2017 Ice Out Dates
Take a look at ice out dates across the state from last year. Note the darker red markers, which indicated that ice out occurred on many lakes in central and southern MN before March 18th! As of March 31st, we have no ice outs anywhere across the state this year.
Before you go testing the ice on area lakes and ponds, remember that "ICE IS NEVER 100% SAFE!" So when is ice safe? Here is an excerpt from the MN DNR regarding ice safety:
"There really is no sure answer. You can't judge the strength of ice just by its appearance, age, thickness, temperature, or whether or not the ice is covered with snow. Strength is based on all these factors -- plus the depth of water under the ice, size of the water body, water chemistry and currents, the distribution of the load on the ice, and local climatic conditions."
Here are some general ice thickness guidelines from the MN DNR:
For new, clear ice ONLY:
Under 4" - STAY OFF
4" - Ice fishing or other activities on foot
5" - 7" - Snowmobile or ATV
8" - 12" - Car or small pickup
12" - 15" - Medium truck
Many factors other than thickness can cause ice to be unsafe.
White ice or "snow ice" is only about half as strong as new clear ice. Double the above thickness guidelines when traveling on white ice.
Here's the latest modeled snow depth across the state from April 7th, which shows quite a bit of snow still on the ground across much of the state after our latest round of snow earlier last week. Note that MOST of the state is still covered in snow, which is quite impressive for the month of April. In fact, you'd have to go back to April 2014 to see snow coverage similar to what we have on the ground across the state now. Last year at this time, the only spot that had snow on the ground was across far northeastern Minnesota!
Extended Temperature Forecast
The extended forecast through April 21st & 22nd suggests very chilly temps continuing as we head through the early part of the week. Highs will continue to only warm into the 20s and 30s, which is more typical of February. Keep in mind that the average high for the early part of April is in the low to mid 50s, so we are running WELL below average. The images below suggest the GFS (American model) and ECMWF (European model) temperature outlook. It is nice to see that both show gradual warming as we approach the middle part of the month, but the ECMWF is trending a little warmer with highs more consistently in the 50s... Let's hope that model is a little more accurate.
Cold Start to April
The first 6 days of April has featured some VERY chilly air across much of the Central US and as you can see in the image below many locations are running a good -10F to -15F (or colder) below average. Meanwhile, temps in the Southwestern US are running nearly +5F to +10F above average.
Great Lakes Ice Coverage
According to NOAA's GLERL, the Great Lakes were 8.6% covered in ice as of April 6th. Interestingly only 2.2% of the Great Lakes were covered at this time last year.
Lake Superior Ice Coverage
Here's a look at the ice coverage across Lake Superior and as of April 7th, NOAA's GLERL, said that 13.6% of Lake Superior was covered. Interestingly, at last time last year only 1.1% of the lake was covered in ice! Quite a difference from this year to last.
Snow Depth 2018
The snow depth map across the country for April 7th suggests that 32.3% of the country is covered in snow, mainly across the northern tier of the nation and across the Intermountain West. At this time last year, 10.0% of the nation was covered in snow. As of April 3rd, the Twin Cities officially had 3" of snow on the ground at the MSP Airport, and at this time last year, there was no snow on the ground. Note also that last year at this time, the Sierra Nevada Range in California had a significantly greater snow pack than what is there now.
Snow Depth 2017
At this time last year, 10.0% of the nation was covered in snow.
Severe Weather Awareness Week: April 3rd - 13th
"Snow may be in the forecast, but it's always a good idea to have a plan for when severe weather strikes. April 9-13th is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Minnesota & Wisconsin. Follow along with us on Twitter & Facebook as we post about how you can be prepared for severe weather."
2018 Tornadoes So Far...
According to NOAA's SPC, there have been 154 preliminary tornadoes so far this year (April 6th), which is more than what we had at this time in the last couple of years. Interestingly, there were 544 tornadoes at this time in 2008; that year ended with 2,194 tornadoes, which is nearly 800 more than the short-term 2005-2015 average.
Average Tornadoes in March By State
Here's the average number of tornadoes during the month of April by state. Texas sees the most with 29, but interestingly, Minnesota averages 1 tornado in April.
