Posted at 7:15 PM on March 5, 2013
by Paul Huttner
"There really is no bad weather, just different kinds of good weather."
That old saying about weather rings true this week in Minnesota.
As we dig out from the 2nd biggest snowstorm this winter, many of us have mixed feelings about our recent snow blitz and hesitant spring.
The good side?
Plenty of "quality" late season snowfall to play in and enjoy for winter enthusiasts after a scarce winter last year. Another big plus? All that white gold will turn into liquid gold for our thirsty rivers and lakes this spring.
Yet another brutal commute under our belts, a sort of winter combat thanks to our snowy barrage that began in February. And did you open the latest bill from your snowplow guy? Ouch. I didn't need an extra car payment this month. But I realize my "bill" is somebody's "paycheck."
And then there are the groans from many of you who are yearning for spring. I hear you. After last year's record warmth, our "old fashioned" March seems unusually harsh. And yes, this storm turned tragically fatal as a truck plunged into the Red Cedar River in Menomonie. It's a blunt reminder that weather really is sometimes life threatening in these parts.
In this Updraft we count up the inches, check the season snow gauge, and look for rays of sunshine in the forecast.
9.3" "official" snow total at MSP Airport
2nd biggest storm this winter in the metro (10.5" on December 9th)
Biggest March snowfall in 6 years at MSP Airport
44.8" season snowfall to date at MSP Airport
1st time this winter we've reached above average snowfall (+1")
15" snow depth Tuesday PM at the Weather Lab in Deephaven
This storm had the Twin Cities in the path. A solid swath of 5" to 9" ran right through the metro from St. Cloud to Rochester.
Here are some selected snowfall totals. The complete list from Twin Cities NWS is here.
PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TWIN CITIES/CHANHASSEN MN
531 PM CST TUE MAR 05 2013
...SNOWFALL TOTALS FROM THE MARCH 4TH-5TH STORM...
SNOW REPORTS LISTED BY AMOUNT
INCHES LOCATION ST COUNTY TIME
------ ----------------------- -- -------------- -------
10.00 LAKEVILLE MN DAKOTA 0231 PM
9.70 DASSEL MN MEEKER 0800 AM
9.60 3 NE FARIBAULT MN RICE 0806 AM
9.40 RED WING MN GOODHUE 0114 PM
9.00 3 SE PRIOR LAKE MN SCOTT 0457 PM
9.00 CAMBRIDGE MN ISANTI 0405 PM
9.00 APPLE VALLEY MN DAKOTA 0250 PM
9.00 ST PETER MN NICOLLET 0114 PM
9.00 MINNEAPOLIS MN HENNEPIN 1159 AM
MEASURED AT THE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT.
9.00 MONTICELLO MN WRIGHT 1130 AM
9.00 MANKATO MN BLUE EARTH 1027 AM
9.00 HUTCHINSON MN MCLEOD 1011 AM
9.00 1 S OWATONNA MN STEELE 0930 AM
9.00 RICHFIELD MN HENNEPIN 0850 AM
9.00 ST PETER MN NICOLLET 0846 AM
9.00 HASTINGS MN DAKOTA 0834 AM
LOCK AND DAM 2
9.00 FARMINGTON MN DAKOTA 0834 AM
8.90 NEW HOPE MN HENNEPIN 1130 AM
8.80 INVER GROVE HEIGHTS MN DAKOTA 0755 AM
8.50 MILACA MN MILLE LACS 0834 AM
8.50 MAPLEWOOD MN RAMSEY 0800 AM
MEASURED IN NORTH MAPLEWOOD
8.20 WASECA MN WASECA 0806 AM
8.00 EDEN PRAIRIE MN HENNEPIN 0948 AM
8.00 ST CLOUD MN STEARNS 0800 AM
8.00 GLENCOE MN MCLEOD 0800 AM
8.00 FARIBAULT MN RICE 0751 AM
7.90 SHAKOPEE MN SCOTT 0854 AM.
7.80 ANOKA MN ANOKA 0157 PM
7.80 CHANHASSEN MN CARVER 1200 PM
STORM TOTAL MEASURED AT THE NWSFO IN
Nipping away at drought:
I'm happy I chose a career in meteorology instead of hydrology.
Lately people are understandably confused when thinking about our recent snowfall, and ask me how we can still be in "drought?"
As complicated as weather is, hydrology can make your eyes glaze over. The talented professionals who understand drought and flood better than I tell me there are really 3 different kinds of "drought."
I'm borrowing a bit from Wikipedia here and editing on my own...but here are some good explanations of various types of drought and how I see our recent weather patterns having an impact.
1) Meteorological drought occurs when there is a prolonged period with less than average precipitation. Meteorological drought usually precedes the other kinds of drought.
My Take: The "meteorological" part of our drought has essentially ended in the metro and much of Minnesota. Since December 1st we are running above average on precipitation (about +1") and snowfall. (+0.7") It's not overwhelmingly enough above average to have ended other phases of the drought yet, but the trend is encouraging as we head into spring 2013.
2) Hydrological drought happens when water reserves available in sources such as aquifers, lakes and reservoirs fall below the statistical average. Hydrological drought tends to show up more slowly because it involves stored water that is used but not replenished. Like an agricultural drought, this can be triggered by more than just a loss of rainfall.
My Take: There is now 3" to 6"+ water content (SWE) in snow pack in western Minnesota in the Red & Minnesota River watersheds. This will increase the prospects for spring flooding on these rivers and many tributaries depending on how much more rain & snow we se in the next 30-60 days...and how fast we warm up.
Significant snowpack now over much of Minnesota will help boost river & lake levels somewhat this spring...but probably not back to "normal" levels unless we see much above average rain & snow in the next 60 days.
Overall, our wetter pattern is helping to ease (but not completely erase) hydrological drought in Minnesota.
3) Agricultural drought affects crop production and soils, it is caused by an extended period of below average precipitation.
My Take: The frozen soils means our snowfall is "locked out" from doing much good for replenishing thirsty soils this spring. We'll need much above average rainfall after the thaw to bust the "Ag Drought."
The Minnesota Climate Working Group has an excellent more detailed look at our current drought status.
Looking ahead, this spring is shaping up to feature a good chance of flooding on the Red River and possibly the Minnesota & Mississippi Rivers, while the agricultural or "soils" drought lingers until the ground thaws and above average rainfall returns.
Flood and drought at the same time? Yep. Only in Minnesota.
Brighter Days Ahead:
Tuesday's late PM burst of sunshine was a preview of coming attractions.
Look foor plenty of sunshine Wednesday through Friday. Chilly nights will give way to increasingly intense march sun...and highs should soar to the low 30s the next 2 days...then well into the mid-30s Friday.
Is that rain in the forecast?
I know..try not to get to excited (or depressed!) Remember I'm just the messenger.
But the next weather system is aiming this way Friday night and Saturday. It looks warm enough to fall as rain Friday night & Saturday. The big question is will it be cold enough at ground level for freezing rain...some glaze ice on cars and roadways Friday night into Saturday morning.
We'll see...let's just come up for air after Tuesday's snow blitz.
A sure sign of spring? Clocks go ahead 1 hour Saturday night. Sunset on Sunday? 7:13pm...as in light until 7:30 in the evening!
What a concept.
Brighter days are truly close at hand. hang in there!
Did I turn of the outdoor "seasonal decorative lights" on the timer yet?