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Extension > Mark Seeley's WeatherTalk > 2017

Friday, May 26, 2017

Persistent rain in May

Persistent rain in May:


Over the calendar period May 15-22, some Minnesota climate observers reported rainfall every day (8 consecutive days), and a large number of them reported rainfall on 7 of the 8 days. In addition, on some individual days the rainfall was slow but persistent, lasting for as much as 12-14 consecutive hours.


Over May 15-22 within the Minnesota daily climate observation network there were 36 new daily rainfall records set. Some examples include: 2.96” at Hokah (Houston County) on May 16; 1.95” at Red Wing Dam (Goodhue County) on May 17; 2.09” at Morris (Stevens County) on May 18; and 1.32” at Milaca (Mille Lacs County) on May 21st.


Total rainfall for the month of May is well above normal in most places, and in some areas is approaching values close to the historically wettest May. Many areas of the state report 4 to 7 inches of rainfall so far this month. This is the 6th time in the past seven years that May has been wetter than normal across the state.


All of the clouds an rain have helped suppress temperatures this month. Most areas have reported a mean monthly temperature that ranges from 1 to 3 degrees cooler than normal. For the Twin Cities this month will break the string of 20 consecutive warmer than normal months.


As a result of all the rain, many streams and rivers associated with the Minnesota River Basin across the southern portion of the state are running near or at flood flow volume, while a majority of those other streams in the southern two-thirds of the state are at high volume flow.

About a quarter of Minnesota’s 7 million acres of soybeans remains to be planted. But farmers will have to wait several days for fields to dry out before finishing planting operations.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:


Earlier this week NOAA provided an analysis of April climate anomalies across the USA. On a national scale April 2017 was the 2nd wettest in history and 11th warmest in history. One exception was that Alaska reported its second driest April in history.


Also earlier this week NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center released an outlook for the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season. They predict a 70 percent likelihood of 11 to 17 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 5 to 9 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 2 to 4 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher). An average season produces 12 named storms of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.


A recent paper by University of Utah scientists provides an explanation of the longer growing seasons in the USA based on changes in prevalent weather patterns as well as increases in average temperatures (climate change).

MPR listener question:


I heard you once say that a long time ago there was an Agricultural Experiment Station along the north shore of Lake Superior. Where was it? I cannot imagine any success for agriculture in that climate.

Answer:

At one time during the 19thCentury from 1858 to 1875 the University of Minnesota helped to run an agricultural experiment station at Beaver Bay (Lake County). Thanks to early successful family farms like that of Henry Wieland, who raised potatoes, onions, and carrots, some researchers thought the soils might be suitable for other crops (wheat and oats). But after several years of trying and being frosted out, the experiment station was closed.

Twin Cities Almanac for May 26th:


The average MSP high temperature for this date is 72 degrees F (plus or minus 10 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 52 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for May 26th:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 96 degrees F in 1978; lowest daily maximum temperature of 45 degrees F in 1906; lowest daily minimum temperature of 34 degrees F in 1992; highest daily minimum temperature of 72°F in 1911; record precipitation of 1.60 inches in 1873. No snowfall has been recorded on this date.

Average dew point for May 26th 21st is 47°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 69°F in 1959; and the minimum dew point on this date is 27°F in 1907.

All-time state records for May 26th:


The all-time state high temperature for today's date is 103 degrees F at Tracy (Lyon County) in 1914; the all-time state low for today's date is 20 degrees F at Cook (St Louis County) in 1961. The all-time state record precipitation for this date is 3.48 inches at Grand Meadow (Mower County) in 1978. The all-time state record snowfall for this date is 2.0 inches at Kelliher (Beltrami County) in 1970.

Past Weather Features:

The warmest May 26th was in 1914 when over 30 Minnesota communities saw afternoons highs climb into the 90s F. After a comfortable morning low of 59 degrees F, New Ulm residents baked in an afternoon temperature of 103 degrees F.


Widespread frosts occurred across the state over May 26-27, 1961. Morning temperatures fell into the 20s F in northern counties and some Red River Valley locations. Morning temperatures around the freezing mark were common across many southern counties. Many farmers reported frost damage to emerged corn fields.

May 26, 1970 brought snow to portions of Lake, St Louis, Itasca, and Koochiching Counties. Some observers reported 1-2 inches of very wet snow.


Perhaps the wettest last week of May occurred in 1978 when between the 26th and 31st many climate observers reported rainfall on every day that produced totals ranging from 2.5 inches to over 6 inches. Widespread field flooding occurred in agricultural areas and many county roads were closed for a time.

Outlook:

Warmer than normal temperatures on Saturday under partly cloudy skies. Increasing cloudiness on Sunday with a chance for scattered showers and thunderstorms, carrying over into Monday. Cooler and drier for Tuesday. Warming trend will start Wednesday and Thursday of next week.






















Friday, May 19, 2017

Stormy Week

Stormy Week:

Monday through Wednesday of this week (May 15-17) brought severe weather to the region, including strong thunderstorms, large hail, flash flooding, and tornadoes. The tornadoes occurred in western Wisconsin (Polk, Barron, and Rusk Counties) on May 16th, with the most damage coming from an EF-2 storm (winds 111-135 mph) that passed through Chetek, WI destroying a mobile home park, injuring over 20 people, and causing one death. On the same date large hail was reported from many eastern Minnesota communities, including 2.5 inch diameter hail near Northfield. On May 17th two short-live tornadoes were reported in southeastern Minnesota, one near Plainview and one near Elgin. Both caused some minor damage. A summary can be found at the NOAA-NWS-La Crosse, WI web site.

Many climate observers reported new daily record rainfall amounts this week. Some examples include:
May 15; 4.94" at Altura (Winona County), 3.43" at Elgin (Olmsted County), 2.96" at Hokah (Houston County)2.25" at Owatonna (Steele County), 2.00" at La Crescent (Winona County), and 1.70" at Rosemount (Dakota County)
May 16: 1.95" at Red Wing Dam, and 1.40" at Duluth
May 17: 2.55" at Jordan (Scott County), 2.45" at Dawson (Lac Qui Parle County), 1.95" at Minnesota City (Winona County), and 1.90" at Montevideo (Lac Qui Parle County)

Many other observers reported total amounts of rainfall this week that exceeded 3 inches. The heavy rains brought a halt to planting of crops around the state, although corn planting is close to being finished, and soybean planting is more than half done. Over 40 climate stations in Minnesota have already seen about normal May rainfall amounts, and that is just for the first 18 days of the month.

Weather Potpourri:

Speaking of tornadoes, a recent study by researchers at Florida State University documents the relationship between total storm energy (calculated using total path area and average wind speed) and human casualties. This study incorporated the analysis of 872 tornadoes between 2007 and 2015.


NOAA referenced a new tool this week that schools can use to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly. It is called "12 Steps to a Sustainable School" and worth a look.


