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Dangerously Cold (90+ hours below zero - record territory by Monday)

  • Blog Post by: Paul Douglas
  • January 3, 2014 - 8:30 PM

-27 F. December 26, 1996 in the Twin Cities (last time air temperatures were colder than -25F in the metro).


Population Control

This is why we'll never have population of 10 million. Word of mouth travels faster than Twitter, even Faceplant. When the rest of America hears of our Siberian Invasion ("wait, the AIR temperature dipped to 25 below!?") many weather snobs will scratch us off their bucket list. Thank God. In a strange way Canada is doing us all a back-handed favor.

I've learned the hard way to never tell a Minnesotan not to go outside. But Sunday into Tuesday morning will be dangerously cold, probably the coldest since -24F, on January 30, 2004. For some communities it may be the coldest since 1996.

If you're dressed properly (no exposed skin) and physically active you can weather such extremes. I'm more concerned about kids standing at the bus stop Monday morning, with a wind chill of minus 45.

We may see close to 90 hours/row below zero. Pete Boulay at the Climate Office reminds us that the record is 186 hours (1911-1912). The record cold daytime high Monday is -14 in 1909. Wind chill values Monday may approach 50 below - posing significant risk even to people who are dressed for the weather. The decision to cancel school, statewide, on Monday was a wise one, in my humble opinion.

We bottom out early next week. 3 days of moderate pain then rapid recovery. 30s (above) return late next week, as we all hum a silent prayer of Thanksgiving.

* photo credit: Mike Hall Photography.


Record Territory. Here is a list of record highs and lows, day by day, courtesy of the Minnesota Climate Office and The National Weather Service. We'll be close to record territory, especially Monday the 6th.


Dueling Models. By 6 AM Monday temperatures are forecast to close to record values, ranging from -16F (NAM) to -24 (GFS) to -26 (GFSMOS), the coldest in at least 10 years, possibly since 1996 for much of Minnesota. Source: Smart Energy.


A January To Remember. 3 days of significant pain, then rapid recovery by the end of the week, with 30s (above!) next weekend. Right now I'm betting on about 90 consecutive hours of subzero readings, Monday morning is when we bottom out - for the winter, I pray. Source: Weatherspark.


Polar Plunge. If it's any consolation sub-freezing weather may push as far south as Orlando. Mickey and Goofy are not amused. Subzero temperatures will push across the Midwest and Great Lakes into the Ohio Valley and New England next week. The solid green line marks the 0F isotherm, the solid red line: 32F. It's going to get so cold over the Upper Midwest we actually ran out of colors. First time for everything. Loop: NOAA's NAM model and Ham Weather.


A Badly Needed Shift In The Pattern. We'll see more cold fronts - that's a bet with high confidence. But there's growing evidence that the worst of winter, in terms of record/historic cold, comes early next week, with a run of 20s and 30s after January 11, extending into the third week of the month. We're due for a correction.


Thursday-Friday Snowfall Totals. NOAA has a good map (above) showing the snowfall amounts from the recent storm, as much as 5-8" in New York City, with up to 13-15" in the Boston area.


December Weather Recap. Here are a few highlights from the State Climatology Office and the Minnesota DNR:

  • December 2013 precipitation totals were above historical averages across much of the northern two-thirds of Minnesota. Precipitation totals were near to above average elsewhere in the state. Many northern Minnesota communities reported over two feet of snowfall for the month.
  • Average monthly temperatures for December were well below historical averages, finishing 6 to 12 degrees below normal. For some communities, December 2013 ranks among the ten coldest Decembers on record.
  • Snow depths exceed 12 inches over most of the northern two-thirds of Minnesota. Snow depths across the southern one-third of the state range from four to eight inches. Throughout nearly all of Minnesota, snow depths are above the historical median for the date.
  • The U. S. Drought Monitor, released on January 2, places sections of the southern one-half of Minnesota in the Moderate Drought category. The drought classification is the result of a very dry late summer and early autumn.

