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Friday, April 20, 2018

Record Snowfall Totals for April

Record Snowfall Totals for April:

The heavy snowfalls and blizzard of April 13-16 set many records around the state. Many observers reported 12 to 18 inches of snowfall in total, while Milan, Lake Wilson, Tracy, Canby, and Madison reported over 19 inches. During the height of the snow, MSP Airport was closed and MN/DOT reported over 600 vehicle accidents.

Many new record daily snowfall amounts were reported for April 14th, among dozens were 7 inches at Amboy, 8 inches at Ortonville, 14 inches a Milan, and 23 inches at Canby (a new statewide record for the date). Then on April 15th even more new daily record snowfall amounts were reported, among them 12 inches at Winnebago and Rosemount, 12.7 inches at Duluth, 14 inches at Dawson and Montevideo, 16 inches at Minneota, and 25 inches at Tracy (a new statewide record for the date). So two new statewide daily snowfall records were set by this storm, 23 inches at Canby on the 14th and 25 inches at Tracy on the 15th, remarkable!

Overall during the snow storm 63 daily snowfall records were tied or set within the Minnesota climate network.

In addition many climate observers now report April of 2018 as their snowiest April in history, including the following:

MSP 26.1 inches (and 78.3” for the snow season, 10th highest all-time back to 1884)
Tracy 37 inches
Canby 36.9 inches
Montevideo 33 inches
Dawson 32 inches
Winnebago 31.5 inches
Milan 29.7 inches
Lakefield 32.1 inches
Bricelyn 33.3 inches
Marshall 27 inches

The Minnesota State Climatology Office posted a comprehensive summary of the storm.
Thankfully, it appears that much of the precipitation for the rest of the month will fall as rain, not snow.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

The International Arctic Research Center reports this week via NOAA the most unusual winter conditions that have prevailed in the Bering Strait off the southwestern coast of Alaska. The lack of persistent sea ice there this winter caused a variety of problems for coastal communities.

There is a good article this week in the Yale Climate Connections about the city of Lancaster, CA transforming its power grid to mostly solar. That area of California has over 300 sunny days per year, so lots of potential for solar energy. The Republican Mayor, Rex Parris, has been a big proponent of solar energy, which has created over a thousand local jobs.

Warmer than normal weather will be a factor for the London Marathon on Saturday, April 21st. The daytime high temperature should be around the 70 degrees F mark, just short of the record for the London Marathon set in 2007 of 73 degrees F.

As a follow up to last year’s March for Science at the State Capitol in St Paul, there will be a Rally for Science at Mears Park in downtown St Paul on May 19th from noon to 2pm. There will be a variety of speakers, family activities, and information tables.

MPR listener question:

Paul and Susan Schurke at Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge near Ely noted that for them and Roland Fowler at Embarrass, overnight temperatures have been below freezing every night since October 27, 2017, a period of over 170 days. Is this a state record for consecutive nights with temperatures below freezing in Minnesota?

Answer:

Well, no, but it is getting close. The climate station at Brimson (St Louis County) reported 185 consecutive days from October 25, 2012 to April 27, 2013. Don’t know if there are 19th Century climate records that beat this, but Embarrass and Ely will have to string together several more days to beat Brimson.

Twin Cities Almanac for April 20th:


The average MSP high temperature for this date is 60 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 39 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for April 20th:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 83 degrees F in 1980; lowest daily maximum temperature of 36 degree F in 1893; lowest daily minimum temperature of 21 degrees F in 2013; highest daily minimum temperature of 67 degrees F in 1985; record precipitation of 0.85 inches in 1893. Record snowfall on this date is 8.5 inches in 1893.

Average dew point for April 20th is 35°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 58°F in 1957; and the minimum dew point on this date is 6°F in 1988.

All-time state records for April 20th:

The all-time state high temperature for today's date is 96 degrees F at Georgetown (Clay County) 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 3.08 inches at Collegeville (Stearns County) in 1893. Record snowfall is 18.0 inches at Ft Ripley (Crow Wing County) in 1893.

Past Weather Features:



One of the heaviest late season snowfalls in state history occurred over April 19-21, 1893. Snow was heavy with blizzard conditions in many areas. Among the state observer network, a foot of new snow was common, while Maple Plain reported over 20 inches, and St Cloud reported over 30 inches.


The warmest April 20th in state history was in 1980 when over 70 climate stations reported a daily high temperature of 80 degrees F or higher. Over a dozen western communities in Minnesota reported afternoon temperatures of 90s degrees F or greater. This heat was a precursor to drought in northwestern Minnesota that year.



The coldest April 20th in state history was in 2013, when an Arctic air mass brought subzero temperature readings to over a dozen communities in northern Minnesota. Even in southern areas of the state temperatures fell to the single digits and teens.

Outlook:

Plenty of sun under partly cloudy skies over the weekend, with warming temperatures. Sunday’s temperatures will be the first above normal readings since March 28th, and if the forecast high of 63 degrees F is reached for MSP it will be the first temperature that high since October 22 of last autumn. More cloudiness and slightly cooler Monday and Tuesday with a chance for rain by Tuesday. Warmer again towards the end of next week.

Friday, April 13, 2018

April Cold and Snow Revisited

April Cold and Snow Revisited:


The first 12 days of April have been historically cold in Minnesota with average temperatures ranging from 14 to 16 degrees F colder than normal. Some individual days have been 20 to 30 degrees F colder than normal. Within the state climate network over 120 new daily record cold low temperature values have been tied or set, while over 130 cold daily record maximum temperature values have been tied or set as well. Over 50 climate stations have reported subzero temperature readings on at least one morning this month. Crane Lake reported the coldest temperature in the nation on the 4th with a reading of -8°F, while Embarrass reported the nation’s coldest temperature on the 10th with a reading of 0°F.

For Twin Cities’ residents the first 12 days of April have been the coldest in history back to 1872. Here are the top five coldest first 12 days of April in the Twin Cities climate records:

2018 average temperature 27.5°F
1920 average temperature 28.2°F
1874 average temperature 29.2°F
1975 average temperature 29.4°F
1939 average temperature 32.1°F



We are spoiled as Twin Cities’ residents in that only 2 years in the past three decades have brought April monthly mean temperatures less than 42°F. Those years were 1996 and 2013.

In addition many areas of the state have reported 10 to 13 inches of snowfall so far this month (including MSP), with much more snow expected this weekend. Over the past three decades in the Twin Cities only the Aprils 2002 and 2013 have been snowy. On a statewide basis April of 2008 was one of the snowiest with over 20 climate stations reporting 30 inches of snow or more, and some northern communities reporting over 40 inches. So again across most of the recent decades we have had very few episodes of snowy Aprils. Perhaps our faulty human memories help us in this regard and we are more resilient as a result of forgetting the really challenging months of April.

Seems odd with such a cold, and snowy April underway that the NOAA-National Weather Service hosted Severe Weather Awareness Week this week, with tornado practice drills. But in an average spring season severe weather can begin to appear in April and May.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

Ski-Scotland reports that it has been cold and snowy enough all winter that the snow pack in the highlands should allow for skiing well into the month of May. This is somewhat unusual but welcome news for avid skiers.

The Weather Underground staff provides a profile and analysis of the impact of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico in one of this week’s blogs. The NOAA National Hurricane Center did an exceptional job in forecasting Maria, but its’ devastation was remarkable, as it was one of the costliest hurricanes in history.

The Twins are playing the Cleveland Indians in Puerto Rico (April 17-18) next week in hopes of raising money and improving the spirits there as the citizens continue to recover from Hurricane Maria’s impacts. And speaking of Puerto Rico, the organization Casa Pueblo has never been without power since Hurricane Maria struck, thanks to the use of their solar power array. Now they are promoting the use of solar power to restore electricity to health care facilities and other needed services as Puerto Rico rebuilds its power grid.

In an AGU article this week European Union scientists explore the impacts of climate change on the European economy with respect to power generation, fresh water, tourism, and other sectors. It makes for an interesting read.

MPR listener question:

What is the latest date in the Spring season when school has been delayed or cancelled as a result of a snow storm?

Answer:

Sketchy records don’t allow an accurate answer to this question. I do recall that over May 2-3 (Thursday-Friday) of 2013 Dodge Center (Dodge County) received a record 17.2 inches of snowfall and local schools were either cancelled or delayed. I also suspect that on May 8, 1938 when Windom, MN reported over a foot of snow that school may have been delayed or cancelled back then as well.

