<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> December 2010 Saint Cloud Weather Summary
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St. Cloud 2010 Year at a Glance

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(December 2010 Summary)
Storm Summaries for: December 3-4




Saint Cloud Weather Summary for December 2010 and Annual Weather Summary for 2010

Whether Wet or White, A December to Remember

Late Month Precipitation, Much As Rain, Produces Record Wet December

December 2010 was a lot of things in St. Cloud: January-like through much of the first three weeks and snowy with measurable snowfall on 11 days. However, December 2010 will go down in St. Cloud records primarily as the wettest December in the history of St. Cloud precipitation records, which date back to 1893. There were 2.56 inches of melted precipitation at the St. Cloud Regional Airport, more than 0.5 inches higher than the previous record of 2.04 inches, set in 1969. The new record is almost four times higher than the normal December precipitation of 0.69 inches.

There were four significant storms, which led to the new record. The first snowfall of the year on December 3-4 produced .42 inches of liquid and 5.0 inches of snow. St. Cloud got clipped by a huge Twin Cities blizzard on December 10-11. This storm dumped up to 20-21 inches in Red Wing and the eastern Twin Cities suburbs and led to the collapse of the Metrodome roof. The storm produced 0.38 inch of melted precipitation locked up in 5.3 inches of snow in St. Cloud. That 5.3 inches set a new December 11 record for daily snowfall. The third major precipitation event was on December 20, when 3.3 inches of snow and 0.53 inches of liquid fell on St. Cloud. Heavier snowfall totals fell in south central Minnesota and in St. Louis County.

However, the biggest precipitation event was, of all things, a heavy rainstorm on December 30. St. Cloud picked up .84 inch of straight rain, more than the normal rainfall for the entire month of December (0.69 inch). In fact, this rainstorm ranked as the third heaviest 24-hour December precipitation event in St. Cloud records, behind only the 1.07 inch on December 25, 1893 and the 0.91 inch on December 1, 1945. Heavy rain with some freezing rain fell in eastern Minnesota with over an inch of rain at Milaca (1.05 inch) and Mora (1.01 inch). While this was a rainstorm in eastern Minnesota, the December 30 storm dumped freezing rain, followed by blinding snow in eastern North Dakota and northwestern and west central Minnesota with a foot of snow falling in Fergus Falls. There were also 11 inches in Grand Rapids and a foot in Big Fork. The combination of zero visibility in whiteout conditions on roads with an undercovering of ice lead to a chain-reaction crash west of Fargo with several cars and trucks involved. Three other people died in fog-related problems, two in an airplane accident in central Minnesota and one pedestrian struck by a vehicle.

7th Snowiest December (Yawn!) Same As Last Year

Locked into much of that record December precipitation were 21.0 inches of snow, nearly 10 inches above the normal December snowfall of 8.6 inches. This snow tied last December for the 7th snowiest December in St. Cloud records and marked the third straight December cracking the 10 snowiest Decembers. Still, the snowiest December of 1927 remains unchallenged with 25.5 inches.

Believe it or not, St. Cloud only caught the edge of most of the major December snowfalls, as noted in the links to the storm dates above. For this reason, St. Cloud had only picked up 21.8 inches of snow through the end of December, while Duluth (53.7 inches), International Falls (47.7 inches), Fargo-Moorhead (45.2 inches), and Minneapolis-St. Paul (43.4 inches) have all had at least twice as much snow as St. Cloud.

It Was Cold, But....

The first two-thirds of December marked a major change from the mild November. The first 20 days of December were dominated by Canadian air masses, especially once a thick snowcover was established after the December 3-4 storm. Temperatures (avg. high 17.3°F; avg. low 2.0°F; mean temp. 9.7°F) were typical for or even colder than January.Temperatures averaged about seven degrees colder than normal. Six of the month's seven lows of zero or colder occurred in the first 20 days with a pair of lows in the minus teens. After having highs in the 40's both November 28 and 29 and an above freezing high on November 30, high temperatures only broke 30 twice in the first 27 days of December.

The last 11 days of the month, however, were marked by much milder conditions. In the wake of the December 20 storm, a lot of low-level moisture hung around the Northern Plains. This kept the air from cooling that much at night and eventually helped to keep high temperatures near or above normal during the day. The average temperature of 19.6°F (avg. high 26.1°F; avg. low 13.0°F) was typical of the first week of December and 7.7°F above normal. The overall December average temperature was 13.1°F, only 1.3°F colder than normal.

Even at its coldest, December 2010 couldn't approach December 2000, the last really cold December we have seen. The average temperature in December 2000 was 3.8°F, ranking it as the 3rd coldest December in St. Cloud records. That December had 20 days with a low of zero or colder, three days with a sub-zero high, and two days with a low of -20 or colder. More recently, December 2008 had 5 mornings with a low of -20 or colder.

Is There A Forecast Link, Meaning Can We Predict Seasonsin the Long Range?

Overall, the December trends worldwide are showing many of the signs of La Nina with cold and snowy conditions in the Northern Plains, heavy summer rains in Australia and New Zealand. But, as noted by this blog entry by someone who believes in long-range weather forecasting, linking weather around the world is more difficult, let alone finding a physical mechanism rather than just being pure statistics.


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