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Friday, March 25, 2016

Snow Storm for Southern Minnesota

Snow storm for southern Minnesota:

Portions of northern Iowa, southern Minnesota, and Wisconsin received a significant snowfall from a late season winter storm on March 23rd this week. Across the path of the storm snowfall amounts ranged mostly from 2 to 9 inches, with some climate stations reporting over 10 inches. Some of the Minnesota reports included the following amounts, with record setting daily amounts noted by an asterisk:

4.7" at Rochester Airport
5.0" at La Crescent* and Winona
5.1" at Caledonia
6.0" at Springfield
6.1" at Eau Claire, WI*
6.8" at Gaylord
7.0" at Hastings
7.3" at Jordan and Rosemount
8.5" at Zumbro Falls
9.0" at Grand Meadow
10.0" at Owatonna* (tied record from 1966)
10.7" at New Prague
11.0" at Ellendale*
11.2" at Wabasha*

Water content of the snow ranged typically from 0.25 inches to 0.75 inches. But both Caledonia (1.29") and Hastings (1`.80") reported new daily record precipitation amounts for the date. Much of this will infiltrate the soil as it melts over the next day or two, with little or no snow cover remaining by Easter Sunday.

Sundial Rhymes:

Now that the sun is climbing so high in the sky and people are spending more time outside, I thought it might be a good time to reflect on the ancient practice of telling time by the sun. Sundials are perhaps one of the oldest instruments known. Many are quite ornate and used in gardens or public parks. There are several which have appropriately inscribed rhymes. Some of these include:

Serene I stand among the flowers;
And only count life's sunny hours.

When the hour is bright and clear,
You'll find the time recorded here.

Set me right and use me well;
And I the time to you will tell.

Of shade and sunshine for each hour,
See here a measure made.
Then wonder not if life consists,
Of sunshine and of shade.

Anyone know of others?

Easter Climatology:

The date of Easter Sunday has varied from March 23rd to April 25th, and we can certainly have huge differences in weather across such a range of dates. For the Twin Cities on average a March date for Easter Sunday brings highs in the 40s F and lows in the 20s F. Since the establishment of the National Weather Service in the Twin Cities in 1891, Easter Sunday has occurred in March twenty-eight times. Of those dates, nine have been wet, and seven have brought snowfall, the most 2.5 inches on March 31, 1929.

Since 1891, Easter Sunday has occurred in April 96 times. Of the April Easter Sundays, 28 have been wet, and 4 have brought snowfall. Two Easter Sundays have seen thunderstorms in the Twin Cities area, both 1941 and 1998. Average daytime highs for Easter Sunday in April are in the 50s and 60s F, with lows in the 40s.

Climate extremes for Easter Sunday include a high of 88 degrees F on April 10, 1977, a low of -2 degrees F on March 25, 1894, and a maximum total precipitation of 0.49 inches on April 13, 1941. The last dense fog on Easter was in 1993, and the worst wind chill conditions were in 1921 when readings of -20 degrees F were noted. Looking for Easter eggs was difficult in 1975 as there was still 10 inches of snow on the ground Easter Sunday, March 30th.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

The same winter storm system that brought abundant snow to southern Minnesota this week also had an impact in Colorado where many observers reported between 10 and 20 inches of snowfall. The Denver area received 13 to 17 inches of snowfall, causing many delays and cancellation at the Denver International Airport.

World Meteorological Day occurred on March 23rd this week. The World Meteorological Society commemorated the occasion by releasing some recent studies of global climate trends and the United Kingdom Met Office released a study showing that the central England growing season has increased by 29 days, and 6 of the 10 longest growing seasons in the their multi-century records have occurred in the past 30 years.

NOAA this week provided a detailed analysis of the record-setting rains and flooding that have occurred this month in Louisiana. Strong and persist advection of low level moisture flowed from the Gulf of Mexico over the course of several days and fueled the persistent heavy rainfalls.

NOAA's primary Guide on Climate Literacy is now available on line in both English and Spanish. School science teachers and environmental educators should be interested in this useful resource which is presented in seven parts.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) of Australia published an interesting article recently on mitigating greenhouse gas production from the livestock sector. There is great potential to do so if the right management systems are put into place. This paper was published in Nature Climate Change.

