A Few Close Calls?
December often sets the tone for the winter to come; a prevue of coming attractions. Two years ago today 14 inches of snow was on the ground. A whopping 33.6 inches fell in December of 2010. As you may remember, that was a Real Winter, with over 86 inches of snow by April, followed by record spring floods.
This winter? I'm not feeling it. A weak El Nino warming of Pacific Ocean water seems to be nudging the main storm track south/east of Minnesota. A major storm may dump a few inches of snow on far southeastern Minnesota Thursday; a big pile of white for Rockford and Madison. But probably not in the Twin Cities, where an inch of slush may fall today, little more.
Our biggest snows often come in December and February, on the cusp of the coldest air Canada can dish out. Historically, our coldest weather comes the 3rd week of January; massive domes of bitter air tend to shove the storm track too far south for heavy snow in January. We'll see.
Whatever crunchy, icy snow is in your yard today should still be there Christmas morning.
Latest models are hinting at a potentially "plowable" snowfall next Wednesday, December 26, along the leading edge of the first subzero airmass of winter. Negative numbers for New Year's Day? I think so.
Snowfall Update. WSI's reliable 12 km. RPM model shows a stripe of heavy snow pushing across Iowa into southern Wisconsin by Thursday, maybe 4-6" for Des Moines, as much as 4" for La Crosse and 6-10" just west of Madison. Chicago should be spared heavy snow from this system.
192 Hour Snowfall. This is GFS guidance, which shows Thursday's stripe of heavy snow from Iowa into Wisconsin, maybe brushing far southeastern Minnesota. Northern New England will pick up some accumulating snow over the next 8 days; some 36-48" amounts for the mountain ranges of the Pacific Northwest. Map: Ham Weather.
Christmas Day Extremes. The map above shows predicted temperature anomalies for December 25; readings as much as 25 F. warmer than average over the Southern Plains, the first (real) cold stab of winter pushing into Montana and the Dakotas. These huge temperature extremes may conspire to spin up a major storm 1-2 days after Christmas.
December 26-27: Major Tornado Oubreak Southeastern USA? The map early Wednesday, December 26, shows a very intense and large storm centered near Memphis, pulling unusually warm, moist air northward. There may be sufficient wind shear and low level moisture/instability for a few (large) tornadoes from near Atlanta into Alabama and Florida, while heavy snow falls from Kansas City to Peoria. This storm will probably track south/east of Minnesota - it's simply too early to say with any confidence. ECMWF model guidance above courtesy of WSI.
Winter of the Near Miss? A snowstorm is a testy marriage of cold air and southern moisture. Too much of either and the storm fizzles, or shifts. That will be the case Thursday - too much cold air (at least for MSP), with the zone of heaviest snow setting up 100-300 miles south/east of the Twin Cities. If you're driving into Iowa or Wisconsin Wednesday night or Thursday you'll want to stay up on the latest forecast. A cold weekend is on tap, slight moderation in time for Christmas, but the snow in your yard should pretty much still be there Christmas morning. Another major storm is brewing for the middle of next week (this one may also take a track too far south/east of town to dump much snow on our heads). It seems fairly certain that this storm will inhale the coldest air of winter (so far) into Minnesota, with a couple of subzero nights conveniently timed for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Who says Mother Nature doesn't have a well developed sense of humor?
Cold and Quiet. No big, exciting storms brewing between now and Christmas (unless you're driving 2+ hours south/east of MSP Wednesday night into Thursday, in which case you'll have plenty of weather drama. A snowstorm is a delicate dance of Canadian chill and Gulf moisture. Too much of either spoils the recipe. The surge of colder air will push the heaviest snow band 100-300 miles southeast of MSP Thursday - a cold weekend gives way to slight moderation in time for Christmas. ECMWF data for MSP above.
Subzero New Year's Eve? The GFS is still hinting at a couple inches of fresh snow December 26-28, but the brunt of this storm will probably track south/east of Minnesota, pulling the coldest air of winter so far into Minnesota in its wake. I suspect we'll see a couple mornings at or just below zero as we sail into 2013.
Category 3 Cyclone Evan Bearing Down On Fiji. Here is an excerpt from Dr. Jeff Master's Wunderground: "Category 3 Tropical Cyclone Evan is closing in on the main island of Fiji, where hurricane warnings are flying and torrential rains are already falling. Radar images from Fiji show that the large eye of Evan is just north of the two main islands of Fiji. The expected southwesterly track of the storm should keep the calm of the eye just north of Fiji, though the southern eyewall may brush the north coast of the main island of Vici Leva, affecting the tourist town of Nadi. Evan has intensified today to its strongest level yet, with 120 mph winds, and satellite loops show that the storm remains well-organized, with plenty of intense heavy thunderstorm activity and a prominent eye. Evan will be in a region with moderate wind shear of 15 - 20 knots as it approaches Fiji, and could intensify by another 5 - 10 mph before making its closest pass to the islands later today. According to NOAA's Coastal Services Center, Evan is the strongest tropical cyclone to threaten Fiji since Tropical Cyclone Daman of December 2007. Dating back to 1972, twelve Category 3 or stronger tropical cyclones have threatened the Republic of Fiji..."
