24" snow on the ground in the Twin Cities. That's the most snow since late January, 1982, when we had a whopping 38" on the ground. Pete Boulay at the Minnesota Climatology Working Group writes: "24 inches or more has only happened in 8 other years in the Twin Cities, the last time was on January 26, 1982. The record is 38 inches on January 23, 1982... One of the few records the Halloween storm did not break, the deepest snow for the Halloween Blizzard is 23."
Remember the movie "Network"? Well I'm having a Howard Beale Moment. "I'm madder than (heck?) and I'm not going to take it any more!"
I can't work under such intolerable conditions. Now I'm a reluctant weather-therapist, trying to help friends, family (and readers) cope with the coldest winter in 35 years. But to no avail. So I'm going on strike and encouraging all Minnesota meteorologists to follow my lead.
Don't show up for work. Maybe a few minutes of dead air will encourage Canada to stop shelling us with subzero artillery.
Enough is enough.
Step away from the Doppler, Paul.
The good news? The glacier in your yard won't grow appreciably into next week - waves of numbing air pushing the storm track well south of Minnesota. The bad news (unless you're into aerobic shivering) is 7 more subzero nights next week, on top of the 45 we've already enjoyed. Hey, if we reach 53 subzero nights it'll be the most since 1978, the 5th most on record.
While we stare out our windows at serious-thermometer-shrinkage the rest of the northern hemisphere is shrugging through a lukewarm winter. According to NOAA January was the 4th warmest, worldwide, on record.
Yes, this too shall pass.
Worst Roads In 30+ Years? The first tip-off was the e-mail headline advising no travel from the State Patrol. The second tip-off was the worst commute of my life yesterday, driving (or trying to drive) from Excelsior to downtown St. Paul - all on side streets. It was like a Mensa-Level Driver's License Final Exam that someone vaguely psychotic thought up, obstacles jumping out at you from every angle. I got here in 1983, and I can't remember roads this bad in 31 years. A rapid drop in temperature Thursday night coincided with the heaviest snow, the "flash-freeze" turning slush near pavement-level into black ice, compaction from car tires above accelerating the icing process. And when it gets this cold the sand and chemicals take much longer to work, if they work at all. Here's a link to the latest Climate Matters, with some of the craziest weather extremes with this last storm: "WeatherNation Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas talks about the recent severe weather, noting the rarity of tornadoes passing over snowy ground in Illinois. Weather whiplash continues as Blizzard Warnings shared borders with Severe Thunderstorm Warnings in Iowa and the entire storm system drenched the eastern U.S. with heavy rain. Will we have a calmer week ahead?"
Coldest Winters On Record In The Twin Cities. To date we are tied for 9th coldest, the chilliest since 1978-79. Next week's cold wave could push us into the 7th or 8th spot - too early to know, but the Polar Vortex isn't quite done with us yet. Here's an excerpt from The Minnesota DNR: "The winter of 2013-14 has been the coldest in years. So far the average temperature of Meteorological Winter (December-February 19) is 10.0 degrees. If cold weather returns for the rest of February, the winter of 2013-14 would finish in the top ten coldest winters on record."
The Twin Cities "Winter Misery Index" Reaches 168 (Severe). Snow and cold lovers will be offended; others will nod their head in agreement. Pete Boulay at the MN State Climate Office confirms that this last 10" snowfall tipped us over into a "Severe Winter", as measured by the WMI; here's an explanation from The Minnesota DNR: "The Winter Misery Index (WMI) is an attempt to weigh the relative severity of winters. The index assigns points for daily counts of maximum temperatures 10 degrees or colder and daily minimums of 0 or colder. If the minimum temperature is -20 or colder greater weight is assigned to the value times 8. For snowfall, one inch is assigned a point per calendar day. A four inch snowfall is times 4, and an 8 inch snowfall is times 8. The duration of a winter is noted by the number of days the snow depth is 12 inches or greater. All current measurements are at the Twin Cities International Airport.
So far as of February 21, 2014 the WMI for the winter of 2013-14 in Twin Cities is 168 points, or in the "severe winter" category. Of course there is quite a bit of winter left. The lowest WMI score was the winter of 2011-2012 with 16 points. The most severe winter is 1916-1917 with 305 WMI points. How many WMI points will this winter score? stay tuned!
