72% Historical chances of a white Christmas in the metro
2006 last Christmas with just a trace of snow in the metro
19" snow cover at MSP Airport on December 25th, 2010
.03" GFS model forecast precipitation through December 15th (0Z run)
40 degrees GFS forecast high temp for Metro on December 13th
50% Current Weather Lab odds for a brown Christmas in the metro and southern Minnesota
Yes it sort of feels like winter today in Minnesota; it just doesn't look like winter. My brown lawn at the weather lab in the west metro is begging for rain or snow.
Our historical or "climatological" odds for a white Christmas (at least 1" of snow on the ground) in the metro are 72%.
The odds for Christmas white approach 100% as you move north from Brainerd and Virginia to Ely, Biwabik and Embarrass.
Chances for a white Christmas drop to about 60% in southwest Minnesota around Pipestone and Luverne.
Here are some other Minnesota cities and the historical probability of a white Christmas:
-Duluth Airport: 98%
-Grand Marais: 89%
-Redwood Falls: 61%
-St. Cloud: 74%
Lake Wilson in southwest Minnesota has the lowest historical probability of a white Christmas of any Minnesota reporting location at 57%.
We've seen less than 1" snow cover on 31 of 111 years in the Twin Cities dating back to 1899.
Christmas 2011: Brown or white?
We're about to close out the driest fall on record in the metro and much of southern Minnesota. The growing drought shows no signs of easing on the medium range forecast maps. Other than a minor dusting of snow Thursday and another chance along about December 10th, the maps look eerily quiet. No big "Domebuster" type storms in sight so far this year. Nothing more than "a flake an acre" between now and mid-December?
The maps can turn on a dime this time of year, but at this point it seems likely that we may get to December 15th without significant snow cover in much of Minnesota.
If that happens our chances for a brown Christmas will increase dramatically.
The last time you probably saw your lawn on Christmas Day in the metro was 2006 when a trace was recorded at MSP Airport. MSP Airport also recorded just a trace of snow in 2002 and 1997.
That translates into a brown Christmas about every 4 or 5 years in the past 14 years. We still may manage 1" of snow between now and Christmas, but historically speaking we're due for another brown Christmas in the metro.
The whitest Christmas ever in the metro was 20" in 1983. Last year was #2 with 19" on the ground at MSP on Christmas Day!
They say when in a drought, don't forecast rain or snow. Looking at the maps, I'd put the odds of a brown Christmas this year in the metro at 50/50 right now. The weather maps may still gin up a storm, and bring us the gift of winter white for Christmas this year.
Personally, I'm hoping for at least a little snow between now and December 25th!
Posted at 6:30 PM on November 29, 2011
by Paul Huttner
Filed under: Winter 2011-12
+5.5 degrees November temps vs. average at MSP Airport
10th warmest & driest November on record (pending final confirmation)
3" total snowfall at MSP in November 2011
-5.8" snowfall vs. average in November
9.8" snowfall in November 2010!
53% of possible sunshine in November 2011
39% of possible sunshine on average in November
(cloudiest month of the year on average)
4:32 pm sunset at MSP Airport Saturday through December 16th!
Mild sunny November!
Mild & sunny are weather adjectives we don't normally associate with November in Minnesota. In fact our cloudiest month of the year on average (and by far my least favorite in Minnesota!) has turned out surprisingly sunny!
My unofficial tally show roughly 16 of 30 November days featured sunny or partly cloudy skies at MSP Airport. That's about 53% of possible sunshine this month. Compare that to the 30 year average of just 39% and we've enjoyed one of the sunnier Novembers in recent memory. Can I get whoo hoo?
With temps running a good 5.5 degrees above average and just .29" of precipitation this month; this should land the metro and much of Minnesota somewhere near the 10th warmest and driest November on record.
The extra sunshine and mild temps may be helping some who normally suffer from Seasonally Affected Disorder (SAD) this time of year. I am one of those. Every November it feels like somebody is sucking the energy right out of me with a hose. This year I can really appreciate the extra sunshine and warmth!
Shorter winter ahead?
Our mild and nearly snow free November means that the winter of 2011-'12 has now given up one potential month to mild and relatively sunny weather. Unless we get slammed in April which is unlikely, that means we will not have a 5 month winter like we had last year.
In fact the GFS is hinting at near normal temps and below average snowfall into mid-December. That may mean this will be a shorter than average winter. It almost certainly looks shorter and less snowy that last year at this point.
It's still too soon to say if we'll be milder with below average snowfall overall. For now I'm sticking to my forecast of near average temps and snowfall for this winter. But with each passing snow free week, the chances for below average winter snowfall increase a little.
There is a chance fo a little snow to open December Thursday. Let's see how things pan out in the next 3-4 weeks!
Dark days for now; but light at the end of the tunnel!
We're about to hit the weeks with our earliest sunsets of the year in Minnesota. Starting Monday, the sun sets at MSP Airport at 4:32pm and stays there until December 17th.
This marks the earliest sunsets of the year.
Due to a quirk in earth's orbit, sunsets actually start getting later again on December 17th, a few days before the winter solstice. This marks a hopeful point for me, as daylight noticeably increases in the evening by Christmas week.
I'm taking the next week off to head to Vegas and hang with my best college friend who lives in the Vegas suburbs. Though the weather looks cool and windy for the first few days, the sunshine and milder temps by early next week will be a blessing.
There is a lot of great hiking and natural attractions near Las Vegas. I'm looking forward to enjoying some quality outdoor time. And yes, we may spend a little quality time on "The Strip."
Craig Edwards will capably man the weather lab while I'm away.
I'll bring back some photos!