Skip to main content

As we approach the end of the growing season for many come Tuesday night, it’s worth taking a step back and looking at all the ways to measure just how long the warm season was this year and the warming trend we're witnessing. 

We know temperatures are rising. The extremes and average temperature rankings get lots of attention, and should, but just as important is the duration of warmth.

Twenty-twenty-two went down as a year with a hot summer in the Twin Cities, though statewide it was a mixed map. Northeast Minnesota saw more or less a near normal – that’s the modern 30-year average – average summer temperature while southwest Minnesota up through the Twin Cities had a well above normal averaged summer temperature.

It was not our hottest summer on record like last year. That was last year. The Summer of 2022 was about the 17th warmest for the Twin Cities, which is in the top 11% in the record-keeping era. You could, however, make a good argument for it being the longest summer on record.

While there’s not an official definition for length of summer, and it would vary by where in the world you are, let’s say we measure it by the number of consecutive days at 70°+ high temperatures. 

This year the Twin Cities had 119 consecutive days of high temperatures at 70°+, from May 26 to Sept. 22, the most ever on record. 

The average number of consecutive 70s in the Twin Cities since 2000 is about 64 days, up from the historical average of just 48. So this year saw almost DOUBLE than even the more modern averages. Even the lower modern average of 64 days is up 31% from the historical average. That’s an extra 2+ weeks of warm weather.

consec 70s MSP since 1970

The funny thing is, almost no matter what figure we look at you come up with a similar number of about two extra weeks. Even if we just look at the total number of 70-degree days in an average year, that number too has increased by about two weeks worth.

Screen Shot 2022-09-27 at 7.15.16 AM

Of course, the latest number of relevance this week, and in the coming weeks is the growing season, i.e. consecutive days above freezing. No surprise, the growing season is getting longer – and by quite a bit. We’ve added up to several weeks to the growing season in the last 50 years.

growing season

The other stat that caught my eye recently was the unusually long stretch without a chilly night, what I deem to be in the 40s or colder. We had 118 consecutive nights where the overnight low stayed at 50 or warmer in the Twin Cities. The only summers on record with more are 2016, 2018 and 1881. 

NIGHTS at 50+ Rankings

Considering the impacts of human-caused climate change in 1881 was minimal or non-existent, that was quite the season. Eight of the top 10 are just since 2000, so before someone tries to yell that it happened once before, long ago, it simply doesn’t match the trends and full context of data.

consec nights 50+ MSP since 1970

When we look outside the Twin Cities, where the urban heat island (UHI) doesn’t have any impact, we see similar trends but obviously shorter seasons. Saint Cloud for example gets cooler than the Twin Cities most nights due to it being a bit farther north and outside of the large sprawl of the urban Twin Cities metro. There you see a big increase in the length of the warm night season. In fact, it’s a staggering triple the value of 50 years ago.

consec nights 50+ STC

In other words, 50 years ago you could basically count on just the warmest few weeks of summer staying above 50 at night. But now? That season has expanded to include all of July and into mid-August on average.

Going back to the growing season data, we can see the similar pattern in St. Cloud. While the growing season of central Minnesota is shorter than the Twin Cities area, it’s still increased by nearly three weeks since 1970. 

STC GROWING season

Add to all of this another warm month this September, including that record high of 92 last week, and you start to see the big, complicated picture of climate change in Minnesota. 

Next Up

Winter scene snow storm snowfall highway driving traffic - Joe Nelson Feb 2022 4

Winter storm warning for Twin Cities: 6+ inches possible

The heaviest snow could move through the Twin Cities.

police lights

Carver man charged after standoff with police in Prior Lake

The man had been fleeing from police when he allegedly broke into a home and the standoff ensued.

ambulance

41-year-old Sherburne County man killed after crashing car into ditch

The crash occurred Sunday night in Palmer Township.

Screen Shot 2022-11-28 at 4.01.10 PM

Around 200 rescued after ice breaks free on Upper Red Lake

Red Lake — both Upper and Lower — is the largest freshwater lake in the state.

Screen Shot 2022-11-28 at 9.38.30 AM

St. Paul featured on Hallmark Channel's 'Christmas Cam' livestream

Downtown's dazzling display can be viewed from anywhere in the world.

JamborMugshot

Charges: Drunk driver almost struck Bemidji parade spectators

The man told police he was trying to attend the parade himself.

6

The SCHEELS Experience

Whether looking for reliable hunting and fishing gear or new clothing and shoes, Eden Prairie SCHEELS is a one-stop shopping experience for the whole family.

0

Charges: Man fatally shot ex's new partner as he dined at Bloomington restaurant

Criminal charges filed Monday detail an alleged motive in the shooting.

MetallicaLiveLondonWikimedia

Metallica to perform 2 nights in Minneapolis on 2023-24 World Tour

The heavy metal rock band returns to the state for the first time since 2018.

snow, plow

Tuesday storm to dump plowable snow in Minnesota

Snow should reach the Twin Cities Tuesday morning and fall throughout the day.

Related

2012 St. Patrick's Day

Luck of the Irish or climate change? 80 in March used to be impossible

Remember St. Patrick's Day in 2012, when the Twin Cities hit 80 degrees?

gfs-deterministic-minnesota-refc_ptype-1663048800-1664301600-1664388000-40

No, there will not be a September snowstorm in Minnesota

The American weather model has lost its mind and it cannot be trusted this far out.

Lake Nokomis

Why Minnesota's cool spring is a good indicator for a hot summer

Meteorologist Sven Sundgaard explains why our cool spring means there's a good chance Minnesota has a hot summer.

drought

It was the driest September in Twin Cities modern history

Less than a quarter inch of rain fell in September.

December tornado damage near Neillsville Wisconsin

How impossible December tornadoes happened in Minnesota

Meteorologist Sven Sundgaard was as shocked as everyone else when 7 tornadoes twisted through Minnesota 10 days before Christmas.

big rains

The onslaught of 1,000-year rainfall events hammering America

Saint Louis, Kentucky, Illinois twice, Dallas, Mississippi and Death Valley have been slammed by mega-rain events or 1 in  1,000-year rains.

cold, wind chill, freezing

How a rare 'triple dip' La Nina could impact Minnesota's winter

Three consecutive La Nina winters has only happened twice since 1950.

flooding on Interstate 90

Supercharged atmosphere causing more mega-rain events

There could be a mega-rain event Saturday-Sunday in Minnesota, Wisconsin and/or Iowa.