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Strong Trend of Warm/Wet Continues in December

Strong Trend of Warm/Wet Continues in December:

No matter what the weather brings for the rest of the month this December will wrap up in Minnesota as both warmer and wetter than normal, following the trends of recent years. Over the most recent 15 years two-thirds of all Decembers have been warmer and wetter than normal. This year some areas, especially along the north shore of Lake Superior will see December snowfall totals between 20 and 30 inches, while other areas will report over 3 inches of precipitation, about three to four times normal.

Much of the precipitation for the month came either in the winter storm of December 10-11 or the highly unusual storm of December 15-16. These storms produced many record-setting rainfall and snowfall amounts around the state. Austin, MN reported 2.90 inches of precipitation on December 11th which set a new statewide record for the date. Similarly, the climate station at Cottage Grove 1.6NNW reported a snowfall amount of 20 inches setting a new all-time statewide record for the date. Though some additional record-setting precipitation amounts were reported with the storm on December 15-16, it will forever be remembered for the 16 tornadoes it produced in southeastern Minnesota. Tornadoes were reported in Freeborn, Mower, Winona, Wabasha, Fillmore, and Houston Counties. A total of 41 daily maximum temperature records were set just ahead of the storm, including a new statewide high temperature of 66°F at Caledonia. And 23 daily precipitation records were set across Minnesota as well.

A detailed report of this storm is provided by the DNR Minnesota State Climatology Office.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

Framing the December 15th storm in the context of climate change will be the task of several research climatologists over the next year or two. Detailed attribution of nearly every extreme weather event and climate episode has become a specialty area called “forensic meteorology.” There is a particularly good article written about this area of research posted on the NOAA web site that might be of interest.

Freezing rain and icy conditions produced numerous crashes along Interstate 94 in western Wisconsin on Thursday morning (Dec 23) this week. Over 100 vehicles, many of them trucks were involved in the crashes and I94 had to be closed for a while according to reports from the Weather Channel.

This week’s AGU-EOS Bulletin shares an article about the huge investment in infrastructure that will be required by Russia to preserve its network of oil and gas pipelines across the Arctic permafrost. “The ground beneath gas pipelines may subside up to half a meter in places over the next 20 years, according to the group’s permafrost projections. A soil slump of even 10 centimeters can be enough to inflict damage on pipelines.” Russia may have to spend up to $110 billion to maintain, upgrade, and preserve this network in the coming years with the accelerated loss of permafrost.

MPR listener question:

Hearing about all of the 60°F temperatures in Minnesota last week, made us wonder have we ever seen 70°F during December in Minnesota?


Yes, that has happened in three different years: December 6 and December 9 of 1939 brought some 70°F temperatures to seven climate stations of western Minnesota (74°F at Wheaton); December 3-4, 1941 also brought 70°F temperatures to two climate stations; and December 1, 1998 brought 70°F to Chaska, MN. Those are the only cases I am aware of in Minnesota history.

Twin Cities Almanac for December 24th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 26 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 13 degrees F (plus or minus 14 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for December 24th:

MSP records for this date: highest daily maximum temperature of 46 degrees F in 1957; lowest daily maximum temperature of -10 degrees F in 1983; lowest daily minimum temperature of -31 degrees F in 1872; highest daily minimum temperature of 35 degrees F in 1982; record precipitation of 1.26 inches in 1982. Record snowfall is 5.2 inches also in 2009.

Average dew point for December 24th is 10°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 38°F in 1936; and the minimum dew point on this date is -38 degrees F in 1983.

All-time state records for December 24th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 57 degrees F at Northfield (Dakota County) in 1888. The state record low temperature for this date is -43 degrees F at St Vincent (Kittson County) in 1884. The state record precipitation for this date is 2.40 inches at Montgomery (Le Sueur County) in 2010. Record snowfall is 15.5 inches at Isabella (Lake County) in 1959 and at Windom (Cottonwood County) in 2009.

Past Weather Features:

An Arctic Air Mass gripped the state for Christmas Eve in 1921. Many communities saw morning low temperatures range from -25°F to -40°F. The afternoon high temperature at International Falls only made it to -16°F

A warm Christmas Eve greeted most citizens in 1922 as afternoon temperatures reached the 40s and 50s across southern and western Minnesota. With little or no snow cover some communities saw the afternoon temperature reach the 50s F. The overnight low was 34°F at Willmar.

It was an exceptionally snowy Christmas week (Dec 22-28) in 1959. Many areas of the state reported 5-10 inches of snowfall, while along the north shore by Lake Superior observers reported 20-30 inches of snowfall. Isabella in Lake County reported 3 feet of snow that month.


Near normal temperatures over the weekend, with chances for snow each day. Cooler than normal by Monday, but more sun. Another chance for snow on Tuesday with moderating temperatures, the much cooler for the balance of next week with some chance for snow again by next weekend.

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