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Preliminary climate summary for March

 Preliminary climate summary for March

Mean temperatures for the month ranged from 5 to 9 degrees F colder than normal for most observers in the state. This was the second consecutive month with below normal mean temperatures. In fact the February-March combined mean temperatures were the coldest since 2001 for most observers. Extremes for the month ranged from -29 degrees F at Embarrass on the 17th (St Patrick's Day) to 54 degrees F at Pipestone on the 28th.

Most observers reported above normal precipitation for the month. Many reported over 2 inches, while some exceeded three inches, including 3.42 inches at Waseca, 3.27 inches at St James, and 3.04 inches at Grand Meadow. Snowfall amounts were above normal as well for most, except in southwestern counties where amounts only ranged from 3 to 7 inches. Some locations reported more than 2 feet of snowfall during the month including 26.0 inches at Ottertail, 25.7 inches at Grand Meadow, 25.5 inches at Cass Lake and Duluth, and 25.1 inches at Chisholm. Maximum snow depth during the month exceeded 30 inches in portions of north-central (International Falls) and northeastern (Isabella) Minnesota. In the north the Kabetogama Lake ice road closed for the season on March 27th due to deep snow and slush conditions.

Cold Twin's Home Opener

According to historical analysis by Pete Boulay of the MN State Climatology Office it appears that the Minnesota Twins may open the season Monday (April 1st) with the coldest temperatures ever for this occasion, highs forecasted to be in the low-30s F. The coldest home opener in franchise history was on April 14, 1962 when the daytime high was 34 degrees F (Twins lost to the Angels 12-5 at the old Met). The Twins are scheduled to open against the Detroit Tigers at 3:10 pm on Monday, April 1st at Target Field with an expected temperature of 32 degrees F, and windchill in the high teens F to low 20s F. Long underwear under the uniform may be the common wardrobe that day. Incidentally the warmest ever home opener? On April 22, 1980, again at the old Met against the Angels the temperature was 90 degrees F (Twins won 8-1). You can read more about the weather for Twin's Home Openers here.

Weekly Weather potpourri

The United Kingdom Meteorological Office reports that this March is the coldest for that country since 1962, about 3 degrees C colder than the long term average. It ranks as the 4th coldest over the country-wide period of record since 1910. They are expecting to see a colder than normal Easter Sunday. You can read more on their web site.

Conversely, the city of Sidney in Australia has just reported the hottest week for this time of year in 44 years. Daytime highs there rose to well over 90 degrees F and averaged near 84 degrees F for the entire week. Further to the south, Melbourne is on track to record their hottest March in history. Fortunately a cooler spell of weather is expected for the Easter weekend.

Highlights for the drought-monitoring period ending 7 am EDT on March 26 from Brad Rippey at the USDA World Agricultural Outlook Board include:

- Overall U.S. drought coverage decreased slightly (0.22%) to 51.64% of the contiguous U.S. In addition, drought coverage is down 9.45% from the beginning of 2013 and down 13.81% from the record-high of 65.45% on September 25, 2012.
- The portion of the contiguous U.S. in the worst category – D4, or exceptional drought – decreased nearly one-third of a percentage point (0.30%) to 5.10%. D4 coverage has ranged from 5 to 7% for 33 consecutive weeks (August 14, 2012 – March 26, 2013).
- For the second week in a row, there were no changes in hay in drought (51%), cattle in drought (62%), and winter wheat in drought (56%).

A paper published this week by researchers at North Carolina State University documents that certain scale insects that infest trees were far more abundant in the urban heat island micro-climates of cities. Pest abundance in the urban heat island is thought to be more related to species survivability and resilience than reproductive rates. The paper may provoke more studies of differential species abundance within urban areas as climate continues to change. You can read more here.

Adaptation International is an organization dedicated to helping communities and business operations mitigate their risk and increase their resilience with respect to climate change. They provide technical knowledge and guidance for adaptation strategies for specific situations. They are currently involved in projects for Tucson, AZ and Seattle, WA. You can read more about them here.

