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Climate Observations: July is the only month that has not seen recorded snow in the North Star State.

Mark Seeley

July 2, 2021

3 Min Read
green clover leaves covered with ice
YES, VIRGINIA, SNOW IN SUMMER: Records show that snow has fallen in Minnesota in each summer month except July.bozhdb/Getty Images

A reader of The Farmer from the Red River Valley of Minnesota wrote to ask if July has been the only month historically that it has never snowed in the state. Indeed, the answer is yes, based on the measured climate history of snowfall in the state. However, let me give a few more details because you may find them interesting.

Meteorological summer is defined in the Northern Hemisphere as June through August. For Minnesota, the first four days of June have historically brought a number of occasions with snow flurries — and even some measurable snowfalls. The latest June snow was of June 4, 1935, at Mizpah in Koochiching County, when 1.5 inches was recorded by the observer there. The temperature was in the low to mid 30s (degrees F) with a very low cloud base that day, so the snow did not melt as it fell through the layer of air near the ground.

Traces of snowfall were also reported that day in Roseau and Clay counties. Farmers noted that snow briefly stuck to their wheat crop.

Then again over June 1-2, 1945, with low clouds and much colder-than-normal temperatures, 4 to 5 inches of snow was reported from northeastern Minnesota, while several agricultural counties —including Renville, Wadena and Goodhue — reported snow flurries with temperatures ranging from 35 to 45. That was a very late planting season, and crops were not seriously injured.

There have been other unofficial reports of snowfall in June during the 19th century, but no historical measurements of it recorded in the state climate database.

What about July and beyond?

As for July, there is no recorded evidence from the historical climate network of measurable or even traces of snowfall observed during the month. Low temperatures of 24 to 30 have been recorded in northern portions of the state during July — but only on cold, clear nights.

For the month of August, there is a single observation of snow flurries recorded at the Duluth International Airport dated Aug. 31, 1949. In this case, air temperatures were in the low 40s, with a cloud base very close to the ground ranging from 150 feet to 650 feet. There were moderate winds from the northwest, with dew points in the 30s. No snow was observed at Duluth Harbor, but the airport is about 850 feet above the elevation of Lake Superior, and thus closer to the base of the clouds.

This observation of snow flurries on Aug. 31 represents a real climate anomaly, as the earliest date for observing snow flurries during the next month of the year is Sept. 12, 1923, when the towns of Roseau and Warroad reported snow flurries, with temperatures ranging from 32 to 38 degrees, a low cloud base and northwest winds.

The earliest observation of measurable snowfall in September is not until Sept. 14, 1964, when 0.3 inches was reported from International Falls.

So, based on our climate history as well as our scientific knowledge about the atmospheric requirements needed for snowfall, it is accurate to conclude that the only month in Minnesota with no historical signature for snow is July.

Seeley is University of Minnesota professor emeritus of meteorology and climatology.



About the Author(s)

Mark Seeley

Mark Seeley is an Extension professor emeritus of meteorology and climatology at the University of Minnesota.

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