It's been another amazing weather in Minnesota.
2011 picked up right where wild and wacky 2010 left off, and hit us with extreme cold in January (-46 at International Falls) and the massive Presidents' Day storm (13.8" at MSP) in February.
The character of 2011 started fast and furious but tended to mellow as summer unfolded. Snowy barrages gave way to a cool spring. Then came the May 22nd Minneapolis tornado, followed by intense jungle heat and humidity levels in July before things finally eased in the 2nd half of the year.
Here are Updraft's top 5 weather events of 2011 in Minnesota, followed by a list from Pete Boulay with he MN State Climatologists office in St. Paul.
(Note: I chose to include our winter 2010-11 snowfall in the top 5 events since most of it occurred in 2011.)
1) 4th snowiest winter on record at MSP Airport: 86.6"
Minnesotans will remember the winter of 2010-'11 for years to come.
The snow blitz began early (November 13, 2010) and lasted through March. The Dome caved, streets were choked down to one passable lane with 5 foot snow drifts on each side. It was a snow lover's dream and an urban car owner's nightmare.
The heavy snow load on rooftops caused massive ice dams and water damage to thousands of Minnesota homes, including the Huttner Weather Lab.
"Mt. Midway" on the Midway Stadium parking lot of the St. Paul Saints lasted until June.
The winter featured the 5th (17.1") and 15th (13.8") biggest snow storms on record in the metro.
When it was all over, 86.6" of snow came crashing down on the metro. It was the snowiest winter in 28 years!
2) May 22nd Minneapolis/Anoka Tornado:
The Minneapolis tornado was the 2nd tornado to hit Minneapolis in 3 years, and the biggest tornado within the city limits since June 14, 1981. It killed one and injured 48 people. It left a trail of damage, some of which remains unrepaired today.
3) All time Minnesota record humidity levels July 2011:
Want to know what it's like to live in the Amazon Jungle? Come to Minnesota last July.
A barbarically humid tropical air mass set up shop over Minnesota around July 19th. The steamy tropical air mass was aided and "modified" from below by saturated fields and possibly evapotranspiration from massive corn crops in Iowa and Minnesota.
The result was several all time state dew point records, including 88 degrees at Moorhead and 82 degrees in the Twin Cities.
4) Driest Autumn on record and rapid drought onset in fall:
Somebody flipped the weather switch to "off" in late summer of 2011.
A sudden change in the jet stream steered storms away from Minnesota, and dryness quickly turned into drought.
Rivers slowed to a trickle on the North Shore. Soils in southern Minnesota were like powder by November, a stark contrast to soggy soils a year ago.
It was the driest meteorological fall (September 1 to November 30) on record (since 1871) in the metro with a scant 1.36" of rainfall at MSP.
rank year total
1 2011 1.36 inches
2 1889 1.54
3 1952 1.71
4 1976 2.07
5 1936 2.10
6 1953 2.24
7 1892 2.33
8 1967 2.45
9 1912 2.90
10 1974 2.93
wettest meteorological autumn was 15.75 inches in 1881
The drought means that we'll need ample rainfall in the spring to get soils recharged and get the growing season underway. This story may linger into 2012, with the potential for an epic grassfire season and spring drought.
5) Unusually warm 2nd half of 2011:
2011 was a Jekyll & Hyde temperature year. The first 5 months started cool, each one featuring below average temps.
In June the trend reversed and warm weather held for the rest of 2011.
The past 7 months have been above average at MSP Airport and in most of Minnesota. 4 of the past 6 months have featured temps that were among the "top 10 warmest on record for that month.
July +5.6 (6th warmest on record)
October +6.4 (8th warmest)
November +5.6 (11th warmest)
December +5.0(?) (10th warmest?)
I can't remember the last year we had 4 "top 10" warmest months on record in one year.
The warmth continues through December and has resulted in the first "Brown Christmas" in 5 years in the Twin Cities!
Here are the top 5 weather events and details of 2011 from the State Climatology Office.
Top Five Weather Events of 2011 in Minnesota
"Here are candidates for the top five weather events of 2011 from the Minnesota State Climatology Office.
