Snowiest Winter Ever Recorded in North Dakota

A snowmobiler negotiates the streets of Crosby, North Dakota. Photograph courtesy of the Crosby Journal.

A snowmobiler negotiates the streets of Crosby, North Dakota. Photograph courtesy of the Crosby Journal.

Guest Post by Harold Ambler

Snow, wind, and cold have assaulted North Dakota yet again in the past 24 hours. In Bismarck Friday morning the temperature was 12 below zero with a new inch or two of snow expected following Thursday’s more significant storm.

According to USA Today, snow in the southern part of the state was bad enough Thursday that snowplow operators were pulling off the road, blinded by the whiteout conditions. A foot of snow was common in the heaviest band.

The National Weather Service predicts a high temperature of 3 degrees Fahrenheit Friday in Bismarck, as well as additional snow. As of Thursday, three-quarters of the state’s roads were still snow-covered, in whole or in part, from the storm that just ended the day before.

Howling winds and copious snow have combined to leave austere, menacing scenes like this in Cavalier County, North Dakota. Photograph by the ND Department of Emergency Services.

Howling winds and copious snow have combined to leave austere scenes like this in Cavalier County, North Dakota. Photograph courtesy of the ND Department of Emergency Services.

More than once during the winter, the Department of Transportation has issued a no-travel advisory, most recently on February 10.

Cecily Fong, spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Emergency Services, said that the winter got off to a bad start on November 4. “That first storm was definitely a blizzard with blowing and drifting snow,” she said.  Since then, according to Fong, several counties have seen more than 400 percent of normal snowfall.

December was a record breaker for Bismarck, as it was at many other locations around the state. In Bismarck, the total for the month was 33.3 inches, the greatest amount ever received in a single month.

Those were early days, it turned out. Frequent storms, followed by howling northwest winds and record-breaking cold, have made it a winter to remember. On January 15, the morning low at the Bismarck airport was 44 below zero, the coldest ever for the date, and one degree shy of the all-time coldest reading for a state known to be less than balmy.

By the end of January, many counties had more than 400 percent of normal snow totals on the ground, and Governor John Hoeven had declared a state of emergency. 

“There has been a repeated pattern,” said Fong,  ”where the county will come and plow a road and then two days later, without any additional snow, the road becomes impassable again.” Relatively speaking, the people in Bismarck have gotten off light. Divide County, in the state’s northwest corner, has received 500 percent of normal snowfall.

Steve Andrist, who has lived most of his life in Divide county and is the publisher of the weekly Crosby Journal, commended the street department. “There has never been more than a day or a day and a half where the roads were

Roads that were cleared once, and twice, have needed to be cleared a third time in various locations throughout the state. Photograph by the Department of Emergency Services.

Roads that were cleared once, and twice, have needed to be cleared a third time in various locations throughout the state. Photograph courtesy of the ND Department of Emergency Services.

impassable,” he said.

After a lifetime living so near the Canadian border, did the last few months really amount to anything? “This winter got my attention,” he said. “The thing that’s different about this one is the volume of snow. It’s so much more than we anticipated. As far as snow and moving it, and moving it again, and having to move it again a third time, this has been very unusual.”

On February 19, the governor asked the federal government to provide emergency assistance for snow removal. “We’ve got roads that aren’t being plowed,” Fong said, “just because the funds aren’t available to do it.”

Although the spring melt is weeks away, Fong said that flooding is already a concern. “We don’t know where, and we don’t know when, but we’re keeping our eyes on it.”

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Neo

It’s obvious to any fool, it must be due to “Global Warming”

Leon Brozyna

Record snow.
Record cold.
That clinches it — it’s proof of global warming.
And the way we Americans pillage the environment for triple-ply toilet tissue. Oh, the shame of it all:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/feb/26/toilet-roll-america
*sigh*
I just can’t seem to feel guilty – I like my triple-ply tissue.

