June Rain

Although we may see more rain before midnight tonight, here are some of the preliminary totals for the month around the area.  A high percentage of the area had totals well within the bound of “normal” for the month.  With thunderstorms you always get differences from spot to spot for exceptions.

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE GRAND FORKS ND
901 PM CDT WED JUN 29 2011

...PRELIMINARY RAINFALL TOTALS JUNE 1 THROUGH JUNE 29TH 2011...

A SERIES OF STORM SYSTEMS AT THE END OF JUNE HAS MADE THIS MONTH A
WET ONE IN MANY SPOTS. HERE ARE SOME PRELIMINARY RAINFALL TOTALS
THROUGH JUNE 29TH. DATA BELOW IS FROM NDAWN SITES AND FROM
AUTOMATED AWOS/ASOS LOCATIONS IN THE AREA. THE TOTALS BELOW ARE
SUBJECT TO CHANGE AND HAVE NOT BEEN QUALITY CONTROLLED.

...NORTH DAKOTA AGRICULTURE NETWORK (NDAWN)...

LOCATION (COUNTY/STATE)..........................AMOUNT (IN)

ADA 1N (NORMAN MN).................................2.62
BAKER 1N (BENSON ND)...............................3.64
BRITTON 2E (MARSHALL SD)...........................2.99
CANDO 2SE (TOWNER ND)..............................2.09
CARRINGTON 4N (FOSTER ND)..........................3.43
CAVALIER 5W (PEMBINA ND)...........................4.21
CRARY 1E (RAMSEY ND)...............................3.03
DAZEY 2E (BARNES ND)...............................6.38
EKRE (SHEYENNE GRASSLANDS RANSOM ND)...............5.30
ELDRED 2N (POLK MN)................................2.68
FARGO NDSU (CASS ND)...............................3.97
FINGAL 4W (BARNES ND)..............................4.69
FOREST RIVER 7 WNW (WALSH ND)......................3.88
GALESBURG 4 SSW (CASS ND)..........................4.03
GRAFTON 10E (WALSH ND).............................5.51`
GRAND FORKS 3S (GRAND FORKS ND)....................2.89
GREENBUSH 7W (ROSEAU MN)...........................3.31
HILLSBORO 7SE (TRAILL ND)..........................4.22
HUMBOLDT 4S (KITTSON MN)...........................4.56
INKSTER 3W (GRAND FORKS ND)........................4.78
LANGDON 1E (CAVALIER ND)...........................2.70
LEONARD 5N (CASS ND)...............................3.81
LISBON 2W (RANSOM ND)..............................6.23
MAVIE 3WSW (PENNINGTON MN).........................3.52
MAYVILLE 2E (TRAILL ND)............................3.81
MCHENRY 8N (EDDY ND)...............................4.94
MICHIGAN 2W (NELSON ND)............................4.53
OAKES 4S (DICKEY ND)...............................5.43
PERLEY 6E (NORMAN MN)..............................3.52
PILLSBURY 1N (BARNES ND)...........................3.37
PROSPER 5NW (CASS ND)..............................5.18
ROLLA 2S (ROLETTE ND)..............................2.43
RUGBY 2W (PIERCE ND)...............................3.19
SABIN 2ND (CLAY MN)................................3.74
ST THOMAS 2WSW (PEMBINA ND)........................3.91
STEPHEN 8 ENE (MARSHALL MN)........................4.10
WAHPETON 6N (RICHLAND ND)..........................3.44
WARREN 6SW (POLK MN)...............................3.03
WYNDMERE 2E (RICHLAND ND)..........................4.70

...SELECTED AIRPORT AWOS/ASOS LOCATIONS...

