Paul Douglas is a nationally respected meteorologist with 35 years of television and radio experience. A serial entrepreneur, Douglas is Senior Meteorologist and Founder of Media Logic Group. Douglas and a team of meteorologists, engineers and developers provide weather services for various media at Broadcast Weather, high-tech alerting and briefing services for companies via Alerts Broadcaster and weather data, apps and API’s from Aeris Weather. His speaking engagements take him around the Midwest with a message of continuous experimentation and reinvention, no matter what business you’re in. He is the public face of “SAVE”, Suicide Awareness, Voices of Education, based in Bloomington. | Send Paul a question.

Warming Trend - Spring Returns Next Week

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: March 27, 2015 - 10:57 PM

Warming Trend

"People don't notice whether it's winter or summer when they're happy" wrote Anton Chekhov. Apparently Anton never hung out in Minnesota, where, when we discuss the day's weather, we often smile through gritted teeth. Late March in Minnesota is boom-bust, all or nothing, the beauty and the beast. Anything goes.

Exhibit A, tomorrow's date in 1924: eleven inches of snow swamped the Twin Cities. In 1969 the mercury sank to -5F. But 1986 brought a hot front with a record 83 degrees. All on the same date in late March. Throw in river flooding and occasional March tornadoes and now you know why meteorologists are cross-eyed this time of year.

Nothing quite that extreme is brewing anytime soon, I'm happy to report. The greater the swing in temperature the faster the wind has to blow to keep the atmosphere in an uneasy state of equilibrium. Translation: windy today as temperatures recover from a chilling rerun of February. 50s return Sunday; a few are 60s likely next week - punctuated by a midweek rumble of thunder. Cooler weather returns late next week - keep a jacket handy.

With most of Minnesota in moderate drought there will be no whining about rainy days.

Let it rain. Please.


Showery - But No Soaking Rain Events. I keep waiting for a big, sloppy southern storm to push north across the Great Plains, supercharged with moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. We'll have to wait a bit longer; a few waves of (light) showers into next week, with heaviest rainfall amounts middle Mississippi Valley and Pacific Northwest. Map: NOAA.


Sunday Showers. NAM guidance from NOAA shows a fast-moving frontal boundary pushing (rain) showers across Minnesota and the Upper Midwest Sunday morning. The map above shows predicted 60-hour accumulated precipitation amounts. Animation: Ham Weather.


Moderate Extended Outlook. 500 mb forecast winds (GFS) valid the evening of April 10 show a zonal flow, one likely to create temperatures close to average for the second week of April, a relatively dry zonal flow that doesn't favor significant moisture reaching Minnesota. Source: GrADS:COLA/IGES.


Warmer Bias Returns in March. Dr. Mark Seeley provides perspective on a statewide basis; here's an excerpt of WeatherTalk: "...It appears that March will wrap up bringing higher temperatures and more moisture the last few days of the month. Most observers will report a mean monthly temperature from 4 to 7 degrees F warmer than normal (mean values), and total precipitation that is less than normal. Extremes for the month were 78F at Browns Valley on the 15th and -40F at Cotton on the 5th, with the highest monthly precipitation value of close to 2 inches at Lanesboro..."


Moore, Oklahoma: Tornado Magnet. The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang has a good summary of Wednesday's tornado outbreak, and speculates on why the southern suburbs of Oklahoma City have been struck so often in recent years: "...Other than the fact it lies in the heart of tornado alley, there is no clear reason why Moore keeps getting hit by tornadoes. Studies have shown urban environments can sometimes enhance rain from thunderstorms downwind of cities (and Moore is just south of Oklahoma City), but little work has been done to determine if cities impact tornado formation..."


AccuWeather Rips National Weather Service For "Late Tornado Warning". I had no idea AccuWeather was issuing their own warnings. You can read their write-up about the recent Moore EF-1 tornado and how they approached the storm here.

Advanced Warnings Questioned After Tornado. More complaints from Moore residents highlighted in the Norman Transcript.


Overshooting Tops. This high-resolution visible image from NOAA was taken as an EF-1 tornado formed over Moore, Oklahoma. If you look carefully you can see a line of knobs on top of the overshooting thunderstorm anvil tops, marking zones of extreme upward motion, where upward motion extended into the stratosphere. Image: Ham Weather.


Tornado Seasons Like The Ones You're Used To Could Be Changing, New Studies Find. Here's the intro to a story at weather.com: "When eliminating (E)F0 tornadoes from yearly counts, which have steadily risen over the past few decades due to more extensive spotter networks, the implementation of Doppler radar, and advanced technology such as smartphones and social media, there is essentially no long-term yearly trend in the raw number of (E)F1 and stronger tornadoes. However, the number of days with at least one (E)F1+ tornado in the U.S. has fallen from an average of 150 such days in the early 1970s to around 100 days in the first decade of the 21st century, according to an October 2014 study in the journal Science..."

Graph credit above: "EF-1 Tornado Days and Active Tornado Says. Number of days each year with at least one (E)F1 tornado (black squares) and more than 30 (E)F1 tornadoes (gray triangles) from 1954-2013. Average over each decade indicated by large dots and line plots."  (Brooks et al. 2014).


Let's Give Them Something To Tweet About - - Why Periscope Matters. Dave Pell at NextDraft takes a look at how the addition of live video streaming with Periscope in Twitter may turbocharge self-publishing. All those cat videos. Here's an excerpt: "...That’s where Periscope comes in. Except in rare cases, these streamed events will not be global or even national in nature. But they will be live, we’ll know exactly who’s watching with us, and the content will be pushed through the same pipes that support our conversations around it. Live fodder for discussion and the discussion itself all on the same social network. To paraphrase the great Bonnie Raitt, Twitter had to give us something to Tweet about..."


