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Extension > Mark Seeley's WeatherTalk > April 2016

Friday, April 29, 2016

Preliminary April Climate Summary

Preliminary April Climate Summary:

April was a roller coaster month climate-wise, starting out cool and wet, then warm and dry in the middle, and finally finishing cool and wet again.

Most observers report average monthly temperatures that are from 1 to23 degrees F above or below normal. The cooler than normal reports came primarily from northern communities while the warmer than normal reports came from the southern counties. Extreme temperatures for the month ranged from 86 degrees F at Wheaton (Traverse County) on the 15th to -13 degrees F at Seagull Lake (Cook County) on the 4th. A number of Minnesota climate stations reported new record high daily temperatures in the 70s F on the 4th, and record high daily temperatures in the 80s F on the 14th and 15th. Conversely a number of climate stations reported new record daily low temperatures on the 3rd, 4th, and 9th of April. Minnesota reported the coldest temperature in the nation on four dates during the month.

Precipitation for April was above normal for most areas of the state. Generally the eastern sections of the state received more precipitation than the western sections. The far northwestern counties and the far southeastern counties received the least amount of precipitation for the month. A number of observers reported over 3 inches of precipitation for the month, and a few reported over 4 inches. Nearly all of the measured snowfall occurred in the first two weeks of the month, ranging from 1 to 4 inches for most observers. Many communities in northeastern Minnesota measured over 10 inches and Gunflint Lake topped the list with 16.8 inches. Gunflint Lake also reported a new daily record snowfall of 6.5 inches on April 4th. In the northeast Isabella, Wolf Ridge, and Two Harbors reported maximum snow depths over 10 inches early in the month, while some southern counties reported no snow on the ground for any date during the month.

April lived up to its reputation for the windiest month on the Minnesota calendar with average wind speeds ranging from 12 to 15 mph and nearly half the days of the month producing peak wind gusts over 30 mph. Several observers reported days with wind gusts over 40 and 50 mph.

A brief tornado touchdown occurred in Faribault County on April 24th near Bricelyn with no reported damage.

As a result of no snow cover, absence of soil frost, and warm temperatures during mid-month Minnesota farmers accomplished earliest-ever planting of sugar beets, and a very early planting of corn, with over half of the 7 million acre crop planted by the last week of April.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

This week Deke Arndt from NOAA-NCEI writes about the Prairie Fire Season in the Southern Plains states. He provides a good review of climate conditions that produce relatively high fire danger there and the detection of fire scars in the landscape from satellite imagery.

Starting in mid-May NOAA researcher Cynthia Way will begin a three-month leave to join her boyfriend James Caple and row across the North Atlantic Ocean, between Cape Cod and Ireland, a journey of 3300 miles on a 24-foot boat. They will cross the ocean unsupported by a team, but with a satellite phone for communications. They hope to make the crossing in less than 60 days and will post briefings on a web blog named 1000leagues.

NOAA National Snow and Ice Data Center also reported this week that the earliest date ever for the melt season on the Southern Greenland Ice Sheet was detected over April 11-13 when temperatures soared into the 60s F in many places. The Summit Research Station on Greenland, at 10,496 feet on top of the ice sheet measured the highest ever April temperature of 20F on April 11th.




For teachers and science students Science Magazine offers several animations to show case Data Stories, and of course one of these is on the global temperature record, a feature that is nominated for the "People’s Choice Awards."

A paper published this week in Nature Climate Change correlates satellite measured amplified "greenness" (Earth's vegetation) with increased atmospheric carbon dioxide fertilization. Examining the satellite records from 1982-2015 NASA scientists are able to show the correlation in these features of Earth. They also acknowledge that other factors may be involved in this measured increase in greening.

MPR Listener Question:

It has been very windy this spring, and in fact it seems wind speeds have been higher across southern Minnesota in recent years. Is this a result of climate change?

