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Paul Douglas on Weather

Paul Douglas: Beautiful Saturday awaits, with a somewhat soggy Sunday

Northern Lights Potential Early Saturday Morning !!

According to NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center, there is a G2 Moderate Geomagnetic Storm Watch in effect for AM Saturday, March 23rd! What does that mean? Well, it means that you could see northern lights close to home!! The good news is that skies should remain mostly clear Saturday morning, but unfortunately, the ambient light from the near full moon may have an impact on viewing the vibrant colors.

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"A solar storm hits Earth this week, pushing northern lights south"

"Smacking us right in the magnetosphere, it could make the aurora visible to millions more people than normal. After a prolonged quiet period, the sun let off an explosion Wednesday when a new sunspot fired a small solar flare lasting over an hour. The high-energy blast caused disruptions for some radio operators in Europe and Africa, but it was accompanied by a slower-moving, massive cloud of charged particles known as a coronal mass ejection (CME) that will deliver Earth a glancing blow this weekend. All those particles colliding with Earth's magnetic field could turn up the range and the intensity of the aurora, also known as the northern and southern lights. Aurora are caused by particles from the sun that are constantly flowing toward our planet, but a CME delivers an extra large helping that can really amp up the display. In North America, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that the aurora borealis could be visible as far south as New York and Chicago on Saturday, likely in the early morning hours."

See more from CNET HERE:

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"Spring Outlook: Historic, widespread flooding to continue through May"

"Above-average spring rain and snow will worsen flood conditions. Nearly two-thirds of the Lower 48 states face an elevated risk for flooding through May, with the potential for major or moderate flooding in 25 states, according to NOAA’s U.S. Spring Outlook issued today. The majority of the country is favored to experience above-average precipitation this spring, increasing the flood risk.

Portions of the United States – especially in the upper Mississippi and Missouri River basins including Nebraska, Minnesota and Iowa – have already experienced record flooding this year. This early flooding was caused by rapid snow melt combined with heavy spring rain and late season snowfall in areas where soil moisture is high. In some areas, ice jams are exacerbating the flooding. Offices across the National Weather Service have been working with local communities, providing decision-support services and special briefings to emergency managers and other leaders in local, state and federal government to ensure the highest level of readiness before the flooding began.

Additional spring rain and melting snow will prolong and expand flooding, especially in the central and southern U.S. As this excess water flows downstream through the river basins, the flood threat will become worse and geographically more widespread."

See more from NOAA HERE:

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Current Flood Warnings

The National Weather Service has issued a number of flood warnings for rivers across the southern half of the state. Keep in mind that some locations aren't quiet yet at flood stage, but river levels are forecast to rise significantly over the next several days/weeks as the signifcant snow pack continues to melt and as the runoff enters the water systems.

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Flood Warnings Closer to Home
 
Again, despite not see much in the way of major flooding close to home, a significant rise in river levels is expected over the next several days and weeks. Therefore, the Twin Cities has issued a number of flood warnings along area rivers in advance of the expected flooding. Stay vigilant and prepare now!
 
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Mississippi River at St. Paul
 
Here is the latest river gauge (and forecast) for the Mississippi River at St. Paul. Note that as of Friday, river levels were still below flooding, but we should see this enter minor flood stage over the weekend and into major flood stage by the middle of next week! The expected rise is another 8ft. within the next 5 to 7 days.
 
 
 
Mississippi River at St. Paul - Top 8 Crest on Record This Year?
 
Take a look at some of the highest crests ever recorded along the Mississippi River at St. Paul. Note that the highest crest was back in 1965, when the river gauge recorded a height of 26.01 ft. The most recent high crest was back in 2014 when the river gauge recorded 20.13 ft. The latest river forecasts for this gauge suggests that we could top 18ft. (major flooding) by the middle part of next week, which could put this in the top 8 crests on record! Also, if we get any heavy rains withing the next couple of weeks, this could certainly push river levels even higher!
 
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Weather Outlook Saturday

Saturday looks like a mild March day across much of the state with high temps running nearly +10F to +15F above average! In fact, the Twin Cities could top the 50F mark once again, which would be the warmest temp so far this year and the warmest temp we've seen since the end of October.

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Temp Outlook Ahead (Twin Cities)

According to the GEFS and ECMWF Ensemble models, temps will be trending warmer as we head through the last week or so of March. Note that temps look to warm into the 50s over the weekend, which will be above average for a change. In fact, this will be the first string of 50s since the end of October. The extended outlook suggests a potential first 60F of the season by the middle/end of next week! We'll have to wait and see how things shake out, but according to the ECMWF, we may start April on a cooler than average note with highs in the 40s. The average high for the MSP Airport on April 1st is 50F and that's no joke!

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2019 Ice Out Dates

According to the MN DNR, we have yet to see any lakes free of winter ice. Interestingly last year, the ice was already of some of the metro lakes, including Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet, which went out on March 7th and was the earliest ice outs recorded for those 2 lakes!

See more from the MN DNR HERE:

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Ice Safey Reminder

As we head into the next several weeks, ice stability is going to deteriorate rapidly! Warmer temps will weaken ice on area lakes/ponds, so please be careful! The MN DNR has ice safety reminders that you can review and remember that ice is never 100% safe!
 
