Record Snow Impact on Spring Flooding?

And to think, earlier this month some in our midst complained about a lack of snow. Cue a big, snowy scoop of crunchy karma.

If you're keeping score, the roughly 8 inches of snow that fell at MSP Wednesday brings the February snowfall subtotal close to 31 inches, obliterating the old February record of 26.5 inches set in 1962.

For only the 11th time since 1885 and the first time since December 2010, the Twin Cities picked up 30 inches or more in a single month. Considering we've had entire winters with just over 30 inches, that's pretty impressive.

I asked Dan Luna at the local NWS about spring river flood potential. "When we get record snow in February the potential for flooding goes up dramatically" he said. "We went into winter with wet soil everywhere but northwest Minnesota. Flood-prone communities need to pay attention" Luna added.

A weekend storm may brush MSP with a few inches - heaviest snows stay east. We end February on a numbing note, with a few subzero lows in early March.

Let's hope for a slow spring meltdown with no heavy rain events.

Record-Smashing. 31.5" of snow in the Twin Cities this month obliterates the old record of 26.5" set in 1962. St. Cloud and Rochester have also set February snowfall records - Duluth is close to a record. Graphic: Praedictix.


Snowfall Totals. Belle Plaine gets the coveted Golden Snow Shovel Award with 12.8" on Wednesday, with 11" at Andover and 10" in Victoria, Bloombering and Lakeville. Click here to see latest snowfall totals, courtesy of the Twin Cities National Weather Service.


Hoping for a Slow-Motion Meltdown. A cold bias lingers into at least the first week of March, possibly longer, with unusually cold air lingering over Canada. At some point milder, Pacific air will start to penetrate farther north, most likely by mid-March. But no, spring is not right around the corner, and with all the snow on the ground that may be a good thing (for spring flooding).

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Wednesday, February 20th, 2019:

  • Snow and ice continues to impact areas from the upper Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast today, bringing snowfall rates of up to an inch per hour and slow travel conditions. Already snowfall tallies over 5” have been reported in parts of the southern Twin Cities, and up to 4” have been reported near Washington D.C. This snow will linger into Thursday across northern New England. Numerous Winter Storm Warnings and Winter Weather Advisories are in place.
  • A heavy rain threat will continue across parts of the Southeast today, with an additional 1-2” possible across parts of Alabama and Mississippi. This could lead to more flash flooding across the region. Another round of heavy rain is then expected to impact this region Friday into Saturday.

Morning Radar. Snow and ice were falling Wednesday morning from the upper Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. In the Twin Cities area, a heavy band of snow was moving through during the mid-morning hours. This heavy snow caused the runways at the Twin Cities International Airport to close. Meanwhile, there were reports of lightning strikes with the wintry precipitation across parts of western Maryland and eastern West Virginia.

Snow So Far. Here’s a look at snow totals reported to the National Weather Service over the past six hours. As of this morning there had been reports of 6-10” in and around the Sioux Falls area, over 5” in parts of the southern Twin Cities, and up to 4” reported in the Washington D.C. area.

Winter Weather Alerts. Winter weather alerts continue to be in place from the upper Midwest into the Northeast this morning due to snow and ice, including the following locations:

  • Sioux Falls, SD: Winter Storm Warning though Noon for an additional 2-4” of snow.
  • Minneapolis, MN: Winter Storm Warning though 6 PM for a total of 6-10” of snow.
  • Chicago, IL: Winter Weather Advisory through 3 PM for snow of up to 1” and ice of up to a tenth of an inch.
  • Milwaukee, WI: Winter Weather Advisory through 3 PM for total snow of 1-3” and total ice of up to 0.15”.
  • Marquette, MI: Winter Storm Warning from Noon to 10 PM for 6-8” of snow.
  • Detroit, MI: Winter Weather Advisory through 7 PM for 1-2” of snow and up to a tenth of an inch of ice.
  • Pittsburgh, PA: Winter Weather Advisory through Noon for 2-4” of snow and a glaze of ice.
  • Roanoke, VA: Winter Storm Warning through 7 PM for additional snow or sleet up to an inch and up to a tenth of an inch of ice.
  • Washington D.C. and Baltimore, MD: Winter Storm Warning through 7 PM for total snow of 3-6” and less than a tenth of an inch of ice.
  • Philadelphia, PA: Winter Weather Advisory through 9 PM for 2-4” of snow and a glaze of ice.
  • New York City, NY: Winter Weather Advisory from Noon today to 1 AM tonight for 2-4” of snow and a glaze of ice.
  • Boston, MA: Winter Weather Advisory from 7 PM tonight to 7 AM Thursday for snow up to 2” and up to a tenth of an inch of ice.
  • Portland, ME: Winter Weather Advisory from 11 PM tonight to Noon Thursday for 3-6” of snow and a glaze of ice.

