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Friday, January 16, 2015

Comments on 2014 Climate Disparities

Comments on 2014 Climate Disparities:

Imbedded in much of the discussion about climate change in recent years is an important characteristic change in geographic and temporal variability of climate attributes like temperature and precipitation.  In simple terms the variability of these features is becoming greater.  To illustrate this we need only look at the disparities in the 2014 climate signature.

NOAA and NASA held a joint press conference on Friday, January 16, 2015 to showcase the global analysis of the climate for 2014.  Much of their discussion is shared at the NOAA CLIMATE.GOV web site.

Some highlights include:
-Average temperatures on both land and ocean globally were the highest ever measured since 1880 according to NOAA and NASA analysis.  It is further noteworthy that this took place without the presence of an El Nino episode.
2014 Global Land and Ocean Temperature Percentiles Map

-For the USA, 2014 temperature ranked as the 87th warmest of the past 119 years, and was the 18th consecutive year with above normal mean annual temperature.

-Also for the USA, 2014 precipitation ranked as the 81st wettest of the past 119 years,  and 6th wettest year in history for the states of Michigan and Wisconsin.

-For Minnesota, 2014 temperature ranked as the 22nd coldest year of the past 119 years, and coldest year since 1996. This cold temperature signal was heavily weighted to the February through April period which ranked as 8th coldest since 1895, and to the very cold November, which ranked 11th coldest since 1895.

-For Minnesota 2014 precipitation ranked as 94th wettest since 1895, ending up wetter than normal mostly because June was the wettest single month in state history and April was the 6th wettest in state history.

Warm Temperatures Lending Balance to January:

Following a cold first half of the month, it appears warm temperatures followed by moderating temperatures may prevail for the balance of the month, classically averaging things out for the state.  During the first half of January most places reported mean temperature values that ranged from 6 to 10F colder than normal, with some extreme values of -35F at Cook, -33F at Embarrass, and -30F at Camp Norris on the 13th.  The dominance of cold has not brought a great deal of snowfall either.  Most observers have reported less than normal snowfall this month, with the exception being International Falls which has received close to 15 inches.

The balance of the month looks to have more days with above normal temperatures or near normal temperatures.  It may be that the coldest weather of the 2014-2015 season is behind us.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

Deke Arndt, NOAA-NCDC Climate Scientist years ago did a nice Youtube video on climate change and heat waves.  It resurfaced recently on facebook, via NOAA-NCDC and Climate Central and it is worth watching.

Heavy rains have brought flooding to parts of Malawi and Mozambique in Africa this week.  Some rainfalls in excess of 6 inches caused rivers to rise and flood villages, wash out bridges, and sweep away roads.  Over 70,000 people have been displaced from their homes.  Widespread damage to crops and livestock has also been noted.  This storm system turned into Tropical Cyclone Chedza over the Mozambique channel before bringing heavy rains to Madagascar.  Rains are expected to be heavy there throughout the coming weekend.  Further east in the southern Indian Ocean Tropical Cyclone Bansi was producing winds up to 140 mph with stronger gusts and sea wave heights of 40 feet.

An excellent paper was published last month in the Journal of Geophysical Research by University of Minnesota colleagues Keith Harding and Peter Snyder.  It is titled "Examining future changes in the character of Central U.S. warm-season precipitation using dynamical downscaling."  The study suggests that future summer rainfall will be less frequent, but more intense, and weighted to the earlier part of the growing season. 

MPR Listener Question:

I see that NOAA declared 2014 as the warmest year globally in the record period from 1880 to present, primarily because of a warm May through November period.  How did the monthly climate anomalies break down for Minnesota during 2014?


Using the statewide climate data base the monthly temperature and precipitation rankings for 2014 are listed below.  Bear in mind that a ranking of 1 = the warmest or wettest since 1895, while a ranking of 110 = the coldest or driest:

Month            Temperature Rank      Precipitation Rank
January                  87                                  47
February              110                                  36
March                  100                                 93
April                     101                                  6
May                       57                                 45
June                       39                                   1
July                        94                                 99
August                   42                                 51
September             34                                 78
October                 46                                 87
November            107                                 79
December              13                                  65

As you can see from the listing the two most anomalous months from a temperature standpoint were February, ranked 110th (quite cold), and December, ranked 13th (quite warm).  The two most anomalous months from a precipitation standpoint were June, ranked 1st (wettest month of all time), and July, ranked 99th (very dry).

Twin Cities Almanac for January 16th:

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 4 degrees F (plus or minus 15 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 46 degrees F in 1961; lowest daily maximum temperature of -16 degrees F in 1982; lowest daily minimum temperature is -29 degrees F in 1888; highest daily minimum temperature of 34 F in 1894; record precipitation of 1.05 inches 1887; and record snowfall is 3.8 inches in 1924.

Average dew point for January 16th is 2 degrees F, with a maximum of 37 degrees F in 1913 and a minimum of -38 degrees F in 1982.

All-Time State Records for January 16th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 54 degrees F at New Ulm (Brown County) in 1974. The state record low temperature for this date is -47 degrees F at Thorhult (Beltrami County) in 1977. State record precipitation for this date is 1.65 inches at Beaver Bay (Lake County) in 1870; and the state record snowfall for this date is 16.0 inches at Beaver Bay (Lake County) in 1870.

Past Weather Features:

January 15-17, 1870 brought a heavy snow storm to Minnesota.  Only a few observers recorded the total amount of snow which ranged from 11 to 16 inches in many places. 

A winter storm brought a mixture of rain, sleet, and snow to the state on January 16, 1969.  Some northern communities reported 3 to 7 inches of new snow, while significant rainfall, over half an inch in most cases, fell in the south.  Winona reported over an inch of rain.

January 16, 1974 was probably the warmest in state history.  Most western and southern communities reported daytime highs in the 40s F while at least six communities reached the 50s F under bright sunny skies and southerly winds.

June 16, 1977 was probably the coldest in state history.  Over 90 Minnesota climate stations reported overnight lows of -30F or colder, and 15 cities saw the thermometer drop to -40F or colder.  Crookston recorded an afternoon high of -20F.


Generally cloudy through the weekend period, but with warmer than normal temperatures.  Chances for drizzle in the south on Saturday and a wintry mix in the north with some snow.  Continued chance for snow in the northeast into early next week, mostly dry in the south.  Chance for snow statewide next Wednesday with cooler temperatures settling in.

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