Snow Lovers Have Reason to Cheer!

I was delighted to see accumulating snow in Seattle and the suburbs of San Francisco. Why should Minnesotans have all the fun?

Last week's painful polar punch has retreated north. Good riddance. There's some truthiness to the old adage "too cold to snow." When the mercury dips below zero, the main storm track is shoved well south of Minnesota; moisture from the Gulf of Mexico unable to reach our lofty latitude.

Since we've warmed up a little the pattern is ripe for snow, with a perfect balance of northern cold and southern moisture.

We should see a brief break from the flakes during the daylight hours today, but heavier snow is likely tonight into Thursday; another 3-6 inches possible by Friday morning. Call me crazy, but I'd much rather see snow than glaze ice.

We're due for a flurry of flakes. As of Tuesday morning less than 18 inches of snow had fallen on the Twin Cities this winter; half the normal amount. Let it snow.

It's not the dreaded polar vortex, but a couple subzero nights arrive late week. Teens and 20s return next week. 

Total 3-Day Snowfall Prediction above (Tuesday into Thursday) courtesy of NOAA and AerisWeather.

3 KM WRF Model. The higher-resolution version of NOAA's NAM prints out roughly 7" of additional snow for metro area by Friday morning, which isn't beyond the realm of possibilities. Last night's 12 KM NAM prints out about .47" liquid with a snow:rain ration of 15:1 or greater. I expect it to be plowable (again) with the best chance of moderate snow Wednesday night into the afternoon hours Thursday. A few more shots at a thoroughly gummed up commute. Map:

Additional Snowfall Potential. The map above is from the Twin Cities National Weather Service office.

Tuesday Snowfall Reports. 9.3" at Northfield may win the coveted Golden Snow Shovel Award. But wait, there's more! Data: IEMBot at Iowa State University.

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Tuesday, February 5th, 2019:

  • A system moving through the central part of the country will spread snow and ice across parts of the upper Midwest into the Great Lakes. The heaviest ice is expected to fall from parts of northern Missouri to lower Michigan later today into Wednesday, with totals of up to fourth-tenths of an inch possible in some locations including in and around the Chicago metro. Ice Storm Warnings have been issued from northeastern Missouri to Chicago.
  • Snowfall totals of 2-4” will be possible as well from parts of central and southern Minnesota across northern Wisconsin into the upper peninsula of Michigan.
  • Another system will then take aim on the upper Midwest late Wednesday into Thursday with more heavy snow and ice.

Tracking Snow And Ice. As an area of low pressure slides across the central United States today into tonight, a larger area of snow and ice is expected to develop across the upper Midwest into the Great Lakes. Heavy ice accumulation is expected from parts of northern Missouri to lower Michigan. This precipitation will start during the afternoon hours today across areas of Iowa and Missouri and last into Wednesday across parts of Michigan. Meanwhile, up to about 4” of snow is expected from Minnesota into the upper peninsula of Michigan with this system.

Ice Storm Warnings In Place. This system will have the potential to produce dangerous amounts of ice later today into tonight from northeastern Missouri to Chicago, with Ice Storm Warnings in place. These are in place for places including:

  • Burlington, IA and the Quad Cities: From Noon today to 6 AM Wednesday for total ice and sleet of two-tenths to four-tenths of an inch.
  • Rockford, IL: From 3 PM this afternoon to 6 AM Wednesday for ice accumulations of two-tenths to four-tenths of an inch and snow and sleet accumulations of less than an inch.
  • Chicago, IL: From 6 PM this evening to 6 AM Wednesday for ice accumulations of one-tenth to four-tenths of an inch. NWS Chicago says: “THE HIGHEST ICE AMOUNTS ALONG AND NORTHWEST OF A LINE FROM STREATOR TO MORRIS TO JOLIET TO DOWNTOWN CHICAGO.

Numerous Winter Weather Advisories are also in place from eastern Kansas to the Great Lakes for the potential of ice (in southern areas from Kansas City to lower Michigan) and snow (in northern areas from Minnesota to the upper peninsula of Michigan). These are in place for places including:

  • Kansas City, MO: From Noon today to Noon Wednesday for up to a tenth of an inch of ice.
  • Dubuque, IA: From Noon today to 3 AM Wednesday for up to an inch of snow and up to two-tenths of an inch of ice.
  • Minneapolis, MN: From 10 AM to 9 PM tonight for 3-4” of snow.
  • Milwaukee, WI: From 6 PM tonight to 6 AM Wednesday for to an inch of snow and up to two-tenths of an inch of ice.
  • Detroit, MI: From 1 AM to 1 PM Wednesday for up to two-tenths of an inch of ice.
  • Traverse City, MI: From 1 AM to 10 AM Wednesday for up to 2” of snow and a light glaze of ice.

