Paul Douglas is a nationally respected meteorologist with 35 years of television and radio experience. A serial entrepreneur, Douglas is Senior Meteorologist and Founder of Media Logic Group. Douglas and a team of meteorologists, engineers and developers provide weather services for various media at Broadcast Weather, high-tech alerting and briefing services for companies via Alerts Broadcaster and weather data, apps and API’s from Aeris Weather. His speaking engagements take him around the Midwest with a message of continuous experimentation and reinvention, no matter what business you’re in. He is the public face of “SAVE”, Suicide Awareness, Voices of Education, based in Bloomington. | Send Paul a question.

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Spring Fever Alert (70s possible by Wednesday)

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: March 30, 2015 - 12:12 AM

Silver Linings

One small advantage of being in a drought with roughly half the average winter snowfall? A greatly diminished risk of river flooding in the coming weeks. A slightly cooler bias will probably delay the start of severe thunderstorm season, although a rumble of thunder may kick in late Wednesday as temperatures top 70F.

It's a little easier writing about the weather as we make the big, long turn into spring. The holidays and football tend to distract me from blistering fronts until January, when I develop a strong urge to hibernate. 3 months of hunker-down mode - 90 days of holding our breath; gloved fingers jammed in our ears, drowning out the echoes of a nagging arctic lullaby.

Winter is over, and even though we'll see more flurries the definition of a cold front will be 30s and 40s, not subzero.

With a rising sun angle the ground is warming faster than the upper atmosphere. Spring instability may kick off a late day shower, especially north of MSP. Reserve Tuesday and Wednesday to play outside as temperatures swoon into the 60s. If you don't develop spring fever by Wednesday check for a pulse.

Temperatures chill down by the weekend; a cool, dry bias the 2nd week of April.


"Hey Paul.  Look at these crazy clouds I saw yesterday.  They look like jellyfish or wispy dandelions.  
Have you ever seen clouds like these?
" - Paul Lewis (Stillwater)

Paul, those were cirrus clouds, probably cirrus floccus. That's snow falling out of these wisps of ice crystals about 25,000 feet above the ground, prevailing jet stream winds aloft sweeping the falling ice crystals in a gentle arc before dry air evaporates the moisture.


Spring Fling. The last few days have been chilly, but cold air retreats north into midweek, allowing temperatures to approach 60F today, surge into the 60s tomorrow and possibly top 70F on Wednesday before cooling off late week. A few T-showers may blossom Wednesday, although low-level moisture and dew points will be low. I still don't see any true soakings looking out 2 weeks. Graph: Weatherspark.


Gradual Mellowing Trend. Although spring will come very reluctantly to New England (Bostonians aren't surprised) long range guidance shows a weak ridge of warmth setting up over central Canada and the USA by April 12; implying warmer than average weather as we push into the second week of April. Source: GrADS:COLA/IGES.


Warm Weather Spikes. Although more cool weather relapses are likely, the coldest air fades in the coming weeks. GFS data shows 60s around April 6-7, another surge of 60s and possible 70s by April 13-14.


Expanding Drought. 99% of Minnesota is abnormally dry, over 88% of the state in moderate drought. Unusually dry conditions stretch from the Dakotas to Wisconsin, with severe (perpetual) drought deepening across California, where it promises to be a long, dry, abnormally warm year. Pockets of extreme to exceptional drought are showing up from Oklahoma City to Wichita Falls, Texas.


Warmer Bias Returns in March. Dr. Mark Seeley provides perspective on a statewide basis; here's an excerpt of WeatherTalk: "...It appears that March will wrap up bringing higher temperatures and more moisture the last few days of the month. Most observers will report a mean monthly temperature from 4 to 7 degrees F warmer than normal (mean values), and total precipitation that is less than normal. Extremes for the month were 78F at Browns Valley on the 15th and -40F at Cotton on the 5th, with the highest monthly precipitation value of close to 2 inches at Lanesboro..."


7 Years of Rain in Chile Desert Kills At Least 9. Here's more information and a video, courtesy of weather.com: "Thunderstorms brought the equivalent of 7 years of rain to Chile's Atacama desert region and caused deadly flooding Thursday.  Antofagasta, Chile, where the annual average precipitation is 0.13 inches, saw 0.9 inches of rain in 12 hours. "The Atacama Desert is an extremely arid region and has been for millions of years. As a result, the terrain is hard and rocky because rainfall isn't frequent or abundant enough for either weathering rocks into sand or supporting the kind of ecosystem that would help turn rocks and minerals into soil. Without soil and plant cover to help absorb rainfall, it just runs off instantly as torrents of water," weather.com senior meteorologist Nick Wiltgen said..."


Why Vertical Farming Could Be On The Verge of a Revolution. Here's the intro to a story at Huffington Post: "Could the future of modern agriculture be found completely indoors? That’s the question on the mind of Caleb Harper, the research scientist behind the CityFARM project of MIT Media Lab’s City Science Initiative. On any given day on the fifth floor of the glass-walled Media Lab building, a team of 15 researchers led by Harper can be found operating the project's small indoor vertical farm. The CityFARM team includes mechanical engineers, biologists, architects and more, who manage pests, monitor water chemistry and grow produce such as tomatoes, leafy greens and herbs..."


Falling Battery Prices Boost Outlook for Electric Vehicles. Innovation is sparking the price drops that will ultimately allow cleaner, renewable energy sources to go mainstream. It's happening faster than the skeptics and supporters thought it would. Here's an excerpt from RTCC.org: "The cost of batteries used in electric vehicles (EVs) has been falling fast and is almost certainly well below the estimates made by many analysts in the past decade. EVs may be able to compete directly with petrol-driven cars on cost a lot sooner than most people think. Policy-makers, transport and energy planners, and investors should take note..."


53 F. high in the Twin Cities Sunday.

48 F. average high on March 29.

43 F. high on March 29, 2014.

.19" rain fell at KMSP yesterday.

March 30, 1938: Springtime flooding hits Warroad and Grand Marais.

The cost of batteries used in electric vehicles (EVs) has been falling fast and is almost certainly well below the estimates made by many analysts in the past decade.

EVs may be able to compete directly with petrol-driven cars on cost a lot sooner than most people think. Policy-makers, transport and energy planners, and investors should take note.

- See more at: http://www.rtcc.org/2015/03/23/falling-battery-prices-boost-outlook-for-electric-vehicles/#sthash.IccdftNL.dpuf

TODAY: Partly sunny, PM shower north. Winds: SW 10. High: 59

MONDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy. Low: 40

TUESDAY: Plenty of sun, seriously springy. High: 63

WEDNESDAY: Feeling Feverish. Sun gives way to increasing clouds. Warm with a late-day T-storm? Wake-up: 49. High: 73

THURSDAY: More clouds than sun, cooler. Wake-up: 47. High: 57

FRIDAY: Partly sunny and brisk. Wake-up: 29. High: 48

SATURDAY: Mostly cloudy, jacket weather. Wake-up: 31. High: 51

SUNDAY: Cold rain develops. Wake-up: 38. High: 46

* photo above: Media Logic meteorologist Todd Nelson.


Climate Stories...

Warmer Nights Linked To Global Warming Trend. The warming signal is most obvious at night, during the winter months. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed from a Florida State meteorology professor at tallahassee.com: "...What is interesting is that there is growing evidence suggesting that the daytime increases in temperature are small compared to the warming of nighttime low temperatures. In other words, the nights do not cool as much. This suggests that the preponderance of the warming (where there is warming) will be significantly due to less cold nights..."


