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Friday, November 18, 2016

Record warmth abruptly ends

Record warmth abruptly ends:

The record-setting warmth of the first 17 days of November (temperatures 13-15°F above normal) abruptly ended this week with a strong winter storm which ushered in widespread precipitation, some heavy snow, very strong winds, and cold air. For the first time since mid-October many communities will see their first below normal temperatures over this coming weekend, and central and northern Minnesota will receive the first significant snowfall, with many western counties under a blizzard warning. Although this weather event will bring an end to the historically warm pattern it is likely that with moderating temperatures for the balance of November, we will end up with one of the warmest Novembers in state history. In addition much of the model guidance suggests that the first ten days of December will be warmer than normal as well.

One additional note to add on the first half of November comes from Dave Ruschy, who for many years managed the St Paul Campus Climate Observatory. He recently noted that the first two weeks of November brought near record solar radiation. With absence of cloud cover solar radiation measured in the Twin Cities area during the first half of November was over 40 percent above average and very near the record sunniest of November 1981. Solar energy measurements at the St Paul Climate Observatory date back to 1963. This climate feature certainly affected the warm statewide pattern and helped keep soil temperatures around the state well above normal.

Winter storm brings first significant precipitation of the month:

A winter storm (Thursday through early Saturday) this week brought the first significant precipitation of the month for many climate stations in the state, and for some the first significant amount since October 29th. Precipitation fell in the form of rain, sleet, and snow. Observers reported liquid amounts ranging from a quarter of an inch to three-quarters. With unfrozen soil conditions, much of the precipitation will infiltrate the soil and be stored there for the winter. In addition soil temperatures will begin to decline in earnest following the winter storm, so those who have been waiting to apply mulch to the garden may want to do so next week. Stored soil moisture is abundant and quite adequate over most parts of the state. This moisture will still be there come next spring when the agricultural and gardening season begins.

This winter storm delivered significant precipitation to the state, and it appears that another storm may deliver more precipitation next Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

New seasonal climate outlook:

The NOAA Climate Prediction Center released a new set of seasonal climate outlooks this week. Although the first ten days of December are expected to be warmer than normal, the temperature outlook for December through February leans toward cooler than normal temperatures across the state. In fact cooler than normal temperatures are expected across the region through April of 2017. I remain skeptical about this outlook and have little confidence in it.

For the period from December through April the outlook for precipitation favors above normal values across the Great Lakes Region, including Minnesota. Given the recent historical trend for wetter than normal conditions, this outlook is compatible with the evidence in Minnesota.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

Timely this week with the onset of snow cover over the Minnesota landscape, NOAA featured a review of its monitoring program for snow and ice cover maps of the USA. These are updated daily and might be useful for the winter season in planning travel and outdoor recreational activities.

EOS this week featured an interesting article about how climate and humans have responded to past significant volcanic eruptions. It is an interesting read is still relevant to climate behavior today.

The NOAA Climate Resilience Toolkit this week features an article about using historical rainfall analysis to properly size culvert design for roads and trails. The climate data to use for such purposes is now more available than ever.

A recent paper published in the International Journal of Climatology documents changes in monsoon rainfalls in India. The records show that heavy rainfalls during the monsoon season are becoming greater in intensity (amounts) as well covering a larger geographic area of central India. The frequency, areal coverage, and intensity of hot days during the monsoon season also show increases.

BBC Weather Centre reported this week on rare November tornadoes which brought damage to parts of Wales and the English Midlands. Relatively small in scale and short-live these storms knocked down trees and caused some structural damage to buildings.

MPR listener question:

Is it unusual for the first major snowfall of the season to come as a blizzard to many parts of the state. Don't we usually start winter a little more gradually?


Yes, more often than not winter settles in first with a few small doses of snowfall spread out over several weeks. But an abrupt start with an early season blizzard has occurred a number of times in our history. Some examples in our history include:
October 16-18, 1880 paralyzing blizzard in SW Minnesota
October 19, 1916 blizzard delivered 7-12 inches with 5 ft drifts in northwestern and north-central MN
November 11, 1940 Armistice Day Blizzard, first snow of the season for most of the state
October 31-November 2, 1991 Halloween Blizzard was first snowfall of the season for eastern MN
November 15-17, 1996 blizzard delivered first snow of the season to west-central MN
November 11, 1998 blizzard delivered over a foot of first snow cover to Yellow Medicine County, MN
October 24-25, 2001 a blizzard delivered over a foot of first snow cover to many areas of the Red River Valley, MN

Twin Cities Almanac for November 18th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 40 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 25 degrees F (plus or minus 10 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for November 18th:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 68 degrees F in 1904 and 1941; lowest daily maximum temperature of 13 degrees F in 1874; lowest daily minimum temperature is -4 degrees F in 1891; highest daily minimum temperature of 53 degrees F in 1953; record precipitation of 0.82 inches in 1981; and a record snowfall of 7.6 inches in 1957.

