Jupiter And Saturn "Great Conjunction" Monday Night

Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Have you heard about heard talk about the "Christmas Star"? How about the "Great Conjunction" of Jupiter and Saturn? They are one in the same! Jupiter and Saturn have been coming closer to each other over the past few weeks in the night sky, and coming up Monday they will be the closest they've been to each other in the sky in nearly 400 years - just a tenth of a degree apart from each other! Of course, it only looks that way in the sky... don't worry, they're still hundreds of millions of miles apart in space - they aren't going to collide with each other! You can read more about this from NASA. To see this, you'll want to be looking low in the southwestern sky after sunset. You'll want to make sure you catch this early in the evening, as the planets will set around 6:56 PM according to Time and Date.

While clouds will be on the decrease here in the Twin Cities as we head toward Monday evening, the current forecast still has about 50% cloud cover as we head toward 6 PM. If you head west, there does appear to be the chance for less cloud cover at the moment out toward areas like Mankato, Redwood Falls, and Willmar.


Will We Get Snow Before Christmas?

I know some of you out there want a white Christmas, while others hope it remains brown for a better chance of socially distant holiday celebrations. The forecast does hold two chances to see some snow across portions of the state over the next several days. The first will come courtesy of a clipper system moving through Sunday Night into Monday. The best chance of seeing snow with this system will be north of I-94, especially across northern Minnesota where some 1-3" tallies will be possible. (Forecast precipitation loop from Noon Sunday through 3 PM Monday. Credit: WeatherBell)

The second will come with an Arctic cold front moving through on Wednesday across the upper Midwest. There are indications that at least a light snow could fall across the region, but there remains differences in the models as to the extent of the snow. If you do have any pre-holiday travel planned for Wednesday, make sure you pay attention to the forecast over the next few days.


Cold Weather Incoming For The Christmas Holiday

So we already talked about the snow chance heading into the middle of the week. Now it's time to talk about the "Arctic cold" part of the Arctic cold front. Highs in the Twin Cities Wednesday will be set early in the day as temperatures will drop during the daylight hours. Highs across portions of northwestern Minnesota won't make it out of the single digits, and in some far-most northwestern areas daytime highs may struggle to reach positive numbers.

As we head toward Thursday morning, we could see our first sub-zero low of the season in the Twin Cities as temperatures drop to near that mark. Across much of central and northern Minnesota lows will drop into the negatives, and could reach values near -15F in far northern parts of the state.

Christmas Eve Thursday will be the coldest day so far this season in the Twin Cities as highs only make it into the low or mid-teens. Across northern Minnesota, some areas will struggle to even make it above zero for a high. It will definitely be a day to be snuggled up under the blankets inside, awaiting Santa to come!

Heading toward Christmas morning, it'll be another cold start, with areas of northern and central Minnesota - stretching into northern and central Wisconsin - waking up below zero. The coldest temperatures will be up in the Arrowhead, with lows of -10F to -15F possible.

The good news is temperatures moderate as we head into Christmas Day on Friday, though not as much as many would like if you're trying to do a outdoor social distanced gathering. Highs will make it to around 20F in the Twin Cities and could hit 30F in parts of southwestern Minnesota. They'll still be stuck in the teens in northern Minnesota, with areas of the Arrowhead in the single digits.


Magic of Christmas Endures During Pandemic
By Paul Douglas

"And that, of course, is the message of Christmas. We are never alone. Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the world seemingly most indifferent" wrote American Taylor Caldwell.

The Lost Year. The Pause. The Great Reset. 2020 has been a reminder of both the power of nature and the power of hope over despair. The long range outlook calls for vaccines.

2020 has been milder and drier than normal, a trend which may continue much of the winter. NOAA's CFSv2 climate model suggests temperatures 3-6F warmer than average into March. We will see snow, but at the rate we're going average seasonal snowfall (54 inches at MSP) may be hard to pull off.

The odds of a white Christmas are dwindling again. Wednesday's cold front won't be nearly as cold or as wet. Highs hold in the teens Christmas Eve but ECMWF predicts a post-Christmas thaw.

In the meantime a coating of slush is possible from tonight's clipper (woo-hoo!) and highs approach 40 Monday and Tuesday. Half a winter this year? Looks like it.


Paul's Extended Twin Cities Forecast

SUNDAY: Some sun, coating tonight? Wake up 22. High 37. Chance of precipitation 60%. Wind W 8-13 mph.

MONDAY: Mostly cloudy and gusty. Wake up 33. High 39. Chance of precipitation 20%. Wind NW 15-30 mph.

TUESDAY: Partly sunny, milder than average. Wake up 24. High 40. Chance of precipitation 20%. Wind SE 10-20 mph.

WEDNESDAY: Turning colder, few flurries. Wake up 33. High 35. Chance of precipitation 30%. Wind NW 15-20 mph.