Twin Cities Almanac for April 13th:

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 36 degrees F (plus or minus 9 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for April 13th:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 84 degrees F in 2006; lowest daily maximum temperature of 31 degree F in 1943; lowest daily minimum temperature of 2 degrees F in 1962; highest daily minimum temperature of 59 degrees F in 1941; record precipitation of 0.94 inches in 1991. Record snowfall on this date is 8.5 inches in 1928.

Average dew point for April13th is 31°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 64°F in 1941; and the minimum dew point on this date is -2°F in 1950.

All-time state records for April 13th:

The all-time state high temperature for today's date is 90 degrees F at Wheaton (Traverse County) in 2003; the all-time state low for today's date is -11 degrees F at Roseau (Roseau County) in 1950. The all-time state record precipitation for this date is 3.57 inches at Hutchinson (McLeod County) in 2010. Record snowfall is 13.0 inches at Kimbrae (Nobles County) in 1892.

Past Weather Features:

April 13-16, 1928 brought heavy snowfall to many parts of the state. Many areas reported 8 to 12 inches and over 14 inches in parts of Hennepin County.

The coldest April 13 in state history was in 1950 when over 20 climate stations reported subzero morning low temperatures, including -11 degrees F at Roseau where there was still 20 inches of snow on the ground.

April 13, 2003 was the warmest in state history with over 40 climate stations reporting a daytime high of 80 degrees F or greater. Both Campbell and Wheaton reported 90 degrees F.

Spring thunderstorms brought heavy rainfall to many parts of the state on April 13, 2010. Many areas of the state received between one and two inches of rain, while both Willmar and Hutchinson reported over 3 inches.

Outlook:

A powerful storm will affect many parts of Minnesota this weekend with rain, freezing rain, sleet, snow, and high winds. Some communities may see record-setting snowfall amounts. The storm will move out of the area by late Sunday, and the weather will be relatively quiet until another storm system arrives Wednesday and Thursday of next week. Temperatures overall will remain cooler than normal.




Friday, April 6, 2018

Cold Start to April, With Some Record Snows

Cold Start to April With Some Record Snows:


Through the first six days of the month temperatures are averaging 15 to 20 degrees F colder than normal around the state. At least 17 climate stations have reported subzero overnight temperatures so far this month, including -8 degrees F at Warren (Marshall County). Most other climate stations have been reporting high temperatures in the 20s and 30s with lows in the single digits and teen values.

Some new daily minimum temperature records have been set around the state so far. A sample listing includes:

3°F at Floodwood on April 1
19°F at Minnesota City on April 2
13°F at Hastings on April 3
-3°F at Park Rapids on April 4
0°F at Morris on April 4
2°F at Pipestone and Marshall on April 4
3°F at Milan and Madison on April 4
5°F at Austin and Albert Lea on April 4
-6°F at Embarrass and Long Prairie on April 5
-5°F at Kabetogama on April 5
-3°F at Redwood Falls on April 5
1°F at Browns Valley on April 5
3°F at Montevideo on April 5

Many other low minimum temperature and cold maximum temperature records were set within the Minnesota climate network as well.

In addition, the double dose of snow storms over April 2-4 this week brought some new record daily amounts. Some of those new record amounts for April 3 included:

8.1” at Chanhassen
7.5” at MSP airport
5.5” at Artichoke Lake
5.0” at Amboy
4.0” at Rosemount, Winnebago, and Owatonna

Records for April 4 included:

8.6” at Hokah
7.5” at Bricelyn
7.0” at La Crescent
6.5” at Spring Valley
6.2” at Caledonia
6.0” at Minnesota City and Lake City
5.6” at Preston

The outlook for April continues to favor cooler than normal temperatures and mixtures of rain and snow for much of the month. So patience will be required by gardeners and farmers for this spring.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:


Tropical Cyclone Iris was moving northwest off the coast of northeastern Australia this week, but it did not pose a threat to coastal communities there. It was expected to dissipate by early next week.

Though the weather for the first two days of the Masters Golf Championship in August, GA appears to be very favorable, Saturday will likely bring some gusty and variable winds, along with a chance for thunderstorms. So playing the third round in foul weather seems somewhat likely.

There is an interesting article this week in EOS about the climate proxy data used by scientists to interpret past climate fluctuations and patterns. Among the sources used are bat poop and whale earwax.

MPR listener question:

Why does the snow melt when the air temperature is below freezing (32 degrees F)? This is from our “Morning Edition” producer Jim Bickal.

Answer:

Especially this time of year with a higher sun elevation angle and longer days, the sun’s energy is more powerful than earlier months. The full spectrum radiation from the sun can be absorbed by the snow, thus causing the snow to melt, even when the air temperature stays below freezing. In addition the surfaces that surround the snow, pavement, buildings, roof shingles, trees, etc will more readily absorb the radiation from the sun, and emit long wave radiation (heat) in all directions, and this too can cause the snow to melt. In addition very dry air can cause the snow to diminish by a process called sublimation, where the snow immediately changes to water vapor without melting. All these processes are in play this April.

Twin Cities Almanac for April 6th:

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 6th:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 86 degrees F in 1991; lowest daily maximum temperature of 26 degree F in 1939; lowest daily minimum temperature of 10 degrees F in 1979; highest daily minimum temperature of 54 degrees F in 1921; record precipitation of 2.58 inches in 2006. Record snowfall on this date is 6.0 inches in 1962.

Average dew point for April 6th is 28°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 59°F in 1921; and the minimum dew point on this date is -3°F in 1979.

All-time state records for April 6th:

The all-time state high temperature for today's date is 90 degrees F at Madison (Lac Qui Parle County) and Winona in 1991; the all-time state low for today's date is -22 degrees F at Karlstad (Kittson County) in 1979. The all-time state record precipitation for this date is 2.67 inches at Dawson (Lac Qui Parle County) in 1997. Record snowfall is 18.0 inches at Fosston (Polk County) in 1947.

Past Weather Features:

A late season winter storm brought heavy snowfall to many parts of northern Minnesota over April 4-6, 1947. Observers from Willmar north to Fosston reported 7 to 18 inches of snowfall, setting records for the first week of April.

The coldest April 6th in state history was in 1979 when over 50 Minnesota climate stations reported subzero morning low temperatures. In northwestern portions of the state the daily high temperature never rose above 10°F at Hawley or Fergus Falls.

By far the warmest April 6th in state history was in 1991 when over 60 climate stations reported an afternoon high temperature of 80 degrees F or higher, topped by 90 degrees F at both Madison and Winona. In fact the temperature never dipped below 65 degrees F at Winona that day.

During the famous 1997 flood-fight along the Red River of the North between North Dakota and Minnesota, a blizzard and heavy snow storm occurred over April 5-7 hampering sandbag operations and the building of temporary dykes. Visibility was near zero at times and snowfall amounts were near record-setting, ranging from 5 to 14 inches. The flood fight continued for the rest of the month.

Outlook:

Partly cloudy with cooler than normal temperatures over the weekend. Increasing clouds on Sunday with a chance for snow later in the day. A chance for rain and snow mix early on Monday of next week, then dry until late Wednesday. Temperatures will continue the trend of being cooler than normal. Chance for rain/snow mix again by Thursday.







Thursday, March 29, 2018

20 Year Anniversary of Historical March Tornado Outbreak

20 Year Anniversary of Historical March Tornado Outbreak:


Over the afternoon and early evening of Sunday, March 29, 1998 from 2:30 p m to 6:30 pm a widespread severe weather outbreak occurred across southwestern, south-central, southeastern, and central Minnesota counties.

Over 40 reports of large hail (up to 4.5 inch diameter in Nicollet County) came into the National Weather Service, and severe hail damage was reported to cars and trucks in Rochester.

Dozens of reports of strong winds (over 50 mph) were associated with thunderstorm supercells.

