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.
A (Brief) Siberian Swipe
7 of the 10 warmest years in recorded Minnesota history have taken place since 1998. Last winter brought only 3 nights below zero (the latest 30-year running average is 22.5 nights of subzero fun every winter at MSP). The trends are undeniable.
But Earth is still tilted on its axis, nights are still long over the Northern Hemisphere. Cold fronts will still surge southward into the USA.
Saying that a couple of numbing days refute a warming atmosphere is like judging Adrian Peterson from one play, and not looking at his entire career as an NFL running back.
The rumor is true: 2 days with highs below zero next Monday & Tuesday. We may wake up to -15F Tuesday morning. Air temperature.
The coldest outbreak in 4 years. Increasingly rare, but not unprecedented. And hardly the week after week of subzero pain back in the 1970s.
Sunny teens today give rise to a thaw tomorrow. A mild start Saturday, and then we fall over the temperature cliff Saturday night; single digits by Sunday. We probably won't climb above 0F. from Sunday evening into early Wednesday.
We'll make the national news. Your Aunt Ethel will call to make sure you're OK. We'll get thru this, as winter "bottoms out".
Wednesday "Highs". I grabbed this map from 3 pm yesterday, showing the core of the Arctic air pushing slowly south across Canada. We'll get to enjoy some of this fresh air from Sunday into Wednesday morning of next week, probably the coldest spell of winter. Map: Ham Weather.
Thaw, Then Awe. Models show low to mid 30s Friday and the first half of Saturday, followed by a 35 degree temperature drop Saturday night; temperatures hovering just above 0 F. Sunday, then dropping below zero from Sunday evening into at least Tuesday morning. ECMWF keeps us (just) below zero on Tuesday as well, but we finally pull out from under the worst of the chill by Tuesday night and Wednesday.
Old Man Winter Pulling His Punch? We've seen worse, in fact the outbreak in January, 2009 will probably wind up being considerably colder/longer than what we'll experience early next week. ECMWF guidance shows only 1 day below zero (next Monday). If this verifies it will be the first subzero daytime max in just over 4 years. I still think this will be the coldest spell of the winter.
Next Week: Probably The Coldest Of Winter. Could we see a similar subzero blast in February? Possible, but not terribly likely. Historically our coldest day of the year is January 15-16; the best chance of subzero cold often comes 3-4 weeks after the Winter Solstice. The extended NAEFS trends (courtesy of Environment Canada) show temperatures bottoming out early next week, then recovering into the 20s and 30s the last week of January. No significant snow is in sight thru the end of the month.
Rain In Fairbanks? When Alaska is unseasonably mild, Minnesotans usually shiver. Such will be the case early next week. A tenth of an inch of rain, in the dead of winter, in Fairbanks, Alaska, is very unusual. Details from the Alaska office of the National Weather Service: "The anomalous rainstorm that glazed interior roads yesterday, causing school and business closures, produced the most rain Fairbanks has seen from a single January storm in half a century."
Vegas Freeze. While it rains in the interior of Alaska, tourists and locals in Las Vegas are freezing their butts off. The photo in the upper left is courtesy of Amy Jo Martin and Instagram, the frozen fountain pic in the upper right was snapped by nickcrsvr. Thanks to both of our weather contributors today - sorry about the untimely cold front.
Top 10 Global Weather/Climate Events of 2012. Here is NOAA NCDC's list of top events; frankly I was surprised by what they picked as the #1 event of last year. Sandy was third on the list: "Meteorologist Paul Douglas takes a close look at a NASA animation showing global temperature trends over the last 100 years. Plus, the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) ranks the Top 10 Global Weather/Climate Events of 2012, with input from both weather and climate experts. See what topped the list."
A Real Snowbird. O.K. Like most Minnesotans, I plan on weathering next week's Arctic front first-hand. I'm tempted to evacuate for a warmer climate, but part of me (the insane part) wants to experience this first-hand. Thanks to Jeff Edmonson for this photo of a pint-size bird at Twin Cities International Wednesday. Hoping to catch a southbound flight along with everyone else?
The Long Tail Of A Hurricane. Here's an excerpt of an excellent story at NPR: "The House just approved a $50 billion assistance package to victims of Hurricane Sandy — months after the storm wrecked much of the East Coast — although the Senate is yet to vote. Securing relief funds after natural disasters has traditionally been noncontroversial, but with the recent deficit debates, this has been an unusual struggle. And sometimes, funding doesn't seem to be enough. Take Galveston, Texas, for example. In 2008, the city was rocked by Hurricane Ike. And when Sandy Carson went to photograph it a few years later, what he found was a city, in many ways, still in shambles..."