Average dew point for November 18th is 26 degrees F, with a maximum of 56 degrees F in 1941 and a minimum of -2 degrees F in 1989.

All-time records for November 18th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 75 degrees F at Faribault (Rice County) in 1923. The state record low temperature for this date is -19 degrees F at Duluth (St Louis County) in 1940. State record precipitation for this date is 3.10 inches at Hinckley (Pine County) in 1996; and record snowfall is 15.0 inches at Crookston (Polk County) in 1998.

Past Weather Features:

November 18, 1874 was clear and cold. The few climate stations in the state at that time reported morning lows near zero degrees F and afternoon highs only in the teens.

The coldest statewide November 18 occurred in 1914 following a winter storm which dumped several inches of snow across many parts of the state. Many climate stations in central and northern Minnesota reported subzero low temperatures, and single digit temperatures were common in southern counties. The daytime temperature never rose above 11°F at Fergus Falls.

All-time warmest November 18th in history was in 1953 when most climate stations reported daytime highs in the 60s F. Ten communities saw the mercury climb into the 70s F including Detroit Lakes (Becker County). No sign of winter was yet in the air.

November 16-18, 1958 brought a major winter storm to the state. A mixture of rain, sleet, snow, and ice fell across the state making travel very difficult. Some communities in southern Minnesota reported over 2 inches of rain, while in the far north over 10 inches of snow was reported.

Heavy snow fell across the northern counties of Minnesota over November 16-19, 1998. Many areas reported over 10 inches and a number of roads and highways were closed for periods of time. High winds blew snow into large drifts as well.


A cold and dry weekend following the winter storm. Temperatures will be several degrees cooler than normal for the first time in weeks. Moderation in temperature will begin on Monday pulling temperatures back to near normal values, then a chance for precipitation again Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. Daytime temperatures in the 30s and 40s F for Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Warmest first ten days of November

Warmest first ten days of November:

The remarkable warmth so far this month is record-setting. For example in the Twin Cities, the average temperature for the first ten days of November is 53.7. This is nearly 14F above normal and surpasses the other warm first ten days of November which occurred in 1975, 2001, and 2015. This pattern is holding true at a number of locations around the state, including International Falls where the first ten days of November are average close to 46F also about 14F above normal. This too surpasses the other warmest Novembers of 1964, 1975, and 2015.

So far this month 32 daily high temperature records have been set within the Minnesota Cooperative Weather Observer Network across the state, including a remarkable reading of 78F at Mora (Kanabec County) on the 5th which tied the all-time state high temperature record for that date (set at Madison in Lac Qui Parle County back in 1975). In addition a handful of warmest overnight minimum temperature records have been set this month, including a low of 48F at Winona on the 2nd.

Kenny Blumenfeld of the State Climatology Office also notes that most observers around the state have reported record-setting warm minimum temperatures for the autumn season so far, even though nearly all have reported frosts as well. For the Twin Cities "...36F on the 9th is the warmest fall-to-date (Sep 1 Nov 9) minimum temperature ever recorded in the Twin Cities......the next warmest is 31F." Furthermore he notes "...This record is quite stable geographically. Milan and Waseca both broke their warmest fall-to-date minimum records this year, at 27F and 28F, respectively. Rochester, St. Cloud, Pipestone, Duluth, Morris, and Grand Rapids did it too. In other words, the coldest nights of fall have never been this warm...."

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

Earlier this week NOAA scientists offered a "Briefing on La Nina Conditions" in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. A La Nina episode is officially underway and expected to persist through the Northern Hemisphere winter. One anomaly in play this year is a very warm Eastern Pacific Ocean which may modify the expected impacts of a La Nina episode during a North America winter.

There is an interesting article this week about the Smithsonian Institution's exhibit "What Does It Mean to Be Human." Rick Potts, Director of the Human Origins Program shares his thoughts about how climate variability governed human adaptation and evolution.

Earlier this week the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) published a detailed analysis of global climate over the period 2011-2015. This is the warmest five year period ever measured globally, and associated with a measured rise in sea level and a sharp decline in Arctic Sea Ice. It was also a period of many extreme climate events and episodes.

