Slow Snow Melt Continues
 
Thanks to nearly 1ft of snow falling over the last 7 days, mountains of snow are in just about every parking lot across Minnesota. Here's a picture from our Praedictix office where 1 mountain just wasn't enough... we've got 3! 
 
 
13th Snowiest Meteorological Winter on Record for Twin Cities
 
Here's an interesting side note for those keeping track. With banner snowfall in January and February, we were able to sneak up to the 13th snowiest meteorological winter on record spot with 42.7" of snow! Keep in mind that meteorological winter is comprised of the months of December-January-February. While December 2017 finished -5.5" below average, January +8.2" above average (11th snowiest Jan. on record), and February +8.2" above average (11th snowiest Feb. on record).
 
 
"Why March 1st Is The Start Of Spring (Sort Of)"
 
"If you love spring you can claim it on March 1st. Sort of....March 1st is the start of meteorologicalspring. I know, I know, you may be saying, but Dr. Shepherd spring starts on March 20, 2016. Ah yes, that is astronomical spring. What's the difference between meteorological spring and astronomical spring? It's actually pretty simple. The astronomical seasons are related to position of the Earth relative to the Sun. Meteorological seasons are related to the annual temperature cycle. As I discussed recently in a Forbes discussion of why we have Leap Year, these factors determine seasons:

the Earth's rotation around the Sun
Earth's axial tilt (23.5 degrees but it can vary. Review Milankovitch Cycles)
the Sun's position over the equator

See more from Forbes.com HERE:

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Warmer Temps As of Late

February 2018 was a VERY chilly month and even with the warmer temps as of late, the average temp in the Twin Cities ended up being nearly -5F below average. Interestingly, Tuesday's high of +47F was the warmest day in the Twin Cities since January 26th when we warmed to +47F on that day too!
 
 
Great Lakes Ice
 
Here's a satellite image over the Great Lakes from earlier this week. If you looks close you can see the snow vs no snow line across parts of Minnesota and Wisconson. Also note the sparse ice cover across the Great Lakes. With February being such a cold month, ice coverage across the Great Lakes widened from what it was like in December and January. 
 
 
Great Lakes Ice Coverage
 
According to NOAA's GLERL, the Great Lakes were 33.4% covered as of February 27th. Interestingly only 4.6% 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 according to NOAA's GLERL, more than half of Lake Superior was covered in ice as of February 28th. Interestingly, at last time last year only 1.8% of the lake was covered in ice! Quite a difference from this year to last. 
 
Seasonal Snowfall
 
Here's a look at how much snow has fallen so far this season (since July 1st, 2017). With the exception of Fargo, ND, most reporting locations in the state of Minnesota have now gotten back to near average or at least within a few inches of average. Prior to the 2 snow events late last week and the weekend, many locations were running fairly decent snowfall deficits for the season. We will see how the rest of the season stacks up, but keep in mind that March is the 3rd snowiest month on record for the Twin Cities averaging 10.3". 
 
 
11th Snowiest January & February on Record at MSP Airport
 
The 2 images below show how much snow fell during the months of January and February at the MSP Airport and note that both months were considered to be the 11th snowiest January and February on record! January finished at 20.4" (+8.2" above average), while February has seen 15.9" (+8.2" above average). 
 
 
 
 
8th Snowiest January Through February on Record!
 
According to the MN State Climatology Office, the 36.3" of snow that the MSP Airport has seen from January to February is the 8th snowiest on record! This has also helped to push the Twin Cities up to a seasonal snowfall SURPLUS for the first time in a long time. While it's not much (+2.3"), it is still a surplus for the season.
 
 
 Snow Depth As of Sunday, February 27th
 
As of Monday, February 26th, there was officially 8" of snow on the ground the Twin Cities Airport, while nearly 2ft of snow was on the ground near Duluth and MN's North Shore. If you like snow, you better get out there and enjoy it soon because high temps in the 30s & 40s will keep that melting process going and the snowpack will continue to rapidly diminish over the next several days.
 