 

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Winter Severity Index - 2018/2019 was a "Moderate" Winter
 
The updated numbers are in (through March 13th) and according to the MN DNR, this has been a "moderate" winter so far, but it's important to note that we are only 3 points away from this being a "severe" winter. Are you interested in how winters are calculated? Well, the MN DNR has some info below:
 
"The Twin Cities Snow and Cold Index (SCI) is an attempt to weigh the relative severity of winter when compared with winters of the past. The SCI assigns single points for daily counts of maximum temperatures 10 degrees F or colder, and daily minimums of 0 degrees F or colder. If the minimum temperature drops to -20 degrees or colder greater, eight points are attributed to that day. Snowfall totals of one inch or greater in a day receive one point. Four-inch snowfalls generate four points for the day, an eight-inch snowfall receives a whopping 16 points. To quantify the duration of winter, one point is tallied for every day with a snow depth of 12 inches or greater.
 
"All current measurements are at the Twin Cities International Airport. As of March 13, 2019 the SCI for the 2018-19 winter is at 146 points: 63 points for cold, 83 points for snow. This is enough for 2018-19 to be categorized as a "moderate" winter. This winter is only 3 points away from being a "severe winter." The SCI for the winter of 2017-18 finished with 111 points, enough for 2017-18 to be categorized as a "moderate" winter and higher than the long term medium of 89 points. The total SCI points for the 2017-2018 winter were 43 for cold and 68 for snow: 111 points. The SCI for the winter of 2013-14 in Twin Cities was 207 points, or in the high end of the "severe winter" category.  This was the 9th most severe winter on record based on SCI points. The lowest SCI score was the winter of 2011-2012 with 16 points. The most severe winter is 1916-1917 with 305 SCI points."
 
 

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March - 3rd Snowiest Month on Average

Just a reminder that March is our 3rd snowiest month of the year averaging 10.3" !! So far this month, we've had 10.5", so we are officially above average! Note that the snowiest March in recorded history was 40.0" set in 1951. Looking ahead, I don't think we have to worry about any more snow records as temps look to gradually warm into the 40s, 50s and possibly even 60s through the 2nd half of the month!


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March Precipitation So Far...
 
March came in like a lion with areas of heavy snow and rain. Through the first half of the month, the Twin Cities has picked up nearly 2" of liquid, while folks in the southwestern part of the state have seen nearly 3" to 4" of liquid! With that said, most locations across the state are dealing with above average precipitation through the first 3 weeks of March.
 
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Wet Start to 2019 So Far...
 
Not only has it been a wet start to March, but it's been a wet start to 2019 as well. Note that some locations in the southern half of the state have seen more than 5" of liquid, including the Twin Cities! With that said, most locations are nearly 1" to 2" above average for the year thus far, with some in southern MN more than 3" above average. Sioux Falls, SD on the other hand is nearly 4" above average!
 
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Seasonal Snowfall

Well, thanks to a very active February and early half of March, our seasonal snowfall tallies are sitting at some pretty impressive tallies. Keep in mind that prior to February 5th, the Twin Cities was nearly 18" below average snowfall this season. The weather pattern quickly turned and within a 34 day period, the Twin Cities saw nearly 50" of snow! 39" of record snow fell at the MSP Airport in February, and we've already had 10.4" of snow through the first half of March. Here's an interesting stat, from February 5th to March 10th, the Twin Cities had 49.3" of snow, which is the 20th snowiest 34 day stretch in MSP history! At any rate, most reporting station around the region are in double digits reading above average snowfall for the season so far! The Twin Cities is nearly 20" above average, while Eau Claire, WI is nearly 46" above average - unreal! Note that the Twin Cities has seen 67.3" of snow so far this season, which the 22nd snowiest season on record.

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22nd Snowiest Season on Record at MSP
 
67.3" of snow has fallen this season at the MSP Airport, which is the 22nd snowiest season on record! Note that the snowiest season was during the 1983-1984 when 98.6" of snow fell!
 
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Latest Snow Depth
 
Here's the latest snow depth from across the region. Keep in mind that on Sunday, March 10th, the Twin Cities still had 19" of snow on the ground and nearly 2 weeks later, that number has dwindled to just a trace! However, folks in parts of northern Minnesota still have nearly 1 to 1.5 feet of snow on the ground! There is still going to be a lot of snow melt, which will help to create more river flooding across the state.
 
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Few Showers on Sunday?

Here's the weather outlook as we head into the weekend and it appears that there still could be some light rain potential across the southern part of the state as we head into Sunday. Although it doesn't appear to be much, there still could be a few wet flakes across the northern part of the state as a cool front slides south out of Canada.


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Precipitation Outlook Through PM Monday

According to the GFS, there could be up to a few tenths of an inch of rain across parts of far southern Minnesota as our next system moves in late weekend. Again, it doesn't look like a terrible amount, but it will help speed up the melting process.

 
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Temperature Anomalies

Here's a look at the temperature anomaly aross North America on Friday, which showed slightly warmer than average temps across parts of the nation, but the more significant warming has been across the western half of Canada and into parts of Alaska.

 

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All-Time Record Highs Set For March
 
It has been so warm across parts of Alaska and northwest Canada over the last several days, that all-time record highs have been set!. In fact, Alaska saw it's earliest +70F high on record earlier this week in Klowock, which is located in the southeastern part of the state. Yohin Lake warmed to +71F earlier this week, which becomes the earliest 70F on for the Northwest Territories as well!


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Temperature Outlook
 
Here's the temperature anomaly as we head through the 2nd to last weekend of the month. Note that temps look to be warmer than average to start, but we could head back to below average readings by early next week.
 

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Temperature Outlook
 
According to NOAA's CPC, the temperature outlook from March 3th - April 5th suggests cooler than average temps returning to the Upper Midwest as we slide into the end of the month/early part of April. However, keep in mind that the average temp in the Twin Cities on April 1st is 50F, so even though temps may be a little below, it won't be anything too nasty.
 