The World Meteorological Organization announced this week an assessment of world weather records that produced the highest mortality associated with tropical storms, lightning, tornadoes, and hailstorms.


A recent study in Environmental Research Journal documents that Heat Index values between 90 and 100 degrees F or greater have serious detrimental health effects on many residents of New England. This study has provoked the National Weather Service to reconsider forecast thresholds for issuing Heat Advisories in many New England states. The authors encourage more regional studies to tailor advisories to the various tolerances that communities have for stress.

MPR listener question:

My 5th grader wants to know how much a cloud weighs. Can you help?

Answer:


Yes, a number of years ago NOAA's Thomas Schlatter wrote about this in Weatherwise magazine. So I will use his example.

He estimated the liquid water content of a cumulus cloud to be about 0.2 grams/cubic meter and then estimated the cloud volume to be about 1 cubic km (approximately one quarter of a cubic mile), which is a relatively small cumulus cloud. A computation of the mass of water contained in this cloud yields 200,000 kilograms or 441,000 pounds of water, enough to fill a large residential swimming pool. Most of these water droplets in the cloud are so small, that minor updrafts are sufficient to keep them suspended in the air for long periods of time.

Twin Cities Almanac for May 19th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 70 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 50 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for May 19th:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 97 degrees F in 2009; lowest daily maximum temperature of 43 degrees F in 1971; lowest daily minimum temperature of 33 degrees F in 1961; highest daily minimum temperature of 66 F in 1877; record precipitation of 2.25 inches in 2014. Record snowfall on this date is 0.2 inches in 1971.

Average dew point for May 19th 21st is 45°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 66°F in 2004; and the minimum dew point on this date is 11°F in 1926.

All-time state records for May 19th:

The all-time state high temperature for today's date is 104 degrees F at Redwood Falls (Redwood County) in 1934; the all-time state low for today's date is 16 degrees F at Embarrass (St Louis County) in 2002. The all-time state record precipitation for this date is 4.17 inches at St Francis (Anoka County) in 1996. The all-time state record snowfall for this date is 8.6 inches at Grand Rapids (Itasca County) in 1971.

Past Weather Features:

On May 19, 1924 a hard freeze came to portions of northern and western Minnesota damaging newly emerged crops. Temperatures fell below freezing as far south as Fairmount, and in the north along the Canadian border temperatures fell into the teens F.

The warmest May 19th in state history was in 1934 when over 30 climate stations reported daytime high temperatures of 90 degrees F or higher. Ten western Minnesota communities reached 100 degrees F or higher.

An almost winter-like storm brought snow to the state over May 19-20, 1971. Many climate observers reported 1 to 4 inches, while some parts of the Iron Range in northeastern Minnesota reported 6 to 8 inches of snow. Temperatures rose into the 60s F the next day, rapidly melting all of the snow.

May 19, 2009 brought highly variable weather conditions to Minnesota. At 4pm in the afternoon it was 100 degrees F at Milan and Madison in the western part of the state and just 45 degrees F at Isabella in the northeast.


Outlook:

Cloudy with showers on Saturday. Cooler than normal temperatures. Still a chance for showers on Sunday, but slightly warmer temperatures. Warmer yet on Monday with near normal temperatures. Chance for showers and thunderstorms later in the day. Drier weather next Tuesday through Thursday, with cooler than normal temperatures.








 

Friday, May 12, 2017

National Adaptation Forum in St Paul

National Adaptation Forum in St Paul:


The St Paul River Center hosted the NationalAdaptation Forum this week, with well over 1000 people from 49 states attending. There were many panel discussions and presentations about climate adaptation related to transportation, energy, water, agriculture, public health, natural resource management, architecture, and extreme weather, as well as city and rural infrastructure. It was my privilege to give out awards for outstanding examples of leadership in climate adaptation advocacy and practice: Among our Minnesota award winners were:

Dr. Olivia LeDee, from the DNR-Fish and Wildlife Division
University of Minnesota-Morris Sustainability Office for institutional leadership
Climate Generation for their work in greater Minnesota in finding and showcasing community solutions
Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate for being proactive about the health risks of climate change and educating health care providers
Murphy Warehouse for moving towards renewable energy resources and encouraging sustainable behaviors from their employees and clients

Paul Douglas and I also co-chaired a session on "faith-based" climate adaptation which was well received and emphasized how common stewardship of our resources and care of each other is a common covenant across all religions.

Fishing Opener:

The Governor's Fishing Opener scheduled for this Saturday in the Greater St Cloud area looks to have perfect weather conditions with a morning low in the upper 40s F and afternoon highs in the 70s under bright sunshine and with very light winds. In fact most of the state should see pleasant weather for fishing. This will probably be one of the most pleasant Fishing Openers in history, which dates back to 1948. You can read more about Fishing Opener weather history at the DNR-State ClimatologyOffice.

Rapid Progress in Planting:


The USDA reported that as of May 7th Minnesota farmers had planted over a third of the corn acreage in this state, and some of the soybean acreage. Since that time, we have recorded a string of warm, sunny days that have dramatically accelerated the pace of planting around the state. Since May 7th, temperatures have been averaging 3 to 6 degrees F warmer than normal, precipitation has been relatively light and farmers have been putting in 12 to 16 hour work days. I suspect by next week over two-thirds of the corn crop will be planted and a significant fraction of soybeans will be in the ground as well. Soil temperatures are now ranging in the 50s and 60s F, suitable for rapid germination of both corn and soybean crops.

Anniversary for Balloon Measurement of the Atmosphere:

This past Tuesday (May 9th) marked the 155th anniversary of the famous balloon ascents of British scientists James Glaisher and Henry Coxwell. They made 18 ascents in a gas filled balloon, the first of which was on May 9, 1862. They were the first to carry meteorological instruments aloft to make measurements of the character of the atmosphere. They established that nocturnal inversions were common and that lapse rate (change in temperature with altitude) can vary dramatically. They read their instruments on night ascents by wearing miner's lamps (the balloon was filled with highly combustible hydrogen!). In one famous ascent to an altitude of 30,000 ft, Glaisher lost consciousness and Coxwell, who was groggy and had numb, frozen hands, still found a way to pull the valve-cord hard enough with his teeth so that enough gas was released to allow them to descend back to Earth.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

I just returned from a trip to Nova Scotia with my wife Cindy last weekend. While visiting there we toured Cape Breton, known for its beautiful scenery. We learned that the native (or First Nation) Canadians called Cape Breton "Unama'ki" which means Land of Fog. It was foggy everyday there, lesson learned. Best time to visit is June to October.

NOAA and Environment Canada offered a summary of the recent floods across portions of Ontario and Quebec this week. Some areas have had twice normal spring precipitation so far this year.

The US Geological Survey reported this week that 39 glaciers in Montana have shrunk dramatically since 1966, by an average of 39 percent, and individually by as much as as 85 percent. Many of the glaciers studied are in Glacier National Park.

