Arctic Sea Smoke
 
Holy arctic sea smoke Batman! This was the view from downtown Duluth in Canal Park from the Lake Superior Marine Museum camera on Wednesday morning. That's steam you're seeing pouring off of Lake Superior and it typically forms during the first few Arctic outbreaks of the year when the temperature difference between the lake and air is extreme. Lake Superior water temperatures are hovering in the low to mid 30s, while the air temperature at the Duluth International Airport on Tuesday morning was a balmy -22F !! That's a difference of 57F... WOW!
 
 
Cold Cold Cold
 
Temperatures on Wednesday morning were some of the coldest readings of the season thus far. The Duluth National Weather Service mentioned that COOP Observers reported -41F in Cotton, -40F in Embarrass and -36F in International Falls, which broke the record of -32F set in 1924! Talk about Numb and Number... YIKES! Meanwhile, the Twin Cities -8F on Wednesday morning and -9F on Tuesday morning. By the way, the last time the Twin Cities dipped into the -10s or -20s was on December 18th, 2016 when we fell to -20F!
 
 

Lake Effect Snow From Space
 
This is what lake effect snow bands look like from a visible satellite. This particular image was captured on Tuesday, December 26th, which shows intense lake effect snow bands on each of the 5 Great Lakes!
 
 
Heavy Lake Effect Snow - Eastern Great Lakes
 
This is a visible satellite loop of heavy lake effect snow bands across Lake Erie and Ontario from earlier this week when some of the heaviest lake effect snow was falling near Erie, PA and the Tug Hill Plateau in New York. These monsters were responsible for several FEET of snow in some areas since Saturday, December 23rd.
 
 
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.
 
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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. After the quick moving system moves through, we look to stay cold and dry through the rest of the week.
 

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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
 
Take a look at some of the numbers from Erie, PA. Note that nearly 3 FEET of snow fell on Monday, which was followed by another 2 FEET of snow on Tuesday! Since Sunday, more than 5 FEET has fallen at the Erie, PA airport since Sunday... Unreal!
 
 

Erie, PA - Snow This December

With the near 5 FEET of snow that has fallen since Sunday, the monthly snowfall total is now near 100", which is nearly 6 FEET above normal! This is also the SNOWIEST month on record beating the previous of 66.9" set in December of 1989 by nearly 3 FEET! Unreal!!

Erie, PA - Snowfall So Far This Season

The seasonal snowfall tally in Erie, PA is now up to 100", which is nearly 6 FEET above average so far this season. Note that the yearly average is 100.9", so Erie, PA has already had their yearly average snowfall through December 26th!

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"Erie, Pa., Buried in Five Feet of Snow After Record-Breaking Storm"

"A holiday storm has blanketed the lakefront city of Erie, Pa., in more than five feet of snow this week, burying streets and driveways in mountains of powder and ice, forcing residents to abandon their incapacitated cars and shattering several snowfall records. The National Weather Service said the storm had dumped about 60.5 inches of snow on the area from about 7 p.m. Sunday, when it began, to about 8 p.m. on Tuesday. About 63 inches has fallen since Saturday, the weather service said — and more is on the way. Tom Niziol, a winter weather expert at The Weather Channel, said the tally could approach 70 inches by Wednesday night before the storm tapers off. The snow is part of what he called a “lake-effect snowstorm.” Such storms occur when very cold air comes over the relatively warm waters of the Great Lakes, he said. Heat and moisture then rise into the cold air to produce snow; the direction of the wind determines where the snow falls. In this case, he said, the narrow snow band parked itself over Erie, Pa. — about 100 miles northeast of Cleveland. “It’s like sticking one end of a giant fire hose into Lake Erie and pointing the other end at Erie, Pa. — and leaving it there for 30 hours,” Mr. Niziol said."
 
 
 
Heavy Lake Effect Snow Totals
 
The storm total snowfall accumulations will approach 2 to 4 FEET (or more) across parts of the Tug Hill Plateau and down wind of Lake Erie! Heavy lake effect snow will likely continue through late Wednesday and taper off by Thursday.
 