Answer:

This question has not been comprehensively addressed by the atmospheric and climate science community yet. The few studies so far have yielded mixed results, suggesting a decline in mean wind speeds for some Midwest locations, and an increase in others. Analysis of the data over decades is difficult because the instruments used to measure wind speed by the NOAA-National Weather Service have changed over time. Fewer mechanical anemometers (spinning cups) are used and more sonic anemometers (the type that use sound wave attenuation to measure wind speed) are used today. Many projections made by climate models suggest that mean winds speeds may increase over time across the Great Lakes States, including Minnesota, but we have not yet validated this projection with real measured data. A good overview of wind measurements and trends in our region can be found from an Iowa State University publication.

Twin Cities Almanac for April 29th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 64 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 43 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for April 29th:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 92 degrees F in 1952; lowest daily maximum temperature of 35 degrees F in 1909: lowest daily minimum temperature is 22 degrees F in 1958; highest daily minimum temperature of 61 degrees F in 1952; record precipitation of 1.30 inches in 1991; and record snowfall of 6.6 inches in 1984.

Average dew point for April 29th is 37 degrees F, with a maximum of 66 degrees F in 1970 and a minimum of 7 degrees F in 1958 .

All-time state records for April 29th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 93 degrees F at New Ulm (Brown County) in 1910. The state record low temperature for this date is 3 degrees F at Babbitt (St Louis County County) in 1958. State record precipitation for this date is 3.25 inches at Orr (St Louis County) in 1940; and record snowfall is 14.0 inches at Windom (Cottonwood County) in 1956.

Past Weather Features:

Heavy thunderstorms brought record-setting rainfall amounts to western Minnesota over April 26-30, 1886. Farmers had to postpone planting small grains until the flood waters receded as many areas received 3 to 6 inches of rain.

Again in 1940 heavy thunderstorms brought abundant rainfall to many places over April 28-30. Several observers reported 2 to 3 inches and some small grain fields were washed out and had to be replanted.

On a statewide basis the warmest April 29th was in 1952 when dozens of communities saw record daily high temperature records set. Nearly every climate station in the state reported afternoon highs in the 80s F, while ten cities reported temperatures of 90 degrees F or higher. The temperature at Windom (Cottonwood County) never fell lower than 65 degrees F that day.

By far the coldest ever April 29th was in 1958. Nearly every climate station in the state reported record-setting cold temperatures. Many northern climate stations fell to single digit readings between 3°F and 9°F. As far south as Austin the temperature fell to just 18 degrees F. In some areas of the Red River Valley crop damage was extensive and some sugar beet fields, potato fields, and small grain fields had to be replanted.

A late season snow storm brought heavy snows to many parts of the state over April 29-30, 1994. Many climate states reported 6 to 12 inches of snowfall. Fortunately it was short-lived as temperatures climbed into the 50s F over the next several days.

Outlook:

Spring-like weather for Saturday with a chance for showers in southern Minnesota. Brighter and warmer on Sunday, then even warmer most of next week with temperatures rising above normal. Generally a drier week ahead.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Helpful rains arrive

Helpful rains arrive:

With the agricultural planting season now fully underway, some helpful rains began to occur this week following a dry start to the month of April. Up until the rains came, rapid planting progress was made, with earliest ever planting of sugar beets across the state. Also corn was being planted at a robust rate and may be near 50 percent completed by next week. Many northwestern Minnesota observers reported 0.75 inches to over an inch of rain, while southwestern areas received from half an inch to nearly 1.5 inches of rain (Luverne reported 1.64 inches). Elsewhere amounts generally ranged from a quarter inch to a half inch of rainfall. Though most observers still reported below normal rainfall for the month so far, rainfall is expected to average above normal for the balance of the month and will add to soil moisture recharge.

New Seasonal Climate Outlooks:

The NOAA Climate Prediction Center released new seasonal climate outlooks on Thursday this week (April 21). The outlook for May, June, and July calls for temperatures across the Great Lakes Region, including Minnesota to be above normal, a trend that has been prevalent for well over a year now. The outlook for precipitation calls for drier than normal conditions to prevail in northeastern Minnesota, and equal chances for above or below normal values across the rest of the state.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

NOAA announced last week that a next generation Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, GOES-R will be launched in October of this year. It will provide enhance satellite data and observations for National Weather Service meteorologists, with better spatial and temporal resolution of measurements and broader coverage of the Western Hemisphere.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) reported last week on the rapid loss of ice caps on Ellesmere Island in the Arctic Region of Canada. The loss of ice has been remarkably fast in recent years and is very evident in satellite imagery.

