Analysis of Snow Climatology

The Problem
The topography, land-use characteristics and winter climate for much of Minnesota cause this area to be particularly vulnerable to blowing and drifting snow on roadways. The end result of the problem often includes a reduction in driver safety, degradation of road quality, and significant removal costs for drifted snow.

The Solution
Research has shown that snow fences act as windbreaks, causing blowing snow to deposit on the landscape such that it is stored over the winter season. When comparing the cost of snow removal with living snow fences, an average benefit/cost ratio of 17:1 exemplifies the efficiency of this method, validating use in Minnesota.

Climate Research
Average annual snowfall, 1971-2000Before a blowing snow problem can be solved, several climatological factors in the area of interest must be investigated. For this study, snow and wind data were analyzed using a database with the most comprehensive temporal and spatial coverage available to date

snowfall season (onset and end date)
snowfall statistics (means and percentile rankings)
snowfall density (mean monthly)
wind frequency distributions (mean monthly)

Snow Fences at Work
Because snow fences are most often deployed on land used for crop production, agricultural implications represent a chief concern for local landowners. For the winter of 2000-01, three types of living snow fence designs in southern Minnesota were studied (strips of standing corn, twin-row honeysuckle, and single-row honeysuckle/red cedar). To see results from this study, please visit the Task 3 summary report and Case Study portion of this site.

Interested in designing your own snow fence in Minnesota? Click Here.