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Spring Leaf Anomaly
 
Here's an interesting map for folks that are looking forward to spring. It's the NPN Spring Leaf Anomaly map, which shows that spring has indeed sprung across the southern tier of the nation. The red colors indicate that spring leaves are actually emerging earlier than average in those areas, while blue colors indicate that we're a little behind average in other spots.

"March 18, 2019 - Spring leaf out is spreading north through Southwest, Southeast, and mid-Atlantic states. Spring leaf out is 1-2 weeks early in parts of the Southeast and California and 2-3 weeks late in parts of Washington and Oregon and the Southern Great Plains. Spring is one week late in St. Louis and four days late in Washington DC. Spring bloom has arrived on time to 2 weeks early in much of the South. Jackson, MS is 10 days early. Parts of Arizona and California are 1-2 weeks late."

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Mild Weather Triggers River Flooding Concerns
By Todd Nelson, filling in for Douglas.

Hello neighbor, how have you been? It's been a while, but I think the winter slumber is officially over! Today will tickle your fancy, no question!

The last of the hibernating Minnesotans emerge from their dens today, seduced by mild March sunshine that is as strong now as it was in early September. Many will be dazed and confused, but reassure them that the grass will soon be green and leaves will flutter on nearby trees.

Unfortunately, the mild weather has been taking its toll on a deep, late winter snow pack that is causing a rapid rise in river levels. Latest forecasts suggest moderate to major flooding for most in Minnesota, including the Mississippi, which could crest in the top 13 on record at St. Paul. The NWS is forecasting a potential top 10 crest along the Red River at Fargo. Yes, this will be a bad year for most!

Clouds return tomorrow with a few spits of PM rain. After a cooler Monday, our first 60s of the year may be possible just in time for the Twins Home Opener on Thursday.

Ready or not, here we go! It's spring!!
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Extended Forecast

SATURDAY: Warm sun, lots of drips. Winds: SSW 5. High: 54.

SATURDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy and quiet. Winds: SSW 5. Low: 32.

SUNDAY: Not as nice, few showers. Breezy PM. Winds: NNE 8-13. High: 50.

MONDAY: Sun returns, cooler temps. Winds: ESE 5-10. Wake-up: 22. High: 41.

TUESDAY: Partly sunny, PM sprinkle. Breezy. Winds: SSE 10-20. Wake-up: 24. High: 47.

WEDNESDAY: Slight chance of rain. First 60F? Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 37. High: 59.

THURSDAY: Twins Home Opener. Spotty T-shower? Winds: SSE 10-15. Wake-up: 45. High: 61.

FRIDAY: Lingering clouds and a few showers. Winds: NNW 10-15. Wake-up: 34. High: 42.
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This Day in Weather History
March 23rd

1966: A snowstorm brings a foot of snow to southern Minnesota.
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Average High/Low for Minneapolis
March 23rd

Average High: 45F (Record: 83F set in 1910)
Average Low: 27F (Record: -4F set in 1965)

Record Rainfall: 1.18" set in 1966
Record Snowfall: 11.6" set in 1966
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Sunrise/Sunset Times for Minneapolis
March 23rd

Sunrise: 7:11am
Sunset: 7:29pm

Hours of Daylight: ~12 hours & 18 minutes

Daylight GAINED since yesterday: ~ 3 minutes & 9 seconds
Daylight GAINED since winter solstice (December 21st): ~3 hours and 33 minutes
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Moon Phase for March 23rd at Midnight
3.2 Days After Full "Worm" Moon

"8:43 p.m. CDT (March 21) In this month the ground softens and the earthworm casts reappear, inviting the return of the robins. The more northern tribes knew this as the Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter, or the Full Crust Moon because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night. TheFull Sap Moon, marking the time of tapping maple trees, is another variation."

See more from Space HERE:

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What's in the Night Sky?

According to EarthSky.org this is what will be visible in the night sky over the next several nights: 

"We always get this question at this time of year: Orion seems to have moved and turned considerably in the last two weeks. Will Orion disappear before summer? The answer is yes, it’ll soon disappear into the sun’s glare. And – although you might notice it more easily with this particularly bright and noticeable constellation – the fact is that, like Orion, all the stars and constellations shift westward as the seasons pass. Unless they’re in the far northern or southern sky – and so circumpolar – all stars and constellations spend some portion of each year hidden in the sun’s glare. In other words, like blooms on trees or certain flowers or even specific animals in your locale, stars have their own seasons of visibility. Why does Orion go into the sun’s glare each year at this same time? Only because – each year, as we orbit continually around the sun – our motion in orbit brings the sun between us and Orion at this same time each year. Of course, stars and their constellations also move westward in the course of a single night, due to Earth’s spin. Orion is no exception."

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National High Temps Saturday
 
High temps across the country on Saturday will be a bit below average across much of the eastern US, but folks from Minneapolis to Billings, MT will be running nearly +10F above average.
 
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National Weather Outlook
 
The weather outlook as we head into the weekend shows the heavy rain and snow across the Northeast fading through the day on Saturday with cooler/quieter conditions in place on Sunday. Meanwhile, there will be 2 different areas of precipitation in the Western half of the country that will move east through the weekend. Areas of showers and storms will be possible in the Central US, while areas of heavy rain and mountain snow will be possible along and west of the Rockies.
 

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7 Day Precipitation Forecast
 
According to NOAA's WPC, the 7 day precipitation forecast suggests more widespread precipitation across the country as we through most of next week. Some of the heaviest precipitation will be found across the northern half of California, including the Sierra Nevada Range. There will also be pockets of heavy precipitation in the Northern New England States, where areas of heavy rain and snow will be possible through the early Saturday. 
 

