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.

Posts about Bears

April Wind Chill (second wettest April on record; 60s return next week)

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: April 29, 2014 - 11:05 PM


"Keep your expectations low. That way you may be pleasantly surprised from time to time."

Good advice, especially for a meteorologist. Especially this "spring". Goldilocks had a point: rarely is our weather "just right". It's usually too hot-cold-wet-dry. The 7-Day Outlook should come with a 7-Day supply of Zoloft.

But here's what I've discovered: the weather has an uncanny way of evening things out. It may not happen next week or next month, but this cold, foul, puddle-infested FAIL of a spring will be balanced by an extended spell of gloriously lukewarm blue-sky postcard-worthy days.

Then again I have been standing way too close to the Doppler.

Any unwanted slush in your yard gives way to rain showers today as temperatures aloft begin to mellow. Puddles shrink tomorrow as skies brighten; 50s will feel like sweet relief this weekend as the sun makes a rare cameo appearance. Next week will feel like spring again; consistent 60s and even a few low 70s by the second week of May.

Like a cruel meteorological mirage spring keeps getting pushed back.

And as much as I'm rooting for warm fronts to reach our lofty latitude, my hope is that we have a quiet tornado year in Minnesota. Stay tuned.

* photograph of a new lake in a farmer's field near Cologne, Minnesota courtesy of WeatherNation meteorologist Bryan Karrick.

** Second wettest April on record in the Twin Cities. The Star Tribune has details. More data from NOAA here.


Unstuck. The stormy pinwheel of moisture that has stalled out over the Ohio Valley much of this week, sparking tornado outbreaks in the south and soaking rains from the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes into the Upper MIdwest, will finally get kicked out to sea by late week. Another clipper-like system may push a few scattered instability showers into Minnesota on Friday. NAM Future Radar: NOAA and HAMweather.


East Coast Soaking. Some 2-3"+ rainfall amounts are likely from Washington D.C. to Albany today and early Thursday, capable of minor flooding problems over the Mid Atlantic and New England. Data: 84 hour NAM model, courtesy of NOAA and HAMweather.


Severe Threat Lingers - Not As Extreme. I'm happy to see a lack of "Moderate Risk" from NOAA SPC, a slight risk from Washington D.C. to Charlotte, Atlanta and Orlando later today with hail, straight-line winds and a few isolated tornadoes possible.


Another Springy Mirage? Probably not. The ECMWF model is fairly consistent pulling 60-degree air back into Minnesota next week. You may even be able to lose the jacket for a couple of days. Today will be raw, but spring returns in all it's glory by Tuesday. Graphic: Weatherspark.


Cheering On The 45-Day Wish-Cast. Confidence levels remain low on details, but the sun is climbing higher in the sky; at some point it WILL warm up. NOAA's 45-day CFS (Climate Forecast System) trend shows fairly consistent 60s in May, with 80s surging into Minnesota in June. Better late than never. Source: HAMweather.


72 Hour Rainfall Amounts. Most parts of the Twin Cities metro just picked up an April's worth of rain since Saturday. Check out some of the amounts, courtesy of the Twin Cities National Weather Service:

Location County, ST     Provider 72 Hr Pcpn
N SAINT PAUL 1 NW  Ramsey EC MN COCORAHS 4.97
FALCON HEIGHTS 2 SSE  Ramsey EC MN COCORAHS 4.11
VICTORIA 2 ENE  Hennepin EC MN COCORAHS 4.07
COLUMBIA HEIGHTS 1 S  Hennepin EC MN CoCoRaHS 3.87
CHANHASSEN NWS Carver EC MN COOP 3.72
BUFFALO Wright C MN AWOS 3.64
ANOKA 2 SE  Anoka EC MN COCORAHS 3.60
ST CLOUD AP  Sherburne C MN ASOS 3.58
CHANHASSEN 1 SE  Carver EC MN COCORAHS 3.51
FOREST LAKE 5NE Chisago EC MN COOP 3.49
ST CLOUD SCSU Stearns C MN UCOOP 3.48
JORDAN 1SW Scott EC MN COOP 3.47
CRYSTAL AP  Hennepin EC MN ASOS 3.44
DELANO Wright C MN COOP 3.38
KIMBALL 3N Stearns C MN COOP 3.34
MPLS LWR ST ANTHONY FALLS Hennepin EC MN COOP 3.31
MANKATO 4E Blue Earth SC MN UCOOP 3.20
ST PAUL DWNTN AP Ramsey EC MN ASOS

3.14

 

Mississippi Weatherman Evacuates On Air As More Tornadoes Hit The South. Everyone wants to err on the side of caution, even the local meteorologist in the path of a large, violent tornado. At least this station in Tupelo has a basement, which came in handy Monday afternoon. New York Magazine reports (check out the video clip): "...A video from NBC affiliate WTVA offers a dramatic illustration of that point. On Monday afternoon chief meteorologist Matt Laubhan was reporting on the storm live on air when a tornado touched down near the station in Tupelo, Miss. After the feed stalls for a moment, Laubhan yells "Basement, now!" to other employees, then runs off camera. Later, the station tweeted "We are safe here..." 


Four Things That Turn America Into The "Tornado Super Bowl". Where have you heard that before? NBC News has an explainer, focused on why the USA experiences (far) more tornadoes than any other nation on Earth; here's a clip: "A one-of-a-kind combination of weather factors make the United States the twister capital of the world, with the ominous funnels 10 times more common in the states than anywhere else on the planet, scientists say. The four main ingredients all are geographical, all unique to America's borders: a massive mountain wall to the west, a warm ocean to the southeast, a cold-air “shield” to the north – and above these particular latitudes, a narrow river of wind, the jet stream, that surges eastward at hundreds of miles per hour..."


Little Rock Outbreak Details. Here is additional information on the Sunday evening outbreak that leveled parts of Vilonia and Mayflower, courtesy of the Little Rock, Arkansas National Weather Service: "In the picture: Rotation associated with the parent storm on 04/27/2014 was persistent for roughly 40 miles (Tornado #1) before weakening (where the gap is indicated). Another tornado (Tornado #2) was likely spawned a short time later by the same storm and tracked through White, Jackson, and Independence Counties. Note: Tornado #2 may actually be several tornadoes. This will be determined through damage surveys. The graphic is courtesy of the National Severe Storms Laboratory..."

• This is the strongest tornado to hit the state since the Denning tornado on May 24-25, 2011. That tornado was rated EF4, with a path length of 45.71 miles. Four were killed, 27 injured. The fatalities were at Etna and Denning in Franklin County, and Bethlehem in Johnson County, all in mobile homes.

• This is the second time in three years that Vilonia has been hit by a tornado. The last time was April 25, 2011, when a long-tracked EF2 tornado hit, killing four.

• Since reliable records began in 1950, Vilonia has seen five tornado tracks within the present-day city limits. Aside from 4/27/2014, there was 4/25/2011 (EF2), 12/24/1982 (F3), 12/23/1982 (F2), and 03/12/1961 (F2). Source: National Weather Service, Little Rock.

* 2 confirmed deaths from Sunday's tornado outbreak in Iowa. Details here.


Preliminary Tornado Ratings:

EF-4: Louisville, MS

EF-3: Mayflower/Vilonia AR, Limestone County, AL (at least), Tupelo, MS

EF-2 : Union City, TN, Heard/Troup County, GA

EF-1 : Kimberly, AL (north Jefferson County)


Storm Chaser Says He's Retiring After Deadly Arkansas Tornado. CNN has a remarkable interview with a storm chaser who's apparently had enough; here's the description: "Deadly tornadoes have left a path of death and destruction for miles in the south. Our Ed Lavandera is in Mayflower, Arkansas where he caught up with a storm chaser who came dangerously close to it all. He tells us why his experience on Sunday will be his last."


Tornado "Scar". Chris Dolce points out a comparison of high-resolution NASA MODIS images taken before and after the Mayflower-Vilonia tornado. You can see the damage swath left behind in the top image, taken April 28.


Most Tornado Watches? Looking at data from 1999-2008 the most tornado watches issued by NOAA SPC weren't in traditional Tornado Alley, but southern Alabama and Mississippi; an average of 16 tornado watches every year. Not quite what I was expecting.


Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due. Meteorologists take a lot of flak for missing forecasts, but the folks at NOAA SPC in Norman, Oklahoma nailed the tornado prediction Sunday, again on Monday. That's the topic of today's first Climate Matters segment: "WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas goes over the factors that went into the historic tornado outbreak that dropped large destructive tornadoes over Alabama and Mississippi. What has to happen to make a situation like this occur?"


Dome It! Schools Can Affordably Survive Tornadoes. Yes, tornadoes are a threat, and an opportunity to make our communities more resilient and storm-prooof. Here's an excerpt of a timely, interesting article from Andrew Revkin at The New York Times: "... I spoke Monday with David B. South, the co-inventor of a dome manufacturing process 37 years ago whose company, Monolithic Dome, has been erecting storm-safe domed school buildings from Sarasota, Fla., through Geronimo, Okla., and Lumberton, Tex., and even west to Payson, Ariz. (where the benefits include the big energy savings that come with thick insulation and concrete). There are ways to build a safe haven into a conventional school design, as well. But old building codes, tight budgets and simple inertia continue to get in the way of change..."

Photo credit above: Monolithic Dome. "A domed building at the Dale, Okla., elementary school doubles as a tornado shelter and cafeteria."


Supercell. Check out the timelapse footage of a supercell thunderstorm passing over Des Moines, courtesy of meteorologist Jason Parkin. Great animation.


Why It's Hard To Outsmart A Tornado (And How Scientists Are Trying). NBC News has an interesting story about the difficulty in determining which supercell thunderstorms will go on to spawn large/deadly tornadoes. As a nation we over-warn for twisters, which is probably better than the alternative. Here's an excerpt: "...As a result, Wurman said forecasters tend to "overwarn" about tornadoes. The false-alarm rate for tornado warnings is about 75 percent. But Brooks said it's better to sound a false alarm than to risk missing a killer tornado. "That 75 percent number is a result of the fact that deciding whether this is a tornado-making storm is a fundamentally hard problem," he said..." (Image: Gene Blevins, Reuters).


Tornado Tip-Offs. Meet the new starting pitcher for the Twins. There's a sign of The Apocalypse. No, I'm using visual aids to remind you about hail and tornadoes. Most large, violent tornadoes are preceded or accompanied by large hail. The larger the hail, the stronger the thunderstorm updraft. The stronger the updraft the higher the probability of a supercell powerful enough to tornado. That's the subject of this Climate Matters segment: "Large destructive storms capable of dropping baseball sized hail and damaging tornadoes don't happen where you think. WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas shows just where most of these powerful storms are witnessed."


Tornadoes: The Science Behind The Destruction. National Geographic has more good information and background on tornadogenesis - here's a clip: "...Even then, "we still don't know why some thunderstorms create tornadoes while others don't," tornado-chaser Tim Samaras said in early 2013. Samaras was a scientist and National Geographic grantee who was killed by a twister on May 31, 2013, in El Reno, Oklahoma. (Read "The Last Chase" in National Geographic magazine.) Brooks says scientists believe strong changes in winds in the first kilometer of the atmosphere and high relative humidity are important for the formation of tornadoes. He adds that there also needs to be a downdraft in just the right part of the storm..."


