounts for 1-day, 2-day, and total monthly snowfall amounts (over 17 inches at Dodge Center and Ellendale). Prevented planting claims by many farmers were the largest in several decades, and some corn fields were actually not planted until the last days of May. A complex of thunderstorms brought severe weather over the Summer Solstice weekend (June 21-23) with damaging hail, strong winds, and flooding rains. Thousands of insurance claims were filed as a result of these storms. And lastly 2013 brought a very warm State Fair, overall the 3rd warmest in history. On Tuesday, August 27, Cathy Wurzer, Paul Huttner, and I endured a Heat Index of 112 degrees F to broadcast a show from the MPR stage on the fairgrounds. Many bottles of water and other beverages were consumed that day.

Pete Boulay of the DNR-Minnesota State Climatology Office has posted the top five Minnesota weather/climate stories of the year on our web site. These were voted as the top stories by our community of media, meteorologists, and observers. You can view it here.

Weekly Weather Potpourri

Heavy rains plagued many parts of the United Kingdom this holiday week. At one time there were over 50 flood warnings in effect, especially in southern portions. The weather caused a great deal of travel delays for airports and the highway system. Many communities also suffered through power outages over the holidays. You can read more here.

Scientists from the National Snow and Ice Data Center reported earlier this month that satellite measurements from the NASA Aqua satellite and Landsat 8 satellite show that temperatures on the high plateau of Antarctica go well below the coldest temperatures previously measured on Earth. They have measured temperatures there of -134 to -137 degrees F along the highest elevations of the eastern ice divide. You can read more about this here.

Environment Canada reported that Winnipeg set a new record low on December 23rd this month with a reading of -32 degrees F. That city too is reporting one of its coldest Decembers historically.

MPR listener question

With the end of the year upon us, how will 2013 rank statewide for temperature and precipitation?

Answer: 2013 climate data through December 26, 2013 suggest the year will go down as cooler than normal and wetter than normal for most Minnesota observers. The statewide average annual temperature in 2013 will be about 40.3 degrees F, or about 2 degrees F cooler than normal. The statewide total precipitation for 2013 will be about 28.32 inches or about 1.5 inches more than normal. The temperature for 2013 runs counter to the trend which clearly shows mostly warmer than normal years recently. The precipitation value for 2013 supports the trend of recent decades for wetter than normal conditions.

Twin Cities Almanac for December 27th

 The average MSP high temperature for this date is 24 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 8 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation).

 

MSP Local Records for December 27th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 46 degrees F in 1959; lowest daily maximum temperature of -9 degrees F in 1924; lowest daily minimum temperature is -24 degrees F in 1872 and 1886; highest daily minimum temperature of 38 F in 2003; record precipitation of 0.70 inches in 1959; and a record 6.0 inches of snow fell on this date in 1971.
Average dew point for December 27th is 11 degrees F, with a maximum of 46 degrees F in 1959 and a minimum of -34 degrees F in 1924.

All-time state records for December 27th

The state record high temperature for this date is 54 degrees F at Canby (Yellow Medicine County) in 1994. The state record low temperature for this date is -50 degrees F at Tower (St Louis County) in 1993. State record precipitation for this date is 2.50 inches at Fort Ridgely (Nicollet County) in 1856; and state record snowfall for this date is 18.0 inches at Montgomery (Le Sueur County) in 1968.

Past Weather Features:

A large snow storm on December 27, 1904 brought 6 to 14 inches of snow to many parts of the state. Many residents could not travel for New Years celebrations and trains were seriously delayed.  December 27, 1928 brought a warm respite from winter as many communities saw afternoon temperatures climb into the 40s F. At least 7 western communities reported highs of 50 degrees F or greater under mostly sunny skies. Temperatures remained mild until New Years Eve when the thermometer fell below 0 degrees F again.  December 27, 1933 was one of the coldest in state history with dozens of Minnesota communities reporting lows of -30 degrees F or colder. Several northern observers reported -40 degrees F or colder and it was -30 degrees F as far south as Rochester. Albert Lea reported a high temperature of only -3 degrees F, but it warmed up to 40 degrees F for New Years Eve.

 Outlook

Chance for snow, especially in the north, with strong winds on Saturday, then turning sharply colder on Sunday west to east. Windchill values will be a concern on Saturday night and early Sunday. Bitterly cold Sunday night through Wednesday with some occasional snow flurries. Milder temperatures by next Thursday and Friday but still cooler than normal.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Happy winter solstice!

HAPPY WINTER SOLSTICE!

The winter solstice will occur Saturday morning (Dec 21), officially, at 11:11 am CST. At that time, the earth's spin axis will be oriented so that the sun appears to be the farthest south in the local sky (midday over the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere). While most of us consider this event to be the start of astronomical winter, the British call this day the "Midwinter Day", as the apparent sun will begin its northward climb again, back toward the equator. For essentially all locations in the Northern Hemisphere, Saturday night will be the longest of the year. On a brighter note, starting Monday the length of darkness will begin to shrink as we head toward the summer solstice on 21 June 2014.

Some reports of heavy snow this month

Snowfall has been both frequent and heavy for many observers in Minnesota this month. Both International Falls and Duluth report snowfall on 12 of the first 20 days. Many northern observers have recorded over 20 inches of December snowfall so far, including International Falls, Cass Lake, Grand Rapids, Leech Lake, Babbitt, Chisholm, Floodwood, Grand Marais, Grand Portage, Bruno, Cloquet, and Wright. Areas around Two Harbors have reported over 40 inches of snowfall. According to the DNR areas along the north shore of Lake Superior are reporting snow depths in excess of two feet.

Spell below 32 degrees F ends in the Twin Cities

The cold and snow dominated Minnesota over the December 4-17 period, producing 13 consecutive days of temperatures below the freezing mark (32 F) in the Twin Cities. Though somewhat troublesome for not melting the snow on our roads and highways this spell of below freezing temperatures was no where near a record for the month of December. In both 1972 and 2000 December brought 26 consecutive days with temperatures below 32 degrees F, while in December of 1983 the thermometer never reached the 32 degrees F mark in the Twin Cities.

Besides prolonged cold temperatures, some nights have brought temperatures of -30 degrees or colder to several communities in the north, including Cass Lake, International Falls, Cook, Babbitt, Hill City, Ely, Floodwood, Gunflint Lake, Hibbing, Orr, Tower, Brimson, and Embarrass. A reading of -38 degrees F at Brimson on the 8th is the coldest for the month so far. Minnesota has seen the coldest temperature in the nation on at least four dates during the month and a number of new daily low temperature records have been set. Some of the more notable ones have been:

-38 degrees F at Brimson on the 8th
-32 degrees F at International Falls on the 15th
-29 degrees F at Cass Lake on the 8th
-27 degrees F at Itasca State Park on the 12th
-19 degrees F at Browns Valley on the 7th
-17 degrees F at Windom on the 12th

In addition on both December 13th and December 15th strong winds combined with the cold temperatures to produce dangerous Windchill values that ranged from -30 to -40 degrees F. And finally, most observers are reporting average monthly temperatures so far that are 6 to 12 degrees colder than normal, marking the coldest December since 2000.

Weekly Weather Potpourri

NOAA features a report on the Arctic weather and climate conditions of 2013 on their web site this week. Continued trends toward a greener and warmer Arctic landscape were in play during 2013. You can read more about this on NOAA's website.

If you like you can also stay on the NOAA web site and read about the climatology associated with a White Christmas. A complete geographical depiction of the chances for a White Christmas are mapped and described there in great detail here.

The United Kingdom Meteorological Office announced this week the results of a new study which shows that in many areas of the globe the frequency of river flooding will increase with climate change. In addition some peak flow volumes may change as well. The study combined the results of both climate models and river flow simulations models for a number of different regions. You can read more about it at  the UK Meteorological Office's website.

Among other the weather stories of 2013 the impact of Super Typhoon Haiyan on the Philippines was voted the top story of the year by the BBC. The Australian Heat Wave and Wildfire season was also voted among the top weather stories of 2013. You can see the BBC program on these storms and others on their website.

Two strong tropical cyclones formed in the Southern Indian Ocean this week. Cyclone Bruce, southeast of Diego Garcia, was producing winds well over 130 mph and sea wave heights of 30-35 feet. It was expected to remain at sea and dissipate by Christmas Day. East of La Reunion Island Cyclone Amara was spinning and producing sea wave heights of 30-35 feet with winds over 120 mph. It too was expected to remain at sea and dissipate by Christmas Day.

This week there was further revelation about the EPA Climate Policy Expert (John Beale) who committed nearly a decade of fraud. He was sentence to 32 months in prison. This is an embarrassing story for the EPA and who it relied on for climate policy advise. You can read more here.

MPR listener question

Last spring when the cold seemed to go forever, it was partly blamed on global warming (climate change) breaking down whatever weather mechanisms hold cold weather to the north. Is that what's going on now? I seem to recall that it also had something to do with changes in the jet stream.

Answer: Indeed, an unusual jet stream pattern prevailed last spring which kept temperatures cooler than normal and brought frequent and heavy precipitation (record-setting in southeastern MN). A somewhat similar pattern prevailed for the first 2.5 weeks this month, but the jet stream has recently flattened out (more west to east orientation), bringing us more moderate temperature conditions. It is an oversimplification to ascribe this jet stream pattern solely to climate change in the Arctic latitudes. It may have something to do with the jet stream configurations we are experiencing, but it is likely more complicated than that involving oscillating behaviors in the pressure patterns and sea surface temperatures of mid to high latitude positions.

Twin Cities Almanac for December 20th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 26 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 10 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for December 20th


MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 51 degrees F in 1967; lowest daily maximum temperature of -11 degrees F in 1916; lowest daily minimum temperature is -24 degrees F in 1916; highest daily minimum temperature of 39 F in 1923; record precipitation of 0.74 inches in 1902; and a record 4.6 inches of snow fell on this date in 2010.
Average dew point for December 20th is 9 degrees F, with a maximum of 44 degrees F in 1967 and a minimum of -30 degrees F in 1963.

