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Warmer, Dry Start to December May Persist

Warm, Dry Start to December May Persist:

Warm and dry are the descriptors for the first week of December. Most observers report an average temperature for the first week of the month that ranges from 6°F to 12°F above normal. This follows a recent December climate trend which shows that 7 of the most recent 9 Decembers have been warmer than normal, and 21 of the past 30 have been warmer than normal (including 3 of the 4 warmest months of December in state history, 1997, 2006 and 2015).

Within the state climate station network some record high temperatures were reported this week:  For December 5th:
48°F at Alexandria (Douglas County)
50°F at Georgetown (Clay County)

For December 6th:
46°F at Long Prairie (Todd County)
50°F at Wells (Faribault County)
55°F at Lamberston (Redwood County)

For December 7th:
46°F at International Falls (Koochiching County)
53°F at St Cloud (Stearns County)
57°F at Crookston (Polk County)
59°F at Moorhead (Clay County)
61°F at Granite Falls (Yellow Medicine County) and at Windom (Cottonwood County)
63°F at Tracy (Lyon County)
64°F at Madison (Lac Qui Parle County)
65°F at Marshall (Lyon County)
69°F at Canby (Yellow Medicine County)

The reading at Canby tied a statewide record high temperature for the date.

Most observers reported less than an tenth of an inch of precipitation during the first week of the month, and many reported only a trace. In addition, little snowfall was reported most places, less than an inch in most places, which the warm temperatures melted.

The warmth and absence of snowfall motivated interest in December golf, and many golf courses were open for business this week in the southern half of Minnesota. This is not especially unusual in that golf course were also open the first week of December in 1990, 1998, 1999, 2001, and 2012.

All of the NOAA Climate Prediction Center outlooks favor a continuation of warmer and drier than normal weather at least through the third week of the month.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

The BBC news provides a synopsis of how the COP28 meetings in Dubai are going this week. The assessments of progress by individual countries in meeting their reduction goals for GHG emissions is not good. Most are falling short of mitigation efforts that would meet their goals.

A recent paper in the journal Science depicts the Earth’s atmospheric carbon dioxide content back 66 million years using geological proxy evidence to reconstruct atmospheric composition. The study shows that the current global average of 419 ppm is likely the highest level in the most recent 14 million years. It is estimated that global mean temperature 50 million years before present was about 22°F higher than today and that carbon dioxide concentration was about 500 ppm greater than today.

MPR listener question:

Wondering for the Twin Cities Area how often has there been no snow cover on Christmas Day in the last 100 years or so?


Over the past 100 years, there have been 27 years when Christmas Day had no snow cover or only a trace of snow. More recently over the past 30 years only the following reported no snow cover or only a trace of snow on December 25th:

I would not give up on the notion of a White Christmas Day yet.

Twin Cities Almanac for December 8th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 31 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 18 degrees F (plus or minus 13 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for December 8th:

MSP records for this date: highest daily maximum temperature of 50 degrees F in 1990; lowest daily maximum temperature of -6 degrees F in 1927; lowest daily minimum temperature of -22 degrees F in 1876; highest daily minimum temperature of 40 degrees F in 1907; record precipitation of 0.44 inches in 1963. There was also a record 7.1 inches of snowfall in 1995.

Average dew point for December 8th is 13°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 46°F in 1946; and the minimum dew point on this date is -20 degrees F in 1978.

All-time state records for December 8th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 67 degrees F at Grand Marais (Cook County) in 1913. The state record low temperature for this date is -39 degrees F at Celina 2E (St Louis County) in 2013. The state record precipitation for this date is 2.02 inches at Babbitt (St Louis County) in 1924. The state snowfall record is 14.0 inches at Isabella (Lake County) in 1969.

Words of the Week: Mustard Winds

The English have several interesting expressions for weather conditions, and this is one of them. When we have a cold front or cold wave move through the Midwest, our meteorologists talk about the windchill, but also sometimes refer to the wind as a "biting wind", a "penetrating wind", or a "bitter wind." The English will sometimes refer to a wind that brings on severe windchill conditions as a "mustard wind." This is most commonly a cold and damp northeasterly wind off the North Sea. The penetrating wind we had earlier in the week when windchills fell to -30 and -40 F, was actually a very dry wind as dewpoints fell into the minus teens, indicating little water vapor in the air.

In fact, mustard used as a adjective generally has a negative connotation: mustard gas was an irritating and blistering gas used in WWI; mustard oil has a very unpleasant odour; mustard beetle is a destructive insect pest; mustard plaster or mustard paper is a counter-irritant used in medicine; and anybody who has done laundry knows that a mustard stain is one of the most difficult to remove (just look at my tie collection!).

Past Weather:

A major winter storm brought mixed precipitation to Minnesota on December 8, 1963. Starting as rain and then changing over into snow, the storm brought 5 to 10 inches of many areas with a water content that ranged between 1.0 and 1.5 inches.

Frigid, record-setting low temperatures spread across Minnesota on December 8 of 1976. Most areas of the state reported morning lows ranging from -10°F to -30°F. The afternoon high temperature at International Falls only reached -8°F.

December 8 of 1990 brought afternoon temperatures of 50°F or greater to 39 Minnesota counties. Portions of western Minnesota reached the 60s F and some citizens took their lunch hour outside to have a picnic.


It will become breezy and cooler over the weekend with a chance for snow on Saturday and Saturday night. Accumulations will be light. Continued cool on Sunday. Then another warming trend will start on Monday and will bring mostly warmer than normal temperatures next week, as daytime highs in the 40s F will return to many areas of the state. Chance for precipitation again by next Friday.

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