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"NASA finds near-Earth asteroid ejecting particles from surface"
 
"The near-Earth asteroid Bennu is an active asteroid that periodically ejects rocky material into space, according to early results from NASA's OSIRIS-REx Mission. Why it matters: This is surprising, as the vast majority of known asteroids are inactive. In addition, NASA scientists hoping to land a spacecraft on Bennu to take samples back to Earth in 2023 have found the asteroid contains larger rocks than earlier thought, which could complicate the sampling mission. What they found: The OSIRIS-REx mission began orbiting the asteroid on Dec. 31, seeking to learn more about its composition and movement. It's thought that some asteroids may contain material dating back to the beginning of our solar system, NASA says. The NASA research team first noticed the plumes of material emanating from Bennu on Jan. 6, and they've detected at least 11 more of them during the past 2 months. Some of the material has wound up orbiting Bennu as satellites before settling back down on its surface. “The discovery of plumes is one of the biggest surprises of my scientific career,” said Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona, Tucson. “We don’t know the mechanism that is causing this right now," he said. From distant observations, Bennu appeared to have a mostly flat surface with some large boulders. However, close-up views showed Bennu's surface is rather rough, with at least 200 boulders of at least 33 feet wide. This means the team has to re-evaluate its plans for how to safely land on the asteroid and collect samples from its surface."
 
 

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"THOSE MIDWESTERN FLOODS ARE EXPECTED TO GET MUCH, MUCH WORSE"
 
"THE RECORD-SETTING FLOODS deluging the Midwest are about to get a lot worse. Fueled by rapidly melting snowpack and a forecast of more rainstorms in the next few weeks, federal officials warn that 200 million people in 25 states face a risk through May. Floodwaters coursing through Nebraska have already forced tens of thousands of people to flee and have caused $1.3 billion in damage. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued its spring flood outlook Thursday, predicting that two-thirds of the country is at risk of "major to moderate flooding," from Fargo, North Dakota on the Red River of the North down to Nashville, Tennessee, on the Cumberland River. The floods from the past two weeks have compromised 200 miles of levees in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas, according to the US Army Corps of Engineers."
 
 

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"New Climate Change Visualization Presents Two Stark Choices For Our Future"
 
"Last year, a visualization that turned data on our planet’s temperature into a gradient of colorful stripes made a splash by showing how severely the world has warmed to-date. Now, a new visualization riffs on that by showing what the future holds depending on when and how fast humanity cuts its greenhouse gas emissions. And folks, the choice is pretty stark. Scientists and policymakers often talk about the global average temperature and what things will look like in the future, but it can feel vague and hand-wavy. But plot it in technicolor and suddenly the future becomes a lot more visceral. That’s exactly what German engineer Alexander Radtke has done with his new illustration, which extends last year’s climate stripes out to 2200. Each stripe represents the annual global temperature’s departure from average under two different scenarios that leading climate scientists have created. In one, carbon pollution continues unabated through 2100. In the other, emissions peak in the next 12 or so years and begin their decline. I could bore you with all sorts of details on the work that went into creating these scenarios, but Radtke’s visualization cuts to the chase."
 
 

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"Flood Damage to Midwestern Levees, Roads, Farms May Run Well into the Billions"
 
"Costs are mounting quickly from the late-winter/early-spring flood disaster that’s assaulted the Midwest this month. Estimates from several disparate sources now suggest that the total cost of the flooding to date—including agricultural losses, road repair, and levee reconstruction—could end up in the multiple-billions-of-dollars range. At least three deaths have been linked to the flooding. Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts told reporters on Wednesday that preliminary damage estimates in his state alone are more than $1.3 billion, including $439 million in infrastructure losses, $85 million in private homes and business losses, $400 million in livestock and $440 million in crop losses. The total does not apparently include damage to Offutt Air Force Base, where floodwaters covered about one third of the area and inundated dozens of buildings. To make matters worse, the Midwest is highly vulnerable to more flooding this spring, thanks to saturated soil and a large snowpack in the Upper Midwest."
 
 

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"Africa’s Hurricane Katrina: Tropical Cyclone Idai Causes an Extreme Catastrophe"

"Over 400 are dead and countless more are at grave risk, huddled on rooftops or clinging to trees, in the horrifying aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Idai in Mozambique. In scenes reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005, aerial survey teams photographed thousands of marooned people in the “inland ocean” up to 30 miles wide that heavy rains from Idai have created in central Mozambique. Tropical Cyclone Idai made landfall on Thursday evening as a Category 2 storm with 110 mph winds just north of Beira, Mozambique (population 530,000) near the time of high tide, driving a devastating storm surge into the city. The cyclone also caused enormous wind damage, ripping off hundreds of roofs in Mozambique’s fourth largest city. Since the cyclone was large and moving slowly at landfall, near 6 mph, it was a prodigious rainmaker, with satellite-estimated rainfall amounts in excess of 2 feet in much of central Mozambique. Idai stalled and died over the high terrain along the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border on Saturday, but Idai’s remains hovered over the region through Tuesday, bringing additional heavy rains--over a foot in eastern Zimbabwe. Runoff from these rains have submerged huge portions of central Mozambique. Damage to improverished Mozambique, whose GDP is just $12 billion, will be many billions of dollars and take more than five years to recover from."

