Feels Like Winter... Again.
Our first month of meteorological spring is behind us, but it still feels a lot like winter out there. Some folks in central Minnesota and northern Wisconsin woke up to 8" to 12" of snow - gulp! Wind chill values Saturday night will be in the sub-zero range and it'll feel like more like January on Sunday morning. Where or where is spring? Hopefully the extended model runs are right, it looks like we'll finally warm up by mid-April... Yes, we're due!
Late March Snow
Here’s a picture from Dave Anderson who lives on Gull Lake, where a quick hitting snow storm dumped up to 10” of snow there! Yikes! That’s a big pile Dave. Thankfully the sun is about as strong now as it was in early/mid September, so most of the roads were better by the afternoon.
Heavy Snow Amounts
Here were some of the heaviest snowfall reports from Friday into Saturday. Note that several locations had double digit tallies with the golden snow shovel award going to Bruno, MN at 12.8” – WOW!
Fresh Snow Via Visible Satellite
Here’s a look at the fresh snow that fell across much of central Minnesota. You can even see the big lakes across central and northern Minnesota that are still snow and ice covered!
Cold Night Ahead – Near Records!
Brrr… Take a look at how cold it could be early Sunday morning (April 1st). Temps could get down to near record levels for a number of locations. The Easter Bunny will be freezing his tail off this year.
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.
Here’s a neat image from Journey North that tracks a number of different spring birds as they migrate north. One of my favorite summertime birds is the Common Loon, which has been spotted across parts of the Great Lakes, Midwest and Ohio Valley. With MN lakes still ice covered, I think it is going to be several weeks before any Loons are spotted in lake near you.
Spring Leaf Index
According to the USA National Phenology Network, the spring leaf index shows spring creeping north. The red colors indicate that spring leaves have been emerging earlier than normal, while the blue indicates that spring leaves have emerged later than normal. It was a later than normal start to the season across the Gulf Coast States, but across the Mid-Atlantic and Ohio Valley, things are off to an earlier start. Keep in mind that the average bloom date for lilacs in the Twin Cities is around May 10th, so we still have a ways to go, but it's coming!
Garden 2018 Update
I am about a full month into my 2018 seed starting and most of the tomato seeds that I planted last week have emerged! The pepper plants and geraniums are doing great too! Hope everyone’s little plants are doing well! We’ve got about 2 months left before we can really start thinking about getting these in the ground outdoors!
Starting Your Garden Indoors
The image below shows the suggested dates when and certain vegetable and flower seeds can be started indoors. As you can see, there are many seeds that can already be started, while a few others can wait until April. Such a fun time of the year!! Grow baby grow!!
Here's the latest modeled snow depth across the state, which shows our most recent snow event that dropped nearly 8” to 12" across much of central Minnesota. Snow depth across southern Minnesota is pretty scarce. As of Saturday, but another storm early this week could help to boost snowfall amounts there. Stay tuned!!
Extended Temperature Forecast
The extended forecast through the middle part of April suggests very chilly temps as we head through the first week and a half of the month. Highs may only warm into the 20s a few days, 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 going to be WELL below average. However, it appears that temps will get back to near average (hopefully) by the middle part of the month. Hopefully the 2nd half of the month will feel more like spring.
Weather Outlook Ahead
Sunday will be pretty quiet across the Upper Midwest, but it’ll quickly become more inclement as we head into the early part of the week. The weather depiction below is from 7am Tuesday as our next storm blows into town. This system certainly has the chance of bringing more heavy snow with it. Stay tuned.
Here’s the NWS snowfall forecast through midday Tuesday, which suggests that our next storm will have the potential of dropping another round of wet heavy snow across the southern half of the state. Keep in mind that we are still a couple days away from the event, so these numbers will likely change. Just note that commutes PM Monday and AM Tuesday could be impacted.
Great Lakes Ice Coverage
According to NOAA's GLERL, the Great Lakes were 16.1% covered in ice as of March 30th. Interestingly only 4.8% 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 March 30th, NOAA's GLERL, said that 26.5% of Lake Superior was covered. Interestingly, at last time last year only 2.3% 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 March 31st suggests that 18.0% of the country is covered in snow, mainly across the northern tier of the nation. At this time last year, 13.6% of the nation was covered in snow. As of March 31st, the Twin Cities officially had 2” of snow on the ground at the MSP Airport, but 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, 13.6% of the nation was covered in snow.
2018 Tornadoes So Far...
According to NOAA's SPC, there have been 119 preliminary tornadoes so far this year (March 30th), which is more than what we had at this time in the last couple of years. Interestingly, there were 502 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
- Heavy rain across portions of the Midwest, the Ohio Valley, and the Central Appalachians, Mon-Tue, Apr 2-3.
- Flooding possible, occurring, or imminent across portions of the Great Lakes, the Lower and Middle Mississippi Valley, South Dakota, the Southern Plains, and the Midwest.
- Heavy rain across portions of California and the Pacific Northwest, Thu-Fri, Apr 5-6.
- Much below-normal temperatures across portions of the Northern and Central Plains, the Great Lakes, and the Upper and Middle Mississippi Valley, Mon-Fri, Apr 2-Apr 6.