MPR Listener Question:

Earlier this winter I heard you remark about the persistence of warmer than normal temperatures over the past year in Minnesota. March too is tracking warmer than normal. How will this March rank historically and how does the past 12 months rank historically with respect to temperature?


Statewide temperatures so far this month would rank March as the 6th warmest in state history back to 1895. Even more remarkable is the departure in temperature for the past 12 months, going back to April of 2015. The past 12 months have been the warmest in state history, and by a considerable margin. Here are the statewide average monthly temperature departures from normal over the past 12 months:
April 2015 +1.8°F
May 2015 -0.8°F
June 2015 +0.3°F
July 2015 +0.5°F
August 2015 -1.0°F
September 2015 +6.1°F
October 2015 +3.1°F
November 2015 +7.3°F
December 2015 +10.4°F
January 2016 +2.7°F
February 2016 +4.6°F
March 2016 (through the 24th) +8.8°F

Twin Cities Almanac for March 25th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 46 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 28 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for March 25th:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 78 degrees F in 1939; lowest daily maximum temperature of 12 degrees F in 1955: lowest daily minimum temperature is -5 degrees F in 1940; highest daily minimum temperature of 56 degrees F in 2007; record precipitation of 0.51 inches 1995; and record snowfall of 3.6 inches in 1996.

Average dew point for March 25th is 24 degrees F, with a maximum of 59 degrees F in 2004 and a minimum of -12 degrees F in 1955.

All-time state records for March 25th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 83 degrees F at Canby (Yellow Medicine County) in 1939. The state record low temperature for this date is -31 degrees F at Bigfork (Itasca County) in 1965. State record precipitation for this date is 3.31 inches at Halstad (Norman County) in 1996; and record snowfall is 14.0 inches at Bemidji (Beltrami County) in 1914.

Past Weather Features:

A winter storm brought heavy snow to northern Minnesota over March 24-25, 1914. Many observers reported 8 to 12 inches, and Bemidji received a record 14 inches, ending up with 20 inches for the month.

March 23-25, 1939 brought a taste of summer weather to many parts of Minnesota. Under sunny skies temperatures soared into the 70s and 80s F around many parts of the state. It was in the 70s F as far north as Itasca State Park, and reached the 80s F in at least a dozen western and southern counties. Some farmers were seen planting small grains.

March of 1965 was snowy, wet, and cold. March 25th of that year was the coldest in state history with over 80 climate stations reporting sub-zero low temperatures and the rest reporting single digit lows. With deep snow cover Brainerd and Grand Meadow recorded daytime highs of only 15°F.

Thunderstorms prevailed across southern Minnesota over March 25-26, 1995. Many areas of the state received over an inch of rain, while communities in southwestern Minnesota like Tracy, Worthington, Luverne, Windom, and Springfield reported over 2 inches.

A blizzard struck portions of western and northern Minnesota over March 24-25, 1996. Many observers reported 8 to 14 inches of snowfall and winds over 40 mph. Drifting snow closed portions of I94 between Moorhead and Sauk Centre, as well as portions of Highway 10 and Highway 2 in northern counties. Wind chill conditions dropped into the range of -30 to -50F.


Cloudy with cooler than normal temperatures on Saturday and chances for mixed precipitation around the state, both rain and snow. More sun on Easter Sunday with warming temperatures. Continued warming with above normal temperatures Monday and Tuesday. Increasing cloudiness with chances for rain by Wednesday and Thursday next week, followed by cooler temperatures heading into the first weekend of April.

Friday, March 18, 2016

First warm, then wet

Last weekend produced some record-setting March high temperatures. 

Some of those reported over March 12 and 13 included:
74°F at Madison
73°F at Milan, Marshall, and Pipestone
72°F at Wheaton and Browns Valley
71°F at Montevideo
70°F at MSP, Willmar, Mora, Redwood Falls, and Lake Wilson
69°F at Winnebago and New Ulm
68°F at Windom, Lakefield, St Cloud, and Morris
67°F at Ada, Kimball, and Moose Lake
66°F at Moorhead and Isle
65°F at Austin and Preston
60°F at Duluth and International Falls

So far this month over 60 new daily warm maximum temperature records have been reported across Minnesota, and over 60 new warm daily minimum temperature records have been reported as well. Communities around the state are reporting average March temperatures so far that run from 11 to 15 degrees F above normal. This has provoked very early ice-out dates for many of Minnesota’s lakes, including Lake Minnetonka (Hennepin and Carver Counties), which saw loss of ice on March 17th, the earliest date since March 11, 1878. Other lakes that recorded earliest ice-out dates in history included: White Bear (Washington County) on March 16th; Cedar Lake (Scott County) on March 13th; and French Lake (Rice County) on March 15th.

