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Paul Douglas on Weather

Now is the (Spring) of our Discontent

First Weekend of Spring...
Saturday's sunrise was quite stunning. A brief display of pinks and purples with a faint sun pillar. However, folks in far western and southern Minnesota were getting dumped on by another sloppy March snow storm. Keep in mind that March is the 3rd snowiest month for the Twin Cities with an average of 10.3". The Twin Cities has only had 5.1" so far this month, which is a few inches below average. The extended forecast does suggest a couple more chances of wintry precipitation, so we could make up for the deficit yet.  
Snowy Saturday Morning in Southern MN
While the calendar officially says spring, it didn't look like it early Saturday morning across parts of South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa. The picture below from NWS Meteorologist Rod Donavon shows a very wintry scene out of Plainfield, IA! WOW - that certainly is a pile of snow!
Heavy Snow Amounts
Here were some of the heaviest snowfall reports from Friday into Saturday. Note how close the heavy snow was to the Twin Cities! Pretty crazy how sharp that cutoff was and those who got snow, got a big pile of it!


2017 Ice Out Dates
Take a look at ice out dates across the state from last year. Note the darker red markers, which indicated that ice out occurred on many lakes in central and southern MN before March 18th! As of March 24th, we have no ice outs anywhere across the state this year. 

Hummingbird Migration
A number of springtime birds are starting to show up on bird feeders near you, but the Ruby-throated Hummingbird is still quite several weeks out from making there way to the Upper Midwest. According to Journey North, there have been reports as far north as Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina. 
Amazing Hummingbird Migration
Did you know that hummingbirds migrate from Central America? Amazingly, they make there way to the Yucatan Peninsula in February and then cross the Gulf of Mexico! Unreal!!
"Ruby-throats do not travel in flocks during hummingbird migration. Instead, each bird follows its own instincts on appropriate departure times and routes. Scientists believe that each hummingbird begins its migration in response to environmental triggers. One trigger is the changing level and angle of sunlight. Another trigger is believed to be a drop in available natural food. As these signals continue to activate, the hummingbird makes its preparations and eventually departs. On their northward trip, most have reached Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula by February. In this lush jungle, they begin to feast on insects as they prepare for one of the toughest migrations for any bird. Each year, thousands of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds fly over the open water of the Gulf of Mexico rather than follow the longer shoreline route. These brave little birds will fly non-stop up to 500 miles to reach U.S. shores. It takes approximately 18-22 hours to complete this amazing solitary flight. Some hummingbirds aren’t strong enough, though, as many oil riggers and fishing boat crews can attest. Every year, exhausted Ruby-throated Hummingbirds take temporary refuge on offshore oil rigs and boats floating in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. These birds rest a while before bravely launching back into their flight across the open water."
Spring Leaf Index

According to the USA National Phenology Network, the spring leaf index shows spring creeping north. The red colors indicate that spring leaves have been emerging earlier than normal, while the blue indicates that spring leaves have emerged later than normal. It was a later than normal start to the season across the Gulf Coast States, but across the Mid-Atlantic and Ohio Valley, things are off to an earlier start. Keep in mind that the average bloom date for lilacs in the Twin Cities is around May 10th, so we still have a ways to go, but it's coming!

Garden 2018 Update
Local gardeners are well on their way to starting their 2018 garden! Indoor seed starting continues as we head into the end of March and if you started any seeds back in February or early march, you're probably starting to see a lot of progress in your indoor greenhouses. The geraniums, Pentunias and Peppers that I started on the 13th of March have sprouted and are doing quite well. Tomato seeds were started on Friday and should start seeing some germinations within the next few days!

Starting Your Garden Indoors
The image below shows the suggested dates when and certain vegetable and flower seeds can be started indoors. As you can see, there are many seeds that can already be started, while a few others can wait until April. Such a fun time of the year!! Grow baby grow!!
Snow Depth
Here's the latest modeled snow depth across the state, which shows our most recent snow event that dropped nearly 12" across parts of southern Minnesota. Snow depth across southeastern Minnesota and around the Twin Cities is pretty scarce. As of Saturday, there was just a trace of snow on the ground at the MSP Airport.


Extended Temperature Forecast

The extended forecast through the end of March and into early April suggests a fairly mild week ahead, especially midweek when temps could warm to near 50F! However, it appears that we'll quickly cool down into the 30s at the end of the month and into the first few days of April. Keep in mind that the average high at the end of March is 49F, so this will be quite a bit below normal.

Weather Outlook Ahead
Sunday will be a quiet day across the region, but a storm system will quickly develop as we head into the early week time frame. This storm looks fairly impressive with areas of heavy rain and snow possible through Tuesday. 
Rain/Snow Chance
The storm system that arrives early this week will bring up to 0.50" of liquid to parts of the region. Keep in mind that some of this could fall in the form of wet heavy snow, but is still a bit uncertain where and how much could fall. Stay tuned.

Great Lakes Ice Coverage

According to NOAA's GLERL, the Great Lakes were 32.1% covered in ice as of March 23rd. Interestingly only 6.6% of the Great Lakes were covered at this time last year.

Lake Superior Ice Coverage
Here's a look at the ice coverage across Lake Superior and as of March 24th, NOAA's GLERL, said that 69.6% of Lake Superior was covered. Interestingly, at last time last year only 3.8% of the lake was covered in ice! Quite a difference from this year to last.   
Visible Satellite
The visible satellite from Friday, March 23rd revealed a wintry landscape across the Great Lakes Region and Upper Mississippi Valley. Much of the white you see is either cloud cover or snow on the ground.  Big chunks of ice can still be seen floating around the Great Lakes and some of the lakes in Minnesota, including Upper/Lower Red Lake and Lake of the Woods.
Snow Depth 2018
The snow depth map across the country for March 24th suggests that 26.2% of the country is covered in snow, mainly across the northern half of the nation. At this time last year, 14.5% of the nation was covered in snow. As of March 24th, the Twin Cities officially had Trace of snow on the ground at the MSP Airport, but at this time last year, there was no snow on the ground. Note also that last year at this time, the Sierra Nevada Range in California had a significantly greater snow pack than what is there now.
Snow Depth 2017
At this time last year, 14.5% of the nation was covered in snow.  

