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Warm and Dry Pattern Prevails

Warm October 23-24:

 Temperatures soared into the 70s F in more than 20 Minnesota communities on Thursday and Friday this week (Oct 23-24), the highest temperatures on these dates since 1998 for many.    The highest values occurred in western communities.  Moorhead reached 72 degrees F which was just one degree shy of the all-time record for October 23rd.  Browns Valley and Milan reached 74 degrees F, with afternoon humidity values only ranging from 20 to 30 percent, indicating very dry air.  The recent run of warm weather, especially in western counties has offset the colder than normal start to the month so that average October temperature values now are running 1 to 2 degrees F warmer than normal.

Dryness expands:

The Minnesota State Climatology Office reported this week that the absence of precipitation this month has caused a wider area of the state to be designated as "abnormally dry" by the US Drought Monitor. Most of the expansion of dryness has occurred in northwestern and north-central counties, and now over 17 percent of the state landscape is designated as abnormally dry.  September was drier than normal in many areas of the state, and since October 4th little precipitation has occurred as well.  This has been great for leaf-peeping, and for farmers harvesting their crops, but many of the state's soils are in need of moisture recharge before freezing up for the winter.

Last day for early registration fees to the November 6th Climate Adaptation Conference:

Early registration rates (just $95/person and $65/student) end on Friday (October 24th) for the Second Annual Conference on Climate Adaptation, "Building Minnesota's Capacity for Climate Adaptation" to be held November 6, 2014 at the Hyatt in Minneapolis.  After October 24th registration rates will go up by $25.  Keynote speakers include Dr. Harold Brooks from the NOAA Severe Storms Laboratory in Oklahoma and Steve Adams from the Institute for Sustainable Communities.  In addition there will be many fine speakers at the break-out sessions on watershed management, ecosystems, agriculture, public health, community planning, recreation, and tourism. To register call 612-624-7452 or go hypertext link underlined above

Statewide Daily Climate Records Set in 2014 (so far):

In general this year across Minnesota has been cooler than normal, with mixed precipitation (most areas above normal, but with some drier than normal spots).  For a statewide look, temperature-wise five months have been abnormally cool and four months near normal.  Moisture-wise three months have been drier than normal, three months near normal, and three months above normal, with a record-setting wettest June in history. In June over 30 climate stations set new monthly rainfall records, with several reports over 12 inches.

Amidst the data for 2014 so far, there are nine statewide daily climate records which have been set:

All-time precipitation records:
1.40 inches at Thorhult (Beltrami County) on January 26, 2014
2.02 inches at Two Harbors (Lake County) on February 21, 2014
4.85 inches at Santiago (Sherburne County) on May 8, 2014
All-time snowfall records:
15.0 inches at Wild River State Park (Chisago County) on April 17, 2014
All-time minimum temperature records:
-44 degrees F at Embarrass (St Louis County) on March 3, 2014
All-time coldest maximum temperature records:
-14 degrees F at Warroad (Roseau County) on March 2, 2014
-12 degrees F at Embarrass (St Louis County) on March 3, 2014
47 degrees F at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center (Lake County) on June 15, 2014
41 degrees F at Isabella (Lake County) on September 11, 2014

Approaching the Dark Days or SAD days:

As the shorter days become more evident (we are losing over 20 minutes per week in day length now), some people begin to suffer from the deprivation of light, a malady called seasonal affected disorder (SAD).  This can be both physical and mental, and in some cases lead to severe depression. The somewhat rapid loss in day length which occurs this time of  year is magnified by two other factors, a lowering sun angle (declination) and increased cloudiness.  The lowered sun angle creates very long and long lasting shadows, especially
on northerly slopes, such that some parts of the landscape are in shade for much of the day.  In addition, the degree of cloudiness begins to increase, peaking during the month of November in Minnesota when two thirds of the days are mostly cloudy (8/10 sky cover or greater) and most of the remaining days are partly cloudy (4/10 to 7/10 sky cover). This produces a condition of highly diffuse light rather than direct sunlight. The average percent possible sunshine is less than 40 percent during November and perfectly clear days are almost unheard of.  In this regard then, we not only lose day length (or quantity of light), but we also lose out on direct sunlight (or the quality of light).