 All-time state records for December 20th

The state record high temperature for this date is 69 degrees F at Faribault (Rice County) in 1923. The state record low temperature for this date is -49 degrees F at Tower (St Louis County) in 1983. State record precipitation for this date is 1.50 inches at Worthington (Nobles County) in 1902; and state record snowfall for this date is 13.0 inches at Le Sueur (Le Sueur County) in 1887.

Past Weather Features:

December 20, 1887 brought heavy snowfall to many parts of Minnesota. In fact it was a very snowy December, with over half the days bringing snowfall. On the 20th many observers in southern Minnesota reported snowfall amounts ranging from 8 to 12 inches.  A strong winter storm brought significant precipitation to most parts of the state over December 20-21, 1902. A mixture of snow, sleet, and rain prevailed. Many observers reported 1 to 1.5 inches of precipitation, setting new daily record amounts.  December of 1923 was one of the warmest in state history. Over the 19th and 20th many Minnesota communities reported daytime temperatures in the 50s and 60s F, especially in southern counties where there was an absence of snow cover. The month was very sunny as well, but turned quite wintry for New Year's Eve.  The coldest December 20 in state history occurred in 1983. Over 60 Minnesota communities reported -30 degrees F or colder, and ten communities were -40 degrees F or colder. Brainerd reported -41 degrees F, while Faribault was -35 degrees F. It was a somewhat windy day as well producing Windchill values of -40 to -50 degrees F. December of 1983 proved to be the coldest of the 20th Century.

Outlook

Cooler over the weekend with a chance for snow on Sunday. Continued cool with another chance for snow on Tuesday and Wednesday, then cooler and drier towards the end of next week.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Heavy snow opens the month of December

Heavy snow opens the month of December

Most of the state reported measurable snowfall during the first week of December. Monday through Wednesday of this week (Dec 2-4) brought almost continuous snow to many areas of northeastern Minnesota, especially the north shore along Lake Superior. The greatest amount of snowfall reported by a National Weather Service observer came from 7 miles north of Two Harbors where 35.3 inches was recorded. The Duluth Weather Service Office reported a storm total of 23.3 inches, and Duluth public schools were cancelled two consecutive days over the 3rd and 4th. Tofte reported 25 inches and Wolf Ridge reported 20.7 inches for the week. Many other areas of the state accumulated 5 to 10 inches of snowfall this week, while areas of southeastern Minnesota received mostly rain and drizzle.

Several observers reported some new daily snowfall records for dates this week: On December 2nd, Grand Rapids reported a new daily snowfall record of 9.5 inches (and new daily precipitation record of 0.59 inches); on December 3rd new daily snowfall records were reported from Wadena (9.0"), Sandy Lake Dam (7.5"), and Brainerd (5.5", plus record precipitation of 0.60"); on December 4th new daily record snowfall amounts were reported from International Falls (8.5") and St Cloud (5.0" tied 1926); and on December 5th new daily record snowfall amounts were reported from Itasca State Park (5.0") and Grand Portage (8.2").

Following the snowfall an Arctic air mass spilled into the state from the north causing overnight lows to drop below 0 degrees F in many places. Of further note, the National Weather Service forecast models suggest that cold and snowy weather will dominate the state throughout the first three weeks of December. Some of the coldest December temperatures since 2008 are expected around southern portions of the state.

You can read more about the week's snowfall at the State Climatology Office and NWS-Duluth web sites.

Follow-up on Source Magazine Article

Many WeatherTalk Newsletter readers and others have been asking to read the article about climate change in Minnesota which was published this fall in Source Magazine produced by the University of Minnesota Extension. Indeed climate change is real in our state, and already having measurable consequences. You can read the entire article on-line here.

Weekly Weather potpourri


A significant tropical cyclone was forming in the Bay of Bengal off the southeast coast of India this week. It was expected to bring high winds and heavy rains to portions of the east India coastline.

Highlights from the weekly drought assessment by Brad Rippey at the USDA World Agricultural Outlook Board:
-There was negligible change in U.S. drought coverage during the seven-day drought-monitoring period, as tranquil weather prevailed in the wake of a pre-Thanksgiving storm across the South and East.
-Parts of the six-state Southeast region experienced a beneficial boost in soil moisture from the pre-Thanksgiving storm. As a result, Southeastern coverage of abnormal dryness (D0) dipped to 42.99% on December 3, down from 56.87% two weeks ago.
- Since the current drought-monitoring period ended (7 a.m. EST on December 3), a new winter storm has begun to unfold across the U.S. Improvements related to this storm will be reflected in next week’s U.S. Drought Monitor, to be released on December 12.

The NOAA web site offers a brush-up on winter weather advisories, watches, and warnings, including criteria used for such information and some winter driving tips. Given our recent change over to winter it might be worth reviewing for yourself here.

MPR listener question

With an Arctic air mass expected to visit us, our family was wondering what is the coldest ever December temperature in Minnesota? An what about the coldest windchill conditions in December?

Answer: The coldest temperature measured in December is -57 degrees on New Years Eve at Pokegama Dam in 1898. Incidentally the high warmed all the way up to -10 degrees F that day. The worst December windchill conditions were on December 23, 1983 when windchill values in the northern Red River Valley ranged from -55 to -60 degrees F.

Twin Cities Almanac for December 6th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 29 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 14 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for December 6th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 63 degrees F in 1939; lowest daily maximum temperature of -2 degrees F in 1972; lowest daily minimum temperature is -19 degrees F in 1972; highest daily minimum temperature of 37 F in 1951; record precipitation of 0.53 inches in 1935; and a record 4.1 inches of snow fell on this date in 1969.

Average dew point for December 6th is 13 degrees F, with a maximum of 42 degrees F in 1951 and a minimum of -28 degrees F in 1972.

All-time state records for December 6th

The state record high temperature for this date is 73 degrees F at Beardsley (Big Stone County), Marshall, and Milan in 1939. The state record low temperature for this date is -34 degrees F at Ft Ripley (Crow Wing County) in 1873. State record precipitation for this date is 2.00 inches at Worthington (Nobles County) in 1917; and state record snowfall for this date is 23.2 inches at Duluth (St Louis County) in 1950.

Past Weather Features:

A slow moving heavy snow storm brought the state to a standstill over December 5-7, 1950. Many observers reported over a foot of snowfall. Some of the heaviest amounts included 33.1 inches at Duluth, 24.2 inches at Cloquet, 14 inches at Faribault, and 12.7 inches at Rochester. December 6-7, 1972 brought an Arctic air mass which set several low temperature records across the state of Minnesota. Nearly all portions of the state saw the thermometer drop to -20 degrees F or colder, with dangerous windchill conditions. For many communities temperatures never rose above zero F over those two days.  December 6, 1939 was arguably the warmest December day in Minnesota history. Over 40 state weather observers reported high temperatures in the 60s F, with 6 communities exceeding 70 degrees F under bright, sunny skies. The entire month was warm with many days over 50 degrees F. It turned out to be the warmest December in state history.

Outlook

Sunny and cold on Saturday, then increasing clouds on Sunday with a chance for snow. Continued chance for snow on Monday with cold temperatures. Generally dry and cold next Tuesday and Wednesday, then a warming trend starts on Thursday pulling temperatures back up to the teens and twenties, with a chance for snow towards next weekend.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Preliminary November climate summary

Preliminary November climate summary

Cold and dry describe the climate for November this year. Most observers report average monthly temperatures that range from 1 to 3 degrees F colder than normal. Extreme temperatures for the month ranged from 66 degrees F at Wheaton on the 14th to -11 degrees F at Roseau, Thief River Falls, and Orr on the 24th. General absence of full, sunny days, abundant cloud cover, and a high frequency of fog prevented daytime maximum temperatures from getting very high.

Most observers reported a drier than normal month as well, with less than a half inch being a common amount. In the western part of the state places like Milan and Madison reported less than a tenth of an inch. Northeastern and southeastern counties reported some above normal monthly precipitation with amounts ranging from 1 to 2 inches. Some wet spots in the state included Caledonia with 2.19 inches, Cannon Falls with 2.65 inches, La Crescent with 2.09 inches, and Preston with 1.90 inches. Most observers reported some snowfall as well, though usually just small amounts. Some of the larger monthly snowfall amounts were 9.0 inches at Marshall and Pipestone, 7.4 inches at International Falls, 7.9 inches at Kabetogama, 7.6 inches at Cook, 6.4 inches at Lamberton, and 6.0 inches at Hutchinson.

By the end of the month most areas soils were frozen to a depth of 4 inches, and many area lakes were showing thin ice on the surface.

Testing the 20/20 rule for December in the Twin Cities

Some older Minnesota citizens have told me about something they call the 20/20 rule. It goes like this, whenever you get 20 inches of snow during a winter month (Dec-Feb) you will likely also see a reading of at least -20 degrees F. I tested this idea with the Twin Cities climate record for the month of December, and sure enough it works pretty well. For the period from 1820 to 2012, I examined all Decembers when at least 20 inches of snowfall was measured or estimated. This has happened 14 times over the past 193 years (some of these are estimated in the Pioneer records).

Year December snowfall total (inches) Lowest temperature
in degrees F
1830 20.0(15 days with snow) -26 F on the 21st
1849 30.0 -22 F on the 29th
1865 26.1 -26 F on the 21st
1879 20.0 -39 F on the 25th
1880 22.0 -27 F on the 28th
1902 24.0 -20 F on the 26th
1927 22.8 -15 F on the 31st
(Maple Plain reported -22 F in Dec 1927)
1950
25.0
-20 F on the 27th
1968
28.7
-19 F on the 31st
(Stillwater reported -28 F and Forest Lake -31 F in Dec 1968)
1969
33.2
0 F on the 27th
(-10 F at Stillwater, Farmington and Forest Lake, but otherwise a cloudy month)
1983
21.0
-29 F on the 19th
1996
23.7
-27 F on the 26th
2001
30.2
-24 F on the 25th*
2010
33.6
-8 F on the 13th
(Stillwater reported -17 F on Dec 14th)
*data taken from NWS headquarters at Chanhassen

With two exceptions, 1969 and 2010, the 20/20 rule appears to hold up pretty well. In the modern era the urban heat island of the Twin Cities is probably disrupting this rule.

