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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50 Degrees Warmer Than Last Year - Was Northeast Blizzard Forecast a Bust?

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: January 27, 2015 - 11:49 PM

The Grand Illusion

With apologies to the rock band Styx - I'm talking about a different illusion here. Recent years have brought a meteorological arms race: new weather models, higher resolution, more petaflops! Here is what I hear all the time:

"Paul, you blinking meathead, you have access to supercomputer and Doppler radar. You SHOULD be able to tell me exactly how many inches of snow will fall in my yard!"

In theory, yes. In reality, not even close.

Private and government (NOAA) forecasters in New York and Boston are under siege for overestimating Monday night's snowfall amounts. In their defense even the ECMWF (European) model busted. Total amounts ranged from 8 inches at Central Park to 21 at Sayville, Long Island, only 50 miles due east. I'm not sure weather models will ever able to effectively pinpoint such extremes over such a small geographical area.

Weather isn't an exact science, like economics or foreign policy.

After brushing 40F today we cool off Thursday; weekend snow passing south of Minnesota. A whiff of subzero air is expected on Groundhog Day, an even colder slap by the end of next week.

But no sign of polar air stalling nearby. Another Pacific thaw is shaping up for the second week of February.

20-30" snow for metro Boston. The forecast verified for Bean Town; details from CBS Boston. Photo credit: "Cars are buried by drifted snow along Marlborough Street, Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015, in Boston. A howling blizzard with wind gusts over 70 mph heaped snow on Boston along with other stretches of lower New England." (AP Photo/Dwayne Desaulniers).

Snowstorm's Forecast Was Mostly Right, Even If It Felt Wrong In New York. Manhattan was on the western edge of the heaviest snow bands; 40 miles made the difference between 8" and 21". Here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "...One of the difficulties with forecasting major storms, Dr. Sobel said, is that a small error in predicting the path of the storm can cause a much larger error in impact. “The bigger the event, the bigger the bust potential,” he said. In this storm, the predicted snowfall gradients — charts showing how much would accumulate where — were very steep. “So a little bit of track error means a big snowfall error,” he said..."

Photo credit above: "Snow swirls into the air as Ted Diamond operates a snow blower to clear out his driveway on Greenvale Drive in East Northport on Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015, in New York. Long Island was one of several areas throughout the state to be hit by a blizzard overnight into this morning." (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek).

Partly Wrong With A Chance of Being Right: Weather Forecast. Why do weather models fail? In light of the Big Bust out east I wanted to include a link to a storyy at ScienceDaily; here's an excerpt: "...For example, they found that in the eastern Mediterranean, particles in the atmosphere were the most important cause of forecast fallacies, followed by land cover change. They also found topography to be the most influential factor affecting weather around the world. "The only tool the weather forecaster has is his model, and the only choice he or she has is to look at different models, each of which has strengths and weaknesses," said Prof. Alpert..."

What Exactly Is A Nor'easter? Newsweek has a good description; here's an excerpt: "...A classic nor’easter results when an existing low-pressure system moves across the country from west to east and then spawns a new storm off the East Coast, usually between the Carolinas and New Jersey, explains Keith Seitter, executive director of the American Meteorological Society. The initial storm may not have produced a huge amount of precipitation as it moved over land, but the new storm goes through an “explosive development,” says Seitter, and becomes a “monster storm” that absorbs the original one..."

Image credit above: "A winter storm approaches the eastern United States in a satellite image released January 26, 2015. The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for New York City and surrounding areas between coastal New Jersey and Connecticut, beginning 1 p.m. EST on Monday. The storm will worsen overnight into Tuesday morning." .

Snow Scary. The New Yorker has a terrific article that helps to explain why the USA is a nation of extreme-weather junkies; here's a clip: "...Edgework” is precisely what extreme weather is. A winter storm—or any storm, really—approximates this thrill. It’s powerful, and even dangerous. But safely ensconced inside, and in front of our computer screens, we don’t think that it will really hurt us. The power might go out, but then we would be able to share a picture of a car buried in a snowdrift. And then, soon, it will be over. You will have had the thrill, and you might have gained control over it by capturing a moment of “danger,” but, in all, it seems a relatively minor risk. We satisfy our inner risk-seeker without going into dangerous territory..."

7 Chilling Stories Of Snow Storms Throughout American History. TIME Magazine takes a numbing walk down memory lane; here's a clip: "...It was Jan. 31, 1977, when this poor freezing man appeared on the cover of TIME. The story inside, which detailed the effects on the United States of what the publisher’s letter called “the bitterest cold spell in memory.” The first-ever reported snow fall in West Palm Beat, Fla., had shocked residents. Buffalo had been buried under more than 120 in. of the white stuff that season. And, ironically, areas that needed snow — the ski resorts of Idaho, for example — had to rely on snow-making machines despite the cold temperatures...

Photo credit: Bill Koch, North Dakota State Highway Department. Credit: Collection of Fr. Herbert Kroehl, NGDC.

"Snowstorms Then And Now". McSweeney's Internet Tendency has a look at how adults have ruined snowstorms. It's a worthy (and funny) read.

Cold Start to February - Not Polar Yet. I keep waiting for the other shoe (boot) to drop, and it may the end of next week; ECMWF guidance hinting at subzero weather in about 8-10 days. We'll see - we've had a few false alarms in the last few weeks so confidence levels are low about any kind of sustained cold waves. Highs may brush 40F today before cooling off tomorrow; the mercury nicking freezing again Saturday and Wednesday of next week. Big storms? Get serious. Graphic: Weatherspark.

GFS Numbers. GFS guidance also confirms that the first week of February may be colder than average with a few nights dipping below zero. Most models show another puff of Pacific air sparking another thaw by the second week of February.

Why So Many Global Temperature Records? NASA Earth Observatory has a good explainer focused on 2014 being the warmest year ever observed, as well as providing perspective of recent trends; here's a clip: "...But let’s get back to the original question: why are there so many temperature records? One of the hallmarks of good science is that observations should be independently confirmed by separate research groups using separate methods when possible. And in the case of global temperatures, that’s exactly what is happening. Despite some differences in the year-to-year rankings, the trends observed by all the groups are roughly the same. They all show warming. They all find the most recent decade to be warmer than previous decades..."

Millions of GMO Insects Could Be Released in Florida Keys. The Associated Press has the story - here's the introduction: "Millions of genetically modified mosquitoes could be released in the Florida Keys if British researchers win approval to use the bugs against two extremely painful viral diseases. Never before have insects with modified DNA come so close to being set loose in a residential U.S. neighborhood..."

Patriots Say Study Proves Ball Deflation "Not Human Caused". Where have you heard this before? Here's the intro to a tongue-in-cheek look from Daily Kos: "The New England Patriots pointed to a study released today which they say shows that the alleged deflation of footballs in recent games was not due to human causes. "It's just natural variation," explains the executive summary of the study. "Footballs have had different inflation pressures for thousands of years." The study was released today by the Edelman research firm, which usually focuses on swatting away the damaging efforts of environmentalists to impede progress..."

Is It OK To Eat Snow? I know this has been on your mind; here's an answer from Popular Science: "...Once the snow is on the ground, it stays clean until other things land on top of it. Everyone knows you shouldn’t eat yellow snow. Brown snow is off limits, too. That’s because as snow sits around, it goes through a process called dry deposition, in which dust and dirt particles stick to the snow. And Nolin says to steer clear of watermelon snow: It might look pretty and very pink, but it’s filled with algae that don’t do great things for digestion..."

36 F. high in the Twin Cities Tuesday.

24 F. average high on January 27.

-6 F. high on January 27, 2014.

-16 F. morning low on January 27, 2014.

Trace of snow on the ground in the Twin Cities.

January 27, 1914: A very rare thunderstorm observed at Maple Plain during the evening. Heavy thunder and vivid lightning was observed.

January 27, 1846: Not too shabby for a January day. The high in the Twin Cities was 50, which is the normal high for the beginning of March.

