Paul Douglas is a nationally respected meteorologist with 33 years of television and radio experience. A serial entrepreneur, Douglas is Senior Meteorologist for WeatherNation TV, a new, national 24/7 weather channel with studios in Denver and Minneapolis. Founder of Media Logic Group, Douglas and a team of meteorologists provide weather services for media at Broadcast Weather, and high-tech alerting and briefing services for companies via Alerts Broadcaster. 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.
Spring Showers. NWS Doppler (out of Des Moines) at 3:34 pm shows rain showers entering far southwestern Minnesota. The best chance of rain (here) comes late tonight into the morning hours Monday.
*66 F. high in the Twin Cities on Saturday, a new record for March 10. Warmest since October 12, 2011 (69 F.)
59 F. old record high, set in 1878.
May 5. 66 is the average high for May 5 at KMSP. Source: Minnesota Climatology Working Group.
38 F. average high for March 10 in the Twin Cities metro.
7:14 pm: sunset this evening in the Twin Cities, now that we're on Daylight Saving Time. Did you remember?
47 mph wind gust in downtown St. Paul yesterday. NOAA has a complete list of peak wind speeds here.
33 F. high temperature a year ago, on March 10, 2011.
9" snow on the ground in the Twin Cities on this date last year. Source: NOAA.
32 F. lows? I don't see any more sub-freezing temperatures for the Twin Cities looking out 2-3 weeks.
2.5"+ Latest 12z Sunday GFS model prints out over 2.5" of rain between February 21-23. We'll see.
Check Your Clocks. Did you remember to spring forward one hour? There's always one clock in the house that will get you into trouble. Yes, we lost a precious hour of sleep, but look at the bright side, literally: sunset this evening is 7:14 pm.
Tough Times For Snowmobilers. I snapped this pic (on my iPhone 4S) Saturday afternoon outside of Nisswa, just north of Brainerd. There is about 2-4" slushy snow left in wooded areas, but precious little elsewhere. A very rough ride for ditch-riding. Kind of sums up our Kansas City Winter.
5 percent of the Great Lakes surface froze over this winter, the least since satellite photos first were taken from space.
"The average amount of ice covering the Great Lakes declined 71 percent over the past 40 winters, with Lake Superior ice down 79 percent, according to a report published by the American Meteorological Society." - from a story at The Duluth News Tribune, details below. NASA "Modis" satellite image above courtesy of the University of Wisconsin.
Rapid Snow Melt. With highs soaring into the 60s through next week snow isn't long for central and northern Minnesota. Saturday's high-res NASA "MODIS" satellite showed the southern edge of the snowcover line running from Granite Falls to Hutchinson to the northern suburbs of the Twin Cities. The southern third of Minnesota and southern half of Wisconsin is essentially snow-free. Tough times for snow lovers. Yes, winter is pretty much over.
We've Only Just Begun...To Warm Up. With all due deference to The Carpenters (sorry) Saturday was just a taste of what's to come. The ECMWF Outlook is above; you'll be reassured to know those predicted highs are in Centigrade. 70 is possible by Wednesday, likely next weekend, mid 70s by Monday, March 19th? Yes, we seem to have skipped 2 months. Minor meteorological technicality.
Meteorological Time-Warp: Welcome To The Second Week of May. The ECMWF tipped me off to 70 a few days ago, now all the other models are catching up - every run nudges the mercury ever higher this week; the best chance of hitting 70 Wednesday, again Friday. Long-range guidance is hinting at mid-70s in about 8-9 days. Amazing.
"Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
"The Defense Department, the Intelligence Community, and the Department of Homeland Security are closely studying the effects of climate change, particularly how it will impact our security." - from a Consumer Energy Report below. Photo image courtesy of treehugger.com.
"The number of images out there means advertisers have a much more difficult time breaking through the clutter, causing the content to be much more violent and sexualized to get consumers' attention," said Occidental University associate professor Caroline Heldman, who specializes in media, gender and race."
"It may sound like some tired feminist rant to anyone who grew up with a smartphone. In fact, women are objectified more than ever, experts say, thanks to a constant barrage of images from all forms of media, many of them connecting products to a pair of breasts and a coy smile." - from an article below on how media warps concepts of beauty. Photo courtesy of mediabistro.com.
Report: Great Lakes Ice Cover Has Decreased 71% Since 1973. Some startling statistics from the Duluth News Tribune: "The average amount of ice covering the Great Lakes declined 71 percent over the past 40 winters, with Lake Superior ice down 79 percent, according to a report published by the American Meteorological Society. “There was a significant downward trend in ice coverage from 1973 to the present for all of the lakes,’’ states the study appearing in the society’s Journal of Climate. Researchers used Coast Guard reports and satellite photographs taken from 1973 to 2010 to determine the ice coverage of all the lakes, with Lake Ontario ice dropping 88 percent while ice in Lake St. Clair (between Lake Huron and Lake Erie) diminished just 37 percent."
Photo credit above: "A satellite photo of Lake Superior and the region taken Friday afternoon shows little ice on the lake. (Photo by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association / Space Science and Engineering Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison)."
Comparisons To May? Not An Exaggeration. I know - meteorologists are prone to fits of hype and wild exaggeration. But when we talk about how the weather this week will be more like late April, even May, it's not stretching the truth one bit. Above is the "Climate Calendar" for the Twin Cities in May, courtesy of the Minnesota Climatology Working Group. Friday's predicted high for MSP is 71, the average high for May 20
An Early Ice-Out? According to the Minnesota DNR the average date for ice-out on Lake Minnetonka is April 13. Why do I think it'll be earlier this year? My gut (nausea?) is the last week of March, at the rate we're going, with highs (consistently) in the 60s looking out the next 1-2 weeks, and some light rain early tomorrow. For the record, the average ice-out on White Bear Lake is April 12, on Lake Mille Lacs it's April 24.
A Bad Omen: Tracking Wildfires On Doppler. The Twin Cities office of the National Weather Service showed smoke from a grass fire over LeSueur County, just southwest of the metro area, on Saturday. Details: "A radar loop from today showing the smoke plume from a grass fire in Le Sueur county. Warm temperatures, low humidities , and strong southwesterly winds set the stage for good fire weather conditions. We can tell this is a fire due to the fact that the origin of the reflectivity values stays in one location for several hours. Also, the reflectivity resembles a plume of smoke being blown to the northeast by the strong southwesterly winds observed today. As you can see, the reflectivity was strongest near the onset of the fire, between noon and 2:00pm."
Growing Brushfire Threat. Until we see a couple of significant rain storms (and spring green-up), still a couple weeks away, the risk of wildfires will be significant. Monday's rain will help, but I suspect we'll be tracking more fires in the coming weeks across the Upper Midwest. Fire danger map courtesy of SPC.
A Little Moisture Would Be Nice. With the rain-snow line shoved north of Winnipeg there's no way we're going to see any frozen precipitation anytime soon. Models are hinting at .30 to .40" of rain. The official local NWS prediction is in green - about .35" late tonight into Monday morning.
Tournament Puddles...?. A southern storm will push a pinwheel of (rain) showers into Minnesota late tonight, up to a third of an inch of rain possible early Monday. Meanwhile, a strong cold frontal passage will sweep down the west coast, whipping up high winds, heavy rains, and mountain snows. NAM model courtesy of NOAA.
