Happy St. Patty's Day!!

Here's a neat story from Fox 8 about the man who dyes the might Chicago River green for St. Patrick's Day. Interestingly, it only takes about 45 minutes to dye a full city blocks worth of 40 pounds of powdered dye to do so.

"Meet the man who dyes the Chicago River green for St. Patrick’s Day"

"On St. Patrick’s Day, Tom Rowan will do the same thing he has done that day for the past 56 years: He’ll make the Chicago River run green. Rowan, a 75-year-old retired police officer, is the man behind the famous Windy City ritual. The city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade is world-renowned, primarily because of its unique tradition of dyeing the river green. “The original Mayor Daley in the 1950s wanted to do something special, he wanted to dye the whole of Lake Michigan green. But it was just too huge to do. The next best thing was the Chicago River,” Rowan told CNN. A friend of Mayor Richard J. Daley had come to him with an intriguing idea in 1961. He had noticed a plumber’s overalls stained with a striking shade of green. The substance was a dye used to test for leaks in pipes. This was the lightbulb moment in which a great Chi-Town custom was conceived. The Chicago River was first dyed green in 1962, to the delight of the many Irish Chicagoans."

See more from Fox 8 HERE:


St. Patrick's Day Festivities in the Twin Cities

While you may have missed the big St. Paul and Minneapolis St. Patrick's Day Parades on Saturday, but there's still another one today in Hopkins!

World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade | Sunday, March 17 | Hopkins, Mainstreet | 2-4  pm | FREE | This parade is open to anyone and is only 4 blocks long.

See more festivities from Family Fun Twin Cities HERE: 


Weather Outlook Sunday

High temps on Sunday will still be running a little cooler than average across the region with readings around -5F below average. There will be more cloud cover and perhaps a few flurries here and there, but nothing significant. Keep in mind that the average high in the Twin Cities for March 17th is 42F, so we're heading in the right direction!


Trending Warmer Through End of March

According to the GEFS and ECMWF Ensemble models, temps will be trending warmer as we head through the 2nd half of March. Note that we'll still be a little cooler than average (in the 30s) through Monday, but 40s and 50s look to return thereafter! Note that our average first 50F high temp at MSP is around March 9th, while our average first 60F high temp is around March 28th. There is a very real possibility that would could hit both of those thresholds before March is over! Stay tuned...


 "Anglers: Ice House Removal deadline approaches!"

"Dark houses, fish houses and portables must be off the ice no later than MARCH 18TH. County sheriffs may prohibit or restrict the use of motorized vehicles if dangerous ice conditions are present. If shelters are not removed, owners will be prosecuted, and the structure and contents may be confiscated and removed, or destroyed by a conservation officer."

Ice Safey Reminder
As we head into the next several weeks, ice stability is going to deteriorate rapidly! Warmer temps will weaken ice on area lakes/ponds, so please be careful! The MN DNR has ice safety reminders that you can review and remember that ice is never 100% safe!

Winter Severity Index
The updated numbers are in (through March 13th) and according to the MN DNR, this has been a "moderate" winter so far, but it's important to note that we are only 3 points away from this being a "severe" winter. Are you interested in how winters are calculated? Well, the MN DNR has some info below:
"The Twin Cities Snow and Cold Index (SCI) is an attempt to weigh the relative severity of winter when compared with winters of the past. The SCI assigns single points for daily counts of maximum temperatures 10 degrees F or colder, and daily minimums of 0 degrees F or colder. If the minimum temperature drops to -20 degrees or colder greater, eight points are attributed to that day. Snowfall totals of one inch or greater in a day receive one point. Four-inch snowfalls generate four points for the day, an eight-inch snowfall receives a whopping 16 points. To quantify the duration of winter, one point is tallied for every day with a snow depth of 12 inches or greater.
"All current measurements are at the Twin Cities International Airport. As of March 13, 2019 the SCI for the 2018-19 winter is at 146 points: 63 points for cold, 83 points for snow. This is enough for 2018-19 to be categorized as a "moderate" winter. This winter is only 3 points away from being a "severe winter." The SCI for the winter of 2017-18 finished with 111 points, enough for 2017-18 to be categorized as a "moderate" winter and higher than the long term medium of 89 points. The total SCI points for the 2017-2018 winter were 43 for cold and 68 for snow: 111 points. The SCI for the winter of 2013-14 in Twin Cities was 207 points, or in the high end of the "severe winter" category.  This was the 9th most severe winter on record based on SCI points. The lowest SCI score was the winter of 2011-2012 with 16 points. The most severe winter is 1916-1917 with 305 SCI points."