“You can easily judge the character of others by how they treat those who can do nothing for them or to them.” – Malcolm Forbes“You can easily judge the character of others by how they treat those who can do nothing for them or to them.” – Malcolm Forbes

TODAY: Mostly cloudy and mild. Winds: Southeast 10. High: 40

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Clouds, still unseasonably mild for late January. Low: 30

THURSDAY: Windy, turning cooler with more clouds than sun. High: 33

FRIDAY: Fading sun, average temperatures. Wake-up: 18. High: 27

SATURDAY: Gray with flurries possible south. Heavier snow should stay south of MN. Wake-up: 19. High: 30

SUNDAY: Brisk Super Bowl Sunday. Dry with plenty of sun. Wake-up: 15. High: 18

MONDAY: Blue sky. Groundhog's shadow may freeze off. Wake-up: 3. High: 12

TUESDAY: Not as cold, flurries possible. Wake-up: 10. High: 25

Climate Stories...

Why Bigger Snowstorms Come With Global Warming. Warmer air and ocean water is increasing water vapor, more fuel for flash floods in the summer months, and extreme snow events in the winter. In fact 5 of New York City's biggest blizzards on record have all occurred in the last 12 years. Here's an excerpt from a timely story at InsideClimate News: "...As the oceans warm due to the burning of fossil fuels, the atmosphere above can hold more moisture, which in turn fuels the creation of the most intense precipitation events. The mid-Atlantic is currently 2 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. In the spring, summer and fall, that translates into more of the most intense rainstorms. In the winter, when that moisture-rich air hits cold temperatures on the continent, heavier snowfall results. The amount of rain and snow falling in the heaviest precipitation events in the Northeast has jumped 71 percent in the last half-century, according to the 2014 National Climate Assessment...."

Is Climate Change To Blame For The Northeast Snow Storm? The short answer is no, the storm would have formed, with or without warmer air and sea surface temperatures. Did significantly warmer water in the Gulf Stream just east of New Jersey help to spike some of the winds and snowfall amounts? Probably. Here's an excerpt from Huffington Post: "...Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist in the climate analysis section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said that in winter, temperatures are generally colder on land than over the oceans. Climate change is raising ocean temperatures, however, and current sea surface temperatures are more the 2 degrees Fahrenheit higher than normal over much of the area off the East Coast of the United States, he explained to The Huffington Post. Trenberth also said that water vapor in the atmosphere is about 10 percent higher than normal, and about half of this change can be attributed to climate change..."

Photo credit: "A snow-entombed car in Cambridge, Mass., Jan 27, 2015. The first major storm of the winter blasted across eastern New England on Tuesday, unleashing whiteout conditions driven by gale-force winds." (Katherine Taylor/The New York Times).

Climate Change Expected To Bring More Extreme La Ninas. Here's an excerpt from a story at CBS News: "...A new study concludes that extreme La Nina events like this will become twice as likely in the future due to climate change. The study in Nature Climate Change found that the La Nina extreme weather -- which happens about once every 23 years -- will occur every 13 years by the end of this century, based on an analysis of 21 climate models. Three-quarters of those increased La Nina events would follow extreme El Nino events "thus projecting more frequent swings between opposite extremes from year to the next..."

The United States of Denial. Which states send the most climate-science-deniers to Washington D.C.? Here's an excerpt of a story and interactive graphic from onEarth: "...An analysis by the Center for American Progress, a public policy think tank, found that 53 percent of Republicans in the House and 70 percent in the Senate deny humanity’s role in climate change. (As the map shows, deniers also tend to receive a pretty penny from the fossil fuel industry.)..."

Climate-Change Consensus Is Reached Everywhere But In Washington. Here's a snippet from an Op-Ed that resonated at The Globe and Mail: "...This is less like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic than looking over the railing and debating whether the giant white thing is an iceberg or a marshmallow. The consensus has been reached, gentlemen, everywhere but in Washington. Even the plutocrats at Davos are sweating through their Zegna suits: The World Economic Forum spent a day debating climate change and its disruptive effects, and listed climate-related chaos among the greatest threats facing the planet..."

More March than January - Freeze/Thaw Cycle Creating Problems

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: January 26, 2015 - 8:39 PM

Creeping Shorelines

A baffling, super-sized January Thaw is doing more than frustrating snow lovers. Huge swings in temperature either side of 32F are creating tremor-size cracks in parking lots. The premature freeze-thaw cycle is rearranging shorelines on lakes up north.

A friend, Jim Tucker, lives in Pequot Lakes. He showed me massive berms of sand and rock pushed toward shore. Every new dip below freezing causes expansion of water, sand & mud, creating new lakeshore headaches. One of Jim's photos is above - he hasn't seen anything like this in January before.

The freeze-thaw cycle comes in March, not January, but someone forgot to tell Old Man Winter.

Talk about a disconnect: an historic blizzard has shut down much of the Northeast; it's the rough equivalent of a tropical storm, but with snow and subzero wind chills. While I receive increasingly frantic notes from snow fans. For the record: I haven't given up on snow, but El Nino will continue to divert MOST sloppy storms well south and east of Minnesota. 40s into Wednesday, then a chance of light snow Saturday. We catch a cold early next week (2 days of wind chill) but models show a predominately Pacific flow, with one mild front after another, into much of February.

Feels a little like 2012.

Shrinking Early February Cold Wave. Temperatures continue to trend well above average into Saturday before cooling down, although it doesn't look nearly as arctic as it did just a few days ago, maybe 2-3 days in the teens? Shocking news: no significant snowfalls are in sight, thanks to a predominately mild and dry west/northwest wind flow aloft from the Pacific. Gulf moisture can't flood northward, limiting how much snow can fall.

An Early March? GFS guidance, valid Tuesday, February 10, shows a massive ridge of warm high pressure from the Rockies into the Great Lakes, which may translate into 40s, even a few 50s close to home. Another wet cycle for California helps to put another small dent in a long-term drought. With the exception of northern New England most of the USA is abnormally mild. Map: WSI Corporation.

Alerts Broadcaster Briefing: Issued Monday morning, January 26, 2015.

* What may become a Top 10 Snowstorm from New York City to Boston continues to intensify; blizzard conditions likely from this evening into Tuesday, extending into Wednesday morning in the Boston area.

* 1 to 3 foot snowfall amounts still likely from New York City and Long Island to Hartford, Providence, Boston and Portland. By Tuesday night and Wednesday there may be reports of 4-6 foot drifts as virtually all traffic, land and air, grinds to a halt for the better part of 48 hours.

* With winds gusting over 50 mph into Tuesday the risk of power outages will be high. Resources to track power outages, state by state, below.

* Significant risk of coastal flooding and beach erosion, especially at high tide over the next 24 hours.

Hype-Worthy Storm. A fresh injection of upper level energy, coupled with unusually warm Gulf Stream water off the East Coast, is setting the stage for a potentially historic blizzard for coastal New England. The storm stalls, temporarily, prolonging a fire hose of Atlantic moisture from Long Island to Cape Cod and Boston, resulting in some extreme snowfall totals. Throw in wind gusts of 40-50 mph. tonight and Tuesday and you have all the ingredients for a crippling snowstorm.

Blizzard Warnings In Effect. A Blizzard Warning means that treacherous/impassable travel conditions are imminent. Warnings are posted from Atlantic City and New York To Hartford, Providence and Boston for white-out conditions tonight into early Wednesday. Map: Aeris Weather.

Models are in fairly good agreement:

A Convergence of Factors. Latest guidance prints out 2.6" liquid for New York City. Since this will fall as all snow that translates into at least 2 feet of snow, possibly 3 feet since temperatures will fall into the teens tomorrow, making this a light, fluffy, powdery snow, prone to blowing and drifting. Map: Aeris Weather.

Another Solution - Just As Extreme. All the models we study before making a forecast are in fairly good agreement. The only question: will it wind up being a foot, or closer to 2-3 feet by Tuesday night and Wednesday morning? On our scale from nuisance to plowable and crippling there's little doubt this will be a crippling storm, probably the most snow in New York City since 20" fell in 2010.

