Top Weather Events of 2009 Across Western and Central ND




Harsh Winter and Flooding

The annual snowfall total from the 2008-09 winter was nearly record breaking in Bismarck, North Dakota (map shown above). Total snowfall during the months of December through February alone was 58 in Bismarck. This shattered the old record of 48.6” set during the 1995-96 winter season. Similar record breaking snowfall occurred throughout the state this past winter. In addition to the record snowfall, below average temperatures allowed the accumulated snow to pile up and remain well into the spring season. The season total 100.3 inches of snowfall measured at the National Weather Service Office in Bismarck fell just short of the record seasonal snowfall of 101.6 inches, which was set in the winter of 1996-97. As of 1 March, 2009, the National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center (NOHRSC) upper Midwest snowpack analysis depicted a large area of snowpack water equivalents in excess of three inches from the Souris River basin in northern North Dakota, through the middle portions of the Missouri River basin in the central, and into the James River basin in the southeast portions of the state, with snow depths in excess of 20 inches within these areas. Such a snowpack set the stage for widespread flooding across western and central North Dakota with the arrival of the spring thaw. After the heavy snowfall from the 24 March and the 29 through 31 March late season winter storms, the snowpack was once again replenished after the initial snow melt and first round of flooding, especially across the southwest and south central, where there had been bare ground in some places in late March, now a 20 inch snow pack with 2 to 3 inches of liquid water equivalent was back in place. Furthermore, the snowpack across the James and Souris rivers basins increased to 20 to 30 inches of snow depth with liquid water equivalents exceeding 5.0 inches in many locations by the beginning of April. Ice jam, overland and river flooding across the area was extensive. Shown below are the peak flood stage at river gages across the area.

Dickinson Tornado
Damage Report
Radar Data
Shown above are radar images at approximately 816 pm MDT. Left is a radar reflectivity, showing a large storm over Dickinson. Right is storm relative motion, depicting how the precipitation within a thunderstorm is moving. Green is motion towards the radar, and red is away. When green and red are located next to each other, there is air moving towards and away from the radar over a short distance, signifying rotation and a possible tornado. Notice the couplet of green next to red near Dickinson, indicating a tornado.
Damage Photos
Bismarck/Mandan/Lincoln Flash Flood
The evening of 15 June 2009 saw tremendous amounts of rainfall across Bismarck, Mandan and Lincoln, North Dakota, as a result of nearly stationary thunderstorms that developed within a very saturated atmosphere. Rainfall amounts of seven to ten inches were received during the evening of 15 June 2009, from the northeast side of Bismarck through Lincoln and across the the Apple Creek Basin. The runoff associated with this rainfall caused Apple Creek to quickly rise to major flood stage by the morning of 16 June 2009. Widespread two to three inches of rain fell across Mandan and Bismarck causing street flooding across the metro area. Another 2.60 inches of rain fell on 16 June 2009 at the Bismarck airport, causing additional street flooding and prolonging flooding on Apple Creek. Shown above is the radar estimated rainfall the evening of 15 June 2009. Note the widespread 8 to 10 plus inches estimated rainfall just east of Bismarck. Shown below are a list of rainfall reports from 15 and 16 June 2009, a picture of the flooded Apple Creek County Club (credit KXMB viewer) and the hydrograph from Apple Creek near Menoken.


BISMARCK  7 E...........10.20
BISMARCK 5 NW...........4.60
KXMB STUDIOS............4.17


BISMARCK 0.5 S..........5.72
BISMARCK 6.1 SSE........5.71
BISMARCK 5.7 SSE........5.40

A Roller Coaster Year for Temperatures and Precipitation
A cold and wet March lead to increased flooding severity arcoss western and central North Dakota. However, a cold and dry April slowed the rate of snow melt, while not adding much addtional water to river and stream systems that were already above capacity. A cool and wet summer was seen across much of western and central North Dakota, the exception being the James River Valley, which saw well below normal precipitation this summer. After a warm and dry September, a cold and wet October was experienced, followed by near record breaking warmth and dry conditions in November. However, December will end up colder and wetter than avergae for most locations across the area. Click on the maps below to see the temperature departures from normal, and precipitation percent of normal for each month in 2009 across the state. These plots are produced at the High Plains Regional Climate Center.
Jan. Temperature Departure from Normal Jan. Precipitation Percent of Normal
Feb. Temperature Departure from Normal Feb. Precipitation Percent of Normal
Mar. Temperature Departure from Normal Mar. Precipitation Percent of Normal
Apr. Temperature Departure from Normal Apr. Precipitation Percent Normal
May Temperature Departure from Normal May Precipitation Percent of Normal
Jun. Temperature Departure from Normal Jun. Precipitation Percent Normal
Jul. Temperature Departure from Normal Jul. Precipitation Percent of Normal
Aug. Temperature Departure from Normal Aug. Precipitation Percent of Normal
Sep. Temperature Departure from Normal Sep. Precipitation Percent of Normal
Oct. Temperature Departure from Normal Oct. Precipitation Percent Normal
Nov. Temperature Departure from Normal Nov. Precipitation Percent of Normal
Dec. Temperature Departure from Normal Dec. Precipitation Percent of Normal
Christmas Blizzard

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