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Cooler than normal temperature pattern continues

Cooler than normal temperature pattern continues

Over the past three weeks cooler than normal temperatures have dominated our region quite consistently. In fact International Falls, MN has reported 28 consecutive days with cooler than normal temperature readings. Some overnight lows have dipped to record setting values. On August 10th International Falls tied their record low of 38 degrees F. Then on Wednesday, August 14th several northern Minnesota communities reported record low values, including Ely (36 F), Orr (35 F), Crane Lake (34 F) Kabetogama (37 F), Grand Marais (32 F), Silver Bay (32 F) Brimson (30 F tied 2004), and International Falls again (35 F tied 1997). On Thursday (August 15) some additional low temperature records were set at Embarrass (32 F), Kabetogama (38 F), and Orr (35 F). Further, on Friday morning there were a few more reports of lows in the 30s F including Crane Lake and Orr (39 F) and Embarrass (36 F).

The cooler than normal temperature pattern will come to an end this weekend as a broad area of above normal temperatures settles over the Western Great Lakes region. It appears that the above normal temperature pattern may prevail for the rest of the month of August as well.

New Seasonal Climate Outlook

The NOAA-Climate Prediction Center released a new seasonal climate outlook on Thursday of this week. The outlook for September through November suggests a higher probability of warmer than normal temperatures for the Great Lakes Region, including eastern portions of Minnesota. The outlook also favors above normal precipitation for the Great Lakes area, including southern Minnesota. Further the CPC sees no development of an El Nino episode in the equatorial Pacific Ocean during the coming fall and winter season.

Climate Change Adaptation Conference at the Science Museum on November 7, 2013

Several organizations are partnering to host the first statewide conference on Climate Change Adaptation, Planning and Practice. It will take place at the Science Museum of Minnesota in downtown St Paul on November 7, 2013. Registration for the all day program is only $50. Sessions will be devoted to city planning, agriculture, transportation, natural resources (including watershed management), and public health.

Remembering Bill Larson

Bill Larson passed away last month, just a few weeks shy of his 92nd birthday. He was my boss from 1982 to 1989 when he served as Head of the Department of Soil, Water, and Climate at the University of Minnesota. I remember him as both an outstanding soil scientist and university administrator. Early in his career he was a promoter of soil conservation and evaluating soil health. His scientific achievements were widely recognized, as he won the Siehl Prize for Agricultural Research, was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Nebraska, and he was inducted into the USDA-ARS Science Hall of Fame. Bill advised many outstanding graduate students and expanded the department's expertise into the areas of water and climate with new faculty hires. I think he was one of the most respected scientists I have known, as well as an effective administrator. I consider myself lucky to have known him.

Meet us at the State Fair

MPR presents will be hosting a weather show on August 27th at noon, from the 2013 Minnesota State Fair Public Radio Booth at the corner of Judson and Nelson on the State Fairgrounds. Cathy Wurzer will serve as host with Paul Huttner and I in the booth to answer weather questions and put the past year's weather in perspective. Please consider this an invitation to drop by if you are at the Fair. Otherwise the hour-long broadcast will be carried by Minnesota Public Radio News and Information stations.

Weekly Weather potpourri

Earlier this month four former EPA Heads under Republican administrations voiced their concern for doing something about climate change in a New York Times opinion piece. It is worth a read and can be found at the NYTimes web site under archives.

After bringing heavy rains to the Philippines Typhoon Utor hit southern China and parts of Hong Kong on Wednesday this week with winds of 90 mph and heavy rains. Tens of thousands of residents were evacuated, schools and businesses were closed as well, along with ferry services. Some areas received over 4 inches of rainfall on Wednesday, and yet more rainfall is expected into the weekend adding to the flooding risk for many areas. Elsewhere the National Hurricane Center was issuing advisories on Tropical Storm Erin in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean near Cape Verde. It is expected to remain a tropical storm as it slowly crosses the Atlantic Ocean this weekend.

A study from Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research was published this week in the journal Environmental Research Letters and finds that Heat Waves will increase globally in frequency and amplitude regardless of emission scenarios. With mitigation efforts to curb global greenhouse gas emissions the study finds that the frequency chance in Heat Waves could stabilize by 2040. You can read more about this study here.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology announced earlier this month the formation of a new National Centre for Extreme Weather. This new center will be staffed by 8 special meteorologists who will collaborate with other offices to deploy and coordinate new next generation flood forecasting models and Tropical Storm surge prediction schemes. The new Centre will also work closely with emergency managers and the media to see that urgent messages are immediately and widely distributed when necessary. You can read more about this here.

