Cold Weather Experiments
 
The Twin Cities woke up to its coldest morning of the season with a low temperature of -14F at the MSP Airport. It was even colder when you factored in the wind, which felt closer to -40F!! Brr!! With temps that cold, I figured it would be fun to do a few cold weather experiment with my young boys!
 
Who needs a flame thrower when you’ve got an ice thrower instead? Fill a Super Soaker with boiling water, then shoot it out into the cold. When very hot water meets very cold air, the water vaporizes, turning it into ice crystals — essentially, homemade snow. Generally this experiment only works when it’s below zero, so if you live in, say, Minnesota, you're good to go. You can also do it by tossing a pot of boiling water into the air, but be careful — this method could result in some major ouchies."
 
 
 
Coldest Wind Chills AM Saturday
 
Here were some of the coldest wind chills observed on Saturday morning. Note that many locations were down in the -30s and -40s... BRR!
 
 
Coldest Week Between Christmas and New Year's Since 1886
 
WOW! Here's an interesting stat from @NWSTwinCities and @CampusClimateMN... According to there findings, this will be one of the coldest weeks between Christmas Day and New Year's Eve since 1886!
 
 
Arctic Invasion Continues...
 
As we head into the first part of 2018 it certainly looks cold! Temps through the rest of the weekend and for the first day of 2018 looks exceptionally cold! It does appear, however, that 10s and 20s (above zero) will return as we head into the first weekend of 2018!
 
 
Colored Ice Balls
 
Another fun experiment with the kids is filling up water balloons with colored water, setting them outside and letting them freeze. When they are frozen solid, you can cut away the rubber part and set the colored balls of ice somewhere outside as a decoration. 
 
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"LUNAR FOGBOW VS. NORTHERN LIGHTS"
 
 
"Deep inside the Arctic Circle, aurora tour guide Tim Nordström of Abisko, Sweden, routinely sees green curtains hanging down from the sky. On Dec. 28th, he saw something different: a pale arc reaching out of the ground: "It was amazing," says Nordström. "We were hiking through a frost-covered forest. The air was cold (-25 C) and crisp. At first the fog was thick above us, but after a while it started to thin out so we could see the green auroras overhead. A bright shaft of moonlight lanced through the fog --and that's when we saw the fogbow." Fogbows are cousins of rainbows and they are formed in essentially the same way: light bounces in and out of water droplets to produce a luminous arc. In this case, the droplets were supercooled (to remain liquid in the freezing air) and much smaller than typical raindrops. Tiny droplets cause a diffraction effect not seen in ordinary rainbows; as a result, the colors are smeared together resulting in a nearly-white arc."
 
 

Northern Lights Potential
 
Keep an eye to the sky as we head into New Year's... it looks like there will be some northern lights potential as we slide into 2018! In fact, according to University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institue, there is a high probability on January 1st, 2018! The lights could potentially be seen as far south as Des Moines, Chicago and Cleveland! Happy northern lights hunting!
 
 

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Weather Outlook Ahead
 
Here's the weather outlook through early next week, which shows cold and quiet conditions continuing across much of the region. There appears to be a weak clipper that looks like could move in across the Arrowhead and bring some light snow to places there Tuesday night.
 

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Seasonfall Snowfall
 
Here's the national snowfall analysis so far this season, which shows that every state in the Lower 48 has seen snow! Interestingly, some loctions across the Southern U.S. have seen more snow that the Twin Cities has seen.
 
 
Snow Depth 2017
 
The snow depth map across the country for December 30th suggests that 42.4% of the country is covered in snow, mainly across the northern half of the nation. At this time last year, 37.3% of the nation was covered in snow. As of December 30th, the Twin Cities officially had 3" of snow on the ground at the MSP Airport, but at this time last year, there was only a Trace on the ground.
 
 
Snow Depth 2016
 
At this time last year 40.7% of the nation was covered in snow.
 
 
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"Minnesota Sees Deadliest Winter In Years"
 
"Minnesota has already had five ice-related deaths this winter. The state typically averages three during the whole season. Minnesota is on track to have one of its deadliest winters in years. Five people have died this season after falling through ice. The state typically averages three ice-related deaths over the course of the entire winter. The 2015-2016 winter had zero ice-related deaths, while the 2016-2017 winter had two. The last time Minnesota saw ice-related deaths in the double digits was in the 2002-2003 winter, when the state had 10 fatalities. The most recent death this year happened in northern Minnesota where a women drowned after riding an ATV on Rice Lake. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officer Hannah Mishler has already responded to multiple ice rescue calls. "Ice, especially snow covered ice, is extremely deceptive. You can't see dangerous cracks or the thickness of the ice under the snow," Mishler said in a statement."
 
 
 
Ice Safety!!
 
