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Year-to-Date Climate Synopsis

Year-to-Date Climate Synopsis:

If we could just freeze time for a moment and take a snapshot of Minnesota’s Year-to-Date climate signature, here is what it shows:

For the first 9 months of 2021 the statewide mean temperature for Minnesota has been running over 2°F above normal, ranking as the 5th warmest in history back to 1895. So far 8 of the 9 months in 2021 have brought higher than normal statewide mean temperatures. The only colder than normal month was February, which brought many days of Arctic Chill.

With the Drought in play most of the year, the statewide average precipitation for the first 9-months is just under 18 inches, ranking as the 10th driest in state history back to 1895. So far 5 of the 9 months have brought less than normal statewide average precipitation, with the peak of the dryness occurring in the May through July period. Many areas saw lengthy periods during the growing season without any measurable rainfall, including Hallock (Kittson County) which went 23 consecutive days (June 26 to July 18) in the heart of the growing season without any rainfall.

Here are five of the driest places in Minnesota through the first 9 months of 2021 based on total precipitation measured: 

Hallock (Kittson County) 7.84 inches, 10.31 inches below normal
Crookston (Polk County) 8.82 inches, 9.42 inches below normal
Twin Valley (Norman County) 10.27 inches, 10.98 inches below normal
Red Lake Falls (Red Lake County) 10.65 inches, 9.40 inches below normal
Bemidji (Beltrami County) 10.71 inches, 10.85 inches below normal

Here are five of the wettest places in Minnesota through the first 9 months of 2021 based on total precipitation measured:

La Crescent (Winona County) 33.87 inches, 3.49 inches above normal
Hokah (Houston County) 30.86 inches, 0.55 inches above normal
Theilman (Wabasha County) 30.75 inches, 1.74 inches above normal
Minnesota City (Winona County) 29.99 inches, 0.97 inches above normal
Worthington (Nobles County) 27.35 inches, 1.36 inches above normal

By the end of December, if no Minnesota climate station reports over 40 inches of annual precipitation it will be the first time since the year 2009.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

Very nice article by the University of Minnesota CFANS about the legacy of important climate measurements and research done using the MPR Tall Tower at Rosemount, MN. Dr. Tim Griffis of the Department of Soil, Water, and Climate is the principal scientist in all this. Insights into the net exchange of greenhouse gases over the landscape of the Midwest have been achieved with these measurements and research.

BBC has a new film series out called Life at 50C, a look at places that are already experiencing much more frequent extremes of temperature. One such place is Sydney, Australia which is experiencing more temperatures over 120 degrees F than ever before in their climate history.

Science Daily reports this week on a new study from scientists at the University of Miami which documents that a warming climate is helping to intensify the global hydrological cycle. This intensification of global hydrological cycle drives more ocean heat uptake into the deep ocean and moderates the pace of global warming at least in the short term.

This week’s AGU-EOS Bulletin features an interesting article about how climate change may amplify the cooling effects of large-scale volcanic eruptions like that of Mt Pinatubo in 1991, while also dampening the effect of smaller scale volcanic eruptions. The disparity in the effects from large scale eruptions versus smaller ones relates to whether or not the ash and aerosols penetrate deeply into the stratosphere at high altitude.

MPR listener question:

Wondering if some of the landscape trees (oak, ash, maple) that have endured this difficult drought year in northwestern Minnesota will have problems making it through the winter?


Arborists and tree experts that I have known over my 40-year career at the University of Minnesota have told me that the answer to this question varies with tree species and soil type. So it is difficult to answer generally. A rule of thumb is that for many deciduous trees if they have endured a dry or droughty summer, it is a good idea to give them some extra watering during the autumn season until the soil freezes up. This gives them a better chance to get through winter unharmed.

Twin Cities Almanac for September 24th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 70 degrees F (plus or minus 10 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 51 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for September 24th:

MSP records for this date: highest daily maximum temperature of 90 degrees F in 2017; lowest daily maximum temperature of 42 degrees F in 1942; lowest daily minimum temperature of 30 degrees F in 1942; highest daily minimum temperature of 71 degrees F in 1892; record precipitation of 1.06 inches in 1934. Record snowfall is 0.4 inches in 1985.

Average dew point for September 24th is 45°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 73°F in 1958; and the minimum dew point on this date is 22 degrees F in 1928.

All-time state records for September 24th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 94 degrees F at Beardsley (Big Stone County) in 1935. The state record low temperature for this date is 15 degrees F at Red Lake Agency (Beltrami County) in 2000. The state record precipitation for this date is 4.40 inches at White Earth Nation Reservation (Mahnomen County) in 1869. Record snowfall is 5.0 inches at Warren (Marshall County) in 1912.

Past Weather Features:

September 22-25, 1912 brought a series of storms to northern Minnesota which dropped a good deal of rain and some exceptionally early snow. Many northern communities saw 2-5 inches of snow, while in Polk, Roseau, and Clearwater Counties climate stations reported over 6 inches.

September 24, 1935 brought afternoon temperatures from the mid 80s to mid 90s F across much of the state. At Redwood Falls and Marshall the overnight temperature never dropped below 70 degrees F.

September 24, 2000 brought a chill to the state with temperatures in the 20s and 30s across most areas.  Climate stations in St Louis and Beltrami Counties reported lows in the teens.  Many areas saw daytime high temperatures only reach the 40s F.


Weekend will start out sunny and cooler than normal. A warming trend will prevail on Sunday through Wednesday bringing back above normal temperatures. Chance of showers again by Thursday.

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