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Extension > Mark Seeley's WeatherTalk > January 2016

Friday, January 29, 2016

Preliminary January Climate Summary

Preliminary January Climate Summary:

Despite some temporary visits by Arctic air masses which brought sub-zero temperature readings on at least 7 days, January mean temperatures around the state generally will end up ranging from 1 to 5 degrees F warmer than normal at most locations, a typical signature for an El Nino winter. Extremes for the month ranged from daytime highs in the mid 40s F on January 27th, to a low of just -36°F at Cotton (St Louis County) on the 12th.

January was generally drier than normal, falling 0.1 to 0.25 inches less than normal. Most observers reported less than a half inch of precipitation. Though snowfalls were relatively numerous, amounts were pretty modest. Most climate stations reported less than 6 inches for the month. Only a few locations in northeastern counties received over 10 inches for the month.

It was mostly a cloudy month with fewer than normal sunny days. Mean wind speeds were less than normal as well.

Annual Climate Adaptation Partnership Conference:

Thursday, January 28th brought the annual statewide Climate Adaptation Conference, hosted at the DoubleTree in North Minneapolis. Over 260 people attended, sharing and learning about climate adaptation going on in Minnesota. Awards were presented for exemplary work in climate adaptation to: the Macalester College Ready and Resilient Climate Adaptation Research Team (RRCART); the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Section; Sunny Ruthchild of Merryweather Farms in southwestern Minnesota; and Jason Edens, Director of Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL). Congratulations to these winners.

20th Anniversary of the Coldest Groundhog's Day in History:

On Tuesday of next week, February 2nd, we mark the 20th Anniversary of the Coldest Groundhog's Day in history. It was February 2, 1996 when 13 Minnesota communities reported morning lows of -50°F or colder, including the state record low of -60°F at Tower (St Louis County). It was -42°F as far south as Rushford. By February 8th Tower had warmed from -60°F to a daytime high of 48°F, a temperature rise of 108°F. The Minnesota State Climatology Office web site hosts more details about this episode in Minnesota's weather history.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

A large blizzard brought plenty of snow and wind to the mid-Atlantic states last weekend, closing down many services and highways in several states. Some storm total snowfall amounts included: over 30 inches in Baltimore, MD; 40 inches in Oakland, MD; over 3 feet of snow in Round Hill and Winchester, VA, and Somerset, PA; and over 30 inches at JFK Airport in New York. Many businesses and offices were closed early on Friday (Jan 22) as well as Monday, January 25th. NOAA's National Center for Environmental Information provided a detailed analysis of this storm, ranking it as a Category 4 on the Regional Snowfall Index.

Speaking of snow, heavy snow blanketed parts of Israel, Syria and the Middle East this week, bringing traffic to a stop in many places. Heavy snows were reported in Jerusalem and Hebron, and Palestinian Schools were closed for up to 3 days this week. Syrian refugees in Lebanon had to make do in makeshift shelters enduring the cold and the snow using fire pits and other forms of heat.

Climate Interactive creates tools for people to learn about the science and principles used in climate negotiations as world leaders continue to cope with climate change. Their methods and tool kit are appropriate for use with student and adult learners. You can learn more by going to their web site.

NOAA scientists along with the University of Colorado released a new study this week suggesting that the USA could slash greenhouse gas emissions by 78 percent below 1990 levels over the next 15 years and meet growing energy demands by more widely deploying commercially available technologies to transition to solar and wind power systems.

Tropical Cyclone Stan developed off the coast of Western Australia late this week. It is expected to be a Category 3 storm by the time it comes ashore near Port Hedland this weekend, with winds from 90-100 mph and heavy rainfall.
http://www.usno.navy.mil/NOOC/nmfc-ph/RSS/jtwc/satshots/09S_291200sair.jpg

MPR Listener Question:

After hearing you talk about some of the warmest years in Minnesota history last week on the radio with Cathy, my husband and I wondered what are the coldest years in Minnesota history and were they all many decades ago?

