Preliminary 2012 Red River Valley Climate Review

 ...2012 Red River Of the North Region CLIMATE YEAR IN REVIEW...

What a change a year makes. After almost 20 consecutive wet years The first widespread significant drought impacted the Red River Valley region throughout 2012, making it the top climate news Story.

OUR CLIMATE HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE...
...DROUGHT...
...RECORD/NEAR RECORD WARMTH...
...LACK OF SIGNIFICANT SPRING FLOODING...
...LACK OF SUMMER CONVECTIVE FLOODING...
...RELATIVELY QUIET SEVERE WEATHER SEASON...
...FAIRLY QUIET FALL AND EARLY WINTER SNOW SEASON...

...THE NORTHERN PLAINS FLASH DROUGHT...

According to USGS reports, the water year 2011 saw record water Year /October 1, 2011 - September 30, 2012 / flows on all the major river systems in the Northern Plains including the Red River of the North. These record flows were largely the result of high rainfall and snowfall amounts during the Water year 2011, and excess steamflow and soil moisture carried over from the preceding protracted wet period. In sharp contrast, Water Year 2012 saw each season, from fall 2011 through summer 2012 come in with only 70 to 80 percent of seasonal normal moisture. In this sense, 2012 saw a flash drought due to the rapid onset and the high degree of contrast with the preceding years. One thing that appears evident across the area, is that most all of our excess Soil Moisture, banked in the sloughs and soils through previous wet years, was used up in 2012, resulting in very low riverine flows. The fall 2012 season has had a return to near normal moisture / and temperatures/ so it will remain to be seen if and how drought continues to impact the area in 2013.

...MILD WINTER 2011/2012...

The first 3 months of 2012 were the warmest in many locations across the Red River Valley. Temperatures averaged 10 to 15 degrees above the long term median values. Although it was drier than normal during the first few months of 2012 the precipitation deficit was not record making or breaking. But it was low enough to continue setting the stage for a summer drought.

As mild as our last winter was, we did hit our extreme cold/wind chill warning criteria twice, with wind chills dipping into the minus 35 to minus 45 degree range on January 19th and again on February 10th.  Heavy snow or winter storm conditions were met three times, once on January 27th, then again on February 27th and 29th. However each of these storms only covered a little over of half of the area per occurrence...with seasonal snowfall amounts and storm coverage less than half of long term averages.

...VIRTUALLY NO SPRING FLOOD...

Perhaps the most dramatic and welcome result of the mild and dry winter and spring was a very quiet spring flood season. No spring flood...except for ice dam flooding near the Morecastle Bridge in Marshall County. When was the last time this occurred? It was the spring of 2000 when we had between 15 and 30 inches of snow during the winter of 1999/2000, followed by a very gentle melt. Again, the remarkable thing about this year is how dramatic a turnaround this has been from our experiences during the previous extensive wet-period to our current drought. The obvious questions have become: will the drought persist? Is the wet period over? Our local research on these topics continue, and statements regarding the wet versus drought cycles will be issued early in 2013.

...A FAIRLY QUIET SUMMER CONVECTIVE STORM/FLOOD SEASON...

As the drought persisted through the spring and summer months, severe convective storms were significantly below (roughly half of) long term averages... For the area and for the Great Plains as a whole.

Our most pronounced severe weather outbreak period was in early July.  Damaging downburst winds affected large portions of extreme Northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota on both the 2nd and the 4th.  The July 2nd storm most heavily impacted communities and Forest resources in a stretch from Bemidji into Grand Rapids.

The 35 counties in the NWS Grand Forks area of responsibility had only 12 distinct tornadoes, six that originated in our eastern ND Counties and 6 which originated in our northwest to west central MN Counties.  One of the North Dakota tornadoes crossed the Red River from North Dakota into Minnesota southeast of Drayton - on June 3rd -bringing our total northwest Minnesota count up to 7. This Is only about a third of our long term averages for tornadoes in the Red River Basin...and one of the slowest severe weather seasons since the drought years of the late 80s.  Overall North Dakota only saw nine distinct tornadoes, which is less than a third of long term averages. Minnesota had closer to normal with a total of 37 distinct tornadoes. Many of these occurred either very early in the Convective season, from mid March into early May,  or in a late season tornado outbreak which affected southern Minnesota on November 10th.

...FALL AND EARLY WINTER 2012...

The quite weather pattern continued. The most significant change to the climate was a cooling trend that started during September. The consistent warmth was replaced by a more normal pattern of temperature variability. Precipitation remained slightly below normal over most of the area except for portions of the devils lake basin which registered near normal rainfall.

November 10th was quite a significant storm period, with heavy snow and ice affecting our northern Red River Basin counties while at least three tornadoes were impacting the twin cities metro area. Closing out the year, our last significant snowfall was a band of from 4 to 6 inches of snow which brushed southeastern ND into west Central MN on December 8th.

...SPEAKING OF RECORD TO NEAR RECORD ANNUAL WARMTH...

Below are the preliminary average temperature rankings for the 3 climate stations in our area. These data are based on preliminary observations and the rankings may change after a final analysis is completed by the national climate data center.

THE INFORMATION IN THE TABLES THAT FOLLOW ARE FROM THE NOAA REGIONAL CLIMATE CENTER  / APPLIED CLIMATE INFORMATION SYSTEM IS PROVISIONAL AND SUBJECT TO CHANGE.

