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Extension > Mark Seeley's WeatherTalk > February 2016

Friday, February 26, 2016

Preliminary February Climate Summary for Minnesota


Preliminary climate summary for February 2016:

Following the strong trend of the past several months and enhanced by a string of unusually warm days to end the month, February of 2016 will likely finish as a warmer than normal month for most places in the state. Mean monthly temperatures will range from 3 to 6 degrees F above normal around the state. Extreme values include high temperatures in the 50s F on February 19th and February 27th (this Sat) at such locations as Redwood Falls, Marshall, Browns Valley, Wheaton, MSP, and other communities; and minimum temperatures of -36°F at Embarrass and -35°F at Cotton on February 14th (Valentine's Day). Minnesota reported the coldest temperature in the nation on only six dates during the month, fewer than the 9 dates in January with the nation's lowest reading.

Most observers around the state are reporting a wetter than normal February, with over 35 communities receiving an inch or more of precipitation. The precipitation for the month came as a mixture of rain and snow. Two early month blizzards brought above normal snowfall to southwestern Minnesota communities like Lake Wilson (16.7"), Lakefield (15.9"), Fairmont (14.7"), and St James (14.5"); while some northern Minnesota climate stations also reported relatively large monthly snowfall amounts such as 24" at Isabella and 20.7" at Ely. St James reported a new daily snowfall record from a blizzard on February 3rd with a measurement of 12 inches.

The other unusual climate feature of February was the high frequency of cloudy days. Well over a third of the days were cloudy and many locations reported only 4 or 5 sunny days. The rest were mixtures of mostly or partly cloudy days.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

Tropical Cyclone Winston, one of the strongest storms ever measured in the Southern Hemisphere with sustained winds up to 185 mph, brought devastation to Fiji in the South Pacific Ocean over February 19-20. Damage estimates and final death toll are yet to be determined from this storm. Australia and New Zealand governments were leading a recovery effort there, but most of the 900,000 residents of the islands were without power for an extended period of time.

The Science Education Resource Center (SERC) at Carleton College released a new Teaching Resource Curriculum this week on Arctic Climate. It is written in three parts and the first release is called "Exploring the Arctic" and available online for earth science teachers to review from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) in Boulder, CO.

Over 55 tornadoes were reported on Tuesday and Wednesday this week (Feb 23-24) across the southeastern states and mid-Atlantic states. Some of the most disruptive and destructive occurred in Virginia and North Carolina, where clean up and recovery are ongoing. At least 8 deaths were attributed to the storms and hundreds of homes were damaged.

The Lightbox Gallery in Surrey, England is currently featuring the paintings of John Constable a famous early 19th Century English artist know for his landscapes and his depictions of clouds. His manner of expressing cloud forms is illustrative of a deeper understanding of the physics of clouds and this is explained in the exhibit. You can see an example of his painting online at the Lightbox web site.

Speaking of England, the United Kingdom Met Office through a press release this week documented what an unusual warm and wet winter it has been across that country. It ranks very high in the climate records dating all the way back to 1659!

MPR listener question:

Please settle a debate I am having with my neighbor in Cottage Grove. He insists that we have seen a 70°F temperature in the month of February here in the Twin Cities, but I am relatively certain that it has never been that warm. Who is correct?

Answer:

The warmest official maximum temperature ever measured in the Twin Cities record is 64°F which occurred on February 26, 1896. There have only been 4 dates in February that have brought a temperature reading as high as 60°F to the Twin Cities: Feb 15, 1921 (63°F); Feb 16, 1981 (60°F); Feb 26, 1896 (64°F); and Feb 29, 2000 (61°F). On a statewide basis two February dates have brought 70°F or higher: Feb 23, 2000 when it was 70F at Lake Wilson (Murray County); and Feb 26, 1896 when it reached 73°F at Pleasant Mound (Blue Earth County) and 70°F at Le Sueur (Le Sueur County). All of these temperatures occurred without any snow cover.