Expected Upper Midwest Ice. Looking at potential ice totals, a band of at least a tenth to four-tenths of an inch is expected to fall from northeastern Missouri through Chicago and into parts of southern Michigan through tomorrow evening. This ice will make travel nearly impossible, especially on untreated surfaces, and could cause power outages and tree damage. This ice could impact the evening commute (especially in areas west of Chicago) as well as the Wednesday morning commute.

Expected Chicago Ice. Ice totals in and around the Chicago area late today into tonight are expected to be between a tenth to a fourth of an inch, with some of the heaviest totals expected in areas like Joliet, DeKalb, and La Salle. This is the first Ice Storm Warning that has been issued for Chicago since December 2009. Graphic credit: Praedictix and AerisWeather.

Expected Snow. A band of 2-4” of snow is expected to fall today into Wednesday from parts of central and southern Minnesota across northern Wisconsin into the upper peninsula of Michigan. This could cause some travel difficulties across the region, especially for the Tuesday evening commute in the Twin Cities.

More Snow And Ice Wednesday Into Thursday. Another system will bring another dose of snow to the upper Midwest late Wednesday into Thursday, likely impacting both the Thursday morning and evening commutes for the Twin Cities. Right now the heaviest snow looks to fall across northern Minnesota into the upper peninsula of Michigan. This will also bring another round of up to a quarter inch of ice across parts of Iowa into southern Wisconsin. We’ll continue to monitor this over the next few days.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix.

Crocodile Warnings Issued for Australian City Due to Unprecedented Levels of Flooding. ABC News has the story: "The Australian government is warning citizens to be on the look out for crocodiles and snakes in the streets amid severe rainfall and flooding in north Queensland over the past few days.    “Crocodiles prefer calmer waters and they may move around in search of a quiet place to wait for floodwaters to recede,” Leeanne Enoch, Queensland's minister for environment, said in a statement Monday. She continued, “Crocodiles may be seen crossing roads, and when flooding recedes, crocodiles can turn up in unusual places such as farm dams or waterholes where they have not been seen before. Similarly, snakes are very good swimmers and they too may turn up unexpectedly...The town has experienced the equivalent of 3.2 feet of rainfall over the past week....”

The Meteorological Culprits Behind Strange and Deadly Floods. I found a story at Eos interesting; here's a clip: "...The researchers examined extreme floods across  several decades in the conterminous United States, using annual flood peak observations from more than 8,000 U.S. Geological Survey stream gauging stations. They developed a statistical framework they call the “upper tail ratio,” in reference to the upper tail of a statistical distribution, where rare events reside. The upper tail ratio is defined as the peak discharge for a flood of record, divided by the stream’s 10-year flood magnitude. The 1903 Heppner Flood registered an upper tail ratio of 200, topped only by the 1976 flood caused by the bursting of the Teton Dam. The team discovered that record floods share many traits..."

Photo credit: "A new study categorizes the 1903 Heppner Flood in eastern Oregon, shown here, as a “strange flood,” which stems from uncommon flood agents or extreme conditions." Credit: National Weather Service

January Temperature Departures. The Twin Cities metro area was only 1-2F. colder than average for entire month (due to the fact that the first halfof January was 10F warmer than average). Temperatures were considerably colder than average from northern Minnesota into northern Michigan; warmer than average for much of the west and southeastern USA. January temperature anomalies:

Think This Polar Vortex Was Cold? It Should Have Been Colder. In a warming world occasional spasms of polar air feel even worse than 30-40 years ago, but what are the trends with these extreme cold outbreaks? Here's an excerpt from National Geographic: "...On Thursday, Bloomberg’s Climate Changed team helped cut through the noise by citing the “cold-wave index” developed over more than 20 years by Kenneth Kunkel, a researcher at North Carolina State University who for three decades has studied extreme weather in the long-term context of climate. The index sifts weather-station data from across the country to estimate the duration and intensity of regional extreme cold spells, going back to 1895. In an interview Thursday with National Geographic, Kunkel, who also works for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, rattled off some of the worst North Americans cold waves—1936, 1970, 1977, 1983, 1989, but he ended with 1996. “Nothing since then has approached the magnitude of those,” he said. “Since that time they’ve been kind of wimpy, really...”
Graphic credit: Bloomberg.

