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October climate summary

October climate summary

A very warm first half of October gave way to a cooler than normal second half of the month. The second half brought multiple season ending frosts to virtually all areas of the state. Mean temperatures for the month ranged from plus or minus 1 degrees of normal among most observers. Extreme temperatures for the month ranged from 8 degrees F at Camp Norris in Lake of the Woods County (Oct 29) to 86 degrees F at Madison in Lac Qui Parle County (Oct 1).  Precipitation for the month was near normal to above normal at most places. Many observers reported measurable precipitation on 15 or more days. There were some drier than normal spots in the north, and a few in the west. Several observers reported over 5 inches for the month including Browns Valley, Wheaton, Ottertail, Melrose, Cloquet, Isle, Lanseboro, La Crescent, and Spring Valley. Mora reported its 5th wettest October with 6.04 inches, while Grand Meadow reported its 4th wettest October in history with 7.21 inches.  Snow visited much of the state during October, bringing slight amounts ranging from a trace to less than one inch. The observer at Askov reported 5 inches, while the observer from Isabella reported 6 inches for the month. By the end of the month northern lakes were starting to show a thin layer of ice on the surface and soil temperatures had dropped below 50 degrees F so farmers could apply forms of nitrogen fertilizer without the risk of leaching or denitrification.

Blood pressure and the onset of winter

My wife Cindy noticed an article this week by Dr. Sheldon Sheps, emeritus doctor from the Mayo Clinic who writes educational pieces. As winter type weather settles in this month it might be worth paying attention to your blood pressure, especially if you take medication to control it, or you are over 65 years old. Dr. Sheps writes:
"Blood pressure generally is higher in the winter and lower in the summer. That's because low temperatures cause your blood vessels to narrow ­ which increases blood pressure because more pressure is needed to force blood through your narrowed veins and arteries. In addition to cold weather, blood pressure may also be affected by a sudden change in weather patterns, such as a weather front or a storm. Your body ­ and blood vessels ­ may react to abrupt changes in humidity, atmospheric pressure, cloud cover or wind in much the same way it reacts to cold. These weather-related variations in blood pressure are more common in people age 65 and older. Other seasonal causes of higher blood pressure include weight gain and decreased physical activity in winter. If you have high blood pressure already, continue to monitor your blood pressure readings as the seasons change and talk to your doctor. Your doctor may recommend changing the dose of your blood pressure medication or switching to another medication. Don't make any changes to your medications without talking to your doctor." Good advice worth noting. More information on blood pressure care can be found here.

Late leaf fall

Many citizens have remarked about the late leaf fall this autumn. Phenologists and arborists tell us that the two key factors leading to late autumn leaf fall this year were the very late spring and delayed leafing out of trees, combined with a very warm and sunny September. Many trees, at or past peak color are still holding their leaves. A strong wind is forecasted for this Sunday (Nov 3) which should accelerate leaf drop in many parts of Minnesota. Unfortunately a rain and snow forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday may mean that these freshly dropped leaves will be mixed with a wet, slushy snowfall and may plug up storm sewer inlets and present more of a challenge to clean up.

Weekly Weather potpourri

Earlier this week (Monday, Oct 28) the BBC and the Hadley Centre reported on a strong storm system that battered western Europe with high winds and heavy rainfall. Wind gusts over 90 mph were reported from the south coast of England and power was knocked out for over 300,000 customers. Thousands of trees were knocked over blocking roads and railways and there was a good deal of coastal erosion in England and France as a result of large waves. The U.K. Met Office attributed the wind damage to a "sting jet" produced by rapidly descending air on the backside of the storm system. You can real more from CNN and the BBC.

Typhoon Krosa battered the northern Philippines this week with high winds, heavy rains and high seas. Wind gusts on Luzon Island ranged up to 67 mph with rainfall reports ranging up to a foot. The storm is expected to strengthen over the South China Sea before bringing high winds and heavy rains to parts of southern China and Vietnam over the weekend and early next week. Maximum winds over 110 mph and sea waves of 30-35 feet were projected for this storm system.

Scientists at NCAR reported earlier this week on a new study that linked North America summer Heat Waves with a distinct upper air pattern in the Northern Hemisphere that produces 5 wave numbers (in the pressure pattern). With such a tool in play it is possible to forecast a coming summer Heat Wave with lead times of 15-20 days, allowing communities to better prepare. You can read more about this paper here.

Highlights from the weekly drought update issued by Brad Rippey of the USDA this week:
-With more precipitation falling in recent days across the nation’s mid-section, the portion of the U.S. in drought continues to shrink. Only 34.70% of the contiguous U.S. remained in drought on October 29, down from a late-summer (September 10) peak of 50.69%. The last time a smaller area was in drought....was May 15, 2012. On October 27, USDA/NASS reported that 59% of the U.S. corn and 77% of the soybeans had been harvested. Thus, the 2013 growing season effectively has ended with 38% of the U.S. corn production area and 28% of the soybean area in drought, down from late-summer peaks of 55 and 45%, respectively. Still, there are pockets of lingering drought in the Midwest. On October 27, USDA/NASS rated topsoil moisture more than half very short to short in Illinois (60%), Missouri (58%), and Iowa (53%).