Twin Cities Almanac for February 26th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 33 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 17 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for February 26th:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 64 degrees F in 1896; lowest daily maximum temperature of -2 degrees F in 1919: lowest daily minimum temperature is -21 degrees F in 1897; highest daily minimum temperature of 41°F in 1998; record precipitation of 0.83 inches 1873; and record snowfall of 7.0 inches also in 1936.

Average dew point for February 26th is 15 degrees F, with a maximum of 46 degrees F in 2000 and a minimum of -22 degrees F in 1950.

All-time state records for February 26th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 73 degrees F at Pleasant Mound (Blue Earth County) in 1896. The state record low temperature for this date is -49 degrees F at Pokegama Dam (Itasca County) in 1897. State record precipitation for this date is 2.50 inches at Wannaska (Roseau County) in 1964; and record snowfall is 15.0 inches at Sandy Lake Dam (Aitkin County) in 2001.

Past Weather Features:

February 26, 1896 was by far the warmest in state history. Under bright, sunny skies most areas of the state reached 50 degrees F or higher, with over 20 climate stations reporting 60 degrees F or higher. It was short-lived and followed by a colder than normal month of March.

The very next year, 1897 brought the coldest February 26th in state history. Abundant snow cover (20" to 30") coupled with an Arctic high pressure system plummeted Minnesota temperatures well below zero F. At least 16 climate stations reported morning lows of -30°F or colder. The daytime high temperature at Crookston and Roseau only reached -8F.

A slow moving winter storm brought heavy rainfall to many parts of the state over February 24-26, 1930. Several observers reported over 1.50 inches of rain, while Minneapolis, Cass Lake, and Redby reported over 2.00 inches.

On February 26, 1939 Cook County was reporting record snow depths. At Pigeon River Bridge snow was measured at 64 inches, while at Sawbill Camp snow was measured at 53 inches. Obviously snowshoes were a requirement to get around in such snow depths.

One of the snowiest weeks in modern times was over February 22-26, 2001 when many climate stations across the state reported snowfall totals of 10-15 inches. In northeastern Minnesota Grand Marais, Lusten, Two Harbors, and Wolf Ridge reported over 20 inches of new snowfall that week with snow depths over 40 inches, great for skiing.

Outlook:

Record-setting or near record-setting high temperatures under sunny skies on Saturday with highs in the 40s and 50s F, possibly even near 60°F in some southern locations. Increasing cloudiness Saturday night and Sunday with chances increasing for rain and snow. Falling temperatures on Monday and Tuesday to near normal or cooler than normal values. Then moderating temperatures for much of next week with a generally dry pattern. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

New Seasonal Climate Outlooks


Seasonal Climate Outlooks:

The NOAA Climate Prediction Center released new seasonal outlooks on Thursday of this week (Feb 18). The ensemble forecast of monthly anomalies favors a warmer than normal spring for Minnesota, March through May. The confidence or probability for this forecast is close to 70 percent. An early spring seems relatively assured. The outlook for precipitation anomalies over March through May is less certain for Minnesota with equal chances of above or below normal values for much of the state, and slightly favoring drier than normal conditions this spring in northern counties.

Cold Valentine's Day:

Many northern Minnesota observers reported sub-zero temperatures last Sunday on Valentine's Day (Feb 14). Embarrass, Minnesota reported a second consecutive morning low of -36°F tying Cotton, MN (January 12, 2016) for the coldest reading in the state this winter. Tower and Orr both reported -31°F on Valentine's Day, while Gunflint lake reported -27°F.

Minnesota has reported the coldest temperatures in the nation on four dates so far this month. These include -33°F at Cotton on February 10th, -35°F at Cotton on February 11th, a-36°F at Embarrass on February 13th, and -28°F at Embarrass on February 17th. The reading of -36°F at Embarrass on Valentine's Day was not the coldest in the nation, that distinction belonged to Mt Washington, New Hampshire with a reading of -40°F.

