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Hibernation Optional: 40s much of this week (the meltdown begins)

  • Blog Post by: Paul Douglas
  • March 8, 2014 - 11:12 PM

Springing Forward

I set my clock ahead one hour last night. Now I'd like to set my calendar ahead one month. Mid April. Yes, frantic calls with my tax accountant, maybe a stray flood warning or premature mosquito to swat?

I can't promise spring fever, but for the first time in nearly 4 months you'll be able to exhale as highs SOAR into the 40s. Birds may chirp hopefully, neighbors emerging from deep hibernation, rubbing their eyes nervously, peeling off a few extra layers of clothing.

Last year it snowed in May; this winter was far colder, turning highways into ice-encrusted ruts of torment. A brewing El Nino (52 percent risk) may tilt the odds slightly in favor of warmer weather later in 2014 and possibly ease the drought for California. Expect more volatility.

But today a sun-kissed airmass direct from Seattle lures the mercury above 40F; mid 40s and an unusual number of smiles for a Monday - give way to cooler weather by midweek. A Tuesday storm may brush southern Minnesota with wet snow; it doesn't look like a big deal right now.

Look at the bright side: no subzero lows in sight, and NOAA predicts an end to our moderate drought. I just want the glacier in my yard to melt.

Any day now.


Frosty May Start Losing Body Parts Today. We may lose 3-6" snowcover over the next 48 hours, probably shrinking down to 8-10" by Wednesday. Graphic above: Twin Cities National Weather Service.


Things Are Looking Up. After being repeatedly beaten by Old Man Winter - fairly relentlessly since mid-December - it's nice to finally get a break. You'll be amazed how good 40s can feel, starting this afternoon, even milder Monday before cooling back down. Nothing polar in sight. You have a right to be skeptical, but I suspect we have turned a corner. A few models are hinting at 50s by next Tuesday or Wednesday. More relapses in April? Probably. Graphic: Weatherspark.


A Pacific Breeze. The last vestiges of the much-hyped Polar Vortex are shrinking north. And that's the thing about cold air. Warm air can't just push it out of the way. The chill needs to retreat on its own, and that's happening as steering winds become more westerly (more often) and a higher sun angle begins to erode the core of the coldest air. Temperatures reach 60F Monday as close as Des Moines (little snow cover helps) with 70s over the central Plains. Spring is coming. Not tomorrow, but soon. 2-meter NAM temperature forecast courtesy of NOAA and Ham Weather.


Cheap Applause For A Zonal Flow. No longer are upper level steering currents howling from the Yukon or Arctic Circle. Winds aloft (above) today are pumping in milder, Pacific air, and the result will be warmer than average temperatures much of this week. Map: Climate Reanalyzer.


Saturday Outlook. Temperature anomalies Saturday show the cold pool shrinking over Canada, unusually warm weather over western Canada. In fact the entire Northern Hemisphere is forecast to be 1F warmer than average (for March 15), the Arctic over 2F. warmer than long-term averages - a trend we've seen much of the winter.


Super-Sized Winter of 2014: Ice More Damaging Than Snow. Snow gets much of the national media attention, but ice is far more dangerous and damaging, sparking more accidents, roof collapses and downed tree limbs and power lines. That's the subject of today's edition of Climate Matters: "Yes, this has been a jaw-dropping, super-sized, winter on steroids winter east of the Rockies." -- Meteorologist Paul Douglas said. A crazy winter it has been for much of the U.S. as snow, ice and freezing rain continues into March. The Great Lakes are breaking ice-cover records and snow covered 54% of the U.S. as of Tuesday, the most since 1978. It has been a wild one."


Snow Water Equivalent. The latest numbers from NOAA estimate 3-4" of liquid water trapped in the snow pack over the south metro, but closer to 5-6" from Isanti and Cambridge to Taylors Falls, as much as 10" along Lake Superior's North Shore. Pray for a gradual thaw (with no heavy rain).


Unusually Deep Snow Over Northeastern Minnesota. In his most recent post, Dr. Mark Seeley answers a listener question about the deep snow pack along the North Shore and over the Minnesota Arrowhead. Here's an excerpt of his response at Minnesota WeatherTalk: "...Though not record-setting it is rare to have snow depths over 40 inches, yet several observers have reported these amounts for this winter including 47 inches near Two Harbors, 43 inches at Isabella, 42 inches at Wolf Ridge and Babbitt, 41 inches at Cook, and 40 inches at Cloquet and Grand Marais. The measurement of 47 inches neat Two Harbors is the deepest snow there since they measured 51 inches in March of 1965. Similarly at Babbitt the reading of 42 inches is the most there since a snow depth of 52 inches in February of 1969. The state record by the way is a snow depth of 75 inches at Pigeon River Bridge in March of 1950..."


