Clipped Again

About a foot of snow on the ground in the Twin Cities? Not bad, considering most winters snow lovers have to beg & plead for a little "white stuff". Even if a parade of Alberta Clippers means we're seeing snow an inch or two at a time. The same persistently cold flow out of Canada responsible for a numbing January is shutting out deep moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.

For us to get walloped with heavy snow (6 to 20 inches) usually requires a southern storm track, from Kansas City to Waterloo to Eau Claire, with just the right mix of southern-wet and northern chill. I don't see that scenario playing out into at least the first week of February.

The latest entry in our treadmill of clippers drops a few inches of fluff this morning, enough snow to grease up area highways. Circle your calendar: the mercury SOARS into the 30s Sunday, before Canada goes on the attack again next week, highs blipping just above zero Tuesday, again next weekend. Not as polar as January 6-7.

Finally, Jeff Masters at Weather Underground reports a record 41 separate billion dollar plus weather disasters, worldwide, in 2013. The USA experienced 7 of those; not as many as 2010-2012. Check the blog below for more details.

* for the latest advisories, watches and warnings for the Upper Midwest click here, graphics courtesy of Ham Weather.

Inch or Two. Notice the gap in the predicted stripe of snow from this morning's fast-moving clipper. No idea what's happening there. But an inch or two of fluff seems reasonable, most of it falling before noon today; travel conditions improving into the afternoon. NAM data: NOAA and Ham Weather.

More Downs Than Ups. After peaking in the 30s Sunday a series of Canadian cold waves lap south of the border, coming in waves, like the ocean breaking on a sandy beach. Let me ponder that image for a few seconds. OK. Better. Tuesday and Thursday morning appear to the coldest mornings next week; an even stronger surge of arctic air arrives a week from Sunday, when highs may hold around -5F in the metro. Not quite as cold as January 6-7, but in the same ballpark. Graphic: Weatherspark.

Holding Pattern. The jet stream has become locked in a pattern that favors warm, dry weather for the western USA, and colder than average weather from the Upper Midwest into the Great Lakes and New England, a persistent northwest flow east of the Rockies limiting how much moisture can bubble out of the Gulf of Mexico. The solid red line shows the 32F isotherm, pushing as far south as the Florida Panhandle.

Cold, But Not Quite Polar. Next week's shot will be cold enough to definitely get your attention, but not the school-closing cold of January 6-7. Graphic and information above courtesy of NOAA.

Temperature Anomalies Next Wednesday. Here is GFS guidance from NOAA, displayed on a very nice base map from Climate Reanalyzer, showing temperature departurnes from the 1979-2000 normals. You can't miss the big cold bulls-eye from the Upper Midwest into the Great Lakes, New England and Ohio Valley, temperatures as much as 15-28F colder than average for late January. Meanwhile Alaska, western Canada, Greenland and a big chunk of Europe and Asia are forecast to be considerably warmer than average. Whatever happened to average?

A January To Remember. Or Perhaps Forget. Here's an excerpt of a recent post from one of our weather partners, Planalytics: "...Over the next two weeks, another round of arctic cold temperatures will invade the Central Plains and Midwest as well as the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, New England, and Eastern Canada regions. Temperatures will likely not trend as cold as earlier in the month; however, they will be well below normal, with single-digit lows expected in the major cities such as New York, Boston, and Philadelphia.  Overnight lows in the Midwest, Interior Northeast, and Eastern Canada can drop below 0°F over the next two weeks. Freezing temperatures are expected to dip into the Southeast, including Florida..."

Billion Dollar Global Weather Disasters In 2013 - Another One Brewing For California in 2014? In today's edition of Climate Matters we take a look at Aon Benfield's new report, showing a record 41 billion-dollar-plus weather disasters, worldwide, last year. Jeff Masters has a terrific post at Weather Underground. Four countries experienced the most expensive weather disasters in their recorded history, including Germany, Philippines, New Zealand and Cambodia. If the dry pattern doesn't break, very soon, California and much of the west may be facing a billion dollar drought in 2014. Let's hope the pattern shifts, and quickly.

California In "Drought State of Emergency", Governor Brown Declares. Here's a clip from a story at "California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a “drought state of emergency” on Friday due to ongoing water shortfalls following the driest calendar year in state history. The governor said the state was facing perhaps the worst drought since records have been kept. “We can’t make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California’s drought now threatens, including dramatically less water for our farms and communities and increased fires in both urban and rural areas,” Brown said. “I’ve declared this emergency and I’m calling all Californians to conserve water in every way possible...”

Photo credit above: "Gov. Jerry Brown points to images showing the snow depth in the Sierra mountains on Jan. 13, 2013, left, and Jan. 13, 2014, center, while declaring a drought state of emergency in San Francisco, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. With a record-dry year, reservoir levels under strain and no rain in the forecast, California Gov. Jerry Brown formally proclaimed the state in a drought Friday, confirming what many already knew. Brown made the announcement in San Francisco amid increasing pressure in recent weeks from the state's lawmakers, including Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein." (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

The Great Western Drought of 2014? It's still early, and the rains may finally come in late January and February, but considering 2013 was the driest year for California in 160 years of record-keeping, and snowpack is 10-20% of normal in the Sierra Nevada, the stage is set for possible water shortages and more brushfires than average later this year. Photo: Twitter, Bay Area National Weather Service and Jason Liske.

