March-like Slush Storm;
Plowable Amounts Likely
To paraphrase Stephen King, this storm will NOT be a "carnival of nightmare and death". Meteorological winter, kicking off the coldest 90 days of the year, starts tomorrow - but the maps look more like March. This will be a wet, slushy cement-like snowfall, not prone to blowing & drifting. With temperatures close to 32F the risk of a shoveling-induced heart attack will be higher than usual, but many freeways will be wet and slushy.
Cold snows are more dangerous, more prone to traffic gridlock, since MnDOT chemicals don't work as well below 15F or so.
That said the first real snowstorm of winter will test nerves and winter weather driving abilities. Models suggest the heaviest bands may set up west of the Twin Cities, closer to Willmar, St. Cloud and Alexandria. I still expect a plowable snowfall; about 4-8 inches for the metro - a better chance of 6-10 inches 50-90 miles west of MSP.
If you like snow get out and play in it soon, because much of it will be gone by late week as temperatures
reach the low 40s.
Long range models predict a milder than average December. Looks like a trend.
* 4 KM NAM guidance displaying accumulated snow totals courtesy of NOAA and AerisWeather.
Let It Snow. It's almost December, we are a day away from the start of meteorological winter. It SHOULD be snowing. Think of this as Old Man Winter's valiant attempt to get you into the holiday spirit. NAM guidance above shows the best chance of 8" from the western metro southward to Mankato and Albert Lea.
Model Spread. The National Weather Service is predicting about 7" of snow for MSP, the model spread for KMSP ranges from 3" to as high as 9" by Wednesday morning. There will be compaction and settling, but totals in the 5-8" range seem likely, with the heaviest amounts probably setting up over the western suburbs.
Reinforcing Minnesota's Brand. We're known for cold and snow (and our amazing lakes, of course) so there's something vaguely reassuring about snow on the last day of November. It's been too mild for too long. Cue winter, at least a taste. The 00z NAM prints out .87" liquid, which translates into 6-8" of heavy, wet, slushy snow by Wednesday morning. Winds will be fairly light through the duration of the storm, meaning little in the way of drifting. Again, this will be more of a classic March (tournament) snowstorm.
Winter Storm Watches and Warnings. The immediate 7-country Twin Cities metro area is under a Winter Storm Watch, meaning a potential for 6" or more of snow in 24 hours. Winter Storm Warnings are posted just south and west of MSP, where travel conditions will be even worse. Details from the Twin Cities NWS:
...SIGNIFICANT SNOW LIKELY MONDAY THROUGH TUESDAY... .A STRENGTHENING STORM SYSTEM WILL MOVE NORTHEAST FROM THE CENTRAL ROCKIES TO THE WESTERN GREAT LAKES MONDAY AND TUESDAY. SIGNIFICANT SNOW ACCUMULATIONS ARE POSSIBLE OVER MUCH OF CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN MINNESOTA...STARTING EARLY MONDAY MORNING OVER SOUTHWESTERN MINNESOTA... SPREADING TO THE NORTH AND EAST...AND CONTINUING THROUGH TUESDAY AFTERNOON...MAKING FOR A LONG DURATION EVENT. TOTAL SNOWFALL IN EXCESS OF 6 INCHES IS EXPECTED FOR MUCH OF CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN MINNESOTA...WITH LOCAL AMOUNTS NEAR 10 INCHES POSSIBLE. THE HIGHEST AMOUNTS WILL BE IN SOUTHWESTERN MINNESOTA. A WINTER STORM WARNING HAS BEEN ISSUED FOR MUCH OF WESTERN THROUGH SOUTH CENTRAL MINNESOTA...MAINLY ALONG AND WEST OF A LINE FROM GLENWOOD TO LITCHFIELD TO FARIBAULT TO ALBERT LEA. A WINTER STORM WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR PORTIONS OF CENTRAL MINNESOTA EAST OF THAT LINE TO THE WISCONSIN STATE LINE...INCLUDING THE TWIN CITIES. A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY HAS BEEN ISSUED FOR GOODHUE COUNTY MINNESOTA AND ALL OF WEST CENTRAL WISCONSIN. THIS IS A SIGNIFICANT WEATHER EVENT THAT WILL PRODUCE DIFFICULT TRAVEL CONDITIONS. STAY UPDATED WITH NOAA WEATHER RADIO...YOUR LOCAL MEDIA OR WEATHER.GOV FOR LATER FORECASTS AND STATEMENTS ON THIS EVENT.
Super-Sized El Nino. Rumors of El Nino's imminent demise aren't holding up - temperatures in the mid-Pacific as much as 3C warmer than average; a warm signal that may bias weather across much of North America well into the winter, even the spring of 2016. Source: NOAA CPC.
December Warmth. When in doubt stick with persistence, which is weather-speak for "go with the flow" or "don't buck the trends". 2015 is the warmest year ever recorded, beating out 2014, which was the previous record. El Nino-enhanced warmth bubbling out of the Pacific is forecast to result in a much warmer than average December, especially northern USA and much of Canada. Source: NOAA CPC.