Periscope Turns Any iPhone User Into A Live Broadcaster. Gizmag takes a look at the new app as we all distract ourselves to death: "...You can sign in using your Twitter account and start to follow people, at which point their live streams will start to appear in a feed. A simple tap means you can see the world through the eye of your new friend's smartphone camera for as long as they choose to keep the stream running. At the same time, you can leave comments or tap the screen once to send the user a Instagram-like heart to show your appreciation..."


When It Comes To Nature's Public Enemy Number One, The Mosquito Is A Modern Monster. You're preaching to the choir - here's a clip from The Australian: "They are the answer to the classic quiz question: “What is the most deadly animal on earth?” By the time contestants have debated the demerits of tigers, cobras and great white sharks scores of victims of the real worst killer will have died and other people will have been infected by the diseases it spreads. The mosquito goes about its deadly business every day, moving infections around that kill hundreds of thousands of humans every year.."

Photo credit above: "Exotic mosquitoes like this ‘Asian tiger’ are heading to the UK." Australian government, CC BY.



36 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities Friday.

47 F. average high on March 27.

40 F. high on March 27, 2014.

March 28, 1924: A drought was broken in Southern Minnesota with style as 25 inches of snow fell.


TODAY: Partly sunny, stiff breeze. Winds: S 10-20. High: 46

SATURDAY NIGHT: Increasing clouds, not as cold. Low: 36

SUNDAY: Gray, showers likely. High: 53

MONDAY: Some sun, stray late PM shower. Wake-up: 37. High: 58

TUESDAY: Plenty of sun, very pleasant. Wake-up: 40. High: 61

WEDNESDAY: Unsettled with showers, thunder? Wake-up: 48. High: near 60

THURSDAY: Drier day, cooling off a bit. Wake-up: 42. High: 53

FRIDAY: Chance of showers, mix up north. Wake-up: 37. High: 43


Climate Stories...

Keeping Global Warming at 2C Rise May Not Be Enough, Says Climate Expert. Tech Times has the story; here's a clip: "...Experts claim that the 2°C limit may still lead to shifts in rainfall patterns, the increase in sea levels and extreme natural events, such as heat waves, floods and droughts, especially in the tropics, high mountain areas and even the polar regions. Petra Tschakert, lead author of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, believes that the 2°C target may pose a threat to livelihoods and ecosystems..."

Photo credit above: "Maintaining a target of a 2°C temperature rise for the entire planet may still lead to the devastating effects of global warming, a leading climate scientist warns." Photo: USGS.


Meet The Cool Beans Designed To Beat Climate Change. NPR has a story of innovation and adaption; here's a clip: "A planet that is warming at extraordinary speed may require extraordinary new food crops. The latest great agricultural hope is beans that can thrive in temperatures that cripple most conventional beans. They're now growing in test plots of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, or CIAT, in Colombia. Many of these "heat-beater" beans resulted from a unique marriage, 20 years ago, of tradition and technology. The matchmaker was a Colombian scientist named Alvaro Mejia-Jimenez. But for almost two decades, his innovation sat on the shelf, unused..."

Photo credit above: "Steve Beebe, leader of CIAT's Bean Program, in a field of experimental bush beans at CIAT's headquarters in Colombia." Courtesy of CIAT/Neil Palmer.


Tropics Getting Warmer: Sign of Warming Times? Discovery News has the research, which mirrors what we're seeing in northern latitudes: fewer storms during the warm months, but the storms that do form tend to be larger with more intense rainfall: "...Tan's group, along with NASA, published the study. Thunderstorms play a key role in tropical weather. Thought they occur just 5 percent of the time, researchers said, they account for about half of the rainfall in the tropics. "What we are seeing is more big and organized storms and fewer small and disorganized storms," Tan said..."

Image credit above: "Large thunderstoms in the tropics are becoming more common -- and small storms less so -- increasing total rainfall." Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center.


Ted Cruz Compares Climate Change Activists to "Flat Earthers". Where To Begin? Here's an excerpt from an Op-Ed at The Washington Post: "...First, Cruz conflates the science of climate change with the politics of climate change. Scientists don't scream, "You're a denier." They point to the scientific evidence that human activity is leading to climate warming -- the evidence of which is overwhelming. (Here's the international version and the U.S. version.) There is no "evidence that disproves their apocalyptical claims," because if there were, scientists would abandon the theory. That's how science works..."


How Should Journalists Treat Candidates Who Deny Climate Change? Here's an excerpt from The Los Angeles Times: "...Climate change denial, at its core, is an economic position, not scientific. Reporters who take a basic "follow the money" approach soon discover that their path leads them to fossil fuel interests. The oil and gas industry was the second-largest source of campaign donations to Cruz, at $1.1 million in 2011-14, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. It's the leading donor to Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the Senate's top climate change denier, making $576,000 in contributions since 2009. (The second-largest donor: the utility industry, at $278,000.)..."

How American Journalists Deal With Climate Deniers. Grist has the story.

Big Swings: February Chill Today - April 60s Early Next week. Changes to Tornado Season?

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: March 26, 2015 - 10:26 PM

An Easier Spring

We all get lost in our bubbles, our personal travails, indignities and daily dramas. Weather perception often trumps reality, it seems worse than it is.

This past winter was a bargain compared to last year. Early March 2014 MSP saw as much as 21 inches of snow on the ground. This year: 2 inches. A year ago 3 feet of frost was in the ground. This year: less than a foot. Snowfall of 32.1 inches is roughly half the 62.7 inches that fell last winter, to date.

Tim Elrod asks "Does a double El Nino mean an extra hot drought in the Midwest this summer?" If I had the definitive answer to that question I'd be hanging out with Sir Richard Branson. My sketchy, semi-educated, almost reliable hunch? 2015 may bring a warmer, drier bias, based on a persistent El Nino warm phase in the Pacific and an apparent southward shift to the jet stream. I fear we'll be talking about drought much of the year. My confidence level is low - I hope I'm wrong.

