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Commentary produced May 2, 2014

  • April climate summary
  • Daily record rainfall amounts reported
  • Weekly weather potpourri
  • MPR listener question
  • Almanac for May 2nd
  • Past weather
  • Outlook

April climate summary

Cooler and wetter than normal describes the month of April in Minnesota for a second consecutive year. April of 2014 was the 6th consecutive month with cooler than normal mean monthly temperatures reported. Most observers reported mean values for April temperature that were from 4 to 6 degrees F cooler than normal. Extremes for the month ranged from 82 degrees F at Madison (Lac Qui Parle County) on April 9th to -11 degrees F at Hallock (Kittson County) on April 2nd. Only 9 days during the month brought above normal temperatures. Minnesota reported the coldest temperature in the nation on four dates during the month.

Precipitation was abundant and above normal in most counties, with the exception of a portion of southwestern Minnesota which received below normal precipitation. In several areas the month concluded with 8 consecutive days of rainfall. Many observers reported twice the normal amounts of April precipitation, and for many this was among the wettest five Aprils in history. Some of these included:

Faribault 8.03" wettest all-time
New Hope 8.97" wettest all-time
Chaska 8.40" wettest all-time
Jordan 7.51" wettest all-time
Thorhult 4.18" wettest all-time
Grand Portage 5.82" 2nd wettest
Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center (near Finland) 5.91" 2nd wettest
MSP airport 6.27" 2nd wettest
University of Minnesota St Paul Campus 6.94" 2nd wettest
Forest Lake 7.33" 2nd wettest
St Cloud 5.90" 3rd wettest
La Crescent 7.88" 3rd wettest
Ottertail 5.01" 4th wettest
Waseca 5.57" 4th wettest
Milan 5.91" 4th wettest
Zumbrota 6.18" 4th wettest
Rochester 5.64" 5th wettest
Wells 5.60" 4th wettest

The abundant precipitation (approximately half of the days of the month brought precipitation) combined with colder than normal temperatures to deliver significant snowfall to some parts of the state. Some of those reporting a snowy month of April include: Grand Portage 27.5 inches; Rush City 26.7 inches; Duluth, Tofte, and Forest Lake 26.0 inches; Two Harbors 25 inches; Princeton 23.0 inches; Mora 22.5 inches; and Cloquet 20.2 inches. The snow season at Duluth has brought a total of 131 inches, 3rd all-time highest for that city. Grand Portage has had a record snow season with 116.8 inches, while just north of Tofte they have reported 141.1 inches. Others reporting a record snow season included Babbitt with 117.1 inches and Isabella with 129.5 inches.

The month of April was also very windy, with wind gust exceeding 30 mph on numerous days.

Daily record rainfall amounts reported

A very slow moving, closed low pressure system brought persistent clouds and precipitation to the state over the last week of April. Most areas of the state received measurable rainfall, some reported snowfall, and several received mixed precipitation. Thunderstorms were reported as well as occasional heavy rainfall rates which produced some daily record amounts. Many observers reported 7 or more consecutive days with precipitation.

Several new daily record precipitation amounts were reported from the observer networks in Minnesota, including the following:

On April 24, 2.25 inches at Thorhult and 2.03 inches at Grand Portage
On April 25, 1.56 inches at Grand Marais and 1.51 inches at Tofte
On April 27, 1.40 inches at Amboy and 1.35 inches at Benson
On April 28, 1.58 inches at St Cloud, 2.35 inches at Mankato, 2.34 inches at Wells, 2.12 inches at Litchfield, 2.00 inches at Forest Lake, 1.91 inches at Chaska, 1.87 inches at the U of MN St Paul Campus, 1.83 inches at Waseca, 1.81 inches at Albert Lea, 1.75 inches at Jordan, and 1.55 inches at Collegeville
On April 29, 1.06 inches at Montevideo and 1.28 inches at Watson

Weekly weather potpourri

While Minnesota was receiving persistent rainfall this week, many southern states reported severe weather, especially over April 27 and 28. On the 27th 39 tornado reports were filed with the NOAA Storm Prediction Center. Most of these were from the states of NE, IA, AR, OK, MO, and LA. On the 28th another 110 tornado reports were filed mostly in the states of AL, TN, MS, and GA. The flourish of severe weather near the end of the month brought the total number of tornado reports nationwide during April to 173, a number that is below the average of recent years. Following these tornadoes, the same overall weather system brought heavy thunderstorms to portions of GA and FL which produced widespread flooding. The National Weather Service reported 10-20 inches of rainfall in portions of southern Alabama and the panhandle of Florida over April 29-30, with a maximum value of 22.26 inches. You can read more about these storms at...

