Chilly. Cold. Bitter. Polar. "It only hurts when I breathe" a friend snorted. "This is why bears hibernate" another shrugged. Look at the bright side: when it's this Nanook the crime rate plummets. And your garbage doesn't stink.
What baffles me every January: how did our great, great, GREAT grandparents survive a Minnesota winter - before central heating, cable and heated car seats? We were settled by a supernaturally-hardy species of supermen and superwomen.
No need to take that Yukon vacation; a taste of the Great White North is coming to you. Subzero temperatures are likely from tonight into midday Tuesday; 36-48 hours of negative numbers. Monday wind chills dip to -35 in the metro, -45 up north.
It would be even colder if not for brown ground and a lack of snow, which acts as an insulator. If you've had problems with frozen pipes in years past you'll want to pay attention.
Inspect your kids before sending them off to the bus stop Monday. The "no exposed skin" rule is in full effect. In my case it's in effect pretty much yearround.
Welcome to the coldest week of winter; a coating of snow Thursday - a thaw returns a week from tomorrow.
Historically, January is the coldest, snowiest month of the year. OK, we're batting .500.
Peak Saturday Wind Gusts:
61 mph. Jordan
56 mph. Alexandria
55 mph. MSP International Airport
54 mph. Montevideo
54 mph. Glenwood
Windchill Watch. Underscoring how dangerous the current and predicted chill factors will be, here's the latest from the Twin Cities National Weather Service:
URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TWIN CITIES/CHANHASSEN MN 811 PM CST SAT JAN 19 2013 ...LOW WIND CHILLS TONIGHT...BUT DANGEROUS WIND CHILLS POSSIBLE SUNDAY NIGHT INTO MONDAY... .THE COMBINATION OF GUSTY NORTHWEST WINDS AND TEMPERATURES DROPPING INTO THE SINGLE DIGITS BELOW ZERO WILL CAUSE HAZARDOUS WIND CHILLS AROUND 25 BELOW OVER PORTIONS OF CENTRAL MINNESOTA INTO WEST CENTRAL WISCONSIN LATE TONIGHT INTO SUNDAY MORNING. ANOTHER ARCTIC FRONT WILL SURGE SOUTHEAST SUNDAY WITH EVEN COLDER AIR ARRIVING SUNDAY EVENING. LOW TEMPERATURES SUNDAY NIGHT WILL RANGE FROM 10 TO 15 BELOW NEAR THE IOWA BORDER...TO 20 TO 25 BELOW ACROSS CENTRAL MINNESOTA. THESE BITTERLY COLD TEMPERATURES COMBINED WITH A NORTHWEST WIND OF 10 TO 15 MPH WILL CREATE WIND CHILLS OF 35 TO 45 BELOW ZERO THROUGH MONDAY MORNING...WITH THE COLDEST READINGS OVER CENTRAL MINNESOTA. ONLY A SLIGHT MODERATION OF TEMPERATURES IS EXPECTED DURING THE DAY MONDAY WITH HIGHS EXPECTED TO RANGE FROM 1 BELOW TO 11 BELOW. ANOTHER BITTERLY COLD NIGHT IS ANTICIPATED MONDAY NIGHT WITH LOWS OF 12 TO 25 BELOW BUT LIGHTER WINDS LEAVE ENOUGH UNCERTAINTY OF SUB 35 BELOW WIND CHILLS FOR A WIND CHILL WATCH AT THIS TIME. ...WIND CHILL ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 11 AM CST SUNDAY... ...WIND CHILL WATCH IN EFFECT FROM SUNDAY EVENING THROUGH MONDAY AFTERNOON... THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN TWIN CITIES/CHANHASSEN HAS ISSUED A WIND CHILL WATCH...WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM SUNDAY EVENING THROUGH MONDAY AFTERNOON. * WIND CHILL VALUES...AROUND 25 BELOW TONIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING...AND AROUND 45 BELOW SUNDAY NIGHT AND MONDAY MORNING. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS... A WIND CHILL ADVISORY MEANS THAT VERY COLD AIR AND STRONG WINDS WILL COMBINE TO GENERATE LOW WIND CHILLS. THIS WILL RESULT IN FROST BITE AND LEAD TO HYPOTHERMIA IF PRECAUTIONS ARE NOT TAKEN. IF YOU MUST VENTURE OUTDOORS...MAKE SURE YOU WEAR A HAT AND GLOVES. A WIND CHILL WATCH MEANS THERE IS THE POTENTIAL FOR A COMBINATION OF VERY COLD AIR AND STRONG WINDS TO CREATE DANGEROUSLY LOW WIND CHILL VALUES. MONITOR THE LATEST FORECASTS AND WARNINGS FOR UPDATES ON THIS SITUATION.