A salute to the MPR weather staff:

Recently Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) announced its full complement of meteorologists to help in covering the weather on their region-wide broadcast network. I was not the only one impressed by this. Paul Huttner is now teamed with Bill Endersen, Rob Koch, and Ron Trenda to cover weather for MPR and this represents well over 115 years of meteorological experience, mostly in Minnesota's environment. No other news organizations can boast this much experience. For this MPR should be proud! We are well served when it comes to covering the weather, especially when significant or threatening conditions present themselves.

Weekly Weather potpourri:

The United Kingdom Met Office has signed a contract to provide weather forecasts for the safe construction of two German built wind farms in the North Sea. One proposed wind farm will consist of 54 turbines and produce 332MW of power, while the other will consist of 67 turbines and produce 402MW of power. These wind farms are supposed to be completed in the spring of 2017 and will be some of the biggest in the world.

The Southern Hemisphere oceans are hosting two strong tropical cyclones (TC) this week. Long –lived and very large (over 40 mile radius of hurricane force winds)TC Winston is spinning in the Southern Pacific Ocean south of Pago Pago and east of Fiji. It was generating waves over 40 feet high and winds over 140 mph. TC Winston was expected to bring heavy rains and high seas to portions of Fiji this weekend. TC Uriah was spinning in the Southern Indian Ocean far from any islands. It was producing sea waves of 20-30 feet and winds up to 90 mph. Uriah was expected to dissipate by Sunday without any consequence to inhabited islands.

NOAA issued an update on global January 2016 temperature anomalies this week, "The planet has been on a hot streak recently. NOAAs National Centers for Environmental Information reported earlier today that January 2016 became the ninth month in a row to set a new record-warmest monthly temperature." They also note that the global mean January temperature has not been cooler than normal since 1976.



The National Stormwater Calculator is now available for use online. It is a tool to assess the annual amount of rainwater and frequency of runoff from specific locations anywhere in the USA. It also includes a feature to explore the impacts of climate change. This tool is designed to be used by anyone interested in reducing runoff from a property, including site developers, landscape architects, urban planners, and homeowners.

Researchers with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NOAA-National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) issued results of study earlier this month that reveals why the desert southwest of the USA is drifting toward a drier and drier climate. Some areas of Arizona have seen 21 consecutive years of drought. There are subtle shifts in climate features that are leading to less annual rainfall there. With continued climate change this shift is likely to be permanent. You can read more about this at the Science Daily web site.

MPR listener question: 

We've had only one -20°F temperature reading in the Twin Cities since 2010. It seems like back in the day, we'd get a -20°F reading at least once during a winter more often than not. How long has it been historically since we've had a stretch like this in which the temperature so consistently refuses to get to -20°F?

Answer: 

The last occurrence of such temperature values at MSP Airport was just before midnight on January 5, 2014 when the thermometer touched -20°F and then at 530 am the next day on January 6, 2014 when the thermometer touched -23°F. The previous last -20°F readings was January 16, 2009 (-22°F), 1814 days earlier. This was not the longest stretch between temperatures of -20°F or colder in the MSP climate record. There are two longer stretches: January 10, 1999 to January 29, 2004, 1846 days: and December 12, 1955 to January 23, 1961, 1862 days.

For contrast the winters of 1960-1961 through 1974-1975, sixteen consecutive winters, delivered low temperatures of -20°F or colder to the Twin Cities. Conversely Since the winter of 1999-2000 only 3 winters have brought such temperatures to the Twin Cities (2003-2004, 2008-2009, and 2013-2014). This is strong evidence for the disappearance of tradition winter in our Twin Cities climate.

Twin Cities Almanac for February 19th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 30 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 14 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for February 19th:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 57 degrees F in 1981; lowest daily maximum temperature of -3 degrees F in 1929: lowest daily minimum temperature is -20 degrees F in 1929 and 1941; highest daily minimum temperature of 40°F in 1930; record precipitation of 0.72 inches 1952; and record snowfall of 8.3 inches also in 1952.

Average dew point for February 19th is 12 degrees F, with a maximum of 46 degrees F in 1930 and a minimum of -31 degrees F in 1941.

