Arctic December now, experimental model hints at milder January?

Sun dogs are visible in the eastern sky as joggers make their way around Lake Harriet in Minneapolis, Minn., Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/The Star Tribune, David Joles)

Dangerously Nordic December

On days like today, I have to remember what University of Minnesota forestry expert Lee Frelich once told me: “Forty below is good for the trees in northern Minnesota, it kills the pests like pine beetles that can kill our forests.”

Talk about a steep price for keeping out the riffraff.

We’ll have to endure another 48 hours of wind chill babble and tingling extremities in Minnesota, before a merciful moderation begins later this week — teens on Thursday and 20-plus degrees on Friday will feel pretty good.

Until then, take the usual wintry advice. Bundle up and protect yourself from the latest arctic onslaught.

(Image: Twin Cities NWS)

6 consecutive nights with temps at or below zero in the metro

4 more sub zero mornings likely in the next week at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport

12 sub zero days in the Twin Cities last winter

-11 coldest temp so far this season at MSP Airport (last Saturday)

A (weather) guy walks into a bar.

That’s how it feels sometimes talking and writing about extreme cold in Minnesota. Like an old running joke. What’s the difference between a wind chill warning and wind chill advisory? Not much really, except your skin will freeze faster in a wind chill warning.

(Image: Twin Cities NWS)

Wind chills of -25 to -40 degrees will be the rule across Minnesota and the Upper Midwest into Thursday morning, but this will be the core of the arctic air for the rest of this week. Here’s the bitter language from the National Weather Service in Duluth.

URGENT – WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DULUTH MN
418 AM CST TUE DEC 10 2013

…DANGEROUS WIND CHILLS READINGS ACROSS THE NORTHLAND…

ANOTHER SHOT OF VERY COLD ARCTIC AIR WILL PUSH INTO THE NORTHLAND TONIGHT AND CONTINUING INTO THURSDAY MORNING. WIND CHILL READINGS WILL RANGE FROM 35 BELOW TO 50 BELOW ZERO TONIGHT AND WEDNESDAY NIGHT. READINGS WILL ONLY CLIMB TO THE 20 BELOW TO 35 BELOW LEVEL WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON BEFORE DROPPING AFTER SUNSET..

INCLUDING THE CITIES OF…INTERNATIONAL FALLS…ELY…ISABELLA…BIGFORK…HIBBING…TWO HARBORS…GRAND MARAIS…GRAND RAPIDS
418 AM CST TUE DEC 10 2013

…WIND CHILL WARNING IN EFFECT FROM MIDNIGHT TONIGHT TO 6 AM CST
THURSDAY…

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN DULUTH HAS ISSUED A WIND CHILL
WARNING…WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM MIDNIGHT TONIGHT TO 6 AM CST
THURSDAY.

* WIND CHILL VALUES…35 BELOW TO 50 BELOW ZERO TONIGHT AND WEDNESDAY MORNING. 35 BELOW TO 45 BELOW ZERO WEDNESDAY NIGHT AND EARLY THURSDAY MORNING.

* TEMPERATURES…20 BELOW TO 30 BELOW ZERO WEDNESDAY MORNING AND THURSDAY MORNING.

* WINDS…NORTHWEST 5 TO 10 MPH TONIGHT AND WEDNESDAY MORNING. WEST 5 TO 10 MPH WEDNESDAY NIGHT AND THURSDAY MORNING.

* IMPACTS…FROSTBITE CAN OCCUR ON EXPOSED SKIN WITHIN 15 MINUTES OR LESS.

I saw wind chills as low as -41 in Baudette, Minn., this morning. Here’s a look at forecast sub-zero chills tonight across Minnesota.

(Image: NOAA)

Moderation starts Thursday

The cold will ease Thursday as temps rebound into the teens. A couple of clippers may bring more doses of light snow Wednesday night, and again Friday night into Saturday. 20 degrees above will feel pretty good by Friday.

Here’s the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Global Forecast System model output, which has done a better job recently than the usually trusty model from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts with handling the latest snows and arctic outbreaks.

(Image: Weatherspark)

Pre-Christmas cold?

The GFS is keeping us colder than average through most of December. As we head toward Christmas, there are signs of another arctic adventure the weekend leading up to Christmas. There are signs we may moderate into the 20s, even 30s by Christmas Day.

(Image: NOAA via IPS Meteostar)

January warming trend?

Back in November I talked about a a model from NOAA and Environment Canada called the NAEFS, or North American Ensemble Forecast System and the long range outlook for December. Here’s what I wrote.

Cold December?

The longer range outlook seems to favor a cold start to December. NOAA’s experimental North American Ensemble Forecast System (NAEFS) favors continued cold over the western half of North America from Minnesota west.

(Image: NOAA)

It turns out the NAEFS was right on with our December chill. So how does January look?

It’s very early, but there are signs we may see a reversal of fortune, and milder temps in January in the Upper Midwest and much of the U.S. Here’s the NAEFS output for next month.

(Image: NOAA)

The images above show two days of runs from a string of days favoring warmer than average temps over most of the eastern U.S. in January, including the Upper Midwest. Most of the runs recently have come up with temps running about 2 to 4 degrees above average for Minnesota in January.

Could January be warmer than our frigid December in Minnesota? It’s still early, but it’s possible.

Stay tuned — and hang in there!

  • Francee

    how many below zero days has there been in Minneapolis this winter season?