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Mid-October Cold Snap is Record-Setting in Some Places

Mid-October Cold Snap is Record-Setting in Some Places:

After a generally mild and warm first two weeks, mid-October turned very cold and windy. Most climate stations reported temperatures from 8 to 12 degrees colder than normal from October 13 to October 20. There were multiple nights of freezing temperatures ending the growing season for all parts of the state.

In addition, over 40 long-term climate stations reported setting new low temperature records on some dates. On October 18th many places reported low temperatures in the teens and twenties F, while Milan (Chippewa County) reported a new record low of just 9°F. On October 19th again many morning lows in the teens and twenties F were reported and a new record low of just 7°F was observed at Preston (Fillmore County). More record lows were reported on October 20th as well, with Wells (Faribault County) reported a new record of 15°F. In the Twin Cities Metro Area, Rosemount reported a low of just 19°F and Chanhassen a low of 20°F on October 19th.

During the Cold Snap a few rain showers and snow showers occurred, mostly in northern Minnesota, bringing a third to half an inch of precipitation to a few places. The overall deficit in precipitation this month continues to grow. According to the US Drought Monitor 45 percent of the Minnesota landscape is designated to be in Moderate Drought, with 15 percent in Severe Drought. In addition, portions of 14 counties, mostly in the southwestern Metro Area and far southwestern Minnesota are designated to be in Extreme Drought. At this point in the year even if the weather pattern turned wetter than normal, a full drought recovery is unlikely. There will undoubtedly be some carryover drought impact going into next year. This is validated by the latest Drought Outlook from the NOAA Climate Prediction Center which favors a continuation of most of the drought areas in Minnesota through at least the end of January of 2023.

Nominations for the 2023 MCAP Awards:

The Minnesota Climate Adaptation Partnership Program (MCAP) founded in 2008 promotes increasing climate resilience through research, collaboration & communication. MCAP conducts webinars and statewide conferences to bring people together to share their knowledge of climate change adaptation practices and strategies. Since 2014 MCAP has also given awards to individuals and groups in recognition of their outstanding work. The awards recognize and celebrate exceptional achievements in leadership, education, research, policies, and practices that improve resilience or climate justice through the development, advancement, or implementation of climate adaptation strategies. The award nominations are considered for five categories: Individual Adaptation Award
Collaborative Adaptation Award
Organization Adaptation Award
Creative Climate Communication Award
Climate Justice Leadership Award

The Minnesota Climate Adaptation Partnership Program is accepting nominations for awards until October 31. To nominate an individual, group, or organization go to the MCAP web site and fill out the nomination form.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

According to the AGU-EOS, the USGS has issued a new Global Water Cycle Diagram that for the first time incorporates human intervention. This is long overdue and illustrates how much humans disrupt the global water cycle. “In addition to natural processes like ocean evaporation, precipitation over land, and runoff, the new diagram features grazing, urban runoff, domestic and industrial water use, and other human activities. Each label in the chart comes from data tracking the significant paths and pools of water worldwide.”

According to the NOAA Hurricane Center Tropical Storm Roslyn is expected to become a hurricane and to threaten the Pacific coastal areas of central Mexico this weekend, primarily an area around Puerto Vallarta. Winds may be as high as 105 to 115 mph, with coastal wave heights over 20 feet, and heavy rains.

A recent research article in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution highlights the extraordinary benefits of ancient trees in preserving the biodiversity of current ecosystems. “Ecologically, ancient trees are anchored nodes of biodiversity and ecosystem complexity enhancing overall forest stability and interactions, playing a key role in reinstating functionality of perturbed ecosystems.” The authors argue that every effort should be made to preserve these ancient trees.

MPR listener question:

We are avid listeners to MPR and residents of Wheaton, MN (Traverse County), working with the local Soil and Water Conservation District. We have only received 0.11 inches of rain so far this month, after having our 5th driest September in history (0.22”). What is the driest October ever reported from Wheaton and how likely are we to approach that record?


The history of October weather at Wheaton shows that there have been four drier ones than your current value of 0.11 inches. There was just a Trace of precipitation in October 1950, only 0.06 inches in October of 1978, and there was only 0.09 inches in both 1933 and 1964. As for the rest of the month, you will have more chances for rain on the 24th, the 27th, and the 28th, so be hopeful that you will be closer to an inch by the end of the month.

Twin Cities Almanac for October 21st:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 55 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 39 degrees F (plus or minus 9 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for October 21st:

MSP records for this date: highest daily maximum temperature of 88 degrees F in 1947; lowest daily maximum temperature of 29 degrees F in 1913; lowest daily minimum temperature of 16 degrees F in 1913; highest daily minimum temperature of 62 degrees F in 1920; record precipitation of 1.76 inches in 1894. Record snowfall is 0.4 inches in 2002.

Average dew point for October 21st is 37°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 64°F in 1920; and the minimum dew point on this date is 8 degrees F in 1952 .

All-time state records for October 21st:

The state record high temperature for this date is 91 degrees F at Little Falls (Morrison County) and Redwood Falls (Redwood County) in 1947. The state record low temperature for this date is -2 degrees F at Roseau (Roseau County) in 1913. The state record precipitation for this date is 2.35 inches at Harmony (Fillmore County) in 1982. Record snowfall is 8.0 inches at Milaca (Mille Lacs County) in 2002.

Past Weather:

By far the coldest October 21st occurred in 1913 when nearly all of the state reported morning low temperatures in the single digits or teens. The morning low at Roseau was -2°F and the daytime high temperature only rose to 25°F.

Conversely October 21, 1947 was the warmest in history with afternoon high temperatures reaching the 80s F in most parts of Minnesota. After a morning low of 39°F residents of Little Falls saw an afternoon high temperature of 91°F.

Mid-autumn thunderstorms brought 1 to 2 inches of rain to portions of southeastern Minnesota over October 20-21 of 1982. Some areas of Fillmore and Mower Counties received over 2 inches.

An early winter storm brought 4 to 8 inches of snow to a narrow band of counties across central Minnesota on October 21, 2002. The snow did not last long as it warmed into the 40s and 50s F a few days later.


Warmer than normal temperatures over the weekend and into early next week. Many areas will see afternoon high temperatures in the 60s and 70s F. Chance for rain showers late Sunday through early Tuesday, with falling mid-week. Temperature pattern will be cooler than normal for the second half of next week, but then warm up the last few days of the month.

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