Weekly Weather potpourri

A strong winter storm with high winds and mixed precipitation disrupted Thanksgiving travel plans for many Americas along the East Coast on Wednesday this week. There were many airport cancellations and delays, along with snarled traffic patterns. With the additional rainfall from this storm, Asheville, NC set a new annual precipitation record with 65.66 inches in 2013.

Tropical Cyclone Lehar was bringing heavy seas and rains the eastern coastal regions of Indian this week. It was expected to dissipate over the weekend.

The weekly USA drought update from Brad Rippey of the USDA World Agricultural Outlook Board included these highlights:
-Well-placed storm systems continued to reduce the coverage of U.S. drought, with just 30.57% of the Lower 48 States in drought on November 26. This is a decline of 1.88 percentage points from a week ago and represents the smallest U.S. drought coverage since December 27, 2011.
-Based on the definitions of drought employed in the production the U.S. Drought Monitor, historical U.S. drought coverage should average near 20%. The last time contiguous U.S. drought coverage was below 20% was December 14, 2010.

MPR listener question

What are the all-time records for extreme temperature in Minnesota during the month of December?

Answer: The warmest ever in December was 73 degrees F at Beardsley and Milan on December 6, 1939. The last time 70 degrees F was reported in the state during December was December 1, 1998 when Chaska reported a 70 F reading. The coldest temperature ever reported in December was -57 degrees F at Pokegama Dam on New year's Eve, 1898. The most recent bitterly cold December temperatures were in 1993 (-50 F at Tower).

Twin Cities Almanac for November 29th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 31 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 29th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 62 degrees F in 1998; lowest daily maximum temperature of -4 degrees F in 1875; lowest daily minimum temperature is -25 degrees F in 1875; highest daily minimum temperature of 50 F in 1998; record precipitation of 1.38 inches in 1991; and a record 12.6 inches of snow fell on this date in 1991.

Average dew point for November 29th is 18 degrees F, with a maximum of 57 degrees F in 1998 and a minimum of -24 degrees F in 1958.

All-time state records for November 29th


The state record high temperature for this date is 68 degrees F at Albert Lea (Freeborn County) in 1999. The state record low temperature for this date is -39 degrees F at Tower (St Louis County) in 1896. State record precipitation for this date is 2.85 inches at Farmington (Dakota County) in 1934; and state record snowfall for this date is 16.0 inches at Cambridge (Isanti County) in 1991.

Past Weather Features:

A strong winter storm brought snow and high winds to the state the last week of November in 1875. With fresh snow cover and Arctic high pressure over the state on November 29 temperatures plummeted to as low as -25 (Twin Cities) to -35 degrees F. Many observers also reported that daytime highs did not rise above 0 F on the 29th.  Following the famous Thanksgiving snow storm of 1896 cold temperatures gripped the state again, this time even more severely. At least 9 northern Minnesota communities saw the thermometer drop to -30 degrees F or colder on November 29th. The daytime high at Crookston and Roseau only reached -15 degrees F. As far south as St Peter, the temperature fell to -20 degrees F.  A very deep low pressure system crossed Lake Superior on November 29, 1960 producing strong winds (up to 73 mph) and 20 to 40 foot waves on the big lake. Over 3 feet of water flooded downtown Grand Marais, while in the highlands away from the lake over a foot of new snow fell. There was a good deal of coastal erosion as thousands of cords of pulpwood washed into the lake in Cook County.  Perhaps the most widespread and heaviest snow storm to strike the east central Minnesota on November 29 happened in 1991. Many areas from St Cloud north to Aitkin reported 12 to 16 inches of snowfall, closing some roads and making Black Friday shopping very difficult for customers. By far the warmest November 29th in state history occurred in 1998 (a strong El Nino year), when over 40 communities in central and southern counties recorded daytime highs in the 60s F. Some citizens took advance of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend to have a Sunday afternoon cook-out or walk in the park.

Outlook

Somewhat near normal temperatures with little precipitation over the weekend, though mostly cloudy skies will prevail. Chance for snow on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday next week with warmer temperatures. Cooler again by next weekend.

Friday, November 22, 2013

New Seasonal Climate Outlook

New Seasonal Climate Outlook

On Thursday, November 21, the NOAA-Climate Prediction Center released new seasonal outlooks covering meteorological winter, from December through February. The new outlooks favor below normal temperature conditions Dec-Feb for North Dakota, Northern portions of South Dakota, and many parts of western and northern Minnesota. Outlooks do not distinctly favor above or below normal precipitation for Minnesota during the winter season.

Tornadoes in the central USA on November 17, 2013

Last Sunday, November 17 was a dramatic and traumatic day weatherwise for citizens in IL, IN, KY, TN, MI, and OH. Between 11:00 am and 6:00 pm over 110 tornado reports were filed with the NOAA-Storm Prediction Center, as were over 500 strong wind reports and over 30 large hail reports. Two EF-4 tornadoes (winds 166-200 mph) and at least one EF-3 (winds 136-165 mph) tornado struck in Illinois killing six people, injuring scores of people, and damaging or destroying hundreds of homes. According to Dr. Jeff Masters of the Weather Underground this outbreak of November tornadoes ranks among the top four or five worst in USA history (Novembers 1987, 1992, 2001, 2002, and 2005 brought numerous tornadoes too), but it is especially notable for bringing these storms so far north. Such storms this time of year are more commonly in the southern plains states or the southeastern states. You can read more from Dr. Masters here.

And more from the Central Illinois National Weather Service in Lincoln, I.

Minnesota's final tornado tally in 2013

Todd Krause, Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the NOAA-National Weather Service in Chanhassen reported this week that Minnesota saw just 15 tornadoes this year, the fewest since 1990 when there were only 12. The tornado reports by month were: 2 in May; 4 in June; 2 in July; 5 in August; 1 in September; and 1 in October. The strongest tornado was rated at EF-2 (winds 111-135 mph) and occurred from 1:50 am to 2:30 am across Mahnomen and Clearwater Counties, near the town of Zerkel. It was on the ground for over 21 miles and did some tree damage, but there were no deaths or injuries. In fact on a statewide basis there were no deaths or injuries reported due to tornadoes this year.

Snow and cold spreading across the state

 A low pressure system passing over Lake Superior brought plenty of clouds and mixed precipitation (rain, freezing drizzle, and snow) to Minnesota on Thursday (Nov 21). Hallock (Kittson County) reported 4 inches of snowfall by noon, which tied the daily record amount for snowfall there on November 21st. Elsewhere in the north Red Lake Falls and Warroad reported 1.5 inches of snow, while in the southeast Rosemount and Rochester reported 1 inch of new snow. Slushy roads and icy patches were slowing traffic in north-central and southeastern counties by afternoon, with many spinouts and accidents reported.

Weekly Weather potpourri

Pete Boulay of the MN State Climatology Office has posted the complete climatology for the Thanksgiving Holiday in the Twin Cities area (1872-2012). The warmest Thanksgiving Day was in 1914 and 1922 when the afternoon temperature reached 62 degrees F. The most recent mild Thanksgiving was just last year when the temperature hit 60 degrees F in the Twin Cities. The coldest Thanksgiving Day temperature was a morning minimum of -18 degrees F on November 25, 1880. You can read more fun Thanksgiving weather facts from Pete Boulay here.

The Weather Channel web site has posted an interesting piece on the largest 24-hour snowfalls recorded in each of the 50 states. Some of the numbers may startle you. For example on March 6, 1954 parts of the Florida panhandle recorded 4 inches of snowfall. Granted it did not last too long. Further north in South Carolina the town of Society Hill recorded 18 inches of snowfall on February 25, 1914. BTW for Minnesota Wold Ridge Environmental Learning Center near Finland (Lake County) holds the record with 36 inches of new snow on January 7, 1994. You can read more at the Weather Channel web site.

Highlights from the USDA Weekly Drought Update given by the World Agricultural Outlook Board:
-U.S. drought coverage reversed its recent downward trend, with 32.45% of the Lower 48 States in drought on November 19 (up more than 2 percentage points from last week). This represents the first increase in U.S. drought coverage since September 10, 2013.
- Out west, Extreme Drought (D3) in California jumped from 11.36% to 27.59% over the past week. In California’s San Joaquin Valley, the city of Bakersfield moved completely to ground water supplies due to the dry conditions and lack of surface water. Reservoirs are approaching 70% of average capacity. According to local National Weather Service experts, this level has historically been one of the measures of statewide drought, especially with precipitation being historically low for the calendar year.
-For the third week in a row, a little more than one-fifth (22%) of the U.S. hay production area was in drought. Although most of the wheat crop is growing well – rated 63% good to excellent on November 17 – dryness remains a concern on the southern High Plains.

A new study recently published in Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society shows that the Arctic region is warming at about 8 times the pace of the rest of planet Earth. This study authored by Kevin Cowtan of the University of York and Robert Way of the University of Ottawa also suggests that the slowed pace of warming in recent years detected by some global observation data is incorrect probably because of sampling error. You can read more about this study here.

MPR listener question

Which month has the highest frequency of fog in the Twin Cities?

Answer: The statistical distribution of fog keeps changing slightly with each passing decade in the Twin Cities climate record. In the 1990s December showed the highest frequency of fog, followed by January and February. The more recent data show that the highest incidence of heavy fogs occurs in March, followed by February, and December. Winter inversions (increasing temperature with height) are more common during these months keeping moist air trapped near the ground. Fog can more easily form at night under these conditions. By the way, the month with the lowest frequency of fog is July. Often times the conditions that support fog formation also lead to poor air quality in the Twin Cities.

Twin Cities Almanac for November 22nd

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 35 degrees F (plus or minus 10 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 21 degrees F (plus or minus 9 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for November 22nd

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 59 degrees F in 1998; lowest daily maximum temperature of 12 degrees F in 1880 and 1921; lowest daily minimum temperature is -6 degrees F in 1880; highest daily minimum temperature of 45 F in 2009; record precipitation of 0.58 inches in 1898; and a record 5.5 inches of snow fell on this date in 1898.

Average dew point for November 22nd is 29 degrees F, with a maximum of 53 degrees F in 1963 and a minimum of -7 degrees F in 1970.

All-time state records for November 22nd

The state record high temperature for this date is 72 degrees F at Preston (Fillmore County) in 1990. The state record low temperature for this date is -26 degrees F at Ada (Norman County) in 1896. State record precipitation for this date is 2.18 inches at Willow River (Pine County) in 1898; and state record snowfall for this date is 13.0 inches at Pokegama Dam (Itasca County) in 1898.

