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2018 Climate Summary-New Statewide Precipitation Record

2018 Climate Summary-New Statewide Precipitation Record:

As we near the end of the calendar year, a climate summary for the state statistically shows that both temperature (average annual) and precipitation (total annual) will rank among the 20 highest in state history back to 1895. The distribution of temperature patterns in the state was mixed with about half of the months warmer than normal and half colder than normal. Extremes of temperature for the year were 102°F at Madison (Lac Qui Parle County) and Amboy (Blue Earth County) on May 27th and -46°F at Embarrass (St Louis County) on January 14th.

The distribution of precipitation was mixed during the year with about half of the months drier than normal and half wetter than normal. At least 20 communities reported a one-day rainfall event of 5 inches or more. The wettest areas of the state in 2018 were the southern counties, where many climate stations reported the wettest year in their historical record. The driest area of the state encompassed the northwestern counties where some climate stations reported less than 20 inches for the year. There are at least five southeastern Minnesota climate stations that reported over 50 inches of precipitation this year, topped by 56.61 inches at Caledonia (Houston County) which is a new all-time statewide record, formerly held by Waseca, MN with 56.24 inches reported in 2016. These numbers may change before the end of December as well. The largest one-day rainfall at Caledonia was 8.10 inches on August 28th. The year 2018 may be remembered as an unusual year for many reasons, but one of them for sure is that April was the snowiest month, a very rare occasion indeed.

I will have more pertaining to the year-end summary next week.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

Earlier this week on December 18th, an extremely rare EF-2 (winds 120-130 mph) tornado struck near Port Orchard, WA and damaged many trees and buildings. It was later confirmed by the National Weather Service Office in Seattle, WA. The state of Washington averages only about 3 tornadoes per year, and the last one to be reported in the month of December was in 1969.

AGU-EOS published an interesting article this week about the value of snow to the US economy. For many areas of the country the decline in seasonal snowfall due to climate change has had a significant negative impact on the local economy.

A powerful Tropical Cyclone (Cilida) developed in the Southern Indian Ocean this week. It was producing winds well over 140 mph and sea wave heights over 35 feet. Cilida is expected to grow even stronger over the weekend, but will remain largely out to sea between Madagascar and Diego Garcia.

Weather and Art: Some years ago Hans Neuberger, formerly of the Department of Meteorology at Pennsylvania State University published an interesting article about weather depicted throughout the history of art (specifically paintings). Some of his findings included:

-artists prefer to paint mid-level stratoform or convective cloud forms over the high, wispy cirrus clouds. Vertical cloud forms perhaps provide a more captivating backdrop.

-Most British paintings are dominated by cloudy skies, while those from Italy, Germany, Spain, and the Western States of the USA depict far more frequent clear sky conditions, a common difference between their respective climates.

-Those who painted during the Little Ice Age (1350-1850) appear to have more commonly depicted scenes of cloudiness and harsh winters, fewer blue skies, and more often flooded or frozen landscapes.

-More modern paintings contain frequent blue skies and scenes with unlimited or very good visibility, though more recently urban settings reflect a degree of air pollution.

MPR listener question:

In your book (Minnesota Weather Almanac) you talk about the Christmas of 1877 and how mild it was in the Twin Cities area, referring to it as the “Muddy Christmas” or the “Christmas of Fresh Flowers.” What were the conditions like back then in terms of real temperature?


It was not only a “brown, muddy Christmas Day” but the entire month was brown and muddy, with 1.42 inches of precipitation falling. Sixteen days brought temperatures above 40 degrees F, and for three consecutive days up to Christmas Eve temperatures were in the 50s F. In some cases families enjoyed fresh flowers cut from the garden for Christmas decoration. This climate pattern in Minnesota was associated with the strongest El Nino episode of the 19th Century according to NOAA researchers.

More on the history of weather at Christmas time can be found at the DNR-State Climatology Office web site.

Twin Cities Almanac for December 21st:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 25 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 11 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for December 21st:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 56 degrees F in 1877; lowest daily maximum temperature of -10 degree F in 1872; lowest daily minimum temperature of -24 degrees F in 1916; highest daily minimum temperature of 38 degrees F in 1877; record precipitation of 0.71 inches in 2006. Record snowfall is 5.3 inches in 1920.

Average dew point for December 21st is 10°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 47°F in 1967; and the minimum dew point on this date is -33°F in 1989.

All-time state records for December 21st:

The state record high temperature for this date is 64 degrees F at Lynd (Lyon County) in 1908. The state record low temperature for this date is -44 degrees F at Roseau (Roseau County) in 1916. The state record precipitation for this date is 1.45 inches at Bricelyn (Faribault County) in 1948. Record snowfall for this date is 12.2 inches at Two Harbors (Lake County) in 2010.

Past Weather Features:

On a statewide basis the coldest December 21st came in 1916 when over 40 climate stations reported a morning low temperature of -30°F or colder. Even the daytime temperature at Montevideo never rose higher than -15°F. This Arctic Blast came after a snow storm earlier in the week.

December 20-21, 1920 brought a strong winter storm to Minnesota that delivered rain, ice, and snow. Many communities in the southern half of the state recorded 6 to 12 inches of snow setting up a White Christmas.

December 21, 1983 was dominated by extreme cold and very dangerous Wind Chill readings ranging from -30 to -50 degrees F. AAA was kept very busy starting cars and rescuing motorists from the cold.


It will be mostly cloudy on Saturday with a chance of light snow, especially in northern areas. Then it will be partly cloudy Sunday and Monday, and mostly cloudy on Tuesday (Christmas Day) with a chance for light snow. Temperatures will be near normal. Then there is a chance for significant snow on Wednesday and Thursday next week with daytime temperatures a few degrees above normal. But the precise storm track is very uncertain at this time.

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I have noticed, in the last 1-2 years, that our "clouds" are much different than they were when I was young (I am 63 yrs. old).

We used to see well-formed clouds. I especially remember the giant "thunderheads, or thunderclouds".

Instead of "clouds", all I see are streaks. These days, our sky looks like a giant BROILER PAN (SLOTTED).

Could this be yet another result of the nasty things humans are doing to our planet??

PLEASE HELP stop this madness!!