All-time state records for February 19th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 68 degrees F at Winona (Winona County) in 1981. The state record low temperature for this date is -52 degrees F at Baudette (Lake of the Woods County) in 1966. State record precipitation for this date is 2.50 inches at Montevideo (Chippewa County) in 1984; and record snowfall is 23.0 inches at Luverne (Rock County) in 1962.

Past Weather Features:

A slow moving winter storm brought heavy snowfall to many parts of the state over February 17-20, 1952. Many observers in western and central Minnesota reported over 20 inches of snowfall. Marshall reported over 30 inches. Many schools were closed and some central Minnesota highways were closed for a time. Seven deaths were blamed on the storm.

Arctic Cold gripped the state over February 16-23, 1966, bringing sub-zero temperature readings to almost every corner of Minnesota. The "warmest" spot in the state was Fairmont with a reading of -10F. Record-setting cold temperatures were common on February 19th with over 40 communities reporting morning lows of -30F or colder. The daytime high at Argyle in the Red River Valley was -18F. Snow depths ranged from 3 inches along the Iowa border to over 3 feet at Bigfork (Itasca County).

February 19, 1979 was one of the few dates in history that Lake Superior was completely ice covered. The winter of 1978-1979 was one of the harshest in history for the Great Lakes Region.

A 5-day spell of record-setting warm weather prevailed across Minnesota over February 16-20, 1981. Temperatures reached the 50s F as far north as Baudette and Gunflint Lake, while the 60s F were common in western and southern Minnesota communities. February 19th that year was by far the warmest in state history with over 90 weather observers reporting afternoon high temperatures in the 50s F under brought sunny skies. In southwestern Minnesota farmers were seen planting small grains.

A strong winter storm brought a mixture of rain, freezing rain, sleet, and snow to south-central and southwestern Minnesota counties over February 18-19, 1984. Many observers reported from 5 to 12 inches of snowfall. Luverne (Rock County) reported 13 inches of snow. Winds from 30-40 mph blew the snow into 10 to 15 foot drifts closing many roads for a time. The thick coating of ice on power lines caused widespread power outages.

Outlook:

Warmer than normal temperatures will prevail this weekend, with increasing chances for some rain or snow showers late Saturday and into Sunday. Moderating temperatures next week, but mostly warmer than normal, and generally a dry week ahead.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Pattern of February Mimics January



February similar to January temperature pattern:

Just like January, the month of February started with warmer than normal temperatures which prevailed over most of the first week of the month. Now the mid month period is bringing single digit and below zero F readings, colder than normal temperatures. But like January, this will be followed by warmer than normal temperatures during the second half of the month. Mid-week low temperatures around the state were sub-zero in many areas, including -25 to -35°F at a few northern locations (including -35°F at Cotton and -32°F at Embarrass).

For January and February of 2016 so far the frequency of sub-zero F temperatures is less than average. Here are the average number of sub-zero nights per month for selected Minnesota climate stations with the number of nights measured so far in 2016 (through February 12) shown in parentheses......

January: Duluth 11 (1); International Falls 16 (14); Embarrass 18 (12); Saint Cloud 14 (9); MSP Airport 11 (9); Rochester 10 (9)
February 1-12: Duluth 11 (6); International Falls 12 (5); Embarrass 15 (5); Saint Cloud 10 (2); MSP Airport 7 (0); Rochester 6 (2)

Recall just two winters ago these cities had the following number of sub-zero F nights during January and February of 2014: Duluth 42; International Falls 45; Embarrass 51; Saint Cloud 41; MSP Airport 36; Rochester 37.

February 7-8 brought blizzard conditions to many parts of southwestern and south-central Minnesota, but without the heavy snowfall that the February 2-3 blizzard brought. Nevertheless despite the lighter snowfall amounts some schools and roads were closed in southwestern counties. Over the first 12 days of the month many observers have reported from 4 to 12 inches of snowfall, on course to post a snowier than normal month. Over the past 10 years February has brought above normal snowfall seven times to most observers around the state, so this year may be following that trend.

