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Trend of Wetter Than Normal Decembers

Trend of Wetter Than Normal Decembers:

Last week I wrote about the strong recent trend for warmer than normal Decembers. This week, on the threshold of a major winter storm affecting portions of Minnesota, I would like to emphasize the recent trend of wetter than normal Decembers as well. For Minnesota eleven of the most recent fifteen Decembers have been wetter than normal. Furthermore Decembers of 2008, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2016, and 2019 all rank among the ten wettest in history back to 1895 on a statewide basis. This is a very strong trend and may be linked to climate change.

So far this month eight daily precipitation records have been set or tied within Minnesota’s statewide climate network, including 0.85 inches at Cass Lake on December 6th. In addition 12 daily snowfall records have been tied or set so far this month, including 11.8 inches at Brimson and 9 inches at Grand Marais on the 6th. But for perspective, those very wet recent Decembers mentioned above were loaded with storms that set record daily snowfall amounts. Here is a listing of the number of daily record snowfall amounts recorded in each of those Decembers:

2008 there were 44 record daily snowfalls
2009 there were 214 record daily snowfalls
2010 there were 237 record daily snowfalls
2015 there were 74 record daily snowfalls
2016 there were 120 record daily snowfalls
2019 there were 100 record daily snowfalls

And of course this summary ignores the hundreds of daily record precipitation amounts (liquid equivalent of the snowfall) that were recorded in those Decembers as well. Some of these recent very wet Decembers have also delivered record monthly totals of snowfall that obliterated older historical records. Some examples include: 50.8 inches of snowfall at Wolf Ridge ELC (Lake County) in 2008; 48.4 inches of snowfall at Windom (Cottonwood County) in 2009; 46.3 inches at Hutchinson (McLeod County) in 2010; 41.3 inches at Rochester in 2010; and 32.4 inches at Otter Tail in 2019.

So let’s not be surprised if the winter storm this Friday and Saturday, or perhaps another one or two later this month bring some record-setting snowfalls to the state. They will be fitting well into the trend of recent years.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

The Weather Underground reported that strong winter storm Bara brought heavy rains, high seas, and lots of rain to portions of Ireland, England, Scotland, and Spain this week. Thousands were affected by power outages and many streets and highways flooded. The storm intensified rapidly as it approached Ireland.

Science Daily reports on some recent research from the Potsdam Institute which shows that over recent decades crop pests and diseases have increased across China. There is a climate change connection as many agricultural areas of China are experiencing warmer nights during the growing season which fosters more insect and disease activity on crops.

This week web site features reference to a climate resilience lesson illustrated in a PBS production about sea level change impacts on Norfolk, VA. The video focuses on sea level rise in Norfolk, Virginia and how the residents are managing the logistical, financial and political implications. Science journalists who have been studying Norfolk's rising sea level problems are interviewed, as well as local residents who are being impacted.

MPR listener question:

We are told to expect a foot or more of snowfall this Friday and Friday night here in Dodge Center. Can you please tell us what the record is for December?


Dodge Center recorded 12.9 inches of snowfall on December 12, 2010. Nearby Byron recorded 13 inches on the same date. Those are the largest values I can find in your location for December.

Twin Cities Almanac for December 10th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 31 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 17 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for December 10th:

MSP records for this date: highest daily maximum temperature of 54 degrees F in 1979; lowest daily maximum temperature of -3 degrees F in 1977; lowest daily minimum temperature of -18 degrees F in 1977; highest daily minimum temperature of 37 degrees F in 2015; record precipitation of 0.61 inches in 1911. Record snowfall is 2.0 inches in 2016.

Average dew point for December 10th is 10°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 40°F in 2015; and the minimum dew point on this date is -27 degrees F in 1977.

All-time state records for December 10th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 67 degrees F at Browns Valley (Traverse County) in 2006. The state record low temperature for this date is -41 degrees F at Thorhult (Beltrami County) in 1977. The state record precipitation for this date is 2.42 inches at New Richland (Waseca County) in 1911. Record snowfall is 14.2 inches at Altura 5W (Winona County) in 2009.

.Words of the Week: Hydropolitics

Used by resource managers, hydrologists, politicians, and to a limited extent by climatologists, this highly contemporary term refers to political negotiation and confrontation over riparian rights which may be associated with both water use and water quality. Two areas of the world where much attention is being given to hydropolitics are the Colorado River Basin in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, and the Nile, Jordan, and Tigris-Euphrates river systems of the Middle East. The rapid growth in water consumption as more and more land is settled and developed, along with the relative scarcity of alternative water resources in these regions have contributed to somewhat of a hydropolitical crisis. In order to insure an adequate and stable water supply in the face of climate change and extrapolated population growth curves, nations and states are negotiating water-sharing treaties and agreements with more vigor than ever. We will undoubtedly be hearing much more use of the term hydropolitics in our remaining lifetime.

Past Weather Features:

One of the warmest December 10th afternoons in history was in 1939 when over 50 communities reported afternoon high temperatures in the 50s F. Both Springfield and New Ulm reached 63°F, while the overnight low temperature at Rochester was a record-warm 38°F.

By far the coldest December 10th in state history was in 1977 when virtually everywhere in the state recorded subzero temperatures, mostly ranging from the minus teens to minus thirties. With a good deal of snow cover daytime temperatures did not warm up much. The afternoon high at Argyle (Marshall County) was -18°F.

December 8-10, 2009 saw a winter storm bring rain, sleet, and snow to most parts of Minnesota. Many southern areas of the state reported 10 to 16 inches of snowfall, and at times experienced blizzard conditions. Winds gusted to 40 to 50 mph causing zero visibility at times.


Perhaps some lingering snow and blowing snow early on Saturday, then mostly a sunny, but breezy weekend. Warming trend for Monday through Wednesday next week as temperatures climb to several degrees above normal. Increasing cloudiness by late Wednesday with a chance for rain and snow carrying over into Thursday. Temperatures cool towards next weekend.

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