HydroClim Minnesota for Early December 2017

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 8, 2017


What happened in November 2017:

Where we stand now:

  • As of December 7, there is scant snowcover in Minnesota. The only exception is in far north central and northwest Minnesota with four to six inches of snow cover with a bit more just south of Lake of the Woods. The Twin Ciites has a snow depth of two inches. Most of the snowcover in the state was associated with a storm that hit the state on December 4-5.
    [see: NWS Snow Depth Estimation Map | Midwest Regional Climate Center Snow Depth Map| MNDNR Snow Depth Map for Dec 7]
  • The U. S. Drought Monitor map released on December 7, depicts parts of north central, northwest and southwest Minnesota in Abnormally Dry conditions. There is a small area in the Moderate Drought category confined to Koochiching County. 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 above normal to high across central and southern Minnesota, with near normal streamflows in southeast Minnesota. Ice is beginning to effect river in northern and parts of central Minnesota.
    [see: USGS Stream Flow Conditions]
  • Water levels on most Minnesota lakes vary depending on lake and location in the state. On December 7 the level of Mille Lacs was well above the median for the date. On November 13, Minnetonka was at 928.58 feet with and the Grays Bay Dam closed for the season. White Bear Lake was at 922.86 feet on December 8, a rise of .19 feet from one year ago and a fall of of .76 feet from the high point of 2017 back on May 27. The current level is still 4.02 feet higher than the record low level 918.84 measured on January 10, 2013. Rainy and Lake of the Woods are in the median range for early December. Lake Superior was at 602.89 feet on December 8, fourteen 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, 3 percent Short, 85 percent Adequate, and 12 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]

Future prospects:

  • The December precipitation outlook indicates equal chances of below-normal, near-normal, or above-normal conditions across most of Minnesota.
    [see: Climate Prediction Center 30-day Outlook  |  December Precipitation Normal Map]
  • The December temperature outlook leans towards a slight tendency for cooler than normal temperatures across the state, except in the far southwest where there are equal chances for cooler and warmer than normal temperatures . 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.
    [see: Climate Prediction Center 30-day Outlook  | December Temperature Normal Map]
  • 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 a slight edge for above-normal conditions across most of Minnesota. Southwest Minnesota has equal chances for above and below 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.
    [see: National Weather Service - North Central River Forecast Center]

From the author:

  • Lakes and ponds underwent a series of freeze and thaw episodes during the month of November. Many opened up again with the very mild first few days of December. With the return of normal to slightly below normal temperatures on December 5, lakes and ponds began to refreeze and soil temperatures cooled. Four inch soil temperatures under bare ground are now a few degrees below freezing in northwest Minnesota.
    [see: Median Lake Ice in Dates]

Upcoming dates of note:

  • December 21: National Weather Service releases 30/90 day temperature and precipitation outlooks

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Pete Boulay, DNR Climatologist