Unusually warm start to December hits southern Minnesota

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(ABC 6 News) – With warm weather expected over the next couple of days, at least by December standards, many people are getting out and soaking in whatever sunlight is left.

According to NWS La Crosse Meteorologist Dan Baumgardt, we are “about 20 degrees above normal for December 1st, right. Our normal high is 34 degrees.”

It’s the first time we’ve hit 50 at the beginning of December in 4 years. The record high for today is 62 degrees, set in 1998. Clouds blocked a lot of the radiation from heating us up to challenge the record. However, the combination of a warm front coming through and colder air staying off to our north allowed us to experience warmer conditions. That is not all, however. We are currently experiencing what is called a La Niña.

“Right now we’re in a mild La Niña, which is cooler than an average tropical area of the Pacific. The water temperature is cooler than average,” elaborated Baumgardt.
Periods of La Niña last anywhere, on average, from three to seven years. Despite the colder ocean water and the presence of more pacific air masses during a mild La Niña, Rochester has been warmer 22 out of 24 times during La Niña on record. The warm impact was felt during the fall in Rochester. The first 2 weeks of October were the 4th warmest first couple weeks of October ever recorded dating back to 1886, and the 12th warmest October overall. Does this mean we could expect warmer temperatures once we get closer to winter?

Baumgardt explained, “once you move into Winter season, the La Nina’s influence is a little more unclear. It has a more clear signal in the Fall.”

During the stage of La Niña, conditions become more variable depending on many factors including winds as well as the geography and landscape of the area. Bottom line, it will be essential to prepare for whatever is heading our way.