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.

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Cool Clearing (Freeze Watch Brainerd to Duluth area)

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: September 17, 2012 - 1:11 PM

80 F. high in the Twin Cities Sunday.

72 F. average high for September 16.

60 F. high on September 16, 2011.

25-30+ mph wind gusts possible today as colder air arrives.


Freeze Watch Up North. I don't expect a frost or freeze in the immediate metro area, but north of a line from Brainerd to Hinkley temperatures may dip below 30 for 2-3 hours, leading to a hard freeze. Details from the Duluth NWS:




  20S TO LOWER 30S.





Hints of October. After early morning showers skies rapidly cleared, but some of that clearing will fill in with scrappy, lumpy stratocumulus this afternoon with temperatures stuck in the 50s. 1 pm visible loop from WeatherTap.


40 Degree Temperature Drop in 36 Hours. From 80 Sunday afternoon to 40 Tuesday morning, some upper 30s in the outlying suburbs. Most of the metro area, even the outlying suburbs, will probably avoid a killing frost late tonight. Graph: Iowa State.


First 32? According to the Minnesota State Climate Office the average (median) date of the first 32 F. low at MSP International is October 7, but outlying suburbs usually see the first 32-degree temperature the last few days of September. The first killing freeze (28 F. for several hours) is October 20, on average. At the rate we're going we may still see an early frost this season, although I think most suburbs will avoid a frost this week.


Greenland Block. Technically it's a negative phase of the AO (Arctic Oscillation). Translation: the jet stream winds are buckling, plunging Canadian air southward in a pattern that may become temporarily "stuck", at least for the next 1-2 weeks, sending a series of 3-4 separate surges of Canadian air south of the border. Arctic Oscillation trend since June 1 (and prediction for the next week) courtesy of NOAA CPC.


ECMWF: Not Quite As Chilly As Previous Runs. With the latest European model run Mother Nature pulls her cold punch just a bit. Highs may hold in 50s to near 60 Tuesday, a second push of 50s by Friday and Saturday before warming up a bit Sunday, probably the nicer day of next weekend. A third surge of cool air arrives early next week; more 50s by Monday and Tuesday of next week.


One Silver Lining To Today's Cold Front. Rain will bring some of that nasty ragweed pollen to the ground today, resulting in a (rare) Pollen Count in the low range. Graph above courtesy of


"So in the latest 15 year period there were almost twice as many billion dollar plus extreme weather events as in the 15 year period preceding it..." - from a story at The San Diego Free Press; details below. AP photo: Peter Morgan.


"The first eight months of 2012 have gone into the books as the warmest January-August period on record for the continental US, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. The 12-month span ending in August 2012 was the warmest 12 months on record. The summer itself ranks third among the warmest summers on record." - from a Christian Science Monitor article; details below.


"Only the USA has been experiencing extreme heat this year - the rest of the planet has been unusually cool." Sorry, that statement doesn't hold up. Check out global 2012 temperature trends from NASA below.


Typhoon "Sanba". As of Sunday evening Sanba was still a Category 2 typhoon (same thing as hurricane) with sustained winds close to 100 mph. Seoul will be brushed with 30-50 mph wind gusts and 3-6" of rain, the core of strongest winds and heaviest rains passing south/east of South Korea's capital city. Image: Digital Typhoon.


Sanba's Track. The center of the red circle marks the location as of Sunday evening. Sanba will hit the southern/eastern coast of Korea with winds gusting to 80-95 mph before accelerating out to sea Monday night and Tuesday. Forecast map: Japan Meteorological Agency.


A Big Canadian Leak. The 84-hour NAM model shows a chilly blast of air pushing east today and Tuesday, sparking a band of heavy showers and T-storms from the Great Lakes to the east coast, followed by a risk of frost for Michigan and northern Wisconsin Tuesday morning. Model data: NOAA.


2012: Global Warming. I run into a fair number of people who tell me "Paul, yes, the USA had a very hot summer. So what? The rest of the world has been unusually chilly so it all cancels out." Really? The global data set doesn't support that statement. NASA data (above) shows global temperatures anomalies since December, 2011. The upper left graphic shows December - February temperature trends, showing intense warming over North America and far northern latitudes, but a cool bias for portions of Asia. Spring anomalies (upper right) show a fairly uniform warming over most of the planet, the same with summer anomalies (bottom map) - average summer temperatures 3-5 F. warmer than the long-term average for Canada, North Africa and a big chunk of Asia. The data is the data, and the maps above reflect trends seen not just since December of 2011, but since the mid-80s.


Summer Of 2012: Just Hot Or Did We Do It? WJLA-TV meteorologist Bob Ryan does a good job of sorting out the (global) trends from land-use issues and "normal" variations in temperature in this important post; here's an excerpt: "...The long term trend is clear, but the year to year variability is also clear.  I deal with probabilities so I'll go out on a limb and say I think it is unlikely next summer in Washington will be our 4th really hot summer in a row.  Then to answer the question in my title.  Did "we" make the past summer as hot as it was?   I think the answer is no . . . but we sure helped make it hotter than average and our footprints of a warmer world, probably a warmer DC area in the coming decades are clearer and clearer all the time.  Some of my colleagues don't agree.  I look forward to their blogs on climate and if there is a human "footprint" on our environment, climate and weather patterns."


Drought of 2012: Status Quo. Not much change in the U.S. Drought Monitor - the driest conditions from the Midwest into the Central and Southern Plains, a pocket of extreme/exceptional drought over eastern Alabama and Georgia.


Blocking Patterns: How Global Warming May Have Worsened U.S. Drought. Extreme warming over the Arctic is affecting the jet stream patterns, with a greater tendency toward "blocks", holding patterns aloft that can make heat, drought (and flooding) worse. The Christian Science Monitor explains; here's an excerpt: "As the summer of 2012 winds down, with drought and searing temperatures its hallmark for much of the continental United States, researchers are trying to get a better handle on the factors that contribute to the persistence of weather patterns responsible for the extremes.  The immediate culprit: patterns of atmospheric flow that steer storms along a given path for weeks, heating and depriving some areas of needed rain while drenching others. Such blocking patterns are a global phenomena, a normal component of Earth's weather systems. But some researchers suggest that global warming's influence on the Arctic and on the tropics can change circulation patterns in ways that keep blocking patterns in place longer than they otherwise might."

Photo credit above: "Drought-damaged corn is seen in a field near Nickerson, Neb., on Aug. 16." Nati Harnik/AP/File


Getting The Drop On Storms. Hurricane Hunter aircraft drop highly-sensitive weather instruments into hurricanes; these "dropsondes" send back a real-time stream of information that bolsters the high-resolution computer models hurricane forecasters rely on to get a handle on these massive, Texas-size storms. Here's a great explanation of how these instruments work in a post at NCAR's AtmosNews: "Whenever NOAA’s National Hurricane Center (NHC) warns millions of coastal residents about a potential storm, one of the tools backing up the decision is a small and highly sophisticated instrument package developed at NCAR. Dozens of these packages, known as dropsondes, are released at high altitudes by “hurricane hunter” aircraft to transmit data on temperature, pressure, humidity, and wind while descending by parachute through tropical storms and hurricanes. Equipped with GPS technology to pinpoint atmospheric conditions by location, the dropsondes have led to an average 10–20% improvement in track forecasts for the critical 48-hour window in which hurricane watches and warnings are issued, according to the NHC. Those warnings are estimated to save an average of about 200 lives yearly."


Hurricane Climatology. The Tampa office of the National Weather Service has an interesting post, reminding us of a the tragic Hurricane of 1928 (before storms had names) that claimed nearly 2,000 lives across Florida. Other charts include the return frequency of all hurricanes (middle) and major, Category 3+ hurricanes (bottom). Details: "Florida's deadliest hurricane struck on this date back in 1928. The "Okeechobee" hurricane of 1928 made landfall near Palm Beach as a category 4 storm. Over 1800 people lost their lives, mostly from a 6 to 9 foot storm surge on Lake Okeechobee. The bottom two images show the average return date for hurricanes and major hurricanes. On average, Tampa Bay would see a hurricane pass within 50 nautical miles every ten years. Tampa Bay would see a major (category 3 or higher) hurricane pass within 50 nautical miles every 33 years. The last major hurricane to make landfall within 50 miles of Tampa Bay was in 1921!"


"After You". I mean, what were these guys thinking? 




iPhone 5: Everything You Need To Know. Did you hear, Apple just came out with a new smartphone? does a nice job of summarizing the iPhone 5; here's an excerpt: "The new iPhone 5 is here. It's thinner and faster than ever, with a new form factor that uses a gorgeous panoramic screen with more resolutions and less consumption. It also surfs the web much faster, thanks to its new LTE capabilities. And, just as we knew, it has a new smaller dock connector called Lightning. Overall, it seems they have incrementally improved every single aspect of the iPhone. It's not a revolutionary phone, but it is a very nice release."


"Fair, Balanced, And Not Especially Good at Geography." Hey, cut us a break, it was spot news and there was a new guy on Chyron who got a little confused. It's those crazy southern states anyway. Who cares where Missouri, Alabama and Mississippi are on a silly map anyway. We got Texas right!



Last 80 of 2012? Probably Not. I base that on the overall trends: this year is the warmest on record (to date) and long range guidance is hinting at 70s and 80s the last few days of September. But a definite correction is shaping up through at least the middle of next week. Sunday highs ranged from 80 in the Twin Cities to 81 St. Cloud and 83 Redwood Falls.


On This Date in Weather History (courtesy of the Twin Cities National Weather Service):

1955: A late-season tornado hits Koochiching County. Most damage was confined to trees.

1911: Pipestone is hit with baseball-sized hail that smashes numerous windows at the Calumet Hotel and high school. The local observer measured hail three inches deep. People got their photos taken in automobiles surrounded by the icy white ground.



Paul's Star Tribune Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:


TODAY: Windy and cool with a mix of clouds and sun. Winds: NW 15-25. High: 59


MONDAY NIGHT: Freeze Watch up north (no frost/freeze for the immediate metro). Low: 40


TUESDAY: Chilly start. Bright sun, breezy. High: 59


WEDNESDAY: Next clipper. Milder, patchy clouds. Low: 46. High: near 70


THURSDAY: Partly sunny, cooler. Low: 49. High: 64


FRIDAY: Mix of clouds & sun, brisk. Low: 45. High: 62


SATURDAY: Sunny start, PM clouds, cool wind. Low: 39. High: 59


SUNDAY: Fading sun, brief warm-up. Low: 43. High: 69



Why Weather?


Why weather? I'm not smart enough to be a lawyer or doctor. I'm still mesmerized by storms; they remind me how small, insignificant and powerless I really am.

