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Significant rains for some

Significant rains for some

Small scale, but intense thunderstorms brought some heavy rainfall to parts of Minnesota early on Tuesday (Oct 23) this week. International Falls reported 1.07 inches, their heaviest rainfall since August 15th. Many others reported a quarter inch amounts or greater. Some of the largest amounts of rainfall were:

Champlin reported 2.11", Andover 1.64", Royalton 1.27", Maple Grove 1.69", Grand Marais 1.31", Waskish 1.16", and Little Falls 1.25"

The residual surface water vapor from the recent rainfall also contributed to dense fog advisories released by the National Weather Service this week.

Then over Wednesday night and Thursday additional persistent rains fell in southeastern Minnesota where Lanesboro and Harmony reported 2.15 inches, Spring Valley 1.77 inches, Winona 1.70 inches, Zumbro Falls 1.67 inches and Chatfield 1.30 inches. Elsewhere in eastern counties snow and snow flurries were widely reported on Thursday, though most were not significant amounts. Among those getting measurable snowfalls were Babbitt and Cook with 3 inches and Ely with 4.8 inches.

Total rainfall for the week was equivalent to an entire month of October for some, but these observers were few and far between. There was relatively little change in drought status across the state. You can find more on this here.

The Great Storm of October 26, 2010

Only two years ago a record-setting storm crossed the state. It was a strong, winter-type mid-latitude cyclone that encompassed much of the USA landscape, with a central low pressure core that passed directly across northern Minnesota. A number of weather observers reported new low barometric pressure readings, including 28.36 inches at Duluth, 28.23 inches at International Falls, and a statewide record of just 28.21 inches at Bigfork, MN (Itasca County), equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane. With such low pressure came extreme winds. Wind gusts of 60-65 mph were reported from any locations in the state, as well as in Wisconsin and Ontario, Canada. Wind-driven waves reached 26 feet at Campbell's Point on the northeast side (Canada) of Lake Superior. Fortunately all shipping on the lake had found safe port or harbor. In satellite image of the Earth that day, this storm was the single largest atmospheric disturbance visible, dwarfing Typhoon Chaba in the Western Pacific in scale.

Record amounts of rainfall and snowfall were reported as well from this storm. Some of the record amounts of precipitation included 3.49 inches at Two Harbors, 3.11 inches at Brainerd, 2.94 inches at Duluth AP, 2.91 inches at Cloquet, 2.79 inches at Moose Lake, 2.62 inches at Hibbing, 2.42 inches at Brimson, 2.02 inches at Mahnomen, and 2.00 inches at Thorhult. Some of the snowfall amounts included 5.0 inches at Brimson, 7 inches at Island Lake, and 7.7 inches at Duluth and Two Harbors.

20th Anniversary Kuehnast Event, November 8th

The 20th Annual Kuehnast Lecture Program will take place from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm on Thursday November 8, 2012 at the University of Minnesota St Paul Campus Student Center Theater. It is free and open to the public. The program will feature a “Mini-Climate School” with 50 minute lectures by three outstanding scientists: David Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment Canada (Ottawa) will present “Canada: No Longer the Cold, White North”; Sue Grimmond, from King’s College (London, UK) will present “Current Advances in Monitoring and Modeling Urban Climates”; and Harold Brooks from the NOAA National Severe Storms Lab in Oklahoma will present “Severe Thunderstorms and Climate Change.” For more on this program you can go here.

Weekly Weather potpourri

The NOAA National Hurricane Center was busy with forecasts and advisories on Hurricane Sandy and Tropical Storm Tony this week. After passing over Cuba and the Bahamas Hurricane Sandy is expected to bring rainfall and strong winds to portions of eastern FL, GA, SC, NC into the weekend, then VA, MD, NY and NJ by Tuesday. Sandy is expected to bring heavy rains and high winds to the east coast states early next week. TS Tony dissipated at sea by Friday. Sandy and Tony are the 18th and 19th named Tropical Storms of the North Atlantic Hurricane Season this year.

In the Western Pacific Ocean Tropical Storm Son-Tinh was bringing heavy rains and winds as high as 85-90 mph to parts of the Philippines. It was expected to head towards the north coast of Vietnam this weekend with high winds, heavy rain and sea waves of 24-30 feet. Remnants of Tropical Storm Murjan in the northern Indian Ocean off the horn of Africa was expected to bring heavy rain to the Somalia coast.

According to the Minnesota DNR the number of wildfires reported in September statewide was 186, the most in the month of September since 1976. Thankfully with the change in the weather this week the incidents of wildfires are expected to diminish.

