Sideswiped by Snow - Mild Trend Into Next Week

According to the U.S. Census Bureau Minnesota's population in 2014 was 5.457 million. Which means there should, in theory, be 5.457 million individual weather forecasts going out. The Internet has disrupted not only media and countless industries, but weather. The democratization of data is well underway. No more gatekeepers - now everyone has access to the web pages and apps they need to stay informed, personalized for their GPS location, calendars, commutes and wish lists.

No more one-size-fits-all weather.

Issuing one forecast for the metro on a day like this is an exercise in futility. Today's "storm" should drop a coating over far northern Anoka County, while parts of Scott and Dakota county may see plowable amounts (over 3 or 4 inches). Surface temperatures hold near 32F, meaning many freeways will stay wet.

Until further notice winter has been neutered. We cool off slightly later this week, but ECMWF guidance shows 4 or 5 days above freezing next week. Considering it could be -15F right now I'm counting my atmospheric blessings. Today? A cosmetic snowfall for most of us.

Animation credit: NOAA's 12 KM NAM model shows a streak of plowable snow spreading across southern Minnesota and Iowa into Wisconsin, the immediate Twin Cities brushed with an inch or two, more south of the Minnesota River. Lake effect snows kick in later this week as the atmosphere calms down a bit; a welcome dry spell for the western USA after a parade of damaging storms.

An Urge to Ski Rochester. The heaviest snow bands set up over far southern Minnesota along I-90, where some 6-9" snowfall totals are possible before the flakes subside later today. So close...

Not Bad For The Dead of Winter. True, our coldest weather usually comes around January 15-18, but late January can be brutal. Nothing forbidding is shaping up, at least looking out 2 weeks, with temperatures consistently above average into next week; nothing subzero for the MSP metro thru Feb. 7. ECMWF temperatures: WeatherBell.

Temperature Anomalies Next 10 Days. Here is the (GFS) predicted temperature anomaly into a week from Friday; much the USA trending milder than average into the first few days of February. I'm still struck by a lack of consistently bitter air across Canada - I'll still be amazed if the northern tier of the USA doesn't see another couple of subzero swipes before March arrives. Loop:

2-Weeks Out: Fairly Mild and Moderate. GFS guidance shows the coldest air passing to our north across Canada with a strong Pacific signal for most of the lower 48 states; unusually warm weather for the southern USA as we push into February.

California Has The Snow. It Just Needs To Keep It Frozen. Rain is a quick withdrawl, snow is money in the bank, paying long-term dividends for thirsty towns and farms. Here's an excerpt from The Los Angeles Times: "...It’s certainly deeper than anything we’ve seen in the last five years,” said state climatologist Michael Anderson. Experts and officials, however, say that long-term warming trends are likely to complicate how California manages its water supply. Temperatures in the Sierra have been rising in the last few decades, which will pose problems for storing ice in the mountains during the winter and spring. Rain has also become more likely at higher elevations over the years, meaning more precipitation is falling as liquid, not snow. Water is also running off into reservoirs earlier, a reflection of more rain falling in the mountains or snow melting closer to wintertime instead of the spring..."

What Experts Think of Speculation That El Nino Will Return in 2017. Good question, considering the current pattern looks more like the symptoms of El Nino vs. La Nina. Dr. Marshall Shepherd sorts out the signal from the noise at Forbes: "...He also pointed out that the likelihood of La Niña following a strong El Niño (like this year) is much higher than El Niño following La Niña. Dr. Klotzbach is well-known for his seasonal hurricane forecasts but is also an expert on many aspects of tropical meteorology and climatology. He points out,

While it would certainly be unusual to have another El Niño so quickly on the backs of a previous one, the last El Niño didn't dissipate as much heat from the equatorial Pacific as the past two major ones (e.g., 1982 and 1997)...I would be pretty surprised if we got a full blown East Pacific El Niño event again in 2017, but I think that another Central Pacific (aka Modoki) event is possible..."

Graphic credit: "Oceanic Nino Index. Courtesy of Jan Null's website with data from NOAA."

Despite Tornado Threat Shelters Rare for Mobile Home Parks. I'm amazed there are no laws requiring underground shelters for mobile home parks. Am I missing something here? Mobile home operators don't want to spend the money to protect their residents - but should this be optional?  US News has a timely story: "Ten of at least 20 people killed in a weekend tornado outbreak lived in Georgia mobile home parks, yet laws requiring storm shelters in those vulnerable communities are few and far between. Experts have long warned that mobile home dwellers face a higher risk of death when tornadoes strike but said many trailer park owners don't want to make the costly investment in storm shelters and the sentiment for safety wanes in the weeks after a disaster. According to the National Weather Service, 44 percent of the 1,091 Americans killed by tornadoes from 1985 to 2005 died in mobile homes, compared to 25 percent in stick-built homes. That's especially significant considering how few Americans — 8 percent or fewer — lived in mobile homes during that period..."