Today will be a fine day (for mid-February) with a hint of spring returning by Saturday. No snow in sight; the atmosphere mild enough for rain Sunday, again next Wednesday. A few 60s are likely early next week.

Spring is coming, slowly but surely.


Perfectly Normal - For Mid February. Today will feature a fleeting temperature relapse, readings 10-15F colder than average with highs in the mid 30s. 70s are tantalizingly close. I can't promise 70F but low 60s are possible early next week. 4 pm temperature forecast for Friday courtesy of NOAA and Ham Weather.


Hints Of Spring Next Week. Today will be chilly; temperatures stuck in the 30s, but Pacific air returns early next week with highs clipping the 60-degree mark before cooling down again late next week. The atmosphere is warm enough for rain showers, especially the middle of next week. Graphic: Weatherspark.


A Slow Northward Retreat. Long range guidance (GFS) continues to show a slow northward shift to the coldest air; more of a moderate, zonal flow by April 9. Winds at 500 mb (18,000 feet) are forecast to blow from Seattle and Vancouver, meaning highs close to average. Credit: GrADS:COLA/IGES.


Moore, Oklahoma: Tornado Magnet. The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang has a good summary of Wednesday's tornado outbreak, and speculates on why the southern suburbs of Oklahoma City have been struck so often in recent years: "...Other than the fact it lies in the heart of tornado alley, there is no clear reason why Moore keeps getting hit by tornadoes. Studies have shown urban environments can sometimes enhance rain from thunderstorms downwind of cities (and Moore is just south of Oklahoma City), but little work has been done to determine if cities impact tornado formation..."


Tornado Seasons Like The Ones You're Used To Could Be Changing, New Studies Find. Here's the intro to a story at weather.com: "When eliminating (E)F0 tornadoes from yearly counts, which have steadily risen over the past few decades due to more extensive spotter networks, the implementation of Doppler radar, and advanced technology such as smartphones and social media, there is essentially no long-term yearly trend in the raw number of (E)F1 and stronger tornadoes. However, the number of days with at least one (E)F1+ tornado in the U.S. has fallen from an average of 150 such days in the early 1970s to around 100 days in the first decade of the 21st century, according to an October 2014 study in the journal Science..."

Graph credit above: "EF-1 Tornado Days and Active Tornado Says. Number of days each year with at least one (E)F1 tornado (black squares) and more than 30 (E)F1 tornadoes (gray triangles) from 1954-2013. Average over each decade indicated by large dots and line plots."  (Brooks et al. 2014)


Snowflakes Aren't Even Like Themselves, New 3D Images Reveal. Here's an excerpt of an interesting article from LiveScience and Yahoo News: "You've heard that no two snowflakes are alike, but it gets even more complicated: The two sides of the same snowflake aren't even alike. Now, researchers using a cutting-edge 3D camera are able to use these imperfections to update estimates of road slickness and other storm impacts, improving winter weather warnings in real time and saving lives..."


Troubled National Weather Web Sites Among Government's Most Popular. Here's a clip from an Andrew Freedman story at Mashable: "...Uccellini readily admitted that the NWS' warning and forecast dissemination system "is broken." “We are very aggressively trying to replace our dissemination system,” he told Mashable last year. “I’m not walking away or trying to hide.” The NWS has been prevented from developing its own mobile apps because of statutes that forbid it from competing with the private weather sector..."


When It Comes To Nature's Public Enemy Number One, The Mosquito Is A Modern Monster. You're preaching to the choir - here's a clip from The Australian: "They are the answer to the classic quiz question: “What is the most deadly animal on earth?” By the time contestants have debated the demerits of tigers, cobras and great white sharks scores of victims of the real worst killer will have died and other people will have been infected by the diseases it spreads. The mosquito goes about its deadly business every day, moving infections around that kill hundreds of thousands of humans every year.."

Photo credit above: "Exotic mosquitoes like this ‘Asian tiger’ are heading to the UK." Australian government, CC BY


37 F. high in the Twin Cities Thursday.

47 F. average high on March 26.

40 F. high on March 26, 2014.

0" snow on the ground in the Twin Cities (at MSP International Airport).

March 27, 1946: A record of 78 is set at Redwood Falls.


TODAY: Cold sun, touch of February. Winds: N 5-10. High: 36

FRIDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy. Low: 23

SATURDAY: Windy, turning milder with more clouds than sun. High: 44

SUNDAY: Mild breeze, rain showers likely. Wake-up: 34. High: 53

MONDAY: Intervals of sun, springy. Wake-up: 31. High: 57

TUESDAY: Partly sunny, pleasantly mild. Wake-up: 41. High: 62

WEDNESDAY: Balmy, few T-storms possible. Wake-up: 48. High: 63

THURSDAY: Mostly cloudy and cooler. Wake-up: 43. High: 52


Climate Stories...

Meet The Cool Beans Designed To Beat Climate Change. NPR has a story of innovation and adaption; here's a clip: "A planet that is warming at extraordinary speed may require extraordinary new food crops. The latest great agricultural hope is beans that can thrive in temperatures that cripple most conventional beans. They're now growing in test plots of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, or CIAT, in Colombia. Many of these "heat-beater" beans resulted from a unique marriage, 20 years ago, of tradition and technology. The matchmaker was a Colombian scientist named Alvaro Mejia-Jimenez. But for almost two decades, his innovation sat on the shelf, unused..."

Photo credit above: "Steve Beebe, leader of CIAT's Bean Program, in a field of experimental bush beans at CIAT's headquarters in Colombia." Courtesy of CIAT/Neil Palmer.