From "Gale" To "Inconceivable". Ranking Tornado Strength. Here's a good explanation of the new enhanced Fujita (EF) scale, courtesy of an article at Time Magazine: "...The Enhanced Fujita scale was adopted in 2007. It was designed to more accurately reflect the actual damage a tornado had done on the ground. The EF scale uses 28 different damage indicators, ranging from small barns to hardwood trees to shopping malls—and each of those indicators is assessed based on several different points of possible damage..."


61 Facts About Tornadoes. Here are just a few from abc15.com in Phoenix:

- "A tornado emergency is enhanced wording in a tornado warning indicating a large tornado is moving into a heavily populated area. Significant widespread damage and numerous fatalities are likely. The term was coined by forecasters in May 1999 and is used sparingly.

- Enhanced Fujita Scale: The Fujita scale is used to estimate the wind speed of a tornado by the damage the tornado causes."

* details on the 1965 Palm Sunday tornado outbreak, featured above, from Wikipedia.


Yes, Tornadoes Are Getting Stronger. To be fair and balanced, there is still no widely accepted scientific gun that can directly connect the dots, to the point we can say "climate change absolutely produces more numerous or more powerful tornadoes". But this story out of Wired just made me do a double-take; here's a clip: "...A tornado-power equation that actually gauges a twister’s kinetic energy would be more useful to scientists who are also examining the effects of climate change, so that’s what Elsner built. He looked at the length and width of a storm’s damage path, correlated that to the amount of damage, and then used the result to estimate wind 1.0 speed. A little more crunching and bam!—integrated kinetic energy of a storm. Non-linear upward trend estimated values of kinetic energy Elsner’s analysis suggests that since the turn of the century, tornadoes have packed a more powerful punch..."


Researchers Develop Model To Correct Tornado Records. With Doppler (and a proliferation of storm chasers after the movie "Twister" was released in the early 90s) we've seen an apparent uptick in tornadoes. More people and technology looking for them. But are tornadoes becoming more intense over time? Here's a clip from a story posted by Florida State University: "...The increase in reports has diminished the population bias somewhat, but it introduced a second problem: There are more reports, but are there also, in fact, more tornadoes? In other words, is the risk actually increasing? To address these issues, the FSU researchers first made the assumption that the frequency of tornadoes is the same in cities as in rural areas. They also operated on the assumption that the reported number of tornadoes in rural areas is low relative to the actual number of tornadoes. Their model calls for the reported number in rural areas to be adjusted upward by a factor that depends on the number of tornadoes in the nearest city and the distance from the nearest city. The model shows that it is likely that tornadoes are not occurring with greater frequency, but there is some evidence to suggest that tornadoes are, in fact, getting stronger..."


100-Degree Heat Brewing For Los Angeles Area - Records May Fall. 100F in late April? Here's an excerpt from The Los Angeles Times: "A heat wave this week is expected to send temperatures soaring to 20 degrees above normal for much of the Southland, potentially breaking records with triple digits in some areas, forecasters say. Building high pressure is also expected to bring gusty Santa Ana winds to the region, prompting warnings of high fire danger, particularly Tuesday through Thursday, when temperatures could hit 100 degrees in some inland areas, the National Weather Service said..."

* forecast graphic above: NOAA and HAMweather.


 

Phones Are Giving Away Your Location, Regardless Of Your Privacy Settings. No, you're not paranoid - you are being tracked until further notice. Maybe if I start using my old brick phone...? Quartz has the story; here's an excerpt: "...A new study has found evidence that accelerometers—which sense motion in your smartphone and are used for applications from pedometers to gaming—leave “unique, trackable fingerprints” that can be used to identify you and monitor your phone. Here’s how it works, according to University of Illinois electrical and computer engineering professor Romit Roy Choudhury and his team: Tiny imperfections during the manufacturing process make a unique fingerprint on your accelerometer data..."


Confirming Our Suspicions: Oreos Are As Addictive As Crack. Here's a clip from a story at Huffington Post: "...Thanks for telling us what we already knew, science! Just last year, a team at Connecticut College got a bunch of lab rats, Oreos, and cocaine, and set off for Vegas. Actually, they set up two mazes. The first maze had Oreos at one end and rice cakes on the other; the second promised an injection of saline on one side and an injection of morphine/cocaine at the other. After they had received their prize, the rats could choose to linger as long as they liked, presumably in the hopes of seconds they would never get..."


Best TV News Bloopers Of April. There are some really good ones in here - video courtesy of TVNewsCheck. (PG rated).


42 F. high in the Twin Cities Tuesday.

64 F. average high on April 29.

75 F. high on April 29, 2013.

.56" rain fell yesterday at MSP International Airport.

6.2" rain so far this month, second wettest April on record.

Trace of snow fell yesterday.

69.8" snow so far this winter/spring season. Not sure what to call this anymore.


 

TODAY: Slushy start in some towns? Light rain. Still foul. Winds: NW 15. High: 43

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Light rain or drizzle. Wet roads. Low: 39

THURSDAY: Showers taper, skies brighten late in the day. High: 49

FRIDAY: Some sun, passing shower. Wake-up: 40. High: 55

SATURDAY: More clouds than sun. Wake-up: 42. High: 57

SUNDAY: More sun, nicer day of weekend. Wake-up: 39. High: 56

MONDAY: Unsettled. Risk of a shower. Wake-up: 44. High: 57

TUESDAY: Stray T-storm. Finally feels like spring. Wake-up: 43. High: 61


Climate Stories...

* cartoon courtesy of David Horsey at The Los Angeles Times.


Typhoon Haiyan Was Just The Start - Prepare For An Even Stormier Future. As oceans continue to warm will hurricanes and typhoons become more intense over time? Here's an excerpt from The Guardian: "...The damage Haiyan caused outstripped any storm the typhoon-prone islands had experienced before. Reibl says typhoon Bopha in 2012 had already redefined ideas on how big a typhoon could get, and yet "just a year later, Haiyan made Bopha seem like just a little wind … When Bopha happened we didn't envisage a Haiyan. Can we envisage something more than Haiyan?" Reibl says that in the past the Philippines were considered the 7-11 of natural disasters – small but open all hours. Indonesia, with its large but infrequent disasters, was more like a mega mall. He says the scale of devastation wrought by Haiyan meant the Philippines had become "a mega mall that is now also open 24/7"...

Photo credit above: "An aerial photograph of a coastal town in Samar province in central Philippines, taken on 11 November 2013." Photograph: Erik De Castro/REUTERS.


Top Military Commanders Have Declared Our Biggest Threat, And It's One We're All Ignoring. I have a son in the Navy and I can assure you that Navy brass take climate change very seriously. Seas are rising; that will impact Navy ports in the years and decades to come. Anything that potentially destabilizes economies and can spark conflict is of great interest to the Pentagon. Here's an excerpt from PolicyMic: "...For the U.S. military, climate change isn't just about sad-looking polar bears and declining biodiversity. It's a real challenge that has the potential to seriously destabilize nations and throw entire regions into conflict, potentially escalating into wars that will require new strategies and new technologies to win. In a recent interview with the Responding to Climate Change blog, retired Army Brig. Gen. Chris King said that the military is extremely concerned about climate change. "This is like getting embroiled in a war that lasts 100 years..."


Supreme Court Backs EPA Rules For Coal Pollution. The New York Times has an update - here's an excerpt: "The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate coal-plant pollution that wafts across state lines from 27 Midwestern and Appalachian states to eastern states. The 6-to-2 ruling is a major environmental victory for the Obama administration, which has instituted several new E.P.A. regulations under the Clean Air Act in an effort to crack down on coal pollution. Republicans and the coal industry have criticized the effort as a “war on coal...”

File photo: Matt Brown, AP.


Climate Scientist Katherine Hayhoe On Time Magazine's Most Influential People of 2014 List. Here's an excerpt of an interview with Dr. Hayhoe from The University of Toronto: "... I’m encouraged when international relief and development organizations like World Vision put climate change at the forefront of their concerns. I’m inspired by faith leaders from Pope Francis to the U.S. National Association of Evangelicals who emphasize how the Christian faith demands a response to climate change. With 97 per cent of climate scientists agreeing that climate change is happening due to the choices people make every day, the simple truth is that the scientific debate is over, and now it’s time for all of us, from every walk of life and part of society, to take action..."

Wednesday Thaw - Tricky Thursday Snow Forecast (heaviest snow should pass east of MSP)

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: February 19, 2014 - 8:44 AM


Perspective. It's hard to come by when you're hip-deep in snow. 47" snow so far; the 43rd snowiest winter on record, to date. 44 subzero nights, the most since 1981-82.

Looking at a Misery Index that measures snow & cold this isn't even close to rough Minnesota winters of the late 70s. But much harsher than most winters since 1998.

My lead programmer reminded me of the "Grumble Factor", the number of days between measurable snow events during the warm weather season. During the record warm year of 2012 we went from March 8 to November 12 without slush. Last year? May 3 to November 3, almost 2 1/2 months less snow-free weather.

Ouch.

Many Minnesotans were already grouchy about last year's abbreviated summer, now this.

Here, let me cheer you up. A Blizzard Warning is posted just south of the Twin Cities Thursday. A plowable snowfall is expected, maybe as much as 2-4" in the metro, with heavier 6"+ amounts east of the St. Croix. An even bigger concern is 25-40 mph winds, capable of blowing/drifting, especially from Mankato and La Crosse to Eau Claire. If you plan on driving south/east of MSP Thursday into early Friday expect treacherous travel.

The Twin Cities metro is in a Winter Storm Warning, but latest guidance still keeps the heaviest snowfall amounts to our east. I suspect travel conditions will get worse as the day goes on tomorrow, with the worst conditions east of St. Paul Thursday night into early Friday.

A thaw lingers into Thursday but colder weather returns next week. 3-4 more subzero nights? Yes, but no school-closing cold.

* thanks to Steve Burns, who snapped the photo above along the North Shore on Sunday.


Alerts Broadcaster Briefing: Issued Tuesday night, February 18, 2014.

* First significant severe thunderstorm risk Thursday from the Ohio Valley into the Mid South and Tennessee River Valley. Slight risk from SPC, meaning probable squall line with damaging straight-line winds, 1-2" diameter hail, and a few (isolated) tornadoes.

* Blizzard potential late Thursday into early Friday from Iowa into eastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin as a powerful storm winds up, producing blowing and drifting problems from near Des Moines and Waterloo, Iowa to Rochester, the Twin Cities, Duluth, La Crosse andEau Claire, Wisconsin.


Blizzard Watch. The concern is not only falling snow, but 20-40 mph sustained winds whipping up the considerable snow already on the ground, especially northeast Iowa, eastern Minnesota (including the Twin Cities and Duluth) and much of Wisconsin. The worst travel conditions and potential for airline delays will come Thursday afternoon into Friday morning for this region.


 

 

Latest Model Solution. These numbers will change as new model data arrives and the final track crystallizes. The latest NAM model from NOAA is not nearly as impressive as yesterday's solutions, suggesting some 3-6" amounts for Wisconsin, but only a couple inches of slush for the MSP metro.  Conditions improve PM hours Friday.


Thursday Severe Thunderstorm Risk. SPC has issued a slight risk - right now I do not expect a widespread tornado outbreak, but we can't rule out a few smaller, EF-0 to EF-1 tornadoes, especially south of the Ohio River. Storms may exceed severe storm criteria from near Chicago to Indianapolis and Columbus, with 1-2" diameter hail and locally heavy rain capable of flash flooding. With frost still in the ground there is a heightened risk of stream and river flooding, especially across the Ohio Valley by late week.


