It took the better part of 50 years for cars to replace horses. Manure and bugs gave way to smog, congestion and sprawl - but for most this fit the definition of progress.
20th Anniversary of Minnesota's All-Time Record Low. Who will forget -60 F (air temperature) anytime soon? Minnesota's DNR has a walk down memory lane: "February 2, 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of the lowest instrument-measured temperature on record for the state of Minnesota. A location in St. Louis County, 3 miles south of Tower, recorded -60 degrees F on February 2, 1996. This value ties Minnesota with North Dakota for the all-time record low for a non-mountainous state. But why Tower? Aside from the deeply cold air mass that had overspread the region, two factors likely contributed to the record-low temperature. First, Tower had 44 inches of snow on the ground. The height of the thermometer is normally about 5 feet above the ground, but with the deep snow, the "ground" was much closer to the thermometer. The coldest air tends to sink to the lowest possible level, which on this morning placed it very close to the thermometer. Additionally, the Tower site is situated in a slight topographic bowl, which allows cold air to drain in from nearby areas. As a result, Tower frequently records some of the lowest temperatures in the state..."
Photo credit: "-60 was Big News in February 1996." Courtesy: St. Paul Pioneer Press and Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Future Radar. 12 KM NAM guidance shows a big bubble of high pressure over the central Plains pushing into the Mid Atlantic region by the weekend; lake effect snows slowly tapering with a little rain for Texas. Heaviest rains and mountain snows fall from northern California into the Pacific Northwest.
Wild Temperature Gyrations. No, I'm not at all convinced Twin Cities temperatures will spike from 11F next Wednesday to 52F one week from today, but ECMWF guidance shows unusually warm air passing just south of Minnesota by the end of next week. Any snow Tuesday gives way to a couple of cold days, followed by potentially rapid temperature inflation. Graphic: WeatherBell.
Snowy Possibilities. And that's all they are now - possibilities. Confidence levels are still low, but GFS data suggests a plowable snow from Minnesota into Wisconsin and the Great Lakes Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, then spreading into New England. Snow for the Mid South andn Carolinas late next week? I wouldn't put down any wagers just yet. Meanwhile a safe bet calls for a few more FEET of snow from the Colorado Rockies to the Sierra and Cascade Range. Animation: Tropicaltidbits.com
Mid-February or Mid-March? The very same GFS model builds a sprawling ridge of high pressure over the Rockies and Plains within 2 weeks, pushing unusual warmth as far north as interior Canada. Flowers are already in bloom across much of the south, a trend which may accelerate in the weeks to come.
Winter Snowfall Totals, To Date. The Eastern office of the NWS compiled actual snowfall totals as of February 1, compared to normal and last winter. Lake effect has been more impressive, but there haven't been any big coastal storms, no snowy Nor'easters to speak of - yet.
Sorry Phil, 6 More Weeks of Winter May Be a Stretch This Year. Almost all models show a predominately Pacific wind flow into much of February with temperatures above average across most of the USA. Here's an excerpt from The Washington Post: "...Phil probably should have phoned in last year’s forecast this morning, because this one was wrong before he even woke up. When a season begins and when it ends tends to be a subjective matter, but there are actual metrics that phenologists (plant scientists!) use to determine when spring has arrived. In parts of the Southeast, green leaves are popping out more than 20 days ahead of schedule, according to the National Phenology Network. In late January, daffodils were reported in Oklahoma, crocuses in Delaware and tulips in Boston..."
Map credit: "
Groundhogs, Snow Fleas, Skunks or Tornado Bob? So many animals - so little time. 6 more weeks of winter seems like a pretty safe bet at this latitude. Here's an excerpt of an illuminating article at GrandRapidsMN.com: "...According to the History Channel’s website, the first Groundhog Day was celebrated at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Penn. in 1887 and has roots in an ancient Christian tradition called Candlemas Day during which time clergy members would bless candles and distribute them for the winter. These candles, according to lore, served to represent the length and severity of the winter. This tradition was expanded upon later by the Germans, who selected the first animal, the hedgehog, as a means of predicting the weather. The practice first came to America with the German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania who continued the tradition, switching their animal of choice from hedgehogs to groundhogs which were more plentiful in their new home..."
