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Paul Douglas on Weather

Spring Returns Within 36 Hours - Details on Minnesota's Earliest Tornado on Record

Spring Is In No Particular Hurry This Year

"A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you" wrote Bob Proctor. It's strange how careers get started. For me in was study hall (which I excelled in) my senior year of high school. One of my classmates had his own show on a little AM radio station in town. I tapped him on the shoulder. "Why not have your own weather guy on the air?" I asked, impulsively. He thought about it, put me on the phone to his boss, and that would be the first of nearly 100 radio stations I've been on over the years, from Pennsylvania to Minnesota.

Bob Roerig, the friend who took a chance on me, died of a massive heart attack. Be sure to thank the people (teachers, mentors, parents, etc) who gave you your first shot.

I'm conflicted: I want it to warm up as much as you do, but spring warm fronts are often serenaded by thunder and shrieking sirens. The south will see a series of severe weather outbreaks this week; just brushing Minnesota with showers late Wednesday into Thursday.

No quality time in your basement anytime soon. At least the sun comes on Tuesday with 60F possible next Sunday!


Tornado-Producing Squall Line. The visible image above shows the comma-shaped swirl of low pressure that created enough wind shear to spin up rotating supercell thunderstorms capable of softball-size hail Sunday evening from north Texas into Oklahoma. Imagery: College of DuPage.

Seattle Blues - Another Midweek Severe Outbreak. 12 KM NAM model guidance from NOAA shows a steady fire hose of Pacific moisture pushing more waves of moderate rain into the Pacific Northwest, while a deep trough of low pressure sets the stage for more severe weather over the central and southern Plains by Wednesday. Animation: Tropicaltidbits.com.

Creeping Into Spring. No hot spikes, not even a serious warm front, but ECMWF guidance hints at MSP metro highs near 60F on Tuesday; fairly consistent highs in the 50s over the next 15 days. Meteogram: WeatherBell.

Mammoth Got So Much Snow This Winter It Called In the National Guard for Help. Amazing. The Los Angeles Times has details: "Hey, Mammoth Lakes, add this group shot of the National Guard to your winter scrapbook. Burdened with removing the 44 feet of snow that had fallen this season, the village of 8,200 called in the National Guard earlier this month to help cart 4,000 tons of it away. The five-day offensive, involving 17 air and Army troops, will be just one of the many memories in this winter of monster, record-setting snows. The SOS — shovel our snow — was issued after the village and Mono County declared a state of emergency to seek help in handling the piles that lined homes and streets. A request for snow removal assistance was passed along to the state Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), which then called in the Guard..."

More Warm Spring Days. Not every day, but the trend is more warmth earlier in the warm season, according to Climate Central: "...Spring is getting warmer, on average, as the globe heats up from the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. As a result, the number of spring days with above-normal temperatures is increasing in many places in the U.S. In an unchanging climate, the number of days above normal and below normal should be relatively balanced and constant through the years. For meteorological spring, that number would be 46 out of the 92 days. In the majority of these cites, the number of days above normal has risen sharply. In some cases, there are more than 10 additional above-normal days than there were a few decades ago..."


A Windy March. The greater the contrast in temperature, the stronger winds have to blow to keep the atmosphere in a state of equilibrium. Dr. Mark Seeley reports on a blustery March at Minnesota WeatherTalk: "March has been a windy month so far with average daily wind speed over 12 mph, and 9 days with peak wind gust over 30 mph. This continues a trend of windy weather which began the last week of January. The peak wind gust from MSP airport of 60 mph on the morning of March 8th was just the 5th time in the past 20 years that peak wind gusts in the Twin Cities have hit 60 mph or greater. The other years were 1998 (May), 2007 (Aug), 2008 (June), and 2010 (Oct). Historical trends in wind speed are difficult to study. There is great geographic disparity across the state. In western Minnesota, as well as the Twin Cities Metro Area wind speeds have been greater than normal more frequently in the months of February, April, and November. over the past two decades. Conversely, over the same time period, wind speeds have generally been less than normal more frequently during the months of May and October..."