There were 14 confirmed tornadoes, the worst episode of March tornadoes in state history (and there have only been 10 tornado days during March in Minnesota history). Among these 14 tornadoes, an F4 (wind over 207 mph) was on the ground for 77 minutes and traveled 67 miles (Murray to Nicollet County). It was over a mile wide vortex at times. An F3 (winds 158-206 mph) tornado damaged many buildings in St Peter and on the Gustavus Adolphus College campus. Four F2 (113-157 mph) tornadoes caused damages in trailer parks, killed cattle in rural areas, and produced a good deal of structural damage in Le Center. Four F1 tornadoes (73-112 mph) caused damage to trees and rural buildings; and four F0 (winds 48-72 mph) tornadoes, mostly short-lived, were scattered across the landscape as well, the last one for the day in Wabasha County. Two days later on March 31 there was heavy snow and a blizzard warning issued for western Minnesota counties as a polar front invaded the Minnesota landscape.

These tornadoes caused just two deaths and 21 injuries—thanks to detailed forecasting by the NWS, acknowledged by many Minnesota citizens to be a superb job—but total estimated damages was in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Further details from NOAA National Weather Service StormReports included the following:

F4 tornado hit parts of Murray, Cottonwood, Brown, Watonwan, Blue Earth, and Nicollet Counties. Most damage in Comfrey where 75% of structures were damaged, including the town hall; 100 people left homeless, 50 homes destroyed, school heavily damaged, and over 500 dairy cows killed.

F3 tornado hit St Peter destroying 500 homes and damaging 1700 others. Thousands of trees uprooted. Gustavus Adolphus Campus denuded of trees, and nearly 70% of all windows broken; hospital and churches damages, roof torn off library and 25% of the books were damaged, dozens of farms and rural homes were damaged as well.

Following these destructive storms there was a fourfold increase in the use of NOAA Weather Radio across the state of Minnesota as a means to provide all resides with timely information on severe weather watches and warnings.

A Footnote on Community Resilience in St Peter, MN: The storm struck on Sunday, March 29th precisely two weeks before Easter Sunday (April 12). The Catholic Church of St Peter was destroyed and not usable. So the congregation of First Lutheran Church in St Peter volunteered to share their building, and a joint Lutheran and Catholic Easter Service was held on April 12th. Thereafter for 2.5 years Catholic and Lutheran Services were alternately scheduled at the First Lutheran Church which also shared their building for Catholic weddings and funerals until November 2000 when a new church building for the Catholic Church of St Peter was consecrated and opened. There was a 20 year community remembrance held in St Peter on Thursday evening, March 29, 2018 hosted by former WCCO news anchor Don Shelby.

Preliminary March Climate Summary:

Average monthly temperatures around the state were either slightly below or slightly above normal by a degree or two. Extremes for the month were 59°F at Minnesota City (Winona County) on March 9th, and -16°F at Ely on the 10th. Minnesota reported the coldest temperature in the nation only four times.

Precipitation for the month was near normal, with greater abundance in western counties, and below normal values in some southern counties. Many southwestern Minnesota observers reported over 2.5 inches of precipitation and more expected to occur over this coming Friday and Saturday, the last two days of the month. Marshall, Winnebago, Vesta, and Canby reported over 20 inches of snow for the month, while some northeastern climate observers reported less than 4 inches.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:


Cherry blossoms are out in full force across Japan this week, making a beautiful blanket of pink across many landscapes. The BBC Weather Centre reported on this and displayed some beautiful pictures as well.

Meanwhile the National Park Service has pushed back the forecasted dates for peak cherry blossoms in the nation’s capital, Washington D. C. to the week of April 8-12, later than normal thanks to a cool temperature pattern.

A new study out of the University of Oklahoma examines the trends in surface water abundance among states across the USA. It finds that water poor states are seeing a decline in the surface area of waters, while water rich states are seeing an upward trend in surface water resources.

MPR listener question:

What were the temperature and dew point conditions in southern Minnesota leading up to the famous outbreak of tornadoes on March 29, 1998?

Answer:

Strong southerly winds brought warm air and lots of moisture up from the south. Temperatures across the southern part of the state that afternoon were in the high 60s F to low 70s F, with dew points in the low 50s F. These are high values for late March (record dew points are in the upper 50s F), but not typically associated with tornado outbreaks. The latent energy from the higher than normal dew points probably contributed to the severe weather, but it was also driven by a high degree of atmospheric instability.

Twin Cities Almanac for March 30th:


The average MSP high temperature for this date is 49 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 30 degrees F (plus or minus 10 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for March 30th:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 83 degrees F in 1968; lowest daily maximum temperature of 15 degree F in 1969; lowest daily minimum temperature of -3 degrees F in 1923; highest daily minimum temperature of 54 degrees F in 1967; record precipitation of 1.51 inches in 1933. Record snowfall on this date is 2.4 inches in 1934.

Average dew point for March 30th is 27°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 57°F in 1943; and the minimum dew point on this date is -11°F in 1969.

All-time state records for March 30th:


The all-time state high temperature for today's date is 87 degrees F at New Ulm (Brown County) in 1968; the all-time state low for today's date is -28 degrees F at Thorhult (Beltrami County) in 1975. The all-time state record precipitation for this date is 3.39 inches at Park Rapids (Hubbard County) in 1933. Record snowfall is 16.0 inches at Winona (Winona County) in 1934, one of the heaviest snows of the Dust Bowl Era.

Past Weather Features:


Early season thunderstorms brought heavy rains to many parts of Minnesota on March 30, 1933. Many areas reported over 1 inch of rain and some observers reported hail as well. Both Itasca State Park and Cass Lake reported over 2 inches of rain.


A winter storm rolled across southern Minnesota over March 29-30, 1934 bringing 6 to 16 inches to many areas of the state. Both Winona and Zumbrota reported over 17 inches of snow, a record for so late in the year.


The warmest March 30th in state history was in 1968 when sunny skies and south winds brought afternoon temperatures that were 20 to 30 degrees F above normal. Thirty-five climate stations reported a high temperature of 80 degrees F or greater. Even the nighttime temperature at Madison (Lac Qui Parle County) never fell below 51 degrees F.

By far the coldest March 30th in state history was in 1975. With ample snow cover still widespread across the state, a polar front dropped temperatures well below zero. Most climate stations in the state reported subzero morning temperatures and it was colder than -20 degrees F at Hallock, Argyle, Thorhult, and Waskish.

Outlook:

Snow/rain mix across the state on Saturday, with the heavier bands of snow in the north. Cooler than normal temperatures under partly cloudy skies through Sunday night. Temperatures will moderate on Monday, but there will be a chance for mixed precipitation around the state. Cool than normal temperatures will prevail next week with another chance for mixed precipitation (snow or rain) by Wednesday.

Friday, March 23, 2018

March is being March

March is being March:


Beginning with the rain and snow storm of the 5th and 6th this month has continued to bring a very typical March weather pattern. There has been plenty of clouds and wind, with a mixture of rain and snow. Temperatures so far are near the monthly average, and so are the precipitation totals.

Over 35 daily snowfall records were tied or brokend with the storm over March 5-6, but generally record setting values of precipitation and temperature have been lacking this month. Minnesota has reported the coldest temperature in the nation on only four dates, three of which were subzero readings from Ely where snow cover has remained relatively deep.

It appears that cooler and wetter than normal conditions will prevail generally for the balance of the month and into the first few days of April. The patience of those Minnesota citizens afflicted with spring fever will be taxed over the coming weeks, as signs of the spring season will be slow to appear.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:


This week NOAA features an article highlighting the extremely warm month of February which occurred over the Arctic Regions, where average monthly temperatures were as much as 25 to 35 degrees F above normal. Portions of Greenland reported some daily temperatures that were 45 degrees F above normal during late February.

For comparison Florida reported its warmest month of February in history last month, and there it was 10 degrees F warmer than normal.

The rapid Arctic warming, also referred to as “polar amplification” is also a topic of discussion in Earth and Space Science News this week. Researchers point out that the continuing decline in Arctic sea ice is causing some latitude displacement of the polar jet stream, which in turn is altering weather patterns across the mid latitudes.

In the Southern Indian Ocean Tropical Cyclone Marcus was spinning off the coast of Western Australia this week, producing winds up to 140 mph and sea waves of 35 feet. Thankfully it was expected to remain out to sea and not threaten the Australian coast.

The BBC Weather Centre this week posted video of a rare snow-nado which occurred in Wales. This takes the form of the common American dust devil, except it is a vortex wind that forms at the surface of the Earth and lifts the snow off the ground into a spiraling funnel.

