White Christmas in Brainerd area? Not likely: Mississippi River ice jam continues
Those hoping for a white Christmas in the Brainerd lakes area may have to start wishing upon a star for snow. With Christmas Day 12 days away and not much snow on the ground, it doesn't look promising for residents to see a white Christmas in 201...
Those hoping for a white Christmas in the Brainerd lakes area may have to start wishing upon a star for snow.
With Christmas Day 12 days away and not much snow on the ground, it doesn't look promising for residents to see a white Christmas in 2018.
Meteorologist Joshua Sandstrom with the National Weather Service in Duluth said the odds are not in Brainerd's favor, even though snow is expected to fall during the early morning hours of Thursday, Dec. 13.
The NWS reported a chance of flurries between 1-4 a.m. Thursday, then a slight chance of snow showers after 4 a.m., with a low around 21 degrees. Then during the daytime Thursday, there is a chance of snow showers before 3 p.m., then a chance of flurries between 3-4 p.m. Thursday's high will be near 33, with a south wind of 5-10 mph becoming west in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 40 percent.
"We're not looking at high amounts of snow in Brainerd (with this system)," Sandstrom said. "At the most, the high end would be an inch, but most likely it will be around one-half inch, so not a whole lot for the snow lovers."
Sandstrom said the NWS defines a white Christmas as having 1 inch of snow on the ground on Christmas Day. And even though Brainerd will see some snow, temperatures are expected to be in the upper 30s, so most likely the snow will melt. Friday's expected high is 36, Saturday's is 38 and Sunday it could be near 35.
"When we look at what Brainerd has right now on the ground, what's coming (Thursday) and what might be melting in the next few days with the warmer temperatures, I would say the odds are not looking in your favor ... even if you do get an inch it looks like it may melt," Sandstrom said.
"There is still a chance, probably not in the next week but days leading up to Christmas if there happens to be a system that passes through that drops a little snow you might still be able to pull it off."
Sandstrom said according to NWS data for Brainerd, gathered at the Brainerd water treatment plant, the city had an inch of snow on the ground Tuesday. That went down to a trace of snow Wednesday-slowly melting. Sandstrom said a jet stream in the south brought relatively warmer temperatures.
The amount of snowfall in Brainerd so far this year is not normal.
Sandstrom said Brainerd has had 4.6 inches of snowfall so far this season, which is 7.6 inches below the normal of 12.2 inches for this date. For the month of December alone, Brainerd has only received a trace of snowfall and the average December snowfall up to this date is 3.4 inches.
The snowfall in Brainerd for the 2017-18 winter season was 73.5 inches. The normal annual snowfall is 43.4 inches, so last year was quite a bit above average, Sandstrom said.
Not only have Brainerd residents not seen much snow this year, the temperatures also have been above average.
"We are 5-10 degrees above average for normal temperatures," Sandstrom said. "The normal high for Brainerd is 25 right now.
"Our climate prediction center has us in above average temperatures and below average for precipitation. So, we are looking at a more mild and drier winter and that is what we have been seeing the past few days."
Besides a more mild and drier winter, Brainerd residents have not seen a lot of sunny skies. So far in December, the NWS reported there were three clear days, three partly cloudy days and five cloudy days. In November, there were two clear days, 17 partly cloudy days and 11 cloudy days.
The flood warning continues for the Mississippi River at Fort Ripley affecting Crow Wing and Morrison counties.
The NWS reported Wednesday morning, the river levels on the Mississippi River near Fort Ripley continued at minor flood stage due to ice jams downstream of the river gauge. Ice jamming will cause erratic river levels until the jam releases. River levels may fluctuate between 1 and 2 feet in a short period of time, and due to the unpredictable nature of ice
jams the Mississippi River near Fort Ripley may rise higher than forecast, the NWS reported.
At 9:30 a.m. Wednesday the river level was 10.3 feet. Flood stage is 10 feet. At 11 feet it will cause minor flooding of rural areas near Fort Ripley.
This current crest compares to spring flooding with a crest of 10.3 feet on May 22, 2015. In December 2016, an ice jam caused similar rises in the water level. According to NWS, the highest crest ever recorded at the Fort Ripley gauge is 14.3 feet on March 23, 1966. On April 13, 2001, the river reached 13.84 feet, the third highest crest recorded. On Dec. 7, 1996, the river swelled to 11.25 feet, the highest recorded winter flood level.