Long range forecast for December 2020, and a look at past December snowfall totals and average temps at Duluth, Minnesota (2000-2019)

-The forecast for December 2020 calls for above normal temps and below normal precipitation across northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin.

-The latest CFS outlook for December shows average monthly temperatures finishing around 4 to 5 degrees C above normal across the Northland, so although the month overall is expected to feature above normal temps, there could still be occasional cold snaps mixed in throughout the month, but the cold air wouldn’t stick around for very long.

-On average, there are 9 days in December where the minimum temperature is <0 degrees at Duluth, Minnesota. Will see how many subzero nights we get in Duluth this December, but the way it looks now I think will have fewer than 9 subzero nights in December 2020.

Can Green Bay play Chicago every Sunday? What a game last night! Chicago is horrible! Ok back to the weather…..

As for precip/snowfall…Looks like will have less snow compared to normal across the Northland in December 2020, this doesn’t mean we won’t get hit by a storm or two, but odds favor below average snowfall for the month, and the forecast at least through most of next week looks fairly dry across the Northland, but slightly more active weather is possible beginning around mid-December.

Source: https://www.tropicaltidbits.com/

December snowfall totals at Duluth, Minnesota

Period: 2000-2019

Note: Normal snowfall in December is 17.7″

*=A top 10 snowiest December on record

2000: 19.2″
2001: 7.3″
2002: 3.4″
2003: 8.4″
2004: 17.3″
*2005: 34.5″
2006: 10.1″
*2007: 35.4″
*2008: 37.1″
*2009: 33.4″
2010: 18.1″
2011: 8.1″
2012: 13.2″
*2013: 39.9″
2014: 8.6″
2015: 24.6″
2016: 21.3″
2017: 13.4″
2018: 19.8″
2019: 27.7″

Note: Snowfall records for Duluth date back to 1884.

December 2013 was the 3rd snowiest December on record.
December 2008 was the 6th snowiest December on record.
December 2007 was the 7th snowiest December on record.
December 2005 was the 8th snowiest December on record.
December 2009 was the 9th snowiest December on record.

Average monthly temperatures for December at Duluth, Minnesota

Period: 2000-2019

Average temperature for December is 14.8 degrees

*=A top 10 coldest December on record

**=A top 10 warmest December on record

*2000: 4.4 degrees
2001: 22.2 degrees
2002: 20.1 degrees
2003: 20.5 degrees
2004: 14.0 degrees
2005: 17.7 degrees
2006: 23.8 degrees
2007: 13.4 degrees
2008: 7.0 degrees
2009: 12.4 degrees
2010: 12.8 degrees
2011: 21.7 degrees
2012: 18.4 degrees
*2013: 4.6 degrees
2014: 21.5 degrees
**2015: 26.4 degrees
2016: 15.9 degrees
2017: 10.5 degrees
2018: 21.6 degrees
2019: 17.4 degrees

Note: Temperature records for Duluth date back to 1874.

December 2000 tied for 5th coldest December on record.
December 2013 was the 7th coldest December on record.

December 2015 was the 5th warmest December on record.
December climate normals and records at Duluth, Minnesota

Normal high on the 1st: 27 degrees
Normal high on the 31st: 19 degrees

Normal low on the 1st: 14 degrees
Normal low on the 31st: 3 degrees

11 days with at least 0.1″ snowfall
4 days with at least 1.0″ snowfall

9 days with a minimum temperature <0 degrees

Records for December

Warmest: 32.7 degrees set in 1877
Coldest: 1.8 degrees set in 1983

Snowiest: 44.3″ set in 1950
Least snowiest: 0.9″ set in 1905

Wettest: 3.89″ set in 1879
Driest: 0.07″ set in 1905

Astronomical Data for December

Sunrise on the 1st: 7:34 AM CST
Sunrise on the 31st: 7:53 AM CST

Sunset on the 1st: 4:22 PM CST
Sunset on the 31st: 4:30 PM CST

Note: Winter Solstice or the official start to winter is on Monday, December 21 at 4:02 AM in Duluth.

The unofficial start to winter or meteorological winter is on December 1.

Thanks for reading!


Dry week ahead; cool start to the week, warming up late in the week (40s?)

