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March was one cold month in west central Minnesota

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news Willmar, 56201
West Central Tribune
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Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

WILLMAR — Feel like winter just will not go away? Wondering if the Easter Bunny is mimicking the Groundhog and predicting an even longer winter?

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It’s not all in your head. Statistics from the state climatologist show that March 2013 will likely go down as the coldest month, as measured in departure from normal temperatures, in more than six years.

State Climatologist Pete Boulay posted the stats Wednesday on the Minnesota Climatology Working Group’s webpage that show this month’s temperatures have been 6.3 degrees below normal. Boulay used the average temperature at the Twin Cities International Airport, which was 25.3 degrees through Tuesday.

If the weather forecast holds true through Sunday, this will be the coldest month since February 2007, when temps were 6.6 degrees below normal.

Certainly, memories of March 2012 are not helping anyone’s attitude toward the winter weather right now.

Boulay’s statistics show that temperatures were 15.5 degrees above normal last March, with an average of 48.3 degrees. It was the warmest March on record, with modern record dating back to 1872.

But don’t think we’re setting any records with the current temperatures. It would have to be about 1.5 degrees colder to get this month into the 15 coldest Marches in the record book. The coldest March on record was 1899, with an average temp of 17.1 degrees.

The Twin Cities temperature average is higher than other areas in the region, Boulay says. International Falls and Rochester have been about 9 degrees below normal and Fargo, N.D., has been 11 degrees below the normal temperature. Duluth has been the “warm” spot with temperatures that are only 5.7 degrees below normal.

The current weather pattern isn’t changing, as the forecast from the National Weather Service for Willmar shows warmer temperatures for today and then colder temperatures and the possibility of freezing rain and snow on the weekend. Winter is coming back on Monday, with temperatures across the region between 15 and 20 degrees below the seasonal average.

Monday’s high temp for Willmar is expected to be 29 degrees, with northwest winds from 15 to 20 mph before the high temps return to 35 and 44 on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Using state climatology data and baseball data from Baseball Almanac, Boulay also released data on the weather conditions on the opening day of the Minnesota Twins, during the seasons when the team has played outside. The data includes Metropolitan Stadium openers from 1961 to 1981 and since 2010 at Target Field. The average opening day temperature over the 24 years is 60 degrees.

The Twins start their season Monday, which will be the earliest outdoor home opener in team history, by taking on the Detroit Tigers. First pitch is a 3:10 p.m.

The statistics show that the coldest home opener was April 14, 1962, with a high temp of 34 degrees and 21 mph northwest winds. The Twins lost that game 12-5 to the California Angels. The warmest opener was April 22, 1980, when the mercury reached 90 degrees. The Twins beat the Angels that day by a score of 8-1.

And, since returning to open air in 2010, the Twins are 2-1 on opening day. The team posted wins in 2010 and 2011, when temperatures were in the 60s. The 2012 opener, with a high temp of 48 degrees, was a loss to the Angels.

As the calendar turns to April, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will again issue weekly crop progress reports, measuring the progress Minnesota’s farmers are making on tillage and planting of the year’s crops. The first report is due out Monday afternoon.

The first crop report issued last year, on April 2, showed that farmers had already completed 3 percent of the land preparation for corn and 1 percent for soybeans, and that full-scale field work would begin on April 12, a week ahead of the five-year average date of April 19.

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Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

(320) 214-4373
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