A "Warm Bias" Into Late March. No arctic fronts in sight, at least not yet. Considering the sun is now as high in the sky as it was in late September, it's going to be hard to get truly bitter air into Minnesota. A few more days in the 30s and 40s before spring sticks around (for good?) Probably, but I don't see it looking out 2 weeks.
Ignore The Calendar. It's May. I honestly can't remember a March like this. Sure, we've seen years with (brief) surges of warmth, a few days in the 60s or 70s in mid-March. But to be consistently in the 60s, even some 70s, for several weeks in a row in mid and late March? Now that's a bit unusual. The GFS temperature outlook (above) shows consistently warm temperatures for the next 8 days; temperatures running 20-35 degrees above average. A bit surreal.
--They may strike quickly, with little or no warning.
--They may appear nearly transparent until dust and debris are picked up or a cloud forms in the funnel.
--The average tornado moves southwest to northeast, but tornadoes have been known to move in any direction.
--The average forward speed of a tornado is 30 mph, but may vary from stationary to 70 mph.
--Tornadoes can accompany tropical storms and hurricanes as they move onto land.
--Waterspouts are tornadoes that form over water.
--Tornadoes are most frequently reported east of the Rocky Mountains during spring and summer months.
--Peak tornado season in the southern states is March through May.
--Tornadoes are most likely to occur between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m., but can occur at any time.
* Source: FEMA, blueridgenow.com. Photo above of NSSL "Doppler on Wheels."
Planning For Tornadoes Increases Chance Of Survival. Some good tips and timely reminders from BlueRidgeNow.com: "If a tornado is likely, the National Weather Service will issue a warning for the area, and individuals should seek shelter. The safest place is in an interior bathroom or closet and away from windows, according to the NWS. If outdoors, find shelter in a low area, such as a ditch or culvert, to avoid the flying debris that causes most injuries and deaths. If in a car, abandon the vehicle and seek shelter in a ditch or sturdy building. Do not try to outrun a tornado or hide under an overpass. Most tornado deaths and injuries happen outdoors, in automobiles and mobile homes."
Do You Want To Be A Storm Spotter? SKYWARN is always looking for weather enthusiasts who want to help track and communicate severe weather. Doppler radar is great, "dual-polarization" Doppler is another big step forward, but there's still no substitute for "ground truth", for having eyes on the ground, confirming a supercell is producing large hail, wall clouds, funnels or an actual tornado. This is especially critical at distances of more than 50-75 miles away from a NWS Doppler installation, where it's impossible for meteorologists to see what's happening at or near ground level, due to curvature of the Earth. Newschannel9.com in Chattanooga has more details: "We hear a lot about "storm spotters," but many of our viewers don't know who they are or how they relay vital reports of severe weather. It's a growing Skywarn network of people trained to identify severe weather and help the National Weather Service know when warnings should be issued. "Spotters become more or less the eyes and ears of the weather service," according to Bob Gault, the public information officer for Bradley County Auxiliary Communications Service. Gault is a certified weather spotter who you may also recognize as the spokesman for the Bradley County Sheriff's Office. Spotters like Gault are volunteers and when severe weather threatens they keep their eyes on the skies looking for trouble. They are trained by National Weather Service meteorologists and have to take a course at least once every two years."
Strong Solar Flares Still Shooting Out From Active Spot On Sun. Fox News has more details: "The sun is continuing its active streak this week, firing off another solar flare late Thursday (March 8) from the same region that produced this week's strong solar storm. An M6.3-class solar flare — a mid-range eruption — spewed from the surface of the sun last night at 10:53 p.m. EST (0353 GMT March 9), according to an alert from the Space Weather Prediction Center, a joint operation by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Weather Service.
Hail And High Water. This photo was snapped just east of San Angelo, Texas late Friday. More from the San Angelo, Texas NWS office: "Small hail was a common sight across West Central Texas last night and this morning. Freezing levels are very low and surface temperatures are in the mid to upper 30s, preventing the hail from melting very quickly. Some areas received fairly significant accumulations of hail. The attached picture was sent to the National Weather Service from one of our dedicated storm spotters near Wall."
Funnel Clouds Over Hawaii? Now I've officially seen everything. Details from the Honolulu NWS Office:
PRELIMINARY LOCAL STORM REPORT NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HONOLULU HI 356 PM HST FRI MAR 09 2012 ..TIME... ...EVENT... ...CITY LOCATION... ...LAT.LON... ..DATE... ....MAG.... ..COUNTY LOCATION..ST.. ...SOURCE.... ..REMARKS.. 0710 AM TORNADO 1 ESE KAILUA 21.40N 157.72W 03/09/2012 OAHU IN HONOLULU HI PUBLIC A NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HONOLULU DAMAGE SURVEY TEAM HAS CONFIRMED A WATERSPOUT MOVED ASHORE AS AN EF-0 TORNADO IN LANIKAI AND TRACKED TO THE SOUTHWEST IMPACTING PORTIONS OF THE ENCHANTED LAKES SUBDIVISION IN KAILUA. SEVERAL ROOFS WERE DAMAGED OR DESTROYED...TREES WERE SNAPPED...ROAD SIGNS DESTROYED...AND POWERLINES KNOCKED DOWN.
Latest Storm Content From Hawaii. Click here to see a steady stream of (amazing) pics and video clips of the severe storms and flooding rains wracking Hawaii, courtesy of Hawaii News Now's Facebook Page.
* we're hearing of as much as 48" of rain on the island of Kauai. That's 6-8 month's worth of rain falling in less than 4 days.
Hawaiian Weather Woes Bring Landslides, Hail. KITV-TV has more details on the (highly unusual) storms plaguing Hawaii: "HONOLULU -- Parts of Hawaii continue to get drenched by thunderstorms and heavy rains that has caused large hail, closed schools, sewage spills and ruined vacations.Oahu is under a flash flood warning until 10 a.m. Friday. A flash flood watch is in effect until Saturday for Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Oahu, Kauai and Niihau.Kauai County officials warned the public to stay off roads because of thunder, lightning and flooding. The Kauai bus will not be offering service north of Hanamaulu until further notice. A landslide was reported near the Kauai Marriott, blocking a lane of traffic.
A Very Stormy Pattern For The West Coast. Here are details from the San Francisco Bay Area NWS office: "An active weather pattern this week is poised to produce one of the wettest week of the season. A series of low pressure systems will move across the area bringing periods of rain, seasonal temperatures and breezy conditions. The higher rainfall will occur north of San Francisco while the southern extent of the rainfall is still in question, so stay tuned for future bulletins."
NHC Implements New Hurricane Categorization Scale. Some tweaks to the Saffir Simpson scale for measuring hurricane intensity/threat? AccuWeather.com has more details: "The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale (SSHWS) is a 1 to 5 categorization based on a hurricane's intensity at an indicated time, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). The scale is undergoing a minor modification in 2012 to resolve "awkwardness associated with conversions among the various units used for wind speed in advisory products." Essentially, the new modification is to help clarify categorization of wind speed measurements based on miles per hour (mph), kilometers per hour (km/h) and knots. There is an inherent uncertainty when estimating wind speeds for tropical cyclones. Generally, wind speeds are rounded because it's unrealistic to identify exact wind speeds. So, these numbers are rounded to the nearest "5." For example, 132 mph would be rounded to 130 mph, while 137 knots would be rounded to 140 knots." Hurricane photo courtesy of NASA.