MPR listener question:

We have received over 2 inches of rain so far this month here in Pipestone County, so our planting season has been somewhat delayed. What are some of the record amounts for rainfall during the month of May in southwestern Minnesota?

Answer:

Monthly record rainfall values in southwestern Minnesota communities include 8.05 inches at Marshall and 11.06 inches at Pipestone om May of 2012. Worthington received 10.92 inche of rain during May of 1903. Single day rainfall records in southwestern Minnesota include 4.23 inches at Pipestone (May 25, 1953) and 6.03 inches at Marshall (May 15, 1986). And of course these events brought flash flooding. I might add that it looks like this May will be wetter than normal the rest of the way, but not record-setting values.

Twin Cities Almanac for May 12th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 68 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 48 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for May 12th:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 90 degrees F in 1900 and 1961; lowest daily maximum temperature of 40 degrees F in 1888; lowest daily minimum temperature of 28 degrees F in 1946; highest daily minimum temperature of 62 F in 1887, 1896, and 1944; record precipitation of 1.52 inches in 1906. Record snowfall on this date is 0.2 inches in 1946.

Average dew point for May 12th 21st is 40°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 67°F in 1983; and the minimum dew point on this date is 10°F in 1989.

All-time state records for May 12th:


The all-time state high temperature for today's date is 98 degrees F at Hallock (Kittson County) in 1900; the all-time state low for today's date is 11 degrees F at Hallock (Kittson County) in 1946. The all-time state record precipitation for this date is 4.48 inches at Warroad (Roseau County) in 2004. The all-time state record snowfall for this date is 2.5 inches at Babbitt (St Louis County) in 1953.

Past Weather Features:


On May 12, 1895 north shore locations along Lake Superior were receiving 1 to 2 inches of snow.

The warmest May 12 in state history was in 1900 when over 30 climate stations reported an afternoon high temperature of 90 degrees F or higher.

Morning low of 26 degrees F, afternoon high of 96 degrees F, where else but Minnesota. That was on the Morris climate observer's report on May 12, 1922.

The coldest May 12 in state history was in 1946. Morning lows across northern Minnesota were in the teens F, while most of the rest of the state saw temperatures in the 20s F. Only Winona escaped frost that morning.

A strong low pressure system brought very heavy rains to northern Minnesota over May 11-12, 2004. Many areas received over 2 inches, while Roseau and Warroad received over 4 inches.

Outlook:

Sunny and warm over the weekend, with daytime highs well above normal. Increasing cloudiness on Monday with a chance for showers and thunderstorms. Chance for showers and thunderstorms on Tuesday and Wednesday as well. Cooler by Thursday and Friday.
































Friday, April 21, 2017

April continues trend of warm and wet

April continues trend of warm and wet:


So far this month most Minnesota climate observers are reporting warmer and wetter than normal conditions. Temperatures are averaging 5 to 7 degrees F warmer than normal. Through April 19th eight daily record maximum temperatures have been tied or set within the climate observation networks, while thirty-nine daily record warm minimum temperature records have been tied or set.

Precipitation this month has been in surplus across much of central and southern Minnesota, but deficit in west-central and northwestern counties. Thunderstorms have brought new daily precipitation records to nine climate stations so far, including 2.45 inches to Winona Dam on April 19th. A number of areas have reported measurable precipitation on over half of the days of the month and a total of over 3 inches. Some other observers in southeastern Minnesota report over 5 inches for the month. The abundant precipitation this month has prohibited farm field work in many areas as soils are too wet for equipment.

Clearly this month is following a trend from the last two years (24 months) during which 22 months have been warmer than normal, and 16 months have been wetter than normal.

Look at early growing season:


One of the more recent forecast models deployed by NOAA is the North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME). This approach takes a composite from many different models to assess the probability of monthly and seasonal climate anomalies being above or below average values. For Minnesota, the recent NNME output favors warmer than normal conditions across the state for the May through July period, and less than normal precipitation. The precipitation outlook if it verifies would break the trend of wetter than normal which we have experienced over the past two years.

March for Science:


This year, Earth Day, April 22 (Sat), will also see widespread activity around the nation and state of Minnesota associated with the "March for Science." This is about demonstrating and speaking out for how important science is to understanding the world we live in, managing our natural resources, our societal infrastructure, and our care for each other. I will be part of the March for Science in St Paul at the State Capitol starting at 11am Saturday. Please join in if you care about science. There will be comments from many people advocating for science based knowledge to be used by our policy makers at all levels.

Larson-Allmaras Endowed Lecture:

The Annual Larson-Allmaras Endowed Lecture will take place at 2pm in Rm 335 Borlaug Hall on the University of Minnesota St Paul Campus. This annual public lecture will focus on the Red River and Lake Winnipeg this year. Speakers include Dr. David Lobb and Dr. Donald Flaten from the University of Manitoba, and Aaron Buesing,from the District Office of the Army Corps of Engineers, and project engineer for the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion on the Red River.


Weekly Weather Potpourri:


There is an excellent article this month by NOAA's Caitlyn Kennedy about changing Plant Hardiness Zones and how those who garden should give this consideration when they decide about their spring planting. There is an interactive map to show how these zones have changed over time. For many parts of Minnesota Zone 4 and Zone 5a plants can now be planted in the landscape with minimal risk of winter injury. This NOAA analysis was done with the collaboration of the American Public Garden Association.

Romania, Hungary, Austria, and Ukraine reported winter-like conditions this week with cold temperatures, heavy snows, and strong winds. Travel and business were disrupted in those countries by a strong low pressure system that ushered in some Arctic air which dropped temperatures by 30 degrees or more.

A recent paper "Savor the Cryosphere" published by the Geological Society of America highlights the visible evidence of climate change through a temporal series of photographs of ice sheets and glaciers as they are retreated significantly over recent decades. This strong visual evidence dovetails nicely with the upward trend in temperature records at most of these places.

MPR listener question:

Getting anxious about planting corn here in Blue Earth County. Any idea when we might see a few dry, sunny days to do so? In recent years we have been able to get some of our corn planting finished by late April.

Answer:

If you have tile drainage, it will definitely be an asset this month in drying out wet soils. The next best opportunity appears to be Friday through early Wednesday, as we will see several sunny days with little chance of precipitation. Unfortunately from Wednesday (April 26) through the first few days of May looks to be a rainy period.

Twin Cities Almanac for April 21st:

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 7 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for April 21st:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 95 degrees F in 1980; lowest daily maximum temperature of 34 degrees F in 1893; lowest daily minimum temperature of 22 degrees F in 1966; highest daily minimum temperature of 59 F in 1885 and 1926; record precipitation of 0.74 inches in 1912. Record snowfall on this date is 6.6 inches in 2002.

Average dew point for April 21st is 34°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 60°F in 1952; and the minimum dew point on this date is 11°F in 1984.

