Milder by Thursday; Flood risk elevates; On pace for coolest March in 5 years?

Silver Linings Weatherbook

We’re searching for “silver linings” these days in Minnesota.

Thankfully, there are a few in the forecast, and even in the stubborn snow cover outside the window.

You’re not alone if this March seems like unusually cruel and inhumane punishment so far.

Did last year’s warmest March on record spoil us? It was a freak event,and we’re running 17 degrees cooler so far this March when compared to last year.

In this Updraft we’ll look at how we compare so far this March, what recent snows and rain means for spring flood risk, and track a late week warming trend.

Bring it.

(Insert gratuitous therapeutic summer scene here)

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Sunset sailing on warmer days late last summer on Lake Minnetonka

Image: Paul Huttner – MPR News

On pace for coolest march in 5 years?

Face it. We got spoiled last year.

66F high temp at MSP 1 year ago on March 11th

With 8 days in the 70s and the earliest 80 degree reading on record on St. Patty’s Day, last year’s warmest March on record felt more like May.

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The buds on the weather lab lilacs were ready to burst last year at this time.

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This year they’re wrapped up tight against our wintery March breezes.

Some numbers?

+15.5 vs. average last March at MSP (warmest March on record)

-1.7F vs. average so far this month at MSP

If we stay on this pace, it’s been 5 years since we saw a March colder than this year. March 2008 finished -2.3F vs. average.

March 2012 +15.5F

March 2011 -1.2F

March 2010 +10F

March 2009 +1.6F

March 2008 -2.3F

After a winter that started mild, this March feels more like an endurance test at times.

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Dodging two snowy weather bullets:

The Twin Cities bagged .61″ rainfall Saturday, but missed out on two separate 6″+ snow systems this weekend.

Check out the narrow escape courtesy of the Twin Cities NWS.

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Bright side: Trending sunnier & milder late this week

Many Minnesotans would like it if we could fast forward 3 days.

Our weather pattern looks noticeably sunnier and milder by Thursday.

As winds shift and blow from the south, temps will respond later this week. The latest indications are we should see temps near 40F by Thursday & Friday.

The models diverge a bit after that…with the GFS holding milder temps in place, and the Euro trying to keep us a bit cooler as we head into next week. We’ll need to let them work it out in the next few days.

Flood risk elevated…but still “normal” in most areas

6 weeks ago the notion of flooding on Minnesota Rivers would have seemed laughable.

But our February snow blitz has changed things.

Hydrologists at the North Central River Forecast Center have updated the flood risk from below…to near “normal” in the past few weeks on area rivers.

Spring Outlook for River Conditions – Updated March 7, 2013

Parts of the Upper Minnesota and Mississippi River basins continue to have a Normal risk for flooding. In addition parts of Southern and Eastern Minnesota as West Central Wisconsin are at risk for flooding due to Concrete Frost.

With the snowfall in February, conditions have changed from below normal with the January outlooks to a Normal Risk of Flooding with the February Outlooks for locations including

•Montevideo on the Minnesota River

•Granite Falls on the Minnesota River

•Redwood Falls o the Redwood River

•New Ulm on the cottonwood River

•Long Prairie on the Long Prairie River

•St Cloud on the Sauk River

•St Cloud in the Mississippi River

While severe to extreme drought conditions still exist still across the region, precipitation from December 2012 through the first part of March has been near normal to even above normal in some areas. Hence some regions do have a decent snow pack with water equivalents of 3 to 5 inches. The graphic below shows the amount of water in the snow pack on March 6, 2013.

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The infamous “concrete frost” may still cause rapid snowmelt and spring rains to rush into rivers in southern Minnesota this spring….similar to the deluge along Highway 169 between Mankato and the metro Saturday.

The Minnesota River at Henderson jumped 4 feet since Saturday!

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It’s still way below flood stage, but it’s a good example of what heavy rainfall on top of “concrete frost” can do to cause rivers to spike.

The bigger flood picture this spring depends largely on future temperatures, rain and snow between now and May.

May….what a concept.

Saturday learning opportunity:

Looking for something “sciencey” to do this Saturday? Here’s a great option.

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The 2013 Annual Meeting of the Minnesota Chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology will feature a morning symposium that provides an overview of anthropogenic biomes of the world and Minnesota. A panel of presenters will then explore novel approaches to conservation planning, implementation, and management that are emerging to address conservation in cropland, rangeland, residential and wildland anthromes. The symposium will set the stage for others to discuss their latest work in conservation science, policy, and practice.

Conservation in the Anthropocene: Emerging Approaches for Effective Conservation in Minnesota

March 16, 2013 (9 am-5 pm) Dodge Nature Center, West St. Paul, MN


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