Rainy Day? Microbes May Be at Play. Science Friday provides details: "Bacteria are all around us—even in the atmosphere. Under the right wind conditions, air currents sweep up ultra-light microbes, which can drift as high as the stratosphere. For instance, a 2012 study appearing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences identified over 300 different families of bacteria floating amid the clouds. As it turns out, these airborne microbes seem to influence the weather. Recently on Science Friday, we spoke with Cindy Morris, a microbial ecologist at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research in Avignon, France, and Athanasios Nenes, a professor of atmospheric sciences and chemical and biomolecular engineering at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Georgia, to understand how microbes participate in precipitation..."


Fun Factoids About Clouds. Your typical run-of-the-mill popcorn cumulus cloud weights as much as 100 elephants. Who knew? Here's a nugget from a very good post at Mental Floss: "...Clouds look like they weigh little more than a tuft of cotton, but they’re heavier than they look. Your average cumulus (fair weather) cloud can weigh more than a million pounds, and a vivacious thunderstorm can pack billions (if not trillions) of pounds of water in one tiny part of the sky. Yet, all of that weight seems effortlessly suspended in the air. It’s both a little unsettling and, at the same time, awesome to think about..."


Minnesota's Earliest Tornado. It's strange seeing tornado damage with snow on the ground. If the dynamics and wind shear is strong enough it doesn't much matter what's happening on the ground. Here's are two excerpts from the Faribault County Register: "The severe storm that uprooted trees, deroofed buildings and overturned a camper on March 6 in Pihl's Park, near Wells, actually included a tornado. And not just any twister. A March 17 survey by the National Weather Service (NWS) determined that the campground damage was the product of an EF-1 tornado one that struck earlier in the year than any other twister in the history of Minnesota...But Faribault County's March 6 heavy winds, which forced Pihl's Park to close its campground and public park for an anticipated seven weeks' worth of repairs, were actually the first to strike at around 5:04 p.m. that evening, according to the NWS..."

Photo credit: "The March 6 storm that did some heavy damage to the county’s Pihl’s Park, including flipping this camper over, was designated as a tornado that first touched down near Bricelyn and traveled nearly 10 miles to near the Wells area. It was designated by the National Weather Service last week as the earliest-in-the-season tornado ever reported in Minnesota."


UW-Madison Researcher Creates Tornado Computer Simulation. As computers become more powerful (and cheaper) we are getting closer to modeling a simulation very close to reality, as reported at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "...Orf is a scientist with the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Studies at UW-Madison who leads a team of researchers using computer models to unlock the mysteries of tornadoes. As tornado season gets underway, scientists like Orf are working to peel back the layers of twisters to determine how and why they form. The recipe always includes wind shear, instability and lots of moisture plus a trigger to move the air up, which can be a difference in temperature or moisture. But what vexes researchers is that storms that have all of those ingredients often don't form tornadoes. Unlocking the tornado code could help forecasters better predict them and give people in their path more time to seek shelter. "My dream, and maybe in my lifetime it will happen, is we can predict a scenario where in a 1 square kilometer region we can say a tornado will hit and we can do that well in advance of the storm," said Orf..."

Image credit: "When a tornado is fully formed, the simulation reveals several structures that make up the tornado, including the streamwise vorticity current (SVC), thought to be a main driver of the tornadic activity (seen in yellow)." (Photo: University of Wisconsin-Madison).


CBS Affiliate in Ohio Cut Away from UNC-Kentucky Finish for Tornado Warning. Talk about bad timing. The Washington Post reports.


VORTEX Southeast: Tornado Study Gears Up For Another Year of Research. Here's an excerpt of a press release from the University of Alabama/Huntsville and WeatherBug: "The mysteries of severe weather in the southeastern U.S. -- and why tornadoes kill and injure more people here than any other part of the country -- will get an in-depth probe this spring, as researchers from 11 research institutions around the country gather at UAH for the second year of a major research campaign. Coordinated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Severe Storms Laboratory and hosted by UAH's Severe Weather Institute, Radar and Lightning Laboratories (SWIRLL), VORTEX Southeast (V-SE) uses mobile and portable research hardware, such as UAH's MAX Doppler radar, to get in front of strong storms to learn more about how these storms develop, how they interact with the local terrain and environment, and why some storms create tornadoes and others do not..."