Radar image above from the Fiji Meteorological Agency. Click refresh on your browser to see the latest image.
Cyclone Evan. A Category 3 hurricane/typhoon/cyclone (same thing), Evan caused major damage on American Samoa. The latest enhanced IR satellite loop from NOAA is here.
Slate has details here.
World's Largest Indoor Ski Park Planned For Denmark. Good grief - they just keep getting bigger and bigger. Check out the details at gizmag.com: "Innovative Danish architecture firm CEBRA is working in collaboration with the travel company Danski on an alpine style ski dome to be situated in the city of Randers, Denmark. The ski park will provide over 3 km (1.86 miles) of indoor and outdoor slopes as well as a freestyle park, hotel, restaurant and all the modern facilities you would expect in a modern ski resort..."
Image credit above: "The snowflake design will house six indoor and two outdoor slopes in its three intersecting arches." (Photo: CEBRA)
25 F. high in the Twin Cities Monday.
26 F. average high for December 17.
35 F. high on December 17, 2011.
Trace of flurries fell at KMSP yesterday.
+8 F. December temperatures are running 8 F. warmer than normal.
Almost Average. Temperatures were within a couple degrees of normal statewide, stuck in the low to mid 20s. Snow on the ground ranges from 1" in the Twin Cities (officially) to 2" Eau Claire to 5" at St. Cloud.
A Much-Needed Chuckle. Thanks to meteorologist Jason Parkin and neatorama.com for passing this one along. I wonder if he got a dial tone on that thing...?
Paul's Star Tribune Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota
TODAY: Flurries and very light snow possible. Coating to 1/2" possible. Winds: S 5-10. High: 32
TUESDAY NIGHT: Flurries taper off. Low: 18
WEDNESDAY: Mostly cloudy, still dry. High: 29
THURSDAY: Cold wind. Clouds, a few flurries in the metro. A couple of inches far southeast MN. Low: 12. High: 20 (falling)
FRIDAY: Some sun, a bit milder. Low: 10. High: 23
SATURDAY: Patchy clouds, turning colder by afternoon. Low: 16. High: 25
SUNDAY: Sunshine, a numbing breeze, much colder. Low: 5. High: 15
CHRISTMAS EVE: Sunny start. Increasing clouds, probably dry on Christmas Eve. Low: 8. High: 19
CHRISTMAS DAY: Patchy clouds, temperatures closer to normal. High: 23
* Significant snow is possible next Wednesday from a sprawling storm over Missouri. It's too early to speculate about amounts, but it could be a nice pile of new snow, followed by one of the colder airmasses of winter.
** photo above courtesy of andfunforall.blogspot.com.
Climate Change Revisited: It Isn't Just For Natural Scientists Anymore. Here's a snippet of an NPR article that caught my eye: "...Does current psychology shed any light on how to move forward? I asked Lewandowsky this very question during our conversation. He first suggested that "highlighting how denial operates" is itself an important part of getting people behind climate change:
You have to understand who the people are who deny the science and how they operate and what drives them. We know from a lot of research on misinformation that without explaining ... why people oppose it so much, it's very difficult for the average person to accept the science because the moment there is the perception of a scientific debate people sort of tend to walk away from it and say, "well, it's not settled."
In other words, people need to understand why there is the appearance of controversy in order to feel confident moving forward with (uncontroversial) scientific assumptions. In other research, Lewandowsky has found that merely alerting people to the existence of an enormous scientific consensus can shift beliefs..."
Amid Energy Crisis, A Need To Define And Promote Innovation. The Christian Science Monitor has the story - here's an excerpt: "The United States and the world face an urgent imperative to transform its energy system by developing and deploying low or zero-carbon technologies on a dramatic scale. And while developed regions like the United States and Europe might be willing to change their consumption patterns and businesses to incorporate clean energy (though not significantly), developing nations can’t afford to pay the necessary premium for this access. And they shouldn’t have to, as they try to gain access to energy of any kind. As such, the only way the entire global energy system can transition to clean energy is if its cost is lower and its performance is equal to or greater than cheap fossil fuels like natural gas, coal, and oil..."
Photo credit above: "An employee carries a solar panel as he works at a production line at a solar company workshop in Yongkang, Zhejiang province in this February 2012 file photo. Global climate change adds an economic, moral, and social element to why governments must aggressively act on energy innovation." Stringer/Reuters/File.
Denying Global Warming Because It's Raining? Or because it's cooled down a few degrees? It's remarkable how many people still confuse "weather" (what's happening out your window today) with "climate" (long term trends). This funny clip from upworthy.com sums it up better than I ever could. Check it out. "I was almost happier before I realized this video was a joke, when I thought England was actually penalizing these people. But even as a fake PSA, it's still so spot on, eh?"