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Highlights of the Kuehnast Mini-Climate School

Highlights of the Kuehnast Mini-Climate School

The 20th Anniversary Kuehnast Endowment Event was held at the St Paul Campus on Thursday, November 8th. The format was a "mini-climate school" with presentations on three important topics: Canada's Climate; Urban Climates; and Severe Weather in a Changing Climate. Some highlights are described below:

David Phillips from Environment Canada asked the critical question: "Is climate changing faster than we can adapt?" Certainly temperatures are changing across Canada: Western provinces are warming more significantly than eastern provinces, especially in winter and spring, while polar regions are warming remarkably in fall and winter. The number of unusually warm nights is increasing, and glaciers for the most part are retreating. Extreme weather is in evidence, especially in the variability of wet versus dry growing seasons for Canada's farmers. Episodes of very strong winds are increasing in some areas as well.

Sue Grimmond from Kings College, London spoke about the need for cities to adapt and become more efficient in their energy and water use. The variability in land cover, mixture of architecture, and impermeable surfaces affect the climates of urban areas in many ways: wind flow and dispersion of pollutants, air quality, surface runoff, human comfort, and radiation balance among many attributes. More widespread monitoring and modeling is being done worldwide in big cities to better understand the urban climate. Albedo (reflectivity) of roofing materials, along with vegetation and green space have large effects in modifying the climate of cities, especially those that have little of these characteristics in place. More monitoring of city environments is likely in the future with continued development of economical sensor technologies and computer capacities to process the data and use them in real time.

Harold Brooks from the NOAA Severe Storms Laboratory in Oklahoma said the occurrence and distribution of severe convective storms is becoming more variable. The intensity of tornadoes and hail is a function of wind shear aloft. In a modeled future climate for our area, convective energy (updrafts) is expected to go up, but wind shear is expected to go down, offsetting each other somewhat, though the environment overall is expected to be more favorable for severe storms. He has mapped areas of severe convective storms worldwide. In more northern latitudes tornadoes may come earlier in the year, while in some areas like China, hail may become less frequent.

A recorded version of the Kuehnast 20th Anniversary presentations will be available next week on our web site. If you wish to view it, go here.

Dig It: The Secrets of the Soil" opens at the Bell Museum

The Smithsonian Exhibit on American Soils "Dig It: The Secrets of the Soil" opened at the University of Minnesota Bell Museum (Minneapolis Campus) on Thursday, November 8th. It will be there for a 9 month stay. It is a fascinating exhibit on the distribution of important soil properties and the value of soils to our nation, with several visual and interactive displays. I would encourage all school science teachers to consider planning a field trip to the Bell Museum to share this wonderful exhibit with students, perhaps even motivate some science fair projects. You can read more about it and plan your visit by going here.

Cool, dry climate pattern continues

Through the first full week of November the cool, dry weather pattern that dominated October has continued. Most observers report average temperatures that are cooler than normal, with teens F at night and 30s and 40s F during the day. Precipitation so far this month has been a few tenths of an inch, as only a few places have reported over 0.40 inches. Minnesota's drought situation has remained static with over 40 percent of the landscape still in severe or extreme drought. A winter storm is expected to bring some significant precipitation to northwestern counties into the weekend.

Weekly Weather potpourri

The NOAA National Weather Service is observing Winter Hazards Awareness Week in Minnesota. There are many educational and information based materials available on their web site, including winter automobile safety recommendations. You can read more here.

Highlights for the drought-monitoring period ending 7 am EST on November 6 from Brad Rippey of the USDA Office of the Chief Economist include:

-The portion of the contiguous U.S. in drought fell below sixty percent for the first time since July 3 and currently stands at 59.48%
-Hay in drought dipped to 61%, down one percentage point from a week ago and down eight points from the September 25 peak.
-Cattle in drought remained unchanged at 69%, but is down seven points from September 25.
-Winter wheat in drought also remained steady at 65%, ending a six-week decline in drought coverage. In some of the hardest-hit drought areas, winter wheat has been very slow to emerge this fall – and the crop is running out of time before cold weather permanently arrives. For example, only 33% of South Dakota’s crop had emerged by November 4, versus the five-year average of 93%.
- Nearly one-fifth (19 percent) of the U.S. winter wheat was rated in very poor to poor condition by November 4­a list topped by South Dakota (52 percent very poor to poor), Nebraska (49 percent), Oklahoma (30 percent), Colorado (28 percent), and Texas (24 percent).

