January Thaw Lingers Into Most of Next Week

You won't be able to do your 'Nanook of the North' impersonation anytime soon. Considering we could be gazing out frosted windows at 20 below and snow drifts the size of small, imported automobiles, we'll get off very easy in the weeks to come.

During a typical winter, MSP enjoys 24 nights below 0F. Last winter: 25 subzero nights; 6 in December. A far cry from 1874-75, with 68 subzero nights.

So far this winter the mercury has yet to dip into negative territory, and I don't see anything subzero looking out 2 weeks.

If you like snow, consider getting out on the trails and slopes this weekend, because an extended January Thaw is setting up. If the sun stays out a few hours we'll see low 40s today and Saturday.

The mercury cools early next week before anotherblip of mild, Pacific air bumps thermometers close to 40F next Thursday.

El Nino may be turbocharging some of this warming - NOAA predicts 90 percent odds of a winter El Nino pattern, which often keeps Minnesota milder and drier.

No storms, warnings or wind chill babble. Early March in early January? Yes, please. 

10-Day Snowfall Potential. A coating at MSP, maybe a whole inch in Brainerd and a few inches in Duluth by Sunday morning, January 13? Wow. Expect lake effect over the Great Lakes, but a veritable snow drought for much of the Upper Midwest. ECMWF guidance: WeatherBell.

Third Week of January - Still Thawing? The latest run of the GFS hints at a relatively mild west to southwest flow for much of the USA the evening of January 17, which is roughly the coldest day of the year, on average, for much of Minnesota.

2018's Precipitation Records on One Map. Last year was a very wet year for much of the USA, especially Midwest to Mid Atlantic. Here's a clip from an explainer at Climate Central: "...Of 2,800 stations analyzed by Climate Central, 133 (across 21 states) saw record precipitation totals this year, and 685 saw yearly totals that were among the top 10 on record. 2018 is already the fifth-wettest year on record in the contiguous U.S. Warmer air holds more moisture. Earlier analysis by Climate Central showed that 42 of the 48 states in the contiguous U.S. will see increased runoff risks from heavy rain by 2050. Heavy rain can damage or destroy infrastructure, homes, and businesses. It jeopardizes public health, washing sewage into waterways, kicking up polluting sediments, and creating habitats for disease-carrying insects..."

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Thursday, January 3rd, 2018:

  • Snow and ice are falling this morning across parts of Texas and Oklahoma associated with a slow-moving system across the region. As of 7 AM, freezing rain was falling in Wichita Falls (TX), Oklahoma City, Stillwater, and at airports to the south and west of Tulsa (OK).
  • Freezing rain will gradually change over to snow throughout the day across the region, with the potential of up to two-tenths of an inch of ice falling before it happens.
  • Once the changeover to snow occurs, snow will fall heavily across parts of southern Oklahoma. Parts of this region – including Oklahoma City – could see 4-8” of snow by the time precipitation moves out of the region tonight.

Morning Radar. Freezing rain and snow are falling across parts of Oklahoma into northern Texas this morning. As of 7 AM, snow was being reported in Childress (TX) and Lawton (OK), but freezing rain was falling in Wichita Falls (TX), Oklahoma City, Stillwater, and at airports to the south and west of Tulsa (OK).

The Oklahoma DOT is warning that slick spots are possible on the roads this morning due to freezing rain and sleet. The latest road conditions can be found on the following local DOT websites:

Wintry Precipitation Continues Today. Any freezing rain falling across the region this morning will change over to snow through the midday hours across parts of Texas and Oklahoma. This snow will fall heavily at times through the afternoon before tapering off and pushing out of the region through the overnight hours.

Winter Weather Concerns. Due to the snow and ice threat today and tonight across parts of the Southern Plains, numerous Winter Storm Warnings and Winter Weather Advisories are in effect across parts of Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. Looking at some of the locations under winter weather alerts this morning:

  • Oklahoma City, OK and Wichita Falls, TX: Winter Storm Warning through 6 AM Friday for 4-8” of snow and ice up to two-tenths of an inch.
  • Tulsa, OK and Fayetteville, AR: Winter Weather Advisory through Noon today for up to an additional 0.5” of snow and sleet as well as up to a tenth of an inch of ice.
  • Abilene, TX: Winter Weather Advisory through 6 PM tonight for up to 0.15” of ice and up to 2” of snow.

Additional Snow Forecast. An area of 5-8” of snow is expected to fall over the next 24 hours across parts of southern Oklahoma stretching northward to the Oklahoma City metro. While 6-7” of snow is expected to fall in the Oklahoma City and Norman areas, the heaviest totals (up to 8”) are expected to be found mainly south of the Oklahoma City metro.