 
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 27th suggests that 46.0% of the country is covered in snow with some even as far south as Texas and Oklahoma. At this time last year, 40.7% of the nation was covered in snow. As of December 27th, the Twin Cities officially had 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 40.7% of the nation was covered in snow.
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"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:

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Temperature Anomaly on Wednesday
 
The image below shows the temperature anomaly across North America from Wednesday. Note the cooler blues across much of Canada and also across much of the Lower 48, which indicates WELL below average temperatures in these areas. However, intense oranges and reds were still in place across the southwestern US. This is where warmer than average temperatures were located.
 
 
Arctic Invasion Continues
 
The Arctic air mass that moved in across much of the nation around Christmas will continue to keep much of the nation colder than average through the end of the week. You can see the large trough of low pressure extended from the Candian Prairie Provinces to the Mid-Atlantic and into the Northeast. However, warmer than average temperatures will continue in the Southwest, where a ridge of high pressure will persist.
 
 
Arctic Air MassArrives
 
The 850mb temp anomaly loop below through Sunday shows a large chunk of colder than average temperatures impacting much of the nation through the last few days of 2017. 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 Thursday

High temperatures on Thursday 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
 
The bubble of Arctic high pressure will continue to settle east across the Ohio Valley and into the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic states through the of the week. This cold air has been responsible for significant lake effect snow across the Great Lakes Region. It has also brought MUCH colder than average temperatures to much of the nation. Areas of snow and wintry precipitation have developed in many areas east of the Rockies over the last several days and will continue over the next few days. Note the batch of heavier snow that looks to continue across the Northern Rockies and High Plains. Some spots there could see 5" to 10" of snow in the lower elevations, while 1ft to 2ft. maybe possible in the higher elevations.
 
 
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 along the Coast of Texas and also along the Gulf Coast States.

Snowfall Potential Ahead
 
A snowy strip looks possible over the next several days from the Pacific Northwest across the midsection of the country. There may even be a little snow across the Lower Mississippi Valley, Tennessee Valley and into the Mid-Atlantic States. The heaviest will fall in the higher elevations out west and across parts of the Great Lakes.
 
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Thomas Fire
 
The Thomas Fire continues in Southern California. As of Wednesday, 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 88% contained and full containment maybe possible by the early part of January, weather permitting.
 
 
 
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PRELIMINARY 2017 Tornado Map

It certainly has been a fairly active first half of 2017 with 1,522 preliminary tornado reports through December 26th. 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 26th). 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.


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National Weather Hazards Ahead...

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

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Perils of Frostbite - January Thaw 2 Weeks Away?
By Paul Douglas

A friend of mine went on a rant yesterday, railing against the evils of four-wheel-drive. Say what? "It gives people a false sense of security! People drive when they shouldn't be driving, and many of them aren't dressed for the weather. If they get stuck, they're in serious trouble!"

I see his point. If you wind up in a ditch wearing a T-shirt, there may not be a happy ending.

Children are more prone to frostbite than adults; they experience heat loss from their skin more rapidly. Younger people who have diabetes, have had a recent injury, surgery, or blood loss are at enhanced risk as well.

Thursday's clipper may put down a fresh carpet of 1-3 inches of light, powdery, Aspen-like snow. When it's this cold salt doesn't melt ice nearly as effectively, so plan on a very slow commute.

More light snow streaks in Friday ahead of the next punch of polar air. Temperatures may not climb above 0F Saturday & Sunday; dipping below 0F every night next week. More herd-thinning cold.

Good news if you don't like numb toes: a Pacific breeze returns the second week of January with a thaw!
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Extended Forecast

THURSDAY: 1" to 3" of snow. Icy commutes.  Winds: S 7-12.. Wake-up: 0. High: 12.

THURSDAY NIGHT: Mostly cloudy and cold. Feels like: -15F. Winds: WNW 5. Low: -4.