A new NASA study shows that since 1978 the Arctic Ocean sea ice extent has shrunk, while that of Antarctica has grown. The loss and gain in sea ice at the poles is not symmetric. There has been a relatively larger loss of Arctic seas ice than gain in Antarctic sea ice. You can read more about this study here.

MPR listener questions

With the potential for Hurricane Sandy to strike the eastern coastal states next week and inflict a good deal of damage, I am wondering about the potential for disruption on Election Day the following Tuesday in terms of getting to the polls or infrastructure problems (street flooding, buildings damaged, etc). Have there been situations in past elections when the weather has caused major disruption?

Answer: On Election Day (ranging from November 2-8) in the USA the weather can be highly variable across the nation. On November 6, 1894 there was a fresh foot of snow in CT, along with high winds which hindered voter turnout. On November 8, 1960 there was an all day rain in Illinois, thought to have prevented a larger voter turnout for Nixon. In Minnesota foul weather has prevailed on Election Day a number of times, notably 1910 and 1936. On November 3, 1936 there was extreme cold (windchill values -25 to -30 F), heavy snow, and icy sidewalks. Nevertheless in Minnesota voter turnout was 1.1 million, more than 70 percent of the registered voters. I have not heard of hurricane weather and associated damages affecting Election Day.

In an opinion piece I read recently in the newspaper about energy subsidies the author said, "but since the wind generally blows at night, when people use electricity the least, it cannot form a dependable part of the base load supply." Is this assertion on when the wind blows correct?
Answer: No, it is not correct for our region of the country. Though there is large seasonal variability in wind speed (November and April usually show the highest mean wind speeds), wind studies in Minnesota and surrounding states have shown that mean wind speeds are about 150 to 200 percent higher during the day than they are at night. This is because the energy from the sun heats the Earth's surface and mixes the lower atmosphere.

Twin Cities Almanac for October 26th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 54 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 October 26th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 83 degrees F in 1955; lowest daily maximum temperature of 32 degrees F in 1919; lowest daily minimum temperature of 16 F in 1962; highest daily minimum temperature of 59 F in 1989; and record precipitation of 1.54 inches in 1941; Record snowfall is 1.3 inches in 1959.

Average dew point for October 26th is 34 degrees F, with a maximum of 61 degrees F in 2000 and a minimum of 6 degrees F in 1936.

All-time state records for October 26th

The state record high temperature for this date is 93 degrees F at Chatfield (Olmsted and Fillmore Counties) in 1927. The state record low temperature for this date is -16 degrees F at Roseau (Roseau County) in 1936, the earliest autumn reading of 0 F in state history. State record precipitation for this date is 3.49 inches at Two Harbors (Lake County) in 2010; and the state record snowfall for this date is 10.5 inches at Park Rapids (Hubbard County) in 1913.

Past Weather Features:

An early winter storm brought snow to northern counties on October 26, 1913. Amounts ranged from over 10 inches at Park Rapids to just 2 inches at Pokegama Dam.

October 25-27, 1927 brought a strong Indian Summer spell of weather to southern Minnesota. Fifteen Minnesota communities saw the thermometer climb into the 80s F, and Chatfield reported consecutive daytime highs in the 90s F.

October 23-25, 1936 brought one of the coldest spells of weather ever for the month. Many daily temperature records were set with overnight lows in single digits, and afternoon highs only in the 20s and 30s F. Nine Minnesota communities reported temperatures below 0 degrees F, and northern lakes began to show ice cover.

A strong low pressure system crossed the state over October 26-27, 1941 bringing thunderstorms, high winds, rain, sleet, and snow. Many observers reported 1-2 inches of precipitation.

The very next year, October 24-26, 1942 brought one of the biggest October snow storms in state history. Blowing and drifting snow actually closed some roads as Bigfork reported 6.5 inches, Pine River Dam 7.1 inches, Babbitt 7.2 inches, Orr and Detroit Lakes 8.5 inches, Meadowlands and Pokegama Dam 11.0 inches, and Sandy Lake Dam 15.0 inches.

October 25-26, 1955 was perhaps the warmest in history statewide with over 35 communities reporting daytime highs in the 80s F. Many Twin Cities employees took lunch outside, while some played hooky and took to the golf course. Temperatures crashed by the end of the month with daytime highs in the 30s F.

October 26-27, 1959 brought snow followed by cold temperatures. From 1 to 6 inches of snow fell across northern Minnesota, followed by temperatures plummeting into the teens F.
Perhaps the stormiest October 26th occurred in 2010 when many observers reported record low barometric pressure readings, record high wind speeds, and record amounts of precipitation (see write up above).


Cool and cloudy weekend coming up. Slight chance of snow in the west and south late Saturday and into Sunday. A bit of a warming trend starting on Wednesday, but temperatures will likely remain cooler than normal most of next week, with little chance for precipitation.
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