Posted at 8:48 AM on December 13, 2011
by Paul Huttner
Filed under: Winter 2011-12
.35" GFS model rainfall total for MSP next 24 hours
.67" NAM model rainfall total for MSP
3" to 6" snowfall potential from Alexandria to Wadena and Grand Rapids by Thursday
.5" snowfall possible in metro Wednesday night as system pulls away
32 to 39 degrees - soil temps in central and southern Minnesota in top 6 inches
Trace of snow on ground at MSP Airport as of December 13th
17" snow on the ground at MSP last year on this day!
+0.3 degrees - December temps vs. average so far at MSP
7.9" season snowfall so far at MSP
-6.8" snowfall departure so far at MSP
33" snowfall last year by this date at MSP!
I'm forecasting rain that may soak into unfrozen ground in southern Minnesota on December 14th!
The next weather system moving in looks warm enough for mostly rain from St. Cloud into the metro and southern Minnesota. Rain should begin to bust out on radar around midnight tonight and continue into Wednesday.
**The morning commute Wednesday will be wet in the metro and "white" up north toward Alexandria and Grand Rapids.**
Oddly enough, a check of soil temps around Minnesota shows some areas with unfrozen soil and soil temps between 33 and 39 degrees. This means some of the rain may actually soak into the top few inches of soil.
File this under the "weather news of the weird but good" category. Much of southern Minnesota is still in severe drought, and every little bit of moisture in the topsoil is liquid gold for next spring.
Some soil temps between 2" and 6" depth in Minnesota today:
-Hutchinson 33 degrees
-Mankato 35 degrees
-Lamberton 36 degrees
-Waseca 39 degrees
-Benson 29 degrees- frozen!
My own probe of the lawn and gardens at the weather lab in the west metro shows unfrozen topsoil depth between 2" and 6" depending on where you probe. Some of the rain tonight and Wednesday will soak in!
Snow up north:
Here's a look at NAM model snow totals Wednesday.
Expect snow if you are travelling up I-94 toward Alexandria and Detroit Lakes Wednesday!
Ice Booming on Mille Lacs!
There are reports of loud, thundering cracking ice on Mille Lacs these days. It appears the unstable ice that's forming is cracking and sending booming thunder echoing across the big lake. The lack of snow cover means no "insulation" to muffle the cracking ice this year.
It's loud up on Mille Lacs these days!
Here's an ice report form The Red Door Resort.
"Red Door Resort
Sunday, December 11th, 10 am., we have a solid 6.5 inches of ice in all the places we checked.
With that ice thickness, normally we would not hesitate in opening the access to ATV travel and the like with that much ice. But as we mentioned in previous reports, the snow free ice is very prone to temperature change expansion and contraction. For example, the past half hour, the warming temps created a big push(expansion) and busted the crack about 200yds. from shore. That crack was healed up the past 24 hrs. until now. So an ATV would have trouble getting across without bridging of some kind. As the warm temps continue today and into tomorrow, the potential of more changes is there, for sure.
So as of now, we will keep the access closed to ATV travel. Rather than getting ATV's trapped on the lake side of the crack, that is best for all, as of now. Walking out, for the most part, should be fine. We will let the temps stabilize today and tomorrow and then, most likely, open the access for ATV travel and get light bridging in place where needed. Stay tuned!
In the meantime? A few locals have reported good walleye action in the neighborhood. (they walked out)
And bring the ice cleats...
Posted on: Yesterday 22:59:01"
Here's a sequence of visible satellite images showing how ice has formed on Mille Lacs this month.
Enjoy the rain tonight and Wednesday.
Windy & colder weather pushes in Thursday with highs in the 20s. Sun, cold and lighter winds return Friday. Temps will moderate Saturday and push back well into the 30s to near 40 by Sunday PM.
I'm keeping an eye on a potential rain/snow system for next Monday. The GFS is doing the usual flip flopping around the track and tempersture (rain vs. snow) with next Monday's system but I'll keep an eye on it!
.23" rainfall for MSP Airport - latest NAM model output
.49" rainfall at MSP - latest GFS output
2" to 4" snowfall likely from Alexandria to Brainerd to Duluth and the Iron Range Cities by Thursday
Radars are lighting up around Minnesota with rain. Expect the showers to increase overnight and peak into early Wednesday.
Overall rain totals look like .25" to .50" for most areas in southern Minnesota.
A band of snow will form from near Alex to Brainerd, The Iron Range and Duluth and the North Shore. Snowfall totals generally look to be between 2" and 4" by Thursday morning.
A Different December
What a difference a year makes. Last year we had 17" of snow on the ground on this date. Today? Good luck finding enough to make a snowball in much of Minnesota.
Not that I'm complaining after last year's 86.6" snow blitz. No matter what kind of weather you like, Minnesota weather is what it is.
We talk a lot about "average" and what winter "should be like" in Minnesota. The fact is, averages are made up of extremes. We have an "ideal" of what any one month should be like. The reality often doesn't match our weather perceptions. Weather in the Upper Midwest exhibits a high degree of "variability." We're used to the wild swings, but they seem to be getting even more dramatic from month to month and year to year.
Is La Nina turning into El Nino?
Yesterday I observed on MPR that the jet stream pattern on the weather maps looks more like an El Nino "Split Flow" signature that a La Nina induced arctic winter pattern.
There may be a discernable reason why this December is so different from last year.
NOAA's CPC and others we're calling for another, albeit weaker. La Nina winter. The latest ENSO Diagnostic Discussion indicates that tropical Pacific Ocean temps are on the rise. Most of the models return to "ENSO neutral" by spring. Three of the models even push into a weak El Nino phase by early next year.
In the past two months there were dire predictions from everyone from our local newsrag to NOAA to "Accu" weather blaring headlines about a brutally cold winter starting in December.
In my October Winter Outlook, I was (and still am) hesitant about forecasting two back to back cold & snowy winters in a row, and I leaned toward average while mentioning the possibility of a milder winter with less than average snow.
I may be wrong here, but I looked at this again today and still come back to decadal trends as the most probable outcome for this winter in Minnesota.
From my October post:
"Decadal Trends: Our changing winter climate?
Juxtaposed over the technical and dynamic factors that may control winter weather are so called decadal trends, which lean strongly in favor of milder winters with less snowfall for Minnesota.
Some facts from the past decade include:
-7 of the past 10 winters have featured significantly below average snowfall in the metro, (70% bias toward less than average snow in the past 10 years)
-In those years the average winter snowfall has been 33.6"
(Roughly 22" below the 30 year average of 55.9"!)
-6 of the past 10 winters have featured above average temperatures
(60% bias toward milder than average winters the past 10 years)
-Minnesota winter nights got a lot milder in the past 30 years! (1981-2010 data set) Overnight low (minimum) temperatures in January average a full 2 to 4 degrees F warmer than the previous 30 year (1971-2000) data set.
The bottom line is, winters are trending milder in Minnesota, and while averages are made up of extremes on both ends, you can't ignore the background trend when looking at the potential for two colder and snowier than average winters in a row.
Variable: Decadal trends in winter temps and snowfall in Minnesota
Potential effect on Minnesota winter: Milder winters temps (especially at night) and a apparent bias toward lower winter snowfall totals.
Trend for 2011-'12: Increased odds for a milder winter with less snow than 2010-'11"
Winter may still rear up with teeth and claws in January and February, but so far there is no sign of any huge storms or epic arctic outbreaks on the horizon.
I'm sure we'll get our share of arctic cold and some more snow this winter, but with each passing week the odds for a cold snowy winter overall drop some.
As we say in the weather biz...stay tuned!