See more from Wunderground HERE:

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"What's Behind the Massive Midwestern Floods: 2 Giant Waves of Water"

"Historic floods across the Midwest have left three dead, prompted mass evacuations, and drowned cities. The floods aren’t isolated incidents, however: Two giant waves of water are rolling down from the country's far-northern middle expanse. One wave is following the path of the Missouri River toward the Mississippi River, carrying with it big chunks of ice. The second wave is taking a similar path down the Mississippi River from Minnesota. Both are the result of a long winter of heavy snowfall in Minnesota and the Dakotas followed by a short, sharp melt. Both floods are more or less each one giant wave traveling at the speeds of their rivers, said Darone Jones, director of the Water Prediction Operations Division (WPOD) at the National Weather Service’s National Water Center (NWC) in Alabama."

See more from Live Science HERE:

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"NASA photos capture immense flooding of a vital U.S. Air Force base"

"In 1948, Air Force Secretary Stuart Symington stationed the United States' long-range nuclear bombers at Offutt Air Force Base in eastern Nebraska, a location safe in the middle of the nation and well-insulated from the coast. But 70 years later, the base — now home to the U.S. Strategic Command which deters "catastrophic actions from adversaries and poses an immediate threat to any actor who questions U.S. resolve by demonstrating our capabilities" — isn't safe from historic and record-setting floods. Intense rains on top of the rapid melting of ample snow has inundated large swathes of Nebraska and a full one-third of the Offutt Air Force Base, including the headquarters building. NASA's Landsat 8 satellite captured before and after images of the flooding — which the European Union Earth Observation Programme called "biblical." The overloaded river burgeoned in size, creeping into Offutt, neighborhoods, and farmlands."

See more from Mashable HERE:

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"Even A Polar Vortex Is No Match For Insects Adapted To Cold Conditions"

"Wisconsin's Frigid Winter Pressured Some Species, But They'll Rebound Quickly. With daylight saving time back in place and warmer temperatures knocking at our door, spring is finally crawling toward Wisconsin. The winter of 2018-2019 is one we won't soon forget — the season started out mild before temperatures plummeted with January's polar vortex. During the coldest stretch, our coping strategy might have involved layers of blankets and binge-watching Netflix, but what about the bugs? Questions regarding the cold-weather impacts on insects have been some of the most common at the University of Wisconsin Insect Diagnostic Lab over the winter. There will undoubtedly be some effects from the polar vortex, although many insect species are well-equipped to deal with the cold. Before we know it, overwintering insects will become active again in the Midwest and many species will simply shrug off the polar vortex as if it hadn't happened. As for insects that didn’t fare as well in the cold, high reproductive capacities will likely allow their numbers to bounce back relatively quickly. That means 2019 isn't going to be insect-free by any means — and intuitively this makes sense. It’s understood that every year, insects make it through the winter months and become active as temperatures creep up in spring. Looking at an evolutionary time scale, the January 2019 cold snap wasn't the first time insect species in Wisconsin have encountered frigid temperatures before, and many creatures are adapted to survive surprisingly cold conditions."

See more from Wiscontext HERE:

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

Paul Douglas: The 2019 spring melt is on

First 50F of the Season at MSP on Thursday!!

Well, how about that! MSP finally warmed to 50F for the first time this season and the first time since November 1st! Keep in mind that the average first 50F is in early March, however, the latest was on April 17th set in 1962. The earliest 50F temp was January 7th, set in 2003.

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"Spring Outlook: Historic, widespread flooding to continue through May"

"Above-average spring rain and snow will worsen flood conditions. Nearly two-thirds of the Lower 48 states face an elevated risk for flooding through May, with the potential for major or moderate flooding in 25 states, according to NOAA’s U.S. Spring Outlook issued today. The majority of the country is favored to experience above-average precipitation this spring, increasing the flood risk.

Portions of the United States – especially in the upper Mississippi and Missouri River basins including Nebraska, Minnesota and Iowa – have already experienced record flooding this year. This early flooding was caused by rapid snow melt combined with heavy spring rain and late season snowfall in areas where soil moisture is high. In some areas, ice jams are exacerbating the flooding. Offices across the National Weather Service have been working with local communities, providing decision-support services and special briefings to emergency managers and other leaders in local, state and federal government to ensure the highest level of readiness before the flooding began.

Additional spring rain and melting snow will prolong and expand flooding, especially in the central and southern U.S. As this excess water flows downstream through the river basins, the flood threat will become worse and geographically more widespread."

See more from NOAA HERE:

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Current Flood Warnings

The National Weather Service has issued a number of flood warnings for rivers across the southern half of the state. Keep in mind that some locations aren't quiet yet at flood stage, but river levels are forecast to rise significantly over the next several days/weeks as the signifcant snow pack continues to melt and as the runoff enters the water systems.

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Flood Warnings Closer to Home
 
Again, despite not see much in the way of major flooding close to home, a significant rise in river levels is expected over the next several days and weeks. Therefore, the Twin Cities has issued a number of flood warnings along area rivers in advance of the expected flooding. Stay vigilant and prepare now!
 
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Mississippi River at St. Paul
 
Here is the latest river gauge (and forecast) for the Mississippi River at St. Paul. Note that as of Thursday, river levels were still below flooding, but we should see this enter minor flood stage over the weekend and into major flood stage by the middle of next week! The expected rise is nearly 10ft. within the next 5 to 7 days.
 
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Weather Outlook Friday

High temps on Friday will be pretty close to aveage for this time of the year with highs ranging from the mid/upper 30s across the northern part of the state to the low/mid 40s across the southern half of the state.

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Temp Outlook Ahead (Twin Cities)

According to the GEFS and ECMWF Ensemble models, temps will be trending warmer as we head through the last week and a half of March. Note that temps look to warm into the 50s over the weekend, which will be above average for a change. In fact, these will be some of the first 50s that we've seen since November 1st! The extended outlook suggests a potential first 60F of the season by the end of next week! We'll have to wait and see how things shake out, but according to the ECMWF, we may start April on a cooler than average note with highs in the 40s. The average high for the MSP Airport on April 1st is 50F and that's no joke!

