A Welcome Spell of Storm-Free Weather

Why should a weatherman catch any breaks? Wednesday morning I drove down our steep driveway. In the span of 10 feet my car spun on the ice; hurtling toward the street SIDEWAYS! I buried my bumper in a massive snow bank, but a good Samaritan helped to dig me out.

That evening the ice was so bad I needed a running start in the neighbor's driveway just to make it back up the hill. The joys of living in the Land of 10,000 Weather Stories. I wouldn't have it any other way.

The "bomb cyclone" that whipped up rain & fog for most of Minnesota, but a historic blizzard for Denver (winds gusted to 98 mph at Colorado Springs!)nis moving away. A drying northwest wind kicks in today, with some cool sunshine for the weekend.

40s return next week, but snow melt may saturate the lowest layers of the atmosphere, sparking more fog; keeping daytime temperatures cooler. The more snow we melt, the warmer temperatures can get.

50F is still possible the latter half of next week. Why does 50F feel so much better in March than November? Everything is relative, I guess. 

Trending Milder. Spring is inevitable - the question is always when, and how rapid will the warming be. The forecast for the evening of March 28 (Twins Home Opener) looks relatively mild with upper 40s or low 50s and a slight chance of a shower or sprinkle. Give or take 20 degrees.

March Ends With 40s and 50s. NOAA's GFS model prints out nearly 1.3" of rain between March 26-27, with fairly consistent 40s and 50s the last week of the month.

Historic "Bomb Cyclone" Impacts High Plains. Capital Weather Gang has a great summary of a jaw-dropping blizzard: "An explosively intensifying winter storm centered over the Colorado Front Range continues to unleash a potpourri of extreme weather across the Plains states and Upper Midwest. The hurricane-force system has combined the worst weather of all four seasons into one — from a string of violent, tornadic thunderstorms to damaging winds, severe blizzard conditions and even flooding. It’s a storm for the record books, strengthening from a run-of-the-mill weather disturbance into a historic cyclone in 24 hours. Its central pressure dropped 33 millibars from Tuesday to Wednesday, meeting the criteria of a meteorological “bomb.” The storm made this transformation over land, rather than water, which is rare..."

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Thursday, March 14th, 2019:

  • As a powerful storm system continues to move northeast across the upper Midwest today, snow, strong winds, rain, flooding, and severe storms will continue to be possible across the mid-section of the nation.
  • Heavy snow and blizzard conditions will continue across parts of the Northern Plains, tapering off into the overnight hours. Additional snow totals of 6”+ will be possible across parts of eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota. Strong wind gusts of 60+ mph across this region – from Colorado to northwestern Minnesota – will continue to produce blizzard conditions. Due to the wintry weather and blizzard conditions, numerous roads have been closed including parts of I-25, I-29, I-70, I-76, I-80, I-90, and I-94.
  • Strong wind gusts will also be possible from the central Plains into the upper Midwest and Ohio Valley as we go throughout the day. High Wind Warnings and Wind Advisories are in effect.
  • Additional rain of up to a half an inch or so will continue to bring the potential of flooding to the upper Midwest in the warm sector today. Numerous rivers are already in flood stage this morning, with some even reaching record levels.
  • Severe storms will also be possible across parts of the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys today with an Enhanced Risk of severe weather in place. The main threats will be damaging winds and tornadoes.

Ongoing This Morning:

Morning Radar. Snow continues to fall from parts of Colorado northward through North Dakota this morning, with rain in the warm sector across other parts of the upper Midwest including the Twin Cities. Some strong to severe storms are occurring across parts of the lower and middle Mississippi Valley.

Numerous roads have been closed due to winter weather conditions across parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota, including parts of I-25, I-29, I-70, I-76, I-80, I-90, and I-94. Roads have also been closed across the region (including parts of I-90 in South Dakota) due to flooding. Here are links to local DOT agencies for the latest road information:

Strong Wind Gusts Continue This Morning. A wide area of strong wind gusts continues to occur this morning across the central and northern Plains, with wind gusts over 60 mph in spots. Since yesterday, the peak wind gust associated with this system (104 mph) was reported at San Augustin Pass, NM. A wind gust of 103 mph was also reported in Pine Springs (TX), with a 97 mph gust in Colorado Springs (CO), 85 mph in Weskan (KS), and 89 mph near Hemingford (NE).

