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 2, 2016
What happened in November 2016:
- November began mostly dry, sunny and mild for the first 17 days of the month, with not even a trace of precipitation for many locations in the southern half of the sate. A blizzard snapped this dry stretch on November 18th, and the weather remained unsettled after that. For November monthly totals, central parts of the state were from about a half to an inch-and-a-half above normal, with the southeast and northwest near normal. The preliminary statewide average precipitation for Minnesota was 1.76 inches or .09 inches above normal.
[see: November 2016 Precipitation Total Map | November 2016 Precipitation Departure Map | November 2016 Percent of Normal Precipitation Map]
Some notable events include:
- In an otherwise very warm month, there was a touch of winter in the form of a blizzard on November 18. The highest snowfall total found was 25 inches 5 miles east of Leader in southern Cass County. This storm dropped a swath of heavy precipitation from southwest to northeast Minnesota and along with it came gale-force winds (39-54mph). The strongest wind gust was measured at the Twin Cities International Airport of 59mph.
[see: Blizzard of November 18, 2016 ]
- The other main storm system of the month was a large area of low pressure that brought thunderstorms and hail to the Twin Cities on November 28, 2016
[see: First Snowfall of the Season: October 7, 2016]
- The continued wet pattern has set a new record for the maximum annual precipitation total for Minnesota. Waseca broke the old record of 53.52 inches set at St. Francis in 1991. As of December 2, Waseca has 54.29 inches pf precipitation so far for 2016.
[see: Minnesota Annual Precipitation Record Broken]
- November 2016 continued the warmer-than normal pattern that has been in place since September 2015. The preliminary statewide average for November 2016 was 41.1 degrees or 10.0 degrees above normal. November 2016 finished as the second warmest November statewide since 1895, with 2001 the warmest. The warmest maximum daily temperature for the month was 78 degrees F at Mora in Kanabec County on November 4. The coldest was -2 degrees F near Celena in St. Louis County on November 20.
[see: 2016 November Departure from Normal Temperature Map]
Where we stand now:
- As of December 2, nearly all the snow that fell with the November 18th blizzard has melted, with a few pockets of snow remaining where the snowfall was the heaviest. Much of Minnesota is free of snow cover.
[see: NWS Snow Depth Estimation Map | Midwest Regional Climate Center Snow Depth Map| MNDNR Snow Depth Map for Dec 1]
- The U. S. Drought Monitor map released on December 1, depicts the entire state free of any drought designation. The state has been completely free of any drought designation for nearly three months, beginning on September 6. The U.S. Drought Monitor index is a blend of science and subjectivity where drought categories (Moderate, Severe, etc.) are based on several indicators.
[see: Drought Conditions Overview]
- The U.S. Geological Survey reports that stream discharge values are much above normal to high across large sections of Minnesota. Near normal streamflows are in a few pockets in northwest Minnesota and at some locations along the Canadian Border
[see: USGS Stream Flow Conditions]
- Water levels on most Minnesota lakes vary depending on lake and location in the state. On December 2 the level of Mille Lacs was well above the median and above the 75th percentile for the date. On December 2 Minnetonka was at 928.64 feet with 150 cfs flowing through Grays Bay Dam. White Bear Lake was at 922.67 feet on December 2, a rise of .97 feet from one year ago and a rise of 3.83 feet from the record low of 918.84 measured January 10, 2013. Rainy and Lake of the Woods are in the median range for November. Lake Superior was at 602.13 feet on December 2, twelve inches higher than the monthly average for early December.
[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]
- The Agricultural Statistics Service on November 27 reports that topsoil moisture across Minnesota is 0 percent Very Short, 1 percent Short, 75 percent Adequate, and 24 percent Surplus. Soil moisture levels at Lamberton and Waseca were above the historical median for the last report in early November
[see: Agricultural Statistics Service Crop Progress and Condition | U. of M. Southwest Research and Outreach Center (Lamberton) | U. of M. Southern Research and Outreach Center (Waseca)]
- The potential for wildfires is currently rated by DNR Forestry as Low across Minnesota. Historically, 80 percent of all wildfires in Minnesota occur during April and May.
[see: Fire Danger Rating Map]
- The December precipitation outlook leans towards above normal precipitation across the state, with the best chance in northwestern Minnesota. Normal December precipitation totals range from about a half to three-quarters on an inch in western Minnesota to about one-and-a-half inches in the far northeast and southeast.
[see: Climate Prediction Center 30-day Outlook | December Precipitation Normal Map]
- The December temperature outlook leans towards equal chances for below, normal and above normal temperatures in the state, with the a tendency for cooler than normal temperatures in the Red River Valley. Normal December high temperatures are in the upper 20's to low 30's to start the month, dropping to the low to mid 20's by month's end. Normal lows are in the teens early in the month, falling to single digits by late December.
- The 90-day temperature outlook for December through February is tilting towards below-normal conditions across Minnesota. The 90-day precipitation outlook for December through February indicates equal chances of below-normal, near-normal, or above-normal conditions across most of Minnesota. Northern Minnesota has a slight tendency for above normal precipitation.
[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.
From the author:
- There was little or no frost in the ground at the end of November and most streams in the state were unaffected by ice. Small ponds in Minnesota had a skim of ice on them in the days after the November 18th blizzard, but rain and warm temperatures melted what had formed. Lakes were ice free statewide at the end of November. The median date for ice freeze up is from November 22 to 28 for lakes north of St. Cloud and from November 29 to December 5 for lakes south of St. Cloud. Looking at incoming solar radiation at the U of M Climate Campus Observatory November 1-13 was the sunniest on record (records begin in 1963) and November 14-30 was the third cloudiest on record. Solar radiation for the month as a whole finished near the median.
[see: Median Lake Ice in Dates]
Upcoming dates of note:
- December 15: National Weather Service releases 30/90 day temperature and precipitation outlooks
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Pete Boulay, DNR Climatologist