Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The NeverEnding Winter

Snow depth the morning of April 16, 2013
Springtime warmth has made an appearance in parts of the eastern half of the nation, and April showers are rapidly turning the landscape from brown to green.  However, winter has kept an icy grip on an area from the Rockies through the Northern Plains to the upper Midwest. Late last week snow and ice fell from Nebraska to Wisconsin, and over the last few days more than a foot of snow has piled up in parts of Colorado and the Dakotas.

48 hour snowfall accumulation ending
the morning of April 16, 2013
The snow in the Dakotas resulted from a storm system that moved from Kansas and Nebraska northeast through Minnesota over the weekend. Ten to 16 inches of snow was reported from northern South Dakota through central North Dakota, with 3 to 6 inches of snow across northern Minnesota. In Bismarck, ND numerous records were shattered by this storm. On Sunday, April 14th Bismarck has 17.3 inches of snow, breaking the old record for that date of 5.0 inches set in 1986. It also set a new daily record for the month of April, breaking the old record of 15.2 inches on April 5, 1997. This was also the record snowfall for any calendar day of the year! The previous record was 15.5 inches on March 6, 1966. The storm total snowfall of 21.5 inches as of the morning of April 15 is a new record for April, topping the old record of 18.7 inches in April 1984.  A number of locations in North Dakota reported 20 or more inches of snow from this storm, with 22 inches reported by the CoCoRaHS observer in Center, ND (ND-OL-2)

The snow in Colorado yesterday was produced by another low moving across the Great Basin. This setup is ideal for snow along the Front Range. Easterly flow resulting from the low to the west and strong high pressure to the northeast forces the air to rise as it encounters the Rockies, condensing the moisture and producing precipitation.

Surface map for 2:00 a.m. EDT April 15, 2013
These storms often produce lots and lots of snow, and this system was no exception. A foot of snow and more fell across the Fort Collins, Co area, home to CoCoRaHS headquarters.
CoCoRaHS snowfall in Fort Collins, CO April 16

Snow in the Denver area ranged from around 4 inches east of the city to 12 to 24 inches in the higher terrain west of Denver, with 24.5 inches of snow reported by a CoCoRaHS observer in Golden (CO-JF-267).
CoCoRaHS snowfall for the Denver Metro area, April 16

And it isn't over yet.  The system that brought the snow to Colorado will be lifting out to the northeast, and winter storm warnings are in effect for portions of Wyoming, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Winter weather advisories are in effect for parts of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada.
Watches, warnings, and advisories effective 10:00 a.m. MDT April 16

If there is a silver lining to all of this it is that the moisture from these snows will certainly help provide some relief from the drought conditions that exist across the central and western U.S.
piled up in parts of Colorado and the Dakotas.

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