Paul's Links. Favorite weather links:
1). Experimental Storm Reports. This is a terrific link from NOAA, showing storm reports on an interactive, zoom-able Google map. You can see today's severe weather reports, or any day in the past. Map above is from March 1-3, showing the historic outbreak of severe storms and tornadoes in the Ohio Valley.
2). Extreme And Weird Weather Of The World. Coolwx.com has a variety of useful, constantly updating maps. At 7 pm Saturday evening the hottest reporting station on earth was Yangon, Myanmar, reporting a whopping 96.8 F. Factoring in dew point it felt like 112.2 F. Ouch. Peak winds could be found at Vagar, Denmark (roughly 70 mph). You'll be the hit of your next party. Or not.
3). IEM Cow. NWS Storm-Based Warning Verification. This is a powerful application, created by the Iowa Environmental Mesonet, down at the Iowa State University Department of Agronomy. Every NWS warning from each office is numbered and catalogues, so you can specify a location, a date, and then call up all warning information, along with actual storm reports. More details: "Data presented here is unofficial and should be used for educational purposes only. This application allows you to view warnings and storm reports issued by a Weather Forecast Office (WFO) for a period of time of your choice. The application attempts to automatically provide verification numbers for the warnings issued. " IEM Cow map above is from March 9, showing a rare (weak) tornado in Hawaii.
4). SPC: Storm Prediction Center. A division of NOAA, meteorologists at SPC in Norman, Oklahoma monitor the skies above America, searching for conditions ripe for severe storms, specifically high winds, hail and tornadoes. This is a necessary first stop for any weather enthusiast interested in pin-pointing which areas of the USA are primed for severe weather. SPC issues watches for a 3-8 hour period, meaning conditions are favorable for severe weather. Local NWS offices ultimately issue any warnings for specific counties or portions of counties, an average warning lasts 20-45 minutes. Check the "Convective Outlook" tab to see if there is a slight/moderate/high risk nearby. A moderate risk usually implies a significant risk of tornadoes later in the day - that's the threshhold we look at when deciding which states are most prone to tornadic supercell storms.
Tornado Happens. Sadly, this may be fairly accurate. Graphic credit here.
Miami Sunset. Thanks to meteorologist Bay Scroggins for sending in this pic from the Miami area. Showers and T-storms have been sprouting up across the Sunshine State, a stalled front keeping skies unsettled and potentially thundery again today.
Mysterious Flash Captured During Live Traffic Report In Phoenix. Not a clue what this was - but I thought you might want to see this story from Science News Blog: "A large flash was spotted in Phoenix during Andrea Robinson's live 5 am traffic report Thursday morning on Fox 10 News Phoenix. It looks like it could have been a transformer explosion, but the electric utilities serving Phoenix - APS and SRP - told Fox 10 they had no transformer problems in the area. There have also been no reports of an explosion, according to the network. Fox 10 is reaching out to the public for information about the mysterious flash."
Sex, Lies And Media: New Waves Of Activists Challenge Notion Of Beauty. Here's an interesting story from KVIA-TV in El Paso, Texas: "Here's the fantasy: A half-naked woman lies across a couch, lips pouty and cleavage prominent as her sultry gaze implores you to buy this bottle of perfume.The reality: Women make up 51% of the United States yet only 17% of seats in the House of Representatives. They're 3% of Fortune 500 CEOs and 7% of directors in the top 250 grossing films.What's the connection? We live in a sexualized society where the gap between fantasy and reality is vast and harmful, director and activist Jennifer Siebel-Newsom says."Women are aspiring to do great things in leadership, yet the glass ceiling is still there because of the way media depict women," Siebel-Newsom said. "It influences our culture and dictates our gender norms and values."Siebel-Newsom's documentary, Miss Representation, is the latest cinematic foray in the movement to challenge portrayals of beauty in "the media," a term used to describe all forms of mass communication, from the internet, TV, film, magazines, radio and advertising."
Photo credit above: The Beauty Myth.
HDMI Dongle Brings Android To Your "Dumb TV". Here's an interesting story from Engadget: "Google TV's looking for a second wind here at CES, but for those of you uninterested in buying a new TV (or a new set-top box, for that matter), here's a little diddy that just might tickle your fancy. Always Innovating is making a triumphant return to Las Vegas with what might be the raddest little gizmo of the show. The simply-titled HDMI Dongle is effectively an entire system on a
chip dongle (and yeah, it looks a lot like Roku's Streaming Stick), boasting a Cortex-A9, between 256MB and 1GB of RAM, inbuilt WiFi / Bluetooth, an NFC module and even an accelerometer. The goal here is to convert your completely vanilla HDTV into an internet-connected device; just plug it into your HDMI port, grab the bundled RF remote and start enjoying Android on the big screen."
One Amazing March Day. A 30 degree bump in one day? Impressive. Under a flawless blue sky the mercury soared to May-like levels over southern Minnesota, reaching 66 in the Twin Cities, a record-breaking 64 at Eau Claire, a respectable 62 at Hibbing, 54 at Duluth, 58 Brainerd and 54 at St. Cloud, which tied an all-time record. St. Cloud has 3" snow on the ground, 11" at International Falls.
"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity." - Albert Einstein
Sun Setting On Winter. Thanks to meteorologist Todd Nelson for passing along this sunset from St. Michael (upper left). Meteorologist Kate Ferrier snapped the photo in the upper right, on Lake Mille Lacs. Stating the obvious: ice safety is going to be a growing concern over the next 1-2 weeks. Be careful out there.
Paul's Star Tribune Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:
SUNDAY: Increasing and thickening clouds - dry into the evening hours. Winds: S 10-20. High: 64
SUNDAY NIGHT: Mostly cloudy with rain showers. Low: 46
MONDAY: Rain showers slowly taper - damp and slightly cooler. (about a third of an inch of rain may fall). High: 57
TUESDAY: Plenty of sun, spring really has arrived. Low: 40. High: 64
WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny, average for mid May. Low: 48. High: 67
THURSDAY: Intervals of sun, more humid. Low: 45. High: 68
FRIDAY: May-like, almost sticky. Huh? Low: 47. High: 71
ST. PATRICK's DAY: Warm and humid. Stray T-storm? Low: 48. High: near 70
An Early May
It's the atmospheric equivalent of turning on a light switch. 30s and wind chill on a Friday - mid 60s just 24 hours later. Impressive.
I feel almost giddy; an odd mix of euphoria, and a nagging sense of dread.
Think about it: we just enjoyed the 4th warmest winter on record, in spite of La Nina cooling of the Pacific, which correlates with cold, snowy winters for the northern USA. Right. The American Meteorological Society reports a 71 percent drop in ice on the Great Lakes since 1973. Only 5% ice cover this winter, the least since the satellite record began.
Meanwhile that same La Nina pattern is energizing the jet stream, sparking more tornadoes than usual. The latest SPC count from March 2 is 159. If it holds it would set a new record, eclipsing the "Super Outbreak's" 148 tornadoes in 1974.