Why We're Still Concerned About Power Outages. Model output above from WeatherBell show winds at 10-meters above the ground gusting to near hurricane force on Tuesday. Although surface gusts won't be quite that high I could easily see 40-60 mph wind gusts, capable of bringing down trees and power lines. Extended power outages can't be ruled out, especially near the coast. Here are additional resources to track potential power failuress on the grid:

New York ---

New Jersey ---

Connecticut ---

Delaware ---

Rhode Island ---

Massachusetts ---

New Hampshire ---

Maine ---

Timing The Blizzard. Blizzard conditions (sustained winds over 35 mph with visibility under 1/4 mile) reach Long Island and Martha's Vineyard this evening, expanding into metro New York City and Boston during the wee hours of the morning Tuesday. Source: Aeris Weather.

Blizzard Increases In Coverage Tuesday. By 7 am Tuesday blizzard conditions are likely from Atlantic City to New York, Long Island, Providence and Boston.

Blizzard Shifts to Boston Late Tuesday and Tuesday night. By tomorrow afternoon the heaviest snows will being to push out of metro New York City into Providence and Boston. I expect blizzard conditions to spill over into much of Wednesday in the Boston and Portland area.

Another Factor To Consider: Coastal Flooding. Models show a 5 foot storm surge at The Battery, in Lower Manhattan, shortly after midnight tonight. High waves will be superimposed on top of this surge, resulting in moderate to major lowland flooding in the Tri-State area. This will be comparable to a moderate tropical storm impacting the region. Source: NOAA.

Boston Surge: 8 Feet. An even more extreme storm surge is forecast for Boston Harbor, 8 feet above mean sea level by 5 am Tuesday, which whould be the most extreme high tide. Additional flooding is possible around 5 pm tomorrow.

Top 10 Snowfall for New York City. If the forecasts verify this could easily wind up being a Top 5 snowfall for New York, certainly the biggest since 20.9" fell in February of 2010.

Boston Records. This should wind up being a Top 5 or Top 10 snowfall for Boston, the most snow since 2 feet feel in February 2013.

Summary: The media coverage is probably warranted this time around. The most significant blizzard to strike New York City and Boston in at least a decade is winding up. What makes this storm especially dangerous and impactful is a combination of factors:

* 1-3 feet of snow NYC to BOS, but cold surface temperatures will mean a dry, powdery snow, prone to blowing and drifting. Some spots will wind up with 4-6 foot drifts, meaning impacts much of this week. Things may not get back to normal (whatever that is) by the end of the week.

* High winds, gusting over 50 mph tonight into Tuesday, increasing the risk of power outages. I could see emergency warming centeres, even some evacuations of people from their homes, late tonight into early Wednesday.

* Coastal flooding. High tide will bring lowland and coastal flooding from midnight tonight into the afternoon hours tomorrow.

* Bitter temperatures. Readings falling into the teens tomorrow with a subzero windchill will increase the risk of frostbite and hypothermia, for people caught outdoors, and people indoors lacking electricity.

We'll have another update Tuesday morning. Good luck, hunker down, and don't push the weather!

Paul Douglas - Senior Meteorologist - Alerts Broadcaster

Millions of GMO Insects Could Be Released in Florida Keys. The Associated Press has the story - here's the introduction: "Millions of genetically modified mosquitoes could be released in the Florida Keys if British researchers win approval to use the bugs against two extremely painful viral diseases. Never before have insects with modified DNA come so close to being set loose in a residential U.S. neighborhood..."

Patriots Say Study Proves Ball Deflation "Not Human Caused". Where have you heard this before? Here's the intro to a tongue-in-cheek look from Daily Kos: "The New England Patriots pointed to a study released today which they say shows that the alleged deflation of footballs in recent games was not due to human causes. "It's just natural variation," explains the executive summary of the study. "Footballs have had different inflation pressures for thousands of years." The study was released today by the Edelman research firm, which usually focuses on swatting away the damaging efforts of environmentalists to impede progress..."

45 F. high in the Twin Cities Monday.

24 F. average high on January 26.

18 F. high on January 26, 2014.

1" snow on the ground at MSP International Airport.

January 26, 2006: A record high temperature of 50 degrees is set at the Eau Claire Regional Airport.

TODAY: Peeks of mild sun. Too easy. Winds: South 5. High: 38

TUESDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy, relatively mild. Low: 28

WEDNESDAY: What January? Thaw lingers with some sun. High: 42

THURSDAY: Flurries, cooler breeze late. Wake-up: 30. High: 35

FRIDAY: Cool sunshine, closer to average for late January. Wake-up: 20. High: 27

SATURDAY: Slight chance of light snow. Wake-up: 21. High: near 30

SUNDAY: Sunny intervals, turning colder. Wake-up: 8. High: 15

MONDAY: Sunny, cold Groundhog Day. Wake-up: 6. High: 16

Climate Stories...

Climate Change Expected To Bring More Extreme La Ninas. Here's an excerpt from a story at CBS News: "...A new study concludes that extreme La Nina events like this will become twice as likely in the future due to climate change. The study in Nature Climate Change found that the La Nina extreme weather -- which happens about once every 23 years -- will occur every 13 years by the end of this century, based on an analysis of 21 climate models. Three-quarters of those increased La Nina events would follow extreme El Nino events "thus projecting more frequent swings between opposite extremes from year to the next..."

The United States of Denial. Which states send the most climate-science-deniers to Washington D.C.? Here's an excerpt of a story and interactive graphic from onEarth: "...An analysis by the Center for American Progress, a public policy think tank, found that 53 percent of Republicans in the House and 70 percent in the Senate deny humanity’s role in climate change. (As the map shows, deniers also tend to receive a pretty penny from the fossil fuel industry.)..."

Climate-Change Consensus Is Reached Everywhere But In Washington. Here's a snippet from an Op-Ed that resonated at The Globe and Mail: "...This is less like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic than looking over the railing and debating whether the giant white thing is an iceberg or a marshmallow. The consensus has been reached, gentlemen, everywhere but in Washington. Even the plutocrats at Davos are sweating through their Zegna suits: The World Economic Forum spent a day debating climate change and its disruptive effects, and listed climate-related chaos among the greatest threats facing the planet..."

After Senate Climate Votes, Dems See Rift In GOP. Will climate change become a significant issue for the 2016 presidential campaign? Can an on-the-record climate denier be nominated to represent Republicans? Here's an excerpt from Politico: "...In the end, only a modest measure stating that climate change is real and not a hoax passed the chamber, winning even the backing Sen. Jim Inhofe, the author of a book decrying the man-made climate change. But the 15 Republicans — including seven from red states as well as one likely presidential contender, Sen. Ran Paul — went further, agreeing climate change was affected by human activity..."

Republicans Evolve on Climate Change. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at Bloomberg View: "...For years, Republicans have skirted the issue. Less noted, but equally important, is that they're also evolving on it. Within the party, the fight has moved on from whether climate change is real to whether human activity is causing it, as the scientific evidence overwhelmingly indicates. Republicans have been reluctant to accept the evidence, because that would require doing something about it, which would lead to -- and this is crux of the issue -- new laws and regulations that interfere with the free market..."

What Are Republicans Going To Do About Climate Change? The Christian Science Monitor speculates; here's a clip: "...Why does the climate vote matter? Global warming will likely be part of the conversation in the 2016 presidential race, which could include sitting Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Ted Cruz of Texas. Voters will want to know if they believe it’s an issue, and if so, how they’ll tackle it..."

Planet Keeps Getting Hotter, But Hope Could Be On Horizon. Here's a link to an Op-Ed from minister and EEN (Evangelical Environmental Network) President Mitch Hescox. Full disclosure: I'm on their board of directors. in York, PA has the post; here's an excerpt: "...Using sleight-of-hand statistical mumbo-jumbo, deniers have tried to pull one over on the American people about the recent pace of global warming. Don't be fooled. Global temperatures have continued their century's long march upward, with 2014 being the latest exclamation point and 2015 projected to do the same. And with the heat comes extreme weather like the California drought, flooding and mudslides in Washington that killed 43, and the fact that Anchorage, Alaska was above freezing all of 2014..."

