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Commentary produced April 18, 2014


  • Coldest April 15th (Tax Day)
  • Record-setting snowstorm
  • New seasonal climate outlook
  • Weekly weather potpourri
  • MPR listener question
  • Almanac for April 18th
  • Past weather
  • Outlook

Coldest April 15th

The week started over April 14-15 with strong cold air advection from the polar latitudes, ushered in by very strong winds. Wind gusts were well over 40 mph at a number of places, driving windchill values down to single digit readings on Sunday night. The cold high pressure system that settled over the state on Monday (April 14) kept daytime afternoon temperatures below the freezing mark (32 F) at a number of locations, setting up an extremely cold night Monday night.

Tax filing day in 2014 will likely be remembered as the coldest April 15th in state history (or at least a rival to 1875, 1935, and 1962 as among the coldest). Scores of Minnesota weather observers reported new record lows for April 15th, and the National Weather Service Cooperative weather observer at Camp Norris (Lake of the Woods County) reported a new all-time statewide low temperature for the date with a reading of -4 degrees F. The invasion of such cold air was associated with abundantly clear skies and very low dewpoints. In fact MSP set a new low dew point record for April 15th with a reading of 0 degrees F late in the afternoon. Further north the dewpoints were as low as -5 degrees F at Bemidji, remarkably dry air.

Among those setting new low temperature records for April 15th were:
Crane Lake and Flag Island 1 degrees F
Bemidji 2 degrees F
Cass Lake and Kabetogama 4 degrees F
International Falls 5 degrees F
Isabella 6 degrees F
Waskish, Park Rapids, Cook, and Orr 7 degrees F
Pokegama 8 degrees F
Long Prairie and Browns Valley 10 degrees F
East Grand Forks 11 degrees F
Morris, Wheaton, and Moorhead 12 degrees F
Willmar and Montevideo 13 degrees F
Marshall 14 degrees F
Wells 15 degrees F
St Cloud 16 degrees F
MSP Airport 18 degrees F (tied 1875 and 1935)

In addition some of the stations in Canada reported new record low temperature values as well, including -17 degrees F at Thompson, Manitoba; -6 degrees F at Sioux Lookout, Ontario; and 1 degrees F at Kenora, Ontario. Since last November 1st (2013) Minnesota has reported the coldest temperature in the 48 contiguous states 61 times, more than any other state.

Record-setting snowstorm

April 16th brought widespread snow to many parts of the state. The slow moving low pressure system delivered heavy snow across central portions of the state over most of the day and well into the evening. A number of observers broke the all-time state record snowfall for April 16th of 13.0 inches at Itasca State Park in 1945. Many observers reported amounts ranging from 2 to 6 inches, and a number reported new daily record amounts. Among those setting new records for daily snowfall were:

8.5" St Cloud
8.0" Olivia, Hutchinson, and Sauk Centre
16.0" Cambridge
7.0" Milan
5.1" Madison
6.2" Willmar
6.4" Duluth
4.0" Montevideo (tied record from 1945) and Dawson
5.0" Morris and Glenwood
9.5" Collegeville
12.5" Milaca
13.8" Mora
10.0" Kimball
13.0" Little Falls and Onamia
14.0" Litchfield and St Francis
10.5" Hinckley
5.5" Grand Portage and Silver Bay
7.5" Cloquet and Two Harbors
7.8" Moose Lake
14.6" Bruno
19.0" Isanti

The snowfall at Duluth pushed their seasonal total to 125.3 inches, the 5th most in history at that location. Fortunately thawing temperatures rapidly diminished the mid-April snow cover. You can read more about this storm on the web at

New seasonal climate outlook

The NOAA-Climate Prediction Center issued a new seasonal climate outlook on Thursday (April 17) this week. For the period May through July they call for equal chances of above or below normal temperatures. For Minnesota citizens this should be a relief after bearing six consecutive months of colder than normal temperatures (Nov-Apr). Some moderation in temperature is seen for May, with more days of above normal temperatures. The outlook for precipitation over the May-July period also calls for equal chances of above or below normal values.

Weekly weather Potpourri

The coldest home baseball game in Twins history was played on Thursday afternoon (April 17) this week with a temperature of 31 degrees F under overcast skies at the start of the game just past noon. Fans were allowed to bring sleeping bags to cover up with in the stands. The fans were treated to a fine hitting display, great pitching, and a 7-0 win by the Twins. The 31 F temperature broke the record for coldest game start in team history which formerly was 32 degrees F for the May 2, 1967 game against the NY Yankees at the old Met Stadium. Must have been a good day for hot chocolate and coffee vendors.

