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Preliminary December Climate Summary and 2018 Climate Highlights

Preliminary December Climate Summary:

December was a warmer than normal month with average monthly temperatures around the state running 6 to 9 degrees F above normal. In fact on a statewide basis this December will rank among the ten warmest historically dating back to 1895. Over 70 percent of all days brought warmer than normal temperatures. Extremes for the month ranged from 51 degrees F at Browns Valley (Traverse County) on the 16th to -17 degrees F at Seagull Lake (Cook County) on the 6th.

Thanks to the big winter storm over December 26-28 this week, most Minnesota climate stations reported above normal precipitation for the month. Storm total precipitation ranged from 0.5 inches to 1.50 inches in many places with some storm total snowfall amounts ranging from 8 to 24 inches. In fact some climate stations reported new daily precipitation and snowfall records from this storm. Some of these records included:

December 27th record daily precipitation reports (total of rain and melted snow):
Grand Marais 1.40 inches
Duluth 1.19 inches
Grand Meadow 1.10 inches
Two Harbors 0.99 inches
MSP 0.95 inches
Albert Lea 0.90 inches
Preston 0.78 inches

December 27th record snowfall reports:
Duluth 12.2 inches
Brimson 10.6 inches
Moose Lake 9.5 inches
Milan 7.5 inches
International Falls 6.0 inches
Collegeville 5.0 inches

December 28th record snowfall reports:
Long Prairie 10.2 inches
Wright 9.4 inches
Brainerd 8.6 inches
Kabetogama 8.0 inches

The wettest area of the state for December 2018 was southeastern Minnesota where monthly precipitation totals ranged from 1.5 to 2.5 inches. Snowfall was highly variable around the state with most of it coming at the beginning of the month, and then over the past three days. Some areas of the west and north reported between 10-20 inches.

2018 Climate Highlights:

Among the climate highlights of 2018 it is significant that Minnesota reported yet another warmer and wetter than normal year. It is unclear which location will set a new statewide record for most annual precipitation, but it will either be Harmony (Fillmore County) or Caledonia (Houston County) as both have received over 57 inches so far this year (old statewide record is 56.24 inches at Waseca in 2016).

Many Minnesota citizens will remember 2018 for the long, snowy winter, especially the months of February through April. During those three months alone, blizzards and heavy snowfall plagued the state, closing many roads and schools several times. Portions of Faribault, Lyon, and Yellow Medicine Counties reported over 70 inches of snowfall during February through April, capped off by the blizzard and thunder-snow of April 13-16.

May of 2018 will be remembered for bringing the highest temperatures of the year and setting many new temperature records over the 28th and 29th. At least 17 climate stations reported a maximum temperature of 100 degrees F or greater during the month, topped by 102 degrees F at Madison (Lac Qui Parle County) and Amboy (Blue Earth County).

Because of excessively wet fields farmers had to endure a very late planting season. But the growing season was longer than normal and crops matured before harvest, producing generally very good yields, although low prices and a tariff war with China caused a good deal of the crop to go into storage.

Favorable weather during the 12-day run of the Minnesota State Fair helped to motivate people to attend the “Great Minnesota Get Together.” A new attendance record was set with 2,046,533 people passing through the gates to enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of the State Fair.

The autumn season was dismal from the standpoint of weather. Dominated by cloudy and cool conditions with plenty of rain, snow, and fog many citizens said they missed the usual spell of glorious sunny skies and mild temperatures that often comes after first frosts.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

The Bureau of Meteorology in Australia was releasing Heat Advisories for the coming week as many parts of southern Australia will see daytime temperatures ranging from 102 to 112 degrees F over the next week or so. These temperatures are 15 to 25 degrees warmer than normal for this time of year.

In this week’s AGU EOS highlights you will find an interesting article about the simulated tsunami impact of the asteroid which killed the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. University of Michigan researchers explained that a tsunami several meters in height would have propagated across the entire planet.

MPR listener question:

Have a conversation with neighbors about past New Years in the Twin Cities and wondered how often does it snow on the first day of the year? Though you might know.


Indeed the records back to 1885 in the Twin Cities show that it has snowed exactly half of the time. From 1914 to 1919 and again from 2008 to 2013 it snowed on every New Years Day.

Twin Cities Almanac for December 28th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 24 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 9 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for December 28th:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 47 degrees F in 2013; lowest daily maximum temperature of -12 degree F in 1917; lowest daily minimum temperature of -27 degrees F in 1880; highest daily minimum temperature of 34 degrees F in 2006; record precipitation of 1.09 inches in 1982. Record snowfall is 12.0 inches also in 1982.

Average dew point for December 28th is 13°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 39°F in 1984; and the minimum dew point on this date is -26°F in 1976

All-time state records for December 28th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 59 degrees F at Winona (Winona County) in 1984. The state record low temperature for this date is -51 degrees F at Big Falls (Koochiching County) in 1933. The state record precipitation for this date is 2.44 inches at Bricelyn (Faribault County) in 1982. Record snowfall for this date is 17.0 inches at St Francis (Isanti County) also in 1982.

Past Weather Features:

December 28, 1917 and December 28, 1933 were the two coldest in Minnesota history, each dominated by an Arctic Air Mass with clear skies, low humidity, calm winds, and bitter temperatures. In 1933 the temperature fell to -50°F at Warroad and -51°F at Big Falls, while in 1917 low temperatures ranged throughout the -40s F across northern counties, where Roseau saw a daily high temperature of only -23 degrees F.

December 27-28, 1982 brought a huge snow storm to Minnesota with record amounts of snowfall widely reported. Across central portions of the state, including the Twin Cities from 11 to 18 inches of snow fell and closed many roads and highways for a time.

December 28, 1984 brought a very mild day to southeastern Minnesota where daytime temperatures reached into the 50s F at Austin, Caledonia, Rochester, and Preston among other places.


Coldest temperatures of December will dominate the state on Saturday with many subzero lows and highs only in the single digits and teens. Increasing cloudiness will bring moderation of temperatures Sunday and Monday with a chance for snow. This will be followed by another cold high pressure system for New Year’s Day dropping temperatures to subzero early in the day, with highs only in the single digits either side of zero. The rest of next week will be dry with moderating temperatures.

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