Answer:

On a statewide basis, the coldest 10 years (including ties) in history back to 1895 are
1. 1917 statewide average temperature 35.7F
2. 1950 statewide average temperature 36.5F
3. 1916 and 1951 statewide average temperature 37.2F
4. 1904 statewide average temperature 37.3F
5. 1907 and 1929 statewide average temperature 37.5F
6. 1996 statewide average temperature 37.6F
7. 1924 and 1972 statewide average temperature 37.7F
8. 1979 statewide average temperature 37.8F
9. 1936 statewide average temperature 37.9F
10. 1903 and 1912 statewide average temperature 38.0F

So none of these are recent. The most recent is 20 years ago in 1996.

Twin Cities Almanac for January 29th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 25 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 8 degrees F (plus or minus 15 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for January 29th:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 49 degrees F in 1931; lowest daily maximum temperature of -15 degrees F in 1951: lowest daily minimum temperature is -29 degrees F in 1951; highest daily minimum temperature of 34 °F in 1906; record precipitation of 0.52 inches 2001; and record snowfall of 5.3 inches in 1967.

Average dew point for January 29th is 3 degrees F, with a maximum of 36 degrees F in 1983 and a minimum of -38 degrees F in 1966.

All-time state records for January 29th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 60 degrees F at Canby (Yellow Medicine County) in 1931. The state record low temperature for this date is -54 degrees F at Pokegama Dam (Itasca County) in 1899. State record precipitation for this date is 1.84 inches at Windom (Cottonwood County) in 1909; and record snowfall is 19.0 inches at Lutsen (Cook County) in 1996.

Past Weather Features:

An Arctic air mass gripped Minnesota over January 27-30, 1899 producing sub-zero temperature readings in every corner of the state. Eight communities reported morning lows of -40°F or colder, and the temperatures remained colder the -15°F all four days at Tower and Roseau.

Another Arctic air mass made a brief visit to Minnesota on January 29, 1908 pushing temperatures down to -40°F or colder in seven Minnesota communities.

A strong winter storm brought rain, sleet, and snow to Minnesota over January 28-29, 1909. There was even thunder snow reported in the Pipestone area. The mixture of precipitation produced some record daily amounts over 1 inch in places like New Ulm, Caledonia, and Redwood Falls. Some western Minnesota communities reported over 10 inches of snow.

Another strong winter storm brought a mixture of precipitation to the state over January 26-29, 1916. Many observers reported 12 to 25 inches of snow, with 3 foot drifts. Schools and railroads were closed. A severe ice storm struck the southeastern Minnesota counties bringing down trees, poles, and power lines. Some schools were closed for days.

The warmest January 29th in state history occurred in 1931. South winds and sunny skies brought warmer temperatures in the 40s and 50s F to almost all areas of the state except the north shore along Lake Superior. It was 52°F as far north as Moorhead. Over 20 communities reported afternoon highs in the low to mid 50s F.

Outlook:

Mild temperatures over the weekend and into Monday with chances for occasional and mixed precipitation, perhaps even freezing rain late Saturday. Transition on Tuesday with passage of a strong low pressure system to the south, may bring significant snow across portions of southern Minnesota. Colder temperatures for Wednesday through Friday of next week.

Friday, January 22, 2016

2015 Climate Summaries Issued

2015 Climate Summaries Issued:

This week NOAA, NASA, the Hadley Centre, and the MN-State Climatology Office all issued climate summaries for the year 2015. The NOAA, Hadley Centre, and NASA summaries highlighted that 2015 was the warmest year globally over the record period 1880 to present, surpassing last year (2014) significantly. This was anticipated by these agencies as 10 of 12 months in 2015 showed significantly warm signatures in temperature, aided by unusually warm ocean temperatures, not just in the equatorial El Nino region, but other regions as well. An animated graphic showing the historical context for the global temperature record was available from Bloomberg.

For the USA specifically the states of Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Florida reported their warmest year in history. Many more western states and southeastern states reported that 2015 was among the 5 warmest years in their respective histories. Texas and Oklahoma reported their wettest year in history for 2015. Many Midwestern states also reported a very wet year as well.

The Minnesota State Climatology Office noted that 2015 was the 7th warmest year in state history dating back to 1895. Only 1987, 2012, 1931, 1998, 2006, and 1999 were warmer. It is interesting to note that 8 of the 10 warmest years in state history have occurred since 1998. Minnesota also recorded its 22nd wettest year in history dating back to 1895 with a statewide average of about 29.40 inches.

