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First Measurable Autumn Snowfall

First Measurable Autumn Snowfall:

Wednesday and Thursday, October 28-29 brought the first measurable snowfalls of the autumn season to Minnesota, although most observers reported a mixture of precipitation, both rain and snow, with temperatures hovering in the low to mid 30s F.  Many observers reported from 0.1 to 0.4 inches, including Rochester with 0.2 inches which tied the record value there for October 28th.  Long Prairie (Todd County), Montgomery (Le Sueur County), and Cass Lake (Cass County) reported 0.5 inches, Grand Rapids 0.7 inches, and Eau Claire, WI reported 0.9 inches.  Rothsay (Wilkin County) reported 1 inch of snow (tying the record from 1964), while just north of Brainerd an observer reported 2.2 inches of new snow. 

The persistent mixture of sleet, snow, and rain produced some new daily records for precipitation on October 28th.  These included record amounts of 1.12" at International Falls; 1.15 inches at Bemidji; 1.16: at Cass Lake; 1.21" at Mora; 1.27" at Kabetogama; 1.28" at Kimball; 1.31" at Grand Portage; 1.32" at Spring Grove; and 1.72" at La Crescent.  These rains will certainly help recharge soil moisture as the soil is still unfrozen and much of the rainfall soaks in.

Preliminary Climate Summary for October2015:

Most observers will report a mean October temperature that ranges from 2 to 4°F warmer than normal.   Warmer than normal days out numbered colder than normal days by about 2:1 during the month.  Extremes for the month ranged from 97°F at Sabin (Clay County) on the 11th to just 12°F at Isabella (Lake County) on the 17th.

Precipitation  for October was less than normal in most places, although many observers in central portions of the state reported slightly greater than normal values.  Gull Lake, Kabetogama, Milaca, and Mora all reported over 3 inches for the month.  Most observers also reported at least a trace of snow, and some reported measurable amounts (mostly on the 28th). 

Wind gusts over 40 mph were registered at some places on the 11th, 12th, and 28th.

Third Annual Climate Adaptation Conference:

Registration is now open for the Third Annual Climate Adaptation Conference on January 28, 2016 at the Hilton DoubleTree in north Minneapolis.  This conference is designed for local officials, planners, engineers, natural resource practitioners and others who want to learn more about adaptation strategies that have worked or are being tested in various sectors, tribal communities, energy, local foods, emergency management, communication and water resources.  At the conference we will also hear from several major corporations about how they are addressing climate adaptation and listen to a mayors panel at lunch where they will discuss city approaches to climate adaptation. 

For the second year, Climate Adaptation Awards will be presented to recognize achievements in leadership, education, research, policies, or practices that improve resilience and advance climate adaptation in Minnesota. We strongly encourage you to submit a nomination to recognize exemplary work by an individual, organization, institution, or the private sector. The submission process requires only a letter of nomination and two supporting letters. Nominations are due November 6, 2015, to Barbara Liukkonen,  This conference promises to be an outstanding venue for disseminating results of your work, learning from others, and celebrating the accomplishments of Minnesota's climate adaptation leaders. Please consider nominating a deserving colleague or organization for an award.

23rd Annual Kuehnast Endowment Lecture:

The 23rd Annual Kuehnast Endowment Lecture will take place at 3pm on November 12, 2015 in Rm S335 Borlaug Hall on the University of Minnesota St Paul Campus.  This is a no-cost public lecture dedicated to atmospheric and climate sciences.  Our event this year will feature a presentation by Dr. Thomas Peterson, recently retired from the NOAAs National Center for Environmental Information (NCEI) and Center for Weather and Climate (CWC), Asheville, NC.  Dr. Peterson is also current President of the World Meteorological Organizations Commission for Climatology and he was a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

An article from NOAA's web site highlights the geographic variability in first snowfall dates around the USA.  In highly variable climates like Minnesota's the range in first snowfall dates across the years can be from mid-September all the way to early January.  Yes there have been years when no measurable snowfalls occurred until January!  

NOAA also features an article this week about "Weather and Growing Pumpkins."  Libby's Food, the supplier for over 85 percent of the world's canned pumpkin used for pies, breads, and desserts expects a sharp decline in yields this year because of excessive wetness in many growing regions.  

