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Highlights of MN Climate Adaptation Conference

Highlights of MN Climate Adaptation Conference, November 7th, Science Museum of Minnesota

-Over 250 people attended, representing state agencies, local units of government, NGOs, academic institutions, industries, and others
-Participants discussed climate impacts on transportation, agriculture, public health, energy use, urban planning, watershed management, forestry, and the insurance industry
-Climate change is already having an impact on insurance, Minnesota was the only Midwestern state among the top 3 states with the highest insured catastrophic losses in both 2007 and 2008. Homeowners claims related to severe weather like hail and wind damage are up, as are average homeowner insurance premiums. Minnesota ranks 14th highest among states in homeowners insurance premiums and has seen a rise of over 267 percent in these costs since 1997. Not all of this is related directly to climate change, but some features of severe weather threats are changing and have at least partially had an effect.
-Minnesota DOT is quite concerned about climate change in the context of severe weather. Damage to roads and highways from the flash flood in Duluth, Cloquet, and Two Harbors in June of 2012 totaled over $50 million.

Significant snowfall this week

A winter storm brought a mixture of precipitation to the state over November 5-6 this week. Sections of southeastern SD and southwestern MN reported snowfall amounts of 5-10 inches, while southeastern Minnesota reported some significant rainfall amounts, well over 1 inch in some cases. The precipitation shadow from this storm covered much of the southern two-thirds of the state, with a snow swath spreading from SW counties through central and east central counties overnight. New daily snowfall records were set for November 6th at some locations including:
9 inches at Marshall
7 inches at Pipestone
6.2 inches at Redwood Falls
4.2 inches at Litchfield
4.0 inches at Slayton, Cambridge, Lakefield, and Kimball
3.8 inches at Windom
3.5 inches at Granite Falls

In southeastern Minnesota several observers reported over 1 inch of precipitation, including some locations that set new daily rainfall records for November 6th such as Spring Valley (1.12"), Chatfield (1.23"), Grand Meadow (1.27"), Caledonia (1.40"), La Crescent (1.45"), Preston (1.45"). These rains continued the wetness trend of this autumn which has brought a great deal of recharge to southern Minnesota soils that were considerably dried out by the late summer drought.

Remembering November 8, 1943

For many Minnesota citizens the most vivid memories of November blizzards are associated with the 1940 Armistice Day Blizzard (November 11) or the 1991 Halloween Blizzard October 31-November 2). However, from a climatological perspective there is a third November episode of great significance associated with the ice storm and heavy snowfall of November 6-8, 1943. This storm produced heavier snowfalls than the Armistice Day and Halloween Blizzard for many parts of the state and caused significant shoreline damage to the Lake Superior area. Coming from the south, this storm started out as rain, changing to freezing rain and sleet, then finally heavy snow. Because it occurred over a weekend (Saturday through Monday), the storm stranded many Minnesota duck hunters in the countryside, though it did not result in many fatalities because the temperature drop was modest (about 8-10 degrees F) compared to those of the Armistice Day and Halloween Blizzards (over 40 degrees F drop). A total of five storm-related fatalities were reported across the state.

This weather system produced a great deal of ice, up to 3 inches thick on some power lines in central Minnesota. Over 1700 power and telephone poles fell down as a result. The ice also caused numerous accidents and put a stop to train, plane, and streetcar traffic. When the temperature dropped sufficiently to produce snow on the 8th, great amounts piled up across southern and central counties. some of the larger amounts, and still records for the date, include 22 inches at Faribault, 20 inches at Bird Island, 20 inches at Redwood Falls, 22 inches at Marshall, and 18 inches at Springfield. Strong winds of 30 to 40 mph produced
enormous drifts in some areas. In Cottonwood County, 15 ft drifts closed state highways 71 and 30, and near Windom an Omaha bound train was completely buried in a snow drift.

Duluth and other cities along the north shore of Lake Superior reported enormous waves and erosion damage. Winds from the northeast gusted to near 45 mph. Sixty-five ore carriers took refuge in Duluth-Superior harbor. Fortunately, following the storm, relatively dry, mild weather took hold and soon dissipated the snow cover.

Weekly Weather potpourri

Weekly drought assessment remarks from Brad Rippey of the USDA World Agricultural Outlook Board:
-Widespread precipitation continued to chip away at drought across the Great Plains and Midwest. On November 5, overall U.S. drought coverage stood at 32.24%, down 2.46 percentage points from a week ago. This represents the smallest areal extent of drought in the contiguous U.S. since January 3, 2012.
- Based on the definitions of drought employed in the production the U.S. Drought Monitor, historical U.S. drought coverage should average near 20%. The last time contiguous U.S. drought coverage was below 20% was December 14, 2010. On November 3, USDA/NASS reported that 73% of the U.S. corn and 86% of the soybeans had been harvested. Lingering drought remains a concern in a few Midwestern States, including Iowa (68% in drought on November 5), Illinois (38%), Wisconsin (27%), Missouri (26%), and Minnesota (26%).

