Wednesday, December 11, 2013 4:54 AM
Prepared by Bob Weisman
Professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
Saint Cloud State University
Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Department
Saint Cloud and Vicinity Forecast
Another "Cool Night" Or Two Then Some Moderation
Wind Chill Warning Continues Until Noon (Through Tomorrow Morning From St. Cloud East)
We did have a few flurries late yesterday afternoon, but skies have cleared out once again over most of Minnesota (see infrared loop on College
of DuPage Satellite and Radar Menu). This has allowed temperatures to drop back into the minus teens from St. Cloud northward (see UCAR
Minnesota surface chart loop) with a few minus 20s in Park Rapids, Fosston, and Hallock. Since we are still along the northeastern edge of the arctic high pressure system over Montana (see NWS
HPC Latest North American zoom-in surface map), the winds continue to stir at 5-15 MPH across Minnesota. Those winds are producing wind chills in the minus 30s to minus 40s between Brainerd and Bemidji and mostly in the -35 to -25 range across central Minnesota (see NWS
Minnesota Hourly Weather Round-Up). Again, frostbite becomes a problem after 30 minutes with -25 wind chills and in 10 minutes with -35 wind chills(see NWS
wind chill chart). The temperature will likely continue to drop through 8 or 9 AM and the bitter wind chills won't climb above -25 most likely until late this morning. So, the wind chill warning continues for central Minnesota, pretty much north of a Morris-Paynesville-St. Cloud-Pine City line. The warning is in effect until noon because conditions won't get much better this morning, so "two hours late" probably won't help much.
Note the contents of the cold weather survival kit from NWS Sioux Falls (scroll to bottom).
As the high moves closer to us today, the winds will tend to lighten up in west central and central Minnesota, blowing at around 5 MPH. However, from the Mississippi River eastward and northeastward, northwest winds will continue at 5-15 MPH. That means that wind chills even in the afternoon will stay around -30 to -25 as temperatures likely get no higher than the minus single digits. That's why the National Weather Service has extended the wind chill warning for Benton, Sherburne, and Morrison Counties and points east all the way through today and tonight until 6 AM tomorrow morning. The wind chills will pick up again tonight as a southwest wind tries to blow milder air into central Minnesota. That will likely keep lows between -10 and -5 during the evening, then allow temperatures to climb to near zero late at night. However, that will still allow wind chills to stay in the minus 20s for a chunk of the night. To the west of St. Cloud, we will likely see another wind chill advisory tonight.
Pathetic Warm-Up With Occasional Light Snow Thursday into Saturday
Around all of this wind chill news, we will see some moderation in temperatures, beginning late tonight as readings climb thanks to clouds and the southwest wind. Still, we'll have to settle for highs in the lower teens Thursday through Saturday, which is only 10 degrees colder than the mid-December temperatures rather than the current 25 degrees, which would be cold even for January. The not-as-ridiculously cold air will fortunately come with relatively little wind, except on Friday, and a lot of clouds. We might be able to see some light accumulation of snow, similar to what we saw on Sunday and Monday nights, with the best chance on Friday. That's when the next strong Southern Plains storm will be developing in Kansas, then head out into the Ohio Valley (see NWS HPC 0-7 day forecast map loop). There is the possibility of more unwelcome snow from Missouri into Illinois and Indiana, although the heaviest amounts will be a bit to north of where they were from last weekend's storm. Unfortunately, southern Missouri and neighboring parts of Arkansas could see another ice storm from this system. Snow will likely spread into the Ohio Valley and the Northeast over the weekend.
While the storm to our south responds to a strong weather system coming out of the Southwest (see water vapor loop on College
of DuPage Satellite and Radar Menu), Minnesota will be under the influence of a weaker northern system. That storm has the best chance of producing some light accumulating snow over us from late Thursday night into Friday evening. However, with such cold air in our area, the worst potential would be between a dusting and 2 inches, as long as the stronger southern storm stays to our south.
Colder Second Half of Weekend But (Maybe) Not As Cold As Now(??)
The weekend outlook in my earlier forecasts had a shot of air nearly as cold as what we have now, meaning we'd battle wind chills and sub-zero temperatures once again. The new computer runs from last night keep more of the icy air in Ontario and brushing northern Minnesota. What I am seeing now would "only" produce highs in the plus single digits to near 10 Saturday and Sunday, rather than having them struggling to top zero. It is a bit of a change, and any future adjustment back southward will knock the ice box temperatures back down again. So, I am cautiously raising temperatures on Sunday, for now. It looks like we could see a bit of moderation early next week, but it's hard to find anything warmer than highs in the teens through next Tuesday. There just is no sign that we are using up all of the arctic air in Alaska and the Yukon because new batches of cold air (reds and yellows on the Unisys 10-day 850 mb GFS forecast) keep coming ashore from the Arctic Ocean. As long as this keeps up, I will continue hear comments of the "winter of our discontent."
