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2015 Climate Summaries Issued

2015 Climate Summaries Issued:

This week NOAA, NASA, the Hadley Centre, and the MN-State Climatology Office all issued climate summaries for the year 2015. The NOAA, Hadley Centre, and NASA summaries highlighted that 2015 was the warmest year globally over the record period 1880 to present, surpassing last year (2014) significantly. This was anticipated by these agencies as 10 of 12 months in 2015 showed significantly warm signatures in temperature, aided by unusually warm ocean temperatures, not just in the equatorial El Nino region, but other regions as well. An animated graphic showing the historical context for the global temperature record was available from Bloomberg.

For the USA specifically the states of Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Florida reported their warmest year in history. Many more western states and southeastern states reported that 2015 was among the 5 warmest years in their respective histories. Texas and Oklahoma reported their wettest year in history for 2015. Many Midwestern states also reported a very wet year as well.

The Minnesota State Climatology Office noted that 2015 was the 7th warmest year in state history dating back to 1895. Only 1987, 2012, 1931, 1998, 2006, and 1999 were warmer. It is interesting to note that 8 of the 10 warmest years in state history have occurred since 1998. Minnesota also recorded its 22nd wettest year in history dating back to 1895 with a statewide average of about 29.40 inches.

New Seasonal Climate Outlooks:

The NOAA-Climate Prediction Center issued new seasonal climate outlooks on Thursday of this week. They favor warmer than normal conditions across Minnesota over February through the balance of the spring season. The outlooks also favor drier than normal conditions across most of the state during the same period.

Last Call for the 3rd Annual CAP Conference, January 28th:

Registration is still open for the 3rd Annual Minnesota 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.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

It was revealed this week that Dr. Piers Sellers is fighting stage 4 cancer. At age 60 years Dr. Sellers is one of NASA's best known astronauts and climate scientists. He logged over 220 miles in space walks during the Space Shuttle Era and he is a renowned research scientist. In 2013 Dr. Sellers gave the Kuehnast Endowment Lecture at the University of Minnesota and showed pictures from his many missions. He wrote an inspirational op-ed piece in the NY Times this week about dealing with climate change and the future of planet Earth. I encourage you to read it.

NOAA National Weather Service issued a Blizzard Warning for portions of Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. for Friday afternoon through Saturday as a major winter storm will affect many states along the Interstate 95 corridor. With snowfall forecasts ranging from 10 to 30 inches, many cities were preparing for possible record snowfall amounts.

NOAA and NASA announced this week the launching of a new satellite. This is a joint USA-European satellite mission called Jason-3 which will orbit the earth in a relatively low position (830 miles distant) and concentrate its measurements on 95 percent of the ice-free oceans. Its' instrument package is designed to help scientists monitor and understand global sea level rise, as well as forecast tropical cyclones.

Speaking of oceans a new study from the University of Maryland released this week finds that with climate change Atlantic Ocean storms stronger than Hurricane Sandy (2012) may strike the USA in a warmer climate future. This paper was published in Geophysical Research Letters and a report on it can be found at Science Daily web site.

Tropical Cyclone Corentin was spinning in the Southern Indian Ocean this week east of the island nation of La Reunion. It was expected to strengthen over the weekend, producing winds over 100 mph and sea wave heights of 30 feet or more. Thankfully it will remain far out to sea away from any islands.

MPR listener question:

Over the years you have often spoken about how the winter climate pattern in Alaska tends to track opposite from the pattern in Minnesota? Is this happening again this winter?


The winter temperature patterns so far for MSP (Twin Cities), Anchorage, and Fairbanks, Alaska are not opposites, but in fact similar for December of 2015 with a warmer than average signature. The patterns for January of 2016 temperature are tracking opposite so far, but with milder than normal conditions expected here in Minnesota for the remainder of the month, they may end up being somewhat similar. This would vary from the historical pattern which shows that winter temperature departures are opposite much of the time.

Twin Cities (MSP): Ave Dec (2015) Temp: 30.2°F; departure from normal +10.5°F; 3rd warmest

Fairbanks, AK: Ave Dec (2015) Temp: -2.2°F; departure from normal +1.9°F; 26th warmest

Anchorage, AK: Ave Dec (2015) Temp: 21.5°F; departure from normal +2.5°F; 17th warmest

Twin Cities (MSP): Ave Temp Jan 1-20, 2016 12.5°F; departure from normal -2.9°F; 49th coldest

Fairbanks, AK: Ave Temp Jan 1-20, 2016 2.9°F; departure from normal +11.0°F; 10th warmest

Anchorage, AK: Ave Temp Jan 1-20, 2016 26.5°F; departure from normal +9.3°F, 6th warmest

Twin Cities Almanac for January 22nd:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 24 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 7 degrees F (plus or minus 15 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for January 22nd:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 51 degrees F in 1900 and 1942; lowest daily maximum temperature of -17 degrees F in 1936: lowest daily minimum temperature is -34 degrees F in 1936; highest daily minimum temperature of 36 F in 1900; record precipitation of 0.89 inches 1982; and record snowfall of 17.2 inches in 1982.

Average dew point for January 22nd is 5 degrees F, with a maximum of 38 degrees F in 1967 and a minimum of -38 degrees F in 1963.

All-time state records for January 22nd:

The state record high temperature for this date is 59 degrees F at Lynd (Lyon County) in 1900. The state record low temperature for this date is -51 degrees F at Itasca State Park (Clearwater County) in 1922. State record precipitation for this date is 2.53 inches at Austin (Mower County) in 1973; and record snowfall is 22.0 inches at Lynd (Lyon County) in 1917.

Past Weather Features:

A major winter storm crossed the state over January 21-22, 1917 depositing over a foot of snow across central and southern counties. Several observers in southwestern Minnesota reported over 20 inches and railroads were closed down from the large drifts.

Bitter Arctic cold gripped the state over January 22-24, 1922. Many observers reported that temperature readings remained sub-zero over all three days. Over 20 communities reported low temperatures of -40F or colder.

January 22, 1936 brought the coldest historical wind chill conditions in Twin Cities history. With a temperature of -34F and a wind speed of 20 mph, the wind chill was -67F. Traffic and street cars were greatly hampered by these conditions and a number of fatalities were attributed to the cold.

January 22, 1942 was the warmest in state history with over 50 communities reporting daytime highs in the 50s F. Nighttime lows remained in the 20s and 30s F with the absence of snow cover. The warmth lasted all the way to the end of the month with several days over 40 degrees F.

A major winter storm over January 22-23, 1982 brought record-setting snowfalls to many parts of the state and closed many roads and schools. Many areas reported 15-20 inches of snowfall, including the Twin Cities Metro Area. It was one of several storms that contributed to a snowy January. Nine communities reported over 40 inches of snowfall for the month.


Mostly cloudy skies and warmer than normal temperatures over the weekend.  Chance for snow on Monday and Tuesday next week, with temperatures remaining generally warmer than normal much of the week.
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