3-7 Day Hazard Forecast
1.) Heavy snow across portions of the Central Plains, the Upper Mississippi Valley, and the Northern Plains, Fri, Apr 13.
2.) Flooding possible across portions of the Middle Mississippi Valley and the Ohio Valley.
3.) Flooding occurring or imminent across portions of the Middle Mississippi Valley, the Lower Mississippi Valley, the Southern Plains, and the Ohio Valley.
4.) Frozen precipitation across portions of the Central Plains, the Great Lakes, the Upper Mississippi Valley, and the Northern Plains, Sat-Mon, Apr 14-Apr 16.
5.) High winds across portions of the Central Rockies, the Central Plains, the Southern Plains, and the Northern Plains, Fri, Apr 13.
6.) Much below normal temperatures across portions of the Central Plains, the Mid-Atlantic, the Lower Mississippi Valley, the Central Appalachians, the Northern Plains, the Tennessee Valley, the Great Lakes, the Northern Rockies, the Middle Mississippi Valley, the Northeast, the Southern Appalachians, the Upper Mississippi Valley, the Southeast, the Southern Plains, and the Ohio Valley, Mon-Wed, Apr 9-Apr 11.
7.) Slight risk of much below normal temperatures for portions of the Central Plains, the Central Great Basin, the Northern Plains, the Great Lakes, the Northern Rockies, the Central Rockies, California, the Northern Great Basin, the Upper Mississippi Valley, the Pacific Northwest, and the Southwest, Sat-Mon, Apr 14-Apr 16.
8.) Slight risk of heavy precipitation for portions of California, the Pacific Northwest, and the Northern Great Basin, Sat-Sun, Apr 14-Apr 15.
9.) Slight risk of heavy precipitation for portions of the Central Plains, the Lower Mississippi Valley, the Northern Plains, the Tennessee Valley, the Great Lakes, the Middle Mississippi Valley, the Upper Mississippi Valley, the Southeast, the Southern Plains, and the Ohio Valley, Sat-Mon, Apr 14-Apr 16.
10.) Moderate risk of heavy precipitation for portions of the Great Lakes, the Upper Mississippi Valley, and the Northern Plains, Sat-Mon, Apr 14-Apr 16.
11.) Severe Drought across the Central Plains, the Central Rockies, the Central Great Basin, the Northern Plains, the Southern Rockies, California, the Southeast, the Southern Plains, and the Southwest.
River Flooding Continues
According to NOAA, there were 105 river gauges in flood stage as of Wednesday, 2 of which where at Major flood stage!
Temperature Anomaly on Saturday
The temperature anomaly across North America from Saturday, showed WELL below average temperatures across a large chunk of Canada into the Central and Eastern US. This colder air will likely stick around for much of the middle part of April, while warmer than averate temperatures will continue in the Southwestern US.
The 850mb temperature anomaly from Sunday to Wednesday shows well below average temperatures continuing to funnel south of the Canadian border into the Lower 48. However, we do get a bit of a bump by the middle part of next week with temperatures possible warming into the 50s. There's a change that we could warm to near 60F if everything goes right! Stay tuned...
Atmospheric River on Satellite
"One of the Greatest West Coast Atmospheric Rivers on Record"
"The more I look at the strong atmospheric river that will strike California tomorrow, the more amazing it becomes. In some, but not all, respects it is one of the more extreme atmospheric rivers on record. Today's water vapor satellite imagery shows a huge plume of moisture stretching from the tropics towards California. And the values of vertically integrated water vapor (total water vapor in a vertical column of air) forecast for tomorrow (Friday) at 2 PM are immense, with the blue colors indicating values of 40 mm (1.6 inches) or more. That means if one condensed out all the moisture in a vertical column, 1.6 inches of rain would result. That is a very large amount. This intense plume of water vapor will slowly move down the California coast, reaching southern CA on Saturday morning.
Weather Outlook Ahead
Weather conditions will remain quite active as we head through the rest of the weekend into early next week as another storm system moves into the Central US from the Pacific Northwest. Areas of snow will be enough to shovel in spots across the Upper Midwest, while areas of heavy rain will continue in the Northwest and across parts of the Southern US.
