An Early April

Only in Minnesota can you be knee-deep in mud with dust blowing in your face. Or decked out in a parka and shorts, a dazed expression on your face. The weather can turn in a hurry. Don't believe me? Give it a few days.

You may have goosebumps on your goosebumps but a taste of late April is brewing with a shot at 60F. That's 60 degrees above zero. The view out your window looks like something out of the opening credits of the movie "Fargo", a white-wilderness stretching from one horizon to the next, but within 3-4 days most of the snow will be gone. Get ready for chirping birds, giant man-eating potholes and an extra spring in your step.

I don't blame you for being skeptical, but spring fever is right around the corner. We thaw out today, 40F possible over the weekend with a streak of 50s next week. The normally reliable ECMWF (European model) is hinting at highs near 60F by the middle of next week. By then most of the snow will be gone - the sun's energy going into heating up the air instead of melting slush.

Flurries are possible Sunday but no tournament storms are brewing looking out 2 weeks. You can bet on more cold fronts but the subzero nasty-cold is probably behind us now.

El Nino Makes It Official. After flirting with official El Nino designation for several months the ocean-atmosphere circulation is finally coupled, and NOAA just made it official; more details: "For nearly a year, conditions in the Pacific seemed favorable for the formation of an El Niño – part of a multi-year cycle that creates warmer than average ocean temperatures, and greatly impacts weather and climate around the planet. Analysis by the NOAA Climate Prediction Center confirms that after five consecutive overlapping 3-month periods (e.g., Sept-Oct-Nov, Oct-Nov-Dec, etc.) of average sea surface temperatures in the middle equatorial Pacific being 0.5 oC warmer than their historical average the El Niño has officially taken hold. This image shows the average sea surface temperature for February 2015 as measured by NOAA satellites. The large area of red (warmer than average) can be seen extending through the equatorial Pacific...."

50-60% Chance Of El Nino Into Summer of 2015. The last 12 months have been the warmest on record, worldwide, and at the rate we're going, with unusually warm sea surface temperatures worldwide, 2015 could very well be the warmest year ever recorded across the globe. More details from NOAA CPC here.

El Nino Has Arrived, And It Could Produce The Warmest Year On Record. Meteorologist Eric Holthaus has more details on how El Nino can release Pacific ocean warmth into the atmosphere, sparking global temperatures downwind; here's an excerpt from Slate: "...An associated slow-moving indicator of Pacific Ocean temperatures, called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, reached record levels in December and January. A persistently strong PDO is associated with cold winters in the East and drought in California—we’ve had both in abundance this year. Should the PDO stay strong, it’ll essentially join forces with El Niño and increase the odds that 2015 will rank as the warmest year on record globally. Last fall I wrote that a PDO signal like we’re currently seeing could kick off a surge of global warming over the next five to 10 years..."

More Mid-April Than Mid-March. I still believe European temperature forecasts above are running too mild for next week, probably not taking into account snow cover, soil temperatures and depth of the frost. I think we'll see 50s by midweek, just not sure about 60F, not yet. Trust me, 50F will feel like a Godsend, a revelation. 40F will feel pretty good for that matter.

Solar Energy Jobs Growing By Leaps and Bounds. Climate Central takes a look at the trends, and how the quest for free energy from the sun is uniting red states and blue states: "...Installing solar panels on home rooftops and in giant multi-megawatt utility-scale solar farms is one of the United States’ fastest-growing ways for both residents and power companies to reduce their climate impact in a warming world. For the solar industry, helping to reduce America’s carbon footprint means inviting those with skilled hands to apply for a job. The solar sector is growing so quickly as solar panel costs drop that employment in the industry jumped 21.8 percent in 2014, adding 31,000 new jobs in that time for a total of 174,000 solar workers nationwide, Luecke said. Solar employment is expected to jump by another 36,000 workers this year..." (File photo: USGS).

Prince: Music Icon, Basketball Player. I came across this nugget in the New York Daily News and felt compelled to share: "...Photos of an afro-rocking, short short-wearing Prince circulated online this week, along with clippings of a story about the music icon’s days playing basketball in junior high and high school in Minneapolis in the mid 1970s. “Prince was an excellent player; he was like the sixth or seventh man,” Richard Robinson, his coach at Minneapolis’ Central High School, told the Star-Tribune. The clipping was shared by a reporter at the paper, Libor Jany, who discovered the yellowing piece of newsprint while digging through the newspaper’s archives..."

Photo credit above: Seth Poppel/Yearbook Library. "Prince (No. 3 on the right) played for Minneapolis' Bryant Junior High in 1972."

Tips For Living Longer. Beware of "pollen chunks". I'm trying a few of these out, courtesy of The Onion, and I'm here to tell you they work! "Thanks to better medical care and higher quality of life, human beings are living longer than ever. However, longevity is determined by more than just your genes and living conditions. Here are some things that you can do to extend your lifespan:

  • Avoid overeating by unplugging your refrigerator, locking it up, and throwing it into a gorge between each meal
  • Cut car accidents out of your routine as much as possible
  • Pet owners have demonstrably longer lifespans than those who live without furry friends, so enslave as many small mammals as your schedule and budget allow..."

