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Wind as art

Wind as art

Members of the American Association of State Climatologists shared this web site recently. It depicts near real-time wind patterns across the continental USA, showing the animated streamlines (trajectory and velocity) in a manner that is quite artistic. You need the latest Chrome browser to view it. The data come from NOAA's National Digital Forecast Database. Give it a try.

Dew point records set, along with precipitation and snowfall records, April 15-16

Just ahead of the rain and thunderstorms over April 15th strong southeast winds brought in warm, moist air to southern Minnesota, setting new high dewpoint records for the date. MSP tied a record from 1976 with a late afternoon dewpoint of 61 degrees F, while preliminary data indicate a new dewpoint record of 63 degrees F at Fairmont and Mankato. In addition a new dewpoint record of 64 degrees F was set at New Ulm. These values occurred just ahead of the severe thunderstorms, hail, funnel clouds, tornadoes, and strong winds which were reported last Sunday.

Many observers reported heavy precipitation on April 15th and 16th, some record-setting. MSP reported a new record with 1.19 inches, while St Cloud reported a record 1.51 inches. Others reporting new daily precipitation records included: 2.22 inches at Browns Valley; 2.11 inches at Wheaton; 2.10 inches at Pelican Rapids; 2.02 inches at Duluth; 1.97 inches at Rothsay; 1.87 inches at Babbitt; 1.85 inches at Tower; 1.71 inches at Moose Lake; 1.71 inches at Pipestone; 1.59 inches at Park Rapids; 1.53 inches at Aitkin; 1.51 inches at Grand Rapids; 1.46 inches at Spring Grove; 1.36 inches at Hibbing; and 1.14 inches at Morris.

In the far north, strong winds (50-60 mph) and significant amounts of snow were reported, with many roads closed, power outages, and numerous accidents. Several observers reported new daily record snowfall amounts for April 16th, including: Babbitt with 5 inches; Tower with 6.3 inches; Cook, Hibbing, and Bigfork with 8.0 inches; Kabetogama had a record 9.4 inches; and Orr and Chisholm received a whooping record 11 inches.

Weekly Weather Potpourri

NOAA-Climate Prediction Center released new seasonal outlooks on Thursday this week. They show that for the May, June, and July period Minnesota has equal chances of being warmer or colder than normal, and equal chances of being wetter or drier than normal. The drought-stricken areas of southern and central Minnesota are expected to see some slight improvement through July 31st. You can read more here.

With Earth Day coming up this weekend (April 22) and many celebrations and events planned for next week, NOAA features a number of ways to acknowledge environmental stewardship and to get involved. You can find a number of features and programs at their web site. They show a map which depicts up to 75 Earth Day events going on across the nation.

Following a record-setting April last year (2011) when there were 758 tornado reports across the nation, the NOAA-Storm Prediction Center shows 159 tornado reports so far this month. The vast majority occurred on April 14th with 146 reports filed. So the rest of the month has been rather quiet so far. Hopefully it will remain that way. Nevertheless if you want to update yourself on severe weather safety please go to the NOAA-National Weather Service Chanhassen web site and view the materials there.

The United Kingdom Meteorological Office has chosen ShelterBox as its designated charity for the past three years. They have supported ShelterBox both with a financial commitment and a service commitment, providing forecasts specific to community recovery efforts following natural disasters around the world. The UK Met Office three-year commitment will end this summer, but ShelterBox certainly is a charity worth supporting. They deliver the essentials a family needs to survive in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. Each large, green ShelterBox delivered to a disaster site is tailored to primary needs of families, typically containing a disaster relief tent for an extended family, blankets, water storage and filtration equipment, cooking utensils, a stove, a basic tool kit, a children’s activity pack and other vital items. You can learn more about ShelterBox at their web site.

A recent study from the University of Zurich documents that Himalayan glaciers are not shrinking as rapidly as predicted by the IPCC. However, they do continue to shrink and produce more glacial lakes and create greater variability in the volume of some watersheds that are relied upon by various cultures that occupy low-lying regions. You can read more about this study here.

MPR listener question

With the significant snowfall amounts up north earlier this week, did any observers reported above normal amounts for the 2011-1012 snow season in Minnesota? It seems like everybody ended up short of average.