Before you go testing the ice on area lakes and ponds, remember that "ICE IS NEVER 100% SAFE!" So when is ice safe? Here is an excerpt from the MN DNR regarding ice safety: 
 
"There really is no sure answer. You can't judge the strength of ice just by its appearance, age, thickness, temperature, or whether or not the ice is covered with snow. Strength is based on all these factors -- plus the depth of water under the ice, size of the water body, water chemistry and currents, the distribution of the load on the ice, and local climatic conditions."
 
 
 
General Ice Thickness Guidelines
 
Here are some general ice thickness guidelines from the MN DNR:
 
For new, clear ice ONLY:

Under 4" - STAY OFF
4" - Ice fishing or other activities on foot
5" - 7" - Snowmobile or ATV
8" - 12" - Car or small pickup
12" - 15" - Medium truck

Many factors other than thickness can cause ice to be unsafe.
White ice or "snow ice" is only about half as strong as new clear ice. Double the above thickness guidelines when traveling on white ice.

See more from the MN DNR HERE:

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Temperature Anomaly on Saturday
 
The image below shows the temperature anomaly across North America from Saturday. Note the cooler blues across much of Canada and also across much of the Lower 48, which indicates WELL below average temperatures in these areas. However, intense oranges and reds were still in place across the southwestern US. This is where warmer than average temperatures were located.
 
 
 
Arctic Invasion Continues
 
The Arctic air mass that invaded much of the nation several days ago will continue to keep the eastern half of the country below normal over the next several days. Here's New Year's Day, which show a large trough of low pressure in the Eastern US, while ridging and warmer temps are moving in across the Western US.
 
 
Arctic Air MassArrives
 
The 850mb temp anomaly loop below through Tuesday shows the large chunk of colder than average temperatures continuing across the eastern two-thirds of the country. This has been some of the coldest air of the season for many with daytime highs staying below 0F for some up north. However, folks in the Western US will continue to see above average temps.
 
 
  
High Temps Sunday

High temperatures on Sunday will still be VERY cold across much of the country with temperatures running nearly 15F to 30F+ below average. Meanwhile, warmer than average temperatures will continue in the southwestern part of the country.

 
 
Weather Outlook Ahead
 
Cold air will continue across much of the nation thanks to wave after wave of Arctic air moving in across the Lower 48. There will be more snow across the Plains and Great Lakes, while icing will be possible across the Deep South on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.
 
 
7 Day Precipitation Outlook

According to NOAA's WPC, the 7 day precipitation outlook suggests areas of heavier precipitation continuing across the West Coast though AM Saturday of next weekend. Parts of northern California could see anywhere from 1" to 2"+ of liquid. There will also be areas of heavier rain across parts of Florida and even into the Great Lakes.

Snowfall Potential Ahead
 
Areas of snow will continue across parts of the northern half of the country, but at this point, nothing looks to be very significant. The only exception maybe areas downwind of the Great Lakes as lake effect snow continues there. We are still a ways out, but there could be a bigger snow potential in the Northeast late next week/weekend ahead.
 
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Thomas Fire
 
The Thomas Fire continues in Southern California. As of Saturday, Inciweb said the fire had burned 281,893 acres and is now the largest fire in modern California state history! The has burned more than 1000 structures. The fire is currently 92% contained and full containment is expected for Saturday, January 20th.
 
 
 
"Prepare for floods before it rains, experts say"
 
Preparing early for rains helps not only from a property preservation perspective but also from a life-saving one. That's the message of Kevin McGowan, assistant director of the Ventura County Sheriff's Office of Emergency Services. The official start of winter was last week. With cooler conditions, wetter weather could come soon, and residents can take steps beforehand to ensure their homes can withstand a heavy deluge or extended period of rain. The most effective way to protect your property against flooding is to prepare before the rain comes down, Ready Ventura County officials said. In the past, flood damage has been one of Ventura County's most expensive type of disasters. Weatherizing can range from basic home maintenance to more involved construction, based on one's circumstances, officials said. Clear debris from roof gutters, downspouts and drains so water can flow and drain properly, officials said.
 
 
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PRELIMINARY 2017 Tornado Map

It certainly has been a fairly active first half of 2017 with 1,522 preliminary tornado reports through December 29th. Note that this is the most tornadoes through that date since 2011, when there were 1,897 reports. The map below shows the distribution of the tornadoes so far this year.

PRELIMINARY 2017 Tornado Count

According to NOAA's SPC, the PRELIMINARY 2017 tornado count is 1,522 (through December 29th). Note that is the most active year for tornadoes since 2011, when there were 1,897 tornadoes. Notice that the only other year with more tornadoes than this year was in 2008, which ended with a whopping 2,140 tornadoes nationwide.


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National Weather Hazards Ahead...

