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?
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.
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.