Tropics Getting Warmer: Sign of Warming Times? Discovery News has the research, which mirrors what we're seeing in northern latitudes: fewer storms during the warm months, but the storms that do form tend to be larger with more intense rainfall: "...Tan's group, along with NASA, published the study. Thunderstorms play a key role in tropical weather. Thought they occur just 5 percent of the time, researchers said, they account for about half of the rainfall in the tropics. "What we are seeing is more big and organized storms and fewer small and disorganized storms," Tan said..."

Image credit above: "Large thunderstoms in the tropics are becoming more common -- and small storms less so -- increasing total rainfall." Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center.


Ted Cruz Compares Climate Change Activists to "Flat Earthers". Where To Begin? Here's an excerpt from an Op-Ed at The Washington Post: "...First, Cruz conflates the science of climate change with the politics of climate change. Scientists don't scream, "You're a denier." They point to the scientific evidence that human activity is leading to climate warming -- the evidence of which is overwhelming. (Here's the international version and the U.S. version.) There is no "evidence that disproves their apocalyptical claims," because if there were, scientists would abandon the theory. That's how science works..."


How Should Journalists Treat Candidates Who Deny Climate Change? Here's an excerpt from The Los Angeles Times: "...Climate change denial, at its core, is an economic position, not scientific. Reporters who take a basic "follow the money" approach soon discover that their path leads them to fossil fuel interests. The oil and gas industry was the second-largest source of campaign donations to Cruz, at $1.1 million in 2011-14, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. It's the leading donor to Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the Senate's top climate change denier, making $576,000 in contributions since 2009. (The second-largest donor: the utility industry, at $278,000.)..."

How American Journalists Deal With Climate Deniers. Grist has the story.


The Real Cost of Coal. The fundamental problem right now: the true cost of burning coal (and other fossil fuels) is not being factored into the markets. Fossil fuel companies are getting a free pass by being able to pump as much CO2 into the atmosphere as they want. Here's a snippet of an Op-Ed at The New York Times: "...This failure by the government to collect fair value for taxpayer coal is made more troubling by the climate-change implications of burning this fossil fuel. Taxpayers are already incurring major costs in responding to the effects of global warming. Coastal infrastructure is being battered by sea rise and storm surges; forests are being devastated by climate-aided pest infestations; and studies are suggesting that temperature rises have increased the likelihood of devastating droughts in California..."


Scientist Says Florida Wasting Time Debating Climate Change. The scientist is Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, and here are recent comments, courtesy of HeraldTribune.com: "Renowned scientist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson called Gov. Rick Scott's ban on official use of the terms “climate change” and “global warming” astonishing and disappointing, and held voters responsible for electing Scott and other like-minded politicians to office. “I thought as a nation we were better than this,” Tyson said. People like to blame politicians, he said, but the challenge is educating the electorate..." (Image: NASA).


U.S. Is Laggard Among Developed Nations In Understanding Climate Change. InsideClimate News has an interesting article; here's an excerpt: "...Capstick and his colleagues found that during the 1980s and 1990s, there was increasing awareness and public concern about the issue around the globe. In many countries, skepticism about the scientific evidence of climate change took hold late in the following decade, and climate quickly became a partisan issue largely because of the global recession and concern that taking action would hurt economies. But while most countries have since moved away from this partisan divide, the political split over climate change has only widened in the U.S., Capstick said. This reflects fossil fuel-funded denial campaigns and the widening ideological divide between conservative and progressives in the U.S. Australia and the U.K. have similar divides..."

Still Breezy and Cool Thursday Ahead

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: March 25, 2015 - 7:23 PM

Clash to Seasons
By Todd Nelson 

I've notice a certain jump in my step lately... maybe it's the Wheaties, maybe it's the additional daylight? We're sitting at 12.5 hours daylight in the Metro, nearly 3 hours 45 mins more daylight since the Winter Solstice 3 months ago. Get this, we'll still gain another near 3 hours of daylight by the Summer Solstice, 3 months from now.

Yes, the additional daylight is nice. Area plant life is responding; if you look close, you'll notice tree/bush buds beginning to swell. I've seen my first few robins of the season and huge flocks of grackles and starlings... boy do they go through the bird seed fast!

Spring weather has had a bit of a wintry hangover the past week, but we picked up some much needed/beneficial moisture! In fact, the Twin Cities saw nearly 0.35" liquid from Sunday to Tuesday. That's the most precipitation in a 3-day stretch since early October! Crazy huh?

Despite recent snowfall, it appears we'll end the 3rd snowiest month of the year with a snowfall deficit around 3 next Tuesday.

It'll be cool and breezy today, but temperatures warm into the 50s by Sunday/Monday. There's a shot that we could see widespread 60s in southern MN Tuesday!

===============

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Breezy and colder. Low: 25. Winds: NW 15-25mph

THURSDAY: Breezy. More clouds than sun, chilly for late March. High: 38. Winds: NNW 10-20

THURSDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear. Less wind and chilly. Low: 17. Winds: N 5-10

FRIDAY: Who turned off the heat? Brisk. Feels like late February, but the sun is out. High: 36

SATURDAY: Breezy, turning milder with fading sun. Wake-up: 19. High: 43

SUNDAY: Rain/snow mix early. Windy. Wake-up: 34. High: 52

MONDAY: Mix of clouds and sun. Wake-up: 33. High: 53

TUESDAY: Warm, chance of widespread 60s Wake-up: 38. High: 61

WEDNESDAY: April Fools' Day. PM showers? Wake-up: 45. High: 54.

===============

This Day in Weather History
March 26th

2007: Temperature records were shattered across much of central and southern Minnesota and west central Wisconsin. The following records were set: 69 at Alexandria, 75 at Mankato, 77 at Little Falls, 79 at St Cloud, 81 at Minneapolis-St Paul and Eau Claire, 82 at Redwood Falls and 83 at Springfield.

1991: A record of 76 is set at Eau Claire.

