Paul Douglas is a nationally respected meteorologist with 33 years of television and radio experience. A serial entrepreneur, Douglas is Senior Meteorologist for WeatherNation TV, a new, national 24/7 weather channel with studios in Denver and Minneapolis. Founder of Media Logic Group, Douglas and a team of meteorologists provide weather services for media at Broadcast Weather, and high-tech alerting and briefing services for companies via Alerts Broadcaster. His speaking engagements take him around the Midwest with a message of continuous experimentation and reinvention, no matter what business you’re in. He is the public face of “SAVE”, Suicide Awareness, Voices of Education, based in Bloomington. | Send Paul a question.

Posts about Vikings

Summer Presses On

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: August 14, 2011 - 8:17 PM
Todd's StarTribune Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:
MONDAY: Lingering sun, still pleasant, but a little muggier. Dew point: 64. High: 82
MONDAY NIGHT: Clouds continue to increase with a few showers possible far western and northern Minnesota. A few lingering Perseid Meteorites still visible where clearing persists. Low: 67

TUESDAY: Some sticky sun early, clouds continue to increase with afternoon/evening T-storms (some could be strong). High: 83

WEDNESDAY: Damp start, then clearing. Not as humid. Low: 67. High: near 80

THURSDAY: Low humidity, less wind and bright sun. Dew point: 56. Low: 58. High: 80

FRIDAY: More PM clouds, slight chance of an afternoon shower or storms, especially across the southern half of Minnesota. Low: 63. High: 81

SATURDAY: Unsettled. Shower or T-storms possible. Low: 63. High: 81


SUNDAY: Lingering showers over the eastern part of the state, otherwise getting through the day. Low: 64. High: 81


Photo Courtesy State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry

Every year on the 2nd Saturday in August, my family gets together for our annual family reunion. There are no invites and no RSVPs, everyone just knows to show up with a special dish or two at my aunt and uncles place in Wisconsin who own quite a bit of wooded land. This weekend, for me, marks the time year that I feel an overwhelming sense of Fall knocking on the door... Not only have we lost about an hour and a half of daylight since the longest days of the year back in late June, but I am a seasonal allergy sufferer and I tend to experience subtle signs of the itchy, watery eyes and sneezing around this time of the year (maybe my walk in the woods on Saturday didn't help my symptoms). Don't get me wrong, I LOVE SUMMER and everything that comes with it! It is one of my favorite times of the year. I actually embrace the heat and humidity because the extreme stuff tends to only stick around for a few short weeks and if I had to, I'd rather be outside on a hot summery day rather than a -40F wind chill day. With that said, I've really come to enjoy the change in seasons and especially as we head towards Fall. Other than the Vikings never winning a Superbowl, I love watching the purple and gold, I love being able to make more of those comfort foods (chili, soups, etc.) that don't always sound so appetizing in the summery heat and I love the fall colors that will start to show up within the next month or so, especially up north.



Now, I'm not here to wish the cooler weather on just yet, we still have plenty of warmer weather to enjoy. In fact, this week looks like another fairly mild and at times, somewhat muggy week. The image below shows the extreme heat across the Desert Southwest with some of the heat and humidity spilling into the Plains through the week.


Temps Aloft By Midweek


Local Data - Extended Model Numbers

The extended GFS data suggests that MSP stays in the low to mid 80s all week for daytime high temperatures along with dew point values in the 60s (muggy) today and tomorrow. The muggier stuff will be ahead of a storm system that will bring us shower and thunderstorm chances (better chances) Tuesday afternoon/evening. Dew points then fall into the 50s behind the front Wednesday afternoon & Thursday with lots of sun - these two days look like the pick two days of the week (for now).


  Debris Clouds - Cloudy vs. Sunny

 Thunderstorms upstream from us on Sunday afternoon/evening kept us a little more cloudy during the first half of Sunday. As thunderstorms grow vertically into the atmosphere (sometimes as high as 10 to 15 miles) the stronger upper level winds blow the 'debris clouds' several hundred of mile downstream, which tends to filter out the sun. Depending on where the thunderstorms develop and how the upper level winds are blowing, you can either be enjoying sun or sitting under cloud cover. Take a look at the satellite image below from Sunday afternoon, note how the central and southern part of the state were sitting under 'debris clouds' while the northern half of the state only had a few fair weather cumulus clouds.


Chance For More Debris Clouds

More showers and thunderstorms will be developing across North Dakota late Monday afternoon/evening - the 'debris clouds' will likely move over the state of Minnesota from then on. Central and northern Minnesota will then have a better chance at getting 'debris clouds' later in the day.


Unsettled and Muggy Tuesday Ahead

An approaching storm system will keep our Tuesday warm, muggy and unsettled. Showers and thunderstorms will develop along the leading edge of the cool front across western Minnesota late in the day and slide through the rest of the state through the evening.


Tuesday Severe Risk

The Storm Prediction Center out of Norman Oklahoma has issued a SLIGHT RISK of severe weather on Tuesday for the areas in the orange below.

An Early Look At Rain For Tuesday Night - Wednesday

An early look at showers and thunderstorm chances for Tuesday afternoon/evening into early Wednesday shows the potential for about 0.50" to around 0.75" in spots where storms develop.

Pick Days of the Week

As I mentioned above, the front will be well east of us on Wednesday and Thursday and allow for some slightly cooler and more comfortable conditions to settle in. These two days look like the nicest days of the week with sunshine and drier conditions! Thanks for checking in, have a good week - Todd Nelson


110-115 Heat Index by Sunday (hottest air of summer 3-5 days away)

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: July 14, 2011 - 10:51 AM

Winding Down. No need to water or irrigate anytime soon. NWS Doppler at 10:50 am shows a band of moderate shows over central and eastern Minnesota, drifting into Wisconsin. Nothing severe close to home, and showers should be tapering off around midday - we may salvage a couple hours of sun by mid afternoon/evening, but conditions will be ripe for a few severe storms over far western Minnesota late in the day.

77 F. high in the Twin Cities yesterday - dew points in the low 50s. By Saturday there will be more than twice as much water in the air.

.71" rain predicted for the Twin Cities by midnight tonight. (1-3" amounts central Minnesota).

Flash Flood Watch cancelled for Minnesota - rainfall amounts not expected to reach flash flood criteria.

79 F. predicted dew point at 1 pm on Saturday in the MSP metro area.

110-115 F: predicted heat index in the metro Sunday and Monday.

6 days/row above 90? The all-time record in the Twin Cities is 14 days/row back in 1936.


500 daily high temperature records broken on Tuesday; 2 towns in Oklahoma experienced their hottest readings on record.


Dangerous Heat? The projected Heat Index on Sunday is forecast to be in the 105-115 range from central and southern Minnesota southward to the Gulf coast. The risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke will be significant across the central third of the USA, especially Sunday/Monday of next week.


"...Nearly half of the USA's population - 150 million people - were affected by the heat Tuesday, according to NOAA, as the National Weather Service posted heat advisories or heat warnings in parts of 23 states from Oklahoma to Connecticut."


"...A new report concludes that each ton of carbon dioxide emitted in the atmosphere inflicts as much as $900 in environmental harm - almost 45 times the amount the federal government uses when setting regulations. The gap, advocates say, disguises the true value of emissions reductions." - story below on the true cost of carbon emissions in The Daily Climate.


What Summer? While we track another major heatwave for the weekend, folks living up north must be scratching their heads, wondering why they can't pack away the jackets and sweatshirts (for good!) Check out the Wednesday morning lows up north, courtesy of the Duluth office of the National Weather Service:

HIBBING ARPT           :  37
ORR                    :  39
CRANE LAKE             :  39
BIGFORK                :  39
EMBARRASS..............:  37
ORR 3E.................:  38


Hot Weather Climatology. According to the local NWS office, the Dust Bowl year of 1936 holds the record for the most consecutive 90-degree days in the Twin Cities (14). As recently as 2005 and 2006 MSP experienced 9 days of 90+ heat. More details:

"With what is shaping up to be a prolonged heat wave across the area from Saturday through at least the first half of next week, it is a good time to take a look back to see when some of the previous prolonged heat waves occurred.  To measure a heat waves staying power, we looked back to see what the longest runs of consecutive days with highs above 90 were for St. Cloud and the Twin Cities (threaded climatology sites with continuous observations back to the 19th century).  The table below shows the 10 longest runs at each site.  The last time a run of at least 5 days in a row with highs of 90 or greater has not been seen at St. Cloud since July of 2006 (MSP had a run this long last in August of 2010)."


Gulley-Gushing Rains? The latest NAM/WRF model is printing out some very significant rainfall amounts for central Minnesota, as much as 3-4"+ near Alexandria and Morris, with over 2.5" for St. Cloud and closer to 1 to 1.5" for the Twin Cities metro by Friday night. That's why the NWS has issued a Flash Flood Watch from late tonight into Thursday.


Flash Flood Guidance. NOAA's North Central River Forecast Center computes that 3.6 to 4" of rain falling over a 3 hour period would be enough to initiate flash flooding. But only 2-3" rain would be required over many counties in southwestern Minnesota to meet flash flood criteria.


Risk of a "Heat Storm". When I refer to the term "heat storm" I'm talking about a sudden spike in temperature (and dew point), unlike a typical heatwave that builds gradually over the span of a few days. Under a hot sun, with dew points predicted to be in the 75-80 F. range, Sunday's projected heat index is forecast to be in the 105 - 115 range from southern Minnesota southward to Des Moines, Little Rock and Louisiana. Data courtesy of NOAA NCEP.


Thundery Thursday. SPC has a slight risk of severe storms from Montana and the Dakotas eastward to western Minnesota, along the northern edge of a massive heatwave (expanding northward in the coming days).


Thursday Rainfall Potential. The WRF/NAM forecast (10 am today) shows a line of showers and T-storms from Minnesota southward to Omaha, more storms along the Gulf Coast and a few lighter showers over the Pacific Northwest - another rainy day for Seattle and Tacoma. Canadian high pressure will keep the Great Lakes comfortable, cooler air filtering into New England.


Thursday Heat Index. Today will be the 14th day/row of 100-degree heat for Oklahoma City and Dallas. Factor in a dew point in the 70s and it will feel like 105-115 from Wichita and Little Rock to Memphs and Macon, Georgia. Roughly half of America is sweltering through the worst heatwave in years.


Tips For Beating The Heat. NOAA has some good information about steps you can take (this weekend) to reduce the risk of heat-related ailments: "If you plan on being out and about in summer, chances are you’ll be exposed to a lot of sun and higher temperaturesEach year, heat kills 1,500 people on average in the United States — more than tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, lightning, or any other weather event combined. “Heat can be a silent killer because it doesn’t topple trees or rip roofs off houses like tornadoes and hurricanes,” says Eli Jacks, chief of fire and public weather services with NOAA’s National Weather Service. “Nevertheless, it’s a dangerous weather condition for which people should prepare.”

How much heat can a person safely endure? It depends.

Certain groups of people should be especially careful during hot weather conditions. For example, city-dwellers and those living in the upper floors of tall buildings or in heat-prone regions are most at-risk for heat-related illness. People who have difficulty getting around or who have health conditions are particularly susceptible. The elderly and the very young also merit special attention during periods of high heat and humidity. This year, National Weather Service teamed up with Occupational Safety and Health Administration to increase awareness for outdoor workers and their employers during excessive heat events.  As part of this partnership, National Weather Service will incorporate specific outdoor worker safety precautions when heat advisories and warnings are issued this summer."




Nearly 500 Records Tuesday. 499 to be exact, accordingto NOAA. The red dots are record highs, the yellow dots are record warm nighttime lows, the green dots are record 24 hour rainfall reports. A few record lows (in blue) out west, but the heat has been pervasive from the Southern Plains into New England in recent days. Map courtesy of Ham Weather.


Hot Weather: Steps You Can Take To Keep Your Cool. More useful information, courtesy of NOAA:

  • DO - Slow down, and reduce strenuous activity. Mow the lawn or garden in the early morning or late evening instead of midday.
  • DO - Dress in lightweight, nonrestrictive, light-colored clothing.
  • DO - Drink plenty of water or other nonalcoholic fluids.
  • DO - Eat light, easy-to-digest foods.
  • DO - Seek out shade if you have to be outdoors for extended periods. Spend more time in air-conditioned places.
  • DO - Check on elderly neighbors, friends and relatives to make sure they are okay.
  • DO - When outside, take frequent dips in the ocean or pool, or mist yourself with a water bottle. When inside, take frequent cool baths or showers and use cold compresses to cool off.
  • DO - Apply high-SPF sunscreen frequently when outdoors.
  • DO - Seek immediate medical attention if you experience symptoms of heat illness. (See chart below for symptoms, likely conditions and treatment.)

However, please remember:

  • DO NOT leave children, the elderly, or pets in the car for any reason, for any length of time. A dark dashboard or seat can easily reach temperatures in the range of 180 to more than 200 degrees F!
  • DO NOT stay in the sun for long periods.
  • DO NOT take salt tablets unless directed by a physician.
  • AVOID alcoholic beverages; they can dehydrate you and increase your risk of heat stroke and other potentially fatal heat-related illnesses


Reality Check. During an average year heat claims more American lives than hurricanes, tornadoes and floods combined, according to NOAA.

