2013's weather could have been worse

  • Article by: BILL MCAULIFFE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 8, 2014 - 8:17 AM

Mother Nature behaved herself in Minnesota in 2013.

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Laura and John Reinhardt walked with umbrellas in the snow around Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis on Monday, April 22, 2013.

Photo: RENEE JONES SCHNEIDER , Star Tribune

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Mother Nature behaved herself in Minnesota in 2013.

Oh, there were lapses: the April ice-and-snow storm that caused $26 million in damage to public structures and utilities across southwestern Minnesota, and the first-days-of-summer wind and rain storms that caused flooding and took down thousands of trees across the region, including 3,000 in Minneapolis alone. But those were the year’s only federally declared disasters.

Sure, a very late spring caused farmers to make “prevented planting” claims on 10 to 20 times the typical number of acres, and there was the nearly 3 feet of snow that fell Dec. 2-4 near Two Harbors. But many farmers planted alternate crops, and snow is rarely a disaster in northern Minnesota.

As for tornadoes, only 15 were identified, the fewest since 1990. The makings of another major spring flood along the Red River simply seeped into unusually dry and warm ground. Drought chatter was overwhelmed by plentiful precipitation in southeast and northwest Minnesota.

The state’s long-term warming trend took a break, with researchers hoping that deep cold in the year’s final weeks could blunt another potential disaster — the spread of the emerald ash borer from northwestern Wisconsin into Minnesota’s North Woods.

Does that mean the weather will bring comfort more than calamity in 2014?

Unlikely, said University of Minnesota Extension climatologist Mark Seeley. Minnesota is still a place where continental air masses collide, often violently, making weather a continuing drama. “That is how Mother Nature behaves,” he said.

The year in weather, month by month.

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