Biggest Snowstorm of the Winter Possible Friday
"The weather never repeats, but sometimes it rhymes." After 60s, golf, convertibles and gawking at Minnesotans in shorts, in February, are you really shocked the other shoe (boot) is about to drop? Me neither.
Every storm is different, uniquely baffling. An area of low pressure may be similar to a previous storm, but never identical. That's humbling and challenging, since weather models only go so far.
The days leading up to a big weather event feel like your first drivers exam. You try to be confident but there's just so much that can go wrong. Models still disagree on who will see the most snow, but plowable amounts seem likely. It may be a blizzard just south and west of MSP tonight and early Friday. Winds gusting over 40 mph at MSP on Friday may whip up white-out conditions here as well.
The metro area could still be in the axis of heaviest snow; as much as 6-12 inches of sloppy wet snow - capable of spin-outs, even power outages tomorrow. If you have a comp day coming I'd take it tomorrow. Avoid the travel mess altogether.
No more 60s, just 30s and 40s into mid-March. You know, 'average'?
Southward Shift In Track? The 00z run of NOAA's GFS model shows plowable amounts of snow brushing the MSP metro, but extreme (1 foot plus) snowfall amounts limited to southeastern Minnesota, closer to Rochester and Winona. This is more in line with the ECMWF (European) solution. The best chance of 6-12" may come south of the Twin Cities late tonight into Friday. Loop: Tropicaltidbits.com.
NAM Still More Impressive. The axis of heaviest snow is closer to the Twin Cities on last night's 00z run, with over a foot for the southern suburbs. But the TREND is shifting the storm track farther south, pushing the heaviest amounts south of MSP. I had a sneaky suspicion that a foot of snow might be wishful thinking. It's still not out of the question, but we have to follow the trends.
5 Warm Weather Records in 6 Days. According to NOAA 4 record highs and 1 record warm nighttime low since Friday. Impressive.
Colder - But Not Arctic. Keep in mind the average high is 31 degrees. Even with cooler weather imminent temperatures will still trend a few degrees above average for late February and early March. Keep a heavy jacket handy. ECMWF numbers: WeatherBell.
Cold Weather Swipes for Northern USA. The atmosphere may undergo a slight correction next month as colder air drains south across Canada, swept into the USA in waves behind a parade of storms. The pattern doesn't look frigid, but seasonably chilly from the Northern Plains and Midwest into the Great Lakes and New England with a push of chilly air into the southeastern USA the second week of March.
AerisWeather Briefing: Issued Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017
* After days of record highs across the Plains and upper Midwest, a system tracking in from the Rockies will bring heavy snow with it for the second half of the week.
* Snow will start off in Wyoming and Nebraska, spreading east throughout the day Thursday, then linger in the upper Midwest on Friday. This will bring the potential of 6-12”+ of snow with it from Nebraska to Wisconsin.
* Due to the heavy snow threat, Winter Storm Watches have been issued from Wyoming to Wisconsin for the second half of the week.
* We will also be watching the potential for strong winds, which will cause blizzard/white-out conditions throughout the storm as well, especially in the upper Midwest.
Snow Moves Into The Upper Midwest. As we head into Thursday morning, snow will already be in progress across portions of Wyoming, Nebraska and South Dakota. The snow will spread east as the system moves east throughout the day Thursday, reaching the Twin Cities by Thursday evening. Snow, heavy at times, will continue through the overnight hours and into the day Friday across the upper Midwest, with snow continuing to fall across the Twin Cities through Friday afternoon. In some of the heaviest snow, snowfall rates of 1-2” per hour will be common, leading to hefty accumulations.
Potential Snow Totals. As the system moves east over the next couple days, the heavy snow associated with it will move into the upper Midwest. We will be watching the potential for over a foot of snow across portions of Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. This would cause major travel issues, potentially even impassable roads, toward the end of the week. Note that the exact path of the storm could still shift north or south a little bit over the next several days as we get closer to the event, but heavy snow over the region is likely. Map: Aeris AMP.
Local Weather Service Additional Snow Forecasts:
Cheyenne, WY Area:
Rapid City, SD Area:
North Platte, NE Area:
Sioux Falls, SD Area:
Twin Cities, MN Area:
Blizzard Potential. There will also be strong winds associated with this heavy snow threat across the upper Midwest as we go into the end of the week. We could see wind gusts over 35 mph at times, creating blizzard/white-out conditions. This is a look at the track of our Blizzard Potential Index over the past four runs of the model. While there has been movement in the where blizzard conditions are possible, the signal is there for white-out conditions from Wyoming to the upper Midwest during the storm. This would be able to cause significant travel issues.