On sunny, quiet days I can turn to my wife for that.

There's the intellectual challenge of predicting the future, and the communications challenge: choosing the right words to paint a picture in the mind of the reader. Great toys (um technology) too. That, and every day is different. Weather patterns may be similar, but never identical. Tough to get stuck in a boring rut.

Especially this year. No snow is in sight for the metro area through the end of the month. Where else does the weather guy have to put that down on paper in mid-September? A light frost can't be ruled out for far outlying suburbs Tuesday morning, but right now I don't see a widespread frost/freeze for most suburbs. It doesn't look quite as cold as it did 24 hours ago.

A blocking pattern over Greenland keeps a family of windblown clippers pumping chilly air into Minnesota thru early next week. The first reality check arrives today with showers; by tomorrow there will be NO doubt in your mind that it's meteorological autumn.

Don't write off warmth just yet: 70s, even a few 80s are possible the last few days of September.


Climate Stories...


Extreme Weather Watch: The Effects Of Global Warming Are Here Right Now. Here's an excerpt from a story at The San Diego Free Press: "Even those global warming deniers can’t escape the fact that the weather events causing a billion dollars or more of damage and destruction are piling up at an increasing rate. The National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) is the Nation’s Scorekeeper in terms of addressing severe weather/climate events. The NCDC tracks and evaluates climate events in the U.S. and globally that have great economic and societal impacts. The U.S. has sustained 133 weather/climate disasters since 1980 where overall damages/costs reached or exceeded $1 billion - assuming Consumer Price Index (CPI) adjustment to 2012. 46 of these events occurred between 1980 and 1995 and 87 occurred between 1996 and 2011."


Global Warming: How Fast Will The Ice Melt? Here's a clip from a recent story at The Summit County Citizens Voice: "It’s pretty clear that glaciers and ice fields have been melting the past few decades under relentless global warming. But scientists aren’t sure exactly how fast the melting will proceed, whether it will speed up, or perhaps stabilize at some point. A new study looking back at historic changes in response to climate variations may help answer some of those questions. The research shows that glaciers on Canada’s Baffin Island expanded rapidly during a brief cold snap about 8,200 years ago, suggesting that changes can be sudden and drastic."
Photo credit above: "Research finds that ice sheets can be very sensitive to short-term temperature variations." Photo by Bob Berwyn.

In the Future Living In U.S. Will Be More Neighborly. I hope this extended outlook proves prescient; details from The Detroit Free Press; here's an excerpt: "In the next American metropolis, people will live in smaller homes, relax in smaller yards, park their smaller cars in smaller spots. They will be closer to work, to play and, above all, to one another. Global warming will be a fait accompli in 30 years, and so these urban Americans will raise their own food, in fields and on rooftops, and build structures to withstand everything from hurricane winds to Formosan termites. They will walk and ride more and drive less. And they will like it. This is the future envisioned by Andres Duany, architect, town planner, teacher and polemicist. And the future, he will tell you, is his business."


Saving The Ozone Layer: Lessons For Fighting Climate Change. Here's an excerpt of an article from NRDC and Huffington Post: "....Now that CFCs have been eliminated through the Montreal Protocol, the ozone layer has started to repair itself and to restore its capacity to shield us from disease. Just phasing out the U.S. portion of CFCs will prevent nearly 300 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer in America and many more worldwide by the year 2165. The effort to restore the ozone layer is a resounding public health and environmental success -- one in which I am proud to say NRDC played a central role. It is a testament to the human community's ability to solve global problems. And it is proof we can do it faster and cheaper than originally thought. Now it is time to apply the lessons learned in the ozone achievement to the fight against another planetary crisis: climate change."

Image above: NASA.


Fossil Fuel Industry Ads Dominate TV Campaign. Have you noticed any commercials for "clean coal" in recent weeks? Me too. Details on the geyser of fossil-fuel money involved in this year's presidential campaign from The New York Times; here's an excerpt: "When Barack Obama first ran for president, being green was so popular that oil companies like Chevron were boasting about their commitment to renewable energy, and his Republican opponent, John McCain, supported action on global warming. As Mr. Obama seeks re-election, that world is a distant memory. Some of the mightiest players in the oil, gas and coal industries are financing an aggressive effort to defeat him, or at least press him to adopt policies that are friendlier to fossil fuels. And the president’s former allies in promoting wind and solar power and caps on greenhouse gases? They are disenchanted and sitting on their wallets."


Forecast The Core Facts On Climate Change. Doug Craig has had enough, and he's not mincing words in his latest "Climate of Change" post at I'm not sure name-calling is the answer, although I'm amused when people call me a "warmist" or "alarmist". The trends are in fact, alarming. Just calling it like it is. Here's an excerpt from the post: "Calling the deniers by the name deniers is too kind. A better name would be saboteurs. A saboteur is someone who engages in sabotage. "Sabotage is a deliberate action aimed at weakening another entity through subversion, obstruction, disruption, or destruction." The saboteurs have one aim. Delay. They pretend to participate in this process in good faith but they cannot be trusted. Nothing they say can be believed. They offer us nothing. They come in the name of science but they deliberately deceive. They are the enemies of the Earth, our children, their own children, future generations, the poor and non-human life. They are essentially a destructive or negative force in the world. Some of them do this consciously. They know the truth and deliberately choose to lie. Others are simply misinformed, easily misled or closed to new information that conflicts with their core beliefs and values...."

80s Return (growing severe risk into midweek)

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: May 22, 2012 - 12:09 PM

74 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities Monday.

71 F. average high for May 21.

73 F. high temperature on May 21, 2011.

+5.8 F. May temperatures through the first 20 days of May are running nearly 6 degrees warmer than average.

1.32" rain predicted for the Twin Cities by Thursday afternoon.

90 F. possible Sunday afternoon, probably the hottest, most humid day of the holiday weekend - best day up at the lake?


Severe Risk Later Today. SPC has much of the Dakotas and Minnesota's Red River Valley in a slight risk of severe storms; the biggest concerns: large hail and damaging straight-line winds.


Wednesday Severe Threat. The greatest chance of severe weather tomorrow stretches from central Nebraska into southwest Minnesota. I suspect a few storms may approach severe levels in the Twin Cities metro by evening.


Extended Outlook. The wettest day of the week (according to the European ECMWF model): Thursday, with over 1.4" of rain predicted. Scattered T-storms are likely over the holiday weekend (big surprise); Sunday still looks like the hottest day - if the sun comes out Sunday afternoon temperatures may shoot up into the 90s. Saturday appears to be the coolest day, highs near 70.


"One of the new descriptions, written in cooperation with social scientists, informs those in the storm path: “You could be killed if not underground or in a tornado shelter.” Another warns: “Complete destruction of entire neighborhoods is likely.”....“We were ringing the bell a little louder,” Hudson said. “That’s one of the lessons learned from Joplin".- from a Joplin Globe story highlighted below that describes the new, more dire and urgent terminology used by local NWS offices during "tornado emergencies" - when large, violent, killer tornadoes are on the ground, moving toward urban areas. Photo above: NOAA.


27 glaciers left at Glacier National Park. In 1910 there were 150 glaciers. Photo courtesy of USGS.


May 22, 2011 Minneapolis Tornado. Here's a good overview of last year's violent tornado outbreak in the close-in suburbs and North Minneapolis, from the Twin Cities office of The National Weather Service: "The severe weather season is definitely starting off in a big way this year, not only in Minnesota, but all across the country. On Sunday, May 22, there were 56 reports of tornadoes extending from northeastern Oklahoma, up the Mississippi Valley to northern Wisconsin. The strongest hit was Joplin, Missouri where at least 125 people have lost their lives and thousands are displaced from their homes. In Minnesota, there were reports in Fillmore, Hennepin, Anoka, and Washington Counties of tornadoes and property damage. Here is a radar image, taken at 2:19cst on May 22 that shows the pronounced hook echo southwest of Columbia Heights moving to the northwest at 35 miles per hour. Early estimates by the National Weather Service of the strength of the tornado in Minneapolis is a high end EF1 to EF2 tornado with winds between 100 and 125 miles per hour. The majority of the damage came from mature trees being uprooted and falling on houses and vehicles. Tragically, one man lost his life when a tree fell on his vehicle in North Minneapolis....The storms in the Twin Cities took on a familiar path for residents. On May 10, 2011 an EF1 tornado moved through St. Michael, Minnesota tearing the roof off a house and a severe thunderstorm-- close to developing a tornado-- moved northeast through the downtown area causing golf ball sized hail falling on players and fans at the Twins vs. Tigers game. This severe weather event was also caused by a low pressure system that developed on the lee side of the Rocky Mountains and took a similar track across Minnesota, thus leading to the similar storm paths."


Remembering The Tornadoes Of May 22, 2011. Here's an informative look back at last year's outbreak, the tornadoes that proved major metro areas are not immune to violent winds. Details from the local National Weather Service: "A 3-D look at the Minneapolis tornado from the Chanhassen radar. The "column of red" is a descending core of air moving away from the radar that can sometimes be seen when stronger tornadic storms are close to a radar (greens represent air moving toward and reds away from the radar). The first image where a column appears is when the storm was near I-394 and MN-100 (fourth image in loop), which is where the tornado touched down. This feature began to fall apart as it moved into Anoka county. This coincides with the tornado weakening as it moved through Fridley."


Tropical Depression Alberto. Weakened by wind shear, Alberto fizzled into a tropical depression late Monday, now pushing east, out to sea - not a threat to the Carolina coast. Visible satellite loop capable of CIMSS, and the University of Wisconsin.


Alberto's Track. In the end wind shear aloft was too strong for Alberto, which was downgraded to a tropical depression Monday evening. In spite of drifting over warmer, Gulf Stream waters (low 80s) strong winds aloft shredded the storm, preventing it from strengthening. Above is a map from, showing the projected track of the soggy remains of Alberto in the coming days.


Pond-size Puddles By Thursday? A slow-moving cool front may squeeze out an inch or two of rain on much of Minnesota Wednesday night and Thursday. Graphic: University of Iowa.


Rainfall Predictions. Once again the heaviest rains (over 1") are forecast to fall from St. Cloud to Crosby and Duluth. Some 2"+ amounts are forecast for the Duluth area, closer to .5" to 1" for the Twin Cities, based on the latest NAM model.


Outlook: Drippy Dew Points. The dew point (an absolute measure of how much water is in the air) is forecast to reach the mid 60s by tomorrow, possibly flirting with 70 by Sunday, up in the oh-zone. Neighbors and friends will be whining about the humidity by Sunday afternoon, no question.


May 19 Kingman And Harper County Tornadoes. Here's an update from the Wichita office of The National Weather Service; one of the tornadoes was a large, violent EF-3 twister.


