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Record Warmth on March 8th

Record Warmth on March 8th:

Sunshine and strong south winds (gusting to over 30 mph) brought record warmth to many parts of the state on March 8th, just ahead of the passage of a cold front. The warmth was short-lived, lasting just 2-3 hours in many areas before the cold front swept through and dropped temperatures by 30 or more degrees F. Nevertheless record-setting new daily high temperatures were recorded at a number of locations including:

72°F at Forest Lake
71°F at St Paul Airport (Holman Field)
70°F at MSP Airport, Zumbrota, Rosemount, and Minnesota City
69°F at La Crescent, Jordan, Hastings, Chaska, and Austin
68°F at Mora, Moose Lake, Rochester, Milaca, Elk River, Preston, and Sandstone
67°F at Cambridge
66°F at St Cloud and Redwood Falls
65°F at Tracy, Brainerd, and Isle

After a cold start, warmth has taken over as the theme for this month of March in Minnesota. Many climate stations are now reporting mean temperatures for the month so far that are from 8 to 11 degrees F above normal. More complete details can be found at the Minnesota State Climatology Office web site.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

NOAA' web site this week featured the meteorology behind the "big wave surfing event known as The Eddie" which took place in Hawaii earlier. It is interesting to note that certain wind conditions must prevail in the North Pacific Ocean for the waves at Waimea Bay to become large enough to host the competition among the world's best surfers.

The National Academies Press came out with a new report this week titled “The Attribution of Extreme Weather Events in the Context of Climate Change.” This report provides an analysis of extreme weather events and the degree to which they are related to climate change.

A recent study published in the journal Climate Change examined the attitudes of minority populations relative to climate change and its importance. One of their conclusions: "Non-whites care as much, or more, about the environment as do whites, and oftentimes are more directly affected by the negative effects of climate change, but are underrepresented among those addressing the issue." In addition they concluded that "Non-whites were also less likely to consider themselves "environmentalists," even though their climate opinions largely matched those of whites." More details on the Science Daily web site.

Daylight Savings Time is coming up this weekend. Don't forget to set your clocks ahead one hour before going to bed on Saturday night. Then start enjoying the longer natural light of evenings after work which will begin next week, adding several minutes of sunlight each day.

For St Patrick's Day next week (March 17th) remember that it is historically the windiest celebration day on the Minnesota annual calendar. Wind speeds average about 12 mph, but gusts have occurred with some frequency over 30 mph. This year it appears that temperatures will be in the 30s and low 40s F (a few degrees cooler than normal) with a chance for a mixture of precipitation, rain and snow early in the day and breezy conditions as northwest winds will blow 15-20 mph.

MPR listener question: Last week under cloudy skies we had a couple of days where the range in temperature was only 6 or 7 degrees F. Has there ever been a calendar day in the Twin Cities when the temperature didn't vary, and if not, what is the least variation that has been recorded?

Answer: Examining the daily climate records for the Twin Cities back to 1872 I can find no date when the temperature did not vary over the course of the day. There are only 5 dates in the Twin Cities climate records which show a variation of just 1°F. Those dates are:
December 14, 1974: High 33°F and Low 32°F
December 15, 1974: High 34°F and Low 33°F
December 7, 1987: High 34°F and Low 33°F
January 16, 1998: High 23°F and Low 22°F
December 22, 2006: High 34°F and Low 33°F

In all of these cases light snow and low overcast persisted all day, except for December 7, 1987 when it was foggy all day long.

MPR listener question: I am hoping to bike the Mississippi River Trail this summer.......and wondering about prevailing winds during the summer season. Would it make sense to start my ride in the South or the North?

Answer: I assume that you want to avoid head winds while you bike. In that regard the prevailing wind direction for most places along the Mississippi River in summer is from the south. So, most of the time you will have the wind at your back if you are biking north. On occasion strong northwest winds can prevail, but not as frequently as the southerly winds. Good luck on your adventure.

MPR Listener Question from Perham, MN: Is climate change affecting March as the third 'snowiest' month of the year?

Answer: Using a 115 year climate record from Detroit Lakes (Becker County), just up the road from Perham is revealing with respect to seasonal snowfall distribution. In the first 75 years of climate records at Detroit Lakes March was the snowiest month of the snow season over a third of all years. But since the winter of 1965-1966 it has been the snowiest month of the season only three years (1985, 1996, and 2002). Further much more of March precipitation has fallen as rain rather than snow in recent decades. Since the new millennium, March has on average been the 3rd snowiest month of the snow season trailing December and January, at least in the Detroit Lakes area.

Twin Cities Almanac for March 11th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 39 degrees F (plus or minus 10 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 22 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for March 11th:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 66 degrees F in 2012; lowest daily maximum temperature of 6 degrees F in 1906: lowest daily minimum temperature is -27 degrees F in 1948; highest daily minimum temperature of 46 degrees F in 2012; record precipitation of 1.30 inches 1990; and record snowfall of 8.2 inches in 1962.

Average dew point for March 11th is 20 degrees F, with a maximum of 50 degrees F in 1990 and a minimum of -34 degrees F in 1948.

All-time state records for March 11th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 72 degrees F at St James (Watonwan County) in 2012. The state record low temperature for this date is -41 degrees F at Moose Lake (Carlton County) in 1948. State record precipitation for this date is 3.00 inches at Waseca (Waseca County) in 1918; and record snowfall is 16.0 inches at New London (Kandiyohi County) in 1897.

Past Weather Features:

March 10, 1878 marked the earliest ice-out date in history for Lake Minnetonka. The DNR-State Climatology Office suggests that many area lakes may lose their ice over the next week, perhaps earliest ever for some.

March 11-15, 1897 brought back to back winter storms to the state, with a mixture of rain and snow. Many central and northern Minnesota communities reported 8 to 16 inches of snowfall, while Grand Portage along the North Shore of Lake Superior reported 25 inches.

March 11, 1948 was the coldest in state history. With abundant snow cover still on the ground, morning temperatures plummeted to -30°F or colder in over 40 communities and as far south as Zumbrota. Temperatures rebounded into the 30s and 40s F by March 14th.

March 10-11, 1956 brought widespread snow to many parts of central and southern Minnesota. Winona and Worthington reported over 15 inches.

By far the warmest March 11th in state history occurred in 2012. Temperatures soared into the 60s F as far north as Roseau, and over 100 daily record high temperatures were set or tied across Minnesota observation network. The warmth continued as March of 2012 was the warmest in state history.


Very warm on Saturday under mostly sunny skies. Increasing cloudiness on Saturday night with a chance for rain. Continuing chance for rain on Sunday and into early Monday. Chance for rain and snow mix late on Wednesday and into early Thursday with much cooler temperatures.

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