MPR listener question:

How often does Easter fall on April Fool's Day (the 1st) and what has the weather been like when it does?

Answer:

Easter generally falls between March 22 and April 25 each year. Since Minnesota statehood in 1858 Easter Sunday has fallen on April 1st only 8 times, including this year. These years were 1866, 1877, 1888, 1923, 1934, 1945, 1956, and 2018. The following were the remarks about the weather on those Easter Sundays of the past:

1866 overcast all day, temperature in the 30s and 40s with an unusual afternoon thunderstorm
1877 started out cold with temperatures in the single digits and teens, mixture of rain and snow, followed by a sunny, and windy afternoon
1888 snow on the ground, blustery and cloudy all day with temperatures in the 30s and 40s F
1923 cloudy and hazy day, with temperatures in the low 40s F, light rain in the northwestern areas
1934 overcast all day with a mixture of rain and snow and temperatures hovering in the 20s and 30s F. 6-8 inches of snow fell in northern parts of the state
1945 cloudy, and a very windy day with temperatures climbing into the 50s and 60s F. Got up to 70°F at Winnebago and Windom, but snowed at Itasca State Park
1956 snow covering the ground, but temperatures climbed into the 40s and 50s F. Thunderstorms brought a half inch of rain in the north
2018 ?

So for the most part these April 1st Easter Sundays were not generally great weather to be outside.

Twin Cities Almanac for March 23rd:


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 10 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for March 23rd:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 83 degrees F in 1910; lowest daily maximum temperature of 10 degree F in 1965; lowest daily minimum temperature of -4 degrees F in 1965; highest daily minimum temperature of 59 degrees F in 2012; record precipitation of 1.18 inches in 1966. Record snowfall on this date is 11.6 inches in 1966.

Average dew point for March 23rd is 24°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 54°F in 1945; and the minimum dew point on this date is -21°F in 1974.

All-time state records for March 23rd:


The all-time state high temperature for today's date is 88 degrees F at Montevideo (Chippewa County) in 1910; the all-time state low for today's date is -37 degrees F at Baudette (Lake of the Woods County) in 1965. The all-time state record precipitation for this date is 3.87 inches at Isabella (Lake County) in 1979. Record snowfall is 18.0 inches at Montgomery (Le Sueur County) in 1966.

Past Weather Features:


The warmest March 23rd in state history was in 1910. Over 40 communities reported a high temperature of 80 degrees F or greater. It reached 81 degrees F at Warroad and the nighttime temperature never dropped below 50 degrees F at Long Prairie.

The coldest March 23rd in state history was in 1965. Over 30 communities reported a morning low of -20 degrees F or colder, and subzero readings occurred as far south as Albert Lea. The afternoon high temperature at Hallock only reached 3 degrees F.

A major winter storm paralyzed the state over March 22-23, 1966. Many southern and eastern Minnesota communities reported 9 to 18 inches of snowfall. High winds brought blizzard conditions to many areas, blocking roads and closing schools. For the first time in history the University of Minnesota campus was closed due to poor weather conditions.

Outlook:

Snow ending on Saturday morning, with cooler than normal temperatures prevailing. Heavier snowfall amounts are expected in portions of southwestern and south-central Minnesota. Another rain and snow mix is developing for later on Sunday night and Monday across much of the state. Then partly cloudy skies will prevail on Tuesday with temperatures climbing closer to normal. It will be warmer and drier with more sun for Wednesday and Thursday.

Friday, March 2, 2018

February Climate Summary

February Climate Summary:


Overall for most areas of Minnesota February was cooler than normal and wetter than normal. Average monthly temperatures ranged from 5 to 7 degrees F cooler than normal. At MSP it ranked as the 28th coolest month of February in the 145 year record. The statewide range in temperature for the month was 55 degrees F at Caledonia (Houston County) and Winona on the 28th and -43 degrees F at Embarrass (St Louis County) on the 5th. Minnesota reported the coldest temperature in the nation 7 times during the month, more than any other state.

Nearly 90 percent of all weather observers reported above normal precipitation for the month, with New Ulm topping the list at 3.33 inches (melted snow equivalent). Several climate stations reported over 2 inches. In terms of snowfall, over 50 Minnesota climate stations reported monthly totals of 20 inches or greater, with parts of Cook and Lake Counties getting over 30 inches. Most of the monthly snowfall came during the week of February 19-25. Within the Minnesota climate observation network there were 54 maximum daily snowfall records that were set or tied during the month.

With the conclusion of meteorological winter (December-February) the climate statistics for Minnesota show that the season was 1 to 3 degrees F cooler than normal. It was also a wetter than normal winter in north-central, northeastern, and south-central counties, but drier than normal in several western and central counties of the state. And finally for the snow season to date, Isabella (Lake County) leads the state with 89 inches so far, while Wheaton (Traverse County) reports a measly 15.3 inches.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:


It was an important day for the NOAA National Weather Service on March 1st this week as the new GOES-S satellite was launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida. Once in orbit it will be renamed GOES-17 and later this year take over for GOES-15 monitoring the western US and the Pacific Ocean. Its sensors will bring new information to forecasters in a more timely manner and should therefore improve forecasting for some areas, especially related to fog formation and formation of tropical storms. It will also be capable of detecting wildfires.


Winter Storm Emma was bringing cold temperatures and mixed precipitation to many parts of the United Kingdom on Thursday and Friday this week. Portions of southwestern England and southern Wales were expected to see 4 to 8 inches of snow, with larger amounts falling in higher elevations. Travel advisories were issued for most of the country as well.


On March 1st Winter Storm Quinn was bringing rain and heavy snow to portions of Washington, Oregon, and the California Sierra Nevada Range. Snowfall was expected to be continuous for a 48-72 hour period with several feet accumulating at elevation. Chains were needed to travel on Interstate 80. Meanwhile a very strong nor’easter was bringing heavy rains, snow, and high winds to the states along the New England coastal region of the USA. Travel was impeded there on Friday, with many flight delays and cancellations.


The study, "Pathways of Influence in Emotional Appeals: Benefits and Tradeoffs of Using Fear or Humor to Promote Climate Change-Related Intentions and Risk Perceptions," published in the Journal of Communication suggests that humor may be a vehicle to stimulate young people to take more action in responding to climate change. This article was a result of collaboration between Second City Works in Chicago and Cornell University.

MPR listener question:

To me nothing says deep winter like the squeal and crunch of dry snow in sub- or near-zero temperatures. I wonder if Dr. Seeley could explain the reason for this phenomenon?

Answer:

Regardless of its form in the sky, when snowfall flakes fall and accumulate on the ground they aggregate into various forms, with spaces in between. As long as the temperature remains below freezing and there is no melting these spaces between snow aggregates are bridged by tiny crystal structure which support the weight of the snow and keep it from totally collapsing. This process is called sintering. When you walk through the snow in subfreezing temperatures the pressure of your weight exerted on the snow may cause it to melt and the snow aggregates and bridges between them will collapse quietly while lubricated by the liquid water from melting. However when the temperature is below 14 degrees F, the downward pressure of your weight will not cause snow to melt and you will hear the squeaking or crunching sound of the aggregates and ice crystal bridges that hold them together collapsing under your weight.

So typically snow that has not been compacted, or partially melted by warm temperatures will crunch or squeak underfoot when the temperature is 14 degrees F or colder.

(Paul Huttner has written about this, as well as Jim Nash)

Twin Cities Almanac for March 2nd:

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 12 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for March 2nd:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 54 degrees F in 1923; lowest daily maximum temperature of 3 degree F in 2014; lowest daily minimum temperature of -17 degrees F in 1913; highest daily minimum temperature of 37 degrees F in 1878 and 1882; record precipitation of 0.58 inches in 1951. Record snowfall on this date is 7.1 inches in 1951.

Average dew point for March 2nd is 14 degree F, with a maximum of 41 degrees F in 1983 and a minimum of -26 degrees F in 1950.

All-time state records for March 2nd:


The all-time state high temperature for today's date is 71 degrees F at Lake Browns Valley (Traverse County) in 1992; the all-time state low for today's date is -50 degrees F at Pokegama Dam (Itasca County) in 1897. The all-time state record precipitation for this date is 2.45 inch at Young America (Carver County) in 1965. Record snowfall is 25.0 inches at Wolf Ridge (near Finland) in Lake County falling in 2007.

