Snow continues to pile up across area
The Park Rapids area has seen slightly over four feet of snow since October, based on data from the closest weather recording station in Sebeka.
"That should be fairly representative of the Park Rapids area," National Weather Service meteorologist Brad Hopkins said.
While the snow is making snowmobilers and other snow lovers happy, others are getting tired of shoveling and planning trips to warm, sunny beaches.
The winter storm Tuesday through Thursday dumped 10 more inches, bringing the snow total for the first week of February to 13 inches.
Hopkins, who works in the Grand Forks NWS office, said the trend for above-average precipitation is expected to continue into February.
"Right now the outlook for the month is below-normal temperatures and a lot more snow," he said.
So will this winter's snowfall be one for the record books dating back to 1892?
"We won't know if this is a record snow season until the season is over," Hopkins said. "We're in an unsettled pattern right now. The Wednesday through Thursday system this week is going to put some measurable snow down on top of us, and we may see more snow Sunday night into Monday."
Hopkins explained that due to a lot of activity in the NWS office with this week's storm, he didn't have time to look for just how much snow was recorded in 1892.
Hopkins went into the NWS archives and said the highest amount of snow for Park Rapids that he could find on their database goes back to the winter of 1965-66, when the city had an impressive 103.4 inches from October through May.
Park Rapids area resident Jerry Weaver remembers that winter. He was a sixth grader at the Dorset School, and at recess the kids played "King of the Hill" on the large snow drifts that had been packed hard by the wind.
"At our farm west of Dorset, we had snow drifts deeper than our nine-foot high corn crib," he said. "They had to use a D9 Cat to open County Road 112."
Weaver said there were a couple of storms that winter that dumped 18 to 20 inches each and that was about the only time school was canceled.
El Niño and the arctic oscillation
Hopkins explained that this is an El Niño year, the name given for the periodic warming of water in the Pacific Ocean every few years. According to the National Geographic website, when an El Niño year occurs, it means more energy is available for storms to form.
"We did see temperatures the first part of January above normal," Hopkins said. "The problem is that not all El Niño years are alike. What we've had is this downturn, as far as temperatures go. Unfortunately, that's going to continue through the end of the month. We may see that turn as we get into March and start to see higher than normal temperatures."
Hopkins said we are still in what is known as the arctic oscillation.
"There's energy that's up at the poles and a piece of that energy moved down," he said. "That's what gave us the much colder temperatures. A lot colder air got dragged down from the polar regions, and that's still having an influence. The atmosphere takes a little bit of time to change. Over time, we'll see patterns change as the jet streams move through the atmosphere. What we have right now is a southwest flow aloft. The upper levels of the atmosphere are coming from the intermountain regions from the western parts of the United States. Sometimes you get that Colorado low, and it drags up a bunch of moisture."
Anyone who has information to share with NWS about weather in their area can go to their Facebook page.
"People also send pictures through Facebook or our Twitter feed," he said.
Webcam links to home weather systems that are part of the weather underground network include the village Chamberlain near Akeley.
"We use webcams to get an idea of snowfall precipitation and give us a visual of what the weather is doing," Hopkins said.
October: 1 inch
November: 6.2 inches
December: 17.5 inches
January : 11.5 inches
February: 13 inches (through Feb. 7)
Total: 49.2 inches through Feb. 5, 2019