Media Contributing to "Hope Gap" on Climate Change. Another reason why denial is in vogue with some people - a sense of malaise and hopelessness. There are solutions and we will figure out cleaner ways to keep the lights on and add new jobs. Here's an excerpt from Climate Central "...Perhaps more provocatively, the results of the detailed analysis also suggest that newsrooms on both sides of the warming pond are struggling to produce stories about climate change in ways that are engaging for their audiences. Instead, they’re fueling senses of hopelessness on the issue. “I don’t find their major findings surprising,” Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, said of the study, with which he was not involved. “We find in our audience research that even the alarmed [those most concerned about climate change] don’t really know what they can do individually, or what we can do collectively. We call this loosely ‘the hope gap,’ and it’s a serious problem..." (Photo: Lori Ryan).

February Flashback - Springy 60s Next Week - Baffling Tornado Drought

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: March 24, 2015 - 10:43 PM

Uncharted Territory

As of Tuesday there hasn't been a single March tornado reported anywhere in the USA. You have to go back to 1969 to find a comparable month. El Nino appears to be strengthening; this pervasive warm phase of the Pacific Ocean forecast to linger most of 2015. Every El Nino event is different, but most favor a southerly detour of the jet stream, a shift that diminishes the threat of tornadoes and hurricanes. That southward shift in steering winds may pinch off much of our moisture; I'm worried about an intensifying drought.

ECMWF guidance shows a potentially significant rain event brewing for the middle of next week, possibly ending as wet snow on April 1. A foul April Fool's joke. Out ahead of this rare "storm" temperatures surge to near 60F Monday and Tuesday. That partially makes up for any late-season goosebumps tomorrow & Friday, when a fresh sweep of Canadian air keeps highs in the 30s.

And last night's minor slush event? My favorite banker at Northern Trust, Jeff Huybrecht, wrote: "The great thing about a March snow is that it's usually beautiful (wet snow that sticks to trees), melts quickly from roads and driveways, and provides needed moisture. What's not to like?"


Colder Surge - Then Spring Returns Next Week. At least the sun will be out Thursday and Friday, when highs may not climb out of the 30s in the Twin Cities. A milder Pacific breeze kicks in over the weekend, the warmest temperatures early next week out ahead of a system that may pull steadier rain into Minnesota by midweek.


Another Spring Fling. After hovering about 5-10F colder than average into Saturday the mercury gets a nice boost next week with 50s and a few 60s the first half of the week. A period of rain midweek gives way to another cold front by the end of next week. Graphic: Weatherspark.


Moderating Temperatures Second Week of April. Within 2 weeks winds aloft (500 mb) are forecast to be strong and zonal, meaning highs mostly in the 50s. The pattern in early April still doesn't look ripe for significant rain. Map: GrADS:COLA/IGES.


Flashes of Warmth. This is pretty typical for late March and early April; oscillating between 30s and slush to 60s and outbreaks of spring fever. Such will be the case in early April with highs mostly in the 50s, a few days of 40s and 60s, but nothing too outrageous in the temperature department. GFS data above: NOAA.


Odd Tornado Drought of 2015 Puts U.S. Into "Uncharted Territory". Here's a clip from a story at weather.com: "...There has still not been a single tornado reported anywhere in the U.S. so far in March 2015, through March 22. Only one other March – in 1969 – has gone tornadoless so deep in the month, according to reliable records dating to 1950. March 1969 had its first tornado of the month on March 23. The lowest U.S. March tornado count was six in 1951, though you could argue some weaker tornadoes may have been unobserved back then, in the pre-smartphone, pre-Doppler radar era. While March is not typically one of the most active months, March has averaged 78 tornadoes in the U.S. over the past 20 years, according to Forbes..."


Experimental Forecast Projects Tornado Season. A low-grade El Nino is already producing conditions downwind generally unfavorable for tornado formation - but there are exceptions to every rule. Here's a clip from Climate Central: "...El Niño tends to tamp down on tornadoes because it shifts the jet stream further south over the U.S., which blocks moisture from flowing northward from the Gulf of Mexico. The moisture is one of the key ingredients for fostering the unstable, stormy atmospheric environment on which tornadoes thrive. La Niña acts in the opposite way, pushing the jet stream to the north and letting that moisture penetrate further into the heart of the country. Some of the biggest outbreaks in history — including the 1974 Super Outbreak, as well as the devastating 2011 season — occurred during La Niña years..."


Storm Chasers Suddenly Out Of Work As Tornadoes Vanish in U.S. Bloomberg has more details on the weather pattern that is producing such a quiet March: "...The mechanics of the weather pattern causing heat in the West and cold in the East are easy to trace -- a ridge of high pressure in the eastern Pacific and a trough of low pressure across central North America have locked in place. The pattern “is exactly the opposite of the pattern you need to get an active tornado period in late winter and early spring,” said Todd Crawford, a meteorologist at WSI in Andover, Massachusetts. Severe weather is usually more common when the West is cool and the East is warm, Crawford said. The chances of that happening anytime soon look slim..."


Welcome To The "Double El Nino" - And More Extreme Weather. Although El Nino tends to often tamp down tornadoes and hurricanes for the USA it can spike extreme weather (and temperatures) worldwide. Here's the intro to a story at PRI, Public Radio International: "We’re about to experience a “double El Niño” — a rare weather phenomenon that climatologists had warned about several months ago. That means two consecutive years of the concentration of warm water in the Pacific Ocean that brings West Coast storms, quiet hurricane seasons in the Atlantic and busy ones in the Pacific. The danger is that this could mean more than a few months of odd weather, but instead usher in a new phase of climate change. Last year was the warmest year on record; 2015 looks set to be even warmer..."

Image credit: "El Niño Makes Atlantic hurricanes less likely." Credit: NOAA/ National Climatic Data Center.


A More Significant (Longer Duration) El Nino Event in 2015? The Pacific continues to warm and factors may be converging to prolong some of this warmth into the end of 2015. Expect more warm weather records to be broken. Chart above: NOAA.


Snowflakes Aren't Even Like Themselves, New 3D Images Reveal. Here's an excerpt of an interesting article from LiveScience and Yahoo News: "You've heard that no two snowflakes are alike, but it gets even more complicated: The two sides of the same snowflake aren't even alike. Now, researchers using a cutting-edge 3D camera are able to use these imperfections to update estimates of road slickness and other storm impacts, improving winter weather warnings in real time and saving lives..."


Troubled National Weather Web Sites Among Government's Most Popular. Here's a clip from an Andrew Freedman story at Mashable: "...Uccellini readily admitted that the NWS' warning and forecast dissemination system "is broken." “We are very aggressively trying to replace our dissemination system,” he told Mashable last year. “I’m not walking away or trying to hide.” The NWS has been prevented from developing its own mobile apps because of statutes that forbid it from competing with the private weather sector..."


U.N. Report Warns of Serious Water Shortages Within 15 Years. TIME has the story; here's the introduction: "If we continue on our current trajectory, warns the report, we'll only have 60% of the water we need in 2030 The world will only have 60% of the water it needs by 2030 without significant global policy change, according to a new report from the U.N. While countries like India are rapidly depleting their groundwater, rainfall patterns around the world are becoming more unpredictable due to global warming, meaning there will be less water in reserves..."


The War Over Who Steve Jobs Was. Backchannel at medium.com has an interesting look at the movement to clean up the iGenius's image and ongoing legacy. Frankly I don't even care if he was an a-hole. He pushed people to do things they didn't even know they could accomplish and put a sizable dent in the (digital) universe. That's quite enough for one life. Here's an excerpt from the article: "...Isaacson’s eponymous biography of Jobs became a publishing phenomenon, selling over a million copies and making Isaacson himself somewhat of a celebrity. But privately, those closest to Jobs complained that Isaacson’s portrait focused too heavily on the Apple CEO’s worst behavior, and failed to present a 360-degree view of the person they knew. Though the book Steve Jobs gave copious evidence of its subject’s talent and achievements, millions of readers finished the book believing that he could be described with a word that rhymes with “gas hole...”


