3rd warmest October so far! Growing drought covers 74% of MN!

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Passengers soaking up October warmth aboard The Lady of the Lake on Lake Minnetonka Friday.

Welcome to “June-Tober.”

We’re living charmed weather lives in Minnesota these days!

Our string of consecutive 80 degree days now stands at 6….as thermometers blew past past the 80 degree mark again Friday.

That makes this the 3rd warmest start to October on record so far, according to Pete Boulay at the MN State Climate Office.

“Hi Paul,

Assuming that the high temperature will be 84 and the min will be 65 today, the seven day October average so far will be 67 degrees. This is the 3rd warmest start of October on record back to 1891.

Rank Value Year

1 67.4 2007

2 67.3 1897

3 67.0* 2011

* preliminary

The longest stretch of continuous 80′s in October is eight set in 1953.

-Pete”

With Ocotber 2011 only .4 degree off the pace…this is basically right there with the warmest October starts on record! We can’t feel the difference between 67.0 and 67.4 degrees!

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Temperatures Friday look more like July than October!

Temps +13 degrees vs. average so far this October!

3rd warmest start to October on record so far!

(just 0.4 degree away from 1st place)

6 consecutive days at or above 80 this October

2nd highest number of October 80s on record

8days at or above 80 in October 1953

58 years since MSP has logged this many 80 degree days in October!

43 average low temp at MSP Friday

65 actual low temp at MSP Friday

63 average high temp at MSP Friday

“Cooler Front” this weekend:

The 80s will fade this weekend as a (gentle for October) cool front slides through. Temps will still run about 10 degrees above average, with highs in the 70s south and 60s north this weekend.

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There will be a few spotty showers, but overall precip looks to be on the light side, generally under .25″ in most areas. We may settle some of the wind-whipped dust this weekend, but the rain won’t be putting out any fires or putting a dent in the drought.

Growing Drought!

It’s been another warm, windy, dry week with no rainfall in Minnesota, and the drought expanding.

A full 74% of Minnesota is now listed as “abnormally dry” or in some stage of drought on the week’s U.S. Drought Monitor. That compares to only 4% of Minnesota in or near drought 3 months ago!

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Rainfall deficits now exceed 4″ in much of Minnesota since August 1st. The overall weather pattern looks wetter in the next two weeks, but rainfall totals will likely not be enough to end the drought in Minnesota.

Fall colors peaking this weekend!

The gusty & dusty weather pattern late last week tooka few leaves off the trees, but the colors are still spectacular and at or near the elusive “peak” this weekend in Minnesota.

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Here are some fall color scenes I captured Friday from around the Huttner Weather Lab in Deephaven in the west metro. Enjoy, and have a great weekend!

PH

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Parkway invites

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My friend Pav’s Hunter sailboat & Whaler ride out gusty winds Friday.

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Road sign provides a not so subtle seasonal metaphor?

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Wind, waves & colors on St. Louis Bay of Lake Minnetonka.

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Classic fall street scene

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Leafy carpet

Is climate change affecting fall color timing?

The story from AP:

“Climate change scientists focus on fall foliage shifts

October 6, 2011

By DAVID SHARP, Associated Press

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) – Clocks may not be the only thing falling back: That signature autumn change in leaf colors may be drifting further down the calendar.

Scientists don’t quite know if global warming is changing the signs of fall like it already has with an earlier-arriving spring. They’re turning their attention to fall foliage in hopes of determining whether climate change is leading to a later arrival of autumn’s golden, orange and red hues.

Studies in Europe and in Japan already indicate leaves are changing color and dropping later, so it stands to reason that it’s happening here as well, said Richard Primack, professor of biology at Boston University.

“The fall foliage is going to get pushed back,” Primack warned.

Scientists caution that heavy rain, drought-like conditions or temperature extremes can cause dramatic year-to-year fluctuations that don’t establish a long-term trend. For example, heavy rainfall in New England this spring, followed by a deluge caused by Irene, is causing fungal growth that’s causing some trees’ leaves to turn brown and drop earlier than normal.

William Ostrofsky, forest pathologist with the Maine Forest Service, is skeptical about whether there’s a proven link between fall foliage and climate change.

“I just don’t know that there’s any evidence to indicate there’s a trend one way or the other,” said Ostrofsky, who points out that year-to-year fluctuations make it difficult to discern long-term trends. “I really don’t think we’ve seen any long-term trend, as far as I can tell.”

While there’s no definitive study in the U.S., some data points toward later leaf drop:

- Researchers at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and at Seoul National University in South Korea used satellites to show the end of the growing season was delayed by 6 1/2 days from 1982 to 2008 in the Northern Hemisphere.

- In Massachusetts, the leaves are changing about three days later than they were two decades ago at the Harvard Forest 65 miles west of Boston, according to data collected by John O’Keefe, a retired Harvard professor and museum coordinator who’s continuing to collect data.

- In New Hampshire, data collected at the federal Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in Woodstock suggests sugar maples are going dormant two to five days earlier than they were two decades ago.

- In Vermont, state foresters studying sugar maples at the Proctor Maple Research Center in Underhill found that the growing season ended later than the statistical average in seven out of the last 10 years. And then there are regular folks like 83-year-old Nancy Aldrich at Polly’s Pancake Parlor in New Hampshire, who has been keeping her own records since 1975. Her numbers show that color change is a moving target, and she’s not willing to go out on a limb in terms of making any declarations.”

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