You're Not Going to Believe This: Weekend Snow!

To quote comedian Jeff Foxworthy, "If driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow, you may live in Minnesota." True enough. And you'll be shocked to hear that more snow is on the way!

Dishing out specific inch amounts with the onset of snow still 3 days off is a bit premature, and professionally irresponsible. Suffice to say that models are fairly consistently printing out (very) plowable amounts of slushy wet snow from Saturday into Sunday morning.

MSP is holding at 62.4 inches for the winter, to date. Heck, let's go for a cool 75 inches while we're at it!

All this snow is great - if you like snow. If you live near a river, it's cause for increasing concern. Models bring another, warmer storm up from the south next Tuesday & Wednesday; the atmosphere possibly warm enough for rain or a mix. A worst case flood scenario would be sudden 50s and heavy rain. I don't see that playing out, but daytime highs consistently rise above the freezing mark next week, as winter's cruel sting finally starts to abate.

About time. 

Place Your Bets. Plowable Saturday into Sunday morning? Probably. Could it wind up being more than half a foot? Absolutely. That said, it's still early putting a specific inch amount or range on the forecast for the weekend, but yes, it may be a pile. Graphic showing various model snowfall predictions: Iowa State.

Recent Cold Weather Records. Thanks to Praedictix meteorologist D.J. Kayser for pulling this together:

  • Record lows Sunday morning:
    • Twin Cities: -13F (tied 1873)
    • Rochester: -17F (tied 1913)
  • Record cold highs Sunday:
    • Twin Cities: 0F (previous: 6F in 1873)
    • Duluth: 1F (previous: 2F in 2002)
    • International Falls: -2F (previous: 3F in 2002)
    • Rochester: -1F (previous: 6F in 2002)
    • St. Cloud: -4F (previous: 3F in 2002)
    • Brainerd: -1F (previous: 5F in 2002)
    • Hibbing: -3F (previous: 3F in 2002)
  • Record lows Monday morning:
    • St. Cloud: -19F (tied 1917)
    • Brainerd: -24F (previous: -16F in 2015)
    • Duluth: -19F (previous: -18F in 1875)
    • Hibbing: -28F  (previous: -18F in 2014)
    • Rochester: -17F (previous: -13F in 1978)
  • Record cold highs Monday:
    • Rochester: 3F (previous: 10F in 1978)

Coldest Month This Winter Was February? Which is unusual - January is almost always the coldest month, but this year we had an unusually mild first half of January. And then we went off a cliff. Map credit: climate guru Brian Brettschneider.

Slow Moderation Continues. A shot at low 40s by the third week of March? I would expect that. Again, with any luck with see a gradual thaw and meltdown in the coming weeks, with no heavy rain events.

Deadliest Tornado Day in Years: How it Happened. There was warning in advance, but many people didn't (or couldn't) receive the alerts in time. Here's an excerpt from Weather Underground: "Sunday was the deadliest tornado day in the United States in nearly six years, and while severe weather was forecast for the South well in advance, there was uncertainty in how many tornadic thunderstorms would develop in the hours before it began. There were three dozen reports of tornadoes in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina Sunday, all within a few hours from early afternoon into early evening. The exact number of tornadoes that caused destruction in those states won't be known for several days after the National Weather Service conducts surveys and assigns ratings..."

Four Forecast and Messaging Takeaways From the Southern Tornado Outbreak. Dr. Marshall Shepherd provides insight and perspective in a post at Forbes: "...There is a percentage of people who never get the warnings. I am very weather-aware, but many people are not. They are simply battling the challenges and routines of daily life. How do we reach them? There is a percentage of people who complain about TV shows being interrupted. James Spann, the legendary Birmingham-based meteorologist, has written about this in the past. How do we overcome this notion that if a person is not affected then there is no emergency ("survivor bias") or no need to interrupt my show? There is a percentage of people who got the message and were likely sufficiently alarmed but were not certain what to do..."
Image credit: NWS Birmingham.