K9D7 CANDO.........................................1.82
K86D WALHALLA......................................4.24
KADC WADENA........................................2.31
KBDE BAUDETTE......................................3.48
KBJI BEMIDJI.......................................3.10
KD55 LANGDON.......................................3.10
KDTL DETROIT LAKES.................................3.71
KDVL DEVILS LAKE...................................2.67
KFAR FARGO.........................................4.41
KFGN FLAG ISLAND...................................2.62
KFFM FERGUS FALLS..................................1.86
KFSE FOSSTON.......................................3.18 *CORRECTION*
KGAF GRAFTON.......................................5.44
KGFK GRAND FORKS...................................3.34
KGWR GWINNER.......................................2.87
KHCO HALLOCK.......................................3.29
KJKJ MOORHEAD......................................4.42
KPKD PARK RAPIDS...................................4.46
KRDR GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE....................4.39
KROX ROSEAU........................................3.69
KRRT WARROAD.......................................4.19
KS32 COOPERSTOWN...................................2.52
KY63 ELBOW LAKE....................................2.09

...OTHER LOCATIONS...

NWS GRAND FORKS (GRAND FORKS ND)...................4.60
BINFORD (GRIGGS ND)................................4.14
DEVILS LAKE - RADIOWORKS (RAMSEY ND)...............3.11
HOLT 15E (CLIMATE STATION) (MARSHALL MN)...........5,94
BEMIDJI 7N - LONG LAKE (BELTRAMI MN)...............4.02

 

70 mornings

A daily low temperature of 70 degrees or warmer is uncommon in Fargo Moorhead.   We average only 3 per year (technically 2.6) and even that number is skewed somewhat by just a few years with higher totals.  Since 1881 there have been 33 years without a single day with a low at or above 70 degrees, including the summers of 2008 and 2009.

Climatologically, there are two principal reasons why this area experiences so few 70 degree daily lows.  One is the fact that truly humid days (dew points above 70 degrees) are infrequent.  Higher moisture content in the air is a key ingredient in holding the temperature up overnight.

The second reason is we do in fact have more 70 degree mornings than the statistics indicate, but daily high and low temperatures are from midnight to midnight and frequently in this area our 70 degree mornings occur ahead of a cold front that often will lead to the temperature falling below 70 degrees before the day is done.

Tonight we will likely record a low in the 70s.  Will it stay above 70 degrees until midnight for the official low to be in the 70s tomorrow will be another story.

Flood Clues

Just three years ago, the thought that western North Dakota would be experiencing historic floods in the near future would have been seen as unrealistic considering how dry that area was as seen with the Palmer Indexes in June 2008.

Back in the summers from 2005 through 2008, moisture was in short supply, the rivers were barely running, Lake Sakakawea in 2005 was running at historic lows and rain was desperately needed.  Much of this past decade the western one-third of North Dakota experienced frequent dry spells, whereas, the eastern part of North Dakota and western Minnesota was generally experiencing very moist conditions.

By the summer of 2009, enough rain had fallen in western North Dakota that the drought was over and the transition to over saturation was starting to become more evident in some parts of central North Dakota.  This excessive moisture was from a combination of winter snow and abundant rainfall that occurred during the spring of 2009.

Unknown at that time, but the Minot flood had its roots in 2009.  But the main branches of the flood came in 2010 when the word drought seemed like a distant memory as the rains came turning the semi-arid high plains into a vast wetland.  The rivers went from dry to flowing fast, the low areas were once again filled with water and the dry days were a memory.  Instead, seeping basements, sump pumps running frequently became the norm in areas that were missed by the wetness that plagued eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota since the early 1990s.

The wet summer of 2010 was followed by a wet autumn, that was followed by a snowy winter.  Then another season of saturation occurred in the spring of 2011.  The spring of 2011 was the 7th consecutive season with above average precipitation for the state of North Dakota.  In eastern Montana it was the wettest spring on record.