Snow, Ice Cover Will Boost Great Lakes Ice Levels. AP has the article - here's a link and excerpt: "Water levels in the Great Lakes are expected to continue a steady recovery this year, courtesy of widespread ice cover that is slowing evaporation and snowfall that has approached record amounts in some cities, federal experts said Wednesday. The siege of polar air that has gripped the region this winter has caused the most extensive freeze-over of the lakes since the record-setting year of 1979, when nearly 95 percent of their surface area solidified. On Tuesday, the ice cover reached its highest point since then - 91 percent, said George Leshkevich, a physical scientist with the federal Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor..."

Image credit above: "In this Feb. 16, 2014 satellite image provided by the NOAA Great Lakes CoastWatch is the ice cover on the Great Lakes. The Army Corps of Engineers said Wednesday, March 5, 2014 that the heavy ice cover and snowfall across the Great Lakes basin should help water levels move closer to normal over the next six months." (AP Photo/NOAA Great Lakes CoastWatch).


Trapped In A Devastating Drought, California Needs To Take On Some Surprising Sacred Cows. Here's a clip from a story at New Republic which puts the the drought into stark perspective: "...Today in California, a different kind of resource shock is unfolding, and it too may end up, a generation hence, defining an era. This time the resource is water, not oil. Today’s California drought is starting to force similarly life-changing choices, this time in the nation’s most populous state, long a bellwether and, according to some counts, the world’s eighth largest economy. The land of milk and honey has begun in recent weeks to get serious about its water crisis: Farmers are ripping out crops, religious believers are praying for rain, and local governments are ordering restaurants to stop serving glasses of water except to diners who specifically request them. This comes at a time when America’s domestic supply of the natural resource it has cared most about—fossil fuel—is more plentiful than ever..."


Climatologist Who Predicted California Drought 10 years Ago Says It May Soon Be "Even More Dire". Joe Romm at Think Progress delves into the California drought, how much is natural vs. influenced by changes in the Arctic (melting ice) and changes in the upper level steering winds - what one meteorologist dubbed a "ridiculously resilient ridge" of high pressure that has nudged storms away from the west coast - fairly consistently - for nearly 3 years now. How is a warming climate and changes in far northern latitudes impacting the drought? Here's an excerpt: "...These four mechanisms are:

  1. In a warming world, a larger fraction of total precipitation falls in downpours, which means a larger fraction is lost to storm runoff (as opposed to being absorbed in soil).
  2. In mountain regions that are warming, as most are, a larger fraction of precipitation falls as rain rather than as snow, which means lower stream flows in spring and summer.
  3. What snowpack there is melts earlier in a warming world, further reducing flows later in the year.
  4. Where temperatures are higher, losses of water from soil and reservoirs due to evaporation are likewise higher than they would otherwise be..."

Get Ready For The Next Climate Phenomenon: El Nino. As we told you yesterday the probabilities of lurching into an El Nino warming phase of the Pacific are increasing for later in 2014. The implications for Minnesota and the rest of the nation? Here's an excerpt from Climate Central: "...An El Niño increases the likelihood of wet conditions in California and the Southwest, which could provide relief to areas suffering through severe drought. Warm conditions are also more likely in the Northeast. That’s welcome news for a region where teeth have been chattering all winter. The Eastern Seaboard could also see the major hurricane drought stretch for another year as El Niño tends to inhibit the formation of Atlantic Hurricanes. The last official major hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. was Hurricane Wilma in 2005..."

Image credit above: "Global average surface temperatures, showing El Niño years in red." Credit: Climate Central using WMO data.


Surviving Beijing's Pollution While Pregnant: "I Feel Like A Lab Rat". Not a good time to be working in China's largest, most polluted cities - unless you're armed with face masks and air purifiers. The Guardian has the story - here's an excerpt: "...As someone who grew up in Beijing in the 1990s myself, the deterioration in air quality there is startling – blue skies were once the norm. Not being able to see beyond a certain building in the distance is now today’s reality, though, with readings based on the Air Quality Index (AQI) skyrocketing beyond 500 on the worst-hit days, over 20 times the level set by the WHO. But the difference in how it potentially affects us is stark – Xiaoxia is eight months pregnant..."

Photo credit: "Vehicles clog a highway during a hazy day in Beijing at the end of February." Photograph: Ng Han Guan/AP


Facebook Looks To Buy Solar-Powered Drone Company To Deliver Worldwide Internet. Because I can't get FB in nearly enough places. I want to be able to update my profile while steaming off the coast of Nigeria. Gizmag has the story; here's the intro: "Titan Aerospace's Solara, a solar-powered unmanned aerial vehicle designed to cruise at an altitude of 20 km (12.42 miles) for five years at a time, certainly got our attention back in August, and it appears to have not gone unnoticed by some of tech's bigger players either. Facebook is reportedly in talks to acquire the company with a view to using the drones as a means of providing internet access to the world's under-served regions..."


SAT Scores Of The Rich And Famous. I'm not surprised about Bill Gates, but Ke$ha scoring a 1500? Impressive. The New York Times has the blurb - here's an excerpt: "...The cover story of this weekend’s magazine has the background of the SAT overhaul. You can get an early look at it online Thursday morning. Until then, here are the SAT scores that go with some boldfaced names, as reported in places other than Twitter.

