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Coldest Air in 4 Years On The Way Early Next Week (48-72 hours below 0 F.)

  • Blog Post by: Paul Douglas
  • January 15, 2013 - 11:07 PM

 

Outlook: a Little Pain

Is this your first Minnesota winter? You arrived with a light jacket and a confident smirk? "How bad can it be - bring it on!"

(Insert sinister laughter-track here.)

Old Man Winter is about to rock your world; 2-3 days worth of world-rocking, to be precise. A burst of Siberian air will keep daytime "highs" below zero next Monday & Tuesday. Lows may reach -15 F. in the metro, maybe -35F up north.

Why the big difference from last winter? A year ago jet stream winds blew from the Pacific, consistently, keeping the coldest air of winter bottled up over northern Canada. This year winds aloft are light & erratic, allowing polar air to surge south. A lack of significant snow on the ground will temper the chill (slightly), but by Monday there will be NO doubt in your mind that you live in one of the coldest major metro areas on Earth.

The atmosphere is warming worldwide, but every now and then our weather will take a turn for the Nanook. In fact last year's record melting of Arctic ice may be influencing the configuration of the jet stream, something called "polar amplification", nudging bitter air farther south.

A thaw is expected today & Friday, maybe 1-2 inches of snow Sunday as brutal air arrives.

BTW, we haven't seen a subzero high at MSP in 1,462 days.

 

Arctic Smack. Nothing subtle about the cold front shaping up for Sunday, marking the leading edge of what will probably be the coldest air of winter. With an air temperature from 0 to 6 F. Sunday snow ratios may be close to 40 to 1, meaning that 2.9 mm. of forecast precipitation may equate into 2-4" of very light, fluffy, powdery snow - capable of blowing and drifting. Roads may be VERY icy Sunday as the coldest air drills south. ECMWF data predicts a high of -4 F. on Monday, -6 F. on Tuesday - some recovery in temperature likely by the latter half of next week. Yes, this too shall pass.

 

Ouch. The NOAA map above shows the predicted wind chill at 7 am next Monday, ranging from -25 F. in the Twin Cities to -38 F. at Windom, -34 F. at Duluth and -40 F. Seriously cold. This looks like the Mother Lode of cold air, in all probability the coldest air of the winter. I pray.

 

Two words: "character-building". We've been let off pretty easy in recent winters, too easy for traditional snow and cold weather lovers. We get a taste of the good 'ol (cold) days early next week as Arctic air bubbles south of the border. Temperatures may stay below zero from Sunday evening into midday Wednesday, even in the metro area. Wind chills dip to -25 F. Monday, but the coldest air temperature may come Tuesday morning, with lows bottoming out around -15 F. in the Twin Cities. Something to look forward to. Some moderation in temperature is likely the latter half of next week, and although we may dip below zero (briefly) again in late January, my strong hunch is that early next week will bring the coldest readings of winter. Excuse me while I check my frequent flier mileage balance on delta.com.

 

The Temperature Cliff. After moderate temperatures today, again Friday and the first half of Saturday, temperature drop like a (Siberian) rock Saturday afternoon and night, holding in single digits Sunday (with some snow) before dipping below zero from Sunday evening into midday Wednesday. This should be the coldest outbreak in 4 years. Graph: Iowa State.

 

Number Of Metro Subzero Lows Each Winter. The Twin Cities NWS has more on the 4 year streak between subzero highs at MSP, and the dwindling number of subzero lows in recent winters. By the way, the 30 year rolling average for the number of subzero lows every winter is 22.5, down from closer to 30/winter during the 1971-2000 average record.

 

Family Of (Increasingly Cold) Alberta Clippers. A coating of light snow is possible today (best chance early this morning). The best chance of accumulating snow: Sunday, as the leading edge of subzero air cascades south. Duluth may pick up as much as 6" of snow; the GFS model above is only printing out an inch Sunday in the metro area, but I suspect amounts may be considerably higher: a light, fluffy, powdery snow, maybe enough to shovel Sunday.