  • Blistering mid-summer heat seared much of the southern, central and eastern USA on Tuesday, as temperatures soared above 100 degrees in cities from Kansas to South Carolina.
  • Nearly half of the USA's population — 150 million people — were affected by the heat Tuesday, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as the National Weather Service posted heat advisories or heat warnings in parts of 23 states from Oklahoma to Connecticut.
  • Oklahoma City suffered through 13 straight days of 100-degree or above heat before ending the streak on Tuesday. (Tuesday's high was "only" 97.) Dallas has had 100-degree temperatures for 11 days in a row, including Tuesday.
  • Although a brief break in the heat is forecast for parts of the Great Lakes, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic over the next few days, there will be no relief across the scorched Plains or Deep South.
  • Almost the entire country east of the Rockies is forecast to see above-average temperatures throughout next week.


  • The heat and drought have led to record wildfire activity. The year-to-date acreage burned nationally so far is at 5.8 million acres — the most on record for the period — and almost twice the decadal average, says the National Interagency Fire Center.
  • 67-year-old Ed Green of Philadelphia, PA died after being rushed to the hospital on Tuesday afternoon and medics believe he was a victim of the extreme heat.
  • Officials are still trying to piece together what happened to a 4-year-old girl who was found dead in her family’s SUV Monday night in Cleburne, Texas.
  • Lilly Parson’s parents said she had been playing outside and then disappeared. After a brief search, they called 911 for help.
  • Deputies who responded to the call found the girl’s body lying on the back seat of her family’s vehicle, which was parked in the driveway.
  • Investigators suspect the triple-digit heat played a role and they are treating the case as an accident.
  • Officials are still questioning the girl’s parents. They reportedly have been cooperative but there inconsistencies in the accounts of how long she had been missing, the sheriff’s department said.
  • A heat wave that has pushed temperatures well over 100 degrees has killed tens of thousands of turkeys.
  • In North Carolina, about 50,000 chickens died at a farm after the power went off for 45 minutes. In Kansas, one couple lost 4,300 turkeys that took 26 hours to bury.


U.S. Nuclear Plant Lifts Alert As Floods Recede. A bit of good news, brought to you by the AP and USA Today: "BROWNVILLE, Nebraska (AP) — An alert issued at a southeast Nebraska nuclear power plant as rising floodwaters from the bloated Missouri River threatened its perimeter has been terminated. The Nebraska Public Power District said Tuesday it officially ended the notice of unusual event at the Cooper Power Plant that began June 19. The utility issued the alert when the river rose 899 feet above sea level. The Missouri River had fallen to 895.5 feet above sea level by Wednesday morning. The utility says it appears that the level of the river will continue to slowly decline as long as no major rain storms develop."


Typhoon Threatens Japan. More details on Typhoon Ma-On:

  • Typhoon Ma-On forecast to reach super typhoon status early next week, make landfall in southern Japan shortly afterward
    • currently affecting Guam and surrounding islands (Northern Mariana Islands)
  • storms like this can unload 10-20 inches of rain
    • danger for mudslides and flooding upon reaching Japan
  • winds currently compare to a category 1 hurricane
    • forecast to reach category 4 or 5 strength (roughly 115 mph) by Monday or Tuesday


July 11 Derecho: 1,000 Miles In One Day. The Des Moines office of the NWS has a great write-up on the July 11 derecho that produced estimated (straight-line) wind gusts as high as 130 mph in Garrison, Iowa, before going on to batter Chicago and much of the Ohio Valley:

"On the morning of July 11, 2011, a powerful long-lasting straight-line windstorm, known as a derecho, developed over central Iowa and carved a path of extensive damage across east central Iowa. The storm first took shape as a cluster of low end severe storms over southern Nebraska during the late afternoon of July 10. The system continued northeastward and entered western Iowa at 1:00am, still only as a marginal line of severe storms. As the system passed through the northern Des Moines metro area at 3:30am, it rapidly intensified and accelerated eastward. Over the next hour and a half the storm plowed eastward through Story, Marshall, and Tama Counties, blasting the area with winds of up to 105 mph, the equivalent of an EF1 tornado. The storm continued to track eastward, plowing through eastern Iowa and the southern Great Lakes region before dissipating in West Virginia in the mid-afternoon. Thousands of trees were downed in eastern Iowa alone and numerous structures were damaged or destroyed."


On The Road To Storm Recovery. An update on clean-up and recovery efforts in North Minneapolis after last month's tornado, reported by the Star Tribune: "Local leaders have begun to map out a recovery effort for north Minneapolis that envisions reconstructing neighborhoods and helping families get back on their feet. Seven weeks after a tornado ravaged the North Side, a clearer picture is emerging of the extent of the devastation and the leadership and resources that have been hastily developed to deal with it. As of June 24, 3,623 properties were reported to have sustained some damage from the storm, and of those, 204 had major damage, meaning it would cost more than $20,000 to fix them, if they can be repaired at all. At least 820 building permits have been issued to repair damage, and a disaster loan outreach center opened Tuesday at Lucy Laney School, 3333 Penn Av. N. It will stay open for a week, offering low-interest recovery loans to homeowners and renters through the U.S. Small Business Administration. Earlier this month, the City Council voted to bolster North Side neighborhood organizations with an additional $600,000."


Waffle House, Home Depot Cited As Examples Of Emergency Preparedness. The Atlanta Journal Constitution has the story: "In the wake of an emergency -- hurricane, ice storm, maybe the odd zombie attack -- you could stay indoors. Or you could head to the nearest Waffle House, or perhaps a Home Depot. Norcross-based Waffle House is earning kudos from academia and the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency as a role model for disaster preparedness. It's a product of many years of doing business in Florida's Panhandle and other hurricane alleys. "Disaster management and risk management in global supply chains can actually be a competitive advantage," said Panos Kouvelis, a professor of operations and manufacturing management at Washington University in St. Louis. "You have to think of it as an opportunity to get ahead of the game by being better prepared." Kouvelis, who made the remarks to EHS Today, a magazine covering the environment, health and safety, said Lowe's, Wal-Mart Stores and Atlanta-based Home Depot also set the standard in preparing for emergencies. It's not easy, he said. "On the one hand, your own supply chain is exposed," he said. "At the same time, your stores are supposed to be the first to react and provide the basic supplies. Your supply goes down while your demand goes up." Home Depot has an extensive disaster response team to handle hurricanes, fires, floods, tornadoes and blizzards. The team includes information technology, merchandising, human resources, security and supply chain executives. The company receives early alerts on bad weather via email. In an emergency situation, the team assembles in a command center at headquarters. In the event of a hurricane, the goal is to be the last outlet to close and the first to open."


Time-Lapse Of The New Metrodome Roof Inflating. It worked! We have lift-off, and a new/improved home for the Minnesota Vikings, assuming there is NFL football this fall. Check out this YouTube clip, courtesy of KSTP-TV: "Seven months after the old one fell in, the Metrodome's new roof was inflated on Wednesday morning. 5 Eyewitness News was there and has time-lapse video of the process from inside and above."


Who Caused The Crisis, And Why Is The Recovery Taking Forever? The short answer: too much debt. Nothing new there, but I thought this story at Huffington Post was somewhat illuminating: "What is constraining consumer demand and preventing an economic recovery and thus causing unemployment to remain at high levels? Consumers have too much debt. What is depressing the housing market in which approximately one third of homes in the US are worth less than the mortgage balance leading to increased foreclosures? Homeowners have too much debt. What is the biggest problem with the global financial system? Banks have too much debt. What is one big thing wrong with our federal government? It has too much debt. What is wrong with our local and state governments? They have too much debt. What is wrong with the governments of Greece, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Japan, Iceland, Belgium, Singapore, France, the United Kingdom, Egypt, India, Hungary and Germany? They all have too much debt. What are we doing to our young people who graduate college with enormous amounts of student loans and huge government liabilities facing them? They have too much debt. When I say a person or a bank or a city or a country has too much debt I mean literally they have so much debt that it is unlikely they will be able to pay it all back from their expected future cash flows. The sixty trillion dollar question, which is just about equal to the total debt in the world, is how did we get into this mess and whose fault is it."


Good-Looking Wednesday. With dew points in the low 50s it felt pretty amazing out there - wish it could last. The sun was out through mid afternoon before clouds started to increase, forerunners of a warm front that will leave us sweating (and complaining) by Friday and Saturday. Highs ranged from a cool 65 at Duluth to 75 at St. Cloud, 77 in the Twin Cities.



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


TODAY: Mostly cloudy - showers taper around midday. Some sun possible after 2 pm or so. Winds: SE 10-20. High: 75


THURSDAY NIGHT: Still very humid, scattered T-storms, more downpours possible. Low: 70


FRIDAY: Muggy & hot with intervals of sun, few T-storms likely. High: 89


SATURDAY: Hot sun, stray storm possible. Dew point: 75. Winds: S 10-20. Low: 76. High: 94


SUNDAY: Sunny and oppressive. Dew point: 78. Heat index: 110. Winds: S 10-20. Low: 78. High: 96


MONDAY: Still sunny, even hotter. Low: 79. High: 97


TUESDAY: Sauna-like, no relief yet. Lot's of sunshine. Low: 78. High: 96


WEDNESDAY: Having fun yet? Steamy, still hot. Low: 75. High: 93



Crazy Extremes

It has been a baffling year for Minnesota meteorologists: 86.6" snow, a reluctant spring, and a summer characterized by wild extremes. Wednesday morning residents of Hibbing woke up to 37. They're still wearing jackets & sweatshirts up north! If the weather models are right (and I suspect they are) by Sunday afternoon it will feel like 110-115 over southern Minnesota. I expect the NWS to issue Excessive Heat Warnings; the risk of heat exhaustion & heat stroke will be significant.

Welcome to the costliest year on record for natural disasters. According to Munich Re losses hit $235 billion in the first 6 months of 2011, worldwide. That exceeds the previous global record of $220 billion in 2005.

The arrival of super-heated air will leave the atmosphere irritable & unstable, T-storms capable of downpours right into Saturday. The NWS has cancelled the Flash Flood Watch, but some 1-3" rainfall amounts are still possible over central Minnesota by Saturday. By Sunday the atmosphere overhead should be "capped", too much hot, dry air aloft for T-storms. Expect 6 days/row above 90, starting Saturday. With a dew point near 80 Sunday's heat index should be up in the oh-zone. Still time to evacuate to your favorite lake!


The Arid Southwest's 10 Great Climate Deniers. I'm quite sure they wear this distinction as a badge of honor, but I suspect every one of these politicians will have some answering (and back-peddling) to do in the coming years. Every single climate model shows more frequent/intense drought and heatwaves for the southwest, more wildfires and water shortages. At some point there will be a Day of Reckoning. The full story at "Much of the southern U.S. is currently suffering through one of the most severe dry spells of the past century. It's impossible to say with certainty that this particular drought -- caused by a lingering La Niña event in the Pacific -- is a direct result of global warming. But, as we noted yesterday, scientific consensus is overwhelming that shifting weather patterns drastically increase the probability of devastating droughts from Texas on west. Yet, in spite of this, many GOP politicians from some of the worst afflicted Southwestern states maintain that man-made global warming is an elaborate hoax. We've compiled a list of 10 such prominent climate change deniers and compare their statements against their constituents' current climate woes.


1. What Gov. Rick Perry believes: In his 2010 manifesto, "Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America From Washington," Perry called man-made climate change "all one contrived phony mess that is falling apart under its own weight." Then, in April, he issued a proclamation asking Texans to literally pray for an end to the drought, notes Rolling Stone.

2. What Rep. Ted Poe believes: In a 2009 statement on the floor of the House, Poe pointed to that year's Climategate controversy as reason to doubt climate science. (Note: An independent panel has since exonerated the scientists involved in the "scandal.") He also pointed to scientists who, in 1974, argued that Earth might be cooling, as evidence that scientists have no earthly idea what they are talking about, now or then. "We are going to try to trust the world's climate predictions to a group of people from the 1970s and now, 2000, to a group of people who can't even predict correctly tomorrow's weather," he said."


Global Warming: A Guide For The Perplexed. NPR has the story: "Since there has been a lot of debate here at 13.7 (and everywhere) about global warming, and what is or isn't factual or good science, I thought it would be a good idea to bring out some of the basic science behind what we know and what we don't know about this important issue. Of course, this is not intended as an official document or as a thorough analysis, but as a primer for those who are interested in facts.

  1. The Earth is a finite system, which receives most of its energy from the Sun. A small amount of heating also comes from radioactive decay and release from the interior.
  2. The Sun emits radiation mostly in the visible spectrum, peaking at about 500 nm, closely corresponding to yellow light. Some of the radiation is reflected back into space, and some is absorbed and then reemitted back into space as lower-energy infrared radiation. Warming occurs when a larger fraction of the absorbed radiation is trapped near the surface. Think of your car, parked under the sun. With windows closed it gets much hotter inside.
  3. The trapping of heat is caused mainly by what are called greenhouse gases: water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, and ozone are the main ones. Without these gases in the atmosphere, the average temperature would be approximately 59 ºF lower.
  4. During the past 100 years, the average global temperature has increased by 1 degree Fahrenheit. Global sea levels have risen 4 to 8 inches.
  5. These numbers are not disputed. What is disputed is the cause behind the increase: natural vs. anthropogenic (i.e., caused by human activity)."