Timing Wintry Precipitation. Snow and ice will continue to fall from the upper Midwest to the Northeast throughout the day, slowly lifting northward. In the Twin Cities, this snow will continue to fall heavily through the morning hours today before tapering off by the evening. In Washington D.C., a mixture of snow, sleet, and freezing rain will continue throughout the day before becoming all rain during the evening hours. By Thursday morning, most of the remaining snow will be falling across northern New England and far northern Minnesota.

Additional North Central Snow And Ice. The heaviest additional snow will fall from Iowa into parts of the upper Great Lakes, where snowfall rallies of at least 6” are possible. In some areas, overall snow totals could approach 8-10”. South of the heaviest snow is where we’re expecting some icing, with the highest totals (up to 0.15”) expected across southeastern Wisconsin into central Michigan. This snow and ice will lead to rough travel conditions across the region today, and the potential of a slow evening commute.

Additional Northeast Snow And Ice. The heaviest additional snow will continue to be possible northwest of D.C. where totals of a half a foot or more of snow will be possible. For areas along I-95 from D.C. to Portland, an additional 1-4” of snow will be possible. The icing threat will continue as well from northern North Carolina into parts of New York and Massachusetts. In some parts of western Virginia, ice totals could approach a quarter of an inch.

Heavy Rain Across Parts Of The South. We’re also tracking the very heavy rain that has fallen across parts of the southern United States over the past 24-48 hours. A wide area has observed rainfall of at least an inch, with some reports of flooding in spots. Over the past 48 hours, Greenwood (MS) has received 3.70" of rain, with 2.50" falling in Huntsville (AL) and 2.28" falling in Sibley (TN).

Heavy Rain Potential Continues Today. Additional heavy rain of at least 1-2” is expected to fall across parts of Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia today into tonight, which could once again lead to some flash flooding across the region.

Flooding Potential. With more heavy rain on the way today on top of areas that already have saturated soils, a Moderate Risk of excessive rain that could lead to flash flooding is in place across eastern Mississippi and western Alabama. In these areas, rainfall rates of up to an inch per hour will be possible.

Flood Watches. Due to the potential of more rain throughout the day across parts of the Southeast and Ohio Valley, Flood and Flash Flood Watches remain in effect.

Additional Heavy Rain On The Way. Another round of heavy rain is likely across the Southeast as we head into the Friday-Saturday time frame, with overall totals from today through next Monday morning of at least 3” possible in spots. This next round of rain could lead to additional flash flooding into the weekend.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix.

The Government's New Weather Model Faces a Storm of Protest. Will NCEP (ever) be able to catch up with ECMWF? I sure hope so, but that blessed day does not appear imminent. Here's an excerpt from a post at "The government’s new weather forecast model has a slight problem: It predicts that outside temperatures will be a few degrees colder than what nature delivers. This “cold bias” means that local meteorologists are abandoning the National Weather Service in favor of forecasts produced by British and European weather agencies. For the past few weeks, the National Weather Service has been forecasting snowfall that ends up disappearing, according to Doug Kammerer, chief meteorologist at WRC-TV in Washington, DC. “It’s just not performing well,” Kammerer says. “It has continued to show us getting big-time snowstorms in this area, where the European model will not show it....”

Amazon Deal With Rivian Signals Faith in Electric Trucks. Automotive News has the story: "The last revolution in the pickup market came just a few years ago with the aluminum-body Ford F-150. Amazon is betting that the next one is already under way. The retail and technology conglomerate is leading a $700 million round of investment in electric-vehicle startup Rivian, which plans to launch a lineup of all-electric utility vehicles by 2025, starting with a pickup in late 2020. The investment pulls Amazon a little bit deeper into the auto industry, following close on the heels of a foray into self-driving vehicle technology..."