The warmth slowed down by mid-week, but some heavy precipitation occurred over March 15-16, falling mostly as rain, but some significant snowfall was reported in northeastern Minnesota. Several observers reported from 0.75 inches to 1.50 inches of precipitation. Some amounts were daily records:

On March 15:

MSP 0.85" tied record value from 1945
Ear Claire, WI 1.55" new record
Hibbing 1.09"

On March 16:

Pokegama Dam 0.93"
Cotton 1.70"
Kabetogama 1.23"
Eveleth 1.67"
Floodwood 2.32"
Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center 2.15"
Wright 1.73"
Isle 1.42"
Mora 1.25"
La Crescent 1.50"
Minnesota City 1.90"
Theilman 1.12"
Zumbrota 1.10"
Wabasha 1.36"
Winona Dam 2.16"

In addition, on Wednesday, March 17, heavy snow across northeastern portions of the state caused school closures and difficult travel conditions. Many observers reported from 2 to 5 inches of snow. Some of the heaviest amounts, most of which were new daily records, included: 12.0" at Isabella; 11.0" at Grand Portage; 10.5" near Two Harbors; 9.5" at Gunflint Lake; 8.9" at Tofte; 8.6" at Ely; 7.4" at Winton; 7.2' at International Falls; 6.7" at Silver Bay; 6.0" at Cook, Cotton, Embarrass, and Chisholm; 5.8" Tower; 5.5" at Orr, and 4.2" at Grand Rapids.

The abundant moisture this week provoked the National Weather Service to issue flood watches and advisories for portions of Crow Wing, Aitkin, Carlton, and St Louis Counties this week.

New seasonal climate outlooks:

The NOAA Climate Prediction Center released new seasonal climate outlooks on March 17th this week. The outlook for April through June calls for above normal temperatures to prevail across the Great Lakes Region, including Minnesota. The outlook for precipitation calls for drier than normal conditions to prevail across northeastern sections of the state. The outlook through June also shows no signs of returning drought to Minnesota.

Weekly Weather potpourri:

Torrential rainfalls last week brought from 17 to 26 inches of rain to portions of Louisiana, causing widespread flooding there. But Mother Nature has brought little respite this week as many areas of received another 7 to 12 inches of rain. For some observers in that state March total rainfall will approach or exceed 30 inches.

NOAA reported this week that the Annual Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. scheduled to begin on March 20th may occur after the peak blossom date (estimated to be March 18th) because of the very mild winter and early spring. This would be the earliest blooming of the cherry trees there since the spring of 1990. About a million visitors come to the Washington, D.C. area each year for this festival.

NOAA scientists reported this week that 2015 brought the largest measured annual increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide, a rise of 3.05 parts per million. The global average now rests at slightly under 403 ppm. Prior to 1880 the global atmospheric carbon dioxide content was 280 ppm.

NOAA also reported this week on some work done at Rutgers University and reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This study shows that sea level rise during the 20th Century was faster than the past 27 centuries. The report also states that over 50 percent of the 8,000 episodes of coastal flooding since 1950 would not have occurred in the absence of global climate change.

Tropical Cyclone Emeraude was spinning in the Southern Indian Ocean this week producing winds over 100mph and sea wave heights approaching 30 feet. It was not a threat to any island nations and was expected to weaken by the middle of next week.

MPR listener question: 

In your book and a few years ago on MPR I heard you tell Cathy Wurzer that March of 2012 was the most anomalous warm month in history from a temperature standpoint, being over 15 degrees F above normal here in the Twin Cities. How many daily temperature records were set that month?