Coldest Week Of Winter. If there was any doubt in my mind (or yours), this graphic should erase it altogether. I expect 40-44 hours of air temperatures below zero, from this evening thru midday Tuesday; highs Tuesday will barely rise above zero. A reinforcing shot of cold air arrives late in the week, subzero again Saturday morning before we finally pull out of the Deep Freeze.
Serious Wind Chills. We've heard the drills (although not so much in recent years). Multiple layers, no exposed skin, warm hat (covering the ears). Warm footwear. Make sure your kids (or lazy spouse) dresses for the elements, especially Monday morning, when wind chills in the metro reach their lowest values; around -30 to -32 F. Exposed skin can become frostbitten in less than 5 minutes.
It's been 4 years since we've had to shiver like this; January of 2009 was fairly harsh with 15 subzero nights and 3 subzero days. Plenty cold. This time around won't be quite that severe, but for most Minnesotans....cold enough. Monday will be the first subzero day in 4 years, a morning wind chill of -30 to -33 F. at the bus stop. Frostbite weather. Slight moderation is expected later in the week (although I wouldn't characterize it as a "warm front") before another relapse late in the week. A thaw is likely a week from tomorrow, thank God. Snow? Long-range models (which I sure wouldn't bet the farm on) are hinting at a major snowfall the very end of January. I'm skeptical, but we're due for a real storm. So far we've seen just over an inch of snow, during this, the snowiest month of the year. On paper.
Fun With Negative Numbers. The ECMWF predicted highs above are in Celsius, showing the coldest temperatures Monday and Tuesday, another slug of bitter air by the end of the week. No significant snow is on tap (too cold - the storm track has been shoved way south). A coating is possible Thursday and Friday, little more.
Late January Snowstorm? It's way too early to get excited, but the GFS model spins up an impressive storm over the Upper Midwest around January 30th, a Wednesday. Please circle your calendar. I'm skeptical ("when in a drought don't predict rain....or snow") but in the spirit of full disclosure, computer model warts and all, here goes. Place your bets.
What A Week. 2,871 temperature records, nationwide, in the span of a week. Record warmth east of the Mississippi, record chill west of the Rockies, and now the coldest air of winter is pushing south out of Canada. For an interactive map from Ham Weather showing details for each (dot) click here.
Absence Of Below Zero F. High Temperatures. In this week's Weathertalk Newsletter Dr. Mark Seeley has a good summary of the streak of above zero daytime highs here in the Twin Cities, but the warm bias is even showing up in the city famous for (among other things) testing car batteries, International Falls: "...For Twin Cities residents we may be seeing a remarkable record weather streak come to an end by Martin Luther King Day (Monday, Jan 21st). The Twin Cities have not reported a daytime high temperature below 0 F since January 15, 2009 (high of -6 F). By Monday, this streak will be 1466 days long, the longest such streak in the Twin Cities climate record back to 1873. In addition the National Weather Service reports a remarkable absence of below 0 F minimum temperatures for the Twin Cities in recent winters as well, with only 3 such days last winter, and 1 so far this winter. This trend, but to a lesser extent is obvious in the recent data for International Falls as well. There the average number of days when the high temperature remains below 0 F is about 10 per winter. Over the past three winters it has just been 3 days. In addition, overnight minimum temperatures at International Falls fall below 0 F slightly 60-61 days per winter on average. Last winter brought only 35 such days, and there have been only 26 such days so far this winter, well below average...
File photo above: AP. The local NWS office has more on our streak of days with daytime highs above zero here.
Days With One Inch Or More In The Twin Cities. So far this winter the Twin Cities have experienced 3 days with 1" or more of snow falling in a 24 hour period. As you can see from the graph above the Twin Cities pick up an average of 17 days/winter season with 1" or more of snow, on average. Oh, to be average again. Graph courtesy of the Twin Cities National Weather Service.
Primetime Wintertime. It's a bit strange to be getting intense cold - without the snow. If you're looking for serious snowfall amounts fly to London, or Paris, or the south of France. Details on the latest installment video of Climate Matters: "As the Midwest prepares for an arctic blast, snow is crippling travel in other parts of the world. Meteorologist Paul Douglas looks at some of the global temperature extremes and winter conditions around the globe."
