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Historic Heavy Rainfall: June 20, 2014 Commentary

In this edition of WeatherTalk

  • Historic Heavy Rainfall
  • New Seasonal Climate Outlook
  • Summer Solstice
  • Weekly Weather potpourri
  • MPR listener question
  • Almanac for June 20th
  • Past weather 
  • Outlook

Historic Heavy Rainfall

For the first time since July of 2011 there is no spot on the Minnesota landscape designated to be in drought! I think we all know why, another historically wet month of June is upon us. Four of the last five Junes have brought record setting rainfalls to some parts of the state. The most remarkable feature of this June is how widespread (geographically) these record-setting rainfalls have been.

Many of these record rains have occurred in the past week. A sampling of day to day values includes:
  • June 15: 5.20" at Lake Wilson; 4.41" at Red Wing; 3.73" at Worthington; 3.57" at Luverne; 3.34" at Tracy; 3.30" at Slayton; 3.29" at Springfield; 2.80" at Marshall; 2.33" at Hastings; 2.18" at Pipestone; 2.01" at Hawley; and 1.87" at Ada.
  • June 16: 2.00" at Amboy; 1.49" at Waskish; and 1.23" at Red Lake Falls
  • June 17: 3.70" at Winona; 3.29" at Lakefield; 3.29" at Austin; 2.95" at Grand Meadow; 2.95" at Minnesota City; 2.79" at Albert Lea; 2.64" at Spring Valley; 2.57" at Wells; 2.53" at Luverne; 2.37" at Sherburn; 2.13: at Blue Earth; and 2.02" at Winnebago.
  • June 18: 3.51" at North Mankato; 2.37" at Redwood Falls; and 2.14" at New Ulm.
  • June 19: 5.10: at Redwood Falls; 4.87" at Gaylord; 4.75" at Belle Plaine; 4.13" at MSP Airport; 3.50" at Springfield; 3.31" at Hawley; 3.22" at Chaska; 3.13" at Milan; 3.06" at Glencoe; 2.68" at Breckenridge; 2.20" at Bird Island; and 2.08" at Rosemount.

Daily reports from observers outside the National Weather Service Cooperative Network indicated additional daily rainfall amounts ranged from 5 to 6 inches in some places, but to the best of my knowledge no statewide daily rainfall records were broken. The associated effects of a historically wet week included uncomfortably high dewpoints (as high as 72 F in some southern counties), and widespread flood warnings for many of Minnesota's rivers including the Rock River in the SW where a record flood crest was observed, and the Rainy River along the Canadian Border, also where a record flood crest was observed.

Monthly totals for June rainfall already stand at record values for many observer locations, including: 13.69" at Redwood Falls, 13.20" at Chaska; 13.00" at Luverne; 12.23" at Waseca; 8.26" at Ada; 10.20" at Lakefield; and 9.62" at Kabetogama. The 10.76" of rain at MSP so far this June ranks 2nd historically to 11.67" which fell in 1874. Pending further additions to these remarkable June rainfall totals, this June will rank among the wettest of all-time on a statewide basis. The all-time state record June rainfall is 15.63" at Mapleton (Blue Earth County) in 2010, so some observers may yet approach this record before the end of the month. Governor Mark Dayton declared an emergency for 35 counties, bringing Minnesota National Guardsmen to help with flood relief and storm damage recovery efforts.

New Seasonal Climate Outlook

The NOAA Climate Prediction Center issued a series of new monthly and seasonal climate outlooks this week. Despite a projected warmer than normal start to the month of July, for the remainder of the growing season (July-September) their outlook favors cooler than normal temperature in our region, with wetter than normal conditions in western parts of Minnesota. Equal chances for above or below normal rainfall apply for the rest of the state.

Summer Solstice

The summer solstice will occur on Saturday, June 21st as the midday sun stands over the Tropic of Cancer, 23.5 degrees north latitude, producing the longest day of the year for the 
northern hemisphere. Here in Minnesota that translates to a day length ranging from 15 hours and 20 minutes in southern counties to 16 hours and 10 minutes in Lake of the Woods. Looks like it will be an enjoyable sunny day.

