Blue Juice Season
The need for blue juice (some call it "windshield washer solution") is a good sign, at least if you're ready for spring. Today the sun is as high in the sky as it was on Halloween. We've picked up 94 minutes of daylight since the Winter Solstice. Nice to have a little light when you stagger out of bed.
I happen to like snow (especially when it's not on I-494) but to those who merely tolerate the white stuff cue the confetti: only 15 more days of "meteorological winter" remain. Historically, the coldest 90 days come from roughly December 1 to March 1. You can already see signs of a higher sun angle, like puddles when it's still below 32F. Consider this, we've seen 29.4" snow - twice what we had picked up last winter at this time.
Snow cover acts as a brake on temperatures, keeping us 5 to 15F cooler than we would be with brown ground.
My gut: no March heatwaves in 2013. And encouragingly, southern moisture is finally creeping north again. If this trend continues the drought could slowly fade in coming months.
A snowy coating-1" from a clipper tonight gives way to a couple of cold fronts, but nothing like last month (perhaps 2-3 days with highs in the teens).
I see 30s and a better chance of snow or rain by the last few days of February. Not exactly a "warm front", but better....
Upper Midwest Clipper - Minor Coastal Storm. The 84 hour NAM snowfall forecast through late Friday night shows a narrow carpet of 1-2" for much of central and northern Minnesota, as much as 3" over North Dakota and northern Wisconsin. A weak coastal storm may drop a plowable snowfall on southern New Jersey, Long Island and Cape Cod.
Ups And Downs. We enjoy (?) a lingering thaw today into midday tomorrow, then colder air pushes south behind an Alberta Clipper; highs stuck in the teens Friday and Saturday. A quick upward blip arrives Sunday, before another cold front early next week. Graph showing various model solutions: Iowa State.
How's Your Norwegian? If you track my blog you know that I favor this graphic, in spite of Celsius (which can scare the heck out of first-time visitors) because it leverages ECMWF (European) data for MSP. It shows highs in the low to mid 30s today, near 30 tomorrow, then colder Friday and Saturday, another surge of chilly, Canadian air Tuesday and Wednesday of next week - but not nearly as polar as the latter half of January.
Trending Stormier Again? NOAA's NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) forecast shows a negative trend the latter half of February - hinting at a "wavier" jet stream: more dips and bulges capable of spinning up storms. No big southern storms are brewing (yet) but I wouldn't be surprised to see a couple of storms approaching from the Plains by the last week of February.
Some Areas Snowbound, Four Days After Blizzard. This is what happens when an entire state is smothered under 2-3 feet of snow. Here's an excerpt from The Hartford Courant: "Pockets of the state remained snowbound Tuesday as residents in areas buried with up to 40 inches of snow spent a fourth day stuck in their homes and schools officials canceled classes, in one case into next week. "It's almost like house arrest here," said Haren Vasavada, a 58-year-old scientist, who said he's been essentially trapped with his wife and 15-year-old daughter in their house on Farm Brook Court in Hamden since Friday. "I don't see any activity here from my street. ... I don't see any plows. I don't see any trucks." Vasavada, who's been working out of his house, was able to clear out part of his driveway so that a car can be driven. But he can't drive anywhere because there was still 3 feet of snow in the street, which has about a dozen houses..."
Photo credit above: "Sharon Jackson and her dog Murphy look at Buckingham Street in Meriden on Tuesday. "We live on that street, and we cannot believe that it has not been plowed in four days!" (Alan Chaniewski| - Fox CT ORG XMIT: HC0311 / February 12, 2013)
What's Impacting Great Lakes Water Levels? You may have heard that both Lake Michigan and Lake Huron just reached the lowest lake water levels on record. Here are more details from a story at michiganradio.org; here's an excerpt: "The Great Lakes are experiencing low water levels. Lakes Huron and Michigan just reached record lows, and Governor Snyder recently called for an emergency action plan to address the problem. One our Facebook friends, Debbiedoe Nash, wrote this morning:
Over the last few years the waterline has dropped so far at our property on Huron that what once was the beach now has about two hundred feet of rocky swamp in front of it. Yikes.
So what are the causes behind these low lake levels? We spoke with a few experts who gave us a run down of the factors, big and small, contributing to the extreme lows..." (Image above: NASA).
219 Consecutive Days Without A U.S. Tornado Death. Here's an interesting story from Weather Underground and EarthSky: "On Wednesday, January 30, 2013, a strong cold front pushed through the eastern United States and triggered severe thunderstorms. Around 11:15 a.m. (local time) in Adairsville, Georgia, a supercell formed a strong EF-3 tornado that destroyed approximately 60 structures, damaged at least 95 structures, and killed one man. The one death in Georgia ended the longest continuous stretch without a tornado death ever recorded in the United States at 219 days. According to Dr. Jeff Masters of Weather Underground, the last death to occur in the U.S. was at Venus in Highlands County, Florida, from an EF-0 tornado that was associated with Tropical Storm Debby on June 24, 2012. In the case of the January 30 tornado, warnings were issued well in advance with a lead time of around 20 minutes. In this post, we will look at some incredible video that came from this strong tornado and look at the issues that occurred while these storms hit the southeast in the morning and early afternoon hours..."
