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Strong winds over the past week

Strong winds over the past week:

Since last Friday, October 20th we have seen more days with strong winds than any other period this year. These winds have been associated with a series of strong low pressure systems passing across the region. There have been frequent days with wind gusts well over 30 mph, and some days with gusts over 40 mph. In fact October 24th was a very unusual day in Rochester because the average wind speed for the entire day was over 20 mph, something that happens only about 2 percent of all days. Also on October 24th winds over 60 mph generated wave heights on Lake Superior that exceeded 20 feet on the eastern half of the lake.

The maximum winds over the past week here in Minnesota frequently gusted to over 40 mph. Those locations measuring such winds included;

MSP Airport, Moorhead, Morris, Crookston, and Marshall all reported winds to 41 mph.
Redwood Falls and Pipestone reported winds to 43 mph.
Benson reported winds to 44 mph.
Rochester reported winds to 46 mph and winds gusting to over 40 mph over several hours.
Cloquet and Duluth reported winds to 47 mph.

Further, Thursday night and Friday morning (Oct 27) brought another strong low pressure system across Minnesota and Wisconsin that produced very strong winds. Wave heights on Lake Superior ranged from 12 to 17 feet on Friday morning. Some of the strongest wind gusts included:

43 mph at Pipestone, Canby and Alexandria.

44 mph at Ortonville, Slayton, Redwood Falls, and Moorhead.

46 mph at Madison.

48 mph at Marshall. 58 mph at the Duluth Harbor.

I am reminded that the coming month of November is generally one of the two most windy months of the year climatologically (the other being April). So, these wind speeds may be even more frequent around the state in the coming month.

Lake Superior Storm Festival:

For those who like to make a trip to the north shore of Lake Superior during the autumn season, you might want to consider the weekend of November 10-12 in order to attend the 5th Annual Lake Superior Storm Festival. A variety of events will take place at Lutsen Resort and in Grand Marais. Among many other activities, I will be speaking at Lutsen Resort on Saturday, November 11th at 3pm with a program titled "A History of Great November Storms on Lake Superior."

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

In the Western Pacific Ocean Tropical Storm Saola is being monitored by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. It is expected to strengthen this weekend and move towards southern Japan, perhaps bringing strong winds, high seas, and heavy rains to Kyoto by Sunday and Monday. You can follow this storm at the Joint Typhoon Warning Center website.

This week NOAA provides an analysis of Hurricane Ophelia which earlier this month sustained itself over unusually warm North Atlantic waters and brought heavy rains and high winds to portions of Ireland. Over 300,000 residents of Ireland lost power, and winds up to 78 mph were measured at Cork. To read further analysis of this unusual storm and see satellite imagery you can find it at the NOAA web site.

In a paper published recently in Scientific Reports, Utah State University scientists show evidence that the recent pattern of drought in Europe, reduced drought frequency in the north and increased drought frequency in the south, matches up well with the projections of climate change models. These drought trends have been observed across European nations since 1980.

There is an interesting article in this week’s Earth and Space Science News which describes how regional climate and weather is interconnected across space and time. The author discusses some of the “climate teleconnections” in the tropics and how they affect mid-latitude weather patterns.

MPR listener question:

How often do we get measurable snowfall during the month of October in the Twin Cities area?


Historically, back to 1877 the data show measurable October snowfalls in the Twin Cities about 29 percent of all years, the most recent of which was 2009 (on October 10 and 12 of that year). The most snowfall in October was in 1991, on Halloween when it snowed 8.2 inches, while October of 1925 brought the most days with measurable snowfall, a total of 6 days (that was also the coldest October in Twin Cities climate history with a mean temperature over 10 degrees F cooler than normal). For today's date (Oct 27) in the Twin Cities measurable snowfall has been recorded in the following years: 1910, 1919 (record daily amount of 2.6 inches), 1925, 1959, and 1967. So today's snowfall marks only the 6th measurable amount historically on this date.

For relative comparison, at Duluth the climate record shows measurable snowfalls have occurred in 62 percent of all Octobers, while at International Falls they have occurred in 68 percent of all years. The all-time state snowfall record for the month of October is 19.4 inches at Mizpah (Koochiching County) in 1932. Baudette (Lake of the Woods County) also had 19 inches of October snowfall in 1916, while Farmington (Dakota County) had 19 inches in 1926.

Twin Cities Almanac for October 27th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 53 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 36 degrees F (plus or minus 7 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for October 27th:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 74 degrees F in 1922 and 1948; lowest daily maximum temperature of 29 degrees F in 1925; lowest daily minimum temperature of 13 degrees F in 1997; highest daily minimum temperature of 50 degrees F in 1964; record precipitation of 2.22 inches in 1971. Record snowfall on this date is 2.6 inches in 1919.

Average dew point for October 27th is 35°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 60°F in 1971; and the minimum dew point on this date is 11°F in 1925.

All-time state records for October 27th:

The all-time state high temperature for today's date is 90 degrees F at Chatfield (Fillmore County) in 1927; the all-time state low for today's date is -10 degrees F at Itasca State Park (Clearwater County) in 1919. The all-time state record precipitation for this date is 4.25 inches at St Charles (Winona County) in 1900. Record snowfall is 7.7 inches at Two Harbors (Lake County) in 2010.

Past Weather Features:

An early winter storm over October 26-27 brought a mixture of rain, sleet, and snow to the state. Many parts of central and northern Minnesota reported 3-6 inches of snowfall. Following the storm, temperatures fell into the single digits.

Almost summer-like weather visited the state on October 27, 1955. Over 60 communities saw the thermometer top the 70 degrees F mark, while seven others reported afternoon highs in the 80s F. It was sunny, breezy and pleasant statewide, even 70 degrees F across portions of the Iron Range.

A strong low pressure system brought heavy rains, high winds, and thunderstorms to the state on October 27, 1971. Winds over 70 mph blew down a broadcast tower in Willmar, and damaged a drive-in movie screen in Duluth. Thunderstorms brought rains of 2 inches to 3.5 inches to parts of northern Minnesota.

Probably the coldest October 27th on a statewide basis was in 1976. Over 60 climate stations reported morning low temperatures in the single digits, while 7 northern Minnesota communities reported sub-zero temperature readings. This cold air invasion followed a winter storm that delivered 3-6 inches of snow across many parts of the state over October 24-26.

The deepest low pressure system to ever cross the state occurred with the winter storm of October 26-27, 2010. The barometric pressure fell to 28.21 inches at Bigfork (Itasca County) setting a new state record for lowest barometric pressure. This deep low brought widespread winds of 60-70 mph across the state and produced waves on Lake Superior as high as 27 feet. Many areas of northern Minnesota received 3-7 inches of snow, and heavy rain fell across most of the rest of the state.


Sunny, but much cooler than normal on Saturday with highs mostly in the 30s F. Warming up a bit on Sunday, with cloudier skies and a chance for rain/snow mix. Continued chance for widely scattered showers on Monday, drier on Tuesday. Another chance for showers later on Wednesday, with moderating temperatures, though remaining cooler than normal much of the week.

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