Where’s Winter? Brown Chrismas; No sub zero this month; Longer daylight!

61 in Montevideo Minnesota Sunday!

55 degrees in Phoenix. AZ Sunday

47 at MSP

+22 degrees vs. average

No sub-zero temps expected this month at MSP

2002 last December without sub zero temps at MSP

4:32pm sunset at MSP last Friday

4:36 pm sunset at MSP by Saturday!

11:30pm Wednesday winter solstice – daylight begins to increase starting Thursday!

Upside Down Weather Map:

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Welcome to the Swedish Riviera. Looking for a mild December destination? How about beautiful downtown Montevideo Minnesota, where temps hit a balmy 61 degrees Sunday!

It was warmer in Montevideo Sunday than in most USA “warm weather” destinations.

Sunday’s high temperatures:

61 Montevideo

55 Phoenix, AZ

55 Atlanta

56 Las Vegas

58 Dallas

59 New Orleans

60 San Diego

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First Brown Christmas in 5 years for metro

Last year there was 19″ of snow on the ground at MSP on Christmas Day!

This year?

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The last time you had to go searching for snow in the metro on Christmas Day was 5 years ago. Just a trace of snow was reported on the ground at MSP on Christmas Day that year.

Here is the snow depth at MSP on Christmas Day for the past few years.

2011 0?

2010 19″

2009 12″

2008 8″

2007 6″

2006 Trace

Daylight starts getting longer this week!

The winter solstice occurs at 11:30pm CDT Wednesday. Starting on Thursday, daylight will increase ever so slightly each day n the northern hemisphere.

You may already notice this week that the sunsets are getting later. By Saturday the sunset at MSP is 4:36pm. This is 4 minutes later than a week ago!

The sun actually begins to set later before the winter solstice because of a quirk in the earth’s orbit. Because the earth’s orbital path is an ellipse, it turns out sunsets begin to occur later before the solstice, and sunrise continues to occur slightly later after the solstice.

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The sunset by New Year’s Eve at MSP is 4:42pm, a full 10 minutes later than last week. It is light in the western sky on clear nights until well after 5pm by the end of the month!

You’ll really notice the increased evening daylight soon.

40s return New Year’s Eve?

Speaking of New Year’s Eve, the medium range weather maps look extremely mild once again. Assuming no snow cover which looks likely, temps may again surge well into the 40s again in the metro on New Year’s Eve! Yes, there could again be some 50s in Minnesota on the 31st of December. The record high at MSP on December 31st? 50 degrees.

There are some signs we may see our first real taste of arctic air after about January 4th. But so far, I don’t see any big snows or bitter arctic outbreaks until then.

Short Winter of 2011-’12?

Who knows what the rest of January-February-March (April?) will bring? Nobody.

But with each passing mild snowless week, the chances for a “short” winter in Minnesota increase. We’ve already taken November and December off the map for “winter” this season.

Now, March is just a little more than 2 months away, and we’ve seen no sign of winter yet. Could this be a rare 2 month “winter” in Minnesota? Place your bets.

After last year’s nearly 5 month winter (November 13th to March 31st with pretty much continuous snow cover and cold!) we may be due for a break.

No snow=no below:

I have a saying I use that usually works in southern Minnesota for winter nighttime temps. “No snow? No below!”

Generally speaking it’s tough to dip below zero in the Twin Cities without snow cover. Even with arctic type outbreaks, we just don’t seem to get enough radiational cooling to drop below zero.

This December we managed to dip to 5 degrees above zero on the 5th.

Looking at the maps, it seems likely we will escape December without a sub-zero temp at MSP Airport and many southern Minnesota locations.

If we do, this will be the first time in 9 years that has happened, since 2002!


  • Disco

    The article says it’s also the tilt of the axis that causes the latest sunset to occur before the solstice, though the farther north you go, the later that latest sunset becomes.

    Also, regarding subzero temps. The coldest average low is +3F, which happens around 13-15 January. Therefore, any time we drop below zero, it’s technically colder than average. We should not, on average, get any subzero temps. Yet it happens every winter.

    December 2001 also had no subzero temps. (Along with 2002, it’s the only consecutive years I can find. That 2001 December was incredible. The average high for that month was 35, average low was 21. Normals are 27 and 12.). The times before that were 1969, 1954, 1952. It’s even more rare to have it happen in January, like it did in 2006. Now THAT was nice.