The current edition of the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer magazine (Nov-Dec) showcases articles on Rainy Lake and the Rainy River. Both are well worth reading.

A report on the October World Meteorological Congress suggests that government weather services will move forward with a Global Framework for Climate Services intended to better serve decision makers in water, agriculture, food security, health and disaster risk management among all nations. The framework hopes to set some protocol and data standards for climate services which obviously need to be shared across country borders.

Environment Canada recently published a review of climate trends and variations in 2012. Canada reported a wetter and warmer than normal summer. In fact for some areas it was among the warmest summers on record.

MPR listener question

Is it true that November is generally the cloudiest month of the year for most of Minnesota?

Answer: Yes, approximately two-thirds of all November days are completely cloudy, slightly more in northern communities. Only about one day in six is sunny. It is no wonder that those who suffer from Seasonal Affected Disorder generally start to show symptoms in November, with both shortening days and dominate cloudiness.

Twin Cities Almanac for November 9th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 43 degrees F (plus or minus 10 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 28 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).


MSP Local Records for November 9th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 70 degrees F in 1999; lowest daily maximum temperature of 22 degrees F in 1945; lowest daily minimum temperature of 12 F in 1945; highest daily minimum temperature of 52 F in 1999; and record precipitation of 1.28 inches in 1970; Record snowfall is 4.5 inches in 1983.

Average dew point for November 9th is 26 degrees F, with a maximum of 54 degrees F in 1977 and a minimum of -1 degrees F in 1913.

All-time state records for November 9th

The state record high temperature for this date is 83 degrees F at Springfield (Brown County) in 1999. The state record low temperature for this date is -15 degrees F at Milan (Chippewa County) in 1921. State record precipitation for this date is 3.08 inches at Cloquet (Carlton County) in 1983; and the state record snowfall for this date is 26.0 inches at St James (Watonwan County) in 1943.

Past Weather Features:

November 9th of 1921 and 1945 brought severe cold to Minnesota with many stations reporting below 0 degrees F morning lows and highs only in the 20s and 30s F. Temperatures remained cold for the balance of the month in 1921, but moderated significantly in 1945.

Over November 6-9, 1943 a major winter storm crossed Minnesota bringing high winds and a mixture of precipitation. Rain, sleet, glaze, and snow were reported around the state, bringing down power lines in northern Minnesota. Many parts of central and northern Minnesota reported 10 to 25 inches of snowfall, with drifts up to 15 feet in depth blocking roads in western counties. Hundreds of autos were abandoned on roads and trains were delayed for up to 48 hours. The locomotive of a train stranded near Windom was completed encased in a snow drift. High waves on Lake Superior caused some erosion damage, but most ships were safely anchored in Duluth Harbor. Farmers reported some loss of livestock and turkeys.

November 8-10, 1977 brought another major winter storm to the state, this time depositing 7-12 inches of snow in central and northern Minnesota. Some roads were closed for a brief period of time.

November 8-9, 1999 was the warmest in state history, with over 80 communities reporting daytime highs in the 70s F, and several locations even reporting 80s F. Golf courses were open for business, and many people took lunch outside. A sharp cool down came on the 10th with traces of snow in some places. Despite the brief cool down, November of 1999 was the 4th warmest in state history.


Chance of mixed, wintry precipitation on Saturday in the central and north, with possible thunderstorms in the south. Chance of rain or snow on Sunday, then cloudy and cold on Monday. Cold temperatures will give more to more seasonable temperatures by mid-week. Generally dry as well.
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