2018 Tornadoes So Far...

According to NOAA's SPC, there have been 98 preliminary tornaoes so far this year (March 23rd), which is more than what we had at this time in the last couple of years. Interestingly, there were 491 tornadoes at this time in 2008; that year ended with 2,194 tornadoes, which is nearly 800 more than the short-term 2005-2015 average. 

Average Tornadoes in March By State
Here's the average number of tornadoes during the month of March by state. Texas sees the most with 11, but interestingly, Minnesota averages 1 tornado in March!


3-7 Day Hazard Forecast

1.) Heavy rain shifting east from the southern Great Plains to the lower and middle Mississippi Valley, Ohio Valley, and Tennessee Valley, Mon-Thu, Mar 26-29.
2.) Severe weather for parts of Oklahoma and Texas, Mon-Tue, Mar 26-27.

3.) High winds for the southern high Plains and parts of the Southwest, Mon, Mar 26.
4.) Heavy snow for parts of the central and southern Rockies, Mon-Tue, Mar 26-27.
5.) Much below-normal temperatures for the northern Great Plains, Fri, Mar 30.
6.) A high risk of much below-normal temperatures for  northern Great Plains, Sat-Mon, Mar 31-Apr 2.
7.) A moderate risk of much below-normal temperatures for the northern Great Plains, upper Mississippi Valley, and Great Lakes, Sat-Fri, Mar 31-Apr 6.
8.) A slight risk of much below-normal temperatures for much of the northern half of the central and eastern U.S., Sat-Fri, Mar 31-Apr 6.
9.)Flooding occurring along the lower Mississippi River and Kankakee River in northwest Indiana.
10.) Flooding likely or possible across parts of eastern South Dakota, southwest Minnesota, and southeast Montana.
11.) Severe Drought across Georgia, South Carolina, California, the Southwest, and Great Plains.


Major River Flooding

According to NOAA, there were 45 river gauges in flood stage as of Saturday, 4 of which where at Major flood stage! Interestingly, 2 of those are in North Dakota near Devils Lake.

MAJOR Flooding Forecast along Mississippi River at Baton Rouge, LA
Take a look at the river gauge along the Mississippi River at Baton Rouge, LA. It entered MAJOR flood stage earlier this month and may not go below major flood stage until the middle of the week! This flooding is the result of very heavy rainfall that happened during the 2nd half of February across the Mississippi and Ohio River Valley areas. It finally looks like the flood waters will recede a bit as we get closer to April.
"Cool satellite image shows rising Mississippi River pouring sediment into the Gulf of Mexico"
"Fresh water from the Ohio River Valley is flooding into the Mississippi River, causing it to rise and pick up speed. A new image taken by a National Aeronautics and Space Administration research satellite shows a fan of sediment leaving the bird's foot delta as a result of the increased flow. The plume extends 10 to 20 miles offshore, said Alex Kolker, an associate professor with Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium. Bent by a southeast wind, the plume curls in on itself.  "It's cool to be able to have the wealth of data that we have in near real time," Kolker said of the image. Louisiana State University's Earthscan Lab compiles satellite images of the state almost every day. Before the Mississippi River was leveed off, flood waters from the river carried sediment into the marsh, rebuilding and stabilizing land along the coast. The state's coastal master plan calls for two river diversions in Plaquemines Parish to reconnect the river with the degrading marsh."
Ice Safety!!
Before you go testing the ice on area lakes and ponds, remember that "ICE IS NEVER 100% SAFE!" So when is ice safe? Here is an excerpt from the MN DNR regarding ice safety: 
"There really is no sure answer. You can't judge the strength of ice just by its appearance, age, thickness, temperature, or whether or not the ice is covered with snow. Strength is based on all these factors -- plus the depth of water under the ice, size of the water body, water chemistry and currents, the distribution of the load on the ice, and local climatic conditions."
General Ice Thickness Guidelines
Here are some general ice thickness guidelines from the MN DNR:
For new, clear ice ONLY:

Under 4" - STAY OFF
4" - Ice fishing or other activities on foot
5" - 7" - Snowmobile or ATV
8" - 12" - Car or small pickup
12" - 15" - Medium truck

Many factors other than thickness can cause ice to be unsafe.
White ice or "snow ice" is only about half as strong as new clear ice. Double the above thickness guidelines when traveling on white ice.

See more from the MN DNR HERE:

Temperature Anomaly on Saturday
The temperature anomaly across North America from Saturday, showed above average temperatures across much of the Southern US and across parts of central Canada. Meanwhile, cooler than average temperatures across much of the northern tier of the nation and out west. 
Temperature Trend
The 850mb temperature anomaly from Sunday to Tuesday, shows a blob warmer air surging north through the central part of the country through the early week time frame. The good news is that the Upper Midwest will get a little taste of this, especially by Wednesday when the mercury could hit 50F in the Twin Cities. Meanwhile, colder air will continue to linger in the Western US and this colder air will return to the Upper Midwest by the end of next week and could stick around into the early part of April.
Weather Outlook Ahead
Weather conditions through the rest of the weekend and into early next week shows another storm system developing and moving into the Central US. Areas of rain and high elevation snow in the Western US on Sunday will move into the Central US early this week with wintry weather up north and rain/rumbles across the Central and Southern US. Keep in mind that some of the storms could be on the strong to severe side through Tuesday. 
Severe Threats Ahead
The images below are the severe weather threats on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. As our next storm system moves east, areas of hail, high wind and even tornadoes can't be ruled out.
Severe Threat Sunday
Severe Threat Monday
Severe Threat Tuesday
Severe Threat Wednesday

7 Day Precipitation Outlook

According to NOAA's WPC, the 7-day precipitation outlook suggests areas of heavy precipitation moving into the Central part of the country. Strong to severe thunderstorms may help to produce several inches of rain as we head into the last full week of March, which could lead to areas of flooding.