Weather potpourri:

Andy Revkin wrote this week about a new play in New York City called "Extreme Whether" which explores the theme of climate change as a source of strife within a family.  It is written by playwright Karen Malpede.  I don't know how long it will be playing, but you can read more about it at the underlined link. 

Remnants of Hurricane Gonzalo slammed into western European countries this week.  It brought strong winds, high seas, and heavy rains to parts of Germany and Belgium where flooding and downed power lines and trees were reported.  It was expected to bring disturbed weather to central Europe early in the weekend.

NOAA newsletter reported this week on a study by Richard Allan of the University of Reading which documents that El Nino, or rather the absence of El Nino has contributed to a recent slowing down in the global surface temperature increase.

Observed changes in global annual average surface temperature relative to 1961-1990 from the HadCRUTv4 dataset which is updated to account for gaps in data coverage (version 2.0 Long Reconstruction). The temperature difference is compared with 1961-1990 average using data from Cowtan & Way (2014). The rate of warming from 1970-2013 (red trend line) is larger than the rate of warming between 1998-2013 (orange line).

MPR listener question:

 We recently moved to the Twin Cities from Vermont and we thoroughly enjoy cross country skiing.  I am told by our new neighbors that occasionally November delivers a good amount of snow and the skiing season can begin before Thanksgiving.  How often does this occur and what are the snowfall amounts we might expect.


 Locally here in the Twin Cities area normal November snowfall amounts range from 8-10 inches.  There have been years when the Twin Cities have recorded 20 or more inches of snowfall in November, and the record is 46.9 inches back in 1991.  For cross country skiing many residents go to northern Minnesota locations where November snowfalls are greater and longer lasting.  Up north places like Two Harbors, Duluth, Pigeon River Sandy Lake, and Bruno have had over 50 inches of snowfall in November.

Twin Cities Almanac for October 24th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 55 degrees F (plus or minus 10 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 36 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for October 24th:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 80 degrees F in 1989; lowest daily maximum temperature of 33 degrees F in 1887; lowest daily minimum temperature is 15 degrees F in 1887; highest daily minimum temperature of 59 F in 2000; record precipitation of 1.00 inches in 1899; and record snowfall is 1.0 inches in 2001.

Average dew point for October 24th is 35 degrees F, with a maximum of 62 degrees F in 2000 and a minimum of 11 degrees F in 1960.

All-time state records for October 24th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 88 degrees F at Fairmont (Martin County) in 1891. The state record low temperature for this date is -5 degrees F at Isabella (Lake County) in 1976. State record precipitation for this date is 2.65 inches at Faribault (Rice County) in 1899; and the state record snowfall for this date is 12.0 inches at Itasca State Park (Clearwater County) in 1919.

Past Weather Features:

An early winter storm brought 6 to 12 inches of snowfall to portions of northern Minnesota over October 24-25, 1919.  Following the snowfall temperatures fell below zero F in over 20 northern communities, setting record low values in many cases, including -14 F at Angus and Itasca State Park.

October 24, 1927 brought a record-setting warm day to many western and southern Minnesota counties.  Temperatures soared into the 70s and 80s F in 27 different counties.  It was 72 degrees F as far north as Park Rapids and 85 degrees F at Chatfield. 

October 24, 1976 was the coldest of the modern era.  Many observers reported morning lows in the single digits F.  In the northeast it was 0 degrees F at Tower and -5 degrees F at Isabella.  The daytime temperature rose no higher than 29 degrees F at Baudette and Gunflint Lake.

October 24-25, 2001 brought widespread snow to many parts of the state, especially northern communities.  Many observers reported over 6 inches from this early winter type storm, while Thief River Falls measured 11 inches and Argyle measured 14 inches.  The snow brought a halt to harvest and field work.


Mostly warm and pleasant over the weekend, with increasing clouds on Sunday night and a chance for showers.  Continued chance for showers on Monday, then much cooler on Tuesday.  A bit warmer towards Halloween and next weekend.

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