Is This the End of Recycling? With China no longer taking our trash - it's cheaper to incinerate. The world now produces about 10 tons of plastic every second. Think about that. Details via The Atlantic: "... This end of recycling is coming at a time when the United States is creating more waste than ever. In 2015, the most recent year for which national data are available, America generated 262.4 million tons of waste, up 4.5 percent from 2010 and 60 percent from 1985. That amounts to nearly five pounds per person a day. New York City collected 934 tons of metal, plastic, and glass a day from residents last year, a 33 percent increase from 2013. For a long time, Americans have had little incentive to consume less. It’s inexpensive to buy products, and it’s even cheaper to throw them away at the end of their short lives. But the costs of all this garbage are growing, especially now that bottles and papers that were once recycled are now ending up in the trash..."
Photo credit: "Plastic, paper, glass and cardboard at a Recology facility in San Francisco." Robert Galbraith / Reuters.

Minnesota Gov Announces Renewable Plans: Headlines and links via Climate Nexus: "Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz unveiled a plan Monday to transition the state to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. At a press conference Monday morning, Walz said his plan was "different" than other states' transition blueprints because he'd worked with utilities that already have ambitious renewables goals, like Xcel Energy, to draft the proposal. Minnesota's state legislature introduced a similar plan last month that would require utilities to meet certain benchmarks on their way to achieving 100 percent renewable energy by 2050, but Walz's proposal would give companies more flexibility, and he expressed hope that utilities would "blow by" the goals on their own. Minnesota's utilities have already surpassed a goal set in 2007 to have 25 percent of energy sources come from renewables by 2025, although coal made up nearly 40 percent of the state's energy mix last year." (AP, MPR News, Minneapolis Star Tribune $, CBS Minnesota, Twin Cities Pioneer Press).

How Close is America to Eliminating All Emissions and Fossil Fuels. We have ways to go, it seems. Here's an excerpt from a good summary at USA FACTS: "In 2007, 72 percent of America’s power supply was provided by fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas, and petroleum. Renewable sources — solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal and biomass — provided 7.5 percent. As of 2017, the percentage of power coming from fossil fuels stood at 62.3 percent. Renewables were responsible for 16 percent, largely driven by a jump in wind energy, which rose from less than 1 percent of the nation’s power production in 2007 to 6.3 percent in 2017. Solar power also saw its share grow 90 times higher than in 2007, largely driven by subsidies during the Obama administration, but is only responsible for 1.3 percent of power as of 2017..."

Mercedes Remakes the Minivan as an All-Electric Luxury Ride. has a few details: "...Mercedes-Benz is looking to change the minivan’s reputation, if not its long-term decline in popularity. Today at the luxury-focused Geneva Motor Show, it debuted the Concept MPV, an all-electric minivan it says is most definitely headed for production, and soon. With room for up to eight people and 249 miles of range, Mercedes pitches this Performance-Pickup für den sportlichen Lifestyle as a ride for your VIPs, whether they’re kiddies or clients. Depending on when it reaches dealer lots, the MPV could be the world’s first electric minivan. Chrysler, which already offers the plug-in hybrid Pacifica, is preparing its own battery-powered scion-schlepper, based on its Portal concept..."

Image credit: "Depending on when it reaches dealer lots, the Mercedes MPV could be the world’s first fully electric minivan." Mercedes-Benz

Welcome to 2019, Virgin Atlantic. Quartz has the story; here are a couple of excerpts: "Virgin Atlantic, one of Britain’s top transatlantic carriers, announced today that it would no longer require its female cabin crew to wear makeup while working. As a nod to the fact that it’s now 2019 and not 1950, the standard uniform issued to female crew will now also include trousers, rather than requiring workers to specially request them…The working lives of airline cabin crew have long been wracked with sexism. Virgin Atlantic is certainly not the only airline to have required more stringent grooming and appearance requirements of its female staff than of males…"

16 F. maximum temperature on Tuesday.

36 F. average high on March 5.

38 F. high on March 5, 2018.

March 6, 1836: Unusual cold for March lasts for 12 days at Ft. Snelling. During this time, 7 nights were in the double-digits below zero

WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny, brisk. Winds: NW 10-15. High: 19

THURSDAY: More clouds than sun. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 3. High: 21

FRIDAY: Early flurries, closer to average. Winds: E 7-12. Wake-up: 9. High: near 30

SATURDAY: Potential for heavy wet snow. Winds: E 10-20. Wake-up: 22. High: 33

SUNDAY: Snow slowly tapers. May be plowable. Winds: NW 15-25. Wake-up: 29. High: 33

MONDAY: Partly sunny, better travel. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 18. High: near 30

TUESDAY: Icy mix, period of rain possible. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 15. High: 33

Climate Stories....