New Seasonal Climate Outlooks:

The NOAA-Climate Prediction Center issued new seasonal climate outlooks on Thursday of this week. They favor warmer than normal conditions across Minnesota over February through the balance of the spring season. The outlooks also favor drier than normal conditions across most of the state during the same period.

Last Call for the 3rd Annual CAP Conference, January 28th:

Registration is still open for the 3rd Annual Minnesota Climate Adaptation Conference on January 28, 2016 at the Hilton DoubleTree in north Minneapolis. This conference is designed for local officials, planners, engineers, natural resource practitioners and others who want to learn more about adaptation strategies that have worked or are being tested in various sectors, tribal communities, energy, local foods, emergency management, communication and water resources. At the conference we will also hear from several major corporations about how they are addressing climate adaptation and listen to a mayors panel at lunch where they will discuss city approaches to climate adaptation.

For the second year, Climate Adaptation Awards will be presented to recognize achievements in leadership, education, research, policies, or practices that improve resilience and advance climate adaptation in Minnesota.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

It was revealed this week that Dr. Piers Sellers is fighting stage 4 cancer. At age 60 years Dr. Sellers is one of NASA's best known astronauts and climate scientists. He logged over 220 miles in space walks during the Space Shuttle Era and he is a renowned research scientist. In 2013 Dr. Sellers gave the Kuehnast Endowment Lecture at the University of Minnesota and showed pictures from his many missions. He wrote an inspirational op-ed piece in the NY Times this week about dealing with climate change and the future of planet Earth. I encourage you to read it.




NOAA National Weather Service issued a Blizzard Warning for portions of Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. for Friday afternoon through Saturday as a major winter storm will affect many states along the Interstate 95 corridor. With snowfall forecasts ranging from 10 to 30 inches, many cities were preparing for possible record snowfall amounts.

NOAA and NASA announced this week the launching of a new satellite. This is a joint USA-European satellite mission called Jason-3 which will orbit the earth in a relatively low position (830 miles distant) and concentrate its measurements on 95 percent of the ice-free oceans. Its' instrument package is designed to help scientists monitor and understand global sea level rise, as well as forecast tropical cyclones.

Speaking of oceans a new study from the University of Maryland released this week finds that with climate change Atlantic Ocean storms stronger than Hurricane Sandy (2012) may strike the USA in a warmer climate future. This paper was published in Geophysical Research Letters and a report on it can be found at Science Daily web site.

Tropical Cyclone Corentin was spinning in the Southern Indian Ocean this week east of the island nation of La Reunion. It was expected to strengthen over the weekend, producing winds over 100 mph and sea wave heights of 30 feet or more. Thankfully it will remain far out to sea away from any islands.

MPR listener question:

Over the years you have often spoken about how the winter climate pattern in Alaska tends to track opposite from the pattern in Minnesota? Is this happening again this winter?

Answer:

The winter temperature patterns so far for MSP (Twin Cities), Anchorage, and Fairbanks, Alaska are not opposites, but in fact similar for December of 2015 with a warmer than average signature. The patterns for January of 2016 temperature are tracking opposite so far, but with milder than normal conditions expected here in Minnesota for the remainder of the month, they may end up being somewhat similar. This would vary from the historical pattern which shows that winter temperature departures are opposite much of the time.

Twin Cities (MSP): Ave Dec (2015) Temp: 30.2°F; departure from normal +10.5°F; 3rd warmest

Fairbanks, AK: Ave Dec (2015) Temp: -2.2°F; departure from normal +1.9°F; 26th warmest

Anchorage, AK: Ave Dec (2015) Temp: 21.5°F; departure from normal +2.5°F; 17th warmest

Twin Cities (MSP): Ave Temp Jan 1-20, 2016 12.5°F; departure from normal -2.9°F; 49th coldest

Fairbanks, AK: Ave Temp Jan 1-20, 2016 2.9°F; departure from normal +11.0°F; 10th warmest

Anchorage, AK: Ave Temp Jan 1-20, 2016 26.5°F; departure from normal +9.3°F, 6th warmest

Twin Cities Almanac for January 22nd:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 24 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 7 degrees F (plus or minus 15 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for January 22nd:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 51 degrees F in 1900 and 1942; lowest daily maximum temperature of -17 degrees F in 1936: lowest daily minimum temperature is -34 degrees F in 1936; highest daily minimum temperature of 36 F in 1900; record precipitation of 0.89 inches 1982; and record snowfall of 17.2 inches in 1982.