Image credit: "​Erik Rasmussen, VORTEX-SE project manager and NOAA senior research scientist, speaks about the research at Signature Aviation with a NOAA Lockheed WP-3S Orion aircraft in the background. The WP-35, nicknamed Kermit, has been brought to Huntsville to support VORTEX-SE."


Solar Employs More People in U.S. Electricity Generation Than Oil, Coal and Gas Combined. Here's a clip from The Center for Climate Protection: "In the United States, more people were employed in solar power last year than in generating electricity through coal, gas and oil energy combined. According to a new report from the U.S. Department of Energy, solar power employed 43 percent of the Electric Power Generation sector’s workforce in 2016, while fossil fuels combined accounted for just 22 percent. It’s a welcome statistic for those seeking to refute Donald Trump’s assertion that green energy projects are bad news for the American economy. Just under 374,000 people were employed in solar energy, according to the report, while coal, gas and oil power generation combined had a workforce of slightly more than 187,000. The boom in the country’s solar workforce can be attributed to construction work associated with expanding generation capacity. The gulf in employment is growing with net generation from coal falling 53 percent over the last decade. During the same period, electricity generation from natural gas increased 33 percent while solar expanded 5,000 percent..."



Drake Equation Revision Hugely Ups Odds Intelligent Extraterrestrial Life Exists. Maybe so, but where are the aliens? Could it be they've sampled our TV shows (or politics) and want nothing to do with us? Here's an excerpt from Inverse: "Mankind doesn’t explore space solely in search of extraterrestrials, but we keep our eyes peeled. Still, scientists know that the chances of happening across a fellow traveler in the great beyond are minimal — and they wrap their heads around the infinitesimal odds using the Drake Equation, a seven-variable way of deriving the chance of active civilizations existing beyond Earth. But equations get older and equations get wrong. The Drake Equation, which takes into account various factors like the rate of star formation, the fraction of stars that could form planetary systems, the number habitable planets in those systems, and so on, is now 55 years old. It doesn’t reflect the new information SETI researchers have collected since the 1960s..."


Inside Alabama's Auto Jobs Boom: Cheap Wages, Little Training, Crushed Limbs. Bloomberg Businessweek has a tough article that should be essential reading: "...Alabama has been trying on the nickname “New Detroit.” Its burgeoning auto parts industry employs 26,000 workers, who last year earned $1.3 billion in wages. Georgia and Mississippi have similar, though smaller, auto parts sectors. This factory growth, after the long, painful demise of the region’s textile industry, would seem to be just the kind of manufacturing renaissance President Donald Trump and his supporters are looking for. Except that it also epitomizes the global economy’s race to the bottom. Parts suppliers in the American South compete for low-margin orders against suppliers in Mexico and Asia. They promise delivery schedules they can’t possibly meet and face ruinous penalties if they fall short. Employees work ungodly hours, six or seven days a week, for months on end. Pay is low, turnover is high, training is scant, and safety is an afterthought, usually after someone is badly hurt. Many of the same woes that typify work conditions at contract manufacturers across Asia now bedevil parts plants in the South..."


"Sea of Despair" Among White, Working-Class Americans. Industries are being disrupted, jobs automated; companies making do with fewer employees. A Washington Post article claims it's not just blue collar America that's feeling the heat: "Sickness and early death in the white working class could be rooted in poor job prospects for less-educated young people as they first enter the labor market, a situation that compounds over time through family dysfunction, social isolation, addiction, obesity and other pathologies, according to a study published Thursday by two prominent economists. Anne Case and Angus Deaton garnered national headlines in 2015 when they reported that the death rate of midlife non-Hispanic white Americans had risen steadily since 1999 in contrast with the death rates of blacks, Hispanics and Europeans. Their new study extends the data by two years and shows that whatever is driving the mortality spike is not easing up. The two Princeton professors say the trend affects whites of both sexes and is happening nearly everywhere in the country..."


