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.
Blue Juice Season
The need for blue juice (some call it "windshield washer solution") is a good sign, at least if you're ready for spring. Today the sun is as high in the sky as it was on Halloween. We've picked up 94 minutes of daylight since the Winter Solstice. Nice to have a little light when you stagger out of bed.
I happen to like snow (especially when it's not on I-494) but to those who merely tolerate the white stuff cue the confetti: only 15 more days of "meteorological winter" remain. Historically, the coldest 90 days come from roughly December 1 to March 1. You can already see signs of a higher sun angle, like puddles when it's still below 32F. Consider this, we've seen 29.4" snow - twice what we had picked up last winter at this time.
Snow cover acts as a brake on temperatures, keeping us 5 to 15F cooler than we would be with brown ground.
My gut: no March heatwaves in 2013. And encouragingly, southern moisture is finally creeping north again. If this trend continues the drought could slowly fade in coming months.
A snowy coating-1" from a clipper tonight gives way to a couple of cold fronts, but nothing like last month (perhaps 2-3 days with highs in the teens).
I see 30s and a better chance of snow or rain by the last few days of February. Not exactly a "warm front", but better....
Upper Midwest Clipper - Minor Coastal Storm. The 84 hour NAM snowfall forecast through late Friday night shows a narrow carpet of 1-2" for much of central and northern Minnesota, as much as 3" over North Dakota and northern Wisconsin. A weak coastal storm may drop a plowable snowfall on southern New Jersey, Long Island and Cape Cod.
Ups And Downs. We enjoy (?) a lingering thaw today into midday tomorrow, then colder air pushes south behind an Alberta Clipper; highs stuck in the teens Friday and Saturday. A quick upward blip arrives Sunday, before another cold front early next week. Graph showing various model solutions: Iowa State.
How's Your Norwegian? If you track my blog you know that I favor this graphic, in spite of Celsius (which can scare the heck out of first-time visitors) because it leverages ECMWF (European) data for MSP. It shows highs in the low to mid 30s today, near 30 tomorrow, then colder Friday and Saturday, another surge of chilly, Canadian air Tuesday and Wednesday of next week - but not nearly as polar as the latter half of January.
Trending Stormier Again? NOAA's NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) forecast shows a negative trend the latter half of February - hinting at a "wavier" jet stream: more dips and bulges capable of spinning up storms. No big southern storms are brewing (yet) but I wouldn't be surprised to see a couple of storms approaching from the Plains by the last week of February.
Some Areas Snowbound, Four Days After Blizzard. This is what happens when an entire state is smothered under 2-3 feet of snow. Here's an excerpt from The Hartford Courant: "Pockets of the state remained snowbound Tuesday as residents in areas buried with up to 40 inches of snow spent a fourth day stuck in their homes and schools officials canceled classes, in one case into next week. "It's almost like house arrest here," said Haren Vasavada, a 58-year-old scientist, who said he's been essentially trapped with his wife and 15-year-old daughter in their house on Farm Brook Court in Hamden since Friday. "I don't see any activity here from my street. ... I don't see any plows. I don't see any trucks." Vasavada, who's been working out of his house, was able to clear out part of his driveway so that a car can be driven. But he can't drive anywhere because there was still 3 feet of snow in the street, which has about a dozen houses..."
Photo credit above: "Sharon Jackson and her dog Murphy look at Buckingham Street in Meriden on Tuesday. "We live on that street, and we cannot believe that it has not been plowed in four days!" (Alan Chaniewski| - Fox CT ORG XMIT: HC0311 / February 12, 2013)
What's Impacting Great Lakes Water Levels? You may have heard that both Lake Michigan and Lake Huron just reached the lowest lake water levels on record. Here are more details from a story at michiganradio.org; here's an excerpt: "The Great Lakes are experiencing low water levels. Lakes Huron and Michigan just reached record lows, and Governor Snyder recently called for an emergency action plan to address the problem. One our Facebook friends, Debbiedoe Nash, wrote this morning:
Over the last few years the waterline has dropped so far at our property on Huron that what once was the beach now has about two hundred feet of rocky swamp in front of it. Yikes.
So what are the causes behind these low lake levels? We spoke with a few experts who gave us a run down of the factors, big and small, contributing to the extreme lows..." (Image above: NASA).
219 Consecutive Days Without A U.S. Tornado Death. Here's an interesting story from Weather Underground and EarthSky: "On Wednesday, January 30, 2013, a strong cold front pushed through the eastern United States and triggered severe thunderstorms. Around 11:15 a.m. (local time) in Adairsville, Georgia, a supercell formed a strong EF-3 tornado that destroyed approximately 60 structures, damaged at least 95 structures, and killed one man. The one death in Georgia ended the longest continuous stretch without a tornado death ever recorded in the United States at 219 days. According to Dr. Jeff Masters of Weather Underground, the last death to occur in the U.S. was at Venus in Highlands County, Florida, from an EF-0 tornado that was associated with Tropical Storm Debby on June 24, 2012. In the case of the January 30 tornado, warnings were issued well in advance with a lead time of around 20 minutes. In this post, we will look at some incredible video that came from this strong tornado and look at the issues that occurred while these storms hit the southeast in the morning and early afternoon hours..."
Comprehensive Report On Tropical Cyclone Sandy. It's a 157 page PDF document from NOAA, but it has some of the most comprehensive information I've yet seen about "Sandy", how it tracked and strengthened, the various factors that created what may have been a 1 in 500 year superstorm. Gulf Stream waters were unusually warm (graphic above), one of many variables that resulted in a storm 3 times larger than Katrina.
NYC Aims To Study Burying Power Lines After New York. Here's a snippet from a story at NBC New York: "Lawmakers are looking into what it would take to bury power lines around New York City after Sandy. The City Council voted Wednesday to commission a study of the issue. Sandy knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of customers around the city. Many outages endured longer in areas with overhead lines. The research will include analyzing weather-related outages for above-ground and below-ground lines. The study also will estimate the cost of burying lines and recommend where that would make most sense. Planning officials are to conduct the study..."
Photo credit above: "Andrew Varney, a power lineman from Canton, NY, frees a pine tree stuck in lines in Scituate, Mass., Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013. A howling storm across the Northeast left the New York-to-Boston corridor shrouded in 1 to 3 feet of snow Saturday, stranding motorists on highways overnight and piling up drifts so high that some homeowners couldn't get their doors open. More than 650,000 homes and businesses were left without electricity." (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
New Study Helps Pinpoint El Nino Impacts. Not all El Nino events are created equal; new tools and technology may help to differentiate the garden variety warmings of Pacific water from the extreme events (like 1998). Here's an excerpt from The Summit County Citizens Voice: "A new study that sorts El Niño events into two categories could help forecasters develop better long-range forecasts to predict how the periodic warming of equatorial East Pacific waters may affect winter weather. Part of the data for the research came from an array of buoys across the Pacific called the TAO-Triton array. The buoys observes conditions in the upper ocean to forecast El Niño months in advance, and for monitoring it as it grows and decays. After analyzing all El Niño events since 1979, the NOAA and University of Washington scientists said the El Niños that show a drop in outgoing long-wave radiation from the tops of deep convective clouds are the ones that tend to play havoc with winter weathers..."
"Earth Will Have 15 Minutes To Protect Electronics." How quickly can you turn off all the computers and gadgets in your home or office? Here's an excerpt of a hair-raising story at wnd.com "Scientists around the globe are joining those in the United States in becoming alarmed at the possibility of a plasma cloud from a solar superstorm that could wipe out vast electronics networks, because they say Earth would have only a notice of about 15 minutes. U.S. space scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrator and the National Aeronautic Space Administration’s Goddard Space Flight Center have been expressing concern over what is fast becoming a “solar storm maximum.”
Report: NFL Plans Delay If Blizzard Strikes Superbowl (2014). Here's an excerpt of a story at Yahoo Sports that caught my eye: "It was 23 degrees with the windchill factor at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. when Super Bowl XLVII kicked off in the climate-controlled Superdome in New Orleans. The NFL is prepared for cold, but contingency plans are being made for how to respond to ominous weather forecasts that might include ice, snow or blizzard conditions when the Super Bowl is played Feb. 2, 2014 -- outdoors at Giants Stadium. According to Sports Business Journal, the league is weighing appropriate response action to a severe weather event like the nor'easter that dumped more than two feet of snow in the Boston area last weekend..." (Photo above: Yahoo Sports).
DAPRA's New 1.8 Gigapixel Camera Is A Super High-Resolution Eye In The Sky. Another compelling reason not to get an all-over tan, even in the (alleged) privacy of your own back yard. Details from gizmag.com: "DARPA recently revealed information on its ARGUS-IS (Autonomous Real-Time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance Imaging System), a surveillance camera that uses hundreds of smartphone image sensors to record a 1.8 gigapixel image. Designed for use in an unmanned drone (probably an MQ-1 Predator), from an altitude of 20,000 ft (6,100 m) ARGUS can keep a real-time video eye on an area 4.5 miles (7.2 km) across down to a resolution of about six inches (15 cm)..."
