HydroClim Minnesota for Early February 2014

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: February 6, 2014

What happened in January 2014:

  • January precipitation totals were near to above historical averages across Minnesota. A number of Minnesota communities reported 20 or more inches of snow for the month.

  • While no single January winter storm brought extraordinary snowfall totals, the month was notable for the frequency of snowfall events. For many stations, measurable snowfall was reported on 15 or more days during the month. This is roughly twice the historical average number of days with measurable snowfall. Strong winds accompanied many of the snowfall events, frequently producing blizzard conditions and hampering travel.

  • Average monthly temperatures for January in Minnesota were well below historical averages, finishing 5 to 10 degrees below normal. For some communities, January 2014 ranked among the four or five coldest Januarys of the past 35 years. In a few northern Minnesota locations, the average temperature for the month was below zero. Extremes for the month ranged from a high of 45 degrees at Cass Lake (Cass County) on the 12th, to a low of -47 degrees at Babbitt (St. Louis County) on the 2nd and 3rd. The temperature at all Minnesota locales fell to -20 degrees or lower at least once in January. Cold temperatures and brisk winds caused wind chill temperatures to drop to dangerous levels during the month, leading to numerous school closures.

Where we stand now:

  • Snow depths exceed 12 inches over most of the northern two-thirds of Minnesota. Snow depths across the southern one-third of the state range from four to eight inches. Snow cover in some areas of northeast Minnesota ranges between 18 and 30 inches in depth. Throughout nearly all of Minnesota, snow depths are above the historical median for the date.

  • The U. S. Drought Monitor, released on February 6, places sections of the southern one-half of 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.

  • 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. History has shown that soil moisture conditions observed in the late autumn are indicative of conditions to be expected when the soil thaws.

  • Soil frost depth under sod ranges from 8 to 36 inches at Minnesota observing locations. Soil frost depth under surfaces without snow cover are much deeper.

Future prospects:

  • The February precipitation outlook indicates equal chances of below-normal, near-normal, or above-normal conditions across Minnesota. February is Minnesota's driest month on average with precipitation normals ranging from near one-half inch in northwestern Minnesota to just over one inch in far eastern sections of the state. The median snow depth at the end of February ranges from under five inches in southwest Minnesota to over 18 inches on the ground in northeastern Minnesota (greater than 30 inches in the Lake Superior highlands).
  • The February temperature outlook tilts heavily towards below-normal conditions across Minnesota. Normal February high temperatures range from the low teens in the north to near 20 in the south early in the month, climbing to the mid-20s to low 30s by month's end. Normal February low temperatures range from near minus 10 degrees in the far north to the single digits above zero in southern Minnesota early in the month; ascending to the low single digits in the north, mid-teens in the south by the end of February.
  • The 90-day precipitation outlook for February through April offers equal chances of below-normal, near-normal, or above-normal conditions across Minnesota. The February through April temperature projection leans towards below-normal conditions in most Minnesota locales.
  • 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.

From the author:

  •  None

Notes from around the state:

  • None

Upcoming dates of note:

  • February 20: National Weather Service releases 30/90 day temperature and precipitation outlooks


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