55.5" snow so far this season in the Twin Cities.
11" on the ground at KMSP.
12.1" so far in January, .6" more than average, to date.
3.1" January snowfall in 2010.
3 days without any snow in the Twin Cities in January.
And So It Begins. Welcome to the "10 Best Days of Winter", St. Paul style. The St. Paul Winter Carnival kicks off today, runs through the first weekend of February. Prediction: today and tomorrow will be 2 of the most comfortable days to check out those amazing ice carvings in Rice Park. We may top 32 F. (briefly) Friday, but I don't think it will stay above freezing long enough to ruin the fun. More on the events in St. Paul (including the Medallion Hunt) here. St. Paul a "snowy Siberia, unfit for human habitation?" Hardly. The funniest part - the reporter who said that (1885) was from New York, which is about to surpass St. Paul for snowfall statistics so far this winter. Oh, the delicious irony.
Nuisance Snow Today - Friday, Couple Inches Sunday? A few of the models are printing out more significant snowfall amounts Sunday, as the leading edge of the next Arctic smack approaches. By no means a sure thing yet - we'll keep an eye on it.
Clipper Alley. It's pretty easy to see the favored path for snow-producing clippers between now and midnight Saturday, running from the Minnesota Arrowhead to Green Bay, Ann Arbor and Buffalo. New York and Boston are digging out again - as much as 8-12" of snow, the third nor'easter this month. During a typical winter the northeast experiences close to a dozen nor'easters - as many as 4 may be in the cards for the month of January alone. Many towns have already exhausted their snow-removal budgets, turning long-term shortfalls and deficits into glaring short-term problems. Yes - things are even worse out east.
More Thaws Than Blasts. I already sense a (subtle) shift in the pattern. Will we see more Arctic fronts in the weeks ahead? Absolutely. But the duration and intensity of the cold won't be quite as bad as last week, when we weathered 4 nights/row below zero. Another thaw late next week gives way to a (relatively brief) cold snap around Feb 8-9. Two days of (minor) pain? Piece of cake.
Spring Flooding Press Conference Today. The potential for flooding later this spring is significant across the Upper Midwest, the result of above-average snowfall across the region, coupled with wet soil from frequent autumn rains. The potential for widespread river flooding will depend on many variables: how quickly we warm, whether a thaw is accompanies by heavy rain, etc. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety, National Weather Service and FEMA will provide a press conference for the 2011 Spring Flood Outlooks which will be updated on Thursday January 27th. A wet fall and above normal snowfall thus far is increasing the threat for flooding this spring. River basins of with an increased potential include the Minnesota, Mississippi, Crow and St Croix Rivers.
When: Thursday, January 27, 3:30 PM
Where: Minnesota Department of Public Safety; Media Room at 445 Minnesota St. Suite 100, St Paul, MN (enter via the southwest door)
DC Snow Reports. As much as 5-8" fell in the Washington D.C. area yesterday, closer to a foot in New York City. This is a pretty cool application of Google, with real-time snowfall reports updated in real time. To see the latest click here.
Flightstats. Flying out east today? Nervous about getting in? Click on Flightstats to see conditions at any airport around the USA. You can filter by airline or airport, seeing every departure or arrival, to keep tabs on delays or cancellations. Yesterday around 4 pm it was not a pretty picture at La Guardia in New York City - 90% of all flights cancelled due to 6"+ of snow.
Minnesota: The New Tornado Alley? O.K. One year does not a trend make, but apparently the rest of the USA is waking up to the fact that, at least in 2010, Minnesota was the new tornado alley, with 103 confirmed touchdowns, almost twice as many as Texas. Texas? Midwest Energy News has a story about our claim to fame (or infamy) in this article.
Attention Storm Chasers And Weather Geeks. "Enthusiast" sounds better, I grant you that. The 15th Annual Northern Plains Convective Workshop is being held at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul March 22-23, 2011. There is always good information and interesting papers being presented at these severe storm seminars. Click here for more information.
