The Big Melt!
 
If you're a Twitter user, a good follow is @UWCIMSS out of Madison Wisconsin. They share a lot of neat satellite images and this one on Thursday was really neat! If you follow the link HERE you can see how rapidly the fresh snow melted in one day under strong April sunshine. Keep in mind that some spots in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa had nearly a foot of fresh snow on Wednesday! WOW! Let's keep the melt going, huh?!
 
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Record MSP April Snowfall!

April 2018 has been pretty impressive so far in terms of snow and cold. I feel like we had a repeat of January, don't you? Well, if you haven't heard, this has been the snowiest April in recorded history with a whopping 26.1" of snow, beating the previous snowiest April of 21.8" set in 1983. By the way, the average April snow is only 2.4".

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Snow Depth

The snow depth across the state of Minnesota is still pretty impressive considering that it is the 2nd to last week of April. However, even with all the snow we've had this month, the strong April sunshine is really doing a number on that snow pack. With temperatures expected to remains closer to if not even above average over the next several days, the snow will melt VERY fast!

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Coldest April on Record... So Far
 
The average temperature at the Twin Cities Airport through the first 19 days of the April have been the coldest on record with an average of only 29.1F! Impressively, we are nearly -15.5F below average through the first 19 days of the month.
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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 April 15th, we have no ice outs anywhere across the state this year. 

See more from MN DNR HERE:


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Ice Safety!!

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.

See more from MN DNR HERE:

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Latest First 60F on Record For MSP...
 
Hallelujah! Our first 60F high of the season is on track this weekend for Minneapolis and it's going to feel great! Keep in mind that the last time Minneapolis had a high in the 60s was on November 27th, nearly 5 months ago! With that said, this spring has been very chilly and we will likely have one of our latest first 60F highs on record. Note that the latest on record was on April 29th set in 1874, but the most recent was on April 26th set in 2013! By the way, last year, our first 60F high was on February 17th at 63F! At this time last year, we had already had 15 days with highs in the 60s or warmer, 3 of those days were in the 70s!
 

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Extended Temperature Forecast

The extended forecast through May 4th & 5th warmer temps FINALLY moving in as we head through the last full week of April and into early May. Highs look to be more consistently in the 50s and 60s and possibly in the 70s as we head into May. Cross you fingers! The images below suggest the GFS (American model) and ECMWF (European model) temperature outlook. Keep in mind that the average high at the end of April in the Twin Cities is in the mid 60s. 

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Cold Start to April

The first half 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. When in comes to the Twin Cities, we are running -15.6F below average through the first 19 days 

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Great Lakes Ice Coverage

According to NOAA's GLERL, the Great Lakes were 5.1% covered in ice as of April 19th. Interestingly only 0.2% 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 20th, NOAA's GLERL, said that 5.5% of Lake Superior was covered. Interestingly, at last time last year only 0.1% of the lake was covered in ice! Quite a difference from this year to last.

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Snow Depth 2018

The snow depth map across the country for April 20th suggests that 16.2% 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 only 6.0% of the nation was covered in snow. As of April 20th, the Twin Cities officially had 3" of snow on the ground at the MSP Airport in the morning, and at this time last year, there was no snow on the ground.

Snow Depth 2017

At this time last year, 6.0% of the nation was covered in snow. 

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2018 Tornadoes So Far...

According to NOAA's SPC, there have been 257 preliminary tornadoes so far this year (April 19th), which is more than what we had at this time in the last couple of years. Interestingly, there were 631 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 April 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.

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3-7 Day Hazard Forecast

1.) Heavy rain across portions of the Lower Mississippi Valley, the Southeast, and the Southern Plains, Sun, Apr 22.
2.) Heavy rain across portions of the Southeast, the Southern Appalachians, the Mid-Atlantic, and the Central Appalachians, Mon-Tue, Apr 23-Apr 24.
3.) Flooding occurring or imminent across portions of the Lower Mississippi Valley and the Northern Plains.
4.) Flooding likely across portions of the Upper Mississippi Valley and the Northern Plains.
5.) High winds across portions of the Southeast and the Mid-Atlantic, Mon-Tue, Apr 23-Apr 24.
6.) Heavy precipitation across portions of the Alaska Panhandle and mainland Alaska, Sun-Tue, Apr 22-Apr 24.
7.) High winds across portions of the Alaska Panhandle and mainland Alaska, Sun, Apr 22.
8.) High winds across portions of mainland Alaska and the Aleutians, Mon-Wed, Apr 23-Apr 25.
9.) High significant wave heights for coastal portions of mainland Alaska and the Aleutians, Mon-Wed, Apr 23-Apr 25.
10.) Slight risk of heavy precipitation for portions of the Middle Mississippi Valley, the Lower Mississippi Valley, and the Southern Plains, Sun, Apr 29.
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.

