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Paul Douglas on Weather

Sunny Friday And A Nice Weekend Ahead - Highs Approaching 40F

Air Quality Issues Thursday Morning

There were some noted air quality issues in the Twin Cities Thursday due to smoke that had drifted southeast from the fire at Northern Metals in Becker Wednesday Night. As of Thursday morning (when the map above was made), air quality values had reached the "moderate" range, with the main issue being particle pollution. These numbers improved into the afternoon hours. Schools were closed Thursday in Becker due to air quality concerns.


Snow Season Recap So Far

We've hit a little bit of a lull across much of the state with snow so far in February. Snowfall tallies so far this month are highest (and above average) across southern Minnesota, thanks to heavier snow on the 9th and 17th. In the Twin Cities, 7.5" has fallen through the 19th, +2.5" above average, with Rochester's 14.6" so far +8.8" above average. Go north of the metro, though, and February snowfall hasn't been as plentiful, with not even an inch falling so far in Brainerd.

Almost the entire state is still running above average for the snow season, the exception being International Falls where they are just barely below the average for the date. The 42.9" of snow in the Twin Cities so far is still the 23rd snowiest start to the snow season on record; meanwhile, Duluth sits in 9th place with 79.4" so far.


Is The Worst of Winter Behind Us Now? Yes.
By Paul Douglas

This may come back to bite me in the Doppler, but winter is over. Wait, back up. It will still snow, we will dodge more Canadian cold fronts. Colleagues will gripe about their morning commutes. But subzero discomfort, that sense of existential dread from peeking at the 7-Day Outlook? That's pretty much behind us now.

I see no more subzero readings for the metro area into mid-March. Could we see another April blizzard? It's possible, but the pattern is altogether different than the last few winters: more Pacific, less arctic.

Major snowstorms are most likely to spin up along the leading edge of polar invasions. Fewer Siberian smacks = less chance of crazy snow amounts.

Storms continue to detour south and east of Minnesota into next week. In spite of 9 inches of snow on the ground 40F is likely Saturday & Sunday, again the following weekend. If you like snow get out and play in it soon.

The Major Leagues of Winter are fading. Welcome to the Minor Leagues: dribs and drabs of snow - and neutered cold fronts.


Extended Twin Cities Forecast

FRIDAY: Sunny, breezy, milder. Wake up 17. High 38. Chance of precipitation 0%. Wind SW 10-20 mph.
SATURDAY: Partly sunny, feels like March. Wake up 23. High 40. Chance of precipitation 0%. Wind SW 8-13 mph.
SUNDAY: Plenty of sun, dust off the grill. Wake up 26. High 42. Chance of precipitation 0%. Wind NW 8-13 mph.
MONDAY: Mix of clouds and sun. Wake up 27. High 38. Chance of precipitation 10%. Wind NE 7-12 mph.
TUESDAY: Overcast. Snow should stay south of MN. Wake up 23. High 33. Chance of precipitation 20%. Wind NE 7-12 mph.
WEDNESDAY: Mostly cloudy with a colder wind. Wake up 22. High 28. Chance of precipitation 10%. Wind N 10-20 mph.
THURSDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, chilly. Wake up 10. High 24. Chance of precipitation 10%. Wind NW 8-13 mph.


This Day in Weather History
February 21st

1965: Strong winds occur, reaching speeds of up to 45 mph in the Twin Cities.


Average Temperatures & Precipitation for Minneapolis
February 21st

Average High: 31F (Record: 62F set in 2017)
Average Low: 15F (Record: -21F set in 1873)
Average Precipitation: 0.03" (Record: 0.82" set in 1882)
Average Snowfall: 0.2" (Record: 5.5" set in 1962)
Record Snow Depth: 27" in 1967


Sunrise/Sunset Times for Minneapolis
February 21st

Sunrise: 7:05 AM
Sunset: 5:48 PM

*Length Of Day: 10 hours, 43 minutes and 52 seconds
*Daylight GAINED Since Yesterday: ~3 minutes and 0 seconds

*When Do We Climb To 11 Hours Of Daylight? February 27th (11 hours, 2 minutes, and 10 seconds)
*Next Sunrise At/Before 7 AM: February 24th (7:00 AM)
*Next Sunset At/After 6 PM: February 29th (6:00 PM)


Minnesota Weather Outlook

A mainly sunny day is expected across the state Friday, with highs climbing into the 30s in most locations. A few spots in southern Minnesota could even approach 40F!

