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A serious case of Favre fevre

Enjoying Autumn? October was a thoroughly forgettable month – 4.5 degrees F. cooler than average, the third wettest October since modern-day records were first started around 1891 (6.02″ of rain and melted snow accumulated in local rain gauges, that’s nearly three times the normal for the month of October). We had far more days with rain (and snow) than usual, more gray days than usual – I’m starting to think the only thing sustaining us is Vikings Fever. The exploding purple & gold front advancing down Lambeau Field yesterday has made up for a lot of atmospheric sins in recent weeks. Everyone is preoccupied with #4, mesmerized by 7-1, hypnotized by hype, hope and an early, infectious case of playoff madness. I know it’s early, but we can all dream, right?

El Nino is strengthening, but this may not be the garden-variety version of Pacific Ocean warming that shoves the storm track south from San Diego to Dallas and Atlanta, keeping Minnesota in more of a moderate westerly flow vs. a toe-curling parade of flakey fronts direct from the Arctic Circle. I’m getting a vibe (for lack of a more scientific term) from a number of meteorologists I respect who are leaning toward a MUCH colder than normal winter for the eastern half of the USA, significant warmer than average west of the Mississippi. Yep, that would leave us teeter-tottering right on the edge, the boundary separating numbing air from the Yukon from 40-degree air wafting in from Seattle. If I had to place a bet I’d go significant warmer for the Dakotas, statistically colder than average for Wisconsin and the Great Lakes. My confidence level isn’t terribly high (it never is beyond a week to 10 days). But everyone wants to know what the winter will be like – everyone is (at least a little) paranoid that a chilly October is an omen of what’s to come. There is no correlation between cold Octobers and the following winter. I wouldn’t read to much into our damp, gray (miserable) October. Look at the bright side: the drought has eased – no more severe/extreme drought anywhere in the state – and farmers are in fantastic shape. Soil moisture is adequate over most of the Minnesota farm belt; we’ll at least go into the ’10 spring planting season with ample water in the ground. O.K. Hard to celebrate soil moisture, but it’s a start! How low my expectations have fallen.

October Temperature Departures. It turns out southwestern Minnesota saw the greatest extremes, October readings 6-9 degrees F. cooler than average.

October Precipitation. Almost the entire state saw twice as much rain as normal, many southwestern counties saw 3 times the normal amount of rain for October.

BTW, today is Day 4 of Paul’s Big Swine Flu Adventure. No limbs or appendages have fallen off, in fact I feel pretty good, under the circumstances. I’m paranoid that I’ll be sucker-punched by this pesky little H1N1 bug; my doctor warned me that there are many cases where people start feeling great, only to be hit across the head with a 2 by 4, stricken with pneumonia 5-7 days into their illness. So it’s a little early to celebrate, but so far I’ve only really had one truly nasty day – Friday, when my lungs felt like they were filling up with sulfuric acid. My point: if you do start to run a fever there’s an excellent chance it is (indeed) swine flu – the same doctor told me that the regular, seasonal flu has yet to rear its head in Minnesota. A whopping 99.6% of people who come down with H1N1 have a few rough days and then recover. It’s that .4% that’s really capturing the attention of the media, especially when otherwise healthy 4 year olds and pregnant moms wind up on ventilators in the local intensive care unit.

After a blustery Halloween (wasn’t that full moon great?) Cue the full moon please. We salvaged a mostly-gorgeous Sunday(52 at St. Cloud, but 58 in the Twin Cities, 60 at Rochester, and a swoon-inducing 61 at Redwood Falls). So we did see a few 60s after all – a wondrous, fleeting taste of Indian Summer. Optimist that I am I think much of Minnesota will see more 50s, even a few more 60s before the flakes start to accumulate. We’re due for a few more days of shirtsleeve weather bliss before winter swirls into town in all its glory.

Tuesday appears to be the wettest day of what should be a mostly-dry week, latest computer models print out roughly a quarter inch of rain (possibly mixed with wet snow north of Little Falls and Lake Mille Lacs). Temperatures this week should run a few degrees cooler than average, but a nice warming trend kicks in by Sunday, when the mercury may hit 60 close to home. The models cool us off during the second week of November – the warmest weather will probably come next weekend. One last chance to drive down Highway 61 toward Lake City and Winona? There’s still plenty of color out there over southeastern Minnesota, but it’s going fast. Enjoy a cool, quiet Monday – and what should be a fairly reasonable spell of weather (at least for the first week of November).

Extended Outlook for the USA. Hints of Indian Summer? Based on sea surface temperatures and prevailing jet stream winds CPC, the Climate Prediction Center, is suggesting a significantly warmer than normal spell of weather for much of America – the bulls-eye almost directly over the Upper Midwest. Yes, the second week of November may just make up for some of those chilling, miserable days of October.

November 2, 1991. The “Halloween Superstorm” dumped 28.4″ of snow on the Twin Cities, closer to 15″ on St. Cloud. 3-5 foot drifts were common from the Twin Cities northward to Taylors Falls, Duluth and the Minnesota Arrowhead. Duluth was buried under nearly 37″ of snow, and that didn’t include the drifts! It was the biggest single snowfall ever recorded for much of eastern Minnesota, including Minneapolis and St. Paul. Literally off the charts. For more information scroll down for a Superstorm recap.

Some of the Twin Cities records that were broken by the 1991 Halloween Blizzard were:
Event 1991 Old Record (1891-1990)
Most single storm snow total 28.4 20.0 (Jan 22-23 1982)
24 hour snowfall in any season 21.0 18.5 (January 23, 1982)
Most snow on October 31 8.2 .4 (1954)
Most snow on November 1 18.5 3.6 (1941)
Most snow in October 8.2 5.5 (1905)
Earliest 8 inch snow 8.2 8.5 (Nov 8, 1943)
Earliest autumn below zero low -3* -1 (Nov 11, 1986)

All of these records still stand as of 2001.
*-3 on November 4, 1991

For more on the infamous Halloween Superstorm, click here for some great information from the Minnesota Climatology Office. It may conjure up some wild memories!

Paul’s Outlook for the Twin Cities

Today: Partly sunny, breezy and cooler than average. Winds: NW 10-20. High: 47

Tonight: Clear to partly cloudy – frosty. Low: 31

Tuesday: Clouds increase, a few (rain) showers by afternoon, mixed with wet snow far northern MN. High: 43

Wednesday: Intervals of clouds and sun – brisk. High: 45

Thursday: Lot’s of clouds, a few passing sprinkles/flurries possible. High: 41

Friday: Fading sun as clouds increase, a few sprinkles possible – windy. High: 46

Saturday: More sun, less wind, cool (but fairly pleasant). High: 49

Sunday: Dim sun, breezy – a big taste of Indian Summer possible! High: 58 (60 is not out of the question).

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