MPR listener question

Why do clouds tend to have flat bottoms and round tops?

Answer: There are of course a wide range of cloud types, but most have flat bottoms. The bottom of the cloud represents a layer that meteorologists call the Lifted Condensation Level (LCL), the height in the atmosphere where a rising plume of air will cool enough to reach saturation (100 percent humidity) and droplets will form. The LCL is related to the difference between air temperature and dewpoint (temperature at which condensation will occur) at the surface. Where the difference is large, the LCL tends to be at a higher elevation. Given that air temperature and dewpoint are typically similar over geographic areas that are several miles across, the rising air from the surface reaches a geographically uniform LCL, condensation occurs and the bottom layer of the cloud appears to be relatively flat with little variation in height. Conversely within the cloud plumes of microscopic water droplets may continue to rise or disperse due to strong updrafts and wind shear. This type of movement within the cloud will tend to give the perimeter edges and the top of the cloud a more rounded or lumpy appearance. These are the usual atmospheric motions that create clouds. Under some circumstances, especially with temperature inversions (increasing temperature with altitude) fog will form at the surface, and the top of the fog layer will be uniform, representing a warm enough layer of air that the atmosphere is no longer saturated, so from above it looks like the Earth is covered by a white blanket.

You can find almost every type of cloud depicted at the Cloud Appreciation Society web site, one of my favorites.

Twin Cities Almanac for August 16th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 82 degrees F (plus or minus 7 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 61 degrees F (plus or minus 6 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for August 16th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 99 degrees F in 1988; lowest daily maximum temperature of 64 degrees F in 1943; lowest daily minimum temperature is 47 degrees F in 1962; highest daily minimum temperature of 77 F in 1988; and record precipitation of 1.97 inches in 2002; No snow has been recorded on this date.

Average dew point for August 16th is 59 degrees F, with a maximum of 76 degrees F in 1908 and a minimum of 40 degrees F in 1924.

All-time state records for August 16th

The state record high temperature for this date is 107 degrees F at Madison (Lac Qui Parle County) in 1988. The state record low temperature for this date is 27 degrees F at Tower (St Louis County) in 1976. State record precipitation for this date is 4.21 inches at Willmar (Kandiyohi County) in 1926; and no snow has fallen on this date. 

Past Weather Features:

August 16 was the middle of a Heat Wave in both 1922 and 1988. In 1922 an August Heat Wave visited the state from the 14th to the 18th and was very detrimental to crops. Over 35 Minnesota communities reported highs in the 90s F and six stations reached the century mark on their thermometers. In 1988 a Heat Wave prevailed from August 15 to 17 as over 40 Minnesota communities saw afternoon temperatures reach 100 degrees F or higher. The heat dissipated little at night as several observers reported overnight lows in the 80s F. Finally a cold front brought relief on the 19th, dropping the temperatures by 30 degrees F or more.

About 6:00 pm on August 16, 1926 an F-2 tornado (winds 113-157 mph) touched down in Becker County near Detroit Lakes. It destroyed a church and move along for 12 more miles, damaging some farms and homes along the way before lifting off to the east of the lake.

August 15-16, 1972 brought a flash flood to some north shore communities. Frequent lightning strikes accompanied the thunderstorms that dropped 1.5 to 4.5 inches of rainfall along a stretch of Highway 61 from Duluth to Castle Danger. There was widespread flooding of some basements and roads.

The coldest August 16th in state history occurred in 1976 when over 80 Minnesota communities reported morning low temperatures in the 30s F. Several northern observers reported minimum values in the 20s F. As far south as Grand Meadow (Mower County) frost was reported with a reading of just 30 degrees F.

About 6:00 pm on August 16, 2006 an EF-0 tornado (winds 40-72 mph) moved three miles across the Minnesota landscape in Roseau County near the town of Ross. It did little damage, but it was the 3rd tornado reported in Roseau County that summer, very unusual for that far north. Statewide there were only 25 tornado reports in 2006.
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