Flash Flood Warnings. Several flash flood warnings are in place this morning in parts of Nebraska due to the heavy rain that has fallen over the past few days leading to widespread river flooding and new record river levels in some locations. In the Genoa, NE, area a Flash Flood Emergency is in place through 9:30 AM as, “At 335 AM CDT, officials from The Loup Power District reported that the Loup River had overtopped an intake structure at the diversion southwest of Genoa. As a result, it is likely that flooding has extended north of Highway 22 and may be threatening especially the south side of Genoa soon. Local law enforcement confirms that an evacuation plan has been enacted for the south side of Genoa.” Meanwhile, parts of northeastern Holt County and southeastern Boyd counties in Nebraska are under Flash Flood Warnings as, “county dispatch reported the failure of Spencer Dam.” In another warning issued last night, it was reported that Highway 68 near Rockville had large ice chunks from the Middle Loup River covering the road.

Loup River Near Genoa. Looking specifically where that Flash Flood Emergency is in effect near Genoa, NE, the river did reach a new record height of 17.19ft around 1:45 AM. The river level looks to slowly recede over the next few days, but it will remain in flood stage into the first part of the weekend.

Tornado Watch. Severe weather is also ongoing this morning across parts of the mid and lower Mississippi Valley, with a Tornado Watch in place through Noon across parts of Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, and Tennessee, including Memphis. The threats include a few tornadoes, large hail up to 2” in diameter, and up to 70 mph damaging wind gusts.

Forecast Information:

Storm Continues To Move Northeast Today. The system responsible for the rain, snow, flooding, and high winds will continue to move off to the northeast today, with the area of low pressure going from western Iowa this morning into the upper peninsula of Michigan tonight and into Canada by Friday morning. This system will continue to produce heavy snow across parts of the Dakotas and northwestern Minnesota today along with moderate to heavy rain at times in the warm sector across the upper Midwest. In some of those areas, precipitation will end as a bit of snow over the next 24 hours. This strong system will also continue to produce gusty winds, at times exceeding 60-70 mph in parts of the central United States. The cold front extending from this system will also produce a severe weather threat across the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys today.

Blizzard Warnings Remain In Effect. Due to the ongoing snow and high winds causing blowing snow and whiteout conditions, Blizzard Warnings remain in place this morning from parts of Colorado and Kansas to the Canadian Border in North Dakota and Minnesota. Some Winter Storm Warnings and Winter Weather Advisories are also mixed in across the region for snow, blowing snow due to strong winds, and ice. Some of the areas under winter weather alerts this morning include:

  • Cheyenne, WY: Blizzard Warning through 6 PM for blizzard conditions with new snowfall of 1-2”.
  • Grand Island, NE: Blizzard Warning through 1 PM for blizzard conditions with additional snow of 1-2” and wind gusts as high as 55-65 mph.
  • Rapid City, SD: Blizzard Warning through 6 PM for blizzard conditions with new snowfall of 1-2” and wind gusts as high as 65 mph.
  • Pierre, SD: Blizzard Warning through 1 AM Friday for blizzard conditions with new snowfall of 1-3” and wind gusts as high as 65 mph.
  • Aberdeen, SD: Blizzard Warning through 1 AM Friday for blizzard conditions with new snowfall of up to 2” and wind gusts as high as 55 mph.
  • Sioux Falls, SD: Winter Weather Advisory from 10 AM to 7 PM today for total snow accumulations of up to 2”, a glaze of ice, and wind gusts as high as 60 mph.
  • Bismarck, ND: Winter Weather Advisory through 10 AM for additional snow of less than an inch and wind gusts as high as 55 mph.
  • Fargo, ND: Blizzard Warning through 1 AM Friday for blizzard conditions for total snowfall of 3-8”, ice up to a tenth of an inch, and wind gusts as high as 60 mph.
  • Grand Forks, ND: Blizzard Warning through 1 AM Friday for blizzard conditions for total snowfall of 3-10”, a glaze of ice, and wind gusts as high as 60 mph.
  • International Falls, MN: Winter Weather Advisory through 1 AM Friday for 2-4” of snow and wind gusts as high as 40 mph.

Additional Snow. The heaviest additional snow across the upper Midwest today will be in parts of eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota, where another 6”+ is possible for areas like Grand Forks. This is on top of the snow that has already fallen across the region and will continue (along with the strong winds) to cause rough to impossible travel conditions.