How Much Is Climate Change Going To Cost Us? Those with the least will be first to feel the impacts of climate volatility, in fact it's already happening. Here's a snippet of a long but excellent article looking at various scenarios from David Roberts at Grist: "...In a sense, this restates what we already know: Rich countries could do all right with slow mitigation because they are relatively robust in the face of climate impacts, but it would be devastating to poor countries. Aggressive mitigation is justified because of the threat to poor countries. (This tells you a lot about the politics of the issue.) OK, that’s what you need to know: that there is good reason, outside contested questions of “raw moralism,” to think that the models we use to assess the social cost of carbon are considerably understating it..."

Hockey Day in Minnesota

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: January 16, 2015 - 11:37 PM

Hockey Day in Minnesota!

Happy hockey day in Minnesota is probably becoming one of my favorite days of the entire year. As a resident of Minnesota my entire life, you have to find things in the winter to keep you occupied, otherwise "cabin fever" will set in! Not only are the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships going on this weekend at Lake Nokomis, but there will be several televised hockey games from high school to collegiate to the pros! I will likely be spending the first half of Saturday on the counch watching the high school hockey games that will be played at the St. Paul Holman Field airport before heading to the Gopher game at the Mariucci Arena. Hockey Day in Minnesota will conclude with the MN Wild taking on the Phoenix Coyotes at 8pm! WOW... What a day! Enjoy!

Another Puzzle Piece
By Paul Douglas

Yesterday NOAA and NASA reported that 2014 temperatures (land and ocean) were the warmest, globally, since records began in 1880. 15 of the last 17 years have been the warmest ever recorded. There will still be cold fronts but temperatures continue to rise. Who cares? Anyone living near rising sea levels - and the rest of us who like to eat. A warmer, wetter atmosphere is resulting in climate volatility, more wild weather swings between drought and flood, putting more pressure on agriculture and fresh water supplies. A "natural cycle?" Climate Central places the odds at 1 in 27 million.

This should put an end to crazy Uncle Earl ranting about conspiracy theories, temperature pauses and "no-warming-since-1998!". But it won't. Because there's trillions of dollars of coal, oil & gas left in the ground. There's just too much money at stake - and confusion is good for business.

Today's thaw will feel like a cheap vacation; temperatures trending above average into next week. A mix is possible today; nothing resembling a real storm. Colder air is brewing for the last few days of January, possibly another brief brush with zero. Is the worst behind us? I think so. Light a candle.


FRIDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy and quiet. Low: 25

SATURDAY: Light mix, windy. Welcome thaw. High: 38. Winds: Turning W 15-30

SATURDAY NIGHT: Slight chance of a wintry mix. Low: 23

SUNDAY: Some sun, still above average. High: 33

MONDAY: More clouds than sun. Drippy. Wake-up: 25. High: 35

TUESDAY: Sunny peaks, still above average Wake-up: 24. High: 32

WEDNESDAY: Ditto. Lots of clouds, quiet. Wake-up: 21. High: 30

THURSDAY: Shades of gray. Seasonably cool. Wake-up: 17. High: 28.

FRIDAY: Another gusty clipper, flurries. Wake-up: 18. High: 19.


This Day in Weather History
January 17th

1996: Severe ice storm over the western and northern Twin Cities with accumulations to 1 inch. A foot of snow fell over central Minnesota.

1982: The citizens of Tower woke up to -52 degrees F.


Average High/Low for Minneapolis
January 17th

Average High:  23F (Record: 44F set in 1894)
Average Low: 7F (Record: -26F set in 1967)


Sunrise/Sunset Times for Minneapolis
January 17th

Sunrise: 7:46am
Sunset: 5:00pm


Moon Phase for January 17th at Midnight
2.3 Days Before New Moon


Twin Cities Temperature Trend

Enjoy the mild ride while you can! In what is (climatologically-speaking) the coldest time of the year, we will be dealing with temperatures nearly 5°-15° above average through the weekend! A fast moving clipper system will be moving through the Upper Midwest/Great Lakes Region on Saturday allowing temperatures to warm out ahead of it, but temperatures will cool a bit on Sunday as the system slides southeast. The good news is that we won't be tugging down any extremely cold air anytime soon. Readings will stay at or above the average mark through much of next week!


Saturday Weather Outlook

Saturday looks like a fairly mild day across much of the Upper Midwest. Note that temperatures across central and southern Minnesota could settle in close to 40° ahead of our clipper system that will move through during the day. Winds will pick up late in the day after the cold front passes. Wind speeds could approach 30mph in the rural areas of far western Minnesota. Temperatures on Sunday look to cool a bit, but it won't be too dramatic.

Saturday Weather Outlook

As the clipper system races through the Upper Midwest/Great Lakes Region this weekend, a light wintry mix can't be ruled out where temperatures will be flirting with the freezing mark. It appears that central Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin have the best chance of some patching freezing drizzle and a light wintry mix on Saturday, which folks in far northern Minnesota have the best chance for snow and light accumulations.

Snow Potential

Accumulating snow looks possible through the weekend/early next week across the far northern part of the state. Some folks along the international border could actually see some shovelable stuff with amounts approaching 2" to 4".

Upper Midwest Wintry Mess?

Active weather conditions in the Pacific Norwest is the culprit behind our wintry mess as we head into the weekend. Note the heavy moisture moving into the Pacific Northwest as impulses of energy push into the region. One of these storm systems will meander over the Rockies (lose some of it's moisture) and head in our direction this weekend. Because temperatures will be so warm, a wintry mix will be possible across parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin. The farther north you go, the colder it will be, so snow will be the main precipitation type. Some shovelable snow looks likely for some along the international border through Saturday.

Duluth, MN

This was the view from Duluth, MN on Friday morning as a little light lake effect snow was falling. With a light easterly wind cold air temperatures, moisture was being picked up off Lake Superior and deposited near the head of the lake.

Duluth Radar AM Friday

This is what the radar picture looked like near Duluth, MN on AM Friday as a little light lake effect snow was falling near the Head of the Lake.

National Weather Outlook

The simulated radar reflectivity loop below shows our clipper system moving through the Upper Midwest on Saturday with a wintry mix and some light snow accumulations across the international border. The other two areas of interest will be the heavy moisture moving into the Pacific Northwest over the weekend and the moisture developing in the Northeast.

Atmospheric River

Take a look at this interesting feature below... note the plume of moisture stretching from just west of the Hawaiian Islands to the Pacific Northwest. This feature is known as an "atmospheric river", which tends to be a big moisture producer for folks along the West Coast. This time it appears the heavy moisture will be setting up shop for folks in the Northwest with precipitation amounts approaching 3" to 6" or more through early next week!

5 Day Precipitation Outlook

According to NOAA's HPC, the 3 day precipitation forecast suggests a swatch of moisture along the northern tier of the nation as our weekend clipper scoots across the international border. Note the heavy moisture developing in the Pacific Northwest with as much as 3" to 6" + of liquid accumulating through early Monday! There also appears to be a decent swath of moisture lifting north along the Eastern Seaboard through late weekend/early next week. Keep in mind that temperatures here may be cold enough for some snow!

U.S. Drought Monitor

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, there is still quite a large area in the western U.S. with EXTREME to EXCEPTIONAL Drought conditions, which includes much of California. Interestingly, much of Minnesota is considered to be abnormally dry, including the Twin Cities.

California Drought

California is still under a pretty big drought! In fact, as of this week, the U.S. Drought Monitor suggested that nearly 40% of the state is under an EXTREME Drought! However, it's better than about a month ago (December 9th) when nearly 55% of the state was under an extreme drought. Hopefully we'll continue to see moisture in the western U.S. and Calfornia!

Officials: California Headed into 4th Drought Year"

Still crossing your fingers for miracle storms to bail California out of the driest three-year stretch in the state’s recorded history?

"State and federal water officials aren’t. They announced in a conference call Wednesday that they’re preparing for a fourth drought year that will slash water deliveries for cities and farms, leave wildlife thirsting for more and test the willingness of Californians to conserve. After some promising December storms boosted the snowpack to 50 percent of normal, the latest dominant ridge of high pressure has pushed the snowpack down to 36 percent of normal — just barely above where it was last year at this time. “The situation is still virtually as dire,” said Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board. “If the drought lasts a decade … you’re going to want to do everything you can to conserve water while it lasts.”

