A monthly electronic newsletter summarizing Minnesota's climate conditions and the resulting impact on water resources. Distributed on the first Thursday of the month.
State Climatology Office - DNR Division of Ecological and Water Resources, St. Paul
distributed: November 6, 2018
What happened in October 2018:
- October was generally damp across the state, with the bulk of the precipitation falling in the first half of the month. The preliminary statewide precipitation total was 3.70 inches or 1.21 inches above normal. Looking at records from 1895 to 2018, October 2018 was tied for the 13th wettest October on record. The wettest locations were in the northern and eastern parts of the state, with precipitation departures around two to nearly three inches above normal. The wettest location found in the state was Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Lake County with 5.87 inches of precipitation or 2.54 inches above normal. Some of the precipitation fell as snow across the state in the first half of the month.
[see: October 2018 Precipitation Total Map | October 2018 Precipitation Departure Map | October 2018 Climate Summary Table | October 2018 Percent of Normal Precipitation Map]
Some notable events include:
- The first widespread snow of the season fell on October 14 with many locations seeing enough snow to coat the ground. There was .3 (three tenths of an inch) in the Twin Cities and 1.6 inches at Rochester. Amboy in Blue Earth County saw 2.5 inches of snow. The deepest snowfall reported was three inches at West Concord in Dodge County. Much of the snow melted by late afternoon.
[see: First Snow of the 2018-19 Winter in the Twin Cities: October 14, 2018]
- Not only was October damp, it was very cool as well. October 2018 wound up being tied for the 14th coldest for the 1895-2018 record with a preliminary average temperature of 40.9 degrees, or 4.1 degrees cooler than the long-term average. It was the coldest October since 2009. The highest temperature found was 85 degrees on October 3 at Granite Falls in southwest Minnesota, with the lowest temperature found was 11 degrees at Goodridge in northwest Minnesota on October 12.
[see: October 2018 Climate Summary Table | 2018 October Departure from Normal Temperature Map]
Where we stand now:
- The wet year of 2018 continues with seasonal precipitation totals (April 1 through October 30) ranked above the historical median over most of southern and eastern Minnesota. much of southern Minnesota was in the 98% ranking for the wettest growing season or nearly the wettest on record. Portions of northwest Minnesota fell short of the median, with a few areas ranked in the lowest 15 percentile.
[see: Precipitation Maps for October 30, 2018]
- A touch of winter arrived in northeastern Minnesota in early November. Snow depths as of November 6 range from one to six inches along the Lake Superior highlands.
[see: NWS Snow Depth Estimation Map | Midwest Regional Climate Center Snow Depth Map]
- The U. S. Drought Monitor map released on November 1, depicted a small area of northwest Minnesota in the Abnormally Dry category. Only 5.4% of the state is included. Last year at this time, about 9% of the state was Abnormally Dry. The U.S. Drought Monitor index is a blend of science and subjectivity where drought categories (Moderate, Severe, etc.) are based on several indicators.
[see: Drought Conditions Overview]
- The U.S. Geological Survey reports that stream discharge values are much above normal across large sections of central and southern Minnesota. Above normal to high flows are found over northeast Minnesota. Normal to above normal flows are in the west central and north central with a few below normal stream flows northwest Minnesota.
[see: USGS Stream Flow Conditions]
- Water levels on most Minnesota lakes vary depending on lake and location in the state. Mille Lacs was well above the median lake level for early November. On November 5, Minnetonka was at 928.65 feet with 50 cubic feet per second (cfs) flowing through Gray's Bay Dam. White Bear Lake was at 924.06 feet on November 6, a rise of 1.2 feet from one year ago and a rise of 5.22 feet from the record low of 918.84 feet from January 10, 2013. The 924.14 foot reading on October 11, 2018 was the highest level for White Bear Lake since July 2004. Rainy Lake and Lake of the Woods are in the high end of the median range for November. Lake Superior was at 602.92 feet on November 2, twelve inches higher than the monthly average for early November.
[see: Mille Lacs Lake Water Level | Lake Minnetonka Water Level | White Bear Lake Water Level | Lake of the Woods Control Board Basin Data | Corps of Engineers Great Lakes Water Levels]
- The Agricultural Statistics Service on November 5 reports that topsoil moisture across Minnesota is 0 percent Very Short, 2 percent Short, 68 percent Adequate, and 26 percent Surplus. Soil moisture levels at Lamberton and Waseca are above the historical median.
[see: Agricultural Statistics Service Crop Progress and Condition | U. of M. Southwest Research and Outreach Center (Lamberton) | U. of M. Southern Research and Outreach Center (Waseca)]
- The potential for wildfires is currently rated by DNR Forestry as Low across Minnesota. Historically, 80 percent of all wildfires in Minnesota occur during April and May.
[see: Fire Danger Rating Map]
- The November precipitation outlook leans towards above normal precipitation statewide. November precipitation normals range from about three-quarters of an inch in northwest Minnesota to about two-and-a-half inches in Cook County. Southern and central Minnesota range by about one-and-a-quarter of an inch in the southwest to about two-inches_and a quarter in south central Minnesota.
[see: Climate Prediction Center 30-day Outlook | November Precipitation Normal Map]
- The November temperature outlook has a tendency for below normal temperatures in the south, with equal chances for above below and normal temperatures elsewhere. Normal November high temperatures are in the 40s to start the month, dropping to the 30s by month's end. Normal lows are in the 30s to upper 20s early in the month, falling to the teens by late November.
[see: Climate Prediction Center 30-day Outlook | November Temperature Normal Map]
- The 90-day temperature outlook for November through January has a good chance of above-normal conditions across Minnesota. The 90-day precipitation outlook for November through January indicates equal chances of below-normal, near-normal, or above-normal conditions across most of Minnesota.
[see: Climate Prediction Center 90-day Outlook]
- The National Weather Service produces long-range probabilistic river stage and discharge outlooks for the Red River, Minnesota River, and Mississippi River basins. These products address both high flow and low flow probabilities.
[see: National Weather Service - North Central River Forecast Center]
From the author:
- With a moderate El Nino predicted to develop, the Winter Outlook (December-February) From the Climate Prediction Center has a tendency for above normal temperatures. There is a slight tendency for below normal precipitation for northeast Minnesota, with equal chances of below, above and normal precipitation for the rest of the state. [see: Climate Prediction Center December-February Outlook]
- As of November 6 The National Weather Service Volunteer Cooperative station at Caledonia has 55.22 inches so far for the year. The current Minnesota state record annual precipitation was set at Waseca in 2016 with 56.24 inches. This means that Caldeonia is about one inch away from the state record.
Upcoming dates of note:
- November 15: National Weather Service releases 30/90 day temperature and precipitation outlooks
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Pete Boulay, DNR Climatologist