December Dandelions? Dissecting snow “opportunities” ahead

December dandelions spotted in St. Paul

Okay, this is just bizarre. Thanks (I think) to John Pearson for sending along this rare…no unprecedented photo of a…dandelion in St. Paul on Monday December 3rd.

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Image: John Pearson

I knew these little yellow buggers were tough, but this is unreal. If you can capture evidence of our changing climate in a picture, “December Dandelions” might take the door prize.

45F high temp at MSP Airport Tuesday (at 12:30am!)

33F “daytime” high at MSP Tuesday afternoon

20F in the metro core Wednesday AM

Teens in the suburbs and most of southern Minnesota

14.2% of Upper Midwest now covered with snow

49.5% snow covered on this date in 2011

Thin Ice – Ice safety info below

Light snow chances increase by Friday

Model confusion Models differ on snow chances next few days

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Brisk start Wednesday:

We’re waking up to real winter in Minnesota Wednesday AM.

Temps in the single digits north….to teens south are close to average for December 5th.

The chill won’t last too long, as winds again turn southerly by Wednesday afternoon.

Temps should recover into the mid to upper 30s south as somewhat milder air surges north.


Image: Wikipedia

“Chaotic” weather pattern evolving:

The next few days will feature a series of weak to moderate weather disturbances passing over the Upper Midwest.

The first one rides in Wednesday night with a chance for some mixed precip…rain, freezing rain or light snow is possible depending on exact temps in the lowest 5,000 feet above ground, which will hover near freezing.

As for snow, there appears to be 2 main “opportunities” in the next 5 days.

1) Friday’s (sneaky) passing wave appears to have the potential to produce 1″ to 2″ of snow over central and southern Minnesota.

2) I’m still watching a potentially strong storm trending south of Minnesota Sunday. That system may dump heavy snow in parts of Iowa and Wisconsin, and may graze southern Minnesota wither potentially lighter snow.

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Image: Iowa State University

Models in the “Land of Confusion”:

We’re used to having forecast model differences with approaching snow systems, but this week the models are more confused than usual. To say there’s not a “high degree of confidence” in the forecast scenario the next few days would be accurate.

This time of year, models are dealing with a lot of “stress” in the form of rapid upper air flow changes. A the upper air pattern transitions to the “cold season” more rapid changes in jet streams and weather systems make it harder for models to keep track.

Small errors in “initialization” grow quickly over time, and this provides radically different solutions on various models.

Still, I’m seeing more unusual model differences than I can recall lately. The usually reliable European Model seems a little lost, the accurate shorter term “NAM’ seems out to lunch. And if the often questionable GFS becomes the “reliable” one, we may be in big trouble.

Bottom line? There are big differences in how the 3-4 major models we look at lay things out the next few days. I don’t completely trust any of the model soultions I’m seeing over the next few days. I dont think any model has nailed it yet.

Keep a close eye on changing forecasts as we try and pinpoint snow chances.

December Thaw: Minnesota’s snow cover takes a hit

Our run of unseasonably warm weather to open December has driven snow cover back north, nearly into Canada.

After a strong start to the snow season up north, just a trace of snow remains at International Falls, none at Duluth and 2″ at Lake Kabetogema in the far north. Some 4″+ totals remain in the BWCA and deep woods north of Grand Marais.

Here’s Tuesday’s snow depth analysis from NORHSC.

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Ice Safety Season:

Our colder nights are making some ice now, but much of it is still unsafe in the Minnesota.

Heres’ some good info from the Minnesota DNR on ice safety.

When is ice safe?

There really is no sure answer. You can’t judge the strength of ice just by its appearance, age, thickness, temperature, or whether or not the ice is covered with snow. Strength is based on all these factors — plus the depth of water under the ice, size of the water body, water chemistry and currents, the distribution of the load on the ice, and local climatic conditions.

There is no such thing as 100 percent safe ice.

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Stay safe!


  • Disco

    I think that dandelion is as much evidence of climate change as it is a very tough summer for lawns. In other words, while it is surprising to see one in December, I can believe it considering the summer we had.

    It seems they’re usually gone by mid-May, but they really stuck around this year due to the stressed grasses.

  • Marisa

    I saw a blooming dandelion just the other day, myself! (In Cambridge, no less).