Snowboard With A Brake? This will get me off the dime! Gizmag has the story; here's an excerpt: "For years, snowboarding novices have been forced to meet the sport with a combination of terror and pain. Even the smallest bunny hill is horrifying to look at when your legs are locked into a device that you have no idea how to use. One wrong move and you're eating an unpleasant mix of snow, ice and pride. The new Streetboardz Boarder Kontrol takes some of the intimidation out of learning by giving beginners something they've always wanted: instant braking..."
36 F. high in the Twin Cities yesterday.
28 F. average high for February 12.
32 F. high on February 12, 2012.
9" snow so far in February.
3.2" normal snowfall from February 1-12.
Trace of snow reported during the first 12 days of February, 2012.
February Slush. Admit it - it felt pretty good out there yesterday with sunshine, light winds, and highs near or above 32 F. over much of Minnesota. Highs ranged from 26 at Alexandria to 31 St. Cloud, 33 at Rochester and 36 in the Twin Cities. Snow on the ground ranges from 3" at Rochester to 6" (MSP, 12" St. Cloud and 25" at International Falls.
Uh Oh. This is a troubling photo, on so many levels. Hey, where did this guy get a "Big Boy" float? Photo courtesy of theCHIVE.
Paul's Star Tribune Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:
TODAY: Sloppy thaw. Some sun giving way to increasing clouds. Winds: SW 10-15. High: 35
WEDNESDAY NIGHT: A period of snow; coating to 1" (more north of MSP). Low: 26
THURSDAY: Mostly cloudy, windy and colder with flurries. High: 28
FRIDAY: More clouds than sun. Brisk. Wake-up: 12. High: 18
SATURDAY: Cold start, clouds increase PM hours. Wake-up: 3. High: 16
SUNDAY: Partly sunny, a welcome thaw. Wake-up: 7. High: 33
MONDAY: More clouds, cooling off PM hours. Wake-up: 22. High: near 30
TUESDAY: Chilled sunshine. Wake-up: 8. High: 15
* 22 degree halo photo above courtesy of Steve Burns.
Bill McKibben Is Coming To Minnesota. From Paul Thompson, Director at coolplanetmn.org: "How can we connect people with their desire to take action on a rapidly changing climate? Can people actually do something to alter the future of history? What season to Minnesotans relate to more than any other? At Cool Planet (www.coolplanetmn.org) we believe that people will take the ncessary steps to address climate change when they make a personal connection with what is happening in THEIR world.
Bill McKibben, arguably the global leader for climate action, is coming to ski the American Birkebeiner Ski Marathon in NW Wisconsin. As cross-country skiers we have noticed a distinct lack of predictable snow over the past decade. Minnesota winters without snow? That's just not right. Here's what some Minnesotans/Wisconsinites are saying about "What I Love About Winter":
Grace, age 11, Edina: "I love, love, love ice skating and going sledding because I love the feeling of wind and snow in my face."
Jen, age 26, Whittier Neighborhood, Minneapolis: "When we actually get the snow I remember getting growing up."
Jonathan, age 54, Cable, WI: "The crunch of snow underfoot. Viewing the moon on a frigid evening. Watching my daughter make snow forts."
Kamin, age 54, Hayward, WI: "Finding wold tracks in the snow, snow shoeing and cross country skiing."
How do we get together to protect the things we love about this season that defines Minnesota and Wisconsin?
Oklahoma Farmer Challenges Obama To Roll Up His Sleeves On Climate Change. As I've said before, extreme weather is doing what climate scientists couldn't: convince a majority of logical, evidence-seeking Americans that something has changed. Here's an excerpt from Mother Nature Network: "In just a short while President Obama will be taking to the stage for his State of the Union address, and many who have suffered severely from the consequences of drought, storms, and other extreme climate events have one thing on their minds -- will Obama say the "C" word? In this video, one farmer from Oklahoma, Clay Pope, challenges the president to address the growing problem of climate change. He explains how Oklahoma farmers have been paralyzed in some parts of the state as extreme drought enters its fourth year. In 2011, Governor Mary Fallin asked all Oklahomans to "pray for rain." Sadly, since then conditions have become far worse (see the drought chart)..."
Security Risks of Climate Change And Extreme Weather. Here's an excerpt from ScienceDaily: "Increasingly frequent extreme weather events such as droughts, floods, severe storms, and heat waves have focused the attention of climate scientists on the connections between greenhouse warming and extreme weather. Because of the potential threat to U.S. national security, a new study was conducted to explore the forces driving extreme weather events and their impacts over the next decade, specifically with regard to their implications for national security planning. The report finds that the early ramifications of climate extremes resulting from climate change are already upon us and will continue to be felt over the next decade, directly impacting U.S. national security interests..."
Image credit above: "Hurricane Katrina. Predicted changes in extremes include more record high temperatures; fewer but stronger tropical cyclones; wider areas of drought and increases in precipitation; increased climate variability; Arctic warming and attendant impacts; and continued sea level rise as greenhouse warming continues and even accelerates." (Credit: NOAA)
Harvard Study. Here is a link to the PDF of the new research referenced above. A long but worthy read.
The Earth's Climate Doesn't Care What Political Party You Are A Member Of. Here's an important video, courtesy of Greg Laden's scienceblogs.com: "Climate scientist Anthony Leiserowitz drops some serious knowledge on “Moyers & Company”. In two bullet points, he describes exactly what Obama needs to say about global warming and what we can do to stop climate change. Let’s hope Obama watches Bill Moyers videos."
Canadian Doctors Urged To Fight Climate Change. Climate Central has the story; here's an excerpt: "Scientists began talking seriously about some dangers of climate change more than 30 years ago — rising seas, changing weather patterns, more rain in rainy places and more drought in dry places, and more. But the risks that lie outside their areas of expertise have taken longer to draw attention — especially in the area of human health. That has started to change, however, as medical professionals have begun to understand how a changing climate could lead to all sorts public health problems — increased mortality as heat waves become more intense and more common; a rising incidence of allergies; the spread of infectious diseases into new areas; and more. The latest evidence of this growing awareness: an editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that lays out the facts and urges doctors to become more vocal in demanding action against climate change..."
The Super Bowl of Weather
By Todd Nelson
My 8th birthday was spent at a summer campground, fishing for walleye on the wonderful Lake Osakis near Alexandria. It was an overnight severe thunderstorm that nearly tipped our camper that not only freaked me out, but also became an event that steered me into a career that involved weather.
If you're a weather geek like me, consider yourself lucky to be living in an area that can be considered the Super Bowl of weather!
From tornadoes to blizzards, we get it all! Never a dull moment in the Upper Midwest. Just think: The hottest day of 2012 was July 6 (102F); The Twin Cities recorded tornadoes on November 10, a trace of snow on November 11; and just had our coldest night of the winter season with a temp of -13 Friday morning.
"If you don't like the weather in Minnesota, just wait a minute" - From the -13F low temp Friday to high temps midweek nearing the freezing mark, it'll be a regular Minnesota heat wave! Try telling a Floridian that freezing feels 'warm'!
Clippers will bring nuisance snowfall chances through the first half of the week. A more robust system may bring a wintry mix close to home by next weekend... Stay tuned! Todd Nelson
Todd's Star Tribune Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:
SUNDAY: Cold start, light snow develops later. High: 13.
SUNDAY NIGHT: Light snow, 1" to 2" possible mainly across Minnesota River Valley. Low: 2
MONDAY: Some sun between clippers. Clouds thicken, more snow overnight. High: 13
TUESDAY: About 1" of snow possible early, warmer. Wake-up: 10. High: 29
WEDNESDAY: Fading sun. Light snow late, mainly north. Wake-up: 9. High: 30
THURSDAY: Mostly cloudy, brief thaw? Wake-up: 21. High: 31
FRIDAY: Blue sky, feeling better out there. Wake-up: 14. High: 33
Saturday: Wintry mix develops. Wake-up: 20. High: 34.
Snow Removal of a Different Kind
I can honestly say I've never tried snow removal with a leaf blower until Friday! Temperature near 0F made for a VERY fluffy 2" - Not sure if my neighbors thought I was weird or not, but it seemed like a GREAT idea at the time!
A series of fast moving clipper systems will sail through our neck of the woods almost daily until Thursday of next week. Each one will bring a chance of light snow to the area, but it appears the track of each succeeding clipper will be a little farther north. The image below is the snow forecast through AM Tuesday. Light blue indicates the potential of at least 2"
The image below suggests the amount of snow possible with each passing clipper. Note the frequecy of each light snow accumulation. It won't be a terrible amount with any specific one, but it could add up in the end!
Colder air is exptected to stick around through the early week, but note the significant jump in highs by the middle/end of the week. High temperatures may consistently be around 30F if not above the freezing mark!
6 to 10 Day Temperature Outlook
After a chilly start to February, it appears that warmer air will settled in to the eastern half of the country over the next 6 to 10 days. The blue out west is in response to a developing low pressure system that could bring more active weather to the central part of the country by next weekend.