Past Weather Features:

A strong Arctic cold front passed across the state over November 21-22, 1896 dropping temperatures by 40-50 degrees F. Ada dropped 52 degrees F from plus 26 F to minus 26 F. Many other communities saw the thermometer drop to -20 degrees F or colder including Crookston, Tower, Moorhead, Detroit Lakes, and Park Rapids. November of 1896 remains the coldest in state history, averaging nearly 12 degrees F colder than normal.  November 21-22, 1898 brought a strong winter storm to Minnesota, with strong winds and mixed precipitation. Many southern and eastern Minnesota observers reported 6 to 12 inches of snowfall. In addition temperatures dropped dramatically during the storm falling from the 30s and 40s F into the single digits and below zero F range. The rest of that November remained quite cold with a number of nights below 0 degrees F.  November 22, 1990 was the warmest in state history with over 20 Minnesota communities reporting daytime highs in the 60s F. It was 64 degrees F as far north as Grand Rapids, and some observers in southeastern Minnesota saw the thermometer reach 70 degrees F or higher, including the towns of Preston, Grand Meadow, Red Wing, and Winona.  A winter storm brought 3 to 6 inches of snowfall to many parts of Minnesota over November 21-22, 1997. A mixture of precipitation made driving conditions difficult in some areas.

Outlook

Breezy, sunny, and cold on Saturday with highs in the single digits and teens F. Moderating temperatures on Sunday, climbing into the 20s and 30s F, and chance for light snow in the north. Generally cooler than normal with dry weather leading up to Thanksgiving next week.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Coldest temperature of the autumn season

Coldest temperature of the autumn season

Monday and Tuesday, November 11-12, this week brought the coldest temperatures of the autumn season so far. Thief River Falls reported a low of just 0 degrees F on the 11th, while Fosston (Polk County), Lakefield, and Pipestone reported their first readings of 0 degrees F on the morning of the 12th (Tue). Windom reported the state low on Tuesday the 12th with -1 degrees F. Many other observers reported lows in the single digits F. On Monday, November 11th Fosston reported a daily maximum temperature of just 16 degrees F, while Bemidji reported a new cold maximum temperature record of just 14 degrees F. Fortunately, the arctic cold was short-lived and temperatures warmed by 35-40 degrees F by Wednesday (Nov 13), then moderated the rest of the week.

Lake ice forming, then thawing

With the colder than normal temperatures dominating from November 5-12 some observers were reporting surface ice on ponds and shallow lakes. Even the shallow bays of lakes like Vermilion and Mille Lacs were showing ice earlier this week. Water temperatures along the western shores of Lake Superior had fallen in the range of 34-36 degrees F. With a return of 40 degrees F air temperatures some of the ice in shallow lakes was melting or shrinking in coverage. Moderating temperatures near normal and above normal will probably keep ice cover from fully developing until much later this month, perhaps after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Weekly Weather potpourri

Somalia was hit by a Tropical Cyclone last Sunday which brought high winds and heavy rains to many parts of the country. Some reports indicated rainfall amounts of 4-8 inches were common, and in a few cases rainfall may have approached 12 inches. Winds were also estimated to range from 30-60 mph. Flooding was widespread and reports indicated that the death toll from the storm may have been close to 300, with many thousands of people displaced by flooding waters. Several thousand livestock were lost in flood waters and a major highway bridge was washed away. This was only the 5th Tropical Cyclone to strike Somalia since 1966. On the heels of the Minnesota Climate Adaptation Conference held last week at the Science Museum in St Paul, an article appeared last week in the journal Science advocating for more attention to climate adaptation science and its practice. The article is based on a presentation made at the Aspen Institute last year and is written by Richard Moss of the DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. He says "science for adaptation starts with understanding decision-making processes and information needs, determining where the vulnerabilities are, and then moves to climate modeling....[and] tracks whether adaptation is effective,"
A description of the article can be found here.

Remarks from USDA meteorologist Brad Rippey at this week's drought briefing:
-U.S. drought coverage continued its downward trend, with just 31.76% of the Lower 48 States in drought on November 12. This represents the lowest U.S. drought coverage since December 27, 2011.
-Based on the definitions of drought employed in the production the U.S. Drought Monitor, historical U.S. drought coverage should average near 20%. The last time contiguous U.S. drought coverage was below 20% was December 14, 2010.
-However, most of the eastern U.S. has trended dry during the last two to three months, allowing for recent development of abnormal dryness (D0) and some moderate drought (D1). By November 12, dryness (D0) had expanded to cover 38% of the Southeast and 30% of the Northeast...
-On November 10, USDA/NASS reported that 84% of the U.S. corn and 91% of the soybeans had been harvested. Lingering drought remains a concern in a few Midwestern States, including Iowa (54% in drought on November 12), Minnesota (25%), Illinois (25%), Missouri (24%), and Wisconsin (23%).

MPR listener question

I have heard you speak about the erratic precipitation pattern this year, wet to start the year, then dry in the summer, and finally wet again this fall. Which areas of the state have had the most and least precipitation this year?

Answer: By far the wettest area of the state has been the southeastern counties. Caledonia (Houston County), Grand Meadow (Mower County), and Ostrander (Fillmore County) have all reported over 46 inches of precipitation so far this year, about 30-35 percent above normal. The far northwest has been the driest for the year with places like Crookston, Hallock, and Roseau reporting less than 20 inches. Warren in Marshall County has reported less than 16 inches, less than 75 percent of normal. With 7 weeks left in the year some of these numbers could change considerably.

Twin Cities Almanac for November 15th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 41 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 27 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for November 15th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 69 degrees F in 1953; lowest daily maximum temperature of 13 degrees F in 1932; lowest daily minimum temperature is 1 degrees F in 1940; highest daily minimum temperature of 55 F in 1930; record precipitation of 1.58 inches in 1996; and a record 5.1 inches of snow fell on this date in 1956.
Average dew point for November 15th is 29 degrees F, with a maximum of 54 degrees F in 2001 and a minimum of 0 degrees F in 1940.

All-time state records for November 15th

The state record high temperature for this date is 76 degrees F at Madison (Lac Qui Parle County) in 1953. The state record low temperature for this date is -36 degrees F at Angus (Polk County) in 1911. State record precipitation for this date is 2.68 inches at Stillwater (Washington County) in 1944; and state record snowfall for this date is 11.1 inches at Duluth (St Louis County) in 1956.

 

Past Weather Features:

A large, slow moving winter storm brought 6 to 18 inches of snowfall to the state over November 13-16, 1909. The heavy snow was a precursor to a very snowy Thanksgiving that year.  An Arctic air mass gripped the state over November 12-16, 1911 bringing extreme cold temperatures. Temperatures reported by most of Minnesota's weather observers were well below 0 degrees F on several mornings. Ten northern communities reported morning lows of -20 degrees F or colder, with Angus (Polk County) reporting -36 degrees F on the 15th, the coldest ever reading for so early in the fall. On some days the temperature never rose above 10 degrees F.  November 13-19 brought one of the most memorable mid November warm ups in state history. Temperatures average 18 to 22 degrees warmer than normal across the state. Over 50 Minnesota communities saw daytime temperatures reach 70 degrees F or higher. Many workers took their lunch outside to enjoy the last warm days of the fall season.  November 16, 1931 brought very warm temperatures to the state with readings in the 60s F. Some afternoon thunderstorms developed, producing strong winds and heavy rains which lingered into the evening hours. With this storm system came the latest autumn tornado ever documented in Minnesota. It was on the ground for 5 miles near Maple Plain shortly after 8:00 pm and destroyed a barn and some other buildings on a nearby farm.  Warm temperatures, along with thunderstorms visited the state over November 14-15, 1944. Many observers reported total rainfall between 1 and 2 inches. Observers at Hallock, Maple Plain, and Stillwater reported over 2 inches of rainfall. A winter storm brought rain, sleet, freezing rain, and snow to the state over November 14-16, 1951. Ice-coated power lines and trees were knocked down in southeastern Minnesota, causing widespread power outages. There were scores of traffic accidents and many roads were closed. Gonvick in northwestern Minnesota saw 26 inches of snow accumulate.  An unusual mid-November thunderstorm brought heavy rain to southern Minnesota counties on November 15, 1973. Many observers reported over an inch of rainfall in just one hour. Total rainfall exceeded two inches at Bricelyn and Blue Earth.

Outlook

Generally a cloudy weekend with above normal temperatures. Chances for rain in the south and snow in the north each day. Chance of snow mostly Sunday night with cooler temperatures on Monday. Moderating above normal temperatures and dry during the middle of next week with an increasing chance for showers towards the weekend.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Highlights of MN Climate Adaptation Conference

Highlights of MN Climate Adaptation Conference, November 7th, Science Museum of Minnesota

-Over 250 people attended, representing state agencies, local units of government, NGOs, academic institutions, industries, and others
-Participants discussed climate impacts on transportation, agriculture, public health, energy use, urban planning, watershed management, forestry, and the insurance industry
-Climate change is already having an impact on insurance, Minnesota was the only Midwestern state among the top 3 states with the highest insured catastrophic losses in both 2007 and 2008. Homeowners claims related to severe weather like hail and wind damage are up, as are average homeowner insurance premiums. Minnesota ranks 14th highest among states in homeowners insurance premiums and has seen a rise of over 267 percent in these costs since 1997. Not all of this is related directly to climate change, but some features of severe weather threats are changing and have at least partially had an effect.
-Minnesota DOT is quite concerned about climate change in the context of severe weather. Damage to roads and highways from the flash flood in Duluth, Cloquet, and Two Harbors in June of 2012 totaled over $50 million.