Climate Change Hits The Mightiest Of The Great Lakes. WBEZ Radio has the story about changes taking place on Lake Superior: "Climate change isn’t just hitting polar bears and melting glaciers. Scientists and advocates say it’s affecting the Great Lakes too, even Lake Superior, the lake that’s so big, all the other Great Lakes could fit inside with room to spare. Climate change already is playing out in warmer temperatures and melting ice, and scientists expect more dramatic changes. That could alter the way of life, even on the greatest of the Great Lakes. In Lake Superior, there’s a thin stretch of green surrounded by water called Madeline Island. For most of the year, you can only get here by kayak or ferry. But when the weather gets cold enough, you can drive on frozen Lake Superior. "It’s the main road to freedom, it’s transportation at a very most base level," says Lois Carlson, who heads the Madeleine Island Chamber of Commerce. But the Ice Road is not without its perils, says her co-worker, Suellen Soucek. "When you’re going across the Ice Road, you don’t wear your seatbelt and you make sure your windows are rolled down," Soucek says. "Why's that?" "So if you go in drink, you can get out quickly. I’m always glad to get off and on the other side." But the ice road isn’t lasting as long these days. This past winter, Carlson says, it had just opened when there was a thaw and then heavy winds."


Climate Change And Confirmation Bias. A thought-provoking post from Reason Magazine. No amount of science will convince some people, it would seem: "The more scientifically literate you are, the more certain you are that climate change is either a catastrophe or a hoax, according to a new study [PDF] from the Yale Cultural Cognition Project.  Many science writers and policy wonks nurse the fond hope that fierce disagreement about issues like climate change is simply the result of a scientifically illiterate American public. If this “public irrationality thesis” were correct, the authors of the Yale study write, “then skepticism about climate change could be traced to poor public comprehension about science” and the solution would be more science education. In fact, their findings suggest more education is unlikely to help build consensus; it may even intensify the debate. Led by Yale University law professor Dan Kahan, the Cultural Cognition Project has been researching how cultural and ideological commitments shape science policy discourse in the United States. To probe the public’s views on climate change, the Yale researchers conducted a survey of 1,500 Americans in which they asked questions designed to uncover their cultural values, their level of scientific literacy, and what they thought about the risks of climate change. The group uses a theory of cultural commitments devised by University of California, Berkeley, political scientist Aaron Wildavsky that “holds that individuals can be expected to form perceptions of risk that reflect and reinforce values that they share with others.”


Global Warming: Nature Can't Save Us From Ourselves. The full story is at Huffington Post: "The notion that nature itself will act as a check on the atmospheric excesses of humanity has long held a fair amount of appeal, not least because it draws on a nugget of high-school science that most people can quickly comprehend. Plants inhale carbon dioxide, after all -- they need it to grow. Add more CO2 to the air, as human civilization has been doing in copious amounts since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, and the result will surely be thicker, more expansive biomass. More trees, plants and crops, the thinking goes, means that more and more carbon dioxide will be naturally absorbed from the atmosphere, and ... voila! The climate problem is elegantly solved! It's a conviction readily embraced by climate skeptics, and one enthusiastically peddled in some scientific cul-de-sacs like the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, a pet project of Sherwood B. Idso, a former research physicist with the Department of Agriculture, and his two sons, Craig and Keith. From the center's Web site: "For years environmentalists have warned us about how fragile earth's biosphere is; and in many cases dealing with specific species or ecosystems, they have been correct. In its totality, however, the biosphere is much more resilient than most people give it credit for being. As atmospheric CO2 -- the lifeblood of the planet -- has gradually risen over the course of the Industrial Revolution, for example, the biosphere has begun to reveal its true strength, with the plants of the planet growing ever more robustly and profusely, as they expand their ranges over the face of the earth and extract ever greater quantities of CO2 from the air and sequester its carbon in their tissues and the soil into which they sink their roots."


Economists Find Flaws In Federal Estimate Of Climate Damage. The Daily Climate has the story: "A new report concludes that each ton of carbon dioxide emitted in the atmosphere inflicts as much as $900 in environmental harm - almost 45 times the amount the federal government uses when setting regulations. The gap, advocates say, disguises the true value of emissions reductions. Uncle Sam's estimate of the damage caused by each ton of carbon dioxide is fundamentally flawed and "grossly understates" the potential impacts of climate change, according to an analysis released Tuesday by a group of economists. The government's figures "could lead to a degree of inaction on climate change that frankly is not supported by either the economics or the science at this point." The study found the true cost of those emissions to be far beyond the $21 per ton derived by the federal government. The figure, commonly known as the "social cost of carbon," is used by federal agencies when weighing the costs and benefits of emissions-cutting regulations, such as air conditioner efficiency standards and greenhouse gas emissions limits for light trucks. A truer value, according to the Economics for Equity and the Environment Network, an organization of economists who advocate for environmental protection, could be as high as $900 per ton - equivalent to adding $9 to each gallon of gas. Viewed another way, with the United States emitting the equivalent of close to 6 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, the higher figure suggests that avoiding those emissions could save the nation $5.3 trillion annually, one-third of the nation's economic output. A second, separate report released Tuesday buttressed the argument, finding that the government routinely underestimates the benefits of avoiding climate change when conducting cost-benefit analysis on regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This second report, published jointly by the World Resources Institute, an environmental think tank, and the Environmental Law Institute, found that government models on climate impacts often contain "dramatic simplifications and assumptions" - such as when calculating the social cost of carbon - that underplay the benefits society gains by curbing emissions. Together, the two reports suggest policy makers are looking at a distorted picture as they assess the economic impacts of climate regulations. "


Ethical Responsibility And Climate Change: We're All In The Same Boat. Is climate change a "moral issue"? Some thoughts from Rabbi Lawrence Troster at Huffington Post: "For more than 20 years I've been an educator and an activist in the religious environment movement -- both Jewish and interfaith. In a typical Q&A after a presentation, I'm often asked why I am motivated as a rabbi to speak out on the environment. I've reflected on this question for many years and have been able to trace my path to religious environmentalism to my earliest spiritual encounters in the natural world and through my theological and intellectual development that began while I was in rabbinical school. But the most important influence on my decision to become part of this movement comes from the fact that I'm a parent. I learned about climate change from the scientists, and as the parent of two little girls (twins, now 32 years old), I worried about the world that they and their children would live in. I assumed I would not live to see the most severe consequences of climate change, but they would. Now, they have both grown up, and I have grandchildren. Now, I'm even more concerned. I grew up in a middle class suburb of Toronto. My family never lacked for food, clothing and other necessities. My parents sent me to summer camp in Northern Ontario, where I was able to spiritually encounter Creation on many canoe trips. I never thought that my descendants might not enjoy the same kind of life that I had. Now I do, and the immediate concern with my children and grandchildren's future has brought home to me the moral issue of climate change into a more immediate way. Climate change is moral issue. We must say this loudly and continually. I believe, as do many others in the religious environment movement, that this declaration has been missing in the debates over climate change policy. We have heard about economics and ecosystems and threats to our lifestyle, but not whether it is immoral for a society to prosper without concern about how their actions are negatively impacting the lives of others."



Winter's Last Gasp? (1-3" tonight, more south/east of MSP)

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: April 19, 2011 - 10:16 AM

85.3" snow so far this winter in the Twin Cities.

Winter Weather Advisory posted for the Twin Cities.

Winter Storm Watch in effect for far southeastern Minnesota

1-3" predicted for the metro area by midday Wednesday. 4+" possible southern/eastern suburbs of St. Paul.

5-10" snow anticipated for far southeastern Minnesota, closer to Rochester, Winona and Lake City.

Heaviest snow expected from 6 pm this evening through 2 or 3 am Wednesday morning.

Freeways/interstates stay mostly wet, but some accumulation is likely on secondary roads and bridges by Wed. AM.

1.2" record snowfall for today (set on April 19, 1982).

1.8" record snowfall for tomorrow (set on April 20, 1982).

* I doubt we'll see the 3.7" additional snow necessary for this to become the 3rd snowiest winter on record, but we may come close.

* This should be the last "plowable" snowfall for the Twin Cities metro area this winter season. We may see more flurries, but I doubt we'll see another storm capable of "a few inches."  I can't believe I'm actually typing this on April 19.

April Slush. Snow is on the way, a little rain/snow mix developing this afternoon (spreading in from the south), changing to all snow after 6 pm or so, but with temperatures above 32 F. roads should stay wet up until 8 or 9 pm. Snow will first start to stick on lawns and fields, some side streets and secondary roads will become slushy by 10 or 11 pm tonight. I think we'll wake up to 1-3" snow across much of the metro area, maybe a few 3-4" amounts over the far southern and eastern suburbs, over 10" for far southeastern MN by Wednesday. Whatever falls will melt (quickly), possibly by the end of the day Wednesday. The sun returns Thursday, we should top 60 Sunday. No worries - this too shall pass.

Snowy Scenario. There is still considerable disagrement between models (GFS, which has a "southward bias", takes the heaviest snow bands well south of MSP - while the NAM, which tends to be a little more reliable in general, brings the heavier snow bands a little closer to the southern and eastern suburbs of the Twin Cities). More from the local NWS office here.

Southward Detour. The ideal storm track for heavy snow in the Twin Cities is roughly Omaha to Des Moines, Lacrosse and Wausau. Today's storm will track about 200 miles farther south/east, meaning a glancing blow of light to moderate snow for us from late afternoon through Wednesday morning - the heaviest snow bands clipping far southeastern MN.


Closest To Reality? Why should the two main models agree (on anything?) The GFS solution keeps significant snow well south/east of MSP, with only an inch or two for the Twin Cities, but some 4-8" amounts over far southeastern MN and much of central Wisconsin. The GFS has been consistently whisking the storm well south/east of MSP. It seems that the NAM is trending closer to the GFS solution, meaning a little less snow for MSP than earlier thought. It's looking like the GFS solution will verify, with an inch or two for much of the metro, maybe 3" far southern 'burbs.


Winter Weather Advisory Metro - Winter Storm Watch Far Southeast MN. The NWS has downgraded the Winter Storm Watch to a Winter Weather Advisory (GFS hinting that the heaviest snow will stay south/east of the metro area). A Winter Storm Watch is still in effect for Rochester, Winona and all of far southeastern MN. More from the NWS on the watch here:

409 AM CDT MON APR 18 2011




How Much? The trends seem undeniable at this point: the heaviest snow amounts setting up well south/east of the Twin Cities from tonight into Wednesday morning. As much as 8-12" may fall near Rochester and La Crosse, but we should wind up with closer to 1-2" for most of the metro area.

Timing The Changeover To Snow. The latest Bufkit package hints at a possible cold rain during the afternoon today, rapidly changing to wet snow after 4 or 5 pm. With air (and ground) temperatures above 32 F. I expect roads to be wet into the evening hours today, but snow may start to stick after 8 or 9 pm, especially on side streets, bridges and secondary roads. 

A Snowy "Sounding". The NAM model predicts temperatures throughout the lowest mile of the atmosphere will be (well) below freezing by midnight tonight, implying all snow from 6 or 7 pm through the morning hours Wednesday. You'd expect to see this kind of a temperature profile in mid March, not mid April. But that's the kind of winter season we're having...

Another Factor To Consider. If anyone asks the soil temperature just west of MSP is a balmy 46 F. Who cares? Ground temperatures are still relatively mild, and for a few hours Tuesday evening snow will melt on contact with a relatively warm ground. It will take a few hours for soil temperatures to cool down to 32, and for the snow to STICK. That's why I'm going 2-3", and not 5 or 6", which is what .39" of liquid would equate to (with a rough 13:1 snow:rain ratio). If you're bored beyond recognition and want to check out soil temperatures click here, data courtesy of the MN Dept. of Agriculture.

A Reluctant Spring. Whether it's a lingering La Nina pattern or something else at work, I still don't see any sustained warmth looking out 2 weeks or so, no prolonged 60s or 70s. Yes, it's annoying, this "backwards spring", but there is one big silver lining: it delays tornado season in Minnesota. Snow or tornadoes? Good grief - what a choice.