Residents of Rjukan, Norway are benefiting from the mountain top installation of three large mirrors (183 square feet) above this valley town. These mirrors are used to reflect the low winter sun and bring light to the valley below. It appears that they are working well and may serve as a model for other towns. You can read more about this here.

MPR listener question

Please settle an argument that occurred in our weekly Bridge Club. Two of our keenly observant card players remember that November of 2009 brought only a trace of snow to the Twin Cities (Nov 29), and they said that was a record for the least snow in November. But the Twin Cities records suggest other Novembers have seen just a trace as well. So were they correct?

Answer: According to the climate record of the Twin Cities Novembers of 1928, 1939, 1963, and 2009 all brought just a trace of snow. But your card playing friends are technically correct about 2009 from the standpoint of frequency of daily snowfall. In 2009 a trace of snow was observed on only one day (Nov 29) while in those others years a trace of snow was observed on several days. So give them a bonus point for being technically correct!

Twin Cities Almanac for November 1st

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 50 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 33 degrees F (plus or minus 9 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for November 1st

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 77 degrees F in 1933; lowest daily maximum temperature of 25 degrees F in 1951; lowest daily minimum temperature is 10 degrees F in 1951; highest daily minimum temperature of 57 F in 2000; record precipitation of 1.85 inches in 1991; and a record 18.5 inches of snow fell on this date in 1991.

Average dew point for November 1st is 33 degrees F, with a maximum of 62 degrees F in 2000 and a minimum of -4 degrees F in 1984.

All-time state records for November 1st

The state record high temperature for this date is 84 degrees F at Winona (Winona County) in 1950. The state record low temperature for this date is -10 degrees F at Campbell (Wilkin County) in 1919. State record precipitation for this date is 3.28 inches at Winona (Winona County) in 1991; and state record snowfall for this date is 24.1 inches at Duluth (St Louis County) in 1991.

Past Weather Features:

Late October of 1873 brought 11 inches of snowfall to the Twin Cities area and very cold temperatures to start the month of November. For five consecutive nights temperatures fell into the teens F while daytime highs remained in the 30s F. Overnight lows were below 0 F by mid month and November of 1873 proved to be one of the coldest in state history.  On a statewide basis, November 1-2, 1935 may have been the coldest ever start to the month, as over dozen communities reported overnight low temperatures below 0 degrees F. A cold front brought snowfall to much of the state to start the month, and then ushered in a cold polar air mass. The daytime maximum temperature only reached 22 degrees F at Fergus Falls and 28 degrees F at Marshall.  The hottest November 1st in state history came in 1950 (following the warmest Halloween in state history), when ten Minnesota communities reported afternoon highs in the 70s F, and five communities saw the mercury climb into the 80s F under bright, sunny skies. Temperatures went downhill the rest of the month reaching the single digits and even below zero F readings during the second half of November.  Far and away the wettest November 1st occurred in 1991 during the middle of the Halloween Blizzard. The entire day was dominated by a large scale storm system that brought continuous rain and snow to many parts of the state, mostly in the eastern half. A mixture of rain and snow prevailed across many southern counties where precipitation totals ranged from 2 to 3 inches in many places. Elsewhere in central and northern counties snow was falling, with low visibility (less an a quarter mile), increasing winds (30-40 mph), and falling temperatures. Many roads became impassable, motorists were stranded, schools closed, and power outages were reported. Snowfall totals for the day ranged from 1 to 2 feet in several counties. The storm lingered for another day and then most residents dug out on November 3rd. It was a precursor to a record-setting snowy November for many parts of Minnesota as observers at MSP, Hinckley, Cambridge, Young America, Lutsen, Eveleth, and Gunflint Lake reported over 40 inches for the month, while Duluth, Two Harbors, and Bruno reported over 50 inches.

Word of the Week: SIMA

Another acronym.....not one used by meteorologists, but one very related to the weather. SIMA stands for Snow and Ice Management Association. It is the professional association for those working in snow and ice management, whether in the public or private sector. SIMA also publishes the magazine Snow Business and they offer educational materials on snow and ice control, especially for property managers and, public works departments, and snow plow operators. They offer training in snow removal safety, fuel efficiency tips, and advanced snow management.
Their web site is


Warming temperatures over the weekend under partly cloudy skies. Chance for flurries in the north. Very windy with increasing temperatures and cloud cover on Sunday and a chance for rain, possibly mixed with snow by Monday. Continued chance for rain and snow on Tuesday and Wednesday, then drier and cooler on Thursday next week.
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