Can We Know What Animals Are Thinking? My dog (Leo) thinks I'm pretty stupid (and predictable), but he loves me anyway. Here's an excerpt of an eye-opening story from The Economist and Medium: "...Nevertheless, most scientists now feel they can say with confidence that some animals process information and express emotions in ways that are accompanied by conscious mental experience. They agree that animals, from rats and mice to parrots and humpback whales, have complex mental capacities; that a few species have attributes once thought to be unique to people, such as the ability to give objects names and use tools; and that a handful of animals — primates, corvids (the crow family) and cetaceans (whales and dolphins) — have something close to what in humans is seen as culture, in that they develop distinctive ways of doing things which are passed down by imitation and example. No animals have all the attributes of human minds; but almost all the attributes of human minds are found in some animal or other..."


Netflix: The Monster That's Eating Hollywood. Every industry gets disrupted - nobody gets a pass. The Wall Street Journal reports: "...The ongoing legal battle is just one sign of the escalating tensions between Netflix and Hollywood as the streaming-video company moves from being an upstart dabbling in original programming to a big-spending entertainment powerhouse that will produce more than 70 shows this year. It is expanding into new genres such as children’s fare, reality TV and stand-up comedy specials—including a $40 million deal for two shows by Chris Rock. The shift has unnerved some TV networks that had become used to Netflix’s original content being focused on scripted dramas and sitcoms..."


The Average Young American Binge-Watches TV for Five Hours Straight. Wave goodbye to linear (appointment) television. Here's an excerpt from Quartz: "Binge-watching has hit critical mass in the US, according to a new study. Nearly three-quarters—73%—of Americans said they binge-watched videos, either on TV or another device, found a survey by Deloitte, including a staggering 90% of US millennials. And 38% of those millennials also said they binge-watched pretty much every week. The firm interviewed more than 2,100 Americans, aged 14 and up, for its 11th annual study on US media consumption. The research was conducted by an independent firm last November..."

Photo credit: "Streaming and mobile video has made it so much easier to binge." (AP/Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Showtime).


.04" rain fell yesterday in the Twin Cities.

44 F. maximum temperature yesterday at MSP.

47 F. average high on March 26.

51 F. high in the cities on March 26, 2016.

March 27, 1946: A record high of 78 is set at Redwood Falls.


TODAY: Lingering clouds, cool. Winds: NE 5-10. High: 49

MONDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy. Low: 34

TUESDAY: Partly sunny, springy again. Winds: E 5-10. High: 56

WEDNESDAY: Clouds increase, showers late. Winds: E 8-13. Wake-up: 39. High: 52

THURSDAY: Damp, showery start, slow PM clearing. Winds: NE 8-13. Wake-up: 40. High: 51

FRIDAY: Plenty of sun, your yard beckons. Winds: NE 7-12. Wake-up: 33. High: 54

SATURDAY: Fading sun, rain may stay south of MN. Winds: SW 5-10. Wake-up: 37. High: 56

SUNDAY: Partly sunny, feels like April. Winds: NE 5-10. Wake-up: 41. High: near 60


Climate Stories...

What You Can Do About Climate Change. There are lots of things you can do, including voting for pro-science politicians running for local, state and national offices. An article at The New York Times argues that the most important thing you can do is drive a more fuel-efficient vehicle: "...The simple fact is that American drivers are a significant contributor to greenhouse gas pollution, so having a vehicle fleet that burns less fuel can have an outsize impact on total emissions. Though the United States has just 4 percent of the world's population, it is responsible for 14 percent of man-made greenhouse gases that end up in the atmosphere. Transportation accounts for 27 percent of those emissions. And 60 percent result from driving personal vehicles..."


The Major U.S. TV Networks Spent a Grand Total of 50 Minutes on Climate Change Last year - Combined. Quartz has the story: "By all accounts, 2016 was an eventful year for the planet. It was the year when a record amount of coral perished in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, deforestation in the Amazon increased nearly 30%, polar sea ice the size of India disappeared, and of course it got hotter. In fact, it was the hottest year ever recorded. But the average American could be forgiven for not knowing about any of this. Because major US TV news networks, fixated on an election that provided the drama and entertainment of reality TV, dedicated almost no time to covering climate change. The nightly news programs of ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox News Sunday collectively aired 50 minutes of climate-change coverage in 2016, according to research from Media Matters, a nonprofit research organization that covers American media. This is 96 minutes less than in 2015, a combined drop of about 66%..."