Weather Service Implements Storm Warning Changes After 2011 Tornadoes. Here's a good article from The Joplin Globe: "JOPLIN, Mo. — The May 22 tornado changed more than just Joplin. It also changed the way people get information about severe weather and the way the National Weather Service informs people about the severity of storms. But one thing has not changed. Eric Wise, the meteorologist who gave Joplin 20 minutes to prepare for the seventh deadliest tornado in U.S. history, is still on the job at the weather service forecast office in Springfield. The Springfield native can recall May 22 as if it were yesterday. “I was watching three different radars — Tulsa, Springfield and Pleasant Hill — as the main storm moved out of Southeast Kansas,” he said. “At 5 p.m., it looked like it would be no more than a shower." Image above: NOAA.


Details On The Joplin Tornado. More facts from NOAA on the extreme EF-5 tornado that hit Joplin, Missouri one year ago today: "On May 22, 2011, one of the deadliest tornadoes in United States history struck Joplin, Missouri, directly killing 158 people and injuring over 1,000. The tornado, rated EF-5 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, with maximum winds over 200 mph, affected a significant part of a city with a population of more than 50,000 and a population density near 1,500 people per square mile. As a result, the Joplin tornado was the first single tornado in the United States to result in over 100 fatalities since the Flint, Michigan, tornado of June 8, 1953. The tornado was rated EF-5 on the Enhanced-Fujita Scale, with its maximum winds estimated at more than 200 mph. The path of the entire tornado was 22.1 miles long and was up to 1 mile in width. The EF-4/EF-5 damage path was roughly 6 miles long from near Schifferdecker Avenue along the western portions of Joplin to near Interstate 44 east of Joplin, and generally ½ to ¾ of a mile wide along the path."


More Joplin Details. More information on the historic Joplin EF-5 from the NWS Central Region: "A large portion of Joplin, Missouri was devastated by an EF-5 (greater than 200 mph) tornado, resulting in 158 fatalities and over 1,000 injured in the Joplin, MO area. The Joplin tornado is the deadliest since modern record-keeping began in 1950 and is ranked 7th among the deadliest tornadoes in the U.S. history. The tornado surpassed the June 8, 1953 tornado that claimed 116 lives in Flint, Michigan, as the deadlist single tornado to strike the U.S. since modern tornado record-keeping began in 1950. The deadiest tornado on record in the U.S. was on March 18, 1925. The "Tri-State Tornado" (MO, IL, IN) had a 291-mile path, was rated F5, based on an historic assessment, and caused 695 fatalities. More information on 2011 Tornado statistics can be found at the following web site:


A Year After Joplin Tornado, Records Show Twister Was The Costliest Since 1950. Details from AP and The Star Tribune: "JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - The cost of 30 manhole covers that got sucked away: $5,800. A new concession stand at the destroyed high school: $228,600. Shelter and care for more than 1,300 homeless pets: $372,000. The tornado that tore through Joplin a year ago already ranks as the deadliest twister in six decades. Now it carries another distinction — the costliest since at least 1950. Insurance policies are expected to cover most of the $2.8 billion in damage. But taxpayers could supply about $500 million in the form of federal and state disaster aid, low-interest loans and local bonds backed by higher taxes, according to records obtained by The Associated Press and interviews with federal, state and local officials."

Photo credit above: "FILE - This May 24, 2011 aerial file photograph shows a neighborhood destroyed by a powerful tornado in Joplin, Mo. The Federal Emergency Management Agency said Monday, May 30, 2011 that it will consider bringing in trailers, as it did for New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, if enough homes are not available."


Safe Boating Week. This is Safe Boating Week in Minnesota - details from the Twin Cities National Weather Service: "There are no specific warnings or advisories for lightning, but all thunderstorms produce lightning. A lightning strike to a vessel can be catastrophic, especially if it results in a fire or loss of electronics. If your boat has a cabin, then stay inside and avoid touching metal or electrical devices. If your boat doesn't have a cabin, stay as low as you can in the boat. Boaters should use extra caution when thunderstorm conditions exist and have a plan of escape. Mariners are especially vulnerable as at times they may be unable to reach port quickly. It is therefore strongly recommended you do not venture out if thunderstorms are a possibility."

Statistics The United States Coast Guard's boating statistics show on average that 80% of all reported fatalities occur on boats where the operator has not received safety training. Learn about boating accident statistics.

Life Jacket Types There are a variety of life jackets and they are designed for different uses. Many drownings could have been prevented if life jackets were used. Learn more about life jackets and how to properly use them by visiting the Life Jacket Resource website. When out on the water - WEAR A LIFE JACKET!


National Hurricane Preparedness Week. Next week is National Hurricane Preparedness Week, and NOAA has resources on Facebook to answer commonly asked questions: "As we get ready for National Hurricane Preparedness Week -- May 27 to June 2, 2012-- and as part of NOAA's efforts to improve communication about storm surge, the NOAA launched a new storm surge web site. Take a look…"


A Colorful Ocean. Here's an explanation from NOAA's Environmental Visualization Laboratory: "The average chlorophyll concentration during April 2012 is shown here using data acquired from the MODIS sensor on board the NASA Aqua satellite. Phytoplankton blooms can be seen all along the coastline of North and South America, and are monitored by NOAA for use in determining productive fishing grounds, managing coastal ecosystems, and identifying potential human health impacts from harmful algal blooms."


Only In Kansas. Here's a great photo (not for broadcast) from Mike Smith Enterprises Blog: "A just-married couple sharing a first kiss, bountiful ripe wheat, and a landspout tornado*. The photo, in Harper County, is by Cate Eighmey Phototgraphy and the couple is Caleb James Pence and Candra Kim Pence via Facebook. *The tornado is the bowed, narrow tube midday between Caleb's hat and the tree on the horizon."

Dan Rather: Corporate Media "Is In Bed With" Washington (Video). Monday's are tough enough without conspiracy theories, but this might be worth a look - I wouldn't dismiss this out of hand; details from Huffington Post: "Dan Rather slammed corporate media on Friday night, alleging that news coverage is guided by political interests and profits. The former CBS News anchor has recently returned to the spotlight, speaking out about his former employer and defending the controversial Bush National Guard story that ended his storied career at the network. On Friday, Rather appeared on Bill Maher's show to discuss his new book "Rather Outspoken." He spoke out about the controversy again, and stood by his story (his comments start at the 1:50 mark in the video above). He said that he was fired because CBS News caved into the Bush administration's demands."


Blind Chinese Dissident Already Sick of Kardashians. This headline could only come from one source, one of my favorite comedy sites, The Borowitz Report: "In his first interview since arriving in America, blind Chinese activist Cneh Guangcheng told reporters today that he is grateful to be in the United States but is already "sick of these Kardashians." "Who are they, and what do they do?" Chen asked. "I have asked these questions of many people, and no one will answer me. It seems to be some kind of state secret." After being monitored for years by Chinese authorities, Chen said he finds the omnipresence of the Kardashians "troubling". "It almost feels as though I have traded one kind of tyranny for another," he said.


Probable Cause To Impound a BMW? Check out the license plate, and the back-seat passenger. That's a dude driving that 3-series BMW convertible. I have nothing against poodles, but this is just...wrong. Thanks to Tricia Frostad in Chanhassen for passing this along. Another sign of the pending Apocalypse.


Perfect Monday. Oxymoron - I know, but what a day. Brilliant sun, gentle breezes, low humidity levels, as good as it gets in May. Highs ranged from 67 at Grand Marais to 74 in the Twin Cities, and 75 at St. Cloud and Redwood Falls.
The Star Tribune On-Air Weather Team. From left to right, Bryan Karrick, Susie Martin, Katie Ferrier, Doug Kruhoeffer (who?), David Neal, Gretchen Mishek, Rob Kock (missing the top of his head - sorry), Kristin Clark, Todd Nelson and Aaron Shaffer. Addison Green is the newest member of the team (not pictured).



Paul's Star Tribune Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:


TODAY: Warm sun, windy. Feels like summer again. Storms north. Winds: S 15-30. High: 82


TUESDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy and muggy. Low: 62


WEDNESDAY: Increasing clouds. Strong PM T-storms possible. High: 83


THURSDAY: Lingering showers & heavy T-storms. Drying out late in the day. Low: 65. High: 80


FRIDAY: Cooler. Shower, then clearing. NW 7-12. Low: 56. High: 71


SATURDAY: Muggy, heavy T-storms likely. E 10. Low: 55. High: 72


SUNDAY: Hot sun, steamy. Best day at the lake? Dew point: near 70 Winds: S 10-20. Low: 64. High: 91


MEMORIAL DAY: Less sun, few T-storms likely. Winds: W 7-12. Low: 64. High: 81


Aftermath. In March, 2000 downtown Fort Worth took a direct hit from a violent tornado, killing 5, injuring hundreds. Photo courtesy of "Restless Skies."


"Downtown Tornadoes"

A year ago today was a violent wake-up call for people who still believe tornadoes can't hit cities. The same day Joplin, Missouri was leveled by a mile-wide EF-5 tornado packing 200 mph winds - a swarm of 11 tornadoes hit Minnesota, western Wisconsin and northeast Iowa. The EF-1 tornado that touched down in Golden Valley and ripped up North Minneapolis was on the ground for 14 miles; half a mile wide, ripping mature, 100-year old trees out by the roots, damaging hundreds of homes.

It could have been worse. A 2000 Ft Worth tornado hit after rush hour, shredding skyscraper walls/windows, leaving 5 dead. Oklahoma City has been hit 112 times since 1890! If you live or work downtown you're not immune. The safest spot is usually a concrete stairwell or interior rest room. Take warnings seriously, and buy a NOAA Weather Radio.

The next 4-6 weeks are prime time for severe storms and tornadoes.

We heat up into midweek; the next frontal zone pushing more strong/severe storms into town Wednesday & Thursday

We cool off late week; another wave of heavy T-storms Saturday before breaking out into 90-degree sun on Sunday.

Memorial Day? Three guesses. Sticky with heavy T-storms.


Climate Stories...


Why Do Economists Describe Climate Change As A "Market Failure"? No, the (true) price of carbon is not factored into everything we purchase or use, as this article at The Guardian explains: "When free markets do not maximise society's welfare, they are said to 'fail' and policy intervention may be needed to correct them. Many economists have describedclimate change as an example of a market failure – though in fact a number of distinct market failures have been identified. The core one is the so-called 'greenhouse-gas externality'. Greenhouse gas emissions are a side-effect of economically valuable activities. Most of the impacts of emissions do not fall on those conducting the activities – instead they fall on future generations or people living in developing countries, for example – so those responsible for the emissions do not pay the cost."