Half A Door's Worth Of Snow. This is how Clint Austin started his day, admiring his front door's imprint in the snow drifts up in Duluth, then quickly trying to figure out how to get outside. Good grief.
How Many Subzero Nights This Winter? We've already enjoyed/endured 45 nights of negative numbers - I see at least another 5-8 over the next 10 days. That could bring our total close to 53, which is what MSP experienced back in 1978 (the 5th most on record). More chilling details from the Minnesota DNR: "As of February 18, there have been 45 minimum temperatures of zero or colder: 13 in December, 20 in January and 12 so far in February. This is the most number of minimums at or below zero in a winter since the winter of 1981-82 when the total was 46. The highest number of at or below zero temperatures in an entire winter is 68 for the winter of 1874-75. The last time there were over 50 minimums of zero or colder was the winter of 1977-78 with 53..."
Holding Pattern Keeps....Holding. Well, give nature some credit for continuity. The pattern has been pretty persistent since early December, and polar air will continue to push south of the Canadian border into late next week. Not as frigid as January or early February, but expect 7 more subzero nights next week, on top of the 45 nights of negative fun we've already enjoyed! The core of the next cold wave arrives by the middle of next week; morning bus stop temperatures Wednesday and Thursday may dip to -20 or -25F. Graph: Weatherspark.
Circle Me Bert! Don't stop circling until 70s show up in that left column ok? Expect a cold first week of March, but the GFS is fairly consistent from run to run, showing 30s returning the second week of March. Kind of sad that so many of us are grateful to see 30s. A measure of how far we've fallen.
Coping With A Long Winter. I was especially grateful for Dr. Mark Seeley's words of wisdom in this week's installment of Minnesota WeatherTalk; here's an excerpt that caught my eye: "...As we face the final stages of this long hard winter in Minnesota, I was inspired to see these words from the writer Victor Hugo:
"laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face."
This is a winter that we can be thankful for laughter. I know that I saw many more smiles when the temperature finally touched 40 degrees F two days in a row this week in the Twin Cities. At least that gave us a bit of a respite...."
Monster Flakes. Thanks to Mark DeArmond for snapping this photo. Looks like Old Man Winter was hosting his own Winter Games, starting with a massive snowball battle.
What Cold? Earth Had It's Fourth-Warmest January. No, weather is not climate. The trouble is: we are all hard-wired to react to weather, not the longer, slower (global) climate trends that have so many scientists concerned. Here's an excerpt from Mashable: "...The last January with below average global temperatures occurred in 1976, the bicentennial of the U.S., and the year that the first “Rocky” movie hit theaters. The last below average global temperature for any month was February 1985. According to NOAA, the combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for January was 54.8 degrees Fahrenheit, which was 1.17 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average. Using different analysis methods, NASA also concluded that Alaska had its third-warmest January, and central and southern Africa were record warm for the month as well. China had its second-warmest January on record, and France tied with 1988 and 1936 for its warmest January..."
Image credit above: "The jet stream buckled in January, allowing extremely cold air (in blue) to enter the U.S." Image: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
$40 Billion: Drought Could Be One Of The Most Expensive Disasters In History. Will the rains come in time to help California? The odds are dropping with each passing day; the wet season winds down in March. It would take a (remarkable) amount of rain to replenish dusty topsoil and restore significant water to reservoirs. Here's an excerpt from CBS Sacramento: "California’s drought is so severe, experts say it could have a $40 billion impact on the state’s economy, and they say it could end up being one of the top 10 natural disasters our country has ever seen. Amarel says it’s already forcing farmers to downsize, and it could wipe out some altogether, especially when food prices start going up next year. The ripple effect could cripple the state’s economy, and farmers who remember the drought of 1976 are still bracing for the worst..."
An Improbable Sight. I've been doing this for 40 years, and I can't remember ever seeing something like this. I've read reports of isolated tornadoes over the Rockies, briefly passing over snowfields, a very rare meteorological event. But Thursday this (roping) tornado was photographed about 5 miles away from the photographer. Check out the piles of melting slush in the foreground; looks like half a foot (?) of dirty snow in that one clump. This takes weather whiplash to a new (and ridiculously jaw-dropping) level. Photo courtesy of Dana Cottingham Fricke, from Concord, Illinois.
