HydroClim Minnesota for Early April 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: April 7, 2016

What happened in March 2016:

  • March monthly precipitation totals were well above historical averages across the eastern one-half of Minnesota. March precipitation totals were more than two inches above normal in many northeast and southeast locales. Monthly precipitation totals were near, to somewhat below, historical averages in western Minnesota.
  • Heavy rain and snow fell on north central and northeast Minnesota on March 16 and 17. Over a foot of snow was reported in portions of Cook County. A significant snow event occurred in southern Minnesota on March 23. Four to twelve inches of snow fell across the southern one-third of the state.
  • Average monthly temperatures for March were well above historical averages at nearly all Minnesota reporting stations. Monthly temperatures ranged from five to ten degrees above normal. It was Minnesota's seventh consecutive month of above-normal monthly temperatures. Extremes for March ranged from a high of 74 degrees F at Winona on the 8th and Madison (Lac Qui Parle County) on the 11th, to a low of -19 degrees F at various northeast Minnesota locations on the 1st and 2nd. A number of record high maximum and record high minimum temperatures were observed during the second week of March.

Where we stand now:

  • Snow depths range from two to eight inches across large sections of north central and northeast Minnesota. Snow depths range from 12 to 24 inches along the Lake Superior highlands.
  • The U. S. Drought Monitor map released on April 7 depicts portions of northwest and west central Minnesota as Abnormally Dry. The map shows no other areas in Minnesota in a dryness category. 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 are below historical medians along the upper reaches of the Minnesota River, and the Red River and many of its tributaries. Elsewhere in Minnesota, stream flow values are near to above historical medians for the date.
  • In their first report of the 2016 growing season, the Agricultural Statistics Service reported that topsoil moisture across Minnesota was 1 percent Very Short, 10 percent Short, 76 percent Adequate, and 13 percent Surplus.
  • The potential for wildfires is currently rated by DNR Forestry as High across southwestern Minnesota. Wildfire potential is rated as Low elsewhere. Historically, 80 percent of all wildfires in Minnesota occur during April and May.
  • The frost has left the soil in most Minnesota locales. Some frozen soil remains in far northern counties.
  • Most lakes in the southern two-thirds Minnesota are free of ice. Warm March temperatures and windy days accelerated lake ice-out, leading to some of the earliest ice-out dates on record.

Future prospects:

  • The April precipitation outlook leans towards below-normal precipitation across 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.
  • The April temperature outlook tilts towards above-normal conditions in the western one-half of Minnesota, and equal chances of below-normal, near-normal, or above-normal conditions in the east. 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.
  • The 90-day precipitation outlook for April through June indicates equal chances of below-normal, near-normal, or above-normal conditions in the southwestern one-half of Minnesota; and a tilt towards below-normal conditions in northern and eastern counties. The April through June temperature projection favors above-normal conditions statewide.
  • 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 of impactful spring flooding is very low


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Greg Spoden, DNR Climatologist

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