Indian Summer this weekend; Record warm Thanksgiving week?

40 degrees average high temp at MSP this weekend

54F Weather Lab actual high temp in the metro Saturday

60F forecast for Sunday in the metro

+15 to +20 degrees vs. average this weekend

Indian Summer: “Official” AMS Glossary of Meteorology definition:

Indian summer–A period, in mid- or late autumn, of abnormally warm weather, generally clear skies, sunny but hazy days, and cool nights.

59F record high for next Thursday November 22nd

62F Warmest Thanksgiving Day on record (1914 & 1922)

65F Current thinking on high temp Wednesday, slightly cooler Thanksgiving Day?

Unprecedented speed from tornadoes to snow last weekend according to MPR’s & UM’s Dr. Mark Seeley – see below

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Indian Summer part II:

“Hey Paul, will it be warm enough for me to get the last of my leaves up this weekend?”

“Yes it will Dave, we should see at least 50 degrees.” I told my pharmacist this week.

You never know in weather, but it looks like I’ll be able to make good on my forecast to a really good guy this weekend.

The right recipe for another spell of Indian Summer is here.

-Sunshine? Check.

-Unseasonably mild air mass and southerly winds? Got it.

-Bare, snow free landscape all the way south to the Gulf of Mexico to convert the sun’s energy into heating the air mass near the ground. Roger that.

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Source: NOAA

This weekend will meet the AMS “official” (and common sense) definition for “Indian Summer” with temps running 15 to 20 degrees above average.

Before you write me a nastygram about using the term, “Indian Summer” is the long accepted AMS and North American regional term for these unusual warm spells.

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It’s derived from early western settlers observations that the Native Americans used these mild spells of weather in fall to gather extra stores for the coming winter. Hardly a negative connotation in any way.

In 25 years of using that term, I have never heard from one Native American person or tribe that it is a problem for them. I think everyone gets what it means. While the word “Indian” may have other negative connotations or usage, this is not one of them. I consider the term an honoring of the astute weather observation skills of Native American tribes. If you want to change it’s usage, you may want to take it up with the AMS.

“Native American” Summer? Hmmm.

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Mild trend continues: Record warm Thanksgiving?

Next week we are reminded that “gratitude is the attitude” for so much we have been given in this life. I am amazed nearly every day of all the gifts I have been given. I am blessed to work in the most amazing, challenging and creative profession I can imagine. I work with top professionals at one of the premiere broadcast organizations in the world. I share time with an amazing family and group of friends and neighbors. I live in a State that I consider to be the best State, in the greatest Country, on earth. I am truly blessed and grateful.

One of the best things I have ever read on gratitude is penned by Amber Huttner, my better half. Actually she’s my better three-quarters, at least. Amber is an advanced yoga teacher and runs her own studio here in Deephaven. Check out her take on gratitude here.

I have heard from some of you that are grateful for the near record warmth leading up to and through Thanksgiving this year. In the amazingly anomalous weather year that is 2012, it appears we’re in for another stretch of record setting warmth.

60s look likely Wednesday leading up to Thanksgving, but a cool front may sneak through on Thanksgiving Day.

Saturday & Sunday next weekend look colder with highs back into the 30s.

Even some of nature’s critters seem to be a bit confused about the seasons lately.

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Image: Father Paul Kammen

Heres’ a great summary of Thanksgiving Day climatology from the MN Climate Working Group.

Thanksgiving Day Climatology in the Twin Cities: 1891-2011

Because Thanksgiving Day occurs at the transition period between autumn and winter, Thanksgiving weather can be balmy to brutal. A typical Thanksgiving Day in the Twin Cities has high temperatures in the 30’s and at least a bit of filtered sunshine.

Having a mild day in the 50’s on Thanksgiving Day is relatively rare, looking at the historical record back to 1891. A maximum of 50 or more has happened only ten times in 121 years, or about once every 13 years or so. The warmest Thanksgiving Day is a tie of 62 degrees set in 1914 and 1922. The mildest recent Thanksgiving Day is 59 degrees on November 24, 2011. This was the fourth warmest Thanksgiving back to 1891 for the Twin Cities.

On the other side of the spectrum, it is common to have a high temperature below 32. The average Thanksgiving Day temperature is right around freezing. What about extremely cold Thanksgivings? It is about as likely to have a minimum at or below zero on Thanksgiving Day, as it is to have a maximum of 50 or above. It has occurred eight times in the past 121 years. The coldest Thanksgiving Day temperature is eight degrees below zero. This has happened three times, 1893, 1905 and 1985.

Measurable snow fell on 25 of the past Thanksgivings back to 1891, about every five years or so. The most snow that fell on Thanksgiving was five inches in 1970.

Historically, about one in three Thanksgivings have at least one inch of snow on the ground. The deepest snow pack is a tie with 1921 and 1983, both with 10 inches on the ground by Turkey Day.

It occasionally rains on Thanksgiving Day as well. In 1896, a two-day event in the Twin Cities doused Thanksgiving travelers with nearly three inches of rain.

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Weather Whiplash: Fastest from tornadoes to snow in Minnesota last weekend?

As if the remarkably unseasonable weather events from last weekend weren’t enough, it appears they occurred with record speed.

According to my MPR colleague Dr. Mark Seeley, the rapid transition between Saturday night’s tornadoes and Monday morning’s snow event may have been the quickest on record.

Here’s more from Mark’s weekly “Weather Talk” post.

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MPR listener question: Was the interval between the Twin Cities tornado reports of Saturday night (Nov 10) and the measurement of subsequent snowfall in the area a record short one? Has this ever happened before?

Answer: The tornadoes occurred on Saturday night (Nov 10) near 11:00 pm, with a temperature of about 66 degrees F and a dewpoint of 55 degrees F. A little more than 12 hours later (11:40 am Sunday, Nov 11) the temperature was 30 degrees F with a dewpoint of 27 degrees F and a trace of snow was being reported. In another 24 hours 0.2 inches of snow was reported and the high and low temperature were 27 degrees F and 19 degrees F, respectively.

Scanning the climate records for the Twin Cities I can find nothing analogous to this rapid shift from tornado occurrence to snowfall.

The closest analogy for the Twin Cities is from November 16, 1931 when a tornado occurred near Maple Plain, and two days later the observer there reported a trace of snow. Elsewhere there are only two similar stories: On March 21, 1953 a tornado was reported near St Cloud, MN, and two days later on the 23rd St Cloud reported a low of 21 degree F with a trace of snow; and March 18, 1968 a tornado was reported near the Watonwan and Martin County border, followed three days later on the 21st by a trace of snowfall in the area.

I have given a number of talks this year telling various groups of Minnesotans to “Expect the Unprecedented” when it comes to our changing climate.

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Now I can add one more to the growing list of “unprecedented” Minnesota weather events in 2012.

Have a great weekend!


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