1.) Much below-normal temperatures for most areas east of the Continental Divide, Mon-Wed, Jan 1-3.
2.) Much below-normal temperatures for most of the eastern half of the CONUS, Thu-Fri, Jan 4-5.
3.) Much above-normal temperatures for most of mainland Alaska south of the Brooks Range, Tue-Wed, Jan 2-3.
4.) Heavy precipitation near the south-central Alaska coast, Mon-Tue, Jan 1-2.
5.) Heavy snow downwind of the Great Lakes, Mon-Tue, Jan 1-2.
6.) High winds in southern Alaska, Mon-Tue, Jan 1-2.
7.) Significant waves along part of the south-central Alaska coast, Mon-Tue, Jan 1-2.
8.) Flooding likely in parts of the Pacific Northwest.
9.) Slight risk of much below-normal temperatures for approximately the eastern half of the CONUS, Sat-Sun, Jan 6-7.
10.) Moderate risk of much below-normal temperatures from approximately the Mississippi River eastward to the Atlantic Coast, Sat-Sun, Jan 6-7.
11.) High risk of much below-normal temperatures in the general vicinity of the Lower Great Lakes region, and in the Carolinas and eastern Georgia, Sat Jan 6.
12.) Slight risk of much below-normal temperatures for the northern Great Plains, Tue-Wed, Jan 9-10.
13.) Slight risk of heavy precipitation from central and southern California eastward to the central and southern Rockies, Sat-Mon, Jan 6-8.
14.) Moderate risk of heavy precipitation for southern California, southern Nevada, and Arizona including the vicinity of the Four Corners region, Sat-Mon, Jan 6-8.
15.) Severe Drought across the Great Plains, the Southwest, the Middle and Lower Mississippi Valley, and Hawaii.

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Probably The Coldest New Year's Eve Since 1973
By Paul Douglas

Let's review: in spite of what The Weather Channel is trying to sell you - we don't experience storms with names. No hurricanes, coastal flooding, earthquakes, volcanoes or tsunamis. That's a good start.

We do enjoy occasional cleansing slaps of Siberian air - the rough equivalent of bathing in sweet-smelling battery acid. Squeaky snow underfoot and ice crystals up your nose sure indicators of subzero fun! What does it feel like? Pluto. How do we live here? Extra layers and a well-preserved sense of humor.

Speaking of superlatives if Sunday stays colder than -2F it'll be the coldest New Year's Eve since 1973. By some reports this is the coldest weekend since 1994. Take a winter survival kit along to your party Sunday night, just in case.

The mercury rises above 0F Monday; a few days in the teens next week. ECMWF guidance is predicting 23F next Saturday. Above zero!

Ice is thickening up on area lakes but the pattern still isn't ripe for serious snow anytime soon. What little is in your yard won't melt anytime soon. NOAA climate models predict a milder than normal January. Uh huh.
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Extended Forecast

SUNDAY: Herd-thinning cold. Wind chill -30. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: -17. High: -4.

SUNDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear and cold. Wind chill -25F. Winds: WNW 5. Low: -13.

MONDAY: Blue sky. Numbing start to 2018. Winds: NW 7-12. High: 3

TUESDAY: Clouds increase. Flurries late? Winds: SW 10-15. Wake-up: -7. High: 13.

WEDNESDAY:  Another shot. Feels like -20F. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 2. High: 6. 

THURSDAY: Blue sky, light wind. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: -9. High: 7.

FRIDAY: Patchy clouds, still a bit nippy. Winds: S 3-8. Wake-up: -8. High: 8

SATURDAY: Peeks of sun, almost tolerable again. Winds: SW 5-10. Wake-up: 5. High: 22.
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This Day in Weather History
December 31st

1999: It's a balmy end to the 2nd millennium over Minnesota, with temperatures in the 30s over central and southern Minnesota near midnight.

1937: Damage is done by a flood at Grand Marais, while 18 inches of snow is dumped on Grand Portage.

1913: New Ulm has its fortieth consecutive day without precipitation.
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Average High/Low for Minneapolis
December 31st

Average High: 24F (Record: 50F set in 1904)
Average Low: 9F (Record: -24F set in 1973)

Record Rainfall: 0.98" set in 2006
Record Snowfall: 7.2" set in 1977
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Sunrise/Sunset Times for Minneapolis
December 31st

Sunrise: 7:51am
Sunset: 4:42pm

Hours of Daylight: ~8 hours 50 mins

Daylight GAINED since yesterday: ~46 seconds
Daylight GAINED since winter solstice (December 21st): 4 minute
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Moon Phase for December 31st at Midnight
0.8 Days Until Full  "Wolf" Moon

"Amid the bitter cold and deep snows of midwinter, the wolf packs howled hungrily outside Native American villages. It was also known as the Old Moon or the Moon After Yule. Some tribes called it the Full Snow Moon."