Paul S

Looking at various forecasts, it is due to get colder in western Europe early next week with some more northerly areas, such as Scotland expecting to receive a little snow. similar story with the US to by the looks of it in terms of reducing temps
Courtesy of xcweather.co.uk and windmapper.com

James

Yeah well, the Guardian needs its weekly dose of alarmism. Let’s hope the Telegraph can continue to off-set it with factual reporting:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/4742293/Climate-change-rhetoric-spirals-out-of-control.html

Tom_R

More proof of climate change. This has all been predicted by the models.
[for those who lack the detector gene, that was sarcasm]

Methow Ken

12 degrees below zero F. this morning in Bismarck ??…
Banana belt:
Here up next to the Canadian border in far-northern ND, my precision outdoor temp sensor read 25.0 degrees below zero .
Been looking hard for Al Gore and AGW this winter; no sign anywhere….

terry46

I know I l know natural variences or you just can’t use one state and say it’s proof of global cooling .You know when it keep happening time and time again the record cold and snow ,74record snow alone in February ,you would think the global warming crowd would stop and think but Iguess when you’re getting your pockets lined with green I guess you just look the other way.

Bill McClure

The weather has been severe no doubt. It is also time to park the car, trucks and anything with wheels and use that snowmobile. Why waste all that money clearing roads that blow shut just convert to a mode of transportation that meets the needs of the times

jack mosevich

Toilette paper consumtion can be drastically reduced by using both sides.

Paul S

Paul S (09:00:55) :
before peeps get picky, make that parts of the US… :o)

Chris Berry

December was a record breaker for Bismarck, as it was at many other locations around the state. In Bismarck, the total for the month was 33.3 inches, the greatest amount ever received in a single month.

Really? Ever? How long has someone been keeping these records. [snip]

pyromancer76

Can’t we dump/pipe/pump some of this H20 to California and the more arid West? Something along these lines seems to me to be an appropriate “adjustment” to climate change that government-supported projects might imagine. In addition to the water wars of the West, I keep remembering those 1,000 year droughts that have brought down a number of civilzations.

MattN

A cold North Dakota is not inconsistent with the models. In fact, its exacly what they’ve predicted…

Paul S

MattN (09:42:33) :
A cold North Dakota is not inconsistent with the models. In fact, its exacly what they’ve predicted…

I do hope this is sarcasm!

Paul S, it’s not sarcasm; it’s a world view that fits the definition of “cognitive dissonance” perfectly:
As contrary evidence has accumulated, proponents of strong AGW have begun to display signs of cognitive dissonance. The famed social psychologist Leon Festinger, developer of the concept of cognitive dissonance, conducted early studies of the phenomenon….The psychological model is that their belief system became part of their identity, their self, and information at odds with that belief system became an attack on the self. This helps explain why such people can be resistant to information that would be judged positive on a rational basis. Festinger’s book, When Prophecy Fails, tells of a group of doomsday believers who predicted the end of the world on a particular date. When that didn’t happen, the believers became even more determined they were right. And they become even louder and proselytized even more aggressively after the disconfirmation. So we can expect ever more extreme, opaque, and strange defenses from proponents as evidence continues to mount. For example we are now told that even cooling fits in with global warming.
Global cooling = global warming! [/sarc]

Mick J

Last night our local BBC TV weather report (East of England) made much of how Daffodils are now flowering 13 days earlier, this following earlier coverage over the weeks of how late Snowdrops flowering is this year and my Daffodils are just poking their heads through the grass. Today there is a report in the London Telegraph that Kew Botanical Gardens is reporting flowering is latest for 20 years.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/4863155/Latest-spring-bloom-at-Kew-for-20-years.html
However this year flowers are returning to traditional patterns, following an unusually cold winter. Snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils and aconites all came up on or around the average flowering date for the 1980s, days later than the average for the 2000s.
Yes, this year is weather but it seems that the BBC need to keep playing the AGW card just in case the public might draw their own observation and conclusions… My little rant over. 🙂