TPI: Tornado Potential Index. Our in-house models show a heightened risk of supercell T-storms capable of (isolated) tornadoes, especially Bowling Green and Louisville southward to Nashville and Huntsville by Thursday evening. I expect mainly linear T-storms capable of 50-70 mph wind gusts and sporadic tree damage and power outages; hail may reach 1-2" in diameter. A couple of EF-2 tornadoes can't be entirely ruled out.


River Flooding Potential. Although rainfall amounts probably won't be heavy enough for widespread river flooding, the combination of melting snow, lingering frost in the ground and .5 to 1.5" amounts may create minor to moderate flooding of urban areas and small streams and rivers, especially Champaign-Urbana to Indianapolis, South Bend and Toledo, according to NOAA guidance.

Summary: Tornadoes are possible, climatologically, much of the winter along the Gulf Coast. By late February the risk shifts northward as temperatures warm and 60-degree dew points begin to surge north. We'll have many of the ingredients for severe storms Thursday; more linear (squall line) than supercellular, but a few isolated tornadoes are possible with this outbreak. The greater risk is straight-line wind damage and large hail.

Farther north, deeper in the cold air, a rapidly intensifying storm will drop heavy snow over the Upper Midwest with blizzard potential by Thursday night from near Des Moines to Rochester, the Twin Cities and Duluth, along with much of western Wisconsin. We'll keep you posted.


Factors That Go Into Flood Forecasting. As temperature continue to thaw, and rain storms track farther north, the potential for river flooding will increase. That growing risk, and another whopping case of weather-whiplash, are the subjects of today's edition of Climate Matters: "WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas goes over yet another case of weather whiplash across the United States. Some areas with a decent covering of snow could see strong to severe storms move through the area on Thursday. What does ground frost have to do with flooding concerns?"


A Little Subzero Icing On The Cake? After 44 nights of negative fun many of us have stopped counting. I suspect we'll see 3-4 more nights below zero the first half of next week, but not the intensity of cold we enjoyed a few weeks ago. Enjoy the thaw. ECMWF guidance: Weatherspark.


The Official Forecast Of The U.S. Government Never Saw This Winter Coming. Did I mention that weather forecasting, especially long-range weather forecasting, is a humbling endeavor? Bloomberg Businessweek has the story; here's the introduction: "Surprised by how tough this winter has been? You’re in good company: Last fall the Climate Prediction Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted that temperatures would be above normal from November through January across much of the Lower 48 states. This graphic shows just how wrong the official forecast of the U.S. government was.The big red blotch in the top map represents parts of the country in which the Climate Prediction Center forecast above-average temperatures. The frigid-looking blue blotch in the bottom “verification” map shows areas where temperatures turned out to be below average..."


Winter Weather Update. Thanks to Climate Nexus; here's an excerpt of a recent press release: "The Eastern United States is one of the only parts of the globe that was colder than average this winter. This is because cold Arctic air is normally confined by the jet stream, but the anomalous waves and shifts in its position (which also influenced other events on this list) allowed pockets to escape and move south. Warm air moved into its vacated position, causing the crazy situation on Jan 26: Homer, Alaska was warmer at 54ºF than any part of the country except southern Florida and southern California. The South was completely unprepared for the unusual snowstorms, resulting in logistical fiascos like the traffic jam in Georgia that left some stranded for over 12 hours."


Are Crime And Clime Linked? A Potential Upside To A Lousy Winter. Grasping at straws? Perhaps, but this story at The San Jose Mercury News includes research that has been substantiated elsewhere. It turns out criminals aren't fond of the wind chill either. Here's an excerpt: "...Researchers have long studied the correlation between weather and crime. Anecdotally, it appears as though there's some truth to the old idea that violence calms during cold weather and spikes when it's warm. “There is some evidence that hot weather, particularly hot, humid weather is related to upticks in violent crime,” said Jay Corzine, a sociology professor at the University of Central Florida. “If the weather gets really cold, if anything there is a decrease in street crime, because there aren't as many people in the streets . . . potential offenders don't like to be outside much, either...”

Photo credit above: "A Georgia Department of Transportation sign warns drivers of winter weather as they travel a bleak section of Highway 141 on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Norcross, Ga." (John Amis/AP).


Arthritis Pain May Be Affected By Weather, Study Says. I've seen numerous papers linking a possible uptick in arthritis with rapidly changing weather conditions, including sudden swings in barometric pressure. Fox News has the story; here's the introduction: "For people with osteoarthritis of the hip, pain levels tracked with the weather over the course of a small two-year study, Dutch researchers say. They looked at reported pain levels in a previous study of arthritis, then went back to weather records to document the conditions each day. It turns out the participants' aches were just a little worse and joints just a little stiffer when humidity and barometric pressure levels rose..."


Is The Harsh Weather Affecting The Housing Market? Here's a clip from a story at The Houston Chronicle: "As the housing market has slowed down in the winter months, many people assume the weather is a major factor. It is safe to say that there are fewer home shoppers during this time of year, as CF Funding mentioned previously. With the snow and cold that the Midwest has been experiencing, this winter is even more difficult than usual to buy or sell a home. However, some economists are worried that the weather may have very little to do with the slowdown, suggesting that the market could be performing poorly for other reasons, such as low inventories and rising interest rates..."


Third Coldest U.S. Winter On Record For USA? Here's an excerpt from Steven Goddard: "If February ended today, this would be the third coldest winter on record in the US, after 1979 and 1899."


Warming Arctic May Be Causing Jet Stream To Lose Its Way. Echoing trends I've been seeing since roughly 2010-2011, NPR reports on how changes in far northern latitudes may be showing up in the skies floating above your house; here's an excerpt: "...The temperature difference between the Arctic and lower latitudes is one of the main sources of fuel for the jet stream; it's what drives the winds. And because the Arctic is warming so fast, that temperature difference is getting smaller, and so the fuel for the jet stream is getting weaker," Francis says. "When it gets into this pattern, those big waves tend to stay in the same place for some time. The pattern we've seen in December and January has been one of these very wavy patterns..."

Image credit above: "The jet stream that circles Earth's north pole travels west to east. But when the jet stream interacts with a Rossby wave, as shown here, the winds can wander far north and south, bringing frigid air to normally mild southern states." NASA/GSFC.


At Sochi Olympics, Finding Risk Is Snow Problem. No shortage of lukewarm slush on the slopes of Sochi. In the city of Sochi itself there are days when I ask myself "Winter or Summer Olympics?" Here's an excerpt from The Washington Post: "The snow around here looks like soup, a creamy bisque that seems harmless enough until the athletes plunge into it and find the hard crags of the Caucasus beneath, which is when the medics race out. The sounds of the Sochi Games are a whack and the clatter of boards and skis, followed by wails — or worse, a terrible stillness. The mounting crash toll includes a broken back, a broken jaw and an assortment of head injuries. The logo for this Olympics ought to be a stretcher..."

Photo credit above: "Rain drops hang on a railing at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. After days of warm weather at the Sochi Olympics, fog up in the mountains is causing an even bigger disturbance.Thick fog rolled in over the mountains in Krasnaya Polyana on Sunday night and was still lingering on Monday, and the limited visibility forced organizers to delay a biathlon race and cancel the seeding runs in a snowboard event." (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth).


A Mad Dash For Salt Rescues Olympic Slopes. This sounds like the plot for a (bad) made-for-TV-movie of the week, but it's true. Here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "...Homeowners use salt to melt ice on the sidewalk, but Alpine experts cleverly use it to overcome soft snow conditions when a hard, icy surface is preferable. The salt melts the soft snow, and when the temperature drops — usually overnight — a layer of ice forms. Large-grain salt, about five millimeters in size, is best for soft, deep snow, because it drops farther into the snow and lasts for days, not hours..."

Photo credit above: "A referee throws salt on the track prior to the men's biathlon 20k individual race, at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia." (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man).


The Terrible Effect Of One Year Of California's Drought Seen From Space. Gizmodo has the year-to-year contrast from space; here's a clip: "Here's the effect of one entire year of drought in California, going from February 15, 2013, to February 16, 2014, as seen from NASA's Terra satellite. It's really scary to see the land die like this—especially after you read what NASA has to say about it..."


Can Anybody Save California? Politico has the article; here's an excerpt: "...The mega-drought is pitting farmers against fishermen, north against south and, of course, Democrats against Republicans. But that’s frequently the case in California, which has battled for more than a century over how to allocate too little water for too many people. The dry landscape adds another layer of rancor, and with the planet heating up and fueling bigger, longer and more severe droughts, that’s likely to be a permanent fixture. How state and federal lawmakers respond to the crisis could offer a window into how the United States writ large will react to climate events in real time—and so far, the politics appear too small for the task..."


Water In America: Is It Safe To Drink? Minnesota has been blessed with clean lakes, streams and acquifers - something none of us should take for granted. In light of the recent contamination of drinking water supplies in West Virginia here's an excerpt of a story at National Geographic Daily News: "...We often don't think about where our water comes from," said Steve Fleischli, director and senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Water Program in Los Angeles. "Does it come from a nearby river or a lake, intermittent streams, isolated wetlands, or an aquifer? Yes, you may have a water treatment plant, but if your water source is not protected, people face a real risk..."

Photo credit above: "A chemical plant sits along a branch of the Kanawha River in South Charleston, West Virginia, site of a recent coal slurry spill." Photograph by Steve Helber, AP.


Why Do People Get Drunk? Because they can. But let's built a (fake) bar and find out, turn it into a "research project". Uh huh. A university in Britain is doing just that, as reported by The London Evening Standard; here's an excerpt: "A University has spent £20,000 building a mock pub for students to investigate why people get drunk. Researchers at London South Bank University are looking into how much people choose to drink  and how willing drinkers are to take risks as their alcohol consumption increases. Hidden cameras and microphones will be used to monitor behaviour as volunteers are given free drinks,  some of which will smell of ethanol but be alcohol-free..."


4 Sales Strategy Lessons From House Of Cards. Yeah, I'm hooked, up to Episode 12 of Season 2. Thank you Netflix. Here's an excerpt of a well-timed article from LinkedIn that made me do a double-take: "...Underwood is known for his particularly ruthless political tactics, but he ultimately gets his way through sheer determination. While we don’t endorse any under-the-table dealings, sales professionals can still take a few lessons from Underwood when looking to advance their goals. Keep these 4 thoughts in mind when structuring your sales strategy:

1). Know (and grow) your network

In season one, Underwood served as the Democratic House Majority Whip under a new White House administration...."


Loneliness Is Killing Us - We Must Start Treating This Disease. Here's an excerpt of a story at The Guardian that made me do a double-take: "That loneliness is a health issue would not have been a surprise to Mother Teresa who once said: "The biggest disease today is not leprosy or cancer or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for and deserted by everybody." But now doctors have quantified the effects of the loneliness disease, warning that lonely people are nearly twice as likely to die prematurely as those who do not suffer feelings of isolation. Being lonely it seems, is a lot more worrying for your health than obesity..."


