Signs of Spring!!

Here's a neat map from Journey North, which shows the return of one of my favorite birds, the Red-Winged Blackbird!  The first time I hear "conk-la-ree", I know spring has finally arrived. The map below shows where the latest red-winged blackbirds have been sighted across the state. 

See more from Journey North HERE:

More Signs of Spring from the MNDNR
This time of the year can be a little dank and dreary at times, but we're not too far away from several signs of life returning to a backyard near you! There's a phenology reporting locating in Maplewood, just north of St. Paul and they record things like the first red-winged blackbird to the first dandelion and even when the lilacs bloom. This phenology location recorded the first "conk-la-ree" from a red-winged blackbird on March 20th this year, which was a few days later than average. By the way, the average bloom date of lilacs in the Twin Cities is typically around May 10th. Last year, lilacs didn't bloom until mid May.
"The songs of the first red-winged blackbirds of the season were heard in north Maplewood on Wednesday, March 20, six days later than the median date of March 14, and on the first day of Spring! Phenology which is derived from the Greek word phaino meaning to show or appear, is the study of periodic plant and animal life cycle events that are influenced by environmental changes, especially seasonal variations in temperature and precipitation driven by weather and climate. The USA National Phenology Network (USA-NPN)  collects phenological data from across the United States. Also track the progress of The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds  as they migrate north. Here is some recent spring phenology for a site in Maplewood just north of St. Paul."

"Phenology Report: April 2, 2019"
Here's the latest Phenology from John Latimer who hails out of Grand Rapids, MN. He shares his latest findings on what is springing up across parts of central/northern MN. 

"SPRING HAS SPRUNG and we've got the phenological evidence to prove it! Phenology is the biological nature of events as they relate to climate.  Every Tuesday morning, our resident Phenologist John Latimer gathers his phenological data and reports his findings in the weekly Phenology Report. This week John discusses average blooms and animal sightings according to his 30+ years of collecting data.  He also talks about things he's already seen this year... eagles, trumpeter swans, and wood ducks are just a bit of this weeks report.  Click the link to hear it all!"

Listen to the full report from KAXE HERE:


Pollen Levels on the Rise!

AHH CHOO! Oh boy... Spring allergy sufferers are in rough shape right now as pollen levels are running high. Thanks to rain this weekend, those pollen levels subsided a bit, but early next week looks like a doozy with levels peaking in the high category once again. 

Weather Outlook Sunday

High temps on Sunday will be fairly mild across the state with readings warming into the 60s across the southern half of the state and into the 40s and 50s across the northern half of the state. These temps will be nearly 10F to nearly 15F above average, which will feel a little more like May! Enjoy!

Weather Outlook Through Monday, April 8th
Weather conditions will remain unsettled through the rest of the weekend with a few lingering T-showers possible through the day Sunday. Keep in minda that locally heavy rains will be possible where thunderstorms develop. The next chance of light rain should stay north of the Twin Cities and mainly impact far northern MN on Monday.

Precipitation Outlook Through AM Monday
According to NOAA's NDFD, the Twin Cities could see up to an additional 0.25" to 0.50" of rain, while areas in northeaastern MN could see as much as 0.75" to 1.0" of rain.

Snow Potential Next Week?

Here's a view of our potential snow event for the 2nd half of next week. While it's still way too early to talk specifics, latest weather models are still suggesting a fairly strong low pushing through the Upper Midwest. At this point, rain and snow will be possible with some locations possibly seeing some wet accumulations. Stay tuned! 


St. Criox River at Stillwater

Sand bags along the St. Criox River in downtown Stillwater are in place, however, flood waters are receeding! In fact, the latest report suggets that we've now dropped out of minor flood stage. Recent rains this weekend could push river levels back into minor flood stage.
Current Flood Warnings

The National Weather Service continues flood warnings across much of the southern half of the state as river levels remain at flood levels. The Red River Valley is now dealing with flooding and in some cases, minor to even major flooding is ongoing.

Mississippi River at St. Paul
Here is the latest river gauge (and forecast) for the Mississippi River at St. Paul, which shows major flooding continuing through the rest of the weekend. It appears that the river crested at 20.04', which is the 8th highest crest in recorded history, but the good news is that the forecast shows a steady decline as we slide through the 2nd week of April. 

Mississippi River at St. Paul - Top 8 Crest on Record This Year?

Take a look at some of the highest crests ever recorded along the Mississippi River at St. Paul. Note that the highest crest was back in 1965, when the river gauge recorded a height of 26.01 ft. The most recent high crest was back in 2014 when the river gauge recorded 20.13 ft. The latest river forecasts for this gauge suggests that we could top 20ft. (major flooding) by the early part of this week. This is already the 8th highest crest we've ever seen.


