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Updated: 19 weeks 2 days ago

Weather Still Playing Out of Tune: Wednesday Blizzard Chicago to Detroit

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

53 F. high in the Twin Cities, mildest since November 15, 2013 (114 days ago).
38 F. average high for March 10.
36 F. high on March 10, 2013.

15″ snow on the ground as of Monday evening.

Blizzard potential Wednesday from Chicago to Detroit.

Weather Volatility

It may just be my imagination – perhaps I need to recalibrate my meds – but when it comes to the weather something seems….off. I can’t quite put my finger on it yet, but the normal ebb & flow of the atmosphere is gummed up. The jet stream is misbehaving more than usual.

Exhibit A: two years ago it was already in the mid-60s; flowers were starting to pop. It was 80F. by mid-March! We had a 7 month boating season in 2012, the warmest year in recorded Minnesota history.

This winter? Coldest since the late 70s for much of the state. It’s that variability, a jumbo case of weather-whiplash, that has us scratching our heads in wonder.

It’s not just temperature extremes. Ask a farmer. We now live in perpetual drought, interrupted by an intense flood every now and then.

The forecast calls for greater swings of the weather pendulum, more eye-watering extremes.

For the record, I’m as happy as the next guy to see this week’s thaw – I’m almost looking forward to studying the maps. A little rain early today ends as a coating of slush; a cool half foot for Chicago tonight, a foot for parts of New England. No intense weather drama here at home, just 40 wondrous degrees again by Thursday, followed by cooler weather next week.

But no Polar Vortex.

* Northern Hemisphere temperature anomalies for Monday courtesy of Climate Reanalyzer.

Monday Highs. 55F at Brainerd, 51 Duluth, a balmy 53F at MSP International in the Twin Cities and 47 at St. Cloud, in spite of nearly 20″ snow on the ground? Yesterday’s highs were impressive, considering all the snow still on the ground. BTW: without the snow we would have been in the 60s to near 70. Graphic: Mesowest.

A Milder Than Average Week? We cool off a bit later today and Wednesday before warming up into the low 40s again Thursday and Friday. No, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised, considering the sun is now as high in the sky as it was in late September. We cool off next week, but ECMWF guidance is reassuring: no polar air in sight. Graphic: Weatherspark.

Our Own Spring Break? Snow on the ground will act as a meteorological brake, preventing the mercury from reaching balmy levels anytime soon. But GFS guidance suggests 40s and even a few 50s by the end of March; potentially warm enough for a major (rain) event between March 22-24. Any heavy rain on frozen, snow-covered ground may accelerate flood potential – something we’ll need to keep an eye on.

All-Time Ice Coverage Record On Lake Michigan. Here are details from CIMSS, at the University of Wisconsin: “Ice coverage on Lake Michigan set an all-time record of 93.29% on Saturday March 8th. Partial cloud cover prevented a clear view so here are two side-by-side views of the ice from March 5th and 6th acquired by the MODIS instrument on the Terra satellite. Notice how the wind shift pushed ice off-shore along the Michigan coastline on March 6th.”

One Photograph That Sums It All Up. I saw the traffic jam on the beach at Fort Myers and had to laugh. It was either laugh or weep uncontrollably. Yes, it’s been a tough winter, and Spring Break is going to be madness. Enough about winter – I’m as sick of snow and cold as you are right now; so let’s fixate on Spring Break Weather in late March for a variety of warm weather destinations. Yes, that sounds like a good idea for today’s edition of Climate Matters: “WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas feels what much of America is feeling, that we’re all sick of Winter! He reads your Facebook comments and takes a welcome trip to some warmer spots. Not all is well however as yet another winter storm takes aim at parts of the Ohio Valley and Northeast. When will it end?!

Wrong Place – Wrong Time. In spite of all the cold weather headlines east of the Rockies in recent months, the entire Northern Hemisphere has had a (much) warmer than average run of temperatures since December 1. From MIC Dan Luna at the Twin Cities National Weather Service: “Jon Martin at UW has calculated the areal coverage (across the Northern Hemisphere) of various threshold temperatures from 1948-49 through this year (using gridded reanalysis and analysis data). He has a paper on some of this. The image above shows the total square kilometers covered by 850 hPa temperatures < -5 C for the DJF period in comparison to “normal” (solid blue is mean, and the dashed are +/- 1 standard deviation). He also noted that this year had the least overall (time averaged/integrated) spatial extent for the period of record. We, unfortunately, have been the ones stuck in the anomalously coldest pocket the entire time.”

