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Coating to 17" Reported Over The Twin Cities Metro - Spring Returns This Weekend. Really

  • Blog Post by: Paul Douglas
  • April 17, 2014 - 8:22 AM

Only in Minnesota can you be ankle-deep in slush, in a T-shirt, grilling. This "spring" is taking weather-whiplash to a new & outlandish extreme. I guess it could be worse. Residents of Washington D.C. just went from 80F to flurries, wind chills in the teens, in less than 24 hours.

Much of Minnesota is waking up to snow; the heaviest bands north & west of the immediate Twin Cities, where enough warm air wrapped into the storm for a period of rain, keeping snowfall totals down a bit. But the northern and western suburbs did pick up a plowable snowfall, with some 1 foot plus amounts from Anoka County westward to Rogers and Maple Lake. If you're driving north/west, away from the downtowns this morning, leave plenty of extra time.

Memories of 2013: Duluth picked up 51 inches of snow last April, the snowiest month on record.

In April. Go figure.

One silver lining to our cold bias: no pollen yet. A researcher at the University of Tulsa reports that trees are flowering late this spring, dumping pollen all at once. Details below.

Welcome to a Light-switch Spring. Like flipping on a light, spring arrives this weekend. Expect 60s on Saturday; a few showers likely, even a clap of thunder. Skies dry out a bit Easter Sunday; 70F not out of the question by Monday & Tuesday as thoughts turn to May; cleaning up the yard & dusting off the fishing boat.

I'm ready for a long, sweaty summer. I suspect I'm not the only one.

We're due.


* 17" of snow reported in Nowthen, in Anoka County, as of late last night. 19" at Isanti, while MSP International picked up 3/10ths of an inch of slush.

* 8.1" snow piles up at St. Cloud, setting a new 24-hour snowfall record for April 16. Old record: 3" (1961).

* 71 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities the previous Wednesday, April 9.


All Or Nothing. I can't remember the last time I saw a snowfall gradient this impressive across the Twin Cities. In the span of 30 miles you go from a slushy coating to nearly a foot. The northern and western suburbs got clobbered by snow Wednesday; an icy mix of rain, freezing rain and sleet kept amounts much lower south of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The latest snowfall reports are here and here. I pray this is the last time I have to include these links until sometime in October or November.


Like Turning On A Lightswitch. ECMWF data is still hinting at 60s this weekend; GFS data from NOAA only keeping us in the 50s. Most days I prefer the European model, and I'm going to roll the dice and (hope) ECMWF is on the right track. There's little doubt that spring will stage a comeback next week. It may be hard to believe, but with a sun angle as high in the sky as it was on August 25 most of the snow in your yard will be gone by Friday evening. Graphic: Weatherspark.

New Concept: "Warmer Than Average". I can't remember the last time I saw a map like this - last autumn perhaps. NOAA CPC is predicting a warm bias from the Rockiest to the Mississippi much of next week. That will mean 60s and 70s over the Upper Mississippi Valley, with a few 80s to near 90F over the central Plains. Map: NOAA and HAMweather.


March Was The Coldest In U.S. Since 2002. Climate Central has all the details; here's a clip: "...For the lower 48 as a whole, this March was the coldest on record since 2002 (though it ranks as only the 43rd coldest in the longer-term records), according to the latest State of the Climate update from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), released Tuesday. The average national temperature for the month was 40.5°F, 1°F below the 20th century average for the month. The Great Lakes and Northeast saw the coolest conditions, and Vermont actually saw its coldest March on record, with temperature 8.9°F below average..." (image credit: NOAA).


From Polar Vortex To Pollen Vortex? 45 million Americans may be doing more spring sneezing and wheezing than usual, no thanks to an abrupt end to the Polar Vortex in the coming weeks. Here's an excerpt of a good explanation from Mother Jones: "...The long winter, the particularly cold weather, it all pushed the pollen season back quite a bit," says Estelle Levetin, the chair of the biology department at the University of Tulsa. Individual flowering trees probably aren't producing more pollen, Levetin says—but they're all dumping their pollen at once, making this allergy season particularly difficult for people who are sensitive to more than one type of pollen..." (Pollen file photo: Wikipedia).


