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Snow and Cold Dominate the Week

Snow and Cold Dominate the Week:

Easter Sunday (April 12) brought nasty weather, with sleet, rain, and snow, along with gusty winds. In southeastern Minnesota a number of observers reported up to 10 inches of snowfall (well below the statewide record for the date of 17.6 inches at Artichoke Lake in 2019). Nevertheless, a number of long- term climate stations in Minnesota reported new daily record snowfall amounts for the date, including:

6.6 inches at MSP (also the snowiest Easter Sunday in history)
7.5 inches at Rochester
10.0 inches at Elgin
7.8 inches at Wabasha
9.6 inches at Theilman
7.0 inches at Minnesota City
6.4 inches at Bricelyn
6.3 inches at Jordan

Very cold air ushered in my two consecutive cold fronts kept the snowfall from melting for a few days, and the northerly winds held daytime maximum temperatures down to record or near-record cold levels. On the morning April 14th this week 11 long-term climate stations set new record cold minimum temperature readings, including just 12°F at Lamberton, Marshall, and Theilman. MSP Airport just missed tying the record cold minimum by one degree with a reading of 19°F on the 15th.In addition over April 13-15, over 30 climate stations reported new record cold maximum temperatures as daytime highs climbed only into the 20s F to low 30s F. MSP tied the record cold daily maximum temperature on the 14th with a reading of only 30°F.

Monday through Wednesday brought average temperatures that were 20 to 25 degrees F colder than normal and kept many Minnesota citizens inside. Winter wardrobes were on display, along with facial masks, by those who did venture outside.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

At the end of 2019 climate researchers reported that the Greenland Ice Sheet was melting 7 times faster than it had in the 1990s. A recent study found that the melting rate during 2019 was enhanced by an unusually high frequency of clear days over Greenland which allow more of the sun’s energy to directly reach the ice sheet and contribute to the high melting rate brought on by very warm temperatures. The BBC recently reported on this.

NOAA scientists released a global climate summary for the month of March this week. For Minnesota, March of 2019 ranked among the 19 warmest in history, but for many other states it was among the warmest. It was the 3rd warmest March in history for Texas, the 5th warmest March for Alabama and Georgia, and the warmest March ever for Florida. Among many other countries, including portions of Europe, Asia and South America March ranked among the warmest historically as well. Globally it was the 2nd warmed March in the historical record back to 1880.

A new study of mega-droughts in the western USA conducted by scientists from Columbia University and reported by the BBC highlights that the recent prolonged drought which started in 2000 ranks among the 4 or 5 worst over the past 1000 years according to tree ring evidence. The current drought episode may be amplified because of climate change impacts on atmospheric circulation patterns.

MPR listener question:

I have read in your book and heard you say many times that on average the month of April is the windiest month of the year in Minnesota. It certainly seems to be the case this year. How many times have wind gusts exceeded 30 mph so far this month?


Indeed, even if the month ended today, April has already brought a number of days when wind speeds gusted over 30 mph. Here are some of the frequencies (number of days with 30 mph or greater gusts) for selected climate reports around the state:
MSP 9 days
Rochester 7 days
Mankato 5 days
Redwood Falls 8 days
Moorhead 9 days
St Cloud 5 days
Duluth 7 days
International Falls 5 days

Twin Cities Almanac for April 17th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 59 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 38 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for April 17th:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 85 degrees F in 1985: lowest daily maximum temperature of 33 degrees F in 1953; lowest daily minimum temperature is 10 degrees F in 1875; highest daily minimum temperature of 61 degrees F in 1976; record precipitation of 1.44 inches in 1975; and there was a record snowfall of 2.7 inches in 1939.

Average dew point for April 17th is 32 degrees F, with a maximum of 62 degrees F in 1977 and a minimum of 4 degrees F in 1989.

All-time state records for April 17th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 91 degrees F at Tracy (Lyon County) in 1914. The state record low temperature for this date is -5 degrees F at Gunflint Lake (Cook County) in 1983. State record precipitation for this date is 4.00 inches at Belle Plain (Scott County) in 1894; and record snowfall is 13.0 inches at Detroit Lakes (Becker County) in 1945.

Past Weather Features:

A strong late season winter storm paralyzed the state over April 16-17, 1945. Strong winds and heavy snowfall closed roads and highways in portions of central and northern Minnesota were 5 to 10 inches of snow occurred. In northwestern Minnesota places like Fergus Falls, Pelican Rapids, and Detroit Lakes reported 14 to 18 inches of snowfall. Farmers had not yet started their field working season.

Bright sun and strong south winds brought unseasonable warmth to the state on April 16, 1985. Over 35 climate stations reported daytime highs in the 80s F and it reached 90°F at Montevideo (Chippewa County).

In only three years, 1875, 1928, and 1983 has April 17 brought mid-winter cold to Minnesota with single digit lows reported around northern sections of the state, and teens in southern counties. All three years also produced persistent snow cover that lingered well into April.


Saturday will start a drier trend across the state with many more sunny days during the second half of April. Temperatures will slowly warm to above normal, with a minor dip on Sunday to cooler than normal conditions. Generally dry and sunny next week with daytime highs in the 50s and 60s F.

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