All-time state records for April 21st:

The all-time state high temperature for today's date is 100 degrees F at Ada (Norman County), Montevideo, Georgetown, and Campbell in 1980; the all-time state low for today's date is -14 degrees F at Embarrass (St Louis County) in 2013. The all-time state record precipitation for this date is 2.49 inches at Warroad (Roseau County) in 1974. The all-time state record snowfall for this date is 15.0 inches at Lynd (Lyon County) in 1893.

Past Weather Features:


Perhaps the worst ever storm on this date (April 21) occurred in 1893. A large late season winter storm brought rain, sleet, ice, and snow to the state over three days from the 19th to the 21st. Snowfall totals ranged from 10 to over 30 inches for the 3-day storm, which shut down the railroad for a time. Blizzard conditions prevailed in parts of central Minnesota, where St Cloud reported an all-time record of 36 inches.

The hottest April 21st in state history occurred in 1980, a very dry, sunny month. At least 40 Minnesota climate stations reported a maximum temperature of 90°F that day, while Ada, Montevideo, Georgetown, and Campbell reached 100 degrees F, the earliest known date in Minnesota for such a reading. Even International Falls and surrounding areas reached 90 degrees F.

By far the coldest April 21st in state history was in 2013. Eight northern Minnesota communities reported subzero morning low temperatures, ranging from -1°F to -14°F. As far south as Worthington it was just 17 degrees F, while many daytime high temperatures only climbed up to the freezing mark.

Outlook:

Sunny and warmer than normal temperatures for the weekend over most of the state. More clouds in the north with some chance for rain or snow showers later on Saturday and into Sunday. Mild temperatures will prevail. Somewhat cooler on Monday with a slight chance for showers, drier Tuesday and Wednesday, then chance of rain Thursday through Saturday.

 


 

Friday, April 14, 2017

April Snow and a Temperature Rebound

April Snow and a Temperature Rebound:


Thunder and showers later on Sunday gave way to cooler temperatures and snow on Monday across portions of Minnesota. At times Monday night (April 10) into early Tuesday morning, snow showers were heavy for brief periods of time. Total snow accumulation across portions of central and southern Minnesota ranged from 1 to 3 inches in many spots. Observers in North Branch (Chisago County) and New Hope (northern Hennepin County) reported over 5 inches. Following the snow, the coldest temperatures of the month so far were reported, Many northern observers reported morning lows in the teens, while Embarrass and Seagull Lake went down to 12F. However a quick warm-up followed and the heavy, wet snow melted rapidly with temperatures climbing into the 50s and 60s F.

Over the first 9 days of April, the temperature pattern was consistently warmer than normal, with reports of four new record maximum temperatures set, including 81 degrees at Marshall on the 9th, and reports of 16 new daily record warm minimum temperature records. With the generally warmer than normal weather this month, soil temperatures have climbed into the upper 40s F and low 50s F around much of the state. This has motivated farmers to think about planting, and some spotty field activity was observed around the state this week. I suspect next week will bring a significant amount of corn planting.

An Apology for Comments on Temperature Trends:


Last week I made a gross error in judgement in describing the change in monthly values of temperature using percentages. This was stupid! There are at least three scales used for measuring temperature (Celsius, Fahrenheit, and Kelvin) all giving drastically different answers in terms of percentage changes which don't really make any sense. My point in writing about temperature change was simply to illustrate that the changes in value have been larger in the months of December, January, February, and March (3°F to 6°F) than they have in other months. And further that the change in July has been relatively minor (1F). It is important to understand that the measured climate changes in our states are not equal in all months. I am sorry for creating confusion by referencing percentages.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

Tropical Cyclone Cook struck New Zealand this week with very heavy rains and strong winds. This large storm cut a wide swath of damages due to flooding and wind. Some areas reported wind speeds up to 100 mph and gusts to 125 mph causing broken trees and down power lines. Several inches of rain fell in widespread areas, and flooded roads and highways were closed. Initial assessment was that Cook is the strongest cyclone to hit New Zealand in decades.


NOAA scientists described a new satellite based tool for assessing the onset of drought across the American landscape. It is called the Evaporative Stress Index (ESI) and is derived from GOES satellite measurements. With this imagery areas where drought may be developing can be assessed and compared to the weekly Drought Monitor maps.


The Climate Explorer, a NOAA web-based tool for examining climate maps, graphs, and data tables at the county level has been nominated for the annual Webby Awards in the Best Visual Design Category. It is interesting to compare the climates of different regions with each state.


A new international research study finds that climate change will thaw about 20 percent more permafrost landscape than previously thought. Scientists from the United Kingdom MeteorologicalOffice discussed these findings earlier this week. When permafrost thaws greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere, and in addition the soil becomes less stable and there is often damage to structures built on it. Approximately 35 million people live on permafrost landscapes.

MPR listener question:

It was difficult driving in the snow storm Monday night this week, very heavy at times. What is the largest amount of snow we have received in the state during the month of April?

Answer:

Well, I will answer that in two different time frames. On a daily basis, the largest amount ever was 28 inches at Pigeon River (Cook County) back on April 5, 1933. For a monthly total snowfall, several climate stations have reported over 40 inches in April, with Duluth and Two Harbors getting over 50 inches of snow during April of 2013. So a few inches in April is "nuisance snow."

Twin Cities Almanac for April 14th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 57 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 37 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for April 14th:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 89 degrees F in 2003; lowest daily maximum temperature of 32 degrees F in 1928; lowest daily minimum temperature of 18 degrees F in 1926 and 1928; highest daily minimum temperature of 64 F in 2003; record precipitation of 1.56 inches in 1983. Record snowfall on this date is 13.6 inches from the same storm in 1983.
Average dew point for April 14th is 31F; the maximum dew point on this date is 61F in 1976; and the minimum dew point on this date is 7F in 1928.

All-time state records for April 14th:

The all-time state high temperature for today's date is 94 degrees F at Benson (Swift County) and Milan (Chippewa County) in 2003; the all-time state low for today's date is -5 degrees F at Roseau in 1950. The all-time state record precipitation for this date is 2.95 inches at Northfield (Rice County) in 1886. The all-time state record snowfall for this date is 16.0 inches at Farmington (Dakota County) in 1983 and at Mankato (Blue Earth County) in 1928.

Past Weather Features:


By far the most significant historical weather event on April 14th in Minnesota history was the devastating EF-4 tornado that destroyed Sauk Rapids on the afternoon of April 14, 1886. This tornado, at times 800 yards wide passed over the Mississippi River and sucked it dry for a few minutes. It destroyed a school, a post office, two churches, and a bridge in Sauk Rapids injuring over 200 people and killing 72 others, including several members of an outdoor wedding party.

The coldest April 14 occurred in 1950 when morning lows ranged from single digits to the teens across most of the state. Places in the north like Roseau and Warroad saw subzero temperatures and daytime highs did not reach the freezing mark.