Next Week Storm System
The ECMWF (Euro) model suggests a more robust system moving into the mid-section of the nation by next weekend. This may result in a few storms across the Lower Mississippi Valley and snow across the far north. Stay tunded for more!
Thanks for checking in and have a good rest of your weekend!
Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @TNelsonWNTV
By: Todd Nelson
Soon to be Super Bowl champions, the Minnesota Vikings (I'm an optimistic thinker) report to training camp THIS Sunday, how about that!
Minnesota summers always seem to be a sprint, don't they? We race to Memorial Day, the unofficial start to summer, blink and it's already the 4th of July. There's still a lot of summer to go, but we are definitely on the summer slide as Fair season approaches. The heat of 2012 has been a talker thus far, but on today's day in 1987 the Twin Cities had its largest flash flood in history.
9.15" fell on this date 25 years ago, which flooded thousands of homes and created millions of dollars worth of damage. The rain never quit; there were reports of impassable roads and businesses closed for several days. A few days before the event, heavy rain soaked some of these same areas, which set the stage for widespread flooding. In the end, the meteorological summer of 1987 became the wettest summer in recorded history with almost 2 feet of rain!
Your last full week of July 2012 will be warm and humid with several clusters of storms developing during the overnight hours. Some of these may linger into the morning - Todd Nelson
Todd's StarTribune Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:
MONDAY: Another very warm and unsettled late. Intervals of sticky sun. High: 92
MONDAY NIGHT: Chance of overnight thunder. Low: 72
TUESDAY: Still summery with a chance of thunder developing overnight. High: 87
WEDNESDAY: Sweaty and muggy with some heavy downpours. Low: 72. High: 84.
THURSDAY: Lingering clouds and thunder. Low: 68. High: 84.
FRIDAY: A slight break in the heat. Not as humid, spits of PM rain. Low: 67. High: 84.
SATURDAY: Quiet with sun. Not as hot or humid. Low: 66. High: 84
SUNDAY: Fading sun with some afternoon thunder. Low: 66. High: 87.
Twin Cities Superstorm of 1987: 25 Years Later
"25 years ago, the largest flash flood in Twin Cities history began on July 23, and ended during the early morning hours of July 24. Known locally as the “Superstorm”, the storm caused damage to 9,000 homes and killed two people. Value of the damage was estimated at $27 million. This storm was voted the eighth most significant weather event in the state of Minnesota during the 20th century."
(Flooded Interstate 494 at East Bush Lake Road in Bloomington. Photo courtesy of KARE11)
More Superstorm Coverage
Take a look at some of the coverage of the massive flooding from KARE 11 and WCCO.
Thanks to Tom Oszman for sending these links over:
Super Storm Coverage
KARE-TV Sunrise (with Paul Douglas)
KARE-TV Evening Coverage (with Paul Douglas)
WCCO's Debbie Ely in standing flood water night of the storm
(Rainfall totals - KARE News11 Sunrise from July 24, 1987)
Thanks to my good friend, Rich Koivisto, from Duluth, MN for the picture below. Spotty showers and thunderstorms have been bubbling up on the northern periphery of the extreme heat setting up to the south. We'll have a few more of these storms across the region this week and the core of the extreme heat continues to our south.
Severe Thunderstorm Threat
The Storm Prediction Center has issued a SLIGHT RISK of severe weather in a couple of locations shaded in yellow for Monday. Hail and high winds would be the primary threat for any of the more vigorous storms that would develop.
5 Day Rainfall Forecast
NOAAs HPC 5 day rainfall forecast shows pockets of heavy rainfall potential around the extreme heat in the central part of the country. It still apears that heavy rainfall is not expected in the drought stricken areas of the middle part of the country where drought conditions will likely continue to worsen.
Excessive Heat Warnings and Heat Advisories continue once again for a large chunk of the middle part of the country where heat index values will top the century mark. In fact, afternoon heat index values could be as high as 110F!
NOAAs HPC maximum heat index for next Sunday shows a slight reprieve from the heat, mainly across the Great Lakes region. The excessive heat with afternoon heat index values approaching 110F look to be sagging south just a bit.
Hot Weather to Continue
WASHINGTON (AP) — The unusually hot dry weather that has gripped the nation will not let up its stranglehold over the next few months, federal weather forecasters said Thursday.
And that means the heartland's "flash drought" will linger at least until around Halloween and even spread a bit farther north and east.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's outlook for August through October shows that nearly every state likely will have hotter than normal temperatures. Much of the Midwest is likely to be drier than normal, too."
Thanks for checking in, have a great week ahead!
Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @TNelsonWNTV
54 F. high on Wednesday, "only" 6 degrees above average.
48 F. average high for March 28.
36 F. high temperature one year ago; March 28, 2011.
75 F. predicted high for Saturday, the last day of a truly historic March for warmth. The old record: 82 (1986)
82 F. predicted high for Sunday in the Twin Cities. Record is 82 in 1882. I suspect we'll at least tie the record now.
.61" rain predicted tonight in the metro (12z NAM model).
Gusty winds should prevent a frost next Tuesday morning.
31 F. forecast low for next Wednesday morning. Frost is likely in the outlying suburbs, possible within the 494/694 freeway system as winds ease, under a clear sky. Details below.
"Vanity is the quicksand of reason." - George Sand
5,322 daily records in the last week, nationwide. Source: NOAA
One Week's Worth Of Records. Here is the latest Ham Weather map, showing 24-hour records for the USA in just the last 7 days. Here's a breakdown:
|Low Max Temp:||80|
|High Min Temp:||2359|
50 Degree Temperature Drop In 60 Hours? After topping 80 Sunday, the mercury tumbles Monday and Tuesday, gusty winds keeping the air stirred up, preventing a frost until (possibly) Wednesday morning, when the combination of clear skies and light winds may trigger a frost, especially over the suburbs.
"Planting crops right now warrants caution, since there is still a possibility for a 32-degree freeze to occur, or even a 28-degree “hard” freeze, which could kill plants that have emerged. Crop insurance policies do not cover replanting costs if farmers plant before the earliest seeding date, which is April 6 in most of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio and April
11 in Iowa and Minnesota." - from a MRCC press release, more details below.
"In human cost, it was an astounding year: more than 600 deaths nationwide from nearly 1,900 tornadoes and 30,000 total severe weather events - none other like it in many decades." - from a WLOX-TV story below.
"The tentative new products include a storm surge map that shows how far inland and how deep seawater is likely to flow into communities as a storm approaches. Another shows only a storm surge warning area, similar to the National Weather Service maps that show tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings." - from a Herald Tribune article below documenting the changes NHC is making to hurricane predictions and tracking for 2012. Photo: NOAA.
"For extreme heat waves and unusual downpours, the answer, Coumou and his colleagues found, is yes. “The evidence is solid,” he said: Extra heat in the atmosphere from human-caused greenhouse gases has made these two types of events much more likely. The climate has already changed, and the sheer number of these events over the past decade reflects it, they find." - from a Washington Post article, details below.
"Though modest in size, the clean economy employs more workers than the fossil fuel industry and bulks larger than bioscience but remains smaller than the IT-producing sectors." - from a 2011 study on clean energy and jobs from The Brookings Institute.
4.25" diameter hail reported at Madison, Kansas at 8:57pm Wednesday evening.
(Updated) Thursday Severe Risk. SPC has expanded the "slight" risk area; it now extends from Des Moines, Sioux City and Omaha southward to Kansas City, Wichita and Oklahoma City. A few storms may exceed severe criteria (58 mph. wind gusts and/or 1" diameter hail) in and near this area. Source: SPC.
Palmer Drought Index. Here is the approximate amount of rain it will take to pull us out of a drought; anywhere from 2-6" of rain across most of Minnesota and much of Iowa. Wisconsin and the Dakotas are in slightly better shape with soil moisture. Map courtesy of NOAA and Ham Weather.
Tsunami Drills? From the NWS in Alaska: "Between 9:45am and 10:15am (Wednesday) morning, the National Weather Service and Alaska's Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management will be conducting a tsunami warning drill. During that time, you may hear sirens and, if you are watching TV or listening to the radio, you may hear a message that says a tsunami warning has been issued for Alaska. Please keep in mind that this is only a test."
"Wedding Insurance" for your big day? Read on...
Crocus-Cam. Thanks to Broadcast Weather meteorologist Aaron Shaffer for reminding us how amazing flowerbeds and gardens are looking out there - about a month ahead of schedule. I fear some of these tender flowers will freeze their buds off by Tuesday of next week; best chance in the outlying suburbs.
Too Early To Plant/Farm? Here's a portion of a Wednesday press release (pdf) from MRCC, The Midwestern Regional Climate Center in Champaign, Illinois: "The warm temperatures and relatively dry soil have prompted farmers to think about planting their corn crop early this year. There are reports of farmers planting corn in Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri about two to four weeks early. In addition, residential gardeners may also plant early because of the warm temperatures....A majority of Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio have not experienced a growing season that has started before April (see Figure 2). Planting crops right now warrants caution, since there is still a possibility for a 32-degree freeze to occur, or even a 28-degree “hard” freeze, which could kill plants that have
emerged. Crop insurance policies do not cover replanting costs if farmers plant before the earliest seeding date, which is April 6 in most of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio and April 11 in Iowa and Minnesota.
