There are many types of storms that move through North Dakota. But there are certain types of storms you hear about quite often in the Winter.
The two storms we talk about all the time here are Alberta Clippers and Colorado Lows. Two very different types of storms but both can have a big impact.
First. they’re named for the direction they come from. The Alberta Clipper comes from the northwest from the Alberta Province. The Colorado Low comes from, of course, around Colorado. The similarity between the two is that they both can have big wind impacts and bring very cold temperatures.
But they are vastly different systems. The Colorado Low tends to be slower moving and because of its southern location, moisture is pulled in from the Gulf. With that slow motion and all that moisture, these can dump over a foot of snow easily. Once they move through they can usher in cold air behind them. These are often the storms that make the history books.In fact, the historic blizzard of 1966 that dumped over two feet of snow on North Dakota was a Colorado Low. We typically see the Colorado Low storms in the second half of Winter.
The Alberta Clipper comes from a drier region. It won’t carry as much snow. Sometimes it will bring no snow at all. But it often brings a lot of wind and they typically move very fast.
They funnel in very cold air once they move through and when the jet stream is in a northwesterly flow over our region, we tend to see more of them.
If these weather patterns sound familiar to you then you’ve been paying attention to the weather lately. We’ve seen several of both of these types. A Colorado Low just dump over 10″ of snow on Minot over the weekend.
It’s important to remember that no two storms are the same even if they originate from the same location. They just have similar characteristics.