The extremely wet winter in combination with one of the wettest springs since 1893 lead to a massive surge of moisture down the Missouri River.  The Missouri River flooding,  although certainly made worse by spring rains,  was mostly caused by the tremendous snow that fell during the winter of 2010-2011.  The abundant moisture in recent years has cause Lake Sakakawea to rise 49 feet since 2005.  That 49 foot rise would be enough water to cover the state of North Dakota to a depth of 4″.  That is just one small example as to how much water this area has received in recent years.

The excessive snow from the winter was not only an Rocky Mountain event, but it was also very snowy over much of the northern Great Plains.  I’m sure few of us have forgotten that Fargo Moorhead recorded the 3rd snowiest winter on record.   The prairie provinces of Canada also observed abundant snow fall this pass winter, that was followed with continuous spring rains.  Some parts of Saskatchewan likely had their wettest first six months of a year since at least 1900.

Below is a graphic for the precipitation anomalies from average (rain and melted snow) that has fallen over the northern part of the United States.  That area in eastern Montana with nearly 20″ of rain above normal does extend,  from reports,  into Saskatchewan, the source region of the Souris River that flows through Minot.  That part of the United States and Canada only averages between 12″ and 18″ of rain per year and many areas received that much in just the past two months.

Therefore, it should surprised no one that the entire northern tier of the high plains of the United States was completely saturated by the end of May 2011.  Although this Palmer Index chart below is only for the United States, the prairie provinces of Canada would be listed as extremely moist as well.

The excessive moisture found its way into all the river systems.  In Minot,  the Souris has been flowing high since early April, with the river at or above flood stage for most of the last three months.

Although the Souris was running very high, it was manageable for the city of Minot until mid June.  In fact, after a mandatory evacuation of parts of the city, the residents were allowed back in and many thought the flood fight of 2011 was over, yet, only days later, parts of the city were evacuated again and then the battle was quickly lost as the river surged to record levels.

What changed?  More rain.  With all the up stream reservoirs near or at capacity, a major rain event hit Saskatchewan with another 4-7″ of rain.  Doppler estimates of that event can be seen below:

Because of the distance from the dopplers in the United States, the estimates above do not fully describe the areal extent of the heavy rain in Canada.  This was the last straw that finally broke the proverbial “camel’s back”.  With so much water flowing into the reservoirs that were already at capacity, the dam operators had no choice but to have outputs equal inputs.  This cause the flows into the Souris River to increase from around 11,000 cubic feet per second to near 30,000 cubic feet per second rushing toward the city of Minot.   This in turn raised the Souris to record breaking levels flooding hundreds of homes and businesses.

Some floods happen in a day, but wide scaled flooding as what occurred along a huge stretch of the Missouri, the Souris and other river systems, usually have their roots in a long slow process.  Hints to the devastation in Minot came nearly two years ago with the rapid saturation of the soils and the corresponding high river flows for the past two years.

The Red River Valley has been wet for two decades now, our hints are already evident.  A major precipitation event could bring devastation to any part of the Red River drainage system.  We have seen this in the Devils Lake Basin and in Grand Forks in 1997.  Will we see it somewhere else?  Hopefully not, but if it does happen, we sadly shouldn’t be surprised.

 

North Dakota Summer Forecast

I was once again asked to write thoughts on my projections for the Summer of 2011 for our State Climatologist to put in the seasonal Climate Bulletin.  Below is my write up that will be published shortly (if not today).

 

North Dakota experienced a wet spring, which was preceded by a wet winter.  In fact, as a whole, the state of North Dakota has experienced seven straight wet seasons. The last season that finished either near or below average was the summer of 2009, which at the time was the 32nd driest on record.

This summer, climatologically being June through August, is also starting off very wet across most of the region.  Some parts of the state recorded more rain in June than they average over the course of an entire summer.  That is particularly true in portions of central and western North Dakota.  The big question is will this trend continue?

Historically, summers that follow La Ninas tend to start wet with conditions improving over the course of the summer.  With June being so wet, the overall season will finish with above average precipitation for the state, but the odds do favor July and August not seeing the widespread excessive rainfall that has occurred in June with precipitation falling closer to the historical average in most areas.