Largest Solar Array For Department of Defense Coming to Arizona Army Base. Take advantage of free energy, especially in sun-drenched Arizona? Seems like a pretty good idea and the Defense Department is testing new ways to keep the lights on. EcoWatch has the story; here's a clip: "A U.S. Army base near the Mexican border will soon be home to the U.S. Department of Defense’s largest solar array on a military installation. The U.S. Army announced Monday that Fort Huachuca, in Southeast Arizona’s Cochise County, on April 25 will break ground on a solar array with panels that collectively will provide one quarter of the base’s electricity needs..."

Photo credit above: "Fort Huachuca in Arizona will soon be home to the U.S. Department of Defense’s largest solar array on a military installation." Photo credit: U.S. Army.


Parrots Name Their Children For Life. Robert Krulwich has the details in this piece that ran on NPR; here's an excerpt: "..."Most people say, 'Well, all those calls are just noise,' " Karl told Virginia Morell, but "I think they're having conversations." Berg has listened to so many parrots in so many nests for so long, he has that weeks after birth, these little birds begin to use very specific peeps to identify themselves to others. Not only that, they learn the peeping "names" of their parents, brothers, sisters, and use them in conversation, as in, "Peep-duh-dee-Peep, is that you?"... (File photo: Wikipedia).


"Climachill" Cools Athletes In Hot Weather. Can I get boxers made out of this material? Inquiring minds want to know. Here's an excerpt from Gizmag: "The sports apparel market has no shortage of solutions for cold weather, with waterproof-breathable materials, advanced natural and synthetic insulations, and battery powered heat among them. But athletes have fewer options in hot, humid weather: take off clothing, get a cold headband/cloth, or stop exercising and find an air conditioner or pool. Adidas offers one more. Its new Climachill fabric combines several cooling elements to keep athletes more comfortable during hot summer sessions..."


Bees On A Plane. A flight from Las Vegas to Duluth had to turn around because of...wait for it...bees? No, truth is stranger than fiction some days. Here's a clip from The Duluth News Tribune: "...Allegiant spokeswoman Jessica Wheeler said the flight crew reported at 5:30 p.m. Duluth time that shortly after takeoff, a swarm of bees was clouding the windshield and bees were being ingested into the plane’s engines. The crew decided to abort the flight, landing safely back in Las Vegas..."



37 F. high in the Twin Cities Wednesday.

58 F. average high on April 16.

47 F. high on April 16, 2013.

.3" of snow at MSP International Airport.


TODAY: Slushy, slippery start. Patchy clouds, still chilly. Winds: NW: 10-15. High: near 40

THURSDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy and cold. Low: 28

FRIDAY: Peeks of sun, feels more like April. High: 52

SATURDAY: Hints of May. PM T-storms? Wake-up: 42. High: 65

EASTER SUNDAY: Damp start. Clouds linger much of the day. Wake-up: 45. High: 62

MONDAY: Partly sunny. Mostly springy. Wake-up: 40. High: 68

TUESDAY: Fading sun, still lukewarm. Wake-up: 44. High: 67

WEDNESDAY: Humid. Showers & T-storms. Wake-up: 48. High: 64


Climate Stories...

The world is losing the equivalent of 50 soccer fields of forest every minute. NYT. Source: Climate Nexus.


U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Dropped 3.4% In 2012. Here's an excerpt from The Los Angeles Times: "Greenhouse gas emissions in the United States dropped by 3.4% in 2012, federal environmental regulators reported Tuesday. The decline over the previous year was driven mostly by power plant operators switching from coal to natural gas, improvements in fuel efficiency for transportation and a warmer winter that cut demand for heating, according to an inventory released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency...."