Expected Strong Winds. Wind gusts of 60-70+ mph will continue to be possible today, especially across parts of the upper Midwest and Plains, both in areas that see snow (which is where mainly Blizzard Warnings are in place) as well as in areas that won’t see in any snow. Starting in areas that see snowfall, these strong winds could lead to blizzard and whiteout conditions which will continue to make travel nearly impossible. In areas outside the heavy snow, strong winds will lead to the potential of hazardous travel conditions and power outages. As the storm system continues to push out of the region, winds will start to subside in strength heading into Friday.

Wind Alerts. As strong, even damaging, winds continue today into tonight across the central part of the nation, numerous High Wind Warnings and Wind Advisories remain in effect mainly outside of areas expected to receive the brunt of the snow and blizzard conditions.

Rain Threat Continues. Rain will continue to fall in the warm sector of the system today, with additional amounts of mainly up to a half an inch expected. In areas that are receiving rain, some of the precipitation could end as some light snow later today into Friday.

Flood Watches Still In Place. We will continue to watch the threat of flooding due to the ongoing rain across the upper Midwest. In some areas, this rain will be falling on top of frozen ground and/or in areas with snow cover still in place, meaning a lot of this rain will directly run off into rivers and streams. It also means that urban/street flooding will be a concern as some of that rain could pool in areas if storm drains are clogged with snow and ice. This rain would also increase the snowmelt across parts of the upper Midwest and could cause at least some minor river flooding, and the potential of ice jams on rivers could increase. Due to the threat of flooding with this system, areas from Nebraska to Minnesota and the upper peninsula of Michigan are under flood watches.

Forecast River Flooding. Due to the rain, snowmelt and ice jams, numerous rivers will continue to go into or be in flood stage in the central part of the nation over the next several days.

Enhanced Severe Threat Today. The threat of severe weather will exist once again today with this system, this time situated over parts of the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys. This is where an Enhanced Risk of severe weather is in place, including cities like Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Louisville, Lexington, and Nashville. The greatest threats will be damaging winds and a few tornadoes, though hail can’t be ruled out, as a cold front advances east.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix

How the 2019 Polar Vortex Helped Long-Term Renewable Energy Integration in the Midwest. Great Plains Institute has the post; here's an excerpt: "...For wind turbines, extreme cold can mean that the oil in the gearboxes can start to solidify. There are preventative measures project developers can take to mitigate this risk, like installing cold weather packages that enable the turbines to continue operating down to a crisp -30°C. As shown in figure 1 below, temperatures in the region got well below the -30°C threshold and, as a result, some wind generators shut down until temperatures increased. MISO and wind owners both use weather data to develop forecasts of wind generation. MISO uses the data as one of many inputs into its day-ahead market process to make sure enough generation capacity will be online the next day to maintain reliability on the grid. Yet, MISO did not have complete information on the temperature-related technical operating limitations of the wind turbines, and, as a result, they were not baked into the wind generation forecast..."

Tesla Set To Unveil Model Y SUV. The Wall Street Journal has more details: "Elon Musk is back to pitching another all-electric vehicle that the Tesla Inc. TSLA +0.53% chief needs to be a hit to turn the upstart auto maker into a mass-market car company. Days after cutting the price of Tesla Inc.’s Model 3 sedan to reach mainstream buyers, the billionaire entrepreneur is expected Thursday night to unveil the Model Y compact sport-utility vehicle in front of fans and customers near Los Angeles. While the Model 3 has tested Tesla’s mettle to build an affordable electric car, it is targeting a broader spectrum of buyers with an SUV, the fastest-growing vehicle segment in the U.S. and China. It is critical to Mr. Musk’s bid to move beyond a luxury brand and pump out a long-promised 1 million cars a year, quadrupling what it did in 2018..."

The Fight To Be a Middle-Aged Female News Anchor. A story at The New York Times made me do a double-take: "....Meredith is also, as it happens, being sued for age discrimination. In 2015, CBS affiliate KCTV in Kansas City, fired news anchor Karen Fuller, then 47, from the station and replaced her with a 32-year old. In Dec. 2017, NBC affiliate WSMV in Nashville let anchor Demetria Kalodimos, then 58, go, and replaced her with someone a decade younger. Both women subsequently filed suit. Ms. Fuller’s suit alleged that removing older women from highly visible roles has been a problem at Meredith stations, with a set of seven female anchors in markets including Atlanta, Phoenix and St. Louis removed in a span of five years and replaced with younger women. The average age of the anchors who lost their jobs was 46.8, while their replacements averaged 38.1 years. In one case, the difference was more than two decades..."