The United Kingdom Met Office announced this week its plans for "Improving Model Processes for African Climate" (Project name: IMPALA).  This effort will apply climate models to the African continent in hopes of determining the dominant future climate patterns that will affect health, water resources, and agriculture there.  This project is part of a 20 million pound investment in research to help the African economies and infrastructure with planning for the future.

Very strong Tropical Cyclone Chapala was gaining even more strength in the Arabian Sea this week.  It was expected to produce wind speeds up to 155 mph and sea wave heights of 35-40 feet before making landfall along the coasts of Oman and Yemen early next week.  It will bring heavy rains and high seas to the Arabian Peninsula.

MPR Listener Question:

I recently received a package of bulbs to plant including Tulips and Crocus.  The instructions say to plant in cool weather, but several weeks before the soil freezes up.  What is the usual date for soils to begin freezing in the fall season and do you think it will be later than normal this year?


Average soil freeze-up dates vary widely across the state ranging from mid November in northern counties to late December in some southern counties.  This autumn has been dominated by warmer than normal temperatures and soils are still holding a good deal of heat, with average 6-inch depth temperatures ranging from the mid 40ss to low 50ss F.  Despite some recent cold temperatures around the state (upper 20s F at some locations earlier this week), the overall weather pattern favors continuation of above normal temperatures across our region through mid-November.  So I would speculate that soil freeze up will occur at least 2-3 weeks later than normal for most places.  BTW there have been years when soil freeze up has not occurred until January!  You can read more details about the climatology of soil freeze-up in a publication on the MN State Climatology Office web site, and you can keep track of current soil temperatures around the state using the network of observations provided by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Twin Cities Almanac for October 30th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 51 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 35 degrees F (plus or minus 9 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for October 30th:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 83 degrees F in 1950; lowest daily maximum temperature of 29 degrees F in 1873: lowest daily minimum temperature is 10 degrees F in 1925; highest daily minimum temperature of 57 F in 1933; record precipitation of 1.26 inches 1971; and record snowfall of 0.8 inches in 1951.

Average dew point for October 30th is 35 degrees F, with a maximum of 63 degrees F in 1946 and a minimum of 6 degrees F in 1984.

All-Time State Records for October 30th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 90 degrees F at Canby (Yellow Medicine County) in 1950. The state record low temperature for this date is -8 degrees F at Duluth (St Louis County) in 1925.  State record precipitation for this date is 3.15 inches at Glenwood (Pope County) in 1979; and record snowfall is 12.0 inches at Sandy Lake (Aitkin County) in 1951.

Past Weather Features:

October 25-30, 1925 brought a Cold Wave to Minnesota.  Most observers reported temperatures that were 20-30 degrees F colder than normal.  Lows were in the single digits to below zero F and even daytime highs struggled to get into the 30s F.  The cold air was ushered into the state on the backside of a winter storm that had brought 2 to 6 inches of snow.

The most severe dust storm of the year occurred on October 30, 1936.  In western Minnesota winds gusting to over 40 mph brought thick clouds of soil and dust, reducing visibility down to near zero at times.  Residents remarked that this storm left everything covered with a thick coating of dust.

The warmest October 30 in state history occurred in 1950 when nearly every climate observer in the state reached at least 70F or warmer.  Almost other southern Minnesota communities saw afternoon highs in the 80s F.  It was a last gasp of warm air that autumn as temperatures the next week plummeted into the teens and twenties F.

An early winter storm brought widespread snow to central and northern Minnesota communities over October 30 to November 1, 1951.  Pokegama Dam, Walker, Cloquet, Sandy Lake, Leech Lake, and Virginia reported over 10 inches of snow.  It was the start of a long and snowy season for many parts of the state.

October 30 to November 1 of 1979 brought a slow moving winter storm to Minnesota that delivered abundant rainfall.  Many climate observers reported over 2 inches of rain, in some cases mixed with snow.  Some northern and western counties received 3 to 4 inches of rainfall.  The rain brought a halt to a late corn harvest season and some corn fields were left unharvested until the spring of 1980.


Warmer than normal over the weekend with a generally dry and pleasant Halloween evening.  Chance for light showers in the north on Sunday.  Continued warm and dry through Wednesday then a chance for showers by Thursday with cooler temperatures.

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Anonymous said…
We've signed up Dr. Seeley! I'm sure that we'll learn many things along the way with your insights and observations! Linda & Den