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Weather Outlook Ahead
 
The weather outlook from midday Sunday to Tuesday shows a potentially larger storm system developing across the Midwest with areas of heavy snow and thunderstorms. At this point, it was WAY too early to say where and how much of anything will fall, but make a mental note of this weather system as it could mean widespread travel impacts as we head into early next week. 
 
 
Warmer Temp Outlook Into Early March
 
Here's the temperature outlook through the middle part of March, which shows milder temps in the 30s and 40s staying with us through the first weekend of March. However, it appears there may be a slight dip to slightly below average temperatures again by the middle part of next week. The long range is still suggesting that highs near 40F or in the 40s maybe possible by the middle part of the month.
 
 
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Snow Depth 2018
 
The snow depth map across the country for February 28th suggests that 35.0% of the country is covered in snow, mainly across the northern half of the nation. At this time last year, 33.2% of the nation was covered in snow. As of February 28th, the Twin Cities officially had 7" 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, 33.2% of the nation was covered in snow. 
 
 

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Heavy Snow in the Sierra Nevada Range

Another Pacific storm is set to slide into the Western US with widespread heavy snowfall across the high elevations and especially across the Sierra Nevada Range, where locally up to 7 FOOT amounts are possible... Unreal!

 
3-7 Day Hazard Forecast

1.) Enhanced wildfire risk across portions of the the Southern High Plains, Fri-Sat, Mar 2-Mar 3.
2.) Heavy rain across portions of the Lower Mississippi Valley, Mon-Tue, Mar 5-Mar 6.
3.) Heavy snow across portions of the Sierra Nevadas, Fri, Mar 2.
4.)Heavy snow across portions of the Central Great Basin, Fri-Sat, Mar 2-Mar 3.
5.) Flooding possible across portions of the Southern Appalachians, the Ohio Valley, and the Tennessee Valley.
6.) Flooding occurring or imminent across portions of the Lower Mississippi Valley, the Tennessee Valley, the Great Lakes, the Middle Mississippi Valley, the Upper Mississippi Valley, the Southern Plains, and the Ohio Valley.
7.) Flooding likely across portions of the Middle Mississippi Valley, the Southern Appalachians, the Ohio Valley, and the Tennessee Valley.
8.) High winds across portions of the Central and Southern Rockies, the Southern Rockies, the Central Great Basin, and the Southwest, Fri-Sat, Mar 2-Mar 3.
9.) High winds from the Carolinas to New England, Fri-Sat, Mar 2-Mar 3.
10.) Much below normal temperatures across portions of California, the Northern and Central Great Basin, the Pacific Northwest, and the Southwest, Sat-Tue, Mar 3-Mar 6.
11.) Much below normal temperatures across portions of the Northern Plains and the Northern Rockies, Sun-Tue, Mar 4-Mar 6.
12.) Much above normal temperatures across portions of northern mainland Alaska, Fri-Mon, Mar 2-Mar 5.
13.) Slight risk of much below normal temperatures from the Pacific Northwest to the Central and Northern Great Plains, Wed-Thu, Mar 7-Mar 8.
14.) Moderate risk of much below normal temperatures for portions of the Northern Plains and the Northern Rockies, Wed-Thu, Mar 7-Mar 8.
15.) Slight risk of much below normal temperatures for portions of the Southeast, the Southern Appalachians, the Lower Mississippi Valley, the Southern Plains, and the Tennessee Valley, Thu-Fri, Mar 8-Mar 9.
16.) Slight risk of much below normal temperatures for portions of mainland Alaska, Fri-Sun, Mar 9-Mar 11.
17.) Slight risk of heavy precipitation for portions of the Central Great Basin and California, Thu-Sat, Mar 8-Mar 10.
18.) Severe Drought across the Central Plains, the Central Rockies, the Lower Mississippi Valley, the Central Great Basin, the Northern Plains, the Southern Rockies, the Middle Mississippi Valley, California, the Southern Plains, and the Southwest.

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2018 Tornadoes So Far...