NOAA announced this week a new data visualization tool available on the web for examining archived or recent environmental data sets using the NOAAVIEW system. This system allows access and viewing of wind data, precipitation, ice cover, vegetation, and other parameters.

Super Typhoon Haiyan developed in the Western Pacific Ocean this week southeast of the Philippines. Its peak winds exceeded 195 mph, producing sea waves of over 50 feet. High winds, heavy rains, and storm surge were causing a great deal of damage to the Philippines on Friday and expected to continue into Saturday. This mammoth storm will move towards Vietnam early next week. Another strong tropical storm was developing in the Indian Ocean off the horn of Africa.  Sunday, November 3rd brought some rare tornadoes to parts of the Netherlands in Western Europe. Tornadoes in Arnheim and Utrecht damaged a number of buildings, tearing off shingles and breaking windows, and bringing down mature trees. In addition some heavy rainfalls of 2-3 inches were reported in places.  A huge winter storm was bringing high winds, rains, and heavy seas to Western Alaska this week. The National Weather Service reported sea waves of 25-30 feet in the Bering Sea and 80 mph winds in the Aleutian Islands. Rain and snow was expected to spread across southern Alaska towards the weekend.

MPR listener question

What do the climate statistics for freezing rain in Minnesota show? How often? Peak time of year? Peak hour of the day?

Answer: We lack comprehensive statistical analysis of freezing rain events for all locations in Minnesota, but for those we have the average number of annual hourly reports showing freezing rain and/or freezing drizzle in Minnesota ranges from about 45 hours in northeastern counties (Lake, Cook, and St Louis) to less than 30 hours in southwestern counties. The most common months for the occurrence of freezing rain or freezing drizzle in Minnesota (listed by frequency of reports) are December, January, November, and March, respectively. The most common time of day for this type of precipitation is from 6:00 am to 9:00 am, while the fewest reports can be found from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. The most recent November freezing rain episode was November 18, 1996 when southwestern counties suffered from ice buildup and power outages.

Twin Cities Almanac for November 8th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 44 degrees F (plus or minus 10 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 29 degrees F (plus or minus 9 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for November 8th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 77 degrees F in 1999; lowest daily maximum temperature of 25 degrees F in 1991; lowest daily minimum temperature is 1 degrees F in 1991; highest daily minimum temperature of 53 F in 1977 and 2006; record precipitation of 1.51 inches in 1932; and a record 8.5 inches of snow fell on this date in 1943.

Average dew point for November 8th is 28 degrees F, with a maximum of 54 degrees F in 1977 and a minimum of -3 degrees F in 1991.

All-time state records for November 8th

The state record high temperature for this date is 81 degrees F at Canby (Yellow Medicine County) in 1931 and at Benson (Swift County) in 1999. The state record low temperature for this date is -14 degrees F at Mankato in 1991. State record precipitation for this date is 3.45 inches at Winona (Winona County) in 1945; and state record snowfall for this date is 16.0 inches at Vesta (Redwood County) in 1943.

Past Weather Features:

A strong low pressure system brought high winds and a mixture of rain and snow to the state on November 8-9, 1932. Many observers reported precipitation that ranged from 1 to 2 inches, and several had record-setting amounts. Duluth, Two Harbors, Pigeon River, Pokegama Dam, Grand Rapids, Cloquet, and Mora reported well over two inches.  November 6-8, 1943 brought a memorable winter storm to the state with blizzard conditions and huge drifts blocking roads and highways. See the write-up above.  Nearly a week after the Halloween Blizzard of 1991, a polar air mass brought record-setting cold temperatures to the state on November 8th. Over 60 Minnesota communities reported morning low temperatures below 0 degrees F. Many daytime highs only reached the teens F, establishing new record cold maximum temperatures as well.  November 8, 1999 was perhaps the warmest in state history with record-setting high temperatures reported from 48 communities in the state. Five observers reported daytimes highs of 80 degrees F or higher and it was 72 degrees F as far north as International Falls. By the 11th the overnight temperatures had fallen into the 20s F, but a second surge of warmth brought temperatures back into the 70s F by mid-month as 1999 brought the 4th warmest November in state history.


Cooler than normal temperatures over the weekend with a chance for snow in the north. Generally a cool and dry week coming up with a warming trend towards the end of next week.
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