Limping into winter

By Todd Nelson

There were several reports of flip flops coming into the weather department yesterday... not sure if there was even a flip flop warning out at the time, but who would have ever thought it was even possible in Minnesota in the month of December? Good grief!

Midday Monday temperatures warmed into the 50s ahead of a cold front that brought a few sprinkles and light rain showers. I looked back at the data and found only 4 other occurrences of a +50F degree high temp in the month of December since 2000. The most recent was last year 52F the day after Christmas; the warmest was 63F on December 5th, 2001. By any measure, this is quite rare, even in more recent history.

The same Pacific storm responsible for flooding rains and feet of mountain snow out west was responsible for nearly +400 national record highs tied/broken over the last 7 days.

Even without the extremely warm start to December, 2012 will likely go down as the warmest year on record for the Lower 48. Globally, 2012 is on track to becoming the 9th hottest on record!

More 'normal' December weather may return for us by the weekend with a little light snow. We'll see... don't hold your breath. -Todd Nelson


Todd's Star Tribune Outlook for the Twin CIties and all of Minnesota:


TUESDAY: Not as foggy or soggy. Cool WNW breeze. High: 40. Winds: WNW 10-15mph

TUESDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear and cooler. Low: 20.

WEDNESDAY: Jacket weather. Sunny start with fading sun late. Overnight sprinkles develop (mixed with a few west flakes up north)? High: 35

THURSDAY: Brief rain showers possible early, more clouds. Low: 31. High: 44

FRIDAY: Clouds thicken, chance of light snow late? Low: 24. High: 32

SATURDAY: Cloudy with light snow. Low: 20. High: 30.

SUNDAY: More December-like, light snow chances early. Low: 21. High: 32.

MONDAY: Clearing, turning colder. Low: 18. High: 26.


Flip Flop Warning?

To say that it has been a warm start to December across the nation is an understatement! We’ve seen SEVERAL records tied or broken in the first couple/few days of the month. There were reports of flip flop sightings in the Twin Cities Monday afternoon where temperatures warmed to +50F! Thanks to@sarahoh423, who said “I spy flip flops in December” – pretty crazy isn’t it?!?


Record Warmth to Start December

Take a look at the number of record highs either tied or broken across the nation on December 1st & 2nd. According to the map below, there have been 268 records!


Record Warmth Past Week

If we look back over the past week, since November 26th, we’ve seen more than 400 new record highs!


Highs From Normal Monday

Temperatures across the country on Monday were anywhere from 15° to nearly 30° above average across the middle part of the country. Temperatures here are more typical of October & November rather than December.

Another Warm One on Tuesday

A cool front will slide through the Great Lakes Region PM Monday/AM Tuesday and cool things off a bit from the western Great Lakes to the High Plains, but note how much warmer than normal most of the nation will be post cold front!


It’s a Foggy Situation

Because temperatures are so warm, we’ve had widespread fog across the eastern half of the nation for several days. Thanks to@ambersturgis for the unique picture below out of Fort Wayne, IN – who would of thought that fog could look so pretty?


Fog Causes Travel Troubles

Unfortunately for those traveling by air to Chicago or Detroit on Monday experienced some setbacks… There were several flights cancelled or delayed due to the widespread fog. The information below from showed around 130 flight cancelled across the nation on Monday with more than half of those occurring at Chicago and Detroit.


Why So Much Fog?

A large and nearly stationary Pacific storm, churning near the Gulf of Alaska, helped to bump the jet stream or strong upper level wind north into lower Canada. The result was unseasonably warm air riding over colder air as it slowly retreated north. Because of the sluggish movement of colder air near the surface, temperature inversions persisted for several days in some of the same areas, which made for a dreary weekend/early start to the work week. A “temperature inversion” is when temperature aloft are warmer than that near the ground. Temperature inversions trap moisture and pollutants near the ground and can be especially hard to break out of during this time of the year when the sun angle is so low and solar energy is at a minimum. It would be much easier to break into sunshine and mix out of the low clouds and fog during the summer months.


Example of an Inversion

Take a look at the atmospheric sounding from Minneapolis on Sunday, note the two lines the wiggle left and right as they go up. This is a plot of the temperature and dew point in the atmosphere as you go up with height, measurements that are taken by a radiosonde attached to a weather balloon. Note the line on the right, that’s the temperature profile. Note also how the line curves to the right very quickly… that’s a CLASSIC example of a temperature inversion or temperatures that rise with height. In the case below, temperatures at the surface were in the low 40s while temperatures a few thousand feet off the ground were in the low to mid 50s!


Foggy Days

This is what it looked like in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN around midday Monday. The 2nd picture is what it looked like in Duluth, MN around midday Monday.


Lack of Snow

The recent mild weather has had a major impact on potential snow and any snowpack that was out there. Take a look at how much below normal snowfall we are in the Twin Cities and surrounding areas this season.


Meanwhile Out West…

The same persistent and nearly stationary Pacific storm that has been responsible for the extremely mild start to December has been responsible for wild weather out west. The Pacific coast has been under constant barrage from heavy mountain snow, flooding rain and near hurricane force wind gusts. Here are some of the interesting images from out there…


Additional Precipitation Chances

NOAA’s HPC 5 day precipitation forecast suggests another round of heavy precipitation out west. In fact, some spots through northern California could pick up an additional 5″ or more through the early weekend.


Pacific Storm Breaks Loose?

Weather models are suggesting that the same storm responsible for record setting warmth across the nation and the wild weather in the west will also be responsible for a cooling trend into the weekend/early next week across parts of the nation. The storm system is still expected to wobble around the Gulf of Alaska through the end of the week, which will keep much of the nation above average in the temperature department.


Longer range models suggest that this Pacific storm will finally move from the Gulf Alaska and head into the Lower 48, somewhere near Denver, CO by late weekend/early next week. Also note the chunk of colder air that looks to follow the storm into the Northwest corner of the nation.


Snow Potential?

FANTASYLAND FORECAST… LOL ALERT… Anything past a couple/few days can be pretty laughable, so don’t take this literally. More importantly, models are picking up on *something* by the weekend/early next week. This forecast WILL change, but if you believe the ECMWF (euro) model, it brings actual snow to the Upper Mississippi Valley!! BTW, the Twin Cities is nearly 10″ behind normal snowfall for the season, so we’re due. Keep in mind that we’re following a very dismal winter of 2011-2012 that had only 22.3″ of snow and was the 9th least snowy season on record… “When in a drought, don’t predict rain (or snow)?” We’ll see if that’s the case once again this year. Stay tuned


Super Typhoon Bopha

Thoughts and prayers going out to everyone in the Philippines as super typhoon Bopha bears down on the areas. Thousands have fled their homes near the coast as Bopha (near category 4; winds near 140mph) impacts the area. Read more from HERE:

A powerful typhoon is sweeping towards the Philippines, prompting nearly 8,000 people to leave their homes in coastal and low-lying areas. Typhoon Bopha, packing winds of up to 210 kilometres an hour, is expected to hit the east coast of the major southern island of Mindanao overnight. It is the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year. President Benigno Aquino said in a meeting with the heads of emergency services broadcast on television that the area is expected to be hit between 4:00-6:00am Tuesday (2000-2200 GMT Monday).”


Thanks for checking in, have a great rest of your week

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @TNelsonWNTV


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50s in December?

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