A recent article from Brown University explores some of the financial options being considered to to help pay for losses and damages that are expected to be inflicted by climate change. Two types of debt securities are discussed: climate-themed bonds and catastrophe bonds.

MPR listener question:

We love winter and just recently retired to the Brainerd Lakes area in central Minnesota where we hope to have more snow each winter. But so far this month no snow in the area. How often does November not produce any snowfall here?


The Brainerd climate data show that since 1948 there have only been 7 years when November brought no snowfall to the Brainerd Lakes area. So that is close to a 1 in 10 year frequency. The good news is that once snow occurs in the Brainerd Lakes Area it tends to persist longer on the landscape than in does in the Twin Cities Metro Area.

Twin Cities Almanac for November 11th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 44 degrees F (plus or minus 11 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 11th:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 64 degrees F in 2005; lowest daily maximum temperature of 18 degrees F in 1986; lowest daily minimum temperature is -1 degrees F in 1986; highest daily minimum temperature of 46 degrees F in 1930; record precipitation of 2.52 inches in 1940; and a record snowfall of 8.2 inches in 1940.

Average dew point for November 11th is 27 degrees F, with a maximum of 54 degrees F in 1964 and a minimum of -6 degrees F in 1986.

All-time state records for November 11th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 75 degrees F at Winnebago (Faribault County) in 2012. The state record low temperature for this date is -22 degrees F at Itasca State Park (Clearwater County) in 1919. State record precipitation for this date is 2.52 inches in the Twin Cities in 1940; and record snowfall is 14.0 inches at Orr (St Louis County) in 1940.

Past Weather Features:

November 11, 1940 brought the famous Armistice Day Blizzard to Minnesota. Weather conditions deteriorated from a mild autumn pattern to blinding snow and dangerous windchill conditions in a matter of hours. Poorly forecasted this storm dumped from 16 to 24 inches of snow across many portions of Minnesota and paralyzed the state. At one point snow was falling at a rate of 3 inches per hour. At least 49 citizens lost their lives in the storm.

A warm front brought some September-like temperatures to many portions of southern Minnesota on November 11, 1949. at Austin, Grand Meadow, Winnebago, Worthington and Pipestone afternoon temperatures rose into the 70s F.

Winter-like conditions prevailed on November 11, 1986. Following a snowfall over the 8th and 9th temperatures plummeted to subzero readings nearly everywhere in the state. It was -6F at Rochester and -7F at Albert Lea, while the daytime high temperature never rose above 4F at Warroad.

November 11, 2012 provided a sharp contrast in weather across the state. South-central and southeastern Minnesota cities were enjoying afternoon temperatures in the 70s F while in the Red River Valley the daytime temperatures remained in the 20s F and low 30s F all day, with windchill conditions in the single digits.


Continuing to be sunny and mild over the weekend with daytime high temperatures well above average, though Saturday morning may start with a frost in many areas. Somewhat cooler on Monday and Tuesday, but still warmer than normal. Generally a dry period through next week.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Warm start to November

Warm start to November:

Most climate stations in the state are reporting daily temperatures that range from 8 to 15 degrees F above normal for the first few days of November. This pattern is expected to persist well into the month, and may approach the record warmest first half of November which dates back to 2001 That year was the only time the Twin Cities saw daily temperatures average above 50°F for the whole first half of November. Everybody is asking when the other shoe will drop. Perhaps not until the 16th or 17th.

This warm pattern conforms to the year-long trend in Minnesota temperatures which is persistently warmer than normal. In fact the state has recorded the 4th warmest first ten months of the year (Jan-Oct) in 2016, and the 3rd wettest such period as well.

Summary of record-setting daily climate values for 2016:

The current year has been a warm and wet one for Minnesota in no uncertain terms. Among the state's 131 Cooperative Observer Climate Stations, here is a listing of the number of record-setting high daily maximum temperature, warm daily minimum temperature, and total daily precipitation measurements that have been reported so far this year:

Month        Daily Max Temp    Daily Highest Min Temp    Daily Total Precip
                         Records                        Records                          Records
January                   9                                  48                                   31
February               70                                  71                                   46
March                 149                                187                                   66
April                     21                                  38                                   31
May                      70                                  13                                   25
June                      26                                  26                                   38
July                       13                                  50                                   93
August                    4                                  18                                 108
September              5                                  55                                   95
October                 12                                 22                                   53
Total                    379                               528                                 586

These numbers are well above average for number of new record daily climate values set each year. Overall, March was probably the most unusual month of the year, ranking as the 6th warmest in state history and the 11th wettest.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

A recent research study presented in the International Journal of Climatology documents changes in soil temperature, soil moisture, and precipitation patterns in eastern Siberia and the overall effects on the climate there. Certainly the loss of permafrost, as well as an increase in the heat and moisture transfer within the soil have been observed there. These climate changes are significant and will likely have long term consequences.

