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Extension > Mark Seeley's WeatherTalk > February 2013

Friday, February 22, 2013

New Climate Outlook

New Climate Outlook

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center issued new seasonal climate outlooks this week. For the period from March through May they favor somewhat above normal temperatures, especially in eastern MN, and above normal precipitation across the Great Lakes area, including Minnesota. You can read more about these outlooks and see image products here.

The CPC also sees good chances for some continued alleviation of drought across our state through the end of May. The hydrologic features (lake levels and stream flows) will benefit from above normal precipitation whether it comes as rain or snow. The soil will not benefit much until it thaws out later in the spring. Right now soil frost depths still range from 20-40 inches deep in many areas and will take some time to thaw out. On the NWS-Grand Forks Office web site there is a good discussion of the implications of the spring climate outlook for flood threats on the Red River between North Dakota and Minnesota.

Portions of the Red River have a higher level of spring snow melt flood risk as a result of the high water content of the snow pack and the deep soil frost.

Blizzard on February 18-19

Yet another strong winter storm crossed the state earlier this week on February 18-19 (Mon-Tue) bring strong winds, snow, and reduced visibility. A number of blizzard warnings were issued for western and southern regions of the state and some highways were closed for a time due to reduced visibility. Windchill advisories were also issued as WC index values ranged from -25 to -35 degrees F in many areas of the state. By early Tuesday winds peaked over 40 mph in several places and in the northeast there were reports of 50 and 60 mph wind gusts. Some observers reported new record snowfall amounts, including 4.0 inches at Thief River Falls, 6.0 inches at Warroad, 6.4 inches at International Falls, 7.5 inches at Littlefork, and 9.5 inches at Baudette. For many this is the snowiest February since 2001 and proving to be the snowiest month of winter.

You can read more about this storm on our web site.

Big Midwest snow on February 21-22

A massive storm crossed the Midwest on Thursday and Friday (Feb 21-22) bringing rain, sleet, snow, and thundersnow to many states. Parts of Nebraska reported 6-9 inches of snow and poor visibility, while some roads in Kansas were shut down with 8 to 14 inches of snowfall. Parts of Iowa received 5 to 8 inches of new snow with a high water content. The area of Minnesota most affected by this storm was the southeast, where 4 to 6 inch amounts of snowfall were common. Some southern Minnesota observers reported record-setting amounts for February 22nd including over 5 inches at Worthington and Spring Valley, 6 inches at Wells and St James (tied record), 6.5 inches at Amboy, 6.6 inches at Lanesboro, 7 inches at Albert Lea, and 7.5 inches at Fairmont.

An Invitation

Minnpost, the online newspaper will be hosting a public discussion "Climate Change: Right Here, Right Now!" at Hell's Kitchen (80 S. 9th St) in downtown Minneapolis next Monday (Feb 25) evening from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. Discussing the topic will be Mark Seeley from the University of Minnesota, J. Drake Hamilton from Fresh Energy, and Lee Frelich from the University of Minnesota. The conversation will be moderated by Ron Meadow, Earth Journal writer for Minnpost. If you are interested in getting tickets and attending, please go to their web site.

Weekly Weather potpourri

Very heavy rains brought flooding to many parts of Greece on Friday (Feb 22), including areas in and around Athens. Some roads were closed and vehicles abandoned on flooded roads. It was reported that 2 to 3 inches of rainfall came in just a few hours, shutting down the Athens Tram System, and flooding many basements. Some news reports said it was the worst storm to hit Athens since 1961.

Tropical Cyclone Haruna was churning in the Mozambique Channel between Madagascar and Africa this week. It was producing wind gusts up to 110 mph and sea waves up to 25 feet. Over the weekend it is expected to track across the southern part of Madagascar bringing very heavy rains and strong winds. It will continue to track southeast in the Southern Indian Ocean and weaken by Sunday and Monday.

A paper published in the current International Journal of Biometeorology documents the effects of climate change on wheat phenology in northern China. The data show that warmer seasonal temperatures have produced more rapid growth in the wheat crop and earlier maturation. This has some implications for variety selection.

