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Snow Season Review

Snow Season Review:

Given the outlook models for the rest of April and beginning of May, it appears there is likely little if any chance for snow across the state, except for a few flurries in far northern counties Sunday and Monday. In that context, I thought it would be time to summarize the 2019-2020 snow season (generally October 1 to April 30) on a statewide basis.

At the top of the list is Isabella up above the north shore of Lake Superior in Lake County. They reported over 133 inches. The only other locations over 100 inches for the season were Two Harbors and Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center near Finland, both also in Lake County. But portions of the Red River Valley in northwestern Minnesota reported 50-60 inches, well above normal for them.

On the low end was Wheaton (Traverse County) in far west-central Minnesota which reported less than 25 inches of snowfall. In fact many parts of west-central Minnesota had a fairly dry snow season.

Some of the major cities in Minnesota and their snow season totals include:
MSP 51.5 inches
Rochester 58.1 inches
St Cloud 44.7 inches
Duluth 90.5 inches
International Falls 66.5 inches
Redwood Falls 41.1 inches
Grand Rapids 62.1 inches

Overall, except for west-central, the recent snow season (Oct 1 to April 23) has produced above normal precipitation in most areas of the state. Only in the past few weeks have the volume flows in most Minnesota rivers and streams decreased back closer to normal, though flows are still higher than normal in some areas.

Agricultural Season Underway With Planting:

The recent drier weather has combined with warmer than normal temperatures and more sunshine have combined to allow farmers to begin the field working season in earnest this week. Manure spreading, tilling, and planting have been common activities across many parts of the state. The first significant acreage of crops is being planted, while farmers growing alfalfa are inspecting the fields for winter injury. In addition, Master Gardeners have been active removing winter mulch and preparing garden beds for annuals, while many other crops have been started in high tunnels or hoop houses. Shallow soil temperatures which were just in the 30s F last week have warmed into the 40s and low 50s F this week. Much of the state is expected to get planted over the next week as farmers and gardeners will work around light shower activity Monday and Tuesday but will benefit from drier and sunnier days into early May.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

To commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day on Wednesday of this week Climate Generation (the group founded by Will Steger) released a new book titled “ Climate Eyewitness: Minnesota Voices on Climate Change.” This book is full of storytelling, poetry, and art from a wide variety of Minnesota citizens, including me. I sincerely hope that every Minnesota citizen will read it as this is an important topic of our lifetime here on Earth. You can find it online at the Climate Eyewitness web site.

The BBC reported this week that 2019 was the warmest year of record for Europe, with three distinct Heat Waves and the warmest month of July ever. The second half of 2019 was also one of the wettest in history with many heavy rains that caused flooding.

A new research study by the University of Hamburg finds that the Arctic Ocean may be completely ice-free in the summer months by the year 2050. The researchers used 40 different climate models to examine the future projections of Arctic sea ice based on various emission scenarios for greenhouse gases. You can read a brief review of this work at the Science Daily.

The NOAA Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma had a busy week. Since last Sunday there have been 76 tornado reports across the southern plains states and the southeastern states. On Sunday, April 19 there were seventeen reports of tornadoes in Mississippi, while on Thursday, April 23 there were nine from the state of Georgia. Severe weather season is expected to show more evidence of storms over the remainder of April.

MPR listener question:

As a long-time Minnesota climate observer I am convinced that the 2019-2020 snow season brought a rare sequence of weather to the Twin Cities for the three major holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. All three were white with snow. How often has this happened?


Historically (back to 1885), snow is present either on the ground or falling from the sky on Christmas Day in the Twin Cities about 74 percent of the time. For Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day in the same year, snow is present on the ground or falling from the sky about 27 percent of the time. So a white Thanksgiving and Christmas combination is only about 1 year in four.

When we add Easter Sunday to the mix, then there have only four snow seasons historically when snow was present on all three holidays: 1893-1894, 1949-1950, 1957-1958, and 2019-2020. So that is a mere 3 percent frequency historically, extremely rare indeed.

Twin Cities Almanac for April 24th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 62 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 41 degrees F (plus or minus 9 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for April 24th:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 84 degrees F in 1962; lowest daily maximum temperature of 36 degrees F in 1887; lowest daily minimum temperature of 24 degrees F in 1875; highest daily minimum temperature of 62 degrees F in 1915; record precipitation of 1.43 inches in 1908. Record snowfall is 0.4 inches also in 1887.

Average dew point for April 24th is 24°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 66°F in 1948; and the minimum dew point on this date is 8°F in 1918.

All-time state records for April 24th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 92 degrees F at Milan (Chippewa County) in 1962, and then also at Rochester (Olmsted County) and Springfield (Brown County) in 2009. The state record low temperature for this date is 8 degrees F at Embarrass in 2005 and also at Brimson in 2013 (both communities are in St Louis County. The state record precipitation for this date is 5.44 inches at Winona Dam in 1990. Record snowfall for this date is 15.0 inches at Fosston (Polk County) in 1937.

Past Weather Features:

On a statewide basis April 24, 1909 was the coldest in history with many observers reporting morning low temperatures in the teens and twenties F. The only place above the freezing mark was Winona with a minimum temperature of 33°F.

Over half of the state saw afternoon high temperatures in the 80s F on April 24, 1962. In portions of west-central Minnesota many communities saw the mercury hit 90°F or greater. Farmers were out planting fields of corn.

Thunderstorms roared across the state over April 23-24, 1990 bringing heavy rains and hail. Across southeastern Minnesota 3-5 inches of rain fell which flooded roads and highways and many farm fields.


Mostly sunny over the weekend with temperatures warmer than normal. There will be a chance for widely scattered showers both Saturday and Sunday nights, with some chance for snow flurries in the north. There will be a better chance for showers on Monday and Tuesday of next week, but with temperatures remaining warmer than normal. The balance of next week looks dry and sunny.

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