The Washington Post reported on a study by Knox College in Illinois which was a survey of attitudes towards creepiness. Over a 100 respondents were asked to rank several professional occupations in regards to creepiness. The creepiest occupations were clown, taxidermist and sex shop owner. Those ranked as least creepy were farmer, teacher, and professor. The least creepiest occupation? Meteorologist!

A recent paper published in the journal Nature documents suggests that worsening weather across the United States as a result of climate change may in the end provide the strongest motivation to do something about climate change. Areas of the country which currently experience a high percentage of pleasant weather, may see more unsuitable weather conditions prevail in the future, which will drive some changes in demographics.

Tropical Cyclone Fantala in the Southern Indian Ocean will bring high seas, strong winds, and heavy rains to the northern parts of Madagascar this weekend. It was producing sea waves near 30 feet and winds up to 105 mph on Thursday of this week. Elsewhere Tropical Cyclone Amos in the South Pacific Ocean will bring high seas, strong winds, and rain to portions of Pago Pago in American Samoa this weekend. It was already producing sea waves of 25 feet and winds up to 90 mph.

A recent paper published in EOS asked the question “Are U.S. states prepared to manage water in a changing climate?” This study of five states concludes the answer is emphatically No! Though MNRE effort has been directed in recent years to managing water resources, yet greater effort is needed according to this study.

MPR listener question:

Now that we have apparently put the snow season in the rear view mirror, can you tell me which places in the state had the most snowfall for the season of 2015-2016?

Answer:

Most climate observers around the state reported below normal values for the past snow season. The Twin Cities for examples reported just 36.7 inches, over 17 inches below normal. The exceptions were in northeastern and southwestern Minnesota counties where many observers reported above normal snow seasons. Some of these from the northeast included: Gunflint Lake (Cook County) with 83.9 inches; Ely (St Louis County) with 84 inches, Tower (St Louis County) with 75 inches; and Isabella (Lake County) with 120.6 inches. Some from the southwest included: Lake Wilson (Murray County) with 59.7 inches; Pipestone (Pipestone County) with 59.8 inches; Worthington (Nobles County) with 54.9 inches; and Lakefield (Jackson County) with 56.5 inches. Snow cover is gone across the state except for portions of Lake and Cook Counties in the northeast.

Twin Cities Almanac for April 22nd:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 61 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 40 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for April 22nd:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 90 degrees F in 1980; lowest daily maximum temperature of 34 degrees F in 1967: lowest daily minimum temperature is 23 degrees F in 1874; highest daily minimum temperature of 61 degrees F in 1913; record precipitation of 2.21 inches 2001; and record snowfall of 5.4 inches in 1963.

Average dew point for April 22nd is 35 degrees F, with a maximum of 67 degrees F in 1925 and a minimum of 10 degrees F in 1953.

All-time state records for April 22nd:

The state record high temperature for this date is 101 degrees F at Hawley (Clay County) in 1980. The state record low temperature for this date is 1 at Sawbill Camp (Cook County) in 1936. State record precipitation for this date is 3.52 inches at St Cloud (Stearns County) in 2001; and record snowfall is 10.0 inches at Moorhead (Clay County) in 1902.

Past Weather Features:

A spring storm brought several inches of snow to northern parts of the state over April 21-22, 1902. Many observers reported 6-10 inches of snow, especially in the northern sections of the Red River Valley.

Perhaps the coldest April 22nd on a statewide basis was in 1918. Climate observers in central and northern communities reported morning lows in the teens F, while southern Minnesota reported many minimum temperatures in the 20s F. Many areas of the state still had snow on the ground that spring.

April 22-23, 1972 brought snow to many parts of Minnesota. In southern counties the snowfall ranged from 1 to 3 inches, while in northern Minnesota observers reported 5 to 10 inches. The snow brought an abrupt halt to the spring planting season that year.