Past Weather Features:

Arctic cold gripped the state for the start of March in 1916. Twenty climate stations reported a morning low temperature of -30 degrees F or colder, with over a foot of snow on the ground. The temperature never rose above -5 degrees F all day at New London (Kandiyohi County).

One of the wettest starts to the month of March occurred in 1965 when a slow moving low pressure system brought mixed precipitation to the state over the first four days of the month. Many areas of the state received 10 to 20 inches of snow, while Collegeville, Winsted, St Cloud and Bird Island received over 20 inches.

Spring temperatures arrived early in 1992. On March 2nd many climate stations reported daytime highs in the 60s F, while both Browns Valley and Canby reached 70 degrees F. But it was not a sign of a warm spring, as the weather pattern sharply cooled down after that.

Outlook:

There will be partly to mostly cloudy skies over the weekend, with a chance for rain or snow., especially later on Sunday. Temperatures will remain a few degrees warmer than normal, but there will be continuing chances for precipitation on Monday and Tuesday as well. Drier weather will settle in for Wednesday through Friday with cooler temperatures.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Disparity in Winter Temperature Signal Associated with Snow Cover

Disparity in Winter Temperature Signal Associated with Snow Cover:


Last week I stated that this winter (Dec-Feb) will end up being colder than normal for most places in the state, something that has been fairly rare in occurrence over the past three decades. Approximately 90 percent of the climate stations in Minnesota will end up with an average temperature for the December (2017) through February (2018) period that is colder than average. Only about 10 percent of Minnesota’s climate stations will show a mean winter temperature that is slightly warmer than normal.

Areas of the state with ample snow cover will show the largest negative temperature departures, while areas that have been deficient in snow cover all winter will show slight positive temperature departures. Embarrass (St Louis County) which has reported significant snow cover since mid-December has reported 9 dates with a low temperature of -40 degrees F or colder. Conversely, Montevideo (Chippewa County) which has had only traces of snow cover all winter has reported 17 days with temperatures of 40 degrees F or higher.

In terms of the snow season, northern Minnesota is the place to be if you like snow for recreation. Only Isabella, Ely, Two Harbors, Wolf Ridge (near Finland, MN), and the uplands outside of Grand Marais have reported over 60 inches of snow since October of last year. Isabella (Lake County) has reported 76 inches, most in the state. Conversely many western counties including Douglas, Swift, Renville, Traverse, and Big Stone have reported less than 10 inches since last October, and a handful of stations have reported less than 6 inches, a real snow drought.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

NOAA released this week a summary of the global climate pattern for January 2018. It was the 5th warmest January globally for the record period going back to 1880. January of 2018 was also the 397th consecutive month (back to 1985) where the average global temperature has exceeded the 20th Century average. They also highlight other climate attributes for the month.

A recent video from the Yale Climate Forum provides a discussion of how climate change is affecting extreme weather around the world. The scientists interviewed describe how increasing temperatures in the Arctic are affecting the path of the jet stream, the severity of storms, and the length of individual weather events (rain, storms, drought).

A recent paper in the journal Nature Communications describes how changes in Earth’s vegetation composition of had significant effects on climate behavior, making some areas warmer and some areas drier. Most of the climate effects are brought about by changes in the radiation balance at the Earth’s surface.

A recent paper in Reviews of Geophysics documents how tides affect the loss of ice in both the Greenland Ice Sheet and Antarctica. Tides and their actions are in turn affected by climate change, as with changes in sea level and coastlines caused by climate change in turn affect the magnitude and timing of tides.

MPR listener question

Here at Milan, MN (Chippewa County) we have received only 9 inches of snowfall since last fall, and only 1 inch so far in February. Do you know what the record lowest total amount is for the snow season here at Milan? If anybody does, we thought it would be you.

Answer:

Over the past 125 years at Milan the smallest amount of snow for a snow season (Sept-May) was in 1930-1931 when only 7.5 fell. The second lowest total was 8.4 inches in 1941-1942, and the third lowest total was 11.9 inches in 1920-1921. So if you receive no more snowfall until May, this season would rank third lowest. But that is unlikely with so much snow in the forecast over the next several days. In fact according to National Weather Service forecasts you could receive several more inches before the end of this month.

Twin Cities Almanac for February 23rd:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 32 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 16 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for February 23rd:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 59 degrees F in 1958; lowest daily maximum temperature of -8 degree F in 1889; lowest daily minimum temperature of -25 degrees F in 1889; highest daily minimum temperature of 40 degrees F in 1931; record precipitation of 0.63 inches in 1909 and 1977. Record snowfall on this date is 6.3 inches in 1909.

Average dew point for February 23rd is 15 degree F, with a maximum of 45 degrees F in 2000 and a minimum of -23 degrees F in 1967.

All-time state records for February 23rd:

The all-time state high temperature for today's date is 70 degrees F at Lake Wilson (Murray County) in 2000; the all-time state low for today's date is -43 degrees F at St Vincent (Kittson County) in 1889. The all-time state record precipitation for this date is 2.35 inch at Detroit Lakes (Becker County) in 1922. Record snowfall is 25.0 inches at Detroit Lake (Becker County) also in 1922.

Past Weather Features:

With over a foot of snow on the ground already a bitter cold Arctic air mass settled over the state on February 23, 1889 bringing record-setting cold to many places. Some of the low temperatures included -43 degrees F at St Vincent (Kittson County), -35 degrees F at Moorhead, -34 degrees F at Morris, -30 degrees F at Duluth, and -25 degrees F in the Twin Cities. The temperature at Moorhead that day never climbed higher than -13 degrees F.


A powerful winter storm brought a mixture of rain, sleet, and snow to the state over February 22-23, 1922. At Willmar 3.23 inches of precipitation was recorded (a record amount for February), with 14 inches of snow. Many observers reported 6-12 inches of snow, but Mora and Detroit Lakes reported over 20 inches.


Another winter storm brought mixed precipitation to the state over February 23-24, 1977. Some areas of the state reported over 2 inches of precipitation, while many observers also reported 7-14 inches of snowfall.

By far the warmest February 23rd in state history was in 2000 when most communities in the state reported afternoon high temperatures in the 50s F. In fact at least a dozen climate observers reported a high of 60 degrees F or greater, topped by 70 degrees F at Lake Wilson in Murray County.

Yet another slow moving winter storm brought a mixture of precipitation to the state over February 23-25, 2001. Many observers reported new daily snowfall records on those dates. Many climate stations reported from 10 to 20 inches, with the north shore of Lake Superior receiving over 20 inches.

Outlook


The weekend will start out relatively mild, but increasing cloudiness on Saturday will eventually bring snow to most of the state over the late afternoon and evening. In eastern sections of the state snow may linger into early Sunday morning. Widespread coverage of snow may lay down areas of 6 to 10 inches. Beginning on Monday milder temperatures will prevail for much of next week under partly cloudy skies, with a change for snow again late Wednesday and into Thursday.



Friday, February 16, 2018

Snow will be welcome in west-central Minnesota

Snow will be welcome in west-central Minnesota:


Portions of west-central Minnesota have been exceptionally dry since November 1 of last year. Over an area spanning from Lyon County north to Traverse County and east to Meeker County climate observers have reported only about 25 to 35 percent of normal precipitation since November 1st. As a result some of these west-central counties are designated to be in moderate drought by the US Drought Monitor, but more importantly the persistent absence of snow cover this winter has allowed frost depths to go down 20-30 inches and exposed pasture lands to some extremely low temperatures (conducive to winter injury of perennial grasses and alfalfa). Should this pattern persist into the spring farmers would be justifiably considered about lacking enough moisture for the planting season.

Fortunately the emerging weather pattern delineated by recent forecast models shows favorable conditions for significant snow cover to finally come to this portion of Minnesota beginning this weekend and through much of next week. This will be welcome there. Also the new outlook models favor a cooler and wetter than normal spring for the state as a whole.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:


For those in the business of weather forecasting it is a bit disconcerting to see a proposed $1 billion dollar cut for NOAA in the Trump federal budget. Public expectations for the National Weather Service to provide warnings and forecasts for severe or threatening weather have never been higher, and the challenges are great to achieve better forecasting accuracy and enhance public safety. But with the proposed budget cuts NOAA could lose between 300 and 400 jobs, as well as capital funding for the deployment of new technologies. Let's hope that Congress restores some of this proposed budget cut to NOAA.


