Happy meteorological winter! Boy did it start in full force this week. Let’s take a look back at fall and see how the numbers have evolved.
First, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that it was a mild autumn. Temperatures averaged nearly 2 degrees above normal (1.9 degrees F), which might not sound like much, but the standard deviation for the average fall temperature is only 2.8 degrees F. It wasn’t mild enough to bother us making the top 10 or 20 but puts us in the top 27% of our records.
September, October and November were all warmer than normal, with September being the most above normal at +2.7 degrees, then October at +2.5 degrees and November barely over at +0.5 degrees. In western Minnesota, November temperatures were colder than average, and Arrowhead was where they were the most above normal.
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Rainfall was, of course, the big story. September and October were extremely dry with only 0.48 inches of rainfall at MSP. It was 2.40 inches in November alone, five times September and October combined.
The activity of November was reflected not only in liquid form, but also in snowfall. We saw 13 inches of snow in the Twin Cities, almost double the normal 6.7 inches, mostly thanks of course to our big storm at the end of the month which brought 8.4 inches on the 29th.
So what could December bring?
Winter often brings a completely different pattern than summer or fall. November seems to have given us clues as to what the onset of winter might bring: more active rainfall and at least more temperature swings that could keep us closer to normal, or even colder than normal.
The big buzz in the forecasting community is the rather extreme blocking pattern forecast that will occur over Greenland. I’ll probably talk more about this, but basically all models seem to be running this scenario for the month of December. It’s not often that all longer range models agree, but this time they do.
All predict colder than normal conditions for Minnesota and the East, with warmer than normal conditions in Alaska and Greenland.
So what about snowfall? This is of course more complicated. For Minnesota to get above normal snow, you need to be in the sweet spot of frequent temperature swings…that’s where the storm trail is. So we want to be cooler than normal, but not too much or we’ll just end up getting cold and dry and the storms will all be heading south and east. A lot of times with this kind of lockdown pattern, it’s going to snow a lot in places like Kansas City, Chicago, and New York, and we’re a bunch just below zero.
At the moment, models are not seeing an above-average snowfall signature over Minnesota, but likely more so in December to our east.
Either way, welcome to the start of meteorological winter! Whether you’re a snow lover or hate it all together, whatever happens, there will surely be something to celebrate or lament for all of us.