- High risk of much below-normal temperatures for portions of the Upper Mississippi Valley and the Northern Plains, Sat-Sun, Apr 7-8.
- Moderate risk of much below-normal temperatures for portions of the Northern and Central Plains, the Upper and Middle Mississippi Valley, the western Great Lakes, and the Midwest, Sat-Tue, Apr 7-10.
- Slight risk of much below-normal temperatures from the areas east of the Rockies extending from the Northern and Central Plains through the Atlantic coast, Sat-Wed, Apr 7-Apr 11.
- Moderate risk of heavy precipitation for portions of the Lower and Middle Mississippi Valley, the Tennessee Valley, the Southern Appalachians, the Southeast, and the Ohio Valley, Sat-Tue, Apr 7-10.
- Slight risk of heavy precipitation for portions of the Lower and Middle Mississippi Valley, the Central and Southern Appalachians, the Tennessee Valley, the Mid-Atlantic, the Southeast, the Southern Plains, and the Ohio Valley, Sat-Wed, Apr 7-11.
- Slight risk of heavy precipitation for portions of California, the Sierra Nevadas, and the Pacific Northwest, Sat, Apr 7.
- Severe Drought across the Great Plains, the Central and Southern Rockies, the Central Great Basin, California, the Southeast, and the Southwest.
Major River Flooding
According to NOAA, there were 114 river gauges in flood stage as of Saturday, 5 of which where at Major flood stage! Interestingly, 2 of those are in North Dakota near Devils Lake.
MAJOR Flooding Along Calcasieu River Near Glenmora
Take a look at the river gauge along the Calcasieu River near Glenmora. Thanks to all the recent heavy rain from last week, the river went into MAJOR flood stage on Friday and may stay there until Sunday.
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.
Temperature Anomaly on Saturday
The temperature anomaly across North America from Saturday, showed above average temperatures across much of the western and southern US Meanwhile, cooler than average temperatures across much of Canada. This is some of the colder air that is expected to drop into the Lower 48 as we head into the first half of April.
The 850mb temperature anomaly on Wednesday, shows a blob of very chilly air across much of the Central US. This colder than average weather will actually be in place across much of the Central and Eastern half of the country through the first half of the month.
Weather Outlook Ahead
Weather conditions will get fairly active as we head into the early week time frame. The weather depiction below suggests weather conditions by 7pm Monday. Note the large storm system that will be impacting the Upper Midwest with areas of heavy rain, heavy snow and a mix in between.
Severe Threats Ahead
The storm system that will be moving through the Central US during the early week time frame will also be responsible for severe weather across the Southern US on Tuesday. At this point, NOAA’s SPC has a highlighted risk area for the potential of strong to severe storms. Stay tuned.
Severe Threat Tuesday
7 Day Precipitation Outlook
According to NOAA's WPC, the 7-day precipitation outlook suggests areas of heavy precipitation moving into the Southern US once again this week. Areas of heavy precipitation will also be possible across parts of the Ohio Valley and into the Northeast. Another round of heavy precipitation will move into the Pacific Northwest with areas of snow in the high elevations.
Snowfall Potential Ahead
The GFS snowfall potential into the first full week of April suggests areas of heavy snow across parts of the northern tier of the nation. Some spots could see 6” to 12”+ over the week ahead.
Even For Veteran Minnesotans, One Tough Spring
Easter Sunday brings a timeless message of rebirth and a steadfast hope that stands the test of time.
In stark contrast, this forecast may illicit groans of indignation and howls of protest. I'm just the messenger.
For the record, I'd much rather be predicting 60F, with a risk of a drink out on the deck. That day is coming, but not until mid-April.
Minnesota snow lovers are in shock: 51.1 inches of snow at MSP, 20 inches more than last winter; with a persistent, gnawing chill reminiscent of 2014. April of that year was 5F colder than average; we went on to experience a spring of record flooding & overflowing lakes.
I won't go out on that limb, but I can say with a high degree of confidence that this upcoming week would feel right at home in late February. Another plowable snowfall is possible Monday and Tuesday; a few more inches may fall in the metro area before skies clear on Wednesday.
The average high now is 50F. We won't see 50s for at least 2 weeks. Spring has lost its bounce, for now.
April 2014 brought 7 inches of snow. Expect something similar this year, as well. Models hint at a slushy mix Sunday; again on Tuesday, but the atmosphere finally mellows by mid-April, with consistent 50s, even a hint of green!
SUNDAY: Frozen Easter eggs. Winds: W 8-13. High: 33.
SUNDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear and chilly. Winds: W 5-10. Low: 19.
MONDAY: Period of wet snow develops. Winds: SE 10-15. High: 35.
TUESDAY: Few inches of snow possible. Slushy. Winds: N 10-20. Wake-up: 28. High: 33.
WEDNESDAY: Sunny. Feels like late February. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 15. High: 28.
THURSDAY: Partly to mostly cloudy. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 19. High: 34.
FRIDAY: Another clipper. Chance of light snow. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 20. High: 30.
