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Preview: Iowa Environmental Mesonet Daily Feature

Iowa Environmental Mesonet Daily Feature



Iowa Environmental Mesonet Daily Feature



Last Build Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2018 06:44:30 -0600

 



'17-'18 Winter Storm #16
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A quick moving system brought a brief downpour of snowfall on Saturday which only amounted to an inch or two over the state, but created for some travel impacts due to the intense snowfall rate. Most of this snowfall melted later on Saturday as temperatures warmed nicely to finish the day. Our next storm system will be here tonight.




Drought Improvement or Degradation this Spring?
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The newly released US Drought Monitor this week showed a bit of improvement over Iowa thanks to the numerous recent rounds of snow storms. The featured chart looks at the weekly change in drought coverage over Iowa since 2000. The unit height represents a one category change in the coverage of the Drought Monitor over Iowa. Placing aside the difficulty with those units, the blue sections would indicate improvements and red degradation. What's interesting to note in this chart when we think about what may be happening this spring is that having further degradation during the spring season is rather rare. Only 2015 during the past 15 years experienced significant degradation prior to the first of May. So it will be interesting to see what happens this spring!

Generate This Chart on IEM Website




Breaking our cold stretch
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Temperatures warmed nicely over the past two days breaking our recent stretch of cold temperatures. The featured chart displays daily high and low temperatures this year for Des Moines along with daily climatology and departures from daily averages (bottom panel). The recent spike to positive departures is certainly welcome for those wishing to get rid of some of the snow and ice that accumulated over our mostly cold and snowy February.

Generate This Chart on IEM Website




Rule of 43
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High temperatures are expected to soar to levels of warmth you should express to your significant other today. But how warm can it get with deep snow cover existing over much of the state? A local forecasting rule of thumb is to not forecast a high temperature over 43 degrees when there is at least four inches of snow depth to start the day. Does this rule hold against long term observations? With a bunch of caveats with how daily snow depth and high temperatures are reported, the featured chart depicts binned box plots for a given snow depth and the following day high temperature. So in general this rule mostly holds, but there are a few observations shown above the 43 degrees and four inch depth. Of course, the reason for this rule is energy is consumed by melting available snow that would otherwise go into heating the air.




Head South to Find Brown
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The clear skies overhead on Sunday allowed for the various satellites to get a good look at our snow covered landscape covering the state. The featured map is from the Aqua MODIS satellite showing a "true color" depicting. Note that there are some clouds over the far southeastern portion of this map, but a clear view of the snow exists over Iowa. It is interesting to see that the snow cover does not persist much farther south into Missouri. They have mostly missed out on the recent snow falls.




'17-'18 Winter Storm #15
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The snow producing storms are coming faster than I can post IEM Daily Features with an analysis of totals! This most recent round dumped generally light amounts over much of the state with the far southeastern corner receiving the heaviest amounts over three inches. For those of you sick of the snow, it appears a break is on the way with even some above freezing temperatures this week. Having clear skies is also a big help as the ever increasing sun angle is able to heat concrete surfaces to help melt away the packed snow and ice.




'17-'18 Winter Storm #14
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The snow producing winter storms are coming fast and furious with the most recent storm dumping its heaviest totals over southern Iowa. The featured map displays the combination of NWS COOP, Local Storm Reports, and CoCoRaHS reports for the event. Areas north of Ottumwa reported the heaviest totals over six inches. The next round of snowfall is already here this Saturday evening with the heaviest totals expected over southern Iowa again.




'17-'18 Winter Storm #13
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The snow producing winter storms continue at a frantic pace. This most recent storm produced a very sharp southern gradient to the snowfall totals with a stripe near highway US-20 between six and twelve inches. More snowfall is expected later today, but totals are expected to be an inch or snow and focused over southern Iowa.




January vs February Temps
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The January average temperature for Ames came in just under long term average for the month at about 16.5 degrees. The featured chart compares the January average temperature with February for the same year for Ames. Having a below average January does not guarantee the same for the next month. The chart shows each month's average value and the frequency within each quadrant defined by these averages. There is some correlation denoted, which is likely influenced by persistence or dearth of snow cover.

Generate This Chart on IEM Website




'17-'18 Winter Storm #12
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The snow producing storms have been coming in quick succession lately. Light snow fell over much of the state on Tuesday evening into Wednesday with the featured map depicting a smoothed analysis of available reports from the NWS. Most reports were generally an inch or less. Plenty more chances of snow are in the immediate term forecast and sub-freezing temperatures, so if you like snow and falling snow, this is a good time of year for you!