Additional Ice Forecast. The best ice potential over the next 12-24 hours will be across parts of Texas and Arkansas, with up to two-tenths of an inch possible in some locations. Roads could become slick across this region due to the ice.  

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix.

Early Forecast for 2019 Hurricane Activity: Two Factors Will Dictate Activity. Here's a snippet of a good update from Palm Beach Post: "An early outlook for the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season offers hope the atmosphere will take a break following two punishing years of tropical cyclone activity but notes that Mother Nature is giving no clear signal of her intent. Colorado State University’s first review of global climate patterns that could influence the 2019 hurricane season found a 65 percent chance that a near average or less active hurricane season will unfold, giving an above-average season a 35 percent chance of occurring..."

September 10, 2018 file image of Hurricane Irma: NOAA and weather data API provider AerisWeather.

Storm Chaser Reed Timmer Recounts Top 5 Intercepts of 2018. Here's an excerpt from a summary at MSN.com: "...Reed wasn't the only one on Interstate 90 with shattered windows and this certainly wasn't the first rental car he was bringing back dinged up. "I think I went through about six rental cars this year, mostly in terms of hail and some flash floods as well," said Timmer. "I brought that one back and returned it and the employees at the rental car company are actually clapping because they had 165 claims I think due to hail at that point...."

Yes, Your Joints Do Hurt More When It's Cold Outside - Here's Why. Self has a good explainer; here's a clip: "...The research suggests that in colder weather, the body will conserve heat, and it will send more of the blood to the organs in the center of the body, like the heart or the lungs,” Armin Tehrany, M.D., orthopedic surgeon and founder of Manhattan Orthopedic Care, tells SELF. “So when that happens, the arms, legs, shoulders, knee joints, those blood vessels will constrict,” he says. Less blood flow makes those areas colder and stiffer, which can cause discomfort and pain.The other common theory is that “when it is cold and/or damp out, changes in barometric pressure can cause an inflammatory response in the joints,” Farrell says. “This response could lead to increased joint pain, due to changes in circulation and possible nerve fiber sensitivity....”

A Clean Energy Revolution is Rising in the Midwest, with Utilities in the Vanguard. Because, strangely enough, utilities hate to lose money. They will consistently opt for the cheaper, more secure and resilient energy options, according to InsideClimate News: "...In the Midwest in particular, renewable energy is a win-win for utilities and the ratepayers at this point," said Travis Miller, director of utilities research at Morningstar. Wind energy is rising in prominence at the same time that fossil fuel plants are looking increasingly risky from a financial and regulatory perspective, he said. This is the change that environmental advocates hoped for, following a tantalizing few years that pointed in this direction. "2018 has been a turning point, as some utilities are beginning to make decisions based on the market of the future rather than that of the past," said Howard Learner, president and executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center..."

Norway's Fossil-Free Feat: Headlines and links courtesy of Climate Nexus: "Almost one-third of all new cars sold in Norway last year were electric, the independent Norwegian Road Federation said Wednesday, setting a new world record for EV sales. Electric cars comprised 31.2 percent of all sales in 2018, up from 5.5 percent in 2013 and 20.8 percent in 2017. Norway's parliament set a goal in 2016 to ban the sale of all fossil-fuel powered cars by 2025." (Bloomberg, Reuters, The Hill)

File image credit: INSIDEEVs.

Skim Reading is the New Normal. The Effect on Society is Profound. The Guardian has a must-read (not skim) article: "...English literature scholar and teacher Mark Edmundson describes how many college students actively avoid the classic literature of the 19th and 20th centuries because they no longer have the patience to read longer, denser, more difficult texts. We should be less concerned with students’ “cognitive impatience,” however, than by what may underlie it: the potential inability of large numbers of students to read with a level of critical analysis sufficient to comprehend the complexity of thought and argument found in more demanding texts, whether in literature and science in college, or in wills, contracts and the deliberately confusing public referendum questions citizens encounter in the voting booth..."

Image credit: "We need to cultivate a new kind of brain: a “bi-literate’ reading brain.’ Illustration: Sebastien Thibault.

NASA visited the farthest object ever explored. Details via CNN.com: "Just after midnight Eastern time on Tuesday, the New Horizons space probe flew by celestial object 2014 MU69, a mysterious chunk of reddish rock 4 billion miles from Earth. New Horizons will spend 20 months transmitting data and imagery on the object, nicknamed “Ultimate Thule.” Ultima Thule is a Kuiper Belt object that's a billion miles beyond Pluto. New Horizons screamed past Ultima at 31,500 miles per hour…Brian May, the guitarist for the legendary rock band Queen and an astrophysicist, is also a participating scientist in the New Horizons mission..."