Ice Out Dates

We're just beginning ice out season here in MN and according to the MN DNR, there are only a few lakes that are officially ice out across southern MN. Be patient, the rest are coming...

Average Ice Out Dates

Here's a look at average ice out dates across Minnesota. Note that most lakes around the metro go out in April, so within the 2 to 3 weeks you should see open water. However, folks closer to the international border may not see open water until the end of April or early part of May. Spring is on the way!!


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!

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! Note that the Twin Cities has seen 67.3" of snow so far this season, which the 22nd snowiest season on record.

22nd Snowiest Season on Record
67.3" of snow has fallen this season at the MSP Airport, which is the 22nd snowiest season on record! Note that the snowiest season was during the 1983-1984 when 98.6" of snow fell!
Latest Snow Depth
Here's the latest snow depth from across the region. Lots of snow has melted across the region over the last several weeks, but folks across the northern half of the state still have some melting to do. With milder temps in the forecast, expect those leftover piles to continue dwindling in size.
Temperature Outlook
According to NOAA's CPC, the temperature outlook from April 14th - 20th looks cooler than average across much of the nation. 
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.

"April 1, 2019 - Spring leaf out continues to spread north. In the west, spring leaf out is 1-2 weeks early in parts of California and Nevada, and 2-3 weeks late in western Oregon and Washington. In the east, spring leaf out is 1-2 weeks early in the upper Southeast, and 1-2 weeks late across the southern Great Plains. Spring leaf out is 1 week late in Pittsburg, PA, Omaha, NE, and Salt Lake City, UT. Spring bloom has arrived on time to 2 weeks early in much of the South. Nashville, TN is 4 days early. Parts of Arizona, California, and Nevada are 1-2 weeks late."

Sunday Rain and Rumbles. Snow Next Week?
By Todd Nelson, filling in for Douglas.

Tweet, chirp, tweet, chirp. I feel like I'm at a boisterous bird concert during my early morning walks.

The dawn chorus is in full swing right now as loud and lively songs fill the predawn air. Males are marking territory and trying to woo their counterparts. It's an invigorating sound. It's a sound of spring!

Another audible reminder of Aprils return is the distant rumble of thunder. In fact, MSP averages nearly 3 thunderstorm days during the month and one of those days could be today.

Scattered showers and a few faint growls will be possible thanks to a cloud near you. The sun finally makes an appearance later today with temps warming into the 60s. Monday will be another beauty, but it appears that Old Man Winter may try to stomp on our springy parade late next week. It's too early to get specific, but latest model guidance suggests areas of wet heavy snow somewhere in the Upper Midwest. I hope I'm wrong, but don't put away the shovels just yet.

MSP averages 2.4 inches of snow in April. Last April we had a record 26.1 - WOW!

Extended Forecast

SUNDAY: Lingering AM T-showers. PM clearing. Winds: WSW 5-10. High: 64.

SUNDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear and quiet. Winds: W 5-10. Low: 42.

MONDAY: Mild sunshine. Few showers up north. Winds: WNW 5-10. High: 67.

TUESDAY: Not as warm. Clouds increase late. Winds: ENE 5-10. Wake-up: 40. High:53.

WEDNESDAY: Windy. Chance of rain and snow. Winds: E 10-25. Wake-up: 34. High: 40.

THURSDAY: Could be messy. Chance of rain and snow. Winds: ENE 15-30. Wake-up: 33. High: 41.

FRIDAY: Mostly cloudy, lingering snow showers. Winds: NNW 10-20. Wake-up: 28. High: 39.

SATURDAY: Quieter. Sun returns. Winds: WSW 5-10. Wake-up: 27. High: 44.

This Day in Weather History
April 7th

1857: A cold snap hits the United States, with snow reported in every state.

Average High/Low for Minneapolis
April 7th

Average High: 53F (Record: 83F set in 1991)
Average Low: 33F (Record: 6F set in 1936)

Record Rainfall: 1.72" set in 1919
Record Snowfall: 18.9" set in 1923

Sunrise/Sunset Times for Minneapolis
April 7th

Sunrise: 6:43am
Sunset: 7:48pm

Hours of Daylight: ~13 hours & 5 minutes

Daylight GAINED since yesterday: ~ 3 minutes & 5 seconds
Daylight GAINED since winter solstice (December 21st): ~4 hours and 20 minutes

Moon Phase for April 7th at Midnight
 Days Since New Moon

See more from Space HERE:


What's in the Night Sky?

