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Predictably perhaps, Minnesota weather ranks among the least predictable


Those of us who live here might have forecast this. But when a well-known number cruncher sat down to calculate where America's most unpredictable weather is found, Minnesota and some of neighbors ranked near the top of the list.

At his FiveThirtyEight blog, Nate Silver analyzed weather records and determined that seven of the eight most volatile weather markets in the country are in Minnesota or an adjacent state.

Duluth was the only Minnesota city in that group, placing sixth. But Fargo, Sioux Falls, and Houghton were also among the wildest half-dozen. Bismark and Aberdeen were right behind.

And the grand champion is a locale that may have been named for how quickly the weather changes: Rapid City, South Dakota.

Among the country's 50 largest metro areas, Silver found the Twin Cities to have the third most volatile weather.

Silver arrived at his rankings by comparing daily weather patterns with the long-term averages in the same area. So while Honolulu deviates very little from its customary weather pattern, Rapid City is prone dramatic swings away from its average.

MPR meteorologist Paul Huttner says the volatility of the Upper Midwest is not news to forecasters. He says within the profession Minnesota is known as "the Super Bowl of weather."

A stretch of championship-caliber meteorology came along last April, when Minnesota Weather Blog reminds us a snowstorm and 60-degree temperatures arrived in quick succession.

Silver also looked at precipitation levels and determined that Houghton – famous for its lake effect snows – is the least predictable.

In a follow-up to Silver's study that might border on hair-splitting, bloggers at the Washington Post argued that he didn't truly measure the most unpredictable weather. The Capital Weather Gang says a real gauge of unpredictability would involve looking at how much the local forecast deviates from the weather that actually arrives.

Meanwhile, some in South Dakota are reveling in their top-of-the-heap status. KELO of Sioux Falls noted the state was also recently named the second most generous in its contributions to charities – demonstrating that it's a state of big hearts and wild weather.

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