A spring snow storm brought heavy snow to many parts of the state over April 14, 1983. Heavy, wet snow covered portions of southern and central Minnesota, bringing down large tree limbs, as well as power lines. In St Cloud a 90 foot tall tower was toppled by over 50 mph winds. Some roads were closed due to blizzard conditions as some climate stations in southern and central Minnesota reported 12 to 19 inches of snow.

The warmest April 14th was in 2003, when 25 Minnesota communities saw the mercury climb to 90°F or greater. Even Warroad up by Lake of the Woods reached an afternoon high of 80 degrees F.

Outlook:

Warm and wet on Saturday with widespread showers and a chance for thunderstorms. Cooler and breezy for Easter Sunday, with highs in the 50s F, somewhat near normal. Chance of showers again by Tuesday, with temperatures averaging a few degrees F warmer than normal most of next week.




Friday, April 7, 2017

Dissecting climate trends in Minnesota month by month

Dissecting climate trends in Minnesota month by month:


Several people have asked me in recent years if our Minnesota climate is changing more in certain months of the year than others. This is difficult depending on which climate attribute you are looking at. On a statewide basis I have looked at monthly temperatures and monthly precipitation and their measured changes over the past 100 years. Taking each value I have looked at the net change in mean monthly temperature and mean monthly precipitation per decade over the past 100 years and compared this net change to the 100 year average. Here are some examples:

For temperature, the biggest change has occurred in January with the monthly mean value now (most recent decade) that is 3.7°F higher than it was a century ago. This is a 57 percent increase relative to the 100 year mean monthly value for January temperature of 6.5°F (from a statewide calculation). By most statistical criteria this is a significant change in mean monthly temperature. Another example is the change in average February temperature. It is now 5.8°F greater than it was a century ago, and this represents 48 percent of the 100-year mean value for the month of 12.1°F. Some other months with significant changes in mean temperature are:
December: +3.0°F increase
March: +4.2°F increase
November: +2.9°F increase
The month with the least change in mean temperature is July, which shows a plus 1°F or about 1 percent of the 100-year mean monthly value. Overall on a statewide basis the mean annual temperature in Minnesota has increased by 2.4°F over the past 100 years, which is about 6 percent of the 100-year mean annual temperature (40.1°F).

The pattern of temperature increase in the Twin Cities climate record is somewhat similar, but with different magnitude. For example February is the month that has increased the most in the Twin Cities Metro Area with a rise of 5.2°F.

A similar analysis for monthly precipitation shows some significant disparities of change between months on a statewide basis. Here are some of the results: October has seen an increase in total monthly precipitation of 0.52 inches, which represents 27 percent of the 100-year mean value (1.92 inches). April has seen a rise of 0.42 inches, which represents 20 percent of the 100-year mean monthly value, and December precipitation has increased by 0.27 inches, which represents 33 percent of the 100-year mean monthly value (0.81 inches). Overall on a statewide basis mean annual precipitation has increased by 2.82 inches, about 11 percent of the 100-year annual mean (25.98 inches).

For the Twin Cities, there are some different changes in precipitation. August has seen the largest change in mean monthly precipitation increasing by 1.02 inches over what it was a century ago. April monthly precipitation has increased by 0.91 inches, a value that represents nearly 43 percent of the 100-year monthly mean (2.12 inches). And September is the only month in the Twin Cities climate record that is now less than it was 100 years ago. There has been a decrease of 0.59 inches in mean September precipitation, a decline that represents 20 percent of the 100-year monthly mean value (2.90 inches). Overall the Twin Cities mean annual precipitation has increased by 3.51 inches, about 13 percent of the 100-year mean value (27.38 inches).

Clearly the pace of change in these climate attributes shows some differences depending on what month of the year is examined.

Kite Flying Time:


Though peak wind speeds in Minnesota are associated with the tornadoes and severe thunderstorms of summer, "average daily wind speeds" peak in the month of April. Most communities around the state report average wind speeds of 12 to 15 mph during this month. This makes for great kite flying weather, but also has implications for the farmer and the home gardener as exposed soils and vegetation can dry out very rapidly in the absence of adequate rainfall. The atmosphere in April can also be so dry that sometimes when combined with higher wind speeds the National Weather Service will have to issue "Red Flag Warnings" with their daily forecasts. Perhaps we don't need to worry about this as it looks like it is going to be a wetter than normal month.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:


For the first time the National Adaptation Forum is coming to Minnesota. It will be held over May 9-11 at the St Paul River Center. There will be 80 symposia and 30 working group/training sessions focusing on the practice of climate adaptation. Mayor Chris Coleman of St Paul will be a featured speaker on the first day, and a number of Minnesota scientists and citizens, along with state and local units of government will be featured. Might be worth a look for those interested in the practice of climate adaptation.

NOAA scientist recently offered a map viewer to examine the extent of sea level rise and its effect on coastal communities. It provides a tool for examining the impact in the most vulnerable areas. More information can be found at the NOAA Digital Coast web site.

Tropical Cyclone Ernie was churning off the northwest coast of Australia this week, packing wind gusts over 120 mph and producing sea waves of 30 to 35 feet. It was expected to grow stronger over the weekend but remain out to sea.

There is an interesting article in the current AGU EOS issue about the role of nitrous oxide in the atmosphere, especially in high latitudes. More study is needed to determine its potential role in future climate change.

MPR listener question:

This time of year you and your colleagues in the National Weather Service always remind us about severe weather season. When is Severe Weather Awareness Week this year?

Answer:

Severe Weather Awareness Week in Minnesota will be from April 17 to April 21. There will be daily announcements that week about types of severe weather, communications protocols, and recommendations to protect yourself and your family. In addition there will be "tornado drills" on April 20th at 1:45 pm and 6:45 PM.

Twin Cities Almanac for April 7th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 53 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 33 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for April 7th:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 83 degrees F in 1991; lowest daily maximum temperature of 25 degrees F in 1923 and 1936; lowest daily minimum temperature is 6 degrees F in 1936; highest daily minimum temperature of 54 degrees F in 1991; record precipitation of 1.72 inches in 1919; and a record snowfall of 8.3 inches also in 1923.

Average dew point for April 7th is 27°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 54°F in 2001; and the minimum dew point on this date is 0°F in 1936.

All-time state records for April 7th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 91 degrees F at Canby (Yellow Medicine County) in 1991. The state record low temperature for this date is -16 degrees F at Tower (St Louis County) in 1982. State record precipitation for this date is 3.52 inches at Blue Earth (Faribault County) in 2006; and record snowfall is 24.0 inches at Tower (St Louis County) in 2008.

Past Weather Features:


A rare late winter storm brought heavy snow to parts of Minnesota over April 6-8, 1923. Many central Minnesota communities reported 5 to 12 inches of snow. Though plagued by much colder temperatures, northern residents reported only traces of snow from this storm.

Following a snow storm on April 6, 1936, a polar air mass brought the coldest April 7th in state history. Over 30 Minnesota communities reported subzero morning temperatures and daytime highs barely climbed into the 20s and 30s F. It was short-live as temperatures returned to normal two days later.

