HydroClim Minnesota for Early December 2013

A monthly electronic newsletter summarizing Minnesota's climate conditions and the resulting impact on water resources. Distributed on the first Thursday of the month.

State Climatology Office - DNR Division of Ecological and Water Resources, St. Paul
distributed: December 5, 2013

What happened in November 2013:

  • November precipitation totals were below historical averages in most Minnesota counties. For many Minnesota locales, November precipitation totals were less than one-half inch and fell short of long-term averages by more than an inch.
  • Average monthly temperatures for November in Minnesota were somewhat below historical averages. Extremes for the month ranged from a high of 66 degrees at Wheaton (Traverse County) on the 13th, to a low of -13 degrees at Argyle (Marshall County) and Camp Norris (Lake of the Woods County) on the 24th.

Where we stand now:

  • Snow depths across Minnesota generally range from a trace in southeastern counties to over 24 inches along the Lake Superior highlands of northeast Minnesota. Much of the northern one-third of Minnesota reports at least one foot of snow cover.

  • The U. S. Drought Monitor, released on December 5, places large sections of the southern one-half of Minnesota, and a small area of northwest Minnesota, in the Moderate Drought category. Roughly one-quarter of the state is designated as undergoing Moderate Drought. The U. S. Drought Monitor index is a blend of science and subjectivity where drought categories (Moderate, Severe, etc.) are based on several indicators.
  • The U.S. Geological Survey reports that stream discharge values, where winter monitoring is possible, are near the middle of the historical data distribution for most Minnesota gauging locations.
  • In their final report of the season (November 25), the Minnesota Agricultural Statistics Service reported that topsoil moisture was Adequate across 86% of the state. Subsoil moisture was said to be 23% Very Short or Short. Soil moisture measurements made at two University of Minnesota Research and Outreach Centers in early-November indicated near-average conditions at these southern Minnesota locations.

  • Soil frost depth under sod ranges from four to eight inches at most Minnesota observing locations.

  • Minnesota lakes and rivers are mostly ice covered. However, heavy early-December snowfall created an insulating blanket in some areas and will hinder ice formation. Lake and river ice is never completely safe. Caution is always advised when venturing onto the ice

Future prospects:

  • The December precipitation outlook indicates a lean towards above-normal conditions in northern Minnesota and equal chances of below-normal, near-normal, or above-normal conditions in southern Minnesota. December precipitation normals range from around one-half inch in western Minnesota to over one and one-quarter inches in eastern sections of the state. The historical median snow cover at the end of December ranges from under five inches in southwest counties, to over 10 inches on the ground in northeast Minnesota (20 inches in the Lake Superior highlands).
  • The December temperature outlook tilts towards below-normal conditions across most of Minnesota with the exception of southeastern counties where equal chances of below-normal, near-normal, or above-normal temperatures are offered. Normal December high temperatures are in the mid-20s to near 30 to start the month, dropping to the mid-teens to near 20 by month's end. Normal lows are around 10 degrees early in the month, falling to the mid-single digits above and below zero by late December.

  • The 90-day precipitation outlook for December through February offers equal chances of below-normal, near-normal, or above-normal conditions across Minnesota. The December through February temperature projection also calls for equal chances of below-normal, near-normal, or above-normal conditions for many Minnesota locales. However, the long-term temperature outlook for northwest Minnesota leans towards below-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. These products address both high flow and low flow probabilities.

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