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Heavy snow

Heavy snow

Sunday, December 9th brought snow to much of the region, and some record-setting values to a few Minnesota communities. Among those with long-term climate histories reporting record snowfalls were: MSP-Airport with 10.5 inches; St Cloud Regional Airport with 11 inches; Montevideo with 12 inches; Milan with 10 inches; Chanhassen with 13.6 inches; Forest Lake with 13.5 inches; Marshall with 6 inches; and Hastings with 12 inches. According to Greg Spoden of the Minnesota State Climatology Office the 10.5 inches measured at MSP-Airport is the 4th largest daily amount for the month of December in history for the Twin Cities, trailing only 16.3 inches on December 11, 2010, 12 inches on December 28, 1982, and 10.8 inches on December 17, 1908. Many other observers reported amounts ranging from 8 to 17 inches. For some the liquid content of the snowfall was the greatest amount of moisture received in a single day since late July. Some of the record amounts of precipitation reported for December 9th included: 0.87 inches at MSP, 0.35 inches at Rochester, 0.49 inches at Winona, 0.82 inches at Milan, 0.87 inches at St Cloud, and 0.97 inches at Marshall.

December total snowfalls are already above normal in a number of areas. Madison, Montevideo, Chisago City, and Forest Lake have reported over 17 inches. Bird Island, Chanhassen, Red Wing, Hastings, and Redwood Falls have reported over 14 inches, while Princeton and Stillwater report over 13 inches.

New dewpoint records in 2012

Tracking as the warmest year in USA history, 2012 has already produced thousands of new daily temperature records within the nation's climate network. The Minnesota State Climatology Office also reports that several new dewpoint records were set during 2012. For the Twin Cities 12 new record daily high dewpoints (a measure of moist air) were set during the year, along with 4 new record low dewpoints (a measure of dry air). Those new record high dewpoints included 8 consecutive days in March, plus other dates:
3/16 57 F
3/17 60 F
3/18 59 F
3/19 60 F
3/20 59 F
3/21 56 F
3/22 60 F
3/23 60 F
4/16 63 F
5/27 70 F
11/10 56 F
12/03 54 F
Those new record low dewpoints included:
8/17 39 F
10/07 14 F
10/11 11 F
10/12 10 F

Weekly Weather potpourri

According to a new AP-GfK poll from over 1000 adult cell phone and landline users during the week of November 29-December 3rd (following Super Storm Sandy) four out of five Americans think temperatures are rising and that this is leading to weather and climate issues that pose serious problems. These poll results also showed a higher fraction of those who trust scientists only a little think that temperatures are rising and causing problems. You can read more about this recent poll here.

NOAA reports this week that 2012 is virtually certain to be the warmest year of record in the USA regardless of what the rest of December brings. You can read more here.

The weekly Drought Update from Brad Rippey with the USDA World Agricultural Outlook Board includes the following comments:
-The portion of the contiguous U.S. in the worst category – D4, or exceptional drought – remained virtually unchanged at 6% (rounded) for the eighteenth consecutive week (August 14 – December 11).
-Hay in drought fell slightly to 64%, but has been at or above 60% for 23 consecutive weeks – since July 10.
-Cattle in drought was unchanged at 73%, and has been greater than two-thirds of the domestic inventory for 23 consecutive weeks (July 10 – December 11).
-Winter wheat in drought was down slightly to 63%, although the hard red winter wheat belt – especially from South Dakota to Texas – remains deeply entrenched in drought.

NOAA reports this week that 2012 is virtually certain to be the warmest year of record in the USA regardless of what the rest of December brings. You can read more here.

An article in the current edition of Science describes how the insurance industry is documenting climate change and making adjustments for it. Insured losses due to weather and climate-related damages and disasters have average $50 billion per year recently, and more than doubled each decade since the 1980s. The industry is trying to diversify its exposure to such risks and more accurately price its insurance policies. You can read more about this study here.

Located near Pago Pago in the Southern Pacific Ocean, Cyclone Evan was producing over 30 foot sea waves with its 110 mph winds this week. It caused serious flooding and wind damage on the island late this week and was expected to strengthen before passing over Fiji this weekend. Slow dissipation will occur by the end of next week.

MPR listener question

With the recent heavy snowfall I was wondering what the greatest depth of snow has been for Minnesota, and perhaps in the Twin Cities area as well?

Answer: The greatest depth of snow recorded in Minnesota history was on March 28, 1950 at Pigeon River Bridge in Cook County, near the Canadian Border. The measured snow depth was 75 inches (as tall as I am). In the Twin Cities climate records the greatest depth of snow was 38 inches on January 23, 1982. The Twin Cities received 46.4 inches of snowfall that January, a record as well.

Twin Cities Almanac for December 14th

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 11 degrees F (plus or minus 15 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for December 14th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 55 degrees F in 1998; lowest daily maximum temperature of -14 degrees F in 1901; lowest daily minimum temperature of -27 F in 1901; highest daily minimum temperature of 38 F in 1891; and record precipitation of 1.50 inches in 1891; Record snowfall is 5.2 inches in 1996.

Average dew point for December 14th is 10 degrees F, with a maximum of 39 degrees F in 1928 and a minimum of -22 degrees F in 1985.

All-time state records for December 14th

The state record high temperature for this date is 60 degrees F at Pipestone (Pipestone County) in 1912. The state record low temperature for this date is -48 degrees F at Detroit Lakes (Becker County) in 1901. State record precipitation for this date is 2.38 inches at Red Wing (Goodhue County) in 1891; and the state record snowfall for this date is 14.3 inches at Moorhead (Clay County) in 1927.

Past Weather Features:

Over December 13-14, 1891 a winter storm brought heavy rainfall to many southern Minnesota communities. Amounts ranged from 1 to 2 inches with mild temperatures in the 40s and 50s F. Farmington reported 2.50 inches a record amount of precipitation for two days in December.

December 13-15, 1901 brought Arctic cold to Minnesota, producing several record setting low temperatures. On the 14th over 30 Minnesota communities reported lows of -30 degrees F or colder, and several observers recorded minimum below -40 degrees F. At Beardsley the daytime high only reached -23 degrees F.

December 14-14, 1912 brought Indian Summer-like temperatures to southern Minnesota. At least a dozen communities reported daytime high temperatures of 50 degrees F or greater under sunny skies and south winds. Temperatures remained relatively mild for the rest of the month.

December 14-16, 1927 brought a strong winter storm to Minnesota producing a heavy snowfall. Many observers reported over 10 inches of snow. Some of the larger amounts included 20.3 inches at Moorhead, 18 inches at Grand Marais, 16 inches at Pigeon River Bridge, 13 inches at New Ulm, 12 inches at Detroit Lakes and Brainerd, and 10 inches at Willmar and Fort Ripley.

December 14, 1998 brought mild temperatures to Minnesota as dozens of cities reported daytime highs in the 50s F. The mild air kept temperatures above the freezing mark overnight as well.


Warmer than normal temperatures with mixed precipitation on Saturday. Freezing rain and rain in some places, then snow later in the day, with accumulations of a few inches in central and northern areas. Drier on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday with continued warmer than normal temperatures. Then another winter storm for Wednesday and Thursday with possible significant snowfalls.
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