Read more from HERE:

More Drought News for California

Well, the latest news from the Climate Prediction Center isn't what we'd like to hear, but their latest forecast suggests drought conditions continuing into April!

"The drought outlook valid from January 15 through April 30 is based primarily on initial conditions, the February and February-April precipitation outlooks, El Niño precipitation composites (a weak episode is possible this winter), and climatology. In California, the wet climatology for February and March (especially in the south) and a tilt of the odds toward above-normal precipitation in the monthly and seasonal outlooks across the southern half of the state should bring improvement there, but it must be emphasized that improvement is not elimination, and that most of the state will still be in drought to some degree by the end of April."

Read more from the Climate Prediction Center HERE:

Extended Temperature Outlook

Just as we seem to be settling into our nice mild weather trend, it appears that some cooler air may be working back into the Lower 48 by the end of the month. According to NOAA's CPC, the 8 to 14 day temperature outlook (January 23-29) shows a fairly good chance of below normal temperatures across the eastern two-thirds of the nation.

Thanks again for checking in and have a great weekend ahead! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @TNelsonWX

Another Icy Clipper Today - Thaw 8 Days Away

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: January 7, 2015 - 11:25 PM

Means To An End

"Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark" wrote George Iles.

January is a tough month for most of us. You can't find the mercury in your thermometer, the sun - when visible - is scraping the southern horizon, holiday credit card bills are falling out of your mailbox. And the local weather dweeb is predicting a Conga-line of cold fronts, an IV-drip of meteorological misery.

But sneezes of Siberian air make everything we love about Minnesota possible: from pine trees and sugar sand beaches up north to loons, walleye and fertile fields to forced ingenuity. Surviving the cold; thriving in spite of anything Mother Nature can hurl at us, drives the engine of discovery & innovation. I may sound like a shill for the Chamber of Commerce, but the cold makes us better.

Now please excuse me as I check in for my Sun Country flight to Cabo!

Hold on, models continue to show a thaw by the end of next week. Today's clipper drops a slippery inch of powder, followed by one last subzero slap - for now. 2 more subzero nights, then a slow recovery next week. You'll be amazed and vaguely horrified by just how good freezing feels.

Go ahead and take a bow. You're surviving the coldest week of winter.

Another Clipper. Today's clipper may drop a quick inch or two of powder. With temperatures stuck in single digits and low teens there's a potential for more mayhem on the highways with wheel-track glazing. Leave extra time for the drive home this afternoon.

Gulf-Stream-Effect. We all know about lake-effect snows and what happened in Buffalo last month as bitter air flowed over an unusually mild Lake Erie, a cool 7 feet of snow just south of downtown. Note the streamers of moisture out over the warm waters of the Gulf Stream as air temperatures in the teens pass overhead. The next Alberta Clipper drops a few inches of snow from the Twin Cities to Chicago, Grand Rapids and Detroit today and tonight. 4 KM NAM accumulated snowfall: NOAA and HAMweather.

Send Up A Flare: Thaw Arrives in 8 Days. We're due for a break in the pattern, and it still seems to be shaping up by the end of next week. Today's clipper brings the last subzero slap (for now) into town tomorrow and early Saturday, followed by slow recovery next week. 30s will feel like a dream late next week. Which is a little sad and borderline pathetic, but true. Source: Weatherspark.

Recovery. Call it a late January Thaw (although maybe we had our January Thaw back in mid-December, come to think of it). GFS guidance from NOAA shows consistent 20s and 30s from next weekend to the 23rd of January. We'll see more subzero lows - I'm sure of it - but I'm not yet convinced we'll see the duration of subzero cold (and chill) we've experienced this week. I still think this is the worst of it. Then again I bought Enron stock, so buyer beware.

Increasingly Ripe For Snow by Late January? That may be more of a wish-cast than a forecast. Yes, I'd be perfectly content with 20s (above) and a parade of snowstorms. No ice, no freakish midwinter rain, just snow with temperatures mile enough to keep the freeways mostly-wet and passable. I know, I'm dreaming. But GFS guidance suggests a split flow returning with a moist southerly branch and a cold northern branch, which may increase the potential for accumulating snow close to home after January 20 or so. Credit: GrADS:COLA/IGES.

Do Plants Feel The Wind Chill? Short Answer Is No. Here's an excerpt of a blog post from Jack Falker in Edina who updates The Minnesota Rose Gardener. It's a little like the proverbial: "does my Lexus feel the wind chill?" Unless it sweats, perspires, the answer is no: "...Wind chill has no meaning for plants.  Unlike warm-blooded animals, they don't try to maintain a particular body temperature year-round". And another: "Of course, we know that  roses feel the winter cold and die back according to the level of protection afforded them.  And winter-winds do, of course, have an effect on that die-back, desiccating the canes, but the important thing to understand is that wind does not make a plant "feel" colder than the actual temperature, even though it shortens the time it takes for the plant to reach that temperature..."

Perils of Wheel-Track Glazing. Tires warm freshly fallen snow, sparking instant melting, then refreezing, resulting in glaze ice conditions well after the snow has stopped falling. Here's an excerpt of a good explanation from the Iowa Department of Transportation: "...The combination of light, blowing snow and cold surface temperatures could result in icy roadways due to a phenomenon called wheel-track glazing. "Wheel-track glazing" is caused by warm tires trapping theground-level light, blowing snow. As more vehicles travel over the same wheel tracks, a glaze of ice forms that becomes very slippery..."

Image credit above:

NOAA Announces Significant Investment In Next Generation of Supercomputers. Some good news coming out of NOAA; here are a few excerpts of a Tuesday press release: "Today, NOAA announced the next phase in the agency’s efforts to increase supercomputing capacity to provide more timely, accurate, reliable, and detailed forecasts. By October 2015, the capacity of each of NOAA’s two operational supercomputers will jump to 2.5 petaflops, for a total of 5 petaflops – a nearly tenfold increase from the current capacity. Ahead of this upgrade, each of the two operational supercomputers will first more than triple their current capacity later this month (to at least 0.776 petaflops for a total capacity of 1.552 petaflops). With this larger capacity, NOAA’s National Weather Service in January will begin running an upgraded version of the Global Forecast System (GFS) with greater resolution that extends further out in time – the new GFS will increase resolution from 27km to 13km out to 10 days and 55km to 33km for 11 to 16 days. In addition, the Global Ensemble Forecast System (GEFS) will be upgraded by increasing the number of vertical levels from 42 to 64 and increasing the horizontal resolution from 55km to 27km out to eight days and 70km to 33km from days nine to 16..."

Japan Confirms 2014 Was Earth's Warmest Year. We should know whether NOAA, NASA and the UK Met Office agree with this assessment within the next 1-2 weeks. Here's the intro to an explanation at Mashable: "The first official temperature monitoring institution to report 2014's climate data has now confirmed what climatologists widely expected: 2014 was the planet's warmest year since thermometers began monitoring temperatures in the late 19th century. Other studies, using data from ice cores, tree rings, corals and other so-called "proxy" data shows the planet has not been this warm in at least 4,000 years, while other data shows that the level of the main global warming gas has not been this high in all of human history..."

The Best Places To Retire Abroad in 2015. Ecuador? OK. I'm trying to keep an open mind; details at Next Avenue; here's an excerpt: "Whether your dream is to retire abroad one day or the idea just offers a vicarious thrill, you’ll likely want to hear the winners in International Living’s just-released “World’s Best Retirement Destinations for 2015.” Mixing the latest data on everything from weather to retiree discounts with reports from its network of far-flung correspondents, International Living (a media company specializing in retirement abroad) ranked 25 countries for its annual Global Retirement Index. This year’s winner Ecuador nudged out the 2014 champ, Panama..."

Look At How Cheap Gas Is Everywhere. Huffington Post has the story; here's a clip: "...Even where the map is light-orange and yellow, gas is cheaper than $2.50 per gallon. Here's a link to the interactive version of GasBuddy's map, where you can search for prices by ZIP code, city or state. The national average price of a gallon of gasoline was $2.18 as of Tuesday morning, according to GasBuddy. That's the lowest since 2009, when the economy was still climbing out of the hole of the financial crisis and Great Recession..."

