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Year of High Winds Continues in November

Year of High Winds Continues in November:

Historically, November is the 2nd windiest month of the year across Minnesota (trailing only April). As noted from many previous months this year, strong winds so far this month have been very much a topic of conversation. Sunday, November 6th brought hour upon hour of wind gusts over 40 mph to most places in Minnesota. At least 20 communities reported wind gusts over 50 mph. with 56 mph observed at MSP and 52 mph at Rochester. Moorhead recorded a gust of 63 mph. On Thursday, November 10th strong winds with gusts of 40 to 50 mph blew across northern Minnesota with mixed precipitation. Portions of the Red River Valley were under a blizzard warning as visibility was greatly diminished. So far, half of the days this month have brought wind gusts of 30 mph or greater to many places.

Much of the windiness ushered in high temperatures and dew points. Many climate stations are reporting average temperatures through the first 10 days of November that are 7 to 9 degrees F above normal. MSP set new high dew point records on both November 9th (63°F) and November 10th (61°F). As the other shoe drops weatherwise staring on Friday it appears the rest of the month will be significantly colder than normal. At least the week brought many areas significant rainfall before the soil begins to freeze up. Some far northern areas like Roseau and Warroad also reported 6 to 9 inches of snowfall.

Consider MCAP for Give to the Max Day:

November 17th is Minnesota’s unofficial “giving holiday” or Give to the Max Day. This annual event, mostly online, has generated nearly $250 million over the years for non-profits, schools, and public service programs, and it is a significant reason why Minnesota is known as the top philanthropic state in the country. This year please consider giving to the Minnesota Climate Adaptation Partnership (MCAP), whose mission is to increase our climate resilience through research, education, collaboration and communications.

Your donation will help MCAP support student involvement in research and engagement, grow scholarship funding to ensure everyone can access our tools and take part in training, sustain high-quality resources like the WeatherTalk Blog, recognize Minnesota's climate leaders, and more. Just use the web link to make your donation, and THANK YOU for your consideration.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

Hurricane turned Tropical Storm Nicole brought heavy rain and pounding surf to the Atlantic coast of Florida on Thursday, November 10th. Many climate stations reported 4 to 6 inches of rainfall, and some coastal communities experienced a good deal of flooding. Fortunately the storm moved along fairly rapidly.

The United Kingdom Met Office released a promotional piece this week to describe a new tool for communicating about how climate change actions can lead to multiple community benefits. Researchers at the University of Leeds and the Met Office, present the latest scientific evidence on the broader effects of climate change initiatives that enable decision makers to explain how climate change action can not only help with reducing the physical impacts from a changing climate but also achieve wider benefits such as improving air quality, health and well being and boosting employment.

A recent paper in Nature Climate Change highlights the need to rachet up ambitions to curb greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. It is likely that a 1.5°F warming will occur, but the degree of overshoot can be significantly mitigated by accelerating transitions to net-zero emissions systems.

MPR listener question:

Early this fall you spoke about record driest Septembers and Octobers. Did any parts of Minnesota set records for the driest September-October in history? If so, where?


On a statewide basis averaging all of the reports the average precipitation for this September and October was only 2.11 inches, ranking as the 3rd driest historically (behind 1976 and 1952). But some individual long-term climate stations reported their driest ever September-October, including:

St Peter 0.45”
Lakefield 0.50”
Windom 0.65”
Sherburn 0.72”
Rushford 1.25”

In these areas the drought worsened considerably this fall.

Brief Primer on Weather and the Fall Migration of Birds:

There are both direct and indirect effects of weather and climate on bird migration behavior. For many birds one of the triggers to prompt fall migration is the declining daylength (a direct effect). For others migration is triggered by local changes in the food chain. Many insects decline in numbers, especially after frosts, thereby prompting insect-eating birds to move south where their food supply is more abundant. In turn, birds of prey may find their quarry (other birds and small mammals) to be scarce as the weather turns more inhospitable, and therefore begin their migration south as well.

Waterfowl which depend on aquatic plants or field crops may hang around longer into the fall as long as their food supply is abundant and accessible. On occasion the formation of lake ice early in the season will prompt waterfowl to begin their migration. Often following the first large snowstorm and outbreak of Arctic air, the majority of these birds will embark on their journey.

Because this fall has been relatively mild in the upper Midwest, many birds are hanging around waiting for Mother Nature to give them a stronger sign that it is time to leave. And it looks like this sign has come this week.

Other interesting characteristics of bird migration include:

-Most birds gorge themselves in the fall to build up fat reserves (energy) necessary to fly long distances.
-Low pressure systems and their associated strong southerly winds will sometimes stall migrating flocks. On the other hand, birds will often fly south on the tailwinds of cold high-pressure systems that descend from high latitudes and provide helpful northerly winds. Though most frequently spotted at altitudes of 1000-5000 ft, some migrating birds have been observed at 20,000 to 30,000 ft by aircraft. At these altitudes they can take advantage of tailwinds of 80 mph, shortening their trip.

