2011 Weather Highlights

2011 Western and Central North Dakota
Weather Highlights

Highlights: 

2011     January     February    March    April     May     June     July
 August    September    October      November     December

2011 Records: 

Bismarck       Williston       Minot       Dickinson     Jamestown

2011 Highlights:

Western and Central North Dakota:
*Melting of an above-average snow pack across the Northern Rocky Mountains combined with above-average precipitation caused the Missouri and Souris Rivers to swell beyond their banks. An estimated 11,000 people were forced to evacuate Minot, North Dakota due to the record high water level of the Souris River, where 4,000 homes were flooded. Numerous levees were breached along the Missouri River, flooding thousands of acres of farmland. Estimated losses exceed $2.0 billion. The flooding also stretched into the Canadian Prairies, where property and agriculture losses were expected to surpass $1.0 billion; at least 5 U.S. deaths.

*Preliminarily there were 34 tornadoes in 2011. Statewide there was 59 tornadoes. This was the third highest number of tornadoes in North Dakota back to 1950. There were 60 from last year, 2010, and 61 in 1999. The only other year with more than 50 was 1976 with 52.

Bismarck:
*9th wettest year on record dating back to 1875. Bismarck received 23.22" of precipitation and was 5.37" above normal for the year.

*5th snowiest snow season (July-June) on record. Bismarck received 85.4" of snow during the 2010-2011 snow season and was 34.1" above normal.

Williston:
*8th wettest year on record. Williston received 19.23" of precipitation and was 4.86" above normal for the year.

*Snowiest snow season on record dating back to 1894. Williston received 107.2" of snow during the 2010-2011 snow season, which was a new record and was 53.0" above normal. 

Minot:
*Wetter than normal year with 23.05" of precipitation, which was 5.86" above normal.

*Received 73.5" of snow during the 2010-2011 snow season, which was 27.4" above normal.

Dickinson:
*Wetter than normal year with 17.48" of precipitation, which was 1.71" above normal.

*Received 74.8" of snowfall during the 2010-2011 snow season, which was 34.7" above normal. 

Jamestown:
*Wetter than normal year with 21.84" of precipitation, which was 3.07" above normal.

*Received 90.0" of snow during the 2010-2011 snow season, which was 45.5" above normal.

 

January:
*Both Bismarck and Williston received above normal snowfall for January. Bismarck received 18.2" of snow. which was 9.3" above normal. Williston received 20.5" of snow, which was 10.5" above normal. 

*Bismarck was 1.5  °F colder than normal, while Williston was 1 °F warmer than normal .

*December 31st - January 1st: Strong winds over 40 mph persisted over the state from December 30th through January 1st. When combined with continued snowfall and fresh snow cover on the ground, blizzard conditions continued through the morning hours of January 1st over portions of south central North Dakota.

*January 31st - February 1st: Dangerous wind chill conditions developed across the Northern Plains Monday night January 31st through Tuesday morning February 1st as Arctic high pressure pushed south into the region. North winds up to 15 mph combined with subzero surface temperatures to result in wind chill temperatures of 40 below to 55 below zero. 

 

February:
*Bismarck was 6 °F colder than normal for February, while Williston was 7 °F colder than normal. 

*February 1st - 2nd, 8th: Dangerous wind chill conditions developed  during the night of 1st through the 2nd and again on the morning of the 8th as arctic high pressure moved across the region. Winds up to 15 mph combined with subzero temperatures resulted in wind chill temperatures of 40 below to 50 below zero.

*February 19th - 21st: Strong low pressure moving across the Central Plains brought moderate to heavy snow and blizzard conditions to parts of southwest and south central North Dakota. This episode started in the evening of February 19th, and ended during the early morning hours of February 21st. Storm total snowfall amounts ranged from well over one foot across the southwest, and up to nine inches in the southern James River Basin of southeastern North Dakota. Northerly winds gusting to 50 mph occurred on the back side of the surface low across the easternDakotas, resulting in a prolonged period of blizzard conditions.

 

March: 
*Both Bismarck and Williston received above normal snow for March. Bismarck and Williston both received 13.7" of snow, which was 4.6" and 7.5" above normal respectively.

*Both Bismarck and Williston were 9 °F colder than normal for March.

*March 11th - 12th: An Alberta clipper rapidly intensified and moved across the region on the 11th and 12th bringing high winds and blizzard conditions to the state. Winds were sustained at 40 mph, with gusts to around 70 mph. When combined with snow, servere blizzard conditions quickly became widespread significantly impacting travel. 