Snowfall Potential Ahead

The GFS snowfall potential through the last full week of March suggests areas of heavy snow across parts of the Midwest and Ohio Valley. There may also be some heavier snow across the Intermountain-West and the spine of the Rockies. The good news is that there doesn't appear to be any big snow events unfolding in the Northeast this week. Whew!
Now is the (Spring) of our Discontent
By Paul Douglas
I'm a fan of snow, especially when I'm not watching it pile up on the freeway in front of me. Bring on fresh piles of white from December into March, but by April I'm questioning whether my yard will ever green up again. A year ago ice was coming off metro lakes. 6 years ago some trees and shrubs were already in full bloom. Yes, a Minnesota March is a fickle beast.
Yesterday, in an act of seasonal defiance, I picked up a couple of chaise lounges and a new Twins baseball cap at the neighborhood Costco. Take that, Old Man Winter!
8 inches of snow fell at Sanborn, Minnesota Friday night but most of that will be gone within a couple of days. Expect some sun today with mid-40s; pretty close to average.
One minor fly in the weather-ointment: precipitation Monday may start as an icy mix before changing over to rain showers. Travel Monday should be OK. A sun angle similar to mid-September keeps most roads wet, even on a cloudy day.
Models hint at a slushy mix Sunday; again on Tuesday, but the atmosphere finally mellows by mid-April, with consistent 50s, even a hint of green!

Extended Forecast

SUNDAY: Partly sunny skies. Winds: SE 10-15. High: 45.

SUNDAY NIGHT: Mostly cloudy. Light rain/snow mix possible. Winds: SSE 5-10. Low: 31.

MONDAY: Light mix early changes to rain. Winds: SE 10-15. High: 43.

TUESDAY: More clouds than sun, drying breeze. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 32. High: 46.

WEDNESDAY: Mix of clouds and sun. Quiet. Winds: SW 5-10. Wake-up: 33. High: 48.

THURSDAY: Mostly cloudy and a bit cooler. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 29. High: 43.

FRIDAY: Cold front, few flurries. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 30. High: 41.

SATURDAY: Sunny start. Light mix late. Winds: SE 5-10. Wake-up: 25. High: 42.

This Day in Weather History
March 25th

2007: Record warmth stretches from southern Minnesota to western Wisconsin with 72 at Owatonna, 77 at Menomonie, WI, and 80 at Eau Claire, WI.

1981: An F2 tornado hits Morrison county and does $25,000 worth of damage.

Average High/Low for Minneapolis
March 25th

Average High: 46F (Record: 78F set in 1939)
Average Low: 28F (Record: -5F set in 1940)

Record Rainfall: 0.51" set in 1995
Record Snowfall: 3.6" set in 1996

Sunrise/Sunset Times for Minneapolis
March 25th

Sunrise: 7:07am
Sunset: 7:32pm

Hours of Daylight: ~12 hours & 25 minutes

Daylight GAINED since yesterday: ~ 3 minutes & 8 seconds
Daylight GAINED since winter solstice (December 21st): 3 Hour 40 Minutes

Moon Phase for March 25th at Midnight
1.6 Days Since First Quarter Moon


 Temp Outlook For Sunday

Temps on Sunday will be a little cool for the end of March. Again keep in mind that the average high in the Twin Cities on March 25th is 46F, so we'll be a little bit below that. However, the sun will be shining, so it'll feel a bit warmer because of that.
8 to 14 Day Temperature Outlook

According to NOAA's CPC, the early part of April looks to be cooler than average across much of the Midwest, Great Lakes, Northeast and into the Ohio Valley. Meanwhile, warmer than average temperatures will be found across the Southwest.

"Niagara Falls' real-life Mario Kart track has finally set an official opening date"
"It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for: the opening date of Niagara Falls’ new real-life Mario Kart track has been confirmed. “The Niagara Falls Speedway is aiming for a June 1st opening,” said a spokesperson from Clifton Hill in an email to Daily Hive Toronto. However, the opening could come sooner, as Niagara speedway says Memorial Day Weekend (May 26 to 28) is the ultimate goal."

"'Atmospheric river' dumping insane amounts of snow at elevations above 8,500 feet in the Sierra"
"A fierce atmospheric river blasted the northern and central Sierra overnight, dumping several feet of snow to elevations above 8,000 feet and bringing a slushy mix of rain and snow to lower elevations. On State Route 88 over the Carson Spur, Caltrans snow ploughs faced drifts that rose well above the top of their trucks. As of 11:30 a.m., the road still wasn't clear. In the mountains, ski resorts shuttered lifts due to the high volume of snow. Squaw Valley and Alpine Ski resorts ceased operations at 3 p.m. due to high avalanche conditions. These types of systems are different from the typical winter storm; they're warmer and carry more moisture because they originate in the subtropics and travel across the Pacific Ocean picking up water vapor. As a result, they tend to deliver rain at lower elevations — below 8,000 feet — where snow falls in a typical cold storm from the north. But while snow might be more scarce down low in an "atmospheric river" event, at elevations above 8,000 feet, it's plentiful, more so than in a cold storm without a strong moisture tap."

