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News and Information

Minnesota WeatherTalk for Friday, January 2, 2009


To: MPR's Morning Edition
From: Mark Seeley, Univ. of MN Extension, Dept of Soil, Water, and Climate
Subject: Minnesota WeatherTalk for Friday, January 2, 2009


-Jet Streaming podcast this week
-December climate summary
-Special Edition...the weather of 2008 national and international review...
-Almanac for January 2nd
-Past weather features

Topic: Jet Streaming Podcast this week.....

In a special year-ending segment this week Mark and Paul Huttner discuss the weather headlines of 2008, continued evidence for our societal vulnerability to weather extremes, and signs of climate change. Perhaps you have some weather memories from 2008 you would like to share. If so, email us........

To listen to the entire Jet Streaming podcast online, please go to....

Topic: Climate Summary for December of 2008

It was the 14th coldest December statewide since 1895. Most observers reported mean monthly temperatures that were 5 to 10 degrees F colder than normal, the coldest since December of 2000. Extremes were 48 degrees F at Redwood Falls on the 3rd and Winona on the 28th, and -35 degrees F at Babbitt and Brimson on the 17th. Minnesota reported the coldest temperature in the 48 contiguous states 12 times during the month.

It was a wet December as well, the 8th wettest historically on a statewide basis. Most observers reported above normal precipitation, including Marshall and Aitkin where observers reported over 3 inches. It was very snowy as well. At International Falls snow was observed on 28 of 31 days. Many observers reported over 30 inches for the month. A sample of December snowfall totals includes....

Two Harbors 51.4" a new record
Red Lake Falls 31.8" a new record
Crookston 30.0" a new record
Breckenridge 33.7" a new record
Ottertail 33.0" a new record
Long Prairie 31.1" a new record
Aitkin 30.0" a new record
Fairmont 31.1" a new record
Grand Meadow 34.6" a new record
Preston 32.7" a new record
La Crosse, WI 32.7" a new record
International Falls 35.9" 2nd all-time
Rochester 28.6" 3rd all time
Fargo, ND 33.5" a new record
Bismarck, ND 33.3" a new record
Williston, ND 32.0" a new record
Grand Forks, ND 30.1" a new record

In the Red River Valley region which recorded one of the wettest falls in memory, the abundant December snowfall raises a red flag about the possibility of spring snowmelt flooding in 2009.

New Year's Day started snowy for some as International Falls reported 4 inches of new snow, Grand Marais 7 inches, Isabella 4.5 inches, and Kabetogama 4 inches.

Topic: Significant Weather Events and Episodes of 2008- National and International

Last week I reviewed the weather headlines of 2008 for Minnesota....this week I consider the broader national and international context....

January 7, 2008 brought an unusual winter outbreak of tornadoes, 75 in all. These occurred across Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Wisconsin. The tornadoes in Wisconsin were the first in the month of January since 1967. January 11, 2008 brought the first ever measured snowfall to Bagdad, Iraq.

February 5, 2008 saw the media attention directed at Super Tuesday for all the political primaries underway that day. But a massive frontal system brought 131 tornado reports across the states of Arkansas, Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi. These tornadoes caused 57 deaths, the highest single day death toll in years attributed to tornadoes. On February 17th Cyclone Ivan struck Madagascar with winds of 132 mph and intense rainfall. It was the largest cyclone to ever hit that nation.

March 1-17, 2008 brought a persistent and intense heat wave to South Australia. Adelaide reported 15 consecutive days of 95 degrees F or higher, the longest streak of heat ever recorded there. In the USA, March 17-19 brought heavy rains to Texas, Missouri, and Arkansas where many rivers surpassed flood stage. For some of the rivers in Arkansas flood crests were the highest measured in 90 years.

Speaking of flooding, April brought spring snowmelt flooding to Ontario and Quebec in Canada. It was some of the worst in years. In addition the St Johns River in Maine reached the highest flood stage ever reported at Fort Kent. Just under an inch of snow in April pushed the seasonal snowfall total at Madison, WI to a record 101 inches.

May 2, 2008 produced the deadliest weather related disaster of the year. Cyclone Nargis, which developed in the Bay of Bengal and intensified in just a few days traveled along the Burmese coast and made landfall in Myanmar with 132 mph winds and a 12 foot storm surge. It killed an estimaed 78,000 people and completely altered the coastal landscape. Clearly it was the worst cyclone to ever strike that country.

June of 2008 brought more than 800 severe wildfires to California. These fires burned over 272,000 acres, along with a number of homes. In the Midwest, June 1-15 was one of the wettest periods ever. In Iowa, 83 of 99 counties were declared flood disasters. Nine rivers in that state set new flood crest records, including the Cedar River that runs through Cedar Falls. Losses were in the billions of dollars. Elsewhere, thanks to Typhoon Fengshen, Hong Kong reported its wettest June in history with 53 inches of rain.

July, 2008 was not kind to the nation of Taiwan. On the 17th Typhoon Kalmaegi struck with winds of 104 mph and up to 43 inches of rainfall. Over $16 million in estimated damages occurred. Then on the 28th, Typhoon Fung-Wong struck with another 33 inches of rainfall and damages to the electric utility grid and widespread agricultural losses.

