Are we living in the tropics? Data show this was an unusually wet summer

Published 10:19 am Monday, September 12, 2016

By Catherine Preus

Minneapolis Star Tribune

You haven’t turned on the sprinklers since June. The mosquitoes are ferocious. Your hair has developed alarming frizz. The plantings at the State Fair looked surprisingly perky on Labor Day.

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These aren’t scientific observations, but it’s not your imagination either: August was unusually wet, and so was the summer, according to just-released weather data from the Midwestern Regional Climate Center.

Let’s talk about last month first. In a typical August, we get about 3 to 4 inches of rain in the Twin Cities. This year, we got 7.82, as measured at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport.

That’s twice the average and a couple inches short of the record in 2007. Compare that with the driest August, in 1946, when we got less than a half-inch.

We also got more big rains than usual in the Twin Cities this summer, with eight days between June 1 and Aug. 31 that saw over an inch (let’s call it nine — one day measured 0.99). Normally, we get 2 1/2. And five of those days were, you guessed it, in August. Our wettest day was July 23, when we got 2.17 inches — that was the Saturday we had all planned to dine al fresco, remember?

With a soggy August leading the way, state climatologist Pete Boulay correctly predicted that this summer will go down as the fourth-wettest since records began, in 1895. Precipitation in Minnesota averaged 15.56 inches. To put that in context, last summer was pretty much right on the usual average of 11.72 inches.

In a normal summer, Minnesota gets about an inch of rain a week, sometimes in dribs and drabs, sometimes all at once. We had a few days more than normal of measurable precipitation, meaning more than a hundredth of an inch. Thirty-one days is typical, and we had 35 this summer.

The state’s longest dry stretch, with only traces of rain, came at the end of June — a full seven days with just a drizzle on one of them.

A swath of south-central Minnesota measured the most rainfall this summer, with one station in Waseca reporting 26.44 inches for June to August, and other cities like Owatonna, Pine Island and Redwood Falls also reporting more rain than normal.

Willmar and Olivia recorded about two months’ worth of rain in less than 24 hours, with a station in Willmar reporting 8.09 inches in one day. And north-central areas like Aitkin, Pine and Crow Wing counties were hard-hit this summer, as well.

—Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.

Austin got 5.82 inches of rain in August

The Austin Wastewater Treatment Facility recorded 5.82 inches of rain in August — up from the normal 4.39 inches — with the heaviest being 2.45 inches on Aug. 24. For the year, Austin has received 34.65 inches of rain at the waster treatment facility, up from the normal 26.98 inches. The record high for a year was 38.61 in 1993.