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Some records snows, but moisture still lacking across the state

Some record snows, but moisture still lacking across the state:

A winter storm brought some much-needed moisture to southern Minnesota on March 15th. Precipitation amounts were generally a quarter to half an inch, but some areas received 0.75 inches up to 1 inch. Snowfall amounts ranged from 2 to 6 inches in many areas. Some locations in the state climate network reported record amounts of snow, including:
8.2 inches at St Peter
7.9 inches at Rochester
7.5 inches at Owatonna
7.4 inches at Austin
7.0 inches at Lakefield
4.5 inches at Albert Lea

Further south, Charles City, IA reported a record 8.0 inches, and Prairie Du Chien, WI reported a record 5.0 inches.

Moisture is generally welcome over any part of Minnesota as most climate stations are showing deficits in precipitation for the year so far. Much of western and northern Minnesota is in a moderate drought according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Ada (Norman County) has reported only 0.21 inches for the year so far, while Leech Lake (Cass County) has received just 0.34 inches, and Crookston (Polk County) reports just 0.49 inches. According to the NOAA Spring Outlook (see below under Potpourri), the area of drought across the high plains is expected to expand.

So far the month of March is averaging 8 to 10 degrees F warmer than normal, and extremes have been 69°F at Canby (Yellow Medicine County) on the 10th and -21°F at Camp Norris (Lake of the Woods County) on the 1st.

Rainfall observers needed:

The Minnesota State Climatology Office in the Department of Natural Resources needs volunteer rainfall monitors for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS).

Volunteers perform rainfall monitoring activities at home and submit their reports online. The data are used to verify rain totals after big events, monitor drought conditions and inform projections about flood risk, make precipitation maps more accurate, and provide needed guidance on Minnesota’s changing climate.

“This is a great educational activity for families with kids,” said State Climatologist Luigi Romolo, “and a rewarding hobby for anyone interested in weather or climate.”

To participate, rainfall monitors must purchase or provide a standard 4-inch diameter rain gauge (available at discount through CoCoRaHS) and have internet access to submit reports. CoCoRaHS provides online training on how to observe weather trends and how to submit precipitation and weather event reports.

To sign up to become a CoCoRaHS rain observer or for more information, visit the link listed below or contact Luigi Romolo at (link sends email). The website includes lesson plans for STEM students and instructional videos for all participants.

Link to sign up for CoCoRaHS.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

Nearly one-half of the country — stretching from the Pacific Coast to the Great Plains and upper Midwest — is currently experiencing moderate to exceptional drought conditions, and that is expected to continue and expand, according to NOAA’s U.S. Spring Outlook released today.

The BBC Weather Center this week featured a very rare photo of a nighttime optical phenomenon known as Steve which was photographed on the Shetland Islands. Little is known about this thin, purple ribbon of light visible from the ground and from satellites, but it occurs sometimes during an aurora display.

There is an interesting article in Science about how the 2021 Australian bushfires produced haze and smoke to such significant elevation that it got caught up in the stratosphere and circulated the globe over the Southern Hemisphere. “Intense, widespread bushfires in Australia injected huge amounts of smoke into the stratosphere in 2020. Hirsch and Koren found that this smoke caused record-breaking levels of aerosols over the Southern Hemisphere, as much as that from a moderate volcanic eruption. The severity was caused by a combination of the vigor of the fires and their location at a latitude with a shallow tropopause and within the midlatitude cyclones belt. This aerosol increase caused considerable cooling over oceanic cloud-free areas.

MPR listener question:

Last week in your Minnesota WeatherTalk Blog you wrote that the warmest day in March historically was March 23, 1910 when Montevideo hit 88 degrees F. We were wondering what is the warmest overnight low temperature ever measured in March?


That would be on March 19, 2012 when dozens of climate stations reported overnight minimum temperatures in the 60s F. It was 61°F in the Twin Cities and 65°F at La Crescent (Houston County). We may see several days yet this month with above normal temperatures, but nothing as extreme as that.

Twin Cities Almanac for March 19th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 43 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 25 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for March 19th:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 79 degrees F in 2012; lowest daily maximum temperature of 14 degrees F in 1965; lowest daily minimum temperature of -15 degrees F in 1875; highest daily minimum temperature of 61 degrees F in 2012; record precipitation of 1.09 inches in 1897. Record snowfall is 8.8 inches in 1943.

Average dew point for March 19th is 23°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 60°F in 2012; and the minimum dew point on this date is -11 degrees F in 1965.

All-time state records for March 19th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 84 degrees F at Madison (Lac Qui County) in 2012. The state record low temperature for this date is -40 degrees F at Meadowland (St Louis County) in 1923. The state record precipitation for this date is 2.90 inches at Littlefork (Koochiching County) in 2007. Record snowfall is 18.0 inches at Grand Meadow (Mower County) in 1933.

Past Weather Features:

March 19, 1923 was by far the coldest in Minnesota history. Across a snow laden landscape every climate station reported a subzero morning low temperature. Many areas up north measured temperatures from -30°F to -40°F. The daytime high temperature at Pipestone only reached 6°F.

March 18-19, 1933 brought a late winter storm to southern Minnesota where 6 to 16 inches of snowfall was measured. Grand Meadow had a storm total of 19 inches and Albert Lea measured 20 inches.

March 19, 2012 was the warmest in state history. Twenty-five Minnesota counties saw afternoon temperatures climb into the 80s F. The cool spot in the state was Two Harbors with an afternoon high of 59 degrees F.


Generally breezy, sunny and warm over the weekend with temperatures in the 50s F in many areas. Increasing clouds on Sunday with a chance for rain in some areas later in the day and Sunday evening. Continued unsettled and cloudy weather for Monday through Wednesday next week with chance for rain and even snow showers, then drier towards the end of next week.

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