1. Ben Affleck: “Ben had almost perfect SAT scores in high school.”
2. Ke$ha: 1,500
3. Bill Gates: 1,590
4. George W. Bush: 1,206
5. Al Gore: 1,355
6. Scarlett Johansson: 1,080

Photo credit above: Matt Sayles/Invision/Associated Press. "Ke$ha scored 1500 on her SAT.


The Future Of TV Is Coming Into Focus, And Looks Pretty Great. Will every show you care about eventually be delivered online, and on-demand? What will this do to traditional network TV schedules? Are we heading to more of a Netflix model for most of our entertainment? Quartz has a thought-provoking article; here's the introduction: "The future of TV is here. It’s just not evenly distributedIf it doesn’t seem like the American television industry is in the middle of a dramatic transformation, that’s simply because the pieces are scattered all over the place. But they are starting to come together. One transformative piece arrived earlier this week, when Dish Network secured the rights to include ABC, ESPN, and other popular channels owned by Disney in a TV service delivered entirely over the internet. Negotiating deals like that one has generally been the biggest impediment to internet TV in the United States..."

Photo credit above: "It's all controlled by this guy." Reuters/Joe Skipper.



29 F. high in the Twin Cities Saturday.

37 F. average high on March 8.

39 F. high on March 8, 2013.

16" snow on the ground.


TODAY: Partly sunny, breezy, hints of spring. Winds: SW 15. High: 47

SUNDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy, patchy fog. Low: 36

MONDAY: Hints of early April. Patchy clouds & fog. High: 46

TUESDAY: Chance of snow southern Minnesota. Wake-up: 32. High: 36

WEDNESDAY: Sun returns, light winds. Wake-up: 24. High: 34

THURSDAY: Intervals of sun, quite pleasant. Wake-up: 28. High: 43

FRIDAY: Some sun, a bit cooler. Wake-up: 30. High: 41

SATURDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, still quiet. Wake-up: 26. High: 38


Climate Stories....

Climate Change Is A Conservative Cause - Really. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed from former South Carolina (Republican) Congressman Bob Inglis at The Miami Herald: "...Usually, we conservatives feel dragged along by the ever-expanding liberal ship of state. We see ourselves as the anchor on that ship, and in many ways we are. But on this issue of climate change, we have the opportunity to be the ship’s engine. We passionately believe in markets and free enterprise. We want to avoid regulatory dictates on climate change. And we want to eliminate all subsidies for all fuels. What some of us haven’t considered is the possibility that the biggest subsidy of all is being able to pump pollutants into the air with no accountability. Those pollutants are fouling our families’ lungs and endangering the climate for those who will come after us. We can improve our lives and theirs by simply changing what we tax. Cut taxes on income. Put a tax on pollution..." (Image: Wikipedia).

Amen.


Floods And Gales Are Taste Of Things To Come, Says UN Climate Science Chief. The Guardian has the video interview - here's the introduction to the story: "The heaviest rainfall in 200 years, floods and gales experienced in Britain this winter are a foretaste of what is certain to occur in a warming world, the head of the UN's climate science panel has told the Guardian. "Each of the last three decades has been warmer than the last. Extreme events are on the increase. Even if what we have just had [this winter] was not caused by anthropogenic climate change, events of this nature are increasing both in intensity and frequency," said Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change..."


"Energy Sprawl". Is A Shrinking Wilderness The Hidden Cost Of Energy Security? LiveScience has an interesting perspective - here's an excerpt: "...Our study predicts the potential for development of up to 106,004 new gas wells and 10,798 new wind turbines, affecting roughly 1,224,053 acres of forest land and resulting in the creation of up to 1,490,732 acres of impervious surfaces due to development of roads, well-pads and pipelines — materials such as concrete or soils compacted by development are highly impervious, meaning fluids cannot pass through them. As it turns out, this is enough impervious surface to cover an area larger than the state of Delaware..." (Photo credit: Jesse Lewis).


Climate Science Resources. If you're looking for more information about climate science, impacts and predictions here is a good place to start, with links to (scientifically credible) sources.


The Navy Lays Out Its Plan For A More Accessible Arctic. Mashable has the story; here's the introduction: "The United States Navy is drawing up a plan to operate in what is rapidly becoming a seasonally-open Arctic Ocean, and thus a new theater of operations. The amount of sea ice that covers the Arctic Ocean at the end of melt season in September has receded by about 3% per decade since 1981, with a record low set in 2012. Less sea ice means more open water, and rapid Arctic climate change has essentially created new international waterways for shipping and resource extraction activities. The area of seasonally ice-free waters is likely to continue to widen over the coming decades, and Navy wants to keep tabs on it..."


9 Foods Threatened By Climate Change. No, not the coffee! Take anything, but please don't take my coffee beans away. Huffington Post has the story - here's the intro: "While the next four decades aren't likely to see an agricultural apocalypse, it's pretty likely that some foods will be harder to come by -- due to increased costs and decreased supply -- as harvesting becomes more difficult due to rising temperatures and irregular weather patterns spurred by climate change. Here are a few of the food items you should be most concerned about..."

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