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Snow Tracks South of Metro - Southern Minnesota Blizzard, Where No Travel Advised

0 to 2" Metro - Blizzard Conditions Just South of MSP

Mea culpa. Another well-publicized near-miss. Because it now takes an act of CONGRESS to get a big snow in the immediate Twin Cities. Snow enthusiasts are crushed (again) - spring lovers breathing a collective sigh of relief. Not much in-between.

In 20-20 hindsight I should have stuck to my guns. "What are you doing forecasting a 'couple inches' of snow?" e-mailed The Weather Channel's Mike Seidel earlier this week. He's the trained professional who stands outside during TV weather live shots.

Which reminds me of my first TV weather gig, WNEP-TV in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pennsylvania. The news director smirked and said "Paul, if you're outside doing the weather at least you'll get the current weather right."

The ECMWF (European) model had the right idea all along, keeping the heavy snow bands south of MSP. NOAA's models took longer to catch up, but now all the simulations show very little snow for the immediate metro (advisory posted southern suburbs), with a foot or more and white-out conditions closer to Rochester and I-90. So close. But no, it doesn't want to snow here anymore.

No more near- misses in sight, maybe a little rain by next Tuesday. Nothing arctic brewing, just 30s and a few 40s.


HRRR high-resolution model above showing sharp cut-off on the northern edge of the snow shield courtesy of NOAA and Tropicaltidbits.com.


So Close. This storm has a very sharp northern edge to snow accumulation, a tight gradient in snow from Mankato and Red Wing to the Twin Cities. Blizzard Warnings are posted across southern Minnesota, where the combination of 30-40 mph winds and heavy snow will create treacherous conditions; in fact travel isn't advised across southeastern Minnesota today. Map: Aeris AMP.


Because - It Doesn't Snow Here Anymore. And here I thought the 16" of snow that fell on the Twin Cities back in December was a possible omen of a snowy winter to come! Right. Didn't quite work out that way. Check out the predicted snowfall gradient; going from no snow in much of the metro to a few inches in Lakeville and Afton to over a foot to 18" as you approach Rochester and Winona. Wow.


GFS Had Right Idea. The ECMWF (European) model has done the best job with today's would-be storm for the Twin Cities, consistently pushing the axis of heaviest snow south of MSP. There is some speculation that a storm over Florida may have prevented the Midwest storm from amplifying enough to push heavier snow farther north, but the GFS solution (above) did a better job than NAM and WRF simulations. The "Euro" still does a better job most days - a fact that doesn't make me happy. But data suggests it's true.








The Milding of February: All-Time Winter Warmth in Midwest. 60s and 70s as far north as Milwaukee on Wednesday? Bob Henson puts things into perspective in an article at Category 6: "...Wednesday’s warmth was a fitting coda to a remarkably warm stretch across most of the Midwest. In some ways, the ultra-mild period is reminiscent of the Great Warm Wave of March 2012, if not quite as spectacular as that summerlike spell was. Duration is one of the most impressive aspects of the past week’s Midwestern mildness. St. Cloud, Minnesota, saw its sixth consecutive day above 50°F on Wednesday, the longest such streak on record for any February, while Chicago, Illinois, set a similar record for its first six-day streak of 60°F readings in any February (or in any winter month, for that matter). Rockford, Illinois, set six daily record highs in a row on February 17-22. Each of these new records was between 66°F and 70°F, beating out previous records that ranged from 58°F to 64°F..."


Winter Flashback Upper Mississippi Valley. NOAA's 12 KM NAM model shows the swirl of snow, ice and rain pushing across southern Minnesota and Wisconsin into the Great Lakes. Strong to severe T-storms push into Detroit, Cleveland and Columbus (unusually far north for February) and the next smear of rain and snow pushes across the Pacific Northwest, with more showery rains for California.


