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Statewide Recap for the Climate of 2019

Statewide Recap for the Climate of 2019:

As we wrap up 2019, it is still likely that 2019 will go into the record books as the wettest year in Minnesota history on a statewide basis, with average precipitation totals across the state of over 35 inches for the year. Seven of the 12 months delivered above normal precipitation to the state in 2019. February of 2019 was the 2nd wettest in state history while September was the 3rd wettest in state history. In addition, October ranked as the 9th wettest in state history. Portions of Rice, Steele, Olmsted, Dodge, and Houston Counties reported over 50 inches of precipitation for the year. On balance most places reported from 5 to 15 inches above normal precipitation for the year. At least 730 daily precipitation records were set or tied within the Minnesota climate network this year. Also, February of 2019 was the snowiest in state history with most places reporting between 30 and 40 inches, and Rosemount reporting over 56 inches! Another marker of how wet the year was can be found in the high-volume flow measured this year in almost all of Minnesota’s watersheds, and the rising lake levels around the state.

Temperature-wise eight of the 12 months in 2019 delivered average temperatures that were cooler than normal, with the first 5 months of the year all below normal. Although not many high temperature records were set this year in Minnesota, there were plenty of daily episodes with Heat Index values above 100 degrees F, thanks to some very high dew points.

Updated Seasonal Climate Outlook:

On Thursday, December 19th the NOAA Climate Prediction Center released a new seasonal climate outlook for January through March. Despite some tendencies toward both warmer than normal and wetter than normal weather conditions across Minnesota over the balance of December, the January through March period is seen as one that will tend towards cooler and wetter across our region. We will see if this materializes. The wetness trend in our region is a stronger signal than the cooler than normal temperature trend, at least statistically.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

The UK Met Office this week provided a news release that their climate models suggest that 2020 will continue to show a sharply upward temperature trend globally. Their statement includes: 2020 will likely be 1.11C warmer than the average between 1850-1900, The year ahead is set to extend the series of the warmest years on record to six in a row. Scientists say the strongest factor causing the rise is greenhouse gas emissions. The world first broke through one degree above pre-industrial temperatures back in 2015. Each year since then has seen temperatures close to or above this mark. The warmest year on record is 2016 when a strong El NiƱo made a significant difference.

From Science Daily this week: University of Massachusetts reported results from a continental scale study of changes in bird migration patterns: “In what the authors believe is one of the first studies to examine climate change impact on the timing of bird migration on a continental scale, researchers report that spring migrants were likely to pass certain stops earlier now than they would have 20 years ago. Also, temperature and migration timing were closely aligned, with the greatest changes in migration timing occurring in the regions warming most rapidly. Timing shifts were less apparent in fall, they add.”

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology reported record-setting high temperatures across most of the country. Many places on Wednesday (December 18) reported daytime highs of 107 degrees F or greater. Nullarbor in South Australia set the record for the hottest December day on record, recording 49.9C (121.8). The Guardian reported on this story in detail.

MPR listener question:

We have a lot of standing corn around the region. The last several times it has gotten noticeably below zero, we have noticed on the pickup thermometer that the temperature would drop 4-5 degrees from where it was at (after a short lag) when he had corn on both sides of the road, and rise back to where it was after we drove out of the corn. No matter the elevation or direction. Sure enough, last night on my way home we have 2 fields west of the farm and I experienced the same thing again, started out at -12 and went to -16 while I was between the corn and back up to -12 further down the road. Any ideas why?


Yes, this is a symptom of the microclimate effect brought about by variable mixing of the air near the ground. Where the corn rows disrupt the horizontal flow of the air (wind), the air can settle into cold layers much more readily and the temperature will drop. When you are driving in more open space without the corn impinging on the air flow, the air will mix enough to keep the temperature a few degrees F higher. Rudoph Geiger, a German climatologist wrote about this effect back in the 1930s.

Twin Cities Almanac for December 20th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 26 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 11 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for December 20th:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 51 degrees F in 1967; lowest daily maximum temperature of -11 degree F in 1916; lowest daily minimum temperature of -24 degrees F in 1916; highest daily minimum temperature of 39 degrees F in 1923; record precipitation of 0.74 inches in 1902. Record snowfall is 4.6 inches also in 2010.

Average dew point for December 20th is 9°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 44°F in 1967; and the minimum dew point on this date is -30°F in 1963.

All-time state records for December 20th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 69 degrees F at Faribault (Rice County) in 1923. The state record low temperature for this date is -49 degrees F at Tower (St Louis County) in 1983. The state record precipitation for this date is 1.50 inches at Worthington (Nobles County) in 1902. Record snowfall for this date is 13.0 inches at Le Sueur (Le Sueur County) in 1887.

Past Weather Features:

A winter storm brought 5 to 12 inches of snowfall to many parts of Minnesota on December 20, 1887. It was one of several heavy snowfalls of the challenging winter of 1887-1888.

December 20, 1923 brought very warm temperatures to Minnesota with many areas reporting highs in the 40s and 50s F. Maple Plain and Faribault reached the 60s F. Overnight lows did not drop below the freezing mark.

December 20, 1983 was one of the coldest December days in history. Many areas reported low temperatures of -40 degrees F or colder. Waseca and Preston in southern Minnesota dropped to -30 degrees F, while the high temperature at Willmar only reached -15 degrees F.


Mostly sunny weekend coming up with high temperatures well above normal on both Saturday and Sunday. The warming trend will prevail throughout most of Christmas week. It will likely be a dry week for most areas as well.

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