After a mediocre winter season so far, we once again find ourselves facing several winter storms. However, Mother Nature seems to be pulling the rug out from under us, when it comes to the track of these storms. As we watch our end of the week snow chances fall apart faster than a cheap paper towel, we turn our attention to yet another chance of snow early next week. Maybe this next one will put us in the path of a more generous snowfall? Only time, and a lot of careful tracking from the FOX 9 weather team, will tell.
To give some perspective, we need to look at where we are now, when it comes to moisture. A great source is the US Drought Monitor. The latest drought information is out every Thursday, just in time to gain some perspective, before the flakes start to fly. Here is an image of our current drought situation in Minnesota, courtesy of their web site.
As you can see, we find ourselves in a moderate to severe drought across the metro counties. However, an even direr situation has set up in Southwestern and Northwestern Minnesota. However, thanks to an active summer pattern, extreme Northern Minnesota has escaped the official drought stigma, and is just abnormally dry.
So, what does this all mean? It means we need several things to happen. First, we need more moisture. Second, the moisture we do get, we need to keep and not lose to an aggressive spring runoff, better known as spring flooding.
Remember we talked storm track? This season's storm track has been lending itself to a more generous snowfall in extreme Northwestern Minnesota. Just today, the National weather service in Grand Forks says that there is a 79% chance of major flooding in the Fargo-Moorhead area, a risk that was at just about 7% last month. The term "Major Flooding" may be all bark and no bite. According to the National Weather Service in Grand Forks, ND, "Major Flooding" is a level that triggers local officials to take precautionary measures. However, the drought runs deep in Northwestern Minnesota with the ground below quite dry. Rivers are also running low, which will help absorb the spring melt. A fly in the ointment could be the fact that the topsoil received quite the saturation last season and is now frozen in most areas. A spring forecast of cooler temperatures and slightly above average precipitation leads us to believe a slow melt is in store for Northwestern Minnesota this spring. This could inhibit the ground from drinking up the melting snow pack as fast as we would like to see. It's a situation that will need to be monitored. The next outlook comes out March 7.
Back to our neck of the woods, we don't have the abundant snow pack they have in Northwestern Minnesota. But then again, we are not as bad off in the drought department. The average seasonal snowfall in the Twin Cities is 55.9 inches. Below is an image of how much snow we have received so far this season. Keep in mind this is before this weekend's possible snow blitz. Also below is a graph of how this winter season compares to the past few years.
So, time will tell when it comes to how we score on this season's report card. Remember, the average snowfall for the month of March in the Twin Cities is 10.4". So the hopes of a normal amount of moisture are not yet dashed. Remember the importance of every flake next time you're out shoveling. It all adds up to serving a purpose in the overall scheme of things. Frazier