March - 3rd Snowiest Month on Average

Just a reminder that March is our 3rd snowiest month of the year averaging 10.3" !! So far this month, we've had 10.4", so we are officially above average! Note that the snowiest March in recorded history was 40.0" set in 1951. Looking ahead, I don't think we have to worry about any more snow records as temps look to gradually warm into the 40s, 50s and possibly even 60s through the 2nd half of the month!

March Precipitation So Far...
March came in like a lion with areas of heavy snow and rain. Through the first half of the month, the Twin Cities has picked up nearly 2" of liquid, while folks in the southwestern part of the state have seen nearly 3" to 4" of liquid! With that said, most locations in the southern half of the state are more than 1" above average precipitation for the month of March so far.
Wet Start to 2019 So Far...
Not only has it been a wet start to March, but it's been a wet start to 2019 as well. Note that some locations in the southern half of the state have seen more than 5" of liquid, including the Twin Cities! With that said, most locations are nearly 1" to 2" above average for the year thus far, with some in southern MN more than 3" above average. Sioux Falls, SD on the other hand is nearly 4" above average!

Seasonal Snowfall

Well, thanks to a very active February and early half of March, our seasonal snowfall tallies are sitting at some pretty impressive tallies. Keep in mind that prior to February 5th, the Twin Cities was nearly 18" below average snowfall this season. The weather pattern quickly turned and within a 34 day period, the Twin Cities saw nearly 50" of snow! 39" of record snow fell at the MSP Airport in February, and we've already had 10.4" of snow through the first half of March. Here's an interesting stat, from February 5th to March 10th, the Twin Cities had 49.3" of snow, which is the 20th snowiest 34 day stretch in MSP history! At any rate, most reporting station around the region are in double digits reading above average snowfall for the season so far! The Twin Cities is nearly 20" above average, while Eau Claire, WI is nearly 46" above average - unreal!

HUGE Drop In Snow Depth Last Week
Thanks to rather warm and very wet weather last week, the amount of snow that melted in 6 days was impressive. Note that on Sunday, March 10th, many spots still had close to 1ft to 2ft of snow on the ground, but by Saturday, March 16th, those numbers were significanly lower! Within a 6 day period, the Twin Cities lost about 16" of snow - WOW!
Spring Flood Outlook
Flooded basements were a big problem last week thanks to all the rapid snow melt and rain across the region. Unfortunately, we're not out of the woods when it comes to spring flooding as the NWS long range flood outlook isn't looking great. The forecast is calling for a greater than 50% chance of major flooding (purple boxes) for many river that run around and through the Twin Cities. These forecasts will become more detailed as weather conditions play out over the next several weeks, but pay attention to forecasts if you live in a flood plain or are prone to spring flooding. I hope I'm wrong, but this certainly could be a bad year... Stay tuned.
"Nebraska farmer is killed trying to rescue someone in state's worst flooding in 50 years"
"Parts of Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska are grappling with the aftermath of a powerful "bomb cyclone" that turned some areas into swamps as rivers spilled over highways and residential areas.
The "bomb cyclone" slammed the central US with hurricane-like winds and blizzard conditions this week, leaving in its tracks heavy rains and flooding.
In a news conference Friday, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said the state has experienced historic flooding in nearly every region. "This is the largest widespread amount of flooding we've had in the last half century," he said, according to CNN affiliate KTIV. Farmer's tractor went down in flood waters
Nebraska rescue teams have been pulling trapped residents out of flood waters since Thursday.
James Wilke, a Columbus farmer, got a call to assist a stranger, and never came home. According to CNN affiliate KMTV, a close family friend posted on social media about his last moments.
"It is no surprise to anyone that knew James that when he got the phone call to assist emergency responders ... his answers would be yes," Jodi L. Hefti wrote on Facebook.
"With the guidance of emergency responders, James drove his tractor over the Shell Creek bridge on the Monestary Road and the bridge gave out. James and the tractor went down into the flood water below."