Tropical Cyclone Gita in the South Pacific Ocean is being watched carefully by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center as it heads for New Zealand over the next three days. It currently packs wind gusts over 120 mph and sea wave heights over 25 feet, but is expected to weaken as it nears New Zealand.


There is an interesting discussion this week by the UK Met Office regarding the slang terms used to describe weather, and the misinterpretation of weather symbols by the public. There are very significant regional differences in the jargon used to describe heavy rain for example. The Met Office is hoping to use this survey data to better serve the public with local forecasts that are heeded.


A recent study by NOAA and University of Colorado scientists reveals that the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released by paints and perfumes can cause a significant degradation in air quality. At least this is the case in the Los Angels Basin where the study was done. You can read more about this paper published in Science by going to the online edition.


A strong cold front brought high winds and dust storms to parts of Australia on Wednesday this week. Melbourne was hit by winds ranging from 55 to 65 mph, knocking down trees, and bending road signs, as well as blowing shingles off roofs. Some people were injured by debris blown around in the wind.

MPR listener question:


I heard this might be a rare winter season when the average temperature for the three months of December, January, and February will be cooler than normal. Is this true? And how will this winter rank historically?

Answer:

As we stand this winter December was marginally cooler than normal, while January was marginally warmer than normal. With these somewhat offsetting months in play, the weight of February’s temperature pattern (9 to 11 degrees F cooler than normal so far) will cause the three month average to fall below normal for only the 9th time in the last 30 years. Such winters have been pretty uncommon.

In fact if you look at the number of times the Twin Cities has reported a mean daily temperature in the single digits (below 10 degrees F) this winter that has occurred 28 times so far this winter. This seems like a large number but it is not. Here are the top ten winters in the Twin Cities winter climate record (Dec-Feb) for number of days when the average daily temperature was in single digits or colder:

1886-1887 51 days
1874-1875 47 days
1917-1918 45 days
1916-1917 and 1978-1979 44 days
1882-1883 43 days
1935-1936 42 days
2013-2014 41 days
1872-1873 and 1981-1982 40 days
1919-1920 38 days
1876-1877 and 1983-1984 37 days

With the current weather outlook for beyond this weekend I would be surprised to see any more days with just a single digit average temperature. It seems like we will be flirting with normal or above normal temperatures the rest of this month.

Twin Cities Almanac for February 16th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 29 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 13 degrees F (plus or minus 15 degrees F standard deviation).MSP Local Records for February 16th:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 60 degrees F in 1981; lowest daily maximum temperature of -11 degree F in 1903; lowest daily minimum temperature of -26 degrees F in 1936; highest daily minimum temperature of 36 degrees F in 1998; record precipitation of 0.40 inches in 1878. Record snowfall on this date is 3.2 inches in 1938.

Average dew point for February 16th is 11 degree F, with a maximum of 38 degrees F in 2011 and a minimum of -29 degrees F in 1973.16th:

All-time state records for February 16th:

The all-time state high temperature for today's date is 67 degrees F at Canby (Yellow Medicine County) in 1981; the all-time state low for today's date is -59 degrees F at Pokegama Dam (Itasca County) in 1903. The all-time state record precipitation for this date is 2.20 inch at Brainerd (Crow Wing County) in 1921. Record snowfall is 12.0 inches at Aitkin (Aitkin County) in 1990.

Past Weather Features:


On a statewide basis the coldest February 16th occurred in 1936. With heavy snow cover in place an Arctic air mass descended from the north and brought record-setting cold to many counties. Fifteen climate stations reported a morning low of -40 degrees F or colder. As far south as Faribault it was -34 degrees F. At Fosston (Polk County) the temperature never rose higher than -25 degrees F.

By far the warmest February 16th in state history occurred in 1981. Over 40 Minnesota climate stations reported an afternoon high temperature in the 60s F under bright sunny skies and with light southerly winds. Many citizens took lunch outside to enjoy the weather.

A stalled frontal system along the Iowa border brought heavy snowfall to southern parts of the state over February 16-19, 1984. Snowfall amounts ranged from 5 to 13 inches, and in southwestern Minnesota counties many schools were closed because of drifted roads and highways.

A large, slow moving winter storm brought heavy snow to the state over February 15-16, 1990. Many areas of central and northern Minnesota reported 6 to 12 inches of snow. Dozens of schools were closed for the day on Friday the 16th.

Outlook:

Near normal temperatures over the weekend, with increasing cloudiness, especially on Sunday and a chance for snow later in the day and evening. There will be mixed precipitation Sunday night and Monday, with some rain and freezing rain in southern sections of the state, and mostly snow in the central and north. Amounts could be heavy in places (4-8 inches) and snow may linger well into Tuesday. Drier with near normal temperatures on Wednesday and Thursday next week.


Friday, February 9, 2018

Cold Start to February

Cold Start to February:


February has begun with a prolonged cold spell of many subzero nights with daytime highs only reaching the single digits in many places. Average temperatures around the state are running 10 to 12 degrees F cooler than normal. Over the first nine days of the month Minnesota has reported the nation’s coldest temperature 5 times, including -43 degrees F at Embarrass on the 4th. So far 16 climate stations in northern portions of the state have seen the temperature drop to -30 degrees F at least once this month.


Several observers have reported 3 to 5 inches of new snow this month. In many northern areas snow depths range from 8 to 15 inches, while west-central counties still lack snow cover as many observers there report less than 2 inches. Soil frost depths around the state currently range from 15 to 30 inches, and will likely go deeper. The colder than normal temperatures are likely to continue on Wednesday of next week (Feb 14th) when temperatures are expected to climb into the 30s F, breaking the streak.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:


Very heavy snowfall with significant snow drifts closed some streets in Paris on Wednesday of this week. The Eiffel Tower was even closed for a time. This unusual weather followed a massive flood on the River Seine through Paris that occurred the last week of January closing many Parisian streets due to high water. Winter precipitation there has been up to 10 inches above normal, a very wet season. You can read more about the flooding in Paris from the Climate.gov blog.


Since 2015 Cape Town, South Africa has consistently reported below normal rainfall. The cumulative effect of this has resulted in a severe water shortage for this city, and there will be even stricter water use regulations imposed beginning this April or May, perhaps only allowing each resident to use 7 gallons or less per day. You can read more about this drought and its impact there from an article by NOAA’s Michon Scott.


Colder than normal temperatures are expected to prevail across many of the Olympic venues in South Korea for the first weekend of competitions at the Winter Olympics. Daytime temperatures may be in the teens and twenties F, with nights dropping as low as -2 to -7 degrees F. Wind Chill values will be in the range of -10 to -20 degrees F, especially for those spectators taking in the Alpin Skiing events this weekend. You can find more updates from the BBC Weather Center.


University of Arizona scientists recently analyzed the global temperature spike that occurred over 2014 to 2016. They found that over these three years the global temperature jumped 25 percent, and that the natural variability in the Earth climate system is not sufficient to explain this remarkable jump.

MPR listener question:

Looks like we will start February of 2018 with 11 or more consecutive days of colder than normal temperatures here in the Twin Cities, the longest streak of colder than normal temperatures since the spell of weather from Christmas Eve to January 6 (14 consecutive days). We were wondering how often does the month of February start with colder than normal weather over the first 11 days or more?

Answer:


Over the past 145 years (back to 1873) February has started with 11 or more consecutive days of colder than normal temperatures 22 times (15 percent), most recently in 2014. So this is pretty rare actually. Looks like we will break the current streak of colder than normal temperatures by the time we get to next Wednesday, the 14th day of the month. BTW in 1875 all 28 days of February were colder than normal, and it was the coldest February in Twin Cities history. Second coldest February was 1936, and third coldest was 1904 (both had over 20 days with colder than normal temperatures).

Twin Cities Almanac for February 9th:


The average MSP high temperature for this date is 27 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 11 degrees F (plus or minus 15 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for February 9th:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 52 degrees F in 1966; lowest daily maximum temperature of -16 degree F in 1899; lowest daily minimum temperature of -33 degrees F in 1899; highest daily minimum temperature of 34 degrees F in 1966; record precipitation of 0.92 inches in 1965. Record snowfall on this date is 8.0 inches in 1939.

