Clammy Minnesota; firestorm torches Gatlinburg, TN

We’ve been spoiled. This November has been one of the sunniest in recent memory.

But November is Minnesota’s cloudiest month of the year on average. The sun shines just 39 percent of the time this month on average. It’s fitting then that a massive, continent-sized low-pressure storm would park overhead as we close out the grayest month of the year in Minnesota.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, via College of DuPage

Stalled low pressure continues to swirl over Minnesota today. The low is gradually filling, and has only a few more rain and snow showers to deliver.

NOAA Global Forecast System model, via

Most of the weather drama for Minnesota with this system is over.

North Dakota snows

The colder backside of this system continues to dump snow in North Dakota. Winter storm warnings continue where 1 to 2 feet of snow piles up along the Missouri River.

Cooler but quiet this week

Minnesota’s Monday weather drama is over. The rest of the week delivers more typical late November weather fare. Gray. Chilly. Damp. November.

Twin Cities National Weather Service

December chill ahead

I keep looking at the maps thinking this is the last warm spell. Maybe the next one will stick. December, and meteorological winter arrives in around 36 hours. How did that happen exactly? A buckle in the upper air flow finally drives colder air south into Minnesota next week.


Bitterly cold air is finally working from Siberia into Alaska where temps will push -50 degrees. A chunk of that air mass slides southeast toward Minnesota next week.

Temperatures across the Upper Midwest plunge to more typical December levels as the cold front pushes in next week. This will be the season’s coldest air mass to date.

NOAA GFS model 2-meter temps, via

Temperatures hover in the teens and 20s much of next week in the Twin Cities.

NOAA GFS data, via IPS Meteostar

Winter finally arrives, but later than average. A three-month winter this year?

Gatlinburg firestorm

I’m even more grateful for the rain and cooler weather after watching events unfold in the Great Smoky Mountains. The massive southeast United States drought erupted into dozens of wildfires over the past few weeks.

U.S. Drought Monitor

Overnight flames swept through the popular tourist town of Gatlinburg, Tenn. Reports remain sketchy, but anywhere from dozens to 100 homes and other structures appear to have been torched by fast moving flames.

The smoke plume form the fire near Gatlinburg was visible on Doppler last night as rain moved in from the west. I captured this loop from the Knoxville, Tenn., Doppler.

Weather Underground

Some scenes from Gatlinburg are nothing short of apocalyptic.

Nashville Public Radio has this update.

About 14,000 people were evacuated from Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge overnight. Lines of fire trucks from around the state poured into Sevier County. Early reports from crews on the ground say that hundreds of structures may be lost.

Incredible video from Gatlinburg this morning shows an orange glow over the resort town as cabins and chalets are up in flames.

The fires continue to rage, says Tennessee Emergency Management Agency spokesman Dean Flener.

“It’s still a wildfire fighting effort,” he says. “The rain that we got last night was just not enough to put anything out, and so there are fires still burning. And with the windy conditions expected today, it gives the fires likely a chance to spread.”

The Chimney Tops mountain fire grew quickly late Monday, as winds ahead of a line of storms whipped up the flames. As of Tuesday morning, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency tallied 100 homes burned in Sevier County. At least 30 structures are burned in Gatlinburg, including a 16-story hotel and an apartment complex.

We’re pulling for positive outcomes for those trapped in the fire zone.