Photo credit: Sandy Carson.
A Mysterious Patch Of Light Shows Up In The North Dakota Dark. Notice the smudge of light in North Dakota? No, those aren't the lights of Bismarck, but a very visual symptom of the scale of fracking going on just to our west. Robert Krulwich has a story at NPR; here's an excerpt: "...What we have here is an immense and startlingly new oil and gas field — nighttime evidence of an oil boom created by a technology called fracking. Those lights are rigs, hundreds of them, lit at night, or fiery flares of natural gas. One hundred fifty oil companies, big ones, little ones, wildcatters, have flooded this region, drilling up to eight new wells every day on what is called the Bakken formation. Altogether, they are now producing 660,000 barrels a day, double the output two years ago, so that in no time at all, North Dakota is now the second largest oil producing state in America. Only Texas produces more, and those lights are a sign that this region is now on fire ... to a disturbing degree — literally..."
Image courtesy of ihasahotdog.com.
36 F. high in the Twin Cities yesterday.
23 F. average high for January 16.
32 F. high on January 16, 2012.
.3" snow fell at KMSP yesterday.
Welcome Thaw. It felt pretty good out there thru midday, with highs in the 30s statewide. Highs ranged from 33 at St. Cloud to 36 in the Twin Cities (37 at Eden Prairie and St. Paul).
Frosted Glass. Thanks to Imara Hixon (and Instagram) for this wintry photo taken in Golden Valley.
Paul's Star Tribune Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:
TODAY: Flurries giving way to some afternoon clearing, a bit nippy. Winds: W 8-13. Wake-up: 2. High: 18
THURSDAY NIGHT: Clouds, a few flurries, rising temperatures.
FRIDAY: Mostly cloudy, welcome thaw. High: 34
SATURDAY: Mild start, turning sharply colder late. Coating of flurries expected. Winds: NW 15-30 (by late afternoon). Wake-up: 22. High: 33, falling thru the 20s by afternoon.
SUNDAY: Bitter. Snowy coating-2" possible late. Wind chill: -15 F. Wake-up: 0. High: 5
MONDAY: Coldest day. Bitter sun. Wind chill: -25 F. Wake-up: -8. High: -3
TUESDAY: Character-building. Still numb with intervals of sun. Wake-up: -12. High: 0
WEDNESDAY: Worst is over. Temperatures rise. Low: -7. High: 10
Top 10 Warmest Years Worldwide. All 10 of the warmest years ever measured, worldwide, have occurred since 1998. We've gone 36 consecutive years with global temperatures warmer than the 20th century average, according to NOAA.
Black Carbon Ranks As Second-Biggest Human Cause Of Global Warming. The Washington Post has the story; here's an excerpt: "Soot ranks as the second-largest human contributor to climate change, exerting twice as much of an impact as previously thought, according to an analysis released Tuesday. The four-year, 232-page study of black carbon, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, shows that short-lived pollution known as soot, such as emissions from diesel engines and wood-fired stoves, has about two-thirds the climate impact of carbon dioxide. The analysis has pushed methane, which comes from landfills and other forces, into third place as a human contributor to global warming..."
Photo credit above: "Smog and haze hover over Salt Lake City. The thick layer of smog lingering over Utah has fouled the state's mountain air so badly that health officials have warned people not to exercise outside and schools are keeping children inside for recess and sports. The smog is blamed on a weather phenomenon that pins pollution to the valley floors." Brian Nicholson / AP
Burning Fuel Particles Do More Damage To Climate Than Thought, Study Says. The New York Times has more details on new research showing the risks posed by black carbon; here's a snippet of a recent article: "...Although some scientists have long believed that black carbon is a major force in climate change, the vast majority of previous mathematical models had predicted that the particles had only a modest impact. That view should now change, said Mark Z. Jacobson, an atmospheric scientist at Stanford University and one of the study’s authors, calling the old models “overly simplistic.” He said that many of his co-authors had previously hewed to the lower estimates. Veerabhadran Ramanathan, a professor of climate science at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego who has long campaigned to control black carbon, described the study as highly authoritative. “The fact that it’s written by a very large group of modelers gives it enormous credibility,” he said. “It was lonely before. I’m now glad to be right in the middle...”
