HydroClim Minnesota - February 2010
A monthly electronic newsletter summarizing Minnesota's climate conditions and the resulting impact on water resources. Distributed on the Wednesday following the first Monday of each month.
State Climatology Office - DNR Waters
What happened in January:
- January 2010 precipitation totals were near historical averages across Minnesota. Monthly precipitation (rain plus liquid equivalent of melted snow) totals were within plus or minus one-half inch of average in most locales. Much of the precipitation resulted from two major storms: a heavy snowstorm in western and southern Minnesota on January 6 and 7; and a multifaceted event that brought rain, heavy snow, and blizzard conditions into the state on January 23, 24, and 25.
[see: January 2010 Climate Summary Table | January 6-7 Snow Storm | January 23-25 Storm]
- Monthly mean temperatures for January 2010 were somewhat above average in northern Minnesota, and below average across southwestern and south central Minnesota. Extreme temperature values for December ranged from a high of 45 degrees at Browns Valley on the 16th, to a low of -40 degrees at Orr on the 3rd.
[see: January 2010 Climate Summary Table]
- January 13, 2010 provided an interesting climate footnote for the Twin Cities. A very strong temperature inversion (temperature increasing with height), aided by a deep snow cover throughout the Midwest and warm winds aloft, led to a balloon-measured temperature of 58 degrees F at 4600 feet above the ground at 6:00 PM. This was one of the warmest temperatures ever measured at that height during a winter month in the Twin Cities.
[see: Warm Temperatures in Upper Atmosphere]
Where we stand now:
- The snow depth map prepared on January 28 shows that nearly all of Minnesota has more than eight inches of snow on the ground. The heaviest snow cover is along the Lake Superior highlands where snow depths exceed 24 inches. Some counties in southwestern Minnesota report 15 or more inches of snow on the ground. When compared with historical snow depths for the date, current snow depths across much of southwestern and south central Minnesota rank above the 80th percentile.
[see: Snow Depth Maps]
- Snow water content estimates provided by NOAA's Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center range from two to four inches in most Minnesota locations. The water content of the snow pack in some areas of southwestern Minnesota, the upper reaches of the Red River basin, the Lake Superior highlands, and far north central Minnesota, is modeled to be between four and five inches.
[see: Snow Water Equivalent Estimates]
- The U. S. Drought Monitor, released on January 28, reflects long-term precipitation deficits in a few Minnesota counties. A small area of east central Minnesota remains in the Moderate drought category due to lingering precipitation shortfalls that extend back to early-summer 2008. Impacts from these shortfalls are mostly observed in large-basin water levels. Portions of north central Minnesota are categorized as Abnormally Dry, as that area rebounds from a very dry 2009 growing season. Most of Minnesota is without drought designation. The U. S. Drought Monitor index is a blend of science and subjectivity where drought categories (Moderate, Severe, etc) are based on several indicators.
[see: U.S. Drought Monitor]
- The Lake Superior water level is up three inches from last year at this time but remains below the long-term average. Water levels on many Minnesota lakes and wetlands rose markedly due to the heavy October precipitation. However, water levels on some larger lakes and wetlands complexes in east central Minnesota lakes remain very low. White Bear Lake, on the Ramsey/Washington county border, is just above its all-time record low level.
[see: Corps of Engineers Great Lakes Water Levels | White Bear Lake Water Level]
- The Minnesota Agricultural Statistics Service reported that as of early December, topsoil moisture was 0% Very Short, 2% Short, 70% Adequate, and 28% Surplus. Heavy October 2009 rains amply recharged the soil moisture profile across Minnesota. This greatly improved forestry, horticultural, and agricultural prospects for the early 2010 growing season. However, the saturated topsoils created inconvenience and high costs for the agricultural community during the 2009 harvest, and exacerbates flood potential for the coming spring.
[see: Agricultural Statistics Service Crop Progress and Condition]
- Soil frost depths under sod range from three to twelve inches in the southern Minnesota, eighteen to thirty inches in northern Minnesota. A heavy blanket of snow cover in most locales impeded frost penetration in spite of cold December and January temperatures.