thefordprefect

No lead aticles about Australia????
Feb. 27 (Bloomberg) — Australian authorities shut schools in the southeastern state of Victoria and sent in extra firefighters as extreme weather threatens new blazes today in the region devastated by bushfires almost three weeks ago.
The state closed 192 government schools and 176 child care centers as the temperature in northern Victoria is forecast to reach about 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) with gusting winds.
“These are the worst conditions” since the Feb. 7 fires, Ian Mansergh, a Department of Sustainability and Environment spokesman, said by phone today. “It’s a high-risk day.”
Victoria is in the midst of a 12-year drought, leaving the countryside parched, and the start of this year is the driest on record, Premier John Brumby told the state parliament this week.
It’s just weather!! Australia is a tad more like GW!

Paul S

Smokey (10:02:22) :
A yes would have been fine :o)

Gibsho

Leon Brozyna (08:44:45) : I just can’t seem to feel guilty – I like my triple-ply tissue.
The University of Vermont divested itself of the aforesaid tissue recently-saved money-no reports of terminal abrasion to this point.

Methow Ken (09:07:37) : “Been looking hard for Al Gore and AGW this winter; no sign anywhere….”
Don’t worry he’ll be back in summertime.

jsuther2013

Considering how easily we move oil and gas through pipelines, and further considering that those who buy springwater will pay even more per litre than they do for gasoline, it’s time we built some long water pipelines, rather than just local ones. A few good canals or pipelines from the rockies, or the Great Lakes, or the soon-to-flood rivers between Canada and the US to California would do wonders for their Central Valley. Californian’s do not seem to mind getting screwed for everything else; let them buy water from further afield, since they don’t want to invest in ocean desalination reactors.

schnurrp

It’s impossible for all paper to be made from recycled products. What better product than toilet paper to be made from “virgin” sources. A little hard to recyle, I’ll have to admit.

hotrod

Well one of the hidden messages here is that the snow melt season will be long in the Dakotas, lots of white snow reflecting heat sunlight that under other circumstances would be warming the earth. Lots of snow melt flooding up there in the news this spring me thinks.
Brings back memories of the 1970’s when one of the mechanisms under discussion for rapid climate shifts were what they called a “snow blitz”. The theory was that an anomalous winter snow fall deep enough to not melt off quickly in the spring, would set up a cycle of less warming during the winter, harder winter the next season, with even more snow etc. cascading into a permanent or near permanent snow pack in the north central plains, resulting is a significant change in the earths over all albedo during the norther summer months.
One of the lessons that came out of the Nuclear Winter debates is one of the critical factors for impact was the timing of the event. It had its most significant impact if I recall if the change in albedo occurred during the local summer and spring when sun angles were high, days were long, and most of the heating took place.
Larry

Neil Crafter

As someone from a climate where it does not snow, is snow measured in the rain gauge at weather stations, or is there some piece of different measuring gear for snow? Just wondering.

schnurrp

I don’t think record snow amounts can be seen as evidence of global cooling by themselves, can they? It’s the temperature that matters and particularly record highs or lows which may indicate beginning or continuing trends.

Ironcowboy

Smoky,
You are wise to discuss the psychology of the global warming cultists. I think it would make a great case study to analyze the AWG mentality using the Advanced Bonewits’ Cult Danger Evaluation Frame.
But I do feel sorry for my fellow NoDaks… I lived up there in Minot and Grand Forks for over 5 years, and OMG is that place cold. I think that is why Lewis and Clark penned in their journal’s that this Territory is inhospitable to the civilized man. Ummm but that was back in the early 1800’s right after the Little Ice Age.
On the bright side, the state’s average reflectivity of IR energy back into deep space has increased. I have a hockey stick chart I developed which proves that.

MattN

“I do hope this is sarcasm!”
Replace “North Dakota” with “Antarctica” and you have a verbatim statement directly from ReallywrongClimate.
Sarcasm, check!