Photo credit above: "Markets have made a calmer start to the week." Photograph: Tony Gentile/REUTERS


The Week Ahead: EPA To Hold Hearings On Carbon Dioxide Limits For Power Plants. Here's an excerpt of a story at Bloomberg BNA: "The Environmental Protection Agency will hold two public hearings May 24 in Washington, D.C., and Chicago on Clean Air Act new source performance standards that would limit carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants. As detailed in a World Climate Change Report article, the proposed NSPS, issued April 12, would limit emissions from new fossil fuel-fired power plants with a generating capacity greater than 25 megawatts to 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour. The rule is expected to further the power industry trend toward cheaper and cleaner natural gas power plants."


The "Great Big Book Of Horrible Things": WWII And Climate Change. This is an interesting (and vaguely troubling) article, from ABC News; here's an excerpt: "Sometimes, a little humor is indispensable. Matthew White uses it elegantly in the title of his fascinating new, big and easy-to-read reference book. “The Great Big Book of Horrible Things: The Definitive Chronicle of History’s 100 Worst Atrocities” is a bright door stopper and mind opener. That jaunty title, which often brings a smile to those to whom I mention it, even hints at one reason we may have evolved humor in the first place: A little sugar can make the worst sort of important news at least palatable, so we can swallow it, get it down to where we can try to digest it. And with a growing number of the world’s climate scientists now speaking publicly about the grave global “catastrophe” and the imminent “threat to global civilization” now building in the form of manmade global warming, White’s book offers a simple, painful lesson. It reminds us that humanity has often and recently failed to prevent collective calamity, even when many people can see it coming and try to warn everyone." Photo: Wikipedia.


Book It, We're Toast. The Fate Of The Species. Don't read this if you're already in a bad new. Alarmism? I sure hope so; here's an excerpt from Climate Central: "If you grew up in the 1950’s and early 60’s, you probably remember the faint air of existential angst that lingered constantly in the background. With the creation of atomic weapons, and the booming stockpiles of missile-mounted bombs in the arsenals of the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., it seemed perfectly plausible that an all-out nuclear war could wipe out a significant fraction of the world’s population — the first time in history that humanity was capable of such destruction. But as Fred Guterl says in a sobering, important and highly readable new book, those were really the good old days. The nuclear threat has receded, he acknowledges in The Fate of the Species: Why the human race may cause its own extinction and how we can stop it (Bloomsbury: $25), but warns that “the success of Homo sapiens has created new and terrifying risks that didn’t exist a few decades ago.”


Arctic Melt Releasing Ancient Methane. Here's a snippet of a story from The BBC: "Scientists have identified thousands of sites in the Arctic where methane that has been stored for many millennia is bubbling into the atmosphere. The methane has been trapped by ice, but is able to escape as the ice melts. Writing in the journal Nature Geoscience, the researchers say this ancient gas could have a significant impact on climate change. Methane is the second most important greenhouse gas after CO2 and levels are rising after a few years of stability."

Photo credit above: UAF/Nature Geoscience.

* the actual research paper from is here.


Pollution In Thunderhead Increases Global Warming. Here's a story from TG Daily: "Pollution is leading thunderstorm clouds to capture heat, increasing global warming in a way that climate models have failed to take into account. It strengthens them, causing their anvil-shaped tops to spread out high in the atmosphere and capture heat, especially at night, says Jiwen Fan of the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. "Global climate models don't see this effect because thunderstorm clouds simulated in those models do not include enough detail," says Fan. "The large amount of heat trapped by the pollution-enhanced clouds could potentially impact regional circulation and modify weather systems."


Can Global Warming Be Contained? A Multi-Media Answer. Here's a fascinating article from "Click on the link to see a thoroughly comprehensive infographic, a text version of the content, and a video highlighting key data on the infographic. Plus, you can answer their poll question. The infographic is fun, but read the text for details.  It starts with a succinct description of global warming, and provides many interesting and alarming facts, such as:

  • A reflection of the depletion of glaciers, the Glacier National Park in Montana, United States, has fewer than twenty-seven glaciers now, in comparison to over 150 glaciers in 1910. This is a decrease of about 87% in the number of glaciers.
  • In 2004, it was reported that Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world, is losing about 4 inches annually because of global warming.


Climate Change Hits Globe's Water Cycle. has the details: "LIVERMORE, Calif., May 21 (UPI) -- The Earth's dry lands are getting drier and wet ones wetter as climate change shifts and accelerates the globe's water cycle, U.S. researchers say. Changing patterns of salinity in the global ocean during the past 50 years show a clear fingerprint of climate change on the shift in worldwide rainfall and evaporation, they said. Scientists with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California along with colleagues at Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization say the Earth's water cycle has strengthened by 4 percent 1950-2000."


The Titanic, Climate Change And Avoidable Tragedies. That's a mouthful, but this Huffington Post article is a worthy read; here's an excerpt: "One of the most legendary maritime disasters was the 1912 sinking of the RMS Titanic. In a pivotal scene in James Cameron's 1997 film, master shipbuilder Thomas Andrews looks around the magnificent foyer of the grand staircase, swarming with frantic passengers. Rose Bukater asks how serious the situation is. Says Andrews: "In an hour or so, all this will be at the bottom of the Atlantic." The tragedy that was Titanic presents us with some sobering parallels to the great environmental challenges facing our civilization in the 21st century. Titanic suffered a cascading disaster in which sea water from one ruptured compartment spilled over the bulkhead into the next, inexorably causing the ship to founder. Analogously, as our ever-increasing human demands for energy, water, housing, transportation and agricultural land run up against the immovable iceberg that is human carrying capacity, we are witnessing the cascading failure of our fragile terrestrial support systems. Both calamities are the result of a collision between human over-confidence and the implacable forces of nature." Photo: Wikipedia.


Let's End Polluter Welfare. Here's a post from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders at Huffington Post: "At a time when we have more than $15 trillion national debt, American taxpayers are set to give away over $110 billion dollars to the oil, gas, and coal industries over the next decade. Clearly, we cannot afford it. When the five largest oil companies made over $1 trillion in profits in the last decade, with some paying no federal income taxes for part of that time, they certainly do not need it. It is time we end this corporate welfare in the form of massive subsidies and tax breaks to hugely profitable fossil fuel corporations. It is time for Congress to support the interests of the taxpayer instead of powerful special interests like the oil and coal industries. That is I joined with Congressman Keith Ellison to introduce legislation in the Senate and the House called the End Polluter Welfare Act. Our proposal is backed by grassroots and public-interest organizations including, Friends of the Earth, Taxpayers for Common Sense, and many others."


Fracking In New York: For Farmers Gas Drilling Could Mean Salvation - Or Ruin. Here's a clip of a story at Huffington Post: "ALBANY, N.Y. -- When Dan Fitzsimmons looks across the Susquehanna River and sees the flares of Pennsylvania gas wells, he thinks bitterly of the riches beneath his own land locked up by the heated debate that has kept hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, out of New York. "I go over the border and see people planting orchards, buying tractors, putting money back in their land," said Fitzsimmons, a Binghamton landowner who heads the 70,000-member Joint Landowners Coalition of New York. "We'd like to do that too, but instead we struggle to pay the taxes and to hang onto our farms."

Photo credit above: "In this Feb. 2, 2012 file photo, organic dairy farmer Siobhan Griffin stands in a field with her cows a field at Raindance Farm in Westville, N.Y. While other states are reaping the wealth of the Marcellus Shale, New York has had a moratorium on drilling for four years while it overhauls regulations amid intense lobbying for a ban. Griffin, who raises grass-fed cows and sells organic cheese, doesn’t see gas as the answer. (AP Photo/Mike Groll, File)."


Fighting Climate Change With Low-Tech Tools. Another must-read article from Bloomberg; here's an excerpt: "In the late 1990s, regulators in some U.S. states began to make electric utilities sell their nuclear reactors to private operators. They weren’t trying to help head off climate change, yet they managed to do just that. Deregulation was supposed to bring down power prices. The sale of nuclear plants to nonutility owners, such as Exelon Corp. (EXC), was part of the process and was intended to serve that goal. But it also helped offset more greenhouse gas emissions in the 2000s than all of the wind and solar generation in the country combined. Increased nuclear output is an example of what I call “low- tech cleantech,” or the intelligent management of our energy infrastructure to make it more efficient. A small improvement in nuclear operations can have a much bigger impact than double- digit growth in renewable power sources for a simple reason: Nuclear reactors today generate far more of the U.S.’s electricity than wind turbines and solar panels."


Heartland Institute Facing Uncertain Future As Staff Depart And Cash Dries Up. Here's an excerpt of a story from The Guardian: "The first Heartland Institute conference on climate change in 2008 had all the trappings of a major scientific conclave – minus large numbers of real scientists. Hundreds of climate change contrarians, with a few academics among them, descended into the banquet rooms of a lavish Times Square hotel for what was purported to be a reasoned debate about climate change. But as the latest Heartland climate conference opens in a Chicago hotel on Monday, the thinktank's claims to reasoned debate lie in shreds and its financial future remains uncertain."


On Blogging, Comments...And Online Civil Discourse. Here's a portion of a post from St. Thomas professor and climate scientist John Abraham at The Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Environment: "A recent posting on The Yale Forum on Climate Change & the Media website linked to a very long piece regarding climate change by Christopher Monckton. "As a practicing scientist, I recognize and value the role that The Yale Forum plays in furthering civil discussion on this topic. As a society, we have too few venues of this type where ideas can be discussed, solutions proposed, and our preconceptions challenged. It is not difficult to appreciate the dilemma faced by editors of sites like The Yale Forum when submissions such as that cited are offered, particularly when, as here, the respondent is addressing an earlier posting in which he or she was specifically named."


To See Climate Change, Watch The Sea. Here's an excerpt of a story at "THE Earth turns white when a change in large-scale ocean circulation triggers a sudden worldwide shift toward freezing temperatures. You may remember this apocalyptic scenario as the climax of the 2004 US movie The Day After Tomorrow. But how many of us are aware that the ocean can dramatically effect our climate in reality? In addition to well-known currents near the surface of the sea, such as the Kuroshio current around the coast of south east Asia, Japan and China, there is a massive global current that flows unseen in the deep, thousands of metres below the surface, called oceanic general circulation." Photo credit: Jefferson Beck, NASA.


Climate Scientists Say They Have Solved Riddle Of Rising Sea. Here's a clip from a story at Yahoo News: "Massive extraction of groundwater can resolve a puzzle over a rise in sea levels in past decades, scientists in Japan said on Sunday. Global sea levels rose by an average of 1.8 millimetres (0.07 inches) per year from 1961-2003, according to data from tide gauges. But the big question is how much of this can be pinned to global warming. In its landmark 2007 report, the UN's Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) ascribed 1.1mm (0.04 inches) per year to thermal expansion of the oceans -- water expands when it is heated -- and to meltwater from glaciers, icecaps and the Greenland and Antarctica icecaps."

