2011: Most extreme weather year on record? Aurora Alert tonight!

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Snow free at the weather lab these days!

Weather Lab “Snow-O-meter”

3″ Season snowfall to date at MSP Airport

9.3″ already by this date last year

8.6 “average” season snowfall so far

-5.6″ season snowfall vs. average so far

Driest fall in 141 years at MSP Airport (and in much of Minnesota)

14 Billion Dollar Weather Disasters in the USA in 2011, a new record!

53 billion dollars in weather related damages in the USA in 2011

58% chance of ‘Northern Lights” tonight according to NOAA

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Sun returns to the weather lab Monday morning

Sunshine Alert!

The sun is finally back today in much of Minnesota as a stubborn gray cloud deck pushes east. Look for temps to rebound over mostly snow free Minnesota today.

Highs should crack 40 in most areas this afternoon!

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Snowfall drought developing:

We’re already -5.6″ behind average snowfall at MSP in the delayed winter of 2011-’12. We’re also a good 6″+ behind last year’s snowfall pace.

With no major snow in sight, the drought will deepen.

The next chance for significant snow may not arrive until a week from Saturday (December 10th) according to the latest GFS model runs.

Drought Deepens: MSP to record driest Fall season in 141 years

With no precip expected through Wednesday, it looks like MSP Airport and much of southern Minnesota will set the all time record for the driest fall (Sep-Nov) on record.

We’ve managed just a scant 1.14″ of precip at MSP since September 1st. That’s well below the previous record of 1.54″ in 1889. Records began in the Twin Cities n 1871.

According ot the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, a full 40.58% of Minnesota is now in moderate to severe drought.

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Another record in a remarkable string for Minnesota

It’s not your imagination. The weather has been remarkably extreme in Minnesota over the past 18 months.

Check out some of the major weather records we’ve set in Minnesota & Wisconsin in just the past 18 months.

-Most active tornado day, month and year on record in 2010

-Wettest September on record in Minnesota in 2010

-Lowest barometric pressure on record in Minnesota last October (“Octobomb”)

-Snowiest December on record in 2010 (33.6″)

-5th & 15th biggest snowstorms on record at MSP Airport (Domebuster & Presidents’ Day Storms)

-4th snowiest winter on record at MSP Airport (86.6″)

-Biggest tornado outbreak on record in Wisconsin (April 2011)

-Driest fall on record at MSP

From tornadoes, to drought, to snowmageddon and back to drought again, it’s enough to make your local meteorologists head spin!

USA 2011: Most extreme weather year on record?

It’s not just Minnesota.

By some measures 2011 is the most extreme (catastrophic) weather year on record in the USA.

So far in 2011 we’ve had 14 separate “Billion Dollar Weather Disasters” in 2011 according to NOAA and insurance industry sources.

By dollar amount the $53 billion in losses is the 5th largest on record. Only 2005 (Katrina, Rita) 2008 (Ike) 1998 & 1980 (Midwest droughts) surpass 2011 for losses.

Here’s the list.

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Weather Underground’s Jeff Masters has a nice summary here.

Aurora Alert Tonight!

Keep an eye to the northern sky after dark tonight. According to NOAA, there’s a 58% chance of northern lights tonight.

Another substantial CME is racing earthward, and is expected to slam into the earth’s magnetosphere at around noon today. (+ or- 7 hours)

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Here’s more from spaceweather.com

As always it’s best to get away from city lights and generally look north. You may see colored rays or curtains shimmering in the sky after dark tonight if the aurora materializes.

Happy Aurora hunting tonight!


  • Allen

    I understand that that this is a blog and not an academic paper. Nevertheless, it seems at best a sloppy for someone who is a climatoligist would just toss out records and talk about the number of them the last 18 months.

    An extreme example would be if we only had snowfalls of 100″ per winter or none at all. Our average would be 50″ per year. A winter with a snowfall of 85″ would be way over the average but would it really be abnormal?

    As for the dollar amounts for storm damage in the US, 5th out of 30 isn’t really all that crazy is it? During that time 40% of our presidents were admitted illegal drug users. But one wouldn’t want to imply that the same pattern holds back all the way to George Washington, right? Hmmmm… heavy meth use would account for the wooden teeth though! =)

    I don’t mean to scold. I’m just trying to bring up some talking points for those that may be less familar with these things.

  • Chris

    Allen, what you are missing in your comments are standard deviations. I grew up in an area of the NE that had a similar average of snow to MN ~50″. But any given year we could have 0″ or over 100″ thus our ‘normal’ deviations from normal were rather large. 85″ in the NE wouldn’t be much to talk about. Our 30″ Halloween storm isn’t even top 30 in the NE. I’ve been here almost 20 years and it seems we get normal +- 10″ so 30″ either way is something to talk about. In the NE it was probably something about 50″ +-30″.

    And as far as the president analogy there have been only 9 presidents verses in many cases 140 some odd years of weather data. In 40 years no president has admitted using drugs (it was before they were president). The mistake is comparing events like presidents that are in large clumps like 4 or 8 years to an annual thing. 2/9 or 22% of the presidents in the last 40 years have admitted using drugs. Same data 1/2 the rate you expressed. And the media covers presidents today very different than more than 40 years ago. We were asking the same questions of the weather (say temperature) for all the years. It’s only been the last handfull we asked about about drugs.

    I agree $ are a very bad way to express things like this. The value of things keeps going up. How do you think movies keep setting records for $. It ain’t because they pulled more people in than Star Wars. And factor in more people keep moving to the higher risk areas. Duh more damage. Mother Nature never caused single $ of damage to something man didn’t build or create.

  • Allen