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Significant Rainfall for Some, Many Areas Missed

Significant Rainfall for Some, Many Areas Missed:

August 6-8 brought some of the largest amounts of rainfall measured so far this year within the Minnesota climate reporting network. Many areas in west-central, south-central, and southeastern counties reported 1 to 3 inches, while much of northwestern and north-central Minnesota were missed by the rains. Some record daily amounts were reported for August 8th, including:
5.00 inches at La Crescent Dam
3.08 inches at Caledonia
2.71 inches at Winona Dam
1.77 inches at Wheaton
1.43 inches at Browns Valley

The net result on the drought situation across the state was mixed. Some of the geographic area in southern Minnesota designated to be in Severe Drought shrunk, while the Extreme Drought area across central and northern Minnesota expanded. An area of Exceptional Drought emerged roughly from Polk County (northwestern MN) through portions of Koochiching County. About 78 percent of the state landscape remains in Moderate Drought or worse, while 42 percent is designated to be in Extreme or Exceptional Drought. Some areas are now 10 to 12 inches below normal precipitation for the year so far.

At least the NOAA outlook models are beginning to favor above normal rainfall in portions of Minnesota for the remainder of August. But there is a long way to go to effectively mitigate this drought.

Comments on the IPCC 6th Assessment Report for the U.N. on Climate Change released earlier this week (The Physical Science Basis):

We are now into the Second Generation of Scientists who are providing analysis of the scientific evidence documenting the pace, magnitude, spatial variability, and impacts of climate change around the world. The evidence is overwhelming in volume and is based on verifiable facts and measurements. It should not have taken two generations of scientists, over 4 decades of work, and billions of dollars in infrastructure damage from extreme events to convince government leaders that there is an urgent need for change and action to adapt and to mitigate for this.

Associated with the global variations in the measured pace of climate change, Minnesota clearly represents a “bullseye” in the middle of the North American continent, where the pace of climate change, especially the key variables of temperature and precipitation, is very magnified compared to many other geographic areas. More Minnesota citizens are realizing this.

The models used to assess and estimate the pace of climate change are in many respects “underestimating” the rate of change (especially in higher latitudes), and also not keeping up with the range of extremes being measured (such as the 121°F maximum temperature measured in Canada’s British Columbia earlier this summer; 120°F measured in Sicily this week, 30 inches of rain measured in China over a few days last month, or the 100°F temperature measured in Russia’s Siberia (north of the Arctic Circle) last year.

Climate scientists are most sincere and acting as “good citizens” in sounding the alarm on this crisis and pronouncing a Code Red situation. The levels of effort to change policy and implement practices that will adapt to the quickened rate of climate change and help mitigate and slow the future pace of climate change this century are need RIGHT NOW!

In my opinion all units of government in the state of Minnesota, as well as business enterprises, and citizen groups who care about the environment should be reacting to this with strategies that will reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and build resilience in our managed natural resource systems and societal infrastructure.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

This week’s AGU-EOS Bulletin features a summary article about the IPCC 6th Assessment Report released earlier this week, and the take-home messages from five of the graphs uses. Very important reading.

According to the NOAA National Hurricane Center it looks like Tropical Storm Fred may bring 4-6 inches of rainfall to many portions of Florida over the weekend and early next week.

According to the BBC the latest Heat Wave in the Mediterranean area of Europe may have produced a new all-time daily temperature record. Earlier this week the Italian Island of Sicily reported a maximum temperature of 48.8°C (nearly 120°F). If verified by the World Meteorological Organization this would surpass the previous all-time high temperature for Europe of 48°C measured at Athens, Greece in 1977.

Severe thunderstorms with strong winds, heavy rain, and hail rampaged across the state of Michigan this week on August 11-12. Some areas saw wind gusts of 75 mph and many areas received 3-5 inches of rain. The high winds brought power outages and by later on Thursday an estimated 850,000 people were without power. The National Weather Service Forecast Office in Detroit provides more details on their web site.

MPR listener question: 

Here in Bemidji, MN we are about 12 inches below normal in annual precipitation this year. Lake levels and stream flows have really declined. This question comes from my son the 8th grader, “would a couple of 6 inch rainfalls save us from this drought?”


The answer is NO! Recovery from drought is complicated. A six-inch rainfall would undoubtedly help, but it is too much, too fast. Much of it would runoff and lead to flooding, as soil infiltration rates cannot accommodate rainfall that heavy. A better scenario for recovery from this drought would be to see a weather pattern evolve that brought well above normal precipitation to your area all the way through the autumn season until the soil froze up for winter. I think that is likely a low probability, but we can always hope.

Twin Cities Almanac for August 13th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 81 degrees F (plus or minus 7 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 63 degrees F (plus or minus 6 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for August 13th:

MSP records for this date: highest daily maximum temperature of 98 degrees F in 1880; lowest daily maximum temperature of 63 degrees F in 1951; lowest daily minimum temperature of 48 degrees F in 1997; highest daily minimum temperature of 71 degrees F in 2015; record precipitation of 2.05 inches in 2007. No snowfall has occurred on this date.

Average dew point for August 13th is 59°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 78°F in 1995; and the minimum dew point on this date is 37 degrees F in 1933.

All-time state records for August 13th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 108 degrees F at Beardsley (Big Stone County) in 1965. The state record low temperature for this date is 25 degrees F at Kelliher (Beltrami County) in 2002. The state record precipitation for this date is 6.41 inches at Grand Meadow (Mower County) in 1911. No snowfall on this date.

Past Weather Features:

Campers in northern Minnesota awoke to frosts on August 13, 1964. It was just 32°F at Itasca State Park and only 26°F at Bigfork. Morning temperatures in the 30s F were reported as far south as Windom (Cottonwood County).

A very hot, sticky day prevailed on August 13, 1965 when afternoon temperatures surpassed 90 degrees F across most of the state. Ten climate stations reported 100 degrees F or warmer. The overnight low at Little Falls only went down to 74°F.

In the middle of the famous Drought of 1988, August 13 brought the heaviest rainfall of the year. Large, slow-moving thunderstorms brought 3 to 5 inches of rain to many portions of northern Minnesota, from Baudette, to Hibbing, and over to Two Harbors. The 5.75 inches reported at Hibbing remains the largest single day rainfall amount in their entire climate history (91 years).


Mostly sunny weekend coming up with temperature that are above seasonal normals. Continued sunny on Monday, then increasing clouds Tuesday with a chance for showers later in the day. Continued chance for widely scattered thunderstorms and showers on Wednesday and Thursday as well, with temperatures trending closer to normal.

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