Snow storm for southern Minnesota:Portions of northern Iowa, southern Minnesota, and Wisconsin received a significant snowfall from a late season winter storm on March 23rd this week. Across the path of the storm snowfall amounts ranged mostly from 2 to 9 inches, with some climate stations reporting over 10 inches. Some of the Minnesota reports included the following amounts, with record setting daily amounts noted by an asterisk:
4.7" at Rochester Airport
5.0" at La Crescent* and Winona
5.1" at Caledonia
6.0" at Springfield
6.1" at Eau Claire, WI*
6.8" at Gaylord
7.0" at Hastings
7.3" at Jordan and Rosemount
8.5" at Zumbro Falls
9.0" at Grand Meadow
10.0" at Owatonna* (tied record from 1966)
10.7" at New Prague
11.0" at Ellendale*
11.2" at Wabasha*
Water content of the snow ranged typically from 0.25 inches to 0.75 inches. But both Caledonia (1.29") and Hastings (1`.80") reported new daily record precipitation amounts for the date. Much of this will infiltrate the soil as it melts over the next day or two, with little or no snow cover remaining by Easter Sunday.
Sundial Rhymes:Now that the sun is climbing so high in the sky and people are spending more time outside, I thought it might be a good time to reflect on the ancient practice of telling time by the sun. Sundials are perhaps one of the oldest instruments known. Many are quite ornate and used in gardens or public parks. There are several which have appropriately inscribed rhymes. Some of these include:
Serene I stand among the flowers;
And only count life's sunny hours.
When the hour is bright and clear,
You'll find the time recorded here.
Set me right and use me well;
And I the time to you will tell.
Of shade and sunshine for each hour,
See here a measure made.
Then wonder not if life consists,
Of sunshine and of shade.
Anyone know of others?
Easter Climatology:The date of Easter Sunday has varied from March 23rd to April 25th, and we can certainly have huge differences in weather across such a range of dates. For the Twin Cities on average a March date for Easter Sunday brings highs in the 40s F and lows in the 20s F. Since the establishment of the National Weather Service in the Twin Cities in 1891, Easter Sunday has occurred in March twenty-eight times. Of those dates, nine have been wet, and seven have brought snowfall, the most 2.5 inches on March 31, 1929.
Since 1891, Easter Sunday has occurred in April 96 times. Of the April Easter Sundays, 28 have been wet, and 4 have brought snowfall. Two Easter Sundays have seen thunderstorms in the Twin Cities area, both 1941 and 1998. Average daytime highs for Easter Sunday in April are in the 50s and 60s F, with lows in the 40s.
Climate extremes for Easter Sunday include a high of 88 degrees F on April 10, 1977, a low of -2 degrees F on March 25, 1894, and a maximum total precipitation of 0.49 inches on April 13, 1941. The last dense fog on Easter was in 1993, and the worst wind chill conditions were in 1921 when readings of -20 degrees F were noted. Looking for Easter eggs was difficult in 1975 as there was still 10 inches of snow on the ground Easter Sunday, March 30th.
Weekly Weather Potpourri:The same winter storm system that brought abundant snow to southern Minnesota this week also had an impact in Colorado where many observers reported between 10 and 20 inches of snowfall. The Denver area received 13 to 17 inches of snowfall, causing many delays and cancellation at the Denver International Airport.
World Meteorological Day occurred on March 23rd this week. The World Meteorological Society commemorated the occasion by releasing some recent studies of global climate trends and the United Kingdom Met Office released a study showing that the central England growing season has increased by 29 days, and 6 of the 10 longest growing seasons in the their multi-century records have occurred in the past 30 years.
NOAA this week provided a detailed analysis of the record-setting rains and flooding that have occurred this month in Louisiana. Strong and persist advection of low level moisture flowed from the Gulf of Mexico over the course of several days and fueled the persistent heavy rainfalls.
NOAA's primary Guide on Climate Literacy is now available on line in both English and Spanish. School science teachers and environmental educators should be interested in this useful resource which is presented in seven parts.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) of Australia published an interesting article recently on mitigating greenhouse gas production from the livestock sector. There is great potential to do so if the right management systems are put into place. This paper was published in Nature Climate Change.
MPR Listener Question:Earlier this winter I heard you remark about the persistence of warmer than normal temperatures over the past year in Minnesota. March too is tracking warmer than normal. How will this March rank historically and how does the past 12 months rank historically with respect to temperature?
Answer:Statewide temperatures so far this month would rank March as the 6th warmest in state history back to 1895. Even more remarkable is the departure in temperature for the past 12 months, going back to April of 2015. The past 12 months have been the warmest in state history, and by a considerable margin. Here are the statewide average monthly temperature departures from normal over the past 12 months:
April 2015 +1.8°F
May 2015 -0.8°F
June 2015 +0.3°F
July 2015 +0.5°F
August 2015 -1.0°F
September 2015 +6.1°F
October 2015 +3.1°F
November 2015 +7.3°F
December 2015 +10.4°F
January 2016 +2.7°F
February 2016 +4.6°F
March 2016 (through the 24th) +8.8°F
Twin Cities Almanac for March 25th:The average MSP high temperature for this date is 46 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 28 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation).
MSP Local Records for March 25th:
MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 78 degrees F in 1939; lowest daily maximum temperature of 12 degrees F in 1955: lowest daily minimum temperature is -5 degrees F in 1940; highest daily minimum temperature of 56 degrees F in 2007; record precipitation of 0.51 inches 1995; and record snowfall of 3.6 inches in 1996.
Average dew point for March 25th is 24 degrees F, with a maximum of 59 degrees F in 2004 and a minimum of -12 degrees F in 1955.
All-time state records for March 25th:The state record high temperature for this date is 83 degrees F at Canby (Yellow Medicine County) in 1939. The state record low temperature for this date is -31 degrees F at Bigfork (Itasca County) in 1965. State record precipitation for this date is 3.31 inches at Halstad (Norman County) in 1996; and record snowfall is 14.0 inches at Bemidji (Beltrami County) in 1914.
Past Weather Features:A winter storm brought heavy snow to northern Minnesota over March 24-25, 1914. Many observers reported 8 to 12 inches, and Bemidji received a record 14 inches, ending up with 20 inches for the month.
March 23-25, 1939 brought a taste of summer weather to many parts of Minnesota. Under sunny skies temperatures soared into the 70s and 80s F around many parts of the state. It was in the 70s F as far north as Itasca State Park, and reached the 80s F in at least a dozen western and southern counties. Some farmers were seen planting small grains.
March of 1965 was snowy, wet, and cold. March 25th of that year was the coldest in state history with over 80 climate stations reporting sub-zero low temperatures and the rest reporting single digit lows. With deep snow cover Brainerd and Grand Meadow recorded daytime highs of only 15°F.
Thunderstorms prevailed across southern Minnesota over March 25-26, 1995. Many areas of the state received over an inch of rain, while communities in southwestern Minnesota like Tracy, Worthington, Luverne, Windom, and Springfield reported over 2 inches.
A blizzard struck portions of western and northern Minnesota over March 24-25, 1996. Many observers reported 8 to 14 inches of snowfall and winds over 40 mph. Drifting snow closed portions of I94 between Moorhead and Sauk Centre, as well as portions of Highway 10 and Highway 2 in northern counties. Wind chill conditions dropped into the range of -30 to -50F.