Average dew point for February 9th is 6 degree F, with a maximum of 46 degrees F in 1966 and a minimum of -30 degrees F in 1975.

All-time state records for February 9th:


The all-time state high temperature for today's date is 63 degrees F at Canby (Yellow Medicine County) in 1991; the all-time state low for today's date is -59 degrees F at Leech Lake (Cass County) in 1899. The all-time state record precipitation for this date is 1.75 inch at Collegeville (Stearns County) in 1909. Record snowfall is 15.0 inches at Albert Lea (Freeborn County) in 1909.

Past Weather Features:


The Great Arctic Outbreaks of 1835 and 1899-

Today is the anniversary of two arctic cold outbreaks which produced some rather striking effects on the mighty Mississippi River. On this date in 1835 and again in 1899 the river was frozen deeply at Ft Snelling, allowing for foot and sleigh traffic. Low temperatures in Minnesota ranged from the -30s F to the -50s F. On the morning of February 9, 1899 over 20 Minnesota climate stations reported a temperature of -40 degrees F or colder. Detroit Lakes (Becker County) reported a low of -53 degrees F and a high of -32 degrees F.

It was also frozen enough for skating and sledding as far south as St Louis, and ice floes were observed entering the Gulf of Mexico out of New Orleans. In fact on February 9, 1899 parts of Louisiana recorded their all-time coldest temperatures with 7 degrees F at New Orleans and -4 degrees F at Shreveport. The 1899 cold wave struck the Gulf and eastern seaboard states with great ferocity. Parts of Florida received 3.5 inches of snow. Other record low temperatures that occurred during that Arctic Outbreak of 1899 included:
-6 degrees F at Atlanta, GA; 10 degrees F at Jacksonville, FL; -2 degrees F at Tallahassee, FL; and -15 degrees F in Washington, D.C.

Over February 9-10, 1909 a major winter storm brought rain, freezing rain, sleet, and snow to nearly all of the state. Snow was heaviest in south-central counties where observers reported 10 to 18 inches of snow.

One of the heaviest snowfalls of the Dust Bowl Era (1930s) in Minnesota occurred over February 8-10, 1939. From the Twin Cities north over a foot of snow piled up, and in the northeast both Pigeon River and Grand Marais reported over 20 inches of snow.

The warmest February 9th in state history was in 1991. Over 40 climate stations saw afternoon temperatures soar into the 50s F. In southwestern Minnesota temperatures reached the 60s F at Lamberton, Springfield, and Canby.

Outlook:

A generally sunny or partly cloudy weekend, but with cooler than normal temperatures prevailing across the state.  Continued cool and dry for Monday and Tuesday, then warmer by Wednesday of next week, as temperatures moderate in the latter part of the week.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Climate Summary for January 2018

Climate Summary for January 2018:

Temperatures exhibited great variation during the month of January with daily departures that were over 20 degrees F above and below normal. Overall the mean temperatures for the month ended up from 1 to 2 degrees F cooler than normal, especially in NE and SE communities, to 1-2 degrees F warmer than normal in many other parts of the state. Extremes for the month ranged from 51 degrees F at Browns Valley (Traverse County) on the 20th to -46 degrees F at Embarrass (St Louis County) on the 14th. Minnesota reported the coldest temperature in the nation 8 times during the month, and on 6 of those dates the report was from Embarrass, MN. Four climate stations reported lows of -40 degrees F or colder, while five climate stations reported highs of 50 degrees F or greater.

For most of Minnesota January was drier than normal, with total precipitation (liquid water content) measured at 0.70 inches or less. Exceptions occurred in some south-central, east-central, and southeastern communities where precipitation totals for the month exceeded 1.50 inches. Grand Meadow (Mower County) reported 2.46 inches, their 3rd wettest January in history. Others reporting well above normal January precipitation included Waseca with 1.84 inches (14th wettest January) and MSP with 1.55 inches (20th wettest January).

As for snowfall, most locations in the state reported below normal snowfall for the month, with some exception in eastern and southern counties. Generally snowfall in western counties was below normal, and progressively more to the east. At least ten climate stations reported 20 inches or more, including the Twin Cities. Owatonna reported 23.1 inches of snow for the month.

Two other climate characteristics of note in January: the second half of the month brought much more sunlight than the first half, with several days having perfectly clear skies; for the southern half of the state it was a windy month of January with 8 to 12 days bringing winds gusts over 30 mph, and even 30-50 mph gusts during the blizzard on January 22nd.



Weekly Weather Potpourri:


For Sunday, February 4, 2018 the Super Bowl will thankfully be played indoors at US Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis where it will be approximately 70 degrees F. The outside temperature will be the coldest in Super Bowl history with readings ranging between 0 and 3 degrees F and Wind Chill values of -10 to -15 degrees F. For the last Super Bowl hosted by the Twin Cities in 1992 in the Metrodome, the outdoor temperature was 26 degrees F. You can read more about the weather for Super Bowl weekend at the Minnesota State Climatology Office web site.

With the recent floods along the Seine River in Paris, there was a BBC Weather story about Parisians using the flood streets for wakeboarding behind the tow of a vehicle.

Powerful Cyclone Cebile was churning in the Southern Indian Ocean this week generating winds over 130 mph and sea waves of 30 feet. Strong as it is it was not presenting any threat to island nations there, through shipping traffic was diverted around it.

A new forecast published by scientists at the United Kingdom Met Office indicates the annual global average temperature is likely to exceed 1 °C and could reach 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels during the next five years (2018-2022).

In a news release issued this week NOAA scientists have produced monthly average temperature maps for each decade over the remainder of the 21st Century. The climate models that produced these maps use two different energy use projection scenarios and the maps show the disparity in the temperature increase among states. You can immediately notice a significant warming in Minnesota during the month of January, a trend that has been significant over the past two decades already.

This week there is an interesting article by Dr. Jeff Masters of the Weather Underground on the high wind speeds recorded during the passage of Category 5 Hurricane Irma over the Leeward Islands on September 6, 2017. The highest wind speeds recorded by NOAA instruments were between 115-120 mph, but a private weather station on St Barts recorded a wind gust of 199 mph before the instrument was destroyed by flying debris.

MPR listener question:

I noticed that we had two distinct multi-day thaw periods during January here in the Twin Cities, the 8th through the 11th, and again over the 18th to the 21st. It seems like we often get at least one January thaw period, but how often do we get two like this year?

Answer:

You are right that multi-day January thaw periods are common in the Twin Cities climate record, but years with two distinct multi-day thaw periods are rare. In the 148 years since 1871 there have only been 9 Januarys that brought two such periods: 1880, 1900, 1942, 1944, 1947, 1987, 1992, 2006, and 2018. Another oddity in the data among these Januarys with two distinct multi-day thaw periods, 2018 is the one with the most subzero nights, eleven. In all the other Januarys on this list the number of subzero nights was single digits, and in January of 2006 there were no subzero nights. This serves as evidence for the great temperature variation during last month and wild swings in air mass characteristics last month.

Twin Cities Almanac for February 2nd:


The average MSP high temperature for this date is 25 degrees F (plus or minus 13 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 2nd:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 48 degrees F in 1991; lowest daily maximum temperature of -17 degree F in 1996; lowest daily minimum temperature of -32 degrees F in 1996; highest daily minimum temperature of 31 degrees F in 2003; record precipitation of 0.80 inches in 1919 and 1983. Record snowfall on this date is 8.8 inches in 2016.

Average dew point for February 2nd is 3 degree F, with a maximum of 34 degrees F in 1987 and a minimum of -47 degrees F in 1996.

All-time state records for February 2nd:

The all-time state high temperature for today's date is 66 degrees F at Wheaton (Traverse County) in 1991; the all-time state low for today's date is -60 degrees F at Tower (St Louis County) in 1996. The all-time state record precipitation for this date is 2.00 inch at Caledonia (Houston County) in 1915. Record snowfall is 20.0 inches also at Caledonia (Houston County) in 1915.

Past Weather Features:


Back to back winter storms delivered very heavy snowfalls across Minnesota over January 30 to February 6, 1915. Rain, sleet, and ice prevailed in many parts of southern Minnesota, especially during the first storm. Then heavy snow fell, delivering 30 inches to Lynd in southwestern Minnesota (Lyon County), and over 2 feet of snow in Caledonia (Houston County) where the railroad was shut down for two days.