Significant snowfall this week

A winter storm brought a mixture of precipitation to the state over November 5-6 this week. Sections of southeastern SD and southwestern MN reported snowfall amounts of 5-10 inches, while southeastern Minnesota reported some significant rainfall amounts, well over 1 inch in some cases. The precipitation shadow from this storm covered much of the southern two-thirds of the state, with a snow swath spreading from SW counties through central and east central counties overnight. New daily snowfall records were set for November 6th at some locations including:
9 inches at Marshall
7 inches at Pipestone
6.2 inches at Redwood Falls
4.2 inches at Litchfield
4.0 inches at Slayton, Cambridge, Lakefield, and Kimball
3.8 inches at Windom
3.5 inches at Granite Falls

In southeastern Minnesota several observers reported over 1 inch of precipitation, including some locations that set new daily rainfall records for November 6th such as Spring Valley (1.12"), Chatfield (1.23"), Grand Meadow (1.27"), Caledonia (1.40"), La Crescent (1.45"), Preston (1.45"). These rains continued the wetness trend of this autumn which has brought a great deal of recharge to southern Minnesota soils that were considerably dried out by the late summer drought.

Remembering November 8, 1943

For many Minnesota citizens the most vivid memories of November blizzards are associated with the 1940 Armistice Day Blizzard (November 11) or the 1991 Halloween Blizzard October 31-November 2). However, from a climatological perspective there is a third November episode of great significance associated with the ice storm and heavy snowfall of November 6-8, 1943. This storm produced heavier snowfalls than the Armistice Day and Halloween Blizzard for many parts of the state and caused significant shoreline damage to the Lake Superior area. Coming from the south, this storm started out as rain, changing to freezing rain and sleet, then finally heavy snow. Because it occurred over a weekend (Saturday through Monday), the storm stranded many Minnesota duck hunters in the countryside, though it did not result in many fatalities because the temperature drop was modest (about 8-10 degrees F) compared to those of the Armistice Day and Halloween Blizzards (over 40 degrees F drop). A total of five storm-related fatalities were reported across the state.

This weather system produced a great deal of ice, up to 3 inches thick on some power lines in central Minnesota. Over 1700 power and telephone poles fell down as a result. The ice also caused numerous accidents and put a stop to train, plane, and streetcar traffic. When the temperature dropped sufficiently to produce snow on the 8th, great amounts piled up across southern and central counties. some of the larger amounts, and still records for the date, include 22 inches at Faribault, 20 inches at Bird Island, 20 inches at Redwood Falls, 22 inches at Marshall, and 18 inches at Springfield. Strong winds of 30 to 40 mph produced
enormous drifts in some areas. In Cottonwood County, 15 ft drifts closed state highways 71 and 30, and near Windom an Omaha bound train was completely buried in a snow drift.

Duluth and other cities along the north shore of Lake Superior reported enormous waves and erosion damage. Winds from the northeast gusted to near 45 mph. Sixty-five ore carriers took refuge in Duluth-Superior harbor. Fortunately, following the storm, relatively dry, mild weather took hold and soon dissipated the snow cover.

Weekly Weather potpourri

Weekly drought assessment remarks from Brad Rippey of the USDA World Agricultural Outlook Board:
-Widespread precipitation continued to chip away at drought across the Great Plains and Midwest. On November 5, overall U.S. drought coverage stood at 32.24%, down 2.46 percentage points from a week ago. This represents the smallest areal extent of drought in the contiguous U.S. since January 3, 2012.
- Based on the definitions of drought employed in the production the U.S. Drought Monitor, historical U.S. drought coverage should average near 20%. The last time contiguous U.S. drought coverage was below 20% was December 14, 2010. On November 3, USDA/NASS reported that 73% of the U.S. corn and 86% of the soybeans had been harvested. Lingering drought remains a concern in a few Midwestern States, including Iowa (68% in drought on November 5), Illinois (38%), Wisconsin (27%), Missouri (26%), and Minnesota (26%).

NOAA announced this week a new data visualization tool available on the web for examining archived or recent environmental data sets using the NOAAVIEW system. This system allows access and viewing of wind data, precipitation, ice cover, vegetation, and other parameters.

Super Typhoon Haiyan developed in the Western Pacific Ocean this week southeast of the Philippines. Its peak winds exceeded 195 mph, producing sea waves of over 50 feet. High winds, heavy rains, and storm surge were causing a great deal of damage to the Philippines on Friday and expected to continue into Saturday. This mammoth storm will move towards Vietnam early next week. Another strong tropical storm was developing in the Indian Ocean off the horn of Africa.  Sunday, November 3rd brought some rare tornadoes to parts of the Netherlands in Western Europe. Tornadoes in Arnheim and Utrecht damaged a number of buildings, tearing off shingles and breaking windows, and bringing down mature trees. In addition some heavy rainfalls of 2-3 inches were reported in places.  A huge winter storm was bringing high winds, rains, and heavy seas to Western Alaska this week. The National Weather Service reported sea waves of 25-30 feet in the Bering Sea and 80 mph winds in the Aleutian Islands. Rain and snow was expected to spread across southern Alaska towards the weekend.

MPR listener question

What do the climate statistics for freezing rain in Minnesota show? How often? Peak time of year? Peak hour of the day?

Answer: We lack comprehensive statistical analysis of freezing rain events for all locations in Minnesota, but for those we have the average number of annual hourly reports showing freezing rain and/or freezing drizzle in Minnesota ranges from about 45 hours in northeastern counties (Lake, Cook, and St Louis) to less than 30 hours in southwestern counties. The most common months for the occurrence of freezing rain or freezing drizzle in Minnesota (listed by frequency of reports) are December, January, November, and March, respectively. The most common time of day for this type of precipitation is from 6:00 am to 9:00 am, while the fewest reports can be found from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. The most recent November freezing rain episode was November 18, 1996 when southwestern counties suffered from ice buildup and power outages.

Twin Cities Almanac for November 8th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 44 degrees F (plus or minus 10 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 29 degrees F (plus or minus 9 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for November 8th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 77 degrees F in 1999; lowest daily maximum temperature of 25 degrees F in 1991; lowest daily minimum temperature is 1 degrees F in 1991; highest daily minimum temperature of 53 F in 1977 and 2006; record precipitation of 1.51 inches in 1932; and a record 8.5 inches of snow fell on this date in 1943.

Average dew point for November 8th is 28 degrees F, with a maximum of 54 degrees F in 1977 and a minimum of -3 degrees F in 1991.

All-time state records for November 8th

The state record high temperature for this date is 81 degrees F at Canby (Yellow Medicine County) in 1931 and at Benson (Swift County) in 1999. The state record low temperature for this date is -14 degrees F at Mankato in 1991. State record precipitation for this date is 3.45 inches at Winona (Winona County) in 1945; and state record snowfall for this date is 16.0 inches at Vesta (Redwood County) in 1943.

Past Weather Features:

A strong low pressure system brought high winds and a mixture of rain and snow to the state on November 8-9, 1932. Many observers reported precipitation that ranged from 1 to 2 inches, and several had record-setting amounts. Duluth, Two Harbors, Pigeon River, Pokegama Dam, Grand Rapids, Cloquet, and Mora reported well over two inches.  November 6-8, 1943 brought a memorable winter storm to the state with blizzard conditions and huge drifts blocking roads and highways. See the write-up above.  Nearly a week after the Halloween Blizzard of 1991, a polar air mass brought record-setting cold temperatures to the state on November 8th. Over 60 Minnesota communities reported morning low temperatures below 0 degrees F. Many daytime highs only reached the teens F, establishing new record cold maximum temperatures as well.  November 8, 1999 was perhaps the warmest in state history with record-setting high temperatures reported from 48 communities in the state. Five observers reported daytimes highs of 80 degrees F or higher and it was 72 degrees F as far north as International Falls. By the 11th the overnight temperatures had fallen into the 20s F, but a second surge of warmth brought temperatures back into the 70s F by mid-month as 1999 brought the 4th warmest November in state history.

Outlook

Cooler than normal temperatures over the weekend with a chance for snow in the north. Generally a cool and dry week coming up with a warming trend towards the end of next week.

Friday, November 1, 2013

October climate summary

October climate summary

A very warm first half of October gave way to a cooler than normal second half of the month. The second half brought multiple season ending frosts to virtually all areas of the state. Mean temperatures for the month ranged from plus or minus 1 degrees of normal among most observers. Extreme temperatures for the month ranged from 8 degrees F at Camp Norris in Lake of the Woods County (Oct 29) to 86 degrees F at Madison in Lac Qui Parle County (Oct 1).  Precipitation for the month was near normal to above normal at most places. Many observers reported measurable precipitation on 15 or more days. There were some drier than normal spots in the north, and a few in the west. Several observers reported over 5 inches for the month including Browns Valley, Wheaton, Ottertail, Melrose, Cloquet, Isle, Lanseboro, La Crescent, and Spring Valley. Mora reported its 5th wettest October with 6.04 inches, while Grand Meadow reported its 4th wettest October in history with 7.21 inches.  Snow visited much of the state during October, bringing slight amounts ranging from a trace to less than one inch. The observer at Askov reported 5 inches, while the observer from Isabella reported 6 inches for the month. By the end of the month northern lakes were starting to show a thin layer of ice on the surface and soil temperatures had dropped below 50 degrees F so farmers could apply forms of nitrogen fertilizer without the risk of leaching or denitrification.

Blood pressure and the onset of winter

My wife Cindy noticed an article this week by Dr. Sheldon Sheps, emeritus doctor from the Mayo Clinic who writes educational pieces. As winter type weather settles in this month it might be worth paying attention to your blood pressure, especially if you take medication to control it, or you are over 65 years old. Dr. Sheps writes:
"Blood pressure generally is higher in the winter and lower in the summer. That's because low temperatures cause your blood vessels to narrow ­ which increases blood pressure because more pressure is needed to force blood through your narrowed veins and arteries. In addition to cold weather, blood pressure may also be affected by a sudden change in weather patterns, such as a weather front or a storm. Your body ­ and blood vessels ­ may react to abrupt changes in humidity, atmospheric pressure, cloud cover or wind in much the same way it reacts to cold. These weather-related variations in blood pressure are more common in people age 65 and older. Other seasonal causes of higher blood pressure include weight gain and decreased physical activity in winter. If you have high blood pressure already, continue to monitor your blood pressure readings as the seasons change and talk to your doctor. Your doctor may recommend changing the dose of your blood pressure medication or switching to another medication. Don't make any changes to your medications without talking to your doctor." Good advice worth noting. More information on blood pressure care can be found here.

