Persistence of Mild Signal
Weekend Rain, Slush up North?

We've seen 50s and even a few 60s in December in years gone by. What makes our current stretch of (irrational) warmth unusual is the sheer persistence of the mild signal: day after day, week after week, month after month.

Since September 1 over 80 percent of the days have been warmer than average, according to Mark Seeley. "Further, if you add in the first 10 days of December, the stretch of days from September 1, 2015 to December 10th is the warmest in state history, a remarkable run of warmth" he added. Details on the blog.

El Nino's firehose of moisture and subsequent flooding has been aimed at the Pacific Northwest, not California. Record warmth is reported out east; there should be enough warm air aloft for rain here on Sunday.

ECMWF (European) data suggests a second, heavier surge of precipitation on Monday - possibly warm enough for (mostly) rain. It'll be close. But NOAA's models hint at rain ending as slushy snow Monday.

Timing & amounts are very much up in the air but I could definitely see a couple inches of snow by midweek.

Overdue reality check: by late next week there will be NO doubt in your mind that it's December.

Persistence of Abnormally Warm Temperatures. Dr. Mark Seeley puts the recent warmth into perspective in this week's edition of Minnesota WeatherTalk; here's an excerpt: "... For the first 8 months of the year (January-August) Minnesota was mostly recording a relatively even mixture of warmer and colder than normal daily temperatures.  However starting in September and continuing into the first 10 days of December over 80 percent of all days have produced warmer than normal temperatures.  The 3-month period of September through November was the 2nd warmest in Minnesota history on a statewide basis, trailing only 1963 by 0.2°F.  Further if you add in the first 10 days of December, the stretch of days from September 1, 2015 to December 10th is the warmest in state history, a remarkable run  of warmth..."

Photo credit: Brian Gustafson.

This is the Globe's Hottest Five-Year Period on Record. WXshift has a few eye-opening statistics, although they have not been fact-checked by Donald Trump, so proceed with caution. Here's an excerpt: "...The finding that it’s been the hottest five-year period on record on land and at sea underscores the need to reduce carbon emissions in an effort to avoid further dramatic changes. The WMO warned that continuing on a business as usual path of rising emissions could put the world on track for 10.8°F (6°C) increase in the global average temperature. There are also concerns that oceans, which currently absorb more than 90 percent of the extra heat being trapped by human greenhouse gas emissions, could eventually release some of that back to the surface, speeding up the surface temperature rise..."

Mid-December Rain Event. Yes, it's unusual, but not unprecedented. NOAA models predict some 1-2" rainfall amounts for the Twin Cities metro Sunday into Monday, mixing with wet snow by Monday over parts of western and northern Minnesota, where a few slushy inches may accumulate.

Wasted Moisture. That's the perspective for snow-lovers. I'd be happy with heavy snow and 20s and 30s, but it never quite works out that way. NOAA's 00z NAM model guidance prints out 2.22" liquid, with a changeover to snow Monday morning. By the time it's cold enough for snow aloft and at the surface the heaviest precipitation will have cut off, but I could still see a few inches of slush Monday. And had it been 5F colder we'd be looking at 18-24" of snow for the metro. So close...

Unlikely December Alert. This might be a big deal in Naples, Florida or Scottsdale or San Diego, but Minneapolis? Our internal model ensemble predicts temperatures may not fall below 32F until late Monday evening in the Twin Cities. What has happened to us? Source: Aeris Enterprise Mobile.

Plume of Moisture. Southern moisture surges north Sunday and Sunday night; the atmospheric profile warmer than freezing in the lowest mile of the atmosphere, meaning (mostly) rain. A second surge Monday could become mixed with wet snow, especially north and west of MSP. Source: NOAA NAM, AerisWeather.

Rainfall Forecast by Midnight Sunday. Some 1" rainfall amounts are possible, especially southern and eastern suburbs of the Twin Cities. Excessive 2-3" amounts can't be ruled out for far southeastern Minnesota, Iowa and central Wisconsin. A little mid-December flash flooding? I know - bizarre.