These highs will be about 5-10F degrees above average as we head through your Friday. The average high in the Twin Cities for February 21st is 31F.

Southwesterly winds will strengthen across the state Friday, helping to usher in some of that warmer air. At times on Friday, wind gusts could exceed 30 mph across portions of southern Minnesota.

As we look closer at the Twin Cities, Friday will feature sunny skies. Temperatures will start off in the teens during the morning hours as kids head out to the bus stop, warming above freezing by Noon. With stronger winds in place, however, it could still feel like the 20s during the afternoon hours.

Highs will remain in the 30s to even low 40s as we head through the weekend and early next week in the Twin Cities - up to about 10F degrees above average for the last third of February. Skies will remain sunny through Sunday, but then early next week we could see the potential of a few snow showers (with rain mixing in on Monday).


National Weather Forecast

On Friday, we'll have a big area of high pressure in place keeping many areas dry throughout the day in the lower 48. The best chance of rain will be along the Atlantic coast of Florida down into the Keys with a cold front, in southern New Mexico, and by the evening hours across portions of Calfornia in-between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Some snow showers will be possible in the morning in eastern North Carolina, along Cape Cod, and downwind of Lake Ontario.


Climate was public enemy No. 2 — after Mike Bloomberg — at Nevada’s Democratic debate

More from The Grist: "Wednesday’s debate was different from the eight that came before it in one major way: It was the first debate in American history moderated by a climate journalist. Vanessa Huac, a climate correspondent for the American Spanish-language television network Telemundo, was one of five moderators grilling candidates. Huac heads up Telemundo’s environmental investigative unit and has been covering climate and environmental issues for more than 20 years. In an interview with NPR’s The World on Tuesday, she said MSNBC tapped her for the debate specifically because “climate change is going to be a key and a decisive issue for many voters.” Does that mean climate change was finally a key and decisive issue on the debate stage? You bet. And Huac wasn’t the only one asking tough climate questions."

Record Antarctic temperatures fuel sea level worry

More from Climate News Network: "Across the world, people now alive in coastal areas may face dangerously rising seas within their lifetimes, as record Antarctic temperatures and rapid melting of the continent’s ice drive global sea levels upwards. Temperatures on the Antarctic Peninsula reached more than 20°C for the first time in history earlier this month, the Guardian reported: “The 20.75C logged by Brazilian scientists at Seymour Island on 9 February was almost a full degree higher than the previous record of 19.8C, taken on Signy Island in January 1982.”"

Solar And Wind Power Could Ignite A Hydrogen Energy Comeback

More from Scientific American: "Hydrogen is flowing in pipes under the streets in Cappelle-la-Grande, helping to energize 100 homes in this northern France village. On a short side road adjacent to the town center, a new electrolyzer machine inside a small metal shed zaps water with electricity from wind and solar farms to create “renewable” hydrogen that is fed into the natural gas stream already flowing in the pipes. By displacing some of that fossil fuel, the hydrogen trims carbon emissions from the community’s furnaces, hot-water heaters and stove tops by up to 7 percent."


Thanks for checking in and have a great Friday! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter (@dkayserwx) and like me on Facebook (Meteorologist D.J. Kayser)!

 - D.J. Kayser

Early Taste of March Weather This Weekend - Billion Dollar Disasters On the Rise

March Comes Early This Year

I met our grandson, Jordan, for the first time last weekend in Seattle. I want him to know that his "Papa" did everything he could to raise awareness about a rapidly changing climate.

The world isn't ending, it's warming. That's creating more frequent and intense weather disruptions, worldwide, more billion dollar weather/climate disasters. My take: if you shrug, ignore the scientists or deny the obvious, you're inadvertently making it harder for your kids, and their kids, to enjoy the same quality of life you did. Which - call me crazy - seems tacitly unfair. That's why I speak up.