Climate Change As An Afterthought. Here's a portion of an Op-Ed from The Bangkok Post: "...However, there are certain steps that could make an immediate difference and that would involve little political risk. As the summit statement in Pittsburgh noted: ''Enhancing our energy efficiency can play an important, positive role in promoting energy security and fighting climate change''. The statement also said ''inefficient fossil fuel subsidies encourage wasteful consumption, distort markets, impede investment in clean energy sources and undermine efforts to deal with climate change''. This is a very important point, and it can be taken a bit further. Until the true costs of fossil fuels are taken into account, clean energy sources will continue to be at a great disadvantage in attracting investment. These costs include not only climate change but also the deterioration of air quality and the potential for more catastrophic accidents at sea, such as the one in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010."


More March (potential for a real snowstorm in 2 weeks?)

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: February 5, 2012 - 10:00 AM

36 F. high temperature in the cities on Saturday. Fog gradually gave way to peeks of blue sky.

26 F. average high for February 4.

34 F. high temperature a year ago, on February 4, 2011.

0" snow depth at KMSP.

14.9" snowfall so far this winter in the Twin Cities (MSP International Airport).

60.4" snowfall as of February 4, 2011.


2,890 daily high temperature records were broken or tied in January across the USA. That's 4 times the number of record highs reached or surpassed last year. Source: NOAA.


Happy National Weatherperson's Day! didn't know? Neither did I. Tantalizing details below.


A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.”   -  John James Audubon, Wildlife Artist/Author


"Hoar Frost" and "Advection Frost" reported across much of Minnesota. Details below.

Superbowl Forecast for Indianapolis: mostly sunny, high of 45 F.


Andy Gabrielson: 1987-2012. I'm so sorry to have to pass along news of the death of Andy Gabrielson, one of America's most prolific and passionate storm chasers. He was involved in a fatal traffic accident (drunk driver traveling the wrong way on I-44 in Oklahoma), resulting in this tragedy. Andy had a knack for being in the right place at the right time - during a typical severe season he would capture scores of tornadoes. He even won a Regional Emmy in 2011. But Andy did more than just capture amazing videos - he tended to tornado survivors; often he was the first person on the scene. He cared about weather, but more important, Andy cared about people.  He had a huge heart, he was a terrific human being, and he will be missed by everyone that knew him and appreciated his many talents. More from Kory Hartman from Severe Studios: "Some very sad news to report tonight: my good friend and storm chaser Andy Gabrielson was killed on I-44 in Oklahoma (Saturday) afternoon....My thoughts and prayers are with the Gabrielson family and our extended storm chaser family as well. God bless and Godspeed Andy."


An Unusual (but fitting) Tribute. Late Saturday a group of Kansas storm chasers positioned themselves to spell out Andy Gabrrielson's initials on a state map; a fitting tribute to a man who spent much of his life on the road, in search of nature's most violent wind.


Hints of a Real Storm? It's early, and the long-range models have been especially erratic and unreliable in recent weeks, especially the GFS model. The 500mb map above is valid February 20. If this verifies (a huge if) it could translate into the first plowable snowfall for Minnesota and Wisconsin since early December. My confidence level is low; I want to see a few more runs before I get too excited. The last thing I want to do is get (tormented) snow lover's hopes up - but at least there's a shot in about 2 weeks. We'll see. More details below.


15.9" snow at Denver over 3 days, a new record. Photo courtesy of Laura Walter in Hampden Heights, Colorado.

50.5" snow reported at Pinecliffe, Colorado. That's without the drifts.

22.7" fell at Boulder, Colorado.


16% savings in heating bills, nationwide, so far this winter. Source: Weather Derivatives, WSJ.

.5" snow has fallen at Kansas City so far this winter. Last winter Kansas City had already picked up 30" snow.


Record Snows Hit Denver. Officially it was 15.9" over 3 days, a new 3-day record for the Mile High City. Thanks to Daisy Bailey, who lives in Lakewood, Colorado.


Minnesota Snow Lovers Are In Mourning. Yes, I have my black armband on too. I can rationalize the lack of subzero weather - I don't miss that one bit. But no snow, on the 5th day of February? That's just...unnatural. It's starting to look like Tulsa (with lakes) out there. Not good. Details on the photo above: "A man digs his car out of the snow on Friday, Feb. 3, 2012, after a snow storm hit Denver with 10 inches of snow overnight.  A powerful winter storm swept across Colorado on Friday as it headed east, bringing blizzard warnings to eastern Colorado and western Kansas, and winter storm warnings for southeast Wyoming and western Nebraska.(AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)."


Denver Records: more details on what will undoubtedly be the biggest snowstorm of the winter for the Denver area, courtesy of the Denver office of the National Weather Service: "12.5 inches of snow fell at Denver International Airport on February 3rd. This snowfall established a daily snowfall record for the date. The old record was 7.5 inches set back in 1932. The 12.5 inches that fell also established a daily snowfall record for the month of February. The previous daily snowfall record was 9.5 inches on February 22nd 1909 and February 19th 1953. In addition, from the evening of the 2nd through the morning of the 4th, 15.9 inches of snow fell at Denver International Airport. This establishes a new three day snowfall total for the month of February. The old record of 14.2 inches occurred back in 1912 from February 23rd through the 25th." Experimental graphic above courtesy of NOAA.


Des Moines Snow. Yes, it was that close. Anywhere from 4-6" snow accumulated in Des Moines, Iowa, enough to shovel, plow and generally gum up area highways. Photo courtesy of Heather Burnside.


1,522 Records In The Past Week. All those red dots are record highs, yellow dots are record warm nighttime lows, green dots record 24 hour rainfall amounts. Click here to see an interactive map, courtesy of Ham Weather and NOAA. Check out the new Aeris platform from Ham Weather - nothing like it out there. Then again I'm a little biased.




February 4 or April 4? The latest high-res snowcover map for Minnesota (courtesy of NOAA) shows a total lack of snow south/west of the Minnesota River, a trace to 1/2" snow on the ground around the metro area, about 2-3" for Brainerd and Duluth, with a whopping 12-24" from the Boundary Waters to Grand Marais. I can't remember the last time there was so little snow on the ground in early February. 2006 was bleak for snow lovers, so was 2000, but this winter is breaking new ground...brown ground at that.

Latest USA Snowcover. According to NOAA, 25.5% of the USA (lower 48 states) was covered by snow, as of Saturday. That's up 4% since January 4. 

One Year Ago. According to NOAA's NOHRSC (National Operational Hydrological Remote Sensing Center) 56.9% of the USA was snowcovered on February 4, 2011.


The Joys of "Hoar Frost". Yesterday was a ghostly, beautiful sight to behold. Thick fog coating every surface with a thin coating of frost, what meteorologists (tentatively) refer to as "hoar frost". Here's the definition from Wikipedia: "white frost or rime is the tiny solid deposition of water vapor from saturated air which occurs when the temperature of the surfaces is below freezing point. It occurs generally with clear skies." The name hoar comes from Old English and can be used as an adjective for showing signs of old age in reference to the frost which makes trees and bushes look like elderly white hair. It may also have association with hawthorn when covered in its characteristic white spring blossom."

* Note the spindly build-up of ice crystals on my mailbox - an odd sight, but beautiful nonetheless. I think this was an example of "advection frost, which "refers to tiny ice spikes forming when there is a very cold wind blowing over branches of trees, poles and other surfaces. It looks like rimming the edge of flowers and leaves and usually it forms against the direction of the wind. It can occur at any hour of day and night."


Prime Time For Tornadoes. Tornadoes are quite common along the Gulf Coast during February. This small EF-1 tornado touched down 3 miles south of DeRidder, Louisiana on Saturday. More details from the Lake Charles, Louisiana NWS office.


Houston Flooding. The epic Texas drought is finally showing signs of easing. Dallas is no longer in drought, and heavy rain triggered significant flash flooding in the Houston area in recent days.

Superbowl Weather Since 1967. What, you can't read this? Neither can I. Click here to see a pdf of Superbowl weather through the ages, courtesy of NOAA's Southeast Regional Climate Center.


Shift In The Pattern? We've been down this road before. A strongly positive AO (Arctic Oscillation) for much of the winter (correlating with incredibly strong and persistent westerly wind pumping Pacific air across North America), but all the models show a possible negative swing, bottoming out around Feb. 21 (when a full-latitude trough may spin up the first real storm in well over 2 months). It all adds up; we're long overdue for the jet to buckle, pulling Gulf moisture northward into Minnesota - but we've had a few false alarms in recent weeks. I need to see a few more computer runs to see if there's any continuity to this solution, or if it's another bogus computer glitch. Graphic courtesy of

Maps Look Like Mid March. Check out this map from, showing the coolest temperatures expected over the next 8 days. I do expect a change the latter half of next week, but the next few days will feel more like early March than early February.


Rare Snows In North Africa. reports on the first significant snowfall for Algeria (Africa!) in 7 years: "A rare accumulating snowfall is in progress in Algiers, the capital city of Algeria. Cold air associated with a storm system currently moving into the region from the north is providing for some decent accumulations of snow in the north African country. According to Accuweather Meteorologist Eric Wanenchak, most reports say the last time Algiers saw this kind of accumulation was at least seven years ago in 2005. He said Algiers must fight a combination of limiting factors in order to see snowfall. First, the city is near the Mediterranean Sea, which is still quite warm, currently in the low 50s."


The Facts Behind The National Flood Insurance Program. Here's an excerpt of FEMA's recent press release: "Federal Emergency Management Agency officials are clearing up some misconceptions about the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which offers federally-backed flood insurance to property owners and renters in communities that participate in the program. “The NFIP is a critical component to help homeowners and businesses recover from flood damage,” said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Stephen M. De Blasio, Sr. “The more that people know about it and utilize it, the easier it will be for them to rebuild their homes and communities.” More than 20,000 communities participate in the NFIP nationwide, which is administered by FEMA but whose policies are sold through private insurance agents and companies throughout the country. More than 25 percent of claims paid are from areas at medium or low risk of flooding. In these areas, NFIP flood insurance can be purchased for as little as $129 a year to insure a building and its contents, or $49 for contents only. Homes can be insured against flood damage for up to $250,000 and commercial buildings insured for up to $500,000."