Highlights from the weekly briefing on drought by the USDA's Brad Rippey:

During the four-week period ending on April 29, 2014, contiguous U.S. drought coverage remained virtually unchanged (up 0.06 percentage point) at 38.43%. Nevertheless, drought coverage is at its highest point since October 8, 2013, and up 7.48 percentage points from the beginning of the year. The southwestern area of Minnesota designated to be in moderate drought declined by nearly half over this past wet week. With the agricultural focus turning toward spring planting – nearly one-fifth (19%) of the intended U.S corn acreage was planted by April 27 – it is worth noting that drought lingers in portions of the western Corn Belt. By April 29, about one-quarter (26%) of the U.S. corn production area was in drought, down 5 percentage points from four weeks ago. Similarly, 19% of the soybean production area was in drought on April 29, down 5 points from April 1.

A recent study from Brigham Young University documents the drought history of the Utah landscape in pre-pioneer times back to the 15th Century using tree rings. This study suggests that earlier droughts were much more severe and longer lasting than even those of the 1930s. You can read more about this study at...

For almond lovers here is the USDA forecast for almond production in California this year: The subjective forecast for the 2014 California almond production is 1.95 billion pounds. This is 2.5 percent below last year's production of 2.00 billion pounds. Yield is expected to average 2,270 pounds per acre, down 4.6 percent from the 2013 yield of 2,380 pounds per acre. Forecasted bearing acreage for 2014 is 860 thousand. After the warmest winter on record for California, the almond bloom began in early February. The 2014 bloom was one of the earliest almond blooms in memory. Orchards required irrigation in the winter months due to the lack of precipitation, but rain early in the season offered some temporary relief. Pest and disease pressure has been lower than last year. Overall, the 2014 crop is developing faster than last year and harvest is expected to start early. Water is a concern for many growers this year.

Speaking of California and the embedded serious drought conditions there, the first significant wildfire of the season occurred this week in the San Bernardino hills east of Los Angeles. Over 500 firefighters wee battling this fire, but it consumed over 1600 acres. You can read more about it at...

MPR listener question

"The day after day of rainfall really bothered me, as well as my children this week. What is the record for consecutive days with rain in Minnesota during the month of April?"

Answer: For the Twin Cities the record is 10 consecutive days of measurable rainfall, which occurred just last year (April 5-14). Similarly Duluth recorded 10 consecutive days with measurable rainfall in 1938 from April 12-21. Rochester reported 9 consecutive days with precipitation in 1996 from April 18-26. My wife Cindy points out too that 5 of the past 6 Thursdays have brought precipitation to Minnesota. Thus this might be a day of the week to avoid being outside. Thankfully, though cooler, next week looks like drier weather overall.

Twin Cities Almanac for May 2nd

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 63 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 42 degrees F (plus or minus 9 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for May 2nd

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 91 degrees F in 1959; lowest daily maximum temperature of 38 degrees F in 1909; lowest daily minimum temperature is 24 degrees F in 1875 and 1961; highest daily minimum temperature of 70 F in 1959; record precipitation of 1.49 inches in 1944; and a record 2.2 inches of snow fell on this date in 1954.

Average dew point for May 2nd is 38 degrees F, with a maximum of 66 degrees F in 1959 and a minimum of 12 degrees F in 2005.

All-time state records for May 2nd

The state record high temperature for this date is 99 degrees F at Wheaton (Traverse County) in 1959. The state record low temperature for this date is 4 degrees F at Pine River (Crow Wing County) in 1909. State record precipitation for this date is 3.05 inches at Trail (Polk County) in 1950; and state record snowfall for this date is 15.4 inches at Dodge Center (Dodge County) in 2013.

Past weather features

Following a May 1st snow storm, the coldest May 2nd of all-time occurred in 1909. Polar air moved over the state following a cold front and drove temperatures down into the 20s and 30s F. Many daytime high temperatures remained in the 30s F and recently emerged crops were damaged by frost.

The warmest start to the month of May was in 1959 when daily temperatures soared into the 90s over May 1st and 2nd. Over 60 Minnesota communities set new daily high temperature records with readings of 90 degrees F or higher. It was 90 degrees F as far north as Bemidji.

Perhaps the wettest start to May occurred in 2001 for southern Minnesota counties. It rained every day, and some amounts brought by thunderstorms were very heavy. Total rainfall exceeded 3 inches at several locations, while Albert Lea, Owatonna, Harmony, and Rochester reported over 4 inches. Soggy fields meant that farmers had to wait until the second wait of May to get started on planting.

The first three days of May brought record snowfalls to many parts of southern Minnesota in 2013. New daily snowfall records were set at a number of locations, especially on May 2nd, including 7 inches at Albert Lea, 10 inches at Bricelyn, Austin, and Wells, 15 inches at Owatonna, 8.9 inches at Waseca, 14 inches at Rochester, and 15.4 inches at Dodge Center.


Cooler than normal over the weekend with a chance for widely scattered showers in the northeast on Saturday. Chance of showers in the south on Sunday, warming up closer to normal on Monday and Tuesday with a chance for showers. Warmer yet on Wednesday and Thursday with a chance for thunderstorms.

Further information

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