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News and Information

Minnesota WeatherTalk Newsletter for Friday, September 30, 2011

To: MPR Morning Edition Crew
From: Mark Seeley, University of Minnesota Extension
Dept of Soil, Water, and Climate

Subject: Minnesota WeatherTalk Newsletter for Friday, September 30, 2011

-Well wishes for Jim Zandlo, retiring Minnesota State Climatologist
-Preliminary Climate Summary for September
-Weekly Weather Potpourri
-MPR listener question
-Almanac for September 30th
-Past Weather

Topic: Wishing Jim Zandlo a happy and healthy retirement

I don't often use Minnesota WeatherTalk to salute the career of a colleague, but in Jim Zandlo's case I have to tip my cap. Jim is retiring next week (October 5th) after a 25 year career as DNR-State Climatologist, and over 30 years with the state. Every person who works in the weather business, as well as those who use weather and climate data in their professional and personal lives owes Jim a debt of gratitude. He has made many significant contributions to climate science and climate services in Minnesota. Too many to list really, but among his major accomplishments:

(1)He has guided the DNR-State Climatology Office to convert all of the historical paper records of climate to electronic format for access by the public. In this effort he has made the entire state climate data base available to citizens via the DNR-SCO web site (

(2)He has built up the HIDEN rain gage network to be one of the best in the nation, with over 1500 volunteer weather observers contributing observations of rainfall and snowfall. He was one of the first state climatologists to see the value in compiling and presenting annual data reports to his observers. In recent years this network of data has greatly enhanced our understanding of snowfall patterns along the north shore of Lake Superior.

(3)He studied non-climatic biases (placement of sensors, relocation of instruments, changes in time of observation, evolution of landscapes) that influence historical climate measurements. Further he advised NOAA-National Climatic Data Center on correction methodologies for dealing with these influences so that long-term climate measurements could be used to study trends and changes in local climate.

(4)He examined changes in the recurrence intervals of intense rainfall events and methods to assess the influence of spatial scaling, going from point measurements (single station) to county scales, or even watershed scales in determining frequencies of flash-flood producing rainfalls.

(5)He served as an effective advisor to state agencies and others in assessing climate change in the context of our climate history. He examined patterns of change in the historical data and took climate model output for future climate and scaled it down to a county level of detail.

Finally he left the rest of us in the climate sciences with numerous analysis tools to make better use of our rich climate historical data base. We will definitely miss him a great deal, but wish him all the best in his retirement.

Topic: Preliminary Climate Summary for September

Most Minnesota climate observers reported an average monthly temperature that was within 1 or 2 degrees of normal, either side (warmer or colder)-. Some were slightly cooler than normal (SE Minnesota for example), while others were slightly warmer than normal (central MN). Extreme temperatures for the month were: 94 degrees F at Madison, Canby, MSP, Redwood Falls, and Winona on September 1st; and just 19 degrees F at Embarrass, Wannaska, and International Falls on the 15th. Minnesota reported the nation's coldest temperature for the 48 contiguous states 4 times during the month: on the 15th, 16th, 17th, and 24th.

On the 28th (Wed) this week, International Falls set a new temperature record with a high of 82 degrees F, while a number of other Minnesota communities reported near-record values, including: 91 F at Milan, 85 F at Artichoke Lake, 82 F at Thief River Falls, and 80 degrees F at Grand Rapids.

September was a drier than normal month across nearly all of the state, especially western and southern counties. Many observers reported less than 1 inch of rainfall. One of the few observers reporting above normal rainfall was Grand Meadow in southeastern Minnesota where they had 4.27 inches. For many September, 2011 was one of the driest in history with less than half an inch of rainfall, and measurable rain on only 4-5 days during the month. Some of these included:

0.36" at MSP Airport (driest ever)
0.25" at Marshall (2nd driest)
0.05" at Lamberton (driest ever)
0.23" at Pipestone (2nd driest)
0.39" at Chaska (3rd driest)
0.41" at Wheaton (5th driest)
0.21" at Madison (driest ever)
0.34" at Browns Valley (3rd driest)
0.36" at Milan (4th driest)
0.39" at Gull Lake (5th driest)

Traces of snow were reported in NE Minnesota on the 14th.

