People who caught my forecast Saturday night woke up Sunday and wondered where was the snow changing to rain? Well the system came in just a few hours late and the snow missed us to the east. These small little systems that basically for over head are some of the toughest to forecast. For the past few days the computer models were in relative agreement that there would be a small but potent area of precip in the southern valley Sunday Morning. Saturday in the afternoon it appeared as though things were coming together as planned. Then late Saturday night, really as our newscast was just going on the air, the models started to hint at a different scenario for Sunday. The first models in suggested an area of precip along the Canadian border, but still kept the idea of some morning rain or snow in the Fargo area. At 11:00 pm I finally got a look at the last of the computer models to come in (the one that has been handling thing better lately) and it had eliminated the snow/rain in the south and had a broad are of rain and snow across the far north. At that moment I knew my forecast had been skunked, but at 11:00 pm there was not much to do but change the internet and notify the radio that the forecast had changed. Two weeks ago this might of had a different outcome, because of the time change I would have had everything an hour early. Maybe I should write my congressman.
March 1st marks the beginning of meteorological spring. With the recent storm out of the way (Fargo/Moorhead ended up with 9.2" over the three days (and two snow events) if you haven’t heard), I finally have a chance to catch up on writing about this past winter.
Most of you may be aware that we were influenced by an El Nino event this past winter. Most El Ninos will cause winters in North Dakota and northern Minnesota to be warmer than the long term average. This past winter we finished 3.9 degrees above the long term average, which isn’t a record, but it is a significant departure from average over a three month period. It would place the winter slightly warmer than an average El Nino winter. Well, if there was such a thing, each is unique, but if you average all the El Nino winter’s together, you would find perhaps the average winter temperature being 1 or 2 degrees above the long term average, so we faired fairly well temperature wise.
El Ninos and precipitation tend to have a weaker link than temperature, but a trend toward average or below average tend to be present with El Nino winter’s and this past winter was drier than the long term average, especially in the snowfall department with the three month snowfall averaging 10" below normal. But, if you look it it this way, we had nearly 10" in the two days following "winter", so you have to take that with a grain of salt of course.
I’ve never been a big fan of long term forecasts. They have their purposes, but outside of El Nino winter’s their track record still isn’t much better than a coin toss, but for what it’s worth the CPC (Climate Prediction Center) is calling for an above average temperature Spring (March, April, May). We’ll see how they did on June 1st.
Considering how poor some of our springs have been in the last decade, I for one hope they are right this time. One thing is for sure, the 15" of snow we’ve had in the last 7 days will certainly slow Spring down by at least a couple of weeks.