Recap of the 2009 Christmas storm

The coveted golden snow shovel award goes to Pequaywan Lake, 25 miles north/northeast of downtown Duluth, where a whopping 26″ of snow fell from the Christmas Storm. 24.4″ of snow piled up at the NWS Office in Duluth (up on the hill, where the snow was spiked thanks to a phenomena known as “oragraphic lift”, air rising up and over the hills surrounding Duluth produced even more intense pockets of rapidly rising air, resulting in some incredible snowfall reports!) Closer to home 21″ fell at Waterville, In Le Seur county. Across central Minnesota 11″ piled up at Little Falls and St. Joseph, 10″ at the prison in St. Cloud (I wonder who takes those snow measurements?) The Twin Cities metro wound up being closer to the heavier snow bands during the height of the storm Thursday night and early Friday, before a changeover to rain (and a surge of dry air tangled up in the storm’s circulation cut off the heaviest snowfall). Prior Lake picked up 14.7″, with an impressive 13.7″ at Waconia and 12.5″ at Andover, in Anoka county. The NWS office in Chanhassen dug out from 11.3″, 9.2″ of heavy, wet, slushy snow accumulated at MSP International. Storms like this make me wonder if the urban heat island doesn’t have an impact, temperatures a few degrees warmer over the downtowns and close-in suburbs may be just enough to turn the snow over to rain faster/sooner. I’m sure there’s a research paper there for someone – always fascinated how “micrometeorology” comes into play, local effects, like terrain or the presence/absence of water, even the type of vegetation can make a real difference in rainfall or snowfall amounts. If you’ve been to San Francisco you know full well about micrometeorology: go a few blocks and it goes from sunny and 62 to foggy and 47. In a city like San Francisco you almost need neighborhood-level weather forecasts (and I think that’s what the science of meteorology is coming to, trying to pin down the difference between Minneapolis and St. Paul, trying to determine – 8 hours in advance – if Sauk Rapids or St. Cloud will see hail and torrential rains.

The Christmas Storm of ’09. This is just 24 hour snowfall, from Christmas Eve through Christmas Day. What’s impressive is how much of America was impacted by accumulating snow – from the Appalachians westward to the Rockies!

A Very White Christmas. By some estimates 2/3rds of America experienced a white Christmas, snow/ice on the ground as far south as Dallas, Texas and the far northern suburbs of Phoenix!

Flurries and light snow will linger off ‘n on again today (for the 5th straight day!) as our Christmas Storm pushes into the Great Lakes – little or no additional accumulation is expected. A few quiet days will follow, the first half of this week looks uneventful – great news for travelers. Flurries may return Wednesday into New Year’s Eve – any accumulation looks to be in the “nuisance” range, a coating to at most an inch or so up north. One thing looks fairly certain: a series of Alberta Clippers will drag progressively colder air south of the border, a few subzero nighttime lows are possible as we sail into the first weekend of 2010. That thaw I mentioned yesterday for the second week of January. Never mind. The latest run of the GFS keeps us colder than average through the first half of January. El Nino – where did you go? As I mentioned back in September I still have a sick (?) feeling in the pit of my stomach that this winter will be one of the roughly 1 in 3 El Nino winters that winds up average, or even colder than average. There are exceptions to every rule, right?

To quote Vonnegut, “and do it goes”….

Paul’s Outlook for the Twin Cities

Sunday: Mostly cloudy, more flurries – little or no accumulation. Winds: NW 10-20 High: 25

Sunday Night: Partial clearing, chilly. Low: 8

Monday: A badly needed ration of sunlight! Some blue sky overhead. High: 24

Tuesday: Mix of clouds and sun, still quiet (and dry). High: 23

Wednesday: Clouds increase, PM flurries. High: 25

New Year’s Eve: Turning windy and colder, a coating of flurries possible. High: 19

New Year’s Day: Colder with a mix of sun and flakes. High: 15

Saturday: Numbing sun – subzero nighttime low. High: 13

Snowfall reports from the National Weather Service

INCHES  LOCATION                 ST  COUNTY           TIME
------ ----------------------- -- -------------- -------
21.00 WATERVILLE MN LE SUEUR 1040 AM
STORM TOTAL
15.00 OLIVIA MN RENVILLE 0802 AM
THREE INCHES OCCURRED DURING THE PAST TWENTY
FOUR HOURS.
14.70 2 W PRIOR LAKE MN SCOTT 0825 AM
14.50 SACRED HEART MN RENVILLE 1135 AM
STORM TOTAL
14.00 WINTHROP MN SIBLEY 1135 AM
STORM TOTAL
13.70 WACONIA MN CARVER 0716 AM
12.50 ANDOVER MN ANOKA 0802 AM
ONE AND ONE HALF INCHES IS 24 HOUR TOTAL.
12.30 FARIBAULT MN RICE 1129 PM
12.20 LAKEVILLE MN DAKOTA 1055 AM
STORM TOTAL
12.00 MANKATO MN BLUE EARTH 1055 AM
STORM TOTAL
12.00 ROCKFORD MN HENNEPIN 0827 AM
11.90 DONNELLY MN STEVENS 1056 AM
STORM TOTAL SNOWFALL
11.50 CHANHASSEN MN CARVER 0716 AM
11.30 CHANHASSEN MN CARVER 1230 AM
MEASURED AT THE NWS OFFICE.
11.10 RICHFIELD MN HENNEPIN 1030 AM
STORM TOTAL
11.00 ST JOSEPH MN STEARNS 0827 AM
STORM TOTAL
11.00 LITTLE FALLS MN MORRISON 0716 AM
10.60 7 S HILLMAN MN MORRISON 0827 AM
STORM TOTAL
10.00 CARLOS MN DOUGLAS 0827 AM
STORM TOTAL
10.00 ST CLOUD MN STEARNS 1230 AM
MEASURED AT THE MEDIUM SECURITY PRISON.
9.20 MINNEAPOLIS MN HENNEPIN 1230 AM
MEASURED AT THE MINNEAPOLIS INTERNATIONAL
AIRPORT.
7.50 CONNORSVILLE WI DUNN 0827

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Jane Cracraft on 12/28/2009 - 10:58 pm.

    Ummmm… Did you mean “And SO it goes”?

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