 

Last Subzero Highs In The Twin Cities? You have to go back to January 15, 2009, to enjoy (?) a subzero daytime high in the metro area (-6F, after waking up to -21F). That's 1,462 days ago. My hunch: we'll see 2, possibly 3 days below zero early next week, rivaling the cold spell of January, 2009. Map above courtesy of the Minnesota Climatology Working Group.

 

Citrus-Killing Freeze. Meteorologist Chad Merrill from WeatherBug sent me this nugget on the unusual cold that's gripped the southwestern USA in recent days: "Ice covers an orange at an orange grove in Redlands, California, Tuesday, January 15, 2013. A cold snap that has California farmers struggling to protect a $1.5 billion citrus crop has slowly started to ease, though frigid temperatures were still the norm Tuesday morning throughout the state and across other parts of the west." (AP Photo: Jae C. Hong).

 

Cold Truth About Hats, Body Heat. We've all be taught to wear our hats during the coldest days of winter, that most of our body heat escapes thru the top of our heads. Does this stand up scientifically? Here's an excerpt of a very interesting story at The Star Tribune: "As the mercury plunged toward zero this weekend, Minnesotans once again pulled on their wool, fleece and fur hats. Why? "I heard you lose a percentage of your heat through your head," James Rotman said as he donned a stocking cap while waiting for the light-rail train downtown Monday. Well, hold onto that hat. A college professor with a quirky YouTube video is out to bust the hat myth. "Anyone who's lived in the cold ... has been told to wear a hat before you go out because 70 percent of your heat leaves your head. I've even told my own kids this," said Andrew Maynard, University of Michigan professor of environmental health sciences and director of the its Risk Science Center. "But when you look into the science, it doesn't make sense..."

Photo credit above: "Anthony (in blue), Damarionna (pink) and Anthony Brown all wait for the bus to go home. All wore hats because it was only 12 degrees above zero in Minneapolis, MN on January 14, 2013." Source: Star Tribune.

 

Worldwide: 2012 Was 10th Warmest Year On Record. Here's the latest installment of my daily 2:30 Climate Segment, trying to provide a little perspective and context - attempting to look at the trends and connect the dots: "2012 is officially the 10th warmest year since records began in 1880. Meteorologist Paul Douglas looks at some of the other significant weather events around the globe in 2012."

 

Global Warming Shown In NASA Computer Model. ABC News has a good time-lapse animation showing warming since the late 1800s; according to NASA 2012 was the 9th warmest year, worldwide. Yes, there is a slight discrepency with NOAA, which has 2012 as the 10th warmest.

 

U.S. Smashes Previous Lower-48 Heat Record In 2012. Here's an excerpt of a story from Bloomberg Businessweek: “...The heat we saw in the U.S. is consistent with what we expect in a warming world,” Deke Arndt, chief of the climate monitoring branch at the center, said on a conference call. “It’s a huge exclamation point on the end of several decades.” The 2012 heat surpassed 1998’s record by 1 degree, a significant amount considering that only 4.2 degrees separate 1998 from the coldest year on record, 1917, said Jake Crouch, a climate scientist at the center in Asheville, North Carolina. The warmth is a reflection of natural variability as well as the impact of climate change, he said. “I’m afraid it’s just the new normal,” said Robert Marshall, founder of Earth Networks in Germantown, Maryland. “At the end of the day, the trend is pretty clear...”

Photo credit above: "Dried corn plants in Idaville, Indiana." Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

 

Drought-Tolerant Corn Advances Beginning To Show. With the specter of drought lingering into 2013 the timing couldn't be better; here's an excerpt of a story at The High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal: "There's nothing like a couple years of drought to help determine the advances being made in drought-tolerant corn. And Qingwu Xue, Ph.D., a Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist, says there are some significant differences starting to show up. Xue, AgriLife Research crop stress physiologist in Amarillo, said drought and water issues have been very relevant in the last two years, especially the historic drought for Texas in 2011 and for the Corn Belt in 2012. Some of the drought-tolerant corn hybrids introduced since 2011 include: AquaMax by Pioneer, AgriSure Artesian by Syngenta and DroughtGard by Monsanto. "The question is, how have these drought-tolerant hybrids performed in our environment in the Texas Panhandle?" Xue said..." (Photo: madison.com).

