Spring Fever Alert Issued For Next Week

After 40 days and 40 nights of swirling snow and temperatures that would feel right at home in Novosibirsk, Siberia - we can be forgiven for welcoming a streak of 30s and 40s. Time to exhale.

European guidance (ECMWF model) hints at 50 degrees by the weekend of March 23-24, but I'm a little skeptical. And as much as I want to gaze out at green lawns, plump robins and Kodacolor sunsets, I'm hoping spring creeps up on us this year.

The severity of (inevitable) river flooding will depend on how quickly we thaw (and stay consistently above 32F), coupled with heavy rain events. Next week should be dry; the next window of possible heavy rain March 25-17.

Rain showers linger today as a powerful storm tracks right over MSP. We dry out Friday as a colder wind blows from the northwest. A dry, eerily storm-free weekend gives way to a streak of pleasant days next week, as temperatures mellow into the 40s.

Snow on the ground will cool air from below, putting a brake on our warm front, but spring IS coming. 50 degrees will feel amazing in roughly one week. 

Additional Rainfall. This is ECMWF guidance from last night's 00z run, which continues to predict the most excessive rainfall amounts for central and southwest Minnesota, with another half inch of rain Thursday for parts of the Twin Cities metro. Map: WeatherBell.

Cold Wrinkle for Twins Home Opener? It's still waaaay too early to call this a weather forecast; more of a weather trend. 500 mb forecasts via NOAA's GFS suggest a trough, a wrinkle of colder air capable of showers, but my gut is temperatures at least in the 40s for the Twins Home Opener vs. Cleveland on March 28.

Spring Flooding Overview. Dan Luna, Meteorologist in Charge of the local Twin Cities National Weather Service shared some thoughts with me regarding magnitude and timing of spring flooding. Here is what Dan had to say:
"Spring snow melt floods are a very different event that a meteorological event. For instance to say analog(s) and refer to 1965 or 2001 would be comparing apples and oranges because those floods occurred in mid April...too far down the road for any deterministic forecast of temperature or precipitation (We do not have a deterministic or ensemble forecast more than about 7-10 days).  Whereas, when we use meteorological analogs we are looking at current conditions, expected weather conditions and asking when we have seen this in the past and then apply the current forecast out to a few to seven days or an ensemble of forecasts. In other words what are the range of possibilities.
What we can say is we are in this for the long run. Our current forecast calls for rain and 40's. It will do little to melt much snow. The snow depth will go down of course. The reality is little of the rainfall and subsequent snow melt will make it to the rivers, so significant river rises are not expected soon. Snow physics are very complicated, even for us. We have to ripen the pack and that takes a few days of above freezing temperatures. The snow pack is cold right now; takes a lot of energy to ripen it so it can melt fast. This morning we were well below freezing and will drop below freezing this Thursday night and then have several nights well below freezing through Monday morning will halt the melt; a short warm spell or melting significant snow.
So if we look at 1965; warmed up above freezing in early to mid March; then cooled well below freezing for the last two weeks of March and then stayed above freezing for the most part in April. At MSP we had 37.1" of snow in March 1965 (normal 10.3") and 4.75" of water equivalent (melted precipitation); normal 1.89". On March 29th we had 27" of snow on the ground; March 31st 12". The previous month of February 1965 saw 11.7" of snow and the month ended with 4" on the ground. In April 1965 we had 12 out of 16 days with temps in the 40's or 50's and several rain events, with a total of 1.68 inches during that period 4/1-4/15; max for one day was .50" on 4/10.
2001 - February 2001 was similar to this February in some ways, but yet very different. Therein lies the challenge; each flood has different characteristics that get it going.  We saw 16.5" of snow for the month of February 2001. Feb 1st saw 11" for a snow depth and by the end of Feb it was up to 19" with a max of 23" on the 25 and 26th; similar to this February. Only two days we saw high temps reach or exceed the freezing mark and not by much; sound familiar. March 2001 started out with 19" of snow on the ground and ended the month at 6"; maxed out at 22" on the 13th. Total precip for the month was 1.09, below the norm of 1.89. Snowfall was 8.6"; below the normal of 10.3.
April started off with a bang; temperatures stayed above freezing almost every day through April 18th, (day the river crested at St Paul) with high temps reaching into the 50's and 60's. The river crested on 4/18 at St Paul. There was a second crest on April 30th due to a two day rain event that totaled 2.87 inches on 4/21-22. The total rainfall from 4/1 - 4/18 was 3.41" (excessive rains). The total for the month was 7.0"; normal for April is 2.66. Rain drove the magnitude of that flood. What caused this flood to be the 3rd and 4th highest on record in many locations were 3 rainfall events ranging from 1.50" (4/6), 1.31" (4/11-12) and 2.21" (4/22). Can we forecast that at this point in time with any accuracy; you know the answer ;-)
Lots of water in the snow pack all 3 years (1965, 2001, 2019); more this year. We have a long ways to go and the severity of the flooding will be determined by how rapid temperatures reach the mid 40's and stay there and or significant precipitation events of an inch or greater with mid 40 temperatures. We expect no significant river flooding through march 26, 2019. The majority of big river floods occur the first to the second week in April.
I have seen these what appear to be doom and gloom scenarios work out perfectly; like I said a long ways to go. If it gets warm for an extended period of time and we get significant rain, people better be prepared."
- Dan Luna, MIC, Twin Cities National Weather Service.