Record Season Accelerates Growing Season And Potential For Plant Damage. Here's a timely post from the Green Bay office of the NWS: "Most springs, the growing season doesn’t begin in northeast and north-central Wisconsin until late April or early May. This is normally when the NWS frost and freeze program begins. However, the recent stretch of record setting summer-like warmth has caused the growing season to begin four to six weeks earlier than normal. As a result, the NWS Green Bay office will begin issuing advisories for sub-freezing temperatures so those with sensitive vegetation can mitigate the impact of the cold during this early spring. Freeze Warnings will be issued for northeast and north-central Wisconsin when temperatures of 28 F or lower are anticipated. Frost will be forecast when temperatures of around 32 F or lower are expected with the formation of frost, but Frost Advisories will not yet be issued due to the more limited impact these temperatures have on existing agriculture. As the spring progresses, normal advisories for frost and freeze conditions will resume." Photo above: Ron Edmonds/AP.
Our Evolving Winters. Here's a portion of a press release from "On Thin Ice" a new paper from the National Wildlife Federation: "Since the 1970s, winter temperatures have been increasing across the northern United States, from 1 to 2 degrees F in the Pacific Northwest to about 4 degrees F in the Northeast. The season is also getting shorter, with spring now arriving as much as two weeks earlier than it did just two decades ago. And winter is becoming less white: The extent of snow cover across the Northern Hemisphere has decreased by approximately 3 to 9 percent since 1978, with especially rapid declines in the western United States. Climatologists expect these trends to continue, and they project that by the end of the century, parts of the Northeast will lose as many as half of their snow-covered days each year." Photo: Aaron Shaffer.
Did Winter Forget The Great Lakes? Here's an interesting post from NOAA's Satellite And Information Service: "A notable stretch of record warm temperatures across the upper Midwest has done quite a bit of damage to the already low Great Lakes ice pack. Thousands of daily record high temperatures were set as temperatures exceeding 80 degrees, in areas where normal highs are in the upper 30s/lower 40s. The ice cover across the lakes has been well below normal for much of this season, but this latest warm spell has brought levels to the lowest extent seen in over 30 years. The National Ice Center is a multi-agency operational center operated by the United States Navy, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the United States Coast Guard."
Significant Weather Threats Day 3-7. NOAA has a special graphic summarizing the weather threats for Days 3-7. With the core of the jet stream dipping south, meaning frequent storms and huge temperature swings, expect unusually windy conditions over the western 1/2 of the USA; heavy snow for the Sierra and Cascade range out west, lingering drought for the southwest, southeast and parts of southern MN and the Arrowhead.
Significant Rain Sails North. The Duluth office of the NWS runs a local WRF model, which is predicting close to 1" of rain over Bemidji, closer to .5" rain for Brainerd, nearly .8-.9" around Duluth - a mix of rain and snow.
Looks Like S-N-O-W. Whisper it please Paul. The latest NAM model prints out 4-5" snow north of Duluth, for much of the Minnesota Arrowhead. No, we won't see any snow here in the metro, but this is a little close for comfort.
Snowy Stripe. An atmospheric tug-of-war will spark a potentially "plowable" snowfall from the Minnesota Arrowhead into northern Wisconsin, Lower Michigan and upstate New York. Yes, that's 6" for the Hibbing area, maybe 1-3" for Duluth, according to the latest NAM model. Yikes.
Uh Oh. Based on the latest data I don't see a widespread, killing freeze in the metro, meaning a few hours colder than 28 F. But a frost is likely by next Wednesday morning in the outlying suburbs, possible in the close-in suburbs.
April Warming Trend. The latest runs don't look quite as chilly for the second week of April - a few days in the 50s, but plenty of 60s between April 7-13. Data: NOAA GFS.
Anatomy Of A "Supercell". Here is the rotating mesocyclone that spawned 4"+ diameter hail north of Emporia, Kansas Wednesday evening, with a few confirmed tornado touchdowns. The (GR2 Analyst) image upper left shows traditional reflectivity, the pulse of NWS Doppler reflecting off of rain and hail - a classic "hook shape" to the rotating cell. The image upper right shows a 3-D cross-section of the same supercell, showing the faint outline of a powerful updraft capable of keeping baseball-size hail aloft, and the shear necessary for tornadogenesis. Thanks to Broadcast Weather meteorologist Todd Nelson for passing this along.
Hail And High Water. The freezing level was closer to the ground than usual over West Virginia yesterday, a puddle of cold air swirling aloft. Nathan Rohrbough took this photo in Lewis County, West Virginia. Nicely done!
Winter Flashback. Yep, it looks like....March...over upstate Maine. Here's the YouTube clip of snowcovered roads, sent in by jon18savage. Ah...brings back memories best left forgotten.
View From The North Pole. It was a stunning Aurora Borealis visible at North Pole, Alaska late Tuesday night - image courtesy of the Alaska office of the National Weather Service, via my dear friend Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook.
Report: Over 600 People In U.S. Died During Weather In 2011. Al Conklin, Chief Meteorologist at WLOX-TV has the details: "ORLANDO, FL (WBTV) - Major tornado outbreaks, land falling hurricanes and even a freakish Halloween weekend snowstorm in the Northeast combined to make 2011 the worst year on record for federally declared disasters. In human cost, it was an astounding year: more than 600 deaths nationwide from nearly 1,900 tornadoes and 30,000 total severe weather events - none other like it in many decades. Crunching the numbers, overall losses to the American economy added up $77 billion. More than half of those losses were covered by insurance providers, one of the costliest to the industry on record, and a that could be a troubling sign. With 2012 off to an unusually busy start - already 55 deaths resulting from 375 tornadoes across the Midwest and South - insurance rates for homeowners and business may spike with the weather."
Major Overhaul To Hurricane Warning System. The Herald Tribune has a timely story - hurricane season is a little more than 2 months away: "Sweeping changes are in the works for the National Hurricane Center's visual warnings on tropical weather, and this time scientists want to make sure the public understands them. Within a few years, the cone of uncertainty, which shows a hurricane's predicted path, will likely be obsolete. Too many people misinterpret it as a forecast for hurricane winds. Also, new warnings and maps for storm surge are likely to emerge, a move that will bring the largest change to the hurricane center's warning program in decades. Hurricane Ike is the driving force behind the changes, said Jamie Rhome, a storm surge specialist with the National Hurricane Center. In 2008, Ike's enormous storm surge trapped thousands of people in Galveston and nearby coastal areas because they did not evacuate, despite pleas from the National Weather Service."
Hurricane Myths Debunked. WAFB-TV in Baton Rouge, LA has a terrific story, trying to put to rest potentially dangerous old (husband's) tales about hurricanes. A number of people still confuse tornadoes and hurricanes: "Turns out some common strategies people used to keep themselves safe from hurricanes aren't as safe as you think. Climatologist Bill Keim has heard dozens of hurricane home safety remedies over the years; taping windows is just one of them. "The tape is not gonna really help you keep it from getting knocked out, but if it does get knocked out it keeps the glass from shattering and going all over the place and creating other health hazards," said Keim. Others swear by cracking windows around the house, to balance the outside versus inside air pressure. "All that really does is allow the storm to get inside of your house...the wind," said Keim. "And that's only gonna create more damage, so that is not wise in either a hurricane or a tornado."
"Ask Paul". Weather-related Q&A.
I enjoy reading your blog….
Don't know if you have seen this or not, bur it is a very interesting way to look at wind patterns in the US…
John Uppgren, TechBarn.com
Thanks John - this is one of the best visualizations of wind I've ever seen. It's not current, but rather predicted winds, based on NOAA NDFD forecast data. Very nice - thanks for sharing!
Photo Of The Day: "Lenticularis". Do NOT call 911. This is not a UFO, although the fact it was hovering over Las Vegas does make me stop and wonder. Details from the Las Vegas NWS, via Facebook: "Yesterday evening between 5 and 5:30 lenticular clouds could be seen in the sky over Las Vegas. Lenticular clouds are lens shaped clouds that form at the crest of air flowing over mountains. They are usually associated with strong flow over mountains, which is then forced downward upon encountering a stable layer. As the air ascends, it cools and reaches its dew point temperature. The water vapor in the air condenses, forming a cloud. The stable layer then forces it to descend – often warming it enough for the condensed water to evaporate back to vapor putting a break in the cloud. When a strong enough wave exists, lenticular clouds can ebb and flow continuously."
ABC And Nielson Measuring iPad Behavior. You know this was coming - so many people are watching their favorite shows on iPads (which, up until recently, haven't been counted in the all-important "ratings"). That's changing, and programmers are probably breathing a collective sigh of relief. Details from TVNewsCheck.com: "Disney/ABC Television Group’s ABC Research team and Nielsen today announced a new initiative to determine how people use iPads, for video consumption and other activities. Disney/ABC said that with Apple now reporting more than 55 million iPads sold to date and 3 million new iPads sold since March 16, “the importance of understanding how, when and where consumers use tablets is a top priority for the media industry.” Photo above courtesy of an article about iPPad usage cutting into traditional TV viewing time at CNN.