FARGO AREA  (THREADEX STATION)
EXTREMES - PROVISIONAL
HIGHEST AVERAGE AVERAGE TEMPERATURE DEGREES F
DAYS: JANUARY 1 - DECEMBER 31
YEARS: 1850-2012

RANK  VALUE  ENDING DATE
  1    46.4   1987
  2    46.3   2012
  3    45.9   1931
  4    45.2   2006, 1998
  6    44.1   1990, 1999
  8    43.5   2005, 1991
 10    43.3   2010


GRAND FORKS INTL AP (KGFK)
EXTREMES - PROVISIONAL
HIGHEST AVERAGE AVERAGE TEMPERATURE DEGREES F
DAYS: JANUARY 1 - DECEMBER 31
YEARS: 1941-2012

RANK  VALUE  ENDING DATE
  1    43.9   1987
  2    43.7   2012
  3    42.9   1981
  4    42.4   1988
  5    41.9   1990, 1991
  7    41.7   1963, 2010
  9    42.1   1983, 2010
 10    41.5   1953


GRAND FORKS UNIV (323621)
EXTREMES - PROVISIONAL DATA
HIGHEST AVERAGE AVERAGE TEMPERATURE DEGREES F
DAYS: JANUARY 1 - DECEMBER 31
YEARS: 1890-2012

RANK  VALUE  ENDING DATE
  1    46.9   1987
  2    44.7   2006
  3    44.0   1990
  5    43.9   2012
  6    43.4   1988
  8    43.1   1991
  9    42.9   1983
 10    42.8   1963


BELOW ARE THE PRELIMINARY TOTAL PRECIPITATION AND RANKINGS FOR THE 3
CLIMATE STATIONS IN OUR AREA.

FARGO AREA  (THREADEX STATION)
EXTREMES
LOWEST TOTAL PRECIPITATION INCHES
DAYS: JANUARY 1 - DECEMBER 31
YEARS: 1881-2012

RANK  VALUE  ENDING DATE
  1    8.84   1976
  2    8.87   1936
  3    9.94   1917
  4   10.50   1910
  5   11.23   1939
  6   13.04   1967
  7   13.18   1954
  8   13.89   1929
  9   13.97   1934
 10   14.53   1988
  :
 19   14.52   2012


GRAND FORKS INTL AP (KGFK)
EXTREMES
LOWEST TOTAL PRECIPITATION INCHES
DAYS: JANUARY 1 - DECEMBER 31
YEARS: 1941-2012

RANK  VALUE  ENDING DATE
  1   12.55   1989
  2   12.72   1967
  3   12.95   1972
  4   13.35   1976
  5   14.83   2006
  6   14.93   1988
  7   15.26   1980
  8   16.19   1986
  9   16.83   1990
 10   17.08   2012


ENDING DATE IS THE LAST DAY OF THE YEAR PERIOD. VALUE FOLLOWING THE DATE IS THE NUMBER OF MISSING DAYS IN THE PERIOD, IF ANY.

GRAND FORKS UNIV (323621)
EXTREMES
LOWEST TOTAL PRECIPITATION INCHES
DAYS: JANUARY 1 - DECEMBER 31
YEARS: 1890-2012

RANK  VALUE  ENDING DATE
  1    9.34   1910 (*56)
  2    9.86   1936
  3   10.65   1963 (*1)
  4   11.50   1917 (*60)
  5   12.55   1989
  6   12.90   1967
  7   13.18   1972
  8   13.77   1976 (*1)
  9   13.93   1920 (*2)
 10   13.94   1913 (*12)
  :
 66   17.82   2012

ENDING DATE IS THE LAST DAY OF THE 365 DAY PERIOD. THE (*VALUE) FOLLOWING THE DATE IS THE NUMBER OF MISSING DAYS IN THE PERIOD, IF ANY.

REMEMBER...THIS DATA IS PROVISIONAL AND SUBJECT TO CHANGE. THE FINAL AND OFFICIAL RECORDS WILL BE AVAILABLE FROM THE NATIONAL CLIMATIC DATA CENTER LATER THIS YEAR. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION WILL BE ADDED AS IT IS PROVIDED BY THE NORTH DAKOTA AND MINNESOTA STATE CLIMATOLOGISTS AND THE NATIONAL CLIMATE DATA CENTER.

The images below are Courtesy of the High Plains Regional Climate Center in Lincoln Nebraska

Above: North Dakota 2012 Average Departure from normal temperature. Image Courtesy of the High Plains Regional Climate Center

 

Above: Minnesota 2012 Average Departure from normal temperature. Image Courtesy of the High Plains Regional Climate Center

North Dakota 2012 Precipitation Departure from Normal Precipitation

Above: North Dakota 2012 Precipitation Departure from normal. Image Courtesy of the High Plains Regional Climate Center

Above: Minnesota 2012 Precipitation Departure from normal. Image Courtesy of the High Plains Regional Climate Center

The images below are Courtesy of the Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Services/NOAA 

 RADAR estimated 2012 total precipitation

Above: Mean Areal Precipitation totals for 2012, based primarily on RADAR estimated precipitation and augmented by observed reports. Image Courtesy NOAA

RADAR based estimated 2012 precipitation departure from normal

Above: Mean Areal Precipitation depRture from normal for 2012, based primarily on RADAR estimated precipitation and augmented by observed reports. Image Courtesy NOAA



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