"Winter Solstice 2020: When Is It, And What Is It?"
"When is the Winter Solstice? The winter solstice for the Northern Hemisphere occurs on Monday, December 21, 2020 at 4:02 a.m. CST. What Is the Winter Solstice? It's the astronomical moment when the Sun reaches the Tropic of Capricorn, we have our shortest day and longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere in terms of daylight. Regardless of what the weather is doing outside your window, the solstice marks the official start of winter. What is Does "Solstice" Mean? The term "solstice" comes from the Latin words sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still) because, during the solstice, the angle between the Sun's rays and the plane of the Earth's equator (called declination) appears to stand still."
"Are you dreaming of a white Christmas?"
"Minnesota. Maine. Upstate New York. The Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Practically anywhere in Idaho. And of course, the Rockies or the Sierra Nevada Mountains. These are the parts of the Lower 48* where weather history suggests you want to be if you're looking for the best chance of a white Christmas. The map at right shows the historic probability of there being at least 1 inch of snow on the ground in the Lower 48 states on December 25 based on the latest (1981-2010) U.S. Climate Normals from NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). The background map shows interpolated values for all locations. (Interpolating means estimating unknown values using known values and physical relationships, such as the way temperature is known to change with altitude.) You can also click and zoom in to specific stations used for the interpolation. Darkest gray shows places where the probability is less than 10%. (Sorry West Coast, Gulf Coast, Deep South!) White shows probabilities greater than 90 percent."
Snowfall Potential Through 7PM Tuesday
A quick moving clipper system will scoot through the region PM Sunday into early Monday with minor snow accumulations generally along and north of the I-94 corridor. Some of the heaviest will be found in the northern half of the state with 1" to 3" of snow possible. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like this will give the Twin Cities 1" of snow, which is needed to be an official white Christmas. However, we have another shot of snow mid-week, which could bring accumulating snow to parts of the region, including the Twin Cities!
Ice Safety Guidelines
We've had several nights sub-freezing across the state and with that, ice is forming on area lakes and ponds. Keep in mind that many lakes around that state are still not safe to venture out on as of yet! Note that ice is never 100% safe, but you need at least 4" of ice to safely walk on. Stay safe out there!!
Minneapolis December Summary So Far
Here's a look at the December number so far and through the first half of the month, MSP is nearly +8 degrees above average, which is tied for the 8th warmest December on record. It has also been a dry with only 0.06" of precipitation falling. We've also only had 0.6" of snow, which is nearly -7.0" below average through the first part of the month, which is tied for the 3rd least snowy December on record.
Least Snowy Decembers
With only 0.6" of snowfall falling at the MSP Airport, we're on track to have the 3rd least snowy December at MSP on record. Interestingly, there was only a Trace of snow in 1943 and 1913. We still have about 2 weeks left of the month and a lot can happen between now and then. Stay tuned!
Snow Depth As of December 19th
Interestingly, the Twin Cities has seen more than 18" of snow so far this season, but with several days that have been warmer than average, we don't have much snow left on the ground. There are still a few inches on the ground across the northern half of the state and in northern Wisconsin.
National Snow Depth
As of December 20th, nearly 30% of the nation was covered by snow. At this time last year, nearly 38% of the nation was covered, including the Upper Midwest. Minneapolis had 7" of snow on the ground at this time last year and had 6" of snow on the ground on Christmas Day.
Snowfall So Far This Season
Hard to believe, but the Twin Cities has already had 18.7" of snow this season, which is still about +1" above average. Duluth has had more than 30" of snow, which is nearly +6" above average. Marquette, MI has had more than 3ft. of snow, but is nearly 18" below average for the season. Many locations started the snow season very snowy, but the last several weeks have been very quiet.
Clipper Sags South Monday. More Snow Midweek?
A clipper system will sag south of the region on Monday with strong winds expected through the day Monday. Another storm system will move through the region midweek with the best potential of snow across the northern half of the state.
7 Day Snowfall Potential
Areas of snow will be possible once again midweek, but the heaviest should be confined to the northern part of the state. It's not looking good for a white Christmas in the Twin Cities. Note that our last "Brown" Christmas was back in 2018, when the Twin Cities only had a trace of snow on the ground.
Monday Weather Outlook for Minneapolis
Here's the weather outlook for Monday, which shows skies slowly clearing through the day in the wake of a clipper system that dropped minor snow accumulations across the northern half of the state. WNW Winds will also be quite blustery with gusts approaching 30mph at times.
