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Extension > Mark Seeley's WeatherTalk > February 2017

Friday, February 24, 2017

Record-setting warm spell

Record-setting warm spell:


Over February 17-22 the Minnesota landscape was widely dominated by warm temperatures. Many record value high daily temperatures, and warm overnight low temperatures were reported from climate observers. In fact hundreds of records were tied or broken over this period. A preliminary county suggest about 250 new daily high temperature and warm minimum temperature records were set over these 6 days.

At MSP and St Cloud five of the six days produced new daily maximum temperatures. The reading of 63°F at MSP on the 17th is the 2nd highest temperature ever measured during the month of February in the Twin Cities (topped only by 64°F on Feb 26, 1896). At International Falls on the 17th a maximum temperature reading of 58°F is the highest ever temperature reported in February from the Nation's Ice Box. And finally the overnight low temperature reading of 52°F at Marshall, MN on February 20th is the warmest low temperature for February ever measured in the state.

Two new preliminary statewide maximum temperature records were reported during this warm spell: 67°F at Redwood Falls on the 17th is a new statewide record for the date; and 66°F at Amboy reported on the 22nd is a new statewide record high for the date as well.

In addition, some new high record dew point values were reported during this spell of warmth, including a reading of 52°F at MSP on Monday, February 20th which also tied for the highest ever dew point measured in the Twin Cities during the month of February (also occurred on February 25, 2000).

Another noteworthy feature in Minnesota's climate was what happened in Voyageurs National Park. Like the warm spell in mid-January last month, the warm spell this month forced the closure of the ice roads on Rainy Lake and Kabetogama. To the best of my knowledge this is the first time these ice roads have been closed in back to back winter months.

Return to winter across southern Minnesota:


A strong winter storm brought widespread heavy snow to portions of south-central and southeastern Minnesota over February 23-24 (Thursday-Friday). Initial forecasts had placed the Twin Cities Metro Area in the bullseye for snowfall, but a combination of factors caused the storm to deviated south of the Metro Area. Heavy snowfall rates combined with wind gusts over 30 mph made for difficult travel conditions and produced dozens of school closures in southern Minnesota cities. Snowfall totals in many areas ranged from 7 to 14 inches.

Some reported new daily record snowfalls included:

February 24th:

11.4” at Theilman

11.0” at Lake City

9.5” at Zumbrota

9.4” at Dodge Center

9.0” at Winnebago

8.5” at Grand Meadow

8.0” at Faribault

7.0” at Albert Lea and Waseca

For many communities these also represent the highest single day snowfalls of the 2016-2017winter season so far.

Topic: Nominations for MNCAP Awards


The Minnesota Climate Adaptation Partnership (MCAP) will be recognizing outstanding climate adaptation work in Minnesota with awards to be presented on May 8, 2017, as part of the National Adaptation Forum. MCAP is joining the National Adaptation Forum in offering a conference that will present a range of practitioners who have experience with climate smart strategies for adapting to our changing climate.. The conference titled Action today for a better tomorrow, will be held at the St. Paul River Centre, May 8-11, 2017.

Awards will honor individuals, organizations, institutions and businesses that have provided exceptional leadership in education, research, policies, and practices to improve resilience and develop, advance, or implement climate adaptation strategies. Anyone may submit a nomination, which is very simple.

The award nomination deadline is March 1, 2017, and nomination details are available on the University of Minnesota Water Resources Center web site.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:


NOAA scientists (via NOAA News) this week report that the winter expansion of Arctic sea ice may be one of the smallest in history this winter. There have actually been a few period of thaw in the Arctic this winter, that have slowed down ice formation.

The BBC reports that winter storm Doris, strongest of the season so far, battered the United Kingdom on Thursday with high winds and heavy rains. Winds gusted to over 80 mph with a few inches of snow in the highlands of Wales. Doris intensified heading into Europe delivering strong winds and snow to portions of Denmark and Sweden. Many power outages were reported.

The National Park Service reports that the Cherry Blossoms may come much earlier than normal this year along the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. Many tourists flock there each March for this famous annual event. The winter has been so mild that the cherry trees are already sprouting buds and may be in blossom by mid March, over two weeks earlier than normal.

A recent report about climate change and possible consequences associated with the delivery of dissolved nitrogen and phosphorus into the open ocean from river systems in the USA is reported this week in the Earth and Space Science News.

MPR listener question:

This February warm up has been very impressive. I think we have lost our soil frost here at Willmar. How do you think this month will rank historically in terms of monthly average temperature?