To Move Beyond Boom and Bust We Need A New Theory of Capitalism. Is there a better, smarter, more sustainable way to run the markets? Here's an excerpt from The Guardian: "...Minsky’s genius was to show that financially complex capitalism is inherently unstable. Under conditions of stability, firms, banks and households will, over time, move from a position where their income pays off their debt, to one where it can only meet the interest payments on it. Finally, as instability rises, and central banks respond by expanding the supply of money, people end up borrowing just to pay back interest. The price of shares, homes and commodities rockets. Bust becomes inevitable..."


Driverless Cars Will Shield The Haves From The Have-Nots. Redefining the meaning of a "bubble"? Here's a clip from a story at Fusion: "...That’s one of the things I found most interesting — and disturbing — about Mercedes’ vision of the future. It is the wealth bubble incarnate. It’s easy to forget there are housing projects, homeless people on the street, shelters, food desserts, etc. when you literally never have to see them. Not even in passing. Cars have always provided distance and protection from the wider world, but Benz’s F 015 takes it to a whole new level. Yes, it’s just a concept. But this is what a radically unequal world could look like in 15 years..."


Waterspout Tears Through Beach in Brazil. Here's a link to a few video clips, courtesy of Huffington Post. Call me crazy, but if a funnel is approaching you might not want to just stand on the beach: "A relaxing day at the beach turned dark after a waterspout made landfall over Candeias Beach in Brazil earlier this month. At first, according to Slate, beachgoers watched the waterspout from the beach as it churned over the ocean at a distance. The waterspout then moved quickly onto the beach, blowing debris and palm fronds in the air, according to a local report from Brazilian news site NE10..."


38 F. high on Tuesday in the Twin Cities.

45 F. average high on March 24.

31 F. high on March 24, 2014.

30.8" snow so far this winter season at KMSP.

62.7" snow fell last winter, as of March 24, 2014.

March 25, 2007: Record warmth with 72 degrees at Owatonna, MN, 77 at Menomonie, WI and 80 at Eau Claire, WI.

March 25, 1981: An F2 tornado hits Morrison county and does 25 thousand dollars worth of damage.


TODAY: Coating of slush early? Windy with more clouds than sun. Winds: W 15-30. High: 42

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Patchy clouds, turning colder. Low: 21

THURSDAY: More clouds than sun, chilly for late March. High: 38

FRIDAY: Who turned off the heat? Brisk. Feels like late February, but the sun is out. Wake-up: 22. High: 35

SATURDAY: Breezy, turning milder with fading sun. Wake-up: 23. High: 44

SUNDAY: Mild, springy start. Late shower? Wake-up: 35. High: 54

MONDAY: Plenty of sun, pleasant. Wake-up: 33. High: 57

TUESDAY: Mild sun, first clap of thunder? Wake-up: 40. High: 62

* Heavier, steadier rain is possible next Wednesday as temperatures begin to fall.


Climate Stories...

The Real Cost of Coal. The fundamental problem right now: the true cost of burning coal (and other fossil fuels) is not being factored into the markets. Fossil fuel companies are getting a free pass by being able to pump as much CO2 into the atmosphere as they want. Here's a snippet of an Op-Ed at The New York Times: "...This failure by the government to collect fair value for taxpayer coal is made more troubling by the climate-change implications of burning this fossil fuel. Taxpayers are already incurring major costs in responding to the effects of global warming. Coastal infrastructure is being battered by sea rise and storm surges; forests are being devastated by climate-aided pest infestations; and studies are suggesting that temperature rises have increased the likelihood of devastating droughts in California..."


Scientist Says Florida Wasting Time Debating Climate Change. The scientist is Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, and here are recent comments, courtesy of HeraldTribune.com: "Renowned scientist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson called Gov. Rick Scott's ban on official use of the terms “climate change” and “global warming” astonishing and disappointing, and held voters responsible for electing Scott and other like-minded politicians to office. “I thought as a nation we were better than this,” Tyson said. People like to blame politicians, he said, but the challenge is educating the electorate..." (Image: NASA).


U.S. Is Laggard Among Developed Nations In Understanding Climate Change. InsideClimate News has an interesting article; here's an excerpt: "...Capstick and his colleagues found that during the 1980s and 1990s, there was increasing awareness and public concern about the issue around the globe. In many countries, skepticism about the scientific evidence of climate change took hold late in the following decade, and climate quickly became a partisan issue largely because of the global recession and concern that taking action would hurt economies. But while most countries have since moved away from this partisan divide, the political split over climate change has only widened in the U.S., Capstick said. This reflects fossil fuel-funded denial campaigns and the widening ideological divide between conservative and progressives in the U.S. Australia and the U.K. have similar divides..."


Carbon Price Should Increase Up To 200% To Avoid Tipping Point, Study Says. Blue and Green Tomorrow has the story - here's an excerpt: "...In order to avoid dangerous levels of climate change and crossing irreversible tipping points in the future, the price of carbon should be increased by up to 200%, according to a new study. Researchers from the Universities of Exeter, Zurich, Stanford and Chicago have urged policymakers not to discount the damages from future climate tipping points. The study, which has been published the journal Nature Climate Change, argues that the prospect of future tipping points should greatly increase the amount we are willing to pay now to limit climate change..."


Science Museums Urged To Cut Ties With Kochs. The New York Times reports; here's the introduction: "Dozens of climate scientists and environmental groups are calling for museums of science and natural history to “cut all ties” with fossil fuel companies and philanthropists like the Koch brothers. A letter released on Tuesday asserts that such money is tainted by these donors’ efforts to deny the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change..." (File photo: AP, Phelan M. Ebenhack).


Cyclone Pam Is Just The Start. Newsweek puts the super-cyclone (same thing as a typhoon and hurricane) into perspective; here's an excerpt: "In the wake of island nation Vanuatu’s devastation by Cyclone Pam, in which 320 mile-per-hour winds killed dozens of people and destroyed 90 percent of the buildings in the capital city of Port Vila, public health experts fear that the country's ruined infrastructure will result in mass starvation and epidemics of disease. As the rate of global climate change continues to increase, such tragedies will become more and more common around the world. Vanuatu is not alone..."

Image credit above: "An aerial view of the destruction after Cyclone Pam hit Port Vila, capital city of the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, on March 17, 2015." .


A Slow-Down In The North Atlantic Conveyer Belt? There was always concern among scientists that melting of (fresh) water, mainly from a rapidly melting Greenland, might impact the broad Atlantic Ocean circulation pattern. Chris Mooney has details of new research at The Washington Post; here's an excerpt: "...According to a new study just out in Nature Climate Change by Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and a group of co-authors, we’re now seeing a slowdown of the great ocean circulation that, among other planetary roles, helps to partly drive the Gulf Stream off the U.S. east coast. The consequences could be dire – including significant extra sea level rise for coastal cities like New York and Boston..."

* The paper at Nature Climate Change is here.

Spring On Hold Into Friday - Minor Slush Event Tonight - Longer, Stronger El Nino in '15?

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: March 23, 2015 - 11:00 PM

“...With that kind of an increase, there is about 2 percent increase in the moisture in the atmosphere, which feeds into all the weather systems that occur, and it gets concentrated and magnified by all of the storms, so you can get double or quadruple the effects,” Trenberth says. - from a PRI article focused on El Nino.


