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New Seasonal Climate Outlook

New Seasonal Climate Outlook

On Thursday, November 21, the NOAA-Climate Prediction Center released new seasonal outlooks covering meteorological winter, from December through February. The new outlooks favor below normal temperature conditions Dec-Feb for North Dakota, Northern portions of South Dakota, and many parts of western and northern Minnesota. Outlooks do not distinctly favor above or below normal precipitation for Minnesota during the winter season.

Tornadoes in the central USA on November 17, 2013

Last Sunday, November 17 was a dramatic and traumatic day weatherwise for citizens in IL, IN, KY, TN, MI, and OH. Between 11:00 am and 6:00 pm over 110 tornado reports were filed with the NOAA-Storm Prediction Center, as were over 500 strong wind reports and over 30 large hail reports. Two EF-4 tornadoes (winds 166-200 mph) and at least one EF-3 (winds 136-165 mph) tornado struck in Illinois killing six people, injuring scores of people, and damaging or destroying hundreds of homes. According to Dr. Jeff Masters of the Weather Underground this outbreak of November tornadoes ranks among the top four or five worst in USA history (Novembers 1987, 1992, 2001, 2002, and 2005 brought numerous tornadoes too), but it is especially notable for bringing these storms so far north. Such storms this time of year are more commonly in the southern plains states or the southeastern states. You can read more from Dr. Masters here.

And more from the Central Illinois National Weather Service in Lincoln, I.

Minnesota's final tornado tally in 2013

Todd Krause, Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the NOAA-National Weather Service in Chanhassen reported this week that Minnesota saw just 15 tornadoes this year, the fewest since 1990 when there were only 12. The tornado reports by month were: 2 in May; 4 in June; 2 in July; 5 in August; 1 in September; and 1 in October. The strongest tornado was rated at EF-2 (winds 111-135 mph) and occurred from 1:50 am to 2:30 am across Mahnomen and Clearwater Counties, near the town of Zerkel. It was on the ground for over 21 miles and did some tree damage, but there were no deaths or injuries. In fact on a statewide basis there were no deaths or injuries reported due to tornadoes this year.

Snow and cold spreading across the state

 A low pressure system passing over Lake Superior brought plenty of clouds and mixed precipitation (rain, freezing drizzle, and snow) to Minnesota on Thursday (Nov 21). Hallock (Kittson County) reported 4 inches of snowfall by noon, which tied the daily record amount for snowfall there on November 21st. Elsewhere in the north Red Lake Falls and Warroad reported 1.5 inches of snow, while in the southeast Rosemount and Rochester reported 1 inch of new snow. Slushy roads and icy patches were slowing traffic in north-central and southeastern counties by afternoon, with many spinouts and accidents reported.

Weekly Weather potpourri

Pete Boulay of the MN State Climatology Office has posted the complete climatology for the Thanksgiving Holiday in the Twin Cities area (1872-2012). The warmest Thanksgiving Day was in 1914 and 1922 when the afternoon temperature reached 62 degrees F. The most recent mild Thanksgiving was just last year when the temperature hit 60 degrees F in the Twin Cities. The coldest Thanksgiving Day temperature was a morning minimum of -18 degrees F on November 25, 1880.

The Weather Channel web site has posted an interesting piece on the largest 24-hour snowfalls recorded in each of the 50 states. Some of the numbers may startle you. For example on March 6, 1954 parts of the Florida panhandle recorded 4 inches of snowfall. Granted it did not last too long. Further north in South Carolina the town of Society Hill recorded 18 inches of snowfall on February 25, 1914. BTW for Minnesota Wold Ridge Environmental Learning Center near Finland (Lake County) holds the record with 36 inches of new snow on January 7, 1994. You can read more at the Weather Channel web site.

