The world just had its hottest August on record – but what about Minnesota?


Last month was the hottest August on record across the globe, new analysis has revealed this week, but Minnesota proved to be one of few worldwide exceptions.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that global land and ocean surface temperatures last month was 0.88C, or 1.58F, over the 20th Century average of 15.6C (60.1F).

It's the highest recorded out of 136 years of comparable data, and it was also the sixth month in 2015 that has broken its monthly temperature record (January and April were the exceptions).

But if you look at this NOAA map of the earth's average temperatures for last month, you'll notice that a large area of the Midwest – including Minnesota – didn't follow the global trend.

Cooler, wetter August for Minnesota

If you closer look at data for the contiguous U.S. finds that the country (minus Alaska and Hawaii) did have above average temperatures in August – 0.9F above the 73F average – but this was only the 31st warmest on record.

And while areas of the southwest, northwest and northeastern United States had an August significantly hotter than usual, the average was dragged down by a large area that had below cooler than usual Augusts, including much of the Midwest.

So what characterized Minnesota's August? Well, by the looks of these NOAA maps, it was a mixed month – with the central and southern part of the state seeing temperatures of 0-3F cooler than average, while areas in the northern reaches had one 0-3F warmer.

Overall, Minnesota's average temperature last month was 65.9F, which is 0.4F below the 66.3F average during the 20th Century. It's the coolest August since 2009, while Minnesota's hottest on record was in 1983 and 1947, when it averaged 72.1F.

This averaged out to Minnesota having its 49th coolest August in the past 121 years.
Most living in the state may not be surprised by these statistics – August was not only a cool one, but it was also a wet one.

The NOAA says that Minnesota was included in a "large swath" running through the center of the country that had more than 150 percent its normal rainfall last month.

There has been a lack of blazing hot summer days as well, with the NOAA saying that Minneapolis has only seen 4 days over 90F in 2015, compared to 13 on average.

The weather service also has some figures for how warm or cold individual cities have been so far this year, which shows that between January and August this year:

  • Duluth's average temp was 42.7F – 0.9F above average and the 12th warmest in the last 68 years.
  • International Falls' temp was 39.1F – 1F under average, and the 39th warmest in the last 80 years.
  • St. Paul's temp was 48.9F – 0.1F under average, and the 28th warmest in the last 77 years.
  • Rochester's temp was 46.1F – 1.8F under average and the 44th coolest in the last 93 years.

So what's in store for winter?

Minnesota is no stranger to being the exception to the rule. Last year's frigid winter meant the state was considered by the NOAA to be among the coldest places on Earth between Jan. and June relative to its average temperatures, despite the world as a hole experiencing near record temperature levels.

There is a little more uncertainty over this winter however.

The NOAA and other weather services have been reporting that the United States will experience a strong El Niño event in the Eastern Pacific, which bumps global temperatures by 0.1C on average.

But it also brings changeable weather for America, with predictions of a 95 percent chance that the phenomenon will last throughout the winter expected to bring respite for drought-stricken California, which could have a wetter winter and spring as a result.

While it may bring more precipitation to the West Coast, KARE 11 says that strong El Niños have typically brought below average snow levels to Minnesota – between 35 to 40 inches annually compared to the 47 inch average.

The Minnesota DNR says that the two "very strong" El Niño events since 1950 saw winters that were among the top 6 warmest on record in the Twin Cities.

It did add however that during the one in 1982-1983, despite below normal snowfall levels there were two "big snowfall events," with 16.5 inches falling Dec. 27-28, 1982 and 13.6 inches on Apr. 14, 1983.

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