HydroClim Minnesota for Early March 2016

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: March 3, 2016

What happened in February 2016:

Where we stand now:

Future prospects:

  • The March precipitation outlook offers equal chances of below-normal, near-normal, or above-normal conditions across Minnesota. Historically, average March precipitation totals range from near three-quarters of an inch in northwestern Minnesota to around two inches in southern sections of the state. March is a transition month when cold, dry continental air masses are gradually replaced by warmer, moister air on a more frequent basis. This is demonstrated by the fact that March's normal precipitation is 50 percent higher than February's normal precipitation, the greatest percentage increase between any two successive months.
    [see: Climate Prediction Center 30-day Outlook  |  March Precipitation Normal Map]
  • The March temperature outlook leans heavily towards above-normal conditions across Minnesota. Normal March high temperatures climb from near 30 degrees early in the month to the low to mid-40s by month's end. Normal March lows begin the month in the single digits above zero in the far north and mid-teens in the south. By late March, normal lows are in the low 20s in the north, near 30 in the south.
    [see: Climate Prediction Center 30-day Outlook  | March Temperature Normal Map]
  • The 90-day precipitation outlook for March through May indicates equal chances of below-normal, near-normal, or above-normal conditions in the western one-half of Minnesota, and a tilt towards below-normal conditions in northern and eastern counties. The March through May temperature projection strongly favors above-normal conditions statewide.
    [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. The present threat for significant, impactful, snowmelt flooding is very low. Here are current conditions impacting prospects for spring snowmelt flooding:
    • present streamflows are high to very high relative to historical flows for the date
    • soil profiles are moist to saturated in most areas
    • the high stream discharge and moist soils are due to record-breaking high precipitation totals in November/December
    • frost depths are shallow relative to historical values due to very warm early-winter temperatures
    • snow depths are below, to well below, the historical median for the date in most Minnesota locales.
    [see: National Weather Service - North Central River Forecast Center]

From the author:

  • none

Upcoming dates of note:

  • March 3: National Weather Service Weather issues Spring Flood Outlook with probabilistic products
  • March 17: National Weather Service releases 30/90 day temperature and precipitation outlooks

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Greg Spoden, DNR Climatologist