Beam Me Up Scotty! No, these aren't UFO's. They're "lenticular" clouds, wave clouds, caused by air rising up and over mountain ranges, creating these amazing lens-shaped clouds, which can trail scores, even hundreds of miles downwind. Photo courtesy of KING-TV.
Verizon All-You-Can-Eat iPhone Data Buffet for $30/Month? The Wall Street Journal and Yourversion.com report that Verizon will have an unlimited data plan when it unveils February 10. Many people (myself included) love the iPhone, the functionality, apps, the way things just sort of flow on this smart device - but there has been some "debate" about the reliability of AT&T's data network. Verizon + iPhone could be a perfect marriage. For more information click here.
4G Access To 98% Of America Within 5 Years? From a story at Broadcast and Cable magazine: "President Barack Obama did not take long to get into the issue of contentious political debate in his State of the Union Speech, according to a copy of his "prepared for delivery" remarks. But the President also used the opportunity to tell parents it was their job to turn off the TV and make sure their kids get their work done, and for the U.S. to do a better job of deploying broadband, saying that "South Korean homes now have greater internet access than we do." He pledged that "Within the next five years, we will make it possible for business to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98% of all Americans. This isn't just about a faster Internet and fewer dropped calls. It's about connecting every part of America to the digital age" (see below). He christened it the National Wireless Initiative."
iPad Tips And Tricks. Here are just a couple of "tricks" to get the most out of your iPad, from an article at yourversion.com:
1. Instantly go to the top
There are many pages which are long enough for you to scroll back. So, there is a very simple way to go to the top, just tap the status bar, and you are at the top of the page.
2. Instant mute
This is a very useful trick as it is normally used urgently, and doing it by its traditional way of lowering the volume click-after-click , may take some time, which is very irritating at many times. So, a much better way would be to hold the volume down button and it would take 2 seconds to mute.
No Cursing In Utah. O.K. This is vaguely interesting. A researcher examined the number of curse words in tweets, and found that people from the Upper Midwest to Salt Lake City are the most polite (profanity-free) in the USA. The greatest concentration of foul tweets: southwestern USA, Chicago, St. Louis and much of the eastern seaboard. Maybe no big surprises here - but if have a little free time and want to feel even better about living in the (relatively profanity-free) Upper Midwest, click here.
Room In Your Garage For A "Skizee"? For the die-hard, snow-craving Minnesotan who just can't accumulate too many winter weather toys in their garage. From an article at neatorama: "The Skizee was originally designed for the ski patrol, but it can also serve recreational purposes. The 10.5 hp 4-stroke engine can propel a skiier to high speeds, as you can see in the video at the link. Naturally, this is a product of Canada."
"Above Average". 25 felt pretty good out there, especially with sunshine and light winds. That's 2 degrees above average for January 26, nearly 10 degrees warmer than last year on this date. A trace of snow fell in the Twin Cities.
Paul's Star Tribune Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:
TODAY: Milder with flurries. Coating possible. Winds: W 5-10. High: 31
THURSDAY NIGHT: More flurries - dusting of snow possible. Most roads wet/slushy. Low: 23
FRIDAY: Fleeting thaw. Mildest day in sight. Coating to 1/2"? High: 33
SATURDAY: Mostly cloudy, cooler breeze (nicer day of the weekend to be outdoors). High: 27
SUNDAY: Feels like January again. Potential for more snow, an inch or two can't be ruled out. Low: 6. High: 12
MONDAY: Intervals of sun, parka weather returns. Low: -7. High: 5
TUESDAY: Plenty of sun, still brisk. Low: -4. High: 12
WEDNESDAY: More clouds, not quite as cold. Low: 6. High: 20
This is how my Wednesday started. "Honey, come into the bathroom! I want you to hear something." This can't have a happy ending. "Do you think they know something we don't?" The chirping was loud and insistent. Perplexed, I threw a few more bucks Steve Jobs' way (there's an app for that!) and discovered it was a Northern Cardinal chirping it's little head off. Encouraging.
