Long range forecast for December 2021, and a look at climate Normals, records and past snowfall totals at Duluth, Minnesota for December

Climate Normals and records at Duluth, Minnesota for December

Normal high on the 1st: 30 F
Normal high on the 31st: 15 F

Normal low on the 1st: 15 F
Normal low on the 31st: 5 F

Average monthly temperature for December: 17.2 degrees
Warmest December on record: 32.7 degrees set in 1877
Coldest December on record: 1.8 degrees set in 1983

Normal Precipitation: 1.47″
Wettest December on record: 3.89″ set in 1879
Driest December on record: 0.07″ set in 1905

Normal Snowfall: 18.7″
Snowiest December on record: 44.3″ set in 1950
Least Snowy December on record: 0.9″ set in 1905

On average Duluth has 13 days in December with at least 0.1″ snowfall
On average Duluth has 5 days in December with at least 1.0″ snowfall

On average Duluth has 8 days in December with a subzero low temperature, most is 23 days set in December (2013).

Only 6 Decembers on record failed to produce any days with a subzero low temperature in Duluth, those years are 2015, 1959, 1918, 1913, 1888 and 1877.

Astronomical Data for Duluth, Minnesota for December

Sunrise on the 1st: 7:33 AM CST
Sunrise on the 31st: 7:53 AM CST

Sunset on the 1st: 4:22 PM CST
Sunset on the 31st: 4:29 PM CST

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Past December Snowfall Totals at Duluth, Minnesota
Period: 2010-2020

Normal snowfall in December is 18.7″ (1991-2020 climate period).

2010: 18.1″
2011: 8.1″
2012: 13.2″
2013: 39.9″ (3rd snowiest December on record)
2014: 8.6″
2015: 24.6″
2016: 21.3″
2017: 13.4″
2018: 19.8″
2019: 27.7″
2020: 16.5″

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There is plenty of cold arctic air bottled up over Alaska into portions of northern Canada today, and this has been the case for a few weeks now.

Odds favor a warmer than average (orange and red colors) December in northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin, but with that aforementioned arctic air lurking well to our north, there’s always that possibility that will tap into some of that arctic air from time to time during December 2021, but even if we did there’s no guarantee it would stick around for long durations.

Last 10 CFS model temperature forecasts valid for December 2021.

Above normal precipitation (green colors) is forecast in northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin for December 2021.

Note: Duluth is still running -6.72″ below normal in precipitation this year, and there’s no way will get rid of that deficit in December, even if we were to have above normal precipitation for the month.

Last 10 CFS model precipitation forecasts valid for December 2021.

Tim

A burst of snow late tonight followed by a mild and breezy Wednesday; A few more snow chances late this week and this weekend

Our third clipper system since this past weekend will move through the Northland later tonight bringing with it a period of snow which looks to last roughly one to four hours in any given location.

Although the snow will be of short duration, it may come down heavily in some parts of the area overnight tonight with a quick half inch to two inches of snow accumulation possible in parts of the Northland by daybreak, with a slight chance for a few isolated three-inch snow amounts.

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A brief period of strong lift (orange and red colors on animation below) will move across the Northland from west to east late tonight, and this combined with rather steep mid-level lapse rates will lead to the possibility for heavier snow showers impacting parts of the area late tonight.

Snow is forecast to spread quickly from west to east across the Northland from mid to late evening and during the overnight with snow ending in most of the area by ~6 AM Wednesday, except in the Arrowhead where some snow may linger thru mid-morning Wednesday.

The potential does exist for a few rain showers or mixed rain/snow showers Wednesday afternoon and evening but any precipitation that falls during that time frame shouldn’t amount to much.

Timing for tonight’s snow in Duluth and Superior: Starting ~11 PM to 1 AM tonight, ending ~4 AM to 5 AM Wednesday.

18z NAM 3km model simulated radar forecast thru 6 PM Wednesday.

