Numb and Number
"Hey, by Sunday we should see freezing" I mumbled to my wife yesterday, from the relative safety of my favorite couch. "Alright!" she cheered. Kind of sad huh?
A metaphysical question: can you feel any colder than NUMB? Think about that. A 35 below wind chill will cool down your core body temperature faster, meaning hypothermia risk; frostbite on exposed skin possible within 5 minutes
The same with your vehicle. Cars don't "feel" wind chill, but cold air temperatures will chill your engine block down much faster. A battery-draining Monday, but not close to the record cold daytime high of -17 F, in 1888. Windchill Warnings are posted; today easily the coldest day of the week, probably the winter. Take the chill seriously.
A whopping inch of snow may fall Thursday, followed by a reinforcing shot of numbing air Friday, although not as cold as today. ECMWF (European) model guidance shows 32-35 F by Sunday. It will feel 70 F degrees warmer by early next week. A reason to keep on going.
An average January brings 13 inches of snow to MSP. So far this month: 1.4 inches. Speaking of sad. A few models bring a chance of snow into town by the middle of next week, but I'm skeptical. Everything now is viewed thru the prism of lingering drought. Getting any heavy precipitation (rain or snow) is the meteorological equivalent of swimming upstream.
Keep your snowy expectations low.
* thanks to Andrea Bouzrara for passing on the photo above. That's her son, Sami, and his BFF Tommy. Forget the lemonade - when it's 5 F. you want to be selling hot chocolate!
Coldest Morning Of Winter? The air temperature Tuesday morning may be a few degrees colder (due to clear skies and less wind), but factoring wind I suspect this morning will have the dubious distinction of the coldest morning of the Winter of 2012-13. Models show morning windchills ranging from -30 to -40 F in the metro. Like breathing in battery acid.
Oh Canada. Here are air temperatures (not wind chill) as of 7 pm Sunday evening, showing the extent of subzero air to our north. We'll see our fair share into midday Tuesday, another (brief) dip below zero the end of the week, but the core of this battery-draining, pipe-rupturing air will track just to our north and east. For the latest temperatures over Canada click here, courtesy of Ham Weather.
Outlook: Less "Riff Raff". So THIS is why a majority of Americans raise their eyebrows when you tell them you live in Minnesota. "It gets so cold there!" Some winters, yes. Not lately. Every now and then we still get smacked, just enough polar air to make sure everyone who lives here really WANTS to live here. The Siberian air keeps the tire-kickers away. Today should be the coldest day of winter, factoring the wind, which will make it feel like -30 to -35. Wear a few extra layers, cover your face and head, and don't take any cross-country walks, and odds are you'll be just fine. But take the chill seriously. We climb above zero around midday tomorrow; news of 30s (above!) by Sunday - a welcome thaw early next week. This is the worst of it. Right Now. Take a deep breath (indoors). It's all uphill from here. I pray.
Why Most Of America Is Scared Of Minnesota (At Least In January). We live up to the legend over the next 24-36 hours; getting our Winter Weather Mojo back, at least temporarily. All models keep metro air temperatures below zero until midday tomorrow, when readings may creep just above 0 F. Slight moderation Wednesday & Thursday, then a reinforcing shot Friday & Saturday (although not as cold as today). We finally thaw into the 30s early next week. Let the party begin. Graphic: Iowa State.
Too Early To Panic - Or Celebrate. The European model spins up a significant storm over the Midwest and Great Lakes by Wednesday of next week, but once again the most significant moisture may pass south/east of Minnesota. It's too early, but at least there's a chance of some accumulating snow the middle of next week. Map above valid 7 am Wednesday, January 30, courtesy of WSI.
Extended Outlook: Cold, But Not Polar. Temperatures right now at 850 mb. (about 3,500 feet aloft) are -25 to -27 C, marking the coldest readings in sight looking out 2 weeks. Temperatures at 850 mb are forecast to briefly drop to -22 early Saturday, February 2. We'll see a few more subzero nights into early and mid February, but I still believe this week will wind up as the coldest of the winter, all things considered.
