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October behaving like November

October behaving like November:

So far this month most of Minnesota’s climate observers report a monthly mean temperature that is from 5 to 10 degrees F colder than normal. Widespread frosts occurred on October 5-6 and again over October 11-12. Some climate stations set new low daytime maximum temperature records on those dates. At MSP the maximum temperature of 39 degrees F on October 11th tied for the coldest in history, matching that of 1959. In fact on the 11th a number of climate stations reported record cold daytime maximum temperatures in the 30s F. Also many climate stations reported their lowest Wind Chill readings of the fall season so far, with values ranging from the single digits to teens F on October 11th.

Persistent cloudiness and rain have prevailed and brought about an early onset of Seasonal Affective Disorder for some people. Most days have seen rain, or complete cloud cover prevail. Rochester and several other locations have reported at least a trace of rainfall and everyday this month. Already a number of climate stations are reporting over 4 inches of rainfall for the month, including:

4.12 inches at Hokah
4.23 inches at Minnesota City
4.26 inches at Two Harbors
4.71 inches at Lanesboro
4.77 inches at Wolf Ridge ELC
5.05 inches at La Crescent

Another Lake Superior "Freshwater Fury":

October 10th brought another powerful Lake Superior storm that produced strong winds, high waves, and a great deal of shoreline erosion, including damages to Canal Park and the Lakewalk in Duluth. East to northeast Gale Force winds (39 mph or higher) prevailed over Lake Superior for an unusually long time 16-20 hours, pushing much of the water towards Minnesota shores, especially near Duluth. Waves heights from 12-18 feet were reported in many places and the Duluth Harbor water level rose by over 10 inches. Repairs to damages from a similar storm last year on October 27th had not yet been completed before the storm this week.

Strong low pressure systems that produce high winds and large waves on Lake Superior are not uncommon. Former well known meteorologist Bruce Watson used to call them “Freshwater Furies.” When these storm occur on the Minnesota side of Lake Superior they generally produce coastal erosion and structural damage to some of the lakeshore communities. Such was the case on November 29, 1960 in Grand Marais, on November 10, 1998 in Duluth, and on October 26-27, 2010 when a strong storm brought coastal erosion to Grand Portage and produced 27 foot waves on the Canadian side of Lake Superior.

Record snows October 10-11:

Many primarily northern Minnesota communities reported new record snowfalls this week over Wednesday and Thursday. Widespread 1-3 inch amounts occurred across the northern half of the state, but some climate stations reported more. Some of the new record amounts included:

3.1 inches at International Falls
3.8 inches at Orr
4.0 inches at Tower, Argyle, and Roseau
4.5 inches at Warroad
4.7 inches at Angus
6.0 inches at Lake Bronson
11.0 inches at Karlstad

Following the snowfall, temperatures fell to just 9 degrees F at Hallock and 16 degrees F at Warroad on Friday morning the 12th where they had snow on the ground. This snow will not stay around long, as temperatures are expected to rebound into the 40s and 50s F next week around the state.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

Hurricane Michael was the headliner weatherwise this week, bringing devastating winds, coastal surge, and heavy rainfall to the panhandle of Florida. It then moved onto Georgia and the Carolinas with heavy rain and even some tornadoes. It was one of the strongest landfall hurricanes to hit the USA since Camille in 1969.

Across the Atlantic in the United Kingdom this week, the western and southwestern coastal regions of England were experiencing the wrath of Storm Callum. It brought winds over 60 mph, high surf, and heavy rains to many areas, forcing the closure of some coastal roads.

NOAA issued a statement this week that there is nearly a 75 percent chance of an ElNino episode in the equatorial Pacific Ocean forming for the winter season. They also stated that most of the models favor a weak to moderate episode.

At the Society of Environmental Journalists’ annual conference last week in Flint, MI there was a forum to discuss possible changes in federal environmental policy should the Democrats win back the House in Congress. It is widely believed that if this happens there will be more federal attention on climate change over the next two years.

MPR listener question:

I am a snow lover and cannot wait for the landscape to be white. Can you tell me what has been the
snowiest October in Minnesota and does October snow cover ever last?


The Old Pioneer Era records indicate that heavy October snows in 1820 and 1880 lasted into the month of November, leaving several inches on the ground. Those were exceptional 19th Century years. In the modern era of record keeping the snowiest Octobers on a statewide basis were in 1917 and 1951. In 1917 over 20 communities reported over 7 inches of October snow with a maximum value of nearly 18 inches at Baudette. This lasted to early November, then it melted. At least a dozen observers reported 10 or more inches of snowfall October of 1951. Virginia reported a monthly record 18.9 inches, while Sandy Lake Dam reported a record 16.5 inches. Though a good deal of this melted by the first of November, many observers still had measurable snow cover to start that month. Those are exceptional years. The vast majority of the time October snowfall does not hang around except for a few days.

Twin Cities Almanac for October 12th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 60 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 41 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for October 12th:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 87 degrees F in 1975; lowest daily maximum temperature of 32 degree F in 1909; lowest daily minimum temperature of 23 degrees F in 1917; highest daily minimum temperature of 63 degrees F in 1997; record precipitation of 1.43 inches in 1997. Record snowfall for this date is 2.5 inches in 2009.

Average dew point for October 12th is 39°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 64°F in 1997; and the minimum dew point on this date is 11°F in 2012.

All-time state records for October 12th:

The all-time state high temperature for today's date is 96 degrees F at Browns Valley (Traverse County) in 2015; the all-time state low for today's date is 0 degrees F at Fosston (Polk County) in 1917. The all-time state record precipitation for this date is 2.62 inches at Harmony (Fillmore County) in 1986. Record snowfall for the date is 7.0 inches at Bird Island (Renville County) in 1959.

Past Weather Features:

The coldest October 12th in history was in 1917 when following a fresh snowfall temperatures plummeted into the teens and single digits across the state, setting many record lows. Fosston (Polk County) fell to 0°F the earliest autumn season reading in state history.

On October 12, 1986 thunderstorms brought some heavy rains to south-central and southeastern Minnesota counties. Many observers reported 1.5 to 2.5 inches of rain, while Preston and Harmony reported over 2.5 inches. Farmers had to wait a long time before resuming harvest of their corn crop.

By far the warmest October 12th in state history occurred in 2015 when many areas of southern and western Minnesota reported afternoon high temperatures in the 90s F. Both Browns Valley and Breckenridge reached 96 degrees F, the highest temperature reading in the state for so late in the autumn.


Moderating daytime temperatures on Saturday, ranging in the 40s and 50s F (still cooler than normal), then cooler yet for Sunday and Monday with a chance for rain or snow later on Monday, mostly in the northern areas. A warming trend will start next Tuesday and run through most of next week, as drier weather prevails.

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