Today Is National Weatherperson's Day. Proving everyone and everything has at least one day dedicated to making them feel special. Right. Details from the central Illinois office of the National Weather Service: "Today, Feb. 5, is National Weatherperson's Day, commemorating the birth of John Jeffries in 1774. Jeffries, one of America's first weather observers, began taking daily weather observations in Boston in 1774 and he took the first balloon observations in 1784. This is a day to recognize the men and women who collectively provide Americans with the best weather, water and climate forecasts and warning services of any nation. Weather observations in central Illinois date back to the early 1800s. Visit our weather history page for more details."


Why Viewers Could Soon Control Superbowl Ads. MIT's Technology Review has the story: "During this Sunday's Super Bowl, a record five million viewers are expected to tweet or make other social media comments—not just about the game, but also about the many beer, snack, and car ads that are integral to the annual sports and entertainment ritual. This activity—up from 900,000 people making Super Bowl posts during last year's game—is now happening at such a vast scale that executives in television, broadcast news, and advertising expect analytics of the comments to start shaping advertising choices—and even the direction of news coverage—in near real-time."


Murky Saturday. The fog gradually lifted yesterday, revealing a few peeks of blue sky. Ice fog in early February is unusual (typical February KMSP only sees an average of 1.4 days of fog with visibility under 1/4 mile...the entire month). We just had 3 days/row of fog. Saturday highs ranged from 27 at Alexandria to 36 Twin Cities, 39 St. Cloud (where the fog lifted faster with more sun) to 41 at Eau Claire.




Paul's Star Tribune Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:


TODAY: Clouds and og should give way to peeks of mild sun by afternoon. Winds: W 8. High: 39


SUNDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy, still mild for early February. Low: 24


MONDAY: Mildest day. Feels like March. Partly sunny skies after a foggy start. High: 41


TUESDAY: Clearing, breezy and colder. Low: 13. High: 27


WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny, close to average for this time of year. Low: 7. High: 26


THURSDAY: Clouds increase, colder late PM. Low: 16. High: 31


FRIDAY: Feels like winter again. Cold sunshine. Low: 2. High: 18


SATURDAY: Few flurries? Not as cold. Low: 0. High: 24



"Ice Bowl" Memories

I'm old enough to remember the infamous "Ice Bowl", the first Superbowl played in 1967. The Packers narrowly defeated the Cowboys, in weather conditions that defy description. The temperature was -15 F at gametime, with a wind chill of -50. Players complained of frostbitten fingers and toes. A metal whistle froze onto the lips of the referee. It was the coldest NFL game on record; probably the worst Superbowl weather ever.

Now we have climate-controlled, hermetically-sealed stadiums where players can focus on the game, not surviving the elements.

The last few days have been a bust with thick fog and stratus; highly unusual for February, when windblown cold fronts should be scrubbing our skies with arctic sunlight.

We see an average of 1.4 foggy days/month in February. So yes, this is a bit odd. Jet stream winds are blowing in from the Pacific. It's been mild enough for significant snowmelt, moistening the lowest layers of the atmosphere. Light winds and a low sun angle made it hard to burn away lazy clouds (fog).

With reluctant sun we should hit 40 today, mid 40s Monday, colder next week, then a shot at 50 the 3rd week of February. No snow - maybe rain by Feb. 14? Really. And in spite of a chance of a (real) snowstorm around February 20 I'm not getting too excited just yet. The long-range models have been especially erratic and untrustworthy as of late...I want to see a few more computer runs before I brush the cobwebs off my snow shovel. That said...we're due.

* Ice Bowl photo above courtesy of


Climate Stories....


Superbowl Tackles Climate Change. Discovery News reports: "The field won't be the only thing green about Super Bowl XLVI. The NFL has a plan in their playbook to tackle the carbon dioxide emissions caused by energy use at the six major Super Bowl facilities. Renewable energy certificates will pass 15,000 megawatt hours of clean energy to the NFL's environmental receivers. At the slick new Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis even the lights shining on the New York Giants and New England Patriots will be accounted for by renewable energy certificates provided by Green Mountain Energy Company."


Climate Change Predicted To Escalate Tropical Cyclone Damage Costs For U.S. And China. has the details: "A new study looking at the economic costs of tropical cyclone damage taking into account climate change, forecasts that tropical cyclones will cause $109 billion in damages by 2100. Increased vulnerability of populations and growing economic wealth is expected to double the costs from $26 billion per year to $56 billion by 2100. Climate change is predicted to add some $53 Billion in damages. Two countries are responsible for incurring 75% of the extra damage from climate change associated with tropical cyclones: the United States and China. But tropical island nations will incur the highest damage per GDP - up to 37%."


Extreme Rainfall In Central India In Past 50 Years. has the story: "Meteorologists have observed a very high rise in the "extreme events of rainfall" in the country in the last 50 years, particularly in Central India region in a climate change that can be attributed to global warming.  The finding is noted by the scientists at the city-based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) which is engaged in various research projects relating to the monsoon behaviour in the country.  "We feel that the rise in extreme events of rainfall which has almost doubled in the past 50 years in Central India (excluding mountainous region) has a relation with global warming," B N Goswami, Director, IITM said in a talk with PTI."

Dusting Today, Couple Inches By Tuesday (next week: coldest of winter?)

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: January 14, 2012 - 10:32 AM

13 F. high in the Twin Cities Friday.

23 F. average high for January 13.

16 F. high temperature 1 year ago, on January 13, 2011.

1" snow on the ground at Duluth.

3.5" new snow reported at Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

16" of new snow near Saxon, in Iron County, Wisconsin (almost all of that from lake-effect snow).

29" snow on the ground at Gile, Wisconsin (also in Iron County). Significant blowing/drifting reported.


Coating - 1/2" Snow Today. The approach of milder air, coupled with a weak storm aloft, may squeeze out a quick coating of snow today, enough to ice up area roads in spots. NWS Doppler radar at 10:30 am.


Exceptionally Brown (For Mid January). The latest numbers from the Minnesota DNR are pretty grim for snow-lovers. Most of the state has a dusting of snow, if that, with a few inches for far southeastern counties from Friday's near-miss, and as much as 8-12" over the Boundary Waters. If you're looking for snow for snowmobiling consider driving into far northern Wisconsin, where there's a good 1-3 feet of (lake effect) snow on the ground.

163 warm weather records in Minnesota during the first 10 days of January. Details below.

1,629 warm weather records reported nationwide in just the last week.

Warmest, driest start to January in U.S. history, according to NOAA.





"Winter came down to our home one night, quietly pirouetting in on silvery-toed slippers of snow, and we, we were children once again." - Bill Morgan Jr.


One Amazing Week. Map above courtesy of NOAA and Ham Weather. More details:

2,189 Total Records

1,363 High Temperature Records

266  Highest Minimum Temperature Records

440  Rainfall Records

9  Low Temperature Records

4  Lowest Maximum Temperature Records


"Due to warm weather, Hockey Day in Minnesota games that were scheduled 1/21 for Lake Minnetonka have been moved indoors to Pagel Arena." - tweet from Chris Long. Photo courtesy of


"South African weather forecasters who predict severe storms or gales without permission from the authorities could be punished by up to ten years imprisonment or a hefty fine under new legislation." - from an article below from the U.K. Telegraph newspaper.


65.06" of rain drenched Nara Prefecture, Japan, during a 72 hour period in early September - from Typhoon Talas. A total of 71.08" of rain fell during the storm. Source:


"It's like picking a fight with the biggest bully in the schoolyard. You know, you get your lunch money stolen, you get your pants pulled down, and you get sent home humiliated. We've made about that much progress with CO2." from an NPR article on reducing soot and ozone to slow climate change.


"To avoid sickness eat less; to prolong life worry less." - Chu Hui Weng


An Amazing Start To January. Dr. Mark Seeley has more details on a record-setting start to January, the warmest, driest first 10 days of January on record with 163 record highs. More details in his weekly WeatherTalk Blog: "January 9-10 brought even more new high temperature records to the state and the region, adding to the previous weeks record-setting values. It was far and away the warmest first 10 days of January ever measured in Minnesota history, averaging over 20 degrees F above normal statewide (27.2 F versus a normal of 7.1 F). New temperature records were established for many Minnesota communities on January 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10, as a total of 163 new temperature records were reported, and 18 record temperatures were tied around the state. Three all-time state high temperature daily records were set."


Weird Weather. Here is a link to an interview with Kerri Miller and me on MPR's "Midmorning" program on Friday. We covered a lot of ground; talking about the meteorology behind our strange winter, how winter defines us as a state, and implications of (no snow) and a growing drought. Photo courtesy of AP.


Ski Wisconsin? It's not enough that the Packers are doing Wisconsin has to boast (considerably) more snow than Minnesota? What is going on? Friday's storm dumped out 3-6" new snow on much of central and southern Wisconsin, with as much as 12-20" over far northern coutnies, north of Rhinelander. has the latest conditions, courtesy of NOAA.


Snow-Covered By Middle Of Next Week? There's little doubt it's going to get even colder next week, possibly the coldest week of winter, a winter that hasn't been all that cold. When the mercury is colder than10-15 F. it doesn't take much moisture (or atmospheric lift) to produce a quick inch or two of icy fluff. That may happen next Monday night and early Tuesday as the leading edge of numbing air pushes into Minnesota. Map courtesy of NOAA and WeatherCaster.


Snow-Blower-Worthy? Not really, but a couple inches of powder is possible next Monday night, another coating of snow next Wednesday and Friday. I know - hard to get excited over an inch or two, but it's a start.


Sunday Thaw - Then Much Colder. All the models are in agreement: the mercury will take a nose-dive by the middle of next week, temperatures consistently below 10-15 F. from Wednesday thru Friday, nighttime lows at or just below zero (for the first time all winter). You may still get some mileage out of that favorite parka.


Last Week Of January: Not As Cold. The extended GFS guidance shows temperatures rebounding well into the 30s to near 40 between January 22-25, followed by a brief cold snap around January 26, then warming back up to average the last few days of the month. It may be nausea, but my gut feeling is that next week may see the coldest readings of winter.


Finally - Looks Like Winter! "Snow flies past the ski shop sign at the Morse Farm Ski Touring Center shop Friday, Jan. 13, 2012 in East Montpelier, Vermont. It's finally looking like winter in parts of the Midwest and Northeast that are seeing their first big snowstorm of the season, leaving skiers and snow-reliant busineses giddy. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)."


Hail In Unlikely Places. Here's a photo from WeatherNation meteorologist Aaron Shaffer: "my friend Ryan Doliber sent me a picture of hail in Kuwait from a storm today (Friday)."


