Cold air gone missing in North America; Near 40 again by Christmas Day?

+4.5 degrees December temps vs. average at MSP Airport

12 days at or above freezing at MSP this month

2 days at or above 40 at MSP this month

7.5 days at or below zero on average in December at MSP

+5 degrees coldest temps at MSP this December

This is getting a little ridiculous.

A look at temperatures in North America today shows a complete lack of seasonably cold air on the maps.

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By now we would expect to brace against sub-zero air as it invades Minnesota. Instead we’ve seen more days in the 40s than below zero.

Mild in Canada too!

It’s not just mild here.

There’s a noticeable lack of cold air in North America all the way up to the Arctic Circle.

High again today were in the 30s and 40s well into Canada. Highs have been in the upper 30s in Edmonton, Alberta. That’s nearly 20 degrees above average!



Temps are colder as you move north, but you have to go all the way into northern reaches of Canada near the Arctic Circle to find temps in the single digits above and below zero. It is usually in the -20s and -30s by this time in December.

There is colder air in northern Russia, but the northern hemisphere 850 millibar chart shows a much smaller area of sub zero air than I can recall in years past.


Northern Hempisphere 850 millibar (5,000 feet above ground) map shows relatively little blue, or sub zero temps.

I wish I had a neat explanation as to why, but I don’t. For some reason there is a remarkable lack of seasonably cold air in the northern hemisphere this December.

40s again by Christmas Day?

We’ve talked about how Santa may need to bust out the sleigh with rollerblades this year, and now it looks like he may get by with the light jacket.

The latest indications are that another batch of mild Pacific air may spill over the northern Rockies just in time for Christmas Day and the 26th.

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High could reach the upper 30s to around 40 degrees again in the “snowless areas” of Minnesota.

What a wild year!


  • Randy in Champliln

    Paul, I have been looking at a couple of premium site’s, one of them is Joe Bastradi’s site. He keeps harping on the analog year of 1984-1985, when cold air came into the US Northwest and then spread south and east to effect us. Now I will give him credit that he is saying the cold may never get to us or the

    Eastern US. ( he is looking at the strato warming that took place in 84-85 in which the cold spread out).

    I am beginning to wonder if most US long tern forecasters should throw out analog years. Global warming??? I have no idea.

  • Paul Huttner

    Hi Randy:

    I tend to agree that something in the system may be overwhelming the “analog year” approach, if indeed it ever demonstrated a high degree of forecast skill.

    Winter ’84-’85 did start mild (Dec +2.4) then turned colder (Jan -3.5/Feb -1.2) and managed to deliver 72.7″ snowfall. Who knows?

    Personally I’m not a huge Bastardi fan. I recall a few years ago when he was terrorizing the east coast that this was “the year” for a direct hurricane hit! Needless to say it didn’t happen. I don’t know how you make a specific hurricane landfall forecast, even for a region, months in advance. Borders on irresponsible in my book.

    I do continue to see signs of what could be our first significant arctic outbreak around January 2nd – 3rd. Sub-zero temps and wind chills on January 3rd? We’ll see.


  • Allen

    “This is getting a little ridiculous.” – Paul H

    No-no, this isn’t perfect but I’ll take it over the “normal” winter anytime. It’s ridiculous to want that bone-cracking cold air. 😉 *SMIRK*