Relationship between winter/spring snowfall and summer precipitation in the northern great plains of north America

Steven M. Quiring, Daria B. Kluver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

On the basis of snowfall observations from 1929 to 1999, positive (negative) snowfall anomalies are associated with wetter (drier) than normal conditions during the summer [July-August (JJA)] in the northern Great Plains. The five driest summers are associated with negative snowfall anomalies during the preceding winter (-66.7 mm) and spring (-62.4 mm) that cover most of the study region (~85%). Snowfall anomalies during the late spring (April-May) are more important for determining summer moisture conditions than snowfall anomalies in fall [September-November (SON)] or winter [December-February (DJF)]. The link between snowfall anomalies and summer moisture conditions appears to be, at least partly, through soil moisture since positive (negative) snowfall anomalies are associated with wetter (drier) soils, a later (earlier) date of snowmelt, cooler (warmer) air temperatures, and more (less) evaporation during spring and summer. However, the relationship between spring snowfall and summer moisture conditions is only statistically significant when the moisture anomaly index (Z), which accounts for both temperature and precipitation, is used to characterize summer moisture conditions and the signal is weak when just considering precipitation (e.g., standardized precipitation index). Results also indicate that the strength of the relationship between winter/spring snowfall and summer moisture varies significantly over space and time, which limits its utility for seasonal forecasting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1203-1217
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Hydrometeorology
Volume10
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2009
Externally publishedYes

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