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Cold Grip on Minnesota About to Reverse

Cold Grip on Minnesota About to Reverse:

Following a colder than normal January and February, March has brought a good share of cold temperatures as well with over half of the Minnesota climate station network reporting some subzero lows this month so far. In fact, climate observers in 10 northern counties have reported minus 20°F or colder so far this month, and most areas of the state are reporting an average temperature through the first 10 days of the month that ranges from 1 to 5 degrees F below normal.

The NOAA Climate Prediction Center Outlook Models for March favored below normal temperatures across most of the state (certainly true for the first half of the month), but it appears to be this is going to be wrong. Starting on Sunday (March 13) and for much of the rest of the month our weather pattern will bring warmer than normal temperatures. Though not record-setting warm temperatures by any means, but nevertheless it appears that this warming trend will be persistent. It is likely to be enough to make the month of March come out to be warmer than normal this year. Further interpretation of the outlook models suggest that we will continue to see a trend towards warmer than normal temperatures prevail through April and May as well. We may not see another cooler than normal month for some time. Fourteen of the most recent twenty Spring seasons in Minnesota have been warmer than normal.

With the expected warming trend in mind for the remainder of March and continuing into April it is not unrealistic to start anticipating the coming gardening season and wrapping our minds around our Spring chores and plans for what to grow.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

The Australian Prime Minister as declared a national emergency over the recent flooding that has occurred in Queensland and New South Wales. Some have called this a “once in 500 year flood” while others have attributed the flooding to climate change. There were 20 flood related deaths, as well as thousands of people being displaced from their homes according to the BBC.

Mozambique is feeling the impacts of Tropical Cyclone Gombe over Friday and the weekend as the storm slowly comes ashore. It is bringing heavy rains (8-12 inches in some places) and high winds (over 100 mph) to northern portions of the country, but is expected to turn back out to sea by Monday according to the BBC Weather Center.

Scientists have reported recently in the Journal Science Advances a study of the Hiawatha impact structure in northwestern Greenland. Located beneath the Hiawatha Glacier this structure is the result of a 31km diameter meteorite impact that occurred 58 million years ago, about 8 million years after the asteroid impact that caused dinosaur extinction. More research is being conducted to evaluate what the Hiawatha impact structure might have mean for perturbations in the Earth’s climate system.

An article posted this week by the United Kingdom Met Office on their blog describes extreme weather events of the recent past and how they might be linked to climate change via attribution studies that distinguish between ongoing natural variability and patterns of climate change that may have influenced the physics and dynamics of the atmosphere. It is worth reading.

MPR listener question:

Some of us at Newt’s Burger CafĂ© in Rochester this week were talking about the weather, and someone mentioned there has only been one perfectly dry day through the first nine days of this month. What is the record for consecutive wet days in March at Rochester?


In March of 1944 there were reports of rain or snow on every day through the first 17 days of the month. Daily amounts were generally light, totally 0.71 inches of total precipitation over the period, and 5.4 inches of snowfall. For the month of March in 1944 the Rochester climate report shows precipitation on 27 days during the month. Now that would be depressing!

Twin Cities Almanac for March 11th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 39 degrees F (plus or minus 10 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 23 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for March 11th:

MSP records for this date: highest daily maximum temperature of 66 degrees F in 2016; lowest daily maximum temperature of 6 degrees F in 1906; lowest daily minimum temperature of -27 degrees F in 1948; highest daily minimum temperature of 47 degrees F in 2012; record precipitation of 1.30 inches in 1990. Record snowfall is 8.2 inches also in 1962.

Average dew point for March 11th is 20°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 50°F in 1990; and the minimum dew point on this date is -34 degrees F in 1948.

All-time state records for March 11th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 72 degrees F at St James (Watonwan County) in 2012. The state record low temperature for this date is -41degrees F at Moose Lake (Carlton County) in 1948. The state record precipitation for this date is 3.00 inches at Waseca (Waseca County) in 1918. Record snowfall is 16.0 inches at New London (Kandiyohi County) in 1897.

Past Weather Features:

March 11-12, 1897 brought a big snow storm across central Minnesota. Many climate observers reported 6 to 12 inches of snowfall, while New London and Sauk Center reported 16 inches. This storm combined with earlier heavy snowfalls helped to set up some Spring snowmelt flooding along many rivers during April of that year.

The coldest March 11 in state history was in 1948 when an Arctic Air Mass produced subzero morning low temperatures in every part of the state. Over 40 climate stations reported morning low temperatures of minus 30°F or colder. It was -30°F as far south as Fairmont and Windom. The daytime high temperature at Detroit Lakes (Becker County) only reached -8°F.

March 111, 2012 was the warmest in state history as over 125 climate stations in Minnesota reported afternoon temperatures in the 60s F. The state was almost snow-free at that time, except for the far north. In Crookston where they still reported a half-foot of snow cover, the afternoon high temperature only reached 45°F.


Mostly sunny over the weekend, except in far northern areas which may have a chance for flurries. Temperatures will be warming closer to normal, and even a bit above normal by Sunday. Some continued chances for light precipitation for Monday and Tuesday in northern counties, but with climbing temperatures. Temperatures will warm even higher in southern counties with some days reaching the 50s and 60s F. There will be a chance for rain showers by late Wednesday and Thursday of next week.

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