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Significant Snowfall on December 1-2

Significant Snowfall on December 1-2:

Many climate observers in southern Minnesota have reported at least a trace of snowfall on each of the first six days of the month (MSP, Rochester, and St Cloud included). The most significant snowfalls came over December 1-2, especially in the southern half of the state where many observers reported 6 to 11 inches. Several climate stations reported new daily snowfall records for December 2nd including:
Lakefield 11.0”
Windom 8.3”
Winnebago, Tracy, and Owatonna 8.0”
Caledonia 7.0”
Spring Valley 6.5”
Minneota, Austin, and Grand Meadow 6.0”
Hokah 5.0”

Much of the snow remains on the ground as temperature have generally stayed below the freezing mark around the state all week. Over 25 climate stations reported subzero overnight temperatures this week, led by -15°F at Warren (Marshall County). Also noteworthy is the fact that the weekly snow depth map from the Minnesota State Climatology Office shows an unusual pattern for Minnesota with both the northern and southern counties showing snow depths of 4-6 inches, while the middle part of the state shows less than 2 inches or no snow cover at all.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

Global warming refers only to the Earth’s rising surface temperature, while climate change includes warming and the “side effects” of warming—like melting glaciers, heavier rainstorms, or more frequent drought. Said another way, global warming is one symptom of the much larger problem of human-caused climate change. NOAA features an interesting article about this explanation on their web site this week.

September through November 2018 was quite gloomy across Minnesota. In fact, looking at solar radiation records at the U of M St. Paul Campus Climate Observatory it was the least sunny meteorological autumn since 1983 and the 4th gloomiest autumn on record. You can read more about the autumn weather summary from the Minnesota State Climatology Office.

A recent study from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, CO documents how recent patterns of sea level rise are clearly related to climate change. There is a discernible variability in the pattern of sea level rise due to other factors in the Earth climate system, but climate change is definitely one of the drivers of this behavior.

A new NASA-funded project called Community SnowObservations (CSO) hopes to facilitate a blending of the activities of both scientists and recreationalists to broaden and improve our understanding of snow. The CSO program specifically identifies the winter backcountry recreation community—skiers, snowboarders, snowshoers, snowmobilers, and avalanche professionals—as ideal candidates to contribute measurements and observations of snow since those individuals often travel (1) over long distances, (2) up to very high elevations, and (3) far away from roads and other infrastructure such as ski lifts and gondolas. All of these characteristics describe the exact areas that tend to be poorly represented by fixed observations.

MPR listener question:

For this year 2018 the last measurable snowfall in the Twin Cities in the Spring was April 16 (0.1”) and the first measurable snowfall in the Autumn was October 14th (0.3”) a period of almost exactly six months. How often is the period between last Spring and first Autumn snowfall only six months or less?

Answer:

Looking at the Twin Cities snowfall records back to 1884 (a period of 135 years), the last Spring and first Autumn measurable snowfalls have been separated by six months in 48 years, about 36 percent of the time. Remarkably in 1885, 1888, 1925, 1929, 1954, 1961, 1967, and 1976 the last Spring snowfall and first autumn snowfall were only separated by 5 months! Most of those years had snowfall in May.

Twin Cities Almanac for December 7th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 30 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 15 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for December 7th:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 54 degrees F in 1939; lowest daily maximum temperature of -1 degree F in 1882; lowest daily minimum temperature of -20 degrees F in 1972; highest daily minimum temperature of 41 degrees F in 1894; record precipitation of 0.56 inches in 1883. Record snowfall is 6.3 inches in 1927.

Average dew point for December 7th is 14°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 39°F in 1951; and the minimum dew point on this date is -29°F in 1972.

All-time state records for December 7th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 69 degrees F at Grand Marais (Cook County) in 1913. The state record low temperature for this date is -42 degrees F at Pokegama Dam (Itasca County) in 1936. The state record precipitation for this date is 1.31 inches at Lynd (Lyon County) in 1927. Record snowfall for this date is 12.0 inches at Chaska (Carver County) in 1927.

Past Weather Features:

December 6-7, 1927 brought a major winter storm to the state with heavy snow and strong winds, especially in the southern half of the state. Many climate stations reported 6-12 inches of snowfall, with a report of nearly 20 inches at Maple Plain in Hennepin County. This storm set up a very White Christmas season for many parts of the state.

Arctic High Pressure brought bitter cold to the state on December 7, 1936. With ample snow cover morning temperatures plummeted, ranging from -10 degrees F in southern counties to -40 degrees F in some northern communities. The daytime high temperature never rose above -10°F at Detroit Lakes that day.

One of the mildest early December periods in history occurred in 1939 across the state. On December 7th of that year over 50 Minnesota communities reported daytime temperatures in the 50s F with very little snow cover. Many western counties saw temperatures climb into the 60s F.

Outlook:

Generally colder than normal temperatures Saturday through Tuesday, but under mostly sunny skies. Increasing clouds on Wednesday with warmer temperatures prevailing. Chance of snow again by next Thursday and Friday.

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