*March 22nd - 23rd: An upper-level storm system moved over the Northern Plains on the 22nd and 23rd, resulting in heavy snow and blizzard conditions acrossmuch of  west and central North Dakota. Ahead of the system, a wintry mix of rain, freezing rain, and sleet was seen across the south with minor ice acumulations reported. Heavy snow fell from west central North Dakota, through much of the south central and James River Basion region. Storm total snowfall amounts ranged from 8" to 12", with locally higher amounts including 18.2" near Beulah.
 

April:
*April was a snowy, wet, cold month. Bismarck was wetter than normal by 0.89", snowier than normal by 9" of snow, and 3 °F colder than normal. Williston was1.94" wetter than normal, 9" snowier than normal, and 3 °F colder than normal.

*April 3rd: A strong system pushed east across the Central Plains and brought heavy snow to portions of north central North Dakota from the evening of the 2nd through the afternoon of the 3rd. Stotrm total snowfall ranged from 6" to just over one foot. 

*April 19th - 20th: Low visibilities and snow covered snows were seen on the 19th and 20th, as another storm brought heavy snow to the southwest and parts of south central. Storm total snow amounts ranged from 6" to 15" along and south of Interstate 94. Areas east of the Missouri River experienced more rain than snow, resuilting in much lower storm total snowfall. 

*April 22nd: A late season storm system brough heavy rain and heavy snow across the state. Surface temperatures were well above freezing for the duration of the event and resulted in rain falling at most locations, with only minor snowfall accumulations on grassy areas. On the backside of the storm, temperatures dropped below freezing resulting in heavy snow. Bowman county snowfall totals ranged from 7" to 12".

* April 29th - May 1st: A powerful late spring storm swept across the Northern Plains. High winds of 40 to 60 mph, heavy rain and heavy snow affected much of the area. Parts of western and north central North Dakota were hit the hardest, experiencing a prolonged period of very strong winds, freezing rain, and the heaviest snow up to 14". Impacts were extreme and devastating as the ice and heavy wet snow combined with strong winds knocked out power to thousands from fallen trees and power lines. Across the southwest and central impacts were less severe, however the widespread blizzard conditions still resulted in numerous road closures and travel advisories. Far south central and eastern North Dakota received very little snowfall but still experienced high winds. 

 

May:
*For Bismarck, May was 4 °F colder than normal, with 4 days with a low temperature of 32 °F or colder.

*For Williston, May was 3 °F  colder than normal and was 3.40" wetter than normal. 

*May 16th: A rapildy strengthening surface trough over eastern Montana created a strong pressure gradient over southwest North Dakota. This resulted in high sustained winds and a few gusts over 60 mph during the daytime hours.

*May 20th: A slow moving upper level low pressure system brought widespread rainfall to the west and central. A few areas received heavy amounts of precipitation, which contributed to increased river levels and ongoing overland flooding. Heavy precipitation reports were as follows: 3.00" 1 mile southwest of Marmarth,  2.50" 6 miles northeast of New Hradec, 2.01" 8 miles south of Rhame, and 1.50" 12 miles north of Elgin and Golva.

*May 22nd: An upper level low moved over the Nrothern Plains and due to unstable conditions near the surface resulted in one confirmed weak EF0 tornado touchdown near Tolley in Renville county.

*May 30th: Slow moving and redeveloping thunderstorms brought heavy rain to portions of the north central. Flashing flooding conditions occurred across central Ward County, including the city of Minot, due to the heavy rainfall.

*May 31st: Deep low pressure ligting north into southern Canada resulted in strong winds across all of the west and central. sustained winds of 40 mph and peak gusts up to 60 mph were reported during the morning and afternoon. 

 

June:
*During June, Bismarck was 2 °F colder than normal and was slightly wetter than normal by 0.60".

*For Williston, the month of June was 2 °F colder than normal and slightly drier than normal by 0.50".

*June 2nd - 3rd: A mid level storm system moved northeast across the Northern Plains and with an eastward moving cold front and unstable conditions near the surface resulted in an environment supportive for severe thunderstorms. Multiple severe thunderstorms produced large hail up to the size of golf balls, wind gusts up to 100 mph, and brief very heavy rain up to 1" in 20 minutes. Thunderstorm winds were most intense across portions of Emmons and Logan counties, where estimated winds up to 100 mph caused damage to several farmsteads and local communities.