Soaker. The profile of the lower atmosphere will be (just) mild enough for mostly rain Sunday PM into Sunday night, but a changeover to snow is possible Monday before the storm winds down. Models print out nearly 2" of (liquid) precipitation for Eagan. Source: Aeris Enterprise.

Breaking News: December is Coming. Our extended October finally comes to an end next week; model guidance showing single-digit windchills by next Thursday and Friday.

Stocking Full of Slush on Christmas Eve? I don't see how we don't pick up at least a couple inches of snow next week as colder air approaches; one chance Monday, another window for snow by Wednesday. But GFS guidance warms MSP back up to 40F by Christmas Eve as Pacific air returns.

10-Day Snowfall Prediction. We may still salvage a white Christmas, but don't expect heaps and piles of white in your yard on December 25. GFS guidance hints at an inch or two by the middle of next week, the best chance of plowable amounts over far northern Minnesota, including Duluth and the Iron Range. Source: AerisWeather.

Powerful Alaska Storm to Rival Strongest on Record. El Nino warmth pushing into the northern Pacific is setting up an extreme "baroclinic zone", a belt of severe temperature extremes capable of spinning up a record storm. Here's an excerpt from MSN: "A potent storm that will cross the Aleutian Islands of Alaska this weekend could become the strongest recorded storm to impact the region. This storm comes a little over a year after ex-Super Typhoon Nuri became the most powerful system on record to cross Dutch Harbor, Alaska, which is located in the Aleutian Islands, with a central low pressure of 924 millibars (27.29 inches of Hg)..." (Map credit: WeatherBell).

Northwest Storms Ease Drought Worries; Mudslide Risks Remain. The San Francisco Chronicle has an update on the firehose of (El Nino-enhanced) moisture trained on the Pacific Northwest; here's an excerpt: "...The moisture is helping to fill reservoirs earlier and recharging the groundwater, said Scott Pattee, water supply specialist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service based in Mount Vernon. But "a lot of this rain is going down hard so it's flowing straight through the snowpack, and it's not adding to it," he added. Much of Washington's water supply depends on mountain snowpack that builds over winter, and melts in spring and summer. The latest report from the U.S. Drought Monitor on Thursday showed the area west of the Cascade Mountains in Washington is no longer in drought..."

30-Day Doppler Radar Precipitation Amounts: NOAA.

Coast Guard Closes all Maritime Entrances to Washington and Oregon. The concern? Flood-related debris and very high seas. has the details.

Western Cold Spell Resulting in Vegetable Shortage? AerisWeather meteorologist D.J. Kayser takes a look at how (persistent) chill in the west, including California's Central Valley, is making it more expensive getting veggies on the dinner table, if you can even find them. Here's an excerpt from a recent post: "There is currently a shortage going on with a number of vegetables, including some lettuce. According to the most recent report (December 10th) from Produce Alliance, a produce management, procurement and consulting company, there are 14 crops that they have a “produce alert” on. Right now, the say that “demand exceeds supply” on broccoli, with this situation expected to continue for at least another week due to a “slower growth rate.” Produce Alliance also says that cauliflower is in “Act of God” state, mentioning that there is “nonexistant supply” and that “growth rate is slow” with this crop as well..."

This Past Fall Was The Warmest on Record in the Continental U.S., Says NOAA. It was the second warmest on record for the Dakotas, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Here's an excerpt from The Capital Weather Gang: "The continental U.S. just ended its warmest autumn on record, September through November, during which “record and near-record warmth spanned much of the nation,” said NOAA in a press release. The average autumn temperature in the U.S. was 56.8 degrees, which is 3.3 degrees above the 20th century average, and the warmest such period in 121 years of record-keeping. The previous record for warmest fall was set in 1963, when the average temperature was 56.6 degrees..."

* Climate Central has more details on autumn's amazing, record-breaking warmth here.