Summary: Heavy snow will be possible across the northern Plains and upper Midwest during the second half of the week as a storm system emerges from the Rockies and moves east. This snow will be impactful to the region, with the potential of 6-12”+ of snow from Nebraska to Wisconsin, including the Twin Cities of Minnesota. In some areas totals will likely top a foot, as snowfall rates at times will be on the order of 1-2” per hour. This will make travel difficult across parts of the region. Add on top of that strong winds that will cause blizzard/white-out conditions and travel could become nearly impossible, especially on Friday in parts of South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, AerisWeather
Middle America is Basking in Unprecedented February Warmth. Jason Samenow at Capital Weather Gang has some of the jaw-dropping details: "The weather this February keeps getting weirder. At a time when Arctic blasts usually sweep across the nation and Northern states are covered in snow and ice, historically warm air has flooded the eastern two-thirds of the nation. All-time February record high temperatures are falling and the air feels more like early May. A stunning 2,805 record high temperatures have occurred across the nation this month compared with just 27 record lows. The warmest air with respect to normal has focused on the Midwest and, in some areas, it’s unlike anything they’ve ever witnessed. Flower stems are sprouting in Chicago, and the Great Lakes are practically ice-free. In an area normally thick with ice, “a boat was seen skimming over the calm waters of Lake Michigan on Monday afternoon,” CBS Chicago reported...."
Snowiest Place in New York has 25 Feet and Counting. MSN.com documents the snowy wonderland of Oswego County, New York - ground zero for lake effect snow squalls: "For most in upstate New York, a foot of snow is an intimidation. For Carol Yerdon, it’s a milestone. By Sunday morning, more than 24 feet of snow already had fallen this winter in the corner of Oswego County where Yerdon lives. Then it began to snow again. A foot or more was in the forecast. By noon Sunday, enough fresh snow was on the ground for Yerdon to hit her mark. “Yes we did it! We hit 300 inches,” Yerdon said. “Just 125 inches to go to break the record!...”
Photo credit: Kevin Rivoli/AP Photo. "Steve Meier, right, and John Bellavia dig out Bellavia's car in Osewgo, N.Y., Friday, Feb. 9, 2007. New York's Governor Eliot Spitzer declared a disaster in Oswego County, where five straight days of lake-effect squalls have dumped nearly 100 inches (254cm) of snow, with even more snow forecast through the weekend."
Flooding Forces Hundreds from Homes in San Jose, California. Reuters has an update: "Murky, waist-high floodwaters swamped neighborhoods along a rain-swollen creek in the northern California city of San Jose on Tuesday, prompting authorities to issue evacuation orders or advisories for more than 1,000 homes, city officials said. The state's third-largest city, a hub of the high-tech Silicon Valley corridor south of San Francisco, has about 1 million residents and declared an emergency as Coyote Creek overflowed its banks from days of heavy showers. The trash-strewn floodwaters inundated whole city blocks, submerging parked cars and lapping at the walls of apartments and townhouses, as firefighters in inflatable boats ferried stranded residents to dry ground..."
"1-in-100 Year Flood Event" for Northern California. The Los Angeles Times has more details.
14,000 in San Jose Flee High Water. KQED News has the story.
Wet Winter Has Improved Colorado River Basin's Water Forecast, But The Drought Endures. Here's an update from The Los Angeles Times: "...Yet there is one place where the precipitation has been particularly welcome and could be transformative: the Colorado River basin, which provides water to nearly 40 million people across seven states. “We’re in a really good spot as far as snow accumulations,” said Malcolm Wilson, who leads the Bureau of Reclamation’s water resources group in the upper Colorado River basin. In fact, if the Rocky Mountains continue to see substantial snowfall this winter, there is a chance that later this year, water managers for the Colorado could do something that seemed inconceivable just a few weeks ago: They could start giving water away..."
Photo credit: "Lake Mead reservoir and the Hoover Dam show a "bath tub ring" from low water levels in 2015." (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Fine, Water Doesn't Scare You? How About $10,000? The Weather Social calls attention to the people who believe their vehicle can somehow magically transform into a boat and get them safely to the other side of a flooded road. Here's an excerpt: "...In all seriousness, you need to get to work and you need to earn your pay. But if it’s really about collecting a paycheck, realize that driving across a flooded road could set you back way more than a day or week of pay. According to cartalk.com, once water reaches the doors and the engine stalls, your wallet is going to open up like a floodgate. Expect damage to carpets, floor mats, door panels and the trunk liner. Seats and any motion mechanics or sensors will need to be replaced. Water will get into the gas tank as well and thus need drained. The brakes will need to be replaced. Finally, the biggest issues will come from engine damage. Water in the cylinders and transmission will need to be drained. Especially when nobody is hurt, we regularly dismiss pictures of stalled vehicles and say, “not me.” Especially when we’ve driven it before, we regularly look at a flooded street and say, “I can make it...”