Sleep Deprivation is Killing You and Your Career. A story at LinkedIn is a worthy reminder that quality REM sleep isn't optional, much as we'd like it to be: "...Sleep deprivation is linked to a variety of serious health problems, including heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. It stresses you out because your body overproduces the stress hormone cortisol when it's sleep deprived. While excess cortisol has a host of negative health effects that come from the havoc it wreaks on your immune system, it also makes you look older, because cortisol breaks down skin collagen, the protein that keeps skin smooth and elastic. In men specifically, not sleeping enough reduces testosterone levels and lowers sperm count. Too many studies to list have shown that people who get enough sleep live longer, healthier lives, but I understand that sometimes this isn't motivation enough. So consider this—not sleeping enough makes you fat..."

Amazon Will Pay a Whopping $0 in Federal Taxes on $11.2 Billion in Profits. Check out the story at Fortune: "Those wondering how many zeros Amazon, which is valued at nearly $800 billion, has to pay in federal taxes might be surprised to learn that its check to the IRS will read exactly $0.00. According to a report published by the Institute on Taxation and Economic (ITEP) policy Wednesday, the e-tail/retail/tech/entertainment/everything giant won’t have to pay a cent in federal taxes for the second year in a row. This tax-free break comes even though Amazon almost doubled its U.S. profits from $5.6 billion to $11.2 billion between 2017 and 2018. To top it off, Amazon actually reported a $129 million 2018 federal income tax rebate—making its tax rate -1%..."

Image credit: The Next Web.

Urban Organics Wants to Fix Food. A local Minnesota angle and entrepreneur, courtesy of Outside: "...The implications of a system like this are enormous. In the modern economy, most fresh produce is trucked vast distances, typically from California and Mexico in diesel-fueled refrigerated semitrailers. Seafood travels even farther, coming from places like Vietnam and Indonesia. The distribution costs associated with shipping food can add 25 percent to the final shelf price. The Urban Organics model reduces this expense, while subsequently slashing the carbon footprint of farming. “Almost all our customers do pickup,” Haberman told me. “We only own a few trucks.” His products are also immune to droughts, floods, and other global-warming weirdness. Haberman’s hope, he said, was to erect similar facilities elsewhere “to decentralize the food system and eradicate hunger..."

Photo credit: Urban Organics/Steve Woit.

Republicans Need to Save Capitalism. Peggy Noonan weighs in with an Op-Ed at The Wall Street Journal; here's an excerpt: "...Americans have long sort of accepted a kind of deal regarding leadership by various elites and establishments. The agreement was that if the elites more or less play by the rules, protect the integrity of the system, and care about the people, they can have their mansions. But when you begin to perceive that the great and mighty are not necessarily on your side, when they show no particular sense of responsibility to their fellow citizens, all bets are off. The compact is broken: They no longer get to have their mansions. They no longer get to be “the rich.” For most of the 20th century the poor in America didn’t hate the rich for their mansions; they wanted a mansion and thought they could get one if things turned their way. When you think the system’s rigged, your attitude changes..."

Photo credit: "Herbert Hoover shakes President Franklin Roosevelt’s hand in Washington, D.C., March 4, 1933." Photo: Bettmann Archive.

This AI Is So Good at Writing That Its Creators Won't Let You Use It. A story at caught my eye: "...It's quite uncanny how it behaves," OpenAI policy director Jack Clark told CNN Business. While the technology could be useful for a range of everyday applications — such as helping writers pen crisper copy or improving voice assistants in smart speakers — it could also be used for potentially dangerous purposes, like creating false but true-sounding news stories and social-media posts. OpenAI typically releases its research projects publicly. But in a blog post about the text generator, the researchers said they would not make it publicly available due to "concerns about malicious applications of the technology." Instead, the company released a technical paper and a smaller AI model — essentially a less capable version of the same text generator — that other researchers can use..."