Minor Correction. No genuinely arctic air, no January flashbacks in store - in fact temperatures continue to trend a few degrees above average into the second week of March with highs in the 30s and 40s. No more 60s for a little while, though. ECMWF numbers: WeatherBell.


500 Inches and Counting: Snow Has Clobbered California Ski Resorts This Winter. Can there be too much snow? Yep. Here's an excerpt from Jason Samenow at Capital Weather Gang: "...The resort has received 565 inches (47 feet) this season, including a 45-year record of 282 inches in January. On Thursday, it announced that its ski area would remain open through July 4. Since 1962, it will mark just the fourth instance of Independence Day skiing (the other years were 1998, 1999, and 2011), according to a resort spokesperson. Other ski areas in the Sierra Nevada also have seen mind-boggling amounts of snow (totals via SnowBrains.com):

  • 636 inches at the Mount Rose ski area in Nevada.
  • 584 inches at Boreal Mountain.
  • 556 inches at Kirkwood, including 80 inches this week.
  • 544 inches at Heavenly, including 81 inches this week.
  • 534 inches at Northstar, including 84 inches this week (61 inches in 48 hours).
  • 510 inches at Mammoth..."

Photo credit: "The snow is so high that it buried chairlifts and ski patrol shacks at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows resort in California." (Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows resort)


Flooding Forces Hundreds from Homes in San Jose, California. Reuters has an update: "Murky, waist-high floodwaters swamped neighborhoods along a rain-swollen creek in the northern California city of San Jose on Tuesday, prompting authorities to issue evacuation orders or advisories for more than 1,000 homes, city officials said. The state's third-largest city, a hub of the high-tech Silicon Valley corridor south of San Francisco, has about 1 million residents and declared an emergency as Coyote Creek overflowed its banks from days of heavy showers. The trash-strewn floodwaters inundated whole city blocks, submerging parked cars and lapping at the walls of apartments and townhouses, as firefighters in inflatable boats ferried stranded residents to dry ground..."

"1-in-100 Year Flood Event" for Northern California. The Los Angeles Times has more details.

14,000 in San Jose Flee High Water. KQED News has the story.



Stunning New Tornado Simulation May Help Meteorologists Unlock Their Secrets. FOX2now.com in St. Louis has the story: "Weather experts are calling it the most realistic computer simulation of a tornado ever created.  Dr. Cathy Finely at Saint Louis University played a big role in making it happen. She is part of a team of meteorologists from around the country that are working together to bring this simulated tornado to life. “What we are trying to do is model supercell thunderstorms, which are the rotating thunderstorms that produce tornadoes and tornadoes at a very high resolution,” says Finley. Creating the simulation required high quality field observations to use as the initial conditions for the model. The El Reno, Oklahoma tornado of 2011 was a good fit. The team also needed some high-power computing capability to do the insane number crunching. They chose the Blue Water super computer at the University of Illinois. And even with it’s incredible capabilities, the simulation still took a week to generate..."



Upgrading Ourselves to Irrelevance? Here's an excerpt of a thought-provoking post at WIRED: "Humanity has had astonishing success alleviating famine, disease, and war. (It might not always seem that way, but it’s true.) Now, Homo sapiens is on the brink of an upgrade—sort of. As we become increasingly skilled at deploying artificial intelligence, big data, and algorithms to do everything from easing traffic to diagnosing cancer, we’ll transform into a new breed of superhuman, says historian and best-­selling author Yuval Harari in his new book, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. Which is great, except that we might also become so dependent on these tools that our species will become irrelevant—our value determined only by the data we generate..."