1 in 4 Americans Don't Know That Earth Orbits The Sun. Yes, Really. Good grief - nice to see those high school diplomas and college degrees are paying off. Discovery News has the details; here's a clip: "...And then, today, the National Science Foundation (NSF) delivered news of a pretty shocking poll result: around one in four Americans (yes, that's 25 percent) are unaware that the Earth orbits the sun. Let’s repeat that: One in four Americans — that represents one quarter of the population — when asked probably the most basic question in science (except, perhaps, “Is the Earth flat?” Hint: No.), got the answer incorrect..." (Graphic above: scienceblogs.com).


Here's How To Predict The Weather Using Your Cat. Who needs Doppler or the ECMWF when you have Tabby wandering around (sulking most of the time). Hey, I'm up for anything - that works. Here's a clip from Time Magazine: "...In his book Weather Proverbs, unearthed by NPR, Dunwoody documents a long list of widely-held folk beliefs about weather predictions, including signals from bears, foxes, and goats, but he particularly focuses on cats. Here’s what you should look for.

  • When cats sneeze it is a sign of rain.
  • The cardinal point to which a cat turns and washes her face after rain shows the directing from which the wind will blow.
  • When cats are snoring foul weather follows..."

Photo credit: "This cat is predicting a storm." Photographer: brokinhrt2/Flickr.


44 F. high in the Twin Cities Tuesday (warmest in 37 days).

30 F. average high on February 18.

34 F. high on February 18, 2013.

18" snow on the ground at MSP International Airport.

47.1" snow so far this winter.

31.3" snow last winter, as of February 18, 2013.


TODAY: Partly sunny, almost pleasant. Winds: S 10. High: near 40

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Clouds increase, light snow late. Low: 28

THURSDAY: Winter Storm Warning metro. Blizzard Warning parts of southern MN. Potential for 2-4" in the metro by early Friday; 4-8" far east metro into Wisconsin - blowing/drifting with potentially treacherous travel into Thursday night. High: 34 (falling PM hours)

FRIDAY: Snow tapers early. Windy with a very slow AM commute possible. Mostly cloudy skies. Wake-up: 11. High: 19

SATURDAY: Partly sunny and brisk. Wake-up: 1. High: 11

SUNDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, cold. Wake-up: -2. High: 13

MONDAY: Some sun, storm stays south. Wake-up: -3. High: 12

TUESDAY: Bright sun, spring on hold. Wake-up: -5. High: 14


Climate Stories....

Is Climate Change Causing Extreme Weather? Experts Disagree. Most climate scientists believe there is a potential link, but more research is needed. Here's a link to an interview at Colorado Public Radio.

Photo credit above: "Flood devastation to County Road in Berthoud, Colo. in September 2013." Photo courtesy of Lornay Hansen.


Global Warming: Ice Loss Makes Arctic Itself A Bigger Climate Changer. Check out the video in this story at Christian Science Monitor; here's an excerpt: "A long-term darkening of the Arctic region – occurring as sea ice retreats in the face of warmer summers – has been a stronger contributor to global warming during the past 32 years that previously estimated, according to a new study. The Arctic's contribution over this period is about 25 percent of the warming the climate has undergone from carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions alone, say the researchers. That's "considerably higher" than estimates from climate models or from studies that use less-direct methods of measuring, they have found..."

Image credit above: "NOAA distributed this photo of Arctic ice in December 2013. The Arctic isn't nearly as bright and white as it used to be because of more ice melting in the ocean, and that's turning out to be a global problem, a new study says. With more dark, open water in the summer, less of the sun's heat is reflected back into space, so the entire Earth is absorbing more heat than expected." Photo: NOAA/AP.


Flood devastation to County Road in Berthoud, Colo. in September 2013.

(Photo: Courtesy of Lornay Hansen)
- See more at: http://www.cpr.org/news/story/climate-change-causing-extreme-weather-experts-disagree#sthash.azWX2xgV.dpuf

Are all these events just Mother Nature cycling through her natural mood swings? Or is it, as some scientists suggest, that the human influence on our climate is causing these weather catastrophes?

Kevin Trenberth, a distinguished senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and environmental scientist Roger Pielke Jr., director of the Center for Science and Technology in Boulder, disagree on the answer.

- See more at: http://www.cpr.org/news/story/climate-change-causing-extreme-weather-experts-disagree#sthash.azWX2xgV.dpuf

Warming From Arctic Sea Ice Melting More Dramatic Than Thought. Here's an excerpt of a post at LiveScience: "...Now, scientists based at the University of California, San Diego have analyzed Arctic satellite data from 1979 to 2011, and have found that average Arctic albedo levels have decreased from 52 percent to 48 percent since 1979 — twice as much as previous studies based on models have suggested, the team reports today (Feb. 17) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The amount of heat generated by this decrease in albedo is equivalent to roughly 25 percent of the average global warming currently occurring due to increased carbon dioxide levels, the team reports..."

Image credit above: "This pristine photo of Arctic sea ice was taken by scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in German. In the summer of 2012, the researchers journeyed to the high Arctic to investigate the physics and biology of Arctic sea ice. The scientists also monitored reactions of the deep sea ecosystem to changes in sea ice cover."Credit: Stefan Hendricks, Alfred Wegener Institute.


While Britain Floods, Politicians Debate Climate Change. Time Magazine has a good overview of historic flooding gripping the U.K., and how it's unleashed a political firestorm of debate. Here's a clip: "Britons are normally never more comfortable than when talking about the weather, but recent extreme weather events have began to test that theory. Since December, the U.K. has faced a relentless assault from some of the worst winter weather on record. It began with the worst storm and tidal surges in 60 years hitting the North Sea coastline, floods that ruined Christmas for thousands across Surrey and Dorset and in January, the most exceptional period of rainfall since 1766. The deluge has transformed swathes of southern England into cold, dark lakes, destroying homes and businesses, and in some cases taking lives..."

Photo credit above: "Flood water surrounds homes in Shepperton, Surrey, England, as Royal Engineers are now being tasked to carry out a high-speed assessment of damage to the UK's flood defense infrastructure, Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014. The military could have been brought in earlier to help deal with the winter storms that have been wracking Britain, a Cabinet minister has admitted. As the weather finally gave the country a respite, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond defended the Government's handling of the crisis." (AP Photo/PA, Steve Parsons).


More Heat Is Going Into The Ocean. Really. The experiment continues, and we're not really sure how the deep-ocean heating will manifest itself with weather. Here's an excerpt of a post from Simon Donner: "You may have heard climate scientists, myself included, state that “global warming” has indeed continued with little interruption over the past 10-15 years, but that more of the heat trapped in the climate system by greenhouse gases has been “going into the ocean”. This is not the rhetoric of irrational climate alarmists. This is what the measurements show. The human enhancement of the greenhouse effect has reduced the outgoing radiation to space and increased the energy content of the climate system, as is shown on the graph (above)...."

Graphic credit above: "Change in energy content of different components of the climate system." (IPCC, 2013).


You Don't Have To Live On A Coast To Get Flooded Out By Climate Change. The African nation of Zimbabwe is experiencing record floods; here's an excerpt from Grist: "...The crisis has prompted the country’s leaders to plead for international aid. They are asking for $20 million of assistance to evacuate more than 2,000 families living downstream from the Tokwe-Mukorsi dam, which is so overladen with water that experts fear it is about burst. Such floods may be a symptom of climate change, which is also ravaging the impoverished country with rising temperatures and increasingly frequent droughts..."
 
Map above: Google Earth.
Featuring Skeptics In News Media Stories Reduces Public Beliefs In The Seriousness Of Global Warming. Here's an excerpt of a summary of a study from Stanford University: "News media coverage of global warming has often offered “balanced” accounts, quoting mainstream scientists and skeptics in the same story. Balanced accounts might be considered admirable efforts to abide by the journalistic norms of objectivity and fairness.However, critics have noted that balanced reporting of this particular issue actually conveys a misleading portrait of the science of climate change, since scientists endorsing the mainstream view appear to outnumber skeptics.Our study explored the impact of including skeptical voices in news media coverage. In particular, we explored whether adding a skeptic to a story about a mainstream scientist’s views or findings would reduce the number of people who perceive agreement among scientific experts on this issue and think global warming is a serious problem..."

Viewpoints: Fracking During The Drought Is Destructive and Irresponsible. The Sacramento Bee has an Op-Ed that caught my eye; here's a clip: "...Fracking is a triple threat to California’s water. Not only does it exacerbate the climate crisis, it requires mixing vast amounts of water with harmful chemicals, and it puts our vital aquifers at risk of contamination for generations. Last week, the green investment group Ceres released a report that found that 96 percent of fracking wells in California were drilled in regions under high or extremely high water stress..."

Photo credit above: "This Feb. 14, 2014 photo shows a freeway sign in Los Angeles advising motorists to save water because of the state's severe drought. This week the California Department of Transportation launched an education campaign with 700 electronic highway boards displaying the message: "Serious Drought. Help Save Water."

Wednesday Thaw - Treacherous Thursday (amounts look more impressive; blizzard potential south/east of MSP)

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: February 18, 2014 - 11:32 PM

Grumble Factor

Perspective. It's hard to come by when you're hip-deep in snow. 47" snow so far; the 43rd snowiest winter on record, to date. 44 subzero nights, the most since 1981-82.

Looking at a Misery Index that measures snow & cold this isn't even close to rough Minnesota winters of the late 70s. But much harsher than most winters since 1998.

My lead programmer reminded me of the "Grumble Factor", the number of days between measurable snow events during the warm weather season. During the record warm year of 2012 we went from March 8 to November 12 without slush. Last year? May 3 to November 3, almost 2 1/2 months less snow-free weather.

Ouch.

Many Minnesotans were already grouchy about last year's abbreviated summer, now this.

Here, let me cheer you up. A Blizzard Watch is posted south and east of the Twin Cities Thursday. A plowable snowfall is expected, maybe as much as 3-8", but an even bigger concern is 25-40 mph winds, capable of blowing/drifting, especially from Mankato and La Crosse to Eau Claire. If you plan on driving south/east of MSP Thursday into early Friday expect treacherous travel.

A thaw lingers into Thursday but colder weather returns next week. 3-4 more subzero nights? Yes, but no school-closing cold.


Alerts Broadcaster Briefing: Issued Tuesday night, February 18, 2014.

* First significant severe thunderstorm risk Thursday from the Ohio Valley into the Mid South and Tennessee River Valley. Slight risk from SPC, meaning probable squall line with damaging straight-line winds, 1-2" diameter hail, and a few (isolated) tornadoes.

* Blizzard potential late Thursday into early Friday from Iowa into eastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin as a powerful storm winds up, producing blowing and drifting problems from near Des Moines and Waterloo, Iowa to Rochester, the Twin Cities, Duluth, La Crosse andEau Claire, Wisconsin.


Blizzard Watch. The concern is not only falling snow, but 20-40 mph sustained winds whipping up the considerable snow already on the ground, especially northeast Iowa, eastern Minnesota (including the Twin Cities and Duluth) and much of Wisconsin. The worst travel conditions and potential for airline delays will come Thursday afternoon into Friday morning for this region.


Snowfall Potential. These numbers will change as new model data arrives and the final track crystallizes. There is certainly a potential for (very) plowable amounts of snow, especially eastern and northern Minnesota and far western and northern Wisconsin, where visibilities may fall close to zero at times in falling/blowing snow Thursday night into early Friday. Conditions improve PM hours Friday.