January - March Temperature Anomalies. The southern Plains and Gulf Coast is forecast to be cooler (and stormier) than average, but unusual warmth is forecast to persist into the winter months, with the greatest anomalies over northern Canada and Alaska, where temperatures are forecast to run nearly 5F warmer than average.
Model Consensus. It isn't only NOAA's NMME model, but virtually ever other longer-range climate model shows unusual, in some cases record-breaking warmth for the northern tier of the USA and Canada into March of 2016. Source: NOAA Climate Prediction Center.
13 Science-Backed Signs You're Smarter than Average. Sadly I didn't recognize any of the signs at this StumbleUpon article: "How do you know if someone's smart? Without administering an impromptu IQ test, there are certain clues you can use to gauge a person's relative intelligence. We combed through decades of scientific research and highlighted 13 surprising signs of braininess. Keep in mind, however, that "intelligence" is often measured through tests that have been widely criticized for putting certain social groups at a disadvantage and for minimizing the importance of creativity. Psychologists are constantly finding newer, more effective ways to measure cognitive ability — meaning the signs are ever evolving..."
What's The Best Gift You've Ever Received? Chances are it wasn't a gadget - it was something much more important. 40 leaders in various industries talk about their best gifts ever at Quartz; here's a clip: "Most gifts follow a certain arc: initial excitement, followed by a gradual fading of utility until the gift is worn out, lost, or a memory. But great gifts are the ones that increase in value over time, the ones that break through the noise of an ephemeral age. The gift that stands out for me is the gift of education. It took my father seven years to make it through a state school, and by the time I was able to go to college at Duke, my dad told me he was going to find a way to pay for it, despite already stretching the limits of a generous financial aid package..."
5 Unique Winter Warming Gadgets Under $50. TIME has the honors, here's an excerpt of the article focused on a must-have product that will delight you and old alike over the holidays: "You’re used to the finer things in life. You drive a Mazda. You drink Budweiser Black Crown. You have an above-ground pool. So it’s no surprise that you seem relaxed and refreshed all winter long. Why? A warm toilet seat, of course. Let the mouth-breathing heathens be shocked awake in the morning by their common plastic toilet seats. You prefer a bit more refinement..." Product Page [Amazon]
34 F. high temperature yesterday at KMSP.
33 F. average high in the Twin Cities on November 29.
38 F. high on November 29, 2014.
November 30, 2006: Lake effect snow occurs downwind of the larger lakes in Minnesota. Northwest winds from 8 to 12 mph accompanied an air mass in the single digits. This moved over lakes with water temperatures near 40 degrees. A cloud plume from Mille Lacs stretched all the way to Siren Wisconsin. Snow from Ottertail Lake and Lake Lida reduced visibilities at Alexandria to a few miles. Even some low clouds formed from Lake Minnetonka and were observed at Flying Cloud Airport.
November 30, 2000: A surface low pressure system moves into extreme southwestern Minnesota from South Dakota. The heaviest snow reported was in the 6 to 8 inch range, and fell in a narrow band just southwest of the Minnesota River in and around the Canby (Yellow Medicine County) and Madison (Lac Qui Parle County) areas. Northeast winds rising out of the Minnesota river valley up the slopes of the Buffalo Ridge in southwest Minnesota helped enhance snowfall amounts. The northeasterly winds between 10 and 20 mph were responsible for producing visibilities in the one to two mile range.
November 30, 1991: A storm dumps 14 inches of snow in the Twin Cities in about 12 hours.
November 30, 1896: Bitterly cold temperatures are reported across Minnesota. A low of 45 below zero occurs at the Pokegama Dam. Source: Twin Cities National Weather Service.
TODAY: Winter Storm Watch Metro Area. Winter Storm Warnings central and southern MN. Wet snow arrives - roads becoming slippery by afternoon. Winds: E 10-15. High: 34
MONDAY NIGHT: Snow, heavy at times. Low: 31
TUESDAY: Snow tapers, 4-8" metro (more west of MSP). Winds: W 8-13. High: 34
WEDNESDAY: Flurries taper, some PM sunshine. Wake-up: 27. High: 38
THURSDAY: Mix of clouds and sun. Wake-up: 23. High: 39
FRIDAY: Partly sunny, feels like March. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 26. High: 42
SATURDAY: Milder than average, patchy fog. Winds: SW 10-15. Wake-up: 32. High: 43
SUNDAY: More clouds than sun, good travel. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 32. High: 41
Here's What You Need To Know About the Massive Climate Summit Kicking Off in Paris. Mother Jones and Grist have more details; here's an excerpt: "On Monday, roughly 40,000 heads of state, diplomats, scientists, activists, policy experts, and journalists will descend on an airport in the northern Paris suburbs for the biggest meeting on climate change since at least 2009 — or maybe ever. The summit is organized by the United Nations and is primarily aimed at producing an agreement that will serve as the world’s blueprint for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the impacts of global warming. This is a major milestone in the climate change saga, and it has been in the works for years. Here’s what you need to know..."
