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First Significant Winter Storm and First Sub-Zero Temperatures

First Winter Storm:

The first significant winter storm of the autumn season crossed the state over Monday and Tuesday (November 10-11) this week depositing several inches of snowfall in many places.  The heaviest band of snow ran through Madison, Willmar, St Cloud, and Mora, over to Rice Lake, Wisconsin with most observers reporting 10 to 14 inches over the two days.  The largest total snowfall reported from the storm was 16.5 inches at St Augusta (Stearns County) and Cambridge (Isanti County).  The storm made both commuting and longer distance travel difficult across central Minnesota counties, and was the cause of many traffic accidents.  A synopsis of this storm is provided by the State Climatology Office.

Some observers reported new daily record snowfall amounts for November 10th, including Benson (6.7"), Moose Lake (8.0"), Dawson (10.0"), Princeton (11.0"), Collegeville (12.0"), Milan (13.0"), St Cloud (13.2"), and Isanti (14.0").  Additional observers reported new record daily amounts of snowfall for November 11th, including Browns Valley (4.3"), Floodwood and Ortonville (5.0"), Montevideo (8.0"), Long Prairie (8.7"), Milaca and Forest Lake (9.0"), Mora (10.0"), and Kimball (11.8").

Much of the snow was expected to linger on the landscape as temperatures are forecast to remain below freezing for a number of days and deep into next week.  In the end the streak of below freezing temperatures (less than 32 F) may linger for 11 or more days.

First sub-zero F temperatures of autumn:

Friday morning, November 14th brought the first sub-zero F temperature readings of the autumn season to many parts of the state, notably western and northern counties.  No record low temperatures were reported, but many observers reported their coldest readings since last March.  Some low temperature values included: -10 degrees F at Brimson; -8 degrees F at Fosston, Benson, and Rice; -6 degrees F at Embarrass and Cotton; -5 degrees F at Bemidji and Browns Valley; -4 degrees F at Hallock and Park Rapids; -3 degrees F at Kabetogama, Long Prairie, and Morris;  -2 degrees F at Fergus Falls, Orr, Silver Bay, and Crane Lake; and -1 degree F at International Falls, Ely, and Lakefield.  Yet more sub-zero F overnight low temperatures are forecast for many areas of Minnesota over the weekend and early next week before temperatures begin to moderate.  Thus soils and lakes will begin to freeze-up over the coming days.

Weekly Weather potpourri:

There is a nice article this week by Dr. Robert Henson in the NCAR/UCAR news about what causes cold temperatures to prevail in North America as they did last winter. He breaks down the trends and the large scale weather features of the Northern Hemisphere which are related to dominant cold temperatures.  Part of the explanation stems from a study by Dr. Axel Timmermann of the University of Hawaii who found that the northern Pacific Ocean has warmed significantly this year, beyond any year in the measurement record.  This has helped to create a persistent ridge in the atmosphere over western states which has allowed polar air to flow south from Canada into the central and eastern USA. You can read some of the narratives from these scientists by clicking on their names.

A new lake-level viewer is available at the NOAA Office of Coastal Management web site.  You can view the current lake level of any of the Great Lakes in the context of its historical variation. 

Also, this week's NOAA.Gov newsletter features an article about expected precipitation changes across the USA.  It not only highlights regional differences but it also explains changes in seasonality.  The western Great Lakes region is expected to get wetter. 

A paper in the current issue of Science documents that continued climate change will lead to much more lightning strikes compared to what is common today.  This will be caused by an increased in atmospheric water vapor and deeper convection.  Researchers from UC-Berkeley used 11 different climate models to test this hypothesis and came up with this conclusion.

The NOAA-Storm Prediction Center has no reports of tornadoes so far this month (November 1-14), marking the fewest reports since last January.  Severe convective weather systems have given way to winter storm systems this month.

MPR listener question:

My wife and I have lived in the Twin Cities since 1999 and we are shocked that the temperature has remained below 32 degrees F since Monday (November) and is expected to stay that way throughout most of next week.  When was the last time we recorded such a long period below freezing during the month of November?


Indeed the forecast calls for below freezing temperatures through at least next Thursday (Nov 20) a period of 11 days.  Such a streak was last observed in the Twin Cities in 1996, and also happened in 1985 and 1911.  The longest ever streak of days below freezing during November in the Twin Cities was 15 days in 1880.  I might also mention that Novembers with streaks of cold temperatures below freezing were precursors to colder than normal Decembers as well.

Twin Cities Almanac for November 14th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 41 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 26 degrees F (plus or minus 10 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for November 14th:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 71 degrees F in 1990; lowest daily maximum temperature of 12 degrees F in 1940; lowest daily minimum temperature is 0 degrees F in 1919; highest daily minimum temperature of 52 F in 2001; record precipitation of 0.80 inches in 1926; and record snowfall is 2.5 inches in 1951.

Average dew point for November 14th is 26 degrees F, with a maximum of 58 degrees F in 2001 and a minimum of -2 degrees F in 1959.

All-time state records for November 14th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 81 degrees F at St James (Watonwan County) in 1999. The state record low temperature for this date is -23 degrees F at Warroad (Roseau County) in 1911. State record precipitation for this date is 2.05 inches at Mankato (Blue Earth County) in 1951; and the state record snowfall for this date is 14.0 inches at Moorhead (Clay County) in 1909.

Past Weather Features:

November 14, 1940 was arguably the coldest in state history.  An Arctic air mass just three days after the famous Armistice Day Blizzard, brought extreme cold to Minnesota.  Nearly all areas of the state saw temperatures fall to sub-zero F readings.  In the north, Itasca State Park fell to -20 degrees F, while in the south Windom and Albert Lea fell to lows of -3 degrees F.

Over November 14-16, 1951 a winter storm delivered a great deal of snow to many parts of the state.  Clearwater and Hubbard Counties reported the most snowfall, ranging from 10 to 26 inches.  In the south Le Center received 14 inches, but many other communities measured 3-6 inches.

November 13-14, 1999 brought true Indian Summer conditions to many parts of the state.  Over 60 Minnesota communities reported a daytime high temperature of 70 degrees F or higher.    In southern counties Amboy, Mankato, Windom, Lakefield, St James, and Winnebago all reached 80 degrees F under bright, cloudless skies.  That November was the 3rd warmest in state history.

November 13-14, 2010 brought a winter storm to Minnesota with a mixture of freezing rain and snow.  Across central Minnesota counties many observers reported 6 to 10 inches of snow, while in the south some freezing rain was reported.


Remaining colder than normal with a chance of snow on Saturday, especially in the southern half of the state. In fact Saturday will be a true test for Gopher and Buckeye fans at the football game with occasional snow and windchill values in the teens F.  Some snow flurries continue on Sunday, especially north.  Cold and dry for most of next week, with some temperature moderation towards next weekend.

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