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Top 5 weather-related events for Minnesota in 2012


Top 5 weather-related events for Minnesota in 2012

The Minnesota State Climatology Office (Pete Boulay and Greg Spoden) put together the top 5 weather-related events for the year. The list includes:
1. Outrageously mild March, breaking the previous record warm March of 1910. Earliest 80 F temperature readings, earliest ice-out dates on many lakes, one of the earliest springs of all-time.
2. Northeastern Minnesota flood of June 19-20, concentrated in Carlton, St Louis, and Lake Counties where 8-10" of rain fell (Duluth). Severe damage to homes and infrastructure, FEMA declared disaster
3. Widespread drought, with over 83 percent of the Minnesota landscape in severe to extreme drought and most counties eligible for disaster assistance through USDA. Low flows and lake levels as well
4. Hot July, on a statewide basis the 2nd hottest of all-time (1936 is 1st), with Heat Index values well over 110 degrees F on some days, and some overnight lows in the 80s F
5. Non-winter of 2011-2012, on a statewide basis Jan-Mar was the warmest in history. Fewest ever seasonal Heating Degree Days, and also little snowfall except for the far north

For more discussion and details you can visit our web site and vote on these here.

Winter Storm of Dec 19-20

A strong winter storm passed over the region on Wednesday and Thursday (Dec 19-20) this week, bringing significant snowfall, high winds and blizzard conditions, especially in southeastern Minnesota, much of Iowa, southern Wisconsin, and northwestern Illinois. Difficult driving conditions were widespread (multiple accidents in IA and WI) and there were many reports of school delays and closures, especially in Iowa and Wisconsin. Preliminary snowfall amounts were record-setting for a number of communities on December 20th, including 13.3 inches at Madison, WI. Some of the Minnesota communities reporting record-setting amounts included:
9.7 inches at Minnesota City
6.6 inches at Wabasha
7 inches at Harmony, Grand Meadow, and Lake City
6.5 inches at Winona
6 inches at Spring Valley and Zumbro Falls
Several other observers reported 3 to 5 inches along the I90 corridor in southern Minnesota, while along I80 in Iowa amounts were even greater. A number of total snowfall reports over a foot came from Iowa (Des Moines 12.4") and Wisconsin (Madison 15.2"). All the snow was accompanied by winds ranging up to 35-40 mph or greater.

A relatively snowy December has already been reported by a number of Minnesota observers, including 19 inches at Cottage Grove and Madison (Lac Qui Parle County), 18.5 inches at Granite Falls, 18.1 inches at Forest Lake 17.9 inches at Marshall, 17.8 inches at Montevideo, and 17 inches at Lake City and Chisago City. More snow is forecast for the balance of the month as we near New Years.

Temperature record set at Rochester, MN

The National Weather Service reported this week that Rochester, MN has set a new record for the lack of sub-zero temperature readings in that city. They have seen a period of 335 days without a single below 0 F temperature reading (dating back to January 22 of this year). This breaks the old record of 333 days set in 1987. 

Weekly Weather potpourri

NOAA reported this week that there were 11 weather and climate extremes during 2012 that produced at least $1 billion in losses. These included 7 severe weather/tornado events, two tropical storm/hurricane events, and a year-long drought and associated wildfires. NOAA further estimates that the grand total in losses due to weather events and climate episodes in 2012 will exceed the total from last year (2011), surpassing $60 billion, mostly from drought and Super Storm Sandy. You can read more from a NOAA release.

The weekly Drought Update (Dec 18) from Brad Rippey with the USDA World Agricultural Outlook Board includes the following comments:
-There was another small drop ­ less than one-tenth of a percentage point ­ in overall U.S. drought coverage, from 61.87% last week to 61.79% on December 18.
-However, the portion of the contiguous U.S. in the worst category ­ D4, or exceptional drought ­ crept upward to 6.64%, the greatest U.S. coverage since November 22, 2011.
-Hay in drought (64%), cattle in drought (73%), and winter wheat in drought (63%) were all unchanged from the previous week.
-Hay in drought has been at or above 60% and cattle in drought has been greater than two-thirds of the domestic inventory for 24 consecutive weeks (July 10 ­ December 18).
-On the central Plains, winter wheat benefited from widespread snow on December 19. Any improvement in the central Plains’ drought situation will be reflected next week.

This week the United Kingdom Meteorological Office issued a global temperature forecast for 2013. They used recent trends in global climate data sets to estimate that 2013 will likely be one of the warmest ten years since 1850.

Weather reports from Europe indicate that the skiing season for the Alps is off to a great start. Early December snowfall has been heavy and powdery in the French, Swiss, and Italian Alps. Observers say conditions are great and comparable to the early skiing seasons of 1965, 1992, and 2007. You can read more here.

Parts of Russia are reporting one of the coldest Decembers in 70 years with many reports of daytime high temperatures remaining below 0 degrees F even in areas around Moscow. Overnight lows in Siberia have been as cold as -58 degrees F, near record values for December. Yakutsk reported a high on Thursday (Dec 20) of -22 degrees F.

MPR listener question

It seems that below zero degrees F temperatures readings in the Twin Cities are less frequent than they once were. Is this true?

Answer: Yes, indeed. From 1871 to 1990 the Twin Cities recorded an average of 29-30 days per year with an overnight low below 0 F. Since 1990 the average has been about 19-20 days. Further in 2006 and this year (2012) there have been only 3 such days, second only to 1931 when there were just 2 days with below 0 F lows.

Twin Cities Almanac for December 21st

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 21st

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 56 degrees F in 1877; lowest daily maximum temperature of -10 degrees F in 1872; lowest daily minimum temperature of -24 F in 1916; highest daily minimum temperature of 38 F in 1877; and record precipitation of 0.71 inches in 2006; Record snowfall is 5.3 inches in 1920.

Average dew point for December 21st is 10 degrees F, with a maximum of 47 degrees F in 1967 and a minimum of -33 degrees F in 1989.

All-time state records for December 21st

The state record high temperature for this date is 64 degrees F at Lynd (Lyon County) in 1908. The state record low temperature for this date is -49 degrees F at Hallock (Kittson County) in 1916. State record precipitation for this date is 1.45 inches at Bricelyn (Faribault County) in 1948; and the state record snowfall for this date is 12.0 inches at Tracy (Lyon County) in 1920.

Past Weather Features:

This week in 1877 was one of the mildest spells of December weather in the history of the Twin Cities. December 21-23 brought three consecutive days with daytime highs in the 50s F and overnight lows in the upper 30s to mid 40s F.

December 21, 1916 was probably the coldest in history, with at least 45 Minnesota communities reporting morning lows of -30 degrees F or colder. In western Minnesota Angus never rose above -15 degrees F during the day. For many communities temperatures remained below 0 F until Christmas Eve when they rose into the single digits and teens F.

December 21-22, 1920 brought a heavy snow storm to southern Minnesota, with many observers reporting 6-12 inches of fresh snow. Blowing and drifting made traveling difficult for the Christmas season.

December 20 21, 1967 brought a very mild spell of weather to much of Minnesota. Over 20 communities reported daytime highs of 50 degrees F or higher. A strong cold front brought an abrupt end to the mild spell as temperatures plummeted into the single digits on December 22nd and snow fell on Christmas Eve.


Cooler than normal temperatures over the weekend, but under some sunny skies. Some chance of snow on Monday under cloudy skies, then cooler again for Christmas Day (Tue). General cooler for the balance of next week as well, with some below 0 F readings.
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