We are waking up to what may be the last subzero reading of winter. NOAA's GFS model isn't predicting any more negative numbers for MSP through March 6. Is winter over? No such luck. But "nasty-cold" may be in our rear-view mirror.

After a chilly Thursday, daytime highs may brush 40 degrees Friday into Sunday - with above average temperatures the next couple of weeks.

Thought experiment: Punxutawney Phil's forecast of an early spring is looking pretty accurate.

Temperature Trends. ECMWF (top) and GFS (bottom) show temperatures generally well above average into early March. Graphic: WeatherBell.

Mild Bias Continues Into Early March. A Pacific flow continues to dominate the weather across most of the USA, with the possible exception of New England. I'd bet a (stale) bagel that much of the nation will, in fact, experience an early spring this year.

Extreme Weather Events Can Bring Next Recession: Study. The Weather Channel reports: "Extreme weather could bring next recession, say researchers, adding that despite obvious market risks brought by fires, floods and other events, asset managers are slow to react. According to the study, published in the journal Nature Energy, current financial markets do not account for the risk posed by horrific natural disasters such as floods and droughts. As a result, investors are at risk of a sudden correction and crash which devastates the global economy unless action is taken to mitigate its impact. "If the market doesn't do a better job of accounting for climate, we could have a recession -- the likes of which we've never seen before," said study author Paul Griffin from University of California in the US..."

Image credit: NOAA.

Hurricane Harvey Was the Most Extreme Weather Event to Strike U.S. Last Decade, Report Finds. A story at caught my eye: "Hurricane Harvey was the worst extreme weather event to affect the United States in the previous decade, according to a report published in the meteorological magazine Weatherwise. Using data from the National Hurricane Center and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the report ranks extreme weather events according to resulting deaths and injuries, associated economic costs, size, and meteorological rarity. "Every year that goes by seems to bring a new round of record-breaking weather events, many with devastating consequences," Douglas Le Comte, Weatherwise contributing editor and author of the report, wrote. "Powerful hurricanes that bring large economic and human losses, massive wildfires, floods and droughts, and record-smashing heat waves..."

File image of Hurricane Harvey on August 25, 2017 courtesy of NOAA NESDIS.

Many Tornado Alley Residents With Disabilities Lack Safe Options in a Storm. Food for thought from NPR; here's an excerpt: "...But access to most places that have served as public shelters in the past, including that gym, ended a few years ago, after fire officials and others argued that the public shelters weren't up to federal standards. Effectively, that change in policy left Oklahomans like High to fend for themselves. The protective gold standard, for people who live in tornado-prone regions, is a storm shelter also known as a safe room. You can buy them at big box hardware stores, or have concrete shelters built by specialty companies, but they range in price from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the size and materials. The base model is just a concrete room set into the ground, usually in a backyard. But to get inside, people must climb down a ladder or steep set of stairs. There are above-ground models that are wheelchair accessible, but those cost more..."

File image: National Weather Service.

Tornado Events of 2020. An active spring season, in spite of ENSO-neutral conditions? It looks like it. Thanks to Ian Livingston and U.S. Tornadoes for an update: "The 2020 tornado year got off to a big start, as one of the largest winter tornado outbreaks on record occurred in the middle of January. February kicked off in similar fashion, with another sizable set of events, including the biggest regional tornado outbreak on record during winter in the Washington area. While we await the spring outlook at the end of the month, early signals seem to point toward an active year..."

Minnesota Sees Nearly 6% Drop in Solar Power Jobs, National Ranking Slips. Star Tribune runs the numbers: "Minnesota solar-energy industry employment fell nearly 6% in 2019, to 4,335 jobs, following a surge in recent years. The decline of 267 jobs last year followed increases of nearly 50% in 2017 and 8% in 2018, according to the National Solar Jobs Census 2019 released Wednesday by the Solar Foundation and BW Research Partners. Minnesota last year slipped from 15th to 17th in terms of solar-energy jobs. Nationally, the solar horizon became sunnier in 2019. Through November, the solar industry grew 2.3%, or 5,643 jobs across the U.S., compared to the first 11 months of 2018..."