More 60s on tap today, high clouds dim the sun - forerunners of a sloppy southern storm capable of (rain) showers tonight and Monday.
I'm not exaggerating when I say the weather maps look like May; 70 by late week? Models hint at an inch or more of rain around March 21, but no beefy cold fronts are brewing.
The winter that wasn't..isn't. Hello spring!
"Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth." Henry David Thoreau
Fears Of Tornado Catastrophes Due To Global Warming Unfounded. There is still considerable debate in meteorological circles about a possible link between a warmer, wetter climate and tornadogenesis. Although warming at northern latitudes may decrease baroclinicity (and subsequent wind shear aloft responsible for spinning up the most violent tornadoes) an increase in instability and higher dew points may provide additional buoyancy, major factors in the formation of tornadoes. In the spirit of debate, underscoring the remaining uncertainty, here's an article from Universe Today: "The 2012 tornado season got off to a rousing start. Between February 28th and March 3rd, two deadly storm systems developed in the southern United States. The storms spawned numerous tornadoes that together killed at least 52 people. This kind of extreme tornado activity, so early in the year, has fueled fears that global warming will increase the severity and duration of the tornado season. But, scientific studies show that this is not necessarily to be expected. Early tornadoes are not unheard of. For example, on February 29 in 1952, two tornadoes caused severe damage in the south-eastern US. But this year, the number of early tornadoes has been much higher. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that in January of 2012, the tornado total was 95, much higher than the 1991–2010 average of 35."
Photo credit above: "Tornadoes swept the Midwest US on March 2, 2012. In this image, clouds are rendered using thermal infrared (heat) and visible imagery from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-East (GOES-East). Background land information is from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS).
Image credit: NOAA-NASA GOES Project/NASA Earth Observatory."
Should We Be Techno-Optimists About Climate Change? Here is a thought-provoking article from The Energy Collective: "One of the blogs I read from time to time is that of Paul Gilding, an independent writer on sustainability and former head of Greenpeace International. He spoke at TED last week with a talk called “The Earth is Full”. His blog post this week references the talk and argues why we shouldn’t rely on the “techno-optimist” point of view that all will be okay on the night. "Driven by their optimism bias, people use the clearly huge opportunity of technology to reassure themselves we won’t face a crisis. They believe any serious limits in the system will be avoided because technology will intervene and we’ll adapt." "I discussed this a while back in an earlier post. Two colleagues in the Shell Scenario team published an article in Nature that showed clear historic trends for the deployment of new energy technologies."
Why Climate Change Is A Matter Of National Security. An important story from Consumer Energy Report; here's an excerpt:: "I may bring down the wrath of the internet with this essay – I know from experience that talking climate change in a public forum draws out all the trolls. A changing climate, however, is important enough that our national security planners are studying it closely. The Defense Department, the Intelligence Community, and the Department of Homeland Security are closely studying the effects of climate change, particularly how it will impact our security."
"First, I will try to pre-empt some criticism from the anti-science crowd by saying that we simply cannot know the future. The climate is notoriously difficult to predict, and models are imperfect. But – climate change is not a matter of ‘belief’ – it is a matter of fact. The fact is that the earth is warming, and has been for at least a century. And, that warming is accelerating: the warmest decade on record was the 2000s, with each of the three decades previous to that warmer than the decade before. Further – it is unequivocal that this warming is being driven by man-made greenhouse gas emissions. I am not a scientist, so I will leave the rest of the explanation to NASA scientist Jim Hansen, who discussed the science of climate change in a recent TED speech."
Global Warming May Drive You Nuts. Great. That's not my headline, it comes from the U.K. Daily Mail: "The University of Sydney Anxiety Disorders Clinic, Discipline of Behavioral and Social Sciences in Health studied 50 patients and found 14 of them (28%) suffer an obsessive compulsive disorder related to their concerns about global warming. From the study: "Results: The most frequent concerns involved electricity, water and gas wastage. Less frequent concerns included pets dying of thirst and one participant was concerned about house damage due to floors cracking, pipes leaking; roof problems and white ant activity. Compulsions included checking and rechecking pet water bowls, light switches, taps, stoves, skirting boards, pipes, roofs and wooden structures. While these behaviors are not particularly unusual for people with this condition, it was the rationale they provided for carrying them out that was surprising. Instead of checking and rechecking so as to prevent fire or flood, the rituals were specifically performed so as to reduce their global footprint, or respond to climate change-induced negative events."
Changing The Chemistry Of Earth's Oceans. The New York Times has more in this Op-Ed: "The oceans have always served as a sink for carbon dioxide, but the burning of fossil fuels since the beginning of the industrial revolution, especially over the last 40 years, has given them more than they can safely absorb. The result is acidification — a change in the chemical balance that threatens the oceans’ web of life. In earth’s history, there have been many episodes of acidification, mainly from prolonged volcanic eruptions. According to a new research review by paleoceanographers at Columbia University, published in Science, the oceans may be turning acid far faster than at any time in the past 300 million years."
55.5" snow in the Twin Cities so far this winter season.
22: days with at least a trace or more of snow so far in January.
7: subzero nights so far in January.
10: subzero nights so far this winter season.
30: average number of subzero nights at MSP during an entire winter season.
-3.4 F. Departure from normal so far in January in the Twin Cities metro area.
Feb 10-11. Next chance of a few inches of snow in the metro area.
Slushy Coating? The latest (12z) NAM model (usually the most reliable) is now printing out .02" liquid. Assuming a 10/1 snow/rain ratio that comes out to a quarter or eighth of an inch - just a coating possible later tonight into Friday.
Is The Worst Behind Us? My cautious answer is a qualified yes. I may live to regret this spurt of sunny optimism, but my semi-educated hunch is that we probably won't get any colder than -16 F. in February. Picking up over 2 minutes of additional daylight every day it gets progressively harder to get below zero, especially the last week or two of February. Will we see more subzero nights? Absolutely? Will we experience another round of 5 nights/row below zero? Maybe not. Next week we'll probably endure 2 or 3 nights below zero, daytime highs in single digits and low teens - not quite as cold as it got late last week. See the January numbers for yourself here, courtesy of the National Weather Service.
Dueling Models. Always fun when the weather models we use have a difference of opinion on what is going to happen next. The GFS model is hinting that Thursday may be the bigger snow day, a potential for 1-2". But the (usually more reliable/accurate) NAM weather model is suggesting a coating. Regardless of which model verifies - the heaviest amounts should pass north/east of the Twin Cities and St. Cloud later this week.
Clipper #1. The first (weak) clipper dives southeastward Thursday, putting down 1/2 to 2" from the Minnesota Arrowhead into northern Wisconsin. Models are hinting at 1/2 to 1" snow Wednesday night in the metro area.
Clipper #2. A stronger clipper arrives Friday, when highs may top 32 F. across portions of central and southern Minnesota, a stronger north-south temperature differential whipping up heavier snow over central and northern Minnesota - as much as 2-4" over the northern third of Minnesota and parts of central and northern Wisconsin. A light coating is possible in the metro area, but once again the heaviest snow should stay mostly north/east of I-94.
