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Strong Warm Temperature Trend in December

Strong Warm Temperature Trend in December:

We should not be surprised that December is bringing us warmer than normal temperatures. Since the new millennium (2000) 70 percent of Decembers have been warmer than normal, including the last six consecutive years based on statewide average temperature. This is a remarkable strong trend. In fact eleven of the warmest Decembers in state history (back to 1895) have occurred since the year 2001, including the warmest December in history in 2015 which averaged nearly 12°F warmer than normal.

If the NOAA climate outlook for this December holds up we will record a month that is 4 to 6 degrees F warmer than normal and be the seventh consecutive warm December. Caution: This is not a predictor of how January of 2021 will go. Reminder: we had a very warm December in 2003, followed immediately by a very cold January in 2004.

If this trend prevails in December 2020, then it will be the 7th month of the year with above normal temperatures statewide and likely make 2020 rank among the warmest 15 years in state history.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

World Soil Day (WSD) is held annually on December 5th to focus attention on the importance of healthy soil and to advocate for the sustainable management of soil resources. “Soil is one of the critical resources for life on earth,” said David Hoover, Director of USDA-NRCS, National Soil Survey Center. “There are already ‘world days’ for water, air, and sunlight. The soil resource needs to take a prominent place along with the others,” he added. It has taken thousands of years of weather interactions with the landscape to form the diversity of soils across our country. You can read more from the USDA-NRCS and order a poster of the soil colors in the USA.

Recent NOAA funded research shows that a large area of the ocean’s warmest surface waters stretching across the Indian and Western Pacific Oceans, has grown even warmer and almost doubled in size since 1900. This has major implications for global rainfall patterns, especially in late winter and spring seasons.

The Bureau of Meteorology in Australia reported that November 2020 was the hottest in the history of that country, averaging nearly 4.5°F above normal on a countrywide basis. Many daily temperature records were set, and numerous heat wave warnings were issued by the Bureau. Record maximum temperatures of 110 to 111°F were reported in some areas, all-time highs for the month of November.

MPR listener question:

From your knowledge of Minnesota climate history can you tell us in what month have we seen the largest increase in temperature over the past 100 years or so? P.S. This is to settle a bet.


The month that shows the steepest increase in mean monthly temperature over the past century is the month of February. The average February temperature in Minnesota is 5°F greater than it was 100 years ago. That is significant in the context of climate change. Incidentally for the current month of December the change over the past 100 years in the monthly mean has been plus 3°F.

Twin Cities Almanac for December 4th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 31 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 4th:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 56 degrees F in 1941; lowest daily maximum temperature of 2 degrees F in 1991; lowest daily minimum temperature of -15 degrees F in 1886; highest daily minimum temperature of 44 degrees F in 1941; record precipitation of 0.58 inches in 1877. Record snowfall is 4.2 inches in 1947.

Average dew point for December 4th is 17°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 55°F in 2017; and the minimum dew point on this date is -19 degrees F in 1991.

All-time state records for December 4th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 71 degrees F at Long Prairie (Todd County) in 1941. The state record low temperature for this date is -38 degrees F at Fort Ripley (Crow Wing County) in 1873. The state record precipitation for this date is 3.00 inches at Thief River Falls (Pennington County) in 2006. Record snowfall is 14.0 inches at Campbell (Wilkin County) in 1927 and at Beardsley (Big Stone County) in 1955.

Past Weather Features:

December 4, 1886 was bitter cold across the state. Morning low temperatures ranged from the minus teens F into the minus 30s F up north. Daytime highs were below zero in many areas and just in the single digits across the southern counties. The high temperature at Rochester was just -1°F.

On December 4, 1964 Arctic Cold gripped the state as most areas reported morning temperatures that were subzero, with lots of snow on the ground. The daytime high temperature at Hallock (Kittson County) only reached -5°F.

December 3-5, 1970 brought heavy snowfall across portions of north-central and northeastern Minnesota. Climate stations in those areas measured 4 to 13 inches of snowfall and snowplows were out keeping most highways open, but some county roads were closed.

December 4, 1998 was warm and sunny across southern Minnesota with afternoon temperatures in the 60s F and no snow on the ground. Golf courses were open for business. Even the nighttime lows were in the mid 30s F to mid 40s F.


Mostly sunny with warmer than normal temperatures prevailing throughout the weekend and much of next week. Chance of passing snow flurries on Saturday. Temperatures by the middle of next week may reach the 50s F in some areas of the state as the mild spell continues.

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meecepeece said…
Good I hate winter I hate snow and I hate “ white Christmasas”
This weather can go on until March for all I care
I hate MN weather. The winter makes me depressed
The only reason I’m even still ok right now in 2020, is because Dec hasn’t been a living nightmare yet.