October 2003 Saint Cloud Weather Summary

This Month's Daily Statistics

     October 2003 was the month that the National Weather Service issued its winter outlook. For most of the country, it was "we don't know." The weather across the country did little to generate any confidence in any long-range forecast since the major flow pattern switched three times, twice in the last 10 days of the month. In Saint Cloud, these major shifts changed from a near-record warm and dry pattern to a cold and dry pattern and finished the past three days in a cold and wet pattern.

     Since the warm pattern dominated the first 24 days of the month, the monthly statistics from the Saint Cloud Municipal Airport showed a warm and dry October. The mean temperature for the month was 48.2°F, nearly three degrees above normal. The October 2003 temperature only tied 2003 for the 37th mildest October out of the 124 Octobers in Saint Cloud weather records. The warm weather came in two streaks: between October 4 and 12 when 2 record temperature were broken and another 3 records were tied (see daily October records), and between October 18 and 20, all with highs in the middle to upper 70's. The first 24 days of October had an average high of 65.7°F and a mean temperature of 51.9°F, which would have ranked as the 11th warmest October on record. However, one major pattern shift allowed much colder air into Minnesota. The average high temperature of October's final week was 40.3°F, typical of November 10th. Last week's mean temperature was 35.7°F, more than 16 degrees colder than the average for the first 24 days of October (see daily October statistics).

     The growing season came to an abrupt end on October 2nd with a low temperature of 19°F. According to the median frost date data from the Minnesota State Climatologist Office, this hard freeze came 15 days earlier than normal.

     The dry weather that began in mid-summer continued through most of October. Saint Cloud's total precipitation for October 2003 was 1.10 inch, more than an inch below normal. This total tied 1947 and 1992 for the 39th driest October out of 115 years on record. However, the October rainfall was also very changeable. For the first 23 days of October, there were only two days with measurable rainfall. The dry weather was during the warm period, leading to many grass and brush fires, especially during the last warm period of October 18-20. When Saint Cloud changed to a colder pattern, more rain, sleet, and snow fell. In fact, Saint Cloud picked up measurable precipitation during 6 of the final 8 days of the month, including every day during October 26-30. This was only the fifth such streak in October in the past 32 years. The longest October streak of consecutive precipitation days is 8 days, first set on 20-27 October 1908 and tied on 11-18 October 1928 and 5-12 October 1982 (see list of longest precipitation streaks). While the late October precipitation more than doubled the amount of precipitation for the month, it only accounted for .50 inch. Thus, Saint Cloud rainfall since July 15 is now nearly 4.5 inches below normal (see October and Growing Season Rainfall). While conditions have eased somewhat since October 20th, the Minnesota State Climatologist Office has issued a report on the dry conditions since July 15. Some parts of the state have precipitation deficits of 8-9 inches with nearly 6 inches deficits reported on the Kandiyohi/Stearns County border. The dry conditions continue to be the most severe in southeast Minnesota, which has been rated in third stage or extreme drought in this week's drought monitor from National Drought Mitigation Center. Central Minnesota is rated as being in a moderate drought. These conditions have been eased by this week's precipitation, falling at a time when the ground isn't frozen and the use by vegetation is much reduced from a month ago.

      There is one more daily October record to discuss, and believe it or not, it's in the snowfall category. The first snowflakes of the cold season fell on October 26th as rain mixed with wet snow and sleet at times. For about three hours Tuesday evening, some of the wet snow actually stuck to the ground. A total of 0.1 inch did briefly accumulation in Saint Cloud that evening before melting, and that tied a record! In Saint Cloud, the only previous measurable snowfall on October 29th had been in 1967 (Note that the earliest snowfall in Saint Cloud history was on September 21, 1995 when 0.2 inch fell). This was a far cry from last October when 6.4 inches fell, only 0.4 inch away from the October record (see ten snowiest Octobers in Saint Cloud).

      OK, I've put it off, hoping you'd forget. Besides dirty looks during the raw, cloudy weather of the past week, the most frequent remark I heard this past month was, "What's the weather going to be like this winter?" Given that the steering winds have changed twice in the past week, you can probably guess my answer, "I don't know and anyone who says he/she does is fooling him/herself at best." The current weather pattern, which has brought cooler and wetter weather to fire-scorched southern California, will continue to produce cool weather and frequent storm passages to Minnesota well into the next week. Will this pattern persist? Don't ask!

    October 2003 Statistics

Temperatures (°F)
October 2003
Average High Temperature (°F)
Average Low Temperature (°F)
Mean Temperature for September (°F)
October Temperature Extremes
Warmest High Temperature for October 2003 (°F)
October 7th
(broke record; see below)
Coldest High Temperature for October 2003 (°F)
October 29th
Warmest Low Temperature for October 2003 (°F)
October 9th
(tied record; see below)
Coldest Low Temperature for October 2003 (°F)
October 2nd
Record Temperatures in October 2003
Old Record
Daily Record Warm High
October 7th
85°F in 1997
Daily Record Warm High
82°F (tied record)
October 8th
set in 1905
Daily Record Warm Low
59°F (tied record)
October 9th
set in 1973
Daily Record Warm Average Temperature
October 9th
68°F in 1930
Daily Record Warm Low
57°F (tied record)
October 10th
set in 1930,1947,1984
Precipitation (in)
This Year
October 2003 Precipitation (in)
2003 Late Warm Season (July 15-Oct 31) Precipitation (in)
2003 Growing Season (Apr-Oct) Precipitation (in)
Precipitation Thresholds
Number of Days
October 2003 Days with Measurable (>= 0.01 inch) Precipitation
October 2003 Days with >= 0.10 inch Precipitation
October 2003 Days with >= 0.25 inch Precipitation
October 2003 Days with >= 0.50 inch Precipitation
October 2003 Days with >= 1.00 inch Precipitation
October Precipitation Extremes
Precipitation (in)
Most Daily Precipitation in October 2003
October 11th
Record Precipitation in October 2003
Precipitation (in)
Old Record
No October Precipitation Records Set
Snowfall (in)
This Year
October 2003 Snowfall (in)
Most Daily Precipitation in October 2003
0.1 (tied record; see below)
October 29th
Record Snowfall in October 2003
Snowfall (in)
Old Record
Daily Record Snowfall
0.1 (tied record)
October 29th


Historic temperature data provided courtesy of the Saint Cloud National Weather Service Office, and NOAA/NWS
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