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Happy Thanksgiving! Warmth Quickly Turns To Cold For Black Friday In The Upper Midwest

22 Nov 2012, 8:00 am
Giving Thanks

Every day is a gift. And every day you can be with family (warts and all) is a special blessing. Food & football comes second. Right? I’m reading off a Teleprompter – so bear with me. You know what I’m trying to say.

I hope you successfully navigate today’s 2 to 4 inch accumulation of turkey, the mashed potato drifts, showers of hot gravy and slippery side plates brimming with cranberry sauce.

Enjoy it while you can – in fact take the day off. I’ll write you a note.

I’m done now.

May I please have a slice of pie?


Snow Potential. Snowy rumors are swirling in the media. “OMG – we may see some snow!” Breaking news: it probably won’t be a big deal, at least not in the metro area. A coating of flurries is possible this evening and tonight, maybe 1/2 to 1″ from St. Cloud to Brainerd, over 2″ from Duluth to Bemidji tonight. Map above: WSI RPM Model.






Numb And Number. Friday wind chills are forecast to drop into the teens across most of Minnesota with more clouds than sun; winds still gusting from 20-30 mph. Map: Ham Weather.




The Making Of The Hottest Year On Record: USA Temperature Update. Here’s an update on 2012, which will most likely go down into the record books at the warmest year of the last 115 across the nation. In fact there is a 90% probability 2012 will set a new record for warmth. 10 of the 11 warmest years have been observed since 2000. NOAA’s ClimateWatch has more: “…Now how does 2012 fit in? Well, 2012 has been warm, and the first driver of the extreme warmth was March. March was the warmest March on record by far, and this caused 2012 to leap out way ahead of the pack. We had the warmest spring on record, the warmest July on record, the third warmest summer on record. All of these together helped 2012 maintain a huge lead throughout the year. Average temperatures in October pulled 2012 back to the pack ever so slightly, but you can see that the year-to-date temperature not only remains well above average, it remains well above history. So we will most likely finish with the warmest year on record—and by a huge margin. Go to the CPC web page to see their outlook for yourself, and while you’re at it, check out all our climate records at the climate monitoring web site. Keeping the big picture in perspective is a big part of being “climate smart.”



Map above: NOAA NCDC. Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and the Dakotas are among 21 states on track to experience the warmest year in the last 115 years of record-keeping. Every state, except for Washington, has had a warmer than average year.



Thanksgiving Day Climatology In The Twin Cities. Here’s an excerpt of a good post from The Minnesota Climatology Working Group: “Because Thanksgiving Day occurs at the transition period between autumn and winter, Thanksgiving weather can be balmy to brutal. A typical Thanksgiving Day in the Twin Cities has high temperatures in the 30’s and at least a bit of filtered sunshine.
Having a mild day in the 50’s on Thanksgiving Day is relatively rare, looking at the historical record back to 1872. A maximum of 50 or more has happened only ten times in 140 years, or about once every 14 years or so. The warmest Thanksgiving Day is a tie of 62 degrees set in 1914 and 1922. The mildest recent Thanksgiving Day is 59 degrees on November 24, 2011. This was the fourth warmest Thanksgiving back to 1872 for the Twin Cities. 

On the other side of the spectrum, it is common to have a high temperature below 32. The average Thanksgiving Day temperature is right around freezing. What about extremely cold Thanksgivings? Looking at the past 140 years, It is a little more likely to have a minimum at or below zero on Thanksgiving Day, as it is to have a maximum of 50 or above. Below-zero lows have occurred twelve times in the past 140 years. The coldest Thanksgiving Day minimum temperature was 18 degrees below zero on November 25, 1880. The coldest high temperature was one below zero on November 28, 1872. The last time it was below zero on the morning of Thanksgiving was in 1985, with eight below zero. 

Measurable snow fell on 27 of the past Thanksgivings back to 1884, about every five years or so. The most snow that fell on Thanksgiving was five inches in 1970. The last time there was measurable snow on Thanksgiving was in 2007 with .2 (two tenths of an inch) of snow. Historically, about one in three Thanksgivings have at least one inch of snow on the ground. The deepest snow pack is a tie with 1921 and 1983, both with 10 inches on the ground by Turkey Day.”

Thanksgiving Day Weather: Remarkably Quiet. The predicted map for midday today looks like something out of late September or early October for much of the USA with temperatures 10-20 F. warmer than average. The only exception: Dakotas into the Red River Valley, where an advancing cold front will turn on gusty winds and a quick burst of light snow. Model guidance: WSI.