* thanks to Meteorologist In Charge Dan Luna at the Twin Cities National Weather Service for passing this along.

Alerts Broadcaster Update: Issued Midnight, Monday night, March 10, 2014.

* Latest guidance more impressive for a burst of very heavy snow Wednesday morning from Chicago to Detroit. Some 8-12″ amounts are possible, and sustained winds of 30-40 mph at the height of the storm will be capable of creating blizzard or near-blizzard conditions Wednesday.
* I expect numerous airline cancellations for Chicago and Detroit area airports Wednesday; traffic gridlock is possible on area highways as temperatures drop rapidly behind the storm, falling into the teens by late afternoon with a subzero wind chill.
* Blizzard conditions may extend to Toronto and Montreal late Wednesday and Wednesday night; I still expect 10-14″ snowfall amounts for much of upstate New York and interior New England by Thursday.
* New York City will avoid heavy snow with this storm; the atmosphere warm enough for mostly rain.

Latest Model Guidance. High-resolution model data (RPM simulation) shows considerably more snow for Chicago and Detroit, a 6-8 hour burst of heavy snow late Tuesday night into midday Wednesday, tracking rapidly from west to east across the northern Ohio Valley and Great Lakes. Near white-out conditions are possible Wednesday along the I-90 corridor. Model guidance: WSI Corporation.

Updated BPI Solution. Our proprietary in-house BPI (Blizzard Potential Index) shows blizzard conditions pushing from Rockford and Joliet into Chicago late Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, reaching Detroit by late morning and midday Wednesday. A blizzard is defined as 35+ mph winds and visibilities under 1/4 mile in falling or blowing snow. It now looks like we will have this criteria from Chicago to Detroit late Tuesday night into Wednesday. Map sequence: Ham Weather.

Latest Snowfall Projection. A fast-moving storm tapping ample moisture from the Gulf of Mexico will put down a carpet of plowable snow amounts from Chicago into the northern Ohio Valley and much of New England. Indianapolis and Columbus should be spared (heavy) amounts, but Detroit, Toledo, Cleveland, much of upstate New York and interior New England won’t be nearly as lucky. Map: Ham Weather.

Select City Amounts. Wednesday morning will be a slushy mess in Chicago, with some 5-6″ amounts in the city; the burst of snow quickly enveloping South Bend, Detroit and Cleveland during the day Wednesday, reaching upstate New York and New England Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Boston may pick up an inch or two, but the potential for a major snowfall at BOS has diminished somewhat..

Potential For 4″ Or More. This graphic does a good job summarizing the area expecting the heaviest snows from 8 AM Wednesday through 8 AM Thursday, stretching from Erie, Buffalo and Williamsport into much of New England. Map: Ham Weather.

BPI: Blizzard Potential Index. We’re faced with a fast-moving system Wednesday into Thursday. Our internal, proprietary BPI model shows the greatest risk of travel disruptions and potential power outages from high winds and low visibility in moderate/heavy snow from near Chicago and South Bend to Detroit, Cleveland and much of upstate New York. Graphic: Ham Weather.

Summary: Mid-March blizzards are unusual, but not unprecedented for the Great Lakes, and it looks increasingly like a major storm will temporarily shut down (most) travel by land and air. Wednesday will be the tough day, with some improvement Thursday. I would prepare staff and facilities for heavy snow, blowing and drifting and rapidly falling visibilities Wednesday with near blizzard conditions a very real possibility.

Paul Douglas – Senior Meteorologist – Alerts Broadcaster

New Ozone-Destroying Chemicals Found In Atmosphere. Scientists say these new chemicals, greenhouse gases, are 7,000 times more powerful than CO2. Here’s a clip from The Guardian: “Dozens of mysterious ozone-destroying chemicals may be undermining the recovery of the giant ozone hole over Antarctica, researchers have revealed. The chemicals, which are also extremely potent greenhouse gases, may be leaking from industrial plants or being used illegally, contravening the Montreal protocol which began banning the ozone destroyers in 1987. Scientists said the finding of the chemicals circulating in the atmosphere showed “ozone depletion is not yesterday’s story…”

Image credit above: “The ozone hole reached its biggest extent for the year on 26 September, 2013.” Photograph: NOAA.