Saturday is also the 38th running of Grandma's Marathon from Two Harbors to Duluth. Looks like the morning will start in the high 40s to low 50s F with only a slight chance for showers, then warm into to upper 50s F to near 60 F by afternoon with drier conditions prevailing. Winds will be light and off of Lake Superior for a cooling effect. Overall it should be good conditions for runners.

Weekly Weather Potpourri

It was reported this week in the LA Times newspaper that two California fish hatcheries are evacuating their rainbow trout, salmon, and steelhead to save the fish from rising water temperatures induced by the prolonged drought in the Sacramento Valley. It was estimated that the low water flows into the hatcheries would bring such warm water later in the summer, that it would be inhabitable for these fish species. Read more about this story.

The United Kingdom Meteorological Office reports that the weather for the start of the Wimbledon Tennis Tournament next Monday should be fine and dry, with comfortable temperatures and light winds prevailing during the first week.

The U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook released by NOAA this week depicts no sign of drought left in Minnesota, and forecasts improvements to drought conditions for portions of NE, IA, MO, and KS. Drought is expected to persist throughout the summer in portions of Texas, Oklahoma and the far western states. Read more.

MPR listener question: Astute weather observer Dave Ruschy noted this week that Waseca reported three separate thunderstorms that each delivered over 2 inches of rainfall. He asked how often our climate history shows three separate thunderstorms of that magnitude in one week?

Answer: After scanning the state climate data base I cannot find another week when three separate thunderstorms have delivered 2 or more inches of rainfall to a location in Minnesota. There are many instances of two such storms during a week, and some instances of back to back days. So the degree of thunderstorm intensity from separate storms this week in Waseca, MN is indeed exceptional. The nearly 7 inches of rain that fell in 4 days (June 15-18) at Waseca this week has about a 1 in 50 year recurrence interval. In the context of their records (dating back to 1914), there has been only one year when their climate station recorded 5 separate thunderstorms that delivered 2 or more inches of rainfall (1991), yet so far this month they have already recorded 4 such storms.

Twin Cities Almanac for June 20th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 78 degrees F (plus or minus 9 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 59 degrees F (plus or minus 7 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for June 20th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 98 degrees F in 1933; lowest daily maximum temperature of 54 degrees F in 1946; lowest daily minimum temperature is 41 degrees F in 1992; highest daily minimum temperature of 75 F in 1943; record precipitation of 1.92 inches in 1927; and there has been no snow on this date.

Average dew point for June 20th is 55 degrees F, with a maximum of 78 degrees F in 1909 and a minimum of 31 degrees F in 1992.

All-time state records for June 20th

The state record high temperature for this date is 104 degrees F at Olivia (Renville County) in 1988. The state record low temperature for this date is 23 degrees F at Remer (Cass County) in 1985. State record precipitation for this date is 10.45 inches at Two Harbors (Lake County) in 2012; and no measurable snowfall has occurred on this date.

Past Weather Features

June 19-22, 1988 brought a Heat Wave to many parts of Minnesota. For many nighttime lows remained in the 70s F, while daytime highs soared well into the 90s F. Over 20 communities saw the thermometer rise above the century mark, setting a record daily maximum temperature.

June 20-21, 1992 brought the record summer solstice frost to many parts of Minnesota. Frost was observed as far south as Zumbrota, damaging a number of crop fields. This remains the only occurrence of widespread frost on the longest day of the year in Minnesota.

The flash flood of June 19-20, 2012 will long be remembered by many citizens of northern Minnesota. Much of the intense thunderstorm rain fell overnight, washing out roads, culverts, bridges, and hill slopes. Jay Cooke State Park was completely flooded and closed and damages were widespread in the cities of Duluth and Two Harbors. Some rainfall amounts were all-time records for the dates, including: 5.44" at Grand Rapids; 6.62" at Moose Lake; 6.61" at Floodwood; 7.25" at Duluth Airport; 7.63" at Island Lake; 8.35" at Cloquet; and 10.69" at Two Harbors.


Generally warmer than normal over the weekend (except for the north shore areas) with a chance for widely scattered showers and thunderstorms mostly on Sunday. Cooler with a chance for showers by Tuesday through Thursday of next week.

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