File Photo credit above: "Patricia Quinn, a research chemist at NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, stands in a snow pit at a scientific research area on an island in the Svlabard islands in Arctic Norway. Quinn lead a team of Seattle scientists who studied the role of the black carbon, or soot, in the changing Arctic climate."(Courtesy NOAA/MCT)
Climate Change Series: Where Science And Ethics Meet. Here's an excerpt of a WBUR article that resonated with me: “Global warming,” which sounds gradual and reversible, does not begin to describe the challenge we face today. The obstacle ahead is unstable and irreversible – it is climate change. “Unstable” because the warming of the earth’s atmosphere can set up feedback loops that dramatically change the earth’s fundamental climate patterns. “Irreversible” because once these changes take place, we know of no way to undo them and return to the climate patterns that have existed throughout human civilization...."
Photo credit above: "In this Nov. 2, 2012 photo, a woman walks toward a well through clouds of dust raised by cattle in the Mao region of Chad. For generations, the people of this bone-dry region lived off their herds, but climate change has meant that the normally once-a-decade droughts are now coming every few years." (Rebecca Blackwell/AP)
The Cruelest Month
No, January in Minnesota is not for the timid. But we're enjoying half a winter: plenty of cold, but legitimate snow storms have become as rare as a Congressional compromise.
Remember when it would snow, fairly reliably, every 2-4 days? Back when weather was leading the local news every other day? 3 inches on the ground; 16.8 inches for the winter - almost 7 inches below average, to date.
Commutes have been easier, with 3 days of an inch or more of snow (including that big dump of 10.5 inches on December 9). By now we should have picked up 6 days with an inch or more of snowy goodness.
Droughts are stubborn things. We may be days away from barge traffic grinding to a halt on the Mississippi. I keep waiting for the pattern to change; for southern moisture to reach our lofty latitude. I'll send up a flare when that glorious day arrives.
In the meantime Sunday shivers give way to a symphony of gurgling drain spouts and drippy icicles this week; 3 or 4 days near 32 F.
A sloppy southern storm brushes us with a little rain and drizzle late Thursday - a push of cold air next week sweeping any moisture into the Great Lakes; a few subzero nights expected the third week of January.
Good sleeping weather.
Midwinter Drizzle. NOAA data shows a high of 34 F. on Thursday, temperatures in the lowest mile of the atmosphere above freezing, meaning light rain or drizzle.
January Thaw. The models are in good agreement - you will regain some feeling in your fingers and toes next week, with as many as 4-5 days at or just above freezing. As we lose what little snow we have on the ground temperatures stand a better chance of reaching mid-30s by Wednesday and Thursday.
European Guidance. ECMWF data shows highs near freezing by tomorrow afternoon, possibly mid 30s Wednesday and Thursday. Most of the moisture stays east (again) on Thursday, a chance of a little light rain and drizzle. Colder air arrives next weekend, shoving the storm track farther east, away from Minnesota.
More Data On The January Thaw. Dr. Mark Seeley has some insight into the (almost) annual upward blip in temperatures in his weekly WeatherTalk Newsletter: "...Most residents of the Twin Cities area consider the January thaw to be a given each year. They know it will come, just not precisely when. This time around it looks like next Monday through Thursday (Jan 7-10) may bring a thaw period. Indeed for many central and southern Minnesota locations a January thaw is quite common. The definition of a January thaw is variable. Some consider it to be any single day with a temperature above 32 degrees F. But consequences associated with a January thaw, like loss of snow cover, melting and drying of street surfaces and sidewalks, softening of lake ice, etc are generally not realized unless temperatures rise above the freezing mark for two or more days. Using this as a sorting criteria we can look at the historical frequency of such temperatures for various locations in Minnesota. These frequencies of January thaws (listed below) indeed show great reliability in most of southern Minnesota, and even parts of central Minnesota, but more like a 50/50 probability in the northern sections of the state..."
Thursday: Warm Enough For Rain/Drizzle. European model guidance valid Thursday evening shows a little light rain and drizzle into southeastern and east central Minnesota, heavier rain from St. Louis it Chicago. Yes, it should be warm enough for rain on January 10. Map courtesy of WSI.
Another Close Encounter Early Next Week? The push of cold air behind Thursday's light rain/drizzle event may be strong enough to set up a storm track late Sunday and Monday - one that's just 100-200 miles too far east for significant snow in the Twin Cities. So close, and yet so far...
An Icy Landscape. NASA's 250 meter resolution MODIS imagery shows the dark gray smudge of the Twin Cities metro. Flat, undeveloped farmland shows up as bright white, as does Lake Minnetonka and the Inner Lakes south of Minneapolis.
"Surreal Warmth" in 2012. Here's another 2:30 minute video recap on YouTube, looking back at the extraordinary warmth of 2012, courtesy of WeatherNation TV.