"Television has proved that people will look at anything rather than each other." - Ann Landers
"Second-Screen Viewing." This photo sums up what's happening right now with media consumption better than anything I could explain. People are watching TV (with one eye), while fiddling with their smart phones and iPads. LostRemote.com has details: "We all know that kids thrive on mobile devices and love to multitask in front of TV, but sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. Scott Macklin, associate director at the awesome MCDM program at the University of Washington, shared with me this photo of his son, Case, and his friends watching the Super Bowl."
"Wedding Protector" Plan Insurance - Why Leave Anything To Chance? It was only a matter of time before this idea became a business reality. Now if your Big Day gets rained out with monsoon floods - you get your money back. Pretty cool. Details "The Wedding Protector Plan®, underwritten by travelers, urges brides and grooms to consider insuring their investment and deposits for their upcoming wedding. The wedding and event insurance provides coverage for many problems including severe weather that may be avoided if insured properly. Tornado season is upon us and hurricane season is looming close behind. Already a record number of tornadoes have swept across the United States this year, which could set the stage for the intensity of the upcoming hurricane predictions. According to TheKnot.com, there were 6,031 weddings planned for Aug. 26 through Aug. 28 in areas affected by Hurricane Irene."
Photo credit above: wedinator.icanhascheezburger.com.
A Perfectly Good Waste Of 99 Cents: "Ugly-Meter". O.K. True confession: I heard this on Howard Stern. Please don't judge me. Let he (or her) who is without sin cast the first stone. For the record I go back and forth between Stern, NPR and Bloomberg Radio on my trusty Sirius Satellite Radio. Yeah - I'm a real mess. Apparently this app looks for symmetry of facial features when determining "beauty", or lack thereof. What a great party treat! More details from the iTunes Store.
Still Above-Average. The sun was out, temperatures still 5-10 F. above average on Wednesday, ranging from 46 at Hibbing to 53 St. Cloud, 54 in the Twin Cities and 57 at Rochester. .03" of light rain fell at International Falls, mixed with a little wet snow.
Paul's Star Tribune Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:
TODAY: Sunny start. Clouds increase. Showers possible by late afternoon or evening. Winds: SE 10-20. High: 57
THURSDAY NIGHT: Rain likely, even a clap of thunder (nothing severe expected right now). Low: 46
FRIDAY: Wet start, slow PM clearing - brightening up and drying out as the day goes on. High: 61
SATURDAY: Warm sun. Wow! Winds: S 10-20. High: 75
SUNDAY: Sunny, breezy, almost hot. No April Fool's joke. Winds: S 15. High: 82 (!) That would tie the record.
MONDAY: Showery rains, turning colder. Winds gust to 30 mph. Low: 49. High: 54
TUESDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, still windy - probably frost-free. Low: 36. High: 52
WEDNESDAY: Frost possible early in the suburbs. More sun, not as chilly with less wind. Low: 31. High: 56
A Very Green March
"It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade," wrote Charles Dickens.
What a wondrously fickle March. We've had a couple of bad hair-days, the result of jet stream winds howling overhead, and big temperature swings. The greater the contrast in temperature, the faster the winds have to blow to keep the atmosphere in equilibrium.
I'm hearing reports of farmers out doing fieldwork and prep for spring planting. Go slow. The risk of frost, even a killing freeze, is quite high in April. The mean date of the last 32F at MSP? April 29.
According to the Midwestern Regional Climate Center "Despite the early warmth, climatology tells us that the possibility for a freeze in April remains high, putting emerging plants and crops at risk". Apple and peach trees are blossoming in Wisconsin! It reminds me of 2007, when we had early warmth, followed by an Easter freeze.
Showers arrive tonight; a warm front boosting the mercury into the 70s Saturday, low 80s Sunday? Monday showers usher in colder air - a frost is very possible Tuesday morning, before warming back to near 70 late next week.
"The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty. The activist is the man who cleans up the river." - Ross Perot
Reports Link Heat Waves, Deluges To Climate Change. Here's an article from The Washington Post: "Scientists are increasingly confident that the uptick in heat waves and heavier rainfall is linked to human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, posing a heightened risk to the world’s population, according to two reports issued in the past week. On Wednesday, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a 594-page study suggesting that when it comes to weather observations since 1950 there has been a “change in some extremes,” which stem in part from global warming."
Climate Change To Drive Weather Disasters; UN Experts. Here is an excerpt of an AFP story on the just-released 592 page study: "The report made these points:
-- Since the 1950s, record-breaking daily temperatures and heatwaves have become more frequent or lasted longer, according to strong evidence. There is a 90-100 percent probability that this will continue through the 21st century.
"The hottest day, which today occurs once every 20 years, is expected to occur once every second year by the end of the 21st century," said climate physicist Thomas Stocker.
This scenario is based on the assumption that today's high emissions of greenhouse gases continue unabated, he explained.
-- Extreme rainstorms have intensified over past decades and are likely to become more frequent in this century, although with big differences between regions.
-- Southern Europe and West Africa have already experienced bigger or longer droughts. This century, central Europe, central North America, central America and Mexico, northeast Brazil and southern Africa could follow suit.
Global Warming Linked To Deadly, Costly Weather Disasters. More details from USA Today: "The greatest danger from extreme weather is in highly populated, poor regions of the world, the report warns, but no corner of the globe — from Mumbai to Miami — is immune. The document by a Nobel Prize-winning panel of climate scientists forecasts stronger tropical cyclones and more frequent heat waves, deluges and droughts. The 594-page report blames the scale of recent and future disasters on a combination of man-made climate change, population shifts and poverty."
Photo credit above: Photo of Cyclone Sidr aftermath in Bangladesh (2007) courtesy of Ezekiel R. Kitandwe/AP.
Climate Change Report: Watch Out Mumbai And Miami. Probably not a great time to be purchasing coastal real estate. My humble advice: rent. Here's an article from The Christian Science Monitor: "Global warming is leading to such severe storms, droughts and heat waves that nations should prepare for an unprecedented onslaught of deadly and costly weather disasters, an international panel of climate scientists says in a report issued Wednesday. The greatest danger from extreme weather is in highly populated, poor regions of the world, the report warns, but no corner of the globe — from Mumbai to Miami — is immune. The document by a Nobel Prize-winning panel of climate scientists forecasts stronger tropical cyclones and more frequent heat waves, deluges and droughts."
Photo credit above: "Indians stroll near Nariman point, an area reclaimed from the sea which is now the lower tip of the city, in Mumbai, India. Sea levels rising because of global warming, along with increased storminess as the climate changes, will expose tens of millions of people in the world's port cities to coastal flooding, says a new IPCC report. (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade/file)."
The Most Disaster-Prone Regions Of The Planet? I stumbled upon this paper, showing southern Asia as having the highest frequency of disasters, mostly weather-related. The risk is nearly as high over The Americas, significantly lower over Europe and northern Asia (Russia), lowest over Africa.
Farming Needs "Climate-Smart" Revolution, Says Report. The BBC has the details: "Major changes are needed in agriculture and food consumption around the world if future generations are to be adequately fed, a major report warns. Farming must intensify sustainably, cut waste and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from farms, it says. The Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change spent more than a year assessing evidence from scientists and policymakers. Its final report was released at the Planet Under Pressure conference."
Photo credit: AFP.
How To Fight Food Insecurity, Even In A Changing Climate. Scientific American has the story: "About 800 million people worldwide do not get enough food to eat, while about 1.5 billion are overweight. As the global population expands by an additional 2 billion people by 2050 and climate change alters traditional agricultural areas, scientists and policy makers are racing to figure out how to address both problems. This uneven food landscape is not caused solely by government regulations or farming practices, but stems from many powerful forces—forces that are expected to keep increasing. “Several converging threats—from climate change, population growth and unsustainable use of resources—are steadily intensifying pressure on humanity and world governments to transform the way food is produced, distributed and consumed,” wrote the authors of a new report, published online March 28, from the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change."
A Small Step Forward For Earth. Here's a story from The L.A. Times: "In an election year, any progress on environmental regulation is cause for celebration. So when the Obama administration on Tuesday released its long-delayed proposal to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, there was reason for anyone concerned about public health or the looming climate menace to cheer — even though it won't shut down a single existing coal-fired plant. Power plants are the nation's biggest single source of greenhouse gas emissions. These gases reflect heat back toward the Earth rather than letting it escape into space; as a result, global average temperatures have risen by about 1 degree since 1880, according to NASA and the Environmental Protection Agency, and carbon emissions are expected to drive increasingly rapid warming."
Photo credit above: "The Obama administration on Tuesday released its long-delayed proposal to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. (Los Angeles Times / March 27, 2012)."