Comprehensive Report On Tropical Cyclone Sandy. It's a 157 page PDF document from NOAA, but it has some of the most comprehensive information I've yet seen about "Sandy", how it tracked and strengthened, the various factors that created what may have been a 1 in 500 year superstorm. Gulf Stream waters were unusually warm (graphic above), one of many variables that resulted in a storm 3 times larger than Katrina.
NYC Aims To Study Burying Power Lines After New York. Here's a snippet from a story at NBC New York: "Lawmakers are looking into what it would take to bury power lines around New York City after Sandy. The City Council voted Wednesday to commission a study of the issue. Sandy knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of customers around the city. Many outages endured longer in areas with overhead lines. The research will include analyzing weather-related outages for above-ground and below-ground lines. The study also will estimate the cost of burying lines and recommend where that would make most sense. Planning officials are to conduct the study..."
Photo credit above: "Andrew Varney, a power lineman from Canton, NY, frees a pine tree stuck in lines in Scituate, Mass., Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013. A howling storm across the Northeast left the New York-to-Boston corridor shrouded in 1 to 3 feet of snow Saturday, stranding motorists on highways overnight and piling up drifts so high that some homeowners couldn't get their doors open. More than 650,000 homes and businesses were left without electricity." (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
New Study Helps Pinpoint El Nino Impacts. Not all El Nino events are created equal; new tools and technology may help to differentiate the garden variety warmings of Pacific water from the extreme events (like 1998). Here's an excerpt from The Summit County Citizens Voice: "A new study that sorts El Niño events into two categories could help forecasters develop better long-range forecasts to predict how the periodic warming of equatorial East Pacific waters may affect winter weather. Part of the data for the research came from an array of buoys across the Pacific called the TAO-Triton array. The buoys observes conditions in the upper ocean to forecast El Niño months in advance, and for monitoring it as it grows and decays. After analyzing all El Niño events since 1979, the NOAA and University of Washington scientists said the El Niños that show a drop in outgoing long-wave radiation from the tops of deep convective clouds are the ones that tend to play havoc with winter weathers..."
"Earth Will Have 15 Minutes To Protect Electronics." How quickly can you turn off all the computers and gadgets in your home or office? Here's an excerpt of a hair-raising story at wnd.com "Scientists around the globe are joining those in the United States in becoming alarmed at the possibility of a plasma cloud from a solar superstorm that could wipe out vast electronics networks, because they say Earth would have only a notice of about 15 minutes. U.S. space scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrator and the National Aeronautic Space Administration’s Goddard Space Flight Center have been expressing concern over what is fast becoming a “solar storm maximum.”
Report: NFL Plans Delay If Blizzard Strikes Superbowl (2014). Here's an excerpt of a story at Yahoo Sports that caught my eye: "It was 23 degrees with the windchill factor at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. when Super Bowl XLVII kicked off in the climate-controlled Superdome in New Orleans. The NFL is prepared for cold, but contingency plans are being made for how to respond to ominous weather forecasts that might include ice, snow or blizzard conditions when the Super Bowl is played Feb. 2, 2014 -- outdoors at Giants Stadium. According to Sports Business Journal, the league is weighing appropriate response action to a severe weather event like the nor'easter that dumped more than two feet of snow in the Boston area last weekend..." (Photo above: Yahoo Sports).
DAPRA's New 1.8 Gigapixel Camera Is A Super High-Resolution Eye In The Sky. Another compelling reason not to get an all-over tan, even in the (alleged) privacy of your own back yard. Details from gizmag.com: "DARPA recently revealed information on its ARGUS-IS (Autonomous Real-Time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance Imaging System), a surveillance camera that uses hundreds of smartphone image sensors to record a 1.8 gigapixel image. Designed for use in an unmanned drone (probably an MQ-1 Predator), from an altitude of 20,000 ft (6,100 m) ARGUS can keep a real-time video eye on an area 4.5 miles (7.2 km) across down to a resolution of about six inches (15 cm)..."
Snowboard With A Brake? This will get me off the dime! Gizmag has the story; here's an excerpt: "For years, snowboarding novices have been forced to meet the sport with a combination of terror and pain. Even the smallest bunny hill is horrifying to look at when your legs are locked into a device that you have no idea how to use. One wrong move and you're eating an unpleasant mix of snow, ice and pride. The new Streetboardz Boarder Kontrol takes some of the intimidation out of learning by giving beginners something they've always wanted: instant braking..."
36 F. high in the Twin Cities yesterday.
28 F. average high for February 12.
32 F. high on February 12, 2012.
9" snow so far in February.
3.2" normal snowfall from February 1-12.
Trace of snow reported during the first 12 days of February, 2012.
February Slush. Admit it - it felt pretty good out there yesterday with sunshine, light winds, and highs near or above 32 F. over much of Minnesota. Highs ranged from 26 at Alexandria to 31 St. Cloud, 33 at Rochester and 36 in the Twin Cities. Snow on the ground ranges from 3" at Rochester to 6" (MSP, 12" St. Cloud and 25" at International Falls.