Historic "Bomb Cyclone" Impacts High Plains. Capital Weather Gang has a great summary of a jaw-dropping blizzard: "An explosively intensifying winter storm centered over the Colorado Front Range continues to unleash a potpourri of extreme weather across the Plains states and Upper Midwest. The hurricane-force system has combined the worst weather of all four seasons into one — from a string of violent, tornadic thunderstorms to damaging winds, severe blizzard conditions and even flooding. It’s a storm for the record books, strengthening from a run-of-the-mill weather disturbance into a historic cyclone in 24 hours. Its central pressure dropped 33 millibars from Tuesday to Wednesday, meeting the criteria of a meteorological “bomb.” The storm made this transformation over land, rather than water, which is rare..."

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Wednesday, March 13th, 2019:

  • As a strong area of low pressure continues to move east and northeast over the central United States over the next couple of days, there will be a number of weather concerns that are associated with it.
  • Heavy snow and blizzard conditions will be possible from Colorado to northern Minnesota through Thursday. Some areas could see snowfall totals of 1-2 feet, and wind gusts of 60-70+ mph will cause whiteout and blizzard conditions. This would cause nearly impossible travel across the region.
  • High wind gusts will also be possible outside of the heavy snow area, from Texas to Nebraska. In these areas, wind gusts of 60-70 mph will also be possible, causing travel issues and the potential of power outages.
  • This system will also bring the potential of heavy rain (1-2”+) across the warm sector in the upper Midwest. This heavy rain could lead to flooding with the ongoing snow melt and frozen ground and/or snow cover in place. Numerous rivers will have the potential to go into flood stage over the next several days.
  • Severe weather is also possible with an Enhanced Risk of severe weather today across parts of the mid and lower Mississippi Valley, including Memphis. The main threats will be damaging winds and a few tornadoes, but large hail can’t be ruled out.

Wednesday Morning Radar. Snow is falling from the Rockies into South Dakota this morning, with rain from southern Minnesota southward into Texas. Already 2” of snow had been reported in Rawlins, WY. Meanwhile, some flood warnings are in effect across eastern Nebraska and western Iowa due to 1-1.5” of rain so far this morning and ongoing snowmelt.

Storm Overview. Numerous weather concerns are expected over the next couple days in the central United States as a strong storm system moves eastward and northeastward. Snow will continue to expand on the cold side of the system, already working as far north as the Fargo area by late this afternoon. Strong winds will cause blizzard conditions across these areas as well. Meanwhile, rain – heavy at times – will be falling across parts of eastern South Dakota into Minnesota (including the Twin Cities) and southward through the Mississippi Valley and into Nebraska and Kansas. Some of the storms across the mid and lower Mississippi Valley could be severe later today. Heavy snow will continue from Nebraska to northwestern Minnesota tomorrow morning as the system continues to move northeastward, with rain gradually turning over to at least light snow for areas like the Twin Cities Thursday afternoon and night.

Blizzard Warnings From Colorado To Minnesota. On the cold side of the system, numerous winter weather alerts are in place from Colorado to Minnesota due to the potential of snow, ice, and blizzard conditions. Blizzard Warnings have been issued from Colorado to northwestern Minnesota due to expected strong winds and snow causing blizzard criteria to be met (nearly constant sustained winds of at least 35 mph with visibility of a quarter mile or less for at least three consecutive hours). Some of the locations under winter weather alerts include:

  • Colorado Springs, CO: Blizzard Warning from 10 AM to 4 PM today for blizzard conditions with 2-6” of snow and winds gusting over 70 mph.
  • Denver, CO: Blizzard Warning from 10 AM today to Midnight tonight for blizzard conditions with 6-12” of snow and wind gusts as high as 70 mph.
  • Cheyenne, WY and Scottsbluff, NE: Blizzard Warning through 6 PM Thursday for initially freezing rain (up to a quarter inch) followed by heavy snow and blizzard conditions with 10-22” of snow possible.
  • Casper, WY: Winter Storm Warning through 6 AM Thursday for 6-12” of snow and wind gusts as high as 45 mph causing significant blowing and drifting snow.
  • North Platte, NE: Winter Storm Warning from 4 PM today to 9 AM Thursday for 1-3” of snow and wind gusts as high as 65 mph which will cause significant blowing snow.
  • Rapid City, SD: Blizzard Warning through 6 PM Thursday for blizzard conditions with 5-14” of snow and wind gusts as high as 65 mph.
  • Pierre, SD: Blizzard Warning through 1 AM Friday for blizzard conditions with 10-18” of snow, ice up to one-tenth of an inch (mainly this morning), and wind gusts as high as 65 mph.
  • Aberdeen, SD: Winter Storm Warning from 1 PM today to 1 AM Friday for 4-9” of snow, ice up to two-tenths of an inch, and wind gusts as high as 60 mph.
  • Sioux Falls, SD: Winter Storm Watch from Thursday morning through Thursday evening for blizzard conditions with 1-3” of snow and wind gusts as high as 55 mph.
  • Bismarck, ND: Blizzard Warning from 10 PM tonight to 1 PM Thursday for blizzard conditions with 4-8” of snow and wind gusts as high as 55 mph.
  • Fargo, ND: Blizzard Warning from 7 PM tonight to 1 AM Friday for blizzard conditions with 2-11” of snow, ice up to a tenth of an inch, and wind gusts as high as 60 mph.
  • Grand Forks, ND: Blizzard Warning from 1 AM Thursday to 1 AM Friday for blizzard conditions with up to 12” of snow, a glaze of ice, and wind gusts as high as 55 mph.
  • International Falls, MN: Winter Storm Watch from Wednesday evening through Thursday evening for 2-5” of snow and a light glaze of ice.

Expected Snow. A band of 1-2 feet of snow will be possible through Friday (most of this falling through Thursday) from parts of eastern Wyoming northeastward into southern North Dakota. The heaviest forecasted snow right now is in areas of northwestern Nebraska, southwestern South Dakota, and in higher elevation areas of Wyoming, which is where those totals have the highest potential of nearing 2 feet. This snow will cause severe travel issues across the region, and with the added wind/blizzard potential travel could be impossible.

Expected Strong Winds. Wind gusts of 60-70+ mph will be possible across parts of the Plains over the next couple days, both in areas that see snow (which is where mainly Blizzard Warnings are in place) as well as in areas that won’t see in any snow. Starting in areas that see snowfall, these strong winds could lead to blizzard and whiteout conditions, especially today into Thursday which will make travel nearly impossible. It would be possible to see road closures due to significant blowing and drifting snow in these areas, and the combination of the wind and snow could cause power outages and tree damage. In areas outside the heavy snow, strong winds will lead to the potential of hazardous travel conditions and power outages.

High Wind Alerts. With very strong wind gusts (60-70+ mph in some locations) expected outside of areas that see snow, numerous High Wind Watches and Warnings are in place from Texas and New Mexico northward into Nebraska. High Wind Warnings include cities like Albuquerque (NM), Amarillo, Lubbock, El Paso, and Wichita Falls (TX), Oklahoma City and Tulsa (OK), Colorado Springs and Pueblo (CO), Dodge City and Wichita (KS), and North Platte (NE).

Flooding Rains Expected As Well. This system will continue to produce heavy rain in the warm sector as well, which could lead to a flood threat over the next few days.  Rainfall totals of at least 1-2”, with some areas receiving 3” tallies, are expected through the end of the week.

Flood Watches In Place. The main concern of this heavy rain will continue be the potential of flooding over the next several days. In some parts of the upper Midwest, this rain will be falling on top of frozen ground and/or in areas with snow cover still in place, meaning a lot of this rain will directly run off into rivers and streams. It also means that urban/street flooding will be a concern as some of that rain could pool in areas if storm drains are clogged with snow and ice. This rain would also increase the snowmelt across parts of the upper Midwest and could cause at least some minor river flooding, and the potential of ice jams on rivers could increase.  Due to the threat of flooding with this system, areas from Minnesota and the upper peninsula of Michigan southeastward to Kansas and western Colorado are under flood watches.

River Flooding Expected. Due to the rain and snowmelt, numerous rivers are expected to go into flood stage in the central part of the nation over the next several days.

