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Extension > Mark Seeley's WeatherTalk > October 2013

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.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Very dry air to start October

Very dry air to start October

The first two days of October were dominated by a warm and dry air mass. How dry was it? Well afternoon relative humidity fell off into the teens and twenties on both October 1st and 2nd, with very low dewpoints (in the 20s and 30s F). Some extremely low afternoon relative humidity values included 12 percent at St James, 17 percent at Luverne, 18 percent at Tracy, and 19 percent at Fairmont. Such low values of relative humidity are somewhat common in October, especially in dry years and after the state crop acreage has matured and dried out. The first week of October in 2011 brought similar values of relative humidity with many readings in the teens, and back in October of 1999 places like Faribault and Litchfield reported relative humidity of just 7 and 8 percent, respectively.

Combined with gusty winds the dry weather produced some rather high evaporation rates for this time of year, ranging from 0.2 to 0.3 inches per day.

Wet period starts

Following the dry start to the month, thunderstorms roared across portions of the state later in the day on October 2nd and into October 3rd, bringing hail to southwestern Minnesota (1.75 inch diameter size near Worthington), and heavy rains to parts of south-central and southeastern Minnesota. Some observers reported new daily rainfall records, including 0.90 inches at MSP airport on the 2nd. Those reporting new daily record rainfall amounts for October 3rd included: 2.76 inches at Pine Island; 2.45 inches at Zumbro Falls; 1.79 inches at North Mankato; 1.45 inches at Gaylord; 1.40 inches at the University of Minnesota St Paul Campus; 1.39 inches at Worthington; and 1.32 inches at Faribault. You can read more about the rainfall from this storm and see maps of the distribution on our web site.

 The rains were very welcome, especially in areas of the state where drought had taken hold. In fact, the overall areas of the state landscape designated to be in moderate to severe drought shrunk by over six percent over the past week. Yet more rainfall is expected around the state through Sunday of this weekend, and further out the National Weather Service expects a wetter than normal weather pattern over the state through October 17th.

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

News from the MN Senate Environment and Energy Committee: Help us kick off a statewide conversation on Minnesota's energy future! On Tuesday, October 22, in the Science Museum Auditorium, the Minnesota Department of Commerce is sponsoring a day-long workshop to kick-off a statewide discussion on how Minnesota can transition to a fossil fuel-free economy. The findings from the workshop will be used to inform a study to map-out the path to a sustainable energy system in Minnesota. What do you think should be considered as we create a plan to build a new energy future? Participation is free, and you can have an impact just by your presence (demonstrating interest from sustainable energy advocates.) Technical expertise is not required but your creativity and strategic thinking are welcomed! The day will start with some interesting presentations by Rocky Mountain Institute, followed by group discussion and Q&A. Register here.

Typhoon Fitow was churning across the East China Sea in the Western Pacific Ocean this week heading towards the China mainland by this weekend. Winds were over 100 mph, producing 30 to 40 foot seas waves, and heavy bands of rainfall that were expected to drench parts of Taiwan before moving onto the China coast. With landfall in China Typhoon Fitow is expected to rapidly weaken. And Tropical Storm Danas is moving in behind Typhoon Fitow and is expected to take a track towards southern Japan next week.

In the Gulf of Mexico, the NOAA Hurricane Center is tracking Tropical Storm Karen (the 11th named storm of the Atlantic Hurricane Season). Karen may reach hurricane strength this weekend before making landfall along the MS, AL, FL coastlines Saturday night. Some coastal areas of those states may expect to see total rainfall amounts of 3 to 6 inches through Sunday, causing local flooding.

According to the BBC, Wednesday, October 2nd brought a very rare tornado to County Galway in western Ireland. The storm was somewhat short-lived but it knocked down a number of trees and damaged the Clonfert Cathedral, producing hail and heavy rainfall across the county as well.

National Weather Service offices reported this week that a strong storm off the Pacific Ocean brought heavy rain to the state of Washington, and some snowfall to parts of Idaho and Montana. Some parts of Montana reported 6 inches or more of snowfall. The strong low pressure system caused the NWS to issue a blizzard warning for western SD and the Rapid City area for Friday through early Saturday, and early Friday morning observers in western SD were already reporting snowfall amounts of 2 to 6 inches.

MPR listener question

With all of this rain expected I was wondering what is the daily record and monthly record rainfall for the Twin Cities during the month of October?

Answer: Actually the daily record rainfall in the Twin Cities for October occurred on today's date, the 4th, in 2005 with 4.61 inches. That's also the one and only time in the Twin Cities climate record (1871-present) that it has rained over 3 inches in one day during October. The wettest month of October in the Twin Cities record occurred in 1911 when a total of 6.42 inches was measured. October of 1911 also brought some snowfall to the Twin Cities area.

Twin Cities Almanac for October 4th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 65 degrees F (plus or minus 10 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 45 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for October 4th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 89 degrees F in 1922; lowest daily maximum temperature of 41 degrees F in 1885; lowest daily minimum temperature is 24 degrees F in 1935; highest daily minimum temperature of 68 F in 1922; and record precipitation of 4.61 inches in 2005; and a trace of snow fell on this date in 1935.

Average dew point for October 4th is 42 degrees F, with a maximum of 69 degrees F in 2005 and a minimum of 13 degrees F in 1952.

All-time state records for October 4th

The state record high temperature for this date is 94 degrees F at Albert Lea (Freeborn County), Amboy (Blue Earth County), and Theilman (Wabasha County) in 1997. The state record low temperature for this date is 10 degrees F at Ada (Norman County) in 1935 and at Argyle (Marshall County) in 1989. State record precipitation for this date is 4.25 inches at Farmington (Dakota County) in 1900; and state record snowfall for this date is 1.5 inches at Ashby (Grant County) in 1903.

Past Weather Features:

Perhaps the wettest start to October historically occurred in 1900 when daily thunderstorms over the 2nd through the 6th brought heavy amounts of rainfall to many parts of the state. Many observers reported a total of 2 to 4 inches of rain over that 5-day period. A few places like Wabasha and Farmington received over 5 inches. Fortunately most crops had already been harvested that year.

October 4, 1903 brought snow to many northern Minnesota communities, including Moorhead and Bemidji. It was the only snowfall that occurred that month.

October 4, 1935 was one of the coldest in state history. Many places started out that day in the teens F and warmed up little during the day. It was as cold as 15 degrees F at Waseca and just 10 degrees F at Ada in the Red River Valley. Daytime temperatures never warmed out of the 20s F at many locations.

October 3-4, 1997 brought one of the hottest ever spells of October weather to Minnesota. Over 25 communities reported daytime highs of 90 degrees F or greater. The other shoe dropped the next week with cool temperatures and many days of consecutive rainfall.

Persistent and heavy rains over October 4-6, 2005 caused serious flash flooding in many parts of eastern Minnesota. Rainfall totals over 4 inches were common, and some areas received from 5 to 7 inches. An observer near Rush City reported nearly 9 inches. Many home basements were flooded, street flooding was widespread, and portions of Interstate 35E had to be closed for a time. Historically, flash floods are very uncommon in October, but this was one of the worst.

Outlook

Cooler than normal temperatures over the weekend with widespread occasional showers through Sunday. Cool and humid for the start of the Twin Cities Marathon on Sunday morning. Drier on Monday. Warming trend begins on Tuesday with a chance for showers returning by late next week.
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