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

"Many skywatchers enjoy seeing the young moon return each month to the west after sunset. If you’re one of them, now is the time to look for that fleet little moon that appears in the west at evening twilight, then sets before nightfall. Generally, any moon that’s less than one day old (or 24 hours past new moon) is hard to spot with the eye alone, or, sometimes, even with binoculars. For the most of the world on April 6, 2019, however, the moon will be over one day old after sunset. In other words, if you have a clear and unobstructed horizon in the direction of sunset, you have a good chance of catching the whisker-thin young moon after sunset on April 6. Then, as the evenings pass – as Earth spins on its axis day by day, and the moon moves in orbit around Earth, thereby inching farther from the sun on our sky’s dome – you’ll find the moon more easily each evening. As our chart shows, it’ll appear a little higher in the west after sunset in each of the coming evenings."

Average Tornadoes By State in April 
According to NOAA, the number of tornadoes in April really starts to go up across the southern US. Note that several states typically see nearly a dozen tornadoes, while Texas takes the cake with nearly 30. Meanwhile, Minnesota only typically sees 1 tornado during the month of April and the most active month is typically June, when Minnesota typically sees 15.
2019 Preliminary Tornado Count
Here's a look at how many tornadoes there have been across the country so far this year. The preliminary count through April 5th suggests that there have been a total of 189, which below the 2005-2015 short term average of 252.

Weather Outlook Sunday
Here's a look at high temps across the naiton on Sunday. Note that most locations will be dealing with above average temps. In fact, this map looks a little more like early May than early April. 

National Weather Outlook
Here's the weather outlook as we slide through the rest of the weekend and into early next week. Scattered storms will continue across the southern US, some of which could be strong to severe with locally heavy rainfall. Meanwhile, Sunday could be a fairly soggy day across parts of the Upper Midwest and into the Great Lakes region as this storm moves east. Another storm will take shape across the Pacific Northwest with areas of heavy rain and mountain snow. 

7 Day Precipitation Forecast
According to NOAA's WPC, the 7 day precipitation forecast suggests areas of heavy precipitation across the Lower Mississippi Valley and across parts of the northern tier of the nation. The pattern looks to remain active as we head into the middle part of the month.

"Climate Preparation Report Released by Panel Previously Disbanded by Trump"
"The panel, which provides guidance on climate change to communities, was reconstituted by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. A climate science advisory panel disbanded by the Trump administration released a report today outlining the steps communities can take to prepare for climate change. In 2017, the Trump administration dissolved the federal Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment. Its purpose was to translate climate science in the National Climate Assessment into usable guidance for local governments and private companies. The panel was reconstituted by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and includes members from academia, corporations and the government. Twelve of the original 15 members, along with eight additional experts, spent a year preparing the report, called "Evaluating Knowledge to Support Climate Action." It's designed to help local officials incorporate the latest climate science in their planning."

"After hurricanes, U.S. beach homes are rebuilt bigger"
"When it comes to houses in the U.S., bigger is often seen as better. A new study looking at the recovery of real estate after major hurricanes has found that this trend also applies to beach houses rebuilt in vulnerable locations after damaging storms. Using before and after satellite imagery of coastal communities hit by hurricanes between 2003 and 2012, a team led by Eli Lazarus of the University of Southampton in England demonstrated a trend of “building back bigger” in coastal zones known to be at risk from extreme winds and storm surges. “This practice intensifies risk by exposing increasingly high-value property to repeated damage,” he says. “This in turn puts a greater strain on the funding of subsidized insurance programs for properties in at-risk areas.” The study, published in Nature Sustainability, focused on beach communities located on developed barrier islands and beaches in five states on the U.S. East and Gulf coasts, including Mantoloking, N.J., Hatteras and Frisco, N.C., Santa Rosa Island, Fla., Dauphin Island, Ala., and Bolivar, Texas. “We tried to set up a spectrum of beach communities, in different states, with different socioeconomic settings, all subjected to different local planning rules, all damaged by different storms,” he says. “The fact that there’s this systematic pattern of building back bigger despite local variations tells us … how powerful this pattern really is.”

"Snowflakes are making the Arctic warm faster by acting like a blanket"
"Falling snowflakes in the Arctic are trapping extra heat, which could be enough to speed up the melting of sea ice. The effect could mean Arctic seas become ice-free up to 20 years earlier than expected. “It’s counter-intuitive because we think of snowflakes as being cold, but they’re slow-falling ice particles that act like blankets,” says Frank Li of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Sea ice in the Arctic tends to melt faster than forecast."


"The Ocean's Tipping Point Has Been Reached"

"The ocean is the backbone of our planet, and just because much of it is unseen to us land-living humans, it does not mean that it’s not important every day. The problem is the ocean is so vast, and it has done an amazing job at being a sponge for human-created emissions. But it needs to be reiterated that the ocean is in danger. The impacts of climate change and illegal, unregulated, and unreported fisheries are the main challenges that the ocean faces. Ghost fishing gear — items that have been lost, abandoned, or disposed of — continue to catch marine organisms."