USDA survey released this week projected corn planting intentions of 97.3 million acres, most since 1936. In addition the corn stocks report was higher than expected putting downward pressure on corn prices which fell by 46 cents. Projected alleviation of drought conditions across the Midwest this spring may continue to put downward pressure on corn prices, but the situation is acknowledged to be volatile at least through the early spring planting season.

MPR listener question

After reaching 40 degrees F on January 20th this year at Waseca, we have not seen that temperature since. What is the latest calendar date for a 40 degree high in Waseca and other southern MN cities?

Answer: In 1970 Waseca did not see a 40 degrees F air temperature until March 25th. This was true for most of southern Minnesota. BTW in 1843 at Fort Snelling, the temperature reached 42 degrees F on January 20th, then did not reach 40 F again until April 4th.

Twin Cities Almanac for March 29th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 45 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 28 degrees F (plus or minus 10 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for March 29th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 83 degrees F in 1986; lowest daily maximum temperature of 13 degrees F in 1969; lowest daily minimum temperature of -5 F in 1969; highest daily minimum temperature of 57 F in 1910; and record precipitation of 0.98 inches in 1998; Record snowfall is 11.0 inches in 1924.

Average dew point for March 29th is 25 degrees F, with a maximum of 56 degrees F in 1910 and a minimum of -13 degrees F in 1969.

All-time state records for March 29th

The state record high temperature for this date is 83 degrees F at numerous locations, including the Twin Cities and Gaylord, MN in 1986. The state record low temperature for this date is -23 degrees F at Itasca State Park (Clearwater County) in 1921. State record precipitation for this date is 2.88 inches at Lake City (Wabasha County) in 1998; and the state record snowfall for this date is 17.5 inches at Maple Plain (Hennepin County) in 1924.

Past Weather Features:

A strong winter storm crossed the state on March 29, 1864 bringing 4 inches of snow to parts of southern Minnesota and 17 inches of snowfall to Beaver Bay along the north shore of Lake Superior.
A large winter storm dominated the state over March 28-30, 1924 and brought one of the heaviest spring snowfalls ever measured. Many communities in central and southern Minnesota received between 10 and 20 inches of snowfall. Canby in western Minnesota reported 22.5 inches, a record there, while Maple Plain in the Twin Cities area reported 21 inches. The streetcar system in the Twin Cities was shut down. The snow was welcome as many areas had been suffering from drought.

A Cold Wave dominated the state over March 28-31, 1969. The coldest March 29th in state history occurred in that year. Virtually every county in the state reported morning lows that were below zero degrees F. Albert Lea was the warm spot with plus 1 F. Morris, MN warmed up to a high of 1 degrees F, 41 degrees F colder than normal for the date and still a record value. Temperatures warmed into the 40s F again by April 2nd.

The warmest March 29th in state history occurred in 1986. Many observers reported daytime highs in the 70s F, and 16 communities saw their thermometers reach 80 degrees F or higher. Cedar located in Anoka County saw the temperature climb from a morning low of 32 degrees F to an afternoon high of 82 degrees F by 4:00 pm. A cool front swept through overnight and dropped temperatures by 25 to 35 degrees F the next day.

The worst March tornado outbreak in Minnesota history occurred on the afternoon of March 29, 1998 when 14 separate tornadoes touched down in southern counties of the state. One tornado, an F-4 (winds 207-260 mph) traveled for 67 miles, leaving a path of destruction. At least nine communities reported significant damages including Comfrey, Nicollet, St Peter, and Le Center. Two deaths and a few dozen injuries were reported with these storms.


Lingering rain Saturday morning in eastern Minnesota, but mostly cloudy elsewhere with temperatures in the 30s to low 50s F. Cooler and breezy Easter Sunday with a chance for snow showers in the north. Cooler yet on Monday and Tuesday, then warming on Wednesday and Thursday next week. Remaining mostly dry throughout the period.
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