Perspective. It can always be worse, right? Rodney and Esther Turnquist sent me this photo taken on St. Patty's Day, 1965. I'm happy to see the red MG wasn't impacted by the 4-6 foot drifts that buried greater Minnesota on March 17, 1965. The sign says "St. Patty's Day 1965". It puts the meager snow piles in my yard into perspective.


One Step Back

Considering most of Minnesota is in a moderate drought I'm happy to see any water, in any state - liquid or frozen - falling from the sky. If you've lived here more than 10 minutes you know that spring is more theory than reality; often two steps forward, one step back.

This week is a poignant, downright blunt reminder that March is Minnesota's third snowiest month of the year, just behind January and December. Considering the sun is as high in the sky as it was in mid-September snow can't stay on the ground for long.

Keep telling yourself that Wednesday morning, when we could wake up to a light slushy coating (of sweet frozen custard!) In spite of a pleading sun temperatures may not climb out of the 30s Thursday and Friday. No worries. Hints of spring return this weekend; ECMWF guidance shows a few days in the 60s next week - maybe a heavier rain event the middle of next week. Bring it on.

Tuesday night's clipper may spark a light coating, but winter snowfall to date (30.8 inches) is 20 inches below average here in the Twin Cities. Perspective: New York City has picked up 23 more inches than the metro area. Boston is up to 110.3 inches and counting.

Make it stop!


* I snapped the photo above at Maynards in Excelsior Monday afternoon. Yes, that's open water in Excelsior Bay. Note to self, and to anyone else intent on testing Darwin's Law: stay off the ice.


Tuesday Night Slush? Right now I don't see a rerun of Sunday night's snow blitz, maybe a coating to an inch of additional slush for portions of Minnesota as rain ends as a few hours of wet snow tonight. 60-hour NAM snowfall prediction: NOAA and HAM WEATHER.


Spring On Temporary Hold. Thursday and Friday will be chilly with temperatures struggling to climb out of the 30s, but a high sun angle will make mid to upper 30s feel considerably better than in January. We warm up over the weekend, European guidance hinting at 60s by Tuesday with a potential for a more significant rain event the middle of next week.


High Amplitude Pattern. Northern and southern branches of the jet stream are forecast to merge and amplify by April 6, with a possible rain/snow mix pushing across the Plains into the Ohio Valley and Northeast, short-circuiting any warming during the first week of April. Map: GrADS:COLA/IGES.


March: Third Snowiest Month of the Year, On Average. I stand corrected. The other day I mentioned that March was the second snowiest month (behind January) but in reality the latest 30-year NOAA averages show March as third snowiest, with an average of 10.3", behiind January and December. Graph above: Twin Cities National Weather Service.


Welcome To The "Double El Nino" - And More Extreme Weather. Although El Nino tends to often tamp down tornadoes and hurricanes for the USA it can spike extreme weather (and temperatures) worldwide. Here's the intro to a story at PRI, Public Radio International: "We’re about to experience a “double El Niño” — a rare weather phenomenon that climatologists had warned about several months ago. That means two consecutive years of the concentration of warm water in the Pacific Ocean that brings West Coast storms, quiet hurricane seasons in the Atlantic and busy ones in the Pacific. The danger is that this could mean more than a few months of odd weather, but instead usher in a new phase of climate change. Last year was the warmest year on record; 2015 looks set to be even warmer..."

Image credit: "El Niño Makes Atlantic hurricanes less likely." Credit: NOAA/ National Climatic Data Center.


A More Significant (Longer Duration) El Nino Event in 2015? The Pacific continues to warm and factors may be converging to prolong some of this warmth into the end of 2015. Expect more warm weather records to be broken. Chart above: NOAA.


Step Into a 3-D Tornado And See An Epic Storm Up Close. Here's a quick story and video focused on recreating the May, 2013 EF-5 tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma, killing 23 people. Scientists are modeling the storm in high-resolution and then visualizing the supercell to try to learn more about what makes some supercells spin up monster tornadoes. Here's a clip from New Scientist: "...Using radar data collected as the event unfolded, Bill Carstensen from Virginia Tech and colleagues built a 3D model of the developing storm, stacked on top of a digital version of the Oklahoma landscape. The tornado is displayed in a unique, four-story-high virtual theatre at the university where it can be viewed with an Oculus Rift headset. The set-up allows a person to walk into the tornado as though they were a towering giant, viewing it from the perspective of someone 2.1 metres tall..."


Why Spring Gets About 30 Seconds Shorter Every Year. Minnesota springs are already short enough, some might add. Here's an excerpt from Live Science: "...The Earth's seasons are caused by the tilt of the Earth on its axis (not by how close the planet is to the sun). This tilt of 23.5-degrees from the straight-up-and-down position means that for six months of the year, the Earth's Northern Hemisphere is leaning slightly toward the sun, whereas during the other six months, the Southern Hemisphere leans toward the sun. The main reason spring is getting shorter is that the Earth's axis itself moves, much like a wobbling top, in a type of motion called precession..." (Image credit above: NASA).


U.N. Report Warns of Serious Water Shortages Within 15 Years. TIME has the story; here's the introduction: "If we continue on our current trajectory, warns the report, we'll only have 60% of the water we need in 2030 The world will only have 60% of the water it needs by 2030 without significant global policy change, according to a new report from the U.N. While countries like India are rapidly depleting their groundwater, rainfall patterns around the world are becoming more unpredictable due to global warming, meaning there will be less water in reserves..."


Costa Rica Has Powered Itself Using Only Renewable Energy for 75 Days Straight. Granted, the country is a fraction of the size of the USA, but this is still an impressive feat. Here's an excerpt from Metro: "Thanks to heavy rainfall powering four hydroelectric plants, no fossil fuels have been burnt to generate electricity since December 2014. According to the state-run Costa Rican Electricity Institute, 80 percent of the country’s energy came from hydropower and 10 percent came from geothermal energy in 2014..."


Tesla's Elon Musk: "A Future Time When Human Driving is Illegal?" A bold statement, and it seems ludicrous today, but 20 years from now? Who knows - but check out gizmag.com for the story; here's a clip: "...He's also bullish on self-driving cars, and this week Musk went so far as to declare that they may completely replace the cars we drive today."In the distant future, [legislators] may outlaw driven cars because they’re too dangerous," Musk said on stage at Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference, following the introduction of Nvidia’s Drive PX self-driving car computer. "We’ll take autonomous cars for granted in quite a short time..."


The War Over Who Steve Jobs Was. Backchannel at medium.com has an interesting look at the movement to clean up the iGenius's image and ongoing legacy. Frankly I don't even care if he was an a-hole. He pushed people to do things they didn't even know they could accomplish and put a sizable dent in the (digital) universe. That's quite enough for one life. Here's an excerpt from the article: "...Isaacson’s eponymous biography of Jobs became a publishing phenomenon, selling over a million copies and making Isaacson himself somewhat of a celebrity. But privately, those closest to Jobs complained that Isaacson’s portrait focused too heavily on the Apple CEO’s worst behavior, and failed to present a 360-degree view of the person they knew. Though the book Steve Jobs gave copious evidence of its subject’s talent and achievements, millions of readers finished the book believing that he could be described with a word that rhymes with “gas hole...”


What Comes After Wave Runners? Well, if you have a need for serious speed on the water consider a Jet Capsule Reptile; details via Gizmag: "Following the success of the Lazzarini-designed Jet Capsule mini yacht, a lighter and faster version called the Reptile has been launched. It's 500 kg (1,102 lb) lighter than its predecessor and is equipped with a 570 hp Ilmor MV8 high performance marine engine that powers the compact vessel to maximum speeds of 50 knots – that's over 90 km/h (57.5 mph)..."


