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Monday was a real eye-opener, with a roaring NW wind and temperature in the 20s. The combination produced wind chills much of the day in the 5-10 degree range, something we haven't seen much of this winter season. Here's the vigorous 500mb short wave deepening Monday as it digs into the Great Lakes.

The tight circulation is evident on the hi-res GOES satellite, Monday afternoon. The cyclonic flow sending a quick shot of cold air into the region.

These are the wind chills we had to deal with a large portion of the day. Actual wind gusts were in the range of 37-44 mph.


As potent as Monday's system was, its compact nature and fast movement has already transported the worst of the cold air eastward, setting the stage for a return to warmer temperatures, especially Wednesday through the Christmas holiday. We may have been down Monday but we're not "out" of the mild air for long. This is the 500mb jet stream pattern going into December 23rd. There's no true Arctic air visible from Canada to the Yucatán Peninsula

In fact, these are the temperature departures the EURO shows to start Christmas Eve Day with. Ouch!

A closer inspection shows these specific departures around the Midwest Christmas Eve Day as well as Christmas itself.

Christmas Eve Day

Christmas Day

The actual daily numbers on the EURO meteogram look like this through December 28th in Davenport, Iowa. From the 19th on, every single day is above normal with the warmest period indicated December 24th-26th. Normal highs go from 34 to 31 in Davenport.

Those numbers are not going to produce any record highs, but in both the Quad Cities and Dubuque it could mean a Christmas that ranks in the top 5-10 for all-time warmth. Thanks to the NWS for the graphic.


Snow is not going to whiten our Christmas, that much is a given. If you are wondering what the odds are in any given year for a white Christmas, they range from about 20 percent in the far south near Keokuk, to 39 percent in the Quad Cities to 56 percent in the north around Dubuque. The GFS shows this for snow depths Christmas Day. That has to be one of the all time worst for Christmas snow cover.

Compare this year's projected snow cover above to what was on the ground last year below.

Even though we won't have snow, it does not mean the holiday will be dry (far from it). This is the flow at 500mb December 24th.

That deep SW flow is going to tap abundant moisture. Available water vapor (PWATs) are show exceeding 1 inch.

That's over 300 percent more moisture than is typical going into Christmas.

The GFS shows a series of disturbances with the ability to produce rain Friday (22nd), Sunday (24th), and Monday (the 25th). It plasters the area with 1.50 to 2.00 inches of rain. The rain would be welcome but the timing is not, with plenty of us on the roads. That said, if that was snow at a 10:1 ratio, equivalent amounts would be 15-20 inches. Big travel headaches would have been possible. To be clear, that is not happening. This is purely a rain event as it looks right now and I suspect the GFS is far to heavy on the amounts it indicating.

To that point, the EURO is far less aggressive with rain totals and due to the struggles we've had getting rain systems of value, I think the lower totals of the EURO are far more likely than the higher totals of the GFS.

One thing I saw today that I haven't in a very long time is above normal precipitation indicated over the central U.S. The Climate Prediction Center's 6-10 day outlook December 24th-28th clearly shows it based on what I've laid out above. Sadly, I have my doubts that we will reach the higher end amounts the U.S. based models are indicating.

That said, as much as I hate rain at Christmas, an inch would be a god-send for large portions of Iowa, (especially eastern Iowa) where severe to extreme drought conditions exist.

It will be interesting to see if this idea of wetter weather signifies any long term pattern change to more active weather or if we revert back to the mild, dry NW flow that has dominated the region for months. I'm getting mixed signals and I'm hoping the longer range data gets more consistent in the next 24-48 hours with where the weather goes from roughly New Years on. Stay tuned. One thing is for sure, today will be a far better day than Monday. Roll weather...TS



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