*June 12th: Severe thunderstorms produced multiple tornadoes. An EF2 toched down 8 miles southwest of Elgin and moved northeast before ligting 3 miles southeast of Elgin. At its largest extent, the tornado was nearly one half mile wide, where the worst damage occurred. No fewer than 4 farmsteads were damaged along the path of the tornado.  Farther northeast, a tornado touched down and caused damage consistent with an EF1 tornado. Several EF0 tornadoes were also reported in Hettinger and Morton counties. The severe thunderstorms also produced heavy rain resulting in flash floods, noteably along Interstate 94 near Glen Ullin and wind gusts up 85 mph.

*June 20th: Severe thunderstorms producted several funnel clouds and two confirmed weak EFO tornadoes in open country of Morton County. The continued redevelopment of thunderstorms over north central Stutsman and central Foster counties resulted in flash flooding. A measured heavy rain report of 4.22 inches was received from south central Foster county. 

*June 22nd - 25th: Runoff from very heavy rain forced rapid dam releases along the Souris river resulting in an overtopping of levees and eventual levee failure. Communities through Ward County along the Souris River were very severly impacted. A mandatory evacuation was ordered along the river. In the end the river flooding resulted in impacts to around 15,000 residents. Also, a four foot rise along the Souris River near Sherwood resulted in a mandatory evacuation near McKinney Township. One Hundred homes, 150 camping sites, and several businessed and buildings were impacted. 

*June 25th: An eastward moving surface cold front and a favorable environment resulted in widspread thunderstorm activity. There were numerous reports of large hail and wind gusts up to 100 mph. Also, training thunderstorms across the northwest and north central resulted in locally very heavy rainfall which resulted in flash flooding. 

*June 26th: Four seperate rain events, with a total of 2.32" of rainfall, resulted in flash flood conditions over eastern Stutsman County including the city of Jamestown. Several Jamestown city streets were flooded, the railroad viaduct was was flooded, while portions of the city storm sewer and sanitary systems were overwhelmed.

 

July: 
*For Bismarck, the month of June was warmer and 2.66" wetter than normal. 

*For Williston, it was 2 °F warmer than normal.

*Mid-July: A prolonged period of excessive heat and humidity struck in mid July with heat index values close to 120 °F. There were not reports of human life lost, but an estimated of 700 livestock were killed.

*July 10: An EF2 tornado did significant damage to no fewer than 3 farmsteads and tore out shelter belts in Logan County. 

*July 17: Numerous reports of large hail and severe thunderstorm wind gusts were received. In addition, 3 confirmed tornadoes occurred with the first wave. The second wave occurred from the mid afternoon through the mid evening hours. This mainly consisted of one supercell thunderstorm. Severe weather reports included very large hail, strong winds, and two confirmed tornadoes. This included an EF3 tornado in Lamoure County, which tore a 16 mile long path through LaMoure county. The largest hailstone of the summer, baseball size, fell in LaMoure County, accompanying the EF3 tornado.

*July 29th - 30th: Two waves of severe weather struck west and central North Dakota from the evening of the 29th through the early morning hours of the 30th. The first wave of storms produced large hail and strong winds. Severe Thunderstorm Watch number 702 was in effect for this period. The second wave of storms produced large hail, strong winds, and heavy rain resulting in flash flood conditions over portions of Morton, Burleigh, Billings, Mountrail, and Stutsman counties.

 

August:
*In August, Bismarck was 1.74' wetter than normal, while Williston was 1 °F warmer than normal. 

*August 4th: Two separate severe storms formed during this event. The first storm impacted Golden Valley County in southwest North Dakota producing severe thunderstorm wind gusts, and the second storm impacted McLean County in central North Dakota with a report of large hail up to the size of golf balls. 

*August 5th: Thunderstorms developed across southwest and south central North Dakota through the afternoon hours and into the evening of August 5th.  One particularly strong bowing storm produced large hail up to the size of half dollars and wind gusts up to 75 mph as it tracked from west of Dickinson across Morton and Burleigh counties before weakening.

*August 6th: Thunderstorms with very heavy rain resulted in flash flood conditions over portions of Foster County in east central North Dakota. The flooding damaged rail tracks over the James River, causing a train derailment. No injuries were reported with this accident.

*August 15th: A severe weather outbreak unfolded during the late afternoon and evening as thunderstorms developed and intensified along several boundaries over southwest and south central North Dakota. Supercell storms formed initially over the west central and southwest, then formed into an organized bowing segment as the storms progressed eastward into the south central. Large hail up to the size of hen eggs and wind gusts up to 87 mph were reported. 

 

September:
*September was the start of a prolonged warmer and drier than normal period across North Dakota due to the presence of La Niña conditions in the equatorial Pacific. 

*Bismarck was 9 °F warmer than normal.

*Williston was 3 °F warmer than normal. 