"Primeval Salt Shakes Up Ideas on How the Atmosphere Got Its Oxygen"
"Our planet may have gained breathable air in the geologic blink of an eye. Ancient sea salt drilled from a geologic basin in Russia is providing dramatic new clues as to how Earth’s early atmosphere became oxygen-rich—allowing life as we know it to evolve. Buried deep beneath the surface for billions of years, the salt reveals surprising clues about the chemistry of the ocean and atmosphere from long ago. The salt, excavated by an international team led by Russian scientists, is about a billion years older than other, similar geologic samples. Its age puts it smack in the middle of Earth’s Great Oxygenation Event, the ancient period in which oxygen began to dominate atmospheric chemistry. “This is a truly unique, one-of-a-kind deposit,” says Clara Blättler, a geochemist at Princeton University. Blättler is the lead author of a study appearing in the March 23 Science on the salty new samples. They are made up of minerals left behind when water evaporates. “Because these evaporite minerals are our most direct way of sampling ancient sea waters, this deposit gives us a snapshot of seawater in the interval time when we don’t really have any other direct constraints.”
"Comedian Byron Allen buys the Weather Channel for $300M"
"The Weather Channel TV network was sold Thursday — to comedian-turned-media mogul Byron Allen. Allen’s Entertainment Studios Inc. bought the 36-year-old TV staple from the Blackstone Group, Bain Capital and Comcast. Terms of the sale were not disclosed, but sources pegged the price at about $300 million. The network and its digital property — — were purchased by the trio 10 years ago for $3.5 billion. The web properties were sold to IBM in 2015 for $2 billion."
"What's the point of a smart weather station?"
"Besides better forecasts, smart weather stations can roll local conditions into your home-automation scheme. "Why not just look outside?" That's the most common response I hear whenever the topic of smart weather stations comes up. It's a reasonable question at the convergence of two topics -- smart home and weather prediction -- with a lot of skeptics. The answer is simple: to get the most local weather information possible. These systems keep an eye on climate conditions right where they sit. They're also bristling with sensors that can track local rainfall, wind, air pressure, even UV levels in real time. These devices don't just collect that data for fun. Among other things, they can use it to generate custom forecasts tied to your exact location. Many new weather stations also work in tandem with other connected household products, too, which means you can trigger lights and thermostat settings based on the local conditions. They can command web-connected garden sprinklers and lawn irrigation systems, too. Even if you don't see a need for hyperlocal weather info for its own sake, you might be able to make good use of it in conjunction with other devices around your home."

Thanks for checking in and don't forget to follow me on Twitter @TNelsonWX

Heaviest snowfall will be in far southern Minnesota

A Snowy Near-Miss for MSP - The Limits of Weather Models

In 1978 I did weather updates for a dozen radio stations while pursuing a meteorology degree at Penn State. There was only 1 weather model, the LFM. Now we have scores of models. We are drowning in
weather simulations.

Yesterday, a Twitter follower asked if we're too dependent on models vs. experience and brainpower. Probably, yes. At the end of the day you choose the model(s) you believe are on the right track. Historical perspective and context still provide value no computer can (yet). All these models are online now; everyone is an armchair meteorologist and "inches of snow" get thrown around days before a storm; earlier than we should be attempting that level of specificity.

Heaviest snow bands set up southwest of MSP; leave extra time if you're driving to Mankato or Willmar this

After a gray but dry Sunday rain showers arrive Monday; maybe starting as a light mix. We dry out and cool off the latter half of next week - the atmosphere probably chilly enough for some light snow next Saturday. It looks like a nippy start to April.

Where oh where is spring this year? 

St. Paul to Mankato: 0 to 10". Talk about a sharp gradient, although the Twin Cities metro will miss out on the significant snow a 60-90 minute drive to the southwest down 169 toward Mankato will take you back to  early February. Some 8-10" amounts are possible within 75 miles of the Minnesota River, on southeast to Fairmont and Albert Lea.

Axis of Heaviest Snow I-90 Corridor Into Northern Iowa. 2 feet of snow near Waterloo? I wouldn't be surprised, with Gulf moisture being advected into the system, it should become more potent as it tracks southeastward. If you're driving south this morning you will run into some very snow roads 1-2 hours south of MSP. NAM guidance: NOAA

In Search of a Real Warm Front. 50F may feel nice on Wednesday before temperatures cool off late in the week, and then slowly recovering the first week of April. Remind me not to complain about any heat come July. Twin Cities ECMWF numbers: WeatherBell.

Very Slow Moderation. This may be one of those springs where we go from slush and 40s to 70s and severe thunderstorms in a meteorological blink of an eye. A sudden spurt of heat, moisture (and wind) would, in fact, set up a ripe scenario for severe weather. I don't see it yet, but I have a hunch severe storm season 2018 may be more active than recent years.

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Friday morning, March 23rd, 2018:

  • A major winter storm will impact parts of the upper Midwest to the central Appalachians through the first half of the weekend, bringing the potential of heavy, wet snow as well as gusty winds.
  • Snow amounts of at least 4-8” are expected in areas under Winter Storm Watches and Warnings across this region. There will be some areas toward the center of this heavy band from North Dakota into at least Illinois that could receive 10-12” of snow.
  • This heavy, wet snow may lead to tree damage and power outages across the region. Hazardous travel is also expected due to snow covered roads and gusty winds which will create reduced visibilities.

Winter Storm Concerns. As this strong storm system moves out of the Rockies, heavy snow will continue to spread across parts of the upper Midwest to the Ohio Valley later today into tonight. Numerous Winter Storm Watches and Warnings are in effect this morning from the Dakotas to the central Appalachians for the potential of heavy snow, with snow totals of at least 4-8” expected. There will be some areas toward the center of this heavy band from North Dakota into at least Illinois that could receive 10-12” of snow. Winter Weather Advisories have been issued on the edges of the warnings. In these areas, snow totals will generally be less than six inches. Here’s a breakdown of alerts in place for some of the larger cities this morning:

  • Bismarck, ND is under a Winter Storm Warning from until 7 AM Saturday for the potential of 5-8” of snow.
  • Fargo, ND is under a Winter Storm Warning from 1 PM this afternoon until 7 AM Saturday for the potential of 6-9” of snow.
  • Minneapolis, MN is under a Winter Weather Advisory from 11 PM this evening until 10 AM Saturday for 1-3” of snow.
  • Indianapolis, IN is under a Winter Storm Watch from late tonight through Saturday evening for the potential of 3-6” of snow.
  • Cincinnati, OH is under a Winter Storm Watch from late tonight through late Saturday night for the potential of 2-4” of snow.