The Biggest Test You Should Prep For Isn't the SAT. My sister sent me this story and it's too good not to share, courtesy of acuMOM: "...If you have a child who is not a ‘good test taker’, please remember all the other things they are. And then remind them. Repeatedly. Some of our kids have been taking tests and seeing scores that chip away at their psyches for years. Don’t let that happen. People who don’t do well on standardized tests have non-standardized minds not sub-standard ones. And non-standardized minds are often the ones that create ideas and change the world. Know one who lives and learns with dyslexia/dysgraphia? Show them this list: Spielberg, Picasso, Lennon, Kennedy, Washington, Da Vinci, Disney, Einstein. And in honor of National Women’s Day show them this less commonly known list too: Erin Brockovich, Cher, Agatha Christie, Octavia Spencer, Jennifer Aniston, Ann Bancroft (arctic explorer), Jessica Watson (youngest to sail solo around the world), Florence Welch (of Florence + the Machine), Prof. Elizabeth Blackburn (Nobel prize winner) and then tell them chances are they’re going to be famous..."

What is the "Pan Am Experience"? I remember when flying was sort of glamorous, but you have to go WAY back in time. Ah, the nostalgia....Here's an excerpt from CNN Travel: "It's a Saturday in the outskirts of Los Angeles, and about 50 people are ready to board an airplane for a colorful and memorable journey back to the 1970s. Compared to most international flights, this one is short -- only four hours. And though the flight will transport everyone on the passenger list to another place and time, it logs a whopping total of zero air miles, as it never actually leaves the ground. Welcome to the wild and wonderful world of the Pan Am Experience. One-part re-enactment, one-part dinner theater and one-part memorabilia overload, the attraction mixes top-quality food with elaborate detail to recreate what it was like to fly a Boeing 747 with one of the world's most beloved airlines long before its bankruptcy and dissolution in 1991..."

7" snow on the ground at MSP International Airport (down from 21" on March 2).

43 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities.

40 F. average high on March 14.

46 F. maximum temperature on March 14, 2018.

March 15, 1941: The 'Ides of March Blizzard' occurs. Winds reached hurricane force at Twin Cities. 32 people died.

FRIDAY: Partly sunny, windy and cooler. Winds: NW 15-30. High: 35

SATURDAY: More sun, winds ease. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 18. High: 36

SUNDAY: More clouds than sun, dry. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 22. High: 38

MONDAY: Plenty of sun, pleasant. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 25. High: near 40

TUESDAY: Partly sunny and quiet. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 27. High: 43

WEDNESDAY: Early fog, then intervals of sun. Winds: W 7-12. Wake-up: 30. High: 46

THURSDAY: Fog should burn off. Hints of spring. Winds: SW 7-12. Wake-up: 30. High: 49

Climate Stories....

"Our Future Is What We Are Fighting For". Why are some younger people going on strike today? Here's an excerpt from a Washington Post story: "In rain and snow and summer heat, every Friday for the past 29 weeks, a 16-year-old Swedish girl named Greta Thunberg has skipped school to protest outside her nation’s parliament building. Her aim: to demand aggressive action against climate change. Thunberg’s “school strikes for climate” movement has inspired youths in Belgium, the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia to follow her lead. On Friday, her reach will extend much farther. Students in nearly 100 countries around the world have pledged to join her protest, including in the United States. “Young people realize the urgency,” said Isra Hirsi, a 16-year-old from Minneapolis who is co-organizing the U.S. climate strikes with New Yorker Alexandria Villasenor, 13, and Coloradan Haven Coleman, 12. “We know whatever happens with climate change will affect us the most...”

KIDS: Students across the world are protesting on Friday. Why? (New York Times $, CNN), Preston's lonely climate change warrior (BBC), teenage climate activist nominated for Nobel Peace Prize (AP)

Arctic Now 'Locked In' For Serious Warming: Climate Nexus has links and headlines: "Arctic temperatures are now "locked in" for increased wintertime warming, with winter temperatures set to rise 3-5 degrees C by 2050 even if the world meets the goals set out in the Paris Agreement, a new UN Environment report says. The region's thawing rapidly thawing permafrost also poses a major risk, and the report warns that the release of some of the 1.5 trillion tons of carbon dioxide contained in the region's permafrost could trigger a feedback loop that would also undermine efforts to keep global temperature rise under 2 degrees C. "What happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic," Joyce Msuya, the acting executive director of UN Environment, told the UN Environment Assembly gathered in Nairobi Wednesday. "We have the science. Now more urgent climate action is needed to steer away from tipping points that could be even worse for our planet than we first thought." (The Guardian, The Hill, Grist)

File photo: Bob Strong, Reuters.