Enhanced Severe Storm Risk Today. The severe weather threat with this system continues today across parts of the mid and lower Mississippi Valley. An Enhanced Risk of severe weather has been put in place across parts of eastern Arkansas, northwestern Mississippi, and western Tennessee, including Memphis (TN), Jonesboro (AR), and Greenville (MS). As storms continue to move east today, additional storms will form ahead of the line already ongoing this morning before eventually merging together. The main threats for storms will be damaging winds (particularly in the line of storms), a few tornadoes (mainly in any storms ahead of the main line), and potentially large hail.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix

The Fight To Be a Middle-Aged Female News Anchor. A story at The New York Times made me do a double-take: "....Meredith is also, as it happens, being sued for age discrimination. In 2015, CBS affiliate KCTV in Kansas City, fired news anchor Karen Fuller, then 47, from the station and replaced her with a 32-year old. In Dec. 2017, NBC affiliate WSMV in Nashville let anchor Demetria Kalodimos, then 58, go, and replaced her with someone a decade younger. Both women subsequently filed suit. Ms. Fuller’s suit alleged that removing older women from highly visible roles has been a problem at Meredith stations, with a set of seven female anchors in markets including Atlanta, Phoenix and St. Louis removed in a span of five years and replaced with younger women. The average age of the anchors who lost their jobs was 46.8, while their replacements averaged 38.1 years. In one case, the difference was more than two decades..."

Barking Drones Used on Farms Instead of Sheep Dogs. Oh boy, here come the robots. Radio New Zealand has the story: "Robots aren't just stealing human jobs, they're after man's best friend too - now there's a drone that can bark like a sheep dog...The latest drone model, the $3500 DJI Mavic Enterprise, can record sounds and play them over a speaker - allowing a dog's bark, or other noises, to be loudly projected across a paddock. Mr Lambeth said this feature helped move stock along faster during mustering while stressing the animals less than a dog could. Cows could sometimes become protective of their calves and try to lunge at farm dogs when they got too close, he said. "That's the one thing I've noticed when you're moving cows and calves that the old cows stand-up to the dogs, but with the drones, they've never done that," he said..."

41 F. maximum temperature in the Twin Cities.

40 F. average high on March 13.

37 F. high on March 13, 2018.

March 14, 1943: Snow, sleet and ice cripple parts of Minnesota south of a line from Duluth through St. Cloud and Ortonville. The heaviest ice was in the vicinities of Lake Benton, Springfield and Windom. Ice thickness was 1/2 to 3/4 inch around St. Cloud to 3/4 to 2 inches in the Pipestone, Ruthton, Lake Wilson, Slayton and Tracy. A good description of the ice was submitted in one report: '…ice was 2 inches across and 1 3/4 inch deep on wire. A little frost ice near the wire with the outside solid ice. The ice was irregular in shape.' Duluth had 6 inches of snowfall at the city office with 13 inches at the airport. The ice was confined to Moose Lake and south.

March 14, 1870: A severe snow and wind storm moves across Minnesota and Iowa. The 'Northern Vindicator' of Estherville, Iowa becomes the first newspaper to use the term 'blizzard' on this date.

THURSDAY: Rain showers linger. Winds: N 10-15. High: 43

FRIDAY: Cloudy, windy and cooler. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 28. High: 36

SATURDAY: Plenty of sun, less wind. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 19. High: 36

SUNDAY: More clouds than sun. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 22. High: 38

MONDAY: Sunny and pleasant. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 25. High: 44

TUESDAY: Mix of clouds and spring. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 28. High: 46

WEDNESDAY: Blue sky, actually feels like spring. Winds: SW 10-15. Wake-up: 30. High: 49

Climate Stories....

7 Ways You Can Help Save the Planet Right Now. I came across an uplifting, encouraging post at Oprah Magazine: "...I’m a climate scientist, so I know just how unprecedented these realities are. Climate has never changed this fast in human history. I’m also a Christian, and that’s part of why I care about this issue—because even though it impacts us all, it’s the poor, hungry, and vulnerable the world over, the very ones we’re told to love and care for, who are disproportionately harmed by these shifts. Yet often when we turn on the news, go online, or talk to a family member, we hear doubt: “The climate always fluctuates”or “But it’s so cold today!” or “Those scientists are fudging the data.” Never mind that according to orbital cycles that drive ice ages, we should be cooling, not warming; or that individual cold days don’t disprove decades of warming; or that we scientists really and truly have no good reason to lie..."

Illustration credit: Kyle Bean.