THURSDAY: Numbing sunshine, feels like -15F. Wake up 3. High 13. Chance of precipitation 10%. Wind NW 10-20 mph.

FRIDAY: Bright sun, not as chilly. Wake up 8. High 28. Chance of precipitation 0%. Wind NW 8-13 mph.

SATURDAY: Intervals of sun, risk of a thaw. Wake up 17. High 32. Chance of precipitation 10%. Wind SE 5-10 mph.


This Day in Weather History
December 20th

1989: Minnesotans are hard pressed to find snow cover across most of the state. Only good places to cross country ski are at Grand Marais and along the Gunflint Trail.


Average Temperatures & Precipitation for Minneapolis
December 20th

Average High: 26F (Record: 51F set in 1967)
Average Low: 11F (Record: -24F set in 1916)
Average Precipitation: 0.04" (Record: 0.74" set in 1902)
Average Snowfall: 0.3" (Record: 4.6" in 2010)
Record Snow Depth: 18" in 1983


Sunrise/Sunset Times for Minneapolis
December 20th

Sunrise: 7:47 AM
Sunset: 4:34 PM

*Length Of Day: 8 hours, 46 minutes and 12 seconds
*Daylight LOST Since Yesterday: ~0 minutes and 5 seconds

*Day With The Least Amount Of Daylight? December 21st (8 hours, 46 minutes, and 11 seconds)
*When Is The Latest Sunrise?: December 29th-January 5th (7:51 AM)
*When Is Sunset At/After 5 PM? January 17th (5:00 PM)


Twin Cities And Minnesota Weather Outlook

We'll see warmer weather on Sunday in the Twin Cities as highs rise into the mid/upper 30s. Most of the day we'll see mainly sunny skies, but clouds should be on the increase as we head toward the evening hours. A few snow showers might be possible by the evening as well, but I think they will mainly hold off until the overnight hours.

As we look statewide, we'll see cloudier skies during the day in northern and western Minnesota, with cloud cover increasing late in the day the farther southeast you are. Highs will stay in the 20s across northern Minnesota, climbing into the 40s across southwestern Minnesota.

Highs across the state Sunday will be above average - up to 20F degrees above average across portions of southwestern Minnesota. The average high in the Twin Cities for December 20th is 26F.

We'll see warmer temperatures through Tuesday before the other shoe drops as that Arctic cold front mentioned earlier in the blog moves through the state heading into Wednesday. Hump day will feature dropping temperatures before we see the coldest day of the season so far heading into Christmas Eve.


National Weather Forecast

On Sunday, a system in the eastern United States will produce rain and snow, with storms possible across Florida. As a clipper moves through the Upper Midwest, snow showers will be possible, especially into Sunday Night. Rain and snow chances will continue in the Northwest.

Through Monday evening, the heaviest liquid precipitation will be across the Northwest, where Flood Watches are in place for the potential of several inches of rain, particularly in the mountains. For areas of the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast, up to 2" of rain could fall. When looking at snow, portions of the Cascades and northern Rockies could see several feet of snow.


Some Tropical Forests in Brazil Are Already Releasing More Carbon Than They Absorb

More from Earther: "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."

More acres burned on USFS lands this year since 1910, says agency Chief

More from Wildfire Today: "The U.S. Forest Service announced this week that the number of acres burned on national forests in 2020 was the most since 1910.As of December 18, 181,234 acres have been reported burned this year in Alaska and 10,069,213 in the other 49 states. In looking at the records from 1985 to 2020 for the lower 49 states, that was the highest total.The largest fire in 2020 was larger than a million acres and qualifying as "gigafire", was the 1,032,648-acre August Complex in northern California. While "complexes" are comprised of a group of fires, it is my understanding that the August Complex originated from numerous lightning-caused blazes which all burned together, merging to become one. In looking at national records since 1985, it burned more acres than all of the fires in the 49 states outside of Alaska in 2006."

Biden Put Climate at the Heart of His Campaign. Now He's Delivered Groundbreaking Nominees

More from Inside Climate News: "President-elect Joe Biden rounded out his climate and environment team Thursday with groundbreaking cabinet nominations at the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior, agencies critical to his pledge to combat climate change and emphasize environmental justice. Michael S. Regan, who has led a transformation of climate policy as North Carolina's senior environmental official under Gov. Roy Cooper, was nominated to serve as EPA administrator. He would be the first Black man to run the agency that enforces such bedrock environmental laws as the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, regulates power plant and tailpipe emissions and oversees cleanup of the nation's most toxic dumps. U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, a 35th-generation New Mexican from the Pueblos of Laguna and Jemez, was nominated as the first Native American secretary of the interior, which would put her in charge of a department that manages vast federal land holdings and oversees programs that serve 1.9 million Native Americans and Alaska Natives."


Thanks for checking in and have a great day! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter (@dkayserwx) and like me on Facebook (Meteorologist D.J. Kayser).

- D.J. Kayser