Trainstopping: Safe Transit in Natural Disasters. How We Get To Next has a story about safeguards that automateically stop trains when a natural disaster is detected, and how we're generally unprepared: "BART is currently the only transit agency in the United States using an early warning system that responds to earthquake alerts, automatically slowing trains when a tremor is detected. Other cities are testing similar technology, but the U.S. lags behind several other countries when it comes to protecting its public transit passengers from natural disasters. Mexico, Japan, China, Romania, Turkey, and Taiwan already have some form of an earthquake early warning system. Mexico, which has the oldest system in the world, decided to build one after the country’s deadly 1985 quake. Japan’s is one of the most advanced; it can send alerts to residents’ cellphones seconds before the shaking begins, and sensors along rail lines can automatically halt even high-speed bullet trains. Of course, other natural threats like hurricanes, floods, avalanches, and extreme temperatures also impact transportation..."

Photo credit: Kevin Ho // CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


Today's Infrastructure Plans Must Account for Tomorrow's Technology. Infrastructure needs to be upgraded, but what's the smartest, most cost-effective way to plan for future modes of transportation? Here's an excerpt from TheHill: "...General Motors CEO Mary Barra, who also serves as one of President Trump’s economic advisors, often says that the next five years will see more change in mobility than have the past 50 years. If she is right — and we think she is — we have some work to do. The nation’s current transportation system largely operates as it did some 60 years ago when President Eisenhower signed the National Interstate Highway Act into law. Ford CEO Mark Fields, who serves as an advisor to President Trump on manufacturing, recently wrote in Medium, “Longer term —15, 20 and even 30 years out — we’re imagining a world with significant concentrations of autonomous vehicles, most of which will be electrified...” 

St. Paul file photo: Dan Anderson, Flickr.


New Generation of Electric Cars Creates Win-Win Opportunities for Local Governments. And consumers. Here's an excerpt of an encouraging post at Fresh Energy: "...What drives these big savings? Fuel and maintenance cost reductions. Electric vehicles are about four times more fuel efficient than gasoline cars, so the amount you pay for electricity is much less than you would have paid for gas to make the same trip. Electric vehicles also require less maintenance. They don’t need oil changes and they have far fewer moving parts than gasoline engines, which means fewer parts that can break. Regenerative breaking also dramatically reduces wear on the brake pads. In fact, according to the Bolt’s official maintenance schedule, all you have to do for the first five years is rotate the tires and change the air filter!..."


Earth's "Technosphere" Now Weighs 30 Trillion Tons, Research Finds. That's the estimated weight of all the (crap) we've created, according to a new study highlighted at The University of Leicester: "...An international team led by University of Leicester geologists has made the first estimate of the sheer size of the physical structure of the planet’s technosphere – suggesting that its mass approximates to an enormous 30 trillion tons. The technosphere is comprised of all of the structures that humans have constructed to keep them alive on the planet – from houses, factories and farms to computer systems, smartphones and CDs, to the waste in landfills and spoil heaps. In a new paper published in the journal The Anthropocene Review, Professors Jan Zalasiewicz, Mark Williams and Colin Waters from the University of Leicester Department of Geology led an international team suggesting that the bulk of the planet’s technosphere is staggering in scale, with some 30 trillion tons representing a mass of more than 50 kilos for every square metre of the Earth’s surface..."


The Future of Not Working. I've been practicing (not working) for many years now - I think I'm ready. In reality job loss is a staggering challenge as AI, robotics and automation replace blue and white collar jobs. Here's an excerpt from The New York Times Magazine: "...The basic or guaranteed income is a curious piece of intellectual flotsam that has washed ashore several times in the past half-millennium, often during periods of great economic upheaval. In “Utopia,” published in 1516, Thomas More suggests it as a way to help feudal farmers hurt by the conversion of common land for public use into private land for commercial use. In “Agrarian Justice,” published in 1797, Thomas Paine supports it for similar reasons, as compensation for the “loss of his or her natural inheritance, by the introduction of the system of landed property.” It reappears in the writings of French radicals, of Bertrand Russell, of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Silicon Valley has recently become obsessed with basic income for reasons simultaneously generous and self-interested, as a palliative for the societal turbulence its inventions might unleash. Many technologists believe we are living at the precipice of an artificial-intelligence revolution that could vault humanity into a postwork future..."