Late leaf fall

Many citizens have remarked about the late leaf fall this autumn. Phenologists and arborists tell us that the two key factors leading to late autumn leaf fall this year were the very late spring and delayed leafing out of trees, combined with a very warm and sunny September. Many trees, at or past peak color are still holding their leaves. A strong wind is forecasted for this Sunday (Nov 3) which should accelerate leaf drop in many parts of Minnesota. Unfortunately a rain and snow forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday may mean that these freshly dropped leaves will be mixed with a wet, slushy snowfall and may plug up storm sewer inlets and present more of a challenge to clean up.

Weekly Weather potpourri

Earlier this week (Monday, Oct 28) the BBC and the Hadley Centre reported on a strong storm system that battered western Europe with high winds and heavy rainfall. Wind gusts over 90 mph were reported from the south coast of England and power was knocked out for over 300,000 customers. Thousands of trees were knocked over blocking roads and railways and there was a good deal of coastal erosion in England and France as a result of large waves. The U.K. Met Office attributed the wind damage to a "sting jet" produced by rapidly descending air on the backside of the storm system. You can real more from CNN and the BBC.

Typhoon Krosa battered the northern Philippines this week with high winds, heavy rains and high seas. Wind gusts on Luzon Island ranged up to 67 mph with rainfall reports ranging up to a foot. The storm is expected to strengthen over the South China Sea before bringing high winds and heavy rains to parts of southern China and Vietnam over the weekend and early next week. Maximum winds over 110 mph and sea waves of 30-35 feet were projected for this storm system.

Scientists at NCAR reported earlier this week on a new study that linked North America summer Heat Waves with a distinct upper air pattern in the Northern Hemisphere that produces 5 wave numbers (in the pressure pattern). With such a tool in play it is possible to forecast a coming summer Heat Wave with lead times of 15-20 days, allowing communities to better prepare. You can read more about this paper here.

Highlights from the weekly drought update issued by Brad Rippey of the USDA this week:
-With more precipitation falling in recent days across the nation’s mid-section, the portion of the U.S. in drought continues to shrink. Only 34.70% of the contiguous U.S. remained in drought on October 29, down from a late-summer (September 10) peak of 50.69%. The last time a smaller area was in drought....was May 15, 2012. On October 27, USDA/NASS reported that 59% of the U.S. corn and 77% of the soybeans had been harvested. Thus, the 2013 growing season effectively has ended with 38% of the U.S. corn production area and 28% of the soybean area in drought, down from late-summer peaks of 55 and 45%, respectively. Still, there are pockets of lingering drought in the Midwest. On October 27, USDA/NASS rated topsoil moisture more than half very short to short in Illinois (60%), Missouri (58%), and Iowa (53%).

Residents of Rjukan, Norway are benefiting from the mountain top installation of three large mirrors (183 square feet) above this valley town. These mirrors are used to reflect the low winter sun and bring light to the valley below. It appears that they are working well and may serve as a model for other towns. You can read more about this here.

MPR listener question

Please settle an argument that occurred in our weekly Bridge Club. Two of our keenly observant card players remember that November of 2009 brought only a trace of snow to the Twin Cities (Nov 29), and they said that was a record for the least snow in November. But the Twin Cities records suggest other Novembers have seen just a trace as well. So were they correct?

Answer: According to the climate record of the Twin Cities Novembers of 1928, 1939, 1963, and 2009 all brought just a trace of snow. But your card playing friends are technically correct about 2009 from the standpoint of frequency of daily snowfall. In 2009 a trace of snow was observed on only one day (Nov 29) while in those others years a trace of snow was observed on several days. So give them a bonus point for being technically correct!

Twin Cities Almanac for November 1st

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 50 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 33 degrees F (plus or minus 9 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for November 1st

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 77 degrees F in 1933; lowest daily maximum temperature of 25 degrees F in 1951; lowest daily minimum temperature is 10 degrees F in 1951; highest daily minimum temperature of 57 F in 2000; record precipitation of 1.85 inches in 1991; and a record 18.5 inches of snow fell on this date in 1991.

Average dew point for November 1st is 33 degrees F, with a maximum of 62 degrees F in 2000 and a minimum of -4 degrees F in 1984.

All-time state records for November 1st

The state record high temperature for this date is 84 degrees F at Winona (Winona County) in 1950. The state record low temperature for this date is -10 degrees F at Campbell (Wilkin County) in 1919. State record precipitation for this date is 3.28 inches at Winona (Winona County) in 1991; and state record snowfall for this date is 24.1 inches at Duluth (St Louis County) in 1991.

Past Weather Features:

Late October of 1873 brought 11 inches of snowfall to the Twin Cities area and very cold temperatures to start the month of November. For five consecutive nights temperatures fell into the teens F while daytime highs remained in the 30s F. Overnight lows were below 0 F by mid month and November of 1873 proved to be one of the coldest in state history.  On a statewide basis, November 1-2, 1935 may have been the coldest ever start to the month, as over dozen communities reported overnight low temperatures below 0 degrees F. A cold front brought snowfall to much of the state to start the month, and then ushered in a cold polar air mass. The daytime maximum temperature only reached 22 degrees F at Fergus Falls and 28 degrees F at Marshall.  The hottest November 1st in state history came in 1950 (following the warmest Halloween in state history), when ten Minnesota communities reported afternoon highs in the 70s F, and five communities saw the mercury climb into the 80s F under bright, sunny skies. Temperatures went downhill the rest of the month reaching the single digits and even below zero F readings during the second half of November.  Far and away the wettest November 1st occurred in 1991 during the middle of the Halloween Blizzard. The entire day was dominated by a large scale storm system that brought continuous rain and snow to many parts of the state, mostly in the eastern half. A mixture of rain and snow prevailed across many southern counties where precipitation totals ranged from 2 to 3 inches in many places. Elsewhere in central and northern counties snow was falling, with low visibility (less an a quarter mile), increasing winds (30-40 mph), and falling temperatures. Many roads became impassable, motorists were stranded, schools closed, and power outages were reported. Snowfall totals for the day ranged from 1 to 2 feet in several counties. The storm lingered for another day and then most residents dug out on November 3rd. It was a precursor to a record-setting snowy November for many parts of Minnesota as observers at MSP, Hinckley, Cambridge, Young America, Lutsen, Eveleth, and Gunflint Lake reported over 40 inches for the month, while Duluth, Two Harbors, and Bruno reported over 50 inches.

Word of the Week: SIMA

Another acronym.....not one used by meteorologists, but one very related to the weather. SIMA stands for Snow and Ice Management Association. It is the professional association for those working in snow and ice management, whether in the public or private sector. SIMA also publishes the magazine Snow Business and they offer educational materials on snow and ice control, especially for property managers and, public works departments, and snow plow operators. They offer training in snow removal safety, fuel efficiency tips, and advanced snow management.
Their web site is http://www.sima.org.

Outlook

Warming temperatures over the weekend under partly cloudy skies. Chance for flurries in the north. Very windy with increasing temperatures and cloud cover on Sunday and a chance for rain, possibly mixed with snow by Monday. Continued chance for rain and snow on Tuesday and Wednesday, then drier and cooler on Thursday next week.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Cold week

Cold week

Since last Sunday (Oct 20) temperatures around the state have been averaging from 8 to 12 degrees F cooler than normal, with many daytime high temperatures remaining in the 30s F. Brainerd tied a record cold maximum temperature value on the 21st with a reading of just 35 degrees F, while Grand Rapids tied their record cold maximum temperature value for that date with a reading of just 33 degrees F. In fact over the 22nd and 23rd some observers reported high temperatures that remained below freezing including 31 degrees F at Isabella, Bemidji, and Embarrass, and just a 30 degrees F high at Grand Marais Airport. Embarrass reported back to back lows of just 20 degrees F on the 21st and 22nd, and then just 19 degrees F on the 25th. Surprisingly, the state's lowest temperatures this week came from southeastern Minnesota where Zumbrota and Preston reported just 19 degrees F on the 22nd, while Byron reported 18 degrees F on the 23rd, setting a new record low reading for that date. Also on October 22nd Theilman (Wabasha County) tied their record low with a reading of 20 degrees F.  The cold temperatures also produced some reports of snowfall across the state. Most observers reported a trace, and several reported over 1 inch. International Falls reported at least a trace of snowfall everyday since October 18th (7 consecutive days), while other observers reported over 1 inch of accumulation. Ottertail reported a new daily record snowfall amount of 2.5 inches on October 20th and a total of 4 inches for the week. Isabella, along the north shore of Lake Superior reported 5 inches this week, as did Askov in Pine County.

New climate data service

The Midwest Climate Center in Illinois recently introduced a new data service called cli-MATE. It allows access to most of Minnesota's climate data, along with growing season tools (frost date and growing degree days), maps, and graphics. Most importantly it is all free of charge. If interested you can set up a new user account there. Give it a try!

Halloween weather

Halloween weather is usually pleasant in Minnesota with temperatures commonly in the 40s and 50s F. Precipitation occurs slightly less than a third of the time. For the Twin Cities and further south snow is unlikely for Halloween, occurring only about one year in ten. Of course many remember the famous Halloween Blizzard of 1991, when 3 to 10 inches of snowfall was measured across eastern parts of the state, and then the bulk of the snowfall occurred over November 1-2, leaving many observers with over 2 feet (28.4" in the Twin Cities and 36.9" in Duluth). The all-time temperature records for Halloween include a reading of 86 degrees F at Worthington in 1950, and a reading of -4 degrees F at Hallock in 1913. For this year's Halloween (next Thursday) it looks like temperatures may be cooler than normal and there will be a chance for mixed precipitation (rain or snow), but too early to tell how much.

Weekly Weather potpourri

Comments from Brad Rippey of the USDA on the weekly drought assessment across the USA: "In recent weeks, abundant precipitation has fallen in nearly all of the nation’s drought-affected areas. As a result, only 35.00% of the contiguous U.S. remained in drought on October 22, down from 45.46% just three weeks ago..... Thirty-five percent represents the smallest U.S. drought area since May 15, 2012. For the three-week period ending October 22, all crops and commodities in drought were down sharply. Only 38% of the U.S. corn production area was in drought on October 22, down from 54% on October 1 and a late-summer peak of 55%. Similarly, 29% of the soybean production area was in drought, down from 43% three weeks ago and a late-summer high of 45%. With the return of dry weather in recent days, harvest of U.S. summer crops has accelerated. The corn harvest was 39% complete by October 20, while the soybean harvest was 63% complete.