Mystery Steam Over Fukushima Could Be Sign Of Another Meltdown. Gizmodo has the story - here's a clip: "The newest update in the highly disconcerting series of devastating failures that is the Fukushima cleanup effort is troubling to say the least. Tepco has confirmed that (unexplained) plumes of steam have been rising from the mangled remains of Reactor Building 3. In other words, there's a chance Fukushima could be in the middle of another meltdown. The thing is, no one has been able to find out the exact cause of the rising, mysterious radioactive steam because the combination of physical damage and, more importantly, lethal radiation levels have made investigating the reactor impossible..."


2013: The Year In Science. The techno-geeks at Gizmag take a look; here's an excerpt: "The close of 2013 gives us an excellent opportunity, though satiated with holiday feasts, to look back on a year that has been filled with scientific accomplishment. So it's time to get comfortable on your Binary Chair, sip your hot cocoa from a phase-change mug while your Foodini prints out a batch of cookies and reflect on science stories of note from the past year..."


This Dumb Year: The 47 Lamest Moments In Tech, 2013. Time Magazine has a good run-down of some of the more head-slapping moments of last year; here's the intro: "In tech, dumb moments come in an array of flavors — but some years have definite overarching themes. 2012, for instance, was the year of the apology. And 2013 turned out to be the year that proved human beings shouldn’t be allowed to use Twitter. Or at least it kept feeling that way. Everybody kept tweeting stuff they probably came to regret. Celebrities such as BlackBerry Global Creative Director Alicia Keys, whose only mistake was tweeting from an iPhone (unless, as she said, the tweet came from an iPhone-using hacker). People we never heard of until they embarrassed themselves on Twitter and got fired, including Business Insider’s CTO, IAC’s PR honcho and a producer of The Bachelor. Even beloved American institutions such as AT&T and SpaghettiOs..."


Tips For A Successful Digital Detox. Step away from the smartphone please. If you're finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with e-mails, FB posts, tweets, etc - here are a few suggestions from Shape Magazine: "Chances are your smartphone is within arm’s reach right now, if you’re not already using it to read this. We’re spending more time than ever on our digital devices—anywhere from one to two hours daily, depending on which study you consult—and with the flood of incoming texts, emails, calls, and push notifications, it’s rare if our screens stay dark for more than a moment. While there’s no doubt technology has made our lives easier in many ways (remember roadmaps?), research suggests that our addiction to it is real. “Every new notification or text triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that drives us to seek rewards, so you keep coming back for more," explains Levi Felix, co-founder of Digital Detox and Camp Grounded, which run tech-free weekend getaways for adults..."


Canadian Tire Ice Truck Redefines Cold Weather Driving. I suspect many of us will have vehicles that resemble this by early next week - details from gizmag.com: "With Eastern Canada experiencing one of the worst ice storms in recorded history, the idea of an ice truck might seem overtly ironic to some. The ice sculpting house of Iceculture and Canadian Tire, however, already had their 15,000 lb ice truck planned, built and ready to go before the storm hit..."


-10 F. low Friday morning.

21 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities.

24 F. average high on January 3.

22 F. high on January 3, 2013.

Trace of snow fell Friday.

6" snow on the ground.

1981: Air cold enough to freeze a mercury thermometer pours into Minnesota. Tower hits 45 below zero.

1971: Snowstorm over upper midwest. Winona gets over 14 inches.


TODAY: Gusty, tumbling temps. Windchill: -10 Winds: NW 20. High: 13 (falling to near zero by late PM)

SATURDAY NIGHT: Windchill warning. Clearing and numbing. Low: -18

SUNDAY: Windchill warning. Dangerously cold with some sun. Feels like -40F. High: -8

MONDAY: Dangerously cold. Record territory. Feels like -50F Wake-up: -25. High: -12

TUESDAY: Still numb. Fading sun, less wind. Wake-up: -23. High: -4

WEDNESDAY: Intervals of sun, not as harsh. Wake-up: -6. High: 13

THURSDAY: Some sun, much better. Wake-up: -2. High: 21

FRIDAY: Never happier to see freezing. Wake-up: 8. High: 28

* 30s are likely next weekend.


Climate Stories...