Average dew point for January 22nd is 5 degrees F, with a maximum of 38 degrees F in 1967 and a minimum of -38 degrees F in 1963.

All-time state records for January 22nd:

The state record high temperature for this date is 59 degrees F at Lynd (Lyon County) in 1900. The state record low temperature for this date is -51 degrees F at Itasca State Park (Clearwater County) in 1922. State record precipitation for this date is 2.53 inches at Austin (Mower County) in 1973; and record snowfall is 22.0 inches at Lynd (Lyon County) in 1917.

Past Weather Features:

A major winter storm crossed the state over January 21-22, 1917 depositing over a foot of snow across central and southern counties. Several observers in southwestern Minnesota reported over 20 inches and railroads were closed down from the large drifts.

Bitter Arctic cold gripped the state over January 22-24, 1922. Many observers reported that temperature readings remained sub-zero over all three days. Over 20 communities reported low temperatures of -40F or colder.

January 22, 1936 brought the coldest historical wind chill conditions in Twin Cities history. With a temperature of -34F and a wind speed of 20 mph, the wind chill was -67F. Traffic and street cars were greatly hampered by these conditions and a number of fatalities were attributed to the cold.

January 22, 1942 was the warmest in state history with over 50 communities reporting daytime highs in the 50s F. Nighttime lows remained in the 20s and 30s F with the absence of snow cover. The warmth lasted all the way to the end of the month with several days over 40 degrees F.

A major winter storm over January 22-23, 1982 brought record-setting snowfalls to many parts of the state and closed many roads and schools. Many areas reported 15-20 inches of snowfall, including the Twin Cities Metro Area. It was one of several storms that contributed to a snowy January. Nine communities reported over 40 inches of snowfall for the month.

Outlook:

Mostly cloudy skies and warmer than normal temperatures over the weekend.  Chance for snow on Monday and Tuesday next week, with temperatures remaining generally warmer than normal much of the week.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Colder than normal temperatures, then moderation

For perspective the colder than normal temperatures which prevailed this week over January 9-13 were the most significant since the first week of March last year. The average departure from normal temperature in the Twin Cities for January 9-13 was 13°F less than average, the largest magnitude since March 2-6, 2015 when temperatures averaged 14°F less than average. The recent string of colder than normal days across Minnesota is exceptionally unusual in the context of the prevailing climate pattern since September 1st. From September 1, 2015 to January 8, of this year (130 days) over 82 percent of all days produced above normal temperatures in the state, a level of persistent warmth that is rare.

A short mid-week respite from the cold pattern prevailed on Thursday (Jan 14), pushing daytime high temperatures well above normal for mid January, even mid 30s F at some locations. But even colder air awaits for the forthcoming days, as temperatures for the MLK long weekend and early next week may fall 15-20 degrees F colder than normal. Most models are pointing to warmer than normal conditions once again prevailing for the last 10 days of January, so the cold spell may be relatively short-lived.


Announcement: 3rd Annual Climate Adaptation Conference, January 28, 2016


Registration is still open for the 3rd Annual Minnesota Climate Adaptation Conference on January 28, 2016 at the Hilton DoubleTree in north Minneapolis. This conference is designed for local officials, planners, engineers, natural resource practitioners and others who want to learn more about adaptation strategies that have worked or are being tested in various sectors, tribal communities, energy, local foods, emergency management, communication and water resources. At the conference we will also hear from several major corporations about how they are addressing climate adaptation and listen to a mayors’ panel at lunch where they will discuss city approaches to climate adaptation.

For the second year, Climate Adaptation Awards will be presented to recognize achievements in leadership, education, research, policies, or practices that improve resilience and advance climate adaptation in Minnesota.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:


The Minnesota State Climatology Office has resumed and published an update on the "Winter Misery Index (WMI)" for the Twin Cities. The WMI factors in colder than normal temperatures, accumulating snowfall, and snow depth as the season progresses. So far this winter the WMI has accumulated only 14 points on this scale, a very modest number. Last winter's WMI was a total of 55 points and the winter before (2013-2014) totaled 207 points, one of the highest values historically.