Big Business Spent $1.4 Billion on PR, Advertising Over the Last Decade. Who is spending the most money on PR and lobbying: fossil fuels or clean energy? Not even close, according to data revealed at Huffington Post: "...The data provide a “tiny peephole into the massive influence-peddling industry that hovers over Washington, D.C., and indeed the whole country,” Kert Davies, director of the Climate Investigations Center, told HuffPost. “And the oil industry,” he said via email, “leads the pack by a mile.” While corporate lobbying gets a lot of attention, it is on these other influence services that business and energy trade groups often spend the big bucks. Annual tax filings compiled by CIC show that the American Petroleum Institute, a trade association of the oil and natural gas industry that has worked for decades to sow doubt about the realities of climate change, spent an astonishing $663 million on PR and advertising, about 48 percent of the total, over the 10-year period. The figure dwarfs the combined $98.4 million that renewable energy trade groups, including the American Wind Energy Association and the Solar Energy Industry Association, spent during the same period..."

Is Nuclear Part of a Solution to Climate Change? Newer forms of nuclear are smaller, cheaper and less prone to terrorism. We need to rethink nuclear and find ways to make it viable as we dial down carbon. Here's a word of warning in a post at The Houston Chronicle: "...Stripped of subsidies, the cost of nuclear power is higher than that for solar and wind power to generate electricity. When the hidden costs are included, there is no contest. Nuclear power may appear to be clean. We see no equivalent to black-lung disease among coal miners, no mercury accumulations in fishes downwind and no carbon dioxide emissions that change our climate globally. But when there is a problem with nuclear power, it is sure to be large, persistent and biocidal for the persistence of life on Earth.bAccidents always happen; we cannot afford an accident with nuclear power."

File photo credit: "This March 30, 1979, file photo shows an aerial view of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant near Harrisburg, Pa. Exelon Corp., the owner of Three Mile Island, site of the United States' worst commercial nuclear power accident, said Monday, May 29, 2017 it will shut down the plant in 2019 without a financial rescue from Pennsylvania." (AP Photo/Barry Thumma, File)

7 Ways You Can Help Save the Planet Right Now. I came across an uplifting, encouraging post at Oprah Magazine: "...I’m a climate scientist, so I know just how unprecedented these realities are. Climate has never changed this fast in human history. I’m also a Christian, and that’s part of why I care about this issue—because even though it impacts us all, it’s the poor, hungry, and vulnerable the world over, the very ones we’re told to love and care for, who are disproportionately harmed by these shifts. Yet often when we turn on the news, go online, or talk to a family member, we hear doubt: “The climate always fluctuates”or “But it’s so cold today!” or “Those scientists are fudging the data.” Never mind that according to orbital cycles that drive ice ages, we should be cooling, not warming; or that individual cold days don’t disprove decades of warming; or that we scientists really and truly have no good reason to lie..."

Illustration credit: Kyle Bean.

The Strange Optimism of Climate Alarmist David Wallace-Wells. Rolling Stone has the analysis - here's a clip: "...That alarmist outlook may soon be the new normal. “I think that the psychology of everyone on the planet in, say, 2075, will be shaped by these forces,” he says. “This is something that I see impacting absolutely every aspect of our lives in the decades ahead unless we change course somewhat dramatically.” But Wallace-Wells is actually a pretty optimistic person, all things considered. His first child was born while he was writing the book, which has only increased his resolve to address these problems. “The scale of suffering that is possible…can be so overwhelming that it feels paralyzing, but, ultimately, the size of those impacts are a measure of our own agency. We have the power to stop them from happening entirely if we take the necessary action...”

What Does Climate Change Mean For Having Children? Nothing. In spite of this Op-Ed, many younger people are, in fact, paranoid about the trends. Here's an excerpt from THEWEEK.com: "...We should do more with less for our good and the good of creation. But I would advocate all of these things even if I did not think that we might be making the world warmer. All I need are my eyes to recognize that our greed is making it ugly to the point of uninhabitability in many places — usually ones far away from where the wealthy live. But even if I believed the most lurid predictions about climate change, it would not alter my views about child-rearing in the slightest. There is no necessary connection between birth and spoliation. The world's poorest have more babies than the rest of us and are still the least responsible for our present ecological woes. Regardless of the country in which they happen to be born children are not to blame for the crimes of adults. The Earth is here for them, awaiting their good stewardship after our own failures pass into history..."

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Severe Flooding Omaha to Southern Wisconsin - 50s Possible Late Next Week