File photo: "In an Oct. 22, 2015 photo, David A. Roden, owner of Mountain View Estates, speaks about a tornado shelter that he built for his mobile home park residents in Rossville, Ga. Experts have long warned that people in mobile homes face a greater risk of death from tornadoes, yet laws requiring storm shelters in trailer parks or public spaces such as schools are few and far between. Roden believes he is the first park owner in the southeast to offer residents a storm shelter." (Dan Henry/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP) /Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP) The Associated Press.

Weekend Tornado Swarm: Second Deadliest January Outbreak on Record. So says News4Jax in Jacksonville:

  • 2nd Deadliest January tornado outbreak in U.S. History
  • Deadliest  tornado outbreak in South Georgia
  • Third deadliest tornado outbreak in Georgia history

And these are just preliminary numbers, not known yet is the number of homeless and homes destroyed, total dollar loss and potential economic loss to Adel and Albany, Georgia....

Weekend Tornado Death Toll Exceeds All of 2016. There is disagreement about the total number of tornadoes from the most recent outbreak. CNN and say 41; here are the grim details: "The Southeast picked up the pieces on Monday after deadly tornadoes tore through the region, killing more people in one weekend than in all of last year, and officials called out for the federal government to urgently help their devastated communities. At least 41 reported twisters ravaged the southern states over the weekend, killing 19 people and destroying homes, CNN meteorologists reported. Tornadoes were reported in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. In 2016, tornadoes left 17 people dead across the country..."

NOAA's GOES-16 Satellite Sends First Images of Earth. The full disk above was taken on January 15. Meteorologists (myself included) are very excited about the enhanced imagery and lightning data about to become available via GOES-16. Here's an excerpt from NOAA: "...The pictures from its Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) instrument, built by Harris Corporation, show a full-disc view of the Western Hemisphere in high detail — at four times the image resolution of existing GOES spacecraft. The higher resolution will allow forecasters to pinpoint the location of severe weather with greater accuracy. GOES-16 can provide a full image of Earth every 15 minutes and one of the continental U.S. every five minutes, and scans the Earth at five times the speed of NOAA’s current GOES imagers. NOAA’s GOES-16, situated in geostationary orbit 22,300 miles above Earth, will boost the nation’s weather observation network and NOAA’s prediction capabilities, leading to more accurate and timely forecasts, watches and warnings..."

GOES-16 Image Gallery. Test imagery for CONUS and the full disk is available here.

The First From the New Weather Satellite Just Arrived, and They're Absolutely Incredible. Angela Fritz reports for Capital Weather Gang: "The satellite formerly known as GOES-R (so Prince, right?) has transmitted its first images back to Earth, and they are flooring. From the details on the face of the moon to the incredible resolution of cumulus over the Caribbean, these first pixels portend a sunny future for NOAA’s new GOES-16 satellite. Meteorologists are drooling. This release coincides with the first day of the American Meteorological Society’s annual meeting. There are thousands of weather geeks in Seattle this week, and — at least on Monday — they’re all looking at this next-gen satellite imagery. As we’ve written before, GOES-R satellite has six instruments, two of which are weather-related. The Advanced Baseline Imager, developed by Harris Corp., is the “camera” that looks down on Earth. The pictures it sends back will be clearer and more detailed than what’s created by the current satellites..."

Image credit: "GOES-16 captured this view of the moon, as it looks across the Pacific Northwest on Jan. 15. As with earlier GOES spacecraft, GOES-16 will use the moon for calibration." (NOAA/NASA).

The Dreariness Index. My thanks to climate guru Brian Brettschneider (based in Alaska) for whipping together a useful index that combines total precipitation, wet days and average cloud cover to create one index that summarizes how gray/damp a specific part of the USA is. Here's an excerpt from Brian's post: "In previous posts, I have looked at total rainfall, number of wet days, and cloud cover independently of one another. Now seems like a good time to combine these variables to come up with a single composite value. Three different variables are used in this analysis to come up with Dreary Index – total annual precipitation, number of days per year with measurable precipitation, and average annual cloud coverage. An inverses distance weighted surfacing technique was used to generate a gridded data set for the entire U.S. for each of the three variables..."