Equation Of Time Solves Problem Of Gray Mornings. As of today sunset is 30 minutes later than it was on December 21, yet sunrise is only 3 minutes earlier. Why isn't it equal? This is a question I get often, and (sadly) there is no easy answer, but this New York Times article does the best job I've ever seen explaining the disconnect; here's an excerpt: "...Earth’s tilt means that every day during the fall, the angle at which we view the Sun changes. It appears farther south and travels a shorter arc across the sky, affecting sunrise and sunset equally, and making the day shorter. The changes in the solar time follow a different cycle. In the early 1600s, Kepler discovered that planets move faster at the part of their orbit that is closest to the sun, the perihelion. For Earth, perihelion comes a little after the winter solstice, so from November on, Earth is accelerating. That increased speed means we reach the Sun’s maximum a little earlier each day, which pushes solar noon backward against clock time. That shift is amplified because the Sun is traveling a little south each day, while clocks only count its east to west traverse. Add it all together and you get sunrise and sunset times that are not symmetrical..."
What's Causing Australia's Heat Wave? Here's an excerpt of a fascinating article at Australia's The Conversation, focusing on the factors converging to create historic heat across the country: "...And it’s not like these sorts of days occur that often. The records set last week sit between two and three standard deviations above the long-term January mean of 35°C. Perhaps more unusually, the Australian mean temperature (representing the average of the daytime maximum and night-time minimum) set record high values on both days at 32.22 (January 7) and 32.32°C (January 8), that were well above the previous high of 31.86°C, set in 1972. However, it is really the duration of this extreme heat wave that makes it so unusual, and so significant in terms of impacts..."
Graphic credit above: "Highest daily maximum temperature during the first two weeks of January." Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
Keeping The Boats Moving Along A Mississippi Dwindled By Drought. Things look a little better for navigation on the Mississippi, but officials are still concerned about 2013 conditions, with drought conditions upstream. The New York Times has the story; here's an excerpt" "...The fact that the river has remained open for business along the critical “Middle Miss” — the 200 miles between the Mississippi’s last dam-and-locks structure, above St. Louis, down to Cairo, Ill., where the plentiful Ohio River flows in — stems from a remarkable feat of engineering that involved months of nonstop dredging, blasting and scraping away of rock obstructions along the riverbed, effectively lowering the bottom of the channel by two feet. It has also involved exacting use of reservoirs along the vast river system that were initially designed by engineers using slide rules nearly 100 years ago to try to manage both flood and drought, as well as rock structures placed in recent years along the bank to direct water and speed it up, a bit like a thumb over the end of a garden hose..."
Photo credit above: "Barges work on dredging the Mississippi River near Thebes, Ill., Jan. 8, 2013. Despite withering drought that has caused record-breaking low water levels that threaten to shut down traffic on the Mississippi River, it remains open for business thanks to an engineering feat that lowered the bottom of the channel by two feet." (Tyler Bissmeyer/The New York Times)
"Hurricane Hunters" Kept Relentless Watch On 2012 Storms. Did you know that the Air Force flies their planes into (major) winter storms, to gather more accurate data for NOAA's computer models? Here's an excerpt of an article from the U.S. Air Force: "As the nation rebounds from 19 named storms and 11 major hurricanes in 2012, a small but hardy military organization keeps relentless watch to track and prepare for such disasters. Located at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, dubbed the "Hurricane Hunters" of the Air Force Reserve, is the Defense Department's sole organization dedicated to flying into tropical storms and hurricanes. The unit has performed the mission since 1944. In a "DOD Live" bloggers roundtable today, Lt. Col. Jon Talbot, 53rd WRS chief meteorologist, and Capt. John Brady, a meteorologist with the squadron, said collecting winter storm, hurricane and tropical cyclone data for the National Weather Service is critical in mitigating loss of life and property. Typically, a winter storm mission begins only if the weather system will have a large, societal impact somewhere in the United States, Talbot explained. "Winter storms kill more people than hurricanes do," Talbot said, noting his team's specialty in analyzing data over water, where information is sparse. "If the National Weather Service is seeing a lot of uncertainty in their [data], they'll contact our liaison team."
39 F. high in the Twin Cities Saturday (midday). Temperatures fell to 10 F. by 7 pm.
24 F. average high for January 19. That's up 1 degree from January 18, the first time average temperatures have risen in 6 months.