Power Companies vs. the Polar Vortex: How Did The Grid Hold Up? Interesting perspective on last week's polar fun from InsideClimate News: "The Midwest's utilities managed their way through a deep freeze this week with few major service interruptions in part by working with customers to reduce demand. There were a few problems, with wires down in the Chicago area and a fire at a natural gas compressor station in Michigan, but overall the system coped with the cold and increased demand. Utilities in some of the coldest parts of the Midwest and grid operators say their preparations before the temperature plunged below zero were informed by lessons from cold snaps in 2014 and 2018. Those events illuminated some of the problems and workarounds of managing a grid that relies increasingly on natural gas and renewables, and less on coal..."

File map of the U.S. electrical grid: FEMA.

Winter Has Come for Electric Cars. Yes, extreme cold does deplete the battery (and range) faster. Someone will figure out a fix, right? Here's a clip from Fortune: "...Winter has come for Tesla Inc. and its army of car owners, which swelled in size last year. And some of those customers have cooled on the company along with freezing temperatures. Model 3 owners have taken to social media and online forums to air issues they’ve had with their sedans due to the frigid weather of the last week. Cold conditions are a drain on battery range, no matter the car brand. But other predicaments are particular to Tesla. Ronak Patel, a CPA auditor in New Jersey, bought a Model 3 last August. He’s driven about 150 miles in the cold over the last few days. “My biggest concern is the cold weather drained my battery 20 to 25 miles overnight and an extra five to ten miles on my drive to work,” he said...."

Hawaii May Ban Cigarettes to Anyone Under the Age of 100. has the story: "The legislature finds that the cigarette is considered the deadliest artifact in human history." So begins the text of a new bill introduced in Hawaii's State House, calling for a phased ban on cigarette sales in the state by 2024. Hawaii has some of the most restrictive cigarette laws in the nation. In 2016, it became the first state to raise the age to buy cigarettes to 21. Now, its new bill calls for raising the cigarette-buying age to 30 by next year, up to 40, 50 and 60 in each subsequent year, and up to 100 by 2024.  That would effectively clear Hawaii's store shelves of cigarettes, although tourists could still bring them in..."

Tinder for Dogs? Why Not. AP News explains: "If the pooch melts your heart, swipe right.Animal lovers in Lithuania have created a mobile application inspired by the popular dating app Tinder to match up dogs in local shelters with new owners. Called GetPet, the app was launched last month and is getting hundreds of new users daily and already has made a few matches. It joins a growing market of apps for people looking to adopt a pet, including PawsLikeMe and BarkBuddy. “It is like Tinder, but with dogs,” said Vaidas Gecevicius, one of app’s creators. “You can arrange a meeting with the dog — a date.” GetPet features profiles of furry four-legged creatures looking up with soft, yearning eyes. Scrolling down reveals more information about the pup, and those interested can then swipe right..."

3.4" snow fell at MSP International Airport yesterday.

9 F. Tuesday's maximum temperature in the Twin Cities.

26 F. average high on February 5.

14 F. high on February 5, 2018.

February 6, 1994: The national low is at Tower, dropping down to -41.

WEDNESDAY: Clouds and flurries. Winds: NE 5-10. High: 23

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Heavier, steadier snow likely. Low: 19

THURSDAY: Another 4-7 inches possible. Slick roads. Winds: NW 10-15. High: 22

FRIDAY: Mostly cloudy, windy. Travel improves. Winds: NW 15-25. Wake-up: -6. High: 4

SATURDAY: Cold start, peeks of sunshine. Winds: E 8-13. Wake-up: -10. High: 9

SUNDAY: Clouds, flurries possible. Winds: NE 10-15. Wake-up: 2. High: 15

MONDAY: Mix of clouds and sunshine. Winds: E 8-13. Wake-up: 8. High: 23

TUESDAY: Another chance of accumulating snow. Winds: NE 10-20. Wake-up: 18. High: 21

Climate Stories...

The Cautious Case for Climate Optimism. David Wallace-Wells writes for Intelligencer: "...Every year the average American emits enough carbon to melt 10,000 tons of ice in the Antarctic ice sheets — enough to add 10,000 cubic meters of water to the ocean. Every minute, we each add five gallons. If the task of reversing all that seems incomprehensibly big, it is. The scale of the technological transformation required dwarfs every technological revolution ever engineered in human history, including electricity and telecommunications and even the invention of agriculture 10,000 years ago. By definition, it dwarfs them, because it contains all of them — every single sector needs to be rebuilt from the foundation, since every single one breathes on carbon like it’s a ventilator..."