15 State Tornado Outbreak Deadliest Since 2008. Yahoo News and AP have an update on the extensive swarm of tornadoes that swept across the south and east, from Oklahoma, Mississippi and Alabama to North Carolina last weekend: "The devastation is stunning — homes and lives shattered as the deadliest swarm of twisters in three years battered up to 15 states. Ultimately, this could turn out to be among the top 10 three-day outbreaks for number of tornadoes, though experts can't be sure until all the reports are sorted, said Greg Carbin of the federal Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. While tornadoes occur regularly, their power always shocks. This time it was storms battering their way from Oklahoma to North Carolina, claiming at least 44 lives, almost half of those in North Carolina. It was the deadliest since Feb. 5, 2008, when 57 died in the "Super Tuesday" election day tornadoes in the Southeast. And that was the highest tornado death toll since 76 died in 1985. "A major storm system like this is going to happen every few years, usually in April or May," said Carbin. While May is the nation's busiest month for twisters, they surge sharply in April, and most early spring tornadoes strike the Southeast and South Central states. Indeed, the biggest tornado outbreak on record occurred April 3-4, 1974 when 147 confirmed twisters touched down in 13 states, claiming 310 lives in the United States and 8 in Canada. For about the past 30 years, the United States has averaged 135 tornadoes in April, the highest number being 266 in 1974, according to Jake Crouch of the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. In these latest storms, the National Weather Service is investigating 267 preliminary tornado reports — including 97 in North Carolina on Saturday. But many of those will turn out to be duplicates, Carbin said in a telephone interview."

* Unlike tornado outbreaks of the past, the National Weather Service reports that nearly 90 percent of the past weekend's reported storms occurred in areas where tornado warnings were in effect. In central North Carolina, 97 percent of the tornadoes were in areas where warnings had been issued, with an average lead time of almost 26 minutes.

Kansas-Size Outbreak. An aerial photo shows some of the approximately 30 houses severely damaged or destroyed by a tornado in the St. Andrews neighborhood just south of Sanford, N.C., Sunday, April 17, 2011. (AP Photo/The News & Observer, Thomas Babb).

After Violent Storms, A Widespread Path of Death And Damage. A good summary of Saturday's record tornado outbreak in North Carolina from the New York Times here: "The terrified look in one of her employee’s eyes was the first clue Terri Rodriguez had that something was terribly wrong Saturday afternoon. The worker had been washing kitchen equipment behind Golden Corral, a popular restaurant in Sanford, N.C., when he spotted a giant black funnel cloud bearing down. It was one of more than 90 tornadoes — what one meteorologist described as a “family” of them — that hit the state on Saturday. He ran to Ms. Rodriguez, who walked out the back door. She dodged a piece of flying wood, and then she saw it: a dark funnel cloud thick with wood and metal only a couple of blocks away. About 140 people were eating in her restaurant, many of them in front of the thick plate-glass windows that run the length of the place. “All I could think is that I have to get them away from the glass because I knew it would just cut them in half,” she said in an interview on Sunday. “I thought, where can I put them? Then I yelled: ‘Tornado! Everyone to my kitchen!’ ”

Tornadoes Kill At Least 43 In North Carolina And Elsewhere. The NY Times has the details: "At least 22 people were killed after violent tornadoes roared through the city of Raleigh and across the heart of North Carolina Saturday afternoon and evening, state officials said Sunday. The storms also severely injured 130 other people and leveled or damaged hundreds of homes, demolished a big-box store and a trailer park, plucked trees out of the earth, and left more than 84,000 people without power....The North Carolina toll would have been far higher had it not been for a canny manager of a Lowe’s home improvement store in Sanford, 40 miles southwest of Raleigh. Patty McQuillan, a public information officer for the state’s Division of Emergency Management, said the manager, who was not immediately identified, hustled more than 100 customers and workers into the more fortified rear of the store into offices before the front of the cavernous store collapsed. Witnesses said much of the store had been flattened, with jagged beams and siding poking out of the rubble, though no one was seriously injured. “It was really just a bad scene,” Jeff Blocker, a Lowe’s regional vice president, told The Associated Press. “You’re just amazed that no one was injured."

Tornado Swarm Deals Death, But Also Miracles. We all know how fickle tornadoes can be: one home leveled, while across the street sits a home largely undisturbed. The New York Times has an article highlighting these oddities, and minor miracles: "ASKEWVILLE, N.C. — For all the deaths and broken bones and flattened houses, there were still some miracles packed into the 10 minutes it took for the last of a great roar of tornadoes to chew through this rural corner of the state. There was Glen White, 24, who found the strength to push up a wall that had fallen on five residents of a group home. There was the married couple who were thrown into their backyard as the storm exploded their home. They landed close enough, battered and bruised, to hold hands. And there was Molly, a graying donkey who for years has starred in the town Christmas pageant. People say they saw her lifted into the funnel cloud when the storm hit Saturday night. They thought she was a goner. But Sunday morning, her owner, Jake Dunlow, 75, found her on her back in a ditch about 300 feet away. A day later, she was grazing in her own pasture, oblivious to the splinters of seven mobile homes all around her."

Interactive Tornado Count. Someone put together a pretty slick interface, using Google Maps, that shows every tornado touchdown from last Friday through Sunday, based on damage reports submitted to SPC.

Fact-Checking The North Carolina Tornado Outbreak. In the heat of battle, the "fog of war", tracking EF-3 tornadoes and trying to make sense of what has happened, bad information often gets out. Accu Weather takes a look at what has been reported, and what is true/factual in this interesting post:

Was the number of tornado reports a record breaker and how does that relate to the number of actual tornadoes? This is a point of contention, and it depends on who you ask. Although officially there were 240 tornado reports during the 2-day outbreak, this number will be reduced considerably when the twister paths are investigated. As storm reports are easier to file with the National Weather Service due to better technology, the number of people seeing the same twister increases greatly. You can read our news story on this for more information. It will be at least a week before we know how this outbreak compares to other major events. It's possible that this system could eclipse the worst outbreak in the states history, which took place on March 28, 1984. During that storm, 22 tornadoes killed 42 people in North Carolina. UPDATE: CNN is reporting "97 confirmed tornadoes" though I find it hard to believe that the NWS would have had time to calculate that number yet.

Was the Raleigh tornado the widest ever in U.S. history? No. This was a typo in the NWS's initial storm survey report which listed the width as "3." This was later reissued CORRECTED FOR MAXIMUM PATH WIDTH of "0.3 miles." The widest tornado on record occurred in Nebraska in 2004, and was 2.5 miles in length.

Was where the tornadoes struck remarkable, in number, time of year or location? I don't believe so, but I'll have more information on this available later today.

Why did this happen? We are working on a story on what meteorological factors led to this outbreak, in this area, this time of year. It's unlikely, in my opinion, that long-term climatological factors, such as Global Warming or Cooling, had anything to do with this event, and pending answers to the questions above, it may not have been unprecedented.

Busier Than Last Year. La Nina winters are often followed by unusually severe springs across the USA, an energized (and more powerful) jet stream capable of whipping up the extremes in wind aloft necessary to turn an ordinary thunderstorm into a tornadic "supercell" capable of large hail and twisters. From the Iowa Environmental Mesonet: "This past weekend saw yet another severe weather outbreak with numerous tornadoes reported over the deep south. The featured map (click for a better view) shows the difference in number of severe and tornado warnings this year versus last year. Only counties shown in dark blue have seen a decrease. The deep south certainly stands out with Alabama having all counties with higher totals than last year. The total count in this plot is 4,779 warnings for 2010 and 14,517 warnings for 2011. The total count for 2011 is the largest on record for the period prior to 18 April."

Tornadoes "Unpredictable"? Hardly. The site "Meteorological Musings" examines the question: if there was so much warning and lead time with Saturday's North Carolina tornado outbreak, why did a couple dozen people still have to die? The answer seems to center on the tricky, sticky topic of mobile homes. An estimated 30-40% of all tornado deaths in the USA occur in mobile home parks - people simply have inadequate protection from tornadoes unless they can reach an underground shelter within a minute or two: "So, why did people die? Given the sheer number of tornadoes and the strength of the tornadoes combined with the population density of the affected areas, some deaths were inevitable. I'm told that most communities in North Carolina do not have tornado sirens, which might be a factor. It is too soon to know if everyone received the warnings in time (i.e., in the 2007 Greensburg, KS tornado, everyone but a trucker from California received the warning as far as can be determined). The NWS will likely make these determinations via their damage surveys. Based on early news reports, at least half of the deaths in North Carolina were associated with mobile homes. A helicopter shot I saw clearly showed at least some nearby mobile homes were not tied down. It is my opinion, based on years of study and research, that an untied mobile home is completely unsafe in a tornado. We are getting to the point in America that the issue is not so much whether there will be an advance warning but making sure that everyone who needs to receive the warning gets it."

(Screen capture above is from WRAL-TV helicopter video showing the mobile home pad (upper left) and the stripped mobile home chassis moved off the pad. The mobile home may have tumbled as it moved.)"

WJLA-TV (Washington D.C.) Responds To "Jeopardy" Fans Upset About Severe Storm Interruptions. I feel their pain. I can't tell you the number of people who called to complain about live tornado coverage on WCCO-TV when there were tornadoes on the ground. "Don't care, not my county. Get off the air! This is an especially good episode of Oprah!" I kid you not. I could tell you stories that would curl your hair. Would these viewers feel any different if an EF-3 tornado was heading toward their neighborhoods? Probably. True, TV is limited by over-the-air technology - it does seem somewhat ridiculous (very 1990s) to warn 88 counties for a tornado impacting 10% of ONE county experiencing a tornado threat. New (mobile) innovations will soon make this problem a thing of the past - the ability to alert only the people in the direct path of a tornado or hailstorm, turning on their cell phones, telling them how many miles away the threat is from their current GPS location. That capability is coming, but not soon enough. Here is the story from "As a herd of tornadoes rumbled through much of the southeast this weekend, some viewers in D.C. blasted WJLA for interrupting “Jeopardy!” with severe weather updates. Now the ABC-affiliate is responding to its Alex Trebek-loving critics. In a new post on the station’s weather blog, WJLA’s John Metcalfe includes a handful of viewer comments (sample: “why ruin the show for thousands of devoted viewers so your weather guy and the computer graphics department can have a Saturday night ego trip?”) and sarcastically writes: This hailstorm of peevishness raises all sorts of mind-bending trains of thought. Do Jeopardy! viewers live in concrete bunkers immune from damaging weather? Does Alex Trebek command such power over his viewers that they don’t care whether they live or die, as long as his beaming face is the last thing they see? Would cutting into the show with tornado news be O.K. if it wasn’t during the ever-so-important double-Jeopardy! round?"

Another Tornado Outbreak Today? According to SPC there is a moderate risk of tornadoes from St. Louis and Memphis to Louisille and Indianapolis. Winds aloft are unusually strong, another atmospheric scuffle brewing between tropical air from the Gulf of Mexico and cooler, drier air over the Great Lakes capable of creating supercell storms later today.

A Perfect Storm For Wildfires. NASA's Earth Observatory has an update on the massive fires engulfing much of the Lonestar state, the result of severe drought, tinder-dry humidity levels and high winds: "Since April 6, more than a million acres have burned throughout the state of the Texas, according to the Texas Forest Service. This image, taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite, shows conditions on April 15, 2011. Wind whipped both smoke and dust southeast across the state. The fires detected by MODIS are marked in red. The image illustrates one of the primary reasons fire danger is extremely high in Texas: strong winds. Warm temperatures, dry vegetation, and low humidity are also contributing to hazardous fire conditions. Normally a rainy month, March 2011 was the driest March on record, said the Texas Forest Service. Plentiful rains in 2010 spurred grass and shrubs to grow. The recent lack of rain, warm temperatures and low humidity has turned all of that vegetation into dry tinder, creating unprecedented fire danger. As of April 18, at least 23 large wildfires were burning in Texas. Seven of the largest are labeled in the image."

Clouds, Clouds Burning Bright. NASA has the first composite photo of rare noctilucent clouds over the South Pole. A possible connection exists betweent the frequency of these high-altitude, luminous clouds, and climate change: "High up in the sky near the poles some 50 miles above the ground, silvery blue clouds sometimes appear, shining brightly in the night. First noticed in 1885, these clouds are known as noctilucent, or "night shining," clouds. Their discovery spawned over a century of research into what conditions causes them to form and vary – questions that still tantalize scientists to this day. Since 2007, a NASA mission called Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) has shown that the cloud formation is changing year to year, a process they believe is intimately tied to the weather and climate of the whole globe. "The formation of the clouds requires both water and incredibly low temperatures," says Charles Jackman, an atmospheric scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., who is NASA's project scientist for AIM. "The temperatures turn out to be one of the prime driving factors for when the clouds appear." So the appearance of the noctilucent clouds, also known as polar mesospheric clouds or PMCs since they occur in a layer of the atmosphere called the mesosphere, can provide information about the temperature and other characteristics of the atmosphere. This in turn, helps researchers understand more about Earth's low altitude weather systems, and they've discovered that events in one hemisphere can have a sizable effect in another."