Hungry Pandas and Smiling Sea Lions. I just got back from San Diego, where I had a chance to check out the zoo and a couple of very cute panda bears from China. Lounging on the rocks in La Jolla were sea lions and I swear I saw a few of them grinning under a lukewarm sun. Hey, I'd be grinning too...


32 F. high in the Twin Cities Monday.

45 F. average high on March 23.

26 F. high on March 23, 2014.

2" snow on the ground at MSP International Airport.

March 24, 1851: Heat wave across Minnesota with 60's and 70's common.


TODAY: Clouds increase. PM showers develop. Winds: SE 15. High: 39

TUESDAY NIGHT: Rain ends as a little wet snow. A light coating of slush is possible. Low: 32

WEDNESDAY: Mostly cloudy, drying out. High: 42

THURSDAY: Peeks of sun, cold breeze. Wake-up: 28. High: 37

FRIDAY: Cold start with a bright blue sky, light winds. Nippy. Wake-up: 19. High: 35

SATURDAY: Intervals of sun, milder breeze. Wake-up: 23. High: 49

SUNDAY: Mild start, then cooling off. Dry. Wake-up: 41. High: 53

MONDAY: Plenty of sun. Springy again! Wake-up: 31. High: 57


Climate Stories...

Cyclone Pam Is Just The Start. Newsweek puts the super-cyclone (same thing as a typhoon and hurricane) into perspective; here's an excerpt: "In the wake of island nation Vanuatu’s devastation by Cyclone Pam, in which 320 mile-per-hour winds killed dozens of people and destroyed 90 percent of the buildings in the capital city of Port Vila, public health experts fear that the country's ruined infrastructure will result in mass starvation and epidemics of disease. As the rate of global climate change continues to increase, such tragedies will become more and more common around the world. Vanuatu is not alone..."

Image credit above: "An aerial view of the destruction after Cyclone Pam hit Port Vila, capital city of the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, on March 17, 2015." .


A Slow-Down In The North Atlantic Conveyer Belt? There was always concern among scientists that melting of (fresh) water, mainly from a rapidly melting Greenland, might impact the broad Atlantic Ocean circulation pattern. Chris Mooney has details of new research at The Washington Post; here's an excerpt: "...According to a new study just out in Nature Climate Change by Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and a group of co-authors, we’re now seeing a slowdown of the great ocean circulation that, among other planetary roles, helps to partly drive the Gulf Stream off the U.S. east coast. The consequences could be dire – including significant extra sea level rise for coastal cities like New York and Boston..."


Amazon Forest Becoming Less of a Climate Change Safety Net. Justin Gillis has the story for The New York Times; here's an excerpt: "The ability of the Amazon forest to soak up excess carbon dioxide is weakening over time, researchers reported last week. That finding suggests that limiting climate change could be more difficult than expected. For decades, Earth’s forests and seas have been soaking up roughly half of the carbon pollution that people are pumping into the atmosphere. That has limited the planetary warming that would otherwise result from those emissions..."

File photo credit: "Rivers meander like brown snakes through the world's largest tropical rain forest, the Amazon basin, home to an estimated 50,000 Asheninka Indians." (Photo by Tyrone Turner).


Journalists Have To Decide What To Do About Candidates Who Are Climate Change Denialists. Jay Rosen has an interesting post at PressThink; here's an excerpt: "...Persistence: Call what it is — a rejection of the science — and keep calling it that. “The Senator doubts that climate change is real, a position at stark odds with an overwhelming scientific consensus.” Here, you take responsibility for pointing out to voters that, while the candidate has his views, the evidence does not support them. And you do this not once, but every time the issue comes up. This is the fact-checking solution. Advantage: puts the campaign press back on the side of truthtelling. A major plus! Problem: likely to result in charges of bias from the candidates so described, likely to trigger the backfire effect among some voters (“in which corrections actually increase misperceptions among the group in question.”)..."

How Dry We Are - 88% of Minnesota Now In Moderate Drought

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: March 19, 2015 - 11:42 PM

The D-Word

Now that our manic weather has morphed into ALL-or-NOTHING I no longer take "average" for granted. It seems like we're either in a flood or a drought. Temperatures are either excessively warm or brutally cold. How I long to be normal. My wife wishes I was normal too, I should point out.

Today comes news that 88.2 percent of Minnesota is in a moderate drought, up from 5.7 percent just one week ago. The official drought outlook (below) suggests a statistically significant risk this drought may persist and even intensify in the months to come. A drier, milder bias may spill over into the summer. I hope the (alleged) experts are wrong. Wait, there are no experts. Sorry.

And for the record this past winter was the warmest, worldwide, on record, topping 2007. It was the 19th warmest for the USA; record heat out west but colder for the eastern USA - one of the few chilly spots on the planet.

Snow slushes up Philadelphia and New York City today while the Twin Cities, the garden spot of the USA, brushes 60F.

ECMWF guidance shows a light rain-snow mix late Sunday; a little rain late Tuesday but not the soaking we need right now. Check out lake water levels. I hope this doesn't turn into a rerun of 2012.


Flash-Drought. Over 88% of Minnesota is now in moderate drought, up from just over 5% of the state last week. Here's more information from NOAA and USDA's Drought Monitor: "In Minnesota, record temperatures sped up the drying process and precipitation is 2.5 to 3.5 inches short since October 1. In the Dakotas and Minnesota, temperatures were 18-24 degrees above normal this past week..."


Drought Outlook. According to NOAA NCEP the drought may persist or intensify from the eastern Dakotas into Minnesota and far western Wisconsin in the months to come. Based on the trends this outlook seems reasonable, if not unfortunate.


3-Month NOAA CPC Outlook. The Drought Monitor Forecast dovetails with the official verdict from NOAA's Climate Prediction Group, anticipating drier than average for the Pacific Northwest and Upper Mississippi Valley from April into June; a bias toward warmer than average weather from the Twin Cities and Fargo westward to California and Alaska.


Minor Relapse. 12 km NAM data from NOAA shows a slushy streak from North Dakota into Minnesota and southern Wisconsin Sunday night and early Monday, possibly just enough to whiten some lawns and fields, although I suspect most roads will stay wet. A couple inches of snow may fall today from Philadelphia to New York City. Source: Ham Weather.


Spring Fever Today, Then Cooling Down. I think the European solution above is overestimating just how chilly it's going to be next week; I see more 40s than 30s, but the atmosphere may be just cold enough for a little wet snow Sunday night into Monday morning. By late Tuesday temperatures aloft warm enough for rain showers. With temperatures dipping below freezing every night next week expect your favorite pothole to expand in size. Graphic: Weatherspark.


Seasonably Cool. 500 mb winds valid Thursday evening, April 2, show a continuation of cool and relatively dry for the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes as Canadian air clips the northern tier of the USA. At the rate we're going I think we'll go through the entire month of March, the second snowiest month of the year, with less than 3" of snow. Average snowfall is just over 10". Map: GrADS COLA/IGES.


Greatest Spring Flood Risk. The risk of spring flooding appears to be greatest from New England to the middle Mississippi River Valley, according to NOAA, which adds: "According to NOAA’s Spring Outlook released today, rivers in western New York and eastern New England have the greatest risk of spring flooding in part because of heavy snowpack coupled with possible spring rain. Meanwhile, widespread drought conditions are expected to persist in California, Nevada, and Oregon this spring as the dry season begins..."