Documentary Explores How Climate Change is Impacting Yosemite. CBS News has the video promo: " PBS' "Nature" series will premeire "Yosemite," a sublime look at one of our nation's most stunning national parks. It's also a sobering one, as the park's ecosystem is threatened by climate change. Award-winning nature filmmaker Joseph Pontecorvol, who produced, wrote and served as a cinematographer, joins "CBS This Morning: Saturday" to discuss the filming process and the park's future."


Climate Change Signal in Great Plains Wildfires? Is the unusual warmth that helped to create conditions favorable for record wildfires over the southern Plains related to background warming, or just a random event? Here's an excerpt from Climate Signals: "...Since the 1970s, large grass and shrubland fires have increased by more than 100,000 acres per decade. The frequency and intensity of wildfires in the Great Plains are increasing as the combination of higher temperatures, untamed underbrush and more extreme drought elevate wildfire risk. Formal attribution work has identified the fingerprint of global warming in the record hot temperatures that swept across the US east of the Rockies in February 2017, as climate change increased the likelihood of such heat by threefold. The heat fueled worsening drought conditions in the Great Plains region, contributing to the extreme fire conditions in early March that precipitated major blazes in Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Texas. One blaze, encompassing Clark and Comanche counties along Kansas' southern border with Oklahoma, is the largest wildfire on record in the state..."


Global Warming is Increasing Rainfall Rates. Here's an excerpt of a story from Dr. John Abraham at the University of St. Thomas, writing for The Guardian: "...In my state, we have had four 1000-year floods since the year 2000! Two years ago, Minneapolis, Minnesota had such flooding that people were literally fishing in the streets as lakes and streams overflowed and fish escaped the banks. No joke, I actually observed fish swimming past me as I waded up a street. This occurrence is being observed elsewhere in my country and around the world. It falls upon city planners and engineers to design infrastructure that is more able to accommodate heavy rains and manage water. This means designing river containment areas or flood plains, reinforcing buildings and houses, and increasing the capacity of storm drainage in urban areas, just to name a few. These modifications present costs but not preparing for increased flooding poses even greater financial and social costs. Moreover, storing water from times when there is too much for the inevitable times when we have too little (drought), results in better water management and multiple benefits..."

Photo credit: "Jared Bakko hauls a boat down a flooded road after taking supplies to his grandmother as the Red River flood waters began to recede just south of Moorhead, Minnesota, USA, 28 March, 2009." EPA/CRAIG LASSIG Photograph: Craig Lassig/EPA.


How Climate Change is Altering Spring. Michigan Radio has the report, confirming what many of us have already observed: "...That “magical spring period” she’s talking about is called the vernal window. It’s basically when the snow melts, the rivers start rushing, the seeds sprout, birds start to sing: all of the classic signs of spring. But Contasta’s new study finds that those very basic, ecological things are changing. In our warmer winters, that vernal window – the spring awakening, basically – happens over a much longer period of time. And things that used to happen back to back, now have a longer lag time in between. “That could be a longer time when, soil is warm, where water could be moving through the soil, and trees are not active,” she says. Which could be bad for the trees, of course..."

Photo credit: "Spring is arriving earlier, and the vernal window is lasting longer." ellenm1 / Flickr, http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM.

New Cloud Types Defined by the WMO - Cloudy Sunday with a Few Showers

New Cloud Types Defined by WMO. The UK Met Office has details: "The cloud species Volutus has been officially named as a new species of cloud in the World Meteorological Organization’s Cloud Atlas. The new cloud species name will now be used by meteorologists operationally around the world. As well as a new species, several new ‘special clouds’ and supplementary features of existing cloud types have been officially recognised in the atlas which is the official publication of cloud types. It is used as a reference document by operational meteorologists around the world and is also an important training tool for meteorologists, as well as for those working in aviation and at sea. Special clouds named in the new edition include: Flammagenitus, which are clouds formed as a result of forest fires; and Homogenitus, which denotes man-made or anthropogenic clouds such as those which form over power station cooling towers. An example of a new supplementary feature is Asperitas, which are well defined wave-like structures in the underside of clouds..."