'17-'18 Winter Storm #11
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Finally, a significant snowfall for central Iowa! For Des Moines, the longest stretch of days without receiving three inches of snow ended on Monday with five to six inches reported over the metro area. The featured map displays available snowfall reports and shows a good portion of the state picking up four or more inches. This snowfall caused major traffic issues as snowfall rates and daytime traffic conspired for many accidents. More snowfall is expected later today, but amounts will be much less than this most recent storm.




Highly Variable January
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With a h/t to @climatologist49 on Twitter, the just completed month of January was one of the most variable on record for Iowa and elsewhere. Where this variability is measured by the standard deviation of the daily high temperatures for the month as shown by the featured chart for the central Iowa averaged climate district. The year of 2018 comes in slightly ahead of 1942. This variability can be thought of as having a number of very warm days along with a number of very cold days for the month. February has continued this trend a day already in the 40s and one today in the teens for highs.

Generate This Chart on IEM Website




'17-'18 Winter Storm #10
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It may be a bit of a stretch to lump this past weekend's snow producing systems into one storm, but we shall! The featured map displays totals over Saturday and Sunday as portions of far northeastern Iowa reported upwards of four inches. Locations to the south and west picked up much more rain than snowfall from this event. Our next snowfall producing system arrives on Monday, just in time for you to call in sick from work after the Super Bowl!




February Frozen Days
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The calendar day high temperatures on Thursday failed to breach the freezing level making for a frozen day. The featured chart looks at the frequency of such days during February for Ames. The labels on the bars are the actual number of years over the period of record that the high was below 32 degrees. Of course, Feb 29th shows up a bit funny as there have been one quarter as many of those days than others in February. The slope is downward going from just over 50% to start the month to under 30% by the end. So such days become less common as we slowly inch toward spring!

Generate This Chart on IEM Website




Mixed Bag for January
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The featured map presents IEM estimated climate district areal averaged precipitation percentiles for January 2018. The map shows remarkable variability over the Midwest and especially over the high plains with a very wet area in Nebraska sandwiched by dry areas to its north and south. Of course, January climatology for precipitation is rather small to begin with so single events over an isolated area can goose these numbers a bunch. Having said that, the current situation in Iowa is depicted nicely with the southeastern portion seeing dry conditions again whereas other parts of the state got more precipitation.

Generate This Chart on IEM Website




Winter Headlines
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The featured calendar displays the number of NWS issued winter weather headlines. For this context and plot, these are limited to a set of four common winter alerts (Winter Storm Warning, Blizzard Warning, Wind Chill Advisory, and Winter Weather Advisory). The calendar displays the number of events issued by all NWS offices, where an event is defined by a single product issuance over some area. For example, a single winter storm warning for 20 counties in Iowa issued by NWS Des Moines would count as one in this plot. The calendar shows that the winter season has been the most active since the end of December. You can generate this plot for your own period, alerts, and office of your choice on this website.

Generate This Chart on IEM Website




'17-'18 Winter Storm #9
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While not much of a winter storm, the most recent snow producing system did meet the arbitrary IEM Daily Feature accounting of two plus inches somewhere in the state. This system dumped an inch or two over far northern Iowa Saturday evening and into Sunday morning. For the rest of the state, we just got the cold air behind the front with highs on Sunday and Monday below freezing for much of the state.




January 50s
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Very warm temperatures showed up late last week and into the first half of the weekend with Des Moines hitting 50+ degrees on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. With the rest of the month expected to be cooler than 50, the three days this January is a day above long term average as shown by the featured chart. The chart also shows that a number of years did not even reach 50 once for the month, so things certainly could have been much worse.

Generate This Chart on IEM Website




Mostly Negative Snowfall Departures
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The featured map displays to-date seasonal snowfall departures from average based on NWS CLI reporting sites over the Midwest. Negative departures (below average) are shown in red and positive in blue. Much of the region is below average with only Sioux City depicted in blue over Iowa for this map. It is kind of interesting to look at the far right hand side of the map near Lake Erie with the departure shown at nearly 80 inches! This is Erie Pennsylvania, which experienced a few monster "Lake Effect" snow storms this season.




Drought Help from January Rainfall
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The featured map presents the combination of seven day precipitation estimates ending on Tuesday and last week's US Drought Monitor analysis. Getting a drought impacting rainfall during January is a bit rare, but it is hard to discount the 1-2 inches that over parts of the state. The updated US Drought Monitor will be released today and will likely show some improvements in the state over these areas. On the other hand, the driest areas of southeastern Iowa again missed out and so the drought situation there continues to get worse. This situation is even more complex during the winter time as drought impacts are difficult to come by and having significant rains on frozen ground can lead to more runoff than soil moisture recharge from the event. Certainly, the situation over southern Iowa warrants close attention as we inch closer to spring and the need for significant precipitation events to help recharge soil moisture for the upcoming growing season.

Generate This Chart on IEM Website