Snow Potential? This is the GFS prediction for accumulated snow (by midday Sunday), showing the next nor'easter dumping potentially heavy snow from Washington D.C. and Philadelphia to New York, Hartford and the Boston area. As much as 3-6" may accumulate over far northern Minnesota from a series of clippers, under 1/2 or 1" in St. Cloud and the Twin Cities.
Watches and Warnings. Note the lack of any fancy colors over Minnesota - remarkably quiet weather close to home (compared to the rest of the nation). A strengthening southern storm will track right up the coast - and NOAA has already issued Winter Storm Watches and Warnings from Huntsville, Alabama to Boston. The latest update is here.
Northeast Braces For Snowy Blast. If this trend continues for a couple more weeks (major coastal storms for the east coast) New York and Boston may pass the Twin Cities for winter snowfall totals. From an article at USA Today: "A fast-moving but intense winter storm is forecast to dump several inches of heavy, wet snow across the big cities of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast today and early Thursday. Airlines are cautioning travelers to check airlines for the status of their flights before heading to airports. By Tuesday afternoon, Delta had canceled more than 150 flights scheduled to take off today from cities along the East Coast, spokesman Anthony Black said."
180 Degree Turn. Here's the thing about predicting more than 4-7 days out - things can turn on a dime. Yesterday's GFS guidance was suggesting subzero weather for the second week of February. Latest models are hinting at a thaw for the first weekend of February, from roughly the 4th through the 7th. What to believe? I want to see a couple more computer runs. No doubt next week will be bitter, a string of days in single digits to low teens with a handful of subzero lows. Not quite as cold as late last week, but a subtle (yet blunt) reminder that spring fever is NOT right around the corner.
What Is A Nor'easter? NOAA has more information on these massive coastal storms which tend to intensify off the Outer Banks of North Carolina, tapping warmth and moisture from the Gulf Stream, mixing with frigid, Canadian air to dump windswept snow and ice on the northeast. "The phrase, “crowded coastline” might conjure up images of tanned tourists on the warm, sunny beaches of Florida and California. But, the most crowded coastal corridor in the United States stretches between Washington, D.C., and Boston — and includes the densely urban cities of Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York. In this region, where 180 coastal counties support 77 percent of the area’s total population, the weather for more than half the year is far from warm and sunny. In fact, it’s the active season for a weather phenomenon known as nor’easters."
Photo credit: April 2007 nor'easter, NOAA.
New England Endures A Bitter Blast. Misery loves company. It helps to know that other Americans are feeling our pain. From an article at USA Today: "Train equipment froze, cars sputtered, schools canceled classes and cold-weather enthusiasts opted to stay inside Monday as a bitter blast of below-zero temperatures with promises of minus-50 wind chills gripped the Northeast. The gasp-inducing cold tested the mettle even of New Englanders, who pride themselves on winter hardiness. "Snot-freezing cold," was how Kelly Walsh, 28, described it, walking home from an auto parts store in Vermont's capital after buying a new battery for her car, which wouldn't start Monday morning. It was minus 21 there at 7 a.m." Snot-freezing cold? Have to remember that one.
Climate Extreme Index (CEI). From Jeff Masters at Wunderblog, a post focused on extreme weather; is it really on the rise, or is it just our perception? The 7 most extreme years for excessive rainfall in the USA have been observed since 1995. 2010 was 5th on the list, dating back to 1910. "The Annual Climate Extremes Index (CEI), updated through 2010, shows that U.S. climate has generally been getting more extreme since the early 1970s, but that the 2010 climate was just slightly more extreme than average. On average since 1910, 21% of the U.S. has seen extreme conditions in a given year (thick black line), and in 2010 this number was about 24%." Graphic courtesy of NCDC.
Severe Storms Race Across Florida. Several tornadoes were spotted in Florida Tuesday night, with reports of considerable damage. The latest from the Orlando Sentinel: "The nightmare storm that slammed Central Florida on Tuesday had mostly passed before 9 p.m., hours earlier than expected. Still, it made its presence felt — damaging homes, causing crashes and knocking out power for thousands. Just about every corner of Central Florida was under either a tornado warning or watch at one time or another between the late afternoon and about 9 p.m. Late Tuesday, officials were still working to determine the extent of the damage. The worst damage reported as of Tuesday evening came in Groveland, where the National Weather Service reported that 12 to 20 homes were damaged. It was unclear if a tornado caused the destruction."
Scientists Hopes For Climate Data Are Up In The Air. The Washington Post has an article pointing out the need for accurate, reliable climate data - much of which comes from a constellation of satellites. Budget cutbacks and shortfalls may impact our ability to monitor Earth and provide scientists with the data necessary to diagnose what is happening on a planetary scale: "Shortly after it lifted off in February 2009, NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory crashed into the Pacific Ocean near Antarctica. With that, a $250 million investment became scrap metal on the ocean floor and an effort to begin using satellites to measure atmospheric carbon dioxide and trace emission-reduction actions was dealt a huge setback. Scientists say the information the OCO was intended to collect is a crucial piece of the data needed not only by those monitoring the Earth's environment but also by federal officials struggling to understand possible national security implications of those climate changes. But the OCO's failure highlighted an even broader problem: Understanding climate change requires a breadth of information on variables from atmospheric carbon dioxide to the condition of Arctic ice, and scientists say that satellites are vital for this. Yet at a time where the massive Larsen B Ice Shelf in Antarctica seems intact one day and then collapses into the sea the next, the system of continuous, reliable satellite observation of Earth is at risk, with some aging satellites in dire need of replacement."
The United States Of Shame. Minnesota's claim to fame is....tornadoes? That's a bit of a stretch, but we did endure 104 tornado touchdowns in 2010. Worst drivers: Massachusetts. Poorest health: Kansas. Most robberies: Illinois. Every state has something to brag about, and something the local Chamber of Commerce wishes would just go away. From a random article highlighting our nation's low-lights, state-by-state: "Whether it’s a fat population, high rate of STDs or excessive tax rate, it turns out that every state ranks dead last in at least one unsavory category. Check out the map (click image to enlarge) to see what your state is the worst at, then review additional stats and references."
Apple To Add NFC Functionality To iPhone and iPad. Using your iPhone to purchase a cup of coffee at Caribou, or that sweet treat in the company vending machine? The day may be coming sooner than you think. Hallelujah! From an article at mashable.com: "Apple will add NFC (near-field communication) capabilities to its next generation iPhone and iPad, claims Richard Doherty, director of the consulting firm Envisioneering Group. NFC is a form of wireless data transfer over short (up to 4-inch) distances, which could be used to make purchases with a mobile device. If Apple ties the technology with customers' iTunes accounts, making purchases might become as easy as swiping your phone over a specifically designed sticker or payment terminal. According to Doherty, Apple is thinking of starting a mobile payment service as early as mid-2011, integrating it into iTunes and adding the familiar concept of loyalty credits and points into the service. Apple hass already designed a prototype payment terminal, Doherty claims, which may be heavily subsidized or even given away to small businesses, jump starting the service."
Digital Trivia. Here is more than you ever wanted to know about the web and e-mail in 2010, courtesy of pingdom.com. Just think of all the fun at your next party!