Climate Scientists And Smear Campaigns. Here's a post from CNN and Climate Change: The Next Generation: "Imagine you are sitting in your office simply doing your job and a nasty e-mail pops into your inbox accusing you of being a fraud. You go online and find that some bloggers have written virulent posts about you. That night, you're home with your family watching the news and a talking head is lambasting you by name. Later, a powerful politician demands all your e-mails from your former employer. It sounds surreal. But it all happened to me. What was my offense? I worked on climate change research that indicated the world is a lot warmer today than it was in the past. Because that research caught the public's attention when it was released in 1998, I became one of dozens of climate researchers who have been systematically targeted by a well-funded anti-science campaign."
Photo credit above: "The famed snows of Mt. Kilimanjaro, actually glaciers, are retreating rapidly. Many scientists blame global warming."
Study: Birds Adjusting Slowly To Climate Change. Boston.com has the details: "ALBANY, N.Y.—A new study based on the National Audubon Society's North American Christmas Bird Count finds birds have taken decades to adjust their ranges northward in response to warming winters. Frank La Sorte, a post-doctoral researcher at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, was lead author of the study published online this month by the Journal of Animal Ecology. He said animals adjust to rising minimum winter temperatures by shifting their ranges northward. Since birds are highly mobile and migrate north and south with the changing seasons, they're better able to shift their ranges than less-mobile, non-migrating species, like amphibians."
Photo credit above: "In this undated photo provided by Cornell University, an endangered red-cockaded woodpecker clings to a tree. While other birds adjusted their migration ranges northward in response to warming winters, the red-cockaded woodpecker hasn’t moved at all. Cornell researcher Frank La Sorte said on Tuesday, March 27, 2012, they have specialized habitat needs, found only in the sandy longleaf pine forests of 11 southern states. (AP Photo/Cornell University)."
32 F. high in the Twin Cities Tuesday.
27 F. average high for February 7 at KMSP.
23 F. high temperature one year ago, on February 7, 2011.
-29 F. today's record low in the Twin Cities (most recently in 1991).
+ 13.4 F. Temperatures during the first week of February are running more than 13 degrees above average.
+ 18.8 F. Duluth temperatures are running nearly 19 degrees above average since February 1.
+ 20 F. Temperatures at International Falls since February 1 averaging 20 degrees above normal.
+5.5 F. January temperatures across the lower 48 states were 5.5 F. warmer than the 1901-2000 averages. Source: NCDC.
$2 million. The amount of money that the City of Minneapolis has saved on snow removal so far this winter.
4th warmest January on record. USA Today has details below.
Driest winter on record for much of the Red River Valley. Source: inforum.com.
1 million square miles of snow cover in January. "According to data from the Rutgers Global Snow Lab, the average snow cover in January was 1 million square miles, which was 329,000 square miles below average. This marked the 3rd-smallest January snow cover extent in the 46-year period of record." - from a USA Today article on January climate below.
Record cold January for much of Alaska. Check out the details from KTVA-TV here.
300. As many as 300 tornadoes/year may touch down on Europe, according to estimates from local meteorologists. By comparison the USA sees an average of 1,000 tornadoes/year - most in the world.
February 8, 1835: A severe cold wave gripped the southeastern U.S. The mercury dipped to 8 above at Jacksonville FL, and to zero at Savannah GA. Orange trees were killed to the roots.
"If you count all your assets, you always show a profit." - Robert Quillen
Snow Moon. "A jet is silhouetted on the full moon in St. Petersburg, Russia, early Thursday, April 29, 2010. This month’s full moon is known as a ‘milk moon’ in English-speaking countries. Photo: Dmitry Lovetsky/AP.
158.5. "The three New Madrid 8.0 earthquakes were 158.5 times bigger than the 5.8 (Virginia) quake in August (2011) and almost 2000 times stronger in terms of total energy released." - from a Capital Weather Gang article about the growing potential for a devastating earthquake on the New Madrid fault, impacting St. Louis and Memphis. Details below.
1991. The current cold wave and heavy snow is the most severe to hit Europe and northern Africa since February, 1991. Source: Wunderblog. Photo above courtesy of AP/Jens Meyer.
Global Weirding. "Some of this research shows that sea ice loss may favor winters with predominately negative phases of the Arctic Oscillation. One potential result of global warming, referred to as the “Arctic Paradox,” is that sea ice loss can help warm the Arctic during the winter, while setting in motion a chain reaction of events that make winters colder than they otherwise would be in Europe and the U.S." - from an article below on how changes in the Arctic (and stratosphere) may be impacting global weather circulations.
Palm Trees...And Snow? Germany's Tagesschau.com has some amazing photos of the snow and bitter cold gripping all of Europe. Photo above courtesy of Reuters.
Frozen Canals In Venice. I can't remember the last time I saw this - the gondoliers have to be pretty irritated (along with everyone else in Europe and northern Africa). Details: "A view of the north lagoon, partially iced because of unusually low temperatures, in Venice, Italy, Monday, Feb. 6, 2012. Schools will be closed in Rome on Tuesday, as Italy copes with unusually heavy snow for the Mediterranean country. So far, ten deaths have been linked to winter weather, including two people who were crushed under a collapsed roof south of Rome, and a 91-year-old woman in the northeast port of Trieste who was knocked down by strong winds. In the north, rescuers had to pluck people from their homes, as piles of snow reached 3 meters (10 feet) in some areas. In Milan, Italy's fashion and financial capital, temperatures fell to minus 12 Celsius (10 Fahrenheit) on Monday, and the authorities opened a section of the city subway to shelter some 100 homeless people. (AP Photo/Luigi Costantini)."
Harsh Winter Weather Continues In Europe; Rare Snowstorm Hits Libya. Dr. Jeff Masters has a good recap of the wild and wintry weather gripping Asia, Europe, even northern Africa in his weekly Wunderblog:
"Europe's winter onslaught continues unabated this week, with very cold temperatures and heavy snows over much of the continent. Yesterday, a rare snow storm hit North Africa, bringing 2 - 3 inches of snow to Tripoli, Libya. It was the first snow in Tripoli since at least 2005, and may be the heaviest snow the Libyan capital has seen since February 6, 1956. Across Europe, at least 250 deaths have been blamed on the winter weather since the cold spell began on January 26. Hardest hit has been Ukraine, with 135 deaths--mostly of homeless people. According to weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera, the current cold snap is the most severe for Europe since February 1991."
Photo credit above: "The scene in Tripoli, Libya, on February 6, 2012, after a rare snowstorm. Image credit: libyall.com."
* An estimated 40,000 Libyan troops have been deployed to clear streets and help the sick.
Wild Gyrations. Check out the 500mb wind flow across Europe, upper level winds have buckled dramatically, plunging bitter air as far south as Africa, a vast upper level low temporarily stalled over Italy. This holding pattern has kept a steady flow of numbing air pouring southward across the British Isles into France, Germany and Italy, a blocking pattern preventing the cold low from moving out anytime soon. More records will fall in the days ahead. Map courtesy of the 21st Operational Weather Squadron.
Brushed By Arctic Air. This map, courtesy of policlimate.com, shows the coldest air temperature expected over the next 8 days, the zero-line running from Fargo to St. Cloud into western Wisconsin....parts of upstate New York and northern New England may dip just below zero by the weekend. Not as cold as last month, but chilly enough to get your attention.
The Snow-Less Big Apple. Check out the stats from the New York office of the National Weather Service. So far only 7.2" snow has fallen on New York City, in stark contrast to the 57.7" that had fallen as of last year. More details from the NYC Weather Service Facebook page: "The following graph shows total snowfall for the climate sites since October 1st (10/1/2011-2/6/2012) and compares it to normal for this time period as well as the same time period the previous year (10/1/2010-2/6/2011)."
February 7, 2012 February 7, 2011
National Snowcover as of February 7 (lower 48 states of the USA). Source: NOAA.
Lack Of Ice On Great Lakes. The Wilmington, Ohio office of the National Weather Service has a good recap of the state of ice on the Great Lakes this winter. The maps look like early November, not early February: "These striking satellite images of the Great Lakes from February 4-6 came from NASA polar orbiting satellies equipped with special observing instrumentation known as MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer). One can see only a little ice cover over the northern and western bays and inlets of Lake Superior. Lake Michigan currently exhibits only patchy ice cover in Green Bay, and Lake Huron has only a small area of ice visible in Saginaw Bay and very little in its typically ice-covered northern areas. While ice usually forms over the northeastern fringes of Lake Ontario by this time of year, none can be easily seen at this time. And while much of Lake Erie is ordinarilly covered by ice this time of year due to its relatively shallow depth, only a small amount of ice can be seen over the western portion."
Since December 1: 6-11 Degrees Above Average. Check out the temperature anomalies since December 1 across the Great Lakes and Upper Midwest, courtesty of the Midwestern Regional Climate Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
January Was USA's 4th Warmest On Record. The details from USA Today: "The warmth last month wasn't a mirage: January 2012 was the USA's 4th-warmest January on record, federal climate scientists announced on Tuesday. The national average temperature in January was 36.3 degrees F, which is 5.5 degrees F above the long-term average and the warmest since 2006, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center. The other warmer Januarys were in 1990 and 1953. The data is based on records dating back to 1895."