5.7 Trillion Gallons of Water Snowed on California in January. Fantastic news for California's water supply, but underground aquifers will take much longer to recover. Here's an excerpt of an interesting nugget at USA TODAY: "Over five trillion gallons of water — much of it still locked up as snow in the mountains — fell across California in January, ending the prolonged drought in the northern part of the state. The parade of snowstorms that blasted the state in January dumped the equivalent of about 5.7 trillion gallons of water, according to researchers at Colorado University’s Center for Water Earth Science and Technology. (That's how much water was in the snow that fell). Many ski areas in the Sierra were pasted with 20 to 30 feet of snow. Mammoth Mountain had its snowiest month ever recorded, with over 20 feet..."
Photo credit: "January storms in the Sierra Nevadas reduced California's deficit in stored snow water by about 37 percent." Credit: Flickr user Perfect Zero, CC BY 2.0.
Storms Filled 37 Percent of California Snow-Water Deficit. NASA has more perspective: "The "atmospheric river" weather patterns that pummeled California with storms from late December to late January may have recouped 37 percent of the state’s five-year snow-water deficit, according to new University of Colorado Boulder-led research using NASA satellite data. Researchers at the university's Center for Water Earth Science and Technology (CWEST) estimate that two powerful recent storms deposited roughly 17.5-million acre feet (21.6 cubic kilometers) of water on California’s Sierra Nevada range in January. Compared to averages from the pre-drought satellite record, that amount represents more than 120 percent of the typical annual snow accumulation for this range. Snowmelt from the range is a critical water source for the state's agriculture, hydropower generation and municipal water supplies..."
Map credit: "These maps show how much water was stored in the Sierra snowpack on Jan. 6 (left) and Jan. 24 (center), 2017. Darker colors indicate more water. The inset bar graph in the center figure shows the annual snowpack water storage relative to the pre-drought average as well as the cumulative snow-water deficit. The map on right shows snowpack water storage on Jan. 24 as a percentage of pre-drought average snowpack water storage at its greatest. Areas in green are over 100 percent of average." Credit: CU/NASA.
January Tornado Count...Yikes. That's one way of putting it - I keep wondering if January's high tornado count is a fluke, or premonition of what's to come later this spring. I suspect America's 6-year tornado drought is coming to an end. Here's an excerpt of a post from Damon Lane at KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City: "138 tornadoes (unofficial) making this past January the 2nd busiest on record. #1 was January 1999 when we had well over 200 tornadoes. And yes...1999 was a bad spring. So can we get an idea of how active the spring will be by looking at how bad the winter is ? Yes....and No. First the yes: La Nina years have traditionally lead to an active spring season. In 2008 when we were in a La Nina there were 85 tornadoes in the month of January followed by over 450 tornado in May. Busy indeed..."
Drawing Blown Away by Tornado Found 100 Miles Away. This puts the updraft in a tornadic supercell into perspective. WLOX.com has details: "As the recovery effort continues in the Pine Belt, countless stories have emerged from the storm ravaged area. One man's story will likely be something he tells for the rest of his life. The tornado dug a path of utter destruction through the area, leveling neighborhoods and businesses. Some homes were spared while others in its path were demolished..."
Photo credit: "Daniel Baggett will forever have a reminder of that incredible force in the form of a grade school drawing." (Photo source: WLOX)
The Deep History of California's Catastrophic Flooding. NexusMedia has the context and perspective: "...As the climate warms, I’m definitely concerned about what might come next. California has been growing in places, like the Central Valley and the Delta. Parts of the Delta are below sea level because it has been sinking. The Central Valley has also been sinking because of groundwater pumping, and some parts are 30 feet deeper than in 1861. It’s so much worse now — there are more than 6 million people living in the Central Valley alone. In 2011 the USGS presented the ARkStorm [Atmospheric River 1,000 Storm] scenario to model the impacts of an 1861-type storm, at the time thought to be a 1,000-year event. They modeled the storm with today’s geography and where people are living. The bottom line is damage totaled more than $700 billion..."