Snowfall Forecast Through Sunday Evening. Snowfall totals of at least 4-8”+ are expected over the next couple days from North Dakota into parts of West Virginia and Virginia. The heaviest snow is expected to fall from central North Dakota through parts of Illinois and Indiana, where areas that end up under the heaviest snow bands (with snow falling at 1-2” per hour) could receive 8-12” of snow within a 12-18 hour period. This heavy, wet snow may lead to tree damage and power outages across the region. Hazardous travel is also expected due to snow covered roads and gusty winds which will create reduced visibilities.

Timing The Precipitation. Heavy snow will continue across parts of the Dakotas throughout the day, slowly working eastward into parts of Minnesota and Iowa by this afternoon. The snow will expand across parts of Minnesota and Iowa through the overnight hours and increase in intensity. Further into the Ohio Valley, rain will start to change over to snow overnight, lasting throughout Saturday before starting to taper off heading through Saturday Night into Sunday. Snowfall rates of 1-2” per hour will be possible in the heaviest of the snow bands. Winds will also be gusty while the snow is falling, up to around 35 mph across the upper Midwest, which will cause whiteout conditions.

Summary. A band of heavy, wet snow is expected from the Dakotas into the Ohio Valley and the central Appalachians over the next couple days. Snow totals of at least 4-8” are expected across Winter Storm Watch and Warning areas across the region, and in the heaviest snow bands could approach 10-12” in a short amount of time. This heavy, wet snow may lead to tree damage and power outages across the region. Hazardous travel is also expected due to snow covered roads and gusty winds which will create reduced visibilities.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix

New York City Hasn't Seen Snow Like This in 130 Years. Here's an excerpt from CNN: "...This marks the fifth consecutive season that at least 30 inches of snow have fallen in New York City. The only other recorded time it snowed this much, for this long a period, was back in the 1880s (records begin in the 1869-1870 season). That five-year stretch occurred mostly during the presidential administration of Chester A. Arthur, another president who made a name for himself in New York..."

Why Are There Suddenly So Many Nor'Easters? Great question. Here's an excerpt from The Atlantic: "...Big northeast snowstorms simply don’t form very often, Uccellini said: When he and his coauthor studied the half-century of weather between 1949 and 2003, they only found 47 storms that could be classified as nor’easters. But it does make sense that the eastern U.S. has seen so many nor’easters in the last few weeks, he said. If the atmosphere is in the mood to produce a nor’easter, it doesn’t stop after making just one. “One of the things we emphasized in the book is the episodic nature of these storms. They come in batches,” Uccellini told me. Northeast snowstorms can only emerge from a very specific set of circumstances. When those circumstances are achieved, storms can follow one after another, walloping the coast week after week..."

Nighttime Tornadic Storms are Dangerous; Not "Good Sleeping Weather". Dr. Marshall Shepherd has some timely reminders in a post at Forbes: "...A 2008 study from Northern Illinois University found that while only 27% of tornadoes happened at night, 39% of tornado fatalities were nocturnal. They also found that 42% of "killer" tornadoes were nocturnal. The authors noted that winter and spring-transition seasons (November to April) had the highest fatality rates from nocturnal storms. This is surprising since those are not necessarily the peak months for tornadoes. The authors told Science Daily that fewer daylight hours and public underestimation of "preseason" storms may be factors. The study, published in the American Meteorological Society's journal Weather and Forecasting, also found that one of the reasons tornadoes occurring during the period from midnight to sunrise are 2.5 times more deadly is related to geography. Nocturnal tornadic storms take a particular toll on vulnerable populations and housing structures in the American South..."

Map credit: "Where nocturnal tornadoes happen." Walker Ashley/NIU and AMS. Click here for more details at Science Daily.

Toxic Impact of Hurricane Harvey Worse Than Public Was Told. Daily Beast has the details: "The toxic impact of Hurricane Harvey was far more widespread than authorities admitted at the time, according to documents pieced together by the Associated Press, which found more than 100 cases of chemical spills being reported in the storm’s aftermath. The hurricane that slammed into the Texas coast in late August last year caused widespread damage to numerous chemical plants and refineries, including one incident in which half a billion gallons of industrial wastewater mixed with storm water, land eaked out of a chemical plant in Baytown, east of Houston. The AP reports cancer-causing pollutants such as benzene, vinyl chloride, and butadiene were found in neighborhoods and waterways after the storm dissipated. Most of the incidents were never publicized and the potential toxicity of some of the biggest leaks were initially understated—and only a handful appear to have been investigated by Texas authorities..."

File image from August 25, 2017 courtesy of NASA ISS.

Stopping Hurricanes by Blowing Air Bubbles? Never say never, but I have my doubts. Here's an excerpt of an explainer at Newsweek: "...The bubble curtain method involves placing perforated pipes below the water before pumping bubbles of compressed air through them. The idea is that the bubbles will rise, taking cold water with them that will cool the surface. The SINTEF team say that, ideally, the pipes should be placed between 100 and 150 meters below the surface to ensure that the water being carried to the surface is cold enough. "By bringing this water to the surface using the bubble curtains, the surface temperature will fall to below 26.5 degrees Celsius, thus cutting off the hurricane's energy supply," Eidnes said. “This method will allow us quite simply to prevent hurricanes from achieving life-threatening intensities." The researchers say that such a system of pipes could be deployed on a large scale..."