===============

Average High/Low for Minneapolis
March 26th

Average High: 47F (Record: 81F set in 2007)
Average Low: 28F (Record: -10F set in 1996)

===============

Sunrise/Sunset Times for Minneapolis
March 26th

Sunrise: 7:05am
Sunset: 7:33pm

===============

Moon Phase for March 26th at Midnight
First Quarter

=================

Minneapolis Temperature Trend

High temps mid March were quite nice! 50s, 60s and even a 70° reading on March 15th. Since then, we've seen slightly cooler than average temperatures with a bit of much needed precipitation (snow). We'll have to endure a few more days of cooler weather, but take a look at the warming trend into next week! It's possible that we could spike near 60° by Tuesday of next week before another potential cool down into the first weekend of April/Easter Sunday.

==============

Thursday Temperature Outlook

Thursday will be a little cooler in the wake of the storm system that brought a slushy coating of snow to parts of the region PM Tuesday/AM Wednesday. Note high temperatures (left) will be in the 20s and 30s across much of the state with a few 40s possible near the Iowa border. Keep in mind that winds will still be quite brisk, so feel-like temps will more in the 10s and 20s range across the state...

Thursday Weather Outlook

The storm system exiting the region on Thursday will keep a few clouds and light snow showers in place over the Western Great Lakes Region on Thursday... Note that most of the snow potential will miss MN, but winds on the western edge of this system will still be kicking. A north/northwesterly breeze 10-20mph will make it feel more like a February day.

Ice Out on Some Lakes

According to the MN DNR, a number of lakes across southern MN are ice out. Cleary Lake south of the Twin Cities was one of the latest to be ice free. I expect of number of other lake to go ice free by next week as temperatures warm into the 50s and 60s across the southern half of the state.

See the MN DNR Ice Out map HERE:

Precipitation Past 7 Days

According to radar estimates from NOAA, precipitation over the last 7 days shows some much needed precipitation across parts of the Midwest. In fact, the Twin Cities had greatest daily precipitation value of 0.20" on Sunday, March 22nd since that of December 27th, when 0.22" of liquid fell!

Midwest Precipitation Deficit Continues

Despite seeing some recent (beneficial) precipitation, much of the Midwest is still running well below average precipitation. The image below shows the percent of average precipitation over the last 30 days. Note that most areas northwest of the Ohio River are running below the 30-day average, some of which are have only seen 2% to 10% of their 30-day average. However, areas along and south of the Ohio River are running well above the 30-day average; 150% to 200% of average!

Midwest Snowfall Deficit Continues

Season to date, many areas in the Midwest are running well below their seasonal snowfall average. However, the image below shows the 30-day percent of average snowfall. Note that thanks to some recent snow across parts of MN, WI and IA, we're a little closer to average in that 30 day period, but some folks in the Ohio Valley are running nearly 250% to 750% of their 30-day average! Remember that record snows buried parts of the Ohio Valley earlier this month.

National Snow Cover

According to NOAA's NOHRSC, 19.3% of the nation was covered by snow as of March 25th. Some of the deepest snow cover still sits across the Northeast and the higher elevations of the Intermountain West.

At this time last year, 22.6% of the nation was covered in snow with some of the deepest in the Northeast, Intermountain West and also across the Midwest!

New Severe Threats...

If you're a regular to NOAA's Storm Prediction Center website: www.spc.noaa.gov - you might have noticed the *NEW* look to the threat maps. Of course, this change occurred late last fall, but with a lack of severe weather over the winter and so far this year, it really hasn't been all that noticeable. Thanks to a little more active weather this week, we're really getting our first real look since some of the changes took place.

Q: Why is the SPC doing this?

A: A primary goal of these changes is to bring better consistency to the risks communicated in SPC outlooks, from the short-range Day 1 outlooks through the extended range Day 4-8 outlooks. The changes have been made based on customer feedback and to better meet their needs.

Example: Previously, a 10 percent tornado probability including a risk of a significant tornado (>=EF2) was categorized as a Slight Risk. This was the same category used for a "low end" 15 percent risk of severe thunderstorm wind and hail events. In the new scheme, a 10 percent tornado probability that includes the chance of significant tornadoes is categorized as an Enhanced Risk.

In addition, "See Text" did not convey a threat area, due to the lack of a contour in any "See Text" categorical forecast. And the previous "Slight Risk" category covered too broad a range of severe weather probability values.

See more from NOAA's SPC HERE:

**EXAMPLE** OLD OUTLOOK 

This is what an SPC outlook looked like prior to October 22, 2014

(SPC Outlook for 2/10/2013)

**EXAMPLE** NEW OUTLOOK

This is what that same outlook would look like under the current SPC criteria

(SPC Outlook for 2/10/2013)

SPC Categorical Risks

Here's a better understanding of what/why each individual categorical risk would be issued for...


Day 1:

a. General Thunderstorms 
          - 10% or greater probability of non-severe or near severe thunderstorms.

b. Severe Category 1 - Marginal
          - 2% tornado probability, or
          - 5% severe hail or severe wind probability.

c. Severe Category 2 - Slight 
          
- 5% tornado probability, or 
          
- 15% severe hail or severe wind probability WITH OR WITHOUT 10% or greater probability of hail 2 inches or greater in diameter, or wind gusts 75 mph or greater.

d. Severe Category 3 - Enhanced
          - 10% tornado probability WITH OR WITHOUT 10% or greater probability of an EF2+ tornado, or
          - 15% tornado probability, or - 30% severe hail or severe wind probability WITH OR WITHOUT 10% or greater probability of hail 2 inches or greater in diameter, or wind gusts 75 mph or greater, or
          - 45% probability of severe hail or wind.

e. Severe Category 4 - Moderate
          - 15% tornado probability AND 10% or greater probability of an EF2+ tornado, or
          - 30% tornado probability, or
          - 45% severe wind probability AND 10% or greater probability of a wind gusts 75 mph or greater, or
          - 45% severe hail probability AND 10% or greater probability of hail 2" or greater in diameter, or
          - 60% severe wind probability, or
          - 60% severe hail probability WITH OR WITHOUT 10% or greater probability of hail 2" or greater in diameter.

f. Severe Category 5 - High
          - 30% tornado probability AND 10% or greater probability of an EF2+ tornado, or
          - 45% or greater tornado probability WITH OR WITHOUT 10% or greater probability of an EF2+ tornado, or
          - 60% severe wind probability AND a 10% or greater probability of a wind gust 75 mph or greater.