What Californians Can Expect From The Drought. Picking up on the unusually warm, dry pattern enveloping much of the west, Peter Gleick has a prediction of how a deepening drought will impact consumers and farmers in 2014; here's an excerpt: "...Based on past experience, here is (part of) what Californians can expect this year if it remains as dry as it is now.

1. Urban water agencies will (and are beginning to) roll out a wide range of voluntary and mandatory water “conservation” programs. These typically ask customers to limit discretionary water uses such as watering gardens and washing cars and sidewalks. As droughts worsen, agencies expand these programs to offer incentives for both structural and behavioral changes: purchase more water-efficient appliances, remove grass and plant water-efficient gardens, cut shower times, and more. In the past, these kinds of programs and educational efforts have temporarily cut urban water use by between 10 and 25% depending on the programs and level of effort.

2. Some farmers and water districts with “junior” water rights will see water allocations from state and federal irrigation projects severely cut; some growers with “senior” water rights will see modest or even no shortages at all..."

Earth's Record 41 Billion-Dollar Weather Disasters of 2013. Meteorologist Jeff Masters has another eye-opening post at Weather Underground; here's the intro: "Earth set a new record for billion-dollar weather disasters in 2013 with 41, said insurance broker Aon Benfield in their Annual Global Climate and Catastrophe Report issued this week. Despite the record number of billion-dollar disasters, weather-related natural disaster losses (excluding earthquakes) were only slightly above average in 2013, and well below what occurred in 2012. That's because 2013 lacked a U.S. mega-disaster like Hurricane Sandy ($65 billion in damage) or the 2012 drought ($30 billion in damage.) The most expensive global disaster of 2013 was the June flood in Central Europe, which cost $22 billion. The deadliest disaster was Super Typhoon Haiyan, which killed about 8,000 people in the Philippines..."

Graphic credit: Weather Underground, data source: Aon Benfield.

2013 To Be Among The Top 10 Warmest Years On Record According To World Meteorological Organization. Here's an excerpt from Stoke Sentinel: "Experts have blamed high temperatures on man-made climate change stating that 2013 will be among the top 10 warmest on record. The World Meteorological Organization made the claim stating that 'new record high' sea levels are already making coastal populations more vulnerable to storm surges. A spokesman from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said: “All of the warmest years have been since 1998, and this year once again continues the underlying, long-term trend. The coldest years now are warmer than the hottest years before 1998..." (Image: NASA).

Armed Forces See Rise In Renewable Energy. To appease Al Gore? Probably not. To save money, build in redundancy and resiliency, and become less dependend on oil supply lines. Probably because it makes dollars and sense and lowers the risk to our troops deployed in the field, worldwide. Here's an excerpt from The Los Angeles Times: "The use of clean energy technology has seen a sharp rise in military sites in the U.S., as the armed forces push into green sources of power around the country, a report said. The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. have looked for ways to reduce its energy bills in recent years even as the Pentagon's budget is squeezed. Combined, the U.S. military goes through $4 billion worth of power on its bases, according to a report from Pew Charitable Trusts. The armed forces have moved to quickly adopt green energy solutions, the report said..."

Image credit above: "The armed forces are increasing their use of renewable-energy projects to cut down on power bills." (Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times / February 27, 2009).

50 Years Of Smoking In 2 Charts. Bloomberg Businessweek has the story; here's the introduction: "In view of the continuing and mounting evidence from many sources, it is the judgment of the Committee that cigarette smoking contributes substantially to mortality from certain specific diseases and to the overall death rate. Those words are from the surgeon general’s 1964 report (pdf) that marked the start of America’s battle against smoking. The White House releases the latest edition of the report on Jan. 17..."

Google's Smart Contact Lens: What It Does And How It Works. Wait, they want me to put this contraption next to my eyeball? The Washington Post has the article and video; here's a clip: "...The soft contact lens that Google’s is introducing — it’s still just a prototype — houses a sensor between two layers of lenses that measures the glucose levels in tears. The lens also features a small — really small — antenna, capacitor and controller, so that the information gathered from the lens can move from your eye to a device where that data can be read and analyzed..."

The Weirdest Interview Questions Hiring Managers Ask. Some of these are truly bizarre - here are a couple of clips from a story at Fast Company: "Glassdoor on Friday released its list of the top 25 oddball interview questions, which were compiled by its data science team based on tags and community feedback. While the list is tech-heavy, it's not just Silicon Valley that's fond of brainteasers...Glassdoor's full list is below:

  1. “If you could throw a parade of any caliber through the Zappos office, what type of parade would it be?” --The Zappos Family, Customer Loyalty Team Member interview.
  2. “How lucky are you and why?” --Airbnb, Content Manager interview.
  3. “If you were a pizza delivery man, how would you benefit from scissors?” --Apple, Specialist interview.
  4. “If you could sing one song on American Idol, what would it be?” --Red Frog Events, Event Coordinator interview...."