Best Practices for Publicly Sharing Weather Information Via Social Media. Fake news - fake weather; a lot of armchair meteorologists are posting information that is misleading and potentially harmful. The AMS (American Meteorological Society) has a post addressing this issue. Remember to follow trusted sources of weather information, preferably meteorologists vs. some guy living in his mother's basement with a hyperactive Twitter account: "...The American Meteorological Society (AMS) has a long history of encouraging the effective and appropriate dissemination of weather information while serving as a beacon of responsible forecasting practices.  Today there are more sources of weather information than ever before.  The development of social media has made it possible for false or misleading weather information to drown out messages from government agencies, traditional media outlets, and commercial and academic-based providers.  The Society recognizes the need to maintain the quality of weather information on all platforms available to the public while encouraging new services to meet the needs of the public..."

Image credit:

Researchers Calculate Economic Cost of Major Solar Storm, And It's Big. One more reason to have solar power, to not be completely dependent on a creaky grid that's vulnerable to malware and X-class solar flares. The Christian Science Monitor reports: "Electricity blackouts caused by solar storms could cost the United States tens of billions of dollars per day, according to a new study published in the journal Space Weather. These researchers were not the first to calculate the price of solar storms. But scientists in the past have focused only on the economic costs within the blackout zone – which amounts to just 49 percent of the total potential cost when indirect domestic and international supply chain losses are factored in. Under the most extreme blackout scenario calculated, which would affect 66 percent of the US population, the daily domestic economic loss could total $41.5 billion, plus an additional $7 billion loss through the international supply chain..." (Image credit: NASA).

To Fight Coastal Damage, Louisiana Parishes Pushed to Sue Energy Industry. NPR has the story: "...An oil and gas state, Louisiana has long relied on money from offshore sales to fund part of its budget. But the $90 billion price tag will require support from Congress. That's why the state's new Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, is urging officials like McInnis to sue oil and gas companies for that damage. "Before we can ever have any hope of asking taxpayers around the country to come to Louisiana and help us restore our coast, we have to be able to show them that we did everything that we could, reasonably, that is within our power," Edwards says. "And certainly, you can't do that if you don't hold those people accountable who damaged the coast to begin with." Edwards has said all the coastal parishes should file suits, or he'll do it for them..." (Image credit: YouTube).

From Sunlight to Service. Kruse Motors in Marshall is saving money. That's the thing about renewables: there's a tangible ROI. Here's an excerpt from Marshall Independent: "...Although they are in the same neighborhood as the Red Baron Arena and Marshall High School, the two rows of solar panels running behind the dealerships are part of Kruse Motors. Since the beginning of the January, they’ve been helping to generate electricity for Kruse Ford Lincoln and Kruse Buick GMC. “For us, it’s a huge cost savings,” Westman said. Being more energy-efficient also helps make it easier to provide services to customers, like the car wash at the Kruse Ford Lincoln dealership, she said. Construction for the solar panels started in fall 2016. Novel Energy Solutions, a Minnesota-based solar company, installed a 189-kilowatt solar system for Kruse Motors..."

Photo credit: Deb Gau. "Construction for a new solar panel system at Kruse Motors in Marshall started this past fall. The 189-kilowatt system will help provide electricity for two auto dealerships, and cut down on energy costs."

Xcel Commissions 62.25 MW Minnesota Solar Farm. Here's a clip from pv magazine: "Since a 2009 installation on St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota has often been home to the Midwest’s largest solar farms. In 2016, it is now home to the two largest solar projects in the region. Xcel Energy, one of the Midwest’s biggest utilities, announced last week that the Marshall Solar Energy Project, a 62.25 MW facility near Marshall, Minn., began operations and will provide enough electricity to power approximately 15,000 Upper Midwest homes. The utility is purchasing the produced power under a 25-year power-purchase agreement (PPA)..."

Republican Political Donors Install Nearly as Much Solar as Democratic Donors. When it comes to solar power, political affiliation just doesn't matter, according to a story at Greentech Media: "...But there is growing evidence that -- at least when it comes to clean energy -- there is a wide chasm between the policy positions the president supports and what many of his Republican supporters actually believe. Throughout the campaign, Trump ignored clean energy and focused mostly on promoting coal, oil and gas. But as reputable political surveys have shown, Republican voters actually want more support of renewable energy over fossil fuels. And they are proving that with their wallets, too. That is one of the most intriguing findings in a new study by PowerScout, an Oakland-based company that uses data to assist consumers who are considering going solar..."

