Winter Storm: Wednesday through Friday
 
...WINTER STORM WARNINGS ISSUED FOR PARTS OF WEST CENTRAL AND CENTRAL MINNESOTA WEDNESDAY EVENING THROUGH FRIDAY MORNING...
 
A Winter Storm Warning - 3PM Wednesday to Noon Friday - remains in effect for areas along and north of a line from Canby to Litchfield to Cambridge, starting this afternoon and lasting through Friday morning.
 
A Winter Weather Advisory - 3PM Wednesday to 6AM Thursday - has been issued to the southeast of the Warning, down to a line from Redwood Falls to Glencoe to Bloomington in Minnesota, continuing to Hudson to Menomonie to Chippewa Falls in Wisconsin.
 
Snow will begin advancing into southwestern Minnesota late this morning, with intensity increasing by evening. Snow, possibly heavy at times, will continue through late tonight before intensity tapers off Thursday morning. Occasional light freezing drizzle is possible but not expected to make a major impact as compared to the snow. Total snow accumulations of 7 to 12 inches are likely in the Warned area where little to no rain is expected.
 
In the Advisory area, warm air aloft will surge northward late tonight through Thursday which will turn the snow to rain until Thursday evening, cutting into the accumulations and potentially watering them down and diminishing them during the day Thursday. Total snow accumulations in the Advisory area of 2 to 4 inches can be expected.
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Weather Outlook
 
Here's the weather outlook from PM Wednesday to Friday, which looks fairly unsettled as our next storm systems blows through. Areas of rain, snow and even some freezing rain will be possible. The heaviest snow looks to fall across parts of North and South Dakota into central and northern Minnesota.
 
 
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Expected Snowfall - NWS Forecast
 
Here are the latest numbers from the National Weather Service, which suggests the heaviest snow (up to 12"+) falling across much of central and northern MInnesota. Note that the Twin Cities will largely get missed by the heaviest stuff. 

 
 Snowfall Potential - GFS & ECMWF Models

Here are the latest GFS and ECMWF model outputs for snowfall through AM Saturday. Both models show the heaviest band setting up northwest of the Twin Cities with some 12"+ tallies possible across Central MN. Note that these models also suggest that the Twin Cities will largely get missed by the heaviest stuff, especially the south metro. However, if the storm tracks just a bit farther south, this heavy snow band could shift a little farther south as well and put the metro in the bullseye!

 

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December Rain?

Seems odd to talk about rain in December, but this storm will bring warm enough temps to keep much of the precipitation in the liquid for across much of southern Minnesota. Here's a look at total precipitatoin in the liquid form through the end of the week. Note that areas in southern Minnesota could see up to 1.5" of liquid (again mostly in the form of rain), while the Twin Cities will see nearly 1" to 1.5" of liquid from this storm which will fall in the form of rain and snow.

 


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Snow Depth
 
Here's the latest snow depth report across the region and note that the MSP Airport is reporting just a trace of snow on the ground. Note the lack of snow across central Minnesota. There will be a significant jump in snow depth in these locations after our storm system blows through.
 
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Weather Outlook For Wednesday, December 26th

High temps across the state on Wednesday will still be running above average across much of the state. Highs will warm into the low/mid 30s across the southern part of the state, which will be nearly 5F to 10F above average.
 
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Temperature Outlook
 
The average temperature in the Twin Cities is running nearly +6 degrees above average this month and it looks like temps will continue at above average levels through much of the week ahead. However, we are getting indications of a bigger cool down as we approach the new year and into the early part of 2019!
 
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6 to 10 Day Temperature Outlook

According to NOAA's CPC, the extended temperature outlook from December 30th through January 3rd suggests cooler than average temps working back into much of the Lower 48 with the exception of the Southeastern US.