"Monster" El Nino Could Usher In Decade of More and Stronger Events. A sign of things to come? Here's a snippet from a story at Reuters that caught my eye: "...While El Nino oscillates on a more or less yearly cycle, another dynamic in Pacific Ocean water temperatures, known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), has the potential to accelerate global warming and increase the severity of El Nino episodes, scientists said. The last time the PDO was, as it may be now, in a prolonged positive, or "warm" phase, it corresponded with two of the strongest El Ninos on record. "When you really have a monster El Nino, it could be enough to flip the PDO into a new phase for a decade or so," said William Patzert, a climatologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. "Keep your eyeballs peeled because maybe we're in for a decadal shift..." (Image credit: NOAA).

For Indians, Smog and Poverty are Higher Priorities than Talks in Paris. The New York Times has the analysis - here's a link and story excerpt: "...But few countries have so much at stake as India. For the last month, the front pages of major newspapers have been dominated by one environmental crisis after another: City-dwellers are up in arms about hazardous levels of air pollution, which has already damaged the lungs of about half of Delhi’s schoolchildren. And last month brought torrential rains and flooding in the southern city of Chennai, evoking the erratic weather that climate experts warn about. “People are experiencing far more, and the impacts are far more severe,” said Arivudai Nambi Appadurai, a climate risk specialist for the World Resources Institute, whose family weathered the flood in Chennai. “It is right there in front of them. You experience it, you believe it. It’s not something happening far away that you read about in the newspaper...”

Photo credit above: "In this Dec 1, 2015 photo, smoke billows out of a chimney of a small scale factory in New Delhi, India. Over the last decade the city's air pollution has grown so rapidly that the cold weather turns the city into a grey, smog-filled health nightmare. New Delhi has earned the dubious distinction of being the world's dirtiest city, surpassing Beijing, once the poster child for air pollution." (AP Photo /Tsering Topgyal).

China's Polluted Skies Take on a Darker Meaning For Its Leaders. Here's a clip from The New York Times: "...On no other issue are President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders forced to walk such a fine line, between controlling information that has the potential to undermine their legitimacy and doling it out to increasingly anxious citizens who consider such disclosures essential. And as awareness of their toxic environment grows, people are demanding fundamental solutions, not only periods of red alert that result in inconveniences..."

Photo credit above: "A woman wears a mask for protection against the pollution in Beijing, China, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015. Unhealthy smog hovered over downtown Beijing as limits on cars, factories and construction sites kept pollution from spiking even higher Wednesday, on the second of three days of restrictions triggered by the city's first red alert for smog." (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan).

To See The Future of Electric Cars, Look East. China realizes it has a staggering problem with pollution, and both the government and consumers are starting to respond. Here's an excerpt from Bloomberg View: "...But as glitzy as these bets are, the real action is happening in China, where smoggy skies and government subsidies are creating the perfect conditions for electric vehicles to thrive. The proof is in the numbers. According to data released this week by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, sales of electric cars are poised to exceed those in the U.S. for the first time ever. Already, they’ve grown 290 percent year-on-year to 171,145 vehicles. They're expected to reach 220,000 to 250,000 for the year, whereas the U.S. market is predicted to top out at around 180,000 cars..."

Photo credit above: "A delivery man rides an electric bike past a steam emitted by a heating pipe underneath a street near a construction site shrouded by haze with air pollution in Beijing, China, Monday, Nov. 9, 2015. Northern China typically burns coal to heat homes in the winter, a practice believed to have fouled the air. Emissions from industrial plants and the increasing use of cars also are major causes of air pollution in China." (AP Photo/Andy Wong).

Cheap Gas Is a Thrill, But a Costly One. The New York Times explains why; here's a clip: "The price of gasoline just keeps dropping. A gallon of regular costs $2.01, on average, across the United States, and the motor club AAA says it is likely to plunge below $2 imminently. If you drive a car, as I do, gas that cheap is a thrill. It is an inducement to head out on the road. Yet if you worry about fuel emissions and climate change, as I also do, the downward spiral of gas prices is frightening. It is an incitement to burn fossil fuel when a great deal of evidence suggests that we should be taking strenuous measures to burn much less of it, as many nations of the world concluded at the conference on climate change in Paris this month..."

File photo: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune.

Best News Bloopers of 2015. This was good for a string of laughs - rated PG, but very funny. Thanks to NewsBeFunny at YouTube for passing this along and brightening my day.