With abundant rain, comes abundant cloud cover, which when combined with a saturated soil, lowers the ambient air temperature.  This of course means that temperatures tend to be cooler than normal.  But following the lead with my precipitation forecast, the summer temperatures should improve per the average as we progress through the summer as the soils dry and the precipitation becomes less abundant.  Therefore, July and August will likely have an improvement in the overall number of heat units (growing degree days) that the crops will need to catch up after a cool start to the growing season.

The North Dakota State Climate Office has links to the National Weather Service?s local 3-month temperature outlooks for the up coming year (updated monthly).  Those outlooks can be found here: http://www.ndsu.edu/ndsco/outlook/L3MTO.html.  The latest CPC (Climate Prediction Center) forecasts nationally can be found at http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions.    The latest 3-month forecast through September can be seen below:

 

 

Century Wet

North Dakota experienced a wet spring, which was preceded by a wet winter.  As a whole, the state of North Dakota has experienced seven straight wet seasons. The last season that finished either near or below average was the summer of 2009.

This summer is also starting off very wet across most of the state with some parts of the Red River Valley being the only exception.   Many recording sites in North Dakota have received more rain in June than they average over the course of an entire summer.   Therefore, even if July and August are exceptionally dry, the summer of 2011 will very likely be the 8th straight season with above average precipitation.  Although Minnesota has faired better, the northwestern quarter of the state has recorded similar wet conditions.

For much of the past 20 years, western North Dakota was dry as the eastern part of the state was soaked in rain, but with the entire state now getting excessive rain, this region is perhaps the wettest it has been in over 100 years.

Tuesday’s Rain

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE GRAND FORKS ND
846 PM CDT TUE JUN 21 2011

...RAINFALL TOTALS THROUGH 7 PM FOR AUTOMATED AWOS/ASOS SITES...

THIS DATA SHOULD BE CONSIDERED PRELIMINARY AS IT HAS NOT BEEN
QUALITY CONTROLLED...

...NORTH DAKOTA...
FARGO ASOS............................1.72
GRAFTON AWOS..........................0.36
NWS GRAND FORKS.......................0.80
GWINNER AWOS..........................1.06
COOPERSTOWN AWOS......................0.36
DEVILS LAKE AWOS......................0.13
WALHALLA AWOS.........................0.02
LANGDON AWOS..........................0.09
CANDO AWOS............................0.07
VALLEY CITY AWOS......................0.82

...MINNESOTA...
MOORHEAD AWOS.........................1.70
DETROIT LAKES AWOS....................0.73
FERGUS FALLS AWOS.....................0.38
ELBOW LAKE AWOS.......................0.41
BEMIDJI AWOS..........................0.68
PARK RAPIDS ASOS......................0.36
WADENA AWOS...........................0.64
STAPLES AWOS..........................0.68
FOSSTON AWOS..........................0.67
BAUDETTE ASOS.........................0.43
WARROAD AWOS..........................0.28
HALLOCK AWOS..........................0.20

Here is the totals through 7:00 AM this morning:


PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE GRAND FORKS ND
1138 AM CDT WED JUN 22 2011

...3-DAY RAINFALL ROUND-UP...

THE FOLLOWING ARE RAIN AMOUNTS FOR THE PREVIOUS 24-HOURS
AS MEASURED IN THE MORNING BY NWS COOPERATIVE OBSERVERS AND
AUTOMATED GAGES.

OBSERVATIONS ARE USUALLY TAKEN AT 7 AM.