*September 19th - 20th: A strong low pressure system moving across the Northern Plains brought a prolonged period of strong winds up to 62 mph to west and centra lNorth Dakota from the evening of the 19th through the afternoon of the 20th. 

 

October:
*Both Bismarck and Williston were warmer than normal by 4 °F and 6 °F respectively.

*The first week of October was marked by daily high temperatures that were 10 to 25 °F above normal.

*October 7th: Deep low pressure pushing north into south central Canada resulted in strong winds over southern North Dakota. Peak wind gusts reached 61 miles per hour over the southeast.

November:
*For Bismarck, the month of November was warmer and drier than normal. Williston was also warmer and drier than normal too. November continued the trend of quiet weather, warmer than normal temperatures and drier than normal conditions for North Dakota as the La Niña continued to intensify in the equatorial Pacific and influence the weather pattern over the Northern Plains.

*A strong mesoscale low pressure system rapidly intensified over north central North Dakota during the morning of the 15th. Reports of heavy snow were received from the Minot area of Ward County.

 

December:
*2011 started off on a cold and snowy note, but as 2011 closed out, December was warmer and drier than normal as high pressure dominated the weather pattern over the Northern Plains. 

*Bismarck was warmer than normal by 9 °F, while Willistion was 11 °F warmer than normal and was slightly drier than normal. 

*For Bismarck, December was the 8th warmest on record. 

2011 Records

Bismarck

Record Type

Date

New Record

Previous Record

Snow

January 30

4.5"

3.4" 1896

Warmest Low 

February 13

34 °F

32 °F 1924/1996/2006

Snow (Tie)

April 15

4.8"

4.8" 1970

Low

June 11

34 °F

36 °F 1969

Warmest Low

October 5

64 °F

60 °F 1909

Warmest Low

October 6

60 °F

56 °F 1920

High

November 23

62 °F

61 °F 1890

High (Tie)

December 18

56 °F

56 °F 1979

Warmest Low

December 30

29 °F

28 °F 1980

Warmest Low (Tie)

December 31

29 °F

29 °F 1940

Williston

Record Type

Date

New Record

Previous Record

Snow

January 9

5.0"

1.7" 1916

Snow

February 17

2.9"

2.8" 1950

Precipitation

March 22

0.52"

0.35" 1975

Snow

March 22

6.2"

3.0" 1975

Precipitation

April 29

0.75"

0.74" 1.67

Snow

April 30

7.9"

0.8" 1953

Precipitation

May 10

1.27"

1.25" 1999

Precipitation

September 20

0.48"

0.30" 1902

High (Tie)

September 25

89 °F

89 ° 1990

Warmest Low (Tie)

October 5

51 °F

51 °F 1980

Warmest Low

October 6

61 °F

51 °F 1962

Warmest Low (Tie)

October 7

50 °F

50 °F 1960

High

November 23

56 °F

55 °F 1942

 

Minot

Record Type

Date

New Record

Previous Record

Precipitation

March 11

0.45"

0.39" 1988

Precipitation

April 3

0.16"

0.11" 2003

Precipitation

July 8

1.57"

0.92" 1982

Precipitation

July 15

0.68"

0.67" 1972

Precipitation

July 26

1.11"

0.56" 1963

Precipitation

August 6

0.68"

0.47" 1966 

Precipitation

August 31

0.92"

0.78" 1977

Precipitation

September 20

1.17"

1.11" 1955

High

October 5

87 °F

85 °F 1920

Precipitation

October 13

0.06"

0.05" 1951

Precipitation

October 23

0.33"

0.25" 1957

Precipitation

October 25

0.40"

0.30" 1973

High (Tie)

November 23

55 °F

55 °F 1942

 

Dickinson

Record Type

Date

New Record

Previous Record

Precipitation

January 9

0.21"

0.15" 1983

Precipitation

January 30

0.07"

0.05" 1988

Precipitation

March 22

0.42"

0.28" 1975

Precipitation

May 20

1.57"

0.93" 1987

Precipitation

June 12

1.65"

0.64" 1981

Precipitation

July 22

1.41"

1.38" 1987

Precipitation

August 5

0.86"

0.40" 2004

High

December 28

54 °F

52 °F 1999

Jamestown

Record Type

Date

New Record

Previous Record

Precipitation

March 22

0.46"

0.41" 2009

Precipitation

June 14

1.72"

1.59" 1970

Precipitation

June 26

2.32"

1.28" 1965

Precipitation

September 20

0.62"

0.58" 1996

High

December 18

54 °F

51 °F 1939

High (Tie)

December 26

48 °F

48 °F 2005



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