Jet Lag: What's Causing One Of The Driest, Warmest Winters In History? Scientific Atlantic tackles a difficult question: "A little snow and rain are falling in a few states today, but the 2011–12 winter has been extremely warm and dry across the continental U.S. Meteorologists think they have figured out why. First, a few records: The initial week of January was the driest in history. And more than 95 percent of the U.S. had below-average snow cover—the greatest such percentage ever recorded—according to some intriguing data maps generated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. During December, approximately half of the U.S. had temperatures at least 5 degrees Fahrenheit above average, and more than 1,500 daily record highs were set from January 2 to 8. Europe has seen similar extremes."


Chicagoans Dig Out. Chicago picked up a cool 4-8". Photo above courtesy of, which has more on the first real snowstorm of winter here.


NORTHERN ILLINOIS                              SNOW  
LOCATION (COUNTY):                           FALL(INCHES)  
  LINCOLNWOOD 2E (COOK).........................8.2  
  NEW LENOX 2SE (WILL)..........................8.0  
  OAK PARK 1NNE (COOK)..........................7.9  
  PEOTONE (WILL)................................7.1  
  PEOTONE (WILL)................................7.1  
  OAK PARK 2S (COOK)............................7.0  
  PLAINFIELD 1SW (WILL).........................7.0  
  JOLIET LOCK/DAM (WILL)........................7.0  
  ROCKFORD 4NW (WINNEBAGO)......................6.8  
  YORKVILLE 1W (KENDALL)........................6.5  
  BULL VALLEY 2WNW (MCHENRY)....................6.5  
  PARK FOREST (COOK)............................6.5  
  BUFFALO GROVE 2N (LAKE).......................6.4  
  MONEE (WILL)..................................6.4  
  BURNHAM-HEGEWISCH 2NNW (COOK).................6.2  
  ROMEOVILLE (WILL).............................6.2  
  YORKVILLE 2SE (KENDALL).......................6.2  
  ELGIN (KANE)..................................6.1  
  ELGIN 1S (KANE)...............................6.1  
  ST. CHARLES 6NW (KANE)........................6.1  
  AURORA (KANE).................................6.0  
  BOTANIC GARDENS (COOK)........................6.0 


Hurricane Hunter Jet Being Used To Forecast Winter Storms. An interesting story from "This winter, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is using one of its Gulfstream IV-SP “Hurricane Hunter” jets to help forecast winter storms from a seemingly unlikely place: Hawaii. It is in the skies over the relatively balmy central Pacific Ocean that the worst snow storms gather their moisture and intensity before slamming the U.S. mainland a few days later. From 45,000 feet above the Pacific, east and west of Hawaii — and sometimes as far north as Alaska — data on wind speed and direction, pressure, temperature and humidity are fed from the plane’s sensors to meteorologists onboard, much the same way they survey hurricanes. A U.S. Air Force Reserve weather reconnaissance plane flies along at lower altitudes to supplement the data." Photo above courtesy of NOAA.

* Click here for a video of (winter) storm experimentation from NOAA, courtesy of nycaviationTV.


South African Forecasters Who Get It Wrong Face Imprisonment. One word: yikes! So much for freedom of speech. The U.K. Telegraph has more details: "South African weather forecasters who predict severe storms or gales without permission from the authorities could be punished by up to ten years imprisonment or a hefty fine under new legislation. The bill, officials say, is aimed at "protecting the general public against the distribution of inaccurate or hoax warnings or weather predictions that could cause public panic and lead to evacuations and/or the unwarranted waste of resources – money, people and technology". It would mean that independent forecasters wanting to issue a severe weather warning would first need to get written permission from the state-run South African Weather Service." Photo above courtesy of Reuters.


SPC Severe Weather Events Archive. The Storm Prediction Center has a new way to retrieve severe weather information dating back to 2000. Here's more information: "Welcome to the Storm Prediction Center's Severe Weather Event Archive search engine and listing. The first event in this archive occurred on January 3, 2000. We continue to archive significant severe weather events through the present day based on a variety of conditions and thresholds. You can access those archived events by using the simple search engine below. When this page is first loaded, the listing shows the most recently archived events. You can list all the days in the archive by simply clicking on the "Retrieve Events" button below. When you click on a particular date in the archive listing you will be brought to the Severe Weather Event Review Page for that date. A left-hand menu with links to products, loops, and other data related to that particular severe weather event is available to browse a particular event, or you can move forward and backward across events by using the dated links at the top of the left hand menu of the Severe Weather Event Review Page. To return to this search page, use the "Search All Events" link at the bottom of the left-hand menu of any of the Severe Weather Event Review Page. "


China's Pollution Is So Insane You Can See It From Space. Our fellow techno-geeks over at Gizmodo have the (remarkable) story: "This is really bad. NASA has published an image of the pollution haze taking all over the North China Plain. Yes, it's so bad that you can see it taking over thousands of square miles from space. Things were so bad that visibility dropped to 200 meters. The Chinese capital's airport had to cancel 43 flights and delayed 80 more. The first image—taken by NASA's Aqua satellite—shows the situation on January 10. The entire North China Plain was covered with a gray pollution haze. You can also see white patches: that's normal fog hanging below the haze. On the second image, you can see the skies on the next day: the heaviest pollution is mostly gone, moved by the wind."


Observing The Earth: A Southern Summer Bloom. I thought this was pretty amazing, courtesy of ESA, the European Space Agency: "In this Envisat image, a phytoplankton bloom swirls a figure-of-8 in the South Atlantic Ocean about 600 km east of the Falkland Islands. During this period in the southern hemisphere, the ocean becomes rich in minerals from the mixing of surface waters with deeper waters. Phytoplankton depend on these minerals, making blooms like this common in the spring and summer. These microscopic organisms are the base of the marine food chain, and play a huge role in the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and the production of oxygen in the oceans. By helping to regulate the carbon cycle, phytoplankton are important to the global climate system. "


Can U.S. Deter Cyberwar? The Diplomat examines a vaguely terrifying threat - the next war may involve shutting down the Internet (and countless companies, services, utilities, etc): "There has been a great deal of thinking and writing about why deterrence is difficult in cyberspace. Attacks can be masked, or routed through another country’s networks. And even if you know for sure the attack came from a computer in country X, you can't be sure the government was behind it. All of this creates the attribution problem: It's hard to deter if you can't punish, and you can't punish without knowing who is behind an attack. Moreover, much of the cyber activity is espionage, and it's hard to imagine a government threatening military action for the theft of data."


The 10 Best Gadgets And Tech At CES 2012. has a story that may appeal to techno-geeks: "At one end of the scale, CES is about big, high-end product announcements - the world's biggest TV, the smallest pico projector, hi-fi speakers that cost more than your car. Or are bigger than your car. At the other end it's about companies you've never (or barely) heard of trying to catch the tired eye of a wandering blogger with head-mounted displays, portable scanners and USB penknives. Filter out the noise with our pick of the best gadgets and tech of CES 2012.

1. Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook

You know that it's a low-key CES when laptops are the stars of the show. Of course, the Dell XPS 13 isn't just any old laptop. It's part of the first wave of Intel Ultrabooks, super skinny portables that hope to outdo the MacBook Air (for power, if not skinny styling)."


For The First Time In Years Your Next PC Will Be Amazing. O.K. I navigate both worlds: Windows and Mac. Certain weather programs only run on Windows PC's (I've tried emulation - doesn't work for these applications). I use Windows for the office, everything at home, editing, photos, music, streaming, is via Apple. So I appreciate innovation in both camps. Gizmodo has some encouraging news: "By now you're maybe sick of hearing about ultrabooks, the best chance Windows rigs have to catch up to Apple laptops in design, usability, build quality, and general good-and-wantable-product-ness. Don't be. What's coming from PC manufacturers in 2012 isn't the inevitable, dreary sameness that's made laptops so boring for the last decade. In fact, it's the opposite. If what we've seen so far this year is any indication, the notebooks of the near-future look good and thoughtful and true. The design elements are inspiring. The features are useful. And most importantly: They don't just imitate, they improve. Which means it's finally time to get excited about PCs again."


"The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread." - Mother Teresa


A Bit Nippy. Friday was plenty cold, temperatures running 10-15 degrees below average statewide, ranging from 8 at International Falls, Alexandria and Hibbing to 12 at St. Cloud, 13 in the Twin Cities and 15 at Grand Marais. What's still a bit surreal: Duluth dipped to -1 Friday morning, with only 1" of snow on the ground. 1" in Duluth on January 13?



Paul's Star Tribune Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:


TODAY: Light snow and flurries from a clipper. Coating possible. Milder. Winds: W 8-13. High: 28


SATURDAY NIGHT: Flurries taper, slick spots. Low: 16


SUNDAY: Some sun, fleeting thaw. S 15. High: 34


MONDAY: Breezy, turning colder again. Low: 20. High: 23 (falling during the day).


MONDAY NIGHT: Light snow developing, roads slippery late. Low: 4


TUESDAY: 1-3" snow possible with very icy roads. Bitterly cold. High: 11


WEDNESDAY: Coating of flakes. First subzero temperatures in the metro? Low: -3. High: 7


THURSDAY: Icy start, black ice possible. Some sun, still numbing. Low: -4. High: 12


FRIDAY: Numbing start. Clouds increase, chance of a little light snow. Low: -6. High: near 20



What Is Going On?

Weekend anchor at NPR, Guy Raz, asked me a simple question on his radio show, "All Things Considered". "Paul, can you explain why our weather has been so..unusual?" Long pause. How much time do you have? There is no neat, elegant, TV soundbite answer, sadly. We can explain WHAT is happening but WHY is problematic.

For much of winter the jet stream has been stuck in a Marchlike rut, record winds blowing unusually far north, preventing bitter air from surging south. La Nina is a factor, along with blocking patterns; the AO and NAO patterns that have reached record levels in recent winter. Solar activity is on the rise; melting arctic ice may be a factor too.

You can no longer separate out weather from climate. They are flip-sides of the same coin. Something is injecting more energy into the weather machine. Extremes are becoming more extreme; this trend toward drier, milder winters was predicted by climate models 30 years ago.

A coating of snow today marks the leading edge of milder air; freezing will feel good on Sunday.

Next week may be the coldest week of winter. If our first subzero reading comes Wednesday we'll tie a record (2002) for the latest subzero on record.

* graphic above courtesy of WISN-TV in Madison.


Climate Stories....

Massive Ecological Change Predicted For Canada: NASA. The story from "Many parts of Canada are predicted to see massive ecological changes over the next century, according to NASA. Researchers from the space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology investigated how Earth's plant life is likely to react over the next three centuries to changes in climate brought about by rising levels of human-produced greenhouse gases. "While warnings of melting glaciers, rising sea levels and other environmental changes are illustrative and important, ultimately, it's the ecological consequences that matter most," said the study's lead scientist, Jon Bergengren, in a news release. One of the consequences, their computer model predicts, is that most of the land not covered by ice or desert will undergo at least a 30% change in plant cover — changes that will require humans and animals to adapt and often relocate."


