Posted at 4:42 PM on March 3, 2010
by Paul Huttner
NOHRSC snow depth analysis shows over 20" of snow in western Minnesota. Snow cover is down to under 4" in some areas of east central Minnesota.
This is how they write it up in the Hydrologist offices at NWS in Chanhassen. Nice and slow.
Our current weather pattern with days in the lower 40s and nights below freezing is just about right for slowly releasing water from our snowpack into area rivers and streams. That's doesn't mean there won't be any flooding this spring, but it may prevent a potential huge spike in river levels that would occur with a rapid warm up into the 50s and or a heavy early spring rain on snowpack.
I talked briefly with Tony Zaleski at NWS in Chanhassen today; and he seems pretty pleased with the current rate of melt. In his ideal world, he might ask for another 2 to 4 degrees in the afternoons, boosting temps into the mid 40s, but the current daily diurnal temperature variation is just about ideal.
My view of the maps for the next few days continues the nearly ideal weather pattern for slow steady snow melt. The idea is to let some loose during the day, and then lock it down at night with sub freezing temps. This slow release keeps rivers from spiking out of control.
Forecasts still call for a good chance of major flooding on the Minnesota and Red Rivers, but signs are good for flood weary river towns in the Upper Midwest at this point.
Pine tree effect visible from space:
Check out today's Minnesota 1km visible satellite image below. You can clearly see the darker shades from space in eastern Minnesota and northern Wisconsin.
These are the darker coniferous and hardwood forests soaking up sunlight and turning it into long wave radiation that warms the air more efficiently. The whiter areas in western Minnesota and the eastern Dakotas show the more "reflective" prairie biome, and a few clouds today. That's why it's anywhere from 5 to 10 degrees warmer in eastern Minnesota these days.
Enjoy two more days of patchy morning fog from snowmelt, and sunny afternoons in the 40s before a few more clouds roll or way Saturday.