Thursday Severe Thunderstorm Risk. SPC has issued a slight risk - right now I do not expect a widespread tornado outbreak, but we can't rule out a few smaller, EF-0 to EF-1 tornadoes, especially south of the Ohio River. Storms may exceed severe storm criteria from near Chicago to Indianapolis and Columbus, with 1-2" diameter hail and locally heavy rain capable of flash flooding. With frost still in the ground there is a heightened risk of stream and river flooding, especially across the Ohio Valley by late week.


TPI: Tornado Potential Index. Our in-house models show a heightened risk of supercell T-storms capable of (isolated) tornadoes, especially Bowling Green and Louisville southward to Nashville and Huntsville by Thursday evening. I expect mainly linear T-storms capable of 50-70 mph wind gusts and sporadic tree damage and power outages; hail may reach 1-2" in diameter. A couple of EF-2 tornadoes can't be entirely ruled out.


River Flooding Potential. Although rainfall amounts probably won't be heavy enough for widespread river flooding, the combination of melting snow, lingering frost in the ground and .5 to 1.5" amounts may create minor to moderate flooding of urban areas and small streams and rivers, especially Champaign-Urbana to Indianapolis, South Bend and Toledo, according to NOAA guidance.

Summary: Tornadoes are possible, climatologically, much of the winter along the Gulf Coast. By late February the risk shifts northward as temperatures warm and 60-degree dew points begin to surge north. We'll have many of the ingredients for severe storms Thursday; more linear (squall line) than supercellular, but a few isolated tornadoes are possible with this outbreak. The greater risk is straight-line wind damage and large hail.

Farther north, deeper in the cold air, a rapidly intensifying storm will drop heavy snow over the Upper Midwest with blizzard potential by Thursday night from near Des Moines to Rochester, the Twin Cities and Duluth, along with much of western Wisconsin. We'll keep you posted.


Factors That Go Into Flood Forecasting. As temperature continue to thaw, and rain storms track farther north, the potential for river flooding will increase. That growing risk, and another whopping case of weather-whiplash, are the subjects of today's edition of Climate Matters: "WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas goes over yet another case of weather whiplash across the United States. Some areas with a decent covering of snow could see strong to severe storms move through the area on Thursday. What does ground frost have to do with flooding concerns?"


A Little Subzero Icing On The Cake? After 44 nights of negative fun many of us have stopped counting. I suspect we'll see 3-4 more nights below zero the first half of next week, but not the intensity of cold we enjoyed a few weeks ago. Enjoy the thaw. ECMWF guidance: Weatherspark.


The Official Forecast Of The U.S. Government Never Saw This Winter Coming. Did I mention that weather forecasting, especially long-range weather forecasting, is a humbling endeavor? Bloomberg Businessweek has the story; here's the introduction: "Surprised by how tough this winter has been? You’re in good company: Last fall the Climate Prediction Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted that temperatures would be above normal from November through January across much of the Lower 48 states. This graphic shows just how wrong the official forecast of the U.S. government was.The big red blotch in the top map represents parts of the country in which the Climate Prediction Center forecast above-average temperatures. The frigid-looking blue blotch in the bottom “verification” map shows areas where temperatures turned out to be below average..."


Winter Weather Update. Thanks to Climate Nexus; here's an excerpt of a recent press release: "The Eastern United States is one of the only parts of the globe that was colder than average this winter. This is because cold Arctic air is normally confined by the jet stream, but the anomalous waves and shifts in its position (which also influenced other events on this list) allowed pockets to escape and move south. Warm air moved into its vacated position, causing the crazy situation on Jan 26: Homer, Alaska was warmer at 54ºF than any part of the country except southern Florida and southern California. The South was completely unprepared for the unusual snowstorms, resulting in logistical fiascos like the traffic jam in Georgia that left some stranded for over 12 hours."


Are Crime And Clime Linked? A Potential Upside To A Lousy Winter. Grasping at straws? Perhaps, but this story at The San Jose Mercury News includes research that has been substantiated elsewhere. It turns out criminals aren't fond of the wind chill either. Here's an excerpt: "...Researchers have long studied the correlation between weather and crime. Anecdotally, it appears as though there's some truth to the old idea that violence calms during cold weather and spikes when it's warm. “There is some evidence that hot weather, particularly hot, humid weather is related to upticks in violent crime,” said Jay Corzine, a sociology professor at the University of Central Florida. “If the weather gets really cold, if anything there is a decrease in street crime, because there aren't as many people in the streets . . . potential offenders don't like to be outside much, either...”

Photo credit above: "A Georgia Department of Transportation sign warns drivers of winter weather as they travel a bleak section of Highway 141 on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Norcross, Ga." (John Amis/AP).


Arthritis Pain May Be Affected By Weather, Study Says. I've seen numerous papers linking a possible uptick in arthritis with rapidly changing weather conditions, including sudden swings in barometric pressure. Fox News has the story; here's the introduction: "For people with osteoarthritis of the hip, pain levels tracked with the weather over the course of a small two-year study, Dutch researchers say. They looked at reported pain levels in a previous study of arthritis, then went back to weather records to document the conditions each day. It turns out the participants' aches were just a little worse and joints just a little stiffer when humidity and barometric pressure levels rose..."


Is The Harsh Weather Affecting The Housing Market? Here's a clip from a story at The Houston Chronicle: "As the housing market has slowed down in the winter months, many people assume the weather is a major factor. It is safe to say that there are fewer home shoppers during this time of year, as CF Funding mentioned previously. With the snow and cold that the Midwest has been experiencing, this winter is even more difficult than usual to buy or sell a home. However, some economists are worried that the weather may have very little to do with the slowdown, suggesting that the market could be performing poorly for other reasons, such as low inventories and rising interest rates..."


Third Coldest U.S. Winter On Record For USA? Here's an excerpt from Steven Goddard: "If February ended today, this would be the third coldest winter on record in the US, after 1979 and 1899."


Warming Arctic May Be Causing Jet Stream To Lose Its Way. Echoing trends I've been seeing since roughly 2010-2011, NPR reports on how changes in far northern latitudes may be showing up in the skies floating above your house; here's an excerpt: "...The temperature difference between the Arctic and lower latitudes is one of the main sources of fuel for the jet stream; it's what drives the winds. And because the Arctic is warming so fast, that temperature difference is getting smaller, and so the fuel for the jet stream is getting weaker," Francis says. "When it gets into this pattern, those big waves tend to stay in the same place for some time. The pattern we've seen in December and January has been one of these very wavy patterns..."

Image credit above: "The jet stream that circles Earth's north pole travels west to east. But when the jet stream interacts with a Rossby wave, as shown here, the winds can wander far north and south, bringing frigid air to normally mild southern states." NASA/GSFC.


At Sochi Olympics, Finding Risk Is Snow Problem. No shortage of lukewarm slush on the slopes of Sochi. In the city of Sochi itself there are days when I ask myself "Winter or Summer Olympics?" Here's an excerpt from The Washington Post: "The snow around here looks like soup, a creamy bisque that seems harmless enough until the athletes plunge into it and find the hard crags of the Caucasus beneath, which is when the medics race out. The sounds of the Sochi Games are a whack and the clatter of boards and skis, followed by wails — or worse, a terrible stillness. The mounting crash toll includes a broken back, a broken jaw and an assortment of head injuries. The logo for this Olympics ought to be a stretcher..."

Photo credit above: "Rain drops hang on a railing at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. After days of warm weather at the Sochi Olympics, fog up in the mountains is causing an even bigger disturbance.Thick fog rolled in over the mountains in Krasnaya Polyana on Sunday night and was still lingering on Monday, and the limited visibility forced organizers to delay a biathlon race and cancel the seeding runs in a snowboard event." (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth).


A Mad Dash For Salt Rescues Olympic Slopes. This sounds like the plot for a (bad) made-for-TV-movie of the week, but it's true. Here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "...Homeowners use salt to melt ice on the sidewalk, but Alpine experts cleverly use it to overcome soft snow conditions when a hard, icy surface is preferable. The salt melts the soft snow, and when the temperature drops — usually overnight — a layer of ice forms. Large-grain salt, about five millimeters in size, is best for soft, deep snow, because it drops farther into the snow and lasts for days, not hours..."

Photo credit above: "A referee throws salt on the track prior to the men's biathlon 20k individual race, at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia." (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man).


The Terrible Effect Of One Year Of California's Drought Seen From Space. Gizmodo has the year-to-year contrast from space; here's a clip: "Here's the effect of one entire year of drought in California, going from February 15, 2013, to February 16, 2014, as seen from NASA's Terra satellite. It's really scary to see the land die like this—especially after you read what NASA has to say about it..."


Can Anybody Save California? Politico has the article; here's an excerpt: "...The mega-drought is pitting farmers against fishermen, north against south and, of course, Democrats against Republicans. But that’s frequently the case in California, which has battled for more than a century over how to allocate too little water for too many people. The dry landscape adds another layer of rancor, and with the planet heating up and fueling bigger, longer and more severe droughts, that’s likely to be a permanent fixture. How state and federal lawmakers respond to the crisis could offer a window into how the United States writ large will react to climate events in real time—and so far, the politics appear too small for the task..."


Water In America: Is It Safe To Drink? Minnesota has been blessed with clean lakes, streams and acquifers - something none of us should take for granted. In light of the recent contamination of drinking water supplies in West Virginia here's an excerpt of a story at National Geographic Daily News: "...We often don't think about where our water comes from," said Steve Fleischli, director and senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Water Program in Los Angeles. "Does it come from a nearby river or a lake, intermittent streams, isolated wetlands, or an aquifer? Yes, you may have a water treatment plant, but if your water source is not protected, people face a real risk..."

Photo credit above: "A chemical plant sits along a branch of the Kanawha River in South Charleston, West Virginia, site of a recent coal slurry spill." Photograph by Steve Helber, AP.


Why Do People Get Drunk? Because they can. But let's built a (fake) bar and find out, turn it into a "research project". Uh huh. A university in Britain is doing just that, as reported by The London Evening Standard; here's an excerpt: "A University has spent £20,000 building a mock pub for students to investigate why people get drunk. Researchers at London South Bank University are looking into how much people choose to drink  and how willing drinkers are to take risks as their alcohol consumption increases. Hidden cameras and microphones will be used to monitor behaviour as volunteers are given free drinks,  some of which will smell of ethanol but be alcohol-free..."


4 Sales Strategy Lessons From House Of Cards. Yeah, I'm hooked, up to Episode 12 of Season 2. Thank you Netflix. Here's an excerpt of a well-timed article from LinkedIn that made me do a double-take: "...Underwood is known for his particularly ruthless political tactics, but he ultimately gets his way through sheer determination. While we don’t endorse any under-the-table dealings, sales professionals can still take a few lessons from Underwood when looking to advance their goals. Keep these 4 thoughts in mind when structuring your sales strategy:

1). Know (and grow) your network

In season one, Underwood served as the Democratic House Majority Whip under a new White House administration...."


Loneliness Is Killing Us - We Must Start Treating This Disease. Here's an excerpt of a story at The Guardian that made me do a double-take: "That loneliness is a health issue would not have been a surprise to Mother Teresa who once said: "The biggest disease today is not leprosy or cancer or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for and deserted by everybody." But now doctors have quantified the effects of the loneliness disease, warning that lonely people are nearly twice as likely to die prematurely as those who do not suffer feelings of isolation. Being lonely it seems, is a lot more worrying for your health than obesity..."


