MN 2010: 2nd wettest & 9th warmest

More numbers continue to roll in from the wicked weather year of 2010.

It turns out 2010 was the 2nd wettest and 9th warmest year on record in Minnesota.

The excellent number crunchers at the Minnesota Climatology Working Group report statewide average precip of 33.44″ in 2010. That’s 6.15″ above average, and within .50″ of the wettest year on record. (33.92″ in 1977)

Top Ten Annual Mean Precipitation Records for Minnesota


Rank Value Year


1 33.92 1977

2 33.44 2010 *

3 33.27 1965

4 33.22 1968

5 32.54 1991

6 32.32 2005

7 32.31 1905

8 31.68 1986

9 31.64 1993

10 31.57 1903

*Preliminary value for December 2010.

All values are from the Midwest Climate Center.

As Mark Seeley reported yesterday in this space, Wabasha had an incredible 49.92″ of precip in 2010…nearly 50″! For perspective, 50″ is roughly the annual average precipitation for Atlanta.

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Warm too:

Even the record snows and a cold December, 2010 was warmer than average in Minnesota. 8 of 12 months featured (much) warmer than average temperatures. The Twin Cities came in about +2.7 degrees and the statewide average of 43.0 degrees was +1.8 degrees in 2010.

That’s good enough for the 9th warmest year on record.

Top Ten Annual Mean Temperature Records for Minnesota


Rank Value Year


1 45.8 1931

2 45.7 1987

3 45.2 1998

4 44.5 2006

5 44.0 1999

6 43.2 2001

7 43.2 1921

8 43.1 2005

9 43.0 2010*

10 42.9 1981

*Preliminary value for December 2010.

All values are from the Midwest Climate Center.

Looking at the data you can see that 6 of the top 10 warmest years on record in Minnesota have all occurred since 1998!

New 30 year averages kick in:

The close of 2010 also marks the start of the new rolling 30 year climate averages. This is going to change the numbers for Minnesota, as the colder decade of the 70s drops off and is replaced by the warmest decade on record during the past 10 years.

The biggest changes in Minnesota’s “average” temperatures will come in the winter months, and will be reflected in warmer overnight low temperatures.

Our record snowfall in December 2010 will be included in the new 30 year average data. That may make December the snowiest month of the year on average in the Twin Cities. Of course, our “snowiest” month has changed from March, to January in recent years.

The question is, is this relevant data representing a trend toward more consistent “front loading” of snowfall in winter? There is so much annual variability in snowfall patterns that any month from December through March could be our “snowiest” in any given year.

We all know the weather is rarely “average” in Minnesota…and averages are made up of extremes averaged over time.

Mini Clipper Wednesday?

Our next “shake” of the Minnesota snow globe comes Wednesday as another mini clipper scoots through. Look for another batch of light snow & flurries… with accumulations generally under an inch.

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(click for more readable image)

The models are hinting at a more significant snowfall by Sunday & Monday in the northern Plains. The latest model trends keep the bulk of the snowfall south and west of the Twin Cities. Stay tuned on that one…nothing worthy of “headline hype” just yet.

Grand Canyon snow:

Yes, it does snow in Arizona.

Much of Arizona is above 5,000 feet elevation. Check out the 250-meter resolution MODIS true color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image from the UW Madison CIMMS Satellite Blog showing fresh snowfall up to 30″ on the Kaibab Plateau last week around the Grand Canyon.

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I was fortunate to visit the Grand Canyon a few days before the snowfall and captured these images from the South Rim.


The big picture

GC Huttner family.JPG

Huttner family soaks up the view


Light and shadow play

By the way, if you are ever looking for someone who really knows how to take amazing photographs of the Southwest check out my friend and former Arizona co-anchor Guy Atchley’s web site. Guy has an amazing eye, and a love for taking stunning photos of the beautiful people and scenery of the Southwest.

You can see Guy’s work here.


  • Tim Ward

    The Colorado Plateau region of Arizona gets heavy snowfall every winter. Flagstaff, Arizona (at 7,000 feet) is one of the snowiest cities in the country. My wife and I got caught in a raging blizzard hiking out of the Grand Canyon in late March; they got 18″ of snow at the South Rim. The North Rim gets so much snow it closes for the winter (it’s over a thousand feet higher than the South Rim). It’s all about elevation in Arizona. Flagstaff’s about the same distance from Phoenix as the Twin Cities are from Duluth but has vastly different weather because it’s 6,000 feet higher. Flagstaff has never recorded a temperature over 100, and Phoenix averages 100+ four months out of the year.

  • Josh

    Hi Paul,

    My wife and I noticed last night that average snowfall in the Twin Cities is now 44 inches vs. 55 inches. (She is a preschool teacher and is measuring snowfall amounts against kids’ heights. =D.) Is this a result of the change to the new base period? Are previous 40-ish inch snowfall totals this decade now “average”?



  • Josh

    *whoops, 45 inches.

  • Mary

    Hello Paul: Is there any long-range information on how the rest of the winter may shape up? Thanks.