During March of 2012 the Twin Cities set or tied 8 daily high temperature records, topped by 80°F on St. Patrick's Day (17th). In addition 10 new record high minimum temperature records were set along with 8 new record daily high dew point temperature readings. On a statewide basis 843 new daily maximum temperature records were tied or broken, and 658 record high minimum daily temperature records were tied or broken.

Twin Cities Almanac for March 18th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 42 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 25 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for March 18th:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 79 degrees F in 2012; lowest daily maximum temperature of 3 degrees F in 1923: lowest daily minimum temperature is -8 degrees F in 1923; highest daily minimum temperature of 61 degrees F in 2012; record precipitation of 1.07 inches 1968; and record snowfall of 9.6 inches in 1951.

Average dew point for March 18th is 23 degrees F, with a maximum of 59 degrees F in 2012 and a minimum of -14 degrees F in 1923.

All-time state records for March 18th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 84 degrees F at Canby (Yellow Medicine County) in 1921. The state record low temperature for this date is -48 degrees F at Sawbill Camp (Cook County) in 1939. State record precipitation for this date is 3.12 inches at Hokah (Houston County) in 2005; and record snowfall is 20.0 inches at Albert Lea (Freeborn County) in 1933.

Past Weather Features:

A late winter storm brought a mixture of rain and snow to the state over March 18-19, 1903. Thunderstorms occurred in western Minnesota. Many observers reported over 2 inches of precipitation and Collegeville reported 3.12 inches.

March 18, 1921 was the warmest in state history. For many eastern Minnesota cities afternoon temperatures rose into the 50s and 60s F, while in the west and the south observers reported highs in the 70s and 80s F. There was no snow cover on the Minnesota landscape except for far northeastern counties.

On this date (March 18) in 1925, some residents of Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana probably thought the world was coming to an end. The famous Tri-State tornado was crossing those states, along a 219 mile path over a period of 3.5 hours, from 1:00 to 4:30 pm. This F-5 storm (winds near 300 mph) damaged or destroyed 19 communities and killed 695 people. The vortex varied from 1/2 mile to 1 mile in diameter. It caused the greatest loss of life of any historically documented tornado in the USA.

March 18, 1939 was the coldest in state history with 12 communities reporting a morning low temperature of -30°F or colder. Snow depths in northern Minnesota were over 2 feet.

A winter storm brought heavy snowfall to the state over March 18-19, 1951. Over 30 communities reported at least 10 inches of snow and many roads and schools were closed on Monday the 19th. This was one of several snow storms during the month producing one of the snowiest months in state history. Over 30 climate stations reported monthly snowfall totals of 40 inches or greater.

A strong winter storm brought heavy snow to southern Minnesota counties during the Boys State Basketball Tournament of 2005. Over March 17-18 wind driven snow piled up in huge drifts and closed Interstate 90 between Blue Earth and Luverne. Portions of Faribault County reported over 20 inches of snow.


Somewhat cooler than normal temperatures under partly cloudy skies through the weekend. Warming trend next Tuesday and then moderating temperatures (below and above normal) much of next week with chances for mixed rain and snow and mostly cloudy skies.


Friday, March 11, 2016

Record Warmth on March 8th

Record Warmth on March 8th:

Sunshine and strong south winds (gusting to over 30 mph) brought record warmth to many parts of the state on March 8th, just ahead of the passage of a cold front. The warmth was short-lived, lasting just 2-3 hours in many areas before the cold front swept through and dropped temperatures by 30 or more degrees F. Nevertheless record-setting new daily high temperatures were recorded at a number of locations including:

72°F at Forest Lake
71°F at St Paul Airport (Holman Field)
70°F at MSP Airport, Zumbrota, Rosemount, and Minnesota City
69°F at La Crescent, Jordan, Hastings, Chaska, and Austin
68°F at Mora, Moose Lake, Rochester, Milaca, Elk River, Preston, and Sandstone
67°F at Cambridge
66°F at St Cloud and Redwood Falls
65°F at Tracy, Brainerd, and Isle

After a cold start, warmth has taken over as the theme for this month of March in Minnesota. Many climate stations are now reporting mean temperatures for the month so far that are from 8 to 11 degrees F above normal. More complete details can be found at the Minnesota State Climatology Office web site.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

NOAA' web site this week featured the meteorology behind the "big wave surfing event known as The Eddie" which took place in Hawaii earlier. It is interesting to note that certain wind conditions must prevail in the North Pacific Ocean for the waves at Waimea Bay to become large enough to host the competition among the world's best surfers.

