Cold Last Week of 2017
Minnesotans are hardy folk. Even the youngsters who brave sub-zero temps just to take advantage of backyard hockey rinks and frozen winter ponds on winter break! This will be a VERY cold last full week of 2017 with temps and feels like temps well in the sub-zero range. Wind chill values will be quite dangerous at times, so if you have to go outside, make sure you, your little ones and your pets are bundled up!
Colder in Minnesota than in Antarctica?
Here's a tweet from @RachelSB who captured these screen shots showing the temperature difference between Minneapolis and Antarctica. Interestingly, it was colder here than it was near the South Pole on Tuesday morning! BRRR!!
Arctic Invasion Continues...
Oh boy... I'm cold just looking at this forecast! Despite a slight warm-up on Thursday, temperatures look to remain bitterly cold through through first few days of 2018. The extended forecast suggests temps getting a little closer to average by the 2nd week of January.
Snowy Thursday Ahead
A fairly weak system will blow into town Wedensday night and Thursday with light snow accumulations. Precipitation amounts won't be terribly high, but because temperatures will be so cold, the light fluffy snow may add up to 1" to 3" across the region! For folks traveling or heading to work Thursday, keep in mind that this will likely gum up the roads and traveling could be a little difficult at times. This cold, fluffy snow tends to be very slippery, so be careful!
Weather Outlook Ahead
Here's a look at that weak system as it blows into town late Wednesday into Thursday. Again, precipitation amounts won't all that much, but with temperatures as cold as they'll be this week, this snow will be very fluffy and accumulate fairly quickly. 

Record Breaking Snow in Erie, PA
Incredible amounts of snow fell in Erie, PA during Christmas. In fact, the storm total over a 30 hour period from Christmas day to 6AM on December 26th was a whopping 53" !! Unreal!! 
Record Breaking Snow in Erie, PA
Here are some tweets from @NWSCLE on the record breaking snow in Erie, PA...
"A Snow Emergency Has Been Declared In Erie, PA, After A Christmas Storm Shatters Several Weather Records"
The reality of a White Christmas is beginning to sink in, full force, for residents of Erie, Pennsylvania. The National Weather Service reports that the city (and much of the surrounding area) broke several snowfall records over the holiday with a record 34 inches of snow falling on Christmas Day. And while the storm isn’t quite over yet, meteorologists are raving about other records that have shattered, for Erie saw 53 inches of snow fall in 30 hours. (For reference’s sake, the old one-day record, 20 inches, hails from 1956; and both the old 3-day record, 30 inches, and the old 7-day record, 39 inches, go back to 2002.)
Heavy Lake Effect Snow Continues
The storm total snowfall accumulations could approach 2 to 4 feet across parts of the Tug Hill Plateau and down wind of Lake Erie! Heavy lake effect snow will likely continue through late Wednesday.
Seasonfall Snowfall
Here's the national snowfall analysis so far this season, which shows that every state in the Lower 48 has seen snow! Interestingly, some loctions across the Southern U.S. have seen more snow that the Twin Cities has seen.
Snow Depth 2017
The snow depth map across the country for December 26th suggests that 46.3% of the country is covered in snow with some even as far south as Oklahoma. At this time last year, 44.6% of the nation was covered in snow. The Twin Cities officially has 1" of snow on the ground at the MSP Airport, but at this time last year, there was only a Trace on the ground.
Snow Depth 2016
At this time last year 44.6% of the nation was covered in snow.
"Minnesota Sees Deadliest Winter In Years"
"Minnesota has already had five ice-related deaths this winter. The state typically averages three during the whole season. Minnesota is on track to have one of its deadliest winters in years. Five people have died this season after falling through ice. The state typically averages three ice-related deaths over the course of the entire winter. The 2015-2016 winter had zero ice-related deaths, while the 2016-2017 winter had two. The last time Minnesota saw ice-related deaths in the double digits was in the 2002-2003 winter, when the state had 10 fatalities. The most recent death this year happened in northern Minnesota where a women drowned after riding an ATV on Rice Lake. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officer Hannah Mishler has already responded to multiple ice rescue calls. "Ice, especially snow covered ice, is extremely deceptive. You can't see dangerous cracks or the thickness of the ice under the snow," Mishler said in a statement."
Ice Safety!!
Before you go testing the ice on area lakes and ponds, remember that "ICE IS NEVER 100% SAFE!" So when is ice safe? Here is an excerpt from the MN DNR regarding ice safety: 
"There really is no sure answer. You can't judge the strength of ice just by its appearance, age, thickness, temperature, or whether or not the ice is covered with snow. Strength is based on all these factors -- plus the depth of water under the ice, size of the water body, water chemistry and currents, the distribution of the load on the ice, and local climatic conditions."
General Ice Thickness Guidelines
Here are some general ice thickness guidelines from the MN DNR:
For new, clear ice ONLY:

Under 4" - STAY OFF
4" - Ice fishing or other activities on foot
5" - 7" - Snowmobile or ATV
8" - 12" - Car or small pickup
12" - 15" - Medium truck

Many factors other than thickness can cause ice to be unsafe.
White ice or "snow ice" is only about half as strong as new clear ice. Double the above thickness guidelines when traveling on white ice.

See more from the MN DNR HERE:


Temperature Anomaly on Monday
The image below shows the temperature anomaly across North America from Monday. Note the cooler blues across much of Canada and also across much of the Lower 48. However, intense oranges and reds were still in place across the southwestern US. This is where warmer than average temperatures were located.
Arctic Air Mass Arrives
We've been watching weather models over the last several days, which continue to show a large batch of Arctic air heading south of the International border. This significantly colder than average air mass will impace much of the nation during the last full week of December.
Arctic Air MassArrives
The 850mb temp anomaly loop below through the end of the week shows a large chunk of colder than average temperatures impacting much of the nation through the last full week of December. This will be some of the coldest air of the season for many with daytime highs staying below 0F for some up north. However, folks in the Southwest will continue to see above average temps.
High Temps Sunday

High temperatures on Wednesday will still be VERY chilly across much of the country with temperatures running nearly 10F to 20F+ below average. Meanwhile, warmer than average temperatures will continue in the southwestern part of the country and also in southern Florida.

Weather Outlook Ahead
With cold air in place across much of the nation, it looks like the week could continue to feature more areas of wintry precipitation across more of the nation. Areas of snow will spread across the northern half of the nation with lake effect continuing in the Great Lakes Region. We'll have to keep an eye on the moisture across the Southern US too. With cold air in place that far south, there could be icing potential from parts of Texas to the Gulf Coast States and Mid-Atlantic States. during the 2nd half of the week.
5 Day Precipitation Outlook

According to NOAA's WPC, the 5 day precipitation outlook suggests areas of heavier precipitation continuing across the Northwestern part of the country through AM Sunday. Some of the higher elevations there could see several inches of liquid accumulation, which could lead to feet of snow! There may also be areas of heavier rain near the Lower Mississippi Valley.

Snowfall Potential Ahead
A snowy strip looks possible over the next several days from the Pacific Northwest across the midsection of the country and into the Northeast. There may even be a little snow across the Tennessee Valley. The heaviest will fall in the higher elevations out west and across parts of the Great Lakes.
Thomas Fire
The Thomas Fire continues in Southern California. As of Monday, Cal Fire said the fire had burned 281,620 acres and is now the largest fire in modern California state history! The has burned more than 1000 structures and more homes are still threatened. The fire is currently 86% contained and full containment maybe possible by the early part of January, weather permitting.

PRELIMINARY 2017 Tornado Map

It certainly has been a fairly active first half of 2017 with 1,522 preliminary tornado reports through December 25th. Note that this is the most tornadoes through that date since 2011, when there were 1,897 reports. The map below shows the distribution of the tornadoes so far this year.

PRELIMINARY 2017 Tornado Count

According to NOAA's SPC, the PRELIMINARY 2017 tornado count is 1,522 (through December 25th). Note that is the most active year for tornadoes since 2011, when there were 1,897 tornadoes. Notice that the only other year with more tornadoes than this year was in 2008, which ended with a whopping 2,140 tornadoes nationwide.


National Weather Hazards Ahead...