Cyborg Grasshoppers Are Being Engineered to Sniff Out Bombs. New Scientist has the crazy details: "Move over, sniffer dogs: now there are explosive-sensing grasshoppers. Barani Raman and his colleagues at Washington University in Missouri have tapped into the olfactory senses of the American grasshopper, Schistocerca americana, to create biological bomb sniffers…By implanting electrodes into the antennal lobes of grasshoppers, the researchers found that different groups of neurons were activated upon exposure to the explosives. They analysed the electrical signals and were able to tell the explosive vapours apart from non-explosives...

The Amish Use Tech Differently Than You Think. We Should Emulate Them. The Washington Post (paywall) has a story worth reading; here's an excerpt: "...If your familiarity with the Amish doesn’t extend much beyond the image of a bearded man wearing a black hat and driving a horse and buggy on a rural road, you might have the impression that members of the traditionalist Christian group reflexively shun all modern technology. You’d be mistaken. Each church community of about 30 families — in a denomination with well over 300,000 members, spread across 31 states and parts of Canada and South America — has latitude in setting its technology boundaries. When a church member asks to use a new technology, the families discuss the idea and vote to accept or reject. The conversation centers on how a device will strengthen or weaken relationships within the community and within families. Imagine if the United States had conducted a similar discussion when social media platforms were developing algorithms designed to amplify differences and then pit us against one another, because anger drives traffic and traffic drives profits..."

Photo credit: Laurie Kruhoeffer.

Pass the Moldy Whopper Please. USA TODAY explains what's really going on here: "Burger King is serving up a new global ad campaign with its iconic burger covered in mold. No, the "Moldy Whopper" is not a new menu item, but Burger King announced Wednesday that it is letting the burger rot to make a statement. The fast-food chain said in a news release that it’s showing mold “can be a beautiful thing” to highlight removing artificial preservatives from the Whopper in most European countries and in select U.S. markets. Unlike viral images and videos that have shown restaurant burgers changing very little over several years, the Burger King ad is a time-lapse referencing the number of days passed since the sandwich was prepared and showing the growth of mold..."

14 F. high in the Twin Cities on Wednesday.

30 F. average high on February 19.

22 F. high on February 19, 2019.

February 20, 1981: Due to the long spell of warm weather in the 60s, a farmer near Le Center is plowing some alfalfa ground.

THURSDAY: Some sun, chilly. Winds: SW 7-12. High: 14

FRIDAY: Peeks of sun, milder. Winds: SW 15-25. Wake-up: 15. High: 38

SATURDAY: Partly sunny and pleasant. Winds: SW 8-13. Wake-up: 24. High: 41

SUNDAY: Intervals of sun, March mush. Winds: W 8-13. Wake-up: 27. High: 42

MONDAY: Mostly cloudy, storm stays south. Winds: NE 8-13. Wake-up: 28. High: 37

TUESDAY: Cloudy with a cooler breeze. Winds: NE 10-15. Wake-up: 22. High: 32

WEDNESDAY: Clouds, a few passing flakes. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 19. High: 28

Climate Stories....

How Warming Winters Are Affecting Everything. NPR has an overview with a local angle: "...Peter Boulay of the Minnesota State Climatology Office says warming can also be a challenge for ice fishing, a sport that draws thousands of anglers. He says some Minnesota lakes froze up early last fall, but then a mid-November warming compromised the ice. Heavy snow on top of that led to slushy conditions that aren't conducive to safe fishing. Then January brought some nights with overnight lows as much as 10 degrees above normal. Some Minnesotans are cutting the season short. But Boulay says where there is solid ice, temperatures in the 20s or even 30s can be welcome. "It's not very comfortable sitting on a bucket when it's below zero..."

