Happy winter solstice; Santa may need “Rain-deer”

Happy winter solstice 2016!

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Welcome to the shortest day and longest night of the year in Minnesota.

timeanddate.com

Growing daylight

Daylight grows ever so slowly starting Wednesday in the northern hemisphere. Minnesota gains nearly an hour of daylight in the next month. We add nearly 7 hours of daylight by the summer solstice on Tuesday, June 20, 2017 at 11:24 pm CDT.

timeanddate.com

Warmest day in 2 weeks

The Twin Cities topped out at 37 degrees Tuesday. That’s the first time we’ve cracked freezing and the warmest day in two weeks since we hit 38 degrees on December 6th.

Lake Woebgon forecast: Above average

Temps continue to run warmer than average this week, and probably for the rest of December. A bubble of mild air centers on the Upper Midwest this week, and the Arctic and North Pole remain up to 30 degrees warmer than average. There’s not a lot of cold air to reload and send south just yet.

Climate Reanalyzer

Temps run about 5 to 10 degrees warmer than average the next two weeks. Peak warmth arrives Christmas night into Monday the 26th when temps spike into the 40s. That should change snow to rain with our Christmas storm.

Custom Weather

Rainy Christmas

The latest storm tracks still favor a ‘western solution’ for our Christmas low pressure storm. That means snow and ice transition to mostly rain for the Twin Cities and most of central and eastern Minnesota.

Here’s NOAA’s GFS.

NOAA GFS model weekend forecast via tropicaltidbits

The latest Euro run still favors snow to a wintry mix, changing to rain Christmas night in the Twin Cities.

Norwegian Met Institute

1″+ precipitation totals?

Our Christmas system looks wet. Many locations could pick up close to an inch of liquid, mostly as rain.

Iowa State University

Heavy snow in northwest Minnesota

NOAA’s GFS solution would limit heavy snow to northwest Minnesota and the Red River Valley. But it could be a big pile there, with 1 to 2 feet of accumulation.

NOAA GFS snowfall via tropicaltidbits.com

Difficult travel up north

Northern Minnesota could be very difficult for travel Christmas Day with a messy wintry mix of ice, snow and even rain.

Bottom Line: Christmas Eve still looks good for holiday travel. Christmas Day looks like a mess, with a wintry mix changing to rain. Stay tuned as the models tweak the forecast track and precip types over the next 72 hours.

Deparment of Energy

Clean energy boom continues

Looking for some good news these days? The clean energy revolution train has left the station and is gaining speed.

Deparment of Energy

Chris Mooney from the Washington Post highlights a Department of Energy report that shows just how quickly renewables are growing across the USA.

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As the Obama administration prepares to leave office, it is seeking to underscore just how much has changed in the last eight years in the way we get energy — and to take some credit for it.

Since 2008, costs for wind and solar have plunged by 40 and 60 percent, respectively, according to an analysis provided by the Energy Department. That’s even as the United States has installed 100 gigawatts, or billion watts, of generating capacity in the two technologies combined (75 gigawatts of wind, 25 of solar).

Meanwhile, we now have 500,000 electric vehicles on the road, thanks largely to a 70 percent drop in battery costs. The federal government can’t take credit for all of this (industry invested too, states also promoted renewable energy, and so on), but it helped drive much of it through research investments over decades, said David Friedman, the Energy Department’s acting assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy.

“The Department of Energy has really changed the world when it comes to energy, and that’s part of a global competition that’s underway,” said Friedman. He spoke to the Post to preview remarks he planned to deliver Monday in Chicago at an event being put on by the Clean Energy Trust, the Chicago Council of Global Affairs, and Business Forward.

“Electric vehicles, we can take very I think direct credit for the lithium ion battery of today,” Friedman added. “That core chemistry…was developed and improved at Argonne National Labs through DOE funding.”

Deparment of Energy