Earth's "Technosphere" Now Weighs 30 Trillion Tons, Research Finds. That's the estimated weight of all the (crap) we've created, according to a new study highlighted at The University of Leicester: "...An international team led by University of Leicester geologists has made the first estimate of the sheer size of the physical structure of the planet’s technosphere – suggesting that its mass approximates to an enormous 30 trillion tons. The technosphere is comprised of all of the structures that humans have constructed to keep them alive on the planet – from houses, factories and farms to computer systems, smartphones and CDs, to the waste in landfills and spoil heaps. In a new paper published in the journal The Anthropocene Review, Professors Jan Zalasiewicz, Mark Williams and Colin Waters from the University of Leicester Department of Geology led an international team suggesting that the bulk of the planet’s technosphere is staggering in scale, with some 30 trillion tons representing a mass of more than 50 kilos for every square metre of the Earth’s surface..."
Why We Need the EPA. Rivers are no longer catching on fire - that's probably a good thing, right? Here's an excerpt from NRDC: "...A collective memory lapse seems to have descended on lawmakers who seek to dismantle an agency that has transformed American life for the better. Since the EPA’s founding in 1970, concentrations of common air pollutants, like sulfur dioxide, have dropped as much as 67 percent. The EPA helped mitigate catastrophes like acid rain, leaded gasoline, and DDT. The agency bravely classified secondhand smoke as a known carcinogen in 1993, paving the way for successful litigation against the tobacco industry and an incredible reduction in U.S. smoking rates...."
Photo credit: "
For ranchers facing ruin until major international companies planted forests of 300ft-tall turbines among their crops and cattle, the wind boom has provided regular income that has allowed them to maintain their land and keep it in the family. For Texas, this most Republican-dominated, oil-rich and fracking-friendly of states has found itself with the improbable status of being a national leader in this growing form of renewable energy. Texas has 11,592 turbines and an installed wind capacity of 20,321 megawatts, according to the American Wind Energy Association: three times as much capacity as the next state, Iowa. (California is third.)..."
Map credit: US Department of Energy | Graphic: Jan Diehm/The Guardian.
37% of Norway's New Cars are Electric. They Expect It To Be 100% in Just 8 Years. Here's an excerpt from ThinkProgress: "The global electric vehicle (EV) revolution reached another milestone last month as EVs made up 37 percent share of Norway’s car market. Norway understands the future of ground transport is electric and has been pushing EVs harder than almost any other country in the world with incentives such as an exemption from the 25 percent VAT tax for new cars. In December, the country hit 100,000 zero-emission EVs on the road, and they are projected to quadruple to 400,000 by 2020. These numbers are especially remarkable for a country of only 5.2 million people. Over five percent of all of Norway’s cars are EVs, up from one percent two years ago..." (File image: The Local Norway).
Personal View: Clean Energy Revolution Offers Jobs, Opportunity. Crain's Cleveland Business has the Op-Ed; here's a clip: "...In a letter applauding the decision, companies like Nestle and Whirlpool stated that renewable energy and energy efficiency standards help them save money, stay competitive and avoid energy price volatility. With renewed market certainty and predictable policy, Ohio is encouraging businesses to continue investing in clean energy locally. Across the country, the clean energy sector provides well-paying employment for millions of Americans. In the Midwest alone, clean energy jobs are expected to grow at a rate of 4.4% this year, almost nine times as fast as the long-term national average..."
Photo credit: MN.gov.
Los Angeles: The World's Most Traffic-Clogged City? So says a new report highlighted at ABC News: "Low fuel prices and economic stability are straining the country's roadways, leading to congestion that cost U.S. drivers nearly $300 billion in wasted gas and time last year, according to a new report released today. Los Angeles had the worst traffic in the world among 1,064 cities studied by traffic analytics firm INRIX. L.A. also topped the Kirkland, Washington, firm’s list the year before. On average, Los Angeles motorists spent about 104 hours stuck in traffic during the peak commuting hours of 2016, contributing to a loss of $2,408 per driver, or about $9.7 billion collectively, in wasted fuel and productivity, according to the firm’s Global Traffic Scorecard report..." (Image credit: INRIX Global)
The Mall of America is Looking for a Writer-In-Residence. Sign me up. Here's an explainer at Atlas Obscura: "The Mall of America, which Wikipedia describes as “a shopping mall located in Bloomington, Minnesota” and which is also the largest mall in the United States, is looking for a writer-in-residence. During a tough era for the traditional shopping mall, the Mall of America, opened in 1992, has persevered and is turning 25. As part of the celebration, the mall is looking for “a special scribe” to celebrate the mall and capture its evolution. The job: Spend five days “deeply immersed in the Mall atmosphere” and write “on-the-fly impressions” of the place..."
