Snowy Spring

Our latest snow event has increased the total snow for the
month to 16.9 inches which places April 2008 as the second snowiest April since
snow records began in 1885. We missed the record set back in 1904 by just a
half inch. 

The late season snowfall was
also enough to move this spring season into third place all-time for
snowfall.  Since March 1, Fargo Moorhead
has received 28.1 inches of snow.  The
spring snowfall record was set in 1997 with 33.6 inches falling. 

But there is even more to tell, as our snow
total for the season is now up to 59.8 inches, which now places us very close
to the top ten for snowiest winters.  Only
another 2.6 inches of snow is need to tie us for 10th place. 

So was it a snowy winter?  The answer would have to be no, but was it a
snowy spring?  Indeed.

Snow Totals April 25 & 26

Minnesota

Beltrami

County

Bemidji 12.0 E
Blackduck 11.0 M
Kelliher 8.0 E
Waskish 12.0 M

Clay

County
Hawley 15.0 E

Moorhead 9.1 M

Clearwater

County
Long Lost

Lake 11.5 M

Hubbard

County
10 N Park Rapids 9.0 E

Lake Of The Woods

County
5 N

Roosevelt 12.0 E

Otter

Tail

County
Fergus Falls 15.0 E
Pelican Rapids 16.0 M
Pelican Rapids 18.0 E
Phelps 15.0 M

Polk

County
Fosston 12.0 E

Red

Lake

County
Red

Lake Falls 9.0 M

Roseau
Badger 10.0 E

Wadena

County
Sebeka 11.0 M
Wadena 7.0 M

Wilkin

County
Breckenridge 12.0 M
Rothsay 13.5 E

North Dakota

Cass

County

Fargo 9.1 E

Ransom

County

Lisbon 1.0 E

Richland

County

Lidgerwood 8.5 M
Mantador 10.0 M
Wahpeton 18.0 E

Sargent

County

Havana 5.5 M


Spring Forecasting

During many of my recent public appearances I have been
asked the same question, what is the hardest time of year to forecast the
weather? 

My normal response is to say
that because of our geographic location this area tends not to get a break in the
weather like some parts of the country do during the course of a year, so
forecasting here keeps you busy 365 days a year.  But if I had to pick a season I would say
Spring.  This time of year brings us
rapid changes in weather from temperatures in the 70s and 80s to the 30s with
snow the very next day.  We sometimes
will have thunderstorms in one part of our area to snow in the other. 

A few years back Fargo/Moorhead was under a
Severe Thunderstorm Watch and a Winter Storm Watch at the same time.  So although all seasons keep meteorologist
busy around here, the Spring season can bring the most interesting weather of
all.

April Blizzard

Earlier this month, much of eastern South Dakota experienced
blizzard conditions. April blizzards have occurred in this area as far
back as settlers kept records.

I have always enjoyed reading Laura
Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books. One of the many things I find
enjoyable about all the books is the fact that weather events are mentioned,
often in great detail. The Long Winter is the most obvious book she
wrote that dealt with weather during the winter of 1880-81.

Her next book "Little Town on the Prairie" deals with events in De Smet
, South Dakota

during the following winter of 1881-2 which she describes as an open winter
with no blizzards. No blizzard that is until April of 1882 when Pa
makes the remark of how odd it was that the only blizzard of the winter
occurred in April.

Many South Dakotans
were probably saying the same thing in April of 2008.

Red

It was on April 18, 1997 that the Red River crested in Fargo Moorhead at 39.57 feet which
was the highest crest recorded since 1897.  That year the Red River stayed
above flood stage from April 3 through May 17 and, more remarkably, the Red River stayed above 30 feet from April 6 to May 4 that
year. 

Since then the Red River has
crested as high as 37.2 feet in 2006 and 36.7 feet back in 2001.  Even
last year we had water problems as heavy rain caused the Red to crest seven
times from April through June with the peak crest occurring in early June a
little above 30 feet.  So far this year the Red has stayed below flood
stage and very likely will remain there unless heavy rains move back into the
area. 

We have had two other years in the past decade with no flooding at
all.  A third such year would be
nice.
 

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Our Snow Season

Since March 1 Fargo Moorhead has received 19 inches of
snowfall, so yes, it was a snowy six week period in the area.  That extra snow brought our seasonal snowfall
total up to 50.7 inches.  I have heard a
few people mention to me about how snowy it was this winter, but I tried to
remind them that our average snowfall is 48 inches, so it was just a very
average snow season for us. 

That 48 inch
average is the current 30 year average and because the 1990s were so snowy the
average did jump quite a bit with the last decadal change in the averages.  Even if we use the 100 year average of around 40
inches, this winter would still fall well within the bounds of an average
snowfall season. 

Since the winter of
1996-1997 our seasonal snowfall has varied from 28.8 inches in the winter of 2004-2005 to 53.8
inches in the winter of 2003-2004.

 

Snowy Earth

Last summer I wrote about how the southern
hemisphere had some rare snow events with Buenos Aires, Argentina and
Johannesburg, South Africa both receiving snow for the first time in a
generation. The snowy trend then moved to the northern hemisphere, with
heavy snows in south China,
the Middle East and Greece.

In the United States
seasonal snowfall records have been broken in parts of Colorado,
Wisconsin, Michigan,
Vermont and Maine. Also, many snowfall records
were broken in Ontario in southern Canada.
Locally, snowfall has been about average so far this winter, but many recent
winters have had lighter snowfall and there was talk that heavy snow was a
thing of the past.

Such talk is always silly as slow climatic shifts
often occur over decades if not centuries. Plus, sometimes we need to be
reminded that certain weather events do just happen just once in a lifetime

Snowy Minnesota

The Minnesota
state record for daily snowfall in April is 28 inches.  This past weekends storm dumped twenty to
thirty inches of snow over portions of north central Minnesota from late Saturday night into
Monday morning.  The heaviest total
observed was a report of 32 inches measured about five miles north of Virginia, Minnesota. 

A little bit closer to home, 28 inches of
snow was measured between Park Rapids and Bemidji
on Highway 71.  Because these
measurements occurred over a period of 36 to 48 hours they did not break the
old daily (24 hour) total, but since snow measurement records began in Minnesota this storm
ranked up there as one of the heaviest snowfalls ever observed. 

As a reference, the famed Halloween Blizzard
of 1991 brought about three feet of snow to Duluth, so this storm was not far behind.  The Minnesota
record for a single storm is 47 inches that fell along the North Shore
back in January, 1994.

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Snow Line

What you’re seeing on the image below is all snow on the ground, you’ll notice a distinct "line in the sand" just north of Fargo/Moorhead.

Fargo/Moorhead received 5.7" at the official measuring location in north Moorhead.  Many other totals in the area were also near 6", but some locations in the Minnesota lakes country received one to two feet of wet sloppy snow.

First 50

This past Wednesday the temperature hit 50 degrees for the
first time this year.  It was the latest
first 50 degree day since 2001 when our first 50 degree day did not occurred
until April 6 that year.  Like any other
temperature milestone that occurs during the spring season, there is great variability
from year to year when it will occur. 


To
use 50 degrees as an example, in the past decade our first 50 degree day has
varied from February 11 back in 2002, to that April 6 back in 2001.  In the past ten years our first 50 degree day
has averaged around March 20, but around here an average is just that, an
average and certainly as proven often in our climate, should not be considered
an expectation.