When The Zombie Apocalypse Comes Stay Out Of The Cities. I think I'm watching too much "Walking Dead" these days, but Huffington Post confirms what many of us have always suspected: when in doubt head for the hills: "...Thanks to Cornell University researchers, we can now simulate the spread of a zombie disease outbreak. And thanks to their new zombie apocalypse simulator, we can confirm what we already knew: Stay out of cities if you don't want to get infected. The researchers will present their study, "The Statistical Mechanics of Zombies," later this week, and reportedly prove that the best place to escape should zombies take over is the northern Rockies..."

15 F. high in the Twin Cities Thursday.

36 F. average high on March 5.

24 F. high on March 5, 2014.

2" snow on the ground at KMSP.

March 5, 1836: 12-day cold spell at Ft. Snelling. During this time 7 nights were in the double-digits below zero.

TODAY: Partly sunny and milder. Winds: SW 10. High: 36

FRIDAY NIGHT: Patchy clouds, not as cold. Low: 22

SATURDAY: More clouds than sun. Not bad. High: 38

SUNDAY: Early snow showers, then clearing. Wake-up: 26. High: 39

MONDAY: Heavy jacket weather returns with peeks of mild sun. Wake-up: 24. High: 46

TUESDAY: Blue sky, touch of spring fever? Wake-up: 32. High: 54

WEDNESDAY: Some sun, still milder than average. Wake-up: 34. High: 55

THURSDAY: Most of the snow is gone. Mild sun. Wake-up: 36. High: 58

* Photo of Louie Anderson and the Minnesota Timberwolves taken at last night's "Taste of the Wolves" at Target Center in Minneapolis.

Climate Stories...

Why Global Warming Does Not Necessarily Result in Warmer Winters. Here's a clip from an Economist article that describes what I'm seeing with the jet stream in recent years: "...But the Arctic is warming faster than the rest of the Earth. Since the mid 1990s, temperatures at the northern pole have risen almost three times as much as they have at temperate latitudes. So the difference between the poles and the equator is narrowing. This seems to be affecting the jet stream, and could change its moderating effect on northern weather. According to Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University, in the northern hemisphere westerly wind speeds seem to have weakened since the mid 1990s. As the flow has faltered, the undulations of the jet stream have become more marked, with gentle waves turning into bigger loops..."

Albino Unicorn. Thanks to Brian Lambert at for taking an interest in climate science and how it's being communicated to the public - here's an excerpt from a recent interview: "... But I think there’s a fundamental injustice that’s taken place because people have politicized this. I tell my conservative friends, “I didn’t realize this was a la carte conservatism.” If you’re conservative, you should be conservative across the board, including conserving the thing that sustains us. It’s a scientific issue, it’s a moral issue and it’s a spiritual issue. I’m writing a book now with a minister in Pennsylvania focusing on creation care and stewardship and that, as Christians, we are called to be stewards of God’s gift to us. If you accept the premise that this planet was divinely conceived and created why would you knowingly do anything to mess that up?"

Bank of England Warns of Huge Financial Risk from Fossil Fuel Investments. How much fossil fuel risk is in your portfolio? Here's the introduction to a story at The Guardian: "Insurance companies could suffer a “huge hit” if their investments in fossil fuel companies are rendered worthless by action on climate change, the Bank of England warned on Tuesday. “One live risk right now is of insurers investing in assets that could be left ‘stranded’ by policy changes which limit the use of fossil fuels,” said Paul Fisher, deputy head of the bank’s prudential regulation authority (PRA) that supervises banks and insurers and is tasked with avoiding systemic risks to the economy..."

Climate Change a Threat to National Security. More professionals with long, impressive military backgrounds are saying the same thing: shifting climate patterns, more volatility in the system and water shortages will impact America's national security in the years to come. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Miami Herald: "...Strains on natural resources and the growing influence of a changing climate have all played a direct role in deteriorating economic conditions and intensifying political instability across some of the most volatile regions in the world including modern day Syria. So when we talk about climate change, we’re not only talking about a threat to our environment. Climate change represents a direct challenge to national security and global stability, and makes it more likely that our men and women will be sent into harm’s way..." (File photo: AP).

What Science Says About the Senator Who Used a Snowball to "Disprove" Climate Change. has the story - here's an excerpt: "...By the way, across the globe in Australia, where it actually is the end of summer right now, scientists are already estimating that the country experienced the second hottest February on record. "The main story is that the weather was very persistently warm, particularly in February, rather than notable hot — or cold — spells," Bureau of Meteorology climatologist Acacia Pepler told The Sydney Morning-Herald. "In particular, we had very warm nights in the city, which is not surprising considering the very warm sea surface temperatures." The senator is pandering, clueless, or both..."

Animation credit above: Source: NASA Center for Climate Simulation / NASA Scientific Visualization Studio

Who Is Michael Mann And Why Do Climate Deniers Hate Him? DesmogUK has the article; here's the introduction: "Professor Michael Mann is, through the sceptic looking glass, an accomplished dissembler, a manipulator of science, a fraud, and a threat to the American people. He is reviled, attacked and harassed. A former CIA agent has contacted his colleagues looking for dirt. The hacker who broke into the University of East Anglia servers during Climategate was searching for his data and emails, among other things. The hockey stick graph, which Mann helped create and showed that the rapid rise in global temperatures over the last decades has been unprecedented in human history, has become the totem the sceptics are most desperate to tear down..."

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Winter Fades - Hints of April Next Week

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El Nino is Back - Spring Fever Advisory Next Week