A Native Son Revitalizes His Paper. In case you missed this story in the New York Times by David Carr, some encouraging trends at the Star Tribune (and it didn't happen by accident): "In 2008, when I last saw Michael Klingensmith, he was sitting in a corner office on the 34th floor of the Time Warner building, one of three powerful executives who controlled Time Inc., the biggest magazine publisher in the world. It was the only company that Mr. Klingensmith, an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago, had ever worked for. After three decades, including stops at Sports Illustrated and Time, he was on the short list to become the next chief executive. When the job went to Ann Moore, he hung in for a while as executive vice president in charge of strategy and acquisitions. “It was a real job, it just wasn’t a very fun one,” he said. So in 2008 at the age of 55, he took early retirement. He could have gone to work at any publisher in Manhattan, but instead, after a short time as a consultant, he moved to Minneapolis to become the publisher of The Star Tribune. It wasn’t a move to Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. The newspaper had been through years of upheaval, churning through bankruptcy, publishers and lots of layoffs. But what could have been a quixotic last fling has turned into something far more impressive: The Star Tribune is adding readers — the Sunday circulation grew 5.7 percent in the last audit and will most likely be up again a bit in the audit that will be out in few weeks — the business is making money and, get this, distributing money from its profit-sharing plan to its employees."

An "Unvarnished" Peek Into Microsoft's History. Did you see the 60 Minutes piece on Paul Allen? Fascinating; the parallels with Howard Hughes are unmistakable (as pointed out by Leslie Stahl). Here is a New York Times summary of Allen's new book documenting his rough ride with Bill Gates. Fascinating stuff for any true techno-geek: "In his autobiography, Paul G. Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft, portrays his role during the company’s early years as the visionary and technology strategist, while Bill Gates is presented as a brilliant business tactician. At one point in the book, which will be published on Tuesday, Mr. Allen describes Mr. Gates as a partner “who could take my ideas and magnify them.” At another point, Mr. Allen writes, “Our great string of successes had married my vision to his unmatched aptitude for business.” Nevertheless, Mr. Allen denied, in an interview on Friday, that the book was an effort to swing the pendulum of history in his direction, to claim more of the credit for critical decisions at the birth of the personal computer industry. “I just think this is my side of the story told in an unvarnished, warts-and-all way,” Mr. Allen said. Fiery confrontations between Mr. Allen and Mr. Gates drew considerable attention last month after an excerpt of the book was published in the May issue of Vanity Fair and on the magazine’s Web site. The clashes came over product decisions, hiring plans and their shares in the young company."

If You're Not On Facebook It's Time To Get Over Yourself. You probably run into a few sanctimonious people who have yet to get onto FB, and who pride themselves on being (luddites) and refusing to join the social media experiment. Sam Biddle from Gizmodo takes them on in this post: "Oh, yeah, I'm not on Facebook. Like, it's so invasive. If you've said anything like this, I feel bad for you. Facebook has over half a billion users. Almost everyone I know uses it. I use it. You probably use it. But ubiquity isn't equal to universality. Everyone knows one of those self righteous Facebook abstainers. Social media luddites. Pushing aside modern society in favor of a purer lifestyle, devoid of pokes, tags, and feeds. Defenders of something more natural and independent than Zuckerberg's friendship hive. Except really, these people aren't defending anything except antisocial, extremely annoying behavior. And if you're one of them—you need to stop. I will grant you this: Facebook, much like Twitter, has a lot that sucks about it. A tremendous amount. You're exposed to inane human behavior on a scope and volume unprecedented in the history of mankind. And yes, there are privacy eyebrow-raises that are warranted—it's a little weird that people I barely know anymore see where I work, where I live, and who I'm talking to."

Kyocera Echo Dual Touchscreen Smartphone Released On Sprint. I'm suddenly feeling very inadequate with my single touch-screen iPhone 4. Definite smartphone-envy. A post from "Kyocera's dual-touchscreen Echo smartphone is now available through Sprint in the U.S. The standout feature of the Echo is the extra screen real estate provided by the two 3.5-inch WVGA touchscreen displays connected by a pivot hinge that allows the device to be used in the traditional single screen configuration or folded out so each display can be used independently, side-by-side or combined to form a 800 x 960 pixel 4.7-inch display – albeit divided by a black bar formed by the frame."

The Future According To Google Search Results. Someone has entirely too much free time, but the results are interesting. Click here (to waste more time).

The T-Mobile Royal Wedding. O.K. This 2:13  YouTube clip has gone viral, nearly 5 million views, and it is funny. I have to give T-Mobile credit for poking fun at the "Royals", and creating a little more interest in the brand as well. This is what I'd LIKE to see this upcoming weekend on CNN, but I have a hunch the real deal will be considerably more restrained: "Watch the wedding entrance dance to top all wedding entrance dances. T-Mobile's Royal Wedding Dance celebrates the marriage of William and Kate with the help of a host of royal look alikes and music from East 17! T-Mobile wishes William and Kate a long and happy marriage. Join our Facebook group"

Calm Before The (Slush). Under a gray sky the mercury only reached 32 at Grand Marais, 37 in Duluth, 48 in St. Cloud and 50 in the Twin Cities. Statewide Monday temperatures were 10-15 degrees cooler than average with a trace of rain in Redwood Falls, .01" at International Falls.

Could Be Worse. NO, we will not see this much snow anytime soon. 1-3", give or take. No big deal.


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


TODAY: Winter Weather Advisory. Cold rain develops this afternoon, mixing with snow by the dinner hour. Winds: E 10-20. High: 42


TUESDAY NIGHT: Winter Weather Advisory. Wet snow likely, heaviest south/east of the Twin Cities. Low: 32


WEDNESDAY: Snow tapers to flurries, 1-3" for the metro. 6-12" predicted for far southeastern MN, closer to Rochester and La Crosse, closer to the storm track. High: 43


THURSDAY: Sun returns, snow quickly disappears. Low: 34. High: 52


FRIDAY: Warm enough aloft for rain. Low: 37. High: near 50


SATURDAY: Damp start, slow PM clearing. Low: 39. High: 54


SUNDAY: Nicer day, feels like spring again! Low: 40. High: 63


MONDAY: PM showers, thunder? Low: 44. High: 62



Weather Amnesia

Only Siberia has more weather extremes than Minnesota and the Dakotas. Then why do we stay? Denial. "Hey, the climate is warming, it's all good!" That, and amnesia. I think we're all hard-wired to forget the atmospheric trials & tribulations. The weather unites us, gives us something to talk about, other than Joe Mauer's flu, tax reform or a new Vikings stadium.

Exhibit A: April snow. "You're telling me my GREEN lawn is about to get shellacked with snow?!!" Yes, but it won't be that bad. Air temperatures close to freezing should keep freeways mostly-wet Wednesday morning. Some of the snow will melt on contact (soil temperatures are in the low 40s, if anyone asks).

Models suggest that the heaviest snow bands will set up south/east of MSP, with some 5-8" amounts possible for Rochester, but the immeidate metro area should wind up with closer to 2-3" by Wednesday; maybe 3-5" over the far southern and eastern suburbs (on lawns, fields and slow-moving robins). Whatever falls will melt within 24 hours. I promise. And I never promise anything (except sunrise and sunset).

Rain returns Friday; Sunday the sunnier day of the weekend. 60s pop up next week, before another big storm the middle of next week (probably rain).

Within 72 hours we'll look back & wonder, "Did it really snow?" Um, what snow?

NASA Study Predicts More Severe Storms With Global Warming. I thought it might be timely to call up an MSNBC article from 2007. Climate scientists have been predicting this for some time now: "NASA scientists have developed a new climate model that indicates that the most violent severe storms and tornadoes may become more common as Earth’s climate warms. "Previous climate model studies have shown that heavy rainstorms will be more common in a warmer climate, but few global models have attempted to simulate the strength of updrafts in these storms. The model developed at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies by researchers Tony Del Genio, Mao-Sung Yao, and Jeff Jonas is the first to successfully simulate the observed difference in strength between land and ocean storms and is the first to estimate how the strength will change in a warming climate, including “severe thunderstorms” that also occur with significant wind shear and produce damaging winds at the ground. This information can be derived from the temperatures and humidities predicted by a climate computer model, according to the new study published on August 17 in the American Geophysical Union’s Geophysical Research Letters. It predicts that in a warmer climate, stronger and more severe storms can be expected, but with fewer storms overall."

Why The Spike In Tornadoes? MSNBC has a video focusing on the sharp increase in not only the number of tornadoes observed so far in 2011, but the intensity - far more EF-3 and EF-4 tornadoes than usual. A coincidence? Maybe. But I wouldn't take that bet. Again, no one storm, outbreak or even season can be linked to climate change. The reality: an increase in atmosphere temperature has evaporated more water into the air. More water vapor overhead may be "loading the dice" in favor of more numerous extreme weather events.  Top image of a "multi-vortex tornado" from Tushka, Oklahoma, bottom image of a "wedge tornado" from Jackson, Mississippi.

Hurricanes Worsen: Is A Warmer Earth To Blame? The Philadelphia Enquirer examines a growing debate in the meteorological community: the number of hurricanes does not seem to be increasing, but the hurricane that do develop seem to be getting more intense over time. A fluke, or a trend? "The simmering issue of whether a warmer world brews more-destructive hurricanes is a powerful one, not just for coastal interests but for every U.S. taxpayer from Philadelphia to Honolulu. Look for the debate to heat up this year, as the latest outlooks are calling for another busy and potentially destructive hurricane season, which will begin June 1. Without question, hurricanes have become more devastating as the world has become warmer during the last 30 years. But are the trends related? Human activity indisputably is a factor - for evidence, see all that nature-taunting coastal building. The greenhouse case, however, remains arguable. A word on the warming: It's been real. Global temperatures have been above long-term averages every month since February 1985, according to National Climate Data Center records dating to 1880. They are just under a degree Fahrenheit higher now than they were when the trend started. As for the hurricanes, a warming trend also has taken hold in the storm-inciting waters of the tropics, and a 2008 study found rather convincingly that peak winds of the strongest hurricanes have intensified since 1981.

Scientist Want Climate Early-Warning System. Reuters has the story: "A better monitoring network for greenhouses gases is needed to warn of significant changes and to keep countries that have agreed to cut their emissions honest, scientists said in papers published Monday. "What we're hoping to do is see if the warming is feeding the warming, particularly in the Arctic," said Euan Nisbet, a specialist in methane emissions at the University of London. "Our monitoring network is very, very limited. We feel more observation is needed." Such measurement could warn of possible climate tipping points, scientists said in papers published by Britain's science academy, the Royal Society. The data also could be used to verify countries' reporting of greenhouse gas emissions against targets under the present Kyoto Protocol and a possible successor after 2012. The Earth's climate in the past has changed in a relatively short period of time, warming rapidly about 12,000 years ago at the end of the most recent glacial period. Scientists are not sure why that happened, and have warned of possible climate tipping points from manmade emissions."

On Climate Change The GOP Is Lost In Never-Never Land. A timely editorial in the Washington Post: "The climate change denialism is a newer part of the catechism. Just a few years ago, leading Republicans — John McCain, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty among them — not only accepted global warming as real but supported some kind of market-based mechanism to raise the cost of burning fossil fuels. Now polls show declining numbers of Republicans believing in climate change, and a minority of those believing humans are at fault, so the candidates are scrambling to disavow their past positions. Palin, who as Alaska governor supported efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions, in 2009 wrote in The Post, “But while we recognize the occurrence of these natural, cyclical environmental trends, we can’t say with assurance that man’s activities cause weather changes.” Pawlenty similarly acknowledged on “Meet the Press” last year that “the climate is changing,” but added that “the more interesting question is how much of that is man-made versus natural causes.” When I asked last week how Pawlenty would answer that “interesting question,” his spokesman responded by e-mail: “We don’t know [the] cause of climate change.” Climate science is complex, and much remains to be learned. But if you asked 1,000 scientists, 998 of them would say that climate change is real and that human activity — the burning of oil, gas and coal — is a significant contributor. But Pawlenty’s supposed uncertainty is convenient, because if we don’t know the cause, then there’s little point in looking for a cure. And any cure is going to cost money, or votes, or both."

The Science Of Why We Don't Believe Science. Chris Mooney at Mother Jones has an eye-opening article about why we accept some scientific data as "truth", while denying other scientifically-accepted information. It all comes down to how our brains are hard-wired: "The theory of motivated reasoning builds on a key insight of modern neuroscience (PDF): Reasoning is actually suffused with emotion (or what researchers often call "affect"). Not only are the two inseparable, but our positive or negative feelings about people, things, and ideas arise much more rapidly than our conscious thoughts, in a matter of milliseconds—fast enough to detect with an EEG device, but long before we're aware of it. That shouldn't be surprising: Evolution required us to react very quickly to stimuli in our environment. It's a "basic human survival skill," explains political scientist Arthur Lupia of the University of Michigan. We push threatening information away; we pull friendly information close. We apply fight-or-flight reflexes not only to predators, but to data itself. We're not driven only by emotions, of course—we also reason, deliberate. But reasoning comes later, works slower—and even then, it doesn't take place in an emotional vacuum. Rather, our quick-fire emotions can set us on a course of thinking that's highly biased, especially on topics we care a great deal about. (Bottom Line: We apply fight-or-flight reflexes not only to predators, but to data itself.)"