Answer:

On a statewide basis the average temperature this month is running about 10 degrees F above normal. Even with a moderation towards normal, or slightly colder than normal following the storm this Friday, we will likely end up about 8-9 degrees F warmer than normal, ranking among the 7 or 8 warmest months of February in state history back to 1895. The most recent year that February was this warm was in 2002.

Twin Cities Almanac for February 24th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 32 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 16 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for February 24th:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 59 degrees F in 1880; lowest daily maximum temperature of -2 degrees F in 1967; lowest daily minimum temperature is -20 degrees F in 1967; highest daily minimum temperature of 42 degrees F in 2000; record precipitation of 1.90 inches in 1930; and a record snowfall of 4.8 inches also in 2007.

Average dew point for February 24th is 16°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 45°F in 2000; and the minimum dew point on this date is -34°F in 1950.

All-time state records for February 24th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 67 degrees F at Pipestone (Pipestone County) in 1958. The state record low temperature for this date is -46 degrees F at Red Lake Falls (Red Lake County) in 1955. State record precipitation for this date is 2.10 inches at Tower (St Louis County) in 1964; and record snowfall is 19.0 inches at Beaver Bay (Lake County) in 1868.

Past Weather Features:

Arctic cold gripped the state on February 24, 1955. Most places in northern Minnesota reported morning lows in the minus 30s and minus 40s F. Many communities never saw the thermometer rise about zero F during the day.

Remarkably warm weather visited the state on February 24, 1958. Most observers in southern Minnesota reported daytime highs in the 50s and 60s F. It was 56°F as far north as Detroit Lakes (Becker County). Little snow was on the ground.

A series of storms brought rain, sleet, and snow to the state over February 23-25, 2001. Many climate observers reported over 12 inches, and in northeastern areas along the Lake Superior highlands up to 24 inches of snowfall occurred.

Outlook:


Most sunny to start the weekend with temperatures close to seasonal normals. Increasing cloudiness on Sunday and Monday, with warmer than normal temperatures and a chance for showers by Monday and Tuesday. Some areas could get significant snowfall on Tuesday. Then, some cooler weather by Wednesday and Thursday next week.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Record High February Temperatures

Record High February Temperatures:


Last Friday was a remarkably warm day with many climate observers in southern and western counties reporting daytime high temperatures in the 50s F. Some communities reached new record maximum temperatures for the date including 55°F at Milan, 56°F at Canby, Pipestone, and 58°F at Redwood Falls. The reading at Redwood Falls broke the previous statewide record high temperature of 57°F set at Luverne in 1977.

It appears as though more record high daily temperature records around the state may be threatened this Friday through Monday (Feb 17-20). So far this month observers around the state are reporting mean February temperatures that average 5 to 9 degrees above normal. By the end of the month I would not be surprised to see some climate stations running over 10 degrees F above normal, for perhaps the warmest February since 2002. Several all-time state maximum temperature records may be threatened and I would not be surprised to see a 70°F reading occur somewhere in the state. If so, that would be just the third time in history such a temperature occurred during the month of February. The only other years were 1896 and2000.

Frost removal and maple sap harvesting:


The dramatic warm up this month provoked many southern Minnesota residents to start tapping their maple trees for sap. And I am told that the sap run is pretty good this year and about 2-3 weeks earlier than normal.

In addition the warm up is removing frost from the soil, especially where snow cover has dissipated. Soil frost depths only range from 8 to 20 inches around many southern parts of the state. The higher sun angle, longer days, and warm temperatures will thaw the soil considerably over the next several days.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:


NOAA offers an interesting summary of the near record heat in parts of Australia during last month (January). Sydney recorded its warmest January in history, while another city in New South Wales, Moree reported a record-setting 36 straight days of daytime maximums of 95°F or higher.


For school science teachers InTeGrate (part of an NSF funded STEM Program in Earth Sciences) offers an online lesson for using real climate data to graphically illustrate climate change in local communities or regions. It is a flexible model that can be adapted for various grade levels.


The Lawrence-Berkeley National Laboratory reported earlier this week that it has been developing higher resolution ocean wave models that better capture the high waves associated with Tropical Storms and Hurricanes. These new models may allow forecasters to better estimate wind-generated wave action from hurricanes.

MPR listener question:


Even though snowfall has been lacking much of this season across the southern part of the state, I hear that it has been abundant in some norther locations. Where has the most snow fallen this season in Minnesota?

