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Snow, dry air, and wind dominate April

Snowfall followed by dry air:

Many places around the state reported at least a trace of snow on April 21st (Tuesday) and 22nd (Wednesday), and some places reported measurable amounts.  The following were new daily record snowfalls amounts for April 21st:
4.0" at Isabella
1.5" at Embarrass, Kabetogama, and Ely

In addition Orr reported 3.0", Tower 2.0", and International Falls 1.9" but these were not new record totals for the date.  Following the snow, the low temperature plunged to just 10°F at both Fosston and Embarrass, the coldest reading in the nation for April 23rd.  The snowfall rapidly melted due to temperatures rebounding closer to normal following the cold snap of April 20-23.  The temperature climbed all the way to 63°F at Luverne on Thursday.  Elsewhere temperatures climbed into the 50s F on Thursday (April 23), with unusually dry air.  In fact MSP set a new low dew point record for April 23 with an afternoon reading of just 1F, and a relative humidity of 12 percent, drier than Phoenix, AZ on Thursday!

Windy April:

As we have reported before, April is generally the windiest month of the year based on climate history from most Minnesota communities.  But, April of this year has been particularly windy, with average wind speeds above the historical average, as well as a high frequency of wind gusts over 30 mph.  Here is a list of average wind speeds and frequency of gusts over 30 mph for selected cities across the state:
Location        Ave Wind Speed for April 2015       Number of days wind has gusted above 30mph
MSP                        12.3 mph                           9 days (peak of 46 mph on the 2nd)
Rochester                 14.4 mph                          14 days (peak of 47 mph on the 1st)
St Cloud                   11.5 mph                           8 days (peak of 49 mph on the 2nd)
Duluth                       12.4 mph                          10 days (peak of 58 mph on the 2nd)
International Falls        9.2 mph                           5 days (peak of 43 mph on the 13th)
Alexandria                 14.1 mph                          12 days (peak of 49 mph on the 2nd)
Redwood Falls          12.8 mph                          16 days (peak of 55 mph on the 1st)
Mankato                    13.9 mph                          15 days (peak of 45 mph on the 1st)
Fargo-Moorhead       14.3 mph                          12 days (peak of 54 mph on the 2nd)
Hallock                      13.1 mph                          11 days (peak of 62 mph on the 15th)
Crookston                  14.0 mph                          11 days (peak of 47 mph on the 13th)
Morris                        14.5 mph                          15 days (peak of 52 mph on the 13th)
Worthington                14.6 mph                          14 days (peak of 48 mph on the 1st)

As a result of the windy month many weather observers as well as farmers have reported seeing blown soil accumulate in drainage ditches across the rural landscape.  Hopefully winds will diminish for the peak of the crop planting season which is coming up soon.


Weekly Weather Potpourri:

NOAA announced this week that March 2015 was the warmest globally over the period 1880-present.  In addition they announced that the first 3-months of 2015 were also the warmest of record since 1880, surpassing the previous warmest 3-month start to the year back in 2002.  You may want to catch up on other highlights in the NOAA-NCDC article.

NOAA also announced this week a tool to examine and track the tropical storm activity in the Western Pacific Ocean.  This tool also provides sea surface temperature analysis and rainfall forecasts across the Pacific Basin.  It is hosted on the web site at NOAA-CPC.

Tornado news of the week included:

A tornado ripped through the city of Xanxere, Santa Catarina in southern Brazil this week killing two people, injuring over 100 and causing quite a bit of destruction.  Winds associated with the tornado were estimated to be over 120 mph.  Also on Tuesday of this week (April 21st) two unusual tornadoes were reported to have briefly touched down in Riverside County, California.  Fortunately little damage was reported.

MPR listener question:

We live around Lake Nokomis and listen to you and Cathy every Friday, and remember earlier this spring you told us how infrequent periods of calm with no wind are in the Twin Cities.  It seems like the wind has been a constant this month.  Have we had any periods of calm winds (speed less than 1 mph) so far?


Indeed using the hourly climate data from MSP Airport I find only 15 hours with calm winds so far this month (through the 24th).  That is roughly just 2 percent of the time and most of those hours were between midnight and 6 am, not to be witnessed by many citizens. So, indeed significant wind has been a constant this month in our Minnesota climate signature.

Twin Cities Almanac for April 24th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 60 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 41 degrees F (plus or minus 9 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for April 24th:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 84 degrees F in 1962; lowest daily maximum temperature of 36 degrees F in 1887: lowest daily minimum temperature is 24 degrees F in 1875; highest daily minimum temperature of 62 F in 1915; record precipitation of 1.43 inches 1908; and record snowfall is 0.3 inches in 1902.

Average dew point for April 24th is 35 degrees F, with a maximum of 66 degrees F in 1948 and a minimum of 8 degrees F in 1918.

All-Time state records for April 24th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 92 degrees F at Milan (Chippewa County) and Madison (Lac Qui Parle County) in 1962, and again at Montevideo (Chippewa County) in 2009. The state record low temperature for this date is 3 degrees F at Sawbill Camp (Cook County) in 1936.  State record precipitation for this date is 5.44 inches at Winona Dam (Winona County) in 1990; and the state record snowfall for this date is 15.0 inches at Fosston (Polk County) in 1937.  

Past Weather Features:

The coldest April 24th occurred in 1956 when morning low temperatures dropped into the teens F, not just in northern Minnesota but across all reaches of the state.  As far south as Preston it was just 15°F, while Rochester reported 17°F.  After starting the day at 13°F Little Falls warmed up to an afternoon high of 58°F.

April 24-25, 1962 brought a dose of mid-summer temperatures to the state as over 80 Minnesota cities reported daytime highs in the 80s F.  Itasca State Park soared to 88°F while over two dozen southern Minnesota climate observers reported daytime highs of 90°F or higher.  The heat spell was short-lived  as frost occurred in many areas of the state by the morning of April 29th.

A winter storm brought heavy snow to northern Minnesota counties over April 23-24, 1968.  Many observers reported 5 to 10 inches of snowfall. Some north shore observers along Lake Superior received 12 to 15 inches of snow.  The storm brought winds of over 40 mph which caused numerous power outages.  The Duluth and Hibbing Airports were closed for a time due to the heavy snow and poor visibility.

Strong thunderstorms developed over south-central and southeastern Minnesota late on the evening of April 23, 1990 and carried over into the early morning of April 24th.  Heavy rains and hail fell in many areas with rainfall amounts commonly ranging from 3 to 4 inches.  Rochester, Grand Meadow, and Red Wing reported over 4 inches of rain, while Winona Dam reported over 5 inches.  The heavy rains broad flooding to the Cedar and Root Rivers.  A number of homes in Austin reported flooded basements.


Somewhat cooler than normal temperatures on Saturday with a chance for showers early in the day, especially in the south and east.  Warming trend starts on Sunday with drier weather.  Temperatures should be above normal most of next week and it will be mostly dry.




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