Warm Year: 2012. Here's an excerpt of a great overview of record warmth across the great state of Minnesota last year - courtesy of the Minnesota Climatology Working Group: "2012 will finish in a tie with 1931 as the warmest year on record in the Twin Cities and will range from the warmest to third warmest on record depending on the location around the region. For so long, it appeared like 2012 would be the warmest year on record for the Twin Cities, but then winter decided to arrive as if on cue on December 21 and since then temperatures have been mostly below normal. As a result, the average temperature for the Twin Cities for 2012 will wind up to be 50.8 degrees, the same as the 50.8 degrees recorded in 1931. The 1981-2010 average temperature for the year is 46.3 degrees so 2012 will finish 4.5 degrees above normal. Every month of 2012 was above normal except October which finished 1.4 degrees below normal. March 2012 was 15.5 degrees above normal and greatly assisted in lifting the average temperature for 2012. The hottest day of 2012 in the Twin Cities was 102 degrees on July 6 and the coldest temperature of the year was -11 on January 19."
Twin Cities (1873-2012) Rank Year Average ----------------- 1. 1931 50.8 2012 50.8 3. 1987 49.7 4. 2006 49.3 5. 1998 48.8
How Long Will Minnesota's Drought Linger? State Climatologist Greg Spoden adds some personal thoughts to his monthly HydroClim summary: "It is reasonable to assume that the present drought status will remain relatively unchanged for the remainder of the winter. The historical average precipitation over the next two months is less than two inches and the topsoil is sealed by frost. Therefore, Minnesota will be highly dependent on spring rains to ease the situation. Without abundant spring rains, a number of critical drought issues involving public water supply, agriculture, horticulture, tourism, and others will rapidly surface early in the growing season." (the latest Minnesota Drought Monitor information is here).
Preliminary Data. NOAA NCDC data shows that January - November was the warmest on record for a big chunk of the USA. Every region in bright red experienced the warmest year in 118 years of record-keeping.
Region Chops Sandy Debris Down To Size. Here's an eye-opening clip from an article at The Wall Street Journal: "The immense task of leveling the mountains of debris left behind by Sandy is coming into focus two months after the historic superstorm ravaged the East Coast. In the end, the federal government estimates that 16 million cubic yards of debris piled up around New York and New Jersey—enough to fill the Empire State Building 16 times over—though more than half has yet to arrive at landfills..."
Photo credit above: "A aerial view of the damage in Mantoloking, N.J., caused by Hurricane Sandy, Oct. 31, 2012. President Barack Obama toured New Jersey's ravaged coastline with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in a display of big-government muscle and bipartisan harmony." (Doug Mills/The New York Times)
Earth At Night. National Geographic has a very nice view showing the proliferation of light pollution across the planet. Getting a clear look at astronomical targets has never been more challenging: "Luminous patches glow on a map of nighttime Earth created from satellite and ground data on scattered light as of 1996-97. The situation is even worse today. Based on calculations, two-thirds of humanity lives under skies polluted with light, and one-fifth can no longer see the Milky Way. Least affected? The Central African Republic."
Sun Pillar. Laura Everly Daugherty snapped this photo at Beaver Dam, Kentucky Saturday morning, ice crystals sparking a faintly visible column of light above the rising sun. Photo courtesy of WeatherNation TV.
Riding The Rails. Mike Hall captured this pic at Lewistown, Kentucky yesterday. Very nice.
Funnels Over Miami. @ComplexJesse snapped this photo of a developing funnel cloud over Miami International Airport Friday afternoon; courtesy of WeatherNation TV.
26 F. high in the Twin Cities Saturday.
24 F. average high on January 5.
45 F. high on January 5, 2011.
Fresh Air. Highs were a couple degrees above average for early January, mostly 20s. St. Cloud, with 6" snow on the ground, woke up to -1, with a high of 20. Afternoon maximum temperatures ranged from 17 at Alexandria to 27 at St. Paul.
Paul's Star Tribune Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:
TODAY: Bright sun, still brisk. Winds: W 5-10. High: near 20
SUNDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear. Low: 14
MONDAY: Fading sun. January Thaw! High: 32
TUESDAY: Mix of clouds & sun, quiet. Low: 19. High: near 30
WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny, relatively mild. Low: 20. High: 34
THURSDAY: Light rain. Icy patches up north? Low: 24. High: 33
FRIDAY: Mild start, then cooling off. Late flurries. Low: 27. High: 32
SATURDAY: Partly sunny with a cold wind. Low: 11. High: 19
Climate Change Won't Wait. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed from Bill McKibbon in the Los Angeles Times: "...If he were serious, Obama would be doing more than just the obvious and easy. God knows he had his chances in 2012: the hottest year in the history of the continental United States, the deepest drought of his lifetime, and a melt of the Arctic so severe that the federal government's premier climate scientist declared it a "planetary emergency." In fact, he didn't even appear to notice those phenomena, even as people in the crowds greeting him along the campaign trail were fainting from the heat. Throughout campaign 2012, he kept declaring his love for an "all of the above" energy policy where, apparently, oil and natural gas were exactly as virtuous as sun and wind. Only at the very end of the campaign, when Superstorm Sandy seemed to present a political opening, did he even hint at seizing it. His people let reporters know on background that climate change would now be one of his three priorities for a second term (or maybe, post-Newtown, four). That's a start, I suppose, but it's a long way from concrete action..."