     24-HOUR RAINFALL REPORTS:


***************** WEDNESDAY (06/22/11) **************

NORTH DAKOTA                                   RAIN
  LOCATION (COUNTY):                           FALL (IN)

  KINDRED (CASS)................................2.60
  LIDGERWOOD (RICHLAND).........................2.34
  FARGO 5SW (CASS)..............................2.16
  NDAWN AT CAVALIER (PEMBINA)...................2.04
  MAPLETON (CASS)...............................2.04
  WEST FARGO 4SSE (CASS)........................2.04
  FARGO 3NE (CASS)..............................2.03
  ASOS AT FARGO AIRPORT (CASS)..................1.96
  FARGO 2SE (CASS)..............................1.92
  GRAFTON ARPT (WALSH)..........................1.86
  FARGO 1ESE (CASS).............................1.84
  CAYUGA (SARGENT)..............................1.75
  ASOS AT GRAND FORKS AFB (GRAND FORKS).........1.73
  WALHALLA HS SNOW SITE (PEMBINA)...............1.70
  MAYVILLE (TRAILL).............................1.62
  MINTO (WALSH).................................1.61
  HARWOOD (CASS)................................1.56
  LITTLE PEMBINA RIVER (CAVALIER)...............1.50
  NDAWN AT WYNDMERE (RICHLAND)..................1.50
  FORMAN (SARGENT)..............................1.49
  NDAWN AT GALESBURG (TRAILL)...................1.49
  CAVALIER (PEMBINA)............................1.42
  HAVANA (SARGENT)..............................1.38
  LANKIN 6E (WALSH).............................1.37
  NDAWN AT HILLSBORO (TRAILL)...................1.34
  NDAWN AT WAHPETON (RICHLAND)..................1.33
  BUFFALO (CASS)................................1.29
  SARLES 5NE (CAVALIER).........................1.25
  PEMBINA (PEMBINA).............................1.02
  OSLO 3WNW (WALSH).............................1.00
  GRAND FORKS NWS (GRAND FORKS).................0.96
  GRAND FORKS 1SW (GRAND FORKS).................0.95
  COOPERSTOWN AWOS (GRIGGS).....................0.93
  ASOS AT GRAND FORKS AP (GRAND FORKS)..........0.91
  NDAWN AT PILLSBURY (BARNES)...................0.85
  NEW ROCKFORD 9WNW (EDDY)......................0.84
  NDAWN AT LANGDON (CAVALIER)...................0.78
  NDAWN AT MCHENRY (EDDY).......................0.78
  VALLEY CITY 2NW (BARNES)......................0.74
  LANKIN 9SW (WALSH)............................0.63
  NEW ROCKFORD 1ESE (EDDY)......................0.56
  NEW ROCKFORD 7ESE (EDDY)......................0.54
  VALLEY CITY ARPT (BARNES).....................0.47
  NDAWN AT MICHIGAN 2W (NELSON).................0.47
  NDAWN AT BAKER (BENSON).......................0.46
  NDAWN AT CANDO (TOWNER).......................0.46
  STARKWEATHER (RAMSEY).........................0.46
  WALES 5SE (CAVALIER)..........................0.46
  CHURCHS FERRY (RAMSEY)........................0.43
  MICHIGAN UCOOP (NELSON).......................0.36
  AWOS AT DEVILS LAKE (RAMSEY)..................0.33

MINNESOTA                                      RAIN
  LOCATION (COUNTY):                           FALL (IN)