NOAA Joins International Effort To Track Black Carbon In The Arctic. The concern? Black carbon lowers the albedo of Arctic ice, accelerating melting, which further warms the air, sparking more warming - an example of "positive feedback" that is increasing the rate of ice melt up north. NOAA has the details: "Six nations are participating in a study that looks at the potential role of black carbon, or soot, on the rapidly changing Arctic climate. NOAA is using two small unmanned aircraft the size of a large suitcase outfitted with sensors to sniff and sample the air. The Arctic climate is changing faster than some scientists expected. A continuing decline in summer sea ice, warmer temperatures, changes in vegetation, and other indicators signal polar changes that affect the rest of the globe. Black carbon is contributing to this warming. Scientists say much of the black carbon in the Arctic comes from biomass and fossil fuel burning in North America and Eurasia. “Carbon is dark in color and absorbs solar radiation, much like wearing a black shirt on a sunny day. If you want to be cooler, you would wear a light-colored shirt that would reflect the sun’s warmth,” said Tim Bates, a research chemist at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) in Seattle and co-lead of the U.S. component of the study. “When black carbon covers snow and ice, the radiation is absorbed, much like that black shirt, instead of being reflected back into the atmosphere.” Also participating in the Coordinated Investigation of Climate-Cryosphere Interactions (CICCI) project are scientists from Norway, Russia, Germany, Italy and China. The goal is to coordinate more than a dozen research activities so they are done concurrently providing, for the first time, a vertical profile of black carbon’s movement through the atmosphere, its deposition on snow and ice surfaces, and its affect on warming in the Arctic."

Climage Change Retreating Arctic Coastline By Half A Meter Every Year. Here's a story from "Climate change and increased erosion are retreating the Arctic coastline by half a metre every year, according to a new study by more than 30 scientists from 10 countries. This implies substantial changes for Arctic ecosystems near the coast and the population living there. The researchers investigated over 100,000 km and thus a fourth of all Arctic coasts and have published their results for the first time. The changes are particularly dramatic in the Laptev, East Siberian and Beaufort Seas, where coastal erosion rates reach more than 8 metres a year in some cases. Since around a third of the world's coasts are located in the Arctic permafrost, coastal erosion may affect enormous areas in future. Up to now they have been protected against the eroding force of the waves by large sea ice areas. Due to the continuous decline in sea ice, this protection is jeopardised."

Budget Fight Hurts U.S. Climate Effort. We're only interested in protecting the environment and responsible development when the economy is in good shape? Really? An update from the New York Times: "AUSTIN, TEXAS — The recent budget wrangling in Washington will take a toll on the administration’s efforts to combat climate change. The budget of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was cut $1.6 billion — 16 percent — for the rest of this fiscal year, under the bill that President Barack Obama signed Friday. Other programs, like international forest-protection efforts, will also get less financing than their advocates had hoped. But with Republicans determined to rein in the E.P.A., environmentalists say, things could have been worse. Bigger clashes may be coming, as Congress draws battle lines over the budget for the next fiscal year. The largest cuts to the E.P.A., which is the main environmental regulator in the U.S. government, will affect local programs, like the money the agency disperses to states to improve their wastewater treatment and drinking water facilities. But some cuts will affect climate-related programs. S. William Becker, the executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, which represents state and local government regulators, said that states would receive $25 million less than the Obama administration had sought for the remainder of this fiscal year to implement the administration’s greenhouse gas programs. The E.P.A. began to regulate emissions of the gases in a limited way in January, and it plans to phase in additional requirements over time."

Physics Trumps Right Wing Ideology. For the record (not that anyone really cares), I've voted as a Republican for just about my entire adult life, but lately I've been embarrassed by the growing willingness of many of my right-wing friends and colleagues to deny climate science and look the other way. If 97% of doctors gave you the same diagnosis - chances are you'd listen to them and take action, but that apparently doesn't apply to climate scientists. The political process has become increasingly corrupted by energy lobbyists and fat campaign contributions to the point where my party is unrecognizable (at least to me). It makes me sad, it makes me angry. Our kids and grandkids are going to be pretty upset; they'll want to know what we knew - when - and what we did about it. Here's a post that sums up my current level of frustration about climate denial as a political art-form: "Global warming deniers know as much about climate science as they do about brain surgery. Would you let them tell your doctor what to do about that tumor? Why do I–a professional physicist and lifetime member of the American Physical Society–accept the reality of human-caused global warming? Because I accept the following top-ten list of physics facts, which have never been disputed in the scientific literature. This is also why the American Physical Society of 47,000 physicists says “The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring”.

PHYSICS FACT #1: The atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration has increased rapidly since the beginning of the industrial revolution, after being nearly constant for thousands of years.

PHYSICS FACT #2: The surplus carbon dioxide has an isotope composition that can only come from fossil fuels. The increase in concentration is not natural; it comes from human activities.

PHYSICS FACT #3: The radiative properties of carbon dioxide have been measured by physicists in the laboratory: It absorbs thermal infrared (heat) radiation.

PHYSICS FACT #4: Because carbon dioxide has this heat-absorbing physical property, the increase in its concentration has increased the infrared opacity of the Earth’s atmosphere and blocks the outward radiation of heat."

Europe's Largest Ecological Catamaran Takes Sail. Here's an interesting article from "It may be 24 meters (79 feet) long, 10.5 meters (34.5 feet) wide and be able to carry up to 150 passengers, but the Eco Slim seagoing catamaran produces less of a carbon footprint than vessels much smaller than itself. There are two main reasons for this – its electric motors, which are powered by several onboard renewable sources, and its lightweight, streamlined hull, that allows it to move through the water using a minimum amount of energy. Created by Spain's Drassanes Dalmau shipbuilders and launched on March 31st, it's officially Europe's largest "green" catamaran."

Weather Gone Wild (from historic snowstorms to category 5 hurricanes)

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: February 2, 2011 - 8:26 AM

60.4" so far this winter in the Twin Cities.

Trace of snow fell on Tuesday.

14" snow on the ground at KMSP.


Short and Sweet (if you don't have time to muddle through the blog): today will be the coldest day of the week (but the sun will be out - that should help, a little). We warm up rapidly, a brief thaw possible Thursday (maybe a coating to 1" late Friday). The weekend looks quiet, highs in the 20s, maybe a few inches of additional snow late Sunday into Monday morning ahead of the next cold jab. Before you despair: long-range models are hinting at an extended streak of 20s and 30s after Feb. 10. Yes, that higher sun angle should start to make a real difference by the second and third week of February. There is hope in the extended outlook.



Satellite Shows Winter Megastorm Painting U.S. White. A great photo from NASA, courtesy of "A NASA photograph of the Midwest megastorm gives profound visual truth to what it means for a snowstorm to blanket the United States. The image was captured from space Jan. 31 by the GOES 13 satellite, which regularly photographs the Eastern half of the planet from a geosynchronous altitude of about 22,000 miles. Cold air from the north is diving southward and colliding with moist tropical air, covering one-third of the United States in clouds. The storm is expected to flow east and depart New England on Wednesday night. Forecasters expect the storm will break snowfall records in the Great Plains and central Midwest. In the East, it may deliver ice storms that could cause $1 billion in damage. It’s the latest in a string of storms fitting a pattern predicted by climate scientists. Rising temperatures allow air to hold more moisture, loading storm systems with precipitation that’s ultimately dumped back on Earth."



The Great Groundhog Day Storm of 2011. Infrared satellite image courtesy of NOAA. From space storms look like "comma clouds", or giant atmospherically-shaped question marks, which seems somehow appropriate.



Serious Drifts. Thanks to Nick Harley from for reminding us what 10 foot drifts look like. This photo was taken in Elkton, South Dakota.



Growing Risk of (Warranted) Weather Hype. O.K. The hyperbole and hand-waving has reached new, unthinkable levels in the last 48 hours. I wanted to include this Sally Forth comic by Steve Alaniz & Francesco Marciuliano; drawn by Craig MacIntosh. H/T Steve Tracton



Chicago: Definition of "Snowmageddon." Meteorologists get a lot of grief (some of it justified) for hyping the weather, but not an ounce of hype was needed Tuesday night in Chicago. Horizontal snow, white-out conditions, winds gusting to 58 mph (!) with thunder and lightning! It must have looked like a snowy End Of The World. Lakeshore Drive was impassable, closed, in its entirety, due to abandoned vehicles. It was the very definition of a blizzard. Final amounts? 18-22", but good luck measuring - some 6-8 foot drifts are likely by midday today. (I saw a live shot on CNN last night when it thundered as the reporter-on-the-scene was trying to remain upright - I thought he was going to faint, loud, booming thunder with near-zero visibilities. Amazing).

Peak Wind Gusts (up until 9 pm Tuesday). Data courtesy of EarthNetworks.


Chicago Lakefront: 67 mph

Chicago Ohare: 61 mph

Aurora: 59 mph

West Chicago: 54 mph

Joliet: 52 mph

Dekalb: 52 mph

* From Jeff Masters and his Wunderblog: "The storm will probably be Chicago's biggest blizzard since January 2 - 4 1999, when a storm dumped 21.6" of snow. With tonight's snowstorm expected to have very unstable air aloft, "thundersnow" with snowfall rates of 4 inches/hour is possible, and there is a chance today's blizzard could rival Chicago's greatest snow storm of all time, the blizzard of January 26 - 27, 1967. That immense storm dumped 23 inches of snow on Chicago, stranding thousands of people and leaving an estimated 800 Chicago Transit Authority buses and 50,000 automobiles abandoned on the city streets and expressways."




Storm Damage.  Tuesday night part of the roof of Wrigley Field was torn off by the blizzard. This is a screen-grab from the Weatherbug camera located across the street at the Cubby Bear. Courtesy: EarthNetworks.


Storm For The Ages. All-time snowfall record from a single storm in Chicago? 23" on January 35-26,1967. There was so much snow that roads were closed for days after the storm, in some cases WEEKS. 60 deaths were attributed to the storm (many from heart attacks). Keith Heidorn, the "Weather Doctor" has a terrific write-up on the storm to end all storms here. (photo credit: Chicago's Outer Drive, from 12th to 16th Street, courtesy of Keith Heidorn).



Lit Up Like A Christmas Tree. 9 states under Blizzard Warnings, 20 states impacted by Winter Storm Warnings, tornado watches and warnings for the Deep South, a slew of Windchill Warnings and Advisories (including much of Minnesota). Oh to be in south central Oregon, where the biggest concern is an Air Stagnation Advisory. Click here for  the latest warnings from NOAA.


NASA Satellites Capture Images Of Monster Storm Affecting 30 States. From our friends at NASA: "One of the largest winter storms since the 1950s is affecting 30 U.S. states today with snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain. NASA satellites have gathering data on the storm that stretches from Texas and the Rockies to the New England states.  NASA's Aqua and Terra satellites have been providing visible, infrared and microwave looks at the storm system's clouds, precipitation, temperatures and extent." More details here.



Weather "Bomb"

. In meteorological circles a "bomb" is an explosive storm, one that's intensifying rapidly. Tuesday's storm fit the definition: 8 foot drifts in Oklahoma, interstates closed across Missouri, 5" of snow in 90 minutes, hundreds of motorists stranded in their vehicles, 20"+ for parts of Oklahoma and Missouri, the first-ever "hard freeze warning" for the Dallas area, the first blizzard warning in recent memory for St. Cloud - here's a great


of the storm from the Capital Weather Gang. (map courtesy of GRearth)



Bottoming Out. Today will be the coldest day of the week, morning wind chills in the -15 to -25 F range in the Twin Cities, but as cold as -40 over western Minnesota, where Wind Chill Advisories have been upgraded to Warnings.








A Memorable Swath Of Snow. The latest NAM model prints out over 20" (total) for parts of Missouri, Illinois and Lower Michigan, the heaviest snows passing north of New York and Boston. This will be the biggest snowstorm in well over a decade for parts of the Midwest and Great Lakes.


Historic Winter Storm? All hype and superlatives aside, this storm is a pretty big deal: impacting at least a third of the nation. 8 states under Blizzard Warnings - 30 states under Winter Storm Warnings. As many as 100 million Americans are being impacted by heavy snow, severe ice and bitter wind chills - possibly the most disruptive winter storm in at least a decade. More from the Huffington Post:

"A monster winter storm took aim at a third of the nation Monday, threatening to lay a potentially deadly path of heavy snow and ice from the Rockies to New England, followed by a wave of bitter, bone-rattling cold that could affect tens of millions of people. Cities including St. Louis, Kansas City and Milwaukee could be hardest hit, with expected midweek snowfalls of up to 2 feet and drifts piled 5 to 10 feet. Even hardy Chicago could be in for its third-worst blizzard since record-keeping began. "I wouldn't want to be on the road in open areas tomorrow night," said forecaster Tom Skilling of Chicago television station WGN. "I don't think I'd want to be driving in the city either. The fact is people die in these things. They skid off the road and go wandering around in whiteout conditions." Warmer areas were not safe, either. The system could spawn tornadoes in parts of the South. While record snowfalls have pounded the Northeast in one of that region's most brutal winters, the Midwest has been comparatively unscathed, until now."


8 Foot Drifts In Oklahoma. From our partners at EarthNetwork (formally WeatherBug): "Conditions have deteriorated to no visibility and up to 8 foot drifts on the interstates. National Guard is working with OHP (Oklahoma Highway Patrol) to rescue stranded motorists. White out conditions exist at this time. No travel through area recommended." YouTube footage of the blizzard in Tulsa is here.