Giving Thanks. Enjoy it while you can – in fact take the day off. I’ll write you a note. It won’t get much better than today in the Twin Cities: blue sky, a light breeze, low 60s by early afternoon, a day that would feel right at home in late September. Clouds increase Thursday with a slight chance of a (rain) shower as colder air approaches, but the morning hours should still be quite nice. Friday will feel like December, as wind chills dip into the teens at times. One silver lining: no accumulating snow or ice in sight – no problems getting home by land or air this weekend. Chilly weather spills over into next week, but I still don’t see anything remotely resembling a storm, looking out 1-2 weeks. When in a drought, don’t predict rain…or snow. Enjoy today’s weather bliss – by Friday there will be NO doubt in your mind that December is right around the corner.

Drought Shows Little Sign Of Easing. Worried about plants, trees and shrubs with our ongoing drought? Here is some good information from The Garden City Telegram: “…spruce trees in particular have been hard hit by the dry weather that has plagued Kansas for most of the past year, Upham said. New plantings and new trees are the most are the most vulnerable to these dry conditions, he said, because their root systems haven’t had a chance to extend deep into the ground. For trees to benefit most from watering, he said, the soil must be soaked as much as a foot below the surface. “The rooting hairs that actually take in water close to the surface have gone dormant,” Upham said. “You need to get that (water) down to where there are live feeder roots that can pick it up.”

* the latest NOAA U.S. Drought Monitor is here.

How Does The Jet Stream Work? The U.K. Met Office has an informative YouTube clip focused on explaining the how’s and why’s of the ubiquitous jet stream steering currents aloft: “What is the jet stream? How does the jet stream affect our weather in the UK? This animation explains how the jet stream works.”

Shifting Gear. NOAA’s NAM model is consistent, pulling a burst of numbing air south of the border today, pushing from the Dakotas into Minnesota by afternoon, sparking a band of rain showers (tomorrow) from Cleveland to Memphis. Heavier, steadier rain pushes into Seattle and Portland tomorrow, while dry weather persists over most of the south.

Drought Conditions Threaten Mississippi River Transport. There just isn’t enough water in the Mighty Mississippi, the result of one of the worst droughts since the 1930s. Details from The Epoch Times: “Persistent drought conditions in the upper Midwest are threatening the nation’s waterways, with the mighty Mississippi River so low that barge traffic has been affected and may be forced to halt. Over 90 barges have been either stranded or grounded due to low water in recent weeks, according to the Waterways Council Inc. (WCI), a public policy organization representing shippers and ports. Low water levels are also likely to increase due to continuing dry conditions, compounded by the actions of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who have orders to reduce water flow from the Missouri River into the Mississippi…”

Photo credit above: “A Coast Guard boat patrols in the foreground as a barge makes its way down the Mississippi River Friday, Nov. 16, 2012, in St. Louis. A top Corps of Engineers official has ordered the release of water from an upper Mississippi River reservoir in an effort to avoid closure of the river at St. Louis to barge traffic due to low water levels caused by drought.” (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Can We Engineer Storm-Proof Metropolitan Areas? Will we go the way of the Dutch, building huge seawalls, dikes and levees to keep the sea out? Huffington Post has a very interesting story focused on possible ways to mitigate the next (inevitable) storm surge; here’s an excerpt: “…Next time the damage done in dollars and in lives could be far worse. At its peak, Sandy was only a Category 1 storm. Its winds never went above 90 miles per hour near New York. Were something like a Category 4 storm, with winds of 131 to 155 miles per hour, to make landfall near the city, the devastation would be awful. Many more would die. Houses would be toppled over by sheer windforce, subway tunnels could be flooded for months instead of a week, and the economic capital of the United States could be paralyzed. The city would incur $500 billion worth of damage, according to a 2006 analysis by the Department of Homeland Security. As the climate continues to change, the damage could be even worse. According to a 2007 report by Risk Management Solutions and the University of Southampton, by 2070 the New York area will have 2.9 million people and $2.1 trillion in assets exposed to coastal flooding...”



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Welcome to the WeatherNation blog. Every day I sift through hundreds of stories, maps, graphics and meteorological web sites, trying to capture some of the most interesting weather nuggets, the stories behind the forecast. I’ll link to stories and share some of the web sites I use. I’m still passionate about the weather, have been ever since Tropical Storm Agnes flooded my home in Lancaster, PA in 1972. I’ve started 5 weather-related companies. “EarthWatch” created the world’s first 3-D weather graphics for TV stations – Steven Spielberg used our software in “Jurassic Park” and “Twister”. My last company, “Digital Cyclone”, personalized weather for cell phones. “My-Cast” was launched in 2001 and is still going strong on iPhone, Android and Blackberry. I sold DCI to Garmin in 2007 so I could focus on my latest venture: WeatherNation. I also write a daily weather column for The Star Tribune And if you’re on Twitter, you’ll find me @pdouglasweather

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