"Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful" wrote Norman Vincent Peale.
Science has its limits. It rarely captures the true wonders of the universe, and will never unwrap the mysteries of enduring faith. Science has its place, but Christmas reminds us we believe in things we can't measure or observe. Bigger, far more important things.
My jingle bells are frozen, but at least the sun is out. No freak snow or ice storms are brewing, looking out 2 weeks. Yes, we're in a drought. My hunch: The period through January 2 will be one of the colder weeks of winter; what I suspect will be a compressed, somewhat abbreviated winter for Minnesota.
After waking up near zero this morning today's "high" may hold in single digits. 20s will feel like a blessing by the end of this week, then colder again for the first few days of 2013. No records, hardly bitter, and this cold dome a). keeps the sun out, and b). shoves the storm track well south of MSP. I already see signs of a January Thaw.
Traveling tomorrow? Big snows are likely from Little Rock to Cleveland & Syracuse - windswept rain for New York City. Check the blog below for details.
* image credit here.
A Chilly, Dry Week. No weather drama expected through the first few days of January; a slight warming trend by the end of the week - another clipper drags a fresh infusion of (fresh) air into Minnesota by Sunday, highs stuck in the teens the first few day sof 2013. ECMWF forecast data above.
This storm will affect major population centers of the Northeast (including New York City) with very heavy rain and high winds Wednesday; the peak of the storm coming Wednesday evening, when winds gust to 50 mph and heavy rain creates minor flash flooding risks and sporadic power outages. I expect the storm to impact metro New York travel Wednesday PM, snarling commutes and leading to delays and possible cancellations at LGA, EWR and JFK.
Farther inland heavy snow is likely from Little Rock to Cleveland, with some 15-20" snowfall amounts possible from upstate Pennsylvania to Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Albany by Thursday. No accumulating snow is expected from D.C. to Philadelphia and New York.
Summary: We're tracking a potential Christmas Day tornado outbreak for the Deep South (Louisiana and Mississippi most impacted), but this storm will be pushing up the East Coast Wednesday with strong/severe T-storms, heavy rains and high winds. Expect maximum impact Wednesday PM hours, with conditions improving Thursday. Heavy snows may temporarily disrupt operations from Little Rock (10" snow) into the Ohio Valley, portions of Pennsylvania, upstate New York and interior New England.
Christmas Numbers. The average high for Christmas Day is in the low to mid 20s across most of southern and central Minnesota. Climate info courtesy of the Twin Cities National Weather Service.
Very White Christmases. NWS historical data shows a whopping 20" on the ground back in 1983, 19" as recently as 2010.
#5 Non-Winter of 2011-12
Some of the predictions were dire. Possibly a winter more snowy than 2010-2011 was in the cards. It didn't happen. One of the most wimpy winters ever seen in the Twin Cities and Minnesota was the result with mild temperatures and scant snowfall. 2011-12 wound up the tenth least snowy winter on record for the Twin Cities and was the fourth warmest winter on record.
#4 Hot July 2012
2012 was the second warmest month ever for the Twin Cities back to 1872 with 80.2 degrees. Only July 1936 was warmer with 81.4 degrees. Duluth had its warmest July on record, although in 1936, the recording station for Duluth was closer to Lake Superior. To escape the heat, one had to go to International Falls where the average July temperature was 69 degrees making 2012 only the 12th warmest July on record there.
#3 Drought of 2011-2012
This could easily be #1 depending on where you live in Minnesota. The heavy rains of May and June, 2012 helped to blunt the drought a bit, but then it intensified by the late summer and continued into the fall. By late November 80% of the state was under a severe or extreme drought. By fall, soil moisture levels at the University of Minnesota Southern Research and Outreach Center in Waseca were some of the lowest on record.
#2 Northeast Minnesota Flood of June 19-20
The largest flash flood event in Minnesota for 2012 struck northeast Minnesota on June 19-20. The largest two day total was 10.10 inches just northeast of Duluth. There were so many roads flooded out in Carlton County that the county rain out of signs and more had to be trucked from the Twin Cities. One of the iconic photos of the storm was of Feisty the seal who escaped the Lake Superior Zoo and wound up on a neighborhood street. The St. Louis River engulfed and nearly destroyed the Jay Cooke State Park Swinging Bridge, but it will reopen in the summer of 2013. As for Feisty? She found refuge at Como Zoo and now has over 800 followers on Twitter.
#1 Outrageously Mild March 2012
Imagine if you will a March that was so warm it would break six record high temperature records in the Twin Cities, have four days with muggy dew point temperatures that reached 60 and wound up warmer than October! To top it off the Twin Cities had its earliest 80 degree temperature ever with 80 degrees on St. Patrick's Day, March 17. The old record was March 23 back in 1910. March 2012 will go down in history as one of the most bizarre months temperature-wise, finishing 15.5 degrees above normal. The only other month in the historical record for the Twin Cities that matches this feat was January 2006 that also finished 15.5 degrees above normal. As a consequence, spring phenology was exceedingly early with lilacs blooming the earliest on record in the Twin Cities, with many in full bloom by mid April.
Image above: coolsydney.net.au.
- Senator Bob Kerry, quoted in an article at Ars Technica. Image: Wikipedia.