Snow-lovers rejoice! We ended up with a record 10.9 inches of snow fall in Wausau yesterday (melted down it was a record 0.54 inches of liquid precipitation for December 20th). Much of central Wisconsin had 6 to 10 inches while it was more in the 2 to 4 inch range in the Northwoods. Besides guaranteeing a white Christmas for the area, the snowfall should also help to alleviate drought conditions.
Ok, I know the ground is frozen right now, but the precipitation still counts toward our yearly total and when it melts in the spring it will help raise the water levels. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor does not show any change in our situation for the past week, but I suspect we will see some improvement in coming weeks, especially if we end up with another snowstorm before the end of the month.
Another snowfall will be crucial because yesterday’s snow was probably not enough to get most of the snowmobile trails open. The problem with the snow in Wausau was it’s very dry, powdery, and fluffy nature. We probably need a heavy wetter snow of 4 to 6 inches yet on top of the 10 inches before most of the trails can be opened, and nothing of the sort will be coming in the next week, but perhaps before the end of the year. If we had snow that was more like cement and it piled up to nearly 20 inches, like it did around Madison yesterday, then we would have no trouble with good trail conditions.
So will snow conditions stay good through the rest of the Winter? The latest CPC monthly outlooks seem to indicate some hope. The projection for January is that there will be a higher chance of above normal precipitation (hopefully it falls as snow!). On the temperature side of things, we are in the “EC” (equal chances) category which means the climate models cannot pin down any heightened chance of below normal, normal, or above normal trend. The climate models do indicate a higher chance of colder than normal weather for the Dakotas and Minnesota. If we don’t get a lot of snow in January, then the rest of the Winter and Spring might not hold out a lot of hope, as the three-month outlook (Jan-Feb-Mar) indicates EC for precipitation and temperatures. The most interesting (and maybe foreboding) aspect of the latest long range monthly outlooks is a higher chance of above normal temps for our area in late Spring and early Summer. If the year starts out warm again and there is not enough rainfall/snowfall, it will exacerbate the drought that is already in place for most of the nation.
Have a nice Friday! Meteorologist Justin Loew.
This post was written by jloew on December 21, 2012