NOAA's National Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center reports that over western portions of Minnesota the snow pack water content varies from 2 to 5 inches as of February 20, 2013. These water contents are relatively high as the moisture content of January and February snows has been more than normal. The higher water contents in the southern end of the Red River Valley are of concern for spring flood forecasting. You can follow the week to week assessments of snow cover and snow water content using their web site.

MPR listener question

I heard you tell Cathy last week that my hometown of Rothsay (Wilkin County) was reporting its snowiest February in history this year (26 inches). Surely other places must also be reporting near record February snowfall. Are there any others? My wife thinks her hometown of Wheaton must be close.

Answer: Indeed there are several observers that are close to breaking their record for snowiest February. Your wife's hometown of Wheaton as already tied the record set in 1952 with 22.2 inches. Elsewhere it appears that Breckenridge has set a new record for February with 23.4 inches, and Pelican Rapids as well with 22.4 inches. Many other western communities are close to their records but need a few more inches, including Browns Valley, Ottertail, and Benson.

Twin Cities Almanac for February 22nd

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 29 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 11 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for February 22nd

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 57 degrees F in 1930; lowest daily maximum temperature of -2 degrees F in 1889; lowest daily minimum temperature of -22 F in 1873; highest daily minimum temperature of 38 F in 1930; and record precipitation of 1.13 inches in 1922; Record snowfall is 8.8 inches in 1913.

Average dew point for February 22nd is 14 degrees F, with a maximum of 39 degrees F in 2000 and a minimum of -21 degrees F in 1965.

All-time state records for February 22nd

The state record high temperature for this date is 64 degrees F at Luverne (Rock County) and Windom (Cottonwood County) in 2000. The state record low temperature for this date is -46 degrees F at Bemidji (Beltrami County) in 1939. State record precipitation for this date is 3.00 inches at Willmar (Kandiyohi County) in 1922; and the state record snowfall for this date is 13.1 inches at Chatfield (Fillmore County) in 1940.

Past Weather Features:

February 20-23, 1873 brought a Cold Wave to Minnesota with many areas reporting continuous readings below 0 F. In St Paul, three consecutive mornings were -20 degrees F or colder, and it was considerably colder up north. Previous months had brought 40-50 inches of snowfall, and little of it had melted.

February 21-23, 1914 brought another strong Cold Wave to the state plummeted temperatures to -30 degrees F or colder at over 20 locations. Hallock (Kittson County) could warm no higher than -18 degrees F on February 22nd. However, by the 27th many communities saw temperatures climb into the 40s and 50s F.

By far the wettest February in state history occurred in 1922. A strong winter storm over February 22-23 brought a mixture of rain, sleet, ice, snow, and even thunderstorms to the state. over a month's worth of precipitation fell in many areas of the state including 3.23 inches at Willmar, 2.12 inches at Winona, 2.00 inches at Chatfield, and 1.70 inches at Milaca. Many areas received over a foot of snow. Milaca reported 22 inches and Detroit Lakes received 25 inches. The storm knocked our power, closed roads, and damaged a number of trees.

February 22, 1982 brought a hint of spring to southern Minnesota as at least a dozen cities reported afternoon high temperatures of 50 degrees F or greater. The warm-up was short-lived as two days later a winter storm brought snowfall to the state.

The warmest February 22nd in state history occurred in 2000 when over 50 Minnesota communities saw the thermometer soar to 50 degrees F or higher on a bright and sunny afternoon. Many citizens took afternoon lunch outside that day.

Word of the Week: nib-nebs

This is a Scottish term for Jack Frost, or cold personified. It derives from nib meaning to poke or point, and neb meaning kiss. One possible connotation is that when kissed by Jack Frost you are poked by his cold nose. Nib-nebs has certainly been present this winter, and especially this month (Feb) which is averaging colder than normal across the state.

Outlook

Near seasonal normal temperatures over the weekend with lingering snow in the northeast. Increasing cloudiness Sunday night with a chance for snow, especially in southern and central counties on Monday and Tuesday, then a bit warmer towards the end of next week.
 