More new entries in the WMO (World Meteorological Organization) Cloud Atlas:




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Visible Satellite on Saturday

Speaking of clouds, here's the visible satellite from Saturday, which showed mostly cloudy conditions across much of the state. Note that the only place that really had any sun was across parts of northwestern and far northeastern MN, while the rest of us stared at another slate-gray sky. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like we will see much sun this weekend as another cloudy day is on tap Sunday with a few spotty showers.

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Upcoming Northern Lights Potential
 
I am hoping the clouds clear soon! Due to an Earth-facing storm on the sun, northern lights may be possible early next week! Here's an excerpt from spaceweather.com: POTENT CORONAL HOLE FACES EARTH: A canyon-shaped hole in the sun's atmosphere is facing Earth, and it is spewing a stream of fast-moving solar wind toward our planet.  NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory photographed the giant fissure on March 25th: This is a "coronal hole" (CH) -- a vast region where the sun's magnetic field opens up and allows solar wind to escape.  A gaseous stream flowing from this coronal hole is expected to reach our planet on during the late hours of March 27th and could spark moderately-strong G2-class geomagnetic storms around the poles on March 28th or 29th. We've seen this coronal hole before.  In early March, it lashed Earth's magnetic field with a fast-moving stream that sparked several consecutive days of intense auroras around the poles. The coronal hole is potent because it is spewing solar wind threaded with "negative polarity" magnetic fields. Such fields do a good job connecting to Earth's magnetosphere and energizing geomagnetic storms. Arctic sky watchers should be alert for auroras early next week
 
 
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Northern Lights Potential on Tuesday, March 28
 
According to the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the northern lights potential for Tuesday, March 28th is HIGH! Stay tuned. Here's their forecast: Weather permitting, highly active auroral displays will be visible overhead from Inuvik, Yellowknife, Rankin and Igaluit to Vancouver, Helena, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Bay City, Toronto, Montpelier, and Charlottetown, and visible low on the horizon from Salem, Boise, Cheyenne, Lincoln, Indianapolis and Annapolis.
 
 

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2017 Ice Out Dates

According to the MN DNR, several Minnesota lakes have already gone ice out this year, which is well ahead of normal. Thanks to continued above average this winter and early spring, some lakes have even seen an record early ice out this year!
 
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Active Weather Continues
 
Weather conditions across the country will remain quite active over the next several days as Pacific storms continue to slide across the country. As the storms move east of the Rockies, strong to severe storms will develop with potential of large hail, damaging winds and tornadoes. With several chances of strong to severe storms, locally heavy rainfall will also be possible. Here's the simulated radar through Tuesday, March 29th. 
 

Several Weather Threats Ahead 

According to NOAA's SPC, there is a risk of severe weather over the next several days. The images below are the severe threats on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday respectively. Note that large hail, damaging winds and tornadoes will all be possible. 





Southern Rainfall Potential

 
With several days of strong to severe thunderstorms possible over the Central and Southern US, heavy rainfall will be possible as well. Take a look at the precipitation potential through Thursday and note that widespread to 2" to near 4"+ tallies will be possible.

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2017 PRELIMINARY Tornado Count

According to NOAA's SPC, the PRELIMINARY tornado count for 2017 is at 372 (thru March 24). Note that this is the most (thru March 24th) since 2012 when nearly 400 tornadoes reported through that time frame. The 2005-2015 average through March 24th is 190. 

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Steady Stream of Pacific Moisture
 
The precipitable water loop from the Eastern Pacific shows plume of highly concentrated water moving into the West Coast. These streams are and will continue to be responsible for copious amounts of precipitation over the next several days.
 
 
Precipitation Continues in the Western US This Week
 
Here's the weather outlook through the middle part of next week, which shows two waves of heavier moisture moving through the region. Note that there will be a mix of rain and mountain snow as these systems push through.
 
  
 Western Precipitation Potential
 
Here's a look at the precipitation potential through the early next week, which shows as much 4" to 8"+ liquid! There certainly could be areas of flooding with snow melt and as much precipitation as there is expected to be.
 

