A Treadmill of Sloppy Storms Shaping Up

Here's a prediction: ice will come off area lakes considerably earlier than the last 2 springs in Minnesota. The combination of significant rain this week and a surge of 50s next week will green up yards and forests earlier than usual for much of the state. Have we seen the last snow? Probably not, but we've turned a big corner.

NOAA's models print out a cold rain today; heaviest amounts probably south of MSP. A few spotty showers spill into Thursday but Friday looks drier now.

The late week storm we're watching is moving slower than we thought, but it's still coming. Saturday will be a raw, sloppy mess, with nearly an inch of rain. Weather simulations continue to show a changeover to wet snow Saturday night, and a few inches of slush may accumulate.

Whatever does fall (and I pray the models are wrong) will quickly melt on Sunday as temperatures hit 50F. Next week doesn't appear as balmy, but we can expect more 50s, even a shot at 60F.

Cue the chirping birds, daffodils and cautious optimism.

Graphic above: Twin Cities National Weather Service.

A Soggy Spell. A cold rain is likely today, mixing with wet snow north and west of the Twin Cities. A little slush can't be ruled out tonight for parts of central and southwestern Minnesota. I think there's a better chance of more significant slush accumulation Saturday night. Map sequence above: Praedictix and AerisWeather.

Touch of Spring Next Week. Although ECMWF doesn't look as balmy as it did yesterday, we still have a pretty good shot at 60F on Monday - a mild bias continuing into April. MSP Meteogram: WeatherBell.

Ditto. Mild bias. Check. Pacific flow. Check. Big storms the first week of April? A good chance over the Pacific Northwest and New England, but the pattern looks quieter and drier as we sail into April with temperatures above average.

State and National Parks Open for Visiting. In last Friday's edition of Minnesota WeatherTalk, Dr. Mark Seeley pivots away from weather and climate to remind us about enjoyable forms of social distancing: "...A reminder for citizens who are looking for outdoor destinations that preserve the mandate of “social distancing” during this time of the pandemic emergency: Both State and National Parks are open for visitors. You can take time to appreciate nature and get some fresh air. “Now is a great time to get outdoors,” said DNR CommissionerSarah Strommen, in a statement noting that state parks, campgrounds, recreation areas and public lands remain open statewide. “Parks are a great place to do some social distancing and enjoy the health benefits of nature.” But with the advice of state health officials, the DNR is also canceling or postponing a number of public events in an effort to reduce the number of people congregating and hopefully slow the spread of COVID-19. So while state parks are open for visitors, state park visitor centers, contact stations and other buildings are closed..."

What Is CoCoRaHS? Here are more details from weather.gov: "...CoCoRaHS is the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, a group of over 20,000 volunteer precipitation observers nationwide. CoCoRaHS observers measure precipitation (rain, hail, and snow) that falls at their location, and share the data online. Reports from CoCoRaHS observers are used by many organizations at the local, state and national level, including the National Weather Service. By volunteering as an observer you become a citizen scientist, and play an important role in documenting how the weather affects your community. All you need to become an observer for CoCoRaHS is a standard 4 inch diameter rain gauge (shown in the photos above, available for purchase on the CoCoRaHS website), and access to the internet to relay reports via the CoCoRaHS app or website. You can report daily, during the rain or snow season, or whenever you are able to take measurements.  It's up to you!  Any reports you can share are greatly appreciated..."

Expect a Soggy U.S. Flood Season, but Less Severe Than Last Year's. The New York Times (paywall) has the story; here's the intro: "Brace for another flooded spring — but not one as bad as last year, forecasters from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned on Thursday. “Flooding continues to be a factor for many Americans this spring,” with major to moderate flooding likely to occur in 23 states, said Mary C. Erickson, deputy director of the National Weather Service, in a call with reporters. The flooding should not be as severe, or last as long, as the ruinous conditions much of the country experienced last year, she said. Major flooding involves “extensive inundation of structures and roads,” with significant evacuation, while moderate flooding involves “some inundation of structures and roads” near streams, according to NOAA..."

File image: NOAA.

Drop in Aircraft Observations Could Have Impact on Weather Forecasts. ECMWF has the story; here's an excerpt: "...In summary, the number of aircraft observations has gone down significantly over the last couple of weeks both over Europe and globally. In the coming days and weeks, we expect a further decrease in numbers, which will have some impact on forecast quality in the short range, particularly around the polar jet stream level (10–12 km altitude). Sensitivity studies at ECMWF have shown that removing all aircraft data degrades the short-range wind and temperature forecasts at those levels by up to 15%, with significant degradations at all forecast ranges up to seven days. There is a smaller, but still statistically significant, impact on near-surface fields, up to 3% on surface pressure.

50 F. high in the Twin Cities on Tuesday.

45 F. average high on March 24.

54 F. high on March 24, 2019.

March 25, 2007: Record warmth stretches from southern Minnesota to western Wisconsin with 72 at Owatonna, 77 at Menomonie, WI, and 80 at Eau Claire, WI.

March 25, 1981: An F2 tornado hits Morrison county and does $25,000 worth of damage.