1 in 4 Americans Don't Know That Earth Orbits The Sun. Yes, Really. Good grief - nice to see those high school diplomas and college degrees are paying off. Discovery News has the details; here's a clip: "...And then, today, the National Science Foundation (NSF) delivered news of a pretty shocking poll result: around one in four Americans (yes, that's 25 percent) are unaware that the Earth orbits the sun. Let’s repeat that: One in four Americans — that represents one quarter of the population — when asked probably the most basic question in science (except, perhaps, “Is the Earth flat?” Hint: No.), got the answer incorrect..." (Graphic above: scienceblogs.com).


Here's How To Predict The Weather Using Your Cat. Who needs Doppler or the ECMWF when you have Tabby wandering around (sulking most of the time). Hey, I'm up for anything - that works. Here's a clip from Time Magazine: "...In his book Weather Proverbs, unearthed by NPR, Dunwoody documents a long list of widely-held folk beliefs about weather predictions, including signals from bears, foxes, and goats, but he particularly focuses on cats. Here’s what you should look for.

  • When cats sneeze it is a sign of rain.
  • The cardinal point to which a cat turns and washes her face after rain shows the directing from which the wind will blow.
  • When cats are snoring foul weather follows..."

Photo credit: "This cat is predicting a storm." Photographer: brokinhrt2/Flickr.


44 F. high in the Twin Cities Tuesday (warmest in 37 days).

30 F. average high on February 18.

34 F. high on February 18, 2013.

18" snow on the ground at MSP International Airport.

47.1" snow so far this winter.

31.3" snow last winter, as of February 18, 2013.


TODAY: Partly sunny, almost pleasant. Winds: S 10. High: 39

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Clouds increase, light snow late. Low: 28

THURSDAY: Winter Storm Watch metro. Blizzard Watch parts of southern MN and western WI. Potential for 3-8" by early Friday; blowing/drifting with potentially treacherous travel into Thursday night. High: 34 (falling PM hours)

FRIDAY: Snow tapers early. Windy with a very slow AM commute possible. Mostly cloudy skies. Wake-up: 11. High: 19

SATURDAY: Partly sunny and brisk. Wake-up: 1. High: 11

SUNDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, cold. Wake-up: -2. High: 13

MONDAY: Some sun, storm stays south. Wake-up: -3. High: 12

TUESDAY: Bright sun, spring on hold. Wake-up: -5. High: 14


Climate Stories....

Is Climate Change Causing Extreme Weather? Experts Disagree. Most climate scientists believe there is a potential link, but more research is needed. Here's a link to an interview at Colorado Public Radio.

Photo credit above: "Flood devastation to County Road in Berthoud, Colo. in September 2013." Photo courtesy of Lornay Hansen.


Global Warming: Ice Loss Makes Arctic Itself A Bigger Climate Changer. Check out the video in this story at Christian Science Monitor; here's an excerpt: "A long-term darkening of the Arctic region – occurring as sea ice retreats in the face of warmer summers – has been a stronger contributor to global warming during the past 32 years that previously estimated, according to a new study. The Arctic's contribution over this period is about 25 percent of the warming the climate has undergone from carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions alone, say the researchers. That's "considerably higher" than estimates from climate models or from studies that use less-direct methods of measuring, they have found..."

Image credit above: "NOAA distributed this photo of Arctic ice in December 2013. The Arctic isn't nearly as bright and white as it used to be because of more ice melting in the ocean, and that's turning out to be a global problem, a new study says. With more dark, open water in the summer, less of the sun's heat is reflected back into space, so the entire Earth is absorbing more heat than expected." Photo: NOAA/AP.


Flood devastation to County Road in Berthoud, Colo. in September 2013.

(Photo: Courtesy of Lornay Hansen)
- See more at: http://www.cpr.org/news/story/climate-change-causing-extreme-weather-experts-disagree#sthash.azWX2xgV.dpuf

Are all these events just Mother Nature cycling through her natural mood swings? Or is it, as some scientists suggest, that the human influence on our climate is causing these weather catastrophes?

Kevin Trenberth, a distinguished senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and environmental scientist Roger Pielke Jr., director of the Center for Science and Technology in Boulder, disagree on the answer.

- See more at: http://www.cpr.org/news/story/climate-change-causing-extreme-weather-experts-disagree#sthash.azWX2xgV.dpuf

Warming From Arctic Sea Ice Melting More Dramatic Than Thought. Here's an excerpt of a post at LiveScience: "...Now, scientists based at the University of California, San Diego have analyzed Arctic satellite data from 1979 to 2011, and have found that average Arctic albedo levels have decreased from 52 percent to 48 percent since 1979 — twice as much as previous studies based on models have suggested, the team reports today (Feb. 17) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The amount of heat generated by this decrease in albedo is equivalent to roughly 25 percent of the average global warming currently occurring due to increased carbon dioxide levels, the team reports..."

Image credit above: "This pristine photo of Arctic sea ice was taken by scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in German. In the summer of 2012, the researchers journeyed to the high Arctic to investigate the physics and biology of Arctic sea ice. The scientists also monitored reactions of the deep sea ecosystem to changes in sea ice cover."Credit: Stefan Hendricks, Alfred Wegener Institute.


While Britain Floods, Politicians Debate Climate Change. Time Magazine has a good overview of historic flooding gripping the U.K., and how it's unleashed a political firestorm of debate. Here's a clip: "Britons are normally never more comfortable than when talking about the weather, but recent extreme weather events have began to test that theory. Since December, the U.K. has faced a relentless assault from some of the worst winter weather on record. It began with the worst storm and tidal surges in 60 years hitting the North Sea coastline, floods that ruined Christmas for thousands across Surrey and Dorset and in January, the most exceptional period of rainfall since 1766. The deluge has transformed swathes of southern England into cold, dark lakes, destroying homes and businesses, and in some cases taking lives..."

Photo credit above: "Flood water surrounds homes in Shepperton, Surrey, England, as Royal Engineers are now being tasked to carry out a high-speed assessment of damage to the UK's flood defense infrastructure, Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014. The military could have been brought in earlier to help deal with the winter storms that have been wracking Britain, a Cabinet minister has admitted. As the weather finally gave the country a respite, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond defended the Government's handling of the crisis." (AP Photo/PA, Steve Parsons).


More Heat Is Going Into The Ocean. Really. The experiment continues, and we're not really sure how the deep-ocean heating will manifest itself with weather. Here's an excerpt of a post from Simon Donner: "You may have heard climate scientists, myself included, state that “global warming” has indeed continued with little interruption over the past 10-15 years, but that more of the heat trapped in the climate system by greenhouse gases has been “going into the ocean”. This is not the rhetoric of irrational climate alarmists. This is what the measurements show. The human enhancement of the greenhouse effect has reduced the outgoing radiation to space and increased the energy content of the climate system, as is shown on the graph (above)...."

Graphic credit above: "Change in energy content of different components of the climate system." (IPCC, 2013).


You Don't Have To Live On A Coast To Get Flooded Out By Climate Change. The African nation of Zimbabwe is experiencing record floods; here's an excerpt from Grist: "...The crisis has prompted the country’s leaders to plead for international aid. They are asking for $20 million of assistance to evacuate more than 2,000 families living downstream from the Tokwe-Mukorsi dam, which is so overladen with water that experts fear it is about burst. Such floods may be a symptom of climate change, which is also ravaging the impoverished country with rising temperatures and increasingly frequent droughts..."
 
Map above: Google Earth.
Featuring Skeptics In News Media Stories Reduces Public Beliefs In The Seriousness Of Global Warming. Here's an excerpt of a summary of a study from Stanford University: "News media coverage of global warming has often offered “balanced” accounts, quoting mainstream scientists and skeptics in the same story. Balanced accounts might be considered admirable efforts to abide by the journalistic norms of objectivity and fairness.However, critics have noted that balanced reporting of this particular issue actually conveys a misleading portrait of the science of climate change, since scientists endorsing the mainstream view appear to outnumber skeptics.Our study explored the impact of including skeptical voices in news media coverage. In particular, we explored whether adding a skeptic to a story about a mainstream scientist’s views or findings would reduce the number of people who perceive agreement among scientific experts on this issue and think global warming is a serious problem..."

Viewpoints: Fracking During The Drought Is Destructive and Irresponsible. The Sacramento Bee has an Op-Ed that caught my eye; here's a clip: "...Fracking is a triple threat to California’s water. Not only does it exacerbate the climate crisis, it requires mixing vast amounts of water with harmful chemicals, and it puts our vital aquifers at risk of contamination for generations. Last week, the green investment group Ceres released a report that found that 96 percent of fracking wells in California were drilled in regions under high or extremely high water stress..."

Photo credit above: "This Feb. 14, 2014 photo shows a freeway sign in Los Angeles advising motorists to save water because of the state's severe drought. This week the California Department of Transportation launched an education campaign with 700 electronic highway boards displaying the message: "Serious Drought. Help Save Water."

Friday Chill, Saturday Snow and Puddles Next Week

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: February 13, 2014 - 9:42 PM

"I thought you said it was supposed to be warmer, Todd!" Yes, I did... be patient!

Yes, I know it's a bit on the chilly today, but it was expected. We're seeing cold exhaust on the back side of that fast moving clipper system that kicked out a few wind whipped snow flakes yesterday. There is yet again another clipper system that will blow through our neck of the woods tomorrow. Don't be surprised if you find yourself doing a little light shoveling on Saturday, but let it melt. The onset of the warming will take place into early next week. Our first +30F day is on deck for Monday with another +30F in the hole for Tuesday!

Old Man winter is tired and we should get a few more cracks at +30F next week before his relief arrives. There is a slight indication of additional cooling late next weekend, so don't get too excited.

This is normal... It's still February and we'll likely see a few more wintry spats before this extra inning game is over. Don't forget, we saw 30s and 0.5" of snow into May of last year; It was enough to make my parents move to Phoenix! I might still have to book a flight this year to take the edge off this wintry sting.

-TODD NELSON

_______________________________________________________________________

FRIDAY: Minor setback in the temperature department. More sun. High: 14. Winds: NW 5-15.

FRIDAY NIGHT: Another cold night. Low: -1.

SATURDAY: Another clipper arrives. Snow likely. Dusting up to 2" possible. High: 22.

SUNDAY: Bright start. Increasing clouds with a light wintry mix developing late/overnight. Wake-up: 7. High: 23.

MONDAY: Wintry mix possible early, then gradual clearing and warmer! Wake-up: 21. High: 35.

TUESDAY: Partly sunny, continued thaw. Wake-up: 20. High: 36.

WEDNESDAY: Puddles continue to grow. Wake-up: 22. High: 34.

THURSDAY: More clouds, light mix possible. Wake-up: 21. High: 35.

___________________________________________________________________________

MSP Temp Trend

After a brief cool down on Friday, temperatures warm into the 30s for an extended period next week. There are some indications that it chill down a bit by the end of the month... stay tuned!

FutureRadar

Watch the blue streaks moving southeast through the Upper Midwest. We had one AM Thursday, another one snakes through on Friday morning and yet another one (not picture shown here) will slide through on Saturday.

Snow Potential

Here's the snow potential through midday Sunday, which shows 2 snow streaks. The one over much of Minnesota is the Saturday snow chance, which could bring a dusting up to 2" to parts of the state.

Snowy DC

Thanks to @uplandcounty for this picture out of Washington D.C. where they tallied over a foot of snow!

Philadelphia

Thanks to @BearsJState for this image from the Philadelphia Airport

New York

Thanks to @jhowardpr for this picture out of New York. It's a very snowy Union Square!

