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November Wrap-Up, Revised December Outlook

Final comments on November:

On a statewide basis November of 2014 was the coldest since 1995 with over two-thirds of the days showing temperature values that were colder than normal. Since 1895 it ranked as 9th coldest November statewide. For the Twin Cities the 11 consecutive days with below freezing temperatures (Nov 10-20), tied as the third longest November stretch below freezing in history back to 1871. Minnesota reported the coldest temperature in the nation five times during the month.  Temperature extremes for the month were 60 degrees F at several locations on the 2nd, and a frigid -24F at Embarrass on the 28th.  

Incidentally, Embarrass reported the coldest temperature in the nation again this week on December 4th with a reading of -13 degrees F, and so far this month nearly every climate observer in the state has reported at least one sub-zero F temperature.

Snowfall for the month of November ranged from just a few inches to well over a foot. Some of the snowiest places in the state this month included: Duluth, Benson, Collegeville, and Kimball with over 16 inches; Dawson, Madison, Winnebago, and Little Falls with over 17 inches; Rush City and Cambridge with over 18 inches; and Mora and Milan reported over 19 inches.

December Climate Outlook Revised:

On November 30th the NOAA-Climate Prediction Center revised the temperature outlook for the month of December based on a recent indication of a stronger El Nino forming in the equatorial Pacific Ocean (warmer than normal surface water temperatures).  The revised outlook called for a higher probability of warmer than normal temperature conditions across most of the nation, including Minnesota.  Certainly warmer and drier conditions are seen in the outlook for Minnesota through the next two weeks of December as well.

How sound carries well in dense air:

A scientist and former meteorologist was studying the language of elephants in the wild, and especially their mating calls. He found that the females emit an extremely low tone (long sound wave) mating call at certain times of the year, but they wait to do so typically until sunset or shortly after. These sounds can be heard by male elephants from as far as 10 miles. He inferred that elephants were using their meteorological knowledge in two respects: (1) sound travels much farther over a landscape when there is a temperature inversion (colder, denser air near the surface) and this is often the case shortly after sunset; (2) surface winds often subside and calm after sunset and therefore permit sound to be detected at greater distances (not having to compete against the aeolian sounds of the wind).  In addition, sounds of longer wavelength tend to travel farther in the atmosphere than high pitched (short wavelength) sounds.  On the other hand, perhaps elephants are simply in a more romantic mood after the sun goes down.

Weekly Weather potpourri: 

Earlier this week Pete Boulay of the MN State Climatology Office provided an interesting resource on Great Lakes annual ice coverage over the period from 1973 to 2014.  These data compiled by the NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, MI show that last winter maximum ice coverage on the Great Lakes (March 6, 2014) was 92.2 percent the 2nd highest value in the data record (surpassed only by 94.7 percent in 1979).  You can read more about this analysis at the NOAA web site.


There is a nice feature this week provided in the NOAA newsletter about how an Alabama Farmer uses the NOAA seasonal climate outlooks to plan his crop rotations.  He especially pays attention to La Nina and El Nino related outlooks.  Take a look at the video.

The newsletter also features an interesting article about pine bark beetle outbreaks related to climate based on some work done by the American Museum of Natural History.  Worth a read.

Some excerpts from USDA's Brad Rippey's weekly drought briefing:
-During the five-week period ending on December 2, 2014, contiguous U.S. drought coverage decreased to 29.13% -- a 0.48 percentage point drop.  Several weeks ago, in mid-October, U.S. drought coverage fell below 30% for the first time since December 2011.
-During November, most of the significant changes involved reduction in the intensity and/or coverage of dryness and drought, primarily across the southern and eastern U.S. 
-Drought still covers a substantial portion of the southern Plains and the western U.S.  On December 2, the highest level of droughtD4, or exceptional drought was noted in portions of California (55%), Nevada (12%), Oklahoma (5%), and Texas (3%). 
- On December 2, more than one-third (37%) of the nations winter wheat production area mainly across the southern Plains and the interior Northwest was located within a drought-affected region. 
- Heading into the winter of 2014-15, the Midwest remains nearly drought-free.  On December 2, drought covered just 5% of the U.S. corn production area and 3% of the soybean area. 

Super Typhoon Hagupit was churning in the Western Pacific Ocean east of the Philippines this week generating winds up to 160 mph and sea waves of 45-50 feet.  It was expect to make landfall southeast of Manila on Saturday and Sunday and may be quite destructive, thought winds are expected to diminish somewhat before landfall.
The United Kingdom Meteorological Office earlier this week summarized the global temperature records for 2014 so far and offered some assessment on attribution for the warm year it has been worldwide.  Clearly this year may go into the record books as the warmest in the modern record.  

An article released in Science magazine this week takes a hard look at the "Social Cost of Carbon."  An assessment by economists and lawyers on the costs of carbon emissions is intended to provide a framework for policymakers to better judge costs and benefits of climate policies.

MPR listener question:

Over Thanksgiving I heard something I have never heard before: "White Thanksgiving = Brown Christmas." Does wintry weather at Thanksgiving correlate with less snowy weather at Christmas or even a brown Christmas?


NO! is the emphatic answer to this question and here's why.  Thanks to the MN State Climatology Office I can look at the data for the Twin Cities since 1900.  Over that time period there has been at least one inch of snow cover on Thanksgiving Day 38 times, so that provides the number of cases to examine for Christmas Day.  Of those 38 years, Christmas Day brought at least one inch of snow cover 28 times (74 percent), while just a trace of snow was observed on Christmas Day 7 times (18 percent).  There were only 3 years (1997, 1957, and 1911) when a brown Christmas was observed, a frequency of only 8 percent.  Clearly white Thanksgiving Days are correlated to White Christmas Days.

Twin Cities Almanac for December 5th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 30 degrees F (plus or minus 10 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 16 degrees F (plus or minus 10 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for December 5th:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 63 degrees F in 2001; lowest daily maximum temperature of 2 degrees F in 1873; lowest daily minimum temperature is -14 degrees F in 1873; highest daily minimum temperature of 40 F in 1875; record precipitation of 0.81 inches 1909; and record snowfall is 7.0 inches in 1909.

Average dew point for December 5th is 17 degrees F, with a maximum of 57 degrees F in 2001 and a minimum of -19 degrees F in 1977.

All-time state records for December 5th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 65 degrees F at Winona (Winona County) in 1998 and 2001. The state record low temperature for this date is -38 degrees F at Ft Ripley (Crow Wing County) in 1873. State record precipitation for this date is 2.23 inches at Milaca (Mille Lacs County) in 1985; and the state record snowfall for this date is 12.0 inches at Little Falls (Morrison County) in 1909.


Mostly sunny on Saturday with below normal temperatures.  Increasing cloudiness on Sunday and warmer, but with a chance for mixed precipitation later in the day and into Monday.  Drier after Tuesday with a significant warming trend and a run of above normal temperatures with mostly a dry pattern.






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