From August 18-23 Tropical Storm Fay hit the Florida coast 4 different times, the first storm to ever do so. It caused over $12 million in damages across the state. On a positive note, it brought some much needed rainfall to the drought-stricken SE states. Later that month over the 26th to the 30th Hurricane Gustav wreaked damage across Haiti, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Cuba with heavy rains that triggered flooding and landslides. By the time it hit Cuba, wind gust were over 200 mph. It was said to be the worst hurricane to hit Cuba in 50 years.

September, 2008 was the driest on record for Melbourne, Australia, where just 0.47 inches of rainfall was reported. After devastating Cuba, Hurricane Gustav made landfall in Louisiana on September 1st with winds up to 115 mph. Nearly 2 million residents had been evacuated from the coastal region there. Over 50 tornadoes were attributed to Gustav. Hurricane Ike struck Cuba on September 7th, causing 7 fatalities and adding to the billions of dollars in damages inflicted earlier by Gustav. Later on the 13th Ike made landfall in the USA at Galveston, TX with winds up to 109 mph. The storm system known as Ike hung together and brought flooding rains, tornadoes and wind damage to several states including Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. In all, 40 fatalities were blamed on this storm and over $20 billion in losses. Remnants of Ike even brought high winds and storm surge to Iceland later in the month.

October brought unusually heavy rains to Vietnam, some in the form of tropical storms. Nearly 600,000 acres of crops were destroyed and 54 people died as a result of storms and associated flash flooding. Daily rainfall approached 18 inches with some of these storms and Hanoi reported the wettest month since 1984.

Heavy rains continued in Vietnam during November, 2008. There was more flooding which submerged over 100,000 homes and killed 80 people. Heavy rain on November 22-24 brought flooding to southern Brazil, closing roads and submerging homes. The floods and lethal mudslides caused over 100 deaths and ruptured a natural gas pipeline. Many people were without power and fresh water for a period of time. Hurricane Paloma, the 2nd strongest November hurricane, struck Cuba on the 8th.

With 50 tornado reports in December, the NOAA Storm Prediction Center totals for 2008 show over 1600 tornadoes across the USA, the 2nd highest annual total in history (trailing the 1817 in 2004). In early December, 2008 parts of Russia reported record setting heat. Moscow reported a high temperature of 49 degrees F on the 6th the highest reading ever on that date. Strong tidal surge combined with heavy rainfall brought flooding to Venice, Italy twice during December.

Almanac for January 2nd:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 22 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 5 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP local Records for January 2nd:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 45 degrees F in 1897 and 1998; lowest daily maximum temperature of -7 degrees F in 1912; lowest daily minimum temperature of -36 degrees F in 1885: highest daily minimum temperature of 32 F in 2006. Record precipitation for this date is 0.46 inches in 1999. Record snowfall is 6.1 inches in 1999, and a record snow depth of 19 inches in 1969 and 1970.

Average dew point for January 2nd is 8 degrees F, with a maximum of 38 degrees F in 1998 and a minimum of -31 degrees F in 1979.

All-time state records for January 2nd:

The all-time state record high temperature for this date is 53 degrees F at Austin (Mower County) in 1944. The all-time state record low temperature for this date is -50 degrees F at St Cloud (Sherburne County) in 1885 and at Pokegama Dam (Itasca County) in 1904. The all-time state record precipitation for this date is 4.64 inches at Pigeon River (Cook County) in 1941. State record snowfall for this date is 17.0 inches also at Pigeon River (Cook County) in 1941.

Past Weather Features:

Probably the coldest January 2nd in Minnesota history occurred in 1885. St Vincent in Kittson County reported -46 degrees F, while Tower reported -48 degrees F, Northfield -41 degrees F, Fort Snelling -43 degrees F, St Paul -36 degrees F, Minneapolis -38 degrees F, and St Cloud -50 degrees F. Most locations reported between 1 and 2 feet of snow on the ground as well. Interestingly enough, by the 5th many observers were reporting daytime highs in the 40s F.

New Year's Day of 1912 brought a morning low of -13 degrees F to the Twin Cities. The temperature did not rise above 0 degrees F until 1:00 pm on January 8th, the longest consecutive string of below 0 temperature readings in the Twin Cities area. During that stretch the temperature was colder than -20 degrees F for 43 hours. After rising above 0 F for a brief time on January 8th, the temperature fell below zero for four more days, not making 0 F again until 9:00 am on the 13th. It marked a brutal winter in Minnesota.


Snow across the central and northern counties on Saturday and into early Sunday morning, chance of mixed precipitation in the south. Winds will continue to blow snow around on Sunday. Then much colder. Increasing clouds on Tuesday with a chance for snow later in the day and on Wednesday.

NOTE: News releases were current as of the date of issue. If you have a question on older releases, use the news release search (upper left-hand column of the News main page) or the main Extension search (upper right of this page) to locate more recent information.


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