Photo credit: "The 1986 flooding of the Russian River in Sonoma County, California." Source: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
This Lawmaker Wants to Ease Rules on Drilling in National Parks, and Conservationists Aren't Happy. Wow, seems sensible to me - let's start with fracking directly under the waterfalls at Yosemite. Here's an excerpt from The Washington Post: "It’s safe to say that Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) is no friend of environmentalists. He boycotted Pope Francis’s speech to Congress in 2015 because the pontiff addressed climate change. He received a score of 3 percent that year from the League of Conservation Voters, significantly below the House average of 41 percent. But his latest move came as a surprise to many. Gosar submitted a resolution Monday that threatens to repeal the National Park Service’s authority to manage private drilling for oil, gas and minerals at 40 national parks, according to the National Parks Conservation Association. Under what are known as the 9B rules, the Park Service, which controls the surface of natural parks, can decline drilling rights to parties that own resources beneath the surface if it determines that the operation would be an environmental threat..."
Photo credit: "
Tesla Drops "Motors" From Name in Bid for Clean Energy Supremacy. ThinkProgress has details: "...Musk has positioned Tesla in the sweet spot of three emerging trillion-dollar industries—electric vehicles, solar power, and battery storage. If you count the race towards fully autonomous vehicles, which EVs are likely to dominate, Tesla hits four major growth sectors. By 2025, there are expected to be more than 37 million fully electric vehicles on the road worldwide, according to Navigant Research, and they will be “cost competitive” — without subsidies. Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) has projected that by 2040 between a third and a half of all new vehicles could be electric. It’s no surprise, then, that last year, Tesla’s affordable, long-range Model 3 saw the most presales of any car in U.S. history..."
Lawmakers Could Find Common Ground on Energy Infrastructure Upgrade. Can Republicans and Democrats find common ground? Here's an excerpt from NexusMedia: "It’s pretty hard to identify any areas of cooperation between Democrats and Republicans right now, but one thing they both agree needs addressing is our nation’s infrastructure. It’s no secret that our many of nation’s roads, highways and power lines are out of date and in many places outright dangerous. America’s infrastructure earned a D+ on the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2013 “Infrastructure Report Card.” The country’s dilapidated infrastructure costs households around $3,400 annually. Crumbling roads slow commutes and aging electricity grids make power bills more expensive. Notably, the nation’s energy system earned a lower grade than its bridges, ports and railways. Modernizing the electricity grid would improve resilience in the face extreme weather and cyber attacks, expand access to clean wind and solar energy, and shrink monthly power pills..." (Image credit: Pexel).
States Expected to Continue Course Toward Clean Energy Future. Here's an excerpt of a post at the PEW Charitable Trusts: "...The states have always led the country toward greater reliance on renewable energy sources, and they will continue to do so even if they don’t have the support of the incoming administration, said Gabe Pacyniak, a program manager at the Georgetown Climate Center, which helps states implement clean energy policies. Economic factors, such as the rapidly declining cost of wind and solar production, will help continue that trajectory, Pacyniak said. In the last two months alone, the Republican governors of Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio and Vermont have announced initiatives or signed bills that will push their states to increase their use of renewable energy. These are well-respected, “card-carrying conservatives who understand the benefits of the clean energy agenda,” said former Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter of Colorado, who is now director of the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University..."
Photo credit: "A worker installs solar panels on a roof in Honolulu. More states will encourage the use of renewable energy this year, seeing the economic benefits the industry brings." © The Associated Press.
How GPS Found Its Way. Science Friday has a terrific 8-minute audio explainer: here's a preview: "In the early 1970s, the idea for a satellite-based modern navigation system was controversial in the United States Air Force. Many in leadership didn’t want anything to do with the project that would become our now-ubiquitous GPS—they thought the money was better spent on putting more planes in the air. Engineer and former Air Force colonel Brad Parkinson directed the GPS project during that fragile time, and made countless appeals in Washington to get it approved and keep it approved in the years it took to perfect the technology. He’s now receiving the 2016 Marconi Prize for his dedication to ensuring that the first GPS satellites got off the ground. He shares the story of the difficult birth of GPS."