By far the hottest April 22nd in state history occurred during the Heat Wave of April 20-22, 1980. All-time high temperature records for so early in the spring were set for scores of locations around the state. More than 70 climate stations reached a high temperature of 90F or higher, while strong southerly winds blew dry soil around into dust clouds.

The wettest April 22nd in state history occurred in 2001. A strong, slow-moving spring storm covered the state over April 21-23 dropping a a mixture of precipitation, rain and snow. Many portions of western Minnesota received 5 to 10 inches of snow, while other areas recorded heavy rainfall. Most areas of the state received 2-3 inches, but there were some areas that experienced street flooding as a result of over 4 inches of rain, including Marshall with 4.68 inches and Worthington with 4.33 inches.




Outlook:

The weekend should start mild and sunny with increasing cloudiness by Saturday night and a chance for rain. Continued chance for rain on Sunday and Monday, with some scattered thunderstorms possible. Generally drier and cooler on Tuesday. Continuing chances for showers by the middle of next week with cooler than normal temperatures prevailing.
 

Friday, April 8, 2016

WeatherTalk will return April 22

WeatherTalk will not be published Friday, April 8 or April 15. Mark Seeley will send the next WeatherTalk on Friday, April 22.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Preliminary climate summary for March

March was another warm month with observers reporting mean monthly temperature values that ranged from 5 to 10 degrees F above normal. Extremes daily values for the month ranged from 74°F at Winona on the 9th and at Madison (Lac Qui Parle County) on the 12th, to a frigid -22°F at Seagull Lake (Cook County) on March 1st. Minnesota reported the nation's lowest temperature only twice during the month. On a statewide basis March of 2016 will rank 4th warmest in Minnesota history back to 1895. Further four of the top five warmest months of March in Minnesota have occurred since 2000. The warm temperature pattern removed the frost from most of the state's soils, and accelerated the ice-out dates on area lakes.

Thanks to a wet last week of the month, most observers reported a wetter than normal month of March, except for areas of the northern Red River Valley in northwestern Minnesota which were generally drier than normal. Extreme values for the month ranged from 5.78 inches at Winona Dam to less than half an inch at Browns Valley, Wheaton, Detroit Lakes, and High Landing. A number of locations received over 3 inches of precipitation for the month, and a few climate stations reported over 4 inches. Some observers reported a record wet month of March including: 5.78 inches at Winona Dam (Winona County); 4.52 inches at Minnesota City (Winona County) and Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center (Lake County); 4.20 inches at Moose Lake (Carlton County); and 4.10 inches at Cotton (St Louis County). On a statewide basis it was the 11th wettest March in history.

Monthly snowfall was highly variable around the state, ranging from 1 to 2 inches in west-central counties to 15 inches or more in southeastern and northeastern counties. Isabella in the highlands of Lake County reported the most with 21.5 inches.

Lake ice-out dates continue to be early:


Many lake observers continue to report earlier than normal ice-out dates around the state. In many cases lakes are losing their ice 2 to 3 weeks earlier than average. For example Pearl Lake in Stearns County lost ice on March 15th (reported by Sue Dudding) and this is the earliest of record, while Lake George in Anoka County also lost ice cover on March 15th, a record early date. Average ice-out date on Pearl Lake occurs on April 4th and on Lake George it is April 6th. The Minnesota DNR has more details on this year's ice-out.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:



Forty years ago this month marked the downward slide of the Drought Index in Minnesota. March of 1976 was relatively wet in most places around the state with over 2 inches of precipitation a pretty common value. The next 9 months of 1976 were bone dry pushing the Drought Index into the Exceptional Category by the end of the growing season and producing a prolific wild fire season in northern Minnesota. For many places, and especially western Minnesota communities 1976 still represents the worst historical drought in history. Many western Minnesota communities reported less than 10 inches of precipitation for the entire year, including Morris, Glenwood, Milan, Canby, Campbell, Browns Valley, Wheaton, and Rothsay. Ortonville (Big Stone County) reported the lowest annual amount of precipitation in state history with a total of only 6.37 inches.