April 7, 1991 was the warmest in state history, as over 60 communities reported daytime highs of 80°F or greater. Many climate stations never fell below 60 degrees F even at night, and Winona reported a balmy low temperature of 70 degrees F.

Outlook:

Much warmer on Saturday under mostly sunny skies. Temperatures will reach the 60s in the north, and the 70s F and 80s F in the south. More clouds on Sunday and a chance for rain and even thunderstorms by later in the day. Continued chance for rain, and even some snow in the north on Monday. Near normal temperatures again by Tuesday, then another warming trend with a chance for showers next Thursday.








 


Friday, March 31, 2017

Preliminary Climate Summary for March 2017

Preliminary Climate Summary for March 2017:

Most climate observers reported mean monthly temperature values near normal, or 1 to 2 degrees F warmer than normal for the month. For MSP Airport it was the 19 consecutive month with above normal temperature. For most climate stations over half the days of the month were warmer than normal. Minnesota reported the coldest temperature in the nation on four dates during the month:
-20°F at Embarrass on the 3rd
3°F at Warroad and Flag Island on the 8th
-4°F at Embarrass on the 9th
-11°F at Crane Lake on the 14th
Extreme values of temperature for the month ranged from 74°F at Redwood Falls on the 6th to -21°F at Cotton (St Louis County) on the 4th. At least 20 different communities reached a temperature of 70 degrees F or higher during the month. Though very few new daily temperature records were set during March, Redwood Falls set a record daily high on the 6th with a reading of 74°F, while Winnebago reported a new daily record low temperature of -2°F on the 16th.

Except for southeastern and northeastern locations, most observers around the state reported below normal precipitation during the month of March. Over 20 new daily precipitation records were set, mostly in northeastern and southeastern counties. The wettest part of the state was in the southeast where many climate stations reported over 2 inches of precipitation for the month. Some of the driest areas were in the west where many communities reported less than a third of an inch. A number of southern Minnesota climate stations reported over 10 inches of snow for the month, mostly as a result of the winter storm on March 12-13. Twenty climate stations across southern Minnesota reported new daily snowfall records from that storm.

Many areas of the state lost soil frost during the month, and a number of area lakes lost their ice. The warming trend that ended the month appears to be in place through much of the first half of April as well.

The wind storm of March 7-8 produced some damage to structures in different communities. Starbuck, Fairmont, and MSP Airport reported wind gusts over 60 mph from that storm.

Perhaps the most unusual weather event came on March 6 when three tornadoes occurred, the earliest date in history for this type of storm. Two tornadoes were reported in southern counties (Freeborn and Faribault) and one in central Minnesota (Sherburne County). All three tornadoes were rated EF-1 (86-110 mph) by the National Weather Service. Damages to homes and agricultural structures were reported from these storms. A more detailed report can be found from the Minnesota State Climatology Office.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:


NOAA's Tom Di Liberto provides an analysis of the March wildfires in western Oklahoma, north Texas, and southwestern Kansas. The dry winter season in those states elevated the risk for such fires. According to the USA Drought Monitor portions of those states have been in severe to extreme drought at times this winter.


An official version of the NOAA Spring Climate Outlook is given in detail this week at the NOAA Climate.Gov web site. They provide some reasoning for regional disparities, but the Great Lakes Region is favored by warmer and wetter conditions, following historical trends.


Dr. Christie Manning of Macalester College in St Paul collaborated with psychologist Susan Clayton of the College of Wooster and others to provide an analysis of climate change impacts on mental health. Their report, called Our Changing Climate: Impacts, Implications, and Guidance was released by the American Psychological Association recently and provides a fascinating and comprehensive examination of both the direct and indirect effects that climate change is having on mental health, especially on those people impacted by extreme weather and climate events.

Yet another study recently conducted in Vietnam (Umea Universitet) documents an increase in the hospital admissions associated with people suffering symptoms of mental illness provoked by Heat Waves, especially those that persist for several days (7 or more). There were also significant correlations of Heat Waves with age, gender, and those living in more rural landscapes.


In this week's AGU EOS newsletter Dork Sahagian of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lehigh University provides some background and information to share with others about the science of climate change and why it should not be denied. It makes for an interesting read.

MPR listener question

Has Mother Nature ever pulled a fast one and produced a blizzard on April Fools' Day?

Answer:


Actually, there have been two historical blizzards on April Fool's Day, separated in time by over 100 years. The first one occurred back in 1896. The storm actually started with thunder, lightning, rain, and hail on the 31st of March, but then later in the day it turned into wind driven snow with little or no visibility, lasting through the night and into April 1st. Many western and central Minnesota communities reported 12 to 20 inches of snowfall, while St Cloud reported an incredible 32 inches of snow, one of the heaviest amounts in their history. The second blizzard was mostly in west-central and northeastern Minnesota and occurred over March 31 to April 1 in 2009. It closed sections of Interstate 94 and Minnesota Highway 2 for a time. Some areas received over 20 inches of snow, topped by 24 inches at Breckenridge and 27 inches at Campbell. Not a nice way to start April.

Twin Cities Almanac for March 31st:


The average MSP high temperature for this date is 49 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 30 degrees F (plus or minus 9 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for March 31st:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 82 degrees F in 1986; lowest daily maximum temperature of 23 degrees F in 1924 and 1936; lowest daily minimum temperature is -1 degrees F in 1969; highest daily minimum temperature of 52 degrees F in 1999; record precipitation of 1.25 inches in 1985; and a record snowfall of 14.7 inches also in 1985.

Average dew point for March 31st is 28°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 56°F in 1986; and the minimum dew point on this date is -6°F in 1969.

All-time state records for March 31st:


The state record high temperature for this date is 84 degrees F at New Ulm (Brown County) in 1968 and at St James (Watonwan County) in 1986. The state record low temperature for this date is -32 degrees F at Tower (St Louis County) in 1975. State record precipitation for this date is 3.00 inches at New London (Kandiyohi County) in 1896; and record snowfall is 20.0 inches at St Cloud (Sherburne County) in 1896.

Past Weather Features:


A large scale winter storm crossed the state over March 31 to April 1 in 1896 with a mixture of rain, sleet, and snow with some thunder and lightning. Many climate stations reported over 8 inches of snow and over 2 inches of total precipitation. Across western and central counties, blizzard conditions prevailed overnight on the 31st and into April 1st with snow drifts as high as ten feet.

A winter storm brought snow and cold temperatures to close the month of March in 1923. Following widespread snow on March 30th temperatures plummeted to subzero values around the state on the 31st with readings ranging from -20°F to -30°F in the north, and a minimum of -1°F at Farmington (Dakota County). The Cold Wave was short-lived as temperatures rebounded into the 30s and 40s F on April 1st.

The warmest March 31st on a statewide basis was in 1986 when over 20 communities reported an afternoon high of 80°F or greater. It was 70 degrees F as far north as the Iron Range in the northeast.