Tropical Storm Francisco was spinning in the Western Pacific Ocean southeast of Japan. It was producing winds of 50-65 mph with sea waves of 15-25 feet this week, but was not expected to be a weather threat to Japan. It is expected to dissipate over the weekend. Yet further southeast of Japan was Typhoon Lekima, producing winds of 135 mph and sea waves of 40-50 feet. It too was expected to remain out to sea and dissipate by early next week. In the eastern Pacific Ocean Tropical Storm Raymond was moving out to sea further away from the coast of Mexico. It was expected to strengthen (to perhaps hurricane status) but not be a threat to make landfall.  The United Kingdom Meteorological Office announced this week that Oxford University has joined in with University of Reading, University of Exeter, and University of Leeds in forming the Met Office Partnership (MOAP) to accelerate the study of extreme weather and changing climate. Researchers from these institutions will be joining together to enhance knowledge and understanding of the Earth's climate system, its extreme weather, and modeling the future climate of the planet as well.

MPR listener question

We live on the Mesabi Range near Chisholm and had snow this week, not especially unusual for late October. But we were wondering what is the snowiest October in history?

Answer: The snowiest October in Minnesota history occurred in 1951 when the observer at Hibbing reported 18.9 inches of snowfall. This total came from three separate snow storms on the 22nd, the 28th, and the 30th. With the abundant snow fall in October, Virginia reported a seasonal total over 65 inches by the spring of 1952. Interestingly enough, October of that year started with temperatures in the 70s and 80s F.

Twin Cities Almanac for October 25th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 55 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 37 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for October 25th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 82 degrees F in 1989; lowest daily maximum temperature of 30 degrees F in 1887; lowest daily minimum temperature is 12 degrees F in 1887; highest daily minimum temperature of 62 F in 2000; and record precipitation of 0.67 inches in 2010; and a record 0.2 inches of snow fell on this date in 1942.
Average dew point for October 25th is 35 degrees F, with a maximum of 63 degrees F in 2000 and a minimum of 8 degrees F in 1962.

All-time state records for October 25th

The state record high temperature for this date is 87 degrees F at New Ulm (Brown County) in 1927. The state record low temperature for this date is -10 degrees F at St Vincent (Kittson County) in 1887. State record precipitation for this date is 3.22 inches at Lake City (Wabasha County) in 1963; and state record snowfall for this date is 15.0 inches at Sandy Lake Dam (Aitkin County) in 1942.

Past Weather Features:

By far the coldest October 25th in state history occurred in 1887. Following a widespread snow storm on October 23rd and passage of a cold front, a cold polar air mass invaded the state pushing the thermometer to a state record low of -10 degrees F at St Vincent, -8 degrees F at Argyle, and -6 degrees F at Albert Lea. Many other observers reported lows in the single digits with daytime highs only in the 20s to low 30s F. October 1887 was one of the coldest in state history.  October 23-27, 1927 brought the warmest spell of late October weather to southern Minnesota. Skies were sunny and the wind was strong from the south. Over 25 communities reported daytime highs in the 80s F, while Chatfield on the border of Olmsted and Fillmore Counties reached a state record 93 degrees F on October 23rd. October 24-25, 1942 brought heavy snowfall to some areas of the state. Observers in northern Minnesota reported 5-11 inches, and Sandy Lake Dam in Aitkin County reported a state record 15.0 inches.  October 24-25, 1963 brought thunderstorms to southeastern Minnesota. Many observers reported between 1 and 2 inches of rainfall, while Lake City reported over 3 inches, flooding portions of Highway 61.

Outlook

For the weekend partly cloudy skies with a chance for rain or snow in the north and temperatures slightly warmer, but still below normal for this time of year. Pretty breezy on Saturday. Continued cooler than normal temperature readings through the middle of next week with a chance for widespread precipitation on Tuesday and then again Thursday (rain or snow).

Friday, October 18, 2013

New Seasonal Outlook from NOAA-Climate Prediction Center

New Seasonal Outlook from NOAA-Climate Prediction Center

The NOAA-CPC released new seasonal climate outlooks on Thursday this week, covering the period from November through January. Their forecast tools are still giving no strong evidence for above or below normal categories of temperature or precipitation to dominate in Minnesota. Some of their models favor an above normal temperature pattern in parts of southern Minnesota over the calendar period, but not elsewhere in the state. Thus it appears that the models are very uncertain on what type of winter weather pattern we may have. They also released a drought outlook for the period through January 31st and although their models see continued alleviation of drought due to above normal precipitation in October, they also favor persistence of drought in some areas of Minnesota through January.

A missed forecast

Last Friday I spoke on Morning Edition with Cathy Wurzer about the prospect for widespread frost that would end the agricultural growing season for Waseca and other places by October 16-17 of this week. I was informed by several listeners that this turned out to be incorrect, as frost occurred earlier in many places, notably over October 13-14 (Sunday-Monday). Indeed places like Waseca, Zumbrota, Preston, Theilman, Windom, Willmar, Browns Valley, and Montevideo did get a season ending frost over those dates. Since Monday, numerous other locations have reported frosts this week, but there are still a few agricultural counties where it has not yet occurred. However, widespread frost is likely for this weekend and will probably affect all of the state. The coldest temperature observed so far this month has been 24 degrees F at Embarrass and at International Falls.

Wet October, getting wetter

After a relative dry start to the month, this October is turning into a wetter than normal month with over two weeks yet to go. Significant rainfall totals this week in combination with those that fell earlier in the month have added up to over a month's worth at several locations. Normal October precipitation values (1981-2010) generally range from 2.0 to 2.5 inches, but many observers are already reporting over 4 inches, including Moorhead, Fergus Falls, Pelican Rapids, Melrose, Willmar, Cloquet, Isle, Moose Lake, Zumbrota, and Austin. Some observers have already had over twice normal monthly precipitation including Browns Valley (5.23"), Onamia (5.46"), Caledonia (5.55"), Chatfield (6.10"), Preston (6.73"), and Grand Meadow (7.08"). 2013 is the 4th wettest October in history (back to 1887) at Grand Meadow already.

Comments on the Kuehnast Lecture, October 17th

Dr. Piers Sellers, former Space Shuttle astronaut for NASA and now Deputy-Director of the Goddard Space Flight Center gave a terrific presentation for the 21st Annual Kuehnast Endowment Lecture at the University of Minnesota on October 17th this week. A veteran of three Space Shuttle Missions and numerous space walks, he provided a perspective of planet Earth that few can voice. He talked about how the sixteen Earth System satellites of NASA have greatly amplified our knowledge of both climate behavior and trends over the last several decades, providing us with improved understanding of climate change and its impact on the land and oceans. He also pointed out that all but two of the Earth System satellites are now working beyond the scope of their designed longevity in space and are in urgent need of replacement. His presentation was recorded and will soon be posted on our web site.

Weekly Weather potpourri

A study published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science by Princeton University scientists documents that since the mid 20th Century the plants in Earth's abundant ecosystems have absorbed 186-192 billion tones of carbon, significantly constraining the levels of carbon in the atmosphere and their effect on global temperature. This study is acknowledged to be the first to estimate the extent to which plants have prevented even more climate change from occurring. You can read about this paper online.

In the Western Pacific Super Typhoon Francisco was growing in strength over the open ocean waters southeast of Japan. Winds were already measured at over 130 mph and were expected to increase to over 140 mph, producing sea waves of 40-50 feet. This typhoon may impact parts of southern Japan by the middle of next week, but hopefully in a weakened state. Earlier in this week Typhoon Wipha brought strong winds, heavy rains, and landslides to parts of Japan, closing roads, damaging buildings, and killing at least 18 people.
The Bureau of Meteorology reports that numerous wild fires have broken out in New South Wales (earlier than normal on the calendar), notably outside Sidney as a result of a prolonged dry, warm weather pattern. Some weather observers in New South Wales reported their hottest winter on record (June-August), followed by their warmest September in history, and only about half of normal precipitation during this period. Recent daytime temperatures have peaked between 95-99 degrees F before the bush fires started. A recent cool spell with diminished winds have helped firefighters there gain more control over the situation.

Highlights from the weekly drought update from the Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, NE include:
-After a wet week across much of the central and eastern United States, drought receded to its smallest spatial extent since May 2012 on the Oct. 15 U.S. Drought Monitor. Drought in the western states was mostly unchanged.
-The weekly drought map shows just 36.71 percent of the contiguous United States in moderate drought or worse, compared with 38.59 percent a week earlier. The last time drought coverage was this low was May 29, 2012, at 37.37 percent.
-Drought eased incrementally across the Midwest, Great Plains and South, including parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas. Colorado and Wyoming also had areas of improvement.
-The area of Minnesota's landscape in moderate to severe drought declined from 38 percent last week to just 28 percent this week.

MPR listener question

The recent blizzard in western South Dakota made me wonder if anyone in Minnesota has ever reported over a foot of snow during early October?

Answer: Officially, October 18 is the earliest date in Minnesota history for any observation of a foot or more of snowfall. This occurred at Baudette, MN on October 18, 1916 when they reported 16 inches of snow. Actually that year a winter storm brought 10-20 inches of snowfall to several northern Minnesota locations. Few official measurements were noted from the famous October 16-18, 1880 blizzard which started the Laura Ingalls Wilder "Long Winter" and shut down southwestern Minnesota. It was noted by some pioneer families at the time that snow piled into 20 foot drifts, isolating many settlers and closing down the railroads for days.

Twin Cities Almanac for October 18th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 58 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 40 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for October 11th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 87 degrees F in 1950; lowest daily maximum temperature of 30 degrees F in 1930; lowest daily minimum temperature is 18 degrees F in 1972; highest daily minimum temperature of 61 F in 1950; and record precipitation of 1.05 inches in 1979; and a record 1.3 inches of snow fell on this date in 1976.
Average dew point for October 11th is 37 degrees F, with a maximum of 65 degrees F in 1971 and a minimum of 9 degrees F in 1972.