National Weather Outlook

The storm system responsible for strong to severe thunderstorms across the central U.S. will begin to tire as it moves into the Eastern U.S. - A lack of instability and dynamics will limit severe weather potential through the rest of the week, but heavier precipitation and colder temperatures will allow for some snow potential across the Northern New England States.

Precipitation Outlook

The storm system moving through the eastern two-thirds of the nation will be responsible for some decent precipitation in spots, especially in areas where thunderstorms were ongoing across the Central U.S.

Northeast Snow Potential

The probability of snow for the Northeast looks to be ramping up once again for the end of the week. According to NOAA's HPC, the probability of 4" or more is up to 50% in light blue from western New York to western Maine.

"Global warming is now slowing down the circulation of the oceans — with potentially dire consequences"

Here's an interesting article from WashingtonPost.com about how our warming climate is affecting ocean circulation...

"According to a new study just out in Nature Climate Change by Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and a group of co-authors, we’re now seeing a slowdown of the great ocean circulation that, among other planetary roles, helps to partly drive the Gulf Stream off the U.S. east coast. The consequences could be dire – including significant extra sea level rise for coastal cities like New York and Boston."

See more from WashingtonPost.com HERE:

"Large Hadron Collider Scientists Hope to Make Contact with Parallel Universe"

"Here's another interesting article from SecondNexus.com about the interesting happenings over at CERN centre in Geneva, Switzerland. They will be firing up the 'atom smasher' this week!

The staggeringly complex LHC ‘atom smasher’ at the CERN centre in Geneva, Switzerland, will be fired up to its highest energy levels ever in a bid to detect – or even create – miniature black holes.

If successful a completely new universe will be revealed – rewriting not only the physics books but the philosophy books too.

It is even possible that gravity from our own universe may ‘leak’ into this parallel universe, scientists at the LHC say.

The experiment is sure to inflame alarmist critics of the LHC, many of whom initially warned the high energy particle collider would spell the end of our universe with the creation a black hole of its own.

But so far Geneva remains intact and comfortably outside the event horizon.

Indeed the LHC has been spectacularly successful. First scientists proved the existence of the elusive Higgs boson ‘God particle’ – a key building block of the universe – and it is seemingly well on the way to nailing ‘dark matter’ – a previously undetectable theoretical possibility that is now thought to make up the majority of matter in the universe.

But next week’s experiment is considered to be a game changer."

Thanks for checking in and have a great rest of your week! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @TNelsonWX

February Flashback - Springy 60s Next Week - Baffling Tornado Drought

Posted by: Paul Douglas under Lions Updated: March 24, 2015 - 10:43 PM

Uncharted Territory

As of Tuesday there hasn't been a single March tornado reported anywhere in the USA. You have to go back to 1969 to find a comparable month. El Nino appears to be strengthening; this pervasive warm phase of the Pacific Ocean forecast to linger most of 2015. Every El Nino event is different, but most favor a southerly detour of the jet stream, a shift that diminishes the threat of tornadoes and hurricanes. That southward shift in steering winds may pinch off much of our moisture; I'm worried about an intensifying drought.

ECMWF guidance shows a potentially significant rain event brewing for the middle of next week, possibly ending as wet snow on April 1. A foul April Fool's joke. Out ahead of this rare "storm" temperatures surge to near 60F Monday and Tuesday. That partially makes up for any late-season goosebumps tomorrow & Friday, when a fresh sweep of Canadian air keeps highs in the 30s.

And last night's minor slush event? My favorite banker at Northern Trust, Jeff Huybrecht, wrote: "The great thing about a March snow is that it's usually beautiful (wet snow that sticks to trees), melts quickly from roads and driveways, and provides needed moisture. What's not to like?"


Colder Surge - Then Spring Returns Next Week. At least the sun will be out Thursday and Friday, when highs may not climb out of the 30s in the Twin Cities. A milder Pacific breeze kicks in over the weekend, the warmest temperatures early next week out ahead of a system that may pull steadier rain into Minnesota by midweek.


Another Spring Fling. After hovering about 5-10F colder than average into Saturday the mercury gets a nice boost next week with 50s and a few 60s the first half of the week. A period of rain midweek gives way to another cold front by the end of next week. Graphic: Weatherspark.


Moderating Temperatures Second Week of April. Within 2 weeks winds aloft (500 mb) are forecast to be strong and zonal, meaning highs mostly in the 50s. The pattern in early April still doesn't look ripe for significant rain. Map: GrADS:COLA/IGES.


Flashes of Warmth. This is pretty typical for late March and early April; oscillating between 30s and slush to 60s and outbreaks of spring fever. Such will be the case in early April with highs mostly in the 50s, a few days of 40s and 60s, but nothing too outrageous in the temperature department. GFS data above: NOAA.


Odd Tornado Drought of 2015 Puts U.S. Into "Uncharted Territory". Here's a clip from a story at weather.com: "...There has still not been a single tornado reported anywhere in the U.S. so far in March 2015, through March 22. Only one other March – in 1969 – has gone tornadoless so deep in the month, according to reliable records dating to 1950. March 1969 had its first tornado of the month on March 23. The lowest U.S. March tornado count was six in 1951, though you could argue some weaker tornadoes may have been unobserved back then, in the pre-smartphone, pre-Doppler radar era. While March is not typically one of the most active months, March has averaged 78 tornadoes in the U.S. over the past 20 years, according to Forbes..."