Here’s my snowfall accumulation forecast for tonight’s system.

Greatest amounts of 2 to 3 inches across far northern Minnesota into the Arrowhead with amounts tapering to 1 to 2 inches from Grand Rapids to Hibbing to Two Harbors to Bayfield, with trace to 1-inch amounts forecast for much of east-central Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin.

Note: Snowfall totals ranging from a half inch to two inches is possible in Duluth and Superior early Wednesday morning.

December will open on a mild note across the region with daytime highs on Wednesday ranging from the upper 30s to middle 40s in northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin to the 50s and lower 60s in western and southern Minnesota.

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Another burst of light snow could affect parts of the Northland sometime late Thursday or Friday, but a system moving east out of the Western High Plains/Northern Plains over the weekend has a chance to produce a more significant snowfall in parts of the upper Midwest which could include parts of northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin. Stay tuned!

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With the month of November 2021 wrapping up today here’s a preliminary look at how temperatures were this month, generally warmer than average across the west, and below average over the east.

Here in the Northland, average temps for November 2021 will likely finish about +1 degree warmer than average.

I’ll have a complete climate summary for November 2021 on Wednesday.

Tim

Several chances for mostly light precipitation (snow or rain) through the end of the week; Potential for >30 mph wind gusts Wednesday afternoon-early Thursday

Some parts of the Northland did pick up a few inches of snow today, with the greatest amounts north and east of Duluth. A few snowfall reports from today include 0.9″ at International Falls and 0.5″ at the Duluth Airport.

Snow showers in far northern Wisconsin will come to an end this evening which will be followed by a period of calm weather across the entire Northland overnight into the day Tuesday, but this won’t last very long as the next in a series of clippers affects our area for Tuesday night and Wednesday bringing some light snow or a mix of rain and snow to the Northland. Snow amounts with the system for Tuesday night look pretty light, generally ranging from a trace to an inch.

Frequent changes in air masses (going from warm advection to cold advection) will lead to periods of gusty winds in the Northland over the next few days, with Wednesday afternoon into early Thursday looking particularly windy at the moment, this is when we may get wind gusts of 30+ mph in parts of the area.

Mild daytime highs will continue at least through Friday with highs in northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin mainly in the 30s, although 40s are possible over southern portions of the Northland on Wednesday. Note: Normal highs in our area in late November and early December are in the upper 20s to lower 30s.

High temperature forecast valid from Tuesday, November 30 to Friday, December 3, 2021.

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Certainly, have seen some convective elements in the snow showers which have moved through parts of northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin this afternoon indicated by the yellow colors on the animation below which represent colder cloud tops, and also by the lumpier appearance to the clouds on satellite imagery which indicates some convective snow shower activity this afternoon.

Goes-16 sandwich loop from Monday, November 29, 2021.

A northwest flow aloft will continue until further notice — What this means for the Northland is very little chance for a major snow event to hit our area, but the pattern will be pretty active as we see quick moving clipper systems affect our area through this weekend.

Goes-16 water vapor loop from Monday, November 29, 2021.

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Big time warmth for late November covered much of the Plains into parts of the upper Midwest today.

50- and 60-degree temperatures as far north as southern Minnesota this afternoon, with even warmer temperatures in the 60s and 70s from southern South Dakota into Nebraska into the western half of Iowa.

Numerous daily record high temperatures have either been tied or broken today anywhere you see the orange and red dots on the image below.

No doubt about it, it was a very warm day across the Northern and Central Plains with temperatures running some +20 to +30 degrees above normal (yellow outlined area on map) for November 29th.

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18z NAM 3km model simulated radar forecast valid from 6 PM Tuesday to 6 PM Wednesday.

Snow in blue
Rain and mixed precipitation in green and pink colors respectively

Tim

Some snow on the way late tonight and Monday

The first of what should be several clippers this week will impact the Northland on Monday with a band of accumulating snow likely in northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin. Some mixed precipitation is possible as well on Monday mainly from parts of north-central to east-central Minnesota into parts of northwest Wisconsin.