Photo credit: "A family homestead in the pilot-project village in Kenya." Credit Andrew Renneisen for The New York Times.


AI and Automation Are About to Implode Blue Collar Jobs. Ready for a new New Deal? We're going to need a plan. Here's more perspective from The Outline: "...As artificial intelligence, robotics, and new forms of automation continue to flourish, the forms of work that millions of Americans rely on are at risk. The political solutions to navigating these changes are going to require broad public initiatives that haven’t been accomplished in decades, and everyone is going to have to be on board. Before leaving the White House, President Obama commissioned a report titled Artificial Intelligence, Automation, and The Economy, that provides an in-depth look at the changes that will occur as automation becomes more sophisticated. Far from the doom and gloom projections of a workplace without humans, the report charts the subtle ways that, at scale, AI will have a tremendous impact on how our economy, and labor force, functions..."


Longyearbyen, Norway. If you're looking for a remote spot to explore, Atlas Obscura says you're in luck: "On the Svalbard Islands of northern Norway there lies the town of Longyearbyen, the northernmost town in the world with a significant population size (there are a few research bases further north). The former coal mining town is now the cultural and commercial center of the Svalbard Islands, featuring the northernmost ATM, church, museum, post office, radio station, airport, and university in the world. Due to the town’s precarious latitude—at 78 degrees North—there are a few strange practices that all people living in Longyearbyen must abide by. The most bizarre may be that it is illegal to be buried here..."




+ 2 hours and 7 minutes. Daylight in the Twin Cities has increased over 2 hours since December 21.

+11.5 F. Twin Cities temperatures are averaging 11.5 F. warmer than average in February, to date.

39 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities Thursday.

32 F. average high on February 23.

40 F. maximum temperature on February 23, 2016.

February 24, 1835: The temperature at Ft. Snelling falls 26 degrees in only three hours.


TODAY: Winter Weather Advisory for southern suburbs. Gusty with flurries, 0" (north metro) to 1-2" far south metro). Over a foot southeastern MN with blizzard conditions. Winds: N 15-30+ High: 28

FRIDAY NIGHT: Few flakes - snow tapers southeastern MN and western WI. Low: 18

SATURDAY: Chilled sun, winds slowly ease. Winds: NW 10-20. High: 32

SUNDAY: Patchy clouds, pretty quiet. Winds: SW 5-10. Wake-up: 23. High: 36

MONDAY: Intervals of sun, milder than average. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 27. High: 41

TUESDAY: Light rain or mix possible. Winds: S 7-12. Wake-up: 31. High: near 40

WEDNESDAY: March comes in like a lamb. Gray skies. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 26. High: 37

THURSDAY: Weak clipper, few flurries possible. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 21. High: 32


Climate Stories....

It Might Feel Good, But February's Intense Heat is a Very Bad Sign. Which makes it a little harder to fully enjoy these freakish February warm fronts. ThinkProgress reports: "...This change in weather patterns does not come without a cost. For those living in frigid Midwestern states, a balmy day in February is a welcome respite from the typical winter chill. But the early thaw — what scientists call “season creep” — can have disastrous consequences for ecosystems. Flowers are already beginning to emerge in Chicago, which has gone a record 67 days without an inch of snow. Early blossoms may wilt before they can be pollinated. Farmers in the region may see their crops bud after an early thaw only to perish in a late-season frost..."

Map credit: "Plants are regrowing leaves days or weeks earlier than they typically do." CREDIT: National Phenology Network



Why You Shouldn't Hope for an Early Spring. Here's a clip from Ensia: "...Some of the longest running records, which chronicle first leaf growth of honeysuckle and lilacs across the lower 48 states, show a noticeable shift toward earlier dates since the 1980s. Like the temperatures recorded as part of climate change research, the leaf-out dates show great variability from year to year but the trend is distinct — earlier warmer temperatures and earlier first buds and blooms. While occasional false springs are not new, what is new in recent years is the combination of increasingly warmer springs and extreme temperature swings, overall shorter times throughout fall and winter of below-freezing temperatures, and the altered precipitation patterns associated with global climate change..."


