Northern Lights Potential Early Saturday Morning !!
According to NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center, there is a G2 Moderate Geomagnetic Storm Watch in effect for AM Saturday, March 23rd! What does that mean? Well, it means that you could see northern lights close to home!! The good news is that skies should remain mostly clear Saturday morning, but unfortunately, the ambient light from the near full moon may have an impact on viewing the vibrant colors.
"A solar storm hits Earth this week, pushing northern lights south"
"Smacking us right in the magnetosphere, it could make the aurora visible to millions more people than normal. After a prolonged quiet period, the sun let off an explosion Wednesday when a new sunspot fired a small solar flare lasting over an hour. The high-energy blast caused disruptions for some radio operators in Europe and Africa, but it was accompanied by a slower-moving, massive cloud of charged particles known as a coronal mass ejection (CME) that will deliver Earth a glancing blow this weekend. All those particles colliding with Earth's magnetic field could turn up the range and the intensity of the aurora, also known as the northern and southern lights. Aurora are caused by particles from the sun that are constantly flowing toward our planet, but a CME delivers an extra large helping that can really amp up the display. In North America, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that the aurora borealis could be visible as far south as New York and Chicago on Saturday, likely in the early morning hours."
"Spring Outlook: Historic, widespread flooding to continue through May"
"Above-average spring rain and snow will worsen flood conditions. Nearly two-thirds of the Lower 48 states face an elevated risk for flooding through May, with the potential for major or moderate flooding in 25 states, according to NOAA’s U.S. Spring Outlook issued today. The majority of the country is favored to experience above-average precipitation this spring, increasing the flood risk.
Portions of the United States – especially in the upper Mississippi and Missouri River basins including Nebraska, Minnesota and Iowa – have already experienced record flooding this year. This early flooding was caused by rapid snow melt combined with heavy spring rain and late season snowfall in areas where soil moisture is high. In some areas, ice jams are exacerbating the flooding. Offices across the National Weather Service have been working with local communities, providing decision-support services and special briefings to emergency managers and other leaders in local, state and federal government to ensure the highest level of readiness before the flooding began.
Additional spring rain and melting snow will prolong and expand flooding, especially in the central and southern U.S. As this excess water flows downstream through the river basins, the flood threat will become worse and geographically more widespread."
Current Flood Warnings
The National Weather Service has issued a number of flood warnings for rivers across the southern half of the state. Keep in mind that some locations aren't quiet yet at flood stage, but river levels are forecast to rise significantly over the next several days/weeks as the signifcant snow pack continues to melt and as the runoff enters the water systems.
Weather Outlook Saturday
Saturday looks like a mild March day across much of the state with high temps running nearly +10F to +15F above average! In fact, the Twin Cities could top the 50F mark once again, which would be the warmest temp so far this year and the warmest temp we've seen since the end of October.
Temp Outlook Ahead (Twin Cities)
According to the GEFS and ECMWF Ensemble models, temps will be trending warmer as we head through the last week or so of March. Note that temps look to warm into the 50s over the weekend, which will be above average for a change. In fact, this will be the first string of 50s since the end of October. The extended outlook suggests a potential first 60F of the season by the middle/end of next week! We'll have to wait and see how things shake out, but according to the ECMWF, we may start April on a cooler than average note with highs in the 40s. The average high for the MSP Airport on April 1st is 50F and that's no joke!
2019 Ice Out Dates
According to the MN DNR, we have yet to see any lakes free of winter ice. Interestingly last year, the ice was already of some of the metro lakes, including Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet, which went out on March 7th and was the earliest ice outs recorded for those 2 lakes!
Ice Safey Reminder
Just a reminder that March is our 3rd snowiest month of the year averaging 10.3" !! So far this month, we've had 10.5", so we are officially above average! Note that the snowiest March in recorded history was 40.0" set in 1951. Looking ahead, I don't think we have to worry about any more snow records as temps look to gradually warm into the 40s, 50s and possibly even 60s through the 2nd half of the month!
Well, thanks to a very active February and early half of March, our seasonal snowfall tallies are sitting at some pretty impressive tallies. Keep in mind that prior to February 5th, the Twin Cities was nearly 18" below average snowfall this season. The weather pattern quickly turned and within a 34 day period, the Twin Cities saw nearly 50" of snow! 39" of record snow fell at the MSP Airport in February, and we've already had 10.4" of snow through the first half of March. Here's an interesting stat, from February 5th to March 10th, the Twin Cities had 49.3" of snow, which is the 20th snowiest 34 day stretch in MSP history! At any rate, most reporting station around the region are in double digits reading above average snowfall for the season so far! The Twin Cities is nearly 20" above average, while Eau Claire, WI is nearly 46" above average - unreal! Note that the Twin Cities has seen 67.3" of snow so far this season, which the 22nd snowiest season on record.
