December heat wave: A shot at 50 degrees next week?

Take a good look at the snow cover outside your window today. You may be looking at bare ground by late next week.

All major models point to a dramatic pattern change by the middle of next week as Pacific breezes take hold and much milder air invades Minnesota from the west.

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A San Francisco-style warm front should push temps well into the 40s as soon as next Wednesday, and the early models are cranking out temps as warm as 50 degrees with rain showers by late next week in the Twin Cities and southern Minnesota.

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NOAA via IPS Meteostar

Bye bye snow cover

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A minor thaw on the way this weekend and the projected major warm surge well into the 40s next week mean snow cover may do a disappearing act around much of Minnesota. That could set the stage for near record warmth and temps in the low 50s.

Today's snow cover analysis from National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center shows many locations with 2 inches or fewer on the ground and some holes in snow cover across Minnesota. There's a vast expanse of bare ground to the south edging into southwest Minnesota. It won't take long to eat away at 2 inches of snow in the metro next week.

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All signs point to bare ground in much of Minnesota by around Dec. 15. It's too early to say if we'll get more snow before Christmas. Historical chances for a white Christmas are about 75 percent for the metro, and near 100 percent up north.

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Minnesota DNR

El Niño fingerprints?

ENSO tracker Aussie alert

As I've been posting in recent weeks, the long awaited El Niño shows definite signs of kicking in in the tropical Pacific.

Our likely December heat wave next week may be the result of atmospheric patterns linked to the developing El Niño. Warmer ocean temps in the tropical Pacific are beginning to "couple" with the atmospheric circulation patterns.

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The Australian Bureau of Meteorology's latest El Niño–Southern Oscillation update released overnight points out El Niño impacts are already emerging around the globe. Topical Pacific sea surface temperatures have already reached El Niño levels (+0.5C vs. average or higher) for a month now.

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Australian Bureau of Meteorology

The effects of a full blown El Niño favor milder than average temps across much of the U.S. in winter.

It appears we are on the verge of a major El Niño driven pattern shift to milder than average winter temps in Minnesota. That's good news for some, and not for others who appreciate winter weather and recreation in Minnesota.

When it comes to weather, there often is no good and bad weather. It all depends on your perspective.

Trends by next week will make milder winter weather fans happy, and leave snow enthusiasts pining for memories of last winter.