National Mall From Orbit. Here's an ultra-high-res satellite image taken yesterday, courtesy of NASA: "Astronauts on board the International Space Station captured this view of Washington, D.C. and the surrounding area on Sunday, Jan. 20, one day before the public Inauguration of President Barack Obama. This detailed view shows the Potomac River and its bridges at left, with National Mall at the center, stretching eastward from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument toward the Capitol building, where the inaugural ceremony will be held. NASA has been participating in inaugural activities this weekend, culminating in the appearance of the Curiosity rover and Orion spacecraft in the Inaugural Parade on Monday, Jan. 21. See www.nasa.gov/inauguration for more."
Ask Paul. Weather-related Q&A:
Re: Change to how we display predicted lows on the (print) weather page at the Star Tribune.
"Hi, Paul ... Or whoever answers the email -
This may not be the most critical question about weather, e.g., climate change, etc., but it has become very important to me.
For decades, I thought the number in the bottom of the box of the weekly temperature predictions was the low for that day. For example, in today's Strib the Monday box shows -4 on top and -15 on the bottom. Tuesday shows 2 on the top and -4 on the bottom.
I have always believed that meant the high Monday would be -4 and the low Monday night (into Tuesday morning) would be -15; Tuesday's high would be 2 and the low Tuesday night (into Wednesday morning) would be -4. However, a couple of local TV stations seem to be saying the low Monday morning will be -15 and the low Tuesday morning will be -4.
What's going on? Is old age affecting my senses? Do TV stations boxes differ newspaper boxes? Is there life after death?
Many thanks for the hoped-for reply."
Fred - ultimately I answer the mail, and your question is a good and timely one. You're right: for a few years now we've displayed the high/low for each 24-hour day in the (print) 7-Day panels. But there was a fair amount of confusion with interpretation. Is that -15 F. for Monday morning or Monday night? Perception becomes reality - because the low is displayed underneath the high temperature forecast many readers were interpreting it as coming after the high temperature, meaning the low temperature the following night, which is actually a reasonable expectation, based on the layout. So recently we decided to make the switch, to better align the temperature predictions with the PERCEPTION of many of our readers interpreting information on the weather page. We've changed this, so the -15 F. is the predicted low for Monday night (actually Tuesday morning around sunrise). Yes, this is a change in how we've been displaying predicted low temperatures in print.
Thanks for pointing this out - in 20/20 hindsight I should have done a better job of explaining this a couple weeks ago when we made the switch. Sorry about that. As for life after death? Yes. I can't prove it scientifically, but there are many things that fall outside the bounds of what we can measure, observe, poke and prod. I guess that's where faith comes in, right? I think we'll all be pleasantly surprised. That's my Long Range Outlook.
"In the last few weeks we've gone from above freezing temperatures to precipitous drops in temperature.
Is there any regularity to this, or is it just the normal variation in the weather and the warm days were just as likely to be followed by temperate days?"
Russ - chalk this up to normal atmospheric variability. We've been pampered, spoiled in recent winters, especially last winter, when a strongly (freakishly) positive phase of the Arctic and North Atlantic Oscillation kept steering winds aloft howling from west to east, keeping the coldest air of winter dammed up north of Minnesota - meaning only 3 subzero nights. This winter there's more variation to the upper level pattern, more dips and bulges capable of pushing Arctic air south. We had a mild start to winter; I suspect colder than average weather into the first week or two of February, but I'm still betting that the entire winter will be (slightly) milder than average, overall. Maybe that's wishful thinking.
Blog-Worthy. Thanks to the prolific and creative Steve Burns for passing this remarkable photo along. Details: "On Thursday night the Aurora was supposed to be active, so I headed north of the cities to a place on the North Shore to camp ouut and hopefully see some action. On the drive up there mi-day the kp was high and the magnetic field very negative, but right after sunset things started to die down. I was able to see some good activity on the horizon, and with my fast 50 mm. lens I was able to get some good time lapse action. I had two cameras set up. This one stayed in place and didn't move, so I made an image with the star trails and the aurora that I think turned out pretty well. I was on top of Mt. Trudee outside of Silver Bay, where temperatures were -10, and it was windy. Still beautiful!"
