After cold February, March likely will bring warmer temperatures as spring approaches, meteorologists say
February was a cold month for the Red River Valley and Devils Lake Basin, but despite receiving normal snowfall, the risk of flooding in the spring remains low for the region, meteorologists said.
Last month saw an average monthly temperature of 6 degrees below normal for Grand Forks, according to the National Weather Service. No daily record lows were set, and it didn’t break the top 10 for coldest Februaries, but residents still felt the frigid grasp of winter.
The first 12 days all had lows below zero, with the coldest day coming Feb. 12 with a low of negative 20, according to the weather service.
In total, 18 days had lows below zero, according to weather service data. The warmest day was Valentine’s Day with 39 degrees.
Almost 8 inches of snow fell, or about 1½ inches above normal, according to preliminary data from the weather service.
There was a slight uptick in the flood forecast as a result of the snow, according to the weather service’s spring flood outlook. The chance of minor flooding for most cities along the Red River remains below 75 percent, while there is a 25 percent chance the river at Fargo, Olso, Minn., and Pembina, N.D., could see moderate flooding, meteorologists said. The chances of a major flood is 5 percent.
“The risk for significant snowmelt flooding is still quite low,” meteorologists said in the report. “It remains near long-term averages in far northwest Minnesota, and somewhat lower than historical averages across the remainder of the Red River and Devils Lake Basin.”
Forecasters attributed the low risk of flooding to abnormally dry conditions, which could continue into the spring. Soil moisture, streamflow and snowpack are near to below normal, said Amanda Lee, a weather service meteorologists in Grand Forks.
The Devils Lake Basin saw a slight decrease in runoff risk from January to February after seeing below-normal snow accumulation, the report said.
March could be wetter than normal for North Dakota and Minnesota, according to the weather service’s Climate Prediction Center. It’s unclear if March will be warmer or colder than normal for the region, but temperatures tend to rise in the first month of spring, sometimes as much as 15 degrees, according to the weather service.
March still could bring a blizzard or other winter weather, but it also could produce rain, the weather service said. The length of daylight will continue to increase as the region moves into the spring.
In the short term, meteorologists are warning residents about winter weather that could bring significant precipitation next week to the Dakotas and Minnesota.
Grand Forks has a 20 percent to 30 percent chance of snow and freezing drizzle Friday and Saturday, according to the weather service. That risk increases to 90 percent Sunday with a wintry mix, meteorologists said.
Meteorologists are unsure of the exactly timing of the event, though it likely will hit Sunday. The exact amounts and locations for the heaviest snow also are unclear.
“There is still a lot of variation on exact track and what temperatures will be Sunday,” meteorologist Jennifer Ritterling said. “At this point, it seems that there could be some light rain or freezing rain Saturday night into Sunday before we get a change over to snow Sunday night. Snow will continue into Monday and could be heavy at times with increasing winds and blowing snow.”