Barry Diller Warns Studios: "Those Who Chase Netflix are Fools". Here's a clip from a story at Hollywood Reporter: "Onetime film and television CEO Barry Diller offered an apocalyptic vision of the entertainment business during a podcast interview released Friday, arguing that in the face of Netflix and Amazon, "Hollywood is now irrelevant," yet "those who chase Netflix are fools." The current IAC and Expedia Group chairman discussed how the traditional entertainment business has been caught in the headlights of streamers' new and successful business model during an interview with Kara Swisher on the latest episode of her podcast, Recode Decode. Taking Amazon at an example, Diller said, "Amazon’s business model has nothing to do with anything anybody who’s been in the entertainment business has lived with their whole lives, which is, we have one job. We entertain the folks..."

Photo credit: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP.

Your Friend's Social Media Posts Are Making You Spend More Money, Researchers Say. Another good reason to limit the time you spend on all these platforms. The Washington Post explains: "...The rise of easy credit has made spending beyond our means more simple than ever. Pension plans have been replaced by 401(k)s, which are much easier to draw down on in a pinch — even if it’s nearly always a bad idea. Now, a team of American and Canadian economists have proposed a new explanation for the declining savings rate, one rooted in individual psychology. At its heart lies a simple observation: Personal spending is a lot more visible to others than no spending. Changes in the media landscape have made other people’s spending more visible than ever. That, in turn, is making all of us spend even more — and save even less..."

Graphic credit: Christopher Ingraham for the Washington Post.

Is News Ripe for Disruption? Will Apple become the "Netfix of News"? A post at LinkedIn provides some perspective: "...Whatever ends up happening with Apple’s experimental foray into the news space, the fact remains: the value of news content has been cheapened by offering it for free or at an unsustainably low cost. Google, Facebook, Amazon and now Apple, pose formidable threats to the standard news model as we know it. And traditional news giants like The Times, WSJ, and Washington Post confront their own mortality on a daily basis (although The Times seems to have picked up steam). So, while it doesn’t seem like Apple’s latest news endeavor is anywhere near a sure thing, what does seem sure is that the industry is facing a moment of reckoning. There will be a “disruption” to the current model, the only question is—what will it look like? “Netflix for news” or something that we haven’t yet thought about coming directly from the news sources themselves?..."

8.9" snow fell at MSP International Airport yesterday.

17" snow on the ground in the Twin Cities.

31.5" snow so far in February at MSP.

49.3" winter snowfall, to date, in the Twin Cities.

28 F. high yesterday.

31 F. average high on February 20.

21 F. high on February 20, 2018.

THURSDAY: Intervals of sun, dry. Winds: SW 7-12. High: 24

FRIDAY: Light snow late, couple inches? Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 15. High: 29

SATURDAY: Few inches possible Saturday night. Winds: N 7-12. Wake-up: 27. High: 33

SUNDAY: Flurries taper early. Gusty winds. Winds: NW 15-25. Wake-up: 22. High: 25

MONDAY: Shot of light snow southern Minnesota? Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 7. High: 13

TUESDAY: Flurries, then partial clearing. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 2. High: 15

WEDNESDAY: Mostly cloudy, no sign of spring. Winds: W 5-10. Wake-up: -2. High: 14

Climate Stories...

White House Prepares to Scrutinize Intelligence Agencies' Findings That Climate Change Threatens National Security. Here's the intro to a Washington Post update: "The White House is working to assemble a panel to assess whether climate change poses a national security threat, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post, a conclusion that federal intelligence agencies have affirmed several times since President Trump took office. The proposed Presidential Committee on Climate Security, which would be established by executive order, is being spearheaded by William Happer, a National Security Council senior director. Happer, an emeritus professor of physics at Princeton University, has said that carbon emissions linked to climate change should be viewed as an asset rather than a pollutant..."

Image credit: "The proposed Presidential Committee on Climate Security is being spearheaded by William Happer, a National Security Council senior director." (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post).

Why Do We Fail When We Try to Tell the Story of Climate Change? Slate ponders the enormity of the challenge in front of us; here's an excerpt: "...What does it mean to be entertained by a fictional apocalypse as we stare down the possibility of a real one? One job of pop culture is always to serve stories that distract even as they appear to engage—to deliver sublimation and diversion. In a time of cascading climate change, Hollywood is also trying to make sense of our evolving relationship to nature. We have long regarded the environment from at least arm’s length and assumed we had built our way out of it. Climate change is making us acknowledge it again—both that we live within nature, and all the ways we have damaged it and therefore made ourselves vulnerable to it. The adjudication of that guilt is another thing entertainment can do, when law and public policy fail, though our culture, like our politics, specializes in assigning the blame to others—in projecting rather than accepting guilt..."