February 2-3, 1919 brought heavy snow to portions of central Minnesota where there were widespread reports of 8-10 inches.

Over February 1-4, 1983 a slow moving winter storm brought heavy snow to portions of southeastern Minnesota. Many schools were closed because school buses could not negotiate the snow packed roads and highways, where snow drifts packed 3 to 5 feet high. Portions of Winona County reported over 18 inches of snowfall.

The warmest Groundhog’s Day in state history was in 1991. Under sunny skies and southerly winds afternoon temperatures climbed into the 50s F in 30 communities across the state. Five climate stations reached the 60s F, and some citizens were seen taking their lunch outside at picnic tables. By far the coldest Groundhog’s Day in state history occurred in 1996 with an all-time state record of -60 degrees F at Tower, MN. At least 10 other climate stations reported low temperatures of -50 degrees F or colder, and it was as cold as -36 degrees F as far south as Zumbrota, Faribault, Amboy, and Preston.

Outlook:

Temperatures through the Super Bowl weekend and throughout next week will be several degrees cooler than normal, with many subzero nights. There is a chance for scattered snow showers on Saturday (1-3 inches in spots) and again on Monday. Then there will generally be a dry and cold pattern for much of next week.



Friday, January 26, 2018

Looking Back at the Snowstorm of January 22nd

Looking Back at the Snowstorm of January 22nd:


Over the weekend just ahead of the January 22nd snow storm, many Minnesota communities reported record high temperatures as sunny skies and southerly winds were prevalent across many parts of the state. Temperatures climbed into the 40s F in many areas of the state, including 44 degrees F at Moose Lake and 45 degrees F at Brainerd (on the 20th), and where snow cover was absent or sparse even greater temperatures were reported like 46 degrees F at Worthington and 48 degrees F at Browns Valley on the 21st. In addition in many areas of the state dew points climbed into the mid 30s F, near record high territory for late January, and indicating a high amount of water vapor in the air mass over the state.

This helped to set up a significant snowfall across many parts of southern Minnesota on January 22nd, and especially across the Twin Cities Metro Area. During the peak of the storm, roughly 1pm to 6pm, maximum snowfall accumulation rates ranged from 1 to 2 inches per hour in many areas. With winds gusting from 35 to 47 mph in many southern counties blizzard conditions prevailed and caused the closure of many roads, as well as many school cancellations.

Because of the famous and record-setting snow storm of January 22, 1982 when many climate observers reported 16 to 24 inches of snowfall, the snow storm on Monday did not produce as many new daily records as thought. However some Minnesota climate observers did report either a new record daily snowfall amount or because of the high water content in the snow a new record daily precipitation amount (liquid) for the date. Among these reports were:
MSP 1.03 inches of precipitation
Amboy 10.0 inches of snow, and 0.62 inches of precipitation
Jordan 12.8 inches of snow, and 1.11 inches of precipitation
Rosemount 11.0 inches of snow, and 0.58 inches of precipitation
Worthington 10.0 inches of snow, and 0.95 inches of precipitation
Windom 12.4 inches of snow, and 1.03 inches of precipitation
Winnebago 14.0 inches of snow, and 1.08 inches of precipitation
Owatonna 14.0 inches of snow, and 1.15 inches of precipitation
St James 15.0 inches of snow
Waseca 16.5 inches of snow
Fairmont 13.5 inches of snow
Lakefield 1.17 inches of precipitation

At this time of year, any daily precipitation amount over 1 inch is unusually high. The new snow cover was widely welcomed by those who have been waiting to sled or cross country ski.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:


One of the NOAA Climate Blogs this week written by Deke Arndt features a look at climate extremes by state. This is an interesting read and gives some insight into the importance of having volunteer weather observers to not only report measured values from the instruments but also make commentary about unusual weather events in their area.


In the Southern Hemisphere New Zealand is reporting its hottest month of January in history, with temperatures in north Canterbury reaching 99 degrees F, unheard of territory. A vast percentage of January days have produced above normal temperatures across the country.


On Wednesday of this week Storm Georgina brought strong winds and heavy rains to many parts of the United Kingdom. Peak wind gusts in western Scotland approached 85 mph, while many other parts of the country reported wind gusts to 50 and 60 mph and some areas had heavy rains. Georgina was the 7th named storm of the winter season there.


A fascinating report called “The United States of Climate Change” was recently released and highlighted this week by the Weather Channel at Weather.com. This report looks at the state by state vulnerability to climate change and highlights some of the observed consequences. It is most comprehensive in detail and a very interesting read.

A quote from the Cloud Appreciation Society newsletter:

“The emotion is to be found in clouds,
not in the green solids of the sloping hills
or even in the gray signatures of rivers,
according to Constable, who was a student of clouds
and filled shelves of notebooks with their motion,
their lofty gesturing and sudden implication of weather.”

[From ‘Student of Clouds’ (1988) by Billy Collins]

MPR listener question:

I have heard you often say that in the middle of winter the temperatures pattern in Minnesota is often the opposite of that in Alaska. So I was wondering is that holding true again during this month of January?

Answer:

Indeed that appears to be the case. Most observers throughout Minnesota are reporting mean monthly temperatures so far (Jan 1-24) that are 2 to 4 degrees F cooler than normal. Here are some values for January 1-24:
MSP 15.2 degrees F, -0.2 F cooler than normal
Rochester 12.6 degrees F, -3.0 F cooler than normal
Duluth 9.8 degrees F, -0.4 F cooler than normal

Now here are the corresponding values (Jan 1-24) for three major climate stations in Alaska:
Point Barrow -4.3 degrees F, +8.8 F above normal
Fairbanks -1.3 degrees F, +6.8 F above normal
Anchorage 22.4 degrees F, +5.2 F above average

I might further add that 37 new daily high temperature records have been set so far this month in the Alaska climate network.

Twin Cities Almanac for January 26th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 24 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 8 degrees F (plus or minus 16 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for January 26th:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 52 degrees F in 1931; lowest daily maximum temperature of -9 degree F in 1904 and 1972; lowest daily minimum temperature of -26 degrees F in 1897; highest daily minimum temperature of 35 degrees F in 1911; record precipitation of 0.37 inches in 1910 and 1916. Record snowfall on this date is 7.4 inches in 2004.

Average dew point for January 26th is 1 degree F, with a maximum of 37 degrees F in 1944 and a minimum of -41 degrees F in 1946.

All-time state records for January 26th:


The all-time state high temperature for today's date is 63 degrees F at Winnebago (Faribault County) in 1944; the all-time state low for today's date is -55 degrees F at Pokegama Dam (Itasca County) in 1904. The all-time state record precipitation for this date is 1.00 inch at Grand Marais (Cook County) in 2004. Record snowfall is 24.0 inches at Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge (Becker County) in 2004.

Past Weather Features:

January 26, 1904 was likely the coldest in state history. With abundant snow cover, temperatures dropped to -30 degrees F or colder in 25 Minnesota communities, including as far south as Caledonia (Houston County) where the high temperature was -13 degrees F after a morning low of -30 degrees F. In the north, the afternoon high temperature at Tower was just negative 20 degrees F.

Back to back snow storms over January 26-29, 1916 delivered 15 to 25 inches of snow to many parts of central and northern Minnesota. Schools and businesses were closed and railroad service was hampered for days before the snow, sometimes in drifts of 15 feet could be cleared from the tracks.

January 26, 1944 was the warmest in state history with 30 climate stations reporting an afternoon high temperature of 50 degrees F or greater. Seven communities saw the mercury climb above 60 degrees F. Some city employees in Montevideo took lunch outside at picnic tables as the temperatures had climbed to 64 degrees F.

Over January 25-27, 2004 a massive snow storm blanketed the state. The heaviest snow fell in northeastern counties where Duluth reported over 27 inches and Two Harbors over 30 inches. Some northern Minnesota roads were closed to traffic until plows could remove the bulk of snow, which had accumulated in 10-12 foot drifts.

Outlook:

The weekend will start with warmer than normal temperatures on Saturday in many areas, then increasing cloudiness, chance for snow flurries in the north. Temperatures cool to below normal values for Sunday and Monday, then a warming trend for Tuesday and Wednesday with a chance for snow. Below normal temperatures will prevail for Thursday through Super Bowl weekend (Feb 4).



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