Snowy February with More Possible Sunday Night
by Cody Matz
February 28, 2013 8:10 PM
The drought conditions hold strong across the area with no dent made even with the above average precipitation for the month of February. The main reason for this is that the ground is frozen, meaning very little if any of this moisture will actually make it into the ground before it melts into the lakes, river, and streams in the upcoming few weeks. As for the snow, it was much needed. Very snowy for the northeast with nearly 20 inches officially in Sisseton, but much of the southeast gains little ground on the already below average season. South Dakota though is far from alone in the below average snow season with the northern Rockies, the Great Lakes, and much of the Ohio Valley in even worse shape. The central and southern Plains really benefited from the last couple storms with Kansas City, Wichita, and Des Moines all above average now. Before you get too concerned about our lack of snow (or joyful for some), snow season around here goes well into April meaning we have a solid 6 weeks before we can put snow chances behind us. There are many topics to follow with a look at snow totals around our region and parts of the country for comparison. Also, we have a look back at February with temperatures and precipitation. Then we take a quick peak ahead with a potential snow storm for the end of the weekend and early next week.
Lets start with February. Snow totals were at or above average for almost everyone leading to extra water across the area. If you melt the snow down, liquid totals are almost even more impressive with upwards of an inch and half of liquid in parts of the northeast, which is a lot of moisture for this time of year. But the totals so far this year are less than impressive for much of the country. Granted, there is several more weeks before the season is complete, but it would take a near record wet March to get most of the country back to normal.
The amount of snow we received over the last month has played a large roll in what temperatures have done, which is pretty typical. Remember that snow has a very high albedo because its white. Albedo is the measurement of the amount of sun light that is reflected back into space which doesn't allow the solar radiation to heat the ground. Snow is the best natutral reflector of light, which is why it is so bright when the sun is shining and there is snow on the ground. This really shows for temperatures through the course of February. The warmest locations had the least amount of snow cover through the month with the coldest locations having the most.
This moisture, unfortunately, was no match for our current drought, although it will be good for replenishing lake and river levels, but won’t do much for soil moisture.
As for the next few days, another storm is on the horizon, but its tough to determine exactly where its going to end up and what type of precipitation will fall considering temperatures will be very close to freezing. Here is just one forecasting computer model showing the potential for a band of heavier snow across our area.
The exact placement of this 4 to 8 inch snow band is in question, but this just shows you that several inches of snow is a possibility Sunday night through Monday.