How Did A Block Of Wood Wind Up On An Iceberg? An icebreaker on its way to Antarctica spotted this random block of wood on top of an iceberg - no idea how it got there. From an article at neatorama.com: "I’ve heard the Southern Ocean attracts a hardy individual but a block of wood on an iceberg is ridiculous. This lonely piece of timber was spotted on the top of a small berg at 66 degrees south, just north of Commonwealth Bay. Wildlife watchers near Aurora Australis’ bridge first thought it was a relaxing seal but it was soon apparent it was rectangular in shape.How it got to such a prominent position, instead of just floating around, is anyone’s guess."
Tuesday Memories. Yesterday's high of 20 at KMSP was only 2 degrees cooler than average, 16 at St. Cloud and 23 at Eau Claire, Wisconsin, which has 20" of snow on the ground.
Paul's Star Tribune Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:
TODAY: More clouds than sun, "average" temperatures. Winds: W 10. High: 23
WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Light snow, up to 1" possible. Low: 16
THURSDAY: Slick start, flurries taper early. "Grilling weather". High: 32
FRIDAY: Coating of flurries? Fleeting thaw. Probably the mildest day of the week. Low: 25. High: 33
SATURDAY: Better day to play in the snow. Mostly cloudy, turning cooler. Low: 20. high: 26
SUNDAY: Gusty, turning sharply colder. Low: 6. High: 12
MONDAY: Blue sky, coldest day of the week? Low: -5. High: 10
TUESDAY: Clouds increase, still storm-free. Low: 1. High: 15
"Isn't it interesting that the same people who laugh at science fiction listen to weather forecasts and economists?" quipped Kelvin Throop III. Predicting the future is not for the faint of heart.
As time goes on I have even more respect for the complexities of the atmosphere; how everything from cold water in the Pacific to warm ocean currents in the Arctic have a domino effect on Minnesota conditions. It's a puzzle with a seemingly infinite number of pieces. Computers help, but whether its La Nina or the rate of melting over Greenland, the models are only as good as our understanding of larger forces, some beyond our comprehension. The long range forecast accuracy improves roughly 1% every year, but there is a financial limit to how far out we can look with any precision. Launching weather balloons and running supercomputer models is an expensive undertaking.
Thursday or Friday may be the 2 most comfortable days to check out the ice carvings at Rice Park, part of the St. Paul Winter Carnival. Highs brush 32F Friday, before the mercury tumbles over the weekend. A rerun of goosebumps next week may give rise to another thaw the first weekend of February. In a word: progress!
Visualizing (Extreme) Sea Level Rise. Now you can use Google Earth to visualize a worst-case scenario, in this case a how a 100 meter sea level rise would impact London. This scenario would require an almost complete meltdown of Greenland ice, and very significant melting of Antarctica, statistically possible, but the likelihood of this happening (at least in the 21st century) is very low. From a Google post: "We've discussed how flooding can be visualized a few times in Google Earth, because it's a great medium with which to show off catastrophes such as that. In addition to helping with fresh imagery from recent floods in Pakistan and Nashville, it's also been used to help bring to life the 1966 flood in Florence and an animation of how rising sea levels would affect various cities. Today's post comes from Richard Treves over at Google Earth Design. He's recently read Will Self's "Book of Dave", which imagines a future where sea levels have risen over 100 meters. Richard has taken that idea and given step-by-step instructions on how to simulate a 100m rise in sea level for any area of the world. I took his example and put it over London, with the results seen here."
Man-Made Climate Change Is Thousands Of Years Old. The author of this study correctly points out that deforestation and land-use has had a significant impact on climate over the span of thousands of years. This may be true, but we have accelerated climate change by releasing carbon (that took many millions of years to form into oil, gas and coal) and releasing it into the atmosphere in a geological blink of an eye, in the last 250 years, most of the greenhouse gas emissions in the last 50-75 years. From an article at planetsave.com: "Manmade climate change is not only a thing of the last hundred years, according to new research from scientists at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL). The Roman Conquest, expansion of civilization in China, the Black Death, and the discovery of America, amongst other historical landmarks, have all had large impacts on the climate. “Humans didn’t wait for the industrial revolution to provoke environment and climate change. They have been having an influence for at least 8000 years,” said Jed Kaplan, a Swiss National Science Foundation professor at EPFL, who along with his colleague Kristen Krumhardt, have developed a computer model that reveals an obvious linkage between population increase and deforestation."
Evidence In Canadian Arctic Points To Volcanic Eruptions As Cause Of Mass Extinction. From a recent article at the Vancouver Sun: "A mass extinction 250 million years ago was caused by massive volcanic eruptions that burned significant volumes of coal, causing runaway global warming to impact the temperature and acidity of the world’s oceans, Canadian researchers found in new research announced Sunday. "This could literally be the smoking gun that explains the latest Permian extinction," said Steve Grasby, a researcher at the University of Calgary’s department of geoscience. During the Permian extinction 95 per cent of life was wiped out in the sea and 70 per cent on land. Unlike the demise of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, where there is widespread belief that a meteorite was at least the partial cause, it is unclear what caused the Permian mass extinction."
Photo Credit: Research discovered layers of coal ash in rocks from the extinction boundary in Canada's High Arctic that gives the first direct proof to support the belief that eruptions in what is known as the Siberian Traps, now found in northern Russia, produced ash clouds that had a broad impact on global oceans.
Trending Milder. Another graphic from Jeff Masters and his informative, must-read Wunderblog, showing a graphic from NCDC, the National Climatic Data Center. This shows the number of record low temperatures (both warm and cold records for nighttime "lows") - with far more record (warm) nighttime temperatures than record cold readings, especially since the last 1990s.
If You Build It, Will They Charge? It's a classic chicken and egg challenge facing EV's, electrical vehicles. Can you encourage enough people to purchase pure electric-powered vehicles without a critical mass of charging stations on interstates around the USA? Or do you need the charging stations (first), before a critical mass of consumers will make the jump to electrical vehicles? From an energy blog at the New York Times: "A transition to electric cars isn’t just a matter of the cars, but also of the infrastructure that goes with them, including public charging stations. The Electric Power Research Institute and the Tennessee Valley Authority plan to cut the ribbon on Tuesday on a prototype of a new kind of charging station, one that uses solar cells and batteries. But they do not work together in quite the way the public might expect. The initial installation has six parking stalls, one of them extra wide for handicapped drivers, with carport roofs covered with solar panels. There are three refrigerator-size battery packs in a building that is heated and air-conditioned."
12 Politicians And Execs Blocking Progress On Global Warming. From an article at Rolling Stone: "No one does more to spread dangerous disinformation about global warming than Murdoch. In a year of record heat waves in Africa, freak snowstorms in America and epic flooding in Pakistan, the Fox network continued to dismiss climate change as nothing but a conspiracy by liberal scientists and Big Government. Glenn Beck told viewers the Earth experienced no warming in the past decade — the hottest on record. Sean Hannity declared that "global warming doesn't exist" and speculated about "the true agenda of global-warming hysterics." Even Brian Kilmeade, co-host of the chatty Fox & Friends, laughed off the threat of climate change, joking that the real problem was "too many polar bears." Murdoch's entire media empire, it would seem, is set up to deny, deny, deny. The Wall Street Journal routinely dismisses climate change as "an apocalyptic scare," and Fox News helped gin up a fake controversy by relentlessly hyping the "climategate" scandal — even though independent investigations showed that nothing in the e-mails stolen from British climate researchers undercut scientific conclusions about global warming. Murdoch knows better. In 2007, he warned that climate change "poses clear, catastrophic threats" and promised to turn News Corp. into a model of carbon neutrality. But at his media outlets, manufacturing doubt about global warming remains official policy."