Bomb Cyclone Recap
"Midwest Bomb Cyclone Set Low Pressure Records, Bringing Widespread Extreme Weather"
"A “bomb” cyclone that set all-time low-pressure records over portions of the central U.S. on Wednesday has brought a damaging smorgasbord of extreme weather to a huge section of the nation. The storm rapidly deepened by over 24 mb in a 24-hour period on Wednesday, qualifying it as a “bomb” cyclone. The low bottomed out at 969 mb over western Kansas on Wednesday afternoon--one of the lowest pressures ever recorded in that portion of the country. Pueblo, Colorado, set its preliminary, unofficial all-time record-low pressure early Wednesday morning (975.1 mb), according to the National Weather Service (NWS). Colorado state climatologist Russ Schumacher tweeted it was the lowest pressure on record there since at least 1950. Six stations on the Oklahoma Mesonet set all-time low-pressure records on Wednesday. Dodge City, KS, had pressure of 974.7 mb, its lowest since 971.6 mb was measured way back on April 8, 1878. The extremely low central pressure of the storm helped drive damaging winds over a large swath of the central U.S. According to the NOAA storm summary for the bomb cyclone, three stations measured wind gusts of at least 100 mph: San Augustin Pass, NM (104 mph), Cloudcroft, NM (100 mph), and Pine Springs, TX (100  mph). Southern portions of Kilgore, Texas reported widespread damage and downed power lines from high winds, the Kilgore Police Department said, and all roads in and out of Kilgore were "severely limited." Wind gusts of more than 80 mph were reported in the Dallas-Fort Worth area early Wednesday, which knocked down trees, fences and power lines, according to the Associated Press. In Texas, the NWS said wind gusts of up to 83 mph were recorded in Grand Prairie; 78 mph at DFW International Airport; 71 mph in Addison and 58 mph in McKinney. Winds ripped off the roof of an Amazon warehouse facility near DFW airport."

See more from Jeff Masters Wunder Blog HERE:


"Here’s how much snow has fallen in the Sierra this winter"

"After a series of storms, multiple “atmospheric rivers” and Sierra deluges, Northern California can boast an impressive amount of snowfall this winter. The National Weather Service said Tuesday that over the course of the season, more than 50 feet of snow has fallen at the highest elevations. And across the state, California’s snowpack is doing quite well as a result. As of Tuesday, the average statewide snow-water equivalent is a whopping 3 feet, 6 inches, which is 160 percent of normal for this time of year, according to the California Department of Water Resources. Drought conditions have been pushed to the far corners of the state, with nearly 90 percent of the state not under drought conditions, according to the federal National Drought Mitigation Center."

See more from The Sacramento BEE HERE:


Mostly Quiet Weather Outlook

After a very active week of weather, things will be quite a bit more sublime through the rest of the weekend and into the 3rd full week of March. Other than a little light flurry activity or areas of light rain, we don't have any major storm system to contend with in the Upper Midwest anytime soon! That's good news!


7 Day Precipitation Outlook

Here's another encouraging map, which shows minimal precipitation potential over the next 7 days across much of the state. There may be some 0.1" tallies up north, but again, there doesn't seem to be anything of concern as we slide into the 2nd half of the month. Stay tuned!