NOAA's weekly update features an interesting article this week about how the changing climate of the dry mountainous areas of South America is causing more rapid deterioration of mummies there. The higher humidity is boosting the growth and metabolism of bacteria which live on the mummies skin. This climate change is of concern to anthropologists who continue to study these ancient cultural relics which are up to 7000 years old.

Tropical Storm Meari in the Western Pacific Ocean was expected to intensify and become a typhoon on Friday this week, producing wind speeds over 95 mph and sea wave heights over 25 feet. It was expected to remain mostly over the open ocean and not a threat to any major islands.

With the continued loss of Arctic Sea Ice, the Northwest Passage through Arctic Canada is becoming more navigable for commercial shipping. A German-Canadian research team has undertaking the task of mapping the best routes through this passage linking the North Pacific Ocean to the North Atlantic Ocean. It is estimated that it may take up to 10 years to develop and deploy all the technology to insure safe navigation for shipping but there is widespread interest in doing so.

MPR listener question:

I have been waiting to apply fall nitrogen to my fields this fall as a result of the warm temperatures we have been having. Most crop advisors are telling me to wait for the soil to cool off more. When do you think it will drop below 50°F and stay there? BTW I am from Martin County near Fairmont.


The declining day length and sun angle this month will help in this regard. Because even though the air temperature may warm to 50 or 60 degrees F during the afternoon it won't effectively warm the soil that much. After the warm spell ends the middle of next week, I think we will see a more permanent decline in daily soil temperatures, which will moderate much more in the 40s F. So if you want to get done before Thanksgiving I would encourage you to begin your work by November 10th or so. If you want more current information or data updates please use the Extension Crop News and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture updates.

Twin Cities Almanac for November 4th:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 74 degrees F in 1975; lowest daily maximum temperature of 17 degrees F in 1991; lowest daily minimum temperature is -3 degrees F in 1991; highest daily minimum temperature of 52 degrees F in 2015; record precipitation of 0.61 inches in 1988; and a record snowfall of 1.0 inches in 1910.

Average dew point for November 4th is 29 degrees F, with a maximum of 55 degrees F in 1956 and a minimum of -5 degrees F in 1991.

All-time state records for November 4th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 79 degrees F at Redwood Falls (Redwood County) in 1975. The state record low temperature for this date is -13 degrees F at Warren (Marshall County) in 1919. State record precipitation for this date is 1.84 inches at Fairmont (Martin County) in 1922; and record snowfall is 15.8 inches at Isabella (Lake County) in 1982.

Past Weather Features:

Very cold first week of November in 1853 at Fort Snelling. Morning temperature readings were in the single digits on three days, and only one date (the 1st) did the daytime temperature rise above freezing. First snowfall came on November 4th.

November 4, 1919 brought frigid temperatures to the state. Many northern observers reported morning temperatures that were subzero, including -12°F at Angus (Polk County). Afternoon high temperatures remained below the freezing mark as far south as Albert Lea and Grand Meadow.

November 4, 1975 was the warmest in state history as early all areas saw afternoon temperatures climb into the 70s F. Over 80 climate stations reported a new record high temperature for the date, and many reported lows that only dropped into the 40s F.

A deep low pressure system brought heavy snow to northern Minnesota on November 3-4, 1982. Many observers reported 3 to 7 inches, and in northeastern Minnesota cities 10 to 20 inches of snow was reported, with difficult driving conditions, especially along the north shore of Lake Superior.

With abundant snow on the ground as a result of the Halloween Blizzard, 1991 brought the coldest November 4th of all time. Many observers reported morning low temperatures that were below zero, while afternoon highs remained in the teens and twenties. The temperature never rose higher than 14 degrees F at Zumbrota and only made 17 degrees F in the Twin Cities.


Very warm with near record high temperatures on Saturday, followed by increasing cloudiness and a bit cooler temperatures on Sunday. Slight chance of showers later on Sunday and into Monday, but temperatures will remain warmer than normal for this time of year. Generally dry and warmer than normal for the remainder of next week.
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