 

Getting Caught In The Deadly Philippines Typhoon. Here is a first-person account of what it was like to be at ground zero when Typhoon Pablo hit the Philippine island of Mindanao in early December, a Category 5 hurricane, the most intense in Philippine history - as recounted to the New Zealand Scoop: "...At around 4am I was woken up by the sound of heavy rain and fast winds. One of the organisers, who had accompanied me to Osmeña from Davao, informed me I needed to join the rest of the family and other visitors on the porch because a coconut tree was swinging violently above the part of the house I was sleeping. On the porch we sheltered under a table as coconuts and trees crashed to the ground. The corrugated iron roof started to tear off in the wind. The house was next to a stream that had become a raging torrent. Fallen trees and other debris sped downstream. The waters were starting to flood onto the porch so we had to leave to find higher ground. I followed my friends over broken trees and debris. They ran ahead and I lost them. I tried calling out but my voice was drained out by the wind...."

 

Asteroid To Miss Earth By Less Than 20,000 Miles Next Month. Is it me or are these asteroid-encounters getting progressively closer over time? Don't sweat the wind chill ok? Gizmag.com has the details: "Asteroid 2012 DA14 is about 40 meters (131 ft) in size, has a mass of 130,000 tons, is traveling relative to the Earth at a speed of some 6.3 km/s (14,100 mph) ... and will miss us by less than 32,000 km (20,000 miles) on February 15. If it did hit the Earth, the result would be a huge explosion yielding about 2.5 megatons, but Asteroid 2012 DA14 will not hit our planet in 2013, and probably never will. Despite the lack of a sensational scenario, this close call still warrants our attention – it will allow astronomers to learn a good deal about asteroids, and represents one of the few chances for ordinary folks to see a asteroid pass really close to Earth..."

Image credit above: "An asteroid passing close to Earth next month will provide stargazers with a rare viewing opportunity." (Image: Shutterstock)

 

Video: Jimmy Kimmel Pokes Fun At L.A. Stations Reacting To Recent Cold Spell. I wonder what Los Angeles residents would make of what we will endure here early next week. They would run (screaming) for MSP International. Here's a funny video from TVSpy: "Late night talk show host and funnyman, Jimmy Kimmel called out the local Los Angeles TV stations for their near ‘breaking news’ style while covering the recent dip in temperatures in the area. “It’s so cold,” said Kimmel. “I had to wear two tank tops to work today,” noting that the day this was broadcast the high temperature was a frosty 51 degrees."

 

Sony: World's First 56" OLED, 4K TV. If you're an early (early) adopter and need a TV that will absolutely be the envy of your friends, a TV with 4 times the resolution of HDTV, check out this article at gizmag.com: "When Sony showed up to CES 2012 with a Crystal LED prototype TV rather than an OLED TV like its rivals Samsung and LG, it prompted reports that the company was abandoning OLED TVs aimed at the consumer market. Sony might finally have put paid to these reports by displaying a prototype OLED TV at this year’s CES. And in the spirit of one-upsmanship, Sony is touting the prototype TV as the “world’s first and largest 56-inch 4K OLED TV....”

Image credit above: "Sony's prototype 56-inch OLED TV boasts 4K (3,840 x 2,160) resolution."

 

 

30 F. high in the Twin Cities Tuesday.

23 F. average high on January 15.

40 F. high on January 15, 2012.

1" snow so far in January in the Twin Cities.

 

Grilling Weather. I hope you enjoy the current warm front, because 30s will seem unimaginable by early next week. Tuesday highs ranged from 21 at International Falls (10" snow on the ground) to 23 St. Coud (4" of snow) to 24 at Duluth (only 3" snow on the ground) to 30 in the Twin Cities, Rochester and Grand Marais.