Friday, February 15, 2013

February snow and moisture

February snow and moisture

Mother Nature continued to bring precipitation to the state this month, with an exclamation mark on Sunday and Monday (Feb 10-11). A slow moving weather system from the southwest moved across the state bringing a mixture of rain, freezing rain, sleet, and snow to many areas. At times the winds were strong enough to produce blizzard conditions in some western and southern counties. Dew points soared into the low to mid 30s F with this system helping to fuel some record-setting snowfall and precipitation amounts for many observers. The maximum snowfall amount from this storm was 21 inches at Rothsay (Wilkin County) with a melted liquid precipitation of 2.21 inches. Many observers around the state reported 10 or more inches of snowfall with a liquid content of over 1 inch, a very large amount for February. The snowfall reported from Rothsay of 19 inches on Monday, February 11th broke the previous all-time state record amount for the date of 14 inches at Mahnomen in 1939, while the liquid precipitation amount of 2.02 inches at Rothsay also shattered the previous state record for February 11th of 1.36 inches set at Fort Ripley back in 1861 (a 153 year old record). You can read a summary of the storm on our web site.

Some observers who reported record-setting amounts of snow and/or precipitation for the dates included:
For February 10:
Georgetown 8" snowfall, 0.80" precipitation
Artichoke Lake 10" snowfall, 1.11" precipitation
International Falls 4.4" snowfall, 0.54" precipitation
Moorhead 9.3: snowfall, 0.89" precipitation
Grand Rapids 8.4" snowfall, 0.79" precipitation
St Cloud 6.7" snowfall, 0.70" precipitation
Browns Valley, 6.5" snowfall, 0.62" precipitation
Milan 8.2" snowfall, 0.68" precipitation
Park Rapids 0.67" precipitation
MSP 0.62" precipitation
For February 11:
Rothsay 19" snowfall, 2.02" precipitation
Itasca State Park 15" snowfall, 1.30" precipitation
Bemidji 14" snowfall, 1.16" precipitation
Ottertail 13.5" snowfall, 0.82"precipitation
Pelican Rapids 12" snowfall, 0.81" precipitation
Kettle Falls 12" snowfall, 0.77" precipitation
Wadena 11.5" snowfall, 1.42" precipitation
Brainerd 12" snowfall, 0.97" precipitation
Faribault 4.4" snowfall, 0.83" precipitation
Morris 8" snowfall, 0.63" precipitation

At least 40 other Minnesota locations reported new snowfall or precipitation records for February 11th as well. Yet, another Alberta Clipper storm brought more snow to the state over Wednesday night (Feb 13) and early Thursday morning (Feb 14). Many observers reported another 2-4 inches of snowfall, while Long Prairie reported a record amount for Valentine's Day of 4.7 inches These storms added to the snowfall from earlier this month producing monthly snowfall totals that exceed 20 inches at Bemidji, Battle Lake, Itasca State Park, Breckenridge, Ottertail, Pelican Rapids, Rothsay, and Wheaton. Rothsay (Wilkin County) has totaled 26 inches of snow so far this month, the most ever in February for that location.

As a result of the frequent snows the U.S. Drought Monitor changed some western and northern Minnesota counties from severe drought to moderate drought this week, the first substantial change in drought status in several weeks. The snow pack on the landscape is estimated to have as much as 2-4 inches of liquid water equivalent stored in it. The accumulated moisture surplus this month should help with surface hydrology (runoff flowing into lakes and streams), but will likely provide little help for soil moisture recharge as long as the ground is frozen.

Weekly Weather potpourri

NOAA administrator, Dr. Jane Lubchenco named Dr. Louis Uccellini the new Director of the National Weather Service this week. Dr. Uccellini brings a wealth of experience having worked for NOAA since 1989. He holds all of his degrees from UW- Madison. You can read more about him here.

Tropical Cyclone Gino was spinning away in the Southern Indian Ocean this week southwest of Diego Garcia. It packed wind gusts up to 110 mph and was creating sea wave heights of 25-30 feet. Gino was headed southwest toward cooler waters and was expected to dissipate by the weekend.