According to NOAA's SPC, there have been 58 preliminary tornaoes so far this year (February 27th), which is more than what we had at this time in the last couple of years. Interestingly, there were 366 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. 

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Major River Flooding

Thanks to @DroneKentucky for the pictures below, which shows the progression of the flood waters along the Ohio River over the course of a week! Extreme rainfall over the last 5 to 7 days has led to moderate and major river flooding, which will continue through the weekend in many spots. Interestingly, the Ohio River in Louisville (McAlpine Upper reached a crest of 35.64ft, on Monday afternoon, which is the 10th highest crest this river gauge has ever reached!

 

 

Major River Flooding

According to NOAA, there were 221 river gauges in flood stage as of Wednesday morning, 13 of which where at Major flood statge!

 

February Rainfall

WOW! How about those numbers! A corridor of heavy precipitation this month helped push February precipitation numbers into Double digits for a number of locations! In fact, there was so much precipitation that Louisville, KY and Evansville, IN have seen their wettest February on record!!

 
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"Minnesota Sees Deadliest Winter In Years"

"Minnesota has already had five ice-related deaths this winter. The state typically averages three during the whole season. Minnesota is on track to have one of its deadliest winters in years. Five people have died this season after falling through ice. The state typically averages three ice-related deaths over the course of the entire winter. The 2015-2016 winter had zero ice-related deaths, while the 2016-2017 winter had two. The last time Minnesota saw ice-related deaths in the double digits was in the 2002-2003 winter, when the state had 10 fatalities. The most recent death this year happened in northern Minnesota where a women drowned after riding an ATV on Rice Lake. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officer Hannah Mishler has already responded to multiple ice rescue calls. "Ice, especially snow covered ice, is extremely deceptive. You can't see dangerous cracks or the thickness of the ice under the snow," Mishler said in a statement."
 
 
  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."
 
  General Ice Thickness Guidelines
 
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 the MN DNR HERE:

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Temperature Anomaly on Wednesday
 
The image below shows the temperature anomaly across North America from Wednesday, which showed well above average temperatures across much of the Eastern US & Eastern Canada, but cooler than average temps were found across much of the Western US and Western Canada. Also note how much warmer than average temperatures were near the North Pole! There is a link to a story regarding the much warmer than average temps in the North Pole region near the bottom of the blog.
 
 
Temperature Trend
 
Here's the 850mb temperature anomaly from Thursday to Sunday morning, which shows continued warmer than average temps across much of the Eastern half of the nation, while colder than average temps continue across much of the Western US.. 
 
 
High Temps Thursday

High temps across the country on Thursday will be quite warm for much of the eastern half of the country. In fact, some across the Ohio Valley and the Southeast will be nearly +15F above average. However, folks in the Western half of the country will still be nearly -10F to -15F below average

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Weather Outlook Ahead
 
Weather conditions into Friday morning will remain quite active across the nation as another storm system rolls through the Eastern US with widespread showers and strong to severe storms in the Southeast. Areas of heavy rain across the Ohio/Tennessee Valley could be responsible for more flooding before lifting into the Northeast with plowable snow across New York state. Meanwhile another strong storm will move into the Western US with heavy coastal rains and FEET of snow across the high elevations, especially in the Sierra Nevada Range.
 
 
7 Day Precipitation Outlook

According to NOAA's WPC, the 7-day precipitation outlook suggests areas of heavy precipitation continuing in the Southcentral part of the county, where river flooding is still ongoing. Unfortunately, this addtional heavy rain could leave to more river flood, which could actually worsen! The Northeast will remains active with some 1" to 2"+ liquid tallies into the first part of March. The most significant moisture could be found along the West Coast and into the high elevations of the Sierra Nevada Range, which would be wonderful news since the snowpack there is running below normal for this time of the year. 

Snowfall Potential Ahead

The GFS snowfall potential through the early weekend suggests a little snow across parts of the Midwest/Great Lakes and Northeast over the course of the week, but look at what could happen in the high elevations out west! If this model holds true, parts of the Sierra Nevada Range could get pounded with feet of snow as we head into the first few days of March! In fact, winter storm warnings have been posted there, which calls for widespread 3ft. to 5ft. with locally 7ft tallies possible!
 