Byron Allen's Entertainment Studios Acquires Weather Channel. Didn't see this coming. Here's an excerpt from Variety: "...Adding another pillar to his growing TV and film portfolio, Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios has reached a deal to acquire cable’s Weather Channel in a transaction valued at about $300 million. Entertainment Studios is buying the Weather Group, parent company of the cabler and the Local Now streaming service, from Comcast and private equity giants Blackstone and Bain. That group purchased Weather Channel for $3.5 billion in July 2008. The digital operations of Weather Channel were acquired in 2015 by IBM in a deal pegged at around $2 billion. “The Weather Channel is one of the most trusted and extremely important cable networks, with information vitally important to the safety and protection of our lives,” said Allen, who is chairman-CEO of Entertainment Studios..."

4 Simple Ways to Save Water. Planet Vision has some good advice, starting with replacing your showerhead: "...You may not have thought about replacing your showerhead: it’s there, it works, who cares? But showering uses 20 percent (28 gallons a day) of the water in your home so updating your showerhead is an easy way to reduce your consumption every day. Check out this short video for tips on how to change a showerhead. Chances are your shower uses about two to three gallons per minute, but updated showerheads use about 1.25 gallons per minute and cost as little as $12 to $20. Saving hot water will also save you money on your heating bill!..."

GOP Spending Bill Not As Bad As It Could Be: From Climate Nexus: "A GOP-led Congress has passed a spending bill that directly challenges many of the environmental, climate and energy cuts originally proposed by the Trump administration. The $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill, passed early Friday, increased funding for Energy Department renewable and clean energy research initiatives the White House had targeted for reductions or elimination, including increasing funding for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. The bill also provides new funding for the Forest Service and Interior Department to fight wildfires. Congress also ensured EPA funding remained at similar levels to 2017, rebuking the White House's suggestion to deeply slash the agency's funding by one-third: as Politico Pro reports, some Republicans are growing concerned that further cuts to an already pared-down agency could eliminate popular state programs." (Bill: New York Times $, InsideClimate News, Earther, Vox. Wildfires: Washington Post $, The Hill. GOP & EPA: Politico Pro $)

Plastic Within the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is "Increasing Exponentially", Scientists Find. It's now 4-16 times larger than previously thought, according to a summary at The Washington Post: "Seventy-nine thousand tons of plastic debris, in the form of 1.8 trillion pieces, now occupy an area three times the size of France in the Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii, a scientific team reported on Thursday. The amount of plastic found in this area, known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is “increasing exponentially,” according to the surveyors, who used two planes and 18 boats to assess the ocean pollution. “We wanted to have a clear, precise picture of what the patch looked like,” said Laurent Lebreton, the lead oceanographer for the Ocean Cleanup Foundation and the lead author of the study..."

Ocean Plastic Predicted to Triple Within a Decade. More perspective and details via CNN: "Without intervention soon, the amount of plastic littering the world's oceans is expected to triple within a decade, a new UK government report warns. The "Foresight Future of the Sea" report from the UK Government Office for Science said our oceans have seen "unprecedented change as a result of direct human activity and climate change." It identified the rise of plastic in oceans, along with rising temperatures and sea levels and chemical pollution, as some of the biggest problems the marine environment faces. The report found that 70% of marine litter is non-degradable plastic which is projected to increase threefold between 2015 and 2025..."

File photo image: NOAA.

Is There Anything Hackers Can't Hack? Now There Is, Thanks to a New Way of Coding. A video at Big Think is worth your time: "Hackers thrive on human error, but a new method of coding is ending that. Recent developments by the HACMS (High-Assurance Cyber Military Systems) program at DARPA has allowed computer scientists to use mathematical proofs to verify that code—up to 100,000 lines of it at a time—is functionally correct and free of bugs. Kathleen Fisher, professor of computer science and former program manager at DARPA, explains how this allows coders to build a thin base of hyper-secure code that is verified to be functionally correct, "and then you can have lots of software running on top of it that doesn’t have that same level of assurance associated with it but that you can prove: it doesn’t matter what it does, it’s not going to affect the operation of the overall system..."

This is a "Slow Roll". Will Facebook Ever Be The Same? A rhetorical question from Vanity Fair: "...Indeed, the repercussions are massive in both immediate and longitudinal ways. Just a couple of days into the Cambridge crisis, Facebook’s stock has dropped by more than 20 points, which has led its market capitalization to fall by tens of billions of dollars. Senators Mark Warner and Amy Klobuchar have called for Mark Zuckerberg to testify before Congress. A British M.P. sent Zuckerberg a letter asking him to testify before Parliament. The Federal Trade Commission is exploring whether Facebook violated the terms of a 2011 consent decree around privacy. A shareholder has filed a class-action lawsuit. Facebook’s chief security officer, Alex Stamos, is reportedly leaving the company after battling with executives about the company’s response to Russian’s involvement in the 2016 election. A #DeleteFacebook campaign has surfaced across social media..."

Delta Airlines May Outfit Some Employees with "Wearable Robotics". One step closer to The Terminator. I want one of these - to mow the lawn with. Here are a couple of excerpts from "Delta Air Lines is exploring the possibility of outfitting some of its employees with "wearable robotics." The Atlanta-based airline said Thursday it's joined the Exoskeleton Technical Advisory Group (X-TAG) that will think about the best ways to bring full-body, powered industrial exoskeleton systems to the workforce...The Sarcos Guardian XO and XO MAX robots are battery-powered exoskeletons that enable workers to perform hours of physical activity that would otherwise be impossible for a single human to perform, the company says. The Guardian XO robot is capable of repeatedly lifting and supporting up to 80 pounds without fatigue or strain for up to a four-hour work session. The XO MAX is capable of lifting and supporting up to 200 pounds without fatigue or strain for up to an eight-hour work session..."

