Spring is here?
While March ushers in the official start of spring, area residents continue to wait for the feel of spring to grab hold and stick around.
Below normal temperatures continued throughout the month, which was the fifth-consecutive below normal month in Minnesota, according to the National Weather Service.
Colder temperatures have delayed the snowmelt runoff for much of Minnesota and Wisconsin, the NWS says. That has the potential to enhance flood threats later in the spring if warm rain meets significant snowpack on the ground.
Snowpack levels range from 3 to 5 inches in western Wisconsin to 1 to 2 inches around the Twin Cities.
Much of the flood threat is determined by the type of warm up experienced in the area and the amount of precipitation received throughout the spring. The NWS reports there is an equal chance of above normal and below normal precipitation throughout the warm up.
Or drought risk
Long-range reports from the NWS show a decent probability of continued cooler than normal temperatures throughout April.
Even with the harsh winter conditions, Steven Manweiler, director of operations for the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District, said his district has no evidence that harsh winters have any major impact on mosquito populations.
One factor which could play a role in keeping mosquito numbers down, however, is continued dry weather.
“(Dry conditions) are more likely to lower the mosquitos early in the spring,” Manweiler said. Even with a lot of snow on the ground, he added, when looking at the last few months’ precipitation numbers it has remained fairly dry.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 46 percent of Minnesota is listed as at least moderately dry, with 18 percent categorized as having moderate drought conditions, compared to last year at this time when the entire state was at the least abnormally dry.
Three months ago just over 50 percent of the state was under moderately dry conditions with 23 percent classified as in moderate drought.
Goodhue County is currently listed as experiencing moderate drought conditions.
Ice measurements on Lake Pepin reach as deep as 26 inches, according to the latest measurement from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers St. Paul District. Ice measurements began later than usual this year due to cold weather, with their first measurement coming in the last couple days of February.
The measurements usually begin around the middle of the February.
Lake Pepin is the location of choice for the measurements because of the slow river current, which makes it the last part of the navigation channel to usually be clear of ice. The navigation industry uses the data to predict when it is safe to break through the ice and begin the navigation season.
The first tow to break through the ice last year on Lake Pepin and make it to St. Paul was the Roberta Tabor on April 8. March 24 is the average opening date of the navigation season for the last 10 years.
March by the numbers
High: 61 degrees, recorded on March 30, 31
Low: -24 degrees, recorded on March 3
Average high: 41 degrees
Average low: 22 degrees
Precipitation: 1.21 inches (average is 1.76 inches)