Modest soil frost depths:

This winter season started late and has mostly brought above normal temperatures, despite the cool trend of this week. In addition much of central and western Minnesota has recorded snow cover of at least a few inches. As a result soil frost depths are not as deep as normal for this time of year. Sampling frost depths from around the state this week shows 12 inches at Waseca and Morris; 8 inches at Lamberton and St Paul, and just 6 inches at Pipestone. Normally this time of year would bring frost depths ranging from 25 to 35 inches. Given the current situation frost may leave the soil earlier than normal in the spring this year.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

With a nod to this weekend's Valentine's Day, NOAA issued an interesting article on climate and chocolate on their climate.gov web site this week. The premise for this article is that growing regions around the world are likely to shift around due to climate change, and this could have an impact on the quantity and quality of the cocoa bean used to make chocolate.

Also this week the NOAA-Climate Prediction Center announced new online tools to examine their climate outlook maps and products. These new tools offer better quality maps and allow for easier access to different time periods ranging from 3-7 days out to as far 12 months ahead.

Earlier this week came a new study about how climate change might affect trans-Atlantic flight travel. This study by Paul D. Williams was released in Environmental Research Letters. Based on climate model projections there will be an increase in the mean wind speeds in the polar jet stream, that blows west to east aloft over the North Atlantic Ocean. Using an expected increase in mean wind speed of about 15 percent, this will shorten the typical air travel time between New York and London to 5 hours and 20 minutes. Conversely it will increase the travel time between London and New York to about 7 hours. More details appear at the Science Daily web site.

According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), there were three tropical cyclones in the southern oceans this week, but only one was expected to gain significant strength. Tropical Cyclone Winston is expected to produce wind speeds up to 140 mph this weekend and wave heights over 40 feet. It is tracking west of the Polynesian kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific Ocean and may bring heavy rains and high seas there early next week.

MPR listener question:

Last week I read your remarks about the coldest ever temperature in Minnesota, -60°F at Tower on Groundhog's Day (Feb 2) of 1996. My wife and I were wondering what was the high temperature that day, and was that a record as well?

Answer:

The high temperature at Tower on February 2, 1996 was -16F which is also the record coldest maximum temperature for February 2nd at that location. The statewide record coldest maximum temperature was also set that date at Hallock (Kittson County), Minnesota with an afternoon high of -31F (after a morning low of -46F). This was one of the coldest maximum temperatures ever measured in state history, the coldest being -39F at Roseau on February 8, 1899 (after a morning low of -45F). February 9, 1899 was actually the coldest day in Minnesota history with an average temperature at Detroit Lakes of -43.5F (low of -53 and high of -32F).

Twin Cities Almanac for February 12th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 28 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 12 degrees F (plus or minus 15 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for February 12th:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 59 degrees F in 1990; lowest daily maximum temperature of -5 degrees F in 1905 an 1936: lowest daily minimum temperature is -30 degrees F in 1875; highest daily minimum temperature of 34°F in 1908, 1928, and 1984; record precipitation of 0.42 inches 1984; and record snowfall of 3.2 inches in 1940 and 1965.

Average dew point for February 12th is 11 degrees F, with a maximum of 37 degrees F in 1984 and a minimum of -28 degrees F in 1967.

All-time state records for February 12th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 63 degrees F at Windom (Cottonwood County) in 2005. The state record low temperature for this date is -50 degrees F at Roseau (Roseau County) in 1914. State record precipitation for this date is 1.86 inches at Brainerd (Crow Wing County) in 1922; and record snowfall is 17.0 inches at Fairmont (Martin County) in 1965 and at Orwell Dam (Otter Tail County) in 2013.

Past Weather Features:

Arctic high pressure produced the coldest ever February 12th in 1914. At least 17 Minnesota climate stations reported a morning low of -40°F or colder. Snow cover ranged from 8 to 20 inches for mid February of that year, and it was one of the coldest months of February in state history.

February 9-12, 1965 brought heavy snows to Minnesota with many observers reporting from 10 to 20 inches of snow. Some schools in central and southern Minnesota counties were closed as a result of the heavy snows.

A mid February rain storm came to the state over the 11th and 12th in 1984, bringing amounts ranging from a half inch to one inch of rain. A few southern Minnesota observers reported hearing a little thunder as well.

