40s again New Year’s Eve; The incredible shifting ice of Mille Lacs

39 degrees- High temp at MSP Wednesday

+16 degrees vs. average for December 28th

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Per•sist•ence   /pərˈsɪstəns, -ˈzɪs-/ [per-sis-tuhns, -zis-]


1. the act or fact of persisting.

2. the quality of being persistent: You have persistence, I’ll say that for you.

3. continued existence or occurrence: the persistence of smallpox.

4. the continuance of an effect after its cause is removed.

It’s what weather forecasters call “persistence.”

That’s what you do when weather patterns are stuck. Want to be a hero? Don’t forecast a bunch of snow or cold in a “droughty” mild weather pattern. This is no time to be a Maverick.

The weather is broken this winter in Minnesota.

Gone are the days of howling northwest winds, bitter sub-zero wind chills and snow drifts as high as 5th graders. This is not your daddy’s Minnesota winter. Can you imagine if the first Scandinavians had come to Minnesota this winter? What kind of weather “lies” would they be telling relatives in the homeland about the new temperate winter climate they had discovered?

But I digress…

Micro Clippers

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Two “Micro Clippers” will slide through Minnesota in the next 48 hours. The first may produce a coating of snow overnight into early Thursday. The second, somewhat stronger system may eek out an inch or two of rare snowfall Thursday night into Friday morning.

That’s about as good as it gets in the “Unwinter” of 2011-’12.

Out like a little lamb?

2011 looks to go out on cats paws Saturday. Temps should again surge into the 40s New Year’s Eve day. A well timed cold front will blow in just as bells ring in 2012. You’ll notice a chillier breeze by the time you head home from New Year’s Eve festivities if you’re out and about.

Colder air will greet us the first few days of 2012. But another in our series of milder air masses will push thermometers back into the 40s as early as January 5th as milder Pacific air gushes over the Rockies once again.

Temps appear to stay on the milder than average side until January 13th. The GFS still hints at a colder “arctic outbreak” around then. We’ll see.

The incredible shifting ice on Mille Lacs:

This is just plain weird. This has to be the oddest December for ice conditions I can remember in Minnesota.

Look at the satellite images below. Mille Lacs was completely open water on December 2nd just over 3 weeks ago. Since then, huge gaps of open water separate ice floes. Changing wind directions shift the ice from day to day, and even from hour to hour.

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Image courtesy MNlakecams.com

You may drive to Mille Lacs in the morning, and your route home is cut off by open water by afternoon. There have been numerous ice rescues, and reports of ice houses adrift and in need of rescue.

Check out some of the chatter these days from lakestatefishing.com.

“Tuesday, December 27th:

The north wind today has broken the ice loose from part of the north end again.

The open water hugs the shoreline from west of Myr Mar to the “Junction” (just west of the Wealthwood Rod and Gun Club) and then cuts south about a mile and then east as far as the eye can see. The open gash in the ice runs about at the first mudflat distance from shore and is about 400-500 yards wide.

The area to the east of the Junction along shore is now old ice to old ice–at least for the time being. A north wind could blow it away anytime…so some of the locals have taken houses off while the opportunity is there.

4-wheelers are now being retrieved by pontoon out from Myr Mar Marina.

As long as that open gash is part of the scene, the potential of the shore ice taking off is on the table.

Of course, a big south, west or east wind could make it shift also.”

“As I saw first hand yesterday and today. It is just nuts on that lake right now. The north and west side is where I was and drove around. Lots of open water and ice heaves all over. Lots of vacant houses floating around on this moving ice. Weird year. I would have liked to have got out but no good for this guy. 2 months left…


Posted on: Yesterday 21:50:51”

“As expected, the big south wind today (Wednesday)closed the gap on the north half of the lake. It looks like the sheet moved several hundred feet north and crunched up against the older shoreline ice from Myr Mar east. More houses and the last of the wheelers were retrieved today.

So–where did it open to the south?? Looking at today’s satellite pic, most of the ice movement today, came AFTER that pic was taken. Near as I can tell….

So the next big north wind sends it south again? Or will it be a completely new open gash on another part of the lake?

What happens with an east wind? Haven’t had one of those for two weeks!


Posted on: Today 14:59:51”

Wow, talk about scary. Only the brave (foolish?) are venturing onto some of our Minnesota lakes this December.


  • Randy in Champliln

    Paul……Did you see the long term GFS model showing the effects of the Stratospheric warming, ie the cold that is set to drop into Montana at 384 hrs?? believable or not???

  • Paul Huttner

    Hi Randy:

    Yes I see the GFS is at it again.

    The GFS has tried 3 times to bring an arctic chunk down from Canada in recent weeks, only to push it further out into the future in subsequent runs.

    Now. it’s going to happen sooner or later, and the one GFS is advertising around January 13th could be the one.

    I’m still a wait and see at this point. Let’s see if we get some run-to-run consistency the next few days.

    More interesting in the short run (and of potentially higher impact) is the growing snow chance late on New Year’s Eve!


  • Allen

    It’s fun to joke about what tall tales those Swedes would be telling. But it betrays the fact that while this is an unusual winter, it’s happened before even since us white folk come around to live here. IIRC a couple of the warmest winters on record in the state were in the 1880s and 1890s. Or is my memory failing me?