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Climate Summary for March 2021

Climate Summary for March 2021:

Mean monthly temperatures in March 2021 were above normal across the state by 7 to 9 degrees F.  Some climate stations reported 26 of the 31 days were warmer than normal.  Extremes for the month ranged from 84°F at Madison (Lac Qui Parle County) on the 29th, a new statewide record for the date, to just -21°F at Camp Norris (Lake of the Woods County) on March 1st.

On a statewide basis March of 2021 will among the top eight warmest since 1895.  Five of the 9 warmest months of March in state history have occurred since 2000 (2000, 2010, 2012, 2016, and 2021).  For MSP March of 2021 was the 8th warmest in history (back to 1872), while for International Falls it ranked as 3rd warmest, Duluth 8th warmest, Rochester 9th warmest, and 8th warmest at Saint Cloud.  At Park Rapids, MN it was the 6th warmest March in history.

Most areas of the state reported above normal precipitation for March, except for portions of the northwest, north-central, and southeast sections of the state which were drier than normal.  Many climate stations reported over 2.5 inches of precipitation for the month.  Ada (Norman County), Red Lake Falls, and Warren (Marshall County) of the Red River Valley reported less than a quarter of an inch.  Most areas of the state reported below normal snowfall (less than 8 inches in many cases).  Ely (St Louis County) was the snowfall winner with just over 20 inches delivered there. 

It was a very windy month.  Many climate stations reported 10 or more days with wind gusts over 35 mph.  MSP reported 15 such days.  Some areas reported wind gusts over 50 mph. 

The consistently warmer than normal temperatures drove the frost out of the soil this month and promoted earlier than normal ice-out dates for many area lakes. Many Minnesota farmers are now anticipating an earlier than normal planting season.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

This week NOAA features an article that describes the conditions that produced flooding rains across western and middle Tennessee earlier this week.  Nashville recorded an all-time single day March rainfall of 5.75 inches on the 27th.  Many areas reported a two-day rainfall total over 7 inches.  Widespread flooding resulted, and there was even loss of life.

The Weather Underground published a story this week concerning the number of avalanche deaths recorded this year.  The Colorado Avalanche Information Center reports that 36 people have died due to avalanches since December 18, 2020.  This ties the highest number ever recorded in any season dating back to 1950.  This season’s deadly conditions started with early-snowfall, followed by a dry spell. That created in the snowpack what experts call a persistent weak layer that was buried under subsequent layers of snow when winter kicked into full gear.  This layer made the snowpack more vulnerable to avalanches. 

Science Daily reports this week on an ancient asteroid impact in Antarctica.  A research team of international space scientists, led by Dr Matthias van Ginneken from the University of Kent's School of Physical Sciences, has found new evidence of a low-altitude meteoritic touchdown event reaching the Antarctic ice sheet 430,000 years ago.”  It left scattered hot debris across the landscape, as the asteroid was estimated to be over 100 meters in diameter.

MPR listener question:

I see the historical record highs and lows posted for a given day on my local TV station here in Bemidji and take note of what the biggest spread is. March and early December seems to have the greatest spreads I have seen, a few with over 90 degrees F between the daily record high and record low. I have not seen any with 100. Are there any such days in MN with over 100 degrees?  


Many climate stations have seen a daily temperature range of over 90 degrees F on a single date, usually in March or April.  The largest ones I could find in the state database include: 

-Canby, MN (Yellow Medicine County) March 18th record high of 84°F in 1921 and record low minus 16°F in 1923 (100°F spread); Hallock (Kittson County) March 23rd record high of 77°F in 1910 and record low of -26°F in 1974 (103°F spread); and Roseau (Roseau County) March 23rd record high of 81°F in 1910 and record low of -26°F in 1974 (107°F spread).

At Bemidji I find several dates in the climate record with record highs and lows separated by 90 degrees or more, but none with 100 degrees F spread. 

It is interesting to note that of all the climate stations with long term records in Minnesota the only community that holds both the statewide record high temperature and the statewide record low temperature for the same date is Hallock (Kittson County) which has measured 98°F on May 12th in 1900 and just 11°F on the same date in 1946. 

Twin Cities Almanac for April 2nd:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 51 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 31 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for April 2nd:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 78 degrees F in 1981; lowest daily maximum temperature of 23 degrees F in 1920; lowest daily minimum temperature of 9 degrees F in 1877; highest daily minimum temperature of 59 degrees F in 1963; record precipitation of 1.06 inches in 2006.  Record snowfall is 3.4 inches in 1920.

Average dew point for April 2nd is 28°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 61°F in 1963; and the minimum dew point on this date is -8 degrees F in 1954.

All-time state records for April 2nd:

The state record high temperature for this date is 88 degrees F at Pipestone (Pipestone County) in 2012. The state record low temperature for this date is -21 degrees F at Tower (St Louis County) in 1975. The state record precipitation for this date is 3.17 inches at Luverne (Rock County) in 1967. Record snowfall is 12.0 inches at Canby (Yellow Medicine County) in 1960.

Past Weather Features:

A late season winter storm brought rain, sleet, and snow to the state on April 2, 1960.  While southern Minnesota reported some thunderstorms, western and northern counties reported 5 to 10 inches of heavy, wet snow.  Canby reported a foot of new snowfall.

The coldest April 2nd was in 1975 when many areas of the state saw morning temperatures ranging from single digits above zero to single digits below zero.  The temperature fell to -21°F at Tower and -20°F at Baudette.  The Minnesota landscape was covered by 1-2 feet of snow.

One of the warmest April 2nds came in 1981 as most parts of the state saw afternoon temperatures rise into the 60s and 70s F.  Faribault saw a morning low of 32°F but by late afternoon the temperature hit 80°F.  Over a dozen communities reported afternoon temperatures of 80° or higher.


Sunny and warm from Saturday through Monday, with high temperatures ranging from the 60s to near 80 degrees F.  Increasing cloudiness with a chance for rain and thunderstorms later Monday and Tuesday.  Cooler Tuesday through Friday next week with daytime temperatures falling back into the 50s and 60s F.  There will be a chance for widely scattered rains or thunderstorms as well.


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