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"How To Tell If Your Symptoms Are The Flu Or Just A Cold"

"The flu and the common cold are nasty respiratory illnesses with some similar symptoms. Here’s how to tell the difference. In the winter literally everyone seems to be getting sick. Your coworker won’t stop coughing and your kid keeps coming home from school a snotty mess, and a box of tissues barely lasts you one day. Contrary to popular belief, cold weather does not make you sick — but respiratory viruses (namely, influenza) do tend to peak during the fall and winter. In the US, flu season typically lasts from October to March. However, a nasty case of sniffles and aches during the winter doesn’t always mean you have the flu. Often, it’s just a cold, which you can get any time of the year. The common cold and flu are both contagious respiratory illnesses that can make you feel miserable, but they are caused by different viruses. Some flu symptoms may mimic a cold, but the flu tends to be much more serious and deadly — so it’s important to know the difference between these two illnesses. Obviously, only a doctor can diagnose you, but knowing how to recognize symptoms is always helpful. So how can you tell if your symptoms mean you have a cold or the flu, and what is the best treatment? We spoke to Dr. Tania Elliott, an allergist and immunologist at NYU Langone Health in New York City, to find out."
 
 
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Cold and Flu Forecast - Minneapolis
 
According to Pollen.com, the Cold and Flu forecast suggests that we will be running at medium-high levels over the next few days. Wash your hands!!
 
 
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"14 Ways to Avoid Colds and Flu"
 
"Are you avoiding your co-worker with that hacking cough, cold, or flu in the cubicle next to you? Do you draw your hand back from every doorknob? Have cold-and-flu phobia? Get a grip before the grippe gets you. Weve consulted dozens of medical experts to bring you 14 ways to avoid colds and flu this season. Every time you shake someones hand, wash yours: But dont stop there. Wash them as much as possible, says Mark Mengel, MD, chair of community and family medicine at Saint Louis University School of Medicine. Running lots of water over your hands will dilute any germs and send them down the drain. Keep your hands off: Touching your nose and your eyes may hurt you, Mengel says. Those are the most common places for germs to get in."
 
 
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Recent 'Warmer' Weather Making Ice Conditions Unsafe in Some Areas
 
Recent mild December weather has made for fairly unsafe ice condtions across parts of the state. The MN DNR has some basic guidelines on how thick the ice should be before you even think about stepping out onto the ice! Also remember that ice is NEVER 100% SAFE!
 
 
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Metro Rain Thursday To Keep Snowfall Totals Down
By Paul Douglas

Every storm is uniquely different - every new winter scenario offers creative new ways to disappoint Minnesota snow lovers. Here's an old axiom that now rings true: our biggest snows are (usually)preceded by arctic air; a deep cold dome of Canadian air firmly in place - lessening the chance of a changeover to ice or even rain.

After a numbing November temperatures have been above average in recent weeks. There is no deep layer of cold air firmly in place for this next storm, which may hook into Minnesota late Thursday, yanking milder air into the state too. Translation: a changeover to ice and rain will keep amounts down from the Twin Cities on south and east. While parts of southwest, central and northeast Minnesota may pick up a cool foot of snow. Blizzard conditions are possible over western Minnesota late Thursday as winds gust to 40 mph on the backside of this storm.

The metro may pick up a couple inches tonight, a couple more inches Friday, but Thursday's rain puts a big dent in snowfall totals for MSP. Close, but no cigar, or urban snowpocalypse. Rain in December? Sad!
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Extended Forecast

WEDNESDAY: Few inches of snow overnight. Winds: E 10-15.High: 32.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Rain/snow mix. Few inches overnight. Winds: ESE 10-15. Low: 31.

THURSDAY: Metro rain. Heavy snow NW. Winds: E 10-20. High: 36.

FRIDAY: Inch or two of snow early. Cold wind. Winds: N 15-25. Wake-up: 28. High: 29.

SATURDAY: Peeks of sun. Better travel day. Winds: SW 8-13. Wake-up: 8. High: 17.