Bronx Accident

Thanks to Tri-State Weather for this image out of the Bronx from yesterday. Interestingly, schools were NOT closed yesterday in New York. By the way, New York City public schools have only been closed 11 times since 1978!

Pilot, VA

WOW! Thanks to Earl Shortridge for this image out of Pilot, VA where he measured 20" !!

Snow Tallies

NOAA's Weather Prediction Center has a huge list of snow tallies from the latest storm system. As of 4pm EST, there were several reports exceeding 18" and a few nearing 2ft.! Maryland, Virgina and West Virginia seemed to be the two states where some of the heaviest tallies were found.

See the full list HERE:

Snow Map

Here's a map of snowfall amounts from Midday Tuesday into Midday Wednesday. Note the extreme snowfall amounts from the northern portions of the Gulf Coast States to near New York.

Winter Storm Warning Continues

The Winter Storm Warning in the Northeast will begin to fade on Friday as the storm system pulls away from the coastline. Total snowfall tallies on the high end could be 12" to 18" or more in isolated spots. Blowing snow will be an issue through Friday as strong winds surround the low pressure system.

August, GA Ice Damage

Thanks to Jason Nappi from WJBF TV showing more ice damage from Augusta, GA

August, GA

Thanks to @Weatherman319 for this image out of August, GA where a tree fell on this Augusta National Golf Club sign.

SupportiveSnowman

Thanks to Madison Tank out of Woodstock, GA for this image who is showing her support during the Winter Olympics in Sochi Russia. GO USA!!

Active Pattern Continues

The forecast looks quite active into the upcoming weekend. A near continuous fountain on moisture continues to wring itself out over the Pacific Northwest. Pieces of these storms will move through the nation quite frequently, each will bring some rain and snow to parts of the eastern U.S.

Wet in the Pacific Northwest

Heavy precipitation continues to fall in the Pacific Northwest. The image below shows NOAA's 5 day precipitation forecast, where 5" to 10" or more can't be ruled out by early next week!

Atmospheric River

The plume of tropical moisture in the Eastern Pacific continues. The Atmospheric River has been responsible for copious amount of moisture lately. Hopefull we can see this wobble a little farther south into California as well.

February Precipitation So Far

This is an interesting map, it shows the radar estimated precipitation over the last 7 days. Note how much precipitation we've seen in the western U.S. since the start of the month. This certainly is nice to see, but we still need a lot more, especially in California.

Thanks for checking in and have a great weekend ahead!

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @TNelsonWNTV

Possible Break in the Pattern Within 2 Weeks (December-January: 20th coldest since 1873; coldest since 1984 at MSP)

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: February 2, 2014 - 12:31 AM

Winter Misery Index

The mad crush of people jamming The Minneapolis Boat Show yesterday was yet another tip-off that we're enjoying a Real Winter. Our portable space heater has been on since early December, and it's getting harder to see traffic and stray polar bears over the chin-deep-drifts at the end of the driveway. 34 subzero nights in the Twin Cities!

And yet the Minnesota Climate Office has put our pain into stark perspective. Assigning points for snowfall, snow depth and cold weather this winter ranks a 103, qualifying as "kind of miserable". 2 years ago we had no winter (that was a 15). But heavy snow in 2011 made that winter a 161 (seriously miserable). Winters of the late 70s & early 80s were much worse, while 3 of the 5 easiest winters came since 1987. The blog has details below.

Yes, it's been cold, and we've experienced a monotonous parade of Alberta Clippers for the last 60+ days, but the biggest snowstorms have detoured to our south; a trend which continues this week. Cold but quiet weather lingers - subzero nights the rule rather than the exception into mid-February. I do see a milder shift in the pattern by the third week of the month, as we finally pull out of this icy rut.

Expect 40F and a rain shower for today's Super Bowl. Washington D.C. may pick up 6-8" snow Monday.


Winter Misery Index. I found this nugget very interesting, courtesy of the Minnesota Climatology Office. The 5 toughest winters, based on snowfall, snow depth and the duration/intensity of cold: 1917, 1936, 1979 1982 and 1984. Three of the five easiest winters at MSP have come since 1987.


Putting This Winter's Subzero Cold Into Perspective. Here's an informative, timely post from The Minnesota Climatology Working Group: "How does the winter of 2013-14 stack up for counts of minimum temperatures at or below zero in the Twin Cities? As of January 31st there have been 33 minimum temperatures of zero or colder: 13 in December, and 20 in January. This is the most number of minimums below zero so early in a winter since the winter of 81-82 when the total through January 31 was 33. The most in a winter through January 31 is 44 from the winter of 1976-77. If the forecast holds, 2014 will be in a four way tie for the 13th most lows of zero or colder going back to the winter of 1872-1873. Excluding the 19th century winters, this winter would tie for 7th place, an impressive feat given the heat island of the modern Twin Cities Metro Area. The highest number of at or below zero temperatures in an entire winter is 68 for the winter of 1874-75. The last time there were over 50 minimums of zero or colder was the winter of 1974-75 with 53."


December - January: 20th Coldest Since 1873, Coldest Since 1984. Data courtesy of The Twin Cities National Weather Service.


Cold Weather Nuggets. Here's an excerpt from Dr. Mark Seeley's latest installment of Minnesota WeatherTalk: "...Some of the windchill readings compiled by Pete Boulay of the State Climatology Office included:

-63 degrees F at Grand Marais Airport on the 6th (-48 F in the Twin Cities)
-50 degrees F at Duluth on the 7th
-51 degrees F at Park Rapids on the 23rd (-37 F in the Twin Cities)
-53 degrees F at Grand Marais Airport on the 27th (-39 F in the Twin Cities)
-52 degrees F at Fosston on the 28th

According to the State Climatology Office the median number of days each winter when the windchill warning criteria (-35 F or colder) is reached is three times. The National Weather Service had to issue four windchill warnings for the Twin Cities so far this winter..."


Great Lakes Have Most Ice In Decades Thanks To Bitter Winter. Milwaukee's Journal Sentinel has the story - 60% of the Great Lakes have ice cover - the most in 25 years.


Super Bowl Will Be Far From A Winter Apocalypse. Clouds, 40F, maybe a passing (rain) shower or sprinkle? Not bad, considering the weather-alternatives on Groundhog Day. Here's a clip from a story at Climate Central: "...So, ever since the NFL announced Super Bowl XLVIII would be played in MetLife Stadium, everyone predicted winter doom for the Big Apple's big game: driving snowstorms, hopelessly gridlocked traffic on icy roads, fans frozen into meat popsicles. But while no one is going to mistake MetLife Stadium, located in East Rutherford, N.J., for the Orange Bowl, it doesn’t even crack the top 5 coldest NFL stadiums. And if the current forecast holds true, the game will be far from a winter apocalypse..."

Graphic credit above: "The 10 coldest stadiums in the NFL during the first week of February. While this year's Super Bowl is in a cold-weather locale, it's hardly the coldest place the game could be played."


Hard To Believe: Another Subzero Morning. NAM model temperatures show 7 AM temperatures ranging from -8 to -20F across the metro, the coldest pocket of air just north of the Twin Cities. Map: Ham Weather.


Another Cold Week. Although not reaching Breaking News/School-closing levels, the next 7-10 days will run 10-15F colder than average, at least 5 more subzero lows in the next week or so. ECMWF forecast for MSP above from Weatherspark.


Snowy Stripes. A Pacific storm regenerates over the Lower Mississippi Valley, pushing a band of snow across the Mid South into the Virginias Tuesday and Wednesday. Farther north as much as 5-1-" may fell near Chicago late Tuesday into Wednesday morning of this week. Travelers beware.


GFS Surface Pressure - Wind Speeds. Here is GFS data showing a Pacific storm tracking over south Texas, pushing across the Tennessee Valley by midweek, putting down another carpet of heavy, wet snow. Animation: NOAA and Ham Weather.


Cold Into Mid-February. I don't see much in the way of relief looking out the next 10 days; NOAA NAEFS model guidance valid February 9-15 shows a cold bias lingering over the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes, with warmer than average temperatures for the southwest USA.


Hints Of A Real Recovery. This cheered me up a little, GFS long-range guidance showing a possible shift in the pattern after February 12. Finally. It's too early for party hats and confetti, but at some point we have to climb out of this rut. Give it 10-14 days.


California Drought Could Force Key Water System To Cut Deliveries. Snow pack over the Sierra Nevada is 12% of normal. Stating the obvious: not good. Here's an excerpt from The Los Angeles Times: "Officials Friday said that for the first time ever, the State Water Project that helps supply a majority of Californians may be unable to make any deliveries except to maintain public health and safety. The prospect of no deliveries from one of the state's key water systems underscores the depth of a drought that threatens to be the worst in California's modern history. But the practical effect is less stark because most water districts have other sources, such as local storage and groundwater, to turn to. Officials stressed that the cut did not mean faucets would run dry..."

Photo credit above: "The water level in Lake Cachuma is dropping, in part because of sustained drought conditions across the state."  (Brian van der Brug, Los Angeles Times / January 14, 2014).


California's Devastating Drought Isn't Going To Get Better Any Time Soon. Slate advances the drought narrative for California with a few statistics that made me do a double-take; here's an excerpt: "...It’s the first time that any part of California has registered an exceptional drought in the 14-year history of the NDMC drought monitor. Now, 14 years is an admittedly short period of time. But thanks to the magic of science (and tree rings), we can now safely say that California hasn’t been this dry since around the time of Columbus, more than 500 years ago. What’s more, much of the state’s development over the last 150 years came during an abnormally wet era, which scientists say could come to a quick end with the help of human-induced climate change..."

* the latest U.S. Drought Monitor information for California is here.


Severe Drought Has U.S. West Fearing Worst. The New York Times has the story - here's a clip: "...This latest development has underscored the urgency of a drought that has already produced parched fields, starving livestock, and pockets of smog. “We are on track for having the worst drought in 500 years,” said B. Lynn Ingram, a professor of earth and planetary sciences at the University of California, Berkeley. Already the drought, technically in its third year, is forcing big shifts in behavior..."

Image credit above: Max Whittaker for The New York Times.


If You Like To Eat, You Should Really Be Worried About California's Drought. Huffington Post has the story (and impressive infographic that may leave you with an urge to rush out to the grocery store to buy fresh produce); here's a clip: "California had record low rainfall in 2013. It was potentially the driest year in the last 500 years, according to tree rings, and dry weather is expected to last through 2014. The state's $44.7 billion agriculture industry may take a significant hit, and prices for foods that are water-intensive to produce -- such as beef, milk, and tomatoes -- might start reflecting California's water woes."



5 Ways To Bust California's Drought. A series of slow-moving Pacific storms would probably be at the top of the list - the beloved "Pineapple Express", a conga-line of storms stretching from Honolulu to Los Angeles would look pretty good right about now. That isn't happening, so what can Californians do to avoid a worst-case scenario? Here's a clip from Time Magazine: "...How Californians use water—or more importantly, don’t use it—will have an enormous impact on just how bad this drought becomes, and on whether the Golden State can prepare for a climate that is likely to be even hotter and drier. Here are five ways California could beat the drought.

Drip Irrigation: Agriculture in California uses about 80% of the state’s developed water supply, but without irrigation, fertile farmland like the Central Valley—which alone produces about 8% of the country’s farm product—would go barren..."