The National Academies Press came out with a new report this week titled “The Attribution of Extreme Weather Events in the Context of Climate Change.” This report provides an analysis of extreme weather events and the degree to which they are related to climate change.

A recent study published in the journal Climate Change examined the attitudes of minority populations relative to climate change and its importance. One of their conclusions: "Non-whites care as much, or more, about the environment as do whites, and oftentimes are more directly affected by the negative effects of climate change, but are underrepresented among those addressing the issue." In addition they concluded that "Non-whites were also less likely to consider themselves "environmentalists," even though their climate opinions largely matched those of whites." More details on the Science Daily web site.

Daylight Savings Time is coming up this weekend. Don't forget to set your clocks ahead one hour before going to bed on Saturday night. Then start enjoying the longer natural light of evenings after work which will begin next week, adding several minutes of sunlight each day.

For St Patrick's Day next week (March 17th) remember that it is historically the windiest celebration day on the Minnesota annual calendar. Wind speeds average about 12 mph, but gusts have occurred with some frequency over 30 mph. This year it appears that temperatures will be in the 30s and low 40s F (a few degrees cooler than normal) with a chance for a mixture of precipitation, rain and snow early in the day and breezy conditions as northwest winds will blow 15-20 mph.

MPR listener question: Last week under cloudy skies we had a couple of days where the range in temperature was only 6 or 7 degrees F. Has there ever been a calendar day in the Twin Cities when the temperature didn't vary, and if not, what is the least variation that has been recorded?

Answer: Examining the daily climate records for the Twin Cities back to 1872 I can find no date when the temperature did not vary over the course of the day. There are only 5 dates in the Twin Cities climate records which show a variation of just 1°F. Those dates are:
December 14, 1974: High 33°F and Low 32°F
December 15, 1974: High 34°F and Low 33°F
December 7, 1987: High 34°F and Low 33°F
January 16, 1998: High 23°F and Low 22°F
December 22, 2006: High 34°F and Low 33°F

In all of these cases light snow and low overcast persisted all day, except for December 7, 1987 when it was foggy all day long.

MPR listener question: I am hoping to bike the Mississippi River Trail this summer.......and wondering about prevailing winds during the summer season. Would it make sense to start my ride in the South or the North?

Answer: I assume that you want to avoid head winds while you bike. In that regard the prevailing wind direction for most places along the Mississippi River in summer is from the south. So, most of the time you will have the wind at your back if you are biking north. On occasion strong northwest winds can prevail, but not as frequently as the southerly winds. Good luck on your adventure.

MPR Listener Question from Perham, MN: Is climate change affecting March as the third 'snowiest' month of the year?

Answer: Using a 115 year climate record from Detroit Lakes (Becker County), just up the road from Perham is revealing with respect to seasonal snowfall distribution. In the first 75 years of climate records at Detroit Lakes March was the snowiest month of the snow season over a third of all years. But since the winter of 1965-1966 it has been the snowiest month of the season only three years (1985, 1996, and 2002). Further much more of March precipitation has fallen as rain rather than snow in recent decades. Since the new millennium, March has on average been the 3rd snowiest month of the snow season trailing December and January, at least in the Detroit Lakes area.

Twin Cities Almanac for March 11th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 39 degrees F (plus or minus 10 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 22 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for March 11th:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 66 degrees F in 2012; lowest daily maximum temperature of 6 degrees F in 1906: lowest daily minimum temperature is -27 degrees F in 1948; highest daily minimum temperature of 46 degrees F in 2012; record precipitation of 1.30 inches 1990; and record snowfall of 8.2 inches in 1962.

Average dew point for March 11th is 20 degrees F, with a maximum of 50 degrees F in 1990 and a minimum of -34 degrees F in 1948.

All-time state records for March 11th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 72 degrees F at St James (Watonwan County) in 2012. The state record low temperature for this date is -41 degrees F at Moose Lake (Carlton County) in 1948. State record precipitation for this date is 3.00 inches at Waseca (Waseca County) in 1918; and record snowfall is 16.0 inches at New London (Kandiyohi County) in 1897.