SUNDAY: Mostly cloudy. PM thaw possible. Winds: SW 10-20. Wake-up: 14.  High: 32.

NEW YEARS EVE: Light snow or flurries. Winds: NW 8-13 Wake-up: 25. High: 31. 

NEW YEARS DAY: Mostly cloudy. Numbing New Year. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 9.High: 14.
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This Day in Weather History
December 26th

1990: Much of central Minnesota sets record low temperatures near 30 degrees below zero, while others had lows in the teens below zero. Cambridge had the coldest temperature with 31 below. Mora was close behind, with a low of 30 below. Other notably cold lows were at St. Cloud, with 29 below, and Melrose and Menomonie, WI with 27 below.
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Average High/Low for Minneapolis
December 26th

Average High: 25F (Record: 52F set in 2011)
Average Low: 9F (Record: -27F set in 1996)

Record Rainfall: 0.60" set in 1880
Record Snowfall: 5.1" set in 1988
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Sunrise/Sunset Times for Minneapolis
December 26th

Sunrise: 7:50am
Sunset: 4:37pm

Hours of Daylight: ~8 hours & 47 minutes

Daylight GAINED since yesterday: ~ 20 seconds
Daylight GAINED since winter solstice (December 21st): ~ 1 minute
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Moon Phase for December 26th at Midnight
2.1 Days Before Last Quarter Moon

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What's in the Night Sky?

According to EarthSky.org this is what will be visible in the night sky over the next several nights: 

"A reader asked: When can I see the Southern Cross in Hawaii? The answer is now – late December and early January – but you’ll have to look for it at just the right place and time of night. Each year at this time, Hawaiians – or those at the latitude of Hawaii – can see the Southern Cross in the southern sky briefly before dawn. The Southern Cross, aka the constellation Crux, stands close to upright, but quite low in the sky for the latitude of Honolulu. Be sure to find an unobstructed southern horizon. Follow the links below to learn more about the Southern Cross."

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Northern Minnesota Phenology Report - December 18th, 2018
 
I've always been interested the outdoors and how the change of seasons impacts the birds, plants and animals. I did a little research and found this great weekly segment by John Latimer (Phenologist), who reports on KAXE Radio out of Grand Rapids, MN. Great stuff John - keep up the good work!!
 
This week: "Phenology Talkbacks and Student Reports: December 18, 2018"
 
 

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National High Temps - Wednesday, December 26th
 
High temps across the country will still be running above average across the eastern half of the country thanks to a large storm system moving through the Central US.
 
 
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National Weather Outlook

A large storm system will continue to intensify as it moves into the Central US over the next could of days. Strong to severe storms along with heavy rain will be possible in the Southern US, while areas of heavy snow and freezing rain will be possible from the Plains to the Upper Midwest.

Severe Threat Wednesday & Thursday

According to NOAA's SPC, there is a SLIGHT risk of severe storms across parts of the Southern US. Keep up to date with latest forecasts here if you have travel plans then.

7 Day Precipitation Potential

According to NOAA's WPC, the 7 day precipitation potential suggests heavy precipitation continuing across the Western part of the country, but take a look at the heavy moisture moving into the Central and Southeastern part of the country as we head into the 2nd half of next week! Showers, storms and heavy snow will be possible later next week - stay tuned!

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"2018's deadly hurricane season, visualized"
 

"Over the span of just 70 days, 22 major hurricanes struck land around the Northern Hemisphere in 2018. They began earlier, continued later, and some took unexpected paths before hitting land. Between record-breaking hurricanes in both the Atlantic and Pacific, billions of dollars in damages were seen. All told, 2018 was one of the most active hurricane seasons on record, and some studies are speculating that a warming climate may be making these storms more frequent and more intense. A number of factors, however, can determine the strength of a hurricane when it hits land. Over the course of weeks, tropical storm systems must gather strength, survive wind shear, and pass over land obstacles before striking land as a hurricane."