SATURDAY: Bright sunshine. Less wind. Winds: W 5-10. Wake-up: 14. High: 33.
This Day in Weather History
1882: A record high of 75 degrees is set at Minneapolis.
Average High/Low for Minneapolis
Average High: 50F (Record: 84F set in 2015)
Average Low: 31F (Record: 9F set in 1975)
Record Rainfall: 0.54" set in 1967
Record Snowfall: 4.6" set in 2002
Sunrise/Sunset Times for Minneapolis
Hours of Daylight: ~12 hours & 47 minutes
Daylight GAINED since yesterday: ~ 3 minutes & 7 seconds
Daylight GAINED since winter solstice (December 21st): 4 Hour 2 Minutes
Moon Phase for April 1st at Midnight
0.8 Days After Full “Sap” Moon
Temp Outlook For Sunday
Temps on Sunday will be a VERY chilly for the start of April. Again keep in mind that the average high in the Twin Cities is 50F for the first day of the month, so we will be nearly -15F to -20F below that mark.
8 to 14 Day Temperature Outlook
According to NOAA's CPC, the early and even middle part of April could be quite chilly across much of the eastern half of the nation. Meanwhile, the Western and Southwestern US will be warmer than average.
"Underground tunnels proposed for Houston flooding"
"HOUSTON The flood control district for the Houston area is considering a proposal to build massive underground tunnels to drain floodwaters from bayous across the county. Harris County Flood Control District officials said the idea could be a bold solution to alleviating the chronic flooding that has plagued the Houston area, including during Hurricane Harvey. The project could cost several billion dollars and take several years to complete, the Houston Chronicle reported . It would build a network of deep tunnels to carry water from several of Houston's waterways, so that they'd be able to keep a 100-year storm event within their banks."
"NASA is watching Arctic sea ice closely, and it has a dire warning for us all"
"NASA spends a lot of its time gazing into the depths of the cosmos, but one of the great things about having high-powered cameras orbiting our planet is that you can easily observe changes to Earth as well. NASA uses that power to provide data on sea ice levels via the National Snow and Ice Data Center, which records the seasonal changes in the amount of sea ice and plots trends over time. Now, in its most recent data dump, the group is once again sounding the global warming alarm, and things aren’t looking good. According to the most recent readings, the annual sea ice maximum — that is, the point at which the most Arctic sea ice is present, on a per-year basis — has been at its lowest points over the past four years. That means that out of all the recorded data, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 were lower than every other year, and the numbers aren’t even close."
"The Many Ends of Planet Earth"
"New book examines the mega-disasters in our past, and what lies ahead. Opponents of action to curb global warming have long argued that climate change is natural, and happened long before humans ever discovered fire. So there’s no point in blaming ourselves, let alone trying to do something about it. But as The Ends of the World points out, we are currently living in an ice age, and civilization has flourished in a 12,000-year-long interglacial period. Most interglacials last about 10,000 years, and without human activity the glaciers would now be building up, not melting away. But even 10,000 years offer little real perspective on our present situation. Peter Brannen takes us back half a billion years and then forward to each of the five mass extinctions that life on Earth has endured. Each destroyed a rich and complex world, leaving few survivors to evolve and replace it. We are now supposedly in the Sixth Extinction, destroying species through hunting, habitat destruction, our sheer numbers and the climate change we’ve caused. True enough, no doubt, but natural forces have been far more thorough than we could ever be."
"National Flood Insurance Is Underwater Because of Outdated Science"
"The FEMA program will continue to be financially unviable until it uses the latest research to help fix its broken system. The National Flood Insurance Program, which covers some 5.2 million property holders in the U.S., was slated to get a badly needed overhaul today. The Senate’s task—which includes hammering out reforms that address the changing math of flood risk—has already been pushed back three times since November. Yet lawmakers still have not compromised on how to fix a broken system, so a reauthorization of the NFIP will almost certainly be punted again, to July 31."
"THIS BROOKLYN ARCHITECT WANTS TO REWIRE PUERTO RICO WITH SOLAR"
"THE SIXTH-MONTH ANNIVERSARY of Hurricane Maria’s grinding-up of Puerto Rico brought what might feel like good news. According to AEE, the Electrical Energy Authority, almost 93 percent of Puerto Ricans—1,365,065 people—now have power. The process has been agonizing—a misguided early repair contract to the unlikely Whitefish Energy for $300 million got cancelled, and it took months for crews from better-suited firms to get started. Financial problems, logistical difficulties, and a weird reluctance on the part of the federal government to make Puerto Rico a priority all extended the timeline. The work is far from over. Thousands of people are still without water and power, and suffering—especially in rural areas—goes on. But in the midst of that tumult and travail, some technologists see opportunities for innovation. Puerto Rico’s energy infrastructure was falling apart even before the hurricane. So lots of folks are advocating solar power systems as a jump into the future. Earlier this month, the design-driven nonprofit Resilient Power Puerto Ricoannounced it would receive grants of $625,000, with which the group plans to construct 25 of a planned 100 small, commercial-scale solar arrays—with an eye toward revamping pieces of the island’s grid."
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