13 F. high in the Twin Cities Friday.

23 F. average high on January 17.

20 F. high on January 17, 2013.

Trace of flurries fell yesterday at KMSP.

Minnesota Weather History on January 17. Source: MPX office of the National Weather Service.

1996: Blizzard begins across the upper midwest. The Twin Cities Airport was spared the heavy snow, but received nearly one inch of rain. Heavy ice coatings in the northwest metro caused thousands of power outages. Windchills were as low as -88 (on the old windchill scale) at Crookston. Snowstorm totals were 18 inches at Ely, 12 inches at St. Cloud. Mail delivery was stopped for the day in Duluth and I-94 was closed all day from Rothsay and Moorhead. Flooding problems were caused in the Twin Cities due to backed up water.

1994: Governor Arne Carlson ordered all Minnesota public schools closed due to the extreme cold and severe winter weather. Morning readings were in the 30-below-zero range. The biggest problem was from high winds that came with the cold.

TODAY: Afternoon sunshine - travel conditions slowly improve. Winds: NW 20+ High: 23

SATURDAY NIGHT: Clouds, a few flurries, not quite as cold. Low: 13

SUNDAY: Fleeting thaw. Some sun. High: 33

MONDAY: More clouds - a cold wind returns. Wake-up: 8. High: 10

TUESDAY: A numbing-blue sky. Feels like -20. Wake-up: -11. High: 4 (late in the day)

WEDNESDAY: Reinforcing arctic slap. Chill: -30. Wake-up: -2. High: 7

THURSDAY: Fading sun, still Nanook. Wake-up: -14. High: 2

FRIDAY: Another clipper, snowy coating? Wake-up: -3. High: 25

* an even colder front may be shaping up for next weekend; daytime highs on Sunday, January 26, may hold well below zero.

Climate Stories....

Global Warming Denial Hits A 6-Year High. Chris Mooney has the details in a story at Mother Jones; here's an excerpt: "...The latest data are out on the prevalence of global warming denial among the US public. And they aren't pretty. The new study, from the Yale and George Mason research teams on climate change communication, shows a 7-percentage-point increase in the proportion of Americans who say they do not believe that global warming is happening. And that's just since the spring of 2013. The number is now 23 percent; back at the start of last year, it was 16 percent..."

Image credit above: "The increase in climate science disbelief. Yale and George Mason University teams on Climate Change Communication.

Belief In Climate Change Depends On The Weather. At least among Independent voters. The Week has the story; here's a clip: "Conservative organizations spend as much as a billion dollars a year trying to convince Americans that climate change isn’t real, or if it is real, that it isn’t caused by humans. At one point, it seemed that their campaign was working. In 2009, Pew found that belief in global warming had fallen to a low of 59 percent, down from 77 percent in 2007. And just 36 percent of those surveyed that year believed that climate change was being caused by humans, down from 47 percent in 2007. However since 2009, the number of believers has grown: Today 69 percent of those surveyed believe global warming is occurring, with 42 percent believing it is caused by humans..."

Climate Change On Walden Pond. I wonder if Thoreau would accept or deny the science if he was still around? Here's an interesting nugget from Dr. Mark Seeley's always-enjoyable WeatherTalk Newsletter: "A recent paper published in the New Phytologist by research biologists at Boston University shows that trees and shrubs of Walden Pond leaf out about 18 days earlier than they did when Henry David Thoreau made his observations there in the 1850s. This is a measure of climate change for the Concord, MA area. You can read more about this study and what it means for invasive species at...

Photo credit above: Wikipedia.

U.S. Army Colonel: World Is Sleepwalking To A Global Energy Crisis. Alarmist hype? Do we have enough oil, especially shale oil, to not have to breathe another word of "peak oil" for a few more decades? I don't pretend to know the answer to that, but here's an excerpt of a story at The Guardian that caught my eye: "...Lewis told participants that the International Energy Agency's (IEA) own "comprehensive" analysis in its World Energy Outlook of the 1,600 fields providing 70% of today's global oil supply, show "an observed decline rate of 6.2%" - double the IEA's stated estimate of future decline rate out to 2035 of about 3%. The IEA report also shows that despite oil industry investment trebling in real terms since 2000 (an increase of around 200-300%), this has translated into an oil supply increase of just 12%. Lewis said:

"That is a very striking number and one I think that should be ringing alarm bells. It indicates to me that something has fundamentally changed in the economics of the oil industry and that you're having to invest more and more for diminishing incremental production."

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Better Travel (2-3" snow Saturday AM; Sunday thaw - another severe polar plunge in 8 days?)

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Fleeting Thaw Today - Waves of Arctic Air Return This Week