39 F. high in the Twin Cities Friday.

28 F. average high on December 11.

32 F. high temperature at MSP on December 11, 2014.

December 12, 2004: A strong cold front pushes through Minnesota during the early morning hours. By dawn, winds turn to the northwest and increase to 25 to 40 MPH with gusts as high as 70 MPH. The windiest part of the day was from mid morning through mid afternoon when many locations suffered sustained winds in the 30 to 45 MPH range. The highest wind gusts recorded in southern Minnesota during this time included 71 MPH in Welch and 62 MPH near Albert Lea, St. James, Winthrop and Owatonna. Other notable wind gusts included 59 MPH at New Ulm, 58 MPH in Mankato, 55 MPH in St. Cloud and Morris, 54 MPH at Redwood Falls, and 52 MPH at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport. Scattered trees were downed and a few buildings received minor roof damage across the region.

December 12, 1939: A December gale along the North Shore leads to winds clocked at 48 mph at Duluth.

TODAY: Clouds and drizzle. Winds: NE 7-12. High: 41

SATURDAY NIGHT: Clouds, fog and drizzle - a little light rain at times. Low: 39

SUNDAY: A period rain is likely; heaviest south/east of MSP. Wet roads. Winds: N 10-20. High: near 40

MONDAY: Heavy rain may end as wet snow. Slushy accumulation? Winds: NE 10-20. Wake-up: 35. High: 38

TUESDAY: Gray, light slushy mix. Wake-up: 32. High: 37

WEDNESDAY: Light snow; couple inches? Wake-up: 30. High: 32

THURSDAY: So THIS is what winter feels like! Mostly cloudy and cold. Wake-up: 19. High: 26

FRIDAY: More clouds than sun; feels like 5F. Wake-up: 9. High: near 20

Climate Stories...

Agreement in Paris? Here is the draft text (PDF) from the COP21 Climate Summit in Paris. Source: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Extreme UK Rains More Likely With Warming. The Cumbria area of the UK and much of Ireland has seen torrential rains and extensive flooding in recent days; here's an excerpt of an update at Climate Central: "Over this past weekend, a major storm swept across the U.K. and dumped torrential amounts of rain in some spots — the more than 13 inches that fell in one location in northwest England even set a national 24-hour rainfall record. Just days later, a real-time analysis by scientists working with Climate Central’s World Weather Attribution program has found that global warming has boosted the odds of such an extreme rainfall event in the region by about 40 percent — a small, but clear, effect, the scientists say. The finding is particularly noteworthy because the results of studies looking at the potential role of climate change in extreme precipitation have been a mixed bag, especially compared to heat waves, which have a much simpler and clearer connection to warming..."

Photo credit above: "Flooded roads are seen as waters along the river Shannon are expected to exceed severe flood levels, with up to 80mm of rain forecast to hit already devastated counties this weekend, in Banagher Co Offaly, Ireland, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015." (Niall Carson/PA via AP).

What Climate Change Looks Like: Miami's $300 Million Pumps. Here's an excerpt of an excellent summary of New York Times articles focused on why a deal in Paris at COP21 is so critical: "...The impact of climate change is usually gauged by metrics like fractions of degrees of warming or millimeters of sea-level rise. But the effects can also be measured in cash. Miami Beach is a case in point. The city, built on a barrier island, is spending $300 million to hold off the sea. Researchers at the University of Miami have been carefully measuring sea levels at Virginia Key, just south of Miami Beach, for nearly two decades, and say that in that time the sea has risen nearly four inches. For Miami Beach, that has exacerbated an existing problem – flooding of low-lying streets in South Beach and other neighborhoods during extreme high tides..." (File photo: AP/Lynne Sladk).