Full Page Ad To Appear in Hawaiian Newspaper Pressuring Obama On Climate Change. USnews.com has the story; here's the introduction: "As President Barack Obama wraps up his vacation to Hawaii, he'll be greeted with a full-page ad Saturday urging him to take action on climate change. The ad, appearing in Hawaii's main paper, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, appeals to Obama's origins and legacy. "The 'aina is part of our legacy, Mr. President, and yours," the ad reads, using the Hawaiian word for "earth." "If we fail to act, rising sea levels, super storms, and droughts will forever change these islands, our nation and the world."
Ending The Silence On Climate Change. Check out the video at billmoyers.com: "Climate change communication expert Anthony Leiserowitz explains why climate change gets the silent treatment, and what we should do about it."
Facebook And The Rest Of Silicon Valley Could Be Wiped Out In 40 Years. Hype, or a real concern with rising sea levels? Here's an excerpt from a story at Business Insider: "While much of California's coastline is at risk of rising sea levels, things look particularly bad for the Bay Area. Silicon Valley is already 3-10 feet below sea level, and scientists say that seawater will rise 16 inches by 2050. By 2100, that number is supposed to jump to 65 inches, and the entire area will experience more frequent, hard-hitting storms. If the levees in place are destroyed or overwhelmed by a storm surge, one hard blow could put the 3 million people who live in Silicon Valley in a grisly Waterworld. "It's imminent," Mruz says. "There's no question in my mind; we're going to have to do something, at every spot around the Bay." Also at risk: Google, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Intel, Cisco, and Oracle. "Silicon Valley basically backs right up to the bay," Mruz told CW. "You have all of them, Yahoo, Google, all right there. Without some type of flood protection potentially in front of that, you could flood that whole area. You're talking billions of dollars..."
Scientists Link Global Warming To England's Rainiest Year On Record. This article at euractiv.com caught my eye; here's an excerpt: "Senior climate scientists are linking global warming to the UK Met Office's announcement yesterday (3 January) that 2012 was England’s rainiest year since records began. The weather service's numbers showed that due to slightly more seasonal figures in Wales and Scotland, the UK as a whole experienced its second wettest summer recorded. But four of the UK’s Top Five wettest years have now occurred since 2000, a statistic in line with the expectations of climatologists who model the effects of a warming world. “It is not just Britain but many other parts of northern Europe and north America that are getting wetter and there is a climate change component to it,” Kevin Trenberth told EurActiv over a phone line from the US National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado..."
Climate Change: What's Faith Got To Do With It? Here is an excerpt of an article that resonated with me, from California's Whittier Daily News: "Throughout all of California and the rest of the country, the faith community has been working for many years to preach the gospel of good stewardship of our shared environment. Amid theological differences, we have fostered a shared sense of purpose and urgency that unites us in solidarity with our local and global communities, especially those most vulnerable to climate change. The action that results from this shared sense of purpose goes far beyond a congregation's four walls. People of faith bring shared principles - such as working for the common good, caring for our neighbors, and working for economic justice - into the public policy arena..."
Global Warming And Drought In The Midwest: Expect More Of The Same? Here's a snippet of a story at chicagomag.com: "The Midwest drought of 2012 has been one of the most expensive natural disasters of recent decades, with Mississippi River barge traffic on the verge of shutting down, and the Army Corps of Engineers blowing up underwater limestone to keep traffic moving:
‘If we were in the same conditions now, 30 years ago, we`d be running into problems much, much, sooner,’ Col. Hall said. The rock removal does stop traffic for 16 hours every day. But the Coast Guard, the river`s `traffic cop`, unclogs the jam overnight. ‘During the time that the Army Corps contractors are removing rock, which is roughly 6:00am – 10:00pm at night, we gather up all the vessels that are waiting north and south,’ Capt. Teschenford said. ‘They actually do a quick survey of the area where rocks were removed and we open it up. ‘