Squidly

I once lived in Fargo, North Dakota, for over 25 years. From what friends and family tell me, this winter has been comparable to the 1996-97 winter that caused “The Flood of the Millenium”, the worst flood in US history (you can look that up for more details). Looks to me like that area is in for yet another tremendous flood. In prehistoric times (not sure which period exactly), that area was Lake Agassiz, one of the largest (over 700mi x 200mi) inland bodies of fresh water (and glacier) in the world. As we used to joke frequently, perhaps mother earth is reverting it back. In which case, that would more likely signal to me that we are heading towards another ice-age.

Squidly
Paul S

MattN (11:08:10) :
Replace “North Dakota” with “Antarctica” and you have a verbatim statement directly from ReallywrongClimate.
Sarcasm, check!

I try not to look at ReallywrongClimate to be honest. Probably why I missed the sarcasm.

robtron12

Can’t wait for the spring when it all starts to melt. The flooding is going to make Al Gores natural Disaster slide spike up.

Squidly

hotrod (10:54:13) :
“Well one of the hidden messages here is that the snow melt season will be long in the Dakotas … ”

I would not necessarily count on that. In 1997, the snow melt season was extremely short, that is what brought on “The Flood of The Millenium” (see previous post for resources).

Mike McMillan

schnurrp (10:50:31) :
It’s impossible for all paper to be made from recycled products. What better product than toilet paper to be made from “virgin” sources. A little hard to recyle, I’ll have to admit.
It would be a perfect use for recycled pampers.
Meanwhile,
I like the sunrise photo. That’s the sun on the right, and a sundog on the left. There’s another sundog off camera, to the right of the sun. They’re the ice-age equivalent of rainbows, so get used to them.

Clive

According to Environment Canada, during this past Christmas, the vast
country of Canada was snow covered across the country (including the
normally snow-free west coast) for the first time since 1971.
http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20081221/winter_storm_081221/20081221?hub=CTVNewsAt11
Suggesting that the largest snow coverage in 37 years was the result of AGW
is utter nonsense. But as others have noted many times, the eco weenies are covered: hot, dry, cold, wet. EVERYTHING is covered by their predictions, albeit imaginary predictions. Almost impossible to argue with illogical concepts.
AGW is supposedly causing the planet to warm. Yet we get a cold and snowy
winter (exactly what the eco extremists insist is necessary to save us all)
and they are still blaming this on AGW …. even “normal” (whatever THAT is) is caused by GW.
Our high here yesterday was 20C° colder then average. No one says anything — expect complain about winter. If it was 20 degrees above average it would be headlines.
It is a crazy world and I worry about my grandchildren and harm that will be done to them by Gore and the IPCC as we waste trillions on non problems instead of learning to adapt … if we have much to adapt to.
Clive in the Frozen North
Alberta, Canada

novoburgo

Neil Crafter (10:57:27) :
As someone from a climate where it does not snow, is snow measured in the rain gauge at weather stations, or is there some piece of different measuring gear for snow? Just wondering.
Neil, the standard rain gauge was a two barrel affair with a smaller 10/1 ratio inner barrel. During snow events the inner tube was removed. When it came measurement time a premeasured amount of warm water was placed in the small barrel, poured into the outer barrel, poured back into the inside barrel and remeasured. This gives you the “water equivalent” which is generally multiplied by 10 to get the snow amount. This information coupled with “snow boards” gives you a pretty good handle on actual snowfall. This is the way it used to be done, reasonable accurate but not infallible. Looking at some of the water amounts versus snowfalls ‘ would say today that there is a lot of guessing going on.

stephen richards

Paul S
No it wasn’t sarcasm. They got 19 models so there will always be one that’s dead right.
Like my under pants, a model for evry occasion 🙂

Mike McMillan

hotrod (10:54:13) :
Well one of the hidden messages here is that the snow melt season will be long in the Dakotas, lots of white snow reflecting heat sunlight that under other circumstances would be warming the earth.

