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Extension > Mark Seeley's WeatherTalk > November 2013

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.
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