4 F. high on January 19, 2012.
One Very Misleading Thaw. Yesterday was a prime example of the benefits of weather balloon launches, hourly airport reports and computer modeling. Had you wandered out around midday, enjoying highs near 40 F. you might have thought the entire day would be almost March-like. Not quite. A fierce Arctic front arrived by afternoon, a sharp drop in air temperature whipping up 30-50 mph winds, creating white-outs and ground-blizzards over the Red River Valley. Since there's only a trace of snow (officially) in the Twin Cities there was precious little snow to blow around. Before the front arrived highs peaked at 35 Alexandria, 37 St. Cloud, 39 in the Twin Cities and 41 at Eau Claire.
Paul's Star Tribune Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:
TODAY: Biting breeze, flurries. Windchill -15 to -20. Winds: NW 15. High: 7
SUNDAY NIGHT: One of the coldest nights of winter. Flurries give way to partial clearing. Low: -13
MONDAY: Bitter sun. Coldest day in 4 years. Windchill: -30 to -35. High: -4
TUESDAY: Still Arctic, light winds. Wake-up: -15. High: 2
WEDNESDAY: Reinforcing cold shot. Help. Wake-up: -4. High: 7
THURSDAY: Coating of light snow possible. Wake-up: -7. High: 9
FRIDAY: Partly sunny, still too cold. Wake-up: 1. High: 6
SATURDAY: Dim sun, not quite as harsh. Wake-up: -5. High: 11
* 20s are likely a week from today (above zero). A thaw is likely next Monday, January 28. Grilling weather.
Heatwave, Storms, Flooding: Climate Change To Profoundly Affect U.S. Midwest In Coming Decades. Here's the intro to a story at Science Digest: "In the coming decades, climate change will lead to more frequent and more intense Midwest heat waves while degrading air and water quality and threatening public health. Intense rainstorms and floods will become more common, and existing risks to the Great Lakes will be exacerbated. Those are some of the conclusions contained in the Midwest chapter of a draft report released last week by the federal government that assesses the key impacts of climate change on every region in the country and analyzes its likely effects on human health, water, energy, transportation, agriculture, forests, ecosystems and biodiversity..."
Photo credit above: "A flooded urban street". (Credit: Don Becker, USGS)
Regardless Of Why, Climate Change Will Be Changing US In S.D. Here's an excerpt of an article at The Rapid City Journal that got my attention: "...Earlier this month, the U.S. Global Change Research Program issued the latest version of the national climate assessment. You can find it online at globalchange.gov.....The five key messages in the Great Plains chapter discuss:
- Demand for water and energy increasing because of rising temperatures;
- Warmer winters and changes in timing and magnitude of rainfall events are altering crop growth cycles, and new agriculture and livestock management approaches will be necessary;
- Species are finding more difficulty in adapting because of landscape fragmentation, including from energy development;
- Communities already stressed by weather and climate extremes will face more frequent extreme events;
- The changes will exceed what was experienced in the past century..."
Global Warming Brings Earlier Spring Flowers. Here's an excerpt of a story at Discovery.com: "...They found that as temperatures warmed over the last 161 years, the date of first blooms of the season crept forward, too — about 10 days earlier than when Thoreau first visited the site. During the record-breaking years of 2010 and 2012, flowering happened a full 20 to 21 days earlier. The average spring temperature at Walden Pond has increased about 6 degrees Fahrenheit (3.4 degrees Celsius) since Thoreau's time..."
Photo credit above: "In incredibly detailed notebooks, Thoreau documented the flowering times of species such as the wild columbine." TBoard | Flickr.com.
How Climate Change Is Damaging The Great Lakes, With Implications For The Environment And The Economy. The Center for American Progress and Think Progress have the story; here's an excerpt: "Great Lakes Michigan and Huron set a new record low water level for the month of December, and in the coming weeks they could experience their lowest water levels ever. It’s becoming certain that, like the rest of the country, the Great Lakes are feeling the effects of climate change. Last year was officially the warmest year on record for the lower-48 states. The hot summer air has been causing the surface water of the Great Lakes to increase in temperature. One might think this causes more precipitation around the lakes, but the warmer winter air is causing a shorter duration of ice cover. In fact, the amount of ice covering the lakes has declined about 71 percent over the past 40 years. Last year, only 5 percent of the lakes froze over –- compared to 1979 when ice coverage was as much as 94 percent...."