The Strange Optimism of Climate Alarmist David Wallace-Wells. Rolling Stone has the analysis - here's a clip: "...That alarmist outlook may soon be the new normal. “I think that the psychology of everyone on the planet in, say, 2075, will be shaped by these forces,” he says. “This is something that I see impacting absolutely every aspect of our lives in the decades ahead unless we change course somewhat dramatically.” But Wallace-Wells is actually a pretty optimistic person, all things considered. His first child was born while he was writing the book, which has only increased his resolve to address these problems. “The scale of suffering that is possible…can be so overwhelming that it feels paralyzing, but, ultimately, the size of those impacts are a measure of our own agency. We have the power to stop them from happening entirely if we take the necessary action...”

What Does Climate Change Mean For Having Children? Nothing. In spite of this Op-Ed, many younger people are, in fact, paranoid about the trends. Here's an excerpt from THEWEEK.com: "...We should do more with less for our good and the good of creation. But I would advocate all of these things even if I did not think that we might be making the world warmer. All I need are my eyes to recognize that our greed is making it ugly to the point of uninhabitability in many places — usually ones far away from where the wealthy live. But even if I believed the most lurid predictions about climate change, it would not alter my views about child-rearing in the slightest. There is no necessary connection between birth and spoliation. The world's poorest have more babies than the rest of us and are still the least responsible for our present ecological woes. Regardless of the country in which they happen to be born children are not to blame for the crimes of adults. The Earth is here for them, awaiting their good stewardship after our own failures pass into history..."

Kasich: Forget the Green New Deal. We Need Climate Solutions From Free-Market Moderates. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed from the former governor of Ohio at USA TODAY: "...That’s just one example of a national climate change response that could win support from elected leaders with a broad range of political convictions. They can start with a carbon tax or a cap and trade program, which is a market-based trading system to incentivize carbon reduction. These approaches have already shown they can work. Over the past 20 years, a cap and trade in the eastern USA has dramatically reduced sulfurous power-plant emissions that cause acid rain. Today, California and some of Canada’s provinces have agreed to apply a  cooperative cap and trade approach to controlling greenhouse gasses.  These and similar initiatives are making a difference, but we need to do more to make significant progress against climate change..."

That Sinking Feeling: Real Estate in the Age of Climate Change. Interested in coastal real estate? Really? Here's an excerpt from a post at Forbes: "...Also note that the lead author of the report, Mary Ludgin, is not some unwashed, unlearned hipster activist, but the managing director of a $42 billion real estate investment fund, Heitman. Ludgin received analytical support from Four Twenty Seven, a climate risk analytics firm founded by political scientist Emilie Mazzacurati after Mazzacurati witnessed the enormous financial losses brought about by Hurricane Sandy. Ludgin and Mazzacurati know what I know: climate change is the most disruptive socioeconomic force in human history. Disruption spells opportunity, but only for those who are prepared for it. Intelligent investors take note!"

Map credit: First Street Foundation Report: First Street.org.

Democrats Want Any Infrastructure Bill To Address Climate Change. Scientific American has the story: "As infrastructure talks progress on Capitol Hill, Democrats are calling for any legislative package to address climate change. That would have been unthinkable last year, when Republicans controlled both chambers of Congress. Indeed, when President Trump initially proposed his $1 trillion infrastructure plan last year, it sparked little discussion about global warming. And the plan ultimately failed to materialize due to disagreement over funding options. But momentum is again building for an infrastructure package to materialize by late spring. And now that they have a majority in the House, Democrats are increasingly vocalizing the need for it to address the climate crisis (E&E Daily, March 7)..."

File image: NOAA.

The Big Chill. Quartz has a great post on the Little Ice Age of the 1600s, and how it may be prologue to the kinds of large-scale climate disruptions we're going to face going forward: "...But when the bad seasons wouldn’t stop coming—for years—and literal witch hunts didn’t do a thing to help, a new paradigm was (slowly) born. Over the next 100 years, nature started being seen as a clockwork mechanism that humans can discern. Scientists exchanged information. Botanists sent plants across continents, and Europe adopted new growths, like tulips and potatoes, which proved to be the basis for new markets and gastronomies. By the time the weather became more temperate a century later, many of the ideas that shape the world we live in today had come into being—including notions of a free market with its own logic. And those market forces led us to the current climate crisis. If the past is any indication, what lies ahead for us as climate change leads to increasingly frequent extreme weather is a time of great trouble, disruption, upheaval, uncertainty, intellectual development, and innovation. If we’re lucky, a brave new world will emerge..."

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Paul Douglas: What's shaping the potential for river flooding

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Paul Douglas: Dry, windy and cooler, but 40s will return next week