Do You Believe in Climate Change? Really? Truth be told I acknowledge the data and test the science. Here's a clip from an interesting post at Mother Jones: "...We believe that climate change is an existential crisis for the planet, and the evidence supports that. But if it’s really that big a crisis, why don’t we act like it? Let me put this in concrete terms. If you truly believe that climate change will broil the planet in the next 50 years or so, the very least you should do is immediately get rid of your car and adopt a vegan diet. How many of you have done that? How many of you have even considered it? Virtually none of you.² And like I said, that’s just a start. If you’re really serious, you should also toss out your air conditioning; only heat your house if temps are down in the 40s; never travel anywhere by plane; buy local food; and install rooftop solar. I’m going to let you keep your too-big house, but only because I’m a nice guy..."

U.S Coastal Businesses Hit By Everyday Impact of Climate Change, Study Shows. Here's an excerpt on a story focused on impacts of coastal "nuisance flooding" at The Guardian: "...One study showed seas rose up to five inches, an inch per year, in places between North Carolina and Florida from 2011 to 2015. Sea level rise threatens 300,000 US coastal homes. Higher elevation properties are becoming worth more in Miami, as people who can afford it move inland, according to research from Harvard. Globally, seas were three inches higher than the 1993 average by 2017, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and they continue to rise one-eighth of an inch each year. An analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists finds that flood-prone areas in Annapolis, where the US Naval Academy is located, could be almost constantly under water by 2070. The roughly 50 floods a year could reach 400 floods a year by 2050. The so-called “nuisance flood” days have increased 925% in 50 years, according to the NOAA..."

Storm-Lashed South Carolina Reassesses Global Warming's Role. Here's a snippet from a post at AP News: "...Scientists say the Earth’s warming climate means more heavy rainfall over short periods of time, and that translates to larger, more ferocious storms on the scale of 2017′s Hurricane Harvey in Texas or 2018′s Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas. Florence dumped six months’ worth of rain on the Carolinas in the course of just a few days. The growing realization that such events are going to become more common as the result of global warming is forcing Webster and other state officials to revisit how they prepare for and respond to natural disasters. Late last year, Republican Gov. Henry McMaster created the South Carolina Floodwater Commission to figure out how to better combat flooding unleashed by hurricanes, rising ocean levels and other rain systems upstream that send rivers and creeks over their banks on the way to the Atlantic Ocean..."

Hurricane Florence file image: Jonathan Drake, Reuters.

Climate Change a Threat to World Order, Munich Security Conference Hears. Deutsche Welle has the story; here's an excerpt: "...The social effects of climate change are already noticeable enough to be affecting how people react to politicians. "We're experiencing the leading edge, right now, of massive dislocations in the Earth's natural systems," said Sheldon Whitehouse. "That results in the dislocation of the human species. That causes suffering, and when people suffer, they want explanations, they want accountability and justice." "And when people look back at this time, they will say, 'Free market capitalism, and free elected democracies, conspicuously failed to prevent the harm that is now hurting me and my family,'" he added. It's not as if ordinary people aren't already feeling this anxiety. A new study released by the Pew Research Center found that climate change was the biggest fear in almost all of the 26 countries surveyed..."

Australia is Planting a Billion Trees to Fight Climate Change. Futurism has the details: "The Australian government is gearing up to plant a billion new trees, as part of a vast campaign aimed to meet the climate targets set by the Paris Agreement. The government estimates that the project, which will run until 2050, will eventually remove 18 million tons of greenhouse gases per years — an intriguing example of a less technical response to climate change. The news dovetails neatly with new research, by researchers at ETH Zurich, that found that a widespread campaign of tree-planting worldwide could make a substantial dent in the world’s net greenhouse gas emissions..."

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Paul Douglas: Biggest snowfall of winter is possible, with up to 8 inches

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Paul Douglas: More snow on the way, with heaviest tracking to southeast Minnesota