January Climate Highlights. Last month was 5.5 F. warmer than the 1901-2000 average, according to NCDC, the National Climatic Data Center, a division of NOAA . Here are a few highlights:
Minnesota January Temperature Trends. With an average temperature of 19.1 F. only 2006 was warmer, statewide. 1944 was another unusually mild January. More details from NCDC here.
Ditto. The Same. No Change. I feel like Bill Murray in the movie "Groundhog Day", forever sentenced to repeating the same day (until I get it right). Seems like I keep recyling the same snowfall prediction map. One more time: the GFS shows an utter lack of accumulating snow into midday Saturday across the Upper Midwest, the only snow showing up downwind of the Great Lakes (lake effect snow). Again, the maps look like something out of late October or early November.
Fleeting Goosebumps. No, it won't get as cold as it did back in January, when MSP experienced 4 nights at or below zero (Jan. 18-21). That was the low point, the nadir, the depth of winter, the bottoming-out point. The urban heat island (more homes, industry, asphalt, etc) may keep immediate metro temperatures just above zero Saturday morning, but I expect the suburbs to dip below zero (for only the 4th time all winter). Temperatures reach the mid 30s tomorrow before tumbling Thursday night and Friday, and then climb back up above freezing by Monday and Tuesday.
Trending Milder Again? Both the AO (Arctic Oscillation) and NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) show indices at or above zero by mid February, implying stronger westerly winds aloft - a tendency for the coldest Canadian air to remain locked up in central and northern Canada. More from CPC here. When both the AO and NAO are strongly negative, the odds of severe cold (and significant snow) seem to rise across the lower 48 states. Although the AO went negative in late January and early February the NAO has been neutral to slightly positive.
Theories about, including the possibility that melting arctic ice is triggering a domino effect, displacing the coldest air away from the pole. This winter the jet buckled over Europe, not North America, which may just be random atmospheric variability. Another theory: stratospheric winds. When winds 15-25 miles above the ground ease winds in the troposphere (where all the weather occurs) can also ease, increasing the potential for bitter air to plunge southward. Further complicating matters: global warming may be warming the stratosphere, with uncertain consequences. It's the ultimate puzzle, and although we're learning more every year - there is still much we don't understand about complex circulations in the stratosphere, and how changes in the Arctic are impacting weather patterns worldwide. We'll see more cold fronts, but I'm still fairly convinced that the coldest temperatures of winter are now behind us. Famous last words.
Peering Out Over The Horizon. The 384 GFS outlook for steering winds aloft (500 mb) show a series of clipper impacting Minnesota, temperatures still trending at or slightly above average the last week of February. The map above is valid February 23. I have a hunch the pattern will favor significant snow for the northeast, but there's no sign our dry spell will let up anytime soon.
Paul, Will It Snow (In My Lifetime)? The short answer is yes, but nothing I'd be bold enough to label a "storm" is brewing. The GFS model prints out a whopping .14" liquid around February 22, which may (or may not) translate into a sloppy inch of snow. Wow. It's come to this. Highs from Feb. 15 to Feb. 23 reach the 30s fairly consistently; I wouldn't be surprised to see a few days above 40.
"Winter is not a season, it's an occupation." - Sinclair Lewis
Frozen Web. Now that's one persistent spider. Thanks to failblog.org for passing this one along.
Red River Flows Well Above Average Despite Driest Winter On Record. Fargo's inforum.com has the details: "The Red River’s volume of water is flowing at more than twice its long-term average this winter despite months of abnormally dry weather. But the flows are less than a third of last winter’s gushing volume as of Feb. 1, as the area experiences its driest winter on record to date. The above-normal flows on the Red River, Missouri River and many other rivers in the region are a lingering effect of last year’s record water volumes. “2011 was the biggest flood year that we’ve seen in the area and the region,” Greg Gust, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said Monday. “It was a record year for North Dakota. It was a record year for much of the northern Plains.” Live Fargo webcam above courtesy of USGS.
Florida Soaking. Much of south Florida picked up 1 to 3.5" of rain in the last 3 days, nearly a month's worth of rain in less than 72 hours. Source: NOAA.
Severe Flooding Down Under. NASA's Earth Observatory has more details on widespread flooding across Australia: "Severe flooding affected multiple communities along Australia’s Queensland-New South Wales border in early February 2012. On February 5, 2012, the Australian Associated Press reported that several thousand residents were isolated from the outside world by a “virtual inland sea.” The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured the top image on February 6, 2012. For comparison, the bottom image shows the same region a month earlier, on January 3, 2012. These images use a combination of visible and infrared light to better distinguish between water and land. Water varies in color from electric blue to navy. Vegetation is bright green. Bare ground is earth-toned. Clouds are pale blue-green."
Rainfall Needed To Ease Drought. Much of Minnesota is running a 6-9" rainfall deficit, but the drought is much worst from New Orleans to Panama City and Savanah, where 12-15" needs to fall to erase a growing drought. Map: NOAA.
Lessons From The Tuscaloosa Tornado. Here's an interesting article from The Red And Black on what first responders and city authorities learned from last spring's devastating tornado in Tuscaloosa, Alabama: "The tornado that struck Tuscaloosa, Ala. in April 2011 was among the most damaging storms of the past year. It significantly destroyed the community and put considerable strain on the University of Alabama’s Office of Emergency Prepardness as they dealt with a the kind of disaster many institutions hope they never have to see. Donald Keith, the director of the University of Alabama Emergency Preparedness, gave a lecture at the Tate Student Center that focused on what his university had learned from the storm — and what the University here can do in case of devastating weather."
Photo Of The Day. This is one of the most amazing (and peculiar) photos I've ever seen, passed along by Panhandle Helicopter in Panama City and Rob Marciano over at CNN (via yfrog.com). The air along the Gulf Coast was close to saturation (temperature close to the dew point). Humid air rising up and over the condos triggered just enough upward motion for condensation to occur; clouds forming on the ground (fog). A remarkable sight.
"Dixie Alley" The most tornadoes last year...Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma? Not even close. It was Alabama, with a record 145 tornadoes (roughly the same number Minnesota experienced in 2010, our wettest year on record). The big different. Last year those Alabama tornadoes hit heavily populated areas, like Tuscaloosa and Birmingham. More from NOAA here.
Bicentennial Of The New Madrid Earthquake Sequence: Can It Happen Again? The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang has the story. God forbid the New Madrid earthquake fault ever comes to life again - St. Louis and Memphis could experience widespread devastation: "This winter is the bicentennial (200th) anniversary of the New Madrid, Missouri earthquakes, a series of the most powerful earthquakes to strike the eastern U.S. in recorded history. Three of the quakes in the series are estimated to have reached a magnitude between 7.0 and 8.0. The first earthquake occurred on December 16, 1811, the second on January 23, 1812, and the third on February 7, 1812 - exactly 200 years ago to date. New Madrid was the closest settlement to the epicenters of the immense tremors. According to eyewitness accounts it was totally destroyed. At the time, most of the region, including many of the larger cities such as St. Louis were only sparsely populated with few permanent structures. Consequently, deaths and damages were limited. Should a comparable sequence of earthquakes occur now, it would have consequences above and beyond any natural disaster the U.S. has ever experienced (and not in a sci-fi movie!)." Image above courtesy of geology.com.
Feeling Better About Minnesota's Cold Fronts. Here is an earthquake hazard map, showing fault locations and overall earthquake risk for the USA. The risk of a major tremor is just as great in Memphis and St. Louis as it is along the well-publicized San Andreas fault in California. Source: USGS.
How NASA Makes Those Incredible High-Res Images Of Earth. Wired Science has a fascinating article about those high-res, up to 250 meter resolution images we all tend to take for granted: "In recent weeks, a pair of high-resolution images of the Earth has captivated the public. Taken by the Suomi NPP satellite, these pictures portray our planet’s incredible beauty with 8,000- by 8,000-pixel and 11,500- by 11,500-pixel detail. How were these highly detailed images created? The satellite flies 512 miles above the Earth, but the images appear as if they were taken from a much higher perspective: an altitude of 1,242 for the first image and 7,918 miles for the second. This little trick was accomplished by stitching together data from several orbits, creating an image that appears to be “pulled back.” NASA launched the 4,600-pound Suomi in October to remotely sense variations in the Earth’s oceans, continents, and atmosphere and get a better understanding of climate change. It passes directly from pole to pole 14 times a day, imaging 1,865-mile swaths of our planet with each trip."
Falcon-Cam. Viewers of WWL-TV (New Orleans) had quite a surprise when they tuned in Tuesday morning: "A surprise on our skywatch camera this morning - a falcon! He (or she) sat on the platform for our camera for almost an hour. Wonder if he knew all of Southeast Louisiana was watching!" Check it out on their Facebook page.