The Only Place It Was Cold This Winter Was The East Coast of the USA. Joe Romm includes a few eye-opening statistics in his post at ThinkProgress; here's the introduction: "If you live on the East Coast of the United States, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has just released some statistics that may surprise you:

  • Globally, this has been the hottest winter on record, topping the previous record (2007) by 0.05°F.
  • This was “the 19th warmest winter for the contiguous US.”
  • Globally it’s easily been the hottest start to any year (January-February), beating the previous records (2002, 2007) by 0.07°F..."

Duluth Seeks New Federal Grant for Flood Victims. Fox 21 in Duluth has the story and video - here's an excerpt: "It's been three years since raging floodwaters tore through Duluth's streets and homes, leaving millions of dollars in damage behind. People are still struggling to fully rebuild. But now, the city is calling on those homeowners to help land a grant that could be between $1 million to $500 million..."


The Scientific Case for Cold Showers. A fascinating article at Fast Company argues that cold showers increase blood circulation, releases endorphins and can make you a more productive human being - if you can survive it! Here's a clip: "...Cold water has all sorts of tangible health benefits, as long as you can stand it. Katharine Hepburn spent a lifetime preaching its advantages. Similarly, brave oceangoers who partake in polar bear plunges in New Year claim it gives them a shot of adrenaline, leaving them feeling renewed and fresh. (Although doctors warn that drastic temperature shocks can be bad for people with underlying heart conditions.) And Russian Orthodox Christians have been known to go cold-water swimming for religious purposes every January to purify their souls..."


New Storm Surge Watch/Warning Maps to be Tested in 2015 Hurricane Season. NOLA.com in New Orleans has an interesting story - here's an excerpt: "...Several years in the making, the new maps are the second step in a program aimed at instituting separate storm surge watch and warning messages on a test basis during the 2016 hurricane season and making them permanent in 2017. The changes also include revised language for watch and warning messages. The maps and revised messages would be part of forecasts issued every six hours as a storm approaches the coast..."

Image credit above: "The National Hurricane Center will issue prototype color-coded maps showing storm surge watch and warning areas during the 2015 hurricane season, which begins June 1."


March 18 Was The 90 Year Anniversary Of America's Deadliest Tornado. The famous Tri-State Tornado may have been a family of tornadoes, forming one after another, dropping out of the same massive, supercell thunderstorm. John Belski has a good recap and links to more resources at WLKY.com: "The Tri-State tornado first touched down in southeast Missouri then traveled across southern Illinois and did not lift up until it was over southwest Indiana. The twister was on the ground for 295 miles. 695 people died and over 2,000 were injured..."


Tornado Forecast Study A Piece of the Loss Puzzle, Author Says. Winter El Nino and La Nina patterns are good (but not foolproof) harbingers of spring tornadoes to come, according to a story at RiskMarketNews; here's an excerpt: "...Allen and fellow Columbia professor Adam Sobel recently published a study suggesting that cyclical interactions of El Niño and La Niña that occur in the winter months in the Pacific — known together as the  El Niño-Southern Oscillation — can offer forecast signals tied to the spring tornado season in the U.S. Simply put, an El Niño pattern can dampen tornado activity while an La Niña can increase the chance of severe storms..."


Why Californians Are Starved of Water. Minnesota should not take its abundance of water resources for granted. Mark my words: at some point western states will be circling for a piece of our H2O. Here's the intro to a sobering read at Newsweek: "California is not suffering one drought but four. Each is a metaphor of what California has become. The first California drought, of course, is natural. We are now in the midst of a fourth year of record low levels of snow and rain. Californians have no idea that their state is a relatively recent construct—only 165 years old, with even less of a pedigree of accurate weather keeping. When Europeans arrived in California in the 15th and 16th centuries, they were struck by how few indigenous peoples lived in what seemed paradise—only to learn that the region was quite dry on the coast and in the interior..."

Photo credit above: "A visitor walks near the receding waters of Folsom Lake, which is at 17 percent of its capacity, in Folsom, California, on January 22, 2014."


California Targets Wrong Water-Wasters. Almonds anyone? East Bay Express in the Bay Area takes a look at California's perpetual drought and who is using the most water. You will be as surprised as I was. Here's an excerpt: "As the state's water supply plummets to scary levels, officials are going after people who overwater their lawns. That's a good idea. But they're not the worst culprits.

More bullet points from the article (thanks to Hunter Cutting)

"California's agricultural interests use 80 percent of the available water in the state each year, even though they represent just 2 percent of California's economy."

"California's almond crop now consumes more water than all outdoor watering combined." 

"At least 70 percent of the state's almond crop is now exported — much of it to China. In other words, we're essentially exporting our water to China."

"In the past decade, the number of almond orchards in the state has grown by roughly 50 percent — primarily because tree nuts are highly profitable for farmers."


My Ride In The Sci-Fi Car of the Future. I still can't get excited about autonomous vehicles that drive themselves. Maybe if I had a horrific daily commute I'd feel different. Then again millennials aren't nearly as attached to their own vehicles as their parents. Here's a clip from a story at Fortune: "...Welcome to the future, at least as envisioned by Mercedes and its team of futurists who have built a sci-fi car that is intended to reflect what driving will be like in 2030. What they came up with was a plush cabin filled with touch screens and an autopilot who never tires..."

Self-Driving Car To Cross U.S. From California to New York. Head for the hills! Gizmag reports.


Before We Go... Hey, if local television can end on a high (happy!) note, why not online. Here's an excerpt of a story with animated GIFs you'll want to forward to your friends, courtesy of Huffington Post: "International climate change diplomacy isn't exactly a thrilling topic. From nonbinding resolutions to informal agreements and Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, it can be hard to keep up with what's going on, and that's if you can stay awake while talking about it! So to make it a little more fun, we're going to illustrate the amazing progress of the last year with baby elephant gifs, courtesy of reddit's /r/BabyElephantGifs..."


50 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities Thursday.

43 F. average high on March 19.

36 F. high on March 19, 2014.

1.9" snow so far this month.

7.4" average snowfall for March in the Twin Cities, to date.

March 20, 1991: Early tornado hits Faribault county from Bricelyn to Wells


TODAY: Mild with fading sun. Showers up north. Winds: W 10-15. High: near 60

FRIDAY NIGHT: Turning windy and colder. Low: 29

SATURDAY: Partly sunny and cooler. Temperatures closer to average. High: 43

SUNDAY: Chance of a rain/snow mix late. Wake-up: 30. High: near 40

MONDAY: A little early slush? Clouds linger. Wake-up: 28. High: 42

TUESDAY: Showers, first clap of thunder? Wake-up: 31. High: 51

WEDNESDAY: Unsettled, lingering showers. Wake-up: 37. High: 48

THURSDAY: Blue sky, cool breeze. Wake-up: 29. High: 44


Climate Stories...

Scientists Say Arctic Sea Ice Just Hit a Disturbing New Level. Chris Mooney has details at The Washington Post; here's an excerpt that got my complete attention: "...And now, the Boulder-based National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), which tracks sea ice, has indeed announced that the peak winter Arctic sea ice extent “likely” occurred Feb. 25, and that this maximum “not only occurred early; it is also the lowest in the satellite record.” However, the agency does include several caveats. That includes not only the word “likely,” but also the observation that “a late season surge in ice growth is still possible...”


Obama To Order Cuts in Federal Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Here's the introduction to a story at The New York Times: "President Obama will sign an executive order on Thursday to cut the federal government’s greenhouse gas emissions, a White House official said, his latest use of presidential power to address the root causes of climate change. It is part of Mr. Obama’s effort during his last two years in office to use an expansive interpretation of his presidential authority to counter strong opposition from the Republican-controlled Congress to enacting climate legislation...."