Perth in Western Australia reported its 2nd Heat Wave of the summer this week. For five consecutive days the daytime highs reached 100 degrees F or higher, peaking at 106 degrees F on Tuesday this week. This is the longest Heat Wave in the area in the past 27 years and has helped provoke high fire danger, with some wildfires burning. The weekend was expected to bring cooler temperatures there.

A deep low pressure system brought snow, rain, and thunderstorms to parts of Italy earlier this week. By Tuesday heavy rains had flooded much of Venice, submerging even the popular St Mark's square. It was said to be the highest water mark in the city since Christmas of 2010. In the Italian Alps heavy snow was falling this week.

An analysis of European Satellite Data this week revealed that the loss of Arctic sea ice during the Northern Hemisphere summer is very significant. It is estimated that the summer minimum in Arctic sea ice in recent years is only one-fifth the volume it was in 1980. This analysis suggests that earlier estimates of Arctic sea ice may have been too conservative. You can read more here.

Highlights for the drought-monitoring period ending on February 12 from Brad Rippey at the USDA World Agricultural Outlook Board include:

- Overall U.S. drought coverage decreased to 55.73% of the contiguous U.S., down 1.11% from last week and down 5.36% since the beginning of the year. The decrease came on the strength of heavy rain across the South and some snow in the upper Midwest.
- The portion of the contiguous U.S. in the worst category ­ D4, or exceptional drought ­ dipped nearly one-quarter of a percentage point (0.24%) to 6.61%. D4 coverage has ranged from 5 to 7% for 27 consecutive weeks (August 14, 2012 ­ February 12, 2013).
- The percent of hay in drought (57%) fell two percentage points, while winter wheat in drought was unchanged at 59%. Cattle in drought (67%) fell one percentage point.

NOAA's ClimateWatch Magazine has an interesting article this week about climate change and monitoring ENSO in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. The Climate Prediction Center describes their definitions of El Nino and La Nina events in the context of a changing climate, including the oceans. This makes for interesting reading and can be found online here.

MPR listener question

I have already had 9 days with measurable snowfall at my house in Shoreview this month, and I am getting tired of shoveling and scrapping ice. What is the most number of days that it has snowed in February here in the Twin Cities area?

Answer: In the Leap Year of 1884 it snowed on 19 of the 29 days in February according to the Army Signal Corps Office in St Paul. The snowfall total for the month was near 23 inches.

Twin Cities Almanac for February 15th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 24 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 7 degrees F (plus or minus 15 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for February 15th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 63 degrees F in 1921; lowest daily maximum temperature of -11 degrees F in 1936; lowest daily minimum temperature of -25 F in 1875; highest daily minimum temperature of 37 F in 1984; and record precipitation of 0.87 inches in 1967; Record snowfall is 12.5 inches at Fergus Falls (Otter Tail County) in 1945.

Average dew point for February 15th is 11 degrees F, with a maximum of 44 degrees F in 1921 and a minimum of -25 degrees F in 1946.

All-time state records for February 15th

The state record high temperature for this date is 67 degrees F at Winona (Winona County) in 1921. The state record low temperature for this date is -53 degrees F at Ada (Norman County) in 1936. State record precipitation for this date is 1.84 inches at Winsted (McLeod County) in 1967; and the state record snowfall for this date is 15.0 inches at Grand Marais (Cook County) in 1937.

Past Weather Features:

The warmest February 15th in state history occurred in 1921. Over a dozen Minnesota communities saw afternoon temperatures rise above 60 degrees F. The warm air also brought higher humidity, clouds, and some thunderstorms. The warm spell ended on the 17th when a cold front swept through and dropped temperatures into the the single digits and teens F.

Arctic cold gripped the state on February 15, 1936. Nine communities reported lows of -40 degrees F or colder. All observers in the state except Winona remained below 0 F all day. The high temperature at Crookston was -22 degrees F, while the high at Fergus Falls was -21 degrees F. February of 1936 was the coldest in state history.

February 12-15, 1945 brought a large winter storm to Minnesota. Temperatures were not extreme, but snowfall was persistent and abundant. Many areas reported over a foot of snow, including Grand Marais and Fergus Falls with over 15 inches, and Pigeon River with over 18 inches.