Welcome Snow Moon. Why Does It Appear So Much Larger On The Horizon? WJLA-TV's Bob Ryan has a good explanation about this optical illusion. The truth: the moon is the same size near the horizon as it is at the zenith, directly overhead. But our brains perceive the moon as larger near the horizon, because we assume it's closer to our location. Confused? Here's an explanation: "Moonrise is at 5:44 p.m. this evening. A perfect time of the year (not too early . . .not too late) to see one of the great tricks there is. How big do you think the rising Full Moon is? Why is it so huge when it rises tonight but then looks smaller high in the sky around midnight? After all, the Full Moon is really 4000 miles closer to us (the earth's radius) at midnight than at moonrise. Shouldn't it look larger overhead when it is closer than on the horizon? Yes it is but no it doesn't. OK enough of trickery by me. A little explanation here." Moonrise photo courtesy of NASA.
Tornadoes Not A Uniquely American Phenomenon; Europe Gets Its Share, Too. Stars and Stripes has the details: "The sudden, violent and awe-inspiring nature of tornadoes has made them common fodder for legends. For example, Pecos Bill is said to have lassoed a tornado, leaped onto its back and rode it across the Texas plain until it had calmed itself. Here’s another one: Europe has no tornadoes. That, too, is a tall tale of Bunyanesque proportions. Europe has plenty of tornadoes, perhaps 300 or more a year, according to a study by Nikolai Dotzek, a scientist with the Institute of Atmospheric Physics — in Wessling, Germany. That figure includes roughly 170 observed tornadoes in 25 countries and an educated guess that about 130 others were not reported because they dropped from the sky too briefly to be observed or landed unseen in unpopulated areas of the continent." Photo above shows a tornado/waterspout that touched down on northern France in 1961, courtesy of Skywarn Germany.
"App Economy" Has Created Nearly Half A Million Jobs Since 2007. Mashable.com has the details: "That app you use to play Words with Friends on your phone or book a reservation using Open Table might be giving the American economy a nice boost, at least according to a new survey by TechNet. The new “app economy” has created about 466,000 jobs in the United States since 2007, according to the survey. “America’s App Economy – which had zero jobs just 5 years ago before the iPhone was introduced – demonstrates that we can quickly create economic value and jobs through cutting-edge innovation,” Rey Ramsey, President and CEO of TechNet, said on the company’s blog. “Today, the App Economy is creating jobs in every part of America, employing hundreds of thousands of U.S. workers today and even more in the years to come.”
Superbowl Ads Vs. Campaign Ads. I liked John Rash's take on the (much hyped/much-debated) Clint Eastwood Chrysler spot during the Superbowl, in Tuesday's Star Tribune: "The best political ad of 2012 may have already aired -- during Sunday's Super Bowl. Only it wasn't for a candidate, or a cause, but a car company: Chrysler. "It's Halftime in America" defined the themes of the election better than the candidates have. "It's halftime," narrator Clint Eastwood begins. "Both teams are in their locker room discussing what they can do to win the game in the second half. It's halftime in America, too. People are out of work, and they're hurting. And they're all wondering what they're going to do to make a comeback. And we're all scared, because this isn't a game."
"Supergiant" Shrimp-like Beasts Found In Deep Seas. (Bad) sushi anyone? Good grief. National Geographic has more details: "Marine scientists have hoisted up a mysterious new species of "supergiant" amphipods from one of the deepest ocean trenches in the world, scientists announced Thursday Seven of the pinkish, shrimp-like animals crawled into a trap left in the Kermadec Trench, an abysmal rift in the seafloor off the northern coast of New Zealand that sinks down 6.2 miles (10 kilometers). The largest amphipod measured in at 11 inches long (28 centimeters)—nearly three times larger than the previous record-holder—and was captured at a depth of about 4.35 miles (7 kilometers). It's not yet clear whether the newfound giants represent a new species or just especially big supergiant amphipods."
KNOP-TV Airs Will Ferrell Superbowl Ad; GM Calls It Odd. Will Ferrell odd? I prefer "quirky". It's worth a look, if you haven't seen it yet. TVSpy.com has the details: "KNOP in North Platte, Nebraska has a unique distinction: it was the only station in the country to air an Old Milwaukee commercial featuring Will Ferrell during Sunday’s Super Bowl. After airing on KNOP, in the second-smallest market in the country, the ad went viral on Monday, edging out actual Super Bowl ads as the topic of watercooler conversation. Back in North Platte, KNOP general manger Lewys Carlini thinks the whole thing is a bit strange."
Pureflame Let's You Hang A Fireplace On Your Wall. What will they think of next? Kind of a cool concept, I guess. Gizmag.com has more information: "At this time of year, many of us living in the upper reaches of the Northern Hemisphere start wishing that we had a fireplace in our home. Unfortunately, installing a fireplace and chimney in a house that doesn't already have them is quite an involved and expensive process. Here's a solution in the form of a functioning fireplace that you simply hang on the wall like a picture - it's made by a company called Pureflame."
A November Without End. I can't tell you how much the weather maps look like early November, not early February. Tuesday highs ranged from 19 at International Falls to 25 St. Cloud, 30 in the Twin Cities. Duluth is reporting 1" snow on the ground, but all the webcams I see show a very brown Duluth. The most snow at any reporting station? International Falls is reporting a whopping 6".
"The antidote for fifty enemies is one friend." - Aristotle. Photo courtesy of wikipedia.
Paul's Star Tribune Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:
TODAY: Bright sun, seasonably cool. Winds: W 10-15. High: 29
WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Patchy clouds, seasonably cool. Low: 19
THURSDAY: Still mild. Clouds increase. High: 35
FRIDAY: Brisk! Feels like winter. W.C. -10. Low: 7. High: 15
SATURDAY: Subzero start in the suburbs. Bright sun. Low: 2 (MSP International). High: 18
SUNDAY: Fading sun, not as cold. Low: 6. High: 28
MONDAY: Coating of light snow possible. Turning milder. Low: 11. High: 32
TUESDAY: Slow clearing, March-like again. Low: 17. High: 33
A "Useless Winter"
Old Man Winter is pulling his punch. I can't tell you the number of (snow lovers) who have come up to me and said some variation of "Paul, what good is winter if you can't have snow? It's surreal staring out at brown ground in early February! I'm depressed." Older Minnesotans seem relieved, but younger people who EXPECT snowcover in mid winter are baffled. Welcome to the club. Lately I've been more of a therapist than a meteorologist.
The ying and yang of weather: cold spells are usually followed by warm bips. Dry weather gives way to wet periods. Weather, like life, is cyclical. Ups and downs.
That's what makes this winter so extraordinary: how STUCK our pattern has been. La Nina, La Schmeena! Blocking patterns? Nothing I know of adequately describes how persistent this mild, dry pattern has been.
Our late week cold front will be a pale imitation of January's chill. The mercury bottoms out Saturday morning, dipping below zero in the suburbs, for the 4th time all winter. A typical winter brings 28 nights below zero. What happened to "typical"?
When in a drought, don't predict rain (or snow). Amen to that.
Repeat after me: "no big storms (of any flavor) are in sight."
* Photo above courtesy of the AP.
Arctic Oscillation And The Winter Of Global Weirding. A good explanation of a baffling weather pattern from Climate Denial Crock Of The Week: "Weirdly warm and snowless in the US. Brutally cold and icy in Europe. What’s going on? Note in the satellite map above, how cold air is shifted out of the arctic and on to the European land mass – while large polar areas are warmer than usual. Climate Central: The weather pattern responsible for bringing the frigid air to Europe and Eurasia, and locking it in place, is being driven in part by a naturally-occurring pattern of climate variability known as the Arctic Oscillation. The Arctic Oscillation, or AO, is is a climate index that describes the characteristics of the atmospheric circulation over the Arctic, and a related index describes the circulation over the North Atlantic. Depending on whether it’s in a “positive” or “negative” phase, the Arctic Oscillation can bring warmer or cooler than average wintertime conditions to the U.S. and Europe. Right now the Arctic Oscillation is in a negative phase, which tends to favor colder than average weather in Europe and the U.S. Scientists don’t fully understand what causes the Arctic Oscillation to switch from one phase to the other, which limits their ability to forecast these changes ahead of time beyond a week in advance."
The Great Carbon Bubble. Here's a post from Bill McKibbon, courtesy of TomDispatch and Huffington Post: "If we could see the world with a particularly illuminating set of spectacles, one of its most prominent features at the moment would be a giant carbon bubble, whose bursting someday will make the housing bubble of 2007 look like a lark. As yet -- as we shall see -- it’s unfortunately largely invisible to us. In compensation, though, we have some truly beautiful images made possible by new technology. Last month, for instance, NASA updated the most iconic photograph in our civilization’s gallery: “Blue Marble,” originally taken from Apollo 17 in 1972. The spectacular new high-def image shows a picture of the Americas on January 4th, a good day for snapping photos because there weren’t many clouds."
Carbon Emissions Rise Despite Climate Change Policies. More from The Telegraph: "The latest figures from the Department of Energy and Climate change show emissions rose by more than 3 per cent in 2010, the first increase since 2003. The rise in carbon dioxide and other gases comes despite a swathe of Government policies to cut emissions, such as building wind farms and installing solar panels. Ed Davey, the new Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said it was just a blip in the long term goal to halve emissions by 2025."