Egg Vending Machine? Atlas Obscura has details: "Sure, you could go and buy your eggs at the grocery store like everyone else. Or, you could go and get yourself 18 cage-free eggs from the vending machine at Glaum’s Egg Ranch in Aptos, California, a farm that features dancing animatronic chickens. Yep, dancing chickens. Stick four crisp dollar bills in the slot and out comes a tray of 18 fresh eggs while a chorus of animatronic chickens in seasonal attire sing and dance for you. The costumes change, but no matter the holiday, their song remains the same: a clucking version of Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood.”Stick four crisp dollar bills in the slot and out comes a tray of 18 fresh eggs while a chorus of animatronic chickens in seasonal attire sing and dance for you. The costumes change, but no matter the holiday, their song remains the same: a clucking version of Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood...”
59 F. new record high on Wednesday in the Twin Cities. Old record high was 57 F. set in 1930.
31 F. average high for the metro area on February 22.
35 F. high temperature on February 22, 2016.
February 23, 1981: Warmth returns to Minnesota with a high of 55 at Pipestone and a high of 52 at Luverne.
TODAY: Cooler as clouds thicken. Winds: NE 10-15. High: near 40
THURSDAY NIGHT: Winter Storm Watch. Mix changes over to heavy wet snow. Low: 30
FRIDAY: Winter Storm Watch. Windy with snow. 4-8" possible, more southern MN. Winds: NE 20-40. High: 32
SATURDAY: Travel improves. Slow clearing late. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 17. High: 30
SUNDAY: Mostly cloudy, flurries north. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 20. High: 32
MONDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, quiet. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 21. High: 36
TUESDAY: Icy mix, slick roads possible early. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 25. High: 39
WEDNESDAY: Wet snow tapers to flurries. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 27. High: 35
What Your TV Meteorologist Likely Thinks of Climate Change. Dr. Marshall Shepherd has a post at Forbes: "...One of the issues that always comes up is the assumption that all meteorologists are on TV. The Boston Globe article went on to talk primarily about broadcast meteorologists, which represent less than 10% of meteorologists yet the title said "many meteorologists." It is very common for the public to assume meteorologists are just on TV. I get the question, "what channel are you on?" all of the time. The AMS in conjunction with George Mason University recently surveyed its membership, which is far broader than just the small sample of broadcast meteorologists. According to a summary of the report on the AMS website,
The vast majority of members of the American Meteorological Society agree that recent climate change stems at least in part from human causes, and the agreement has been growing significantly in the last five years. According to a new survey of AMS members, 67% say climate change over the last 50 years is mostly to entirely caused by human activity, and more than 4 in 5 (80%) respondents attributed at least some of the climate change to human activity..."
Do You Know Someone Who Should Be Recognized for Climate Adaptation Efforts? The Minnesota Climate Adaptation Partnership (MCAP) will be recognizing outstanding climate adaptation work in Minnesota with awards to be presented on May 8, 2017, as part of the National Adaptation Forum. MCAP is joining the National Adaptation Forum in offering a conference that will present a range of practitioners who have experience with climate smart strategies for adapting to our changing climate. The conference titled Action today for a better tomorrow, will be held at the St. Paul River Centre, May 8-11, 2017. Awards will honor individuals, organizations, institutions and businesses that have provided exceptional leadership in education, research, policies, and practices to improve resilience and develop, advance, or implement climate adaptation strategies. Anyone may submit a nomination, which is very simple. The award nomination deadline is March 1, 2017, and nomination details are available on the University of Minnesota Water Resources Center web site:
Expect to See More Emergencies Like Oroville Dam in a Hotter World. Rain is falling harder. That's not a climate model prediction, but an observational reality. Here's an excerpt from The Guardian: "...Like many extreme events, the Oroville emergency is a combination of natural weather likely intensified by climate change. California regularly sees “atmospheric rivers” that deluge the state with rainfall, but in a hotter world, scientists anticipate that they’ll be amplified by an increase in the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere. Northern California is in the midst of its wettest rainy season on record – twice as wet as the 20th century average, and 35% wetter than the previous record year. It proved to be almost too much for America’s tallest dam to handle..."
