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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle

A Climatology of Atmospheric Patterns Associated with Red River Valley Blizzards

Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND 58202, USA
NOAA/National Weather Service, Sioux Falls, SD 57104, USA
NOAA/National Weather Service, Grand Forks, ND 58203, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Climate 2019, 7(5), 66;
Received: 12 March 2019 / Revised: 26 April 2019 / Accepted: 1 May 2019 / Published: 6 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate and Atmospheric Dynamics and Predictability)
Stretching along the border of North Dakota and Minnesota, The Red River Valley (RRV) of the North has the highest frequency of reported blizzards within the contiguous United States. Despite the numerous impacts these events have, few systematic studies exist that discuss the meteorological properties of blizzards. As a result, forecasting these events and lesser blowing snow events is an ongoing challenge. This study presents a climatology of atmospheric patterns associated with RRV blizzards for the winter seasons of 1979–1980 and 2017–2018. Patterns were identified using subjective and objective techniques using meteorological fields from the North American Regional Re-analysis (NARR). The RRV experiences, on average, 2.6 events per year. Blizzard frequency is bimodal, with peaks occurring in December and March. The events can largely be typed into four meteorological categories dependent on the forcing that drives the blizzard: Alberta Clippers, Arctic Fronts, Colorado Lows, and Hybrids. The objective classification of these blizzards using a competitive neural network known as the Self-Organizing Map (SOM) demonstrates that gross segregation of the events can be achieved with a small (eight-class) map. This implies that objective analysis techniques can be used to identify these events in weather and climate model output that may aid future forecasting and risk assessment projects. View Full-Text
Keywords: Blizzards; blowing snow; climatology; self-organizing maps; synoptic typing Blizzards; blowing snow; climatology; self-organizing maps; synoptic typing
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Kennedy, A.; Trellinger, A.; Grafenauer, T.; Gust, G. A Climatology of Atmospheric Patterns Associated with Red River Valley Blizzards. Climate 2019, 7, 66.

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