Past Weather Features:

March 10, 1878 marked the earliest ice-out date in history for Lake Minnetonka. The DNR-State Climatology Office suggests that many area lakes may lose their ice over the next week, perhaps earliest ever for some.

March 11-15, 1897 brought back to back winter storms to the state, with a mixture of rain and snow. Many central and northern Minnesota communities reported 8 to 16 inches of snowfall, while Grand Portage along the North Shore of Lake Superior reported 25 inches.

March 11, 1948 was the coldest in state history. With abundant snow cover still on the ground, morning temperatures plummeted to -30°F or colder in over 40 communities and as far south as Zumbrota. Temperatures rebounded into the 30s and 40s F by March 14th.

March 10-11, 1956 brought widespread snow to many parts of central and southern Minnesota. Winona and Worthington reported over 15 inches.

By far the warmest March 11th in state history occurred in 2012. Temperatures soared into the 60s F as far north as Roseau, and over 100 daily record high temperatures were set or tied across Minnesota observation network. The warmth continued as March of 2012 was the warmest in state history.


Very warm on Saturday under mostly sunny skies. Increasing cloudiness on Saturday night with a chance for rain. Continuing chance for rain on Sunday and into early Monday. Chance for rain and snow mix late on Wednesday and into early Thursday with much cooler temperatures.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Meteorological Winter and a cold start to March

Comments on meteorological winter:

We just concluded meteorological winter (Dec-Feb) in Minnesota and a few comments on the prevalent weather patterns are in order. Enhanced by the warmest December in history the meteorological winter finished as the 6th warmest of all-time in Minnesota dating back to 1895. The average temperature for the three months was about 13°F warmer than normal. Only 1930-1931, 1986-1987, 1997-1998, 2001-2002, and 2011-2012 were warmer. Extremes for the winter season ranged from 65°F at Browns Valley (Traverse County) on February 27th to -36°F at Cotton and Embarrass (both in St Louis County) during the month of February. The warmth this winter was due mostly to unusually warm nights rather than unusually warm days.

Total precipitation for meteorological winter ranked as the 13th wettest in state history. Many places reported over 4 inches of precipitation, much of it coming as rain rather than snow. Except for the north shore areas and some portions of southwestern Minnesota, most observers reported less than average snowfall. A few places along the north shore of Lake Superior reported over 50 inches.

Another unusual feature of meteorological winter (Dec-Feb) was the lack of sunshine. According to Dave Ruschy who keeps the solar radiation records from the St Paul Campus Climatological Observatory, this winter had the 2nd lowest amount of sunshine of all winters since the winter of 1962-1963. Only the winter of 1997-1998 had less sunshine or solar energy. Many citizens have remarked that although the winter was mild, it was mostly gloomy! Here is the chart for solar average daily solar radiation for the winter months (Dec-Feb) on the St Paul Campus from 1962 to 2016.

Snowy and cold start to March for some:

A fast moving snow storm brought a few inches of snow to many southern Minnesota counties on Monday night and into Tuesday morning (Feb 29th-Mar 1st). Several climate stations reported from 1 to 3 inches of new snow, and for some a daily record amount occurred including: 4.5" at Sioux Falls, SD; 3.2" at Lakefield; 5.0" at Luverne; and 4.0" at Pipestone. A cold air mass ushered in sub zero temperatures in many northern Minnesota communities for March 1st. Though not record-setting some of the coldest readings on March 1st included -17°F at International Falls, -18°F at Kabetogama, -19°F at Tower and Cotton, and -20°F at Crane Lake. The Crane Lake reading was the coldest temperature in the nation for March 1st, a distinction Minnesota has not been recognized for in recent years during March. In addition some northern communities reported daytime high temperatures that only made it to the single digits above zero F on March 1st.

The cold start to March will give way to a period of warmer than normal temperatures starting this weekend and lasting well past mid-March. So much of the state's snow cover and soil frost will be lost by the third week of the month.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

A recent paper from NASA scientists published in Journal of Geophysical Research offers an analysis of the long-lived Eastern Mediterranean drought which has worsened in recent years. Their analysis shows that it may be the worst drought in that geographic region in over 900 years. This drought continues to affect portions of Israel, Jordan, Syria, and Turkey.