Photo credit above: "A once-submerged car exposed at the Almaden Reservoir in San Jose, Calif., Jan. 31, 2014. A punishing drought is sweeping California and much of the West, confronting authorities with the worst water shortage the region has faced in more than a century, with near-empty reservoirs, parched fields, starving livestock, clouds of smog and outbreaks of wildfires." (Jim Wilson/The New York Times).


The Hard Realities Of Life In Paradise: Surviving A Wildfire! In light of record drought and the potential for devastating wildfires across California and much of the western USA, here's an excerpt from a post at Topanga Messenger: "...With record drought in California, 2014 could be one of the most dangerous years for wildfire on record. The recent, unseasonable fire weather this January and the fire on Old Topanga should serve as a wake-up call for us all. It’s time to take proactive steps to make our homes and neighborhoods less vulnerable to wildfire. Given our fire history we know that it’s not a matter of if wildfire will come to Topanga, but when. The bad news is that the Los Angeles County Fire Department estimates that embers caused the ignition of 80 to 90 percent of the homes that burned in recent wildfires..."


When Next Hurricane Hits, Storm Surge Will Be Mapped. Forecasting surge levels is as much an art as a science, as Sandy proved. Here's an excerpt of a post from meteorologist Andrew Freedman at Climate Central: "The next time a hurricane hits the Gulf or Atlantic coast, the National Weather Service will be ready with a new map that it hopes will more effectively communicate the threat of deadly storm surge flooding to the public.The NWS plans to issue "potential storm surge flooding maps" together with tropical storm and hurricane watches beginning with the 2014 hurricane season, the agency announced Friday..." (Map credit: NOAA).

* more details on the upcoming hurricane storm surge forecasts from NOAA NHC.


Dear America: I Saw You Naked. Politico.com has a story that will make you think twice the next time you go through a TSA full-body scanner. Here's an excerpt: "...Just as the long-suffering American public waiting on those security lines suspected, jokes about the passengers ran rampant among my TSA colleagues: Many of the images we gawked at were of overweight people, their every fold and dimple on full awful display. Piercings of every kind were visible. Women who’d had mastectomies were easy to discern—their chests showed up on our screens as dull, pixelated regions..."

* Harrington's TSA (Taking Sense Away) blog is here.


The Prophet Of No Profit. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Jeff Bezos and what he's built at Amazon, short-term profits be damned. Frankly, that's one of the few companies I'd really miss, if it went away. Here's a guy who's looking out 5-10 years, not just the next quarter. Slate has the reveal - here's a clip: "...The prevailing theory in Silicon Valley is that it’s a mistake for new companies to focus too much on developing revenue. People use a social service such as Pinterest in part because many other people are using it. Under the circumstances, it makes sense for a company to focus first and foremost on building a great product and getting people to use it. Once you’ve reached a critical mass of users, then comes the time to think about revenue strategies..."

The Pleasure And Pain Of Speed. The world is speeding up - more stimuli, a daily data dump. Are we hard-wired, genetically, to keep up? Here's a snippet of a fascinating story at Nautilus: "...As life has sped up, we humans have not, at least in our core functioning: Your reaction to stimuli is no faster than your great-grandfather’s. What is changing is the amount of things the world can bring to us, in our perpetual now. But is our ever-quickening life an uncontrolled juggernaut, driven by a self-reinforcing cycle of commerce and innovation, and forcing us to cope with a new social and psychological condition? Or is it, instead, a reflection of our intrinsic desire for speed, a transformation of the external world into the rapid-fire stream of events that is closest to the way our consciousness perceives reality to begin with?..."


Thwarted By The FAA. Yes, there's too much government regulation - of beer deliveries via drone. After this YouTube video went viral the FAA shut down "airmail" deliveries of Lakemaid Beer to thirsty fishermen on Lake Mille Lacs. If you haven't seen the video - it really is pretty amazing.


University of Beyonce. Sign me up. Huffington Post has the blurb - here's an excerpt: "Beyonce is one of the world's most scrutinized pop stars, and now that study is moving to academia. The Department of Women's and Gender Studies at Rutgers University is offering a course called "Politicizing Beyonce..."


For Those Who Can't Get Nearly Enough Bacon. Yep, they're lined up for The Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival - "Baconfest" - at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. If you look carefully you can see a few heart surgeons handing out business cards. Why am I hungry all of a sudden?



22 F. high in the Twin Cities Saturday (1:08 PM).

25 F. average high on February 1.

4 F. high on February 1, 2013.

Trace of snow fell at KMSP International Yesterday.

100% odds we'll see 6 more weeks of winter, no matter what the groundhog says.

Minnesota Weather History on February 1. Source: Twin Cities NWS.

1996: State record low temperature set in Minnesota. With numerous media folk present, the low dipped to -60 three miles south of Tower. Governor Arne Carlson cancelled school statewide due to the cold.

1988: Temperature bottoms out at -43 at Embarrass.

1927: Spring-like temperatures on Groundhog's day. Tracy is 57 and Fairmont reaches 56.


TODAY: Windchill Advisory. 6 more weeks of winter? Yep. Bright sun. AM chill factor: -20F. High: 11

SUNDAY NIGHT: Clear and chilly. Low: -2

MONDAY: A few clouds, no-groan commute. High: 17

TUESDAY: Clouds increase. Snow over Iowa. Wake-up: 4. High: 15

WEDNESDAY: Another puff of fresh air. Wake-up: 1. High: 5

THURSDAY: Cold start. At least the sun's out. Wake-up: -11. High: 3

FRIDAY: Brushed by flurries, coating? Wake-up: -8. High: 8

SATURDAY: Shocker: windy, turning colder. Wake-up: -3. High: 12

* photo above courtesy of Ann Karrick.


Climate Stories....

Can Backyard Hockey Reveal Global Warming? Here's an excerpt from a story at Fox News: "...McLeman and Robertson created RinkWatch, an online citizen science initiative to track the condition of outdoor rinks across North America. Anyone with a backyard rink or frozen pond can sign up and mark the location of their rink on a map. Then all they are asked to do is record, day by day throughout the winter, whether their rink is skateable or not..."


Leading Climate Scientists Explain How Climate Change Is Worsening California's Epic Drought. Here's an excerpt of a must-read story from Joe Romm at ThinkProgress: "Scientists have long predicted that climate change would bring on ever-worsening droughts, especially in semi-arid regions like the U.S. Southwest. As climatologist James Hansen, who co-authored one of the earliest studies on this subject back in 1990, told me this week, “Increasingly intense droughts in California, all of the Southwest, and even into the Midwest have everything to do with human-made climate change.” Why does it matter if climate change is playing a role in the Western drought? As one top researcher on the climate-drought link reconfirmed with me this week, “The U.S. may never again return to the relatively wet conditions experienced from 1977 to 1999.” If his and other projections are correct, then there may be no greater tasks facing humanity than 1) working to slash carbon pollution and avoid the worst climate impact scenarios and 2) figuring out how to feed nine billion people by mid-century in a Dust-Bowl-ifying world..."

Photo credit above: AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli.


There Are Two Sochis. I thought Minnesota climate scientist Greg Laden made an important distinction in this post at scienceblogs.com; here's an excerpt: "...Sochi is a is a resort city on the Black Sea coast with a subtropical climate, including rather mild winters. In February, the average low is 36.5 F, and the average high is 50.7 F. There will be no snow there. In fact, it may rain for part of the Olympics. Krasnaya Polyana is inland, in the Caucasus Mountains. The base elevation there, where we find the Rosa Khutor ski resort, is 1,840 feet, with higher elevations along the ski slopes reaching over 7,600 feet. Indoor events such as hockey will be held in Sochi, outdoor snow events will be held at the resort in Krasnaya Polyana. This has caused some confusion in the on-line discussion of the games..."


Keystone XL Pipeline Closer To Reality After State Department Review. The Guardian has the latest - here's an excerpt: "The Keystone XL, a mundane pipeline project that escalated into a bitter proxy war over climate change and North America's energy future, moved one important step closer to reality on Friday. The State Department, in its final environmental review of the project, concluded that the pipeline, which would carry crude from the Alberta tar sands in Canada to refineries on the Texas Gulf coast, would not – on its own – have a “significant” effect on carbon pollution..."

Photo credit above: "Crews work on construction of the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline east of Winona, Texas." Photograph: Sarah A Miller/AP.


State Department: "Keystone XL Would Have Little Impact On Climate Change." Climate scientists aren't so sure, estimating that the additional crude would eventually represent 1/2 to 1% of global carbon emissions. Here's an excerpt of the official government line from The Los Angeles Times: "A long-awaited environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline released Friday by the State Department found the project would have a negligible impact on climate change, bolstering the case for the controversial project as it heads to the White House for a decision on its construction. During a sweeping speech on climate change last June, President Obama said his main criterion for approving the pipeline was that it not significantly worsen the problem of carbon pollution..."

Image credit above: "The State Department says in a report released Friday that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would have little effect on climate change."


Extreme Weather Is A Reality - The Insurance Industry Must Adapt. Here's the intro to a story at The Guardian: "The atmosphere is heating up and becoming more humid, we can say this with great certainty. This is likely to lead to an increase in extreme weather and more flooding. Recent major catastrophes are entirely consistent with this. Climate change might not cause such events – but it can make them much worse. Since 1980, the cost of natural catastrophes has grown by $870bn in real terms and 2011 was the second costliest year on record for natural catastrophes including devastating floods in Thailand and Australia. Sea levels are rising, most probably at an accelerating rate, and this surely made the impact of Superstorm Sandy worse than it might otherwise have been..." (Image: NASA).


A Change In The Legal Climate. Newsweek reports - here's a snippet: "...For months before those articles, Mann and other climatologists had been speaking among themselves about the need to start fighting back against the attacks on their work and their character. The science is on their side, they argue, and by not responding aggressively against the skeptics, they have allowed the discussion to become derailed. And if critics have slandered or libeled them, they shouldn't stand for it. "If we don't step up to the plate, we leave a vacuum [for] those with an ax to grind," Mann says, while cautioning that he would not specifically address the lawsuit..."

Photo credit above: "As a nasty libel suit moves closer to trial, it’s suddenly getting very hot for some prominent global-warming skeptics." Pawel Kopczynski/Reuters.


Heed The Warnings In Extreme Weather - Or Risk Losing Earth. Or at the very least "business as usual". The Guardian has the story - here's an excerpt: "...Societies do not need to be brought to the verge of starvation to slide into crisis. The social unrests we have seen in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina or more recently in Greece as a result of the financial crisis suggest that also seemingly stable countries are vulnerable to abrupt perturbations. It is the unanticipated impacts on fragile infrastructures and supply networks that constitute the largest threat of global warming. While climate change is often considered to be a problem for the global poor and for fragile ecosystems, the impact of extreme events on the global economic network will test the stability of America as much as that of Europe..."


"I'm A Republican, And I Agree With Obama On Climate Change". Not my words (although they could be), but from Reverend Mitchell Hescox at EEN (full disclosure: I'm on their board of directors). Here's an excerpt from Salon: "...Rev. Mitch Hescox, the president and CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network and a self-identified Republican, finds himself in the middle of that bipartisan divide. In the spirit of evangelical environmentalism, his ideology comes from an interpretation of Christianity that preaches protection of the natural world. But he also argues that a strong Republican history of environmental protection goes along with that. Hexcox writes in Patheos..."

Photo credit: NOAA.