FRIDAY: More light snow. Turning even colder. Winds: NW 8-13. High: 3.

SATURDAY: Polar fun. Feels like -30F AM hours. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: -13. High: -2.

SUNDAY: Mix of clouds and sun. "Viking Cold". Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: -11. High: -1

MONDAY: Sunny, brisk start to 2018. Winds: W 5-10. Wake-up: -13. High: 3

TUESDAY: Teens (above) feels amazingly good. Winds: SW 7-12. Wake-up: -4. High: 16.

WEDNESDAY:  Another shot. Feels like -25F. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: -4. High: 3. 
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This Day in Weather History
December 28th

2000: Central and southeast Minnesota receive 6 to 10 inches of snow. Some notable snow amounts include: Chanhassen NWS Forecast Office with 7.8 inches, St Cloud with 7.5 inches, and Hutchinson, Willmar, Albany, Red Wing, and Long Prairie with 7.0 inches.

1979: Balmy weather enables the city park crew in Duluth to rake leaves.

1927: A cold snap results in sharp temperature drops across Minnesota. The temperature would fall from 41 to -15 at Farmington.
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Average High/Low for Minneapolis
December 28th

Average High: 24F (Record: 47F set in 2013)
Average Low: 9F (Record: -27F set in 1880)

Record Rainfall: 1.09" set in 1982
Record Snowfall: 12.0" set in 1982
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Sunrise/Sunset Times for Minneapolis
December 28th

Sunrise: 7:50am
Sunset: 4:39pm

Hours of Daylight: ~8 hours 48 mins

Daylight GAINED since yesterday: ~32 seconds
Daylight GAINED since winter solstice (December 21st): 2 minute
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Moon Phase for December 28th at Midnight
2.9 Since First Quarter Moon

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Weather Outlook For Thursday

High temps on Thursday will still be quite cold across much of the region with readings still nearly -10F to -25F below average! However, it'll be a touch warmer due to some light snow potential. Some locations across the far northern reaches of Minnesota will have a tough time making it above 0F for once again.

 
Lows AM Friday
 
It'll be another very cold night ahead with actual air temps dipping into the -10s and -20s below zero!
 
 
Highs Friday
 
High temps on Friday will be cold once again with highs in the single digits above and below zero.
 
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8 to 14 Day Temperature Outlook

Here's the temperature outlook into the 2nd week of January, which suggests the MUCH colder than average temperatures moving farther east into the Great Lakes Region and Ohio Valley. Note that warmer than average temperature may actually start moving back in across the High Plains.

8 to 14 Day Temperature Outlook

Here's the extended temperature outlook from January 5th to January 9th, which suggests colder than average temperatures sticking around through much of the eastern half of the nation, while warmer than average weather will be found in the Western US.

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"ANTARCTICA: CAN ANCIENT FLOOD IN BIBLE’S BOOK OF GENESIS EXPLAIN MYSTERIOUS FOSSILIZED FOREST?"
 
"A fossilized Antarctic forest, older than the dinosaurs, might hold evidence of the legendary biblical flood from the tale of Noah’s Ark. Scientists announced the discovery of the fossilized trees in Antarctica’s Transantarctic Mountains in November. They believe the forest is the oldest one known to exist in the southern polar region, according to Breaking News Israel. They proposed that the ancient trees preserved a record of a large-scale global die-off event, which raised the planet’s temperature to dangerous extremes and turned its oceans acidic, and ultimately wiped out 95 percent of species on Earth. But they were left with the question of what exactly was the catalyst for those changes. At least one biblical scholar believes he has the answer: The die-off event was the Great Flood described in the Book of Genesis. “This discovery should be no surprise to those who take Genesis as literal history,” Tim Clarey, a geologist from the Institute for Creation Research, wrote on the ICR website. “The Bible clearly describes a global flood that affected all land masses—why should Antarctica be an exception?”
 
 

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"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."
 
 

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

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