The warmest February 12th in state history occurred in 1990, enhanced by the relative absence of snow cover across southern portions of the state. Most observers in central and southern Minnesota saw afternoon temperatures climb into the 50s F, while 10 cities reported a high temperature of 60°F or higher.

February 10-12, 2013 brought blizzard conditions and heavy snows to parts of western Minnesota. Rothsay (Wilkin County) reported 21 inches of snow, and for a time portions of I94, Hwy 10, and Hwy 210 were closed because of poor visibility from blowing and drifting snow.

Outlook:

Very cold to start the weekend, then increasing cloudiness late on Saturday with an increasing chance for snow.  Snow and blowing snow on Sunday, but with warming temperatures.  Lingering snow in the northeast counties on Monday morning with a warming trend starting on a statewide basis.   Chance for snow again Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by a stronger warming trend over Thursday through Saturday next week, as temperatures rise to above normal levels.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Record Snowfalls on Groundhog's Day

Record Snowfalls on Groundhog's Day:

A strong low pressure system brought widespread heavy snow to parts of eastern Nebraska, northern Iowa, southern and central Minnesota, and western Wisconsin on Groundhog's Day (Feb 2nd). Blizzard conditions, road closures, and early school and business closings were common across much of the region. Overall it was the snowiest Groundhog's Day since 1983 when many climate observers reported record-setting amounts of snowfall, ranging from 6 to 12 inches.

Snowfall reports for Tuesday, February 2, 2016 ranged from 4 to 12 inches in many areas, including the Twin Cities Metro Area. One report from Golden Valley was 13.2 inches. For some communities the storm delivered a new record amount of snow for the date. Some of these amounts included;

10.2" at Jordan
10.3" at Chanhassen and University of Minnesota St Paul Campus
9.9" at Gaylord
9.7" at Chaska
8.8" at MSP Airport
8.5" at Grand Meadow
7.0" at Winnebago and Austin
6.8" at Preston
6.3" at Redwood Falls
6.0" at Red Wing Dam
5.0" at Owatonna
4.9" at Blue Earth
4.2" at Sioux Falls, SD

More information on the Groundhog's Day snow storm can be found at the DNR -State Climatology Office web site.  With the more abundant snow cover, many citizens returned to cross country skiing, and other outdoor activities this week.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

To commemorate Groundhog's Day this week NOAA media relations posted an interesting analysis of how accurate the groundhog has been in forecasting the balance of winter. Actually the track record is not too good, about 40 percent.

From Brad Rippey at the USDA in his weekly USA drought briefing: Since mid-October 2015, stormy weather in many parts of the country­ in part driven by a strong El NiƱo ­has significantly reduced U.S. drought coverage from 34.78 to 15.48%­a drop of 19.30 percentage points. Where drought remains, mostly in the Far West, there has been incremental improvement. Although long-term concerns still include below-average reservoir storage, groundwater shortages, and tree mortality, winter precipitation has boosted spring and summer runoff prospects; improved rangeland and pasture conditions; cut irrigation demands; and reduced the need for supplemental feeding of livestock. California’s intrastate reservoirs held just 54% of their normal water volume on December 31, and that number may not appreciably improve until high-elevation snow begins to melt in the spring.

The United Kingdom Met Office issued a global temperature forecast for the next five years. Based on model projections the upward trend in global temperatures is expected to continue and likely surpass the warmest year of 2015. They note that areas of the North Atlantic Ocean and portions of the Southern Ocean may continue to show a cool signature.

A recent paper in Geophysical Research Letters suggests that a slowing down of the thermohaline circulation in the Atlantic Ocean Basin will lead to a positive trend in ice cover over the North Atlantic during the winter season. This trend runs counter to the overall loss of ice across the Arctic Ocean.

The BBC Weather Centre featured a review of the very high nacreous clouds that have occurred recently over the United Kingdom. They are more often confined to the high latitudes, but this week they have dipped further south. These cloud forms occur in the stratosphere at 70,000 feet ir higher and are composed of tiny ice crystals or super-cooler microscopic water droplets.