Weather Whiplash. Parts of southern Minnesota went from 60s to a blizzard in a couple of days; it seems the extremes are trending more extreme over time. Hunter Cutting explains at Medium: "...We see the signs of warming everywhere: in temperature readings, satellite measurements, disappearing sea ice, vanishing glaciers, melting ice sheets, changing seasons, migrating species, and the accelerating rise of the oceans as the seas warm and expand. At last count, there are more than 26,500 such signals. We are now also living with dramatic changes in extreme weather and its impacts. Extreme downpours, storm surges, heat waves, droughts and wildfires have all been significantly amplified by climate change, in some cases dramatically. These changes were expected — a small shift in Earth’s climate produces a substantial shift in extreme weather..."


Red State America Acts on Climate Change - But Calls It Other Names. If we focus on cleaner, cheaper, renewable American energy sources - the climate challenge may take care of itself. Here's an excerpt from Scientific American: "My colleagues and I did a survey of over 200 local governments in 11 states of the Great Plains region to learn about steps they’re taking to mitigate the effects of climate change and to adapt to them. We found local officials in red states responsible for public health, soil conservation, parks and natural resources management, as well as county commissioners and mayors, are concerned about climate change, and many feel a responsibility to take action in the absence of national policy. But because it is such a complex and polarizing topic, they often face public uncertainty or outrage toward the issue. So while these local officials have been addressing climate change in their communities over the past decade, many of these policy activities are specifically not framed that way..."

File photo credit: Associated Press.


Climate Scientists Face Harassment, Threats and Fears of "McCarthyist Attacks". Here's an excerpt from The Guardian: "...Threats and badgering of climate scientists peaked after the theft and release of the “Climategate” emails – a 2009 scandal that was painfully thin on scandal. But the organized effort to pry open cracks in the overwhelming edifice of proof that humans are slowly baking the planet never went away. Scientists are now concerned that the election of Donald Trump has revitalized those who believe climate researchers are cosseted fraudsters. Mann said climate scientists “fear an era of McCarthyist attacks on our work and our integrity”. The odd unfulfilled threat may be perturbing but a more morale-sapping fear is that the White House and Congress will dig up and parade seemingly unflattering emails, sideline or scrap research and attempt to hush the scientific community..."

Photo credit: "Michael E Mann, a climate scientist at Penn State University. ‘Michael has most certainly become a lightning rod,’ said MIT climate scientist Kerry Emanuel." Photograph: Supplied.


Republican Who Reversed His Position on Climate Change Thinks Trump Will Too. Here's the intro to a story at Fusion: "Former South Carolina Republican congressman Bob Inglis once received an award for believing in climate change. Now, the climate change convert who lost his 2010 re-election bid in part due to his reversal on the issue, thinks President Trump could make the same 180. In a speech in Australia on Wednesday, Inglis said that when Trump does things like call climate change a Chinese hoax he’s “channeling the fears of fearful people” and that he “couldn’t possibly believe that.” “Reality is what will force Donald Trump to shift and amend the chants at his rallies,” he said in the speech at the National Press Club in Canberra..." (AP image).


How Far To The Next Forest? A New Way to Measure Deforestation. Here's a clip from an interesting story at The New York Times: "...This new metric, which the researchers named “forest attrition distance,” reflects a particular type of forest loss: the removal of isolated forest patches. When these patches are lost (a process the authors refer to as attrition), adjacent forests become farther apart, potentially affecting biodiversity, soil erosion, local climate and other conditions. The authors calculated the change in total forest cover from 1992 to 2001, and found a loss of 3 percent or 35,000 square miles, approximately the size of Maine. Over the same time period, Dr. Mountrakis said, forest attrition distance increased by 14 percent, a contrast he called striking..."