Several observers reported multiple days with wind gusts over 40 mph. Wind gusts over 50 mph were observed on the 29th, including 55 mph at New Ulm, 56 mph at Rochester, and 53 mph at MSP. A steep pressure gradient was driving the wind across the region.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

NOAA reports this week that Oklahoma recorded the hottest summer (June-August) ever in the USA since 1895 with an average statewide temperature of 86.8 degrees F. They also recorded the hottest month of July ever with a reading of 89.3 degrees F.

Earlier this week Typhoon Nesat killed 39 people in the Philippines as it brought heavy rain, mud slides, floods, strong winds, and high seas. It later brought severe weather to Hong Kong and Vietnam. A second storm, Typhoon Nalgae was taking aim at the Philippines for this weekend. Packing winds up to 125 mph and seas up to 26 feet it is expected to cross north of Manila on Saturday.

In the North Atlantic Ocean NOAA's National Hurricane Center was tracking Hurricane Ophelia which is not a threat to the east coast of the USA but is expected to turn north over the weekend. They were also tracking Tropical Storm Philippe which is expected to move to a position SW of Bermuda by early next week.

A recent study by Canadian scientists finds that algal blooms are appearing in more lakes perhaps as a result of chemistry change in the lakes, via the loss of water calcium levels. You can read more about this study at...

Scientists in Australia are looking for improvements in wind forecasting and assessing long term climate effects on wind. This information is needed by the growing wind energy markets to optimize the efficiency of using wind turbines. You can read more about these efforts at...

MPR listener question: Thursday's winds (Sept 29) were horrific. I am sure I had 50 mph wind gusts at my place in New Hope. What is the record wind speed for September in the Twin Cities?

Answer: Indeed, 50 mph winds are unusual for the month of September unless they are downburst winds from a thunderstorm. Crystal Airport had a 52 mph wind gust on Thursday (Sept 29) and MSP International Airport reported a wind of 53 mph. The highest September wind gust I can find from MSP is 48 mph back in 2004. So a new non-thunderstorm wind speed record for the month of September was set here in the Twin Cities.

Almanac for September 30th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 66 degrees F (plus or minus 10 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 45 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for September 30th:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 87 degrees F in 1897; lowest daily maximum temperature of 44 degrees F in 1985; lowest daily minimum temperature of 26 degrees F in 1939; highest daily minimum temperature of 68 degrees F in 1878; record precipitation of 1.06 inches in 2007; record snowfall is 0.10 inches in 1961.

Average dew point for September 30th is 43 degrees F, with a maximum of 66 degrees F in 1971 and a minimum of 18 degrees F in 1974.

All-time state records for September 30th:

Scanning the state climatic data base: the all-time high for this date is 93 degrees F at Montevideo (Chippewa County) in 1897. The all-time record low for this date is 10 degrees F at Big Falls (Koochiching County) in 1930. The all-time record precipitation amount for this date is 5.00 inches at Cook (St Louis County) in 1995. State record snowfall for this date is 3.0 inches at Isabella (Lake County) in 1985.

Past Weather Features:

A late September heat wave gripped parts of the state in 1897. At least 8 Minnesota communities reported daytime temperatures in the 90s F during the September 29 to October 2nd period.

The last five days of September in 1925 were wet ones for many Minnesota observers. On the 30th heavy thunderstorm rains brought 2 to 4 inches of rainfall to southern Minnesota counties putting a halt to all crop harvest activities. Worthington and Winnebago reported new daily record amounts of rain with 4.25 inches and 4.15 inches, respectively.

September 30, 1930 brought record cold to much of northern Minnesota as overnight lows ranged between 10 and 20 degrees F. Ice began to form on area lakes.

September 30, 1985 brought snowfall to at least a dozen Minnesota communities. However it was short-lived as temperatures warmed during the first week of October.

Word of the Week: Amazalert

This is an acronym for a new international project to study how climate is changing in the Amazon of South America. Scientists from 14 European and South American nations are involved in measuring and modeling climate change in the Amazon in order to document changes there and anticipate what impacts and consequences might materialize over the coming decades. You can read more about this project at...


Generally sunny and warmer over the weekend with a return of daytime readings in the 70s and 80s F in a number of places. Warm and dry through much of next week.

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