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: April 2, 2015
What happened in March 2015:
- March monthly precipitation totals were below historical averages across Minnesota. Monthly precipitation totals ranged from one-half inch to one and one-half inches below the long-term average.
[see: March 2015 Precipitation Map | March 2015 Precipitation Departure Map | March 2015 Climate Summary Table | Percent of Normal Precipitation Map: March 2015]
- An early spring snowstorm blanketed much of central and southeastern Minnesota with heavy, wet snow during the evening hours of March 22 and the morning of March 23. The heavy snow created travel hazards and led to school closures in some southeast Minnesota districts. The snow fell along a relatively narrow arc extending from northeast South Dakota to northeast Iowa. Snowfall totals in excess of eight inches were reported in McLeod, Sibley, Carver, Dakota, Scott, Rice, and Goodhue counties. Some daily snowfall total records were set. For most communities in the heavy snow band, it was the heaviest snow event of the 2014-2015 season.
[see: Early Spring Snowstorm: March 22-23]
- Average monthly temperatures for March were two to four degrees above normal across much of the state. In far northeast and far southeast Minnesota, monthly mean temperatures were near normal. Extremes for March ranged from a high of 78 degrees F at Browns Valley (Traverse County) on the 15th, to a low of -40 degrees F at Cotton (St. Louis County) on the 5th. Numerous high temperature records were set around the state during the second week of March.
[see: March 2015 Climate Summary Table | Departure from Normal Temperature Map: March 2015 | Extraordinary Warmth: March 10, 2015]
Where we stand now:
- Minnesota's snow cover is gone in nearly all locales, except for northern St. Louis, northern Lake, and Cook counties were some snow remains in forested areas.
[see: NWS Snow Depth Estimation Map | Weekly Snow Depth Maps]
- The U. S. Drought Monitor indicates that Moderate Drought conditions exist over 91% of Minnesota's landscape. The lack of snow during the 2014-2015 winter, combined with the dry early-spring weather, has led to precipitation deficits of three to five inches below average across the state since October 1st. The Drought Monitor index is a blend of science and subjectivity where drought categories (Moderate, Severe, etc.) are based on several indicators.
[see: Drought Monitor | Six-month precipitation deficit report]
- The U.S. Geological Survey reports that stream discharge values along many of Minnesota's major rivers are well below the historical median due to the lack of spring snowmelt runoff.
[see: USGS Stream Flow Conditions]
- Water levels on many Minnesota ponds, wetlands, and lakes are lower than average due to the lack of spring recharge thus far this season.
[see: Mille Lacs Lake Water Level | Lake Minnetonka Water Level | White Bear Lake Water Level | Lake of the Woods Control Board Basin Data | Corps of Engineers Great Lakes Water Levels]
- 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 was described as Short or Very Short. The first soil moisture status survey of the spring will be available April 6.
[see: Agricultural Statistics Service Crop Progress and Condition]
- Frost is rapidly leaving the soil profile. During the early spring, frost leaves the soil from both above and below, leaving a layer of ice roughly two feet below the surface to thaw last.
[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]
- Many lakes in the southern one-half of Minnesota are now free of ice. Lake ice-out dates for these lakes were one to two weeks earlier than the historical median.
[see: 2015 Lake Ice Out Dates] | DNR Conservation Officer Reports
- The potential for wildfires is currently rated by DNR Forestry as Very High to Extreme across most of Minnesota. Historically, 80 percent of all wildfires in Minnesota occur during April and May.
[see: Fire Danger Rating Map]
- The April precipitation outlook offers equal chances of below-normal, near-normal, or above-normal conditions in most Minnesota counties. The April outlook leans towards below-normal precipitation in southwest Minnesota. April precipitation normals range from one and one-half inch in northwest Minnesota to around three inches in southeast counties. The historical probability of measurable precipitation for any given day in April ranges from 20 percent in the far northwest to 35 percent in the southeast.
[see: Climate Prediction Center 30-day Outlook | April Precipitation Normal Map]
- The April temperature outlook indicates equal chances of below-normal, near-normal, or above-normal conditions across Minnesota. Normal April high temperatures are in the mid to upper 40s early in the month, rising to the low 60s by month's end. Early April normal low temperatures are near 20 in the north, near 30 in the south. By month's end, low temperatures average in the mid-30s in the north, near 40 in the south.
[see: Climate Prediction Center 30-day Outlook | April Temperature Normal Map]
- The 90-day precipitation outlook for April through June favors below-normal conditions across Minnesota. The April through June temperature projection indicates a tilt towards above-normal conditions for much of the state.
[see: Climate Prediction Center 90-day Outlook]
- 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. Spring flood risks remain well below historical probabilities.
[see: National Weather Service - North Central River Forecast Center]
From the author:
Upcoming dates of note:
- April 16: National Weather Service releases 30/90 day temperature and precipitation outlooks
Greg Spoden, DNR Climatologist