  • A generally quiet weather pattern continues across the Northland this week and probably into next week as well, although there are some signs showing up in model guidance that the pattern will start to turn a little more active around here starting around mid-December, but that is still a ways down the road, and whether or not mother nature flips the switch remains to be seen.
  • Temperatures across northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin will be a little cooler the next few days, but really just closer to normal for this time of the year. Note: Normal highs this week are generally in the mid to upper 20s, with normal lows in the single digits and teens.
  • Milder temps look to return mid to late week, with highs in the 30s, and maybe even some 40s possible by next weekend (December 4-6 time frame)

It’s been a windy Sunday across the Northland, with a Wind Advisory in effect until 6 PM this Sunday evening for southern Cook County in northeastern Minnesota including the cities of Tofte, Lutsen, Grand Marais, Hovland and Grand Portage. Northwest winds around 15 mph with gusts to 45 mph will continue in the advisory area through early this Sunday evening.

Wind Gusts from around the Northland for Sunday, November 29, 2020

Source: https://www.weather.gov/dlh/

Bay of Grand Marais: 55 mph
Hibbing: 52 mph
Grand Rapids: 41 mph
Eveleth: 40 mph
Duluth Airport: 40 mph
Duluth Sky Harbor: 39 mph
Superior: 39 mph
Brainerd: 38 mph
Walker: 37 mph
Ashland: 35 mph
Cloquet: 35 mph
International Falls: 33 mph
Two Harbors: 32 mph
Ely: 32 mph
Hill City: 30 mph
Aitkin: 30 mph
Hinckley: 30 mph
Isabella: 30 mph
Hayward: 30 mph

It’s been a very dry year in the Twin Ports. Note: There is a pretty good chance that 2020 will finish in the top 10 for driest years on record at Duluth, Minnesota.

-Total precipitation in Duluth since September 1st: 6.08″; -2.85″ below normal (thru November 28)

-Total precipitation in Duluth since January 1st: 20.27″; -9.36″ below normal thru November 28)

-Snowfall, however, is running well above normal so far this season, with 31.2″ of snow in Duluth (thru November 28) this is +16.3″ above normal.


Some lake effect snow is likely tonight into early Monday afternoon along the South Shore of Lake Superior, with a Winter Weather Advisory in effect until Noon Monday for Iron County, including the cities of Upson, Gile and Hurley. Snowfall accumulations of 1 to 5 inches are possible in the advisory area. Gusty winds will also occur causing areas of blowing and drifting snow.

Note: Some lake effect snow could also impact portions of Ashland County tonight with accumulations of around 1 to 2 inches possible, especially over eastern parts of the county including the Mellen, Glidden and Butternut areas.

A bizarre looking weather pattern this week, with the main storm track staying well west/south/east of the Northland.

Shown below is the NAM model (12z run) 500mb height and vorticity forecast valid from 6 AM Monday to 6 PM Wednesday, November 30 to December 2, 2020.

Source: https://www.pivotalweather.com/

Trends for a warmer and drier than average December continue to show up per CFS model – Here’s the latest outlook for December 2020.

Note: This doesn’t mean we won’t get an occasional shot of cold air (possibly arctic air) but overall the pattern favors warmer than normal temps across the Northland in December.

Average temperature in Duluth in December is 14.8 degrees, while we typically get 10 days with a minimum temperature of 0 F or colder. Last December saw 9 days with a minimum temperature of 0 F or colder in Duluth, but the month was +2.6 degrees warmer than normal.

Source: https://www.tropicaltidbits.com/

Precipitation outlook for December 2020 per CFS model.

Note: Duluth averages 17.7″ of snow in December, but the forecast for December 2020 calls for below normal snowfall. Will see what happens.

Thanks for reading!


Mild temps through the weekend; few snow showers/patchy freezing drizzle possible Thursday morning

The pattern ahead looks pretty uneventful across the Northland, but we will have a few cold fronts/troughs pass through the area on occasion, with a chance for a few flurries/light snow showers, and possibly a little freezing drizzle, but no signs of any significant snow event impacting our area through the next 2 weeks.

Timing the cold fronts/troughs

  • Thanksgiving
  • Friday morning
  • Saturday night-Sunday morning
  • Next Tuesday-Wednesday

Here’s the 500mb vorticity forecast from the 18z NAM model valid from 6 AM Thursday to 1 AM Sunday.