Monday Meteograms for Minneapolis
Here's a look at the Meteograms for Monday. Note that temperatures will be quite mild for mid December with temperatures warming into the mid 30s. We'll also have very strong winds with gusts approaching 30mph.
Monday Weather Outlook
High temps on Monday will be quite mild across the region. Many locations will warm into the 20s and 30s, which will be nearly +10F to +20F above average for this time of the year.
Extended Temperature Outlook For Minneapolis
Here's the extended temperature outlook for the Twin Cities, which shows temps warming to well above average levels through midweek. However, a potent cold front arrives on Christmas Eve with temps dipping into the teens for daytime highs, which will be the coldest air of the season so far. Overnight lows in the Twin Cities could dip into the lower single digits as well. Brr!
Extended Temperature Outlook For Minneapolis
The extended temperature outlook through the early part of January shows a big chill down on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. However, it doesn't look like it'll last too long with readings warming back to near average by the weekend.
According to the US Drought Monitor, drought conditions have increased slightly over the last few weeks with nearly 84% of the state considered to be in abnormally dry, while almost 23% is considered to be in a moderate drought. Precipitation in Duluth is more than -10" below average and is considered to be the 8th driest (January 1st - December 19th) on record. Meanwhile, Sioux Falls, SD is at their 6th driest such period on record.
8-14 Day Precipitation Outlook
According to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, wetter conditions look to returning the the Central US, but drier conditions will settle in along the West Coast and Upper Midwest.
8-14 Day Temperature Outlook
According to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, warmer than average temperatures will continue across MUCH of the Central US. Cooler than average weather will settle in over the West Coast.
The Winter Solstice Arrives
By Paul Douglas
I acknowledge science but have faith in something more. And I defer to wise men (and women). It's not the Star of Bethlehem, but tonight a rare "conjunction" of Jupiter and Saturn, an alignment of planets not seen since 1226, maybe bright enough to delight and amaze. Weather permitting, of course. For me it is symbolic: there is a light at the end of 2020's dark tunnel. Vaccines will lead to vaccinations. Things will get better next year.
Today's Winter Solstice marks the least daylight of the year. Daylight increases by 1 minute on December 25; nearly 2 hours of additional daylight by February 21.
Winds gust to 30 mph today, but Tuesday brings some sun and highs near 40F. By midweek a sharp drop in temperature sets the stage for light snow from Wednesday into Christmas Eve. Models are contradictory (what's new?) but I could still see an inch or two of powder in time for Santa's arrival. Right down to the wire.
In the meantime enjoy Christmas lights or fire up an extra candle. Brighter days ahead.
MONDAY: Mostly cloudy and gusty. Winds: NW 15-30. High: 37.
MONDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy and breezy. Winds: NW 15-25. Low: 24.
TUESDAY: Intervals of sunshine and milder. Winds: SE 15-25. High: 41.
WEDNESDAY: Blustery with light snow flurries. Winds: NW 15-35. Wake-up: 31. High: 33.
THURSDAY: Numbing. Coating to 2" to greet Santa? Winds: NW 15-30. Wake-up: 4. High: 11.
FRIDAY: Less wind. Not as cold on Christmas. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 3. High: 29.
SATURDAY: Sunny and pleasant. Winds: SE 5-10. Wake-up: 13. High: 30.
SUNDAY: More clouds, chance of flurries. Winds: N 10-20. Wake-up: 21. High: 27.
This Day in Weather History
1993: Strong northwest winds gust to 35 miles an hour, causing near whiteout conditions over a wide area of southwest Minnesota from the late afternoon on the 21st into the early morning of the 22nd. Several car accidents occurred. A 30 year old man was killed when he lost control of his truck and slid into a ditch in the near blizzard like conditions. Counties affected include: Blue Earth, Brown, Chippewa, Faribault, Lac Qui Parle, Redwood, Renville, Watonwan, and Yellow Medicine.
1939: This is the latest date on record for Lake Minnewaska to freeze over at Glenwood.
Average High/Low for Minneapolis
Average High: 25F (Record: 56F set in 1877)
Average Low: 11F (Record: -24F set in 1916)
Record Rainfall: 0.71" set in 2006
Record Snowfall: 5.3" set in 1920
Sunrise/Sunset Times for Minneapolis
Hours of Daylight: ~8 hours & 46 minutes
Daylight LOST since yesterday: ~1 second
Daylight LOST since Summer Solstice (June 20th): ~ 7 hour & 4 minutes
Moon Phase for December 13th at Midnight
0.3 Days Since First Quarter Moon
What's in the Night Sky?