Word of the Week: AVOID

AVOID is a research program conducted by multiple government agencies and universities to examine the potential consequences of climate change and advise the government of the United Kingdom on methods to avoid or mitigate some of the most detrimental effects. They recently produced a report that suggested climate change could be limited to a rise in temperature of 2 degrees C or less if efforts to limit emissions of greenhouse gases are undertaken soon and practiced along with conservation efforts. You can read more about their report  here.

Outlook

The weekend will start out a bit colder than normal, then slowly warm up on Sunday. Chance of snow again by Monday and Tuesday, followed by another more significant chance of snow next Thursday.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Snowy start to February

Snowy start to February

Many observers (including MSP and St Cloud) reported six consecutive days with measurable snowfall to start out the month. In the Twin Cities it was only the 3rd time historically (back to 1871) that 6 consecutive days in February have brought measurable snowfall, and the only time this occurred during the first 6 days. At St Cloud it was only the 2nd time in history that it has snowed measurably on six or more consecutive days in February, and the only time this has happened over the first six days as well. In some areas significant amounts (6 or more inches) have fallen, more than the total snowfall from last month (January 2013) for many. The increasing snow depth may help stabilize frost depths in the soil. Current frost depths around the state range from 18 to 30 inches.

Thursday night (Feb 7) brought freezing drizzle and freezing rain to southeastern Minnesota (from Rochester over to Winona), coating sidewalks and roads with a thin sheet of ice. There were scores of accidents reported for a time, with a number of spin outs on I90.

Correction to last week's listener question

Last week I was asked about the snowiest February in state history and I said I thought it was 1936 at Winona when February brought them 36 inches of snowfall. I was mistaken. Both 1922 and 1939 brought heavy February snows to central and northern Minnesota communities. In 1922 three observers reported over 40 inches for the month: Milaca (41"), Detroit Lakes (43"), and Two Harbors (47"). In 1939 three locations also reported over 40 inches in February: Two Harbors (45.5"), Grand Marais (49.2"), and Pigeon River Bridge (51"). The 51 inches at Pigeon River Bridge in 1939 is the state record for February.

Weekly Weather potpourri

A massive and intense winter storm was affecting many northeastern states on Friday of this week. Heavy snowfalls, high winds, and blizzard conditions were expected in several areas. A wide swath of snowfall amounts from 18-24 inches was expected, with some of the higher elevations forecasted to get up to 3 feet of new snow. Obviously many communities will be socked in over the weekend. The National Weather Service Office in Boston was posting frequent updates.

Earlier this week the Detroit News ran a story about Lake Huron and Lake Michigan being at all-time low lake levels. The low water marks broke a record set back in 1964. Obviously drought has played a role in this, and perhaps also higher lake evaporation rates. Each of the Great Lakes currently sits at a water level well below the long term mean.

Brad Rippey of the USDA, World Agricultural Outlook Board offered the following highlights in his drought briefing this week:
- Overall U.S. drought coverage decreased to 56.84% of the contiguous U.S., down 0.84% from last week and down 5.81% in the last ten weeks. (Mostly on the strength of widespread precipitation across the eastern half of the U.S. and parts of the Southwest.
- However, the portion of the contiguous U.S. in the worst category – D4, or exceptional drought – rose nearly one-half percentage point to 6.85%. D4 coverage has ranged from 5 to 7% for 26 consecutive weeks (August 14, 2012 – February 5, 2013).
- The percent of hay in drought (59%) and winter wheat in drought (59%) were unchanged from a week ago. Cattle in drought (68%) fell one percentage point. For the 31st consecutive week (July 10, 2012 – February 5, 2013), drought encompassed more than two-thirds of the domestic cattle inventory.

