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Preliminary climate summary for December 2013

Preliminary climate summary for December 2013

Clearly the coldest month of December statewide since 2000, this month brought average temperatures across the state that were 7 to 13 degrees F colder than normal, with many nights well below 0 degrees F. Some communities will report average monthly temperatures for December that fall within the coldest ten historically. Some of these locations include:

International Falls 3rd coldest
Mankato 4th coldest
Grand Rapids 5th coldest
St Cloud 6th coldest
Duluth 8th coldest
For the Twin Cities, an area greatly affected by the urban heat island, December of 2013 will rank 17th coldest (back to 1871), and for Rochester it will rank 14th coldest. On a statewide basis it appears that December 2013 will be ranked as the 7th coldest in history (back to 1895). Extreme values for the month ranged from 48 degrees F at Pipestone on the 3rd to -35 degrees F at Embarrass and Babbitt on the 24th and at Hibbing on the 8th.

December was also a wet, snowy month. Many northeastern Minnesota communities reported over 2 inches of precipitation, and some reported over 3 inches. Two Harbors recorded its snowiest December in history with nearly 55 inches of snowfall. The observer at Wright (Carlton County) also reported a December record with over 30 inches. Though not record setting many other observers reported well above normal snowfall amounts. Duluth reported over 40 inches, their 3rd snowiest December historically. Snowfall was also persistent in many places. Some observers reported that 20 or more days during the month brought snowfall. By month's end snow depths were well over 15 inches in the northern half of the state.

2013 climate highlights for Minnesota

Besides the exceptionally cold December, other climate aberrations captured our attention in 2013. For southwestern Minnesota residents the memory of the April 9-10 ice storm will remain for the rest of their lives. The ice storm closed roads and took out power to many communities for days. Certainly many Minnesota citizens will also remember the prolonged winter that brought record May snowfall amounts, delayed planting, and record late ice-out dates on many northern lakes. The storm over May 1-3, 2013 brought record-setting snowfall amounts for 1-day, 2-day, and total monthly snowfall amounts (over 17 inches at Dodge Center and Ellendale). Prevented planting claims by many farmers were the largest in several decades, and some corn fields were actually not planted until the last days of May. A complex of thunderstorms brought severe weather over the Summer Solstice weekend (June 21-23) with damaging hail, strong winds, and flooding rains. Thousands of insurance claims were filed as a result of these storms. And lastly 2013 brought a very warm State Fair, overall the 3rd warmest in history. On Tuesday, August 27, Cathy Wurzer, Paul Huttner, and I endured a Heat Index of 112 degrees F to broadcast a show from the MPR stage on the fairgrounds. Many bottles of water and other beverages were consumed that day.

Pete Boulay of the DNR-Minnesota State Climatology Office has posted the top five Minnesota weather/climate stories of the year on our web site. These were voted as the top stories by our community of media, meteorologists, and observers. You can view it here.

Weekly Weather Potpourri

Heavy rains plagued many parts of the United Kingdom this holiday week. At one time there were over 50 flood warnings in effect, especially in southern portions. The weather caused a great deal of travel delays for airports and the highway system. Many communities also suffered through power outages over the holidays. You can read more here.

Scientists from the National Snow and Ice Data Center reported earlier this month that satellite measurements from the NASA Aqua satellite and Landsat 8 satellite show that temperatures on the high plateau of Antarctica go well below the coldest temperatures previously measured on Earth. They have measured temperatures there of -134 to -137 degrees F along the highest elevations of the eastern ice divide. You can read more about this here.

Environment Canada reported that Winnipeg set a new record low on December 23rd this month with a reading of -32 degrees F. That city too is reporting one of its coldest Decembers historically.

MPR listener question

With the end of the year upon us, how will 2013 rank statewide for temperature and precipitation?

Answer: 2013 climate data through December 26, 2013 suggest the year will go down as cooler than normal and wetter than normal for most Minnesota observers. The statewide average annual temperature in 2013 will be about 40.3 degrees F, or about 2 degrees F cooler than normal. The statewide total precipitation for 2013 will be about 28.32 inches or about 1.5 inches more than normal. The temperature for 2013 runs counter to the trend which clearly shows mostly warmer than normal years recently. The precipitation value for 2013 supports the trend of recent decades for wetter than normal conditions.

Twin Cities Almanac for December 27th

 The average MSP high temperature for this date is 24 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 8 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation).


MSP Local Records for December 27th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 46 degrees F in 1959; lowest daily maximum temperature of -9 degrees F in 1924; lowest daily minimum temperature is -24 degrees F in 1872 and 1886; highest daily minimum temperature of 38 F in 2003; record precipitation of 0.70 inches in 1959; and a record 6.0 inches of snow fell on this date in 1971.
Average dew point for December 27th is 11 degrees F, with a maximum of 46 degrees F in 1959 and a minimum of -34 degrees F in 1924.

All-time state records for December 27th

The state record high temperature for this date is 54 degrees F at Canby (Yellow Medicine County) in 1994. The state record low temperature for this date is -50 degrees F at Tower (St Louis County) in 1993. State record precipitation for this date is 2.50 inches at Fort Ridgely (Nicollet County) in 1856; and state record snowfall for this date is 18.0 inches at Montgomery (Le Sueur County) in 1968.

Past Weather Features:

A large snow storm on December 27, 1904 brought 6 to 14 inches of snow to many parts of the state. Many residents could not travel for New Years celebrations and trains were seriously delayed.  December 27, 1928 brought a warm respite from winter as many communities saw afternoon temperatures climb into the 40s F. At least 7 western communities reported highs of 50 degrees F or greater under mostly sunny skies. Temperatures remained mild until New Years Eve when the thermometer fell below 0 degrees F again.  December 27, 1933 was one of the coldest in state history with dozens of Minnesota communities reporting lows of -30 degrees F or colder. Several northern observers reported -40 degrees F or colder and it was -30 degrees F as far south as Rochester. Albert Lea reported a high temperature of only -3 degrees F, but it warmed up to 40 degrees F for New Years Eve.


Chance for snow, especially in the north, with strong winds on Saturday, then turning sharply colder on Sunday west to east. Windchill values will be a concern on Saturday night and early Sunday. Bitterly cold Sunday night through Wednesday with some occasional snow flurries. Milder temperatures by next Thursday and Friday but still cooler than normal.
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