Weather: Peculiar weather, dry conditions persist
BEMIDJI - A peculiar March comes to an end today.
At least 12 record highs were set and many overnight lows exceeded the previous record highs for those days. The month began cool and snow was recorded on each of the first three days of the month. The warmest day was March 19 when the afternoon high reached 74. The coldest temperature of the month was recorded on the morning of March 4, when the mercury bottomed out at 12 below. An 86-degree temperature swing in 15 days is pretty impressive.
As of Thursday, the Bemidji area was classified as experiencing a Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) classification of negative 4.61. The PDSI is a measurement of dryness based on recent precipitation and temperatures. On this scale 0 is normal. Negative numbers indicate drought conditions all the way to negative 4 - which is considered extreme drought.
According to this measurement Bemidji is among the areas of the country suffering the worst drought conditions. Other areas in the negative 4 PDSI category are west Texas and the southeast Atlantic Coast.
A strong storm system moved though the area Thursday mitigating the somewhat drought conditions. Rainfall was copious with totals ranging from a half inch south of Bemidji to nearly 1½ inches north of town. Even further north and east, snow fell heavily throughout much of the day. At International Falls, 4½ inches, and 6-8 inches were recorded across the Arrowhead with the highest totals along the high ground west of Lake Superior.
While the moisture is welcome, the PDSI estimated six inches of moisture was necessary for the Bemidji area to overcome the current drought conditions. Long range outlooks offer little hope of a significant shift in the dry weather pattern the area has been stuck in since last fall.
TOM SIEMERS is the Pioneer's circulation director.