As I recall from 6 yrs up there back in the 70’s, every winter it snowed once, then spent the rest of the winter blowing the same snow back and forth. By spring, it was brown sand. Had to keep the garage light bulb in the fridge so it’d be warm enough to light in the morning.

One of the lessons that came out of the Nuclear Winter debates is one of the critical factors for impact was the timing of the event. It had its most significant impact if I recall if the change in albedo occurred during the local summer and spring when sun angles were high, days were long, and most of the heating took place.

Nuclear Winter was the big “AGW” hoax of the those days. It came out of an article in the “Parade” Sunday paper supplement, that Carl Sagan tacked his name onto. It was called by the authors’ initials, TTAPS, and it prophesied disaster based on a “climate” model that was embarrassingly simple (a couple hundred cells for the whole world). Even when more sophisticated models showed it would be a “Nuclear cool day in spring,” the MSM kept up the drumbeat.
Things don’t change.

Paul S

stephen richards (12:17:18) :
Like my under pants, a model for evry occasion 🙂

So every evening, is that what they call Climate Change? :o)

Norm in the Hawkesbury

Kansas House OKs bill to build coal power plants – http://news.ino.com/headlines/?newsid=6896755074710

jukin

The fact of the matter is, when it is colder than normal it’s just weather. However, when it is hotter than normal it is GLOBAL WARMING!!!!

John F. Hultquist

Regarding measuring snowfall and snow amounts
This is an older site and I haven’t checked the links:
http://www.howmuchsnow.com/snow/
It looks interesting. The next one is a little newer.
http://www.erh.noaa.gov/car/Newsletter/htm_format_articles/weather_events/esc_ext_abstract04_mt.htm
And to the one that used “to” when it should have been “too” – if the word “also” fits then use “also”, or use “too”. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Ellie in Belfast

pyromancer76 (09:37:51) :
John K. Sutherland (10:45:51) :
Re long distance pumping of water – it’ll probably all come down to energy. Moving oil in a pipe is no problem as you are moving a concentrated source of energy. Moving oil by road – same thing.
I’d imagine doing the math of piping vs desalination gets interesting. Being able to move water from the Missouri Basin to the Upper Colorado Basin sounds nice. I was in St Louis MO in July ’92 at the height of the Missouri flood. There sure is a hell of a lot of water in that river.
Distance say 400 miles from Lake Oahe, S Dakota to mid-Colorado. It doesn’t sound that much but Lake Oahe elevation is about 1,600ft (500m). Assuming you’d need to pump the water up to more than 8000ft (2500m) to get it over the water shed, even through a tunnel, the energy required is huge.

Mike Kelley

I used to drive through North Dakota back in the seventies. They told me that they call that mixture of snow and dirt mixed by the ever-present wind “snirt”. Kind of catchy, eh?

David L. Hagen

The current very low minimum between solar cycle 23 and 24 may be a cause for this exceptional snowfall.
That suggests that cloudiness and precipitation may be more important in tracking this climate change than temperature.
See “Likelihood of a global drought in 2009-2016” William Alexander, Civil Engineering June 2008, pp22-26

bse5150

If you want to do your part in combating the environmentalist wackos who insist there is global warming and climate change, send a copy of this article to everyone you know. Show them how hot it is in North Dakota now. Remember, by this time, rising temperatures would be out of control, cities were to be flooded by rising seas, world wide food shortages and droughts would be commonplace, many species would be extinct and we would be out of natural resources, including oil. Looks like NONE of that has happened yet or even come close.