10 Trends Shaping The Electric Utility Industry in 2017. Utility Dive has the story: "At the time of our last trend forecast list in September 2015, the utility industry was already being disrupted: Customer demand for distributed resources and the push for cleaner electricity were reshaping centralized fossil fuel-based grids across the country to accommodate variable renewables and customer-sited resources. Those trends toward a two-way, decarbonized grid are still very much in play at the beginning of 2017. Lower prices for wind and solar energy have seen those resources reach grid parity across much of the nation, and utilities continue to add flexible natural gas generation along with new technologies like energy storage to integrate the intermittent resources coming online..."

33 F. high temperature yesterday in the Twin Cities.

24 F. average high on January 24.

30 F. high on January 24, 2016.

January 25, 1964: A record high temperature of 64 is set at Redwood Falls.

TODAY: Snow tapers to flurries 1-3" slushy snow (more southern suburbs). Winds: N 10-20. High: 33

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Flurries, a few slick spots. Low: 24

THURSDAY: Mostly cloudy, breezy and cooler. Winds: NW 10-15. High: 29

FRIDAY: More clouds than sun, brisk. Wake-up: 18. High: 28

SATURDAY: Intervals of sun, fairly quiet. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 19. High: 30

SUNDAY: More sun, trending milder. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 20. High: 32

MONDAY: Some sun, more vague hints of March. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 21. High: 38

TUESDAY: Mostly cloudy, cooling off a bit. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 25. High: 35

Climate Stories...

Heat Record: How NASA Knows 2016 Was The Hottest Year. Here's an excerpt from Live Science: "...NASA and NOAA both found a high likelihood that 2016 was the hottest year: a 96 percent chance according to NASA and a 62 percent chance according to NOAA. The only other contender — with a much lower probability — was 2015. The differing estimates come from different extrapolations of data about the warming Arctic. The region has warmed significantly, the panelists said, and how that's quantified can have a big effect on the average. But overall, the estimates are very similar, they said..."

Graph credit: "A chart released by NASA and NOAA shows global temperature analyses from several different data sets. They are clearly all "singing the same song," researchers said." Credit: NASA/NOAA.

A Climate Paradox: Rising Temperatures To Bring More Droughts and Floods. More climate volatility and weather disruption, according to a story at Nexus Media: "...In isolation, of course not — to date, any modern extreme weather event would have been possible in pre-industrial times. That said, the likelihood of a big storm — or a severe heat wave — has changed a lot. It’s clear that since the 1950s, over much of the United States, extreme storms are becoming wetter. We’ve only had one degree centigrade of global warming. That’s a lot, but it’s nothing compared to what is coming down the line if we stay on the same greenhouse-gas emissions scenario that we’re on. By the end of this century, you’re looking at 3 or 4 degrees of warming, which is a planet that no human has ever lived on. We have no experience with such a planet, and it’s entirely possible that in such a warmer world, storms that were previously impossible — and certainly heat waves — will occur..."

Image credit: "The Pineapple Express brought rain to California this month." Source: NASA

Toxic Algae May Thrive as Climate and Oceans Warm, Study Says. Here's a snippet from InsideClimate News: "A newly established link between warmer ocean temperatures and toxin-spawning algae provides the latest sign that climate change is causing biological disturbances in the oceans. Scientists tracked West Coast outbreaks of the planktonic algae back to 1991, finding them strongly correlated with warm phases of Pacific Ocean cycles. The new research, published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, focused on a single-cell species of phytoplankton called Pseudo-nitzschia. It produces domoic acid, which can be fatal to humans if consumed at high levels by eating shellfish. Domoic acid has also been implicated in mass die-offs of marine mammals, including sea lions, sea otters, dolphins and whales..." (File photo credit:

More Than 100 Illinois Architects Publish Open Letter to Trump on Climate Change. Here's an excerpt from The Chicago Tribune: "...The letter advocates that the Trump administration create an even playing field among all energy sources by providing subsidies for renewable energy technologies, instead of just for the fossil fuel and nuclear energy industries. It also asks that the U.S. continue its participation in the Paris Climate Agreement, from which President Trump has indicated he may want to retreat. The Trump administration's plan on energy, called An America First Energy Plan, has so far focused on the rejection of "burdensome regulations," as well as tapping domestic energy reserves to lessen the dependence on foreign oil..." (Image credit:

Read the letter here.