California’s Drought-Prone Pattern Forcing Farmers To Adapt. Here’s an excerpt from a story at The San Francisco Chronicle: “…As California gets drier and hotter, no one is more vulnerable than farmers. And no one is likely to have to do more to adapt to what many experts fear will be a more drought prone environment. Climate change is “coming upon us, and it looks like it’s coming upon us fairly quickly,” said Paul Wenger, a Modesto almond and walnut grower who heads the California Farm Bureau Federation. Wenger said this year’s drought has farmers asking how long they can continue. “It’s going to be difficult,” he said. “We’re going to see a lot of farmland retired…”

Photo credit above: “Coburn Farms foreman Jose Gonzales walks along an empty field near Firebaugh (Fresno County), among many left unplanted.” Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle.

The Red Faces Of Solar Skeptics. Prices of photovoltaic cells continue to drop (good old Moore’s Law) and at some point it won’t make sense NOT to have solar panels on your roof (or windows). Because it generates free power, and there’s a certain timeless allure to the word “free”. The New York Times has an interesting story; here’s the intro: “If the faces of renewable energy critics are not red yet, they soon will be. For years, these critics — of solar photovoltaics in particular — have called renewable energy a boutique fantasy. A recent Wall Street Journal blog post continues the trend, asserting that solar subsidies take money from the poor to benefit the rich. But solar-generated electricity is turning into a powerful environmental and economic success story. It’s also threatening the balance sheets of electric utility companies that continue to rely heavily on fossil fuels and nuclear energy...”

Photo credit above: Jenn Ackerman for The New York Times. “Rick Murphy, general manager of Grandview Tire and Auto in Edina, Minn., which installed solar panels on its roof.“

Compound In Fruits And Vegetables Prevents Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s In Mice. Some interesting details in an article at Gizmag; here’s an excerpt: “Alzheimer’s disease represents the most common form of dementia, with the early stages of the disease generally characterized with short term memory loss and learning difficulties that increase in severity as the patient progresses in age. Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, California, have discovered that with regular treatments of the antioxidant fisetin, they were able to prevent memory loss in mice with genetic mutations linked to Alzheimer’s…”

Photo credit above: “A compound commonly found in fruit and vegetables, including apples, grapes and strawberries, has been found to prevent Alzheimer’s disease in mice.” (Photo: Shutterstock).

The Music You Love Tells Me Who You Are. Time Magazine has a very interesting article; here’s a clip: “Ever been a bit judgey when you hear someone’s taste in music? Of course you have. And you were right — music tells you a lot about someone’s personality. Research has learned a great deal about the power of music:

  1. Your musical taste does accurately tell me about you, including your politics.
  2. Your musical taste is influenced by your parents.
  3. You love your favorite song because it’s associated with an intense emotional experience in your life...”

MONDAY: Light rain, then a coating of slush. Winds: N 10. High: 36
TUESDAY NIGHT: Clearing and colder. Low: 14
WEDNESDAY: Cool sunshine, light winds. High: 26
THURSDAY: Breezy and milder. Soggy Shoe Alert. Wake-up: 19. High: 43
FRIDAY: Mostly cloudy, cooler wind. Wake-up: 32. High: 40 (falling PM hours)
SATURDAY: Fading sun, better travel day. Wake-up: 25. High: 34
SUNDAY: Couple inches of snow early? Wake-up: 22. High: near 30
MONDAY: Breezy, another fleeting thaw. Wake-up: 21. High: 38

Climate Stories….

The Pentagon’s Guide To Overcoming Climate Denial. Motherboard has an analysis of the Pentagon’s latest 2014 Quadrennial Review and implications – here’s an excerpt: “…Forget the climatologists, for a second, ye of little faith in the scientific method, and let the military explain, in its own words, verbatim, what climate change is, and why we should be very worried about it. Here, let’s allow the Pentagon to teach us about climate change:

  1. Climate change poses another significant challenge for the United States and the world at large. As greenhouse gas emissions increase, sea levels are rising, average global temperatures are increasing, and severe weather patterns are accelerating. These changes, coupled with other global dynamics, including growing, urbanizing, more affluent populations, and substantial economic growth in India, China, Brazil, and other nations, will devastate homes, land, and infrastructure.
  2. Climate change may exacerbate water scarcity and lead to sharp increases in food costs…”

Photo credit above: US Navy/Wikimedia.