It's light when I stumble out of bed, a stain of twilight as we sit down for dinner; 2.5 minutes of additional daylight every day. Is the worst behind us? Last week brought 5 nights/row below zero, as cold as -16F in the metro. I'm a naive optimist, but in terms of the duration and intensity of subzero cold, the harshest days and nights of winter are PROBABLY in our rear-view mirror. Trust me. I'm a weatherman.
No headline-grabbing storms are in sight the next 2 weeks, just a couple of clippers capable of a coating in the metro, maybe a few inches near Duluth. Models are hinting at an inch or two Sunday, but no mega-storms are forming on the horizon anytime soon.
Check out the St. Paul Winter Carnival today or Friday, the 2 mildest days in sight; VERY happy to see 32! So far: 10 subzero nights, a third of what we see during a typical winter. 2 subzero nights arrive next week, but I'm (naively) optimistic.
Coral Moves North To Beat The Heat. From an article at discovery.com: "Corals seem like permanent structures, but some species have migrated far north from their historical range. The established coral themselves don't move, but the offspring, or polyps, of corals in waters around Japan have been moving north up to eight and a half miles per year since 1930, according to research covered by the journal Nature. Hiroya Yamano of the Center for Global Environmental Research in Japan and his colleagues compared the historical and present day ranges of nine coral species. Four of the species studied had moved north, while the other five stayed put. All four species are listed as vulnerable or threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature."
The World Can Be Powered By Alternative Energy In 20-40 Years, Stanford Researcher Says. A story from Stanford University: "A new study – co-authored by Stanford researcher Mark Z. Jacobson and UC-Davis researcher Mark A. Delucchi – analyzing what is needed to convert the world's energy supplies to clean and sustainable sources says that it can be done with today's technology at costs roughly comparable to conventional energy. But converting will be a massive undertaking on the scale of the moon landings. What is needed most is the societal and political will to make it happen."
Arctic Short-Cut Shipping To Leap In 2011 - Russia. Reuters has a story about how the melting of Arctic ice north of Russia may be a boom to shipping and industry, making it much cheaper to move products around the world: "Russia predicted on Tuesday a surge in voyages on an Arctic short-cut sea route in 2011 as a thaw linked to climate change opens the region even more to shipping and oil and mining companies. High metals and oil prices, linked to rising demand from China and other emerging economies, is helping to spur interest in the Arctic and the route between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans as an alternative to travelling via the Suez canal. "In 2011 the shipping on the Northern Sea Route is going to increase significantly," Mikhail Belkin, assistant director of Russia's state-owned Rosatomflot, told a conference on "Arctic Frontiers" in Tromsoe, north Norway.He said that Rosatomflot, which sends one of its nine atomic-powered ice-breakers to accompany each trip in case of ice, has received 15 applications to accompany voyages across the Arctic in 2011, against four trips in 2010."
Warming Trend: Drill For Oil - Or Water? Perpetually drought-stricken counties in south Texas are facing serious water shortages in the years ahead. From a timely story from the San Antonio Current: "Three years ago, Scott Kimble, a chiropractor and cattle rancher, was among the first of Karnes County residents to lease his mineral rights when landmen came calling for acreage above the Eagle Ford Shale, a geological formation rich in oil and gas 10,000 feet beneath a vast stretch of South Texas. After observing the oil and gas industry’s sizable water demands for hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” Kimble’s third eye for business spotted an opportunity. He now sells millions of gallons of water to the industry, earning 10 to 20 cents per barrel. The Eagle Ford has since become one of North America’s hottest petroleum plays. But in water-scarce South Texas, a lucrative spin-off business has begun in water sales. Some landowners earn 40 to 80 cents per barrel of water along with their $3,000 to $8,000 per acre for oil and gas rights. Pennies per water barrel might seem a pittance compared to $90 crude oil prices, but they add up to plenty of fat checks when each oil or gas well requires at least 71,400 barrels (3 million gallons) of water to be fracked."