Editorial: Florida Gets An Early, And Very Bad Hurricane Warning. The availability of low-orbiting "POES" satellite data made a huge difference, initial data fed into NOAA supercomputers that predicted Sandy would hook inland over New Jersey, days in advance. But those satellites are predicted to fail before new replacements can be launched, and (surprise) the entire debate is being debated by Congress. Here's a snippet of an Op-Ed at The Palm Beach Post: "...Our polar satellites, though, are at the end of their useful life, and the program to replace them is far behind. With the earliest possible launch projected for 2017, it is nearly certain that forecasters will face several storm seasons without the polar satellite data that has made hurricane predictions steadily more reliable. Bungling by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has led Congress to demand reforms before throwing more money at the program. NOAA has been trying. Several officials responsible have left. More are resigning. But the technical and budgetary woes remain. Government scientists have now appealed to American and international experts, hoping they can devise stop-gap measures to compensate for the loss of satellite data..." (Hurricane image above: NASA).
9 F. high in the Twin Cities Sunday.
24 F. average high on January 20.
12 F. high on January 20, 2012.
Trace of snow fell yesterday at KMSP.
An Even Colder Cold Front. Yesterday my family was complaining about the cold. I mentioned that an even colder cold front was on tap for today. They looked at me like I had horns. Hey, I'm just the messenger! Sunday highs ranged from -3 at International Falls to -1 Hibbing, 0 at Duluth, 5 St. Cloud, 9 in the Twin Cities and a balmy 13 at Rochester. Yes, today will be 10-15 F. colder.
I'm There. I snapped this photo at an outdoor shopping mall in Panama Beach, Florida back in early December. I am all out of cold weather photos - thought this might warm you up a little.
Paul's Star Tribune Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:
TODAY: Windchill Warning. Siberian sunshine - coldest of winter. Feels like -35. Winds: NW 15. High: -4
MONDAY NIGHT: Coldest air temperature of winter? Partly cloudy. Low: -14
TUESDAY: Mix of clouds and sun. Less wind. High: 3
WEDNESDAY: A fine Arctic breeze. Some sunshine. Wake-up: -5. High: 9
THURSDAY: Maybe an inch of snow. Wake-up: 4. High: 15
FRIDAY: Last harsh day this week. Bitter breeze. Wake-up: 1. High: 6
SATURDAY: Sunny, getting better out there. Wake-up: -4. High: near 20
SUNDAY: Badly-needed thaw likely - plenty of sun. Wake-up: 8. High: 33
* highs reach the 30s the first half of next week; a potential for snow by the middle of next week. Stay tuned.
Prepare For Impact of Climate Change. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed from the Editorial Board at The Star Tribune: "...That matches the conclusion of the U.S. Global Change Research Project, whose new report earlier this month said the American Midwest could see another 4.9-degree increase in average temperatures by midcentury. That much heat, added to the 3-degree increase already seen in parts of Minnesota in the last 30 years, would mean more and longer droughts; more precipitation arriving in the form of damaging thunderstorms accompanied by tornadoes; the retreat of coniferous forests; more invasive plants and aquatic life, and longer growing seasons. Not all of the changes are undesirable. For example, said agronomist Nicholas Jordan, the ability of Minnesota farmers to grow perennial as well as annual crops could enhance farm income..."
Koch-Funded Study Finds 2.5F Warming Of Land Since 1750 Is Manmade: "Solar Forcing Does Not Appear To Contribute." Joe Romm at Think Progress has the story; here's an excerpt: "The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Study (BEST) has finally published its findings on the cause of recent global warming. This Koch-funded reanalysis of millions of temperature observations from around the world, “A New Estimate of the Average Earth Surface Land Temperature Spanning 1753 to 2011,” concludes:
… "solar forcing does not appear to contribute to the observed global warming of the past 250 years; the entire change can be modeled by a sum of volcanism and a single anthropogenic [human-made] proxy."
...The finding itself is “dog bites man” (see It’s “Extremely Likely That at Least 74% of Observed Warming Since 1950″ Was Manmade; It’s Highly Likely All of It Was). What makes this “man bites dog” is that Muller has been a skeptic of climate science, and the single biggest funder of this study is the “Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation ($150,000).” The Kochs are the leading funder of climate disinformation in the world!"
Graphic credit above: "The decadal land surface temperature from BEST average (black line), “compared to a linear combination of volcanic sulfate emissions (responsible for the short dips) and the natural logarithm of CO2 (responsible for the gradual rise) shown in red. Inclusion of a proxy for solar activity did not significantly improve the fit. The grey area is the 95% confidence interval.”
Interactive Tool Tracks Warming. This web site, from New Scientist, allows you to move the cursor (anywhere on the planet) and see the extent of warming since 1900.