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Major Winter Storm Brings Widespread Precipitation and High Winds

Major Winter Storm Brings Widespread Precipitation and High Winds:

A large-scale winter storm brought a wide swath of precipitation to Minnesota over April 12-13 this week. Many areas reported thunder and lightning, as well as hail, especially in southern counties. There were over 35 reports of hail (1 inch diameter or greater), as well as 8 reports of damaging high winds (up to 60 mph). Also, the La Crosse, Wisconsin National Weather Service Office reported tornado touchdowns in Taopi (Mower County) and near Spring Valley (Fillmore County). The Taopi tornado was very destructive, damaging or destroying many homes and buildings, while the one near Spring Valley did mostly tree damage or damage to farm buildings.

The backside of the storm ushered in cold air, snow flurries, and high winds to many areas on Thursday, April 14th. The following climate stations reported wind gusts over 50 mph on Thursday: MSP, Marshall, Windom, Redwood Falls, Fairmont, Worthington, and Jackson.

Precipitation amounts from this storm varied widely, but many areas received between one and two inches. Rochester reported a new daily record rainfall for April 12th with 2.25 inches. Other locations reported new daily record amounts for April 13th including:
3.05 inches at Grand Meadow (Mower County)
2.46 inches at Bricelyn (Faribault County)
1.77 inches at Wabasha (Wabasha County)
1.58 inches at Austin (Mower County)
1.58 inches at Theilman (Wabasha County)
1.46 inches at Spring Valley (Fillmore County)
1.41 inches at Albert Lea (Freeborn County)
1.27 inches at Winona Dam (Winona County_
1.19 inches at Lake City (Goodhue County)

Some climate stations in Olmsted, Faribault, Mower, Wabasha, and Winona Counties have already reported over 3 inches of precipitation during the first half of April. Through the first half of the month average temperatures around the state are running 3-5 degrees F cooler than normal, and precipitation is roughly twice normal.

In the northwestern sections of the state some record snowfall values were reported this week as well (see Weekly Weather Potpourri Section), with widespread snowfall all the way across the northern third of the state. Many areas of northeastern Minnesota have already reported 10 to 19 inches of snowfall through the first half of April, as well as 100 to 150 inches of snowfall since last October.

A more detailed description of this storm can be found at the Minnesota State Climatology Office web site.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

A massively large and slow-moving winter storm with deep low-pressure brought record snowfalls to many parts of North Dakota, southern Manitoba, and even a few northwestern Minnesota communities in the Red River Valley this week. Blizzard warnings were extensive and long-lasting across many parts of the region. In North Dakota the storm essentially shut down local and state governments, schools, events and some businesses during mid-week. Many areas of North Dakota reported 10 to 20 inches of snowfall, while portions of Stark, McHenry, McClean, Sheridan, Dunn, and Bottineau reported 20 to 30 inches of snowfall, record values across the board. On the Minnesota side of the Red River observers reported 5 to 12 inches of snowfall, with Warren (Marshall County) reporting a new record daily snowfall of 8.2 inches on the 13th, Thorhult (Beltrami County) a record value of 6.6 inches, and Crookston (Polk County) a record value of 5.0 inches.

The Bismarck Tribune had a detailed description of the winter storm.

In Canada, the CBC reported widespread snowfalls of 6 to 14 inches, with large drifts formed from the high winds (35-50 mph) across southern Manitoba, especially in the Brandon area.

The Red River Valley has suffered through a very high frequency of blizzard warnings this snow season, the most since the winter of 1996-1997.

The BBC reported this week that record-setting rainfall in parts of South Africa has produced historical flooding and damages. Over 300 deaths are blamed on the flooding. Many highways and bridges have been closed or damaged, and many homes lost. Earlier this year the region was hit by three cyclones and two tropical storms in six weeks.

This week’s AGU-EOS Bulletin contains an interesting article about the somewhat mysterious continued rise in global methane in the Earth’s atmosphere. The inference is that research has not yet revealed all of the global sources of methane, so it is uncertain how much mitigation of fossil fuel associated methane emissions will impact the global trend.

MPR listener question:

Last Sunday and Monday were the only two days so far this month that MSP has reported a high temperature of 60°F or greater. The way the weather is behaving this month here in the Twin Cities made me wonder what year had the fewest number of days with a high temperature of 60°F or higher?


The record for the fewest number of days with a high temperature of 60°F or greater during the month of April in the Twin Cities comes from 1975, when only one day (April 25) reached that temperature. In both 1874 and 1920 there were only two such days, and more recently in 2013 there were only five days. Right now judging from the outlook models it looks like there will be a number of days with temperatures over 60°F during the last week of this month.

Twin Cities Almanac for April 15th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 56 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 37 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for April 15th:

MSP records for this date: highest daily maximum temperature of 91 degrees F in 2002; lowest daily maximum temperature of 28 degrees F in 2018; lowest daily minimum temperature of 18 degrees F in 2014; highest daily minimum temperature of 58 degrees F in 1942; record precipitation of 1.19 inches in 2012. Record snowfall is 3.5 inches in 2018.

Average dew point for April 15th is 32°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 61°F in 2012; and the minimum dew point on this date is 0 degrees F in 2014.

All-time state records for April 15th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 93 degrees F at Canby (Yellow Medicine County) in 2003. The state record low temperature for this date is -12 degrees F at Warroad (Roseau County) in 2014. The state record precipitation for this date is 3.00 inches at Thief River Falls (Pennington County) in 2013. Record snowfall is 13.0 inches at Mahoning Mine (St Louis County) in 1961.

Past Weather Features:

A late season winter storm over April 14-15 in 1961 brought rain, sleet, and snow to many parts of the state. Many climate stations in the northern parts of the state reported 5 to 15 inches of snowfall. The additional moisture was welcome as much of the state was in Moderate to Severe Drought.

April 15 in 2002 was the warmest in state history with many communities recording afternoon high temperatures in the 80s F. Sixteen climate stations reported high temperatures in the low 90s F. The overnight low at Tracy (Lyon County) only dropped to 63°F.

The coldest ever April 15th was in 2014 when much of the state saw morning low temperatures in the teens and single digits. Parts of Roseau and Lake of the Woods Counties reported subzero morning temperatures and many northern Minnesota communities reported afternoon high temperatures only in the mid-twenties.


Sunny with cooler than normal temperatures on Saturday. Increasing cloudiness on Sunday with a chance for rain or snow. Continuing chance for rain or snow early Monday, then partly cloudy skies towards the end of the day. Mostly sunny on Tuesday, but temperatures continue to be cooler than normal. Increasing chance for rain or snow later on Tuesday and into Wednesday. Drier, sunnier, and warmer towards Thursday and Friday of next week.

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