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A scorching September, in one chart


A scorching September, in one chart

Oct 02, 2023 | 2:58 pm ET
By Christopher Ingraham
A scorching September, in one chart
Sunrise at Sax Zim Bog. Getty Images.

The 2023 Twin Cities Marathon, set to take place on Oct. 1, was canceled amid record-breaking heat.

The Twin Cities and St. Cloud set new October high temperatures of 92 and 91 degrees, respectively, while in Fargo the mercury hit 96, crushing the old record by 6 degrees.

2023 has shaped up to be an exceptionally hot year, featuring global temperature anomalies well outside expected ranges.

Minnesota recently notched the hottest September on record, according to meteorologist Sven Sundgaard, with an average monthly temperature of 69.1 recorded at MSP Airport. The prior record was set 126 years ago, in 1897.

September is one of our fastest-warming months, Sundgaard notes, “an obvious sign of a greenhouse-warmed world where the heat is lingering from the summer much longer into autumn than it used to.”

A scorching September, in one chart

Consider this: Since the early 1970s, the average September temperature at MSP has risen by close to 7 degrees Fahrenheit, a remarkably rapid pace of warming.

A Twin Cities resident in the early 1970s could expect average September temperatures in the high 50s. Today, that average has shot past 65 degrees and is inching toward 70. As recently as 1993 the average September temperature registered 55 degrees, about 14 degrees cooler than what we experienced this year.

Temperatures are increasing in other months too, but not nearly as rapidly. Zooming out to look at annual averages, the climate in the Twin Cities is now about 3 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than it was just 50 years ago.

Overall, temperatures in Minnesota are increasing at a rate that’s twice the global average, according to a 2020 Washington Post investigation, making it one of the fastest-warming regions of the world. The composition of the state’s iconic forests is changing, with warmer-weather species starting to push out cold-adapted trees.

As warm as this year has been, it’s sobering to be reminded that September 2023 may very well be the coolest September any of us experience for the rest of our lives.