NOAA's National Climatic Data Center recently released a climate summary for the past year, 2015. Their report also highlights 10 weather/climate disasters that resulted in at least $1 billion losses. Much of this was due to the wildfires and drought in the western states and tornadoes and flooding in the southern plains states.


Click to enlarge

Multiple federal, state, and regional agencies are sponsoring the "Midwest Climate Outlook and Drought Early Warning System Kickoff Meeting" over February 9-11, 2016 in St. Louis, MO. This meeting is intended for water and land resource managers to share data analysis, plan, and development approaches for dealing with expected drought or other climate anomalies that may be expected in 2016.

Registration is now open for the Minnesota Governors Water Summit, which will take place on Saturday, February 27, 2016. The summit will focus public attention on the serious challenges facing Minnesotas water supplies in both rural and urban areas of the state and continue statewide dialogue around steps that must be taken to address those challenges. The summit will bring together water quality experts, farmers, legislators, regulators, the business community, members of the public, local leaders, and a wide variety of other stakeholders.

The Washington Post featured a story this week about Richard Hendrickson, regarded as one of the nation's longest serving Cooperative Weather Observers. He passed away at the age of 103 years old on January 9, 2016. Mr. Hendrickson became an observer for the National Weather Service in 1930, making continuous daily observations from his poultry and dairy farm on Long Island, NY until his death. He compiled over 150,000 measurements and observations in his lifetime as a weather observer, over 85 years of record-keeping. His farm and weather station endured the famous 1938 hurricane which struck Long Island and did considerable damage, as well as drowning over 4000 of his farm chicks.

This week Hurricane Alex formed in the North Atlantic Ocean, the first hurricane to form in that region of the world during the month of January since 1938. Its peak 85mph winds make it the strongest Atlantic hurricane to form in the month of January as well. The storm is expected to bring rain, strong winds, and high seas to the Azores before dissipating late in the weekend. Meanwhile, in the South Pacific Ocean Basin tropical cyclone Victor was spinning and gaining strength about 300 miles east of Pago Pago, American Samoa. Winds were expected to exceed over 100 mph over the weekend, but this storm was not expected to be a threat to any land areas.

In its weekly update NOAA's climate.gov web site posted an interesting article about “climate change impacts on the beer industry.” Certainly climate and climate change has great impact on the ingredients used in the brewing industry, but also on the storage, transportation, and marketing aspects as well.

MPR listener question:


Which areas of the state have received the most snowfall so far this winter? It seems like we have been in a snow drought.

Answer:

Indeed, snow depths around most of the state are 8 inches or less, with just a few areas in northeastern Minnesota showing depths of 15 inches or greater. Accumulated snowfall for the season of 2015-2016 so far is below normal at virtually all locations, but there are some communities that have reported over 30 inches, including:

Duluth 33.6"
Wolf Ridge 32.7"
Brimson 32.2"
Lakefield 31.2"
Isabella 47.5"

Incidentally climate outlook models for the balance of winter continue to indicate expected less than normal snowfall for Minnesota.

Twin Cities Almanac for January 15th:


The average MSP high temperature for this date is 23 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 7 degrees F (plus or minus 15 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for January 15th:


MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 43 degrees F in 1990; lowest daily maximum temperature of -20 degrees F in 1888: lowest daily minimum temperature is -37 degrees F in 1888; highest daily minimum temperature of 33 F in 1973 and 1980; record precipitation of 0.45 inches 1969; and record snowfall of 3.2 inches in 1953.

Average dew point for January 15th is 4 degrees F, with a maximum of 36 degrees F in 1949 and a minimum of -39 degrees F in 1972.

All-time state records for January 15th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 57 degrees F at Winnebago (Faribault County) in 1914. The state record low temperature for this date is -53 degrees F at Moose Lake (Carlton County) in 1972. State record precipitation for this date is 1.28 inches at Campbell (Wilkin County) in 1952; and record snowfall is 20.0 inches at Winsted (McLeod County) in 1969.

Past Weather Features:


Following the famous Children's Blizzard of January 12, 1888 (killing over 200 people) an Arctic air mass gripped Minnesota for several days. Low temperatures on January 15th included
-34°F at Duluth
-36°F at Moorhead and Rochester
-37°F in the Twin Cities
-38°F at Morris

By far the warmest January 15th in state history occurred in 1914 when many observers around the state reported afternoon temperatures in the 40s F. Ten Minnesota communities recorded a high temperature of 50°F or greater that day, only to fall to below zero F values the next week.