 

 

Paul's Star Tribune Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:


TODAY: Alberta Clipper: coating - 1/2" snow possible. Mainly wet roads. Winds: W 10-15. High: 32

 

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Flurries taper, turning windy and colder. Low: 4

 

THURSDAY: At least the sun's out. Colder. High: 19

 

FRIDAY: Patchy clouds, welcome thaw. Wake-up temperature: 14. High: 34

 

SATURDAY: Turning windy & colder. Wake-up temperature: 13. High: 22 (falling by afternoon).

 

SUNDAY: Snowy clipper. Bitter winds. Couple inches of powdery snow? Wake-up temperature: 2. High: 7 (windchill dipping to -15)

 

MONDAY: Sunny and Arctic. Coldest in 4 years. Feels like -25F Low: -9. High: -4

 

TUESDAY: Yukon breeze, probably the coldest day of winter. Still bitter. Fading sun. Wake-up temperature: -14. High: -5

 

Climate Stories...


"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."

- Upton Sinclair

 

"...The draft Third National Climate Assessment, issued every four years, delivers a bracing picture of environmental changes and natural disasters that mounting scientific evidence indicates is fostered by climate change: heavier rains in the Northeast, Midwest and Plains that have overwhelmed storm drains and led to flooding and erosion; sea level rise that has battered coastal communities; drought that has turned much of the West into a tinderbox. "Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present," the report says. "Americans are noticing changes all around them. Summers are longer and hotter, and periods of extreme heat last longer than any living American has ever experienced. Winters are generally shorter and warmer." - from a draft of the Third National Climate Assessment, as reported in the L.A. Times. (Photo: David Fine, FEMA).

 

NASA Finds 2012 Sustained Long-Term Climate Warming Trend. NASA has a video and more details: "NASA scientists say 2012 was the ninth warmest of any year since 1880, continuing a long-term trend of rising global temperatures. With the exception of 1998, the nine warmest years in the 132-year record all have occurred since 2000, with 2010 and 2005 ranking as the hottest years on record. NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York, which monitors global surface temperatures on an ongoing basis, released an updated analysis Tuesday that compares temperatures around the globe in 2012 to the average global temperature from the mid-20th century. The comparison shows how Earth continues to experience warmer temperatures than several decades ago..."

Graphic credit above: "NASA's analysis of Earth's surface temperature found that 2012 ranked as the ninth-warmest year since 1880. NASA scientists at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) compare the average global temperature each year to the average from 1951 to 1980. This 30-year period provides a baseline from which to measure the warming Earth has experienced due to increasing atmospheric levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. While 2012 was the ninth-warmest year on record, all 10 of the warmest years in the GISS analysis have occurred since 1998, continuing a trend of temperatures well above the mid-20th century average. The record dates back to 1880 because that is when there were enough meteorological stations around the world to provide global temperature data."


Data source: NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
Visualization credit: NASA Goddard's Scientific Visualization Studio
Download this video and related materials in HD formats

 

Big Chill Vs. Global Warming: What's Going On? If the atmosphere is warming, worldwide, how can it still be getting cold? It's a legitimate question, one many Minnesotans will be asking next week. Ironically, record melting of Arctic ice last year may be a factor, increasing "polar amplification", slowing jet stream winds slightly, allowing more dips and bulges in the pattern capable of pulling bitter air southward into the USA. Live Science looks for answers; here's an excerpt: "...Amidst the chilly headlines, however, Earth continues to break heat records left and right. "It's easy to cherry pick and find places that might be unusually cold at any given time, for example Southern California right now," Mann told LiveScience in an email. "But meanwhile, daffodils are coming up in Cincinnati. "Over the past decade, we have seen daily records for all-time warmth broken twice as often as daily records for all-time cold," Mann wrote. "The year 2012 had the highest ratio we have ever recorded, more than four to one. That's like 'sixes' coming up four times as often as 'ones.'

