|HydroClim Minnesota - January 2004
A monthly electronic newsletter summarizing Minnesota 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 HAS HAPPENED
- December 2003 precipitation totals fell short of normal by one quarter to one half inch in approximately two thirds of Minnesota counties. This continued a pattern of dryness that began in mid-July 2003. Precipitation was near to somewhat above normal only in portions of northwestern, west central, and southern Minnesota. Several locations reported between 10 and 20 inches of snowfall for the month. This is near to above average. However, the water equivalent values of the snow events were relatively low.
- a significant snowfall occurred on December 9 and 10 when a slow-moving storm dropped moderate to heavy amounts of snow across the southern one third of Minnesota. Snowfall totals exceeded eight inches in portions of southwestern and east central Minnesota.
- December mean monthly temperatures across Minnesota were warmer than average. In most communities, monthly temperature averages exceeded the norm by six to ten degrees. Extreme temperatures for the month ranged from a high of 55 degrees F on December 1 at Rushford (Fillmore County) to a low of -26 degrees F at Embarrass (St Louis County) on the December 12. Records were set in some locations on December 27, 28, and 29 when maximum temperatures climbed above 40 and minimum temperatures did not drop below the upper 30s.
- a 2003 summary of Minnesota climate conditions was prepared by Dr. Mark Seeley of the University of Minnesota and is available on his Web site.
WHERE WE STAND NOW
- as of December 31, a light to moderate snow cover blankets the northern one third of Minnesota. Snow depths are generally greater than four inches in these areas. In portions of north central and northeastern Minnesota, snow depths exceed eight inches. Snow cover is light (two to four inches) to nonexistent in the southern two thirds of the state. When compared with historical snow depths for the date, present snow depth across most of Minnesota ranks below the 40th percentile. For much of central and southern Minnesota, snow depth ranks below the 20th percentile for this time of year.
- as of December 30, the National Drought Mitigation Center - U. S. Drought Monitor indicated that most of Minnesota was judged to be in the "D0 - Abnormally Dry" or "D1 - Moderate Drought" categories. Southeastern and south central Minnesota counties were rated in the "D2 - Severe Drought" to "D3 - Extreme Drought" classification. The NDMC index is a blend of science and subjectivity where intensity categories are based on six key indicators and numerous supplementary indicators.
- soil frost depths are around 6 to 12 inches in southern Minnesota, 12 to 16 inches in forested areas of northern Minnesota, and 16 to 24 inches in the open landscapes of west central and northwestern Minnesota. Historically, frost steadily progresses deeper into the soil throughout the winter and reaches maximum depth in late February.
- the January precipitation outlook from the Climate Prediction Center shows no significant tendencies away from climatological probabilities. January precipitation normals range from near one half inch in western Minnesota to just over one inch in eastern sections of the state. The median snow cover at the end of January ranges from near 5 inches in the southwest Minnesota, to over 15 inches on the ground in northeastern Minnesota (greater than 24 inches in the Lake Superior highlands). The January temperature outlook indicates a strong bias towards above normal conditions. 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.
- the 90-day precipitation outlook for January through March shows no significant tendencies away from climatological probabilities. The January though March temperature outlook indicates a tilt towards above normal conditions.
- the National Weather Service produces long-range probabilistic river stage and discharge outlooks for the Red River, Minnesota River, and Mississippi River basins. A hydrologic model is initialized using the current conditions of stream flow and soil moisture across a basin. The model is allowed to run into the future with multiple scenarios using more than 30 years of historical climatological data. The climatological data are weighted by 90-day climate outlooks for temperature and precipitation trends. Model output offers a complete range of probabilistic values of stream stage and discharge for numerous forecast points. The product provides a risk assessment tool which can be used in long-range planning decisions involving flooding or low flow concerns. These products are part of the National Weather Service's Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service (AHPS) and are produced near the middle of each month.
FROM THE AUTHOR
- this is the first HydroClim Minnesota newsletter to be distributed using a technology known as a "Listserv". If you have difficulty reading the newsletter, please send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTES FROM AROUND THE STATE
UPCOMING DATES OF NOTE
- January 15, Climate Prediction Center releases 30/90 day temperature and precipitation outlooksWEB SITES FEATURED IN THIS EDITION
- January 30, Interagency Flood Planning Coordination Meeting, Corps of Engineers - St. Paul
- Minnesota Climatology Working Group
http://www.drought.unl.edu - National Drought Mitigation Center
http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov - Climate Prediction Center
http://www.crh.noaa.gov/ahps - National Weather Service, Central Region Headquarters
- Dr. Mark Seeley, Professor of Climatology/Meteorology, University of Minnesota - St. Paul
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