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Cloud cover expected to ensure white Christmas

While the Brainerd lakes area has experienced a brown Christmas in the past, don't put money on it this year. It's true, compared to November's unseasonal chill the recent mild days are notable. This November averaged 8 degrees colder than normal...

Although above freezing temperatures have taken a toll, a snowman looks ready to play ball Friday in Brainerd. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch)
Although above freezing temperatures have taken a toll, a snowman looks ready to play ball Friday in Brainerd. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch)

While the Brainerd lakes area has experienced a brown Christmas in the past, don't put money on it this year.

It's true, compared to November's unseasonal chill the recent mild days are notable. This November averaged 8 degrees colder than normal. The forecast for this week indicated the pendulum was swinging the other way with a 45 degree day possible at week's end or during the weekend. And it still may come close to those numbers. Saturday, Dec. 13, may still reach a high of 41 during the day and climb during the night to 43 degrees by 5 a.m. The weekend warm-up will be welcome but shouldn't put fear into the heart of anyone concerned about a white Christmas.

There have been two years without snow on the ground here on Christmas Day, 1975 and 2011. There are currently 4 inches of snow on the ground in Brainerd.

"It is unlikely that we will melt all 4 inches on the ground by Christmas Day," stated Kevin Kraujalis, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Duluth. "Although temperatures will be in the lower 40s over the weekend. There will be little if any sunshine and temperatures will fall into the middle 20s for highs on Tuesday and Wednesday."

The sun isn't expected to return until Tuesday.

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As of Friday, December produced just two days with temperatures above freezing. But after November, the recent daytime highs in the mid- to upper-20s provided a relief to deeper chill.

Twenty-four of 30 days in November were colder than normal. According to the National Weather Service temperature records for the month, 15 of the days were significantly colder by 10 to nearly 21 degrees. That trend continued during the first few days of December before a warm-up ushered milder air and temperatures rose above average.

But the string of days with fog or mist beneath overcast skies hasn't made much of a dent in the snow on the ground in Brainerd.

The forecast calls for more freezing drizzle and widespread fog this weekend. There is a chance for freezing drizzle Sunday night after 9 p.m. Monday brings a chance of sleet before in the morning with the potential to turn to all snow after noon.

The normal snowfall in December is nearly 10 inches. In weather circles, there has been a lot of discussion on whether a weak El Nino will appear this year. An El Nino typically means a warmer winter in the Midwest. Originally forecast to be strong, climate predictors dropped the chance for an El Niño to 50 percent looking in part at sea surface temperatures in the Pacific. In a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration update Monday, the chance for an El Niño increased to 65 percent.

How that plays out for snowfall or temperatures for the remainder of the winter is yet to be seen.

"The latest forecast for the remainder of the winter calls for near average temperatures with near normal precipitation," Kraujalis stated.

And, of course, a white Christmas.

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RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at 855-5852 or renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Dispatchbizbuzz .

Related Topics: WEATHER
Renee Richardson is managing editor at the Brainerd Dispatch. She joined the Brainerd Dispatch in 1996 after earning her bachelor's degree in mass communications at St. Cloud State University.
Renee Richardson can be reached at renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com or by calling 218-855-5852 or follow her on Twitter @dispatchbizbuzz or Facebook.
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