Often in the fall, the peak migrations will be noted during cold high-pressure outbreaks with northerly winds. Cooler temperatures help the birds to dissipate heat from the energy they expend in flying for long distances. During unusually warm conditions in the fall, many waterfowl do not like to fly because they overheat or respirate too much water vapor and become dehydrated. Birds also prefer the good visibility (absence of clouds) which often accompanies high pressure systems.

Many of the largest migrations are nocturnal (occur at night) and therefore not visible to most birdwatchers. However, wildlife biologists can detect and study these migrations using radar. There are some advantages to overnight migrations:

(1) Nights are longer in the fall, so more distance can be covered at night than during the daytime.
(2) There is reduced exposure to predators (raptors), except for owls.
(3) Birds have to expend less energy flying at night, since winds are usually less, there is less turbulence, cooler temperatures (better heat dissipation), and reduced loss of body fluids (less risk of dehydration).
(4) For some species migration routes can be maintained in night flights by using the stars for navigation.

Lastly, concerning navigation techniques, wildlife biologists have offered a number of explanations, many of which have yet to be fully accepted. Some of these include: celestial markers such as the sun, moon and stars; internal detection of the Earth's magnetic field or subtle changes in the gravitational field; following infra-sound beacons such as the sound frequencies of magnetic storms, sea waves, jetstreams, earth tremors, or wind currents through mountains; following scent beacons or regional odors characteristic of different landscapes over which the birds pass; and simple memory, having flown a route once with its parents or flock, a bird will forever remember it in nearly every detail.


Bird Migration by Thomas Alerstam, 1990. Cambridge University Press. 

Travels and Traditions of Waterfowl by H. Albert Hochbaum, 1956. University of Minnesota Press. 

Bird Migration: Physiology and Ecophysiology edited by E. Gwinner, 1990. Springer-Verlag. 

Bird Migration: A General Survey by Peter Berthold, 1993. Oxford University Press.

Twin Cities Almanac for November 11th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 44 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 30 degrees F (plus or minus 9 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for November 11th:

MSP records for this date: highest daily maximum temperature of 64 degrees F in 2005; lowest daily maximum temperature of 18 degrees F in 1986; lowest daily minimum temperature of -1 degrees F in 1986; highest daily minimum temperature of 46 degrees F in 1930; record precipitation of 2.52 inches in 1940. Record snowfall is 8.2 inches in 1940.

Average dew point for November 11th is 27°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 54°F in 1964; and the minimum dew point on this date is -6 degrees F in 1986.

All-time state records for November 11th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 75 degrees F at Winnebago (Faribault County) in 2012. The state record low temperature for this date is -22 degrees F at Itasca State Park (Clearwater County) in 1919. The state record precipitation for this date is 2.52 inches at Minneapolis (Hennepin County) in 1940. Record snowfall is 14.0 inches at several locations in 1940 (Armistice Day Blizzard)..

Past Weather:

The afternoon of November 11, 1940 brought the devastating Armistice Day Blizzard to Minnesota. The day started mild and promising for duck hunters. But the afternoon deteriorated rapidly with the approach of a strong winter storm that would drop the Twin Cities barometer to 28.93 inches and the Duluth barometer to a record low of 28.66 inches, certainly hurricane strength. Wind gusts to 45 mph were reported from Collegeville, where they received 26.6" of snowfall. The winds at Duluth reached 63 mph and the temperature dropped 41 F over a 24 hour period. In most places traffic came to a standstill, even the streetcars in the Twin Cities. Drifts were reported as high as 20 feet in the Willmar area. Snowfall measurements showed 19.3" at Milaca, 16.7" at Bird Island, 24" at Meadowlands, 22" at Orr, 15" inches at St Peter, and 16.8" in the Twin Cities. During the storm the snowfall intensity was measured at times between 2 and 3 inches per hour. Across parts of the state ice accumulation took the power lines down. Damages were estimated at over $1.5 million. Forty-nine people died, including many duck hunters unprepared and exposed on Mississippi River islands. There is a very good article by Dennis Anderson in the November 11th edition of the Star Tribune newspaper that describes the plight of a teen aged Bud Grant (former coach of the Minnesota Vikings football team) who was out hunting and caught in the Armistice Day blizzard with some friends, but managed to survive.

November 11 of 1986 was the coldest in state history as nearly all parts of Minnesota reported morning low temperatures either in single digits above or below zero. The daily high temperature at Warroad only reached 4°F.

November 11 of 2012 was the warmest in state history, as much of southern and western Minnesota basked in afternoon temperatures in the 70s F. Even Embarrass, MN, normally a cold spot in the state reached 59°F.


Generally, very cool, but sunny over the weekend. Increasing clouds later in the day on Sunday with a chance for snow by evening. Continued chance for snow on Monday and Tuesday, then staying quite cold for the remainder of next week.

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