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Temperature Anomaly on Friday

The temperature anomaly across North America from Friday, showed WELL below average temperatures across a large chunk of the Central and Eastern US.

Temperature Trend

The 850mb temperature anomaly from Saturday to Tuesday shows well below average temperatures across much of the Eastern two-thirds of the nation starting to fade a little as we head into the next few days. Meanwhile, warmer than average temperatures look to continue in the Southwestern US. 

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 Weather Outlook Ahead

A storm system will move acorss the central and southern US and we head through the weekend with areas of heavy rain and strong to severe storms. Areas of heavy snow will wrap up early Saturday across the Central Rockies, but strong to severe storms may continue across the Southern US through the weekend.

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Severe Threats Ahead

As the storm system slides east through the weekend, a few strong to severe storms can't be ruled out across the Southern US. Here are the SPC threats for Saturday and Sunday

Severe Threat Saturday

Severe Threat Sunday

 
7 Day Precipitation Outlook

According to NOAA's WPC, the 7-day precipitation outlook suggests areas of heavy precipitation continuing across the Southern and Southeastern US as we head through the weekend and last full week of April. Some spots could see 2" to 4" especially in the Southeast/Mid-Atlantic States.

Snowfall Potential Ahead

The GFS snowfall potential  as we head into the last full week of April suggests more snow across the high elevations in the Central and Northern Rockies. However, note that there doesn't appear to be any major snow storms brewing across the Upper Midwest. Let's hope we're all done with the snow!

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Lightswitch spring - First 60s of 2018 ahead!
By Todd Nelson, filling in for Douglas

Palms to the sky today my friends! I think we've finally reached the end of the never-ending long, dark and cold winter. Hallelujah!

Hard to believe that one week ago, we were dealing with blizzard warnings and thundersnow. This April has been an anomaly, no question. Not only has it been the snowiest April on record for the Twin Cities, but it has also been the coldest start to any April on record. Ugh!

According to MLB, there have 25 weather-related postponements this month, which ties the record set in 2007 (records date back to 1986). 4 of first 10 Twins home games actually had to be postponed due to snow. Again, this has been a very rare April and I think we're all ready to get on with spring.

I am happy to report that our first 60 degree highs of 2018 are in the forecast this weekend, which would be the first since around Thanksgiving, nearly 5 months ago! I predict that many will feel feverish today with raging spring fever setting in Monday as we make a run 70 across parts of the state.

Cue the choir, we've earned it!
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Extended Forecast

SATURDAY: Feverish. More melting. Winds: SSE 5. High: 58.

SATURDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear. Above freezing! Winds: S 5. Low: 38.

SUNDAY: Raging spring fever. First 60s of 2018! Winds: SSW 5-10. High: 65.

MONDAY: A run at 70F? Now we're talking! Winds: SW S-10. Wake-up: 43. High: 68.

TUESDAY: April showers. Breezy afternoon winds. Winds: NNW 10-20. Wake-up: 46. High: 40.

WEDNESDAY: Sun returns. Not bad. Winds: NW 5-10.. Wake-up: 38. High: 58.

THURSDAY: PM shower? Chillier wind develops. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 38. High: 60.

FRIDAY: Still looks like spring! Winds: NW 5-15. Wake-up: 40. High: 63.
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This Day in Weather History
April 21st

1910: A snowstorm hits northeastern Minnesota. Duluth picks up 6.5 inches.
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Average High/Low for Minneapolis
April 21st

Average High: 61F (Record: 95F set in 1980)
Average Low: 40F (Record: 22F set in 1966)

Record Rainfall: 0.74" set in 1912
Record Snowfall: 6.6" set in 2002
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Sunrise/Sunset Times for Minneapolis
April 21st

Sunrise: 6:18am
Sunset: 8:06pm

Hours of Daylight: ~13 hours & 48 minutes

Daylight GAINED since yesterday: ~ 2 minutes & 55 seconds
Daylight GAINED since winter solstice (December 21st): 5 Hour 1 Minute
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Moon Phase for April 21st at Midnight
0.6 Days Before First Quarter Moon

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 Temp Outlook For Saturday

Remember last weekend? Yea, it seems like a bad dream right about now doesn't it? The Twin Cities picked up 11.1" of snow on Saturday and was under a blizzard warning for the first time since April 1983! Good grief! Well, I'm happy to report that we'll be far removed from that kind of weather this weekend as highs warm into the 50s and 60s across the state. Saturday will still be a bit cooler than average, but at least we're heading in the right direction. 