Biblical Swarms of Locusts Plaguing Eastern Africa. Bloomberg Green has a harrowing story; here are excerpts: "...The United Nations has warned of an unprecedented threat to food security in a part of the world where millions already face hunger. And the situation will probably get worse before it gets better. Experts say the outbreak—the worst in recent memory—is caused by an increased number of cyclones. If the weather trends continue, there may be more to come. “There is a link between climate change and the unprecedented locust crisis plaguing Ethiopia and East Africa,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said. “Warmer seas mean more cyclones generating the perfect breeding ground for locusts..."

Wall Street Investors React to Climate Change. ScienceDaily has an overview: "Climate change is being felt in a corner of the world different from where one might expect: Wall Street, where some of the biggest investors are starting to take action. That's the finding of a first-ever survey of institutional investors conducted in part by the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin. From banks and insurers to pension and mutual funds, 97% of 439 respondents believe global temperatures are rising. More than half say climate risks are already a factor in their investment decisions, according to "The Importance of Climate Risks for Institutional Investors" published in the March 2020 issue of The Review of Financial Studies..."

Image credit: Ars Technica.

Are Floating Hotels, Office Buildings the Answer to Rising Sea Levels? Makes sense to me. Here's a clip from The Wall Street Journal: "...For flood-prone cities like Miami, structures that rise and sink with the sea offer an alternative to waterfront construction that looks increasingly vulnerable to rising sea levels. “Climate change has definitely helped us spread our designs and ideas,” Mr. Olthuis said. So far, most of these structures are little more than elaborate houseboats. But some firms are working on multistory office, hotel and apartment buildings that could extend congested cities into the ocean. In Rotterdam’s harbor, developer RED Company is building a 54,000-square-foot, three-story, wooden, floating office building..."

Image credit: "Artist rendering of a three-story floating office building RED Company is building in Rotterdam, Netherlands." Photo: RED Company.

Jeff Bezos Commits $10 Billion to Fight Climate Change. Here's an excerpt from "Jeff Bezos is throwing his weight — and wealth — behind the fight against climate change months after Amazon employees publicly pressured him and the company to do more to address the issue. The Amazon (AMZN) CEO on Monday announced a new fund to back scientists, activists and organizations working to mitigate the impact of climate change. Bezos will commit $10 billion "to start," he said in an Instagram post. The initiative, called the Bezos Earth Fund, will begin giving out grants this summer. The $10 billion commitment constitutes less than 8% of the world's richest man's estimated $130 billion net worth. Even so, it is one of of the biggest charitable pledges ever, according to a ranking by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, behind a $36 billion commitment by billionaire Warren Buffett in 2006 and an estimated $16.4 billion pledge by Helen Walton, the late wife of Walmart (WMT) founder Sam Walton, in 2007..."

Amazon's climate announcement is here.

More perspective on the pledge from Forbes.

Permafrost is Thawing So Fast It's Gouging Holes in the Arctic. Big Think has an update: "Residents of the small Alaskan town Kongiganak can no longer bury their dead. Their cemetery has become a marshy swamp, sucking graves into the once frozen ground. On the island of Sarichef near the Bering Strait, the village of Shishmaref is shrinking so fast locals are considering relocating it entirely. Global warming has shown that permafrost is not so permanent after all. And as it begins to melt, it is reshaping the Arctic. The rapidly thawing ice layer is creating great sinkholes and hollows across the region as the ground begins to collapse in on itself. Erosion and landslides have become a problem without the ice that once held the soil together..."

Weathercasters Are Talking About Climate Change - And How We Can Solve It. No kidding. Grist has details: "For many years, as the science of human-caused climate change grew ever clearer, TV meteorologists avoided discussing the topic on air. Today, many weathercasters bring up climate change regularly. By embracing the science and presenting it in a simple, locally-relevant manner, TV meteorologists have managed to become some of the most effective and trustworthy climate change educators in the country. Now some meteorologists are taking the conversation a step further and talking not just about the science of climate change, but how we can solve it. At the 100th annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) in Boston earlier this month, a panel of broadcast meteorologists, climate communicators, and policy experts assembled to discuss how solutions to the climate crisis can be woven into TV weather reporting..."

Photo credit: "Elisa Raffa, the morning meteorologist at KOLR 10 in Springfield, Missouri, presents a climate solutions segment." Courtesy of Climate Matters.