HydroClim Minnesota - January 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 December:
- December 2009 precipitation was heavy across Minnesota. Monthly precipitation (liquid equivalent of melted snow) totals exceeded historical averages by one to two inches in many communities. For some locations, monthly snowfall (and its liquid equivalent) approached the all-time records for the month of December. Much of the precipitation resulted from two major snow storms, one on December 8 and 9, the other lingering from December 23 through December 26. During both of these events, snowfall totals in excess of 12 inches were common across large sections of the state. The heavy snows combined with high winds to create significant travel hazards.
[see: December 2009 Climate Summary Table | December 8-9 Snow Storm | December 23-26 Snow Storm]
- In contrast to a very mild November, monthly mean temperatures for December 2009 were near to somewhat below average across Minnesota. Extreme temperature values for December ranged from a high of 54 degrees at Windom on the 1st, to a low of -26 degrees in Humboldt (Kittson County) on the 9th.
[see: December 2009 Climate Summary Table]
Where we stand now:
- The snow depth map prepared on December 31 shows that nearly all of Minnesota has more than eight inches of snow on the ground. The heaviest snow cover is in southwestern Minnesota where 15 or more inches of snow depth is reported, and along the Lake Superior highlands where snow depths exceed 18 inches. When compared with historical snow depths for the date, current snow depths in many locales rank above the 80th percentile. The snow depth ranking in southwestern Minnesota counties tops the 95th percentile, a one in twenty-year occurrence.
[see: Snow Depth Maps]
- The U. S. Drought Monitor, released on December 31, 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. Portions of north central and northeast 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 four inches from last year at this time but remains somewhat 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 reports that as of December 6, topsoil moisture was 0% Very Short, 2% Short, 70% Adequate, and 28% Surplus. The heavy October 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 also led to inconvenience and high costs for the agricultural community. Roughly 7% of Minnesota's corn crop was yet to be harvested as of December 20.
[see: Agricultural Statistics Service Crop Progress and Condition]
- Soil frost depths under sod range from six inches in the southern Minnesota, to eighteen inches in the northern Minnesota. A heavy blanket of snow cover in most locales has slowed frost penetration in spite of cold December and early-January temperatures. Deeper frost may be observed in some sections of northeastern Minnesota where snow cover was sparse until the fourth week of December.
[see: Corps of Engineers Snow, Ice, Frost Data | National Weather Service Frost Depth Data | MnDOT Road Frost Depths]
- Minnesota's lakes are ice covered. Cold temperatures in December created favorable ice-making conditions despite heavy December snowfalls. 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 January precipitation outlook tilts towards below-average snowfall in the northern two-thirds of Minnesota, with no significant tendencies away from climatological probabilities in the southern one-third of the state. 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 offers equal chances of below-normal, near-normal, or above-normal conditions. 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 shows no significant tendencies away from climatological probabilities. The January through March 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 5 indicates a high likelihood of flooding along the Red River of the North and its tributaries sometime in the late winter or early spring.
[see: National Weather Service River Forecast Center | Red River Basin Outlook - January 5, 2010]
From the author:
Notes from around the state:
Upcoming dates of note:
- January 21: National Weather Service releases 30/90 day temperature and precipitation outlooks
- January 28: Interagency Flood Outlook Meeting - U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Building, St. Paul
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.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 Forecast Office, Grand Forks
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