HydroClim Minnesota for Early December 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: December 4, 2014

What happened in November 2014:

  • November precipitation totals were below-normal across both the northern one-third and the southern one-third of Minnesota. In those areas, monthly precipitation totals fell short of historical averages by one-half inch to one inch. Most locations in the central one-third of Minnesota reported near-average monthly precipitation totals.
    [see: November 2014 Precipitation Map  |  November 2014 Precipitation Departure Map  | November 2014 Climate Summary Table]
  • There were two notable precipitation events during the month of November. A significant winter storm dropped a band of heavy snow across central Minnesota on November 10, impacting travel. Snowfall totals in excess of 10 inches were reported. On November 26, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, much of the southern one-third of Minnesota received four to eight inches of fluffy snow.
    [see: Winter Storm: November 10  | Southern Minnesota Snow: November 26]
  • Average monthly temperatures for November in Minnesota were well below historical averages, ranging from six to ten degrees below normal. Numerous records for all-time minimum high daily temperatures were set during the month. Extremes for November ranged from a high of 60 degrees F at a number of locales on the 2nd, to a low of -25 degrees F at Camp Norris (Lake of the Woods County) on the 27th.
    [see: November 2014 Climate Summary Table]

Where we stand now:

  • Snow depths across Minnesota vary from zero to eight inches. Little or no snow cover is on the ground in southwest Minnesota. Whereas, some areas of south central, west central, and northeast Minnesota report six to eight inches of snow depth in early December.
    [see: NWS Snow Depth Estimation Map]
  • The U. S. Drought Monitor, released on December 4, indicated that Abnormally Dry conditions exist over large sections of Minnesota, the result of a dry late summer and autumn. A small area of west central Minnesota is placed in the Moderate Drought category. The Drought Monitor index is a blend of science and subjectivity where drought categories (Moderate, Severe, etc.) are based on several indicators.
    [see: U.S. Drought Monitor]
  • The U.S. Geological Survey reports that stream discharge values, where winter monitoring is possible, are below the historical median for the date in northeast Minnesota, and near the historical median in other Minnesota basins.
    [see: USGS Stream Flow Conditions]
  • In their final report of the season (November 24), the Minnesota Agricultural Statistics Service reported that topsoil moisture across 20 percent of Minnesota's landscape is described as Short or Very Short.
    [see: Agricultural Statistics Service Crop Progress and Condition]
  • Soil frost depth under sod ranges from six to sixteen inches at Minnesota observing locations.
    [see: Corps of Engineers Snow, Ice, Frost Data  |  National Weather Service Frost Depth Data  |  MnDOT Road Frost Depths  |  University of Minnesota - St. Paul Campus Soil Temperatures Under Sod]
  • Minnesota lakes and rivers are ice covered. Lake and river ice is never completely safe. Caution is always advised when venturing onto the ice.
    [see: DNR Conservation Officer Reports]

Future prospects:

  • The December precipitation outlook offers equal chances of below-normal, near-normal, or above-normal conditions in all Minnesota counties. 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).
    [see: Climate Prediction Center 30-day Outlook  |  December Precipitation Normal Map]
  • The December temperature outlook tilts towards above-normal conditions throughout Minnesota. 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.
    [see: Climate Prediction Center 30-day Outlook  |  December Temperature Normal Map]
  • The 90-day precipitation outlook for December through February offers equal chances of below-normal, near-normal, or above-normal conditions in nearly all Minnesota counties. The December through February temperature projection also depicts equal chances of below-normal, near-normal, or above-normal conditions.
    [see: Climate Prediction Center 90-day Outlook  |  El Niño Winter Tendencies]
  • 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.
    [see: National Weather Service - North Central River Forecast Center]

From the author:

  • none

Upcoming dates of note:

  • December 18: National Weather Service releases 30/90 day temperature and precipitation outlooks

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Greg Spoden, DNR Climatologist