Clipped Again: Another 1″ to 2″+ by evening, respectable December cold wave


Another week and another series of Alberta Clippers is on the way. Today's system brings snow and frigid cold. The combination of the two means icy roads with very little snowfall. Road salt just can't cut it with temps in the single digits. Watch for icy roadways again today.

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Image: Twin Cities NWS

The snow moves down Interstate 94 this morning and hangs over eastern Minnesota through this afternoon. Evening rush hour will be slick from St. Cloud through the Twin Cities and Rochester. Snow will taper off from west to east early this evening.  An inch or two or arctic fluff type snow will be easy to remove, but icy underfoot and under your tires.

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Image: Twin Cities NWS

Today's clipper will be the first this week. Anther system brushes southern Minnesota and the Interstate 90 corridor New Year's Eve, but may slide far enough north to bring snow to the Twin Cities into early New Year's Day 2014. Here's the snowy meteogram for the Twin Cities from Iowa State.

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Image: Iowa State University

  • 11 days at or below zero so far in December at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport

  • 6 days at or below zero on average in December

  • 1 day at or below zero last December

  • 12 days at or below zero all of last winter

  • Another 10 days at or below zero in the first half of January?

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Tree popping cold

The inner urban core of the Twin Cities got off lucky this morning with temps bottoming out around -11 degrees. Believe it or not, it was not even our coldest morning of the year yet, we bottomed out at -13 degrees on Christmas Eve at MSP Airport. Small comfort, I know. Eden Prairie hit -14 and Lakeville plunged to a respectable -18 this morning. More Nordic numbers from the Twin Cities NWS.


632 AM CST MON DEC 30 2013



:ID         LOCATION            TEMP   TEMP     PCPN    FALL   DEPTH

DLH  : DULUTH                 :   7 / -21 /     0.00/   0.0/    17

INL  : INTERNATIONAL FALLS    :  -8 / -37 /       T /    T /    13

MSP  : MINNEAPOLIS MN         :  20 / -11 /     0.00/   0.0/     5

RST  : ROCHESTER MN           :  29 / -15 /     0.00/   0.0/     3

STC  : ST CLOUD MN            :  10 / -23 /     0.00/   0.0/     9:

AXN  : ALEXANDRIA MN          :  -1 /   M /

GNA  : GRAND MARAIS           :   4 / -16 /

HIB  : HIBBING                :   2 / -33 /

RWF  : REDWOOD FALLS MN       :   2 / -12 /

This kind of 'tree cracking' cold causes contraction in the wood in trees and your house. That's why you hear those 'pops' in the middle of the night when temps get this cold as the wood adjusts to temperature changes quickly, kind of like a mini earthquake.

Coldest morning so far up north

This morning was the coldest of the winter season so far in most of northern Minnesota. The good news? University of Minnesota forestry expert Lee Frelich tells me temps at -40 like those observed at at Embarrass this morning are actually good for the trees and forests of northern Minnesota. That level of cold kills many of the invasive pests like pine bark beetles that can feast on and weaken our northern forests. We might freeze, but the trees love -40!

Here are the frigid numbers on the coldest morning so far this year up north courtesy of the Duluth National Weather Service.

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Image: Duluth NWS

26th coldest December so far for the metro?

How disappointing! We might as well set records if it's going to be this cold right? So far this December's average temp is 13.6 degrees at MSP Airport. That's still a good 10 degrees warmer than the coldest December on record in 1983. Here's a look at the top 15 coldest Decembers on record form the Twin Cities NWS.

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Image: Twin Cities NWS

I vividly remember December 1983 when bank thermometers routinely flashed -25 in the metro just before Christmas. Standing outside in -25F pouring pitchers of hot water on my frozen car radiator hoses to get them flowing for a Christmas trip to Chicago?


Respectable, but not record December cold

The cold wave this month has been impressive but, not even close to record levels for much of Minnesota. Here are the numbers so far on the respectable, but not nearly record, cold for the Twin Cities.

Long Term Average December Temperatures

It's been a very cold December for most of the month. However' as you can clearly see from the long term averages, there have been many Decembers in the past much colder then our present month. As of Dec. 29, the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport ranks 26th on the all time list. This present listing will undoubtedly find itself higher on the table after the next few days of Arctic cold.

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Image: Twin Cities NWS

Cold hangs tough

Meanwhile our December cold wave hangs tough this week. Metro temps will tumble below zero most nights with -30 to -40 common up north. Milder air pushes north Friday into the weekend.

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Image: Weatherpsark