Is The Weather Great Today? Enjoy It While You Can. Ongoing warming will almost certainly impact the distribution of what most people would call "good weather days". Here's an excerpt from The Washington Post: "...For the past three decades, the world has averaged 74 mild days a year. But by 2035 that will shrink to 70 and then 64 by the last two decades of the century, according to the study, published in the journal Climatic Change. Mild weather was defined as a high temperature of 68 to 86 degrees with low humidity and no more than a trace of rain. On average, the United States will lose nine mild summer days by the end of the century, although most of that loss is gained back with more mild days in the winter, spring and fall. The biggest losers will be the tropics and nearly all of Africa, eastern South America, South Asia and northern Australia. Rio de Janeiro, on average, will see 40 mild days disappear. Miami will lose its only mild summer day and nearly a month of spring and fall mild days by 2100..."

Study: Real Facts Can Beat "Alternative Facts" If Boosted by Inoculation. Here's a clip from The Guardian: "...According to inoculation theory, facts are important but by themselves aren’t sufficient to convince people as long as misinformation is also present. People also have to be inoculated against the misinformation, for example through an explanation of the logical fallacy underpinning the myth. To test the theory, the study authors ran an experiment using a fact that’s been subjected to a tremendous misinformation campaign: the 97% expert consensus on human-caused global warming. There’s been some debate among social scientists about consensus messaging, with most research suggesting it’s effective and important at convincing people about the importance of climate change..."

Image credit: Tim O'Reilly.

Think Global Warming's a Fraud? These Scientists Want to Change Your Mind. Here's an excerpt from The Columbus Dispatch: "...In my opinion, the most convincing piece of evidence for a "discernible human influence" on global climate is the very distinctive pattern of warming of the lower atmosphere (the troposphere) and cooling of the upper atmosphere (the stratosphere). We know of no natural causes that can produce such changes. This pattern of tropospheric warming and stratospheric cooling is a clear 'fingerprint' of human-caused changes in greenhouse gases … and it was predicted 50 years ago by Suki Manabe and his colleagues at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Lab in Princeton using only very sparse temperature measurements from weather balloons. Subsequent satellite observations confirmed professor Manabe's prediction..."

Ancient Warm Period Hints at Future Sea Level Rise. Here's an excerpt from Reuters and Scientific American: "Sea levels could rise by a greater-than-expected six metres (20 ft) over many centuries even if governments cap global warming around current levels, scientists said on Thursday, based on clues from an ancient warm period. Sea levels have risen by about 20 cms (8 inches) in the past 100 years, with a thaw of ice from Greenland to Antarctica spilling water into the oceans. Many studies have assumed that rising temperatures are a condition for a much faster melt. A study in the journal Science, however, said sea temperatures in a natural warm period about 125,000 years ago were "indistinguishable" from today, rather than up to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) hotter as previously thought. "The trend is worrisome as sea levels during the last interglacial period were between six and nine meters (20-30 ft) above their present height," Science said of the findings led by Jeremy Hoffman at Oregon State University..."

Wisconsin Disaster Agency Plans for Climate Change. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports: "In a shift from the practice of two other state agencies, Wisconsin emergency management officials have released new information on climate change and its implications for the state. In a report that it posted online last week, the state Division of Emergency Management devoted extensive attention to climate change and how a warming planet could spur natural disasters such as floods, drought and forest fires. The report contrasts with the Department of Natural Resources and the state Public Service Commission, which scrubbed mentions of climate change and human-generated greenhouse gases from their websites. As recently as December, DNR officials removed language from a web page devoted to the Great Lakes that had earlier acknowledged the role humans play in global warming. Officials inserted new wording saying climate change is a matter of scientific debate..."

Photo credit: "Highway 63 is washed out in the Town of Grand View in Bayfield County in July 2016 due to heavy rains. More flooding is predicited with climate change. State emergency planners posted information online last week on climate change planning." (Photo: Photo courtesy of Ready Wisconsin, Photo courtesy of Ready Wisconsin).

The First Observations of Sea Ice Came From 8th Century Irish Monks in Iceland. Who knew? Atlas Obscura has more detail: "...Iceland was settled more permanently in the 900s, and the people living there started keeping records of sea ice and icebergs that an Icelandic geographer later used to reconstruct sea ice records in the area going back to 1,000 A.D. More systematic records of Arctic sea ice weren’t collected until about a millennium after Iceland was first settled. In the 1880s, the Danish Meteorological Institute started drawing up sea ice charts using reports from the shore and sea, from ships and scientific expeditions, as the National Snow & Ice Data Center explains, and by the turn of the century, the institute was regularly publishing a report on “The State of the Ice in the Arctic Seas” that covered the whole Arctic..."

Photo credit: "The frozen sea goes north." Pink floyd88 a/CC BY-SA 3.0

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Brushed by plowable snow amounts - worst travel sSouth of MSP tonight

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Midwinter Weather Siesta: No Big Storms or Arctic Leakage Next 1-2 Weeks