Some roads out of Kabul, Afghanistan were closed for four days this week as heavy snow fell over parts of the country. Up to 10 feet of snow was reported in some of the mountain areas and 37 deaths were associated with this storm. The storm moved on to dump more snow over northern India on areas above 2000 feet in elevation.
NOAA scientists have not detected an El Nino or La Nina episode in the equatorial Pacific Ocean for some period of time now, calling the present condition "neutral state." This week NASA scientists suggested naming the "neutral" ENSO state La Nada. The present La Nada state may last for an unusually long period of time. You can read more about this here.

MPR listener question

Last week you answered a question about snowy Februarys. I wondered what is the heaviest daily snowfall that has occurred in February?

Answer: The Twin Cities daily record snowfall in February is 11.8 inches on February 20, 2011. On a statewide basis Detroit Lakes received 25 inches on February 23, 1922, the most ever.

Twin Cities Almanac for February 8th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 22 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 5 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for February 8th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 50 degrees F in 1991 and 2002; lowest daily maximum temperature of -19 degrees F in 1899; lowest daily minimum temperature of -29 F in 1899; highest daily minimum temperature of 36 F in 1966; and record precipitation of 1.08 inches in 1966; Record snowfall is 5.0 inches in 1905.

Average dew point for February 8th is 3 degrees F, with a maximum of 39 degrees F in 1966 and a minimum of -32 degrees F in 1971.

All-time state records for February 8th

The state record high temperature for this date is 66 degrees F at Madison (Lac Qui Parle County) in 1991. The state record low temperature for this date is -55 degrees F at Warroad (Roseau County) in 1933. State record precipitation for this date is 1.35 inches at St James (Watonwan County) in 1947; and the state record snowfall for this date is 15.0 inches at Grand Marais (Cook County) in 1937.

Past Weather Features:

An Arctic air mass invaded the state over February 7-11, 1899 bringing record-setting temperatures. Many areas of the state reported low temperatures of -40 degrees F or colder. On February 8th Leech Lake reported a high temperature of -33 degrees F, and the temperature fell to -59 degrees F by the next morning. A warmer air mass arrived by mid month pushing daytime temperatures into the 40s F. Still 1899 brought the 5th coldest February in state history.

February 7-8, 1933 brought another Arctic outbreak to Minnesota. Temperatures plummeted to record lows for many observers. Six observers reported a low temperature of -50 degrees F or colder. It was -32 degrees F in New Ulm and a number of places remained colder than -20 F all day.

Over February 7-8, 1937 a strong winter storm brought a foot or more of snow to many parts of central and northern Minnesota. Some schools were closed, along with some roads which were blocked by five foot drifts of snow. The snow was welcome following the 1936 drought.

A strong storm brought mixed precipitation to central and southern Minnesota counties over February 8-9, 1966. The storm produced a good deal of ice in central counties where there were a number of traffic accidents reported. In southeastern Minnesota heavy rains fell on frozen ground and produced some local flooding.

February 6-8, 1987 brought unusual warmth to western and southern Minnesota as daytime temperatures soared into the 50s and 60s at several locations. The warm string of days took the frost out of the soil across southern and western Minnesota. Temperatures continued warm and February 1987 was one of the warmest in state history.

Outlook

Cloudy but somewhat mild day on Saturday with temperatures in the 30s and 40s F. Major winter storm potential starting on late Saturday night and into Sunday, with mixed precipitation, heavy at times crossing the state SW to NE. Winds will also increase on Sunday evening into Monday morning, with blizzard conditions expected in some areas. Many communities will receive significant amounts of precipitation, and freezing rain is a possibility in southern locations. Lingering chance of snow on Monday, then drier and cooler on Tuesday. Another chance for snow later in the week on Thursday and Friday.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Mixed precipitation this week with some records