"You might think of the solstice as a day, but it's really a moment. The December solstice happens at 10:02 UTC on December 21, 2020. That time – the moment of solstice – marks the sun's southernmost point for this year. Here in North America, the solstice happens on December 21 (5:02 a.m. EST, 4:02 a.m. CST, 3:02 a.m. MST, 2:02 a.m. PST, 1:02 a.m. Alaskan Time and 12:02 a.m. Hawaiian Time). When is the moment of solstice for your location? Translate December 21 at 10:02 UTC to your time zone, here. Looking at the world map below, you can see that the 2020 December solstice happens when it's sunset in East Asia and Australia, midnight in the Pacific, dawn in northwest South America, and noontime in Africa. By noontime, we mean midday, or midway between sunrise and sunset. By midnight, we mean the middle of the night, or midway between sunset and sunrise."
National High Temps Monday
Here's a look at high temps across the nation on Monday will be warmer than average across much of the nation with readings warming to nearly +5F to +15F above average.
National Forecast Map For Monday
The weather map on Monday will be somewhat active across the northern tier of the nation with a clipper moving through the Great Lakes and another surge of Pacific moisture moving through the Northwest.
National Weather Outlook
The weather maps through the early and middle part of the week is somewhat active across the northern tier of the nation.
Heavy Precipitation in the Western US
Here's the precipitation potential over the next 7 days. Note that areas of heavier precipitation will be possible in the Eastern US and also across the Western US.
"NOAA expects La Niña weather patterns through March"
"NOAA released its monthly weather update Thursday, looking back at the fall and ahead through the rest of winter. As we close in on the (good riddance) end of 2020, its global temperature status is coming into focus. It's looking like a bit of a coin flip between the year being the warmest or second warmest on record, depending on how you estimate the odds. Globally, November was the second warmest on record, while the autumn period of September through November was the third warmest. The fact that this is true despite moderate La Niña conditions in the Pacific is notable, as those conditions bring cold, deep water up to the surface, which normally drags down the global average temperature. At this point, 2020's only competition for the warmest year on record is 2016, which was boosted by a strong El Niño. (That means more of the equatorial Pacific was covered by warm surface water.) The two years are so close that some datasets may even rank them in different order than others. NASA's Gavin Schmidt, for example, estimates over 90 percent odds of setting a new record, but NOAA's latest estimate is about 55 percent."
"WINE GRAPES FROM HOT PLACES SAVE WATER TO COPE"
"Climate change is expected to make many grape-growing regions too hot and dry to produce high-quality wine from traditional varieties. The new study in the Journal of Experimental Botany finds that varieties that produce their best wines in warmer, drier regions have traits that conserve water, helping the vines extend their water resources to last over the growing season. "The relationships between grape varieties and regions have historically been based on wine, without considering traits that affect drought or heat tolerance," says lead author Megan Bartlett, an assistant professor in the viticulture and enology department at the University of California, Davis. "These findings show these varieties could be more resilient to climate change than expected." The study examined how grapevines regulate their stomata—tiny pores found on the surface of leaves that allow plants to take in carbon dioxide for photosynthesis and expel oxygen. The regulation of these stomata affects how much CO2 is available for photosynthesis and how much water evaporates from the leaves. Grapevines must choose between opening their stomata to take in CO2 to produce sugars for growth and ripening or closing the stomata to reduce evaporation and water stress."
"Some Tropical Forests in Brazil Are Already Releasing More Carbon Than They Absorb"
"For years, climate scientists have been sounding the alarm about the increasing likelihood that the Amazon rainforest, now one of the biggest absorbers of carbon in the world, could actually become a source of carbon within just 15 years. New research shows that for some other kinds of tropical forests nearby, that's already happening. That's due in large part to intentional forest burning. In South America, mining, cattle ranching, and soybean farming industries frequently set trees ablaze to make room for their operations, turning forests into open pastures. That means forests contain less foliage to suck greenhouse gas out of the atmosphere. To make matters worse, when a tree catches fire, it releases all the carbon it sequestered in its lifetime, meaning the forests become a source of planet-warming emissions. And amid the climate crisis, this problem is even more severe, because amid hotter and drier conditions, the forests don't produce enough humidity to quickly put out the flames, meaning more area burns with less effort."