Use of Ad-Blocking Software Rises by 30% Worldwide. Here's a clip from The New York Times: "Facebook has tried to ban it. Google has attempted to outsmart it. But no matter what these tech giants do, people’s use of software to block digital advertising — often the lifeblood of companies’ online business models — keeps gaining traction worldwide. In total, roughly 11 percent of internet users globally relied on ad blockers to avoid some form of digital advertising last year when surfing the web. That equates to more than 600 million devices, from smartphones to traditional computers. The figure represents a 30 percent annual increase, according to a new report published on Wednesday by PageFair, a start-up that helps companies recoup some of this lost advertising revenue, which now totals tens of billions of dollars each year..."
Great Places to Retire on $1,000 a Month. GOBankingrates.com has an interesting article that offers new cities to ponder when making a decision on where to live, inexpensively: "...Americans 65 years of age or older average nearly $44,686 in annual expenses, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, you do not have to put your retirement on ice even if your net worth does not quite approach that of King Midas. GOBankingRates ranked U.S. cities to find great places to retire on $1,000 a month. The ranking considered several local factors, including:
- Housing — rental prices for a one-bedroom apartment, rounded to nearest dollar.
- Percentage of retirees — in the local population as of April 1, 2010.
- Walkability — scores ranging from 25 for Montgomery, Ala., to 65 for Allentown, Pa.
- Safety factors — scores ranging from 6 for Rochester, N.Y., and Louisville, Ky., to 30 for Boise, Idaho.
Each city was given a weighting for each of the criterion and was ranked based on the overall score. Avoid making a big mistake during your golden years and instead consider one of the following 25 great places to retire..."
What On Earth is a "Tornado of Tuna"? You learn something every day - this nugget courtesy of Atlas Obscura: "A couple of times a year in the waters of Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, a colossal column of tuna churns slowly in an underwater fish vortex. The tunnel of over 100,000 Jack Tuna, or bigeye trevally, is large enough to cast looming shadows across the ocean floor. The clip above gives us a rare glimpse of what it’s like to be under this huge “tuna tornado.” At the 19-second mark, the camera is swallowed by the swirling silver mass. Each tuna averages over three feet in length. This fantastic phenomenon is the result of the tuna’s mating behavior..."
+ 5.3 F. January temperatures in the Twin Cities were more than 5 F. warmer than average.
17 F. maximum temperature in the Twin Cities Thursday.
25 F. average high on February 2.
30 F. high on February 2, 2016.
February 3, 1989: Bitterly cold temperatures occur across Minnesota with lows in the 40-below-zero range in the north.
February 3, 1947: A strong dust storm hits Crookston with winds near 50 mph. Visibility was reduced down to 300 feet.
TODAY: Sunny and cool. Winds: W 8-13. High: 23
FRIDAY NIGHT: Clouds increase. Low: 12
SATURDAY: Dusting of flurries, milder breeze. Winds: S 10-20. High: 33
SUNDAY: Mostly cloudy. Atlanta by 3. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 21. High: 28
MONDAY: Overcast, still mild for early February. Winds: E 8-13. Wake-up: 22. High: 34
TUESDAY: Wet snow, few slushy inches possible. Winds: NE 10-20. Wake-up: 24. High: 29
WEDNESDAY: Sun returns, feels like 0F. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 10. High: 14
THURSDAY: Sunny, less wind. Feels like winter again. Winds: W 5-10. Wake-up: -3. High: 12
"Listen to Evidence": March for Science Plans Washington Rally on Earth Day. Here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "Within a week of its creation, the March for Science campaign had attracted more than 1.3 million supporters across Facebook and Twitter, cementing itself as a voice for people who are concerned about the future of science under President Trump. Now, hoping to transform that viral success into something approaching the significance of the women’s march last month, the campaign has scheduled its demonstration in Washington for Earth Day, April 22. “Yes, this is a protest, but it’s not a political protest,” said Jonathan Berman, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and a lead organizer of the march. “The people making decisions are in Washington, and they are the people we are trying to reach with the message: You should listen to evidence...”