Image credit: Sarcos Robotics. "Sarcos Robotics Guardian Exoskeleton."

How a Lack of Dreams Could Be Messing With Your Mind. New Scientist has an interesting post; here's an excerpt: "...We tend to think of dream sleep as unimportant, the poor relative of vital and restorative deep sleep. But now it seems that dreams are much more than mystical night-time adventures. Recent research suggests that rapid eye movement (REM) sleep – when we have the most powerful dreams – is vital to learning and creativity, and promotes a healthy mind in a variety of ways. It isn’t romantic whimsy to say that if we stifle our dreams, we aren’t going to reach our potential..."

Image credit: Patryk Hardziej.

Are Target and Kroger Mulling a Merger? Fast Company reports: "Target and Kroger are discussing a possible merger, several people with knowledge of the matter tell Fast Company. The talks come as the grocery industry grapples with Amazon’s increasing hold on the market. The two companies first started conversations last summer about a partnership that could improve Target’s grocery business and give Kroger customers more access to merchandise and e-commerce. Target and Kroger spoke again in the fall and talks are ongoing this year. The companies appear to be struggling to decide whether a merger is the best path forward. Last year, Target and Kroger’s combined annual revenue added up to $195 billion. Kroger declined to comment for this story. Target did not respond to requests for comment. Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foodsa deal valued at $13.7 billion–last year forced grocers and retailers alike to come to terms with the holes in their businesses. That led to a series of partnerships and acquisitions aimed at pulling sleepy grocery retailers out of complacency and into the digital age..."

Image credit: Wolterk/iStock.

China's Space Station Will Plummet to Earth Around April Fool's Day. Lovely - don't forget your concrete-lined umbrella. Here's a clip from Forbes: "...The European Space Agency (ESA) and the Aerospace Corporation have narrowed their respective predictions for the demise of the defunct Tiangong-1 to between March 30th and April 3rd. However, both are warning that the precise timing is still highly variable. Due to the uncertainties involved it is very difficult to predict the exact timing of a space object’s re-entry. There are several sources of uncertainty which include: 1) significant variation in the density of the upper layers of the atmosphere, 2) significant uncertainties in the orientation of the space craft over time, uncertainties in some physical properties of the spacecraft such as the exact mass and material composition, and 3) uncertainties in the exact location and speed of the space station..."

43 F. maximum temperature yesterday in the Twin Cities.

45 F. average high on March 23.

40 F. high on March 23,  2017.

March 24, 1851: Minnesota experiences an early spring 'heat wave' with 60s and 70s common.

SATURDAY: Flurries taper - skies brighten by afternoon. Breezy. Winds: E 8-13. High: 40

SATURDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy. Low: 26

SUNDAY: Peeks of sun, a bit milder. Winds: SE 10-15. High: 44

MONDAY: Periods of rain likely. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 32. High: 45

TUESDAY: More clouds than sun, drying out. Winds W 5-10. Wake-up: 35. High: 46

WEDNESDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, no drama. Winds: SW 5-10. Wake-up: 31. High: 50

THURSDAY: Partly sunny, a little cooler. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 28. High: 43

FRIDAY: A cold wind, few flurries possible. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 25. High: 36

Climate Stories...

Father and Son Pair Trek Antarctica to Highlight Climate Change. Check out the story and link from CBS News: "Melting ice on Antarctica is impacting sea levels all across the globe. That's why a father-and-son explorer team, Robert and Barney Swan, set out on an expedition to cross the continent on foot. The goal for this marathon trek was to highlight the importance of combating climate change. Their story can be heard in the "Green Miniseries Part I: The Promise." It's part of the Global GoalsCast, a podcast created to inspire listeners to make the world a better, and more sustainable place..."

Image credit: "Robert and Barney Swan journey to Antarctica to highlight the impacts of climate change." CBS News.

Cardinal Ribat: A Christian Obligation to Confront Climate Change. Here's a snippet from The Washington Examiner: "...My vocation has led me to hours of crisis inside the homes and businesses of many people who suffer the consequences of a warmer world. As a person of faith, I believe that God calls us to care for one another. Because climate change hurts so many people, solving it is central to our faith. That’s among the reasons why it’s been the subject of papal teaching for decades, starting with Saint Pope John Paul II, continuing through Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and finding expression today in Pope Francis. Last week, I visited the U.S. Congress. There and elsewhere, I spoke with leaders from both sides of the political spectrum who see, as I do, that addressing climate change is one of the most important ways to serve our sisters and brothers in Christ. I learned that the U.S. military has identified climate change as being one of the world’s biggest threats..."

Photo credit: "Driven by fossil fuels, climate change isn’t a political issue, but a human issue." (AP Photo/Branden Camp).

What on Earth? Why Climate Change Skeptics are Backing Geoengineering. "It's not really happening, but just in case it is, let's hack Earth's atmosphere to try to lessen the symptoms. What can possibly go wrong?" Here's an excerpt of an eye-opening post at Reveal: "...The increasing interest in geoengineering, including from climate change skeptics, owes partly to growing pessimism about humanity’s capacity – and political will – to ward off the worst effects of climate change without some major technological breakthrough. Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates has invested both in Keith’s research and in a for-profit company Keith founded to try to capture carbon from the atmosphere. In 2015, two major U.S. environmental groups, the Environmental Defense Fund and the Natural Resources Defense Council, supported small-scale research into projects that one writer has dubbed “hacking the planet.” Several Trump allies are considerably more gung-ho, with some explicitly portraying geoengineering as a cheap alternative to radically transforming a U.S. economy that is still about 80 percent dependent on fossil fuels..."