NOAA reported a summary of the March climate highlights this week noting that it was the coldest month of March in the contiguous USA states since 2002. The eastern half of the country was colder than normal during March, with Vermont reporting its coldest March in history. You can read more at

Fire was continuing to plague the city and area around Valparaiso, Chile this week. Dry weather has kept the fire threat elevated there, but they are on the verge of entering a rainy period later this month. Some have called it the worst fire since 1953, as over 11,000 people have been evacuated and over 2500 homes destroyed.

Early assessment of last week's Category 4 Cyclone Ita and its impact on the coastal areas of Queensland, Australia suggest it may have inflicted about $1 billion in damages. No loss of life was reported, but many agricultural fields (sugar cane, banana, beans, and grains) were flattened. Widespread power outages and flooding occurred as a result of the storm. Remnants of Cyclone Ita struck parts of New Zealand this week bringing heavy rains and high winds which blew down many trees.

MPR listener question

"It seems that this winter and early spring have brought a good deal of windy days to Winona, many more than usual. Is this true?"

Answer: The data show that average wind speeds at Winona during December and February were less than normal, but they were greater than normal during January and March, and they have been greater than normal so far in April. The number of days with peak wind gusts over 30 mph was 13 in the month of January and has been 9 days already in April. Those numbers represent high frequencies for such wind speeds. On April 12th a peak wind gust of 44 mph was reported from Winona.

"Duluth has now reported back to back snow seasons which delivered over 125 inches of snowfall, 254.7 inches for the past two seasons. How does this biennial snowfall compare to other two-year periods in Duluth's past? And is it a record?"

Answer: The past two season total of 254.7 inches ranks 2nd among two-year periods in Duluth climate history, trailing only 1995-1996 and 1996-1997 when 264 inches fell. Third place in the ranking of two-year snowfall totals at Duluth belongs to 1949-1950 and 1950-1951 which totaled 240.9 inches. The largest biennial total snowfall in the Twin Cities record is from 1982-1983 (74.4") and 1983-1984 (98.6") for a total of 173 inches, while the top ranked two-year total in St Cloud's record is 2012-13 (78.5") and 2013-2014 (75.5") with a total of 154 inches.

Twin Cities Almanac for April 18th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 58 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 38 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP local records for April 18th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 89 degrees F in 1985; lowest daily maximum temperature of 31 degrees F in 1953; lowest daily minimum temperature is 21 degrees F in 1953; highest daily minimum temperature of 61 F in 1915 and 2005; record precipitation of 1.04 inches in 2004; and a record 6.4 inches of snow fell on this date in 2013. Maximum snow depth on this date was 4 inches in 1983.

Average dew point for April 18th is 33 degrees F, with a maximum of 64 degrees F in 2004 and a minimum of 3 degrees F in 1988.

 All-time state records for April 18th

The state record high temperature for this date is 94 degrees F at Marshall (Lyon County) in 1985. The state record low temperature for this date is 2 degrees F at Gunflint Lake (Cook County) in 1983. State record precipitation for this date is 4.80 inches at Bingham Lake (Cottonwood County) in 1898; and state record snowfall for this date is 13.0 inches at Beaver Bay (Lake County) in 1869. 

Past weather features

April of 1894 was one of the wettest of the 19th Century in Minnesota. In the Red River Valley at Moorhead it rained on 9 consecutive days from April 12 to 20. Seventeen days that month brought rain so farmers had little opportunity to plant. Some fields were not planted until the end of May.

Mid-April of 1983 brought 5-10 inches of snow to southern and eastern Minnesota counties. Cold air swept in behind the storm bringing record low temperatures as well by April 18th. Many observers reported minimum temperatures in the single digits to teens F. Fortunately temperatures warmed into the 70s F the last week of the month, allowing farmers to make rapid progress in planting.

April 17-19, 1985 brought plenty of early spring heat to Minnesota, producing the warmest April 18th in history. It was 86 degrees F as far north as Detroit Lakes, and over 40 communities in central and southern Minnesota reported daytime highs in the 90s F. Some farmers were already busy planting crops.

A major late winter storm crossed the state over April 17-19, 2013 (last year) bringing a mixture of heavy precipitation and strong winds. Snowfall amounts ranged from 2 inches to 9 inches around the state, but a number of observers reported over 10 inches. Among those reporting the largest amounts were: Isabella 29.0", Babbitt 23.2", Hibbing 19.1", Floodwood 19.0", Two Harbors 18.2", Embarrass 18.0", Duluth 17.7", and Gunflint Lake 17.5 inches.


Warmer over the weekend, but with a chance for showers and thunderstorms on Saturday. Warmer and brighter on Easter Sunday with a chance for widely scattered showers mostly in southern counties. Generally dry Monday and Tuesday, then increasing clouds with cooler temperatures for Wednesday and Thursday as a chance for showers and thunderstorms returns. 

Further information

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