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Wet April Restoring Creeks, Streams, and Rivers

Wet April Restoring Creeks, Streams, and Rivers:

Through the first two thirds of April the climate signature has been cold and wet. Temperatures are averaging 6 to 8 degrees F cooler than normal, while for many, precipitation is at least twice normal. The wetter areas are in northern and eastern counties. Many northern climate stations report over 3 inches of precipitation so far this month, while Bemidji (Beltrami County) is showing 4.02 inches, and Wolf Ridge ELC (Lake County) 5.56 inches. In the southeast, Wabasha and Rochester are reporting over 3 inches, while Lake City is reporting nearly 4 inches.

Only some portions of southwestern Minnesota are reporting precipitation totals less than one inch so far this month.

With respect to snowfall, many climate stations in the southern half of the state are reporting less than 3 inches so far this month. In contrast, many climate stations in north-central and northeastern Minnesota are reporting 15 to 25 inches of snowfall so far this month. The total seasonal snowfall at climate station in or near Ely, Two Harbors, Chisholm, and Wolf Ridge ELC now surpasses 120 inches, while near Grand Marais is it over 160 inches and nearing the statewide seasonal snowfall record of 170.5 inches near Grand Portage during the 1949-1950 season. Average snow depth is still 24 to 36 inches in portions of Lake and Cook Counties along the Lake Superior north shore, and 15 to 20 inches along the northern areas of St Louis and Koochiching Counties.

According to the US Drought Monitor the excessive wetness has help to alleviate drought in the state. The current drought map shows that only about 2 percent of the Minnesota landscape remains in Moderate Drought, the lowest area of drought in the state since the beginning of the 2020 growing season (May of 2020). The DNR streamflow map this week shows that in many watersheds the volume of flow is normal or even higher than normal across much of Minnesota.

On the other hand, many farmers are now getting very itchy to get into the fields and start planting, but it has been too wet and cold. There is little or no reporting on field working progress yet. For southern Minnesota farmers next Tuesday through Friday looks like the first opportunity to get into fields and I am sure many Minnesota farmers are prepared to work 16 to 20-hour days in order to get seed in the ground.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

According to the Weather Channel “nine large wildfires, including five that prompted mandatory evacuation orders, are burning uncontained in the Southwest U.S. amid dangerous fire conditions due to warm, dry, windy weather.” Unfortunately the weather outlook shows a continuation of mild, windy, and dry conditions across the region, marking an early start to the wildfire season.

A new NCAR study about wildfires in the Western USA reports that “increasingly large and intense wildfires in the Pacific Northwest are altering the seasonal pattern of air pollution and producing a spike in unhealthy pollutants during August. The smoke is undermining clean air gains and poses potential risks to the health of millions of people” More detail can be found at the journal Nature Communications. Recall that some of the Air Quality Alerts for Minnesota last year were related to Pacific Northwest wildfires.

This week’s AGU-EOS Bulletin contains two interesting articles that might be worth noting:

(1) Conifer forests may intercept over half of the snowfall and yet estimates of how much moisture is held in the forest canopy during the winter system has been hard to come by. Now scientists have equipped trees with accelerometers that measure how much a tree sways as a function of the weight of snow contained in the canopy. This allows for estimation of the water content in that snow. It is likely a helpful tool in estimating volume of run-off from snowpack, which is critical for assessing freshwater supply in some western regions of the state according to the EOS article.

(1) New studies of the Hiawatha Impact Structure (left by an asteroid) under the Greenland Ice Cap reveal that it may be 58 million years old, much older than what was originally thought. It likely had significant impact on changing the local climate of Greenland which was composed of a temperate forest back then according to the EOS article.

MPR listener question:

Here in Bemidji we have received a lot of precipitation this month, over 4 inches so far. It made us wonder what is the wettest April we have ever had, and secondly has April ever been the wettest month of the year?


The record wettest April was in 1964 when 5.41 inches of precipitation fell. That was not the wettest month of the year (5.50 inches of rainfall came in June). But in 1925 April brought 5.06 inches of precipitation to Bemidji and that was the wettest month of the entire year.

On a statewide basis April of 1896 and April of 2001 proved to be the wettest month of the year for most locations in Minnesota, a rare climate pattern indeed. Lynd (Lyon County) in southwester Minnesota reported 11.93 inches of precipitation in April of 1896, while in 2001 Wolf Ridge (Lake County) along the north shore of Lake Superior reported 9.92 inches.

Talking about extremes for April, in 2013 April brought 55.6 inches of snow to Island Lake near Duluth, a statewide record for total April snowfall.

Twin Cities Almanac for April 22nd:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 60 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 40 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for April 22nd:

MSP records for this date: highest daily maximum temperature of 90 degrees F in 1980; lowest daily maximum temperature of 34 degrees F in 1967; lowest daily minimum temperature of 23 degrees F in 1874; highest daily minimum temperature of 61 degrees F in 1913; record precipitation of 2.21 inches in 2001. Record snowfall is 5.4 inches in 1963.

Average dew point for April 22nd is 34°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 67°F in 1925; and the minimum dew point on this date is 6 degrees F in 2015.

All-time state records for April 22nd:

The state record high temperature for this date is 101 degrees F at Hawley (Clay County) in 1980. The state record low temperature for this date is 4 degrees F at Grand Rapids (Itasca County) in 1918. The state record precipitation for this date is 3.52 inches at St Cloud (Stearns County) in 2001. Record snowfall is 10.0 inches at Moorhead (Clay County) in 1902.

Past Weather Features:

April 22, 1936 was one of the coldest in state history as many northern central Minnesota climate observers reported morning lows in the single digits and teens. The afternoon high temperatures only climbed into the mid-30s to low 40s F.

The hottest April 22nd in state history was in 1980 when over 80 climate stations reported an afternoon high temperature of 90°F or greater. It reached 100°F in both Traverse and Clay Counties in western Minnesota.

On April 22, 1997 the Red River of the North at Grand Forks crested at 54.35 ft, the highest level in history for a flood at that location. The Red River was about 16 miles wide at that point and would only slowly subside.

A large, slow-moving winter storm brought heavy rains and snows to the state over April 22-23, 2001. Many areas of the state reported 3 to 4 inches of rainfall, while north-central and northwestern counties reported 5 to 10 inches of snowfall. This storm greatly amplified and prolonged the spring snow melt flood season across the state.


Much warmer than normal on Saturday but with a chance for showers and thunderstorms. Chance for showers will continue on the north on early Sunday. Then partly cloudy, but cooler than normal for Sunday through Wednesday. Temperatures climb to near normal towards the end of next week, with a chance for showers again by late Thursday and Friday.


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