Record-setting April Fool's Day:A relatively strong low pressure system brought high winds and very warm temperatures to the state on April 1st (Wednesday). Gusty winds dominated most of the afternoon and evening hours with many central and southern Minnesota observers reporting wind gusts over 40 mph. Redwood Falls saw a peak wind gust of 55 mph, while Marshall reported a peak gust of 62 mph. Some farmers reported blowing soil in western Minnesota counties.
Clouds dominated the skies for much of the day, holding afternoon temperatures below record setting levels in many areas. In northeastern Minnesota low clouds and temperatures in the 30s F brought traces of snow to many areas including Grand Marais and Gunflint Lake. In northwestern Minnesota where skies were sunny the temperature at Fosston warmed from a low of 28 degrees F to an afternoon high of 72 degrees F, a dramatic warm up.
In southern and western counties where the skies was less cloudy (mostly sunny in some cases) and the southwest winds were strongest, some record-setting high temperatures were set or tied, including:
80°F at Milan and Jordan; 81°F at Pipestone (tied) and Worthington (tied) and Winona; 83°F at New Ulm; 84°F at Marshall, Windom, and MSP; 85°F at Redwood Falls; and 86°F at Luverne (establishing a new statewide record maximum temperature for April 1st, breaking the old record of 85°F at Winona in 1986).
Elsewhere under broken cloud conditions in central and northern Minnesota a number of other communities broke or tied records for the daily maximum temperature as well, including:
65°F at International Falls; 69°F at Thorhult (Beltrami County); 70°F at Thief River Falls; 71°F Leech Lake; 72°F Moorhead (tied); and 73°F at Moose Lake, Aitkin (tied), Brainerd (tied), Fargo (tied), and Park Rapids.
Moisture for some:The weather system that crossed the state on April 1st also brought some hail, rain, and lightning to some areas. Hail was reported in some counties like Sibley and Stearns. Thunderstorms brought a quarter to half inch of rainfall to some central and southern Minnesota observers. Some of the larger amounts included: 0.68 inches at Rochester, 0.66 inches at Grand Meadow, 0.60 inches at Northfield, 0.81 inches at Austin, 0.80 inches at Albert Lea, and 0.62 inches at Mantorville.
The moisture did little to relieve the dryness on a statewide basis as the U.S. Drought Monitor placed nearly 92 percent of the state landscape in the moderate drought category this week. Some additional precipitation is expected across the state late this weekend and early next week. This will hopefully improve soil moisture deficits ahead of the agricultural planting season.
Weekly Weather Potpourri:Brad Rippey of the USDA provided the following remarks in the weekly drought briefing:
During the 4-week period ending on March 31, 2015, contiguous U.S. drought coverage increased to 36.84%an increase of nearly five (4.96) percentage points. March featured warmer- and drier-than-normal weather in most areas from California to the Great Plains and the upper Midwest. As a result, drought development or expansion was noted during March in a broad area covering the Intermountain West, the Great Plains, and the upper Midwest. Drought developed during the month in much of central and northern Wisconsin, with 55% of the state in moderate drought (D1) by March 31. Similarly, 22% of Nebraska was experiencing moderate drought by the end of March, up from 0% just 4 weeks earlier. Substantial jumps in drought coverage were also reported during March in Minnesota (from 6 to 92%), South Dakota (from 5 to 43%), Kansas (from 42 to 69%), and North Dakota (from 10 to 21%).
In California, where Gov. Jerry Brown on April 1 announced mandatory 25% reductions in water usage in cities and towns, drought covered more than 98% of the state by the end of March. With drought moving into a fourth year, and extreme to exceptional drought (D3 to D4) covering two-thirds of California, large reductions in agricultural output can be expected again in 2015. Governor Jerry Brown's proclamation about mandatory water restrictions (the first in state history) and policy for conserving water in California was widely distributed on the web.
A report from the Washington Post highlighted the unusual rainfall experience in the Atacama Desert region of Chile in South America lately. Some areas received 14 years worth of rainfall in just one day. Of course this is one of the driest regions in the world, averaging less than a tenth of an inch of precipitation per year in some places.
