A Touch of Pioneer Cold Next 2 Weeks

Be careful what you wish for. The world at your fingertips sounds pretty good. In theory. Yet most of us are increasingly overwhelmed by tweets, posts and pings; trying not to drown in a digital wasteland.

"In the age of information overload, the ultimate luxury is meaning and context" wrote WIRED Magazine's Editor, Nicholas Thompson. In spite of automation and AI, there's still a role for people providing perspective you can't get from a computer - at least not yet.

Consider this cold, cruel payback for a first half of January 10F warmer than average in the Twin Cities. An
inch or two is possible today, enough to grease up roads this morning. A plowable accumulation is even possible Sunday, when a stronger clipper pushes south.

Prepare for several episodes of aerobic shivering. Daytime highs may not rise above 0F Friday; again Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. At some point Canada will run out of icy exhaust and temperatures will moderate, but that may not happen until the second week of February.

Did I mention we EARN our summers in Minnesota? 

Full Lunar Eclipse photos taken Sunday evening courtesy of AerisWeather Lead Developer Lee Huffman (who shot these images with his Android smartphone and a nifty camera lens attachment).

Monday Minimums. -20F at Brainerd and -29 at Hibbing yesterday morning? Fresh air indeed. The Twin Cities metro has experienced 2 mornings of subzero chill so far this winter - average for an entire winter is 24 mornings, just in case anyone asks. Which I seriously doubt. Map: AerisWeather and Praedictix.

Not Much Snow Today. ECMWF prints out a coating to maybe an inch today, with more snow from Detroit Lakes to Walker - as much as 3-5" for parts of the Red River Valley and Northland. Far southeast Minnesota may pick up a few inches of accumulation as well. Map: WeatherBell.

Nuisance Today - Plowable Sunday? It's still way too early to speculate amounts for Sunday, but models (especially ECMWF) have been fairly consistent pulling a strong, slow-moving clipper across Minnesota Sunday, capable of a plowable accumulation if everything goes just right. Trying to predict, days in advance, where the heaviest snow bands will set up, is an exercise in futility. Graphic: Iowa State.

Bottoming Out. 7 subzero nights between now and the first weekend of February? That actually sounds reasonable (wrong word) based on the guidance I'm seeing. In fact I suspect the dome of bitter air sliding overhead early next week (daytime highs below 0F in the metro Tuesday and Wednesday) may be the coldest of winter. ECMWF for MSP: WeatherBell.

Slowly Moderating in Early February. At some point Canada will run out of cold air (they'll make more, no worries) but GFS shows a return of a more zonal, west to east wind flow aloft by the evening of February 4, allowing more moderate, Pacific air to return to Minnesota. By that time we'll be ready for a pattern switch, and trust me: 20s and 30s will feel just fine.

January Temperature Records. Some perspective on record warmth earlier this month from Mark Seeley at Minnesota WeatherTalk: "...Indeed it was not especially unusual to see a new maximum temperature record set on January 4th last week in the Twin Cities with a reading of 47 degrees F, but breaking the old record by 6 degrees F (max temp of 41 degrees F in 2007) was relatively rare. In the Twin Cities climate record which dates back to 1873, about 53 percent of all daily maximum temperature records on the calendar broke the previous record by just 1 or 2 degrees F. So this margin for record breaking values of maximum daily temperature is pretty common throughout history. Only about 14 percent of the time is the old maximum temperature record broken by 6 degrees F or more, as it was on January 4th this year..."

Can You Still Date a Co-Worker? Well, It's Complicated. The Wall Street Journal examines recent trends: "...The line between collegial and romantic interest can be especially fuzzy at large tech companies where employees skew young and perks like free meals, on-site gyms and hair salons compel workers to spend more time on corporate campuses. One rule at Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google: Employees are only allowed to ask a co-worker out once. If they are turned down, they don’t get to ask again. Ambiguous answers such as “I’m busy” or “I can’t that night,” count as a “no,” said Heidi Swartz, Facebook’s global head of employment law. At Facebook, if a potential date involves a person in a more senior position than the other, the date itself doesn’t necessarily have to be disclosed to HR. Facebook says it trusts its employees to disclose a relationship when there is a conflict of interest. Failure to do so will lead to disciplinary action..."

Photo credit: "Startup Asana is putting in place a dating policy. Employees of the company are seen here in its headquarters in San Francisco." Photo: Jason Henry for The Wall Street Journal

Dog Accidently Runs Half-Marathon After Being Let Out for Pee, Finishes 7th. Possibly my favorite headline and story of the year, to date. SPORTbible.com has details: "Imagine training for months and months for a grueling, 13.5 mile marathon to be beaten by Ludivine, the two-and-a-half year old Bloodhound. Well that's what happened in the Elkmont Trackless Train Half Marathon in Canada, when a hound decided to join in the fun after being let out for a wee-wee.  He crawled under the garden fence, ran towards the start-line and well, the rest is history. Ludivine, who eventually finished seventh in the race, even stopped at the two-mile point to sniff a dead rabbit..." 

0 F. Monday morning minimum temperature in the Twin Cities.

17 F. high yesterday at MSP.

24 F. average high on January 21.

39 F. high on January 21, 2018.

January 22, 1982: The Twin Cities receive 21.1 inches of snow, with a total of nearly 40 inches on the ground.

January 22, 1936: Perhaps the coldest wind chill the Twin Cities has ever seen occurs on this day; it hits -67 with the new wind chill formula (-87 with the old formula). The temperature was -34 with a wind speed of 20mph. All traffic in the Twin Cities was severely hampered and a number of fatalities were caused by the cold.