Image credit: "In a spring 2017 mission, engineer Leslie Field of California marks an area on North Meadow Lake in Barrow, Alaska, before sprinkling tiny reflective silica spheres on the ice to try to keep it from melting. Field’s geoengineering project would cost an estimated $1 billion a year, and some experts call it unrealistic and ineffective." Credit: Courtesy of Ice911.

National Parks Are About to Get a Bunch of Birds They Didn't Ask For. Earther explains: "...If climate change continues on its current trajectory, 20 of the 25 warblers that currently occupy the park will have no suitable climate. They could be forced to move or perish. Meanwhile, other species could swoop in to take their place. Acadia is just one datapoint in a massive new study published in PLOS One on Wednesday that looks at how climate change will impact birds across the national park system. Similar stories are likely to play out everywhere from Yosemite’s granite high country to Yellowstone’s bubbling hydrothermal basins, with the study projecting nearly a quarter of bird species will turnover in parks by 2050. That means that the 300 million annual visitors to parks will, in the future, have a completely different experience. And it means managers will have to make some big decisions on what landscapes they conserve and what species they manage for..."

Photo credit: "A boreal chickadee who won’t have habitat in Acadia National Park by 2050 if climate change continues unchecked." Photo: Audubon Society

Food Crisis Intensifying Because of Climate Change and Conflict. Bloomberg Markets reports: "Global food crises are poised to worsen in some areas as conflict and climate change curb farm production and access to staples, the United Nations and European Union warned. Food crises are increasingly determined by complex causes such as conflict, extreme climatic shocks and high prices of staple foods, often happening at the same time, the UN’s Food & Agriculture Organization, World Food Programme and EU said in a report Thursday. Conflict will remain a major driver of food insecurity in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, while drought is likely to worsen crop and livestock output, increasing food insecurity in countries such as Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, they said..."

Climate Change May Mean More Spring Snowstorms in the Future. Counterintuitive, but rapid warming in the Arctic may be loading the dice in favor of more Nor'easters, says Rutgers research professor Jennifer Francis at The Washington Post: "...Less intuitive, though, is the increasingly clear role being played by the rapidly warming and melting Arctic. A growing pile of studies suggests that heat waves in the far north are slowing the west winds of the jet stream, allowing the normally bottled-up frigid air to plunge southward in giant lobes. For much of this winter, one of those cold lobes has been parked over the eastern United States — another key ingredient for coastal snowstorms. The bigger the lobe, the longer it tends to stick around, setting the stage for the parade of storms we’ve seen not only this month but during five of the past six winters as well. A study some colleagues and I published last week found that severe winters in the eastern United States were much more likely during Arctic heat waves — and this winter, the Arctic was particularly hot..."

Photo credit: "Building a snowman on the Mall on the first day of spring is fun, but it’s not a great sign for the health of the climate." (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

Global Carbon Emissions Hit Record High in 2017. Here's a clip from a Reuters story: "Global energy-related carbon emissions rose to a historic high of 32.5 gigatons last year, after three years of being flat, due to higher energy demand and the slowing of energy efficiency improvements, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said. Global energy demand rose by 2.1 percent last year to 14,050 million tonnes of oil equivalent, more than twice the previous year’s rate, boosted by strong economic growth, according to preliminary estimates from the IEA. Energy demand rose by 0.9 percent in 2016 and 0.9 percent on average over the previous five years. Over 70 percent of global energy demand growth was met by oil, natural gas and coal, while renewables accounted for almost all of the rest, the IEA said in a report..."

File photo: "Steam rises at sunrise from the Lethabo Power Station, a coal-fired power station owned by state power utility ESKOM near Sasolburg, South Africa, March 2, 2016." REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo /File Photo/File Photo.

Climate Science Tutorial in Federal Court: Headlines and links courtesy of Climate Nexus: "A federal judge presided over a science lesson Wednesday in California court after ordering five oil and gas companies and California cities suing them over climate change to present "the best science now available on global warming." US Federal Judge William Alsup ordered presenters, including three climate scientists selected to represent the California cities, to "stick to the science" in an effort "to try to educate the judge." A lawyer for Chevron, the only representative to present from the group of five of fossil fuel companies on trial, argued that while the oil giant accepts 2013 IPCC findings concluding it is "extremely likely" that humans contribute to warming, the company has questions about the accuracy of scientific models and how specifically to ascribe blame for warming to oil companies. "What we saw today was one oil company begrudgingly accept the scientific consensus while trying to overemphasize the extent of scientific uncertainty," San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement." (AP, The Guardian, WiredReuters, EartherBloomberg, McClatchySan Francisco Chronicle, Business Insider, Grist)

Last 3 Years Hottest on Record, Severe Weather Hits 2018: UN. Reuters explains: "The past three years were the hottest on record and heat waves in Australia, freak Arctic warmth and water shortages in Cape Town are extending harmful weather extremes in 2018, the United Nations said on Thursday. Atlantic hurricanes and monsoon floods in India contributed to make 2017 the most costly year on record for severe weather and climate events, the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) wrote in its annual report on the global climate. “The start of 2018 has continued where 2017 left off – with extreme weather claiming lives and destroying livelihoods,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas wrote in the report..."

Tougher Climate Policies Could Save 150 Million Lives, Researchers Find. The Washington Post explains: "There is an overlooked benefit to greatly lowering carbon emissions worldwide, a new study says. In addition to preserving Arctic sea ice, reducing sea-level rise and alleviating other effects of global warming, it would probably save more than 150 million human lives. According to the study, premature deaths would fall on nearly every continent if the world’s governments agree to cut emissions of carbon and other harmful gases enough to limit global temperature rise to less than 3 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century. That is about a degree lower than the target set by the Paris climate agreement. The benefit would be felt mostly in Asian countries with dirty air — 13 million lives would be saved in large cities in India alone, including the metropolitan areas of Kolkata, Delhi, Patna and Kanpur..."

File photo: Andy Wong, AP.