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A Brief Look at Year-to-Date Climate Statistics

A Brief Look at Year-to-Date Climate Statistics:

The recent moderation in temperature looks to prevail through the Thanksgiving holiday until the end of the month. As such it is likely that November 2020 will end up falling among the 20 warmest Novembers in state history, quite a remarkable turn around from last month, when we recorded one of the coldest Octobers in history.

For the year 2020 so far Minnesota has recorded 7 warmer than normal months and 4 colder than normal months. Overall, the year is tracking to finish as another warmer than normal year but by less than 0.5 degrees F.

From a precipitation viewpoint most climate stations are reporting above normal values for this month so far. Portions of 9 counties have reported over 2 inches of precipitation, and some areas have already recorded over 9 inches of snowfall. The year-to-date precipitation totals are close to normal or below normal in many areas of the state. A few places are having a wetter than normal year in 2020 like Faribault, Gaylord, and St Peter, but most places are slightly drier than normal.

In portions of west-central, southwestern, north-central, and northeastern Minnesota 2020 precipitation has been lacking significantly and placed these areas in moderate drought. Some of the drier areas of the state for the year include:
Browns Valley (Traverse County) 8.03’ below normal
Indus (Koochiching County) 9.39” below normal
Morris (Stevens County) 9.69” below normal
Ortonville (Big Stone County) 8.20” below normal
Luverne (Rock County) 11.13” below normal
Madison (Lac Qui Parle County) 7.0” below normal
Big Falls (Koochiching County) 8.10” below normal
Ely (Lake County) 8.56” below normal
Grand Portage (Cook County) 9.81” below normal

Many of these areas would welcome more precipitation before the end of the year to help recharge soils and streams. Depending on the next several weeks Minnesota could end up the year overall wetter or drier than normal.

Update on Winter Season Climate Outlook

The NOAA Climate Prediction Center (CPC) released new seasonal climate outlooks this week, including one for the winter months of December-February. They call for above normal temperature trend through about the first half of December, then favor a colder than normal trend in temperature for most of the remainder of winter. They also favor dryness early in December, then above normal precipitation across much of the state for the balance of winter. Much of the outlook is based on a persistent La Nina (cooler than normal equatorial Pacific Ocean) throughout the winter season.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

NOAA features this week a comprehensive article about potato production and climate change. The authors note that the genetic diversity of the potato will allow for varieties to be manipulated to match changing climates so that overall production should be maintained.

Science Daily reports this week on a new study from UC-San Diego: “A new kind of radar could make it possible for self-driving cars to navigate safely in bad weather. Electrical engineers at the University of California San Diego developed a clever way to improve the imaging capability of existing radar sensors so that they accurately predict the shape and size of objects in the scene. The system worked well when tested at night and in foggy conditions.” Further testing is expected.

Over the past 3 years, the Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions (CCASS) at the University of Arizona has hosted three interdisciplinary conferences as well as a three-phase scenario planning process to discuss a range of science and policy topics related to managing the river under a broader Colorado River Conversations (CRC) initiative. CRC promotes integration of the latest social and physical science knowledge into the management of the Colorado River and is providing an informal scientific foundation for the pending renegotiation of the Colorado River management guidelines. AGU-EOS reported on this topic earlier this week.

MPR listener question:

Since the new millennium (2000) how many winter seasons (Dec-Feb) have brought colder than normal temperatures to Minnesota? It seems like not many.


Of the 20 winter seasons since the new millennium started, only 7 have brought colder than normal temperatures to Minnesota. They were the following:

Five of the winter seasons since the new millennium rank among the 10 warmest winters in state history

Twin Cities Almanac for November 20th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 38 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 24 degrees F (plus or minus 10 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for November 20th:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 63 degrees F in 1925; lowest daily maximum temperature of 17 degrees F in 1978; lowest daily minimum temperature of -3 degrees F in 1921; highest daily minimum temperature of 43 degrees F in 1930; record precipitation of 2.01 inches in 1975. Record snowfall is 8.0 inches in 1975.

Average dew point for November 20th is 24°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 54°F in 1982; and the minimum dew point on this date is -3 degrees F in 2014.

All-time state records for November 20th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 74 degrees F at Faribault (Rice County) in 1897. The state record low temperature for this date is -31 degrees F at Roseau (Roseua County) in 1896. The state record precipitation for this date is 3.23 inches at Canby (Yellow Medicine County) in 1975. Record snowfall is 16.0 inches at Canby (Yellow Medicine County) also in 1975.

Past Weather Features:

November 20, 1897 was very warm across southern and western Minnesota with afternoon high temperatures in the 60s and 70s F.

November 20, 1921 was the coldest in state history as nearly every corner of the state reported subzero morning temperatures. Only Mower, Winona, and Faribault Counties were above zero degrees. The daily high temperature at Morris, MN was zero degrees F.

Following the tragic Edmund Fitzgerald Storm of November 10, 1975, November 20-21 brought another strong winter storm to the state which delivered mostly heavy snow. Many parts of southern and central Minnesota reported 10 to 20 inches of snowfall. Canby received 24 inches from the storm.


Temperatures will remain around seasonal averages for the weekend, but with a chance for rain or snow late Saturday and into early Sunday. More chances for precipitation later on Monday. Warming to above normal temperatures for Wednesday through Friday of next week, including Thanksgiving Day.

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