In both 1952 and 1953 mid-January brought winter storms to Minnesota, delivering a mixture of freezing rain, sleet, and snow. Trees and power lines were damaged by thick coatings of ice. Schools were postponed or dismissed early. Some roads were close as numerous accidents occurred, some provoked by high winds that blew cars off the roads.

Mid-January of 1972 brought Arctic cold to Minnesota. Over 50 communities reported a morning low temperature of -40°F or colder. For many areas the daytime high temperature never rose above -20°F.

Outlook:


Much colder over the weekend with dangerous wind chill values ranging from -20 to -40 degrees F. In many areas temperatures will remain below zero degrees F. Continued cold next week, with some moderation in temperature by Wednesday.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Cold Air Coming

The National Weather Service offered an advisory to Minnesota citizens earlier this week about the expected spell of colder than normal weather which will start this weekend and linger through much of next week. This is likely to bring daily maximum temperatures in the subzero range for northern Minnesota, and just the single digits for the south, with common wind chill conditions that range from the teens below zero to -30sF.  This Quick Fact Sheet was issued by the NWS earlier this week.

Click to enlarge.

Since the forecast calls for temperatures from just 0°F to 4°F during the day on Sunday (Jan 10), it is very likely that the weather conditions for the Minnesota Vikings-Seattle Seahawks football game at TCF Bank Stadium this weekend will be among the coldest in NFL playoff history. According to NFL.com the coldest game time temperatures in the NFL playoffs were:

  • 2°F for Dec 22, 1990, Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI (Packers vs Lions)
  • 0°F for Jan 15, 1994, Ralph Wilson Stadium, Buffalo, NY (Bills vs Raiders)
    • Dec 26, 1993, Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI (Packers vs Raiders)
    • Dec 10, 1972, Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, MN (Vikings vs Packers)
  • -2°F for Dec 3, 1972, Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, MN (Vikings vs Bears)
  • -4°F for Jan 20, 2008, Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI (Packers vs Giants)
  • -5°F for Jan 4, 1981, Cleveland Municipal Stadium, Cleveland, OH (Browns vs Raiders)
  • -6°F for Jan 7, 1996, Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO (Chiefs vs Colts)
  • -9°F for Jan 10, 1982, Riverfront Stadium, Cincinnati, OH (Bengals vs Chargers)
  • -13°F for Dec 31, 1967, Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI (Packers vs Cowboys)

In many cases the temperatures during the game did not indicate how severe the wind chill conditions were, ranging from the -20°F to -50s°F.  In these 10 cold games the home team managed to win only 5 times (50%), but the west coast teams (Raiders and Chargers) managed only 1 win in 4 tries.  We'll see what happens.


Low December Sunshine:

The University of Minnesota St Paul Campus Climate Observatory has measured daily solar radiation since 1962.  This is a record of the total energy from the sun that reaches the Earth's surface here in St Paul.  The daily amount is correlated highly to the elevation angle of the sun, day length, cloudiness, and turbidity of the atmosphere (smoke, haze, etc).  It is worth noting that last month brought the least amount of solar radiation for any December measured since 1962, breaking the record low value from last year.  This is not instrument error or degradation.  The instruments have been checked by Dave Ruschy, who managed the Climate Observatory for decades.  So if your perception was that of a very cloudy December just past, these measurements sure substantiate it!

Click to enlarge. 

Third Annual Climate Adaptation Conference, Jan 28th:

Registration is now open for the 3rd Annual Minnesota Climate Adaptation Conference on January 28, 2016 at the Hilton DoubleTree in north Minneapolis.  This conference is designed for local officials, planners, engineers, natural resource practitioners and others who want to learn more about adaptation strategies that have worked or are being tested in various sectors, tribal communities, energy, local foods, emergency management, communication and water resources.  At the conference we will also hear from several major corporations about how they are addressing climate adaptation and listen to a mayors panel at lunch where they will discuss city approaches to climate adaptation.

For the second year, Climate Adaptation Awards will be presented to recognize achievements in leadership, education, research, policies, or practices that improve resilience and advance climate adaptation in Minnesota.