Aviation Gridlock. 6, 887 flight cancellations in the USA as of 9:30 Tuesday evening, according to American Airlines got the Golden Sleeping Bag Award. Sign me up for Caribbean Airlines - only 1 flight (maybe the only flight?) disrupted by Tuesday's super-storm.



Ski Oklahoma. Jason Parkin included a great photo of the aftermath of the blizzard in Oklahoma. Looks more like North Dakota. Check out more photos and storm-nuggets at his excellent blog,


MIAMI                                20.0                     
OWASSO 1 W                           19.0                     
AFTON                                18.0                     
PAWHUSKA 2 S                         17.0                     
TULSA 9 SE                           15.0                     
VINITA                               12.0                     
GLENPOOL                             11.0   

(Snowfall reports from NOAA's NCEP division).


Groundhog Day Cancelled In Illinois. From EarthNetworks: "The snowy weather is so bad even Woodstock Willie isn’t coming out Wednesday — Groundhog Day — to forecast how much longer winter will last, organizers of the Groundhog Days festival in northwest suburban Woodstock announced Tuesday. A highlight of the annual festival is the furry critter emerging from his tree trunk home in the downtown Woodstock Square, where parts of the 1992 hit movie “Groundhog Day” were filmed. “Due to the weather conditions and with concern for safety, the Feb. 2 prognostication has been cancelled for 2011,” the Groundhog Days Committee said on its website.



January Snow In St. Cloud More Than Previous Five Januarys - Combined. A story from Dave Aeikens at the St. Cloud Times: "So much so that the 15.6 inches that fell this January, including 4.4 inches of new snow Monday, is more than fell during the five previous Januarys combined. 15.1 inches of snow fell during the Januarys of 2006-2010, according to Bob Weisman, St. Cloud State University meterologist. Guys like Keith Marthaler, president of the Sno Joes Snowmobile Club, like to see the white Januarys. “It’s been a great year for snowmobiling; a very good season. The snow has been good,” Marthaler said. “Snowmobile season is in full swing, everybody is happy. ”It snowed 16 of 31 days in January but, typical of most Januaries when the air is too cold for a prolonged snowfall, it didn’t snow more than 2 inches until Monday, Weisman said. “We had a lot of those very fluffy snowfalls,” Weisman said.


WindChill Concerns. NOAA is tracking the severe cold engulfing the nation in the wake of what may go down in the record books as one of the most disruptive winter storms in a decade or more. Wind chill values may reach -20 to -30 at time early Wednesday.



January Numbers. According to the meteorological analytics company, Planalytics, January was the 4th coldest and 6th snowiest on record. More details: "North America ended the month colder and drier than normal, although regional differences were prevalent. The U.S. had its coldest January since 2004, driest since 2009, and snowiest since 2005. Canada was colder than last January although still warmer than normal and the most precipitation since 2008. Snowfall in Canada was near normal although well above last year." (photo courtesy of the New York Times).



Tuesday's Forecast: Horrific. Snow budgets in many municipalities around the USA have already been spent, and the winter snow accumulation season is a little more than half over. The New York Times reports on the many ways Old Man Winter is adding insult to injury for many states and cities around the nation: "KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Government budgets around the nation, already busted by the bad economy, now have a new nemesis: Mother Nature. Yet another winter storm is going to heap more ice and snow across a huge section of the country this week, meaning yet another big bill, on top of a lot of other big bills, for all the towns and cities that have to dig out again. “On a weather map, some people see snowflakes, I see dollar signs,” said R. T. Rybak, the mayor of Minneapolis, as a light snowfall brightened the white mounds lining the city streets. Not that officials have any choice. The streets have to be cleared, of course, but often with fewer plows and less salt than in years past. Many cities — New York among them — have already overspent their snow budgets and many more expect this storm to push them into the red. In Minneapolis, a record-setting series of snowstorms in December pushed the city over the snow-removal budget for 2010 by $3.3 million — more than the city spends on pothole repairs for the entire year."


Nothing On The Doppler - Yet. We get a break through Thursday, this latest influx of Canadian air forcing the storm track well south of Minnesota. Models are suggesting a coating to an inch during the PM hours Friday, maybe a few more inches late Sunday and Sunday night. At the rate we're going we may have close to 70" by mid February.



The End Is Near? (To The Coldest Air Of Winter) The GFS is suggesting another cold swipe early next week, but then an extended stretch of time in the 20s and low 30s. It's the first real hint of an EXTENDED THAW I've seen yet this winter. We've picked up nearly 1 hour of additional daylight since December 21 - looks like that higher sun angle may finally make a dent in our temperature pattern by the end of next week into the third week of February. Hang in there - better days ahead.



Category 5 Cyclone Yasi. The cyclone (same thing as a hurricane) threatening Queensland continues to intensify. "Yasi" may hit as a Category 5, with sustained winds over 150 mph - a potentially devastating storm impacting the same area that was overwhelmed with flooding rains a few weeks ago.


Collision Course. Yasi is expected to hit the coast of Australia, near Cardwell, during the early morning hours (local time) Feb. 3. Track data from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

* Australians Flee, Jam Shelters Ahead Of "Catastrophic Cyclone." The latest from Reuters on what may be a devastating hurricane for Queensland: "We are facing a storm of catastrophic proportions," Queensland state premier Anna Bligh said after Cyclone Yasi was upgraded to a maximum-strength category five storm. It is expected to hit the coast on Wednesday evening, packing winds in excess of 280 km (175 miles) per hour. The weather bureau predicted it would be the strongest ever to hit Australia, Sky TV reported. "All aspects of this cyclone are going to be terrifying and potentially very very damaging," Bligh added, noting the greatest threat to life could come from storm surges along the coast with the system due to hit when the tide is high.Mines, rail lines and coal ports have all shut down, with officials warning the storm could drive inland for hundreds of kilometres, hitting rural and mining areas still struggling to recover after months of devastating floods."

"An updated cyclone warning from Queensland disaster officials said: "Severe tropical cyclone Yasi is a large and very powerful tropical cyclone that poses an extremely serious threat to life and property. This impact is likely to be more life threatening than any experienced during recent generations."

Yasi. Here is an enhanced IR satellite loop from NOAA, showing intense Cyclone Yasi approaching Queensland.


Direct Strike. ECMWF model track of Cyclone Yasi is here.


2010: Wettest Year On Record. According to NCDC last year not only tied 2005 for the warmest year since 1880, it was also the wettest year. A 1-2 F. temperature increase in the last century has evaporated more ocean water, leading to a 4-5% increase in water vapor. That manifests itself through more extreme rainfall events - floods, while other parts of the planet are trending drier. More details in NOAA's "State of the Climate": "Global precipitation in 2010 was well above the 1961–1990 average, ranking as the wettest on record since 1900. Precipitation throughout the year was variable in many areas. Regionally, drier than average conditions were widespread across much of French Polynesia, the Solomon Islands, Hawaiian Islands, northwestern Canada, extreme northwest and northeast Brazil, and southern Peru. The wettest regions induded most of Central America, much of India, southwestern China, east Asia, Borneo, and parts of Australia."


Top 10 Weather/Climate Events of 2010. The heat wave and drought that gripped Russia last year may have claimed as many as 10,000 lives. At one point 25% of Pakistan was under water. More details on a crazy year of meteorological extremes here.



"Earth Art". Here are the Black Hills, like you've never seen them before. A visually striking article from "These images are actual pictures of the Earth, created by printing visible and infrared data in colors visible to the human eye. Band combinations and colors were chosen to optimize their dramatic appearance. The U.S. Geological Survey's Earth Resources Observation Systems (EROS) Data Center in South Dakota is the primary receiving station for Landsat 7 data, and it distributes these data to researchers around the world. This article showcases Landsat 7 images, from the collection of Landsat photographs held in the Geography and Map Division, which have been selected for aesthetic rather than scientific value."



Fog Will Not Save You From Vikings. A fascinating article from : "Vikings are already famous for their beards and badassery, not the least of which springs from their sailing prowess. Spreading from Sweden and Norway, the Vikings sailed and settled Northern England, Iceland, Greenland, and were the first Europeans to arrive in North America. They also pillaged and terrorized an unready European populace with their ferocity and totally sweet boats, but a lingering question faced by historians is how they managed to sail as well as they did with such limited technology. Navigation in the far north poses several unique problems. First off, compasses don’t operate as well so close to the North Pole, and weren’t introduced to Scandinavia until after the Viking period. Secondly, for the warmest part of the year, the sun generally does not fully set, making it impossible to navigate using stars. It’s been fairly well accepted that Norse sailors used a sun-dial like device, but those would only function when the sun is visible. Fog or other weather common on the North Atlantic would have easily obscured the sun, making it extremely difficult to discern direction."


Around The World In .083 Days: One Vision Of Future Transportation. Not sure the airlines are nervous (yet), but if one visionary entrepreneur has his way, someday we'll be traveling around the planet in pneumatic tubes. What about my carry-on luggage? Gizmag has all the wide-eyed details: "Pneumatic Futurama-style transport systems were proposed as far back as the late 1800’s following the invention of pneumatic tubes for carrying mail around buildings. Swiss company Acabion sees such vacuum tube-based mass transport systems becoming a reality by 2100 and has conceived a vehicle capable of traveling at speeds of almost 12,500 mph (20,000 km/h) on such a platform. The company envisages a global network that would let users circle the globe in less than two hours and make transcontinental journeys possible in less than the time it currently takes to get across town."



The World's First 3-D Smartphone. Early adopters take note: the bar is about to be raised yet again. Yes, you can have your Android operating system, and see a 3-D display (without the dorky glasses). An article from Mashable: "LG has announced it will unveil its glasses-free 3D smartphone, the LG Optimus 3D, at the Mobile World Congress held February 14-17 in Barcelona."






The Numbing Numbers. Hey, it could have been 2 feet of snow (with thunder and lightning). We wound up with .4" (shortly after midnight), half an inch at Rochester, highs ranged from 6 at International Falls (after a low of -29 F) to 9 at Rochester, 15 at MSP International, and 17 at Grand Marais (a slightly milder breeze off Lake Superior, where water temperatures are in the mid 30s).





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


TODAY: Windchill Advisory Twin Cities metro - Wind Chill Warnings for central/western MN for a chill factor near -35 F. this morning. Coldest day of the week. W.C. -20. W 10-15. High: 9


WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Clear to partly cloudy, still cold. Low: -3


THURSDAY: Fading sun, breezy, not as cold. Low: -3. High: 18


FRIDAY: Milder, coating-1" or so of snow from late clipper? Low: 17. High: 33


SATURDAY: Cooler, clouds and flurries linger. High: 27


SUNDAY: Dry start, more light snow Sunday night - light accumulation possible Sunday night . High: 23


MONDAY: Chance of a few inches of light snow, tapering to flurries, much colder. Low: 8. High: 12


TUESDAY: What else? Cold with some sun. Low: -5. High: 7



(there's a car somewhere under that drift in Quincy, Illinois).


Happy Groundhog Day


So I respectfully ask the following rhetorical question: "why isn't Groundhog Day a national holiday?" We should have the day off to celebrate and reflect, maybe consult a map to see if we really will enjoy 6 more weeks of winter? Looks like a slam-dunk to me.<p>What may wind up being a "Top 5 Snowstorm" for much of America has virtually shut down millions of square miles from Tulsa and Kansas City to Chicago to Detroit. 8 states under Blizzard Warnings today; as many as 110 million Americans impacted by snow, ice and wind.

I'm staring at one mixed up weather map: while we shiver, there is news that Arctic waters may be warmer than any time in the last 2,000 years; Greenland and eastern Canada have been 10-20 F. warmer than average. And Category 4 Cyclone (same thing as a hurricane). "Yasi" is bearing down on Queensland, Australia, the same region pounded by historic floods just a few weeks ago.

Nothing epic in our forecast, just a serious dose of wind chill today, followed by a Friday thaw. We're up to 60.4" so far, models hinting at 1" snow late Friday, a few more inches late Sunday into early Monday. I still think the "worst" of winter is behind us. Hey, 58 minutes of daylight since December 21!



Hawaii's "Big Wind" Project Stirs Up Friends, Foes. The state of Hawaii is taking aggressive steps to move toward renewable energy sources, including solar and wind. NPR reports that not everyone is happy with this trend: "In Hawaii, hearings begin Tuesday for the state's Big Wind project. The plan is for a massive wind farm of hundreds windmills to span several islands. It's the largest renewable energy project for a state racing to get off oil. Almost all of Hawaii's electricity now comes from a few massive generators, which burn oil imported on a never-ending line of tanker ships. Hawaii would rather get electricity from wind — like that produced by the new 42-story windmill at the Kahuku Wind Farm on Oahu's North Shore. "They're big but they're beautiful, they are," says Kekoa Kaluhiwa, who works for the company running this farm, First Wind. Hawaii is hoping to build up to 200 more of these windmills on the small and windy islands of Lanai and Molokai. The power produced on the islands would then be sent to heavily populated Oahu through undersea cables."