Source: https://weather.cod.edu/

November 2020 continues to run in the top 10 for warmest Novembers on record at all the major climate locations in the Northland, except at Duluth.

Here are the average temps for November 2020 (thru the 24th) and where they rank so far this month.

  • Ashland: 38.0 F; 6th warmest
  • Brainerd: 36.0 F; 9th warmest
  • Duluth: 34.7 F; 11th warmest
  • International Falls: 32.3 F; 9th warmest
  • Hibbing: 31.0 F; 8th warmest

I think we’ve entered the gray period which is very typical weather for this time of the year, but hopefully will get enough mixing to occur to break up some of the clouds at times over the next few days, but overall I wouldn’t expect to see a whole lot of sun.

Source: https://www.star.nesdis.noaa.gov/

A strong area of low pressure continues to lift ENE across the Midwest and into the lower Great Lakes this afternoon per water vapor imagery.

Source: https://www.star.nesdis.noaa.gov/


There is a chance that a powerful winter storm will impact portions of the Ohio Valley and eastern Great Lakes region next week – Shown below is the 12z European model snowfall forecast for the November 30 to December 3 time frame.

Widespread 1 to 2 feet of snow (using a 10:1 ratio) across parts of Indiana, Ohio and Lower Michigan next week per Euro model. Wow!

Source: https://weathermodels.com/

Strange looking pattern still showing up in various computer models for next week, but it continues to look like the Northland will be dominated more by strong ridging to our NW forcing the storm track well south/east of our area.

500mb heights could be nearly as high across the Northern Rockies as they will be in south Florida by the end of next week (~582 meters) crazy stuff!

Source: https://www.pivotalweather.com/

Thanks for reading!


A foggy night ahead with patchy freezing drizzle also possible

Widespread fog will be found across northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin tonight with visibilities as low as a mile or less. Fog is expected to burn off in most of the area after 8 AM Wednesday, but whether or not the clouds break up on Wednesday remains to be seen.

Visibility forecast thru 9 AM Wednesday per 21z HRRR model, with the blue and black colors on the animation below representing visibilities of a mile or less.

Source: https://weather.cod.edu/

Temps across the Northland early this evening are hovering close to the freezing mark, but temperatures won’t fall much tonight as they remain in the 28 to 33 degree range. With temps close to or a few degrees below freezing there could be some patchy freezing drizzle/icy spots on roads and sidewalks tonight into early Wednesday morning, but by Wednesday afternoon temperatures should warm above freezing, possibly as warm as 36-37 degrees in some locations across the Northland.

Quite a storm pulling east out into the Plains tonight, but this system and its precipitation will remain well south of the Northland.

Goes-16 water vapor loop from Tuesday, November 24, 2020 – Loop time ~1 PM to 4:46 PM CT.

Source: https://www.star.nesdis.noaa.gov/

An area of low pressure located near the Kansas/Oklahoma state line as of 5 PM Tuesday is forecast to lift NE, reaching the eastern Illinois-Indiana state line by Wednesday evening.

A widespread area of precipitation accompanies this system with snow to the north (white areas on map) and rain to the south (green areas on map) And there’s even some severe thunderstorms occurring in parts of Oklahoma late this afternoon with a Severe Thunderstorm Watch (yellow area) in effect until 9 PM this evening.

Note: There wasn’t much precipitation in the Northland today, with Duluth only picking up 0.3″ of snow today, while 0.5″ of snow fell at International Falls. Snow to liquid ratios today ranged from as low as 3:1 at Duluth to a more typical 10:1 at International Falls.


Looks like we are heading into a relatively quiet period of weather across the Northland, and this has potential to linger for quite a while, possibly upwards of 2 weeks. I don’t see any major system impacting our area at least through the first week of December, but we will likely see a couple of northern stream waves/cold fronts and troughs move through the area on occasion, and those could bring a few flurries at times, but not a whole lot in terms of accumulating snowfall.

  • Cold front number one moves through the Northland on Thanksgiving
  • Trough moves through the area on Friday
  • Another cold front for Saturday night

Source: https://weathermodels.com/

That is one snowless forecast for Duluth, Minnesota.