55.4" so far this winter in the Twin Cities (24.5" more than average as of January 23).
3: number of days without snow in January.
3.5: number of degrees below average for January temperatures in the Twin Cities.
9: number of subzero nights in the Twin Cities this winter.
12: inches of snow on the ground at KMSP this morning.
16: number of days this winter with an inch or more of snow in the metro area.
52: number of days with at least a "trace" or more of snow so far at KMSP this winter season.
4,159: heating degree days since July 1, according to the National Weather Service. Average as of January 23 is 4,333 HDD. That means we've used 4% less energy to heat our homes and offices since temperatures started to drop last autumn. Put another way, the '10-'11 heating season is running roughly 4% warmer than average. I know. I did a double-take too. True, it has been colder than average since December 1 (December was 2.3 F colder than average, January is 3.5 degrees colder than the running 30-year average) but last autumn was considerably milder than average across Minnesota. An earlier statement I made that "winter is running warmer than average" is absolutely incorrect - we've been consistently colder than average since the start of meteorological winter in early December.
Snowfall So Far This Season:
Boston: 50" (average as of today is 41.5"). The Big Apple spent $40 million cleaning up from just one (1-2 foot) snowfall the day after Christmas.
New York City: 36" (average as of today is 21").
Atlanta: 6" (average is closer to .3"). Atlanta spent $10 million removing the 3-5" that fell nearly 2 weeks ago.
Nuisance Snow Today. Models are unanimously killing today's clipper - printing out a coating to (maybe) a whopping half inch of slush, one outlier closer to 1". With air temperatures in the mid 20s to near 30 by late afternoon most freeways/interstates will be wet and slushy.
A Relatively Quiet Week. Today's clipper may put down as much as 3-5" over far northern Minnesota, north of Duluth, near the BWCA and Grand Marais. More lake-effect snows are expected, but I don't see any widespread snow/ice- related delays through the end of the week east of the Rockiest....for a change.
Steering Out To Sea. The next coastal storm out east is now forecast to remain just offshore, brushing the Carolinas with a rain/snow mix, but any heavy snow bands should remain east of D.C., New York and Boston. Good news for travelers. This GFS forecast map is valid 7 pm Wednesday evening.
Not Quite Out Of The (Bitter) Woods Just Yet. Round 1 came in early December (3 subzero nights). This latest outbreak (4 subzero nights/row) will ease today as temperatures spike close to 30 (above!) A relatively mild week is on tap, followed by a colder swipe next weekend. The GFS is hinting at another pretty good shot of Arctic air after Saturday, Feb. 5. It may not be quite as cold as this latest outbreak, but close.
So You Think Winter's Been Bad? The Star Tribune's Kristin Tillotson has a good article focusing on people who have it REALLY bad, trying to navigate the cold and snow every day just doing their jobs. Here's an excerpt: "When it comes to trekking around our frigid, snow-saturated cities this winter, misery does love company -- and has plenty of it. Everybody's having a hard time getting around, but some have to deal with it throughout their entire work shift. Plenty of folks have jobs that keep them out in the clogged, slippery streets -- bus drivers, emergency medical technicians, highway salters/plowers, long-haul truckers, pizza deliverers, mail carriers and newspaper deliverers, to name a few."
The "Ice Bowl". December 31, 1967. You thought yesterday's AFC and NFC Championship games were "cold"? Hardly, at least compared with the very definition of a cold game, the "Ice Bowl" played between the Packers and the Cowboys on December 31, 1967. From the National Weather Service: "The 1967 NFL Championship Game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers, played on December 31 at Lambeau Field, is known as the Ice Bowl, arguably one of the greatest games in NFL history.
The game was played in brutal cold and windy conditions. The kickoff temperature in Green Bay was -13 F, with a wind chill of 36 below zero. Temperatures were so cold, in fact, that referees had to shout signals so that the metal whistles wouldn't stick to their lips. Even so, nearly 51,000 fans watched the coldest game in league annals.
Several players were treated for frostbite and a fan in the stands died of exposure to the cold.
Bart Starr, the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame quarterback, scored the game-winning touchdown with 13 seconds remaining, clinching a third straight NFL Championship for the Packers.
Some Interesting Ice Bowl Weather Facts
America's Coldest Football Games. What is it about championship games and bitter weather? The photo above is from the Bengals - Chargers game at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati on January 10, 1982. Air temperature: -9. Wind chill: -59. One of a handful of games included in a terrific Forbes article focusing on America's Coldest NFL Games.
Superbowl Weather Since 1967. Thanks for meteorologist D.J. Kayser for tracking down the Mother Lode of NFL/Weather factoids and trivia. A few fun facts from NOAA's Southeast Regional Climate Center:
13 of 44 Bowls Played indoors.
16 of 44 Bowls had a Trace or More of Rain at nearby AP.
2 Bowls had Snow on Game Day (1982,2006).
1 Bowl played during an Ice Storm (2000).
Warmest High Temperature of 82° (1973,2003).
Coldest High Temp for Dome Game 16° (1982).
Coldest High Temp for Non-Dome Game 43° (1972).
Wettest Super Bowl .92 inches (2007).
Outside Games With High Wind Gust (1980, 1984, 1989,2007).
"Snow-maha." One upside to bitter cold? These Arctic invasions tend to shove the main highway for (heavy) snow well south of Minnesota. St. Louis picked up a cool foot of snow on Friday, and Omaha has been in the path of some of these recent storms. The You Tube video was shot on an Android phone, by the way.
California's "Big One" Might Be A Superstorm. I included a similar article a few weeks ago - this story is getting a lot of traction, especially in California, as you might suspect. The L.A. Times reports: "California's "big one" may not be an earthquake at all, but a devastating megastorm that would inundate the Central Valley, trigger widespread landslides and cause flood damage to 1 in 4 homes in the state. The prospect of such a storm was raised this month by scientists predicting the consequences of an "atmospheric river" of moisture from the tropical Pacific hitting California with up to 10 feet of rain and hurricane-force winds over several weeks. A team of more than 100 scientists, engineers and emergency planners used flood mapping, climate change projections and geologic flood history to simulate a hypothetical storm so intense that it occurs only every 100 to 200 years.
Persistent Drought Over Southern USA. Major storms have made the news, so it's somewhat surprising to hear that drought conditions are continuing over roughly the southern third of America, from the Carolinas and much of Georgia westward to Texas and New Mexico. More from NOAA here.
An Active Tornado Season? Considering we have a strong La Nina (which will probably linger into part of the spring), the odds of a more active tornado season for the Plains and Upper Midwest are statistically higher than average. There are numerous papers linking a cooling phase of the Pacific with increased frequency of tornadoes east of the Rockies. 2008 was a La Nina year - with a subsequent uptick in tornadoes, as described in this article. I can't imagine a scenario where Minnesota would see more than 104 tornadoes (the number of confirmed touchdowns in 2010), but La Nina spring tend to spawn more numerous violent, long-lasting EF-3 and stronger tornadoes. We'll see.