Study Ties Epic California Drought, "Frigid East" To Manmade Climate Change. ThinkProgress has the details of a new NASA-funded study; here's an excerpt: "...A new study in Geophysical Research Letters (subs. req’d) takes the warming link to the California drought to the next level of understanding. It concludes, “there is a traceable anthropogenic warming footprint in the enormous intensity of the anomalous ridge during winter 2013-14, the associated drought and its intensity.” The NASA-funded study is behind a pay wall, but the brief news release, offers a simple explanation of what is going on. The research provides “evidence connecting the amplified wind patterns, consisting of a strong high pressure in the West and a deep low pressure in the East [labeled a 'dipole'], to global warming.” Researchers have “uncovered evidence that can trace the amplification of the dipole to human influences...”


* Jeff Masters at Weather Underground weighs in on new papers linking the historic California drought and a persistent polar vortex signature this past winter to rapid warming in the northern latitudes. Here's a clip: "...A new study published this week in Geophysical Research Letters, led by Utah State scientist S.-Y. Simon Wang, found that this jet stream pattern was the most extreme on record, and likely could not have grown so extreme without the influence of human-caused global warming. The study concluded, there is a traceable anthropogenic warming footprint in the enormous intensity of the anomalous ridge during winter 2013-14, the associated drought and its intensity..."

* Is climate change impacting the ENSO signal in the Pacific? Here's a technical paper (PDF) with details.


Canada's Climate Warms To Corn As Grain Belt Shifts North. The growing season on the Canadian prairie has lengthened by 2 weeks in the last 50 years; the trends are undeniable. Bloomberg has a story and video explanation; here's a clip: "...This is here to stay,” said Gross, who sells CNH Global NV tractors for Southeastern Farm Equipment Ltd. in nearby Steinbach. His customers are increasingly devoting acreage to corn. “There are a lot of guys who are experimenting with it and looking at it,” he said. Corn is the most common grain in the U.S., with its production historically concentrated in a Midwestern region stretching from the Ohio River valley to Nebraska and trailing off in northern Minnesota. It had been ungrowable in the fertile farmland of Canada’s breadbasket. That is changing as a warming climate, along with the development of faster-maturing seed varieties, turns the table on food cultivation. The Corn Belt is being pushed north of what was imaginable a generation ago..."


January Global Temperature Anomalies. Check out this video clip from NASA, showing a persistent pocket of cold over the eastern USA (thank you Polar Vortex), while most of the rest of the planet was milder than average. That trend lingered into March.


Turning Our Backs To Global Warming. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Virginian-Pilot that caught my eye: "...The problem, as in so many things, is America's paralyzing politics. Since limiting global warming carries its own small cost - one that will affect free-spending energy interests most - partisan opposition to change has been particularly vociferous in America. Global warming has become just another American litmus test, along with health care reform, immigration, abortion, unemployment insurance, pay equity. While the rest of the world is baffled by America's partisan disagreement over a century-old and well-supported scientific theory, it is also frustrated by the lack of leadership from the world's only superpower..."


A Risk Analyst Explains Why Climate Change Risk Misperception Doesn't Necessarily Matter. By the time the symptoms of climate change begin impacting everyone's daily lives will it be too late to do anything about it? That's why climate change has often been described as "the perfect problem". Andrew Revkin takes a look in an interview at his Dot Earth column at The New York Times; here's an excerpt: "...Consider that combating climate change requires nothing less than a radical restructuring of how the world makes and uses energy, and consider the overwhelming level of public concern it would take to impose such sweeping changes on the vested interests profiting by the status quo (and let’s be honest…to impose such changes on a public comfortable with the status quo). We’d have to feel we were at war — bullets-flying, bombs-dropping, buildings-burning and body-bags real, live, NOW “I am in Danger” war — before public concern about climate change would grow strong enough to drive those sorts of actions. The psychology of risk perception warns against the naive hope that we can ever achieve that level of concern with effective communication, but even if it is possible, we are just not going to get there in time, a point made dramatically by the latest IPCC Working Group 3 report..."

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