Climate Negotiators, Listen Up: A Warmer World is a More Violent World. An article at The Washington Post got my attention; here's an excerpt: "...Here’s one more effect to worry about. In a forthcoming article in Climatic Change, we investigate whether rising temperatures are connected to rising rates of violence. In short: yes. Our research found that each degree increase in Celsius (or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) is linked to a nearly six percent average increase in homicide rates around the globe. Those rates vary by region. In Africa, each degree increase in global temperature is associated with an almost 18 percent average increase in homicides. In North America, Australia and New Zealand, by contrast, the increase is approximately 3 percent on average. While our study is not the first to examine this link, it is the most comprehensive –and the first to examine it at a global level..."

Watch Elon Musk and Exxon Finally Agree on Something. Here's a snippet from an article at Bloomberg Business: "...In Paris, U.S. President Barack Obama and Elon Musk both spoke in support of a carbon tax. So did Exxon Mobil, joining a half-dozen other energy giants who came out in favor of one in June. A well-designed carbon tax can cut greenhouse-gas pollution in the most economically efficient way by letting market forces do the work. There are plenty of reasons to enact one. Carbon pricing is spreading. In 2015, some 40 countries and more than 20 subnational governments had a price on emissions, either through a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system. They account for almost a quarter of global greenhouse-gas emissions..."

The Troubling Science That's Pushing the World Toward a Much Tougher Climate Goal. Chris Mooney explains at The Washington Post; here's a clip: "...The simple answer is that while the advocacy of small island nations on behalf of the 1.5 C goal has clearly been quite influential, in some ways just as persuasive has been, you know, science — particularly when it comes to the issue of sea level rise. “The combination of small island states and the sea level commitment stuff is the big ball and hammer that has been taken out now,” says Anders Levermann, a researcher with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research who spoke here at the conference about the latest research on sea level rise and the planet’s ice sheets. “It’s saying, this is a moral imperative, we cannot rid people of their countries...”

Photo credit above: "This undated photo courtesy of NASA shows Thwaites Glacier in Western Antarctica." (AFP PHOTO / NASA / HANDOUT).

Explained in 90 Seconds: Why 1.5 Degrees Matters. Mother Jones explains with text and an effective video; here's an excerpt: "...But here's where things get problematic. There's a huge difference between including the 1.5 degrees C limit in the agreement, and ensuring that it could actually be met. That's because other key pieces of the agreement that could actually make that level of ambition possible are still far from clear. The biggest obstacle could be the hotly debated "ratchet mechanism," which would require countries to boost their targets for greenhouse gas reductions over time, and which the US delegation appears to be resisting. The current draft of the text includes language directing countries to provide an update of their progress every five years or so, which would be compiled into a global "stock-take," a kind of collated update, sometime after 2020. But the enforcement stops there; there's nothing in the agreement to penalize countries that lag behind or to compel them to boost their ambitions..."

Hurdles Remain as Clock Ticks at Paris Climate Talks. It's down to the wire and work on a draft agreement may spill into the weekend; here's an excerpt from TIME: "...A new draft of the agreement released Thursday evening shows new consensus on a long-term cap on temperature rise and a system for countries to revise and improve efforts to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Other key issues remain unsettled with the conference expected to continue past its scheduled Friday evening end time, but conference leaders said they will deliver a new text at 9 am on Saturday. Observers expect formal agreement in the following hours the new text. “The real negotiations have finally begun,” said Jennifer Morgan, global director of the climate program at World Resources Institute. “There are very clear signs of progress, but key provisions are still in play...”

Photo credit above: "Yellow paint is poured on the street during a protest by activists from environmental group Greenpeace on the Champs-Elysee in Paris, Friday, Dec. 11, 2015 . The protest is one of many activist actions linked to the COP21, the United Nations Climate Change Conference." (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Ted Cruz Plays the Victim Card as a Climate "Heretic". NationalJournal takes a look at this week's testimony in front of a Senate subcommittee; here's an excerpt: "...At a hear­ing of the Sen­ate Com­merce Com­mit­tee’s sub­com­mit­tee on Space, Sci­ence, and Com­pet­it­ive­ness, the Texas Re­pub­lic­an re­peatedly railed against cli­mate change “alarm­ists” who he said are em­bra­cing an un­proven sci­ence. Com­par­ing him­self to a per­se­cuted “heretic” like Ga­lileo, Cruz charged that he was fight­ing against a “dogma” that had squelched sci­entif­ic de­bate. “I be­lieve that pub­lic policy should fol­low the ac­tu­al sci­ence and the ac­tu­al data and evid­ence, and not polit­ic­al and par­tis­an claims that run con­trary to the sci­ence and data and ana­lys­is,” Cruz said. Demo­crats, however, said Cruz was simply stand­ing in the way of ac­tion on cli­mate change..."