1.) Heavy precipitation across portions of the Pacific Northwest, Thu-Fri, Dec 28-Dec 29.
Heavy snow across portions of the Pacific Northwest, the Northern Rockies, and the Northern Great Basin, 2.) Thu-Fri, Dec 28-Dec 29.
3.) Heavy snow across portions of Maine, Sat, Dec 30.
4.) High winds across portions of the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, Sat-Sun, Dec 30-Dec 31.
5.) Much below normal temperatures from the Great Lakes to the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, Thu, Dec 28.
6.) Much below normal temperatures across portions of the Northern and Central Plains, and the Northern Rockies, Thu-Fri, Dec 28-Dec 29.
7.) Much below normal temperatures from the Northern and Central Rockies to the Southern Plains, Lower Mississippi Valley and eastward to the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, Sat-Mon, Dec 30-Jan 1.
8.) Heavy precipitation across portions of mainland Alaska, Sun-Mon, Dec 31-Jan 1.
9.) Slight risk of much below normal temperatures from the eastern Rockies to the East Coast, Tue-Fri, Jan 2-Jan 5.
10.) Moderate risk of much below normal temperatures for portions of the Great Plains, the Mississippi Valley, the Tennessee Valley, the Ohio Valley, the Central and Southern Appalachians, the Great Lakes, the Northeast, the Mid-Atlantic, and the Southeast,Tue-Thu, Jan 2-Jan 4.
11.) High risk of much below normal temperatures for portions of the Lower and Middle Mississippi Valleys, the Tennessee Valley, the Ohio Valley, the Great Lakes, the Southern and Central Appalachians, the Northeast, the Mid-Atlantic, and the Southeast, Tue-Wed, Jan 2-Jan 3.
12.) Severe Drought across the Central Plains, the Lower Mississippi Valley, the Central Great Basin, the Northern Plains, Hawaii, the Northern Rockies, the Middle Mississippi Valley, the Southern Plains, and the Southwest.


Enough Snow to Plow and Shovel on Thursday?
By Paul Douglas

Even though the least daylight came on December 21, the Winter Solstice, our temperatures don't usually bottom out until the third week of January. This "seasonal lag" is the result of snow and ice expanding over North America, coupled with long nights. A rising sun angle doesn't begin to counteract those factors until late January, when average temperatures start to rise.

Which brings up a delicate question I float every winter: can you feel colder than numb? Mail carriers and ice fishermen swear you can tell the difference between -5 and -20F. Not sure. Maybe a colder air temperature gets you to numb faster?

Our biggest snows often come after an arctic invasion, with a deep layer of frigid air overhead. Models consistently print out a few inches of snow Thursday, and it may even be a plowable snow event. Imagine that.

A reinforcing shot of invigorating Yukon air may keep the mercury below zero New Year's weekend, but 20s may return late next week, even 30F 2 weeks out.

Yes, we live in the Super Bowl of Weather but odds are it won't be quite this NANOOK on February 4.

Extended Forecast

WEDNESDAY: Fading sun. Chilly. Winds: SW 3-8. Wake-up: -11. Feels Like: -20. High: 4.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Snow, mainly after midnight. Low: 0. Feels Like: -11.

THURSDAY: Snow accumulations 1" to 3". Slow commutes.  Winds: S 7-12.. High: 13.

FRIDAY: Turning colder. Coating of flurries. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: -2. High: 5.

SATURDAY: Brittle sunshine, feels like -20F. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: -12. High: -3.

SUNDAY: Early flurries. Still bitter. Winds: 5-10. Wake-up: -13. High: 0.

MONDAY: Cold start. At least the sun is out. Winds: NW 3-8. Wake-up: -15. High: 2

TUESDAY: Partly sunny. Still fairly numb. Winds: SE 3-8. Wake-up: -12. High: 6.

This Day in Weather History
December 27th

1982: A snowstorm starts across the state, and ultimately dumps 16 inches in the Twin Cities by the time it ends on the 28th.

Average High/Low for Minneapolis
December 27th

Average High: 24F (Record: 46F set in 1959)
Average Low: 9F (Record: -24F set in 1886)

Record Rainfall: 0.70" set in 1959
Record Snowfall: 6.0" set in 1979

Sunrise/Sunset Times for Minneapolis
December 27th

Sunrise: 7:50am
Sunset: 4:38pm

Hours of Daylight: ~8 hours 48 mins

Daylight GAINED since yesterday: ~27 seconds
Daylight GAINED since winter solstice (December 21st): 2 minute

Moon Phase for December 27th at Midnight
1.9 Since First Quarter Moon


Weather Outlook For Wednesday

High temps on Wednesday will be VERY cold across much of the region with readings still nearly -15F to -25F below average! Some locations across the far northern reaches of Minnesota will still not make it above 0F for daytime highs.

Lows AM Thursday
It'll be another very cold night ahead with actual air temps dipping into the -10s and -20s below zero! Some across the far north could even see -30s !! YIKES!
Highs Thursday
High temps on Thursday will actually be warmer thanks to a little light snow that will move through the region. Daytime highs will still be below average by -10F to -15F, but at least most of us will be above 0F for during the day.
6 to 10 Day Temperature Outlook

Here's the temperature outlook through the 1st week of January, which suggests MUCH colder than average temperatures sticking around much of the Midwest and Great Lakes through the time period. With winter officially here, it looks like winter-like temps will be present.