 

Federal Forecast For Climate Change: It's Getting Hot In Here. Time Magazine takes a look at the latest National Climate Assessment, and how we've gone from climate change theory to reality. Americans are seeing the consequences of a warming atmosphere. Here's an excerpt: "...But the warming and weather disruption we’ve seen so far will just be the beginning. Late last week a team of more than 300 federal scientists released a draft of the National Climate Assessment, which gathers the latest research on how climate change is likely to affect the U.S. The semi-regular report — the third such published — is a product of the Global Change Research Act of 1990, which required a national climate assessment to be conducted every four years. This is the point at which you’re probably wondering why, if a 1990 law mandated that a national climate assessment be produced every four years, we’re only getting around to releasing the third one in 2013, or 23 years after the original legislation was passed. That’s in part because of the usual slow workings of the federal bureaucracy — complicated by the fact that the report is complied by an inter-governmental body involving 13 separate federal agencies and departments — but also because conservatives have repeatedly attacked the assessment for supposedly exaggerating the effects of climate change..."

 

An Alarm In The Offing On Climate Change. Here's an excerpt of a story from Justin Gillis at The New York Times: "The natural conservatism of science has often led climatologists to be cautious in their pronouncements about global warming. Indeed, more than once they have drawn criticism for burying their fundamental message – that society is running some huge risks — in caveats and cavils. To judge from the draft of a new report issued by a federal advisory committee, that hesitation may soon fall by the wayside. The draft, just unveiled for public comment before it becomes final, is the latest iteration of a major series of reports requested by Congress on the effects of climate change in the United States..."

Image credit above: "Left, the projected change in annual average temperatures in 2071 to 2099 (compared with 1971 to 2000) if rapid reductions in emissions are achieved; right, the projected change if increases in emissions continue."

 

The Hottest Year: Time To End Climate Denial. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Salt Lake Tribune: "...The look back at 2012 shows, in so many ways, not only that our climate is changing, but that the effects of only small differences in average temperatures can have devastating effects on the world. A killer drought in America’s corn belt. Declining water levels in the Great Lakes and other significant bodies of fresh water. Superstorm systems that move west to east, shattering cities and crops across the Plains, and east to west, bringing catastrophic rains, waves and power outages to New York and New Jersey. So what should have been a marathon approach to our energy needs, developing over time the technologies, policies and laws that would shift from a carbon-based economy to a renewable one, is about to become, in historic terms, a sprint..."

 

Obama Faces Dilemma On "Mother Of All" Climate Change Regulations. Will President Obama make good on a pledge to finally get serious about climate change, or will he kick the can down the road? Having the EPA shut down the dirtiest greenhouse gas sources (coal-fired power plants, older oil refineries) would be a good start, but there is huge political calculus involved. Here's an excerpt of a thought-provoking story from The National Journal: "On the night he won reelection, President Obama told a cheering crowd, “We want our children to live in an America that isn’t … threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.” He has since said that climate change will be one of the top three priorities of his second term. This week, Obama heard a wailing siren warning him to stick to his pledge: On Monday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that 2012 was by far the hottest year on record in the contiguous U.S. It was also the nation’s second-most-extreme year for destructive weather events, with 11 disasters sustaining $1 billion each in economic losses. On Friday, a new draft report by 13 U.S. federal agencies concluded that rising temperatures caused by fossil fuel emissions have directly contributed to increased wildfires, the spread of insect-transmitted disease, rising sea levels, melting glaciers and decreasing water supply across the U.S. Scientists said the evidence is unequivocal that the heat and catastrophic weather are linked to climate change caused by fossil-fuel pollution—and that without governmental action to stop that pollution, worse destruction is on the way..."

 

Manmade Global Warming Has Increased Heat Records By A Factor Of Five; Much Worse To Come. Here's a snippet of a story from The Potsdam Institute for Climate Research and Think Progress: "On average, there are now five times as many record-breaking hot months worldwide than could be expected without long-term global warming, shows a study now published in Climatic Change. In parts of Europe, Africa and southern Asia the number of monthly records has increased even by a factor of ten [full graphic in the study]. 80 percent of observed monthly records would not have occurred without human influence on climate, concludes the authors-team of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the Complutense University of Madrid..."

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