WEDNESDAY: Periods of rain likely. Winds: NE 8-13. High: 43

THURSDAY: Unsettled with a few showers. Winds: NE 5-10. Wake-up: 31. High: 45

FRIDAY: Mostly cloudy, probably dry. Winds: NE 5-10. Wake-up: 34. High: 49

SATURDAY: Cold rain likely. Slushy snow at night. Winds: NE 15-25. Wake-up: 37. High: 42

SUNDAY: Slow clearing, getting better. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 31. High: near 50

MONDAY: Partly sunny, feels like spring again. Winds: S 7-12. Wake-up: 29. High: 58

TUESDAY: Clouds increase, few rain showers. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 41. High: 56

Climate Stories...

Scientists Just Discovered a New Vulnerability in the Antarctic Ice Sheet. Chris Mooney reports for The Washington Post (paywall); here's the intro: "Scientists have found a new point of major vulnerability in the Antarctic ice sheet, in a region that already appears to be changing as the climate warms and has the potential to raise sea levels by nearly five feet over the long term. Denman glacier, in East Antarctica, is a 12-mile-wide stream of ice that flows over the deepest undersea canyon in the entire ice sheet before spilling out into the ocean. That subsea trough is more than 2 miles deep, or double the average depth of the Grand Canyon. While there are far deeper trenches in the open ocean, such as the Marianas Trench, in this case the extreme undersea topography lies right on the outer fringe of the Antarctic continent — making it the “deepest continental point on Earth...”

Photo credit: "NASA's IceBridge mission flew over the Denman Glacier region, in East Antarctica, on Oct. 30, 2019. The glacier is creeping down a slope that plunges into extreme depths, new research finds, potentially igniting a feedback process that could unload trillions of tons of ice into the ocean." (Operation IceBridge/NASA).

Locust Swarms, Some 3 Times the Size of New York City, Are Eating Their Way Across Two Continents. Here's a clip from a story at InsideClimate News: "As giant swarms of locusts spread across East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East, devouring crops that feed millions of people, some scientists say global warming is contributing to proliferation of the destructive insects. The largest locust swarms in more than 50 years have left subsistence farmers helpless to protect their fields and will spread misery throughout the region, said Robert Cheke, a biologist with the University of Greenwich Natural Resources Institute, who has helped lead international efforts to control insect pests in Africa.  "I'm concerned about the scale of devastation and the effect on human livelihoods," Cheke said, adding that he also worried about "the impending famines..." 

American Climate Video: On a Normal-Seeming Morning, the Fire Suddenly at Their Doorstep. Here's an excerpt from InsideClimate News: "...Later that morning, Daniel realized his parents' house, just minutes away, where he had grown up would be destroyed by the fire's 50-foot flames. But he stayed put, along with members of his family, to protect his grandparents' house and shelter others. "I was scared," he said. "It was frightening. You know, I've never seen something of a catastrophe at that level. It was horrible." "But," he added, "at that moment it was just kind of do or die." He stayed up late with his family, taking shifts to check for spot fires and to put out embers that came too close to the house. Finally, at around 4 a.m., he went to sleep. When he woke up the next morning, all of the horrors from the day before came flooding back. "It's like, 'Oh yeah, that happened.'" he said. "It became more real at the time." The following weeks were filled with stress. He called and messaged one of his friends from school and got no answer for three weeks. Then, one day, his friend just "showed up..." 

Coronavirus Holds Key Lessons on How to Fight Climate Change. Here's an excerpt from a post at Yale E360: "...While the disease is playing out more quickly than the effects of global warming, the principle is the same, she said: If you wait until you can see the impact, it is too late to stop it. “COVID-19 is climate on warp speed,” said Gernot Wagner, a climate economist at New York University and co-author of Climate Shock. “Everything with climate is decades; here it’s days. Climate is centuries; here it’s weeks.” Governments’ responses have morphed almost as fast as the threat. French President Emmanuel Macron ordered all non-essential businesses to close barely a week after spending an evening at the theater with his wife. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio made similarly abrupt shifts, and President Trump pivoted from downplaying the virus’s dangers to backing measures that had seemed unimaginable shortly before..."

Prepping For Disaster During a (Different) Disaster: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: "Officials are worried that shelters for people threatened by climate disasters may become coronavirus outbreak hubs as the United States prepares for possible hurricanes, wildfires, floods and other extreme weather in the coming months. The New York Times reports that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has instructed its employees to keep gatherings and in-office visits from disaster victims as sparse as possible, and has also paused trainings at several of its disaster facilities. The agency, states and nonprofits like the Red Cross are wrestling with the question of how to house future victims during a pandemic, where illness could easily spread among crowded shelters and other relief sites. “All of these activities that we do during and after disasters are activities that require a lot of people to be in close proximity to each other,” Samantha Montano, assistant professor of emergency management and disaster science at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, told the Times. “And that is the exact opposite of what we need to do to keep people safe from Covid-19.” (New York Times $)

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A Soggy Week + Springy 60s Next Week Should Accelerate Green-Up

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Serious Whiplash: Weekend Slush to 60s Next Week