Answer:


Indeed most of the snowiest places have been in the north. Some of those reporting above normal snowfall so far include:
Grand Rapids 60.4"
International Falls and Tower 62.2"
Ely 69.3"
Isabella 75.5"
Kabetogama 86.2"

Conversely many places in southwestern Minnesota have reported less than 20 inches, while the Twin Cities (MSP) reports just 26.8 inches so far this season.

Twin Cities Almanac for February 17th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 30 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 14 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for February 17th:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 55 degrees F in 1981; lowest daily maximum temperature of -12 degrees F in 1936; lowest daily minimum temperature is -20 degrees F in 1903 and again in 1936; highest daily minimum temperature of 36 degrees F in 1998; record precipitation of 0.32 inches in 2014; and a record snowfall of 4.9 inches also in 2014.

Average dew point for February 17th is 14°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 44°F in 1981; and the minimum dew point on this date is -26°F in 1942.

All-time state records for February 17th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 66 degrees F at Luverne (Rock County) in 1981. The state record low temperature for this date is -52 degrees F at Pokegama Dam (Itasca County) in 1903. State record precipitation for this date is 1.85 inches at Hokah (Houston County) in 1984; and record snowfall is 13.0 inches at Beaver Bay (Lake County) in 1870.

Past Weather Features:


Bitterly cold on February 17, 1903. There were many places reporting lows of -30 to -40°F with wind chill values of -50°F or colder. The afternoon high temperature at Crookson never rose higher than -14 degrees F.

Back to back winter storms brought heavy snows to central and southern Minnesota over February 15-17, 1967. At times 40 mph winds produced blizzard conditions, huge drifts and many road closures. Most schools closed down to two days. Many observers measured 10 to 18 inches of snowfall.

The all-time warmest February 17th was in 1981. With the absence of snow cover and abundant sunshine many climate observers reported afternoon highs in the 50s and 60s F. It marked the first of 5 consecutive days in the 60s F at Lamberton, where they planted small grains later in the week at the University of Minnesota Research Station.

Outlook:

A very warm weekend ahead under partly cloudy skies. Some new record high temperatures are likely in many areas. Increasing cloudiness on Monday, with a chance for showers and even thunderstorms. Continued warm Tuesday and Wednesday, then cooler temperatures with a chance for mixed precipitation on Thursday and Friday.















Friday, February 10, 2017

Brief Return of Subzero Temperatures

Brief Return of Subzero Temperatures:

This week saw the return of subzero temperature readings to many parts of the state with the dominance of a polar high pressure system. Most northern and central Minnesota climate stations reported some overnight lows that were subzero. It was -1°F as far south as Winona Dam and Redwood Falls. Many observers measured their coldest temperatures since the second week of January. No daily record low temperatures were reported, but Minnesota did report the coldest temperature in the nation on some dates this week (see below):

Coldest in the nation reports this week came from:
Goodridge (Marshall County), MN with -13°F on the 5th
Hallock (Kittson County), MN with -29°F on the 8th
Crane Lake and Embarrass (St Louis County), MN with -22°F on the 9th

Temperatures are expected to trend in the opposite direction through the balance of the month, averaging several degrees warmer than normal.

Time to Nominate for MCAP Climate Adaptation Awards:


In conjunction with the National Adaptation Forum hosted at the St Paul River Center over May 8-11, 2017, the Minnesota Climate Adaptation Partnership will be announcing awards to practitioners of climate adaptation who have made a significant impact in the state. Nominations are open until March 1st in four categories: individual; organization (non-profit, community of faith, youth group, neighborhood associations); institution (local, state, or federal units of government, or educational institutions); and business (corporations, small business, and cooperatives). Please consider nomination your deserving colleagues. You can find more information on the MCAP Awards here.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

Tuesday, February 7th brought an outbreak of tornadoes in some southern states, especially LA and MS where 8 tornado reports were filed in each state. ABC News reported that thousands were without power and over 40 people were injured, but no deaths were reported. Many homes were damage and some roads blocked by downed power lines.

NOAA issued a press release recently that the weak La Nina episode in the equatorial Pacific Ocean came to an end last month. The Pacific Ocean is now in an ENSO Neutral state and expected to remain so for the months ahead.

NOAA also released an analysis about the demise of Drought in the Western USA states. For the first time since March of 2011 there are no designated areas of "exceptional drought" on the USA map. The reasons behind this demise are described in the narrative along with a time sequence of maps.