New Horizons spacecraft image credit: NASA.

“Prejudices are the chains forged by ignorance to keep men apart.” - Marguerite Gardiner

41 F. maximum temperature in the Twin Cities on Thursday.

24 F. average high on January 3.

11 F. high on January 3, 2018.

January 4, 1981: Air cold enough to freeze a mercury thermometer pours into Minnesota. Tower hits 45 below zero.

January 4, 1971: A snowstorm moves through the Upper Midwest. Winona gets over 14 inches.

FRIDAY: Partly sunny, mild. Winds: W 5-10. High: near 40

SATURDAY: January Thaw continues. Sunny breaks. Winds: NW 7-12. High: 41

SUNDAY: Sun fades behind increasing clouds. Winds: SE 8-13. High: 34

MONDAY: Early rain/snow shower, then clearing. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 32. High: 39

TUESDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, breezy. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 26. High: 33

WEDNESDAY: Blue sky, very little wind. Winds: NW 3-8. Wake-up: 19. High: 30

THURSDAY: Clouds increase, late drizzle? Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 21. High: near 40

Climate Stories...

3 Big Take-Aways from the Disasters That Hammered the U.S. in 2018. Vox has a good summary of how a warmer, wetter background climate is impacting (and amplifying) specific weather events; here's an excerpt: "...Flash floods following huge rain storms also struck other parts of the country. In May, Maryland was drenched in more than 8 inches of rain in just two hours, turning streets into rivers. It was the second time in two years such a flood occurred. Both the amount and the rate of rainfall are some of the strongest signals of climate change. As air heats up, water evaporates faster. And for every degree Celsius increase in temperature, air can hold 7 percent more water. According to the National Climate Assessment, average annual rainfall across the US has gone up by 5 percent since 1990. Extreme rainfall events are also increasing in part due to climate change, and nine of the top 10 years for extreme one-day precipitation events have happened since 1990..."

Graphic credit: EPA and NASA.

85% of Republicans Reject that Climate Change is a Serious Problem That Requires Action. C'mon GOP, let's debate solutions and policy, not the science. Here's an excerpt from a story at Esquire: "...It is not exactly a winding maze to get to the conclusion here. Republican voters are far less likely to accept climate change because, first and foremost, their political leaders represent the interests of fossil-fuel companies who pay their campaign bills. As a result, Republican leaders continually dispute the scientific consensus. They are supported by conservative Washington think-tanks that accept millions in donations from those same energy interests and then, in another coincidence, continually pump out studies that muddy the waters around climate change. Sometimes, they straight-up offer scientists $10,000-a-pop to dispute the consensus..."

"Meet the Press" Just Modeled What It Looks Like To Take Climate Change Seriously. Grist explains: "On Sunday morning, NBC’s Meet the Press did what no other weekend news program had ever done before: They discussed climate change for a full hour. Host Chuck Todd led off the hour with what amounted to a bold line in the sand: Climate denial is no longer welcome on our airwaves. It’s a statement that hopefully sets the tone for media coverage as a new year begins and 2020 Presidential campaigns gets underway. It was a glimpse of what it would look like if we took climate change seriously. Although an episode like this was a long-time coming and the debate itself was a little underwhelming (and maybe the show’s forward-looking ban should have come with an apology for past sins), it was still a watershed moment for the media when most shows have long-ignored the most important issue facing humanity in our collective history..."

Image credit: NBC News.

How We Can Combat Climate Change. The Washington Post has a series of posts focused on what, specifically, can be done in the short term: "...The Post asked activists, politicians and researchers for climate policy ideas that offer hope. Radical change from one state, or even the whole United States, won’t address climate change on its own, but taking these actions could help start the planet down a path toward a better future. 11 policy ideas to protect the planet:

Warming at 100 Military Sites Across the U.S. Climate Central takes a look at the trends: "...According to a survey conducted by the Department of Defense between 2013 and 2015, at least one military site in every state has been negatively affected by some type of extreme weather, flooding, or wildfire. The survey indicated that damage has been done to airfield operations, training facilities, and transportation and energy infrastructure. As climate continues to change, these risks will grow even further. Some of the most vulnerable locations are along the coasts, where a sea-level rise of roughly three feet — a conservative estimate of rise by 2100 — is projected to put nearly 130 bases at risk of damage from tidal floods and storm surges. There is also a striking warming trend at these locations across the U.S. — since 1950, all 100 military bases chosen for our analysis are trending warmer..."


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An extended January thaw: 12 of next 14 days above 32F?

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Typical for Late March - January Thaw Brings More 40s Today