Experimental Forecast Projects Tornado Season. A low-grade El Nino is already producing conditions downwind generally unfavorable for tornado formation - but there are exceptions to every rule. Here's a clip from Climate Central: "...El Niño tends to tamp down on tornadoes because it shifts the jet stream further south over the U.S., which blocks moisture from flowing northward from the Gulf of Mexico. The moisture is one of the key ingredients for fostering the unstable, stormy atmospheric environment on which tornadoes thrive. La Niña acts in the opposite way, pushing the jet stream to the north and letting that moisture penetrate further into the heart of the country. Some of the biggest outbreaks in history — including the 1974 Super Outbreak, as well as the devastating 2011 season — occurred during La Niña years..."


Storm Chasers Suddenly Out Of Work As Tornadoes Vanish in U.S. Bloomberg has more details on the weather pattern that is producing such a quiet March: "...The mechanics of the weather pattern causing heat in the West and cold in the East are easy to trace -- a ridge of high pressure in the eastern Pacific and a trough of low pressure across central North America have locked in place. The pattern “is exactly the opposite of the pattern you need to get an active tornado period in late winter and early spring,” said Todd Crawford, a meteorologist at WSI in Andover, Massachusetts. Severe weather is usually more common when the West is cool and the East is warm, Crawford said. The chances of that happening anytime soon look slim..."


Welcome To The "Double El Nino" - And More Extreme Weather. Although El Nino tends to often tamp down tornadoes and hurricanes for the USA it can spike extreme weather (and temperatures) worldwide. Here's the intro to a story at PRI, Public Radio International: "We’re about to experience a “double El Niño” — a rare weather phenomenon that climatologists had warned about several months ago. That means two consecutive years of the concentration of warm water in the Pacific Ocean that brings West Coast storms, quiet hurricane seasons in the Atlantic and busy ones in the Pacific. The danger is that this could mean more than a few months of odd weather, but instead usher in a new phase of climate change. Last year was the warmest year on record; 2015 looks set to be even warmer..."

Image credit: "El Niño Makes Atlantic hurricanes less likely." Credit: NOAA/ National Climatic Data Center.


A More Significant (Longer Duration) El Nino Event in 2015? The Pacific continues to warm and factors may be converging to prolong some of this warmth into the end of 2015. Expect more warm weather records to be broken. Chart above: NOAA.


Snowflakes Aren't Even Like Themselves, New 3D Images Reveal. Here's an excerpt of an interesting article from LiveScience and Yahoo News: "You've heard that no two snowflakes are alike, but it gets even more complicated: The two sides of the same snowflake aren't even alike. Now, researchers using a cutting-edge 3D camera are able to use these imperfections to update estimates of road slickness and other storm impacts, improving winter weather warnings in real time and saving lives..."


Troubled National Weather Web Sites Among Government's Most Popular. Here's a clip from an Andrew Freedman story at Mashable: "...Uccellini readily admitted that the NWS' warning and forecast dissemination system "is broken." “We are very aggressively trying to replace our dissemination system,” he told Mashable last year. “I’m not walking away or trying to hide.” The NWS has been prevented from developing its own mobile apps because of statutes that forbid it from competing with the private weather sector..."


U.N. Report Warns of Serious Water Shortages Within 15 Years. TIME has the story; here's the introduction: "If we continue on our current trajectory, warns the report, we'll only have 60% of the water we need in 2030 The world will only have 60% of the water it needs by 2030 without significant global policy change, according to a new report from the U.N. While countries like India are rapidly depleting their groundwater, rainfall patterns around the world are becoming more unpredictable due to global warming, meaning there will be less water in reserves..."


The War Over Who Steve Jobs Was. Backchannel at medium.com has an interesting look at the movement to clean up the iGenius's image and ongoing legacy. Frankly I don't even care if he was an a-hole. He pushed people to do things they didn't even know they could accomplish and put a sizable dent in the (digital) universe. That's quite enough for one life. Here's an excerpt from the article: "...Isaacson’s eponymous biography of Jobs became a publishing phenomenon, selling over a million copies and making Isaacson himself somewhat of a celebrity. But privately, those closest to Jobs complained that Isaacson’s portrait focused too heavily on the Apple CEO’s worst behavior, and failed to present a 360-degree view of the person they knew. Though the book Steve Jobs gave copious evidence of its subject’s talent and achievements, millions of readers finished the book believing that he could be described with a word that rhymes with “gas hole...”


To Move Beyond Boom and Bust We Need A New Theory of Capitalism. Is there a better, smarter, more sustainable way to run the markets? Here's an excerpt from The Guardian: "...Minsky’s genius was to show that financially complex capitalism is inherently unstable. Under conditions of stability, firms, banks and households will, over time, move from a position where their income pays off their debt, to one where it can only meet the interest payments on it. Finally, as instability rises, and central banks respond by expanding the supply of money, people end up borrowing just to pay back interest. The price of shares, homes and commodities rockets. Bust becomes inevitable..."


Driverless Cars Will Shield The Haves From The Have-Nots. Redefining the meaning of a "bubble"? Here's a clip from a story at Fusion: "...That’s one of the things I found most interesting — and disturbing — about Mercedes’ vision of the future. It is the wealth bubble incarnate. It’s easy to forget there are housing projects, homeless people on the street, shelters, food desserts, etc. when you literally never have to see them. Not even in passing. Cars have always provided distance and protection from the wider world, but Benz’s F 015 takes it to a whole new level. Yes, it’s just a concept. But this is what a radically unequal world could look like in 15 years..."


