Minnesota Weather Summary for the 1820’s
Cool First Half, Warmer Second with Closing Drought
A relatively cool first half but a warmer, and near the close, droughty second featured the weather of the 1820’s in the Fort Snelling vicinity. Annual mean temperatures for each of the closing five years were higher than those of the opening five, the last eighteen months of the decade also affected by drought.
Bitter winter cold, perhaps the most notorious aspect of Minnesota climate, predominated over the very first January (1820), and later that year, in mid-October, an extraordinarily early 11-inch snowstorm swept through. Concerns about what constituted a typical frost-free season probably arose in 1822 following late May and early September visitations; also, in June of that year, a period of heavy rains and flooding was experienced. The 1822-23 winter (December-February) was the coldest locally for another fifty years, the succeeding 1823 summer (June-August), however, the warmest for another fifteen. The last five years 1825-1829 were 2 F warmer than the first five, the contrast most evident for March-May and October-December. A noteworthy exception to this, however, was April 1826, unseasonably cold temperatures and late snows, following the already heavy accumulations of February and March, resulting in a spring flood of historic proportions.
Rainfall during the 1820’s, observed only qualitatively (“light”, “heavy”, etc.,), seemed to be adequate for the growing seasons with the exception of 1829. Snowfall, occasionally measured quantitatively, appeared to be moderate to light, the above-mentioned ’25-’26 winter the major exception. Intermittent droughty conditions prevailed from the spring of 1823 through the winter of ’23-’24, but a full-fledged pattern became established over the last half of 1828, prevailing through virtually all of 1829 and into the early years of the coming decade, the 1830’s.