I have spent the last 13 years forecasting the weather in North Dakota. Yes, it has been an above average winter for snowfall. Fargo is still 60 inches from the record set in 1996-1997, so no, we won’t come close to that record with only about 6 weeks of potential. Bismarck is still a bit over 30 inches from their record set that same winter. Possible, but still that is a lot of snow in the next month.
The big difference this year is moisture content. Average ratio for this area is around 14:1 (14 inches of snow for 1 inch of rain) … this winter the average has been closer to 23:1. So this year’s moisture content of the snow isn’t anywhere near what is was in that bad winter 12 years ago, which I forecasted for (and am forecasting for this winter).
Western North Dakota has been in a drought, so some of the run-off in central North Dakota will actually be beneficial to filling Lake Sakakawea (which is near historic lows), but the Minot area sadly could see some damaging flooding.
My area the Red River Valley will also see flooding, to the level of 12 years ago, unlikely, but even with 30 to 50% of the moisture we had that winter twelve years ago, with only a bit over a month of potential yet (so that percent will go up), we will still see rivers well above normal spring flood levels (rivers here flood nearly every spring). So we have a lot of watching to do in the next 6 weeks as a rain system in particular at the wrong time would not be good, but still, this is not 12 years ago.
Rugby, ND is the geographical center of North America. Nice place for a picture is you get there. Continental locations are lands of extremes, averages mean little here. We have had extremely dry winters and wetter ones like this year, but it’s all just part of our climate. Same with summers.
This is our second straight below average temperature winter that will be finishing up tomorrow. WIth a Negative PDO and other factors it came as no surprise to me and my winter forecasted verified nicely. My point of all of this is all this is has happened before and it will happen again. Only those that do not understand our climate seem to be surprised by what has happened this winter (any bets next winter will be dry again?).
It is North Dakota. It is cold and it snows here in the winter. Some are worse than others, but that is expected.
Someone asked about measuring snow. Literally you use a ruler, get estimates from numerous sites if the wind blows (always the case where I live). Look for sheltered areas to measure. Our coop observer in town will spend 30 minutes sometimes trying to come up with a good estimate. Measuring snow is many times more art and hard work than science. You usually have to take a core for liquid equivalency as snow doesn’t always fall within your rain tube correctly. So neither task (liquid or solid measurement) is easy on the prairie.

tallbloke

Slightly OT but I was amused this morning when David Milliband, the UK’s foreign affairs secretary had his interview with the Today programmed interrupted by a strong hailstorm. He was in Baghdad. David’s brother Ed is the minister for environment and climate change.
Oh how we laughed.

tallbloke

Ellie in Belfast (13:37:43) :
I’d imagine doing the math of piping vs desalination gets interesting. Being able to move water from the Missouri Basin to the Upper Colorado Basin sounds nice. I was in St Louis MO in July ‘92 at the height of the Missouri flood. There sure is a hell of a lot of water in that river.
Distance say 400 miles from Lake Oahe, S Dakota to mid-Colorado. It doesn’t sound that much but Lake Oahe elevation is about 1,600ft (500m). Assuming you’d need to pump the water up to more than 8000ft (2500m) to get it over the water shed, even through a tunnel, the energy required is huge.

Having built a rainwater recovery and irrigation system I appreciate how hard it is to shift water uphill. It costs us about sixpence to shift a cubic meter 100 meters along and 9 meters up.
Thinking about the US, I wonder if a pipeline going over a watershed would be a problem. As long as each end of the pipe is at the same altitude, it makes no difference what height you shift it to in between, as long as you keep air out of the system. You can test this yourself by syphoning some water out of a barrel. As long as the outlet is below the water level atthe inlet, water flows even though it has to climb over the barrel edge, with no power needed apart from the original sucking to start the syphon going.
My father was involved in creating the National Water Grid for the UK. I’m sure the US could do the same if it had the will to. Maybe instead of spending billions trying to emulate King Canute, they should spend a bit on water infrastructure.
Reply: Siphons only work if the elevation you are traversing is 34 feet or less at 1 atmosphere. ~ charles the moderator

Dorlomin

North Dakota is patriotic America, this is why snow is being honestly recorded.

tallbloke

Thanks Charles, is that because the pressure pulls air out of the water?
Of course, a water pipeline would be using pumps to push the water at intermediate stages, which would raise the pressure considerably above an atmosphere. Interesting question, I’ll consult dad. 🙂
Reply: Ask your dad or view the ppt I linked. ~ charles the moderator