The United Kingdom Met Office announced this week that the winter of 2015-2015 (Dec-Feb) was the warmest of record dating back to 1910 for England and Wales. Some of the text from their press release includes: "The latest end of month statistics show it was provisionally the warmest winter for England and Wales since the record series began in 1910, while it was the third-warmest for the UK as a whole. The warmth has been most notable in the south of the UK with mean temperatures across much of the area more than 2°C above average......In the Central England Temperature record series, the longest temperature record in the world dating back to 1659, this winter has been the second-warmest at 6.7C, just behind the previous record of 6.8C set 1869." this week featured a reference to a new tool used for climate adaptation planning. It is called AdaptWest and provides a spatial database to help plan for resilience strategies relative to a changing climate and also promotes conservation practices relative the natural resources.

MPR listener question:

I have read your book which includes accounts of some remarkable March blizzards. Are the maximum snow depths of winter historically associated with the month of March as well?


Yes to a degree you are correct. Examining the maximum snow depth values for all winters in Minnesota, 43 percent of them have occurred in the month of March; 32 percent have occurred in February; and 19 percent have occurred in January. The other 6 percent of historical maximum snow depth values have occurred in December or April. This pattern is not likely to prevail this year, as most of our climate stations in Minnesota have reported maximum snow depths in February so far and already lost a good deal of snow cover to periodic warm days.

Twin Cities Almanac for March 4th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 35 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 20 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for March 4th:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 61 degrees F in 1983 and 2000; lowest daily maximum temperature of 8 degrees F in 1917: lowest daily minimum temperature is -22 degrees F in 1873; highest daily minimum temperature of 50°F in 1894; record precipitation of 0.80 inches 1984; and record snowfall of 9.6 inches also in 1984.

Average dew point for March 4th is 16 degrees F, with a maximum of 53 degrees F in 1983 and a minimum of -17 degrees F in 1978.

All-time state records for March 4th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 70 degrees F at Currie (Murray County) in 1905 and at Luverne (Rock County) in 2000. The state record low temperature for this date is -43 degrees F at Bagley (Clearwater County) in 1917. State record precipitation for this date is 3.54 inches at Isabella (Lake County) in 1966; and record snowfall is 26.0 inches also at Isabella in 1966.

Past Weather Features:

By far the coldest March 4th in state history was in 1917. With abundant snow on the ground an Arctic air mass brought record-setting low temperatures to all parts of the state. At least 24 climate stations reported morning lows of -30°F or colder. The temperature never rose above 0F that day at Sandy Lake Dam (Aitkin County).

Fifty years ago this week, over March 2-5, 1966 one of the worst blizzards of the 20th Century struck the eastern Dakotas and much of Minnesota, dropping record-setting amounts of snow and shutting down schools and businesses for days. Itasca State Park, Park Rapids, and Isabella reported over 30 inches of snowfall, and at least 22 other communities reported over 20 inches. Snow drifts up to 30 feet high were observed in some areas of the Red River Valley, where snowmobiles were used to rescue drivers from abandoned vehicles on the highways. Snow depths in northeastern Minnesota exceeded 50 inches. The Duluth Office of the National Weather Service has posted a good retrospective of this storm.

Yet another strong blizzard which brought winds ranging from 40 o over 70 mph struck Minnesota over March 3-4, 1985. Many areas of the state received over a foot of snow, while some observers reported over 20 inches including Morris, Two Harbors, Olivia, Wadena, Brainerd, Hastings, Cloquet, and Moose Lake. Schools and businesses were closed, as were several highways and interstates. Because of huge snow drifts residents of Park Point in Duluth could not cross the Lift Bridge until March 7th.

March 4, 2000 was the warmest in state history as over 60 communities reported afternoon high temperatures of 60F or greater. The temperature hit 70F at Luverne (Rock County) tying an all-time state record. The abnormal warm spell last until the 8th, then the other shoe dropped with a snow storm over March 8-9 that left a few inches of snow and dropped temperatures by 30-40 degrees F.


Partly cloudy with warmer than normal temperatures over the weekend. Even warmer early next week, then a chance for showers later on Tuesday and into Wednesday. Continued warmer than normal temperatures through the balance of next week.





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