The moon reaches fullness at 9:24 p.m. EST and will arrive at perigee (its closest point to Earth in its orbit) about 4.5 hours earlier, at 5:00 p.m. EST, at a distance of 221,559 miles (356,565 kilometers) from Earth. (A full moon that takes place during perigee is sometimes known as a supermoon.) Because the full moon coincides with perigee, it will appear to be the biggest full moon of 2018. In addition, very high ocean tides can be expected during the two or three days after peak fullness. 

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Weather Outlook For Sunday

High temps on Sunday will still be quite cold across much of the region with readings still nearly -20F to -30F below average! Make sure you bundle up if you are heading to any New Year's Eve parties... it'll feel more like -25F as we ring in the New Year!

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8 to 14 Day Temperature Outlook

Here's the temperature outlook through the 2nd week of January, which suggests colder than average temperatures sticking around much of the Upper Midwest.

8 to 14 Day Temperature Outlook

Here's the extended temperature outlook from January 8th to January 12th, which suggests colder than average temperatures sticking around through much of the eastern half of the nation, while warmer than average weather will be found in the Western US.

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"Is climate change making hurricanes worse?"
 

"The past year has been a busy one for hurricanes. There were 17 named storms in 2017, 10 hurricanes and six major hurricanes (category 3 or higher) - an above average year in each respect. The 10 hurricanes formed consecutively, without weaker tropical storms interrupting the sequence. The only other time this has been recorded was in 1893. Are these storms getting worse? And does climate change have anything to do with it? A year of records This Atlantic hurricane season has been particularly bad. There was Harvey, which pummelled the United States in August. It brought the largest amount of rain on record from any tropical system - 1,539mm. It caused the sort of flooding you'd expect to see once every 500 years, causing $200bn of damage to Houston, Texas. Ironically, this was the third such "one every 500 years" flood Houston had suffered in three years."

See more from BBC News HERE:


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"Under the Midnight Sun"

"In September 2017, a new iceberg calved from Pine Island Glacier—one of the main outlets where the West Antarctic Ice Sheet flows into the ocean. Just weeks later, the berg named B-44 shattered into more than 20 fragments. On December 15, 2017, the Landsat 8 Earth-orbitng satellite took this image of the broken berg. An area of relatively warm water, known as a polyna, has kept the water ice free between the iceberg chunks and the glacier front. The polynya’s warm water could have caused the rapid breakup of B-44. This image was acquired near midnight local time. Based on parameters including the azimuth of the Sun and its elevation above the horizon, as well as the length of the shadows, it is estimated that the iceberg rises about 49 meters above the water line. That would put the total thickness of the berg—above and below the water surface—at about 315 meters."

See more from NASA HERE:


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"Daily Record Highs are Dramatically Outpacing Daily Record Lows"

"Daily record highs are vastly outpacing daily record lows in the U.S. We will always have warm years and cold years, but in a world without global warming, those warm and cold years would balance over time. However, that’s not what we are seeing. According to the 2017 U.S. Climate Science Special Report, after a rigorous reanalysis of GHCN stations back to 1930, 15 of the last 20 years had more daily record highs than daily record lows. The number of daily record highs outpaced daily record lows more than 4 to 1 in 1998, 2012, and 2016. A first look at the data from NOAA/NCEI indicates that 2017 continues the warming trend, as daily record highs are beating daily record lows by a 3.5-to-1 margin so far. Below are some preliminary 2017 stats through the end of November. Visit the NOAA Daily Weather Records tool to get the daily updates on these numbers: Monthly record highs have outnumbered monthly record lows at a rate of 9.7 to 1.All-time record highs have outnumbered all-time record lows 8.7 to 1. Record high minimum temperatures have outnumbered record low minimums 4.6 to 1"

See more from Climate Central HERE:


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"The Number and Cost of Weather Disasters is Increasing in the U.S."

Climate change is increasing the trend in weather and climate extremes in the U.S. A NOAA/NCEI report indicates that through September, the U.S. has had 15 individual billion-dollar weather disasters in 2017. Only 2011 had more billion-dollar disasters with 16, and that was through the entire year. Even without the final calculations from Harvey, Irma and Maria, the total cost is for 2017 about $25 billion, which is far behind the costliest year, 2005 ($215 billion). Rather than one type of event focused on one part of the country, this year’s disasters were spread over several regions. Climate change may have worsened some of the events this year, including drought in the northern Plains and wildfires in the West. In a warming world, soils dry out more from evaporation, making droughts worse and further drying out vegetation, which is susceptible to wildfires. Higher evaporation rates also provide more fuel for hurricanes, allowing them to produce heavier rain. The warming oceans and glacial melt cause the sea level to rise, which translates into a storm surge that is higher and pushes farther inland."

See more from Climate Central HERE:


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