Twin Cities Events. If you're looking for something to do to get out of the house (and get out of a mid-winter funk) check out KARE-11's Metromix site - lot's of great ideas and a useful calendar feature to help you get a handle on what's going on in the near future.
Sunday Numbers. Our -8 F. low looks almost reasonable compared to International Falls (-37) and Hibbing (-31). Brainerd woke up to -24 F. Sunday morning, all reporting stations recovering into single digits and teens for highs.
Paul's Star Tribune Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:
TODAY: Light snow, flurries. Coating to 1/2" possible. Winds: W 10-15. High: near 30
MONDAY NIGHT: Flurries taper, little or no additional accumulation. Low: 3
TUESDAY: Intervals of sun, better travel. High: 23
WEDNESDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, not bad. High: 22
THURSDAY: Fading sun, milder Pacific breeze kicks in. High: 28
FRIDAY: A fleeting thaw? Mild start, then windy, turning colder PM hours. High: 31 (falling by afternoon)
SATURDAY: Flurries, bitter breeze returns. Low: 9. High: 13
SUNDAY: Blue sky, numb again. Low: -5. High: 4
Yesterday's NFL playoff games reminded me of the "Ice Bowl", on December 31, 1967. I was 9 years old, but remember it vividly. The Cowboys were playing the Packers at Lambeau Field in Green Bay; a game-time temperature of -13, windchill: -36. It was so cold the referees had to shout signals so the metal whistles wouldn't freeze to their lips. Players had to be treated for frostbite; a crowd of 51,000 braved the elements, one fan died from exposure. A Bengals game played in 1982 at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati had a chill factor of -59! More useless football/weather trivia at my weather blog.
Good news on the weather front. Today's clipper has fizzled, a snowy coating to 1/2" possible. The next chance of a couple inches? Early February. The BIG news: our much-rumored warm front is still on the way this week. Today and Thursday your brain-freeze will ease, you'll even regain some feeling in your nose and toes. Both days you may eye your grill and shed a few layers, as temperatures near 32 F. Anywhere else in America a forecast of "freezing" would be greeted by gasps & a sense of foreboding. Here we exhale, relieved that things are "finally turning around." One more big reason to love "Minne-snowda."
Looking Back at 2010: Are Accelerating Weather Extremes A Symptom Of Climate Change? Gary Betts, climate scientist and commentator, had a few thoughts for Vermont Public Radio which I thought were worthy of sharing: "The Earth's climate system, which is rather unstable, is being driven by the increase in greenhouse gases and the warming of the Arctic into new patterns, and these are giving us new extremes of weather. Climate change is forcing us to face something that nobody wants to face. It is now widely acknowledged that our industrialized world, created by science and technology and a market economy, is polluting the atmosphere and oceans; and driving rapid climate change. We now face the paradox that although humanity is responsible for this; the longer we delay in changing direction as a society, the more the Earth system is slipping beyond our control. Climate scientists have been issuing warnings for twenty years, and every year our understanding of the Earth improves; so we can better estimate the climate risks we face. But there is a naïve assumption that our politicians will use this valuable information to redirect the economy away from fossil fuels, and so steer us away from the looming precipice of irreversible climate change. But in fact, politicians will say and do almost anything to avoid responsibility for difficult and painful decisions. So at the national level our paralysis has deepened." Image courtesy of Stu Ostro, forecaster at the Weather Channel.
Climate Change: Dogs Of Law Are Off The Leash. Are lawyers chomping at the bit for class action lawsuits, taking on some of the biggest greenhouse gas polluters? It's still early, but some analysts believe such suits are inevitable, and that's why so many energy providers are nervous, putting up a valiant attempt to deny/delay the science. From an article at MSN News: "Compensation for losses inflicted by man-made global warming would be jaw-dropping, a payout that would make tobacco and asbestos damages look like pocket money. Imagine: a country or an individual could get redress for a drought that destroyed farmland, for floods and storms that created an army of refugees, for rising seas that wiped a small island state off the map. In the past three years, the number of climate-related lawsuits has ballooned, filling the void of political efforts in tackling greenhouse-gas emissions. Eyeing the money-spinning potential, some major commercial law firms now place climate-change litigation in their Internet shop window. Seminars on climate law are often thickly attended by corporations that could be in the firing line -- and by the companies that insure them."
The World Is Warming And Waiting For Science. An excerpt from a recent story from the Orlando Sentinel: "As Thomas notes, record-breaking cold temperatures in parts of the northern hemisphere have provided easy fodder to those who deny the earth's climate is changing. A closer look at recent scientific investigations will reveal these cold-weather extremes are induced by anthropogenic warming. Rising Arctic temperatures and concomitant sea-ice loss alter the northern-hemisphere jet stream and, on occasion, force cold air toward the southern U.S. instead of western Eurasia. The fact is the year 2010 tied with 2005 as the hottest year for the planet in more than 130 years. Each of the past three decades has been hotter than the one before, and during that time, there have been twice as many record-high temperatures than record lows in the U.S."
2010 Meltdown of Greenland. The Cryospheric Processes Laboratory at the City College of New York reports that, in 2010, some areas of Greenland saw a melting season 50 days longer than average. "Remote sensing data, surface observations and models indicate new records in 2010 for surface melt and albedo, runoff, the number of days when bare ice is exposed and surface mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet. This was especially true over its west and southwest regions. Melting is a crucial factor in both surface and subglacial processes. Here's a video showing melting streams, supraglacial lakes and meltwater flowing through ice cracks that we recorded in 2009 and 2010."
Climate Change Fastest In Southeast Asia. An article from AsiaOne News: "A re-insurance giant has released a study that says that South-East Asia will be feeling the effects of climate change faster than any other region. This was due to the number of natural disasters that have struck the region over the past decade. Although South-East Asia had been feeling the full effects of flobal warming in the past century, the sharp increase of natural disasters from 100 to 300 annually was evidence of that. Ernst Rauch, Much Re's head of corporate climate centre, told the Sunday Times that warming temperatures were the clearest sign of climate change. Large land masses which surrounded the region, such as India and China, contributed to temperatures rising at a faster rate, he said. Munich Re has calculated total financial losses from natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes and storms in Asia at around $1.4 billion. 1.14 million lives were lost in Asia alone last year."
Energy For The Economy. The New York Time's Andrew Revkin (author of the Dot Earth web site) has a thoughtful editorial about what President Obama might be able to do to get a conversation going about next-generation energy needs during Tuesday's State of the Union address: "Mr. Obama’s first step should not be to announce a predetermined list of policies to transform our energy system, but to use his State of the Union address to commence a yearlong American conversation on the merits and shape of such an effort. Modeled on the president’s health care summit meeting last February, this conversation would play out in public televised events attended by the president or his cabinet, along with politicians, experts, scientists and American workers, in places ranging from the White House to coal country, from the grounds of a potential site for a new nuclear reactor to the boiler room of a primary school looking to cut emissions and energy bills."