'Absurd': 3 Minnesota towns crushed state rainfall records last year
Support for climate cast comes from Bank of America as one of the largest global financial institutions Bank of America is in a unique position to help society. Transition to a low-carbon economy Bank of America, NA member FDIC, first, let's detail this new all-time state precipitation record, what are the numbers? So it is currently unofficial because we are going to wait for the national weather service out of lacrosse to verify this with us, and they can't do that. While the government is shutdown, but unofficially in any case harmony in extreme southeastern Minnesota. That's Fillmore county received sixty point two one inches of precipitation in two thousand eighteen we had sort of anointed Caledonia as the record holder, but they only came in with a mere seven point nine seven inches. So this is a big jump and Armony just snuck right in. Yeah. Harmony kind of snuck. It was really kind of an oddity with how the observers submits data to on a monthly basis. So there was a delay. So we only had their numbers through November. And in fact, when we went and certified Caledonia, we didn't even have the harmony November numbers in yet. So it kinda snuck in there, but this is a big record. Because what Sika previously held the record in that had been set just in two thousand sixteen with fifty six point two four inches in that that had actually broken the old record by three inches. So we thought well sequel was safe, but not. So let's talk about that for four inches roughly as what we broke the seek record by is that a lot in climate terms. Yes, I think records statewide records are going to be broken very politely in general. They kinda get nudged out. You know, if it's temperature record. I don't know if we'll see high temperature record anytime soon, but. I went imagine. We would we would do anything more than say one hundred fifteen or one hundred sixteen when we did it usually you break records like that all time. Statewide records would be broken politely. For example, you know tower back in nineteen Ninety-six. It broke the old record by basically a degree when it went to sixty below. So yeah. Breaking a precipitation record by almost four inches is a little absurd especially considering the last record breaking was by about three inches or almost three inches. So we've in the last two years increase the precipitation record in Minnesota by about seven inches. So that's from fifty three to sixty inches in a little over two years. Correct. And what we the rainfall we saw in southeast Minnesota this record. It wasn't just one random city, right? There were several spots that broke the previous record. We'll so the record was broken. By Caledonia, also. And then also by by harmony, and then there were the town of Mabel also not far from there received over fifty five inches. So when we look at the five largest precipitation totals on record in Minnesota three of them were in two thousand eighteen other other towns nearby in southeastern Minnesota may have set their own all-time precipitation records, but there were no other statewide record contenders. I wrote for updraft that sixty inches of rainfall is about the average annual precipitation for Gulf Coast cities, like New Orleans. I think they get sixty two inches a year on average. How do we wrap our heads around that much precipitation in Minnesota the I mean, it it's something that can Clem Atallah Just's? And you know, I think anyone I don't think we thought we would see this thought that sixty inches is hallowed territory for for precip for annual precipitation in Minnesota. And so. I, you know, I think wrapping our heads around. It is gonna require very quick adjustment this happened. And it means it could happen again. And it means it's it's where we are. We know we've been getting wetter, and that that increased wetness has really sped up in far southern Minnesota. So I'm kind of done assuming that these records are safe for, you know, anything more than a couple years at this point. You told me that, and I guess this is what climatologists do right sit around and talk about the records, and whether they'll ever be broken that you and some other folks were surprised that we would ever see sixty inches. Yes. In fact, I had a hypothetical sort of a pondering conversation with a fellow climatologist earlier this year where we knew that Caledonia at the time was challenging the west Sika record. And then we kinda wondered out loud. Do you think we'll ever get to sixty inches? And and we thought this, you know, maybe in the next couple of decades, we didn't think it would be this year from you know, a town just down the road from Caledonia. What's the climate perspective here? How? Should we think about this this much rainfall in a calendar year? I think there's a couple of ways you can think about it. I think before we alarm ourselves too much. We are I think we're on a trend towards more wetness, but we're also on a very high swing of variability along that trend. So I I think even though it's pretty clear we're getting wetter over the long term and and southeast Minnesota's gonna be bearing the brunt of that. I don't think we should assume that every year is going to be like this. This is still quite an anomaly, and it also really affected a an isolated part of the state. If you go just northwest of their by say twenty miles annual precipitation was down two more like forty five inches, and if you go to north western Minnesota the other side of the state annual precipitation was below average. So I think the perspective is this can happen. It's becoming more likely. We're all. Also in a really high swing in terms of the variability. Meaning even though we have a trend towards more wetness, it's sort of extreme right now. And it won't always be that way. And it hasn't been this way over the entire state this year, and you talk about that variability. I'm I look ahead. And I see when is that year coming where we have a significant drought and a significant heat event in summer late summer early fall, and we see the potential for catastrophic fire danger like we've seen in Minnesota in certain years in the past. And maybe that's that's not such a climate trend as it is a very ability trend, but it seems to me like that year is coming. What are your thoughts on that? Well, I think absolutely. But we don't know when and we don't know with what kind of frequency. I I wouldn't be willing to bet that it would even be in the next decade because it's the kind of thing we we just simply can't see it. But we know from looking at the past that we've had extraordinary dry conditions with coupled with extreme. In heat. And so there's no reason to believe that that wouldn't show it's head again, especially with the trends towards towards warming. So I in fact, we've seen the kinds of variability recently that are kind of mind boggling, you know, what we did in may of two thousand eighteen where we went from a top five cold, April two top three warm may it's a sort of shifting shifting extremes. That are a little bit unusual. And if we can do that, then we can also go from an extremely wet period to an extremely dry period. You know, maybe in the course of a year or two. So this is definitely something that's going to keep us on our toes. Minnesota DNR senior climatologist Kenny Blumenfeld. Thanks so much for your perspective again. Yeah. Good to be here. Thanks, paul.