Lake Superior on Satellite

Here was the visible satellite view from Lake Superior on Saturday, March 16th, which showed open water once again across much of the northwestern part of the lake. Keep in mind that we are only about 1.5 weeks removed from the maxium Lake Superior ice coverage from this winter, which peaked around 94% on March 7th.
Great Lakes Ice Coverage

According to NOAA's GLERL, Lake Superior is nearly 68% covered in ice, which is greater than it was at this time last year and also in 2017. Winter Ice conditions peaked not long ago and with warmer weather in the forecast, ice coverage will continue to dwindle. As of March 15th, nearly 47% of the entire Great Lakes were covered in ice.


Temperature Anomalies

Here's a look at the temperature anomaly aross North America on Saturday, which showed cooler than average temps across much of the Central US in the wake of our very intense "bomb" cyclone last week. Temps are expected to gradually warm over the next several days and by the end of the week, most locations could be dealing with more spring-like readings!


Temperature Outlook
Here's the temperature anomaly as we head into the 3rd full week of March. Note that lingering cooler than average temps will be found across the eastern half of the country, but we're getting indications for a warming trend as we head into the 2nd half of the month. Stay tuned!
Temperature Outlook
According to NOAA's CPC, the temperature outlook from March 23rd - 29th suggests an above average chance of warmer than normal temps across the eastern half of the country and in Alaska, while folks in the Southwest may be dealing with cooler than average temps.
Spring Leaf Anomaly
Here's an interesting map for folks that are looking forward to spring. It's the NPN Spring Leaf Anomaly map, which shows that spring has indeed sprung across the southern tier of the nation. The red colors indicate that spring leaves are actually emerging earlier than average in those areas, while blue colors indicate that we're a little behind average in other spots.

"March 11, 2019 - Spring leaf out is spreading north through Southwest, Southeast, and mid-Atlantic states. Spring is one week late in the Portland, OR area and up to one week early in parts of Maryland.  Spring bloom has arrived on time to 2 weeks early in much of the South. Jackson, MS is 10 days early. Parts of Arizona and California are 1-2 weeks late."

Spring Arrives Wednesday 4:48PM CDT
"The spring equinox (also called the March equinox or vernal equinox) falls on Wednesday, March 20, 2019, at 4:58 P.M. CDT. This event marks the astronomical first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. On the March Equinox, the Sun crosses the celestial equator from south to north. It’s called the “celestial equator”  because it’s an imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator. If you were standing on the equator, the Sun would pass directly overhead on its way north. Equinoxes are the only two times a year that Sun only rises due east and sets due west for all of us on Earth! While the Sun passes overhead, the tilt of the Earth is zero relative to the Sun, which means that Earth’s axis neither points toward nor away from the Sun. (Note, however, that the Earth never orbits upright, but is always tilted on its axis by about 23.5 degrees.) After the Spring equinox, the Norther Hemisphere tilts toward the Sun, which is why we start to get longer, sunnier days."

Rumors Are True: A Risk of Spring This Year
By Paul Douglas

Here in the Land of Low Weather Expectations 50 degrees in March - to paraphrase anchorman Ron Burgundy - is kind of a big deal. Think new-car smell with a dash of cute puppy, Christmas Eve and 4th of July fireworks.

Emerging unsteadily from hibernation, bloodshot eyes brimming with pure, unmitigated joy. OK. Maybe I'm laying it on a little thick, but Minnesotans do NOT take 50s for granted in March. Not after the winter we just endured.

NOAA's GFS model prints out the next major rain storm in about 9 days, which may impact timing and severity of flooding on our rivers into April.

With historic flooding underway from Nebraska to southern Wisconsin, I have a bad feeling about what may lurk over the horizon. Stay vigilant.

This week looks dry with a slow warming trend. 50s are possible by late week UNLESS melting snow sparks fog and low clouds, which may very well happen.

