A Reluctant Spring?
Last March was a gift, but most years Minnesotans earn their spring. This will be one of those years. We'll see 32 F next week, but it won't get warm enough, fast enough, to trigger a sudden snowy meltdown. We'll have snow on the ground into early March, chilling the air from below, limiting how mild it can get.
I've gone on record with my (reckless) 2013 outlook: gradual easing of the drought over Minnesota, but more severe storms and tornadoes. This summer should be warmer and stickier than normal, but not the steamy record-setter 2012 was.
Southern Minnesota has seen 3 separate 1 in 1,000 year floods since 2004. I expect more jaw-dropping "Black Swan" USA weather events in 2013 due to more heat and energy in the system; hopefully not another Sandy.
But expect the unexpected.
No dramatic warm fronts are brewing anytime soon, any snow next Tuesday will be light and slushy - most roads wet - a vague hint of spring to come. With Gulf moisture on the increase, and no rapid temperature spikes, I suspect we'll pick up at least another 10 inches of snow, on top of the 35" that's already fallen.
A 45 inch winter? That's happened only a third of the winters since 2000; only once since 2005. Nice to see it can still snow!
Friday Snowfall. According to National Weather Service reports most of the metro did pick anywhere from 2-5", generally more on the south/east side of the Twin Cities. Around 5" was reported at Lakeville and Apple Valley, 4.5" at White Bear Lake. Many close-in suburbs saw less than 3" or so, still enough to shovel, plow and turn some streets into skating rinks.
WInter Snowfall Records. Keep in mind official snow (and rain) records were kept at the Chanhassen NWS between 2000 and 2004, but looking back at the least 13 years we've only had 4 winters with more than 45" of snow. The new 30 year rolling average (1981-2010) is 54.4". At the rate we're going I wouldn't be at all surprised for us to see at least 45" for much of the metro area this winter. 125 years of Twin Cities snowfall records here, courtesy of the Minnesota Climatology Working Group.
More Snow = Slightly Elevated Flood Risk for Red River Valley? Here's an excerpt from Mark Seeley in his weekly Weathertalk Newsletter: "NOAA's National Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center reports that over western portions of Minnesota the snow pack water content varies from 2 to 5 inches as of February 20, 2013. These water contents are relatively high as the moisture content of January and February snows has been more than normal. The higher water contents in the southern end of the Red River Valley are of concern for spring flood forecasting. You can follow the week to week assessments of snow cover and snow water content using their web site at http://www.nohrsc.nws.gov/"
..."The CPC also sees good chances for some continued alleviation of drought across our state through the end of May. The hydrologic features (lake levels and stream flows) will benefit from above normal precipitation whether it comes as rain or snow. The soil will not benefit much until it thaws out later in the spring. Right now soil frost depths still range from 20-40 inches deep in many areas and will take some time to thaw out..."
Graphic credit above: "Arctic sea ice volume in thousands of cubic kilometers during the September minimum in 1979 compared to 2012, as estimated by the University of Washington PIOMAS model. Arctic seas ice volume has declined by more than a factor of five. Image credit; Andy Lee Robinson."
Photo credit above: "Thousands of protestors gather at the National Mall in Washington calling on President Barack Obama to reject the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada, as well as act to limit carbon pollution from power plants and 'move beyond' coal and natural gas, Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013." (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta).