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Snowfall Updates

Snowfall Updates:

Even before Friday morning's snowfall totals (March 10), it appears that this month will be a snowy one at least to the middle of the month, by which time many climate stations will already report above normal snowfall for the month. So far, Sabin (Clay County) reports over 15 inches, Wheaton (Traverse County) over 14 inches, Collegeville (Stearns County) over 11 inches, and Duluth over 10 inches.
For the 2022-2023 snow season, at least 70 climate stations have reported 70 or more inches of snowfall (including MSP). Wolf Ridge Enviironmental Learning Center near Finland (Lake County) is at 113 inches, Two Harbors is over 105 inches, and Duluth about 103 inches. With the abundant snow cover across the state, the Spring season thaw rate will be important, along with how rainy it is in late March and April in determining the threat of snowmelt flooding on the major river basins. These are factors that will be watched closely. NOAA updated the Spring Flood Outlooks for the Mississippi River and Minnesota River Basins earlier this week, elevating the probability of flooding at some points. NOAA will be releasing a more updated Spring Flood Outlook as well on March 23rd.

March of 1843:

March of 1843 is without question the most significant monthly temperature aberration in Minnesota's climate record. Daily observations of temperature taken three times each day at Ft Snelling show a monthly mean value of just 4.7 degrees F. This is 27.4 degrees F cooler than the modern monthly mean (1971-2000) of 32.1 degrees F. Heavy snow cover was prevalent as nearly 50 inches had fallen on the landscape to that point of winter, and northwesterly winds were dominant. Twenty of the thirty-one days of the month registered temperatures below zero F, thirteen of which showed readings of -10 F or colder. The highest temperature measured during the month was only 27 F. Snowfall totaled about 12 inches, and the soldiers were very tired of the severe winter conditions by the end of the month. Incredibly even after 163 years of daily temperature readings eight March cold temperature records still stand from that terrible month of 1843.

A Latin Interpretation of the Seasons

Hibernal, vernal, aestival and autumnal are the Latin adjectives for the four seasons, winter, spring, summer and fall. Later this month on March 20th we change over from hibernal to vernal with the Vernal Equinox as the sun passes over the equator on its migration north. Interestingly, many Minnesotans choose to hibernate (the verb form for spending the winter) in Arizona, Texas or Florida, then turnaround and aestivate (the verb form for spending the summer) in places like Detroit Lakes, Gull Lake, Pelican Lake and Lake of the Woods. That's what I call hibernating and aestivating in style.

Weekly Weather Potpourri: 

The Minnesota Climate Adaptation Partnership (MCAP) will be hosting a webinar on March 21 called “The Value of Natural Climate Solutions in Minnesota.” Representatives from the Nature Conservancy MN and Earth Economics will discuss their recent report on the value of investing in MN natural climate solutions. Please go to the MCAP web site to learn more and register for this webinar.

MPR listener question:

My wife claims to have seen it in one of your books, but can you remind us of the snowiest March in state history


Sure, it was March of 1965, statewide average snowfall was close to 30 inches, and Collegeville (Stearns County) reported 66.4 inches!

Twin Cities Almanac for March 10th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 39 degrees F (plus or minus 10 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 22 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for March 10th:

MSP records for this date: highest daily maximum temperature of 66 degrees F in 2015; lowest daily maximum temperature of -3 degrees F in 1948; lowest daily minimum temperature of -17 degrees F in 1948; highest daily minimum temperature of 45 degrees F in 1878; record precipitation of 0.59 inches in 1878. Record snowfall is 4.2 inches in 1956.

Average dew point for March 10th is 18°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 43°F in 1966; and the minimum dew point on this date is -29 degrees F in 1948.

All-time state records for March 10th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 68 degrees F at Granite Falls (Yellow Medicine County) in 2012. The state record low temperature for this date is -44 degrees F at Itasca State Park (Clearwater County) in 1948. The state record precipitation for this date is 2.10 inches at Lake Winnibigoshish (Itasca County) in 1892. Record snowfall is 16.8 inches also at Lake Winnibigoshish (Itascat County) in 1892.

Word of the Week: Blustery

This word is derived from Low German (blustern) and Serbo-Croatian (blizuzgati) words which mean to blow fitfully and violently like in a storm, referring to the wind. Technically, the National Weather Service forecasters have guidelines for using the term in public forecasts. These guidelines are described in a Rule of Thumb (ROT) memo: "With sustained winds of 15 to 25 mph and especially in gusty situations, the term blustery may occasionally be used." Winds of 15 to 25 mph under mild temperature conditions are sometimes described as "breezy", while the same winds under cold temperature conditions are described as "brisk."

It is not surprising to find that these terms (blustery, breezy, and brisk) are most often found in the public forecast statements during the transition seasons, particularly the months of March-May and October-November when wind speeds tend to be higher as contrasting air masses fight it out over our state.

Past Weather:

Portions of northern Minnesota, including Duluth saw one of their worst blizzards on March 9–10, 1892. Sixty-mile-per-hour winds off Lake Superior not only provided ample water vapor to the storm but also dislodged and damaged the NWS rain gauge. The estimated snowfall total in Duluth was 13 inches, though the wind piled drifts more than 10 feet high, blocking some second-story windows. Leech Lake reported a station record 11.5 inches of snowfall, while Lake Winnibigoshish reported a state record snowfall for the date of 16.8 inches.

A large winter storm brought mixed precipitation, strong winds, and blizzard conditions to the state 38 years ago (March 1985). Freezing rain, sleet, and glaze, accompanied by occasional thunder closed roads in SE Minnesota counties. The rest of the state was subject to very high winds, heavy snow accumulation and blizzard conditions. Winds gusted to 68 mph at Rochester, 71 mph at the Duluth Airport, and even 90 mph on the Duluth lift bridge. Zero visibility and drifts 6 feet high or greater closed I-94 between Minneapolis and Alexandria. Many businesses and schools were closed. Total snowfall accumulations were quite large and record setting for some communities. Amounts included 16.7 inches at MSP Airport, 18 inches at Duluth Harbor, 20 inches at Two Harbors, 22 inches at Canby and Morris, and 24 inches at Brainerd and Benson.


Various snow flurries and snow showers over the weekend, with cool temperatures. Generally dry on Monday and Tuesday, then a bit warmer temperatures but chances for rain or snow again on Wednesday and Thursday.

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Zev said…
Various snow flurries and snow showers over the weekend? Dr. Seeley, we are in a blizzard warning up here in the Red River Valley!