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March Outlook Calls for Slush and Big Potholes
By Paul Douglas
 
"Springtime is the land awakening. The March winds are the morning yawn" observed Lewis Grizzard. After the 13th snowiest Meteorological Winter (42.7 inches) we can be forgiven for celebrating 40s in Minnesota. And why do 40s in late February feel so much better than 40s in early October? Relativity. After slogging through 25 subzero nights, 40s feel like victory.
 
No more subzero lows shaping up the next 2 weeks, but odds are March will bring a parade of slushy storms, the first thunderstorm, a cornucopia of puddles - and some serious potholes. Water expands as it freezes, so little cracks in our highways can mutate into craters over time. I'm ready for all of it.
 
We cool into the 30s Thursday, but mid-40s return for the weekend. Rain showers Sunday may end as a period of wet snow Monday as temperatures aloft cool down - too early to know if snow will pile up. A higher sun angle should keep many roads wet early next week, especially daylight hours. Monday may bring travel challenges.
 
So March comes in like a lamb, which means it goes out as a pileated woodpecker? I'm so confused.
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Extended Forecast

THURSDAY: Some sun, cooler. Winds: NW 8-13. High: 37.

THURSDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear, cool and quiet. Winds: WNW 5. Low: 17

FRIDAY: Plenty of sunshine and pleasant. Winds: SE 7-12. High: 40

SATURDAY: Fading sun. Feels like late March. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 26. High: 46.

SUNDAY: Breezy and mild. Rain showers late. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 34. High: 45.

MONDAY: Sloppy mix changes to wet snow. Winds: SE 10-20. Wake-up: 35. High: 39 

TUESDAY: Light snow may slush up lawns. Winds: NW 10-15.  Wake-up: 28. High: 31.

WEDNESDAY: Mostly cloudy. Probably dry. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 21. High: 33. 
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This Day in Weather History
March 1st

1966: The Blizzard of '66 hits Minnesota and lasts 4 days. Aitkin received 23 inches of snow. The snow depth at International Falls reached a record 37 inches by the end of the storm.
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Average High/Low for Minneapolis
March 1st

Average High: 34F (Record: 59F set in 1990)
Average Low: 18F (Record: -32F set in 1962)

Record Rainfall: 1.62" set in 1965
Record Snowfall: 9.0" set in 2007
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Sunrise/Sunset Times for Minneapolis
March 1st

Sunrise: 6:50am
Sunset: 6:01pm

Hours of Daylight: ~11 hours & 10 minutes

Daylight GAINED since yesterday: ~ 3 minutes & 5 seconds
Daylight GAINED since winter solstice (December 21st): 2 Hour 24 Minutes
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Moon Phase for March 1st at Midnight
0.3 Days After Full  "Worm" Moon

"In March, the ground softens, and the earthworm casts reappear, inviting the return of the robins. The Northern tribes knew this as the Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signals the end of winter, or the Full Crust Moon because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night. Fullness occurs at 7:51 p.m. EST(0051 GMT on March 2)."

By the way, did you know that there was NO full moon in Februray? It turn out that it is a little rare! Read more from Space.com HERE: "This occurrence happens once every 19 years. The last time February didn't have a full moon was in 1999, and the time before that was 1980; the next time there will be no full moon in February will be 2037. (Once again, this is true for most locations on Earth, but in some places, including eastern Asia and eastern Australia, the moment of peak fullness will occur on the morning of Feb. 1.) The timing of the full moon is related to the Metonic Cycle, which is named for the Greek astronomer Meton, who discovered this phenomenon around 500 B.C. He noted that a given phase of the moon usually falls on the same date at intervals of 19 years. There doesn't seem to be a name for a month that lacks a full moon, but February is the only month in which this can happen. Recall what we noted above: The lunar ("synodic") cycle is roughly 29.5 days on average, but even during leap years, February cannot have more than 29 days. So if a full moon takes place on the final day of January, the next full moon will jump over February and occur at the beginning of March. And this will result in a second month with two full moons; the second full moon makes up for the lack of a full moon in February."