Besides the potential late week storm from the Southern Plains into the Northeast, the main area of snow will be along the downwind shores of all of the Great Lakes. As of yesterday morning, places like Houghton, Copper Harbor, and Hancock on the Keewinaw Peninsula of Upper Michigan had seen 8-12 inches of snow. Lake effect snow warnings are out for the eastern Upper Peninsula and the eastern shores of Lakes Erie, and Ontario. Some areas could end up with 2 feet of new snow by Friday evening.
Cold Facts About Cold
As if you didn't know, the first 10 days of December have produced an average temperature of 8.2°F in St. Cloud. That is 11 degrees colder than the December average. However, even if this cold lasted all month, this December would not be cold enough to crack St. Cloud's 10 coldest Decembers. Readings would have to average another degree colder to do it and get much colder to approach December 2000 with an average of 3.8°F. In that December, there were three days with a high colder than zero and 20 days with a low below zero, including two mornings with lows in the minus 20's.
So far this December, we've had two full days below zero (4 days on average for entire winter), 7 straight days with a low below zero, including this morning (average: 43 days all winter), and no days with a low of at least -20 (average: 5 days per cold season; none since Feb. 10, 2011). The 7 straight days are signficant, so we will likely equal the 8-day streak last winter (Jan. 19-26), but temperatures are likely to stay above zero all day Friday, so we won't get to 10 straight days with lows below zero on Feb. 1-10, 2007, 13 straight days on Feb. 4-16, 2003 (after an 11-day streak in January that year), and 20 straight days in 1996 (January 18-Feb. 6).
See Forecast Below
Wind Chill Warning Continues From St. Cloud West Through Wednesday Noon
Wind Chill Warning Extended from Benton, Sherburne Counties, and Little Falls Eastward Through 6 AM Thursday
Wednesday 12/11: Useless sunshine with some afternoon clouds, still a bitter breeze, and continued ridiculously cold. Temperatures falling to between -15 and -10 by 8-9 AM, then only recovering to between -5 and 0 this afternoon. Winds: W 5-10 MPH. Wind chill: between -35 and -25 in the morning, between -30 and -18 in the afternoon. Chance of measurable snowfall: 0%
Wednesday Night: Clouding up with a chance of light snow or flurries late at night. Not quite as outrageously cold. Low: between -8 and -3 evening, rising above zero by morning. Winds: SW 5 MPH. Some spotty wind chills: between -30 and -20. Chance of measurable snowfall: 30%.
Thursday 12/12: Cloudy with occasional flurries or light snow and not nearly as cold. Between a dusting and an inch of new snow could accumulate between midnight and 6 PM Thursday. High: between 12 and 16. Winds: SW 5 MPH. Chance of measurable snowfall: 30%
Thursday Night: Cloudy with occasional flurries and not as cold. Temperatures holding between 7 and 12. Winds: NE 5-15 MPH. Chance of measurable snowfall: 20%.
Friday 12/13: Cloudy with a better chance of occasional light snow or flurries. Blowing snow problems in open areas. Another dusting to 2 inches could accumulate by evening. Not quite as stupendously cold. High: between 10 and 15. Winds: NE 8-15 MPH. Chance of measurable snowfall: 50%
Friday Night: Partly to mostly cloudy with occasional flurries and a bit colder. Low: near zero. Winds: NE 5-12 MPH. Wind chills: in the minus teens. Chance of measurable snowfall: 20%.
End of "Reasonable" Forecast Certainty
Saturday 12/14: Mostly cloudy and colder again with flurries or a little light snow. High: between 8 and 12. Winds: light NE, shifiting to SW late. Chance of measurable snowfall: 20%
For Entertainment Purposes Only.
Saturday Night: Clearing and colder. Low: between -8 and -3. Winds: NW 5-10 MPH. Wind chill: in the minus teens. Chance of measurable snowfall: 10%.
Sunday 12/15: Sunny and colder, but not quite as frigid as during the week. Highs: between 4 and 8. Winds: light NE. hance of measurable snowfall: 10%
Monday 12/16: Partly to mostly cloudy with a chance of flurries or light snow?. Highs: in the teens. Low: in minus single digits. Chance of measurable snowfall: 20%
Forecast Confidence (10 - "Know what gas will
cost next week, Bob?"; 0 - "Been a victim of road rage lately, Bob?"): 8 Wednesday and Wednesday night, 7 Thursday and Thursday night, 6 Friday and Friday night, 5 Saturday, 3 Saturday night through Monday.
Yesterday's High: 7°F; Overnight Low (through 4 AM): -8°F
St. Cloud 24-Hour Precipitation (Through 4 AM): Trace; SCSU Precipitation (Through 4 AM): Trace
Normal Temperatures for December 11 - High: 26°F;
Next Update: Thursday, December 12 8:00 AM
Let me know what you think about this forecast and discussion by emailing SCSU
meteorology professor Bob Weisman. Please note that I make the forecast, not the weather!
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go to the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Department home page.