All-time state records for October 11th

The state record high temperature for this date is 87 degrees F at MSP, St Peter, Chaska, and Farmington in 1950. The state record low temperature for this date is 5 degrees F at Crookston (Polk County) in 1992. State record precipitation for this date is 3.25 inches at Deep Portage (Cass County) in 1994; and state record snowfall for this date is 16.0 inches at Baudette (Lake of the Woods County) in 1916.

Past Weather Features:

An early winter storm brought rain and snow to the state over October 16-18, 1873. Observers reported 1 to 3 inches of rainfall, some mixed with snowfall and low temperatures in the 20s F. This storm was a precursor to even more snowfall later that month as temperatures fell into the single digits and teens F.  In back to back years, 1916 and 1917, October 18-19 brought heavy snows to northern Minnesota communities and blizzard conditions in some places. Many observers reported 10-20 inches of snowfall from these storms bringing an early start to winter.  October 17-19, 1950 brought a return of summer to much of Minnesota. At least 25 communities saw the thermometer reach into the 80s F under bright sunny skies. Only in far northern Minnesota did the temperatures remain in the 50s and 60s F. Bitter cold gripped the state on October 18, 1992. Low temperatures in the teens F were reported as far south as Rochester (17 F). In northern communities lows dropped into the single digits F and high temperatures could only climb into the 30s F, reaching just 32 degrees F at Crookston. Temperature rebounded into the 60s and 70s F the last week of October.

Words of the Week: Ice Plow

Before refrigeration, in the Pioneer settlement era and even the early 20th Century, ice plows were used to cut grooves in the ice over rivers, lakes, and ponds. These were sharp-bladed plows pulled by teams of horses that cut checker-board patterns across the ice. The ice blocks were sawed out, then floated to shore and taken by wagons or sleds to ice houses and caves. The abundance and longevity of refrigeration was clearly linked to the severity of Minnesota winters.

Outlook

A significantly cooler period coming up with below normal temperatures over the weekend and into next week. After a partly sunny sky on Saturday, clouds will dominate the skies, with occasional rain and even mixed in with snow in some places. Widespread frosts will also occur over the next week. A warm up is not seen until next weekend.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Warm and wet start to October

Warm and wet start to October

Most observers are reporting a warm, wet start to October. Average temperature for the first ten days of the month is ranging from 3 to 6 degrees F warmer than normal in most places. In fact 9 of the first 10 days of the month have recorded above normal daily temperatures with many afternoon highs in the 70s F. Most agricultural counties in Minnesota have yet to report an autumn killing frost, extending the growing season. The warm temperatures have also helped reduce the harvest moisture of crops, lessening farmer drying costs prior to storage.

Many Minnesota climate observers are already reporting above normal rainfall for the month of October, some as a result of record-setting daily amounts on October 3rd (reported in last week's WeatherTalk newsletter). Several communities have reported 2 or more inches this month including Browns Valley, Brainerd, Mora, Worthington, Albert Lea, Mankato, New Ulm, Waseca, and Rochester. In southeastern counties slow moving thunderstorms Friday night and into Saturday (Oct 4-5) brought more record-setting daily rainfall amounts including 2.00 inches at Austin, 3.80 inches at Caledonia, 4.15 inches at Chatfield, 5.30 inches at Grand Meadow, 2.31 inches at Houston, 3.35 inches at La Crescent, 4.34 inches at Lanesboro, 4.35 inches at Rushford, 5.85 inches at Preston, and 4.10 inches at Spring Valley. The consequences of these heavy rains last weekend in SE Minnesota included flooded basements, road washouts and closures, stranded vehicles, and even mudslides. The 5.85 inches of rainfall reported at Preston (Fillmore County) establishes a new statewide record amount for October 5th, beating the old record of 4.95 inches at St Francis in 2002. It was also the 2nd highest daily amount of rainfall ever measured at Preston, trailing only 7.30 inches on July 11, 1981, and represents about a once in 30 year occurrence according to NOAA Atlas 14. More detailed descriptions of the storm over October 4-5 can be found here.

Kuehnast Lecture, October 17th

The 21st Annual Kuehnast Endowment Lecture will take place at 2:00 pm in the North Star Ballroom of the University of Minnesota St Paul Campus Student Center next Thursday, October 17th. Our speaker this year is Dr. Piers Sellers, Deputy Director of the NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center, and former Space Shuttle astronaut. Dr. Sellers participated in three Space Shuttle missions and did numerous space walks. He is a biometeorologist by training and will present a lecture titled "The Race to Understand a Changing Planet." The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served afterwards.

Climate Change Adaptation Conference at the Science Museum on November 7, 2013

Several organizations are partnering to host the first statewide conference on Climate Change Adaptation, Planning and Practice. It will take place at the Science Museum of Minnesota in downtown St Paul on November 7, 2013. Registration for the all day program is only $60. Sessions will be devoted to city planning, agriculture, transportation, natural resources (including watershed management), and public health.

Weekly Weather potpourri

The Los Angeles Times newspaper editorial policy prohibits publication of of op-ed letters that deny climate change. This may be a first among major newspapers. A quote from Paul Thornton, the Times letters editor appeared in the Huffington Post this week as, "simply put, I do my best to keep errors of fact off the letters page; when one does run, a correction is published," he explained. "Saying 'there's no sign humans have caused climate change' is not stating an opinion, it's asserting a factual inaccuracy."

In the Western Pacific Ocean, Typhoon Nari is expected to bring heavy rain, high seas, and strong winds to the Philippines this weekend. Maximum wind gusts were ranging up to 125 mph causing 30-40 foot sea waves. It is a dangerous and powerful storm. Typhoon Nari is expected to cross the Philippines north of Manila and then proceed towards Southeast Asia early next week. In the northern Indian Ocean even more powerful Cyclone Phailin was churning in the Bay of Bengal and gaining strength. Winds were expected to peak near 160-170 mph, producing seas of 50-60 feet before it makes landfall in India later in the weekend. It is expected to be a very dangerous storm with high winds, storm surge, and heavy rains that will likely displace many people from their homes.

A recent study from the University of Hawaii and published this week in the journal Nature suggests that climate change will be so pronounced by 2047 that even "the lowest monthly dips in temperatures will be hotter than we've experience in the past 150 years....." The researchers used climate model output from 39 Earth System Models and examined the projected temperature distributions of the future. They further noted that the temperature changes will emerge with more dramatic departures from the historical records in the tropics than in other latitudes. You can read more about this paper at here.

Estimates on the consequences of last week's blizzard and heavy snowfall in WY and western SD suggest that upward of 70,000 cattle may have perished in the storm. Many areas received over 20 inches of snow, and several reported 30 or more inches. Records for the most snowfall so early in the month of October were shattered in both WY and SD. More information on that storm can be found at the Rapid City National Weather Service web site.

MPR listener question

Most of southern Minnesota has yet to experience a season ending frost this fall. We have certainly been enjoying late season vegetables from our garden in Waseca. When do you think the first frost will arrive?

Answer: We have certainly had a prolonged and warm fall season so far. Forecast models suggest that you may get a frost in the Waseca area next Wednesday or Thursday, October 16-17. So that may be the end of your growing season. Those dates are about 16 days later than normal as your median autumn frost date at Waseca is October 1st. This kind of makes up for the late spring frost you had at Waseca on May 12 this year which was about 13 days later than your median last date for frost in the spring.

Twin Cities Almanac for October 11th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 61 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 42 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for October 11th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 84 degrees F in 1930; lowest daily maximum temperature of 39 degrees F in 1875 and 1959; lowest daily minimum temperature is 22 degrees F in 1876; highest daily minimum temperature of 63 F in 1997; and record precipitation of 1.36 inches in 1881; and a record 0.5 inches of snow fell on this date in 1977.

Average dew point for October 11th is 41 degrees F, with a maximum of 67 degrees F in 1962 and a minimum of 15 degrees F in 2009.

All-time state records for October 11th

The state record high temperature for this date is 92 degrees F at Canby (Yellow Medicine County) in 1928. The state record low temperature for this date is 10 degrees F at Ada (Marshall County) in 1935. State record precipitation for this date is 3.28 inches at Litchfield (Meeker County) in 1983; and state record snowfall for this date is 10.0 inches at Mt Iron (St Louis County) in 1909.

Past Weather Features:

October 11-15, 1909 brought an early snowfall to many Minnesota communities. Mt Iron (St Louis County) reported a foot of snow, while Kelliher recorded nearly six inches and International Falls reported 4 inches. As far south as Winona they received nearly 2.5 inches. The snow was short-lived as temperatures warmed into the 40s and 50s F the next few days.

On a statewide basis one of the warmest October 10s occurred in 1910. Scores of communities reported sunny skies, south winds, and afternoon high temperatures in the 80s F. It was 82 degrees F as far north as Detroit Lakes. Temperature of 90 degrees F or higher occurred at Pipestone, Albert Lea, Windom, and St Peter. The first two weeks of October 1910 were dominated by days with temperatures in the 70s and 80s F, before temperatures fell to below normal levels for the second half of the month.

October 10-11, 1928 brought a brief two day period of summer heat to many western and southern Minnesota communities. Canby, Beardsley, Willmar, Redwood Falls, Tracy, Worthington, Fairmont, Winnebago, and Bird Island all hit 90 degrees F or higher. It was the last 90 F reading of the year. Heavy rains and cool temperatures dominated the next week.

October 11, 1935 was one of the coldest in history for many Minnesota communities. The morning low was just 10 degrees F at Ada, while Roseau, Warroad, Big Falls, Beardsley, and Campbell reported lows in the teens F. As far south as Marshall the morning temperature was just 20 degrees F. The afternoon high temperature struggled to reach 38 degrees at Brainerd. Daytime temperatures rebounded into the 70s F two days later.

Late season thunderstorms brought heavy rains to parts of the state on October 11, 1961, with many areas reporting well over 1 inch. Halsted and Red Lake Falls received over 2 inches. It was the last of the thunderstorm rainfalls for that year.

Outlook

Cooler with near normal temperatures over the weekend, and some chance for widely scattered showers on Saturday. Then more sun on Sunday. Increasing cloudiness on Sunday night with a chance for showers on Monday. Showers continuing into Tuesday with cooler than normal temperatures. Drier and cooler on Wednesday and Thursday next week, then wetter towards the weekend.
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