Researchers from the University of Oklahoma are using powerful computers to resolve forecast models at higher spatial resolutions and in doing so are finding that they can forecast hail storms more accurately. Though their research is still experimental and not operational yet if offers hope that one day the National Weather Service may be able to forecast hail more accurately.

The Alaska Climate Center reported that state had its 2nd warmest winter in history. Over the period from December of 2015 through February of 2016 statewide temperatures averaged 10.6°F warmer than normal. March has continued to be near record warmth as well.

The National Academy of Sciences released a report this week advocating for further research investment in mid and long range environmental forecasting. Improvements in such forecasts are essential to improve our management of natural resources and societal infrastructure such as public health systems and transportation systems.

MPR listener question:


I live in Winona, MN and we have had a very wet month of March. Half the days of the month brought precipitation, either snow or rain, and we ended up with over 5 inches. What is the state record for wettest March? Can't believe it is much greater than what we got!

Answer:


Though rare a number of climate stations around the state have reported over 5 inches of March precipitation at some time historically. Your record value at Winona for this March is no where near the statewide record value for the month which is 7.89 inches at Pigeon River (Cook County) in 1942. In that year March brought a tremendous quantity of snow to Pigeon River, nearly 34 inches, but much of their monthly precipitation came as all-day rains as well.

Twin Cities Almanac for April 1st:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 50 degrees F (plus or minus 10 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 31 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for April 1st:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 84 degrees F in 2015; lowest daily maximum temperature of 22 degrees F in 1896: lowest daily minimum temperature is 9 degrees F in 1975; highest daily minimum temperature of 51 degrees F in 1999; record precipitation of 0.54 inches 1967; and record snowfall of 4.2 inches in 2002.

Average dew point for April 1st is 27 degrees F, with a maximum of 61 degrees F in 1903 and a minimum of -2 degrees F in 1975.

All-time state records for April 1st:


The state record high temperature for this date is 85 degrees F at Winona (Winona County) in 1986 and at Redwood Falls (Redwood County) and Lamberton (Redwood County) in 2015. The state record low temperature for this date is -21 degrees F at Thorhult (Beltrami County) in 1975. State record precipitation for this date is 2.52 inches at Beaver Bay (Lake County) in 2009; and record snowfall is 18.0 inches at Frazee (Becker County) in 2009.

Past Weather Features:


March 31 to April 1, 1896 brought a strong winter storm to Minnesota. A mixture of precipitation, both rain and snow fell across the state, but a band of heavy snow was reported from Montevideo to Duluth, where many observers reported 1 to 2 feet. Saint Cloud reported a record 32 inches, pretty much shutting down all outdoor activity for several days.

The coldest April 1st in state history occurred in 1975. Snow cover was deep from a long, snowy winter. Many observers reported snow depths of 2-3 feet to start the month, and the observer at Virginia (St Louis County) reported 50 inches of snow on the ground. A cold, Canadian air mass settled over the state and brought sub-zero temperature readings to the northern half of the state. The temperature at Hallock (Kittson County) never rose above 15°F during the day.

A moisture-laden spring storm brought record-setting amounts of precipitation over March 31-April 1 of 1998. This storm system brought rain, sleet, snow, and even thunder to some parts of the state. Red Wing, Jordan, Hastings, and Madison reported over 2 inches of precipitation, while Canby and New London reported over 10 inches of snow.

The long, spring snow melt flood in the Red River Valley in the spring of 2009 was compounded by a strong storm system over March 31-April 1. This storm brought a mixture of rain and snow across the state. Rothsay, Breckenridge, and Ottertail reported over 20 inches of snowfall, while many other observers reported over an inch of liquid precipitation.

Last year (2015) brought the warmest April 1st in state history with over 40 climate observers reporting afternoon highs of 80°F or greater. Granite Falls started the morning at just 40°F but rose to a high of 84°F by mid afternoon.

Outlook:

Cooler than normal and breezy heading into Saturday, with a chance for mixed precipitation early in the day. Much warmer on Sunday with above normal temperatures, then a decline on Monday. Moderating temperatures, either side of normal next week with chances for rain later in the week.
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