The Real Reason U.S. Gas Is So Cheap Is Americans Don't Pay The True Cost of Driving. CityLab has a story that made me do a double-take; here's the introduction to an article well worth your time: "Amid all the celebration over America's plunging gas prices—down some 40 percent since June—it's easy to forget a very basic fact: in a global sense, U.S. fuel has been cheap for years. In late 2012, for instance, the United States ranked toward the bottom of a world list of gas prices, wedged between the likes of Tunisia and Chad on one side and Russia and Kazakhstan on the other. Most first-world countries paid at least double what America did then, just as they do today...."

The True Price of American Energy Independence. CleanTechnica takes a look at the decoupling of America's GDP with oil prices in recent years, for a wide variety of good reasons. Here's an excerpt: "...And economists at our Energy Department foresee 2015 gas consumption at the same flat rate as 2014, down below 9 million gallons a day (from a mid-2007 high of about 9.3 million)—and maybe even less. Here’s how they explain the discrepancy:

  • Vehicle fuel efficiency has increased by about 25%.
  • Retirement of the baby boom generation has reduced miles driven.
  • People in their 20s and 30s now prefer to live closer to city centers..."

Bloomberg reports on How $50 Oil Changes Almost Everything.

Adventures in Mapmaking: Mapping a Fracking Boom in North Dakota. I've always enjoyed mapping, and now GIS, an appreciate the effort that went into the fracking map highlighted in a story at Wired MapLab; here's the intro to the story: "US oil production has been booming the past few years, due in large part to North Dakota’s Bakken formation, a rock layer tapped through fracking. Each well travels down about two miles, then turns horizontally and snakes through the rock formation for another two miles. There were 8,406 of these Bakken wells, as of North Dakota’s latest count. If you lined them all up—including their vertical and horizontal parts—they’d loop all the way around the Earth..."

Watch Bill Gates Drink Purified Poop Water. My new favorite headline, but the year is young, butterfly. This is what Windows leaves you capable of, after the 142nd blue screen of death a glass of poo-water sounds like a nice break. Here's a link and excerpt from Fast Company: "...The drinking water shown in the video was purified by the Omniprocessor, a system developed by Janicki Bioenergy that converts sludge into drinking water, electricity, and ash. The system boils sludge, separating the solids from the water vapor. The solids are fed into a hot fire, where they're converted into steam, which is in turn sent to a steam engine that powers the generator and creates excess electricity for the community. Meanwhile, the water vapor goes through a purification system to create clean drinking water..."

The Future of Driverless Transportation Is Delightfully Dull. I wonder how these robotic vehicles would perform in rush hour on 494 in the snow and ice. Now that might be the acid test. Here's an excerpt from a fascinating story at Wired: "...Audi, like every major automaker experimenting with autonomous driving tech, sees many hurdles—the technology, yes, but also regulatory issues, insurance questions, and consumer acceptance—that must be cleared before we have cars that drive themselves in all places at all times. So it is nibbling away at the edges, planning to introduce autonomous features one by one. It’s a slower timeline than Google’s “moonshot” approach, but one that gives everyone time to accept the technology..."

Animation credit: Josh Valcarcel/WIRED.

-9 F. morning low on Wednesday.

-1 F. high yesterday afternoon.

23 F. average high on January 7.

5 F. high on January 7, 2014.

January 7, 1902: January thaw across Minnesota. Twin Cities warms to 46 degrees. No, I don't remember this.

TODAY: Snowy clipper, winds increase with some blowing/drifting. Coating - 1" with icy roads midday and afternoon. Winds: NW 20-30. High: 15

THURSDAY NIGHT: Windy and colder again. Low: -8

FRIDAY: Fresh air - fresh discomfort. Feels like -30 early. Bright sun. High: 3

SATURDAY: Cold start. Clouds increase, winds ease. Wake-up: -11. High: 10

SUNDAY: Sunny intervals, not warm. Wake-up: -4. High: 9

MONDAY: Some sun, light winds. Wake-up: 1. High: 14

TUESDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, storm-free. Wake-up: 10. High: near 20

WEDNESDAY: Nice to be almost average again. Wake-up: 12. High: 22

Climate Stories...

Global Warming Changing Winter Cleanup, Says City of Montreal. More ice, less snow, a trend we're seeing more of during midwinter months over northern latitudes. Here's an excerpt from CBC News: "...Montreal crews have already spread their third round of salt and abrasives, but it hasn't stopped hundreds of Montrealers from slipping on icy sidewalks. “We are doing everything we can to address the situation. We were told that there was 500 people that were rushed to different hospitals across the city because of fractures. For me that's 500 more than the target which was zero,” said Chitilian..."

Bill Nye: 2015's Biggest Health Issue Is Climate Change. has the story - here's an excerpt: "...Of course, climate change might be linked to some severe weather patterns, such as storms, cold snaps and heat waves, all acute dangers to health and livelihood. If you have noticed your allergies always seem to be getting worse, that's likely because of longer pollen growing seasons, a side effect to a warmer planet, allergist believe. Then there's the spread of disease, such as the chikungunya virus, a mosquito-borne illness once only found in Africa and Asia that hit the Americas in late 2013 and was first locally acquired in the United States in 2014. Warmer seasons spread the habitat of disease-carrying mosquitos and other insects, such as the ticks that carry Lyme disease..." (Image: NASA).

Oceanographers have just identified the US coastal regions likely to experience 30 days or more of “nuisance” flooding every year.

And the answer is that most of the American coast will experience high waters that are 30-60 cms above local high tides, at least 30 times a year.

Nuisance flooding means just that − somewhere between an inconvenience and modest damage. But climate change, and its attendant sea-level rise, will make them much more frequent, and possibly more damaging.

- See more at:

Heat And Wildfires in Australia. Climate Nexus has a good summary of the trends Down Under; here's an excerpt: "As firefighters work to contain the worst bushfire in southern Australia for thirty years, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) released its 2014 annual climate statement, which, like the destructive fires, signals that climate change is already a reality in Australia. While heat waves and bushfires are common during Australia’s hot summer months, climate change is worsening the underlying conditions that fuel the most extreme heat and wildfire events. Important top lines to note include:

  • Climate change is causing higher temperatures and drier conditions in Australia.
  • Climate change is leading to more destructive extreme heat events and bushfires..."

Australia Is Burning, And Climate Change Is Making It Worse. Bloomberg Businessweek has the story.

Scientists Say Massive Wildfires Raging Across Australia Are A Symptom of Climate Change. VICE News has more perspective on the fires in Australia; here's a snippet: "Wildfires in South Australia ripped across 20,000 hectares of land, destroying several homes on Sunday. After yet another summer of catastrophic burning, Australians are debating whether the fires are the result of climate change, and whether enough is being done to stop them. The blazes had destroyed at least 26 homes as of Monday afternoon, but the full extent of damage may not be known for several more days..."

Perth Heat Melts The Internet. I knew it would come to this - that's when people will rise in revolt, when they can't access their favorite cat videos. The heat in Australia is building; here's another consequence courtesy of WAtoday: "Extreme hot weather in Perth sent the internet into meltdown on Monday night. Thousands of iiNet customers across Australia found themselves offline for about six-and-a-half hours after the company shut down some of its systems at its Perth data centre at about 4.30pm AEDST because of high temperatures, topping 44.4C. "Due to record breaking temperatures, iiNet Toolbox, Email and our corporate websites are unavailable. Apologies for any inconvenience caused," iiNet tweeted..."

Study Shows How Much Coal, Oil and Gas Must Stay Untouched To Solve Global Warming. Mashable has the article and crunches the numbers; here's an excerpt: "...The study means that the way that energy companies currently do business, which includes making spending hundreds of millions per year to find new oil, gas and coal reserves, is incompatible with solving global warming. This conclusion, if it is correct, could affect any investor who holds stock in energy companies, from major players like ExxonMobil and Shell to smaller companies that are involved in the natural gas "fracking" boom in the U.S. This includes millions of people who hold mutual fund and index fund investments..."

