HydroClim Minnesota for Early December 2022

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, 2022

What happened in November 2022:

  • Minnesota had the 10th driest Meteorological Autumn back to 1895 thanks to a very dry September and October. November 2022 did bring some welcome precipitation to parts of the state, while other locations continued to stay dry. A large rain and snow event from the 8th to the 12th brought the bulk of the precipitation over the eastern half of the state. A fairly large snow event on the 29th also brought more moisture. The North Shore saw the heaviest precipitation, including a decent amount of snow. Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center saw 5.41 inches of precipitation, 2.69 inches above normal. This includes the 32 inches of snow the station received. One of the preliminary drier spots was Grand Meadow in southeast Minnesota with .98 inches or .84 inches below normal. The statewide preliminary precipitation total was 1.85 inches or .37 inches above normal.
    [see: November 2022 Preliminary Precipitation Total Map  | November 2022 Precipitation Departure Map  | November 2022 Climate Summary Table  |  November 2022 Percent of Normal Precipitation Map]
  • There were two significant precipitation events in November:
    • A long-lasting storm system brought rain, thunderstorms, warm air, record humidity, strong winds, a massively fast drop in temperatures, and even some ice and heavy snows to Minnesota between Tuesday November 8th and Saturday November 12, 2022. This strong, multi-day storm left much of Minnesota with a half-inch to an inch of new precipitation, though areas that had multiple thunderstorms or prolonged heavy precipitation received much more than that. Numerous CoCoRaHS observers in the Duluth area, and also between Big Lake and Princeton in central Minnesota, reported totals from November 8th to 12th of three inches or more. These amounts essentially double "normal" precipitation amounts for the entire month of November. [see: Powerful Fall Storm, November 8-12, 2022]
    • A classic winter storm moved from southwest to northeast from Kansas City to Wisconsin and Lake Superior, strengthening as it moved northeast. The storm dropped 4-8 inches of snow from the Mankato area, through the Twin Cities and northeastward into Wisconsin. Accumulating snows fell over northeast Minnesota too. This set the stage for continuous snow cover across the eastern half of the state. [see: Accumulating Snow, November 29, 2022]
  • Monthly November temperature averages were very close to normal, with wide swings during the month. There were almost summer-like temperatures on November 2, with high temperatures in the 70s, setting daily records from International Falls (71F) to St. Cloud (75 F) and the Twin Cities International Airport (76F) The highest temperature recorded in the state was 79 F at Theilman, in southeastern Minnesota. There was a taste of winter too, with highs in the 10s and 20s F by the 18th and 19th, with some below-zero minimums in the north. The coldest reading for November 2022 was -8F at Goodridge in northwest Minnesota on the 30th. [see: November 2022 Climate Summary Table  |  2022 November Departure from Normal Temperature Map]

Where we stand now:

  • As of December 8, 2022 there is four to eight inches of snowpack over far northern Minnesota, with a foot or more inland from Lake Superior. There is also about four to six inches around the Twin Cities Metro area. A large part of central and southern Minnesota has two inches or less of snow cover.
    [see: NWS Snow Depth Estimation Map | Midwest Regional Climate Center Snow Depth Map| MNDNR Snow Depth Maps]
  • The U. S. Drought Monitor map released on December 8, depicts 78% of Minnesota with some level of drought designation. About 29% of the state was Abnormally Dry, 29% of the state was in Moderate Drought conditions. Severe Drought is over 14% of the state. Extreme Drought is just under 5%% of the state from the heart of the Twin Cities, southwestward to in northern Murray 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]
  • Ice is affecting many streams across Minnesota. For the few areas that still have some open water, such as on the Minnesota River and the Mississippi River, the U.S. Geological Survey reports that stream discharge values are near normal.
    [see: USGS Stream Flow Conditions]
  • Water levels on most Minnesota lakes vary depending on lake and location in the state. The USGS water level gauge at Mille Lacs was discontinued as of October 10, 2022. The approximate date of lake ice in for Mille Lacs in 2022 was December 3. The level on Lake Minnetonka on November 28 was 927.33 feet, .64 feet lower than this time last year. The approximate lake ice in for Minnetonka for 2022 was December 8. The Grays Bay Dam was winterized on the 28th and lake levels will resume in the spring. White Bear Lake was at 922.40 feet on December 8. The current level of White Bear Lake is .71 feet lower than in early December 2021. The approximate lake ice in for White Bear for 2022 is December 6. Lake levels on Rainy Lake and Lake of the Woods are in the median range. Lake Superior has been rising this autumn, and had a forecast level of 602.36 feet on December 2, two inches higher than the long term median and 11 inches feet higher than early December 2021.
    [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 for the season, the Agricultural Statistics Service on November 29 reported that topsoil moisture across Minnesota is 18 percent Very Short, 35 percent Short, 46 percent Adequate, and 1 percent Surplus. This is much drier than this time last year when topsoil moisture was 13 percent Short to Very Short. Corn for grain harvest was 96% completed by November 14, on pace with 2021 and about two weeks ahead of the five year average. Soil moisture levels at Lamberton on November 1 showed a soil moisture deficit going into freeze-up.
    [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)]
  • Frost depths are relatively shallow across the state, but are beginning to deepen. On December 8, most places across central and southern Minnesota have frost depths of six inches or less under sod, with eleven inches of depth in Watson in Chippewa County. Frost depth measurements are limited in the north, but Duluth has six inches of frost depth and Grand Forks has ten inches.
    [see: National Weather Service Frost Depth Data | National Weather Service Soil Temperature Data
  • The potential for wildfires on December 8, 2022 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 that was released on November 30 has most of Minnesota with equal chances of above, below and normal precipitation. The exception is the far southeast that tilts into the below normal category.
    [see: Climate Prediction Center 30-day Outlook  |  December Precipitation Normal Map]
  • The December temperature trend (according to the Climate Prediction Center) has a strong tendency for below normal temperatures across the state, especially in the northwest. 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 has a tendency for below normal temperatures across the state, especially in the northwest. The 90-day precipitation outlook for December through February indicates a tendency for above normal precipitation across all but the southwest part of the state where there equal chances for above, below and 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:

  • Many lakes in the state were in the process of freezing over during the last week of November and the first week of December. This is very close to historical averages. [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

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