Map credit: "Maps that contrast changes in forest coverage in the United States, above, and the distance to the nearest forest, below." Credit Sheng Yang and Giorgios Mountrakis.


What Your TV Meteorologist Likely Thinks of Climate Change. Dr. Marshall Shepherd has a post at Forbes: "...One of the issues that always comes up is the assumption that all meteorologists are on TV. The Boston Globe article went on to talk primarily about broadcast meteorologists, which represent less than 10% of meteorologists yet the title said "many meteorologists." It is very common for the public to assume meteorologists are just on TV. I get the question, "what channel are you on?" all of the time. The AMS in conjunction with George Mason University recently surveyed its membership, which is far broader than just the small sample of broadcast meteorologists. According to a summary of the report on the AMS website,

The vast majority of members of the American Meteorological Society agree that recent climate change stems at least in part from human causes, and the agreement has been growing significantly in the last five years. According to a new survey of AMS members, 67% say climate change over the last 50 years is mostly to entirely caused by human activity, and more than 4 in 5 (80%) respondents attributed at least some of the climate change to human activity..."


Do You Know Someone Who Should Be Recognized for Climate Adaptation Efforts? The Minnesota Climate Adaptation Partnership (MCAP) will be recognizing outstanding climate adaptation work in Minnesota with awards to be presented on May 8, 2017, as part of the National Adaptation Forum.  MCAP is joining the National Adaptation Forum in offering a conference that will present a range of practitioners who have experience with climate smart strategies for adapting to our changing climate. The conference titled Action today for a better tomorrow, will be held at the St. Paul River Centre, May 8-11, 2017. Awards will honor individuals, organizations, institutions and businesses that have provided exceptional leadership in education, research, policies, and practices to improve resilience and develop, advance, or implement climate adaptation strategies. Anyone may submit a nomination, which is very simple. The award nomination deadline is March 1, 2017, and nomination details are available on the University of Minnesota Water Resources Center web site:

https://www.wrc.umn.edu/news-events/climateadaptationconference


Expect to See More Emergencies Like Oroville Dam in a Hotter World. Rain is falling harder. That's not a climate model prediction, but an observational reality. Here's an excerpt from The Guardian: "...Like many extreme events, the Oroville emergency is a combination of natural weather likely intensified by climate change. California regularly sees “atmospheric rivers” that deluge the state with rainfall, but in a hotter world, scientists anticipate that they’ll be amplified by an increase in the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere. Northern California is in the midst of its wettest rainy season on record – twice as wet as the 20th century average, and 35% wetter than the previous record year. It proved to be almost too much for America’s tallest dam to handle..."

Graphic credit: "Northern California Sierra precipitation - average, previous wettest year, and 2016-2017." Illustration: California Department of Water Resources.

Storm To Take Southerly Track - MSP Metro Advisory for Couple Inches - Blizzard Far Southern Minnesota

12z GFS Run. Both ECMWF and GFS have generally had the right idea with this (alleged) storm, keeping the heaviest snow bands south and east of the Twin Cities. Latest guidance is pushing the heavy snow even farther south, to the point where the immediate metro area may only pick up a couple inches of wet snow: coating - 1" far northern suburbs, maybe 3-4" far southern suburbs where a plowable accumulation is still possible. Over 10" may fall from Austin and Albert Lea to Rochester, Winona and La Crosse. So close...


Winter Storm Weather Advisory Now Posted for MSP Metro - Blizzard Warnings Southern Minnesota. The local NWS office has dialed back the watch to an advisory for the immediate metro area, but travel over southern Minnesota will still be very treacherous later tonight into Friday with heavy snow and high winds. MSP is on the northwestern edge of the snow shield - go a few hours south of St. Paul and it will look like prime time wintertime tomorrow.