According to NOAA's WPC, the 7-day precipitation outlook suggests areas of heavy precipitation continuing across the Pacific Northwest and also across the Upper Midwest as 2 different storm systems develop this week.
Snowfall Potential Ahead
The GFS snowfall potential as we head through next week still suggests areas of heavy snow across the high elevations in the Western US, while bouts of snow may still be possible across the Cental and Northeastern US. Winter still seems to be hanging on, doesn't it?
By My Rough Calculations Today is February 67th
By Paul Douglas
Minnesotans are in a funk; despondent - mourning a super-sized winter. Because, by my calculation today is February 67th. Yesterday I schlepped around a mall in Edina to remember what flowers smell like. I watched The Masters to see the color green. This is getting old.
The growing season is getting longer but once every 3-4 years we get kicked in the (Doppler). It's not as grim as 2013, when over 18 inches of snow fell in April. That year .5 inches of snow fell in May, and I was on the FBI's Witness Protection Program.
Today's ill-timed and seasonally-rude Alberta Clipper may drop 1-3 inches of slush; the best chance of sloppy snow over far southern and southwestern Minnesota.
Before you consider hitchhiking down I-35 consider this: 2018 will be one of those sputtering springs where we go from slush to thunder, overnight. ECMWF guidance hints at 50s to near 60F Thursday with showers and T-storms Friday of this week.
I could be tracking river flooding & tornadic supercells right now. Old Man Winter is clinging to power, but his days are numbered. Spring is coming. Really!
SUNDAY: Snow Develops.1" to 3" possible by AM Monday. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 11. High: 33.
SUNDAY NIGHT: Snow continues mainly through 1am. Winds: E 5-10. Low: 26.
MONDAY: Icy start. Slow clearing skies. Winds: W 5-10. High: 37.
TUESDAY: Partly sunny and milder. Winds: SW 5-10. Wake-up: 24. High: 43.
WEDNESDAY: April returns. Isolated shower. Winds: SE 5-10. Wake-up: 34. High: 55.
THURSDAY: Raging case of spring fever? Winds: NE 5-10. Wake-up: 38. High: 58.
FRIDAY: Humid (new word). Few T-storms? Winds: SE 15-25. Wake-up: 43. High: 56.
SATURDAY: Cooler. Showery rains may linger. Winds: SW 10-20. Wake-up: 38. High: 44
This Day in Weather History
1805: John Sayer at the Snake River Fir Trading Post near present day Pine City mentions: 'The most tempestuous (stormy) day of the year. Pines and other trees fell near the fort.'
Average High/Low for Minneapolis
Average High: 54F (Record: 83F set in 1931)
Average Low: 34F (Record: 9F set in 1997)
Record Rainfall: 0.73" set in 1906
Record Snowfall: 5.0" set in 1980
Sunrise/Sunset Times for Minneapolis
Hours of Daylight: ~13 hours & 9 minutes
Daylight GAINED since yesterday: ~ 3 minutes & 4 seconds
Daylight GAINED since winter solstice (December 21st): 4 Hour 24 Minutes
Moon Phase for April 8th at Midnight
1.0 Day After Last Quarter Moon
Temp Outlook For Sunday
Temps on Sunday will still be a VERY chilly as high temps only warm into the 20s and 30s. Keep in mind that the average high in the Twin Cities is 54F for the 8th day of the month, so we will be nearly -20F below that mark. Feels like temps will only be in the 20s, so bundle up!
According to NOAA's CPC, April 15th - 21st will still be very chilly across much of the northern tier of the nation. Meanwhile, warmer than average temperatures will still be found in the Southern US.
"2 Satellites Will Probe Earth's Massive Ice Sheets"
"The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-on(GRACE-FO) mission and the Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite-2(ICESat-2) will both detect changes in Earth's ice, which impacts people all around the world, according to a statement from NASA. Changes in the cryosphere impact sea level rise, which affects global coastlines. It also changes the amount of water that comes from snowpack, which more than a billion people rely on, and melting sea ice in the Arctic Ocean plays a large role in Earth’s climate and weather, according to the statement. GRACE-FO, which consists of twin satellites, will launch in spring and track fluctuations in Earth’s gravity field. Tracking changes in the gravity field will allow scientists to calculate changes in overall mass on Earth, which includes the mass of ice sheets and underground basins filled with watercalled aquifers. [Pew Pew Pew! Why Scientists Are Fired Up About Futuristic Space Lasers] ICESat-2 will launch in the fall and use lasers to measure the changing elevation of ice around the world. The mission will provide measurements of the height of Earth's ice in greater detail than ever before, to within two-tenths of an inch (0.4 centimeters),according to NASA. In addition, GRACE-FO will measure groundwater reserves and deep ocean currents, and ICESat-2 will measure sea ice thickness and vegetation height."