Is Climate Change Making Tornadoes Worse? There's no hard evidence of that, at least not yet, but traditional Tornado Alley appears to be shifting. PBS News Hour explains: "...While this weekend’s storms took the Southeast by surprise, the events fit into a growing trend for a region meteorologists now call Dixie Alley. Since the turn of the millennium, the Dixie Alley has witnessed an ever-increasing onslaught of tornadoes.  “Whether this is climate change or not, what all the studies have shown is that this particular part of the U.S. has been having more tornado activity and more tornado outbreaks than it has had in decades before,” said Mike Tippett, a Columbia University applied mathematician who studies the climate. Tippett is among a group of scientists trying to dissect why the South has become a hotbed for tornadoes and severe thunderstorms..."

Green New Deal vs. Carbon Tax: A Clash of 2 World Views; Both Seeking Climate Action. InsideClimate News has a good overview of the 2 competing concepts: "Congress is in uncharted territory on climate policy. For the first time ever, lawmakers face competing approaches to reviving U.S. climate action. And despite hostility from the White House, each has significant support and the potential to shape the 2020 elections. On one side are the student activists of the Sunrise Movement and Congress's new young firebrands; on the other, more moderate groups, including grassroots advocates and some of the Republican Party's elder statesmen, supported both by established environmental groups and by major energy corporations. The young activists want nothing short of a social and economic revolution. Their Green New Deal, while not yet fully formed, promises jobs and economic security as part of a drive to get greenhouse gas emissions to net zero. The moderates, hoping to win over Republicans in Congress, seek a market-based incentive in the form of a carbon tax plan..."

The Climate Change Lawsuit That Could Stop the U.S. Government From Supporting Fossil Fuels. The 60 Minutes segment from CBS News is worth your time: "Of all the cases working their way through the federal court system none is more interesting or potentially more life changing than Juliana v. United States. To quote one federal judge, "This is no ordinary lawsuit." It was filed back in 2015 on behalf of a group of kids who are trying to get the courts to block the U.S. government from continuing the use of fossil fuels. They say it's causing climate change, endangering their future and violating their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property. When the lawsuit began hardly anyone took it seriously, including the government's lawyers, who have since watched the Supreme Court reject two of their motions to delay or dismiss the case. Four years in, it is still very much alive, in part because the plaintiffs have amassed a body of evidence that will surprise even the skeptics and have forced the government to admit that the crisis is real..."

Ocean 'Wildfires' Rage Across Globe: From Climate Nexus: "Increasing heat waves sweeping across the world's oceans are destroying marine ecosystems, new research shows. A study published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change shows that the frequency of heat waves in the ocean has increased 50 percent over the past 30 years. "You have heatwave-induced wildfires that take out huge areas of forest, but this is happening underwater as well," lead researcher Dan Smale told The Guardian. “You see the kelp and seagrasses dying in front of you. Within weeks or months they are just gone, along hundreds of kilometers of coastline." (New York Times $, The Guardian, ReutersHuffington PostPacific Standard, National Geographic).

Here's How Investors Can Save the Planet and Still Make Money. explains: "...There are ways you can align your investments with companies and funds that are making the environment a priority. There are a number of equity and bond mutual funds and exchange-traded funds that have been created with preserving the environment in mind. The US SIF provides a list of its members’ funds on its website, where you can track their performance and get details about how their strategies address climate issues. Before you add any new funds to your portfolio, you should first take a look at what you already own, said Lily Trager, director of impact investing at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management..."

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Highs in the 30s and more snow by the weekend?

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Paul Douglas: Potential grows for 5-10 inches of snow this weekend