Outlook:

Temperatures warmer than normal into the weekend, with a chance for scattered rain showers on Sunday. Then, continued warmer than normal temperatures through most of next week with another chance for rain later on Tuesday and into Wednesday.

Friday, March 24, 2017

A few comments about wind

A few comments about wind:

March has been a windy month so far with average daily wind speed over 12 mph, and 9 days with peak wind gust over 30 mph. This continues a trend of windy weather which began the last week of January.

The peak wind gust from MSP airport of 60 mph on the morning of March 8th was just the 5th time in the past 20 years that peak wind gusts in the Twin Cities have hit 60 mph or greater. The other years were 1998 (May), 2007 (Aug), 2008 (June), and 2010 (Oct).

Historical trends in wind speed are difficult to study. There is great geographic disparity across the state. In western Minnesota, as well as the Twin Cities Metro Area wind speeds have been greater than normal more frequently in the months of February, April, and November. over the past two decades. Conversely, over the same time period, wind speeds have generally been less than normal more frequently during the months of May and October.

Perhaps a trend busting month of March:

The persistent climate trends of warmer and wetter than normal across Minnesota may be interrupted this month, as March is leaning towards cooler and drier than normal. With several days left in the month, we could still turn out warmer and wetter.

But so far here are some of the numbers:
Most climate observers report a mean monthly temperature that ranges from 1 to 3 degrees F cooler than normal.
Most climate observers report a monthly total precipitation that ranges from 0.25 to 0.75 inches less than normal.
Twenty climate stations have reported new daily record cold maximum temperatures this month.
Six climate stations have reported new daily record low minimum temperatures this month.
Minnesota has reported the coldest temperature in the nation on six dates this month.
And incidentally, associated with the cold temperature records, eighteen new daily snowfall records were wet during the winter storm over March 12-13.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:


NOAA scientists reported this week that the Arctic Sea Ice extent this winter (usual time of maximum ice coverage) was the lowest since record keeping began in 1979. In addition, they announced that the extent of Antarctic Sea Ice, which normally reaches its minimum this time of year was reported to be the all-time lowest. These reports certainly fit well with the trends measured in recent years.


Another NOAA article this weeks describes how the Winter Season Outlook performed across the nation. There were some geographic regions where it was mostly accurate. However, in Minnesota and the Western Great Lakes region is was far from accurate. The NOAA-CPC outlook for a colder than normal winter was dead wrong. We had a warmer than normal winter. The outlook for a marginally wet winter was almost correct. We had a wholly wetter than normal winter across most of the state.


EOS provided an analysis of the proposed Trump federal budget for 2018 in the context of impacts on the scientific community. It is not a pretty picture, especially for those working in climate science and environmental regulation.


The World Meteorological Organization has released a new, digitized version of its "International Cloud Atlas," the global reference book for meteorologists and skywatchers alike. First published in the 19th Century, this is the first update for the atlas since 1987 and the first version to be fully web-based.


A recent study from Montana State University shows that climate change may be having an effect on the maple syrup industry. Warmer temperatures are leading to earlier dates for tapping trees and may be contributing to the quantity and quality of sap harvested as well. Early research suggests that the higher quality light colored sap may show up in less abundance as a result of warmer temperatures which favor the darker quality sap.

MPR listener question:


This month we have seen some lakes in and around the Twin Cities Greater Metro Area thaw out and be declared ice-free only to refreeze later in the month. Has there ever been another year where this has happened?

Answer:


Yes, but it is a rare occurrence. Perhaps every 20-30 years lake ice-out is reported, but then a refreezing of the lake occurs. One documented examples which Greg Spoden and Pete Boulay of the MN State Climatology Office have written about is Lake Shetek in southwestern Minnesota (Murray County). In 1997 it was ice-free on April 6th, then refroze on April 10th, and was ice-free again on April 19th. The DNR uses the second ice-out date for long-term record keeping.

Twin Cities Almanac for March 24th:


The average MSP high temperature for this date is 45 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 27 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for March 24th:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 76 degrees F in 1939; lowest daily maximum temperature of 14 degrees F in 1923; lowest daily minimum temperature is -8 degrees F in 1965; highest daily minimum temperature of 52 degrees F in 1945; record precipitation of 1.06 inches in 1949; and a record snowfall of 6.8 inches in 1996.

Average dew point for March 24th is 22°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 60°F in 1945; and the minimum dew point on this date is -21°F in 1974.

All-time state records for March 24th:


The state record high temperature for this date is 86 degrees F at New Ulm (Brown County) in 1910. The state record low temperature for this date is -41 degrees F at Thorhult (Beltrami County) in 1974. State record precipitation for this date is 2.50 inches at Waseca (Waseca County) in 1966; and record snowfall is 15.0 inches at Bird Island (Renville County) in 1937.

Past Weather Features:


March 24, 1910 was the warmest in history across the state. Twenty-two Minnesota communities reported afternoon high temperatures of 75 degrees F or greater, and two were above 85 degrees F. As far north as Warroad it was 75°F with no snow cover.

March 23-25, 1937 brought a big snow storm to portions of central and southern Minnesota. Snowfall totals ranged from 8 to 19 inches, with snow drifts up to 6 feet high. Some roads were closed in central counties where some vehicles were abandoned on the roads.

A memorable High School Tournament Season Blizzard occurred over March 23-25, 1966. Many communities reported 9 to 18 inches of snowfall and a number of daily records were set. Southern communities like Austin reported thunder and lightning, and up to an inch of ice accumulated on power lines and trees causing outages in several areas. Scores of businesses and schools were closed, including the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Campus for the first time due to weather.

March 24, 1974 brought record cold to many parts of northern Minnesota. A dozen communities reported a morning low of -30 degrees F or colder, and the temperature never rose higher than -8°F at both Hallock and Thief River Falls.

A winter storm brought a mixture of rain, sleet, and snow across the state over March 24-25, 1996. Up to 7 inches of snow with winds of 40-50 mph caused blizzard conditions and road closures in Traverse and Big Stone Counties. Elsewhere many observers reported from 1 to 2 inches of precipitation.

Outlook:


Sunny in the north, mostly cloudy elsewhere over the weekend with temperatures above normal and a chance for a scattered shower or two in southern counties. Warmer for Monday through Wednesday next week, with a chance for showers again by Thursday.

  
 
 
 

 





 

Friday, March 3, 2017

Brief Assessment of Meteorological Winter (Dec-Feb)



Brief assessment of Meteorological Winter (Dec-Feb):


The 6th warmest February in state history concluded earlier this week, along with the end of Meteorological Winter (in the northern hemisphere December through February). The Meteorological Winter definitely followed the climatic trends of recent decades by being both warmer and wetter than normal.

It was the 10th warmest Meteorological Winter in state history back to 1895, and the 15th warmer than normal one of the last 20 years on a statewide basis. Over the 90-day season approximately 700 daily temperature records were set within the state's climate observation networks, including 286 new daily high maximum temperatures and 414 new daily high minimum temperatures. During the Meteorological Winter Minnesota reported the coldest temperature in the 48 contiguous states only 9 times, a small number when compared to history. In December it happened 3 days, in January 4 days, and in February just 2 days.