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Ice Safey Reminder

As we head into the next several weeks, ice stability is going to deteriorate rapidly! Warmer temps will weaken ice on area lakes/ponds, so please be careful! The MN DNR has ice safety reminders that you can review and remember that ice is never 100% safe!
 
 

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Winter Severity Index - 2018/2019 was a "Moderate" Winter
 
The updated numbers are in (through March 13th) and according to the MN DNR, this has been a "moderate" winter so far, but it's important to note that we are only 3 points away from this being a "severe" winter. Are you interested in how winters are calculated? Well, the MN DNR has some info below:
 
"The Twin Cities Snow and Cold Index (SCI) is an attempt to weigh the relative severity of winter when compared with winters of the past. The SCI assigns single points for daily counts of maximum temperatures 10 degrees F or colder, and daily minimums of 0 degrees F or colder. If the minimum temperature drops to -20 degrees or colder greater, eight points are attributed to that day. Snowfall totals of one inch or greater in a day receive one point. Four-inch snowfalls generate four points for the day, an eight-inch snowfall receives a whopping 16 points. To quantify the duration of winter, one point is tallied for every day with a snow depth of 12 inches or greater.
 
"All current measurements are at the Twin Cities International Airport. As of March 13, 2019 the SCI for the 2018-19 winter is at 146 points: 63 points for cold, 83 points for snow. This is enough for 2018-19 to be categorized as a "moderate" winter. This winter is only 3 points away from being a "severe winter." The SCI for the winter of 2017-18 finished with 111 points, enough for 2017-18 to be categorized as a "moderate" winter and higher than the long term medium of 89 points. The total SCI points for the 2017-2018 winter were 43 for cold and 68 for snow: 111 points. The SCI for the winter of 2013-14 in Twin Cities was 207 points, or in the high end of the "severe winter" category.  This was the 9th most severe winter on record based on SCI points. The lowest SCI score was the winter of 2011-2012 with 16 points. The most severe winter is 1916-1917 with 305 SCI points."
 
 

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March - 3rd Snowiest Month on Average

Just a reminder that March is our 3rd snowiest month of the year averaging 10.3" !! So far this month, we've had 10.5", so we are officially above average! Note that the snowiest March in recorded history was 40.0" set in 1951. Looking ahead, I don't think we have to worry about any more snow records as temps look to gradually warm into the 40s, 50s and possibly even 60s through the 2nd half of the month!


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March Precipitation So Far...
 
March came in like a lion with areas of heavy snow and rain. Through the first half of the month, the Twin Cities has picked up nearly 2" of liquid, while folks in the southwestern part of the state have seen nearly 3" to 4" of liquid! With that said, most locations across the state are dealing with above average precipitation through the first 3 weeks of March.
 
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Wet Start to 2019 So Far...
 
Not only has it been a wet start to March, but it's been a wet start to 2019 as well. Note that some locations in the southern half of the state have seen more than 5" of liquid, including the Twin Cities! With that said, most locations are nearly 1" to 2" above average for the year thus far, with some in southern MN more than 3" above average. Sioux Falls, SD on the other hand is nearly 4" above average!
 
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Seasonal Snowfall

Well, thanks to a very active February and early half of March, our seasonal snowfall tallies are sitting at some pretty impressive tallies. Keep in mind that prior to February 5th, the Twin Cities was nearly 18" below average snowfall this season. The weather pattern quickly turned and within a 34 day period, the Twin Cities saw nearly 50" of snow! 39" of record snow fell at the MSP Airport in February, and we've already had 10.4" of snow through the first half of March. Here's an interesting stat, from February 5th to March 10th, the Twin Cities had 49.3" of snow, which is the 20th snowiest 34 day stretch in MSP history! At any rate, most reporting station around the region are in double digits reading above average snowfall for the season so far! The Twin Cities is nearly 20" above average, while Eau Claire, WI is nearly 46" above average - unreal! Note that the Twin Cities has seen 67.3" of snow so far this season, which the 22nd snowiest season on record.

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22nd Snowiest Season on Record
 
67.3" of snow has fallen this season at the MSP Airport, which is the 22nd snowiest season on record! Note that the snowiest season was during the 1983-1984 when 98.6" of snow fell!
 
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Latest Snow Depth
 
Here's the latest snow depth from across the region. Keep in mind that on Sunday, March 10th, the Twin Cities still had 19" of snow on the ground. A week and a half later, that number has dwindled to just a trace! However, folks in parts of northern Minnesota still have nearly 1 to 2 feet of snow on the ground.
 
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Few Showers on Sunday?

After a very quiet week, things could get a little soggy by Sunday. At this point, it doesn't look like much, but a few showers could push through the region late weekend and could even mix with a few wet flakes across parts of central and northern MN.


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Precipitation Outlook Through PM Monday

According to the GFS, there could be up to a few tenths of an inch of rain across parts of southern Minnesota as our next system moves in late weekend. Again, it doesn't look like a terrible amount, but it will help speed up the melting process.

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Temperature Anomalies

Here's a look at the temperature anomaly aross North America on Saturday, which showed cooler than average temps across much of the Central US in the wake of our very intense "bomb" cyclone last week. Temps are expected to gradually warm over the next several days and by the end of the week, most locations could be dealing with more spring-like readings!

 

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Temperature Outlook
 
Here's the temperature anomaly as we head through the 2nd to last weekend of the month. Note that temps look to be warmer than average to start, but we could head back to below average readings by early next week.
 