Here's the weather outlook as we head into the weekend and it appears that there still could be some light rain potential across the southern part of the state as we head into Sunday. Although it doesn't appear to be much, there still could be a few wet flakes across the northern part of the state as a cool front slides south out of Canada.
Precipitation Outlook Through PM Monday
According to the GFS, there could be up to a few tenths of an inch of rain across parts of far southern Minnesota as our next system moves in late weekend. Again, it doesn't look like a terrible amount, but it will help speed up the melting process.
Here's a look at the temperature anomaly aross North America on Friday, which showed slightly warmer than average temps across parts of the nation, but the more significant warming has been across the western half of Canada and into parts of Alaska.
"March 18, 2019 - Spring leaf out is spreading north through Southwest, Southeast, and mid-Atlantic states. Spring leaf out is 1-2 weeks early in parts of the Southeast and California and 2-3 weeks late in parts of Washington and Oregon and the Southern Great Plains. Spring is one week late in St. Louis and four days late in Washington DC. Spring bloom has arrived on time to 2 weeks early in much of the South. Jackson, MS is 10 days early. Parts of Arizona and California are 1-2 weeks late."
Mild Weather Triggers River Flooding Concerns
By Todd Nelson, filling in for Douglas.
Hello neighbor, how have you been? It's been a while, but I think the winter slumber is officially over! Today will tickle your fancy, no question!
The last of the hibernating Minnesotans emerge from their dens today, seduced by mild March sunshine that is as strong now as it was in early September. Many will be dazed and confused, but reassure them that the grass will soon be green and leaves will flutter on nearby trees.
Unfortunately, the mild weather has been taking its toll on a deep, late winter snow pack that is causing a rapid rise in river levels. Latest forecasts suggest moderate to major flooding for most in Minnesota, including the Mississippi, which could crest in the top 13 on record at St. Paul. The NWS is forecasting a potential top 10 crest along the Red River at Fargo. Yes, this will be a bad year for most!
Clouds return tomorrow with a few spits of PM rain. After a cooler Monday, our first 60s of the year may be possible just in time for the Twins Home Opener on Thursday.
Ready or not, here we go! It's spring!!
SATURDAY: Warm sun, lots of drips. Winds: SSW 5. High: 54.
SATURDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy and quiet. Winds: SSW 5. Low: 32.
SUNDAY: Not as nice, few showers. Breezy PM. Winds: NNE 8-13. High: 50.
MONDAY: Sun returns, cooler temps. Winds: ESE 5-10. Wake-up: 22. High: 41.
TUESDAY: Partly sunny, PM sprinkle. Breezy. Winds: SSE 10-20. Wake-up: 24. High: 47.
WEDNESDAY: Slight chance of rain. First 60F? Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 37. High: 59.
THURSDAY: Twins Home Opener. Spotty T-shower? Winds: SSE 10-15. Wake-up: 45. High: 61.
FRIDAY: Lingering clouds and a few showers. Winds: NNW 10-15. Wake-up: 34. High: 42.
This Day in Weather History
1966: A snowstorm brings a foot of snow to southern Minnesota.
Average High/Low for Minneapolis
Average High: 45F (Record: 83F set in 1910)
Average Low: 27F (Record: -4F set in 1965)
Record Rainfall: 1.18" set in 1966
Record Snowfall: 11.6" set in 1966
Sunrise/Sunset Times for Minneapolis
Hours of Daylight: ~12 hours & 18 minutes
Daylight GAINED since yesterday: ~ 3 minutes & 9 seconds
Daylight GAINED since winter solstice (December 21st): ~3 hours and 33 minutes
Moon Phase for March 23rd at Midnight
3.2 Days After Full "Worm" Moon
"8:43 p.m. CDT (March 21) In this month the ground softens and the earthworm casts reappear, inviting the return of the robins. The more northern tribes knew this as the Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter, or the Full Crust Moon because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night. TheFull Sap Moon, marking the time of tapping maple trees, is another variation."
What's in the Night Sky?
According to EarthSky.org this is what will be visible in the night sky over the next several nights:
"We always get this question at this time of year: Orion seems to have moved and turned considerably in the last two weeks. Will Orion disappear before summer? The answer is yes, it’ll soon disappear into the sun’s glare. And – although you might notice it more easily with this particularly bright and noticeable constellation – the fact is that, like Orion, all the stars and constellations shift westward as the seasons pass. Unless they’re in the far northern or southern sky – and so circumpolar – all stars and constellations spend some portion of each year hidden in the sun’s glare. In other words, like blooms on trees or certain flowers or even specific animals in your locale, stars have their own seasons of visibility. Why does Orion go into the sun’s glare each year at this same time? Only because – each year, as we orbit continually around the sun – our motion in orbit brings the sun between us and Orion at this same time each year. Of course, stars and their constellations also move westward in the course of a single night, due to Earth’s spin. Orion is no exception."