[see: Corps of Engineers Snow, Ice, Frost Data | National Weather Service Frost Depth Data | MnDOT Road Frost Depths]
- Minnesota's lakes are ice covered. As always, please remember that ice conditions are highly variable and those venturing onto water bodies should utilize caution and common sense. Lake and river ice is never completely safe.
[see: DNR Conservation Officer Reports]
- The February precipitation outlook offers equal chances of below-normal, near-normal, or above-normal conditions. Historically, February is Minnesota's driest month with precipitation normals ranging from near one-half inch in northwestern Minnesota to just over one inch in far eastern sections of the state. The median snow depth at the end of February ranges from under 5 inches in southwest Minnesota to over 18 inches on the ground in northeastern Minnesota (greater than 30 inches in the Lake Superior highlands).
[see: Climate Prediction Center 30-day Outlook | February Precipitation Normal Map]
- The February temperature outlook indicates a strong tilt towards above-average conditions. Normal February high temperatures range from the low-teens in the north to near 20 in the south early in the month, climbing to the mid-20s to low 30s by month's end. Normal February low temperatures range from near minus 10 degrees in the far north to the single digits above zero in southern Minnesota early in the month; ascending to the low single digits in the north, mid-teens in the south by the end of February.
[see: Climate Prediction Center 30-day Outlook | February Temperature Normal Map]
- The 90-day precipitation outlook for February through April shows no significant tendencies away from climatological probabilities. The February through April temperature projection indicates a strong tendency towards above-normal temperatures.
[see: Climate Prediction Center 90-day Outlook]
- The National Weather Service produces long-range probabilistic river stage and discharge outlooks for the Red River, Minnesota River, and Mississippi River basins. These products are part of the National Weather Service's Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service (AHPS). The long-range probabilistic outlook issued on January 29 indicates a high likelihood of major flooding along the Red River of the North and its tributaries sometime in the late winter or early spring. The Minnesota River, the Crow River, and the Mississippi River downstream of the Twin Cities also face an elevated risk of spring flooding.
[see: National Weather Service River Forecast Center | Red River Basin Outlook - January 29 | Central and Southern Minnesota River Outlook - January 29]
From the author:
- Locations along the Red River and its tributaries, the Minnesota River, the Crow River, and the Mississippi River downstream of the Twin Cities, are all at an elevated risk for spring flooding. The Fargo/Moorhead area is at the highest risk for major spring flooding. Minnesota homeowners are reminded to consider flood insurance before the snowmelt. Flood insurance becomes effective 30 days after it is purchased, therefore advanced planning is necessary.
[see: DNR Flood Information]
Notes from around the state:
Upcoming dates of note:
- February 18: National Weather Service releases 30/90 day temperature and precipitation outlooks
Web sites featured in this edition:
- http://climate.umn.edu - Minnesota Climatology Working Group, Minnesota DNR Waters and U of M Dept. of Soil, Water, and Climate
- http://www.crh.noaa.gov/mpx - National Weather Service, Chanhassen Forecast Office
- http://www.nohrsc.nws.gov - National Weather Service, National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center, Chanhassen
- http://www.drought.unl.edu - National Drought Mitigation Center
- http://www.lre.usace.army.mil - US Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District
- http://mndnr.gov/waters - Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Waters
- http://www.nass.usda.gov - USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service
- http://www.mvp-wc.usace.army.mil - US Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District
- http://www.crh.noaa.gov/ncrfc - National Weather Service, North Central River Forecast Center
- http://www.dot.state.mn.us/materials - Minnesota Department of Transportation, Materials Engineering and Testing
- http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov - National Weather Service, Climate Prediction Center
- http://www.crh.noaa.gov/fgf - National Weather Service, Grand Forks Forecast Office
To subscribe or unsubscribe to HydroClim Minnesota please notify .
Contributions of information and suggestions are welcome!