In the Western Pacific Ocean Typhoon Maysak was moving towards the east coast of the Philippines and was expected to bring high seas, heavy rains, and strong winds to areas around Luzon over the weekend. It was packing winds of 95-105 mph with gusts to 115 mph and producing sea wave heights of 25-35 feet. The forecast is for slight weakening before crossing into the Philippines.
This week's edition of NOAA Climate.gov offers two interesting articles to read: one on climate and cotton production, certainly related to those comfortable clothes we all wear; the second article is about a case study and lessons learned from a flash flood that occurred along the Baraboo River Basin in central Wisconsin in June 2008. You might find both an interesting and helpful read.
A recent article in the International Journal of Climatology documents trends in the extreme rainfall events across the Pacific Ocean basin. It highlights that extreme rainfall events have become less frequent on an annual basis, but the fractional contribution of extreme events to overall seasonal or annual totals is on the rise (a trend we see in Minnesota precipitation as well).
MPR Listener Question:The strong wind almost blew me down while I was walking the dog yesterday around Lake Harriet in Minneapolis. What was the maximum wind speed in the Twin Cities and how strong has the wind blown in April?
Answer:The maximum wind speed reported from MSP airport on April 1st was 45 mph between 3pm and 5 pm. Winds gusted to 47 mph at Flying Cloud Airport (Eden Prairie) and at Crystal Airport (south of Brooklyn Center) winds gusted to 50 mph. The historical maximum wind speed at MSP International Airport for the month is 59 mph which occurred on April 5, 2000. These extreme winds are measurements not associated with specific extreme thunderstorms or tornadoes, both of which have occurred from time to time in April. Remember that for most areas of the state the month of April is the windiest month of the year climatologically.
Twin Cities Almanac for April 3rd:The average MSP high temperature for this date is 48 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 30 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).
MSP Local Records for April 3rd:
MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 86 degrees F in 1921; lowest daily maximum temperature of 24 degrees F in 1874: lowest daily minimum temperature is 9 degrees F in 1954; highest daily minimum temperature of 52 F in 1921; record precipitation of 0.84 inches 1974; and record snowfall is 5.9 inches also in 1974.
Average dew point for April 3rd is 26 degrees F, with a maximum of 58 degrees F in 1956 and a minimum of -6 degrees F in 1995.
All-Time State Records for April 3rd:The state record high temperature for this date is 86 degrees F at Beardsley (Big Stone County) in 1929. The state record low temperature for this date is -19 degrees F at Big Falls (Koochiching County) in 1954 and at Thorhult (Beltrami County) in 1974. State record precipitation for this date is 3.05 inches at Farmington (Dakota County) in 1934; and the state record snowfall for this date is 14.0 inches at Kettle Falls (St Louis County) in 1982.
Past Weather Features:High winds accompanied a four-day snow storm at Ft Snelling over April 3-6, 1837, bringing the largest snowfall of the month (9").
On a statewide basis April 3, 1921 was the warmest in history, with afternoon temperatures of 70°F or greater prevailing across the state. Ten climate stations reported a high of 80°F or higher. The summer-like temperatures lasted through April 6th, then a cold front brought a 15-20 degrees F drop.
One of the heavier spring rains of the Dust Bowl era in Minnesota occurred on April 3, 1934. In fact for some observers it was the largest single day rainfall of that year, as 1 to 3 inches of rainfall was measured across south-central and southeastern counties.
A late season winter storm brought plenty of snow to the state over April 3, 1937. Many observers reported 4 to 8 inches of snowfall, while Collegeville reported over a foot of new snow. Overall 1937 brought a wet April to the state, helping to recover from the drought of 1936.
Perhaps the coldest April 3rd in state history came in 1975 when 50 Minnesota climate observers reported sub-zero F morning readings. It was -2°F as far south as Pipestone, and up north readings ranged from -10°F to -19°F. With abundant snow cover still prevalent across the state the afternoon high temperature only reached 22°F at both Faribault and Morris.
Over April 3, 1982 a sharp cold front caused the temperature at Lamberton, MN (Redwood County) to drop from a high of 78°F to just 7°F over a 24-hr period, a remarkable change of 71°F.