8 to 14 Day Temperature Outlook

Here's the extended temperature outlook as we head through the 1st week of January. Note that colder than average temperatures look to stick around through much of the eastern two-thirds of the nation, while warmer than average weather will be found in the Western US.

"The Best Snow Removal Tools to Buy Right Now"
"Winter can be brutal — especially if you don’t have the proper cleanup equipment. But now it’s easier to prepare for the ice and snow with powerful new gear. Whether it’s a shovel that can break up the ice in front of your house, or a high-tech snowblower, when winter strikes, be prepared with these smartly designed tools."

"Climate Change Costs The National Ski Industry $170 Million Every Year Says New Study"
"Climate change is rocking the downhill ski industry in the USA to the tune of $170 million each year, that according to a recently published study by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Protect Our Winters. The study says that due to a shortened average season as well as shallower than average snowpacks, ski areas will continue to lose money with some hurting worse than others to due meteorological positioning. “The downhill ski resort industry is estimated to have lost $1.07 billion in aggregated revenue between low and high snow fall years over the last decade (November 1999 – April 2010).” – NRDC. Some of these climate change susceptible ski areas have already seen huge downturns in skier visit numbers. On bad years, Washington and Oregon have seen decreases by up to 31% of their average while other, more climate resilient regions like Colorado saw a decrease of 7.7%. Those low snow years will only get worse as current climate projections have snowpacks across the west decreasing anywhere from 25-100% by the end of the century."

"7 Cold Weather Health Myths You Shouldn’t Believe"
"As the year draws to a close, the Northern Hemisphere is facing temperature drops, snow, ice and the delights of struggling through sub-zero wind to get to work. While this time of year is good for snuggling by the fire and binge-watching DVDs, it's also a period prone to a lot of myths about how cold weather affects your health. Old wives' tales about how the body reacts towinter are more popular than you might think, and while you may know that some of them ("starve a fever, feed a cold," for example, or the idea that going out with wet hair will get you sick) are hopelessly old-fashioned, others may have been taught as fact. And that's bad news — extremely irritating for your doctor if you show up in their office saying you got sick from not wearing a hat. Health myths are often based on things that seem logically correct, or on observations that appear to be cause and effect, but are actually due to other more scientific factors. There's sometimes a kernel of truth in the way misconceptions about winter and the human body emerge, even if they go about it in the wrong way. However, just because a belief has a long history doesn't mean it's worth believing — though good luck convincing your gran it's OK to go out with wet hair."

"'We kind of just got overlooked': How an island you've likely never heard of survived the hurricanes"
"Not long after Hurricane Irma struck her home on Water Island, Millie Lovett was confronted with a fairly basic problem. She’d used all of her towels and bedsheets to mop up the rainwater in her home. “It’s the little things that matter,” Lovett said. “When you live through two Category 5 hurricanes, you realize what you need because you're here. ”Water Island, a 500-acre piece of land in the Caribbean, is home to just over 100 residents. It’s the smallest of the main U.S. Virgin Islands, which also includes St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix. When Hurricanes Irma and Maria tore through the tiny community in a span of two weeks in September, residents were left dependent on each other and any donations that came their way. The problem was, many of those well-intentioned donations weren't items that were actually needed."

"Rare ‘ghost snow tsunami’ wave caught on camera"
"A photographer has captured a rare weather phenomenon that she’s described as a ‘ghost snow tsunami’. The mirage happens when snow crystals, light and wind are perfectly aligned on the horizon. Ariel McGlothin was hoping to capture some local wildlife in action when she went out to take some pictures in Kelly, Wyoming, but inadvertently witnessed an incredibly rare spectacle. Standing before a huge wall of icy powder, a strange mirage began to form as the sun – aligned perfectly with the direction of the wind – began to highlight snow crystals moving in the cold wind, resembling a series of ghostly waves crashing against a shoreline. The display lasted for a few moments moments as the virtually translucent ‘waves’ continue to appear to flow forward, leaving 30-year-old Ariel with a conflicted feeling that she ‘needed to flee’ the seeming tsunami. "

Thanks for checking in and don't forget to follow me on Twitter @TNelsonWX

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"Cold Enough": Morning Chill Factor Near -25F. January Thaw In Sight

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Paul Douglas: Perils of frostbite; January thaw 2 weeks away?