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 Temp Outlook For Thursday

Temps on Thursday will be fairly mild across much of the state with highs in the 30s, which will still be close to average.
 
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8 to 14 Day Temperature Outlook

Here's the temperature outlook as we head into the 2nd full week of March, which suggests that colder than average temps will continue across much of the High Plains and Upper Midwest, while readings will be a little closer to average as you get into the Great Lakes Region.

8 to 14 Day Temperature Outlook

As we head into the 2nd full week of March, colder than average temperatures will still be fairly widespread across much of the nation and especially in the High Plains and the Mid-Atlantic States. However, the Northern New England States and the far Southwest will be above average.

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"A thunderstorm dumped so much hail on Sacramento that people were building snowmen"
 
"A thunderstorm struck Sacramento on Monday afternoon, blanketing parts of the city with hail during what's so far been an unusually dry winter. In one neighborhood north of downtown, several vehicles got stuck in the graupel, snarling traffic, according to the Sacramento Fire Department."
 
 

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"Freezing weather in Europe linked to soaring temperatures at North Pole, say scientists"
 
"While Britain shivers in the “Beast from the East”, scientists say temperatures have risen above freezing repeatedly at the North Pole, reaching as high as 30C above normal for the depths of winter. The cause is a “warm air intrusion” bringing mild and moist air. It is a common feature of Arctic weather systems but this year has been deeper and longer than normal, according to meteorologists. The disturbance is responsible for displacing a blast of chilly Arctic air, sending it streaming over Europe. And it could become more common as a result of man-made climate change, according to scientists, who took to social media to share their extraordinary data. Irvine Zack Labe, a climate researcher at the University of California, tweeted on Sunday: "The extreme event continues to unfold in the high Arctic today in response to a surge of moisture and 'warmth.'"
 
 

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"Opportunity Rover Snaps an Epic Selfie to Marks 5,000th Martian Day"
 
"NASA's Opportunity rover celebrated its 5,000th day on Mars by snapping a first-of-its-kind selfie. Opportunity has taken photos of itself before, using the panoramic camera on its head-like mast. But the newly released image was captured by Opportunity's Microscopic Imager instrument, which the rover had never turned to take a picture of itself before, according to NASA officials. "The Microscopic Imager is a fixed-focus camera mounted at the end of the rover's robotic arm," NASA officials wrote in a description of the image, which was released Monday (Feb. 26). "Because it was designed for close inspection of rocks, soils and other targets at a distance of around 2.7 inches (7 centimeters), the rover is out of focus." [The Top 10 Space Robot Selfies Ever] The photo is a mosaic composed of multiple pictures snapped on sols 5,000 and 5,006 of Opportunity's mission. A sol is a Martian day, which is about 40 minutes longer than an Earth day. Sol 5,000 for the rover corresponded to Feb. 16 here on our planet."
 
 

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"Blue ice piling up near Michigan's Mackinac Bridge"
 
"MACKINAW CITY, MI - Blue ice doesn’t always stack up along the Great Lakes shoreline. But when it does form – and its irregular rectangles begin to tower with Michigan’s iconic Mackinac Bridge in the background – it sends photographers running for the perfect shot. Tori Burley of Mackinaw City says she’s been waiting seven years for the opportunity to get pictures of blue ice. The mother of three was working in her retail job on Saturday when her father texted her: The blue ice was back. She got some spectacular shots on Saturday night and went back for more Sunday morning. She’s shared them here with MLive readers. She said she last saw some really good blue ice in 2011. “I’ve been waiting oh so patiently ever since then,” laughed Burley, who is also a freelance photographer. To see more of her work, go to go to trilliumandpine.com. Burley said she was in awe of the ice formations, which this weekend had shoved high up onto the shoreline. “It’s way prettier up close. When you’re standing there, it’s just towering right next to you.” Another photographer who captured stunning images of the ice formations is Jennifer Cole, the talent behind Jen Cole Photography. A native of Mackinaw City, Cole says there’s so much to love about the place where Michigan’s two peninsulas meet. “I grew up watching my dad take photos and share that passion with him,” she said. “I love the beauty of northern Michigan.”
 