Can Better Communication Of Climate Science Cut Climate Risks? Andrew Revkin at the New York Time's Dot Earth has a good post, where he interviews a Danish scientist who is still incredulous that basic scientific truths aren't being adequately communicated. In short, there are natural, cyclical variations in climate, there is random noise and natural variability, and then there is a secular, human-induced signal, from the roughly 95 million tons of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere daily. And that last component continues to grow with time. An excerpt from the interview with Revkin and Physics Nobelist Murray Gell-Man:

Gell-Mann: "Is it really, really so extremely difficult to persuade people that climate, which is average weather, can have three contributions that add to one another? That is, some cyclical effects, some random noise and a secular steadily rising trend from human activity?"

Revkin: "I spent 20 years focused on the basic physics and geoscience of this… But I’ve spent the last five or six years focused on the social science. How we perceive problems, how we respond, or don’t. And global warming is the world’s worst problem in that sense. It has all the elements that make it the kind of thing we don’t, as a public or individuals, really engage on."


How Will Global Warming Affect Our Water Supplies? The Mercury has the story: "Climate change promises to have a very big impact on water supplies in the United States as well as around the world. A recent study commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a leading environmental group, and carried out by the consulting firm Tetra Tech found that one out of three counties across the contiguous United States should brace for water shortages by mid-century as a result of human induced climate change. The group found that 400 of these 1,100 or so counties will face “extremely high risks of water shortages.”


12 Simple(ish) Ways To Reduce Global Warming Two Thirds By 2050. has the story:

  1. Switch to cleaner burning cookstoves — In addition to being a major health hazard when used indoors, disproportionally affecting women, inefficient cookstoves are a major source of black carbon soot. Currently they cause an estimated 1.6 million premature deaths annually. There are a number of much more efficient versions of these type of cookstoves available right now. In other words, it won't require a wholesale shift in the way people cook or major lifestyle changes. That is, except for the premature death part.

  2. Limit leaks from the fossil fuel industry — Though in up to 90% of methane byproduct of fossil fuel production is captured and reused in many industrialized nations, in many developing countries that drops to 20%. Raising that figure will reduce methane emissions and slow warming.


MIT Scientist's Wife Threatened In A "Frenzy Of Hate". It's come to this - death threats against climate scientist's families? Mother Jones has the story: "Prominent MIT researcher Kerry Emanuel has been receiving an unprecedented "frenzy of hate" after a video featuring an interview with him was published last week by Climate Desk. Emails contained "veiled threats against my wife," and other "tangible threats," Emanuel, a highly regarded atmospheric scientist and director of MIT's Atmospheres, Oceans and Climate program, said in an interview. "They were vile, these emails. They were the kind of emails nobody would like to receive. "What was a little bit new about it was dragging family members into it and feeling that my family might be under threat, so naturally I didn't feel very good about that at all," Emanuel said. "I thought it was low to drag somebody's spouse into arguments like this."


Global Warming Fires Up A $300,000 Complaint. Courthouse News Service has more: "LOS ANGELES (CN) - Actor-economist-political pundit Ben Stein claims he was wrongfully fired from a $300,000 job on a TV commercial because of his view of global warming: that "God, and not man" controls the weather. Stein, a former New York Times columnist who does commercials in his signature bow tie, glasses and a sports jacket, claims a Kyocera Corp. affiliate breached his contract and wrongfully fired him after it learned of his opinion about climate change. Then, Stein says, Kyocera and its ad agency "in an astonishingly brazen misappropriation of Ben Stein's persona," dressed up a college professor "as Stein often appeared in commercials (bow tie, glasses, sports jacket)" and had the professor do the commercial as a Ben Stein imitator."

To Slow Climate Change, Cut Down On Soot, Ozone. NPR has the story: "Politically, climate change is off this year's campaign agenda. Jobs, the economy and social issues are front and center. But scientists are working as hard as ever to figure out how much the Earth is warming and what to do about it. Some now say it's time for a new strategy, one that gets faster results. Talk to Durwood Zaelke, for example. Zaelke is a grizzled veteran of the climate wars: He was in Kyoto in 1997 when the world's nations drafted a treaty promising to curb warming, and he has watched that promise fizzle while the planet's temperature continues to rise." Photo credit here.


Investors Say Private Sector Must Tackle Climate Change. Amen. Let's not leave this to government to muck up. Let the markets. I'm investing my own money into green energy (designing software to make energy from wind turbines more predictable and profitable via a company called Smart Energy). Climate change is a threat, and the mother of all opportunities for start-ups - to design carbon-free forms of energy to power future growth and expansion. Reuters has the story: "Institutional investors with a collective $26 trillion under management opened a new front on Thursday in the fight against climate change, urging the private sector to mobilize, follow the money and find new technologies to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Putting a price on climate-warming carbon emissions, which has been instituted in parts of Europe and elsewhere with limited success, would be "nice to have" but not essential, said Kevin Parker, global head of Deutsche Asset Management." Photo above courtesy of

Disaster Prone?

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: September 7, 2011 - 8:01 PM

Todd's StarTribune Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota

THURSDAY: More blue sky, very pleasant. High: 79

THURSDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear, cool and quiet. Low: 60

FRIDAY: Another beauty. High 81

SATURDAY: Quiet. More sun with only a few passing clouds. Low: 59. High:80

SUNDAY: Increasing clouds, stray PM Shower? Mostly dry. Low: 59. High: 80

MONDAY:  Unsettled. Spotty afternoon thunder possible. Low: 61. High: 75

TUESDAY: Mostly sunny. Low: 55. High:68

WEDNESDAY: Still coo, less wind and more sun. Low: 52. High: 67


As we enjoy several days of sun through the first full week of September, folks near big bodies of water are watching the tropics closely as we are in, what typically is, the most active time for hurricanes. Irene, Katia, lee (and now possibly Maria) have been making waves in news as heavy rain, winds and even tornadoes ravaged parts of the south and east. Hurricane Irene alone was responsible for an estimated $3 billion in damage from the Caribbean to the New England states. Clean up and rebuilding costs have gone up exponentially over the past several years, not necessarily due to stronger and more frequent storms, but contributing to that cost is the widespread development of housing and businesses along coastlines and in major cities around the globe. It's a controversial subject... Are our storms getting stronger and becoming more frequent because of climate change or are we over developing natural disaster prone locations? There will always be strong storms: tornadoes, hurricanes, earth quakes, etc. It's just a matter of time before another big one hits a big city, let's just hope we're ready... Hey, it's Thursday, one day closer to the weekend, enjoy! Todd Nelson


Getting An Early Start

Thank to Bryan Karrick, a good friend and colleague of mine, for sending me this picture from the Gunflint Trail in northeastern MN. He noted that most of the trees are still green, but this (looks like a sugar maple) tree is getting a head start. By the way, did you know that there was a wildfire burning in the BWCA right now? 

Here's the Latest Story


Fall Color Update From the MN DNR

The MN DNR runs a fantastic website that is updated regularly with pictures and updates on how the color is across parts of the state. The reports say whether or not an area is close to peak, past peak, etc.

Check it out HERE: 

The latest report still shows that the state is only 0-10% of its fall color.


An Acceleration Towards Peak Color

Nature has a unique way of knowing when to get ready for the upcoming winter season. A lower sun angle and longer nights have already prompted small changes in the outdoor world near you even if it's not all too obvious. The real kicker, especially when it comes to fall colors, are the colder overnight lows, which have been prevalent so far this week across northern Minnesota. Both Monday and Tuesday mornings, Embarrass, MN dipped to 26F - Wednesday morning, some spots still dropped into the 30s, but it wasn't as cold. A few more nights like that and those colors will really start popping!

Wednesday Morning Low Temps


Wednesday Morning Low Temps - Great Lakes Region

The core of the coldest air shifted a little farther east Wednesday morning. Northern Wisconsin and Michigan sampled some of the colder overnight lows that Minnesota had earlier this week.

NFL - It's Game Time

Not sure if you are a fan of the NFL or not... you can skip this part if you don't give a rat, but I know there are a lot of people out there who have been waiting for this week and for this Thursday Night as the first game of the regular season begins. The 2010-2011 Super Bowl Champs, the Green Bay Packers vs. the New Orleans Saints face off at 7:30pm CDT at Lambeau Field. It's not just an interest for some folks in Wisconsin, it's a way of life - In fact, kids in Green Bay will only have a half day of school to get ready for the game Thursday Night - Here's the full story

Lambeau Field Forecast


National Weather Headlines

The national satellite and radar shows the same 3 weather features that have been in place for the past few days now. A big bubble of high pressure over the Upper Midwest is being held up by the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Katia.


Remnants of Lee

Lee appears to be a storm that doesn't want to die. It's a slow moving, very wound up system that has been able to tap into copious amounts of tropical moisture. There were reports of nearly 16" of rain in the Gulf Coast states over the Labor Day weekend and nearly 8" of rain over parts of the Mid-Atlantic states through early this week. Flooding concerns are still ongoing for many in the Northeast as that tropical moisture lifts through already saturated ground after Hurricane Irene dumped nearly 20" of rain in spots nearly 2 weeks ago.

More Lee Rainfall Amounts


Tropical Depression #14 Turns Into Maria

How do you solve a problem like Maria? Maria could become a problem and I am a little more than concerned looking at her track into the upcoming weekend.


Maria Tracks West Towards the Caribbean

The good news is that Maria looks to stay on the weaker side of tropical systems, but warm water temperatures cold certainly bump Maria into hurricane strength over her lifespan. What I'm more concerned with is the track, which seems to be more reminiscent of where Hurricane Irene tracked... I hope I'm wrong.


Tropical Storm Nate

This is getting a little crazy right now. Can you believe that we've already reached "N" in the alphabet for storm names this season? The good news is that we've really only had to deal with Irene and Lee in terms of significant effects across the U.S. - but it sure has been active. Nate will perhaps become a category 1 hurricane as he churns around the Gulf of Mexico (Bay of Campeche)

Could Nate Bring Rain to Texas?

I still think there is a small chance that we could get a little rain from Nate in Texas, but it looks like a long shot at this point. Rain is needed in Texas would be an understatement at this point. It has been so dry for so long, it is going to take several inches/feet of rain to break the widespread drought. While we wait to here the outcome of Nate, Texas continues to burn with large wildfires showing no signs of slowing up.


Big Solar Flares Erupt on Surface of Sun

Two big solar flares erupted on the surface of the sun earlier this week. If you live in the northern latitudes, you might be able to see some northern lights if you're lucky!

Here's the Story


Thanks for checking in, enjoy the rest of you week!

Meteorologist Todd Nelson