* The paper referenced at Mashable is here. An excerpt of the abstract: "It has been estimated that to have at least a 50 per cent chance of keeping warming below 2 °C throughout the twenty-first century, the cumulative carbon emissions between 2011 and 2050 need to be limited to around 1,100 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (Gt CO2). However, the greenhouse gas emissions contained in present estimates of global fossil fuel reserves are around three times higher than this and so the unabated use of all current fossil fuel reserves is incompatible with a warming limit of 2 °C..."

Stephen Harper: Oil's Worst Enemy. Maclean's has an interesting story - here's a clip: "...Unfortunately for Canada, the oil sands’ poor image isn’t just a question of bad PR. It’s threatening the future of Canada’s economy. Anti-oil sands sentiment has made it nearly impossible to build the necessary pipeline connections producers need to get all that oil to market. TransCanada Corp.’s crossborder Keystone XL pipeline is in danger of being axed by U.S. President Barack Obama. The industry’s backup plan, Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway pipeline to shipping terminals on the B.C. coast, has become bogged down in political and environmental controversy..."

2014 May Set A New Temperature Record. So Can We Please Stop Claiming Global Warming Has "Stopped"? Chris Mooney takes a look at data from JMA, the Japan Meteorological Agency, as well as the trends in recent years. The "temperature pause" is a political talking point, an ideological artifact, one not necessarily grounded in data and facts. Here's a clip from The Washington Post: "...Based on this data, 2014 was the hottest year on record for the globe. That surpasses the year 1998 (now in 2nd place in the JMA dataset) and 2013 and 2010 (now tied for 3rd). You'll also note, incidentally, that while the dataset is noisy, the upward trend is quite clear, and the decade of the 2000s is plainly warmer than the decade of the 1990s. So much for any "pause" in global warming. Japan's is the first major meteorological outlet to pronounce on how 2014 ranks for temperatures..." (Image: Japan Meteorological Agency).

Big Threat For Obama's Climate Efforts From GOP-Run Congress. Here's a link to the story at AP and ABC News: "President Barack Obama's determined efforts to combat global warming face their biggest trial yet as Republicans take full control of Congress this week. The GOP vows to move fast and forcefully to roll back his environmental rules and force his hand on energy development. The GOP's first order of business: the Keystone XL pipeline. The Republican-led House has repeatedly passed legislation to approve the pipeline, which would carry tar sands oil from Canada deep into the United States. The bills died in the Senate when Democrats were in control, but that will change Wednesday when a Republican-led Senate committee holds a Keystone hearing..."

Oil's Swoon Creates The Opening For A Carbon Tax. Implement a revenue-neutral tax on carbon pollution, one that doesn't grow the federal government, and put a definable signal into the markets that will accelerate innovation; new cleaner ways to generate electricity and power the economy. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed from former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers at The Washington Post: "The case for carbon taxes has long been compelling. With the recent steep fall in oil prices and associated declines in other energy prices, it has become overwhelming. There is room for debate about the size of the tax and about how the proceeds should be deployed. But there should be no doubt that, given the current zero tax rate on carbon, increased taxation would be desirable..." (File photo: AP).

Reverence For Life Underlies Catholic Case for Environment. Here's a clip from a story at The National Catholic Reporter: "...With the growing awareness of the enormous adverse effect that human behavior is having on the health of the planet, however, environmental concerns are moving from the periphery to the center. Climate change has raised environmental activism from the category of "nice" things to do to that of "must do" for the sake of life itself. Maturing along with the issue is the Christian understanding of creation and humans' place in the universe. In the new thinking, a revised and refined anthropology replaces a utilitarian view of earth's resources with one of complex connections and interdependence among species and with the earth itself..."

Fun With Negative Numbers - Wednesday Looks Like Coldest Day

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: January 4, 2015 - 10:43 PM

Frozen. The Sequel

Yes this is a Disney epic gone bad. I'd belt out a hopeful tune, an off-key ballad of how meteorological spring is just 55 days away, but my larynx is partially frostbitten.

We're all huddled in our frozen foxholes, but consider this: the Minneapolis Boat Show is just over 2 weeks away and parkas are 40 percent off at Macy's!

You'll need extra layers this week, probably the coldest of the winter. Winds ease today but the next, reinforcing flush of frigid air whips up an inch or two of Minnesota Powder tonight; heavier amounts south of MSP.

Arctic winds howl Tuesday with the mercury bottoming out Wednesday morning around -10 to -15F, with a wind chill of -35F. A few schools may close. Models show lesser cold fronts spilling south of the border Friday, again Sunday - but a warming trend is likely late next week.

What a waste of perfectly good cold air. Our biggest snowstorms tend to come immediately after major Arctic outbreaks, as southern storms push moisture up and over a cold dome. Not this time. A mild, zonal, west to east jet stream flow returns in 1-2 weeks as battery-draining air lifts north.

Minnesota. Come for the culture. Stay because your car won't start.

Clipped Again. A reinforcing surge of frigid air will spin up a fast-moving Alberta Clipper capable of plowable snowfall amounts from the southern suburbs of the Twin Cities to the Iowa border. The farther south you drive tonight, the worse travel conditions will become. Some 4-7" snowfall amounts are possible south and west of the Minnesota River. 60-hour NAM snowfall potential: NOAA and HAMweather.

Advisories and Warnings. A Wind Chill Warning remains in effect across most of central and northern Minnesota and Wisconsin, Wind Chill Advisories for the Twin Cities metro and St. Cloud; a Winter Storm Warning for far southwest Minnesota for later today. A clipper will brush the Twin Cities with a coating to an inch or two of powder later today and tonight, with much heavier amounts south of the Twin Cities. Details from NOAA:









Super-Sized Clipper. When it's this cold it doesn't take much moisture or upward motion (lift) to squeeze out a few inches of powdery, fluffy snow. Our internal models show a potential for plowable snowfall amounts from southern Minnesota and Iowa into southern Wisconsin and the Chicago area.

Coldest Week of Winter? Could something colder come along in late January, even the first week of February? Absolutely. But I suspect this week will have the most cumulative hours below zero of any week this winter, a winter moderated (slightly) by a brewing El Nino. I think we'll be back in the 20s, possibly near freezing the latter half of next week.

Warming Trend by Mid-January. Our internal Aeris Enterprise software shows tight agreement between various models with temperature predictions out 2 weeks; a warming trend by the end of next week, even 32F by next Thursday, January 15. Circle your calendar. Does anyone still use "calendars"?

Trending Milder by Mid-January. I don't see any 50s, but 20s and a few 30s are likely by the third week of January as Pacific air penetrates farther inland. California has gotten a break in recent weeks, but guidance suggests another parade of major storms may be about to push from Hawaii to the west coast, helping to keep our winds aloft blowing from the west and even southwest. Map: GrADS:COLA/IGES.

Emerging From The Deep Freeze. NOAA's GFS guidance shows highs in the 20s, even a few 30s from January 13-20. I still see no evidence of a major southern storm impacting Minnesota or the Upper Midwest looking out 1-2 weeks, just a return to average, which will be welcomed by most Minnesotans.

Mild Bias into March. NOAA CPC (Climate Prediction Center) publishes output from multiple longer-range climate models going out many months. I wouldn't bet the farm on any of these, but it is interesting looking at the trends from month to month. A majority of these longer-range models continue to show a warm bias for much of North American into late March; symptoms of a brewing El Nino.

2014: Warmest Year On Record. This according to JMA, Japan Meteorological Agency, which adds: "The annual anomaly of the global average surface temperature in 2014 (i.e. the average of the near-surface air temperature over land and the SST) was +0.27°C above the 1981-2010 average (+0.63°C above the 20th century average), and was the warmest since 1891. On a longer time scale, global average surface temperatures have risen at a rate of about 0.70°C per century."

2014 Temperature Departure From Average: January thru November. Here is why it's probably a bad idea looking out your window and making global assumptions. "Uh, the planet can't be warming up Paul because it's cold outside!" No, that never gets old. 2014 will almost certainly be the warmest year on record according to NOAA data, with a 60-70% probability it will be the warmest year on record according to NASA GISS numbers. The chilliest weather last year? Directly above our heads, Upper Midwest and Great Lakes. Otherwise the vast majority of the world's land masses and oceans experienced record warmth. Source: NOAA NCDC.