On a monthly basis here is a summary of the daily temperature records set within MN observation networks:
December: 8 high daily maximum temperatures; 22 daily high minimum temperatures
January: 39 high daily maximum temperatures; 278 daily high minimum temperatures
February: 239 high daily maximum temperatures: 114 daily high minimum temperatures

Extreme values of temperature for the Meteorological Winter were 67°F at Redwood Falls Airport on February 17th (a statewide record for the date), and -46°F at Cotton (St Louis County) on January 14th (coldest in the nation on that date).

The Meteorological Winter was also the 7th wettest in state history, with northeastern, south-central, and southeastern counties averaging well over 4 inches over the 90 days. Within the state climate observation network 200 new daily precipitation records were reported. In southeastern Minnesota Lake City, Wabasha, and Minnesota City reported their wettest Meteorological Winter in history with totals of around 7 inches. An unusual character of this winter was that many Minnesota observers reported more rainfall events than snowfall events, especially in southern counties. In addition there was more than the usual amount of ice, which produced hundreds of accidents.

Most observers reported less than normal snowfall, except for far northern sections of the state. Isabella (Lake County) with 70.5 inches, Kabetogama (St Louis County) with 70.2 inches, and Ely (St Louis County) with 61.6 inches are all well above normal in terms of snowfall for the season

Weather Potpourri:


NOAA News provides a good summary of the "Late Winter Heat Wave" that affected the nation during February. Many states, including Minnesota recorded some all-time high temperatures on selected dates during the month.


A Tropical Cyclone was forming just northeast of Madagascar in the Southern Indian Ocean this week. It was expected to gain strength and more towards Madagascar later into the weekend. You can follow updates at the Joint Typhoon Warning Center Web site.


The United Kingdom Met Office release a summary of their recent Meteorological Winter (Dec-Feb). Generally it was warmer and drier than normal across the United Kingdom. Met Office climatologist say that Scotland reported its 4th warmest winter, Northern Ireland its 5th warmest winter and England its 9th warmest winter. It was also exceptionally dry in Northern Ireland where they reported just 66 percent of normal precipitation.


The World Meteorological Organization announced earlier this week that several all-time high temperature records have been reported from Antarctica and verified, some occurring in recent years. These temperatures have ranged from the upper 60s F to the teens F, depending on location.

MPR listener question:


I have heard you say that because our climate in Minnesota is so variable we hardly ever report a daily maximum or minimum temperature that is exactly average for the date. It is always either warmer or colder than "normal." What is the exact frequency for measuring an average value of temperature on any given date?

Answer:


Indeed, because our temperatures are so variable, hitting the exact average is difficult. For example, the average maximum temperature on February 4th in the Twin Cities is 26°F plus or minus a standard deviation of 15°F. Since 1873, a period of 145 years, a measured maximum temperature of 26°F has only occurred 4 times (1924, 1929, 1945, and 1951). So we have actually reported a value of maximum temperature on February 4th that is exactly equal to the average only 3 percent of the time. Conversely, when the standard deviation (variability) is lower in the summer, we still hardly ever measure the exact average. For example, the average maximum temperature on July 31 in the Twin Cities is 83°F plus or minus a standard deviation of only 6°F. Since 1873, a period of 145 years, a measured maximum temperature of 83°F has only occurred 11 times, most recently in 2013. That is a frequency of measuring the exact average only 8 percent of the time in July.

So the reality is that regardless of the time of year the daily temperature measurements are not "average" over 90 percent of the time!


MPR listener question:

From Jeff Vetsch at the University of Minnesota Southern Research and Outreach Center in Waseca, “we did not measure a low temperature of 0 degrees F during the entire month of February 2017. How often does this happen?

Answer:

Not often. Since 1914, this has happened in only three other years: 1992, 1999, and 2000. It might be expected to happen more often in the future, as temperatures are warming more significantly during the winter months than during other seasons of the year.


Twin Cities Almanac for March 3rd:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 35 degrees F (plus or minus 10 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 19 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for March 3rd:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 65 degrees F in 1905; lowest daily maximum temperature of 6 degrees F in 1873; lowest daily minimum temperature is -13 degrees F in 1873; highest daily minimum temperature of 38 degrees F in 1983; record precipitation of 1.19 inches in 1970; and a record snowfall of 12.6 inches in 1985.

Average dew point for March 3rd is 16°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 52°F in 1983; and the minimum dew point on this date is -20°F in 2002.

All-time state records for March 3rd:


The state record high temperature for this date is 71 degrees F at Milan (Chippewa County) in 1905. The state record low temperature for this date is -44 degrees F at Embarrass (St Louis County) in 2014. State record precipitation for this date is 3.06 inches at Benson (Swift County) in 1985; and record snowfall is 18.7 inches also at Benton (Swift County) in 1985.

Past Weather Features:


Very cold start to March in 1843 at Fort Snelling with early morning temperature readings ranging from -16°F to -20°F each day. It was the start of the coldest March in history during which 21 mornings started out below zero F.

Very bitter start to the month of March occurred in 1873 as exemplified in these temperature readings from around the state: St Paul high temperature 6°F and low temperature -13°F; New Ulm high temperature 12°F, low temperature -11°F; and Fort Ripley high temperature 8°F, low temperature -35°F. In all cases there was over a foot of snow on the ground.

By far the warmest March 3rd in state history was in 1905. Over 30 cities reported daytime highs in the 60s F. It reached 60°F at Moorhead and 70°F at Beardsley, Winnebago, and St Peter.

Over March 3-4, 1985 a large winter storm brought mixed precipitation, strong winds, and blizzard conditions to the state. Freezing rain, sleet, and glaze, accompanied by occasional thunder closed roads in SE Minnesota counties. The rest of the state was subject to very high winds, heavy snow accumulation and blizzard conditions. Winds gusted to 68 mph at Rochester, 71 mph at the Duluth Airport, and even 90 mph on the Duluth lift bridge. Zero visibility and drifts 6 feet high or greater closed I-94 between Minneapolis and Alexandria. Many businesses and schools were closed. Total snowfall accumulations were quite large and record-setting for some communities. Amounts included 16.7 inches at MSP Airport, 18 inches at Duluth Harbor, 20 inches at Two Harbors, 22 inches at Canby and Morris, and 24 inches at Brainerd and Benson. Two deaths were reported from hypothermia, as a result of people leaving stranded vehicles on the highway.

Outlook:


Much warmer over the weekend under partly cloudy skies and with south winds. Temperatures will climb into the 40s, 50s, and 60s F. There will be increasing clouds on Monday with a chance for rain showers, and perhaps even thunder in some areas. Cooler and drier for much of next week, but temperatures will remain near normal or slightly above normal.
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