Very little snow has been seen around Fargo Moorhead this season. Unusual? Not at all. In fact our average first 1 inch snow fall is on November 13. We average 7.9 inches in the month of November, but in more years than not, that average is derived from snow events during the 2nd half of November, not the first.
The snowiest winter on record in Fargo Moorhead was back in the 1996-1997 cold season when 117.0 inches of snow was recorded. The first measurable snow of that very long winter did not occur until today, November 15 (which also happened to be a Friday) when two inches fell in the first initial wave of a three day snow storm that eventually brought blizzard conditions to the area over that weekend. By Monday morning, 15.5 inches of snow had fallen. By the end of the month 26.4 inches of snow had fallen on the city.
The odds of a repeat are of course extremely low, but snow will come eventually, it always does.
October seems to be one of those months that no one really expects it to snow, yet, when no snow is actually measured, many seem to get surprised by that as well. One reason perhaps is that October snow has been fairly common in recent years. Fargo Moorhead averages just 0.7 inches in October. yet five out of the past seven years have recorded more than one inch of snow.
Historically, measurable snow has occurred in 45% of all Octobers since snow records have been kept, making these recent snowy Octobers seem more typical then it has been historically. Most years any snow this time of year is in smaller quantities as it only takes 3.8 inches to make it into the top 10 snowiest Octobers on record. Last year we came close to that finishing as the 11th snowiest when 3.6 inches were measured.
This year we tied with numerous years as the 60th snowiest October on record with just a trace being reported.
Our record low temperatures are now mostly in the single digits above zero and beginning in early November, all our record lows will be below zero until March 31. A couple of exceptions to that statement will be tomorrow, when the record low is -4 degrees, set in 1919, which is the earliest below zero temperature on record and one final double digit record next Wednesday when the record low is 10 degrees set in 1991.
Many of you may recall that was the day before the famed Halloween blizzard that dropped significant snow in portions of Minnesota that year. Of course, such events this time of year are rare, but smaller snow events are more common. The record lows this time of year were almost all set a day or two after a snowfall as snow cover greatly enhances our ability to cool off during our increasingly longer nights.
On the first day of July, probably the last thing on your mind is snow, but today is the beginning of a new snow year. The snow year in the northern hemisphere for climatic purposes runs from July 1 through June 30. This just completed snow year of 2012-2013 ranked as the 11th snowiest on record. In total, the observer in north Moorhead measured 68.4 inches of snow in the past 12 months.
The last snow recorded locally was back on April 24 when 0.3 inches was measured. Many of you may recall the record breaking early May snow event that impacted areas to our south and east, but locally our last snow event was fairly close to when it often occurs. Even with that May event missing this area, our snow season was very long, as our first measureable snow occurred much earlier than average on October 4.
That was one of the earliest measureable snows on record in Fargo Moorhead.
Our just completed snow season was one of the longest on record. The first measurable snow fell on October 4 in Fargo Moorhead and the last measurable snow locally occurred on April 24 for a total of 203 days between accumulating snow events.
Regionally, that October 4 event dropped over 12 inches of snow into far northwestern Minnesota and then on May 1-3, parts of southern Minnesota recorded over 12 inches of snow. That is the longest period between one foot snow events I could find during any snow season within the state of Minnesota.
Another area that has experienced an exceptionally long snow season has been Anchorage, Alaska. On May 18, the Anchorage airport recorded 0.1 inch of snow, with some parts of the city recording nearly 6 inches from the event that started the day before. Anchorage recorded their first measurable snow back on September 29, meaning there was a period of 233 days between snow events, the longest such period on record for the city.
We live in a climate where you probably never should say never, but the odds are extremely low that this area will record any more snowfall this season. So unless something unforeseen occurs, our current spring (March through May) will end up ranking as the 2nd snowiest on record. In total, 31.3 inches of snow was measured by our official observer in north Moorhead since March 1.
Only one spring, 1997, was more snow recorded when 33.6 inches was measured. Our spring snow total of 31.3 inches was nearly one-half of the total snow recorded this cold season. This past winter, 68.4 inches of snow fell in Fargo Moorhead which will rank as the 11th snowiest on record.
Other recent springs with abundant snow include, 2009 with 28.3 inches (4th highest) and 2008 when 28.1 inches fell (5th highest). Therefore, three out of the five snowiest springs on record have all occurred in the past five years.
Last month finished as the 5th coldest April on record. Not only did we finish in the Top 5 for cold temperatures, but also for snowfall. The official observer in north Moorhead measured 16.7 inches of snow last month which ranked as the 4th snowiest April on record. A couple of days ago in a previous blog I mentioned that although April ranked as the 5th coldest on record, we came within 1 degree of breaking the monthly record.
It was also a similar scenario for snowfall last month.The 16.7 inches that was measured barely missed the April snow record of 17.4 inches set in 1904. The other two years with a higher snow totals in the month of April were in 2008 with 16.9 inches and 16.8 inches recorded in 1937. In total, 2.11 inches of liquid equivalency of recorded last month.
It was a rare April in the sense that almost all of that moisture came from snowfall as only 0.05 inches of rain was recorded with 2.06 inches coming from melted snow.
As the month of April comes to a close, most individuals in the Midwest will likely not forget this month for a very long time. The residents of one city in particular definitely had a month to remember. Duluth, Minnesota recorded 50.8 inches of snow this month.
That total surpassed the 31.6 inches of snow that fell in April, 1950 the previous snowiest April on record by an astounding 19.2 inches. This month also surpassed the 50.1 inches that fell during November, 1991 to become the overall snowiest month in the city since records have been kept. The 50.8 inches that fell this month brought the seasonal total in Duluth to 129.4 inches which is currently the 3rd snowiest cold season on record for the city.
Although the seasonal total so far has fallen short of the record, 95.7 inches of that total has fallen since February 1, making the period from February 1 through April 30 the snowiest such period on record by 27.2 inches.
Today marks the 150th day with at least 1 inch of snow on the ground this cold season. This is only the 5th time on record that Fargo Moorhead has recorded at least 150 days of snow cover. As a reference, the winter of 1996-1997 recorded 147 days with snow covering the ground. Including this cold season, that ranks as the 5th highest such total on record.
The years with the highest total number of days with snow cover occurred during the winters of 1935-1936 and 1978-1979. Both of those cold seasons recorded 155 total days with at least 1 inch of snow depth. Last year, the winter of 2012-2013 recorded only 65 such days. Because of the warmer temperatures expected beginning tomorrow it is likely we will not be breaking the record for the most snow covered days in a season, but we did break the record for the most such days in the month of April by at least 7 days and counting