Photo credit: " Credit Robin Wood/Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, via Associated Press.
Global Warming Threatens Winter Sports. Climate Central reports: "...The number of days below 32°F in the U.S. has been declining. This trend is projected to continue, threatening many of the winter activities that rely on cold conditions, including skiing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, and outdoor ice hockey. These winter recreational activities are an integral part of the economy in many states. Data from 2009-10 show that the ski, snowboard, and snowmobiling industries were directly and indirectly responsible for employing 211,900 people and adding an estimated $12.2 billion in economic value to the U.S. economy. As winter loses its chill, these winter tourism activities will be impacted and with them, people’s livelihoods..."
A New Battle Over Politics and Science is Brewing. And Scientists Are Ready For It. Here's an excerpt from Chris Mooney at The Washington Post: "...Scientist marches on Washington, creation of alternative Twitter accounts, legal defense funds, and much more — these are signs of a much more engaged, and politically realistic, scientific community than the relatively reticent one that existed in George W. Bush’s day. This is the consequence of scientists experimenting for more than a decade with blogging and social media, of their focus on scientific communications to the public, and of their growing awareness of political attacks on science and the need to counter them. In this context, it is far more likely that any scientist who feels the need to speak out will find a ready support structure, both within the community and also in social media — including legal aid if necessary. In other words, researchers have more protections, but they also are better networked and have more social support. Both are crucial..."
Photo credit: "
"Beyond the Extreme": Scientists Marvel at 'Increasingly Non-Natural' Arctic Warmth. Are we close to a tipping point - or has the arctic already tipped over into a new state? Here's an excerpt from Jason Samenow at Capital Weather Gang: "...2016 was the warmest year on record in the Arctic, and 2017 has picked up right where it left off. “Arctic extreme (relative) warmth continues,” Ryan Maue, a meteorologist with WeatherBell Analytics, tweeted on Wednesday, referring to January’s temperatures. Veteran Arctic climate scientists are stunned. “[A]fter studying the Arctic and its climate for three and a half decades, I have concluded that what has happened over the last year goes beyond even the extreme,” wrote Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., in an essay for Earth magazine. At the North Pole, the mercury has rocketed to near the melting point twice since November, and another huge flux of warmth is projected by models next week. Their simulations predict some places in the high Arctic will rise over 50 degrees above normal..."
Images of Change. NASA has an interactive web site that shows the dramatic decrease in ice coverage from September 1984 to September 2016. It turns out it's not only aerial coverage of ice, but ice thickness as well. In the 1950s submarines in the U.S. Navy reported ice 6-10 feet thick; now it's only a couple feet thick in many locations.
"Planned Retreat" Enters the Climate Dialogue. For coastal Alaska and Louisiana it's already happening. Here's an excerpt from Scientific American: "As sea levels rise, U.S. communities have several strategies to cope with the effects of climate change, the president of the National Academy of Sciences said yesterday. There's triage for high-dollar assets, like airports and military installations and even the Statue of Liberty, Marcia McNutt said. But more and more, she added, “organized retreat” is a part of the conversation. That strategy, once politically unpalatable, has emerged from the shadows in recent months as scientists, community leaders and governments try to figure out how to move people out of the way of coastal flooding and other hazards..."
Photo credit: "Navigation channel amongst eroding wetlands in Coastal Louisiana southeast of Houma." IAN Image and Video Library.
Can States Lead the Way on Climate Change? Here's an excerpt from The Christian Century: "...California is setting an example, showing how much of a role entities other than the federal government can play. The future of climate change action will necessarily involve a broad range of participants—including state and local governments, corporations, advocacy groups (like 350.org), and consumers. Together these entities are already pushing the country toward both technological innovation and constructive regulation. The global goal articulated by the Paris agreement is to hold the increase in the global average temperature (above preindustrial levels) to below 2° Celsius. It’s an ambitious goal. While there may not be much support for it in Washington these days, the movement is not going away..."
File photo: Matt Brown, AP.