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Minneapolis sets First Record Daily Low in Almost 9 Years

By: Christopher C. Burt, 8:17 PM GMT on April 22, 2013

Minneapolis sets First Record Daily Low in Almost 9 Years

It has been a near-record cold April so far for many locations in the Upper Midwest including Minneapolis, Minnesota where a daily record low temperature of 21°F (-6.1°C) was registered this past weekend on April 20th. What was truly remarkable, however, was that it was the first new daily record low recorded in the city in almost nine years (since August 21, 2004).

Brief history of weather records in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area

Minneapolis/St. Paul has one of the longest temperature series in the United States with observations beginning in October 1819 at Fort Snelling, which was built on a bluff overlooking the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers.

A stereo photo of Fort Snelling, Minnesota taken sometime during the 1870s. The fort maintained temperature records from 1819 to 1891. The ‘twin cities’ of St. Paul and Minneapolis eventually formed around this fort. Photographer unknown, photo from NWS-Minneapolis web site.

Temperature records were maintained here until 1891 with only nine years of data missing (1844, 1851, and 1859-1866). The U.S. Army Signal Service began taking more comprehensive observations at a site in St. Paul in November 1870 and then the newly established USWB (U.S. Weather Bureau) set up shop in Minneapolis in 1891. This began the period of ‘official’ weather records for Minneapolis (although the database does include many records beginning in the 1870s ostensibly from the St. Paul Signal Service observations).

Daily record lows and highs since 2004

The low of 21°F last Saturday morning was the first daily cold temperature record broken in Minneapolis since a 44°F (6.7°C) reading on August 21, 2004 (another record low was also set that month with a 47°F/8.3°C reading on August 11th). The old record for April 20th was 26°F/-3.3°C in 1888. So far, this April has averaged just 36.2°F (2.8°C),which is -9.0°F (-5.0°C) below normal.

Since August of 2004 there have been 34 daily record highs plus an additional 4 daily record highs tied. It should be noted that a daily record low temperature was tied on September 15, 2011 when a 36°F (2.2°C) reading was recorded. Of the 34 daily record highs a full 8 of them occurred during the phenomenal ‘summer in March’ that occurred in March, 2012.

The April monthly temperature extremes for Minneapolis range from a low of 2°F (-16.7°C) on April 13, 1962 to a high of 95°F (35.0°C) on April 21, 1980.

Heavy snow is forecast for the city on Monday night with accumulations of 5-9” (13-22 cm) forecast. This may provide an opportunity to break the city’s all-time April monthly snow record of 21.8” (55.4 cm) set in 1983. So far this April a total of 14.1” (35.8 cm) has been measured.

Just what Minneapolis residents want: more snow. 7.3” (18.5 cm)of snow fell just last Thursday and Friday (April 18-19) and another 5-9” may accumulate Monday night and Tuesday morning possibly breaking the city’s April monthly snowfall record. Photo of snow in Bloomington by Jim Mone, AP.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

Mini Blog Extreme Weather Temperature cold

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

There isn't anywhere in the world I would rather be.
Coming out of an very dry fall and moderate drought, the slow melting snow is actually what MSP needed. Could end up with over 5" of precipitation this month, twice MSP normal average. Rain changing to snow as I write.
Minneapolis needs 7.9" of snow from this storm to set a new record snowiest April.
Thanks for posting about this. I was kind of feeling MN was being left out in the weather discussions, especially the cold. It has to be some kind of record.
A friend in MN (a Tampa native relocated to MN for business reasons) has
griped bitterly about the cold this month at MSP. But I don't think it is record level cold for the month. It may be record level for the first 25 days but the last few look like they will warm substantially wiping out
a chance at a record.

Of note though, Fargo ND has set a record for its latest 50degree reading in a calendar year.. still not attained as of 4/24. The previous record was in spring 1881 (the year of the long winter in the little house
on the Prairie series although that author was located in De Smet SD)

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