"The Making of 'Pillars of Creation,' One of the Most Amazing Images of Our Universe"
"Three pillars of gas and dust sit among stars like towers of billowing smoke. It would take several years for light to cross from the top to the bottom of these dusty columns. This striking image from the Hubble Space Telescope remains, to this day, one of the most well-known astronomical images ever taken. But if you were to peer at the Pillars of Creation, part of the Eagle Nebula, through your own telescope, you wouldn’t see the same thing. The images you typically see of outer space are colorized and processed in order to bring out the detail and highlight the most relevant parts for scientific study. The popularity of the Pillars of Creation may have forever changed how astronomers present images of space to the public. “Because of the public desire to see pictures like this, an awful lot of people started rendering their press releases using these kinds of images,” Paul Scowen, Arizona State University astronomer and one of the image’s creators, told Gizmodo. “It had an impact on the way the data of Hubble was seen and digested by the public as a general result.”
"The Chemistry of Lightning"
"Every second, around 45 lightning strikes jolt our atmosphere, where powerful reactions in thunderstorm clouds alter the chemical composition of the air inside and around them. A suite of European instruments will soon be studying these powerful discharges from space and give us clues on their role in the climate. The Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor arrived yesterday at the International Space Station to peek inside the physics of high-energy phenomena at the edge of space. With no clouds to obstruct the view, the package will help scientists to understand the anatomy of lightning from 400 km above the planet. “We will learn more about the impact of severe thunderstorms in the upper layers of the atmosphere, where the electrical discharges happen and what powers them,” explains Torsten Neubert, science team coordinator at the Technical University of Denmark. The measurements will help us to understand how electric fields within the clouds accelerate electrons to such energies and in such numbers that, in some cases, X-rays and gamma rays can be observed from space."
"Astronomers Just Found They've Been Completely Wrong About These Giant Sun Tornadoes"
"Scientists have discovered that the massive bursts of solar activity we call 'solar tornadoes' are not at all like the twisters we get here on Earth - even though they sure appeared similar on a gigantic scale. The term describes the enormous eruptions of gas that appear to swirl up from the Sun's surface, but based on a new analysis of their structure, these swirls aren't moving in the way astronomers have always assumed. Research on the phenomenon is due to be presented at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science (EWASS) in Liverpool this week, correcting more than a century of thought on what were once called 'tornado prominences'. "They are associated with the legs of solar prominences – these are beautiful concentrations of cool plasma in the very hot solar corona that can easily be seen as pink structures during total solar eclipses," says lead author Nicolas Labrossefrom the University of Glasgow. Spectacular whirls of gas spilling from the Sun were first noted as far back as 1868, and since then observations have led to us to picture them as huge, vertical, gyrating storms of plasma that superficially resemble our own tornadoes."
"When it comes to renewables, solar investment is surging ahead of the rest"
"Everybody loves the sunshine. Investment in solar is surging ahead of other renewable sources, fossil fuels and nuclear, according to a new United Nations report which looked at how countries spent money on new power generation. With 98 gigawatts of solar installed across the globe in 2017, the technology outnumbered the 52 gigawatts of wind power and the net 70 gigawatts of fossil fuel installations put into place that year. The charge on solar can be attributed to China ramping up its efforts, accounting for 63 percent of the world's total investment on clean energy projects in 2017. The country's been kicking the world's butt on renewable energy spending. China alone is responsible for just under half of the globe's investment on renewables, and invests nearly three times more than the U.S., who was the second highest investor. Although China is aiming to pour $361 billion into clean energy projects in the next few years, it's expected that renewable power will only account for 15 percent of the nation's total energy consumption by 2020."