Is winter over? Kind of. Odds are we'll enjoy a few more slushy events, but the worst is probably behind us now. Hey, it's Minnesota. What can possibly go wrong.

Extended Forecast

SUNDAY: Mostly cloudy and cool with a light mix? Winds: NW 7-12. High: 36.

SUNDAY NIGHT: Mostly cloudy and quiet. Winds: WNW 5. Low: 26.

MONDAY: More sunshine and pleasant. Winds: NW 7-12. High: 40.

TUESDAY: Mix of clouds and sunshine. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 27. High: 44.

WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny. Expecting puddles. Winds: W 10-15. Wake-up: 29. High: 46.

THURSDAY: Plenty of sun. Potentially distracting. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 31. High: 50.

FRIDAY: Early fog gives way to sunshine. Winds: W 5-10. Wake-up: 33. High: 52.

SATURDAY: Fading sunshine, taste of spring. Winds: SW 7-12. Wake-up: 35. High: 54.

This Day in Weather History
March 17th

2012: The Twin Cities hits 80 degrees, a new record for St. Patrick's Day and the warmest temperature during the warmest March on record. Amazingly, the high also reached 79 on March 16, 18, and 19 this year.

1965: The Great St. Patrick's Day Blizzard hits northern Minnesota. Two feet of snow dumped at Duluth. 19 inches at Mora.

Average High/Low for Minneapolis
March 17th

Average High: 42F (Record: 80F set in 2012)
Average Low: 25F (Record: -8F set in 1941)

Record Rainfall: 0.89" set in 1965
Record Snowfall: 11.2" set in 1965

Sunrise/Sunset Times for Minneapolis
March 17th

Sunrise: 7:22am
Sunset: 7:21pm

Hours of Daylight: ~11 hours & 59 minutes

Daylight GAINED since yesterday: ~ 3 minutes & 9 seconds
Daylight GAINED since winter solstice (December 21st): ~3 hours and 14 minutes

Moon Phase for March 17th at Midnight
2.8 Days Until Full "Worm" Moon

"8:43 p.m. CDT (March 21) In this month the ground softens and the earthworm casts reappear, inviting the return of the robins. The more northern tribes knew this as the Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter, or the Full Crust Moon because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night. TheFull Sap Moon, marking the time of tapping maple trees, is another variation."

See more from Space HERE:


What's in the Night Sky?

According to EarthSky.org this is what will be visible in the night sky over the next several nights: 

"March 17, 2019 – the bright waxing gibbous moon shines in front of Cancer the Crab, the faintest constellation of the zodiac. Although the moon marks Cancer’s place in the sky on this night, the moonlit glare will make Cancer tough to see. However, you shouldn’t have much trouble spotting some bright stars on either side of Cancer, along the zodiac. The Gemini stars, Castor and Pollux, lie to the west of tonight’s moon whereas the star Regulus, the brightest in the constellation Leo the Lion, shines to the east of tonight’s moon. As the Earth spins beneath the heavens throughout the night, going from west to east, the moon, Cancer, the Gemini stars and Regulus will appear to move westward across the sky. The moon will set in the west in the wee hours before sunrise March 18."

National High Temps Sunday
High temps across the country on Sunday will be below average in many locations east of the Rockies. Some spots will be nearly -5F to -10F below average, while on the West Coast will enjoy warmer than average temps. Note Los Angeles could warm into the 80s, which will feel nice after an extended stretch of cooler than average readings.
National Weather Outlook
Here's the weather outlook from across the country, which shows pretty quiet conditions as we head through the rest of the weekend and into the early part of next week. There may be a little light snow here and there across the Great Lakes Region and some shower activity along the Gulf Coast, but it doesn't look too intimidating.

7 Day Precipitation Forecast
According to NOAA's WPC, the 7 day precipitation forecast looks fairly minimal across the Upper Midwest. This is good news considering we're coming off of some major snow melt and rain from last week. Meanwhile, folks in southern Florida, the West Coast, the Four Corners Region and those in the western half of Texas will be dealing with a little more active weather through the 3rd full week of March.

