Record-shattering April cold and snow stun Rockies, north central U.S.

The scene in Boulder, Colorado this afternoon (Bob Henson)

The scene in Boulder, Colorado this afternoon (Bob Henson)

Parts of the eastern Rockies, Dakotas and Minnesota have endured an unforgettably wintry April. Multiple bouts of heavy snow have crushed April and all-time records in some locations, and the cold has been unforgiving.

The brutal weather has taken its toll on  residents, who are desperate for spring.

“Irritation. Anger. Incredulity. Shock. I hope I get to acceptance,” wrote Minneapolis Star Tribune meteorologist Paul Douglas, on the eve of forecasting another round of plowable snow for the Twin Cities.

Minneapolis picked up 4 inches Monday night, but heavier amounts fell to the northeast, where April snow totals have been historic.

Duluth has received an astonishing 51 inches this April, which is not only its snowiest April on record, but its snowiest month…period.

Snowfall from Monday-Tuesday storm in Upper Midwest

Snowfall from Monday-Tuesday storm in Upper Midwest

To its west Bismarck, ND and Pierre, SD are among cities which have also experienced their snowiest Aprils on record.

Amazingly, 91.9 percent of the Upper Midwest has snow on the ground as of today. Snow cover in the previous 10 years on this date hasn’t even come close to reaching this extent (ranging from 19 percent to much lower).

Snow cover in Upper Midwest on April 23 (NOAA)

Snow cover in Upper Midwest on April 23 (NOAA)

The Rockies have also been slammed by snowstorm after snowstorm.

Consider this report out of Boulder, Colorado from Matt Kelsch (UCAR/COMET), its cooperative weather observer:

As of 11:30 AM, we’ve gotten 11. 6″ of snow out of this storm, and Boulder is now up to 47.6″ of snow for the month. This makes April 2013 our snowiest month since Boulder’s cooperative station went into its current location in 1990 (beating out 45.5″ in December 2006) and our snowiest April in the entire Boulder record, going back to 1897 (it beats out 44.0″ in 1957). Important caveat: Boulder obs were taken at many locations before 1990, and for many years, only snow depth was measured rather than actual snowfall, so there’s presumably some underestimation going on in those pre-1990 years.

Through the Rockies and into the Upper Midwest, it’s not just been the snow but also the cold forcing residents to do a double take when gazing at the calendar.

Minneapolis tanked to 21 degrees Saturday morning, its first record low since August, 2004. (There had been 42 record highs in that span, according to Minneapolis’ Paul Douglas).

In Boulder, Kelsch notes the mercury dipped to 20 this morning, its third record low this month. Boulder’s average temperature this month (through yesterday) is just 41.4 making it one of the city’s coldest Aprils on record.

Today’s early afternoon temperatures were 20-40 degrees colder than normal through the Plains into Texas.

 

Month-to-date, records low temperatures have outnumbered record high temperatures 5,144 to 1,889 nationwide.

Temperatures compared to average April 1 to 20 (NOAA)

Temperatures compared to average April 1 to 20 (NOAA)

The cause of the cold, wintry pattern has been a prevailing dip in the jet stream over the central U.S. which has steered storms from the southern Rockies into the Great Lakes.

As cold and snowy as it’s been, a sudden onset of springlike conditions is finally forecast this weekend for the winter-weary.

“Yes, it’s hard to fathom, but by this weekend you’ll be staring out at your lime-green lawn, serenaded by chirping robins,” writes the Star Tribune’s Douglas regarding Minneapolis. “This will be one of the more dramatic warm fronts I’ve seen in my 30 years living here on the tundra: from shin-deep slush to 70s in 5-6 days.”

And once the warmth arrives, winter is unlikely to throw a counter-punch.

“There are no more major cold outbreaks in the pipeline,” AccuWeather Expert Senior Meteorologist Jim Andrews said. “So, it looks like the end of record-breaking April snowfall and also the extreme temperature swings over the Plains, where it is nearly summery on one day and downright wintry on the next day.”

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