"Africa’s Hurricane Katrina: Tropical Cyclone Idai Causes an Extreme Catastrophe"
"Over 400 are dead and countless more are at grave risk, huddled on rooftops or clinging to trees, in the horrifying aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Idai in Mozambique. In scenes reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005, aerial survey teams photographed thousands of marooned people in the “inland ocean” up to 30 miles wide that heavy rains from Idai have created in central Mozambique. Tropical Cyclone Idai made landfall on Thursday evening as a Category 2 storm with 110 mph winds just north of Beira, Mozambique (population 530,000) near the time of high tide, driving a devastating storm surge into the city. The cyclone also caused enormous wind damage, ripping off hundreds of roofs in Mozambique’s fourth largest city. Since the cyclone was large and moving slowly at landfall, near 6 mph, it was a prodigious rainmaker, with satellite-estimated rainfall amounts in excess of 2 feet in much of central Mozambique. Idai stalled and died over the high terrain along the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border on Saturday, but Idai’s remains hovered over the region through Tuesday, bringing additional heavy rains--over a foot in eastern Zimbabwe. Runoff from these rains have submerged huge portions of central Mozambique. Damage to improverished Mozambique, whose GDP is just $12 billion, will be many billions of dollars and take more than five years to recover from."
"What's Behind the Massive Midwestern Floods: 2 Giant Waves of Water"
"Historic floods across the Midwest have left three dead, prompted mass evacuations, and drowned cities. The floods aren’t isolated incidents, however: Two giant waves of water are rolling down from the country's far-northern middle expanse. One wave is following the path of the Missouri River toward the Mississippi River, carrying with it big chunks of ice. The second wave is taking a similar path down the Mississippi River from Minnesota. Both are the result of a long winter of heavy snowfall in Minnesota and the Dakotas followed by a short, sharp melt. Both floods are more or less each one giant wave traveling at the speeds of their rivers, said Darone Jones, director of the Water Prediction Operations Division (WPOD) at the National Weather Service’s National Water Center (NWC) in Alabama."
"NASA photos capture immense flooding of a vital U.S. Air Force base"
"In 1948, Air Force Secretary Stuart Symington stationed the United States' long-range nuclear bombers at Offutt Air Force Base in eastern Nebraska, a location safe in the middle of the nation and well-insulated from the coast. But 70 years later, the base — now home to the U.S. Strategic Command which deters "catastrophic actions from adversaries and poses an immediate threat to any actor who questions U.S. resolve by demonstrating our capabilities" — isn't safe from historic and record-setting floods. Intense rains on top of the rapid melting of ample snow has inundated large swathes of Nebraska and a full one-third of the Offutt Air Force Base, including the headquarters building. NASA's Landsat 8 satellite captured before and after images of the flooding — which the European Union Earth Observation Programme called "biblical." The overloaded river burgeoned in size, creeping into Offutt, neighborhoods, and farmlands."
"Even A Polar Vortex Is No Match For Insects Adapted To Cold Conditions"
"Wisconsin's Frigid Winter Pressured Some Species, But They'll Rebound Quickly. With daylight saving time back in place and warmer temperatures knocking at our door, spring is finally crawling toward Wisconsin. The winter of 2018-2019 is one we won't soon forget — the season started out mild before temperatures plummeted with January's polar vortex. During the coldest stretch, our coping strategy might have involved layers of blankets and binge-watching Netflix, but what about the bugs? Questions regarding the cold-weather impacts on insects have been some of the most common at the University of Wisconsin Insect Diagnostic Lab over the winter. There will undoubtedly be some effects from the polar vortex, although many insect species are well-equipped to deal with the cold. Before we know it, overwintering insects will become active again in the Midwest and many species will simply shrug off the polar vortex as if it hadn't happened. As for insects that didn’t fare as well in the cold, high reproductive capacities will likely allow their numbers to bounce back relatively quickly. That means 2019 isn't going to be insect-free by any means — and intuitively this makes sense. It’s understood that every year, insects make it through the winter months and become active as temperatures creep up in spring. Looking at an evolutionary time scale, the January 2019 cold snap wasn't the first time insect species in Wisconsin have encountered frigid temperatures before, and many creatures are adapted to survive surprisingly cold conditions."
Thanks for checking in and don't forget to follow me on Twitter @TNelsonWX