Answer: Only a few observers have reported modestly above average total snowfall for the 2011-2012 season. These observers are all in the northeastern part of the state and include: 86.8 inches at Isabella (Lake County); 75.3 inches at Kabetogama (St Louis County); 65.3 inches at Orr (St Louis County); and 64.3 inches at Two Harbors (Lake County).

Twin Cities Almanac for April 20th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 55 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 35 degrees F (plus or minus 9 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for April 20th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 84 degrees F in 2006; lowest daily maximum temperature of 33 degrees F in 1893 and 1928; lowest daily minimum temperature of 2 F in 1962; highest daily minimum temperature of 61 F in 1941; record precipitation of 0.94 inches in 1991; and record snowfall of 8.5 inches in 1928. Snow depth was 5 inches on this date in 1962.
Average dew point for April 20th is 31 degrees F, with a maximum of 64 degrees F in 1941 and a minimum of -2 degrees F in 1950.

All-time state records for April 20th

The state record high temperature for this date is 96 degrees F at Georgetown (Clay County) in 1980; the state record low temperature for this date is 0 degrees F at Cloquet (Carlton County) in 1928. State record precipitation for this date is 3.08 inches at Collegeville (Stearns County) in 1893; and state record snowfall for this date is 18.0 inches at Fort Ripley (Crow Wing County) in 1893.

Past Weather Features

A strong spring storm hit the state on April 20, 1893 delivering record-setting precipitation and snowfall amounts to many cities. Some of the record precipitation/snowfall amounts included: 1.50 inches of precipitation and 16 inches of snowfall at Cambridge; 1.40 inches of precipitation and 14 inches of snowfall at Rochester; 1.63 inches of precipitation and 14 inches of snowfall in downtown St Paul; and 1.80 inches of precipitation and 18 inches of snowfall at Fort Ripley. Many observers reported 8 to 12 inches of snowfall from this storm, one of the heaviest ever in the month of April.

Following a fresh snowfall of several inches a record-setting Cold Wave prevailed on April 20, 1928. Many record-setting low temperatures were observed, including 0 degrees F at Cloquet; 2 degrees F at Grand Rapids; 5 degrees F at Lake Winnie; 6 degrees F at Leech Lake and Bemidji; and it was 19 degrees F as far south as New Ulm. Temperatures remained below freezing all day at a number of locations.

April 19-21, 1970 brought heavy snowfall to many parts of Minnesota, especially central and northern cities. Strong winds up to 60 mph combined with the heavy snow to bring down some power lines and telephone lines in northern Minnesota counties causing numerous outages. Some communities reported a foot or more of new snowfall, topped by 17 inches at Big Falls and 21 inches at Kelliher.

The warmest April Heat Wave ever started on the 20th in 1980 and lasted 3 days. Many western Minnesota observers reached the 90 F mark, and some even reached 100 degrees F, the earliest date for such a mark. Those reporting 100 degrees F included: Ada, Campbell, Georgetown, Montevideo, Moorhead, Hawley (101 F a state record for the month of April), Browns Valley, Argyle, and Hallock. Thankfully a strong cold front collapsed temperatures into the 60s F by the 23rd.

Starting about 8:15 pm on April 20, 1985 an F-3 tornado (winds 158-206 mph) made its way 8 miles across the landscape in Pipestone and Murray Counties, near Lake Wilson. It damage or destroyed 43 farms and injured two people. Several livestock were reportedly killed as well.

Word of the Week: "Storm Scammers"

This term is used to refer to contractors who rush into communities following natural disasters and approach those home and business owners who have suffered loss with high pressure sales tactics to get them to sign contracts for repair and restoration services, even before insurance adjusters have had time to visit. Some states have taken action against such practices. Provisions are allowed in many states for home and business owners to cancel contracts that were signed without proper disclosure or licensing. You can read more about this here.


Most cloudy with chances for rain early in the weekend, some chance for showers in the east continuing on Sunday, brighter and warmer on elsewhere. Even more sun and warmer on Monday. Warming trend continues into next week with some temperatures reaching the 70s F. Chances for showers return on Wednesday and Thursday.
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