Waterspout Tears Through Beach in Brazil. Here's a link to a few video clips, courtesy of Huffington Post. Call me crazy, but if a funnel is approaching you might not want to just stand on the beach: "A relaxing day at the beach turned dark after a waterspout made landfall over Candeias Beach in Brazil earlier this month. At first, according to Slate, beachgoers watched the waterspout from the beach as it churned over the ocean at a distance. The waterspout then moved quickly onto the beach, blowing debris and palm fronds in the air, according to a local report from Brazilian news site NE10..."


38 F. high on Tuesday in the Twin Cities.

45 F. average high on March 24.

31 F. high on March 24, 2014.

30.8" snow so far this winter season at KMSP.

62.7" snow fell last winter, as of March 24, 2014.

March 25, 2007: Record warmth with 72 degrees at Owatonna, MN, 77 at Menomonie, WI and 80 at Eau Claire, WI.

March 25, 1981: An F2 tornado hits Morrison county and does 25 thousand dollars worth of damage.


TODAY: Coating of slush early? Windy with more clouds than sun. Winds: W 15-30. High: 42

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Patchy clouds, turning colder. Low: 21

THURSDAY: More clouds than sun, chilly for late March. High: 38

FRIDAY: Who turned off the heat? Brisk. Feels like late February, but the sun is out. Wake-up: 22. High: 35

SATURDAY: Breezy, turning milder with fading sun. Wake-up: 23. High: 44

SUNDAY: Mild, springy start. Late shower? Wake-up: 35. High: 54

MONDAY: Plenty of sun, pleasant. Wake-up: 33. High: 57

TUESDAY: Mild sun, first clap of thunder? Wake-up: 40. High: 62

* Heavier, steadier rain is possible next Wednesday as temperatures begin to fall.


Climate Stories...

The Real Cost of Coal. The fundamental problem right now: the true cost of burning coal (and other fossil fuels) is not being factored into the markets. Fossil fuel companies are getting a free pass by being able to pump as much CO2 into the atmosphere as they want. Here's a snippet of an Op-Ed at The New York Times: "...This failure by the government to collect fair value for taxpayer coal is made more troubling by the climate-change implications of burning this fossil fuel. Taxpayers are already incurring major costs in responding to the effects of global warming. Coastal infrastructure is being battered by sea rise and storm surges; forests are being devastated by climate-aided pest infestations; and studies are suggesting that temperature rises have increased the likelihood of devastating droughts in California..."


Scientist Says Florida Wasting Time Debating Climate Change. The scientist is Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, and here are recent comments, courtesy of HeraldTribune.com: "Renowned scientist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson called Gov. Rick Scott's ban on official use of the terms “climate change” and “global warming” astonishing and disappointing, and held voters responsible for electing Scott and other like-minded politicians to office. “I thought as a nation we were better than this,” Tyson said. People like to blame politicians, he said, but the challenge is educating the electorate..." (Image: NASA).


U.S. Is Laggard Among Developed Nations In Understanding Climate Change. InsideClimate News has an interesting article; here's an excerpt: "...Capstick and his colleagues found that during the 1980s and 1990s, there was increasing awareness and public concern about the issue around the globe. In many countries, skepticism about the scientific evidence of climate change took hold late in the following decade, and climate quickly became a partisan issue largely because of the global recession and concern that taking action would hurt economies. But while most countries have since moved away from this partisan divide, the political split over climate change has only widened in the U.S., Capstick said. This reflects fossil fuel-funded denial campaigns and the widening ideological divide between conservative and progressives in the U.S. Australia and the U.K. have similar divides..."


Carbon Price Should Increase Up To 200% To Avoid Tipping Point, Study Says. Blue and Green Tomorrow has the story - here's an excerpt: "...In order to avoid dangerous levels of climate change and crossing irreversible tipping points in the future, the price of carbon should be increased by up to 200%, according to a new study. Researchers from the Universities of Exeter, Zurich, Stanford and Chicago have urged policymakers not to discount the damages from future climate tipping points. The study, which has been published the journal Nature Climate Change, argues that the prospect of future tipping points should greatly increase the amount we are willing to pay now to limit climate change..."


Science Museums Urged To Cut Ties With Kochs. The New York Times reports; here's the introduction: "Dozens of climate scientists and environmental groups are calling for museums of science and natural history to “cut all ties” with fossil fuel companies and philanthropists like the Koch brothers. A letter released on Tuesday asserts that such money is tainted by these donors’ efforts to deny the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change..." (File photo: AP, Phelan M. Ebenhack).


Cyclone Pam Is Just The Start. Newsweek puts the super-cyclone (same thing as a typhoon and hurricane) into perspective; here's an excerpt: "In the wake of island nation Vanuatu’s devastation by Cyclone Pam, in which 320 mile-per-hour winds killed dozens of people and destroyed 90 percent of the buildings in the capital city of Port Vila, public health experts fear that the country's ruined infrastructure will result in mass starvation and epidemics of disease. As the rate of global climate change continues to increase, such tragedies will become more and more common around the world. Vanuatu is not alone..."

Image credit above: "An aerial view of the destruction after Cyclone Pam hit Port Vila, capital city of the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, on March 17, 2015." .


A Slow-Down In The North Atlantic Conveyer Belt? There was always concern among scientists that melting of (fresh) water, mainly from a rapidly melting Greenland, might impact the broad Atlantic Ocean circulation pattern. Chris Mooney has details of new research at The Washington Post; here's an excerpt: "...According to a new study just out in Nature Climate Change by Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and a group of co-authors, we’re now seeing a slowdown of the great ocean circulation that, among other planetary roles, helps to partly drive the Gulf Stream off the U.S. east coast. The consequences could be dire – including significant extra sea level rise for coastal cities like New York and Boston..."

* The paper at Nature Climate Change is here.

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