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I've Looked at Clouds From Both Sides Now
By Paul Douglas

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky” wrote Rabindranath Tagore. Clouds form when air rises and cools, invisible water vapor condensing into microscopic droplets and ice crystals. When they stick together gravity can pull them to the ground as rain or snow. They look light and airy, but a typical puffy cumulus cloud weighs over a million pounds. A towering T-storm keeps BILLIONS of pounds of water and ice suspended overhead! Recently the WMO Cloud Atlas added new varieties of clouds: volutus, wavy asperitus, homogenitus (man-made clouds) and flammagenitus, which form above forest fires.
 
Knowing cloud type, wind direction & barometric pressure trends and one can make a pretty accurate short-range (6 hour) forecast.
 
We stare out the window at a smear of stratus clouds Sunday, some thick enough to leak drizzle and light rain showers. Temperatures mellow later this week with a streak of 50s and relatively dry, quiet weather into next weekend as significant storms sail south of Minnesota. Could be worse right?______________________________________________________________________________
 
Extended Forecast:

SUNDAY: Persistent clouds. Lingering showers, drizzle. Winds: NE 5-10. High: 45.

SUNDAY NIGHT: Mostly cloudy. A few light spits. Winds: N 5. Low: 36.

MONDAY: More clouds than sun. Better. Winds: N 7-12. High: 52.

TUESDAY: Partly sunny. Spring in your step. Winds: NE 5-10. Wake-up: 38. High: 58.

WEDNESDAY: Clouds increase, showers late. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 41. High: 55.

THURSDAY: Best chance of showers: southern MN. Winds: E 7-12. Wake-up: 42. High: 51.

FRIDAY: Unsettled. Lingering showers. Winds: NE 7-12. Wake-up: 41. High: 50.

SATURDAY: Drying out, peeks of sun. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 42. High: 56.
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This Day in Weather History
March 26th

2012: This is the record early ice-out date on Mille Lacs Lake.

2007: Temperature records are shattered across much of central and southern Minnesota and west central Wisconsin. The following records were set: 69 at Alexandria, 75 at Mankato, 77 at Little Falls, 79 at St. Cloud, 81 at Minneapolis-St. Paul and Eau Claire, 82 at Redwood Falls, and 83 at Springfield.
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Average High/Low for Minneapolis
March 26th

Average High: 47F (Record: 81F set in 2007)
Average: Low: 28F (Record: -10F set in 1996)

*Record Snowfall: 8.5" set in 1936
 
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Sunrise Sunset Times For Minneapolis
March 26th

Sunrise: 7:04am
Sunset: 7:33pm

*Daylight Gained Since Yesterday: ~3 minutes & 8 seconds
*Daylight Gained Since Winter Solstice (December 21st): ~3 hours & 43 minutes

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Moon Phase for March 26th at Midnight
0.8 Days Before New Moon

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Weather Outlook For Sunday

Sunday will be another cool day across the region with highs warming into the 30s and 40s across the state. However, some spots across the Red River Valley will be near 50F by the afternoon. 

Weather Outlook For Sunday

Winds on Sunday will be fairly light across the region, but with a little breeze out of the north, it'll feel a little cooler than the actual temperature.

 
Weather Outlook For Sunday

The same storm system that brought parts of the region a few showers earlier this week, will bring us another round of light rain showers on Sunday. Here's the weather potential around midday Sunday, which shows a few showers skirting the eastern part of Minnesota with mostly cloudy skies across the rest of the region.

 
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Sunday System Slides East
 
Weather conditions on Sunday will be somewhat soggy across the region, but the steadiest rainfall will be east of us. With that said, expect mostly cloudy skies and a few spits of rain on Sunday.
 
 
Precipitation Potential
 
Here's the precipitation potential through early next week, which shows a little light rain across parts of far eastern MN and into Wisconsin. Other than that, not much moisture is expected across the region. 
 
 
Extended Temperature Outlook for Minneapolis

Here's the temperature outlook through April 10th, which shows temperatures gradually warming over the next several days with highs sliding into the 50s & 60s as we slide into April.

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8 to 14 Day Temperature Outlook

According to NOAA's CPC, the 8 to 14 day temperature outlook suggests warmer than average temperatures in the Upper Midwest from April 4rd - April 8th.


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Temperature Outlook

Here's the 8 to 14 day temperature outlook, which takes us through early April. Note that warmer than average temperatures look to the eastern half of the country, while cooler than average temperatures may persist in the Pacific Northwest.