  SABIN (CLAY)..................................2.45
  NDAWN AT STEPHEN (MARSHALL)...................1.79
  OTTERTAIL (OTTER TAIL)........................1.67
  NDAWN AT PERLEY (NORMAN)......................1.42
  GREENBUSH (ROSEAU)............................1.19
  BEMIDJI (BELTRAMI)............................1.08
  AWOS AT ROSEAU (ROSEAU).......................1.06
  AWOS AT THIEF RIVER FALLS (PENNINGTON)........0.99
  ARGYLE (MARSHALL).............................0.98
  ROOSEVELT 5N (LAKE OF THE WOODS)..............0.97
  ASOS AT BAUDETTE (LAKE OF THE WOODS)..........0.96
  LANCASTER (KITTSON)...........................0.94
  AWOS AT BEMIDJI (BELTRAMI)....................0.93
  BEMIDJI 8NE (BELTRAMI)........................0.88
  ELBOW LAKE VILLAGE 8ENE (CLEARWATER)..........0.83
  AWOS AT HALLOCK (KITTSON).....................0.80
  ROTHSAY (WILKIN)..............................0.80
  TAMARAC WILDLIFE REFUGE (BECKER)..............0.76
  AWOS AT WARROAD (LAKE OF THE WOODS)...........0.75
  UNDERWOOD 8NNE (OTTER TAIL)...................0.70
  SEBEKA (WADENA)...............................0.66
  WARROAD (ROSEAU)..............................0.63
  ASOS AT PARK RAPIDS (HUBBARD).................0.60
  AWOS AT ELBOW LAKE AWOS (GRANT)...............0.39
  AWOS AT FLAG ISLAND (LAKE OF THE WOODS).......0.31
  AWOS AT FERGUS FALLS (OTTER TAIL).............0.29
  AWOS AT FOSSTON (POLK)........................0.28
  AWOS AT DETROIT LAKES (BECKER)................0.26
  AWOS AT WADENA (WADENA).......................0.25

Cool June?

I have been asked on numerous occasions if I felt the rest of this summer would remain as cool as June has been so far.  My immediate response has been to mention that this month has been far from cool, that in fact, the month has been running 1-2 degrees above average. With two days in the 90s, five days in the 80s and with many of the days we have been in the 70s in the upper ranges of the 70s, this month has recorded plenty of warm days for our climate.

Although the weather looks cooler the next few days, looking forward, this month appears to be on track to finish either near or slight above average.  My original summer forecast was for this month to finish near or slightly below average with July and August finishing above normal.

With a mild June start, the summer is looking promising, at least temperature wise.

Flood Stats

Although the Red River in Fargo has gone above flood stage slightly again, during the spring flood it was continuously above flood stage for 75 days 21 hours and 15 minutes.  During that time frame, 63.38 billion(yes billion) cubic feet of water flowed through Fargo Moorhead (say under the Main avenue bridge).  A cubic food of water contains approximately 7.5 gallons.

That would fill a football field to a height of 208 miles (and change).  Some some fun flood facts to impress your friends with (or bore them).

 

Funky Sun

The Sun has been in what could be described as a funk for the past several years.  The Sun has an approximate 11 year cycle of sun spots going from solar maximum with many spots to solar minimum with few spots over those 11 years.  From 2008 through early 2010 the Sun had the longest solar minimum in 100 years and even now with the Sun moving toward solar maximum, sun spots numbers have been very low.  If current research is correct, this lack of sunspots may become a common trend in the upcoming decades.

The American Astronomical Society issued a press release last week stating that sunspots may be on the way out and an extended solar minimum may be on the horizon.  In fact, some scientists are wondering if this drop in activity would lead to another so called Maunder Minimum, a period from 1645 to 1715 when the Sun had virtually no spots.  Historically, the planet has cooled off noticeably during times when the Sun produces few spots.

We live in interesting times.

Click for Press Release here.

 

Spring Contrasts

Yesterday in this space I wrote about how wet May was, not only locally, but throughout the northern part of the United States from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean.  When you add March and April, the other two spring months into the equation, the precipitation amounts become record breaking for many locations.

A total of nine states had their wettest spring since 1893.  These states include; Washington, Wyoming, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York and Vermont. Plus, the states of Oregon, Montana and Michigan recorded their 2nd wettest spring.  I think you would have to go back to the summer of 1993 to find so many states being near or breaking records for precipitation.

The spring of 2011 was the 13th wettest on record for North Dakota and Minnesota had their 27th wettest spring.  The southern tier of the United States on the other hand recorded a very dry spring, with Texas having their driest spring on record.