On Defense: Cities Get Serious About Climate Resilience In 2013. Sandy was a 2 by 4 across the head for New York City, but other cities are waking up and taking steps to counter a more volatile climate. Here's an excerpt from Grist: "...Sandy was the second major storm to plow through New York in as many years, and as we learned during our retrospective this fall, it wasn’t even the long-feared Big One. Sandy ricocheted into the coast. A direct hit, which will no doubt come eventually, will be much worse, particularly as warmer seas whip up more powerful storms, and rising sea levels bring them to more of our doorsteps. This year saw more weather extremes, including biblical floods that swept away houses, roads, and bridges in Calgary, Alberta, and Boulder, Colo., a heatwave in Alaska, bitter cold in Florida, and a monstrous typhoon that wreaked massive havoc in the Philippines, killing more than 6,000 people. It’s impossible to blame climate change alone for any of these events, of course, but it certainly made many of them worse, and science tells us they’re signs of things to come..."

Photo credit above: Andrew Ferguson.


Five Basic Antarctic Facts For Climate Change Skeptics. The Guardian has some perspective on the "warmist" ship that recently got caught in Antarctic ice, leading to the evacuation of those onboard. Here's an excerpt: "To most people the prolonged stranding of the MV Akademik Shokalskiy in thick pack ice off the coast of Antarctica is an unfortunate incident that provided passengers with rather static scenery for their Christmas and New Year celebrations. But to some climate change contrarians, repeated attempts to free the vessel from the ice are proof that the theory of climate change is flawed or, at best, exaggerated. After all, a warming planet has no ice at all, right? In Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, Roger Franklin dispensed with analysis of ice extent, the cyrosphere and the like to get to the heart of the matter – expedition leader Chris Turney is a “warmist” whose understanding of Antarctica amounts to little more than it gets “really, really cold”...

Photo credit above: "The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says there is "high confidence that ice shelves around the Antarctic peninsula continue a long-term trend of retreat and partial collapse". Photograph: AAP.


Kerry Shifts State Department Focus To Environment. Will the administration be able to move the needle? Here's an excerpt from a New York Times article: "...But while the public’s attention has been on his diplomacy in the Middle East, behind the scenes at the State Department Mr. Kerry has initiated a systemic, top-down push to create an agencywide focus on global warming. His goal is to become the lead broker of a global, legally binding climate treaty in 2015 that will commit the United States and other nations to historic reductions in fossil fuel pollution. Whether the secretary of state can have that kind of influence remains an open question, and Mr. Kerry, despite two decades of attention to climate policy, has few concrete accomplishments on the issue..."


Crank It Up. Cartoon courtesy of David Horsey at The Los Angeles Times.


Climate Change Models Underestimate Likely Temperature Rise, Report Shows. Here's an excerpt from The Guardian: "The Earth’s climate is far more sensitive to carbon dioxide emissions than previously thought, heightening the likelihood of a 4C temperature rise by 2100, new Australian-led research of cloud systems has found. The study, published in Nature, provides new understanding on the role of cloud formation in climate sensitivity – one of the key uncertainties in predictions of climate change. Report authors Steven Sherwood, Sandrine Bony and Jean-Louis Dufresne found climate models which show a low global temperature response to CO2 emissions do not factor in all the water vapour released into the atmosphere..."

Photo credit: "Understanding cloud formation is key to predicting climate change." Photograph: CBW/Alamy.


Climate Change: Planet To Warm 4C By 2100. Following up on the latest research into cloud dynamics and possible impact on warming here's an excerpt of a slightly different perspective from The Sydney Morning Herald: "...Forecasts in many climate models for lower temperature rises were based on assumptions that clouds might help limit temperature increases. But the team claims to have found the key to predicting cloud behaviour, and forecasts that clouds will not be nearly as helpful as thought in many models. Current models estimate a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere - a level that may be reached by mid-century - will result in temperature rises of between 1.5 degrees and 5 degrees. Instead, the likely range will be 3-5 degrees for twice the amount of C02, the study found..."

Photo credit above: "New research suggests temperatures will rise between 3-5 degrees for a doubling of C02." Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones.

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