Paris Climate Summit: The Climate Circus Comes to Town. The Guardian has an amazing behind-the-scenes look at the last summit in Copenhagen. Will December's conference in Paris yield more promising results? We want to be hopeful, but the marriage of climate science and political expediency means perpetual uncertainty - getting the nations of the world to agree (on anything) is fraught with peril. Here's an excerpt: "...Since 1992, negotiators have gathered every year to turn that weak promise into concrete action, meeting in cities including Berlin, Kyoto, Buenos Aires, Marrakesh, New Delhi, Milan, back to Buenos Aires, Montreal, Nairobi, Bali, Copenhagen, Doha, and Lima. The annual gatherings have grown from roughly 500 participants at the first official climate negotiations in Berlin in 1995 to sprawling jamborees – gargantuan rotating festivals of anything remotely associated with environmental causes or, increasingly, profit-making “green” enterprises. The talks are conducted in English. Inside dimly lit halls, negotiators have spent two weeks at a stretch gazing at text blown-up into headline size by overhead projectors, doing battle over “shall” or “should”, “commitment” or “contribution”..."
* HotWhopper has more perspective and behind-the-scenes details of what's really happening at the Climate Summit in Paris.
Tales of a Warmer Planet. Curt Stager takes a look at previous warm phases and wonders out loud how the current Anthropocene will ultimately compare; here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "...This best-case scenario is troubling, but Earth history shows us that the alternative is unacceptable. If we burn all remaining coal, oil and gas reserves within the next century or two, we could introduce a more extreme, longer-lasting hothouse much like one that occurred about 56 million years ago: the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, or PETM. Unlike the relatively mild interglacials driven by the tilt, wobble and orbit of the Earth, the PETM fundamentally transformed the planet. Experts speculate that it was set off by volcanism in the Atlantic Ocean, thawing of permafrost, melting of methane hydrates, or a combination of such factors. Whatever caused the PETM, it spewed trillions of tons of carbon dioxide into the air and oceans. Global average temperatures climbed 10 degrees or more, erasing cold-loving species and habitats from the planet..." (Illustration above: Wesley Allsbrook).
Chinese Report on Climate Change Depicts Somber Scenarios. The New York Times takes a look at a deepening awareness of the folly of relying on dirty fossil fuels and the implications for China; here's an excerpt: "Rising seas besieging China’s economically vital coastal zones. Mighty feats of infrastructure, like the Three Gorges Dam and railway in Tibet, strained by turbulent rainfall and the melting of frozen earth. And on the Himalayan frontiers, the risk in future decades of international conflict over dwindling water supplies after glaciers retreat. These and other somber scenarios are laid out in the Chinese government’s latest scientific assessment of global warming, released just before negotiations in Paris for a new international agreement on climate change. “There’s deepening awareness of the gravity of the problems,” Zhang Haibin, a professor at Peking University who was among some 550 experts who prepared the report, said in an interview..."
Smith's Intimidation Tactics Offensive, Dangerous. Lamar Smith's hometown newspaper, The San-Antonio Express News takes a dim view of Smith's grandstanding and attempted intimidation of climate scientists in Washington D.C. - here's an excerpt of their Op-Ed: "...Smith told Express-News reporter Bill Lambrecht that he has taken such an aggressive approach because the Obama administration hasn’t been honest with the public about climate change and is ostensibly using it as a wedge to force more regulations on industry. He has focused on an NOAA study that found the rate of global warming hasn’t slowed between 1998 and 2012, a finding that runs counter to other studies. Smith has requested emails and internal communications about the study, arguing it was politically manipulated, and has threatened Sullivan with criminal penalties if she doesn’t comply..."
Photo credit above: Bill Clark /AP. "Chairman of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee Lamar Smith, R-Texas, is playing a dangerous game with climate change. His strategy is less useful inquiry as it is active indimidation of the agencies and scientists who conduct such study."
Can We Avoid Climate Apocalypse? There's still time to avoid a worst-case scenario with a 5-8C warming by the end of the century. CNN reports; here's a clip: "That's when climate change starts to get especially dangerous. Nearly every country in the world has agreed that 2 degrees of warming, measured as an increase in global average temperature since the Industrial Revolution, is too much to tolerate. Yet there's less agreement about how to achieve the ambitious goal of keeping the increase below that threshold, and how economies can switch quickly enough from dirty fuels like coal and oil to cleaner sources of energy like solar and wind. World leaders will meet in Paris starting on November 30 to discuss all of this at the COP21 meeting of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Before that gets going, we invited authors, experts and activists to weigh in on the 2-degree target. What's at stake? And how can we actually get there?..."
States At Risk: America's Preparedness Report Card. Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan score B's, in better shape - according to an evaluation from Climate Central - than most of the USA. Here's an excerpt: "For over a century weather events have become more extreme, turning normal fluctuations into long-term climate trends. Today, heavy rains increasingly pound northeastern states, the southwest is in a long term drying pattern, the western wildfire season is 60 days longer, rising seas compound damaging coastal storms, and the Southeast and Gulf Coast states are on the verge of exceeding critical heat thresholds that seriously endanger human health..."