The Spring Snow Storm of March 13-14, 1997


The 1996-97 winter had already been a long one by the time March began. The snow started to accumulate in November, and kept the ground covered under a blanket of white through February. Seasonal snowfall records had been set in many locations. Finally, the winter looked like it might give way to spring as March started, with most locations losing their snow cover.

However, a storm system developed over Texas and the southern Plains and tracked toward the Upper Mississippi River Valley on the evening on the 12th. Snow developed across the region that evening and continued through the 13th and 14th. The heaviest snows fell on the 13th and 14th when the forcing and instability with the storm were the strongest. A large swath of 10 or more inches of snow fell from southeast Minnesota through east central Wisconsin (Fig. 1), with a narrow band of 15-25" from around Winona, MN and La Crosse, WI to Green Bay, WI (Table 1). Daily and monthly snowfall records were set throughout most of the region. In addition, this snowfall added to an already snowy winter season, helping Rochester, MN to its snowiest season on record with a total of 84.6" for 1996-97.

Snowfall totals map for March 12-14, 1997
Fig 1. Approximate snowfall totals for March 12-14, 1997 (most snow from the 13-14).

Iowa

Minnesota

Wisconsin

Waukon

8.5"

Minnesota City

21.0"

Mather

22.0"

Richland Center

7.0"

Cresco

8.0"

La Crescent

18.0"

Sparta

20.0"

Lynxville

5.5"

Decorah

7.5"

Winona

17.8"

Viroqua

20.0"

Muscoda

5.0"

Mason City

5.0"

Hokah

15.7"

La Crosse

19.1"

Jump River

4.0"

Charles City

3.9"

Caledonia

15.5"

Mauston

18.0"

Lancaster

2.0"

New Hampton

3.5"

Spring Grove

14.0"

Cashton

17.0"

Prairie du Chien

2.0"

Elkader

1.5"

Theilman

14.0"

Hillsboro

17.0"

Fayette

1.2"

Preston

13.0"

Blair

15.6"

 

 

 

 

Grand Meadow

12.0"

LaFarge

15.0"

 

 

 

 

Austin

9.0"

Neilsville

14.0"

 

 

 

 

Byron

9.0"

Alma

13.0"

 

 

 

 

Harmony

8.0"

Gays Mills

11.0"

 

 

 

 

Zumbrota

6.5"

Mondovi

10.0"

 

 



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