Is President Obama Avoiding The Climate Change Debate. A commentary from Yahoo News: "With the economy fragile, the housing market as soft as ever and unemployment stubbornly high, is President Barack Obama less focused on climate change as a political issue than he seemed to be during the 2008 campaign, even while the nation is battered by extreme weather this winter? In the president's State of the Union address last week, he never directly said the words "climate change" or "global warming." Obama did speak at some length about using technology to develop alternative energy sources, and he talked about the economic benefit of things such as high-speed rail, but he did not explicitly discuss the threat of climate change; and certainly did not venture anywhere near the debate concerning whether or not climate change, if it exists, is manmade or not. This is not new for Obama. In his previous two State of the Union addresses, he did not specifically mention 'climate change' either. During the 2008 campaign, candidate Obama openly discussed the threat that climate change presented, and yet seems to refuse to discuss it now. Instead, Obama seems to be repositioning the climate change challenge as an economic one; which, of course, it is in many ways. Throughout his presidency, and particularly since he has moved to the middle of the political spectrum in the weeks since the Republican electoral sweep, it seems that President Obama views the climate change conversation as one he cannot win."


Antarctic Ice Trends. It's summer in the southern hemisphere, but satellite data shows below-average ice coverage over the world's largest (snowy) desert.





Greenhouse Gas Atlas. Yale has reprinted a story focusing on a global snapshot of greenhouse gas emissions. A few highlights: "The Guardian has produced a new graphic showing the relative size of CO2 emissions by nation, with China and India experiencing significant growth in 2009, while emissions dropped in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Russia. With its CO2 emissions rising 13.3 percent from 2008 to 2009, China is by far the world’s leading emitter of CO2, producing 7.7 billion tons in 2009 — 1.7 billion more than the 5.4 billion tons emitted by the United States. India’s emissions rose 8.7 percent to 1.6 billion tons, making it the world’s third-largest emitter of CO2. Because of the economic recession and the growing role played by renewable energy, CO2 emissions in the U.S., Europe, and Russia declined by roughly 7 percent in 2009."


Skeptic Arguments And What The Science Says. For those still keeping an open mind about climate science here is some helpful information, from the web site:  "Here is a summary of skeptic arguments, sorted by recent popularity vs what science says. Note that the one line responses are just a starting point - click the response for a more detailed response. You can also view them sorted by taxonomy, by popularity, in a print-friendly version, or with fixed numbers you can use for permanent references."

New Year's Eve Storm (2-3" possible metro, 6-12" far northern/western MN)

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: December 29, 2010 - 8:53 AM


Icy Possibilities. Although temperatures 3,000 to 6,000 feet above Minnesota are forecast to be warm enough for rain late Wednesday night and Thursday - that rain, falling on sub-freezing surfaces (sidewalks, driveways, powerlines and tree limbs) may produce a thin layer of glaze ice, especially Thursday morning, before the breakfast hour. The best chance of icing will come north/west of the Twin Cities, closer to Willmar, St. Cloud and Little Falls.




Snowy Conditions Proving Hazardous For Nation's Idiots. Summing up the recent blizzard as only The Onion can, check this out. One of the funnier things I've seen recently (apologies to any idiots, related or unrelated, who may be offended by this attempted satire).


* Bad Weather Karma? Not sure if you caught this during last night's Vikes-Eagles game, but so far this season the Vikings have had 2 weather-related postponements. By comparison the Twins had only 1 weather-related cancellation in 2010 at the new Target Field. Tuesday's game was the first NFL football game played on a Tuesday in 64 years. Good least we got a win last night. That one felt good (and long overdue).


Eagles Are Knee Deep In Controversy After Postponement. Has there ever been such a harsh reaction to the postponement of a football game due to weather? I doubt it. From an article in the New York Times: "It is a rare moment when a snowstorm-prompted game postponement turns into a referendum on the nation’s level of “wussiness,” but such is the occasion when someone slips a radio microphone near the mouth of Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell. He unleashed his own unique kind of storm on the N.F.L. for moving his beloved Eagles’ game to Tuesday instead of playing it Sunday in a blizzard. Whether you agree with Rendell’s contention that we’ve become a “nation of wusses,” you do have to admire his rhetorical touches. “If this was in China, do you think the Chinese would have called off the game?” he railed. “People would have been marching down to the stadium, they would have walked and they would have been doing calculus on the way down.”


What do you think? Is it better to err on the side of caution - or let people determine their own level of risk, whether they want to head out into the weather? I can see both sides of this one. Sadly, the lawyers are now in control. Everything is predicated on risk and liability and "exposure". I think the good governor of Pennsylvania has a valid point, but all it would have taken is one fatal accident after the game in Philly for the (legal) Hammer of God to come down on the NFL. It's a no-win predicament.



"I Love New York (But Never Leave A Vehicle There During A Snowstorm). Is this any way to treat a Ford Explorer? New York Sanitation Workers were trying to free a front-end loader, and it just turned into something out of Candid Camera. Click here to see the entire clip (rated R for salty language).


Shifting Pattern. The jet stream, the high-speed river of air snaking its way around the Northern Hemisphere, is about to buckle, plunging more bitter air southward out of Canada. We've had a Pacific flow much of this week (low 30s today, possibly mid 30s by Thursday, more than 10 degrees above average for late December). Along the leading edge of this next Arctic Fling a series of low pressure systems will impact Minnesota, enough warm air aloft for mostly-rain Thursday, but by Friday there should be enough cold air in place for a couple inches of snow in the metro - it may be considerably MORE than a couple inches for far western/northern Minnesota. There, a plowable snowfall is likely.


On The Edge - A Cool Foot for Western Minnesota? As if so often the case, the Twin Cities metro area may wind up on the edge of any significant snowfall with Friday's system. Best bet locally based on what guidance is suggesting is something in the 2-3 or 2-4" range, best chance of 3 or 4" well west of Minneapolis, maybe only a coating to an inch or so far eastern suburbs, where more precipitation will fall as rain. But parts of central Minnesota could easily wind up with 3-6", maybe closer to 8-12" from Alexandria to Brainerd with some 12"+ amounts for the northwestern third of Minnesota. Rochester has 28" on the ground, Brainerd has less than 6". It's about time the "up north" part of Minnesota catch up a little in the snowfall department.




Ice - Rain - Snow (In That Order). If rain streaks in late Wednesday night (possible) surface temperatures may be just below the freezing mark - I could see some icy bridges and side streets early Thursday morning, but I think most roads will wind up being wet on Thursday. We get a little break before the main (secondary) storm spins up Friday, models printing out .34" liquid PM hours on New Year's Eve - plenty of cold air in place for snow. If the current  track holds some 2-3" amounts are possible in the metro, amounts increasing the farther west you travel on 7, 12 and I-94.


Fresh Carpet of White - Tale of Two Islands. NASA's high-res "MODIS" Terra satellite showed the fresh snow blanketing the east coast. I also found it (vaguely) interesting to see what a difference the rain/snow line makes. Nantucket, close to 60 degree Gulf Stream waters - stayed rain, while 20 miles west fresh snow coated Martha's Vineyard, MA. Click here to see the high-res image.


Blizzard Before And After Photo. The recent blizzard was a coastal affair, very little snow west of Philadelphia and Baltimore, the greatest surge of snow (and wind) focused on coastal New Jersey right up the coast to Boston and Portland. The New York Times has a great op-ed piece about the "Boxing Day Storm" that resulted in the "White Coast" here.




An Unusual Number of Top 10 Snowstorms For The Northeast. Jeff Masters in his excellent Wunderblog looks at the latest New England blizzard - his research shows a sharp spike in the most extreme snowfalls in recent years, and wonders (out loud) if it's a fluke, or yet another sign of climate change, an increase in evaporation and water vapor spiking winter storms, making them more potent than ever. Worthy of a read.


Record Rainfall...Record Snowfall. And 2010 Is One Of The Warmest Years On Record? Southern California Public Radio has a good overview of the crazy year that was 2010. An excerpt from the article: "You don’t need a degree in climatology or meteorology to observe that the weather in 2010 has been strange, downright bizarre in December with record rainfall in Southern California and a blizzard for the ages socking the East Coast. Early snow in Seattle, extreme snow and cold conditions across the northern plains… and throw in a few more massive blizzards in Europe and winter came very early in 2010. Right on cue, the World Meteorological released its analysis of the year’s temperatures showing that 2010 will probably be among the three warmest years on record, and that 2001 – 2010 will be the warmest decade on record. How does one reconcile all of the cold temperatures, snow and rainfall with the continued evidence that global warming is happening and even accelerating?"


The Blizzard of 2010. Has Global Warming Turned Americans Into Winter Wimps? An interesting article (cry in the wildnerness?) from the Christian Science Monitor. Here is an excerpt: "Maybe it was those warm, snow-bare years and the impression that global warming was in the process of turning Minneapolis into Miami, but what's with the hyperbolic national reaction to the "snowball express" winter storm of 2010?" The hand-wringing by news anchors up and down the East Coast was on Sunday compounded by the postponement – before a flake of snow had fallen – of the Philadelphia Eagles-Minnesota Vikings pro football game, causing Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell to fume: "This is football; football is played in bad weather."


Mega-SnowBall Launcher. The next time the kids gang up on your go into the garage and pull this thing out of cold storage, all of $30 from the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog. The next thing you'll hear is a lot of screaming (running) as the troops scatter. I need one of these....


Welcome Thaw. For only the third time this month the mercury rose above freezing in the Twin Cities. Yes, sadly, 34 felt pretty good (10 degrees above average for a change). Rochester is still reporting 27" snow on the ground, 16" MSP, 12" St. Cloud, less than 5" for parts of the Brainerd Lakes area - where folks are due for a real snow storm.





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


WEDNESDAY: Intervals of sun, possible thaw. Winds: S 10-15. High: 32


WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Cloudy, a little light rain or freezing rain (glaze ice) is possible late. Low: 30


THURSDAY: Periods of rain for the metro (mainly wet roads). Snowy mix far north/west MN. High: 36


NEW YEAR'S EVE: Changeover to snow - 2-3" possible metro area, more north/west of MSP. High: 28 (falling through the 20s into the teens Friday night, meaning wet/slushy roads will become icy).


NEW YEAR'S DAY: Better travel, cold wind whips up with intervals of sun. High: 11 (wind chill dips below zero).


SUNDAY: Sun helps (a little). Brrrr Low: -3. High: 14


MONDAY: Clouds increase, not as bitter. High: near 20


TUESDAY: More clouds than sun, quiet. High: 22






Brewing Slop-storm


It could be worse. You could be trying to find your front door in Elizabeth, New Jersey, where 32" fell with 8 foot drifts. You could be foraging for food at JFK, an oasis of discomfort surrounded by a vast, snowy wilderness. It was New York City's 6th largest snowfall on record (20" at Central Park).


We have our own (minor) challenges: Minnesotans forced to play a game of vehicular chicken, inching forward at intersections, trying to see over towering piles of snow. Snow budgets are already running out in many communities, but snow lovers are on Cloud 10.


I always have to laugh how good 32 feels in midwinter. Enjoy today's thaw, because a surge of southern moisture will spark rain tomorrow; most metro roads wet/sloppy. Northern and western MN will see mostly-snow, and amounts may be significant; as much as 5-10" by Saturday morning.


A layer of relatively mild air aloft keeps freeways wet much of Thursday, but a changeover to snow is likely New Year's Eve (I know, great timing. This won't be "Snowmageddon" or a "Brrricane", but we may wind up with a few inches of snow Friday PM hours, enough to make the drive home from your New Year's Eve party potentially memorable!



Wintry Weather And Global Warming. If the planet is warming up, how can I be freezing my butt off? And what about all this snow. Andrew Revkin, in his science/climate blog at the New York Times, has an illuminating blog post focused on what appears (at first glance) to be the Mother Of All Inconsistencies. How could a slowly warming (long-term) climate be loading the dice in favor of more frequent (and early) Arctic outbreaks? It's easier to explain away the significant snowfalls - water vapor overhead has increased by 4% in recent decades due to warmer oceans and more evaporation of sea water - we're seeing the results in more spring/summer flooding and more frequent/intense winter storms and blizzards. Revkin quotes Kevin Trenberth from NCAR: "I am aware of some German work that suggests the cold outbreak pattern might somehow be stimulated by reduced Arctic Sea Ice. I have not seen the study but count me skeptical. The cold and snow in Europe was “balanced” by very warm temperatures in Greenland: classical negative NAO [ North Atlantic Oscillation]: perhaps. The was a large so-called blocking high in North Atlantic that led to the polar outbreaks into Europe and so that is where the cold air went, making it warmer in behind. Now that is more a weather or meteorological description, not a statement of cause. Coincidentally pressures have been much above normal in the far North Pacific, and that is typical with La Nina. The pressures were high enough to make the main branch of westerlies active to the south and led to the pineapple express and heavy rains in California. It is quite a strong La Nina, and that is a forcing of the atmosphere by the anomalous atmospheric heating patterns linked to SSTs [sea surface temperatures]."