 

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"Special ‘blankets’ could help melt monstrous snowbanks more quickly"
 
"In the days after 2016’s Winter Storm Jonas buried the mid-Atlantic under two feet of snow, Jonathan Boreyko found himself searching in vain for a parking space on the Virginia Tech campus, where he teaches. Most of the spaces weren’t taken by cars, but by huge heaps of snow. “About a third of the spots were blocked by giant snow piles created by the snow plows,” he recalled. “These snowbanks can last for weeks.” Long after the street plows have done their work, snowbanks often remain a problem. They line the sides of roads, making it impossible to park, or they barricade parked cars, making it impossible to get out. They obstruct crosswalks and cover athletic fields, the top floor of parking garages, and residential lawns and sidewalks. After a few days, if nothing is done, they also become dirty and unsightly."
 
 

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"North Pole surges above freezing in the dead of winter, stunning scientists"
 
"The sun won’t rise at the North Pole until March 20, and it’s normally close to the coldest time of year, but an extraordinary and possibly historic thaw swelled over the tip of the planet this weekend. Analyses show that the temperature warmed to the melting point as an enormous storm pumped an intense pulse of heat through the Greenland Sea. Temperatures may have soared as high as 35 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) at the pole, according to the U.S. Global Forecast System model. While there are no direct measurements of temperature there, Zack Labe, a climate scientist working on his PhD at the University of California at Irvine, confirmed that several independent analyses showed “it was very close to freezing,” which is more than 50 degrees (30 degrees Celsius) above normal."
 
 
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"It will be warmer at the North Pole next week than in much of Europe"
 
"In what seems to be becoming an annual occurrence, temperatures at the North Pole are about to reach or possibly exceed the freezing point this week as the North Atlantic and the North Pacific Oceans inject unusually mild air into the Arctic. Not coincidentally, Arctic sea ice is at record low levels, with a freak disappearance of ice off the western coast of Alaska, between Alaska and Russia. This vanishing of sea ice in the Bering Sea is exposing coastal communities in Alaska to storm surge flooding from typically fierce winter storms, particularly Little Diomede Island. Videos from the island, which straddles the border with Russia show high waves slamming into the coastline, when normally there would be a sheet of ice protecting the island from high waves during the winter."
 
 
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"'Unprecedented': Bering Sea loses half its sea ice over two weeks"
 
"The Bering Sea has lost roughly half its sea ice over the past two weeks and has more open water than ever measured at this time of year. “This is unprecedented,” said Brain Brettschneider, a climate researcher at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. “The amount of ice is less than it’s ever been during the satellite era on any date between mid-January and early May.” This comes as much of western Alaska, including places like Saint Paul Island and Utqiaġvik, formerly known as Barrow, is in the midst of its warmest winter in recorded history. The community of Umiat measured unofficial temperatures 45 degrees Fahrenheit above normal on Tuesday, according to Rick Thoman, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Alaska."
 
 
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"Move or die: Global warming threatens Antarctica’s King penguins"
 
"Will our favorite flightless bird waddle off to the sunset? Some 70% percent of all the king penguins on Earth — around 1.1 million breeding pairs — will be forced to relocate or die trying by the end of the century if global warming continues at its present rate, according to a new study published online Monday "The species may disappear," study co-author Celine Le Bohec, a scientist at the University of Strasbourg, told Agence France Presse. The king penguin is one of several threatened species of penguins in Antarctica. Previous studies have found that other species — such as the emperor, Adelie and chinstrap — are also in danger of extinction or severe population loss due to climate change."
 
 
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Thanks for checking in and don't forget to follow me on Twitter @TNelsonWX

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