#5 Extreme Cold of January 20-21
The coldest air mass to hit Minnesota in two years sideswiped the state on January 20-21, 2011. The coldest air temperature found on January 21 was -46 at International Falls. This was the coldest temperature at the "Icebox of the Nation" since -46 on January 6, 1968. The temperature also bottomed out at -46 at Babbitt as well. This was the coldest air to move over Minnesota since January 14, 2009 when Babbitt saw -48. This cold came in the middle of one of the snowier winters in recent years.
#4 Record-Setting Non-tornadic Winds in Kittson County: September 1
On September 1, severe thunderstorm winds were clocked at 121 mph at an automated station a mile west of Donaldson in Kittson County. Two large commercial grade steel bins were torn out from the local grain elevator and the significant tree damage in the area matched winds of that extreme range. 121 miles per hour is the strongest wind speed measured in Minnesota. While wind speeds of this magnitude, and higher have likely occurred in Minnesota in the past, there wasn't any instrumentation that survived to record the wind speed. Due to the proliferation of automated weather stations in Minnesota, there is a greater chance that one of these gusts can be measured.
#3 Driest Meteorological Autumn in Twin Cities History
A scant 1.36 inches fell from September 1 to November 30 in the Twin Cities, the driest since modern records began in 1871. The dryness in the Twin Cities was a reflection of the large scale drought situation that intensified across Minnesota in the late summer and autumn. Soil moisture levels at the University of Minnesota Southern Research and Outreach Center in Waseca by mid November were the lowest seen in recent years.
#2 Record Dew Point Temperatures: July 19, 2011 For the Twin Cities and Minnesota
On Tuesday, July 19, 2011 the dew point temperature reached 82 degrees at the Twin Cities, breaking the old record of 81 that was set on July 30, 1999. In addition, the highest dew point temperature recorded in Minnesota was set at the Moorhead Airport with 88 degrees, breaking the old record of 86 that was set at both Pipestone and St. James on July 23, 2005. The high dew point temperatures had some odd effects. When people wearing glasses walked outside from the indoor air conditioning, their eyeglasses instantly fogged up. Window air conditioners quickly sold out around the Twin Cities.
#1 Minneapolis Tornado: Sunday, May 22, 2011
Minneapolis Tornado: Sunday, May 22, 2011. The Minneapolis tornado killed one person and injured 48. The hardest hit area was from Lowry Avenue and Logan Avenue in Minneapolis to 42nd and Lyndale Avenue. The tornado then crossed the Mississippi River and caused damage in Anoka County. This is the second tornado to hit Minneapolis in three years. There hasn't been a tornado reported in Ramsey County since 1998.
Brown Christmas 2011
Similar to 2006 when most places south of Highway 2 from Grand Forks to Duluth had little or no snow on the ground. In 2011 the snow-free area looks to be even more extensive with northwestern Minnesota also most likely not having any snow on the ground on Christmas Day."
Let's see what kind of weather 2012 deals Minnesota.
My top five weather events for 2011. First let me explain how I judge them. #1 was it a record event, #2 how many people did it affect and did it change a large number of people's daily routine, #3 economic impact on the state's economy.
#1 Hands down I agree with you, the winter of 2010/2011 (after all you can't include that in 2010, most of it didn't happen yet lol)
# 2 Record dew points set in Mn on July 19 at Morehead MN 88°, and a record in Minneapolis of 82°
( impacts felt almost state wide)
#3 Drought....Driest autumn on record. ( again impacts felt almost state wide)
#4 Record Feb single snowfall total for Mpls of 13.8" (many areas had more)
#5 Minneapolis Tornado. (while catastrophic and painful for those in it's path, it was very much a local event.But I can understand those that have it number 1)
I always try and reserve the honorable mention to a weather story that wasn't. In 2010 it was the lack of tornadoes in the metro in spite of a record shattering year state wide.
So this years honorable mention goes to the flood that wasn't. After one of the snowiest years on record and despite the doom and gloom of local forecasters, mother nature decided to cooperate with a slow spring time melt....(I know...tell that to the folks south of here, their pain was immense)