Speaking of clouds the Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota has begun a new exhibit on clouds titled "Clouds, Temporarily Visible." It runs through the third week of May. The exhibit will explore the scientific and romantic aspects of clouds and feature a presentation by author Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society. His presentation will be feature on February 17 at 7pm and is called "Cloud Lovers, Unite!"



Question mark in the sky over Dorset, UK (from the Cloud Appreciation Society)

MPR listener question:

I got over 10 inches of snowfall on Tuesday here in Jordan, MN, the most I have ever measured in February. How does this snow storm compare to other historical snow storms during the month of February. I would bet it ranks pretty high.

Answer: 

Yes, in the Twin Cities Metro Area the snow storm from Tuesday of this week ranks pretty high. At Jordan your official observer records go back to 1943 and they show only one larger February 1-day snow storm, that of February 21, 2011 when 11.6 inches fell. Comparing to the climate history of other Twin Cities area observers also shows a high ranking for Tuesday's snow storm:
Chaska ranked 1-day February snow storms: 12.5" on February 21, 2011; 10.6" on February 25, 2007; 9.7" on February 2, 2016
MSP Airport ranked 1-day February snow storms: 11.8" on February 20, 2011; 8.8" on February 22, 1913; 8.8" on February 2, 2016

Elsewhere around the state the 8.5" of snow at Grand Meadow (climate data back to 1887) on Tuesday ranked as the 6th largest February 1-day snowfall in their climate history, while at Caledonia (climate data back to 1892) the 8.9" of snow on Tuesday ranked 9th among heaviest February 1-day snowfalls.

Twin Cities Almanac for February 5th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 26 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 10 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for February 5th:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 51 degrees F in 2005; lowest daily maximum temperature of -11 degrees F in 1895 and 1936: lowest daily minimum temperature is -27 degrees F in 1979; highest daily minimum temperature of 33 F in 2005; record precipitation of 0.52 inches 1908; and record snowfall of 7.5 inches also in 1908.

Average dew point for February 5th is 3 degrees F, with a maximum of 42 degrees F in 1946 and a minimum of -36 degrees F in 1979.

All-time state records for February 5th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 68 degrees F at Lamberton (Redwood County) in 2005. The state record low temperature for this date is -54 degrees F at Leech Lake (Cass County) in 1895. State record precipitation for this date is 1.75 inches at Bird Island (Renville County) in 1975; and record snowfall is 24.0 inches at Lynd (Lyon County) in 1915.

Past Weather Features:

February 5, 1895 was arguably the coldest in state history with temperatures of -20F or colder encompassing nearly all areas of the state. Both Leech Lake and Pokegama reported lows of -54F. Even the daytime temperatures remained quite cold with a high of -15F at St Cloud and -16F at Park Rapids.

A major winter storm brought heavy snowfall to the state over February 5-7, 1908, especially to northern sections. Walker, Pine River, Leech Lake and Two Harbors received over a foot of snow. It was the most significant snowfall event of the month, as the rest of the month was relatively dry.

The warmest February 5th in state history occurred in 2005 when over 80 Minnesota communities reported afternoon high temperatures of 50F or greater. Seven southwestern Minnesota observers reported highs in the 60s F. Nighttime temperatures were warm too never dropping below the mid 30s F at many places.

February 4-5, 1984 brought a poorly forecasted "surprise blizzard" to parts of southern and western Minnesota. Although snowfall amounts were light, winds ranging from 50 to 80 mph produced white-out conditions in many areas of the Red River Valley and Minnesota River Valley. Over 350 motorists were stranded and confined to their vehicles as wind chill conditions fell to -50F. Sixteen people died in this storm.

Outlook:

Mostly cloudy weekend with warmer than normal temperatures.  Increased chances for snow later in the day on Sunday over the weekend with a chance for snow later on Sunday.  Increasing winds with blowing and drifting snow Sunday night into Monday, then cooler than normal temperatures for much of next week, with moderation in temperature towards next weekend.
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