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News and Information

Minnesota WeatherTalk Newsletter for Friday, October 7, 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, October 7, 2011

-Some record warmth this week
-Kuehnast Lecture on October 13th features NASA scientist
-Book Events at Freshwater Society and Campus Club
-Islands in the Sun Project
-Weekly Weather Potpourri
-MPR listener question
-Almanac for October 7th
-Past Weather

Topic: Warm start to October

After the first week of the month it appears this October has started out warmer than any since 1963 on a statewide basis. Many observers have reported new daily maximum temperature records, as well as new warm overnight low temperature records.

Sunday, October 2nd brought temperatures in the 80s F to many western Minnesota communities including 86 degrees F at Milan, 84 degrees F at Redwood Falls, and 81 degrees F at Moorhead.

Monday, October 3rd brought a record-tying high of 82 degrees F to International Falls, and a new record high of 88 degrees F at Browns Valley.

Tuesday, October 4th brought a new record high to Pipestone with 90 degrees F, to International Falls with 82 degrees F, and to Kabetogama with 80 degrees F. Browns Valley reported a high of 86 degrees F, just two degrees shy of their record for the date.

Wednesday, October 5th brought new record highs to MSP-International Airport with 88 degrees F, downtown St Paul with 89 degrees F, Minneota with 92 degrees F, Collegeville with 86 degrees F, and Kabetogama with 80 degrees F. Rochester tied a record high with 85 degrees F.

Thursday, October 6th started out with many record warm overnight low temperatures in the 60s F. Then, during the day some locations set new daytime high records,including 81 degrees F at International Falls and 82 degrees F at Little Fork.

In addition to the warm temperatures this week relative humidity values were extremely low, especially on the 4th, 5th, and 6th. Many observers noted afternoon relative humidity in the 20 to 25 percent range and at St James in southern Minnesota it went as low as 16 percent. There were numerous reports of fires in ditches and farm fields. Farmers were harvesting corn and soybean crops and finding them to be a very low moisture content, already low enough for grain storage facilities.

Topic: 19th Annual Kuehnast Lecture on October 13th

The annual Kuehnast Lecture in atmospheric and climate sciences will take place at 3:00 pm next Thursday, October 13th in Rm 335 Borlaug Hall on the University of Minnesota St Paul Campus. This year we will hear from NASA scientist Dr. Gavin Schmidt on "What Climate Models Are Good For (and How Do We Know?)." Dr. Schmidt is a highly respected climate modeler and co-founder of the blog Anyone interested is invited to attend this lecture. More information can be found at...

Topic: Two Book Events Coming Up

On Wednesday night, October 12th the Freshwater Society in Excelsior, MN will host an evening program with the co-authors of Voyageur Skies: Weather and the Wilderness in Minnesota's National Park, Mark Seeley and Don Breneman. This event will run from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. Don and Mark will share stories, images, and weather related to this beautiful Minnesota landscape, then sell books for those interested. You can read more about this at...

On October 20th, the University of Minnesota Campus Club, along with the University of Minnesota Alumni Association, and the Voyageurs National Park Association will host a Minnesota Dinner at the Campus Club in Coffman Union, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. During the dinner Mark Seeley and Don Breneman will share stories and images from their book Voyageur Skies: Weather and the Wilderness in Minnesota's National Park. Signed copies of the book will be sold by the university book store. More information at....

Topic: "Islands in the Sun"

This refers to a 4-year project undertaken by the University of Minnesota College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resource Sciences and Institute on the Environment to study the urban heat island effects in the Twin Cities Metro Area. Project managers Peter Snyder and Tracy Twine are still looking for volunteers to make measurements in and around the Twin Cities area. This is an important and comprehensive study of the state's major metropolitan area and you can read more about it and sign up as a volunteer by going to the web site:

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

Yet another severe dust storm in Arizona caused a severe traffic pile-up along Interstate 10 between Tucson and Phoenix on October 5th this week. Visibility at times was near zero as the dust was driven by winds of over 35 mph at times.

The NOAA National Hurricane Center was releasing advisories on Hurricane Phillipe (North Atlantic), Tropical Storm Irwin (eastern Pacific), and a tropical depression (eastern Pacific) this week. None of these were a threat to land, but being carefully monitored for ocean route carriers.

A report this week from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research documents the loss of old polar ice and the dominance of one-year old thinner sea ice across the Arctic Region at the conclusion of the 2011 Northern Hemisphere summer. You can read more at...

MPR listener question: I observed many mid-level cumulus clouds with wisps or tails hanging from them this week, but never reaching the ground. What are these cloud forms called?

Answer: I think you were viewing virga which is common when the lower layer of the atmosphere is extremely dry as it was this week (relative humidity from 15 to 25 percent). The water droplets in the clouds grow big enough to fall, but as they fall into the drier layer of the atmosphere they evaporate well before reaching the ground.

Almanac for October 7th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 62 degrees F (plus or minus 10 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 42 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for October 7th:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 85 degrees F in 1997 and 2003; lowest daily maximum temperature of 41 degrees F in 1915 and 2000; lowest daily minimum temperature of 25 degrees F in 1976; highest daily minimum temperature of 68 degrees F in 1879; record precipitation of 0.98 inches in 1904; record snowfall is a trace in 1915 and 1977.

Average dew point for October 7th is 41 degrees F, with a maximum of 68 degrees F in 1997 and a minimum of 19 degrees F in 1976.

All-time state records for October 7th:

Scanning the state climatic data base: the all-time high for this date is 94 degrees F at Canby (Yellow Medicine County) in 1993. The all-time record low for this date is 11 degrees F at Fort Ripley (Crow Wing County) in 1876. The all-time record precipitation amount for this date is 3.50 inches at Mankato (Blue Earth County) in 1931. State record snowfall for this date is 4.0 inches at Morris (Stevens County) in 1894 and at Ottertail (Otter Tail County) in 1977.

Past Weather Features:

One of the warmest first weeks of October occurred in 1879 when five of the first seven days saw daytime temperatures exceed 80 degrees F, with many overnight lows in the 60s F. Even Duluth reported many days in the 70s F. October of 1879 proved to be the 3rd warmest in Twin Cities climate history.

October 7, 1894 brought snowfall to west-central Minnesota counties. Morris reported 4 inches, 2.5 inches at Fergus Falls, and 2 inches at Milan. Fortunately temperatures rebounded into the 50s F and melted the snow after one day.

Overnight on October 6-7, 1931 heavy thunderstorms delivered one of the greatest rainfalls of the Dust Bowl Era to southern Minnesota counties. Mankato reported 3.50 inches, Waseca 2.99 inches, Zumbrota 2.75 inches, and 2.10 inches at Albert Lea.

October 7, 1976 brought record cold to many northern Minnesota communities: it was just 13 degrees F at Detroit Lakes; 14 degrees F at Wadena; 15 degrees F at Jordan; 16 degrees F at Ada, Campbell, and Red Lake Falls; 17 degrees F at Argyle, Browns Valley, Morris, Long Prairie, and Brainerd.

October 7, 1977 brought snow to parts of western Minnesota, including 4 inches at Ottertail, 3 inches at Itasca State Park, and 2 inches at Red Lake Falls.


Considerably cloudy over the weekend with a cooling trend. There will be a chance for showers Saturday through Monday. Continued cooling next week and chances for showers again Wednesday and Thursday.

Further Information:

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