"New York City climate-change plan proposes adding land to Manhattan"
"To protect the city from sea-level rise, Mayor Bill de Blasio proposes extending the southern part of the island into the river. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to protect Manhattan from climate change by expanding the island’s southern shore to keep rising seas at bay. The US$10-billion plan would extend Manhattan Island by as much as 150 metres into the East River by using materials, such as sand or concrete rubble, to build an elevated landscape. Lower Manhattan is a transportation hub for the city and a global financial centre that flooded during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The project would help to protect the area from what could become daily floods on some streets by 2100, city officials said during a 14 March press conference, citing their assessment of climate-change risks."

"Destruction from sea level rise in California could exceed worst wildfires and earthquakes, new research shows"
"In the most extensive study to date on sea level rise in California, researchers say damage by the end of the century could be far more devastating than the worst earthquakes and wildfires in state history. A team of U.S. Geological Survey scientists concluded that even a modest amount of sea level rise — often dismissed as a creeping, slow-moving disaster — could overwhelm communities when a storm hits at the same time."

"‘Devastating’ Arctic warming of 9-16°F now ‘locked in,’ UN researchers warn"

"A sleeping giant awakes" as carbon-rich permafrost starts to thaw. Rapid and “devastating” Arctic warming is now almost unstoppable, United Nations researchers warn in a major new report. Unless humanity makes very rapid and deep pollution cuts, Arctic winter temperatures will rise 5.4° to 9.0°F (3° to 5°C) by 2050 — and will reach an astounding 9° to 16°F (5° to 8.8°C) by 2080 — according to a report by the U.N. Environment Program released Wednesday. Even worse, the report, “Global Linkages: A graphic look at the changing Arctic,” warns that warming will in turn awaken a “sleeping giant” in the form of vast quantities of permafrost carbon. This carbon has been frozen in the permafrost for up to thousands of years, but as the atmosphere warms, the permafrost will thaw. This will release the trapped carbon, and trigger more planet-wide warming in a dangerous feedback loop."

See more from Think Progress HERE:


"March can be beautiful, but why is the weather so weird?"

"After a long winter, March is a welcome sight. It brings with it the first day of spring, and that means relief from the cold and the dreariness of winter. Or does it? March can be a messy time for weather, but then again, no transition is easy. This is, according to Weather.com in 2017, especially true for the northern part of the U.S., though all parts of the country experience weather weirdness in March. 1. Snowstorms and cold temperatures can persist. Despite the arrival of spring, March can bring plenty of snow. Denver often pulls in 20 percent of its annual snowfall during the month, while 5 to 6 inches can pile up in Chicago. In 2017, Washington, D.C., experienced a weirdo cold snap following a "false spring" in February, making that March colder than February for the first time in more than 30 years. According to Weather.com's 2019 spring forecast, the Pacific North American Oscillation, a recurring weather pattern, is in its negative phase and that means colder weather in the Northwest and some of the Plains. The upside, at least for those in the Southeast, is that temperatures should be near or slightly above average."

See more from Mother Nature Network HERE:


"How the 2019 Polar Vortex Helped Long-Term Renewable Energy Integration in the Midwest"

"At the end of January, the polar vortex brought bitter cold temperatures to the Upper Midwest of the United States. Some parts of northern Minnesota hit -45°F temperatures with wind chills down to -65°F. The record-setting low temperatures and frigid wind chills posed a safety and reliability threat to the region’s people and infrastructure alike. It forced some utilities in the region to appeal to the public to curb their natural gas use, and the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO, the region’s transmission grid operator) to declare a maximum generation event."

See more from Better Energy HERE:

Thanks for checking in and don't forget to follow me on Twitter @TNelsonWX

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Severe Flooding Omaha to Southern Wisconsin - 50s Possible Late Next Week

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Fairly calm weather ahead - highs climb into the 50s late this week