Graphic credit: "Northern California Sierra precipitation - average, previous wettest year, and 2016-2017." Illustration: California Department of Water Resources.
Sea Ice Hits Record Lows at Both Poles. Details via Climate Central: "Arctic temperatures have finally started to cool off after yet another winter heat wave stunted sea ice growth over the weekend. The repeated bouts of warm weather this season have stunned even seasoned polar researchers, and could push the Arctic to a record low winter peak for the third year in a row. Meanwhile, Antarctic sea ice set an all-time record low on Monday in a dramatic reversal from the record highs of recent years...."
Graphic credit: "Air temperature 2 meters above the surface for the Arctic north of 80 degrees latitude for 2017 (red), compared to 2016 (yellow), and the long-term average (blue)." Credit: Zack Labe/ Danish Meteorological Institute
Researcher's 1979 Arctic Model Predicted Current Sea Ice Demise, Holds Lessons for Future. Here's a clip from InsideClimate News: "Claire Parkinson, now a senior climate change scientist at NASA, first began studying global warming's impact on Arctic sea ice in 1978, when she was a promising new researcher at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Back then, what she and a colleague found was not only groundbreaking, it pretty accurately predicted what is happening now in the Arctic, as sea ice levels break record low after record low. Parkinson's study, which was published in 1979, found that a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide from preindustrial levels would cause the Arctic to become ice-free in late summer months, probably by the middle of the 21st century. It hasn't been ice-free in more than 100,000 years. Although carbon dioxide levels have not yet doubled, the ice is rapidly disappearing. This record melt confirms the outlook from Parkinson's 1979 model..."
Even in Texas, People Worry About Climate Change. Yale Climate Connections reports: "The majority of Americans understand that climate change is real. Contrary to stereotypes, that’s true in both liberal and conservative states. For example, 68 percent of people in Vermont say global warming is happening. And 63 percent of Texans agree. Dobbs: “When you talk to the people of Texas and you ask them about these things, time and time again they show an interest in protecting our climate, in protecting our planet, in protecting our resources. And this goes across the political spectrum, across the social spectrum, across the geographic spectrum in our state.” That’s Andrew Dobbs, a program director at the Texas Campaign for the Environment. He says recent severe droughts and floods have led to increased concern..."
Companies Are Concealing the Risks of Climate Change. So says a post at Inverse; here's an excerpt: "...Whatever policy direction the SEC takes on climate risk, it is unlikely to deter those investors who believe the present system of voluntary and mandatory disclosure has failed to provide them with sufficient information on the risks of climate change. And some market participants, such as Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, worry that the underreporting of climate change information is creating a big risk for financial markets – a carbon bubble – that could lead to a major market failure. Currently, the SEC requires mandatory disclosure of all “material” information, while everything else is voluntary. This system has created a vast amount of publicly available information on the costs and risks of climate change..."
Photo credit: "ExxonMobil’s refinery in Billings, Montana."
The Problems with Winter Warming. I'm enjoying the extended streak of spring fever in February (!) as much as everyone else, but at the risk of being Debby Downer there are some downsides to spring coming extra-early. Here's a post from Climate Central: "The decrease in winter cold effectively makes the winter shorter. While that might sound good at first, it comes with consequences for recreation, farming, and the environment. In colder climates, winter-based recreational activities, like skiing, ice fishing, and snowmobiling will become less prevalent. More disease-carrying insects, like mosquitoes and ticks, will survive through a milder winter. Declining snow pack leads to lower reservoir levels, providing less water for irrigation of crops. Fruit trees, which need to become dormant in the winter to blossom in the spring, may produce smaller yields. Pollen counts will rise, which can trigger respiratory illnesses for allergy sufferers."
Humans Changing Climate 170 Times Faster than Natural Forces. Yale Environment360 has a summary of new research: "Humans are changing the climate 170 times faster than natural forces, according to a new study published in the peer-reviewed journal The Anthropocene Review. The research is the first mathematical equation to compare the impact of human activity on current climate to naturally occurring changes. For 4 billion-plus years, astronomical and geophysical factors, such as solar heat output and volcanic eruptions, were the dominating influences on Earth’s climate, argue study authors Owen Gaffney and Will Steffan, climate scientists at Stockholm University and Australian National University, respectively. But over the past six decades, human activities like the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation “have driven exceptionally rapid rates of change,” the study says..."