British Floods - California Drought: A Connection? National Geographic explores the still-controversial theory that rapid warming and ice melt in far northern latitudes may be impacting the configuration of the jet stream; here's an excerpt: "...There is wide scientific consensus that global warming promotes weather extremes in those ways, even if the jury is still out on Francis's hypothesis of an Arctic connection. "We used to say you can't attribute any single event to climate change," says Thomas Peterson of NOAA's National Climatic Data Center. Now, he says, scientists emphasize how climate change is tilting the odds toward extreme events, the way steroids pump up a baseball player: "You know he's hitting 20 percent more home runs, but you don't know if a specific home run is a result of the steroids."
Photo credit above: "A flooded house in Egham, England, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014. The River Thames has burst its banks after reaching its highest level in years, flooding riverside towns upstream of London, with Egham being about 20 miles (32 Km) east of central London." (AP Photo/Sang Tan)
Pacific Nino 3.4 SST Outlook. Over the last few years we've been transitioning from a La Nina cooling phase of the Pacific to an ENSO-neutral phase, which should continue into spring. But models are increasingly hinting at an El Nino event possibly returning by the end of 2014. It's still too early to say, but if you'd like to dig into a little light reading (29 page PDF from NOAA NCEP Climate Prediction Center) give it a shot.
U.S. vs. China: Is This The New Cold War? Financial Times Magazine has a very interesting read here.
Google's Project Tango: A Smart Phone That Sees Your Surroundings. Because my phone isn't already spying on me enough - here's a clip from Gizmag that made me do a triple-take: "Smartphones are, well, smart, but they aren't very interested in their surroundings. This may seem trivial, but when it comes to working with people in what we like to call the “real” world, a mobile device that doesn't understand much outside of its camera view has only limited usefulness. With these limitations in mind, Google’s Project Tango is working on a smartphone that can map its environment in 3D in real time to provide user and device with some common ground..."
Sailing The Seas In A Luxury Submarine. Hey, it's only 175,000 British pounds/night, about $250,000 U.S. A bargain, I'd say, for the very well-off 1% who have more money than sense. The Telegraph has a few details: "Could it be that luxury travellers are tiring of the reliably lavish but occasionally homogenous experiences provided by the world’s best grande dame hotels? Offering truly distinct experiences, an increasing number of entirely unique hotel rooms have opened in recent years. Now, following the unveiling of an underwater hotel room in Zanzibar, the holiday home-rental company Oliver’s Travels is offering its customers the chance to spend the night in a specially adapted leisure submarine..."
TODAY: Chilled sunlight. Winds: W 10-15. High: 15
SATURDAY NIGHT: Clear and cold. Low: 0
SUNDAY: Blue sky, only partially numb. High: 14
MONDAY: Flurries & light snow. Coating - 1" Wake-up: -3. High: 12
TUESDAY: Some sun, turning colder again. Wake-up: -7. High: 5
WEDNESDAY: Cash in frequent flier miles. Patchy clouds, reinforcing clipper. Wake-up: -9. High: 10
THURSDAY: Sunny, unreasonably cold. Wake-up: -11. High: 2
FRIDAY: Cold, but still storm-free. Wake-up: -14. High: 6
* Models are hinting at a possible thaw again the second week of March.
Play It Again: January Continues Globe's Warm Trend. You'd never know it staring at the thermometer in your back yard, but the planet continues to run a low-grade fever. Here's a clip from Climate Central: "Last month was the fourth-warmest January since recordkeeping began in 1880. It was also the 347th consecutive month with above-average temperatures compared to the 20th century average, which has been fueled in large part by climate change. That streak is one month shy of 29 straight years. Global average temperatures were also among their top 10 warmest for the ninth straight month, according to data released Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)..."
Old Arctic Ice Is Disappearing And Taking The Rest Of The Ice With It. Slate has the article; here's the introduction: "The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently released a video that shows compellingly just how bad things are getting at the top of the world. The animation displays Arctic ice over time not just by how much area it covers, but also by age, with white being the oldest ice (nine years or older): It’s not hard to see that over the past few years, the oldest ice has melted away, and over time the ice gets younger. That’s not good: Older ice is thicker and tends to hang around longer; young ice is generally thinner and melts away every summer. That means that the year-round amount of ice is dropping, and dropping rapidly..."