Just how rare is Minnesota’s late-season snowfall? The short answer- it is not that rare at all. Let’s dive in! It may seem like winter is overextending its stay this year in Minnesota and parts of the Upper Midwest, and that’s because it is! Minneapolis/St.Paul has had over 89” of snow this year. The typical seasonal average in the MSP area is just over 50”- and they have gone well above this number! The all-time record is 98.6”- for MSP- which they are unfortunately striving towards right now, as the Praedictix Office Headquarters in Eden Prairie, MN, just endured another snowstorm late last week- with another chance of snow this week.
Right now, Minneapolis/St.Paul International Airport is #3 on the spot of snowiest winters. The reason that everything seems so much worse this year is that temperatures have been trending below average, and in fact, for the first time in over 20 years, we have not hit 50 degrees in the month of March, and it took until April 2nd to hit 50 degrees. Even the first 7-10 days of April also look to trend below average, with another snow chance this week. On the top 25 snowfall list for Minnesota- 7 of those top snowfalls are from March, and there have even been some bad events in April.
March used to be the snowiest Month in Minnesota, up until the early 80s, which was then replaced by January and now it has been replaced by December in recent years. That said- our frequency of most significant snowfalls is still dominated by the month of March on the top 25 list for heaviest snowfalls. April also has some surprising influence on this list, with 3 storms showing up on the Top 25 list.
Most notable was the recent April Blizzard of 2018, which even brought Blizzard conditions to the core of the Metropolitan area of Minneapolis and St.Paul- and during that storm, they saw 15.8” of snow–as far out as April 13-16th! Also- just because it is Spring on the calendar- any new snowfall they get will still count toward the 2022-2023 season. It’s safe to say that nearly everyone is over the winter conditions this year!
What is the reason for this late season snowfall?
Minnesota had an active storm track nearby, seemingly all winter, with a mix of typical Alberta Clipper systems coming from Southern Canada, and then the more potent storms that come from the Southwest and Western US. These storms usually have more ample moisture to tap into and this usually promotes some heavier snowfall. This time of year, with the higher sun angle- the active storm track/jetstream nearby and ample moisture surging in from the South, the storms become more potent and moisture-rich.
When you throw in some Thundersnow, due to the potency of these storms, you can dramatically increase the intensity of any snow event this time of year. It doesn’t take much to lead to some staggering totals very quickly. The one silver lining? Usually, this time of year, even several inches of snow can melt in just a few short days–even sooner for any surfaces that face the Southern skies.
Will Minnesota ever see a true Spring this year?
It depends on what you define as Spring. For some- it is moderate and slowly escalating temps as we approach summer. Their trend in recent years has been to push Winter conditions even into Spring, and then suddenly and dramatically warm up into the summer season. This may also be challenging news for their flood situation if this scenario were to verify again this year. The one positive thing about all of this snow is that it has nearly alleviated the drought conditions for the area, except for far Western Minnesota.
Many in Minnesota are ready for Spring to fully show up, and I am confident that after the 2nd week of April- Minnesota should start to turn a corner towards more Spring-like conditions! Between now and then, the rollercoaster trend in temps continues with a few larger storms passing through, perhaps even some more snow, and then ultimately some more thunderstorm-oriented systems. I imagine Minnesota will see their first 60 of the season after about the 12th of the month. If this trend keeps up for these larger systems moving through, Minnesota could see an active start to the severe weather season!
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Thanks for checking in!
Meteorologist Bo Cole