Snowfall totals on Monday will be on the light side, generally ranging from a half inch to two inches, but amounts of up to three inches are possible especially in the Arrowhead and the Higher Terrain along the North Shore of Lake Superior. Any mixed precipitation should be on the light side with no significant icing expected on Monday.

Road conditions will deteriorate in much of the Northland on Monday due to the expected snowfall, and even though this won’t be a major snow event, roads will still likely become slippery, with snow and slush covered roads expected in some parts of the area.

Additional chances for a little snow or perhaps a mixture of precipitation is in the forecast for Tuesday night-Wednesday, and again late this week, with possibly a more ‘interesting’ system ~December 5-8.

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There hasn’t been much snow in the Northland this month, with both Duluth and International Falls having below normal snowfall this month.

International Falls, MN

Month to date snow total: 8.0″
Departure: -3.0″ below normal

Duluth, MN

Month to date snow total: 5.0″
Departure: -8.0″ below normal

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Here’s my snowfall forecast for Monday.

-2 to 3 inches of snow in far northeast Minnesota.
-1 to 2 inches of snow for International Falls, Hibbing, Two Harbors and Bayfield.
-Around an inch of snow for Bigfork, Grand Rapids, Duluth, Solon Springs, Ashland and Hayward.

Should be noted that there are 9/20 or 45% of GEFS members which show snowfall amounts of 2″ or more in Duluth on Monday, so there is still a little uncertainty on the track of this clipper which could lead to slightly higher or lower snow totals in the Twin Ports on Monday.

Snow is forecast to develop or overspread the Northland from NW-SE late tonight and Monday morning with snow ending from W-E during the day Monday, but snow is expected to persist in the Arrowhead of Minnesota through early Monday evening before coming to an end.

Timing for when we may see some snow in Duluth and Superior is from ~4 AM Monday to Noon Monday.

12z European model simulated radar forecast valid from Midnight tonight to Midnight Tuesday.

Snow in blue colors

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There won’t be much change in the weather pattern this week.

Arctic air remains bottled up over Alaska and parts of northwest Canada today, while much warmer temperatures covered the Rockies and Plains today — A strong jet stream separates the two air masses with the flow moving from NW-SE. This jet stream configuration won’t be changing a whole lot this week so expect several chances for mostly light precipitation as low pressure systems (clipper type lows) impact the Northland in the week ahead.

A wide range in temperatures ahead for Monday with highs ranging from the 20s in northeast Minnesota to the 50s in southern Minnesota, and it’ll be even warmer farther south across the Central Plains where high temps will reach the 60s and even the lower 70s!

Tim

Snowfall Reports from Saturday morning, November 27, 2021

A narrow band of accumulating snow impacted parts of northeast Minnesota and far northern Wisconsin early this morning with total snow accumulations under this band ranging from a half inch to 2 inches. The bulk of this snow stayed just north of Duluth and Superior early this morning, although the Airport did pick up slightly less than a half inch of snow earlier today.

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Snowfall reports from around the Northland from November 27, 2021

Herbster, WI: 2.0″
2.1 NW Two Harbors, MN: 1.8″
Two Harbors, MN: 1.7″
Butternut, WI: 1.5″
5.7 ESE Cotton, MN: 1.4″
9 N Bayfield, WI: 1.4″
0.8 NE Chisholm, MN: 1.2″
2 S Brimson, MN: 1.1″
2 W Iron Junction, MN: 1.0″
5 S Herbster, WI: 1.0″
13.4 N Bovey, MN: 0.9″
International Falls, MN: 0.9″
Port Wing, WI: 0.5″
25 E Ely, MN: 0.3″
Duluth, MN (Airport) 0.3″
Embarrass, MN: 0.3″

Tim