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Temperature Outlook
 
According to NOAA's CPC, the temperature outlook from March 29th - April 4th suggests cooler than average temps returning to the Upper Midwest as we slide into the end of the month/early part of April. However, keep in mind that the average temp in the Twin Cities on April 1st is 50F, so even though temps may be a little below, it won't be anything too nasty.
 
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Spring Leaf Anomaly
 
Here's an interesting map for folks that are looking forward to spring. It's the NPN Spring Leaf Anomaly map, which shows that spring has indeed sprung across the southern tier of the nation. The red colors indicate that spring leaves are actually emerging earlier than average in those areas, while blue colors indicate that we're a little behind average in other spots.

"March 18, 2019 - Spring leaf out is spreading north through Southwest, Southeast, and mid-Atlantic states. Spring leaf out is 1-2 weeks early in parts of the Southeast and California and 2-3 weeks late in parts of Washington and Oregon and the Southern Great Plains. Spring is one week late in St. Louis and four days late in Washington DC. Spring bloom has arrived on time to 2 weeks early in much of the South. Jackson, MS is 10 days early. Parts of Arizona and California are 1-2 weeks late."

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The 2019 Spring Melt is on!
By Todd Nelson, filling in for Douglas

Drip... drip... drip... That's the sound of the Old Man Winter loosening his grip on the Upper Midwest. Birds have begun their spring songs, maple trees have been tapped for maple syrup and rivers have started to rise as the 2019 spring flood season begins.

NOAA's 2019 Spring Flood Outlook, released yesterday, stated that "This is shaping up to be a potentially unprecedented flood season, with more than 200 million people at risk for flooding across the nation." It also stated that "The areas of greatest risk of moderate to major flooding include the Mississippi and Red River basins."

Keep in mind that some locations have lost nearly 1 to 2 feet of snow in the last week and a half and there's still a lot of snow left across much of central and northern Minnesota. River levels are already on the rise and will likely crest in early April close to home. However, latest forecasts suggest that metro rivers will reach flood stage in the next 5 to 7 days, some even at major flood levels.

Pray that heavy rains won't make matters worse.
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Extended Forecast

FRIDAY: Bright sunshine. Winds: NNE 5. High: 46.

FRIDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy and quiet. Winds: N 5. Low: 25.

SATURDAY: Distractingly nice. Winds: SSW 5-10. High: 54.

SUNDAY: Light rain showers with a few wet flakes. Winds: ENE 5-10. Wake-up: 32 High: 51.

MONDAY: Gradual clearing. Not as mild. Winds: ESE 5-10. Wake-up: 25. High: 40.

TUESDAY: A bit breezy. More clouds late. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 22. High: 47.

WEDNESDAY: Mostly cloudy. Isolated sprinkles. Winds: S 7-12. Wake-up: 34. High: 57.

THURSDAY: Twins Home Opener. PM showers? Winds: NE 5-10. Wake-up: 44. High: 60.
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This Day in Weather History
March 22nd

1953: A tornado hits the northern St. Cloud area. High winds from thunderstorms are experienced from Martin to Stearns County.
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Average High/Low for Minneapolis
March 22nd

Average High: 44F (Record: 71F set in 1945)
Average Low: 27F (Record: -14F set in 1888)

Record Rainfall: 1.40" set in 1952
Record Snowfall: 13.7" set in 1952
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Sunrise/Sunset Times for Minneapolis
March 22nd

Sunrise: 7:13am
Sunset: 7:28pm

Hours of Daylight: ~11 hours & 15 minutes

Daylight GAINED since yesterday: ~ 3 minutes & 9 seconds
Daylight GAINED since winter solstice (December 21st): ~3 hours and 30 minutes
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Moon Phase for March 22nd at Midnight
2.2 Days After Full "Worm" Moon

"8:43 p.m. CDT (March 21) In this month the ground softens and the earthworm casts reappear, inviting the return of the robins. The more northern tribes knew this as the Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter, or the Full Crust Moon because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night. TheFull Sap Moon, marking the time of tapping maple trees, is another variation."

See more from Space HERE:

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What's in the Night Sky?

According to EarthSky.org this is what will be visible in the night sky over the next several nights: 

"The weeks around the spring equinox are best for viewing the zodiacal light in the evening. Now that the moon has left the early evening sky, the next several weeks present an excellent time for those in the Northern Hemisphere to view this mysterious light, which looks like a hazy pyramid extending up from the western horizon, when all traces of twilight have let the evening sky. You’ll want a rural location, as full darkness falls. About 80 to 120 minutes after sunset should be about right. Southern Hemisphere? It’s your best time of year to see the zodiacal light in the morning, in the east just before dawn. A bright moon is up before dawn in late March. If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, consider waiting until early April 2019 – when the moon has waned to a thin crescent or left the morning sky entirely – to look for the zodiacal light before dawn. This observation is not for city dwellers. But if you find yourself beneath a dark country sky – or perhaps driving along a country road when the time is right – look for this eerie light."

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National High Temps Friday
 
High temps across the country on Friday will be below average in many locations with the exception of the southern US and the Northwest. The good news is that the worst of winter's Arctic chill is behind us!
 
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National Weather Outlook
 
The weather outlook as we head into the weekend ahead suggests areas of heavy rain and snow wrapping up in the Northwest, while another surge of Pacific moisture will move into the Western half of the country. Areas of heavy rain and snow will be possible west of the Rockies, while a few isolated strong/severe storms can't be ruled out in the Oklahoma and Texas Panhandle on Friday.
 