MPR listener question:

At my house in Blaine we have measured only 14 subzero nights so far this winter. When subzero temperatures are expected I shut off the water line from my house to the garage so it won't freeze or burst. What is the average per winter for the number of subzero nights and do you think we will have anymore this winter?

Answer:

The long-term average for the Twin Cities is an average of 29 nights of subzero temperatures each year, with an average of 8 in February and 2 in March. However since 2001 the average number has dropped to just 17, with 5 in February and only 1 in March. In fact 9 of the last 16 months of March have brought no subzero temperature readings to the Twin Cities. As far as the outlook goes for the rest of February I see no subzero nights, and right now all of the outlook models except one favor a warmer than normal month of March, so we may be done with subzero nights.

Twin Cities Almanac for February 10th:


The average MSP high temperature for this date is 27 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 11 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for February 10th:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 49 degrees F in 1877; lowest daily maximum temperature of -8 degrees F in 1899; lowest daily minimum temperature is -24 degrees F in 1885; highest daily minimum temperature of 35 degrees F in 2009; record precipitation of 0.62 inches in 2013; and a record snowfall of 4.3 inches in 1953`.

Average dew point for February 10th is 9°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 41°F in 1999; and the minimum dew point on this date is -25°F in 1982.

All-time State Records for February 10th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 57 degrees F at Luverne (Rock County) in 1977. The state record low temperature for this date is -49 degrees F at Tower (St Louis County) in 1899. State record precipitation for this date is 1.69 inches at Montevideo (Chippewa County) in 1965; and record snowfall is 20.0 inches at Pigeon River (Cook County) in 1939.

Past Weather Features:

Probably the coldest ever February 10th statewide was in the Great Arctic Outbreak of 1899. This Cold Wave persisted from the 7th to the 11th with record-setting low temperatures from the Canadian Border to the Gulf of Mexico. In Minnesota 35 climate stations reported temperature readings of -30°F or colder. The daytime high temperature on the 10th at Roseau was only -24°F after a morning low of -42°F.

A strong winter storm brought heavy snow to the state over February 9-10, 1909. Many areas of the state reported over a foot of snow. Two Harbors received 17 inches, while 18 inches fell at Albert Lea. Drifts were measured as high as 8 feet in some areas.

Bitter Arctic Cold invaded the state on February 10, 1914. Many locations in northern Minnesota reported low temperatures of -40 degrees F or colder. The daytime temperature rose no higher than -15°F at Winton (St Louis County).

Another strong winter storm brought heavy snow over February 9-10, 1939. Many observers reported over 15 inches of snowfall. Pigeon River reported 20 inches and the bridge there was closed for a period of time. Huge waves were observed on Lake Superior as well.

The warmest ever February 10th occurred in 1977 on a statewide basis. Under bright sunshine and with southerly winds temperatures climbed into the 40s and 50s F. It was 44 degrees F at Itasca State Park, while in southern Minnesota daytime highs in the 50s F were common. Luverne made it to 57°F and it was 56°F at Worthington.

On February 10, 1996 northwestern Minnesota counties were hammered by a fierce blizzard (one of several during that winter). Thanks to fine forecasting by the Weather Service, there were no fatalities. However, traffic came to a halt as Interstate 94 was closed between Moorhead and Fergus Falls, Hwy 10 was closed between Moorhead and Detroit Lakes, and Hwy 2 was closed between East Grand Forks and Fosston. Hundreds of cars were stranded as people found shelter for the night.

Outlook:


A strong warming trend will persist through the weekend and early next week, keeping daytime temperatures in the 30s and 40s F. Chance for mixed rain and snow in places late Saturday and into Sunday. Generally sunny and dry, with warmer than normal temperatures for much of next week.



Friday, February 3, 2017

Reversal on February Climate Outlook

Reversal on February Climate Outlook:


On the last day of January, the NOAA-CPC revised its outlook for February for Minnesota, calling for warmer than normal temperatures, a complete reversal from their earlier outlook. This clearly follows the trend of the last year and a half. It appears that the second half of February will more than offset the cold temperatures of the next several days. In addition the outlook calls for a wetter than normal month of February.

Remarkable streak of above normal temperatures in the Twin Cities:

According to Kenny Blumenfeld of the DNR-State Climatology Office and Michelle Margraf of the NOAA-National Weather Service in Chanhassen the warm temperature anomaly in the Twin Cities from September of 2015 through January of 2017 is without precedent......17 consecutive months of above normal temperature surpasses the streaks of 16 months during 2011-2012, and 15 months during 2005-2006 and 1920-1921.