Mixed precipitation this week with some records

The last week of January brought a good deal of moisture to the state in the form of rain, freezing rain, drizzle, sleet, and snow, along with some dense fog as well. Starting Sunday, January 27th dewpoints climbed into the 20s and 30s F, and sleet and freezing rain began in southern parts of the state about midday. By Monday hundreds of accidents had been reported on slick roads. The Twin Cities reported a new record amount of precipitation for the date with 0.49 inches. In Monday (January 28) reports there were also several record setting amounts of precipitation received, including 0.53 inches at Fargo (ND), Moorhead, St Peter, and Jordan, along with 0.65 inches at Worthington. Moorhead also reported a record snowfall on the 28th with 5.8 inches. As the colder air moved over the state on Tuesday, another round of precipitation brought mostly snow, and some record-setting amounts. New snowfall records for January 29th were set at the following locations:
12.0 inches at Detroit Lakes
10.5 inches at Breckenridge and Cass Lake
10.0 inches at Rothsay, Itasca State Park, and Bigfork
9.5 inches at Pelican Rapids (with a new precipitation record of 0.70 inches)
8.5 inches at Littlefork
8.0 inches at Kettle Falls, Kabetogama, and Bemidji
6.8 inches at Hawley

Yet another round of snow on January 30th came to southeastern Minnesota, where Rushford and LaCrescent reported a record 4.0 inches. For many these last days of the month rescued what was an otherwise dry January, bringing monthly precipitation amounts closer to normal or even a little above normal in many areas,especially in the north. The month ended (Jan 31) with dry air and another round of dangerous windchill values ranging from -20 to -40 degrees F. By Friday morning, February 1st Park Rapids and Fosston reported morning lows of -35 degrees F.

Preliminary Climate Summary for January 2013

Despite some cold temperature outbreaks the average January temperature reported by most Minnesota observers ranged from 1 to 2 degrees F warmer than normal. Extremes for the month ranged from 52 degrees F at the Waskish Airport on January 10th to -42 degrees F at Embarrass on the 24th. Grand Marais reported a windchill reading of -54 degrees F on the 21st.

Total precipitation for the month of January was mixed, with some significantly above normal values reported, and a few below normal values reported. Most of the above normal amounts of precipitation occurred in northern counties where many reported over 1 inch for the month. Grand Rapids, International Falls, Backus, Cook, and Kabetogama all reported over 2 inches. Snowfall was scarce in many western and southern counties with less than 3 inches reported in a number of places. In the north snowfall was abundant, with many areas reporting over a foot. International Falls, Kettle Falls, Kabetogama, and Orr reported over 20 inches. End of the month snow depths in northern counties ranged from 15 to 20 inches, while bare ground was still visible in parts of the Red River Valley. Frost depths ranged from 15 to 30 inches in the soil.

Freezing rain and ice visited the state on two or three occasions during the month leading to a number of accidents. Winds peaked on the 19th of the month with many observers reporting 40-50 mph gusts.

Weekly Weather potpourri

The NOAA Storm Prediction Center was busy this week. On January 30th severe thunderstorms in the southeast and mid-Atlantic states brought damaging winds, with hundreds of reports filed from TN, KY, AL, GA, NC, FL, SC, and VA among other states. There were also seven tornado reports filed from Georgia, some with significant structural damage to buildings and several injuries (among them in Adairsville, GA). SPC documented 37 tornado reports nationwide during January, a below average number for the month. SPC expects a quiet period through the weekend in terms of severe weather threats as we start the month of February.

Strong Tropical Cyclone Felleng formed in the Southern Indian Ocean this week and was threatening Madagascar with strong winds, high seas and heavy rainfall. There were reports of 8-10 inches of rainfall in eastern parts of Madagascar. Winds were gusting to 110 mph on Thursday (Jan 31) producing sea wave heights of 30 to 35 feet. The cyclone was expected to head south between Madagascar and La Reunion Island, then weaken considerably over the weekend.

The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) hosts its annual meeting in Vienna, Austria next week. It is a showcase for developments in wind energy technologies and services with participation by over 700 members from 60 countries. This year's conference will present a focus on economic opportunities associated with wind energy. You can read more about this organization and conference here.

News reports this week highlighted more intense air pollution in parts of China, especially in Beijing where residents were more frequently wearing masks. Smog was making the air quality hazardous in a variety of ways, cancelling airline flights and closing highways due to poor visibility and causing respiratory ailments among citizens. Snow and rain were expected to help clean the air by the weekend. You can read more about this here.