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7 Day Precipitation Forecast
 
According to NOAA's WPC, the 7 day precipitation forecast suggests more widespread precipitation across the country as we through most of next week. Some of the heaviest precipitation will be found across the northern half of California, including the Sierra Nevada Range. There will also be pockets of heavy precipitation in the Northern New England States, where areas of heavy rain and snow will be possible through the early weekend time frame.
 

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"Flood Damage to Midwestern Levees, Roads, Farms May Run Well into the Billions"
 
"Costs are mounting quickly from the late-winter/early-spring flood disaster that’s assaulted the Midwest this month. Estimates from several disparate sources now suggest that the total cost of the flooding to date—including agricultural losses, road repair, and levee reconstruction—could end up in the multiple-billions-of-dollars range. At least three deaths have been linked to the flooding. Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts told reporters on Wednesday that preliminary damage estimates in his state alone are more than $1.3 billion, including $439 million in infrastructure losses, $85 million in private homes and business losses, $400 million in livestock and $440 million in crop losses. The total does not apparently include damage to Offutt Air Force Base, where floodwaters covered about one third of the area and inundated dozens of buildings. To make matters worse, the Midwest is highly vulnerable to more flooding this spring, thanks to saturated soil and a large snowpack in the Upper Midwest."
 
 

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"Africa’s Hurricane Katrina: Tropical Cyclone Idai Causes an Extreme Catastrophe"

"Over 400 are dead and countless more are at grave risk, huddled on rooftops or clinging to trees, in the horrifying aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Idai in Mozambique. In scenes reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005, aerial survey teams photographed thousands of marooned people in the “inland ocean” up to 30 miles wide that heavy rains from Idai have created in central Mozambique. Tropical Cyclone Idai made landfall on Thursday evening as a Category 2 storm with 110 mph winds just north of Beira, Mozambique (population 530,000) near the time of high tide, driving a devastating storm surge into the city. The cyclone also caused enormous wind damage, ripping off hundreds of roofs in Mozambique’s fourth largest city. Since the cyclone was large and moving slowly at landfall, near 6 mph, it was a prodigious rainmaker, with satellite-estimated rainfall amounts in excess of 2 feet in much of central Mozambique. Idai stalled and died over the high terrain along the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border on Saturday, but Idai’s remains hovered over the region through Tuesday, bringing additional heavy rains--over a foot in eastern Zimbabwe. Runoff from these rains have submerged huge portions of central Mozambique. Damage to improverished Mozambique, whose GDP is just $12 billion, will be many billions of dollars and take more than five years to recover from."

See more from Wunderground HERE:


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"What's Behind the Massive Midwestern Floods: 2 Giant Waves of Water"

"Historic floods across the Midwest have left three dead, prompted mass evacuations, and drowned cities. The floods aren’t isolated incidents, however: Two giant waves of water are rolling down from the country's far-northern middle expanse. One wave is following the path of the Missouri River toward the Mississippi River, carrying with it big chunks of ice. The second wave is taking a similar path down the Mississippi River from Minnesota. Both are the result of a long winter of heavy snowfall in Minnesota and the Dakotas followed by a short, sharp melt. Both floods are more or less each one giant wave traveling at the speeds of their rivers, said Darone Jones, director of the Water Prediction Operations Division (WPOD) at the National Weather Service’s National Water Center (NWC) in Alabama."

See more from Live Science HERE:


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"NASA photos capture immense flooding of a vital U.S. Air Force base"

"In 1948, Air Force Secretary Stuart Symington stationed the United States' long-range nuclear bombers at Offutt Air Force Base in eastern Nebraska, a location safe in the middle of the nation and well-insulated from the coast. But 70 years later, the base — now home to the U.S. Strategic Command which deters "catastrophic actions from adversaries and poses an immediate threat to any actor who questions U.S. resolve by demonstrating our capabilities" — isn't safe from historic and record-setting floods. Intense rains on top of the rapid melting of ample snow has inundated large swathes of Nebraska and a full one-third of the Offutt Air Force Base, including the headquarters building. NASA's Landsat 8 satellite captured before and after images of the flooding — which the European Union Earth Observation Programme called "biblical." The overloaded river burgeoned in size, creeping into Offutt, neighborhoods, and farmlands."

See more from Mashable HERE:


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"Even A Polar Vortex Is No Match For Insects Adapted To Cold Conditions"

"Wisconsin's Frigid Winter Pressured Some Species, But They'll Rebound Quickly. With daylight saving time back in place and warmer temperatures knocking at our door, spring is finally crawling toward Wisconsin. The winter of 2018-2019 is one we won't soon forget — the season started out mild before temperatures plummeted with January's polar vortex. During the coldest stretch, our coping strategy might have involved layers of blankets and binge-watching Netflix, but what about the bugs? Questions regarding the cold-weather impacts on insects have been some of the most common at the University of Wisconsin Insect Diagnostic Lab over the winter. There will undoubtedly be some effects from the polar vortex, although many insect species are well-equipped to deal with the cold. Before we know it, overwintering insects will become active again in the Midwest and many species will simply shrug off the polar vortex as if it hadn't happened. As for insects that didn’t fare as well in the cold, high reproductive capacities will likely allow their numbers to bounce back relatively quickly. That means 2019 isn't going to be insect-free by any means — and intuitively this makes sense. It’s understood that every year, insects make it through the winter months and become active as temperatures creep up in spring. Looking at an evolutionary time scale, the January 2019 cold snap wasn't the first time insect species in Wisconsin have encountered frigid temperatures before, and many creatures are adapted to survive surprisingly cold conditions."

See more from Wiscontext HERE:


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