Here’s the 15-day Snowfall Forecast per 12z Euro ensemble model from Tuesday, November 24, valid thru December 9. There’s only 8 out of 50 (16%) members showing >3″ of snowfall in Duluth over the next 2 weeks.

Source: https://weathermodels.com/

Next week continues to look warmer than average across Canada into the northern U.S., while colder than average temperatures setup across the southern/eastern U.S. Note: This kind of temperature pattern doesn’t resemble a La Nina at all.

For northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin we are looking at daytime highs in the 20s and 30s next week, with overnight lows in the teens and lower 20s, but there is a chance for colder temps early next week, with a possibility for some single digit overnight temps for parts of the area, but this really isn’t that cold for this time of the year.

Source: https://weathermodels.com/

Such a bizarre looking weather pattern for next week as very strong ridging sets up over Canada while at least one (if not more) strong upper level low/s drops south out of the Midwest and into the eastern U.S.

Overall this should be a fairly quiet pattern next week for northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin the way it looks now.

Shown below is the 12z Euro Ensemble model – 500mb height anomaly forecast valid from Monday, November 30 to Friday, December 4, 2020.

Source: https://www.pivotalweather.com/

Thanks for reading!


Some snow, mixed precip and areas of fog on the way for Tuesday

  • Snowfall totals of around an inch are expected on Tuesday for most of northeast and east-central Minnesota, with trace to 1″ amounts for northwest Wisconsin. Note: Higher snowfall totals of 2 to 4 inches are possible along the North Shore due to some lake/orographic enhanced snowfall as winds will be coming off Lake Superior (east-southeast)
  • Areas of fog, drizzle and freezing drizzle are also possible across the Northland on Tuesday, with a light glaze of ice accretion possible in spots.

One would think we could be in trouble in the Northland after seeing the water vapor loop from today (Monday) as a strong trough makes its way across the Rockies while a plume of moisture (subtropical jet) surges NE out of the Baja region and into the Southern/Central Plains. This has all the makings of turning into a significant winter storm for the Northland, right? Nope, not this time. The brunt of the moisture with this system will pass well to our south while low pressure tracks ENE out of Kansas, with this low also staying well south of our area on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Northland will instead be impacted by a weaker northern stream wave/cold front on Tuesday with mostly light precipitation.

Source: https://weather.cod.edu/

An overcast morning in the Twin Ports turned into a nice afternoon with abundant sunshine as the low clouds earlier in the day lifted farther north mostly affecting the North Shore this afternoon, but look to the south as clouds are streaming north and will soon overtake the Northland once again by later tonight.

Note: Loop time 11:16 AM to 4:11 PM Monday, November 23, 2020.

Source: https://www.star.nesdis.noaa.gov/

Will see some snow and a mix of precipitation types (snow, freezing drizzle and drizzle) spread SW-NE through the Northland on Tuesday.

Precipitation begins in western areas after Midnight tonight and will spread farther ENE through the day Tuesday before ending from W-E Tuesday night.

Note: Some snow is likely at times on Tuesday in Duluth and Superior with precipitation moving into the Twin Ports ~6 AM to 9 AM Tuesday. There is a chance we could see the snow mix with or change to drizzle/freezing drizzle by Tuesday afternoon as surface temps warm to around 32-35 degrees. Areas of fog are also possible on Tuesday. Snowfall totals of around an inch are expected in Duluth and Superior on Tuesday with higher amounts possible on top of the hill (2-3″?)

18z HRRR model simulated radar forecast valid from Midnight tonight to Midnight tomorrow night.

Blue – Snow

Pink – Wintry mix

Green – Rain

Source: https://weathermodels.com/


Pattern for next week looks to become increasingly amplified, with both GFS and European computer models (12z run from Monday) showing a very strong ridge developing over the Northern Rockies or west-central Canada, while a strong upper level low (possibly a cutoff low) develops somewhere from the Midwest to the Southern Plains.

Note: At the moment it doesn’t look like the upper Midwest would be affected by the upper low to the south, so our weather would be influenced more by that massive ridge to our NW which may lead to a prolonged period of dry weather and relatively mild temperatures during the first week or so of December.

Source: https://weathermodels.com/

Temperature forecast for next week doesn’t resemble what a typical La Nina pattern would look like, it’s flipped upside down or something.

Source: https://weathermodels.com/

Thanks for reading!