Alaska's Toasty Temperatures in 2014 Worry Observers. Anchorage didn't dip below 0F once in 2014, which is a bit hard to fathom. Here's a clip of a story at The Los Angeles Times: "The biggest state in America, home to more ocean coastline than all others combined, has just set another record. This one, however, is nothing to cheer. For the first time in recorded history, temperatures in Anchorage did not drop below zero once in an entire calendar year. In comparison, Alaska's largest city had 14 days below zero in the 2013 calendar year and 32 days in 2012. The average is 29 days..."

Photo credit above: "In this photo taken on Dec. 18, 2014, Terry and Dan Goodwin, from left to right, cross-country ski as a snow-making machine churns snow at the city's largest park in Anchorage, Alaska. A spate of weird weather lingers in Anchorage, which is almost 2 feet behind typical snowfall totals for December." (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen).

2014 In Computing: Breakthroughs in Artificial Intelligence. I'm already paranoid that Siri is going to start scheduling meetings and making calls without me - this story at MIT Technology Review just fanned the flames: "The holy grail of artificial intelligence—creating software that comes close to mimicking human intelligence—remains far off. But 2014 saw major strides in machine learning software that can gain abilities from experience. Companies in sectors from biotech to computing turned to these new techniques to solve tough problems or develop new products. The most striking research results in AI came from the field of deep learning, which involves using crude simulated neurons to process data..."

That's It, We Can Never Trust Bankers Again. Disclaimer: I like my bankers here in Minnesota, for the record. Does this apply to all bankers or just greedy New York City mega-bankers? Not sure, but here's a snippet of a story at Quartz that caused me to move my cash into a shoebox under my pillow: "...In an experiment recently published in the scientific journal Nature, bankers distinguished themselves by their dishonesty. Asked to report the results of unsupervised coin flips in return for financial rewards, bankers bent the truth more than any other group. Crucially, this was only after researchers asked the subjects questions about what they did for a living. Thus, bankers who are reminded that they work in banking are more likely to cheat than people in other lines of business...."

12 F. maximum temperature yesterday at 12:01 AM Sunday morning.

-1 F. daytime high on Sunday.

24 F. average high on January 4.

35 F. high on January 4, 2013.

January 4, 1984: Warm-up across Minnesota. Twin Cities reaches 43.

TODAY: Sunny start. Clouds increase by afternoon. Winds: SW 10. High: 3

MONDAY NIGHT: Light snow, an inch or two possible, more south of the Twin Cities. Low: -5

TUESDAY: Sunny peeks, character-building. Feels like -20 to -25. High: 8

WEDNESDAY: Coldest day in sight. Feels like -35. Sunny. Wake-up: -14. High: -3

THURSDAY: Another clipper. Snow or flurries. Wake-up: -9. High: 16

FRIDAY: Partly sunny, a bit chilly. Wake-up: -7. High: 5

SATURDAY: Period of light snow. Wake-up: 2. High: 13

SUNDAY: Some sun, still below average. Wake-up: -3. High: 10

Climate Stories...

Editorial: The Politics of Climate Change. Is our government really capable of orchestrating a conspiracy among all the world's leading climate scientists, NOAA, NASA and nearly every scientific organization to "push their warmist agenda?" Maybe. But then again they can't even launch a successful web site, so forgive me for being dubious of conspiracy theories. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Farmington Daily Times that caught my eye: "...But there is a process in place to untangle these messes. It's called peer review. Yes, we know some believe there is a massive conspiracy among government bureaucrats to fund scientists who manipulate data to provide a basis for regulatory overreach. And the scientists who participate in peer review — the vast majority who invite criticism that helps them fine-tune their methods — are part of the conspiracy. What's curious is that many of the people who hold that belief will tell you that, in nearly every other circumstance, government is incapable of coordinated activity that achieves its stated goal..."

Back Off Baby Boomers: The Millenials Own The Fight Against Climate Change. The author of this Op-Ed at Huffington Post is a 16 year old high school sophomore in New York City; here's an excerpt: "...Only time will tell if millennials will change the ways governments look at climate change. If the present is any reflection of the future, then yes, they will bring change. But if the American people know one thing it is that those we elect to represent us so often fall into other ways of thinking that put corporations before constituents. As the old saying goes, power corrupts. Unless the grassroots campaigns gather a vast new following, policy changes related to climate change will most likely have to wait until one of the Koch brothers' beach houses is ruined by a superstorm." (File photo: Reuters).

Dear Captains of Industry In Charge of Maintaining The Fossil Fuel Status Quo. John Irving in Ottawa, web master for Climate News and Resources, wrote a post at Facebook that is generating some buzz - here's an excerpt: "... Even worse the planet’s biosphere is now completely out of whack and will be for millennia. Hundreds of millions of people, if not more, will be displaced and require aid due to everything from sea level rise, extreme weather events, drought, crop failure and more. Countless species will go extinct. To put it bluntly - it’s an absolute mess! People are now starting to realize what you guys have done and they are not very happy about being completely screwed over for decades just so you could have private jets, mansions and plastic surgery. Even some of your traditionally dependable supporters have been abandoning you lately..." (File image: NASA).

It’s 3:23 in the morning, and I’m awake because my great, great, grandchildren won’t let me sleep.
My great, great, grandchildren ask me in dreams
What did you do, while the planet was plundered?
What did you do, when the earth was unraveling?
Surely you did something when the seasons started failing as the mammals, reptiles and birds were all dying?
Did you fill the streets with protest when democracy was stolen?
What did you do once you knew?


- a poem from Drew Dillinger, highlighted in a story at Details below. Photo: Koichi Wakata.

2014 Was The Year Of The Melting Ice Sheet. Quartz has a recap of trends as both poles; here's an excerpt: "...Though scientists have known that the Arctic is warming more than twice as fast as the global average, the south pole is harder to measure. Well, this just in: Since 1992, an annual average of 83 gigatons (91.5 billion tons) of West Antarctic glacier has dripped into the sea. That’s the rough equivalent of losing a Mt. Everest’s worth of ice every two years, according to a new study (pdf) by University of California, Irvine, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory..."

Image credit above: "Meltdown." (Reuters/Pauline Askin).

Playing Dumb on Climate Change. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed from Naomi Oreskes, author of "Merchants of Doubt" at The New York Times: "...Years ago, climate scientists offered an increase of 2 degrees Celsius (or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) as the “safe” limit or ceiling for the long-term warming of the planet. We are now seeing dangerous effects worldwide, even as we approach a rise of only 1 degree Celsius. The evidence is mounting that scientists have underpredicted the threat. Perhaps this is another reason — along with our polarized politics and the effect of fossil-fuel lobbying — we have underreacted to the reality, now unfolding before our eyes, of dangerous climate change." (Image: Wanda Brandt).

It's Not The Heat, It's The Stupidity. Will the collective scientific-IQ in Congress rise in the years ahead? Don't bet on it. Playing dumb, at least on scientific issues, helps to get you elected these days. Here's a clip from Environmental Health News: "...The 114th Congress convenes this week. The last time a Congressional anti-science caucus was this strong may have been during the Scopes Monkey Trial ninety years ago. But that’s not the worst part of it: The folks who want to gut government research and deny climate change are virtually guaranteed perpetual re-election and jobs for life. Let’s get straight to the moral of this story: Entrenched anti-science isn’t going away. Not soon, maybe not in our lifetimes.  Every one of the most ardent congressional climate deniers who chose to run won re-election, mostly by runaway margins, and probably have jobs for as long as they want them. A landscape of gerrymandered “safe” districts and wide-open campaign cash spigots make their futures even safer, even as their behavior helps make our own a little more bleak..."

A Grandfather on Climate Change and the Poem That Led To Activism. Care2 Healthy Living has a story of one grandfather coming to terms with the world we are leaving behind to future generations. Are we doing enough? "...The end result of my evolution to climate activist is BoomerWarrior, a website focused on the environment, climate change, energy, water, global warming and climate reality. More specifically, it’s about…

1. Raising Awareness to the vast challenges we face

2. Coming to Our Senses

3. Creating a Sense of Urgency to galvanize people into positive activism..."


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