See more from NatGeo HERE:

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"Where, exactly, is the edge of space? It depends on who you ask."

"ASK SOMEONE WHERE outer space is, and they’ll probably point at the sky. It’s up, right? Simple. Except, no one really knows where “air space” ends and “outer space” begins. That might sound trivial, but defining that boundary could matter for a variety of reasons—including, but not limited to, which high-flying humans get to be designated as astronauts. Now, with Virgin Galactic seemingly on the cusp of launching paying passengers onto suborbital trajectories, many people are wondering whether those lucky space tourists will earn their astronaut wings. As of right now, they will, according to U.S. practices. Is that a problem? “No, I think it’s great!” says NASA astronaut Mike Massimino, who helped repair the Hubble Space Telescope. Here, we take a look at the ways space is currently defined, the confusion surrounding the demarcation, and what the future might bring."

See more from NatGeo HERE:

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"Scientists slam door on the alleged 'pause' in global warming"

"Today, climate change deniers will resurrect the tired old argument that Earth's global warming stalled sometime at the beginning of this century. The evidence for such a slowdown, however, doesn't exist. A diverse group of global researchers published two papers in the scientific journal Environmental Research Letters on Tuesday, affirming why such claims of a global warming hiatus are and always were misleading, at best. "We find there never was any statistical evidence for it," Stefan Rahmstorf, head of Earth System Analysis at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and coauthor of the research, said over email."

See more from Mashable HERE:

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"Earthrise: The stunning photo that changed how we see our planet"
 
"On Christmas Eve in 1968, the Apollo 8 astronauts captured an image that symbolized hope and inspired environmentalism. The astronauts had spun around the moon a few times already, their gaze pointed down on the gray, pockmarked lunar surface. But now as they completed another orbit of the moon on Christmas Eve 1968, Frank Borman, the commander of the Apollo 8 mission, rolled the spacecraft, and, soon, there it was. Earth, this bright, beautiful sphere, alone in the inky vastness of space, a soloist at the edge of the stage suspended in the spotlight. “Oh, my God,” exclaimed Bill Anders, the lunar module pilot. “Look at that picture over there! There’s the Earth coming up. Wow, is that pretty!” Anders knew black and white film wouldn’t do it justice. But he also knew he didn’t have a lot of time if he was going to get the shot. “Hand me a roll of color quick, will you,” he said. “Oh, man, that’s great,” said Jim Lovell, the command module pilot and navigator."
 
 
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"Sweden's ICEHOTEL opens for 2018/2019"
 
"The wintriest of winter getaways is back. As the annual Arctic deep freeze gets underway, Sweden's ICEHOTEL is opening its frosty doors. And its icy rooms are as beautiful as ever. The famous hotel regenerates every year -- and for 2018/19, some 15 new have been suites created by a 34 artists and designers from across 13 countries. Since 2016, part of the hotel has been permanent thanks to solar-powered cooling technology, allowing guests to test the cold temperatures all year round. But in a tradition spanning almost 30 years, part of the hotel remains transitory -- each year when the old ice  melts, new applications come forward and a panel of artists and ice experts choose the best of the best.
The winners travel to Sweden to help make their frozen visions a reality, aided by experienced ice artists."
 
 
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"Winters are warming faster than summers. These US cities could lose weeks of freezing days by 2050"

"Crisp white winters are beginning to turn mushy gray across the northern United States. And the longer we wait to get serious about limiting climate change, a White Christmas could become a thing of the past for many cities later this century. As part of our Weather 2050 project, we examined how average winter low temperatures are projected to shift in the 1,000 largest US cities by 2050 if we do nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In our latest analysis, we found that in 67 cities, the average winter low temperature could cross a critical threshold by 2050: the freezing point of water."

See more from VOX HERE:


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

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Winter Storm Watch PM Wednesday to PM Thursday

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Paul Douglas: Foot of snow for central Minn.; a 'snow sandwich' for the metro