Humans Accepting Climate Change vs. Jello: The Coastal Effect. Greg Laden has a fascinating post that may help to explain why residents of the Plains states are more cynical and skeptical of climate change than someone living near the coast in California, Florida or Virginia. Here's an excerpt from scienceblogs.com: "...So, where does the bowl of Jell-O fit in to all of this? A recent study, in PLOS One, examines attitudes about climate change in relation to distance from the sea. The study takes place in New Zealand, but references other studies that look at similar things elsewhere. The bottom line is this: The farther a human lives from the sea, the less likely the human is to accept the reality of climate change science. Putting this another way, the father a bowl of Jell-O is from that which may poke it, the less poked it is, and thus, the less it develops, learns, evolves, gets smart..."


Republicans Push Climate Change Cuts at CIA, Defense Department. Yes, by all means let's ignore the problem so we can spend 10x or 100x within 5-10 years. That sounds like a good idea. Defense One has the story; here's the intro: "If Republicans get their way, the CIA and the Defense Department could soon have a lot less cash for climate research. The House GOP budget unveiled on Tuesday calls for cuts to CIA and DOD programs devoted to the study of global warming, despite the fact that the military has identified climate change as a major national security threat and a key priority.The Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency, two of the most important agencies in our national security apparatus, currently spend part of their budget studying climate change,” the budget states..."

Image credit: NASA/Kathryn Hansen


Republicans Seeks To Push Climate Change Off National Security Agenda. Here's a slightly different perspective on the story referenced above; an excerpt from Mashable: "...The Pentagon produced a climate change “road map" in 2014 that laid out the case for viewing global warming impacts as a threat multiplier and, in some cases, as an immediate threat. The Pentagon is concerned, for example, that sea level rise could flood its largest naval bases, such as the massive installations in Norfolk, Virginia, and make it more challenging to operate in already hot and dry places that could become more expensive to operate in, like the American Southwest..." (File photo: Hassan Ammar, AP).


The Right Warms Up To Climate Change. Here's an excerpt from a story at The Daily Beast: "Their pace is, well, glacial, but conservatives are definitely moving in the direction of endorsing climate change. Just don’t ask them to blame humans yet. Four years ago UC-Berkeley physics professor Richard Muller began releasing the results of a sweeping two-year climate study. It confirmed what the overwhelming majority of other climate studies had also found: that the Earth was warming and humans were almost entirely responsible. But what set Muller’s study apart was that prior to the release of his report, he had been known as a leading climate-change skeptic..."

Photo Illustration by Emil Lendof/The Daily Beast.


Black Pastors Go Green? Church Leaders Team Up To Fight Climate Change. Madame Noire has the article; here's the introduction: "Who wants to praise the Lord while suffocating in greenhouse gases and other pollutants? Not I — and certainly not the nation’s top church leaders. A thousand Black churches across the U.S. are teaming up with the U.S. Green Building Council and Green for All to combat climate change. They call it the “Green the Church” movement. When the Black church has got your back, you’re going places. “No major movement in this nation has been successful without power and leadership of black church,” said Ambrose Carroll, founder of Green The Church..."


What Can a Mom Do When Climate Change Hits Home? Huffington Post has the Op-Ed; here's a snippet: "...But here are a 3 things I know:

1. I want to remain optimistic, but not foolishly so -- for there is a fine line between optimism and wishful thinking, and wishful thinking will not protect our children.

2. I want to allow myself to get skillfully angry -- because the alternative is a quiet despair and inaction, or the kind of talk that tends to get one dismissed as "shrill" or worse..."

Tuesday Snow Potential - Early Case of Spring Fever?

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: February 28, 2015 - 11:47 PM

In Like a Yak?

"If March comes in like a lamb it will go out as a lion?" How predictably pedestrian.

Sadly, lions are endangered and the lambs have hired lawyers. I was raised (by wolves) to believe that, when March comes in like a yak, it will go out like an emu. Or is it tortoise and aardvark? I'm just not good with animals.

I apologize for any confusion.

Welcome to March, a baffling month of slush, puddles and a wild freeze-thaw cycle, where the only thing guaranteed is crater-size potholes. By the end of this month the average high is close to 50F, but temperatures can range from subzero to 80s.

With an average of 10.3 inches, March, once the snowiest month of the year, is now second only to January.

A few inches of snow may fall on Tuesday, maybe 6 inches for southeast Minnesota. A rapidly thawing atmosphere will push the storm track north in the coming weeks, increasing the potential for moisture here. But by the latter half of next week temperatures aloft should be warm enough for rain. I see persistent 30s and 40s by the second week of March. It still looks like the wicked winds of winter, a winter that hasn't been that bad, will subside within 2 weeks.

Very yak-like, don't you think?


Potentially Plowable. I'm not yet convinced the metro area is picking up 6" on Tuesday, but a plowable, 2-3"+ slush-fest is possible, slowing down your commute a bit, maybe enough to shovel, plow (and lead the news).


An Early Taste of Spring Fever? One more cold front with subzero implications arrives Wednesday; 2 more nights below zero later this week. No travel problems today or Monday but Tuesday may be a mess with a few inches of snow, with could be catastrophic, conisdering we're all forgotten how to drive on "snow". A Pacific warm front arrives Friday; 40s may be commonplace next week with a chance of "rain". So many new terms in the weather blog.


The (Mild) Ides of March. 500 mb winds (18,000 feet) are forecast to be zonal, blowing in from the Pacific Northwest by mid-month. That should mean 40s, even a chance of a few 50s within 2 weeks or so, temperatures aloft warm enough for rain. I don't think March 2015 will in any way resemble March, 2014.


Too Early To Celebrate. The (new) GFS model hints at 60F in roughly 2 weeks. Not sure I'm buying that, at least not yet. We have a trace of snow on the ground and even if we pick up a few more inches Tuesday most of that will be gone by next weekend. If the sun comes out temperatures may surge into the 50s in about 12-14 days. Source: Ham Weather's Aeris Enterprise.


Alerts Broadcaster Briefing: Issued Saturday night, February 28, 2015.

* Major icing event possible Sunday afternoon, evening and early nighttime hours as rain falls on ground temperatures colder than 32F. I-95 may be wet and slushy, but many state and local roads from Baltimore to Philadelphia to New York City will become icy during the late afternoon and evening hours.

* Potential for major travel disruptions on land, and from BWI to PHL, JFK, EWR and LGA.

* Power outages possible as ice accumulates on power lines and transformers. Risk appears to be greatest in the Delaware Valley.


Major Ice Storm Potential. Internal Alerts Broadcaster algorithms focus the greatest risk of moderate to severe glaze icing from Baltimore and Wilmington to Lancaster, Philadelphia and south Jersey late afternoon and evening hours on Sunday. Graphic: Alerts Broadcaster.


Cities We're Tracking. Over a third of an inch of freezing rain (rain freezing into glaze ice on sub-freezing surfaces, including streets, sidewalks and power lines) from Baltimore to Philadelphia and the suburbs of New York City. Credit: Alerts Broadcaster.


Why We're Concerned. Model guidance shows the 32-degree isotherm staying south of Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York City at 4 PM Sunday, increasing the risk of significant accumulations of ice. Models print out .50 to .80" of rain, and a significant percentage of that rain may freeze into glaze, especially at the onset of precipitation Sunday afternoon. 4 PM NAM: NOAA and Ham Weather.

