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Gentle, Lamb-Like Start to March

Gentle, Lamb-Like Start to March:

With many sunny days, little precipitation and temperatures averaging 6 to 10 degrees warmer than normal, March has started as gentle as a lamb. Well over 70 percent of all climate stations in the state have reported daytime high temperatures in the 40s F so far, with a few spots around the Twin Cities and Winona reaching 50°F. Overnight low temperatures have ranged for the most part from the single digits to the 20s F meaning a high frequency of freeze/thaw cycles.

With the frequent freeze-thaw cycles and the general lack of precipitation so far this month (many areas had not reported any precipitation or only a trace for 16 consecutive days), much of the water-laden snow cover across the state has been gradually disappearing, helping to alleviate some of the high flood risk. The National Weather Service did have a number of flood warnings in place this week in western portions of the state due to the rate of melting snow, and in some cases ice jams. Some areas of the state were finally getting some measurable precipitation on Thursday, March 5th, but mostly in the range of 0.10 to 0.20 inches. Ely and Kabetogama reported over 4 inches of snowfall.

Beginning this weekend and through much of next week temperatures are supposed to climb higher, perhaps 15-20 degrees F above normal, and we are supposed to see more frequent chances for precipitation. In fact this climate outlook may prevail for most of the rest of March.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

NOAA writers feature an interesting article this week that describes the Indian Ocean Dipole, a coupled behavioral pattern involving atmospheric pressure and sea surface temperature anomalies similar to the behavioral pattern of El Nino in the Pacific Ocean. They go further to link the recent anomalies in the Indian Ocean Dipole to the severity of the bush fire season in Australia.

The United Kingdom MetOffice reported this week that February of 2020 was the wettest in history. Parts of England recorded over four times the average monthly precipitation, and widespread flooding occurred and disrupted travel services. For the winter (Dec-Feb) it was the 5th wettest in history.

From the NOAA-NationalWeather Service in Nashville, TN: From late in the day on March 2 into the early morning hours on March 3, a regional tornado outbreak spawned numerous tornadoes across southeast Missouri, southern Kentucky, Tennessee, and central Alabama. The worst of these tornadoes, including two strong to violent tornadoes, touched down across Middle Tennessee during the early morning hours of March 3, 2020, resulting in widespread damage and numerous injuries and fatalities. As of Friday, March 6th, damage surveys have determined four tornadoes touched down across Middle Tennesee. There were over 20 fatalities, the worst fatal outbreak of tornadoes for the year 2020 so far.

MPR listener question:

I have read in your book (Minnesota Weather Almanac, 2nd edition) about the remarkable month of March of 2012 when so many high temperature records were set. You called it the one of the most anomalous months in Minnesota history. How many Minnesota climate stations reported a temperature of 80°F or higher during that month?


Indeed, 7 all-time statewide daily high temperature records were set during March of 2012, including the hottest St Patrick’s Day (March 17) in history with a reading of 83°F at St James, MN (Watonwan County). Across Minnesota 47 climate stations reported at least one day when the temperature hit 80°F. Even International Falls just missed with a high of 79°Fon the 18th. Overall the mean monthly temperature across the state was 14 degrees F above normal.

Twin Cities Almanac for March 6th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 36 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 20 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for March 6th:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 69 degrees F in 2000; lowest daily maximum temperature of 6 degrees F in 1932; lowest daily minimum temperature of -16 degrees F in 1890; highest daily minimum temperature of 44 degrees F in 1983; record precipitation of 0.97 inches in 1983. Record snowfall is 7.0 inches also in 1900.

Average dew point for March 6th is 15°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 55°F in 2017; and the minimum dew point on this date is -18°F in 1955.

All-time state records for March 6th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 76 degrees F at Canby (Yellow Medicine County) in 2000. The state record low temperature for this date is -41 degrees F at Embarrass (St Louis County) in 1996. The state record precipitation for this date is 2.50 inches at Austin (Mower County) in 2006. Record snowfall for this date is 16.0 inches at La Crescent (Houston County) in 1959.

Past Weather Features:

A Cold Wave swept across the state on March 6, 1955 bringing record-setting subzero temperatures. Many communities in the state reported low temperatures in the teens to twenties below zero, while portions of Red Lake, Koochiching, Roseau, Lake of the Woods, Beltrami, and Polk Counties saw the thermometer drop into the -30s F. The daytime high at Bemidji only reached -5°F.

March 4-7, 1995 brought heavy snowfall to the Red River Valley and other portions of western Minnesota. Many areas reported 10-16 inches of snowfall. Some schools were closed and many roads required two or more days of snowplowing.

Perhaps the warmest March 6th in state history occurred in 2000 when 50 communities reported an afternoon high of 70°F or greater. Even the nighttime temperature at Rothsay (Wilkin County) never dipped below 46°F. Spring fever prevailed!

Words of the Week: Scotch mist

To some people this is what you sip while sitting in front of a roaring fireplace in the winter. But my frame of reference is strictly meteorological!

This term has been used for generations to describe a combination of thick mist (or fog) and heavy drizzle in Scotland and parts of England. Droplets vary in size from less than .01 inches in diameter to .02 inches in diameter. Some remain suspended in the atmosphere while others fall to the ground. Visibility is greatly reduced. In southwestern England, particularly Devon and Cornwall, the same type of weather is referred to as "mizzle" (a combination of mist and drizzle).


More rapid snow melt will occur over the weekend with daytime temperatures running 15 to 20 degrees F above normal, many areas seeing 50°F and some areas registering 60°F, may be a place or two will reach 70°F. A bit of a cool down for Monday, but still warmer than normal much of next week with a chance for precipitation by mid-week, especially in northern sections of the state.

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