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The Wettest Night at the State Fair Remembered

The Wettest Night at the State Fair Remembered:

Forty-five years ago, August 30, 1977, is long remembered by Minnesota State Fair goers as a traumatic and very wet evening. The weather became cloudy hour by hour and the dew point rose gradually until it was an uncomfortable 70°F by early evening. Temperatures were in the 70s F with moderate south winds and a chance for thunderstorms in the forecast.

As the Grandstand show got underway it began to rain, at first lightly, then heavier. (I think Mac Davis was the featured entertainment). Between 8 and 9 pm the rainfall intensified, and many began to leave the Grandstand as well as the Fairgrounds. Between the hours of 9 and 10 pm nearly 3 inches of rain fell, flooding the streets and sidewalks. Visibility during the heaviest rainfall was just a few feet, making it difficult to find your way to the Fairground exits.

There was widespread flooding all around the Twin Cities, especially from the Fairgrounds south toward Bloomington and Richfield, where a total of 5 to 7 inches of rain occurred between 8pm and midnight. Many highways were flooded and in some areas vehicles were abandoned. The 7.28 inches of rainfall recorded at MSP Airport remained the greatest single day rainfall total until July 23, 1987 when 9.15 inches fell over a 6 hour period.

The next day saw very low attendance at the State Fair as most workers were simply trying to put things back together and recover from the storm damage. Over the history of the State Fair there have been relatively few storms that brought disruption or sent people searching for shelter. The August 30, 1977 flash flood remains a singularity in its severity and impact.

MPR State Fair Minnesota Weather Quiz Broadcast:

It’s time once again to test how much you know about Minnesota weather and climate. Cathy Wurzer and I presented the annual Minnesota State Fair Weather Quiz Event on Minnesota Public Radio News and Information Service from noon to 1pm August 25, 2022. It is posted on the MPR web site if you want to test your knowledge you can take the quiz there. The quiz has questions related to Minnesota history, recent weather events, record weather events, weather jargon, and climate change. Have fun!

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

This week’s AGU-EOS Bulletin describes a study that showed a variety of infectious diseases have been aggravated by climate change. “Warming temperatures, changes in precipitation, and floods worsened the highest numbers of diseases. These factors were followed by other hazards associated with climate change, including fires, storms, sea level rise, ocean climate change, heat waves, drought, and changes to land cover. Sifting through more than 77,000 titles in the scholarly literature, researchers found that warming stood out as a key escalator for infectious diseases.”

The NOAA National Weather Service at Dallas/Fort Worth reported on the heavy rainfall and flooding earlier this week that closed many roads and highways, as well as flooding many homes and businesses. Areas around these cities and east towards Canton reported 6 to 10 inches of rainfall from Sunday to Tuesday, with the National Weather Service reporting over 12 inches in some cases. Fortunately, drier weather is expected into the weekend.

From a recent ecological study published by scientists from Denmark, Norway, and the United Kingdom, indications are that some smaller species of mammals may be more threatened than larger ones by the impact of extreme weather events produced from climate change. “Using 486 long-term population records of 157 mammal species, the authors show that species with a short life span and large litters are more affected, either positively or negatively, by extreme weather events than are species with a long life span and few offspring. This suggests that these "fast" species may require particular conservation attention, to avoid extinction due to the increased frequency and magnitude of extreme events.”

The Weather Underground features an interesting retrospective of the impact of Hurricane Andrew 30 years ago in south Florida. Andrew was the first hurricane to inflict a billion dollars or more in damages in the USA. It had a huge impact on changing the way Florida prepares for hurricanes.

MPR listener question:

We have heard you talk a great deal about the high winds this year around Minnesota. We were wondering for the Twin Cities how many days this year has the average wind speed been less than 5 mph? Seems like hardly any.


Based on Twin Cities climate data, there have been only 17 days this year when the average daily wind speed has been 5 mph or less. That is about 7 percent of the time. Very low indeed!

Twin Cities Almanac for August 26th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 79 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 61 degrees F (plus or minus 7 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for August 26th:

MSP records for this date: highest daily maximum temperature of 97 degrees F in 2013; lowest daily maximum temperature of 61 degrees F in 1940; lowest daily minimum temperature of 44 degrees F in 1968; highest daily minimum temperature of 80 degrees F in 2013; record precipitation of 2.04 inches in 2005. No snow has been reported on this date.

Average dew point for August 26th is 59°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 75°F in 1990; and the minimum dew point on this date is 35 degrees F in 1934.

All-time state records for August 26th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 103 degrees F at Luverne (Rock County) in 1973. The state record low temperature for this date is 23 degrees F at Roseau (Roseau County) in 1915. The state record precipitation for this date is 6.72 inches at Stewart (McLeod County) in 1994. No measurable snowfall has occurred on this date.

Past Weather Features:

By far the coldest August 26th in state history was in 1915 when 20 Minnesota climate stations reported frost. Many northern Minnesota stations reported morning lows in the 20s F. The afternoon high temperature at Duluth only reached 54°F.

August 26, 1976 brought mid-summer temperatures to most of the state with afternoon highs in the 90s F as far north as Walker. Milan, Minneota, Browns Valley, and Madison are broke 100°F.

Strong thunderstorms migrated across central Minnesota over August 26, 1994 bringing 3 to 6 inches of rainfall. Many roads were flooded from Cambridge, west past Mille Lacs and up toward Ottertail. The storm also brought some hail and damaging winds.


Temperatures warming up this weekend with a chance for showers and thunderstorms. Continuing chance for showers on Monday. Then cooler temperatures for Tuesday through Thursday with temperatures closer to normal.

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