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Heavy snow opens the month of December

Heavy snow opens the month of December

Most of the state reported measurable snowfall during the first week of December. Monday through Wednesday of this week (Dec 2-4) brought almost continuous snow to many areas of northeastern Minnesota, especially the north shore along Lake Superior. The greatest amount of snowfall reported by a National Weather Service observer came from 7 miles north of Two Harbors where 35.3 inches was recorded. The Duluth Weather Service Office reported a storm total of 23.3 inches, and Duluth public schools were cancelled two consecutive days over the 3rd and 4th. Tofte reported 25 inches and Wolf Ridge reported 20.7 inches for the week. Many other areas of the state accumulated 5 to 10 inches of snowfall this week, while areas of southeastern Minnesota received mostly rain and drizzle.

Several observers reported some new daily snowfall records for dates this week: On December 2nd, Grand Rapids reported a new daily snowfall record of 9.5 inches (and new daily precipitation record of 0.59 inches); on December 3rd new daily snowfall records were reported from Wadena (9.0"), Sandy Lake Dam (7.5"), and Brainerd (5.5", plus record precipitation of 0.60"); on December 4th new daily record snowfall amounts were reported from International Falls (8.5") and St Cloud (5.0" tied 1926); and on December 5th new daily record snowfall amounts were reported from Itasca State Park (5.0") and Grand Portage (8.2").

Following the snowfall an Arctic air mass spilled into the state from the north causing overnight lows to drop below 0 degrees F in many places. Of further note, the National Weather Service forecast models suggest that cold and snowy weather will dominate the state throughout the first three weeks of December. Some of the coldest December temperatures since 2008 are expected around southern portions of the state.

Follow-up on Source Magazine Article

Many WeatherTalk Newsletter readers and others have been asking to read the article about climate change in Minnesota which was published this fall in Source Magazine produced by the University of Minnesota Extension. Indeed climate change is real in our state, and already having measurable consequences. You can read the entire article on-line here.

Weekly Weather potpourri

A significant tropical cyclone was forming in the Bay of Bengal off the southeast coast of India this week. It was expected to bring high winds and heavy rains to portions of the east India coastline.

Highlights from the weekly drought assessment by Brad Rippey at the USDA World Agricultural Outlook Board:
-There was negligible change in U.S. drought coverage during the seven-day drought-monitoring period, as tranquil weather prevailed in the wake of a pre-Thanksgiving storm across the South and East.
-Parts of the six-state Southeast region experienced a beneficial boost in soil moisture from the pre-Thanksgiving storm. As a result, Southeastern coverage of abnormal dryness (D0) dipped to 42.99% on December 3, down from 56.87% two weeks ago.
- Since the current drought-monitoring period ended (7 a.m. EST on December 3), a new winter storm has begun to unfold across the U.S. Improvements related to this storm will be reflected in next week’s U.S. Drought Monitor, to be released on December 12.

The NOAA web site offers a brush-up on winter weather advisories, watches, and warnings, including criteria used for such information and some winter driving tips. Given our recent change over to winter it might be worth reviewing for yourself here.

MPR listener question

With an Arctic air mass expected to visit us, our family was wondering what is the coldest ever December temperature in Minnesota? An what about the coldest windchill conditions in December?

Answer: The coldest temperature measured in December is -57 degrees on New Years Eve at Pokegama Dam in 1898. Incidentally the high warmed all the way up to -10 degrees F that day. The worst December windchill conditions were on December 23, 1983 when windchill values in the northern Red River Valley ranged from -55 to -60 degrees F.

Twin Cities Almanac for December 6th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 29 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 14 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for December 6th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 63 degrees F in 1939; lowest daily maximum temperature of -2 degrees F in 1972; lowest daily minimum temperature is -19 degrees F in 1972; highest daily minimum temperature of 37 F in 1951; record precipitation of 0.53 inches in 1935; and a record 4.1 inches of snow fell on this date in 1969.

Average dew point for December 6th is 13 degrees F, with a maximum of 42 degrees F in 1951 and a minimum of -28 degrees F in 1972.

All-time state records for December 6th

The state record high temperature for this date is 73 degrees F at Beardsley (Big Stone County), Marshall, and Milan in 1939. The state record low temperature for this date is -34 degrees F at Ft Ripley (Crow Wing County) in 1873. State record precipitation for this date is 2.00 inches at Worthington (Nobles County) in 1917; and state record snowfall for this date is 23.2 inches at Duluth (St Louis County) in 1950.

Past Weather Features:

A slow moving heavy snow storm brought the state to a standstill over December 5-7, 1950. Many observers reported over a foot of snowfall. Some of the heaviest amounts included 33.1 inches at Duluth, 24.2 inches at Cloquet, 14 inches at Faribault, and 12.7 inches at Rochester. December 6-7, 1972 brought an Arctic air mass which set several low temperature records across the state of Minnesota. Nearly all portions of the state saw the thermometer drop to -20 degrees F or colder, with dangerous windchill conditions. For many communities temperatures never rose above zero F over those two days.  December 6, 1939 was arguably the warmest December day in Minnesota history. Over 40 state weather observers reported high temperatures in the 60s F, with 6 communities exceeding 70 degrees F under bright, sunny skies. The entire month was warm with many days over 50 degrees F. It turned out to be the warmest December in state history.


Sunny and cold on Saturday, then increasing clouds on Sunday with a chance for snow. Continued chance for snow on Monday with cold temperatures. Generally dry and cold next Tuesday and Wednesday, then a warming trend starts on Thursday pulling temperatures back up to the teens and twenties, with a chance for snow towards next weekend.
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