March Madness: Earliest 70 degrees in 12 years; Record soil temps?

+9 degrees – March temps vs. average so far at MSP Airport

10th straight warmer than average month in Minnesota

73 degrees record high Wednesday at MSP

Earliest 70 degree temps in 12 years in the metro

4th earliest 70 degree temp ever on record for the metro

53 degrees soil temp at 6″ depth near Albert Lea… on March 15th

70s return Friday through Sunday

80 possible in the metro and southern Minnesota by Sunday?

Rain may soak in next week

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Folks enjoy 70s and fading ice at Lake Harriet Wednesday.

“March used to be a great month for keeping your favorite beverage on the porch or outside on the deck. This year it’s taking up space in the fridge.”

Paul Huttner to Cathy Wurzer on Morning Edition this morning at 7:48 am

“Freakishly Warm” March continues:

Any way you slice it this is just plain weird.

Something happened last summer, some switch was thrown, and the atmosphere hasn’t been the same since.

We’re on a weather “hot streak” so to speak, and it shows no signs of letting up.

Warmest fall on record? Yep.

Winter in Minnesota? Nope.

Certainly the other show will drop in March? Not gonna happen.

Why is this happening?

I wish I knew for sure. The only discernable thing that changed is La Nina faded away last summer. That may have been what launched us from a cool wet start to 2011 headlong into a warm “droughty” fall and winter.

It’s almost as if La Nina was holding back some overarching force that wanted to heat up Minnesota and the USA. Now that La Nina is gone…there’s no stopping the warm up.

We’ve talked about the Arctic Oscillation staying strongly in the “positive phase” this winter. That’s kept us warm…but why? And what’s driving what? These so called “atmospheric teleconnections” are hard to pin down. What comes first and what drives what? It’s a little bit chicken and egg.

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This March, lakes in Minnesota are screaming like the Wicked Witch of the West.

“Im Mellllltinnnnngg.”

Is it climate change gone wild? Maybe.

It’s not just a little warmer than average either. We’re not running 1 or 2 degrees above average…we’re running 7.3 degrees above average for the least 6 months!

Temps at MSP Airport vs. average:

October +6.4 degrees (11th warmest)

November +5.5 degrees (9th warmest)

December +8.1 degrees (13th warmest)

January +7.7 degrees (8th warmest)

February +6.9 degrees (12th warmest)

March (so far) +9.0 degrees

(and on pace for warmest March on record?)

It’s as if we’ve moved to Kansas City folks, where the average annual temp is about 8 degrees warmer than the Twin Cities. This truly was a “Kansas City Winter.”

I’ve never seen a stretch of weather this far out of whack in Minnesota. I wish I had a nice neat answer as to why this is happening. I don’t.

Record March soil temps?

We shouldn’t even be talking about “soil temps” on the “Ides of March.” We should be talking about frost depth and snow cover.

But this March 15th the frost is already out of the ground in southern Minnesota and going fast in the metro. Check out these remarkable (and record?) soil temps at 6″ depth.

Hutchinson 41 degrees

Mankato 45 degrees

Lamberton 48 degrees

Albert Lea 53 degrees

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Our chances for March rain will increase next Monday & Tuesday. At least it will soak in.

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So what next?

As Minnesotans we’re conditioned for the “other shoe to drop” when we get unseasonably mild weather. “We’re going to pay for this” right? “Things will always even out?”

Not necessarily.

Temps look to run 20 to 30 degrees above average for most of the rest of March. There are signs of a cool down to near average around March 28th, but that’s it.

We may even hit 80 this weekend (best chance on Sunday) in the metro. If we do it will be the earliest 80 degree temp on record in the metro. (The Twin Cities hit 83 on March 23, 1910.)

Our weather keeps getting weirder. Hang on; it’s going to be a wild ride.


  • Brian

    I’ll venture a guess on this one. It feels pretty similar to October weather and I’m wondering if it’s mostly due to sun’s angle and lack of snow? If we had a normal winter in terms of snowfall would temperatures be more seasonal now (due to reflecting sunlight)?

  • Sarah Bachmann-Lane


    Are these warmer temperatures earlier in the spring indicative of a change in severe weather patterns as well? Are we looking for more and more dangerous storms?



  • Fr. Paul Kammen

    Warm weather this time of year I would equate to getting back into a bad relationship you know needs to end. The other person tells you they have changed and you can trust them and your gut tells you stay away, but you go back and then things are good for a short while before old ways return, and you get sucker-punched. In November the warm days I can handle, as I’m mentally prepared for the Dark Times. This time of year though is so hard, because it gets nice and you hope for the best, and then it seems to happen every year. A cool down; mention of the rain-snow line; the forecast going from “mostly rain” for the Twin Cities to “mix possible close to home” to “southerly track for the low across Iowa, possibly up to 5 inches of snow” followed by the meteorologist pointing out “it won’t last long” to console you. I’m really hoping for the best this year, as this is great – and I can handle seasonable at the end of the month as average is about 50 for last week of March. I can’t handle a surprise arctic blast and going to the NWS web site seeing a bunch of blue counties in a winter storm watch again. As a priest I’m a person of hope; as a Minnesotan I’m a person of pessimism this time of year with the weather.

  • Lars

    Hi Paul,

    What are your thoughts on how our warm weather relates to the cold, snowy weather of southeastern Europe?

    Also, you must be the one-shoed weatherman. You’ve been wearing one shoe all winter with no”other shoe to drop”. 🙂

  • Paul Huttner

    Hi Brian: Yes, temps would be about 10 degrees cooler with snow cover….but something much bigger is at work with temps running 20 to 30 degrees above average.

    Sarah: Early warmth certainly set us up for the potential for storms, but there are other ingredients too. We’ll need a strong jet stream overhead and low pressure systems spinning out of the Rockies. That hasn’t happened so far…but it’s very early. I expect an at least average tornado season in MN this year…which is about 35-45 tornadoes.

    Amen Father: Yes, it can still snow…we average 3″ in April. Can’t rule it out yet but my gut tells me we may be running headlong into spring.

    Lars: Yes I have several pairs of shoes…funny they don’t always match!