Paul Douglas - Senior Meteorologist - Alerts Broadcaster


2015 Boston Blizzard Takes It's Toll On Region's Buildings. I found a story at Architecture Magazine interesting - here's an excerpt and link: "This winter has been a particularly tough one for those in the Boston area, which has experienced 31 days and counting of heavy snow, ice, and deep freezes. The severe winter weather has not only claimed several lives, but also a number of the region’s buildings44 in a two-day span. In particular, the unanticipated and extreme snow and ice loads have taken their toll on the region’s roofs, causing them to sag, leak, and collapse. The damage to municipal buildings can be seen through the city’s drone footage..."

File Photo credit above: "Graham Jamison, right, and Austin Anschultz walk through blowing snow on Beacon Hill in Boston, Sunday, Feb. 15, 2015. A blizzard warning was in effect for coastal communities from Rhode Island to Maine, promising heavy snow and powerful winds to heap more misery on a region that has already seen more than 6 feet of snow in some areas." (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer).


Close-Up Lightning Strike Compilation. No, don't try this at home - some of these close calls are truly amazing. Check out the YouTube clip, which has received 3.7 million views.


Aeris Pulse: Location-Specific Severe Weather Threats. Full disclosure: this is an app for Apple iOS and Android that my team is working on, the ability to create GPS-centric alerts that are different for everyone, based on their current location  and the areas they care about. Learn more about Aeris Pulse: "Using your current GPS location, Aeris Pulse highlights where the weather threats are relative to you. Aeris Pulse informs you to a variety of threats, whether it’s a severe thunderstorm with large hail and lightning or a winter storm with ice and heavy snow. All of this is immediately available when you launch the app in an easy-to-read, clean interface."


Aeris Wear. Doppler on your watch? People raised eyebrows when we (first) put Doppler radar on cell phones back in 2001. Why on Earth would you ever want that? Maybe in a few years (most) weather enthusiasts won't think twice about checking their watches to see if rain or lightning (or any threat) is lurking nearby. For now Aeris Wear is available for Android phones only, and the basic version is free. A version for iOS and Apple is coming soon.


What ISIS Really Wants. Just in case you missed this important story in The Atlantic; here's a link and excerpt: "The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it..." (Image credit: AP/The Atlantic).


Who Is Hacking Whom? Ham Weather uber-programmer and weather model specialist, Patrick Francis, wrote a recent story that made me do a triple-take. Here's an excerpt from aplus.com: "Modern Media will "Hype" times that a massive hack occurs, such as Sony Corporation, but does that tell the real story? For the last two months I have tracked every attempted breach of my systems, stored the IP of the attacker, and researched information about his or her country of origin, city, company and so forth. The heck of it is, there's not a lot that can be done with this information, because there is no one to share it with who can do anything about it! :) Still, some people might be interested to know a little bit about who is hacking who..."


Who Killed Tony The Tiger? Bloomberg Business takes a look at how Kellogg lost breakfast and what it means for the rest of the industry; here's a clip: "...Now Americans have fewer children. Both parents often work and no longer have time to linger over a serving of Apple Jacks and the local newspaper. Many people grab something on the way to work and devour it in their cars or at their desks while checking e-mail. “For a while, breakfast cereal was convenience food,” says Abigail Carroll, author of Three Squares: The Invention of the American Meal. “But convenience is relative. It’s more convenient to grab a breakfast bar, yogurt, a piece of fruit, or a breakfast sandwich at some fast-food place than to eat a bowl of breakfast cereal...."


Facebook Will Now Reach Out To Users Who Their Friends Think Are Suicidal. A big thank you to Dr. Dan Reidenberg and his amazing team at SAVE (Suicide Awareness, Voices of Education) based in Bloomington for being the driving force behind this effort with Facebook; BuzzFeed News reports: "...The social network teamed up with a number of suicide prevention organizations and research centers in hopes of helping people online prevent their friends from committing suicide. These organizations include National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Now Matters Now, Save.org, and Forefront: Innovations in Suicide Prevention from the School of Social Work at Washington University..."


-3 F. morning low on Saturday.

20 F. high Saturday afternoon.

34 F. average high on February 28.

14 F. high on February 28, 2014.

Trace of snow on the ground at KMSP.

9.4. February is running 9.4F colder than average in the Twin Cities. February 2014 was 12.3F colder than normal.

February 28, 1966: The Blizzard of '66 hits Minnesota and lasts 4 days. Aitken got 23 inches of snow. The snow depth at International Falls reached a record 37 inches by the end of the storm.



TODAY: Mix of clouds and sun, not bad. Winds: W 15. High: 27

SUNDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy and chilly. Low; 10

MONDAY: Partly sunny, no travel problems. High: near 30

TUESDAY: Few inches of snow? More south. Wake-up: 22. High: 28

WEDNESDAY: Sunny and bitter. Feels like -20F. Wake-up: -1. High: 8

THURSDAY: Cold start, breezy with fading sun. Wake-up: -6. High: 19

FRIDAY: Some sun, above average. Wake-up: 17. High: 35

SATURDAY: Blue sky, feeling better out there. Wake-up: 19. High: 37

* Thanks to Media Logic meteorologist Todd Nelson, who snapped the photo above near Two Harbors on Saturday.


Climate Stories...

Is The Environment a Moral Cause? Here's a clip from a New York Times Op-Ed: "...People think quite differently, however, when they are morally engaged with an issue. In such cases people are more likely to eschew a sober cost-benefit analysis, opting instead to take action because it is the right thing to do. Put simply, we’re more likely to contribute to a cause when we feel ethically compelled to. Still, why do liberals moralize environmental issues, while conservatives do not? The answer is complex, owing in part to the specific history of the American environmental movement..."


Greenpeace Probe of Climate Naysayer Implicates Exxon Mobil. BuzzFeed News takes a look at more implications of the Willie Soon sage; here's an excerpt: "...The records released Friday show that Exxon’s support of Soon came despite a 2007 pledge to quit funding climate naysayer groups, according to Greenpeace’s Jesse Coleman, who started the Soon records search using public records laws. “Exxon told us that they would stop funding climate denial front groups,” Coleman told BuzzFeed News. “Years later, they were still funding Willie Soon...”


Climate Oscillations and the Global Warming Faux Pause. Here's an excerpt of a story written by Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann at Huffington Post: "...It is true that Earth's surface warmed a bit less than models predicted it to over the past decade-and-a-half or so. This doesn't mean that the models are flawed. Instead, it points to a discrepancy that likely arose from a combination of three main factors (see the discussion my piece last year in Scientific American). These factors include the likely underestimation of the actual warming that has occurred, due to gaps in the observational data. Secondly, scientists have failed to include in model simulations some natural factors (low-level but persistent volcanic eruptions and a small dip in solar output) that had a slight cooling influence on Earth's climate. Finally, there is the possibility that internal, natural oscillations in temperature may have masked some surface warming in recent decades, much as an outbreak of Arctic air can mask the seasonal warming of spring during a late season cold snap. One could call it a global warming "speed bump." In fact, I have..."

* An abstract of the new research is available at Science Magazine.

* Reuters has more on the latest research here.


Climate Change Might Be Causing These Huge Craters in Siberia. VICE News has the story - here's the introduction: "Reports of new methane-eruption craters in the Siberian permafrost have piqued the interest of scientists around the higher latitudes who see it as a new sign of a warming climate. The first craters were identified in summer 2014 in the natural gas-rich Yamal Peninsula, which juts into the frigid Kara Sea more than 2,000 miles northeast of Moscow. They're suspected to have been caused by eruptions of methane from beneath the region's permafrost soil, which has been thawing during recent summers..."

Photo credit: Vladimir Pushkarev/Russian Centre of Arctic Exploration/Reuters.