See more from Inverse HERE:


"The US Hasn't Been This Wet in Years"

"The U.S. drought map hasn’t looked this boring in a while. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the Lower 48 appears to be experiencing less severe drought than any time in the past 19 years of record keeping. A wet wrap to 2018 and continued rain and snow to start 2019 mean that just 5.73 percent of the U.S. is currently in drought. That’s great news for drought plagued California and the West as a whole, though unfortunately it also means the Midwest is underwater. The distinct lack of drought was first picked up on by the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang. The Drought Monitor uses a scale from 0-4 where zero indicates “abnormally dry” conditions and 1-4 are various levels of drought going from moderate to exceptional. In addition to the percentage of the contiguous U.S. in drought, another roughly 15 percent is abnormally dry. That means nearly 80 percent of the country is drought-free, which as Capital Weather Gang puts it, is “quite a reversal from summer 2012, when less than 20 percent of the Lower 48 was drought-free.”

See more from Earther HERE:

"2018 global CO2 growth 4th highest on record"
"According to NOAA data, global growth in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) in 2018 was the 4th-highest in 60 years of record-keeping. By the end of 2018, NOAA’s atmospheric observatory at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, recorded the fourth-highest annual growth in the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) in 60 years of record-keeping. Carbon dioxide grew by 2.87 parts per million (ppm) at the mountaintop observatory during 2018, jumping from an average of 407.05 ppm on January 1, 2018, to 409.92 on January 1, 2019, according to a new analysis of air samples collected by NOAA’s Global Monitoring Division (GMD). That means three of the four highest annual increases have occurred in the past four years, said Pieter Tans, senior scientist with GMD. Tans said:"
"7 American cities that could disappear by 2100"
"No city is immune to the effects of a warming world, but a few are more vulnerable than the rest. As sea levels continue to rise, low-lying coastal cities can expect more devastating floods that ruin buildings, destroy infrastructure, and claim lives. By conservative estimates, cities around the world could witness more than 6 feet of flooding by the year 2100. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has predicted that sea levels could rise by 10 to 12 feet if global emissions continue unabated. But these numbers are averages, which means some areas would see higher levels, while others would be less affected. Under the worst-case climate scenario, some cities might even disappear underwater."

"As Sea Ice Disappears, So Do Nutrients for Wildlife"
"Increasingly threatened young ice is crucial in transporting nutrients to the deep, central Arctic Ocean. Arctic sea ice continues to suffer long-term declines—and many scientists are concerned the region is inching toward a future that will see no ice cover during the warmest months. Ice-free summers could help accelerate climate change in the rapidly warming Arctic, scientists say, and have profound consequences on the region’s delicate ecosystem, from algae to polar bears. As a result, researchers are carefully monitoring the life cycle of Arctic sea ice to keep tabs on how it’s responding to climate change. This week, new research again raised concerns about melting ice—and its effects on the Arctic ecology."

"Wind farms are hardly the bird slayers they're made out to be—here's why"
"People who oppose wind farms often claim wind turbine blades kill large numbers of birds, often referring to them as "bird choppers". And claims of dangers to iconic or rare birds, especially raptors, have attracted a lot of attention. Wind turbine blades do indeed kill birds and bats, but their contribution to total bird deaths is extremely low, as these three studies show. A 2009 study using US and European data on bird deaths estimated the number of birds killed per unit of power generated by wind, fossil fuel and nuclear power systems. It concluded, "Wind farms and nuclear power stations are responsible each for between 0.3 and 0.4 fatalities per gigawatt-hour (GWh) of electricity while fossil-fuelled power stations are responsible for about 5.2 fatalities per GWh." That's nearly 15 times more. From this, the author estimated that wind farms killed approximately seven thousand birds in the United States in 2006 but nuclear plants killed about 327,000 and fossil-fuelled power plants 14.5 million."

"Hikers Forced to Clean Up Their Waste as Alaskan Glacier Sets to Dump Decades of Poo"
"Denali National Park in Alaska is home to North America's highest peak, attracting long queues of humans who are keen to commune with nature. Unfortunately, nature's call doesn't always align with convenient amenities, and decades of toilet breaks have added up. Now hiking companies are making it their business to fix the peak's poo problem. According to the National Park Service (NPS), six of the seven guide companiescontracted to take tourists hiking up Denali's trails have volunteered to enforce new waste management practices. In generations gone by, the occasional hikers daring to push their way up the icy terrain of Denali's West Buttress climbing route each year would leave their excrement wherever they pleased."

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

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April T-Showers followed by April Snow Plowers?

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Warm Monday - rain and snow possible mid-to-late week