A new paper published by the University of New Hampshire documents that independent voters views on climate change are highly governed by recent weather conditions. Ten surveys were conducted of independent voters and all showed that their positions on climate change were swayed if recent days were unseasonably warm or unseasonably cold. Conversely, Democrats and Republicans held firmer positions on climate change, that were not dramatically influenced recent weather trends. You can read more about this study here.

A new paper in the journal Nature documents how precipitation patterns vary during warming periods provoked by increased solar radiation versus the current warming provoked by greenhouse gases. The research highlights that differences in sea surface temperature patterns have major effects on precipitation, especially convective storms. You can read more about this study here.

The NOAA Southeast Regional Climate Center has documented the climatology for all Super Bowls from 1967-2012. It is interesting reading to see how the weather has varied for this significant event despite the fact that most of the time it is played in the southern USA where the weather is relatively mild. Interestingly enough, next year's Super Bowl is scheduled for East Rutherford, NJ outdoors, so it could be played in snow and cold. You can read more here.

MPR listener question

I am still hoping this will turn out to be a snowy winter, so I can do more cross country skiing. What is the state record for snowfall in the month of February?

Answer: Several observers have reported as much as 40 inches of snowfall during the month of February, notably in 1922 and 1939. The statewide record is from Pigeon River Bridge (Cook County) where they reported 51 inches for the month in 1939. That is close to a year's worth in 28 days!

Twin Cities Almanac for February 1st

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 21 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 3 degrees F (plus or minus 15 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for February 1st

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 54 degrees F in 1931; lowest daily maximum temperature of -12 degrees F in 1996; lowest daily minimum temperature of -28 F in 1951; highest daily minimum temperature of 33 F in 1892; and record precipitation of 0.89 inches in 1922; Record snowfall is 6.7 inches in 2004.

Average dew point for February 1st is 3 degrees F, with a maximum of 35 degrees F in 1931 and a minimum of -35 degrees F in 1951.

All-time state records for February 1st

The state record high temperature for this date is 60 degrees F at St Peter (Nicollet County) in 1931. The state record low temperature for this date is -58 degrees F at Tower (St Louis County) in 1996. State record precipitation for this date is 1.85 inches at Fairmont (Martin County) in 1915; and the state record snowfall for this date is 18.5 inches also at Fairmont (Martin County) in 1915.

Past Weather Features:

A strong winter storm brought blizzard like conditions to southern Minnesota over January 31 to February 1, 1915. Snowfall amounts over 10 inches were reported by many observers, topped by Fairmont which measured 18.5 inches. It was the start of a very snowy February for many in Minnesota.

Another winter storm brought mixed precipitation and large amounts of snowfall to the state over January 30 to February 1, 1922. In western Minnesota many observers reported over 10 inches of snowfall, with huge drifts. A number of rural schools were closed for days until the snow melted.

February 1, 1931 was the warmest in state history. Over 35 Minnesota communities saw afternoon temperatures climb above 50 degrees F, while overnight lows remained in the 20s and 30s F. It was a precursor of things to come, as day after day was above normal. February of 1931 was the warmest in history at that time. It is still ranked as the 4th warmest in state history even today, surpassed only by 1998, 1987, and 1954.

February 1, 1996 was the coldest in state history. Arctic high pressure brought record-setting cold to most communities. Over 50 observers reported overnight lows of -40 degrees F or colder, and at least 10 observers were -50 degrees F or colder. It was -42 degrees F as far south as Rushford, MN.

Word of the Week: PING

A relatively new acronym, PING stands for Precipitation Identification Near the Ground, a program of NOAA's National Severe Storms Lab. As research attempt to calibrate NWS radar systems to estimate precipitation from radar return signals, they need ground truth, real observations of precipitation at ground level. In this context they are looking for more weather observers in our area to report when precipitation is falling, what type it is (frozen or liquid), and how much has fallen. If you become an observer for them it is easy to report your data via website access or over your mobile device (cell phone). You can read more about PING here.

Outlook

Moderating temperatures with chances for snow on Saturday and Sunday. Continued chance for snow Monday and Tuesday, especially southern and eastern sections. More of a warming trend on Wednesday and Thursday with chances for snow by the end of the week.
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