Weekly Weather Potpourri: 

This week NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) released their annual review of the 2015 climate for the USA. Countrywide it was the 2nd warmest year on record, trailing only 2012.  The month of December was the warmest of record.

According to the United Kingdom Meteorological Office December 2015 was the warmest of record across the UK dating back to 1910.  Further December 2015 was the wettest of record, and also the single wettest month in history.

According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology it is likely that the current El Nino episode in the equatorial Pacific Ocean has peaked and will be on the decline in coming months.  Their models project that El Nino will evolve into a "neutral state" by the second quarter of the year (April-June).

A recent study from Stockholm University posted in Nature Geoscience suggests that high northern latitude lakes will likely emit from 20-50 percent more methane into the atmosphere under scenarios of 21st Century climate change.  Such emissions will further accelerate the pace of climate change.

As part of NOAA's Climate Resilience Toolkit there is a new web-based tool to increase awareness about climate change impacts around Lake Superior.  It is certainly suitable for K-12 school use, and some communities leaders might wish to use it as well.


MPR Listener Question:

Snowfall has been relatively scarce so far this winter in the Twin Cities.  What is the average number of days that bring measurable snowfall each winter for the Twin Cities, and do you think the rest of the winter will bring more snow?

Answer:
The climate history for the Twin Cities shows an average of 40 days each winter that bring measurable snowfall (defined as 0.1 inches or greater).  The largest value is 55 days in the winter of 1884-1885 and again in 1887-1888, and the smallest, only 19 days in 1890-1891 and again in the winter of 1930-1931.  So far in the winter of 2015-2016 there have been 12 days with measurable snowfall in the Twin Cities.  BTW the most for any one month is 18 days which occurred in the Decembers of 1969 and 2000, and again in January of 2011.

As for the rest of our winter, I am sure we will have more snow, but overall the outlook models suggest less than the normal amount for the balance of winter.

Twin Cities Almanac for January 8th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 23 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 8 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for January 8th:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 54 degrees F in 2003; lowest daily maximum temperature of -7 degrees F in 1887: lowest daily minimum temperature is -30 degrees F in 1875; highest daily minimum temperature of 36° F in 1880; record precipitation of 0.33 inches 1875; and record snowfall of 2.5 inches in 1909.

Average dew point for January 8th is 5 degrees F, with a maximum of 36 degrees F in 2002 and a minimum of -33 degrees F in 1977.

All-time state records for January 8th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 60 degrees F at Fairmont (Martin County) and Winnebago (Faribault County) in 2003.  The state record low temperature for this date is -48 degrees F at Moorhead (Clay County) in 1887.  State record precipitation for this date is 1.14 inches at Tamarac Refuge (Becker County) in 1989; and record snowfall is 17.0 inches at Isabella (Lake County) in 1969.

Past Weather Features:
Arctic cold prevailed on January 8, 1887.  Following a fresh snowfall during the first week of the year, temperatures fell on the 8th to -48°F at Moorhead, -37°F at Morris, -28°F in the Twin Cities, -25°F at Albert Lea and Rochester, and -24°F at Duluth.  During the second week of the month temperatures rebounded into the 20s and 30s F.

A slow moving winter storm brought heavy snowfall to the state over January 5-8, 1969.  Many northern communities reported over 10 inches of snow.  The central part of the state reported 6-9 inches.  It turned out to be a very snowy month of January, as 10 northern communities reported more than 40 inches.  Isabella reported a record 63.1 inches of snow that January.

Arctic cold air dominated Minnesota on January 8, 1973 with 14 northern climate stations reporting morning lows of -40°F or colder.  The temperature never rose higher than -13°F at Crookston that day.

The warmest January 8th in state history occurred in 2003 when over 60 southern and western communities saw afternoon temperatures soar into the 50s F.  Bright sunshine, absence of snow, and modest southerly winds enhance the warmth.  Some people took lunch outside in short sleeve shirts.

Outlook:
Saturday will be a change-over day with strong winds ushering in much colder air.  Colder than normal temperatures will dominate through the weekend and well into next week.  Highs will range from single digits above zero in the south to single digits below zero in the north.  Some moderation in temperatures closer to normal will occur by the end of next week.
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