Photo credit above: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais.

Climate Negotiators Zero In on Key Issues as Planned End to Paris Talks Near. The Wall Street Journal has an update; here's the intro: "The U.S. closed ranks with some 100 countries—including members of the European Union, Mexico and Colombia—in calling for a strong deal to tackle climate change, with just days of negotiations left at a summit here. A new draft of the agreement released Wednesday afternoon—after almost 10 days of talks among 195 nations—showed that some fundamental points remain up in the air. Governments still haven’t decided by how much temperatures should be allowed to increase, how much money would be provided to poor governments to adapt to the effects of climate change and switch away from fossil fuels, and whether emerging economies will take on more responsibilities..."

Photo credit above: "People attend a climate conference at the U.S. pavilion during the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference in Le Bourget, north of Paris, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015. Widely derided by politicians on the left and the right, once thought dead even by its supporters, the idea of allowing companies to buy and sell pollution “rights” like stocks is now at the fore again as 151 heads of state and government at the Paris climate conference grope for ways to avert environmental havoc." (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

5 Climate Summit Takeaways as Deadline Nears. POLITICO has a few bullet points on what we can expect in terms of a final deal; here's an excerpt: "...A Paris deal appears visible on the horizon… but there’s still a lot of work to do. The problem is that the latest draft lays out the deepest fault lines in the negotiations, and they tend to be over issues that cut across the entire package. But on the positive side, a lot of the smaller issues have been dealt with. Until now, some of the biggest players — India and China but also the European Union and others on the developed side — have largely kept their cards close to their chests. In the final hours, they are gradually starting to take steps towards what people here like to call “the landing zone,” or the conditions for an agreement that doesn’t end in a nasty crash..."

Photo credit above: "NGO representatives gather next to on the mini red Eiffel Tower after a sit-in protest closed to the plenary session to denounce the first draft COP21 Climate Conference agreement, and put pressure to reach an international agreement to limit global warming, during the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference in Le Bourget, north of  Paris, France, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015." (AP Photo/Francois Mori).

Saudi Arabia Accused of Trying to Wreck Paris Climate Deal. Here's the intro to a story at The Guardian: "Saudi Arabia stood accused on Tuesday of trying to wreck the Paris climate summit in order to protect its future as one of the world’s largest oil producers. As the talks entered the home stretch, developing country negotiators and campaigners became increasingly vocal in their complaints that the kingdom was getting in the way of a deal. “They are seeing the writing on the wall,” said Wael Hmaidan , director of Climate Action Network, the global campaign group. “The world is changing and it’s making them very nervous...”

Photo credit above: "Ali bin Ibrahim Al-Naimi, minister of petroleum and mineral resources, of Saudi Arabia addressing delegates at COP21 conference in Le Bourget, Paris." Photograph: IISD.

At the Climate Conference, The Rich are Working to Stay Rich. New Republic provides more perspective; here's an excerpt: "...Remember: Climate change, by definition, is going to affect every single system on Earth. One of those systems is commerce and trade. Another is politics. When a massive disruption happens to money and power in the hands of people we currently think of as winners, some of them might start to lose. And some people we currently think as losers might start to win. This climate conference is the winners spending hundreds of millions of dollars to make sure they keep winning, in part by making sure that things don’t change so dangerously and fast that everybody loses. That is why Google, 3M, Philips, Air France-KLM, two French Energy companies, and dozens of other corporate sponsors are helping cover the conference’s $185 million bill..."

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December Mirage: Boats and Golf? Cold Weekend Rain - Warmest Autumn on Record for USA - Reality Check Next Week

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Heavy rain expected Sunday, but will it turn to plowable snow by Monday?