GAO: Climate Change Threatens Energy Infrastructure. The ironies never cease. Kitsap Sun has the story; here’s the introduction: “Oil refineries and drilling platforms in the U.S. are vulnerable to sea level rise and greater storm surge. Fuel pipelines, barges, railways and storage tanks are vulnerable to melting permafrost and severe weather. Warming seas and water shortages put nuclear and other electric power plants at risk. Power lines can be blown away by hurricanes and other extreme weather. In other words, all the infrastructure Americans rely on to heat their homes, power their lights and fuel their trains, trucks and cars is becoming more and more exposed to failure in a changing climate…”

Notes From The Arctic: Dr. Jason Box On Winter, 2014. Peter Sinclair has an interesting video and interview with “Chasing Ice” creator and scientist Jason Box. Here’s an excerpt at Climate Crock Of The Week: “Dr. Jason Box, Chief Scientist of the Dark Snow Project, and a researcher formerly of the Byrd Polar Center at Ohio State, now with the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland – has spent the last week in Svalbard, a group of Islands high in the arctic, controlled by Norway. I asked him to chat by skype and update us on the intense winter of 2013 and 14, the “cold continents warm arctic” paradox, and the ‘ridiculously resilient ridge” that continues to deliver punishment on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Polar Vortex Emboldens Industry To Push Old Coal Plants. Bloomberg has the story; here’s the introduction: “The polar vortex may give new life to aging coal and nuclear power plants in the U.S. Masses of arctic air rolling down from the North Pole have driven electricity prices to more than 10 times last year’s average in many parts of the country and have threatened some cities with winter blackouts. They’ve also emboldened energy companies to call for extending the lives of older and dirtier coal plants, as well as aging nuclear reactors…”

Photo credit: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg. “Despite a concerted campaign by environmentalists and public health experts to stanch its use, coal, the most plentiful and cheapest fuel in the world, is proving globally resilient.”

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March Moderation (slow motion meltdown here – major snowstorm Ohio Valley to New England by midweek)

Monday, March 10, 2014

44 F. high in the Twin Cities Sunday.
38 F. average high on March 9.
38 F. high on March 9, 2013.

15″ snow on the ground in the Twin Cities as of Sunday evening.

40s again today, 5-10F above average for March 10.

Slow Motion Spring

Why is 40F a chilly annoyance in October but a wondrous revelation in March? Weather Relativity. It’s why the first flurries of fall generate a ripple of excitement. By April the mere mention o snow generates veiled threats & growling howls of protest. And that’s from family members.

We have a right to be grumpy. By any objective measure it was the toughest winter since the late 70s. In a slowly warming world we get stuck with a Pioneer Winter. It doesn’t seem fair.

MSP has picked up 58.4 inches so far this winter; 13 inches more than average – 16 inches on the ground – about 3-5 inches of liquid water trapped in the snow in your yard. According to NOAA the spring flood threat is at or below the historical average west of the Mississippi River. But heavier snow pack northeast of the Twin Cities means a higher risk of flooding in the St. Croix, Chippewa and Eau Claire basins. It all depends on how fast we warm, and whether heavy rain accelerates snow melt.

I suspect we’ll limp into spring this year; 90-day trends show a nagging cool bias into May. A few hours of wet snow Tuesday may give way to a more impressive storm one week from tomorrow.

For now the Doppler is holding at Defcon 5.

Sunday Afternoon Temperatures. Minnesotans were happy to see 40s; imagine how residents of Nebraska must have felt, basking in 70s. Click here to see current USA temperatures, courtesy of mesonet.org.

Flirting With 50F? There’s still a little too much snow on the ground for 50-degree highs in the Twin Cities. The last time we enjoyed 50s was mid November, according to the Twin Cities National Weather Service.

Looks Like March. ECMWF “European” guidance shows highs well up into the 40s today, then cooling off a bit midweek before mellowing again late in the week. There are growing signs of a cold smack by the middle of next week, but it doesn’t look polar/subzero. A higher sun angle means the risk of subzero temperatures drop off rapidly as we head into mid-March. Graphic: Weatherspark.

Flood Potential. The risk of river flooding is less west of the Mississippi River, but greater north and east of the Twin Cities, because there’s more snow on the ground, and more liquid water locked up in the snow. For a video briefing of flood potential from the Twin Cities National Weather Service click here.

Major Take-Aways. I grabbed these images from the Twin Cities NWS video briefing, but here are the main bullet points. The major thing to remember: flood potential will hinge on the rate of warming, any heavy rain events in March and April, even humidity levels.
Snow Water Equivalent. The latest numbers from NOAA estimate 3-4″ of liquid