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8 to 14 Day Temperature Outlook

According to NOAA's CPC, April 27th - May 3rd will be warmer than average across the Plains to the West Coast, while cooler than average temps may still be found across the Mid-Atlantic States. It sure is good to see that the widespread cooler than average temps aren't in the forecast anymore isn't it?

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"March 2018: Earth's 5th Warmest March on Record"

"March 2018 was the planet's fifth warmest March since record keeping began in 1880, said NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) on Wednesday. NASA rated March 2018 as the sixth warmest March on record, with the only warmer March months being 2016, 2017, 2010, 2002, and 2015. The difference in rankings between NASA and NOAA is mostly due to how they handle data-sparse regions such as the Arctic, where few surface weather stations exist. The rankings for March were cooler than we've seen in recent years thanks to the presence of colder weather than average over much of Europe, plus the presence of cool ocean temperatures over the Eastern Pacific from a weak La Niña event. Global ocean temperatures during March 2018 were the fifth warmest on record, and global land temperatures were the seventh warmest on record. Global satellite-measured temperatures in March 2018 for the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere were the sixth or ninth warmest in the 40-year record, according to the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH) and RSS, respectively."

See more from Wunderground HERE:


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"The Great Barrier Reef may never recover from the devastating 2016 heat wave"

"Australia's Great Barrier Reef will never be the same following the devastating marine heat wave that hit it between 2015 and 2016, according to a new study published Wednesday. The new research found that the northern third of the reef — which as a whole, is the largest living structure on the planet — experienced a "catastrophic die-off" of fast-growing coral species, like staghorn and tabular corals. These reefs have now shifted to a new state, with a different balance of coral species than were present prior to the marine heat wave. Scientists have tied that marine heat wave itself, and the increasing prevalence and severity of them, to human-caused global warming."

See more from Mashable HERE:


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"The Flood In Hawaii Is So Bad That Bison Are Being Washed Away"
 
"It rained 28 inches within 24 hours on Kauai, leading Hawaii's governor to issue an emergency proclamation for the island.  In case you haven't heard, things are getting very crazy in the Hawaiian island, Kauai, right now. The island had a record-breaking 28 inches of rain within 24 hours — destroying several homes and property, triggering mudslides, and even creating sinkholes. More than 200 people had to be airlifted and rescued from the North Shore, including both residents and tourists, the Associated Press reported."
 
 

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"This towering ‘snow canyon’ is carved into one of the snowiest places on Earth"
 
"There’s a mountain in Japan where the snow falls so heavily, they do not even attempt to clear it until spring. As much as 125 feet of snow falls on this mountain each year — around 1,500 inches. It is the snowiest place in Japan and probably one of the snowiest places on Earth. Tateyama (Mount Tate) is one of Japan’s three holy mountains, located on the west side of the country near the Sea of Japan. It’s a popular destination for hikers in the warm months and just as popular in late winter after workers carve a canyon through the snow up to the mountain’s peak. Route 6 snakes up the mountainside from the city of Toyoma on the coast. The altitude climb is from sea level to just under 10,000 feet. Because of its location next to the Sea of Japan, winds from the west create lake-effect-like storms, picking up moisture from the sea and dumping it onto Tateyama in the form of snow. When the snow begins to melt, crews bring in bulldozers to clear the highway. By that time, there could be as much as 66 feet of densely-compacted snow beneath their tires."
 
 

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"Dozens Of Homes Have Been Destroyed In Deadly Wildfires That Are Now Larger Than New York City"
 
"I don’t know what words to use to describe what’s going on over here," said a woman who was forced to flee her home. Massive wildfires in Oklahoma, fueled by the most dangerous conditions in a decade, have killed two people, destroyed dozens of homes, and charred an area larger than New York City. The largest of the blazes, the Rhea Fire, had burned 283,095 acres in western Oklahoma and was only 15% contained as of Thursday. Several other wildfires in the state have collectively burned tens of thousands of additional acres, and in total flames have raced across more than 500 square miles — an area that is more expansive than most major US cities including New York and Los Angeles. At least two people have died and at least 20 others have been injured in the fires, Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management spokesperson Keli Cain told BuzzFeed News. In Dewey County, which has suffered much of the Rhea Fire's fury, 50 homes spread across at least five separate communities have been destroyed. Hundreds of other buildings, such as barns, have also been lost. While several other fires continue to rage across the region, authorities say they don't yet know how bad the damage is."
 
 
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Thanks for checking in and don't forget to follow me on Twitter @TNelsonWX

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Happy Earth Day! Second 60 Degree High of 2018?