Uh Oh. This is a troubling photo, on so many levels. Hey, where did this guy get a "Big Boy" float? Photo courtesy of theCHIVE.
Paul's Star Tribune Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:
TODAY: Sloppy thaw. Some sun giving way to increasing clouds. Winds: SW 10-15. High: 35
WEDNESDAY NIGHT: A period of snow; coating to 1" (more north of MSP). Low: 26
THURSDAY: Mostly cloudy, windy and colder with flurries. High: 28
FRIDAY: More clouds than sun. Brisk. Wake-up: 12. High: 18
SATURDAY: Cold start, clouds increase PM hours. Wake-up: 3. High: 16
SUNDAY: Partly sunny, a welcome thaw. Wake-up: 7. High: 33
MONDAY: More clouds, cooling off PM hours. Wake-up: 22. High: near 30
TUESDAY: Chilled sunshine. Wake-up: 8. High: 15
* 22 degree halo photo above courtesy of Steve Burns.
Bill McKibben Is Coming To Minnesota. From Paul Thompson, Director at coolplanetmn.org: "How can we connect people with their desire to take action on a rapidly changing climate? Can people actually do something to alter the future of history? What season to Minnesotans relate to more than any other? At Cool Planet (www.coolplanetmn.org) we believe that people will take the ncessary steps to address climate change when they make a personal connection with what is happening in THEIR world.
Bill McKibben, arguably the global leader for climate action, is coming to ski the American Birkebeiner Ski Marathon in NW Wisconsin. As cross-country skiers we have noticed a distinct lack of predictable snow over the past decade. Minnesota winters without snow? That's just not right. Here's what some Minnesotans/Wisconsinites are saying about "What I Love About Winter":
Grace, age 11, Edina: "I love, love, love ice skating and going sledding because I love the feeling of wind and snow in my face."
Jen, age 26, Whittier Neighborhood, Minneapolis: "When we actually get the snow I remember getting growing up."
Jonathan, age 54, Cable, WI: "The crunch of snow underfoot. Viewing the moon on a frigid evening. Watching my daughter make snow forts."
Kamin, age 54, Hayward, WI: "Finding wold tracks in the snow, snow shoeing and cross country skiing."
How do we get together to protect the things we love about this season that defines Minnesota and Wisconsin?
Oklahoma Farmer Challenges Obama To Roll Up His Sleeves On Climate Change. As I've said before, extreme weather is doing what climate scientists couldn't: convince a majority of logical, evidence-seeking Americans that something has changed. Here's an excerpt from Mother Nature Network: "In just a short while President Obama will be taking to the stage for his State of the Union address, and many who have suffered severely from the consequences of drought, storms, and other extreme climate events have one thing on their minds -- will Obama say the "C" word? In this video, one farmer from Oklahoma, Clay Pope, challenges the president to address the growing problem of climate change. He explains how Oklahoma farmers have been paralyzed in some parts of the state as extreme drought enters its fourth year. In 2011, Governor Mary Fallin asked all Oklahomans to "pray for rain." Sadly, since then conditions have become far worse (see the drought chart)..."
Security Risks of Climate Change And Extreme Weather. Here's an excerpt from ScienceDaily: "Increasingly frequent extreme weather events such as droughts, floods, severe storms, and heat waves have focused the attention of climate scientists on the connections between greenhouse warming and extreme weather. Because of the potential threat to U.S. national security, a new study was conducted to explore the forces driving extreme weather events and their impacts over the next decade, specifically with regard to their implications for national security planning. The report finds that the early ramifications of climate extremes resulting from climate change are already upon us and will continue to be felt over the next decade, directly impacting U.S. national security interests..."
Image credit above: "Hurricane Katrina. Predicted changes in extremes include more record high temperatures; fewer but stronger tropical cyclones; wider areas of drought and increases in precipitation; increased climate variability; Arctic warming and attendant impacts; and continued sea level rise as greenhouse warming continues and even accelerates." (Credit: NOAA)
Harvard Study. Here is a link to the PDF of the new research referenced above. A long but worthy read.
The Earth's Climate Doesn't Care What Political Party You Are A Member Of. Here's an important video, courtesy of Greg Laden's scienceblogs.com: "Climate scientist Anthony Leiserowitz drops some serious knowledge on “Moyers & Company”. In two bullet points, he describes exactly what Obama needs to say about global warming and what we can do to stop climate change. Let’s hope Obama watches Bill Moyers videos."
Canadian Doctors Urged To Fight Climate Change. Climate Central has the story; here's an excerpt: "Scientists began talking seriously about some dangers of climate change more than 30 years ago — rising seas, changing weather patterns, more rain in rainy places and more drought in dry places, and more. But the risks that lie outside their areas of expertise have taken longer to draw attention — especially in the area of human health. That has started to change, however, as medical professionals have begun to understand how a changing climate could lead to all sorts public health problems — increased mortality as heat waves become more intense and more common; a rising incidence of allergies; the spread of infectious diseases into new areas; and more. The latest evidence of this growing awareness: an editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that lays out the facts and urges doctors to become more vocal in demanding action against climate change..."