Highlights from the USDA Weekly Drought Update given by the World Agricultural Outlook Board:
-U.S. drought coverage reversed its recent downward trend, with 32.45% of the Lower 48 States in drought on November 19 (up more than 2 percentage points from last week). This represents the first increase in U.S. drought coverage since September 10, 2013.
- Out west, Extreme Drought (D3) in California jumped from 11.36% to 27.59% over the past week. In California’s San Joaquin Valley, the city of Bakersfield moved completely to ground water supplies due to the dry conditions and lack of surface water. Reservoirs are approaching 70% of average capacity. According to local National Weather Service experts, this level has historically been one of the measures of statewide drought, especially with precipitation being historically low for the calendar year.
-For the third week in a row, a little more than one-fifth (22%) of the U.S. hay production area was in drought. Although most of the wheat crop is growing well – rated 63% good to excellent on November 17 – dryness remains a concern on the southern High Plains.

A new study recently published in Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society shows that the Arctic region is warming at about 8 times the pace of the rest of planet Earth. This study authored by Kevin Cowtan of the University of York and Robert Way of the University of Ottawa also suggests that the slowed pace of warming in recent years detected by some global observation data is incorrect probably because of sampling error. You can read more about this study here.

MPR listener question

Which month has the highest frequency of fog in the Twin Cities?

Answer: The statistical distribution of fog keeps changing slightly with each passing decade in the Twin Cities climate record. In the 1990s December showed the highest frequency of fog, followed by January and February. The more recent data show that the highest incidence of heavy fogs occurs in March, followed by February, and December. Winter inversions (increasing temperature with height) are more common during these months keeping moist air trapped near the ground. Fog can more easily form at night under these conditions. By the way, the month with the lowest frequency of fog is July. Often times the conditions that support fog formation also lead to poor air quality in the Twin Cities.

Twin Cities Almanac for November 22nd

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 35 degrees F (plus or minus 10 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 21 degrees F (plus or minus 9 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for November 22nd

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 59 degrees F in 1998; lowest daily maximum temperature of 12 degrees F in 1880 and 1921; lowest daily minimum temperature is -6 degrees F in 1880; highest daily minimum temperature of 45 F in 2009; record precipitation of 0.58 inches in 1898; and a record 5.5 inches of snow fell on this date in 1898.

Average dew point for November 22nd is 29 degrees F, with a maximum of 53 degrees F in 1963 and a minimum of -7 degrees F in 1970.

All-time state records for November 22nd

The state record high temperature for this date is 72 degrees F at Preston (Fillmore County) in 1990. The state record low temperature for this date is -26 degrees F at Ada (Norman County) in 1896. State record precipitation for this date is 2.18 inches at Willow River (Pine County) in 1898; and state record snowfall for this date is 13.0 inches at Pokegama Dam (Itasca County) in 1898.

Past Weather Features:

A strong Arctic cold front passed across the state over November 21-22, 1896 dropping temperatures by 40-50 degrees F. Ada dropped 52 degrees F from plus 26 F to minus 26 F. Many other communities saw the thermometer drop to -20 degrees F or colder including Crookston, Tower, Moorhead, Detroit Lakes, and Park Rapids. November of 1896 remains the coldest in state history, averaging nearly 12 degrees F colder than normal.  November 21-22, 1898 brought a strong winter storm to Minnesota, with strong winds and mixed precipitation. Many southern and eastern Minnesota observers reported 6 to 12 inches of snowfall. In addition temperatures dropped dramatically during the storm falling from the 30s and 40s F into the single digits and below zero F range. The rest of that November remained quite cold with a number of nights below 0 degrees F.  November 22, 1990 was the warmest in state history with over 20 Minnesota communities reporting daytime highs in the 60s F. It was 64 degrees F as far north as Grand Rapids, and some observers in southeastern Minnesota saw the thermometer reach 70 degrees F or higher, including the towns of Preston, Grand Meadow, Red Wing, and Winona.  A winter storm brought 3 to 6 inches of snowfall to many parts of Minnesota over November 21-22, 1997. A mixture of precipitation made driving conditions difficult in some areas.


Breezy, sunny, and cold on Saturday with highs in the single digits and teens F. Moderating temperatures on Sunday, climbing into the 20s and 30s F, and chance for light snow in the north. Generally cooler than normal with dry weather leading up to Thanksgiving next week.
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