U.S. Coastal Regions Prepare for Storms Due to Climate Change. Energy Journal at The Wall Street Journal has the story: "...Louisiana’s Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards pledged $55 million in state surplus and about $300 million in offshore oil revenue for coastal and levee improvements. The moves reflect a growing recognition by some lawmakers that communities aren’t sufficiently prepared for increasingly intense storms and weather events that scientists attribute to rising sea levels and other major weather events that many scientists attribute to carbon emissions from fossil fuels, which have been linked to rising global temperatures and more extreme weather patterns. About a third of the U.S. population lived in coastline counties along the Atlantic or Pacific oceans or the Gulf of Mexico in 2016, according to the Census Bureau..."

Image credit: Fourth National Climate Assessment and NOAA, 2018.

Study Shows Climate Change is Fueling Conflict and Mass Migration. NexusMedia has the story: "The United Nations’ chief climate scientist recently said that planetary warming threatens “a multitude of security impacts.” For years, U.S. military officials have called climate change a “threat multiplier,” warning that rising temperatures would fuel political instability, conflict and mass migration in the decades ahead. But, until now, experts had not established a firm link between climate change, political violence and displacement. New research has found strong evidence that climate change is spurring conflict, which is driving people to abandon their homelands and seek safety elsewhere. It should come as no surprise that rising temperatures are worsening droughts, heat waves and floods, leading to shortages of food, water and other resources, resulting in conflict in many regions of the world. In so doing, climate change is an indirect cause of migrant exodus, according to scientists..."

Photo credit: "UN peacekeeping troops march during a military parade in Paris, 2008." Source: Marie-Lan Nguyen.

Valve Turners Arrested: Headlines and links courtesy of Climate Nexus: "Four pipeline activists were arrested in Minnesota Monday after breaking into a pipeline facility and attempting to shut off a valve on an Enbridge pipeline. The activists, who are affiliated with the Catholic worker movement, used wire cutters to access a fenced area in Itasca County containing safety valves for Lines 1, 2, and 4, and called Enbridge to ensure the pipeline would be shut off remotely. Enbridge is facing stiff local opposition to its plans to rebuild the aging Line 3 pipeline through ecologically sensitive land and tribal territory. "I believe every life is sacred. This is an act of grief for the state of violence the world is in," valve turner Allyson Polman said in a statement. "...I am called to step into responsibility by standing in the way of this deadly fossil fuel industry." (AP, MPR News, Duluth News-Tribune)

Scientists Sees Even Conservatives Now Worried Over Climate Change. KQED Science has an interview with Katharine Hayhoe; here's an excerpt: "...If you rephrase the question, "Are people connecting the dots now?", my answer to that is yes. Now, in very conservative Texas a lot of people aren't willing to go so far as to say it's humans yet. But over 70 percent in Texas are willing to say, "Something is different. Climate is changing." So today, I'm getting calls from organizations that I never would have heard from 10 years ago: farmers and producers, ranchers, land managers, oil and gas companies, water managers, they're calling me in and they're saying, "We know there's something going on. We want to have a conversation," and I think that's actually a very positive thing..."

CLIMATE IMPACTS: Climate Nexus has links and headlines: "Climate change will even change the color of the oceans, study says (CNN), California has a weird new desert--it’s in the Pacific Ocean (Washington Post $), who stands to lose the most from climate change? Red states (Grist), part of eastern Australia hit by once-in-a-century floods, braces for more rain (Reuters, New York Times $), is deep freeze the latest sign climate change is accelerating? (The Guardian), desperate Mongolians send children into countryside to escape choking winter smog (Reuters), 'the devastation of human life is in view': what a burning world tells us about climate change." (The Guardian).

The Role Climate Change Plays in Weather Extremes. Here's an excerpt of an interview at NPR: "...We are seeing fewer cold spells, and that is what the data shows. But part of this is actually psychological because winter is warming. And so we have gotten used to what would have been considered remarkably mild winters 30 or 50 years ago. So now, when we have a cold outbreak, we're like, oh, my goodness. This is unbelievable. Where did this come from? And the reality is a lot of our cold weather is we're just not used to anymore. And then, of course, we still do break cold temperature records. In fact, in 2017 - across the United States, over 10,000 cold temperature records were broken in 2017 alone. But, the same year, over 30,000 hot temperature records were broken. So it's that ratio that's showing us that, yes, we can feel break cold and hot temperature records. That's just weather. But long-term, decade by decade, we're breaking many more high-temperature records because the planet is warming..."

File images: Associated Press.

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Paul Douglas: Another plowable snowfall likely