Final comments on January 2017:


It was a warmer and wetter than normal month for most observers in Minnesota. Statewide it ranked as the 11th warmest January since 1895 and ranked as the 31st wettest. Cook (St Louis County) was the snowiest spot with nearly 23 inches. Most subzero nights were reported from Embarrass (St Louis County), with sixteen.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:


Scientists hope that a new public-private partnership can help to reduce societal harm from extreme environmental events such as tornadoes, hurricanes, thunderstorms, and droughts. The Alliance for Integrative Approaches to Extreme Environmental Events, announced last week at the annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society, aims to serve as an organizing framework to bring together experts from different disciplines, including meteorologists and social and behavioral scientists, to better understand, predict, and respond to severe weather events.

According to NOAA California has just concluded one of its wettest months of January in history. Many observers reported over a foot of precipitation during the month, while climate stations in the Sierra-Nevada Range have reported abundant amounts of snowfall. Around Lake Tahoe reports ranged from 100 to 130 inches of snow. This pattern has helped alleviate drought in many parts of California, where some reservoirs are now well above their average storage capacity.


Portions of New South Wales and Queensland in Australia were under a severe Heat Wave advisory this week with expected daily temperatures in some areas ranging from 106F to 112F. Some relief in temperatures was expected by the coming weekend.

A recent study from University of Colorado scientists shows that dust released from an active coal mine in Arctic Norway reduced the spectral reflectivity of snow cover across the landscape by up to 84 percent, hastening the melting of the snow pack. This study may be used as a tool to further assess the environmental impact of developing mines in the Arctic latitudes.

MPR listener question:

I heard you say that February was the snowiest month last winter in the Twin Cities and that was pretty rare. What are the extremes and the average snowfall for February in the Twin Cities?

Answer:

Average February snowfall for the Twin Cities is 7.7 inches (1981-2010). The extreme values have ranged from zero in 1891 to 26.5 inches in 1962.

Twin Cities Almanac for February 3rd:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 26 degrees F (plus or minus 15 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 9 degrees F (plus or minus 15 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for February 3rd:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 51 degrees F in 1934; lowest daily maximum temperature of -13 degrees F in 1989; lowest daily minimum temperature is -27 degrees F in 1886; highest daily minimum temperature of 35 degrees F in 1991; record precipitation of 0.42 inches in 1943; and a record snowfall of 3.4 inches in 1935`.

Average dew point for February 3rd is 3F; the maximum dew point on this date is 34F in 2005; and the minimum dew point on this date is -37F in 1923.

All-time state records for February 3rd:


The state record high temperature for this date is 65 degrees F at Browns Valley (Traverse County) in 1991. The state record low temperature for this date is -52 degrees F at Itasca State Park (Clearwater County) in 1996. State record precipitation for this date is 1.50 inches at Red Lake Indian Reservation (Beltrami County) in 2000; and record snowfall is 12.0 inches at Caledonia (Houston County) in 1983.

Words of the Week: Robin Hood's wind

A wind which robs the body of heat is referred to by this name. It is a raw and penetrating wind, often occurring in air that is near saturation and temperatures around the freezing point. But the same effect can occur with the types of nasty wind conditions we experienced this week on Groundhog's Day. Many a pedestrian felt the wind was committing robbery when it comes to taking away their body heat.

Past Weather Features:


A severe dust storm occurred in the Red River Valley on February 3, 1947. With no snow cover, winds over 30 mph blew the soil so thick in the air that visibility was less than 300 feet in many areas.

A strong winter storm brought heavy snows to the southern portions of the state over February 2-3, 1983. Many observers reported 10-19 inches of snow, with drifts up to 6 feet. Some cars were abandoned on roads and highways, while many schools were closed as well.

February 3, 1991 was the warmest in state history. With a general absence of snow cover, bright, sunny skies, and south winds temperatures around the state climbed into the 50s F. A few western Minnesota communities reported afternoon temperatures in the 60s F.

February 3, 1996 was the last of a 4-day Cold Wave across Minnesota. Scores of climate stations reported morning lows in the -30s and -40s F with a few readings of -50F in the north. It was as cold as -46 degrees F as far south as Rushford (Fillmore County). Two days later temperatures climbed into the 40s F.

Outlook:

Mostly cloudy and warmer over the weekend, chance for scattered snow showers in the north. Increasing clouds and wind later on Monday with the approach of a winter storm. Mixed precipitation statewide on Tuesday, with snow in most places followed by cooler than normal temperatures.










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