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 National Weather Outlook

Here's the weather outlook through early next week, which shows a fairly active weather pattern across the country with several storms systems tracking across the Lower 48. 

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5 Day Precipitation Forecast

According to NOAA's WPC, the 5 day precipitation forecast suggests widespread 2" to 4"+ precipitation amounts across parts of the Northwest with some of the heaviest tallies in the higher elevations. Also note that there could be some 2" to 4" tallies across the Central/Southern Plains.

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Snowfall Potential

Here's the snowfall potential over the next several days, which shows some accumulations across parts of the Northeast and in the Western mountains, but there doesn't appear to be any major snow event unfolding across the Lower 48. The heaviest appears to be farther north in Canada.

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THE FLIGHT OF THE EASTERNAUTS

The cosmic ray monitoring program of Spaceweather.com and Earth to Sky Calculus is not supported by government grants or big corporate sponsors. Instead we rely on you. That is, you and the Easternauts: On March 2nd, the student researchers flew a payload-full of Easter bunnies to the edge of space--and you can have one for $39.95. (Space helmet included!) They make great Easter gifts for young scientists, and all proceeds support STEM education.  Each bunny comes with a greeting card showing the Easternaut in flight and telling the story of its journey to the stratosphere and back again.

See more from SpaceWeather.com HERE:


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"Why looking at the sun can make you sneeze"

The sun makes me sneeze. It’s not like I get fits of uncontrollable sneezes as if I’m allergic to the sunrays. But watch me leave a movie theater at high noon on a cloudless Saturday, and you can bet a large sneeze will explode out of my body within 30 seconds. Since childhood, I thought sun sneezes were a malady that everyone encounters. But a few years ago, I explained to my then-boyfriend and now-husband that I could force a sneeze to happen by staring at the sun. His quizzical look revealed that sun sneezes are not normal. I’m an exception to a rule — but I’m not alone.

See more from PBS.org HERE:


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"20 Common Myths That Climate Scientists Often Hear"

Over the past few weeks I casually asked several climate-informed colleagues what questions, claims, or myths do they hear most often from friends, family, or random people. I call these "zombie" theories because they have often been refuted but live on in social media, other outlets, and so forth.  Here are the top 20 that emerged.1. The climate always changes naturally, and we always had extreme weather. This is an accurate statement but misses the point that natural cycles can be altered by anthropogenic processes (Natural growing grass+fertilizer and Major League Baseball-home runs in the steroid era). Natural processes have always and will continue to affect climate. We just have to figure out how this relatively new anthropogenic "ingredient" is modifying the recipe.

See more from Forbes.com Here:

(In this image provided by the National Snow and Ice Data Center and NASA, shows how low sea ice levels were in the Arctic this winter, alarming climate scientists. During the winter, Arctic sea ice grew to 5.57 million square miles (14.42 million square kilometers) at its peak, but that’s the smallest amount of winter sea ice in 38 years of record keeping, beating the record set in 2015 and tied last year. Sea ice in March of this year was smaller than last year by an area about the size of the state of Maine. (National Snow and Ice Data Center and NASA via AP))


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"Ice-spraying balloons are the latest climate idea because we are running out of climate ideas"

The idea of using technology to directly cool Earth’s climate — most often called geoengineering — has always been equal parts bold and crazy. But it’s getting slightly more plausible every day. At an event in Washington, DC today, Harvard professor David Keith announced his new plan for testing his solar radiation management ideas, partnering with an Arizona launch site and a high-altitude balloon company called World View Enterprises. The plan is to launch a series of hover-gondolas to spray tiny particles of ice into the stratosphere, and monitor how those particles behave. It will be years before the launches actually happen, but if they do, the resulting data could answer some of geoengineering’s biggest questions. The main problem for researchers like Keith is that we still don’t know exactly what geoengineering would do to the Earth. The general idea is to spray reflective particles into the atmosphere to throw off sunlight and counteract the effects of accumulating heat-trapping greenhouse gases. It works in theory, but actual testing can be politically dicey, so while there’s been a lot of debate around these schemes, scientists haven’t been able to do much actual research.

See more from theverge.com HERE:

 
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