HydroClim Minnesota - January 2011
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
prepared: January 5, 2011
What happened in December 2010:
- December 2010 precipitation totals were above historical averages in nearly all Minnesota counties. In many locations, monthly precipitation totals exceeded average by one to two inches. All-time high December precipitation totals were reported in communities such as Rochester (3.68 inches), Jordan (3.30 inches), and Hutchinson (3.12 inches). Most of December's precipitation came in the form of snow. Record-setting December snowfall totals were common across southern and central Minnesota. Numerous observers in these areas reported three or more feet of snow for the month, roughly triple the historical average.
[see: December 2010 Climate Summary Table | December Precipitation Departure from Normal]
- December 2010 was notable for the number, and intensity, of winter storms. Widespread, heavy snowfalls occurred on at least five occasions somewhere in Minnesota. Snowfall totals of eight or more inches were common. In some events snowfall totals exceeded 12 inches, including a 17.1 inch total on December 10-11 measured at the Twin Cities International Airport. This was the largest December snowfall on record for the Twin Cities, and was largely responsible for the collapse of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. The winter storms, often accompanied by high winds producing blizzard conditions, led to frequent travel hazards across the state.
[see: Winter Storm: December 3-4 | Winter Storm: December 10-11 | Winter Storm: December 15-16 | Winter Storm: December 20-21 | Winter Storm: December 30-January 1]
- Monthly mean temperatures for December 2010 were below average across Minnesota, falling short of the historical mean by one to four degrees. Cold early-December temperatures were somewhat offset by warmer-than-average temperatures at month's end. Extreme temperature values for December ranged from a high of 48 degrees at Winona on the 30th, to a low of -33 degrees at a number of north central and northeastern Minnesota locations on the 13th.
[see: December 2010 Climate Summary Table]
Where we stand now:
- Large areas of western and northern Minnesota report more than 16 inches of snow cover as of this writing. For most of eastern and southern Minnesota, snow depths range from 8 to 12 inches. In nearly all locales, snow depths are at or above the median for the date.
[see: NWS Snow Depth Estimation Map | Weekly Snow Depth Maps]
- The U. S. Drought Monitor, released on December 28, depicts most of Cook County and portions of Lake County as undergoing Moderate drought. Other northeastern Minnesota areas are considered to be Abnormally Dry. Heavy rain and snow in this area during the autumn and early winter improved the situation significantly, but did not completely erase the impacts of long-term precipitation deficits. Although the U.S. Drought Monitor no longer depicts drought in east central Minnesota, some hydrologic systems in this area remain impacted by long-term dryness that began in June of 2008. This long-term precipitation anomaly is responsible for low water levels in larger lakes and wetland complexes across Anoka, Ramsey, Chisago, and Washington counties. The remainder 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 U.S. Geological Survey reports that stream discharge values (where winter monitoring is possible) at many river monitoring locations across Minnesota are near all-time highs for the date. Conversely, stream discharge values in northern Lake County rivers remain low due to long-term precipitation deficits.
[see: USGS Streamflow]
- The Lake Superior water level is down ten inches from last year at this time and down 15 inches from the long-term seasonal average. Water levels on a few larger lakes in east central Minnesota lakes remain very low. White Bear Lake, on the Ramsey/Washington county border is at an all-time record low level mark.
[see: Corps of Engineers Great Lakes Water Levels | White Bear Lake Water Level]
- As of mid-November, the Minnesota Agricultural Statistics Service reported that topsoil moisture was 0% Very Short, 1% Short, 78% Adequate, and 21% Surplus. Late-autumn conditions act as a predictor of the soil moisture situation entering the coming growing season.
[see: Agricultural Statistics Service Crop Progress and Condition]
- The upper layer of the soil profile is frozen throughout Minnesota. However, snow cover has inhibited frost penetration despite a typical winter temperature regime. Frost depths under sod generally range from three to fifteen inches.
[see: Corps of Engineers Snow, Ice, Frost Data | MnDOT Road Frost Depths | National Weather Service Frost Depth Data]
- Minnesota's lakes and rivers are ice covered. However, ice formation was hindered in many locations by early and abundant winter snow cover. Ice conditions are highly variable. Lake and river ice is never completely safe for walking or driving.
[see: DNR Conservation Officer Reports]
- The January precipitation outlook depicts no significant tendencies away from historical climatological probabilities across Minnesota. January precipitation normals range from near one-half inch of liquid equivalent in western Minnesota to just over one inch liquid in eastern sections of the state. The median snow cover at the end of January ranges from near 5 inches in southwest Minnesota, to over 15 inches on the ground in northeastern Minnesota (greater than 24 inches in the Lake Superior highlands).
[see: Climate Prediction Center 30-day Outlook | January Precipitation Normal Map]
- The January temperature outlook indicates no significant tendencies away from historical climatological probabilities across Minnesota. Historically, January is Minnesota's coldest month. Normal January high temperatures range the low-teens in the north, to near 20 in the south. Normal January lows range from near minus 10 degrees in the far north, to the single digits above zero in southern Minnesota.
[see: Climate Prediction Center 30-day Outlook | January Temperature Normal Map]
- The 90-day precipitation outlook for January through March tilts toward above-normal conditions in the northern one-half of Minnesota, with no significant tendencies away from historical climatological probabilities in southern Minnesota. The January through March temperature projection tilts towards below-normal conditions across Minnesota.
[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).
[see: National Weather Service North Central River Forecast Center]
From the author:
- A note of concern ... saturated soils in most major watersheds, along with abundant snow cover and high winter stream base flows, enhance the possibility of spring flooding along Minnesota's rivers and streams in 2011.
Notes from around the state:
Upcoming dates of note:
- January 20: National Weather Service releases 30/90 day temperature and precipitation outlooks
- January 27: Annual Spring Flood Outlook Meeting - U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District
Web sites featured in this edition:
- http://climate.umn.edu - Minnesota Climatology Working Group, Minnesota DNR Eco/Water Resources and U of M Dept. of Soil, Water, and Climate
- http://water.weather.gov/ahps - National Weather Service, Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service
- http://www.crh.noaa.gov/mpx - National Weather Service, Weather Forecast Office - Chanhassen
- http://www.nohrsc.noaa.gov - National Weather Service, National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center
- http://www.drought.unl.edu - National Drought Mitigation Center
- http://water.usgs.gov/cgi-bin/dailyMainW?state=mn&map_type=weekd - U.S. Geological Survey
- http://www.lre.usace.army.mil - US Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District
- http://mndnr.gov/waters - Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Ecological and Water Resources
- 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.dot.state.mn.us/materials - Minnesota Department of Transportation, Materials and Road Research
- http://www.crh.noaa.gov/ncrfc - National Weather Service, North Central River Forecast Center
- http://mndnr.gov/enforcement - Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Enforcement
- http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov - National Weather Service, Climate Prediction Center
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