TUESDAY: Coating to 1" snow and flurries. Icy roads. Winds: N 7-12. High: 21

WEDNESDAY: Sunny breaks, better travel. Winds: SW 7-12. Wake-up: 9. High: 23

THURSDAY: Arctic front. Feels like - 20F. Winds: NW 15-25+ Wake-up: 5. High: 9

FRIDAY: Bitter, light snow far southern MN. Winds: W 7-12. Wake-up: -7. High: 4

SATURDAY: Clouds increase, light snow late? Winds: SW 10-15. Wake-up: -6. High: 12

SUNDAY: Stronger clipper - heavier snow risk. Winds: E 10-20. Wake-up: 5. High: 10

MONDAY: Light snow tapers to flurries. Winds: N 10-15. Wake-up: 1. High: 6

Climate Stories...

U Scientists: Minnesota Is One of the Nation's Fastest-Warming States. Star Tribune has the story: "Minnesota is one of the fastest-warming states in the country and, measured by rising winter temperatures, Minneapolis and Mankato are among the three fastest-warming cities, a team of scientists told state lawmakers Tuesday. Climate change means the state will be buffeted by more supercharged weather — heat waves, droughts, deluges, wind storms, flooding and even wildfires. But for Minnesota, it’s primarily a winter phenomenon. The state’s famous winters are warming 13 times faster than its summers, said Tracy Twine, an associate professor in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Soil, Water and Climate..."

Image credit: Citizens Climate Lobby.

PG&E: The First Climate-Change Bankruptcy, Probably Not the Last. The Wall Street Journal breaks down the risks: "...The PG&E bankruptcy could be a wake-up call for corporations, forcing them to expand how they think about climate-related risks, management consultants and other experts said. Previously, companies mainly worried over risks from new governmental regulations related to climate change, said Christophe Brognaux, a managing director at Boston Consulting Group. The PG&E case makes clear that companies also have to worry about sudden, and potentially unexpected, impacts to their core assets and liabilities, he added. “Physical risks have only recently manifested themselves. This is a fairly new development,” said Bruce Usher, a professor at Columbia University’s business school who teaches a course on climate and finance. “If you are not already considering extreme weather and other climatic events as one of many risk factors affecting business today, you are not doing your job...”

Photo credit: "A PG&E truck makes its way past a hot spot during the Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif., in November." Photo: Hector Amezcua/Sacramento Bee/Zuma Press.

Economists' Statement on Carbon Dividends. It's a fee and dividend approach, a revenue-neutral approach - one that doesn't necessarily enlarge government, but refunds carbon fees back to consumers to help pay for energy costs during the transition to clean, renewable fuels. Quite a list of economists; here's an excerpt from The Wall Street Journal: "Global climate change is a serious problem calling for immediate national action. Guided by sound economic principles, we are united in the following policy recommendations.

I. A carbon tax offers the most cost-effective lever to reduce carbon emissions at the scale and speed that is necessary. By correcting a well-known market failure, a carbon tax will send a powerful price signal that harnesses the invisible hand of the marketplace to steer economic actors towards a low-carbon future.

II. A carbon tax should increase every year until emissions reductions goals are met and be revenue neutral to avoid debates over the size of government. A consistently rising carbon price will encourage technological innovation and large-scale infrastructure development. It will also accelerate the diffusion of carbon-efficient goods and services..."

Photo credit: "Steam billows from a coal-fired plant in Bow, N.H., Jan. 20, 2015." Photo: Jim Cole/Associated Press.

Climate and Cyber Risks Top Concerns Facing the World in 2019. Bloomberg reports: "The failure to tackle climate change and extreme weather events are the most threatening global risks this year, according to the World Economic Forum. Inability to mitigate or adapt to climate change leapfrogged several places on the list as the second-most likely risk facing the world in 2019 after extreme weather events, the WEF said in a report published Wednesday. What’s more, worsening international relations mean the capacity to deal with those major problems has plummeted..."

Image credit: Bloomberg, World Economic Forum Global Risks Report.

Glaciers are Retreating. Millions Rely On Their Water. Here's an excerpt of an interactive multi-media approach to story-telling at The New York Times: "...What’s happening in the mountains of southeastern Kazakhstan is occurring all over the globe. The world’s roughly 150,000 glaciers, not including the large ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica, cover about 200,000 square miles of the earth’s surface. Over the last four decades they’ve lost the equivalent of a layer of ice 70 feet thick. Most of them are getting shorter, too. Some have shrunk to nothing: Smaller glaciers in places like the Rockies and the Andes have disappeared. Even if greenhouse gas emissions were sharply curtailed immediately, there has already been enough warming to continue shrinking glaciers around the world..."

Graphic credit: New York Times.

Are We Living Through Climate Change's Worst-Case Scenario? The Atlantic has a post that tries to cut through the gloom and doom: "...God help us if 8.5 turns out to be the right scenario,” Jackson told me. Under RCP 8.5, the world’s average temperature would rise by 4.9 degrees Celsius, or nearly 9 degrees Fahrenheit. “That’s an inconceivable increase for global temperatures—especially when we think about them being global average temperatures,” he said. “Temperatures will be even higher in the northern latitudes, and higher over land than over the ocean.” This scenario could still be in the planet’s future, according to Zeke Hausfather, an analyst and climate scientist at Berkeley Earth. Since 2005, total global greenhouse-gas emissions have most closely tracked the RCP 8.5 scenario, he says. “There may be good reasons to be skeptical of RCP 8.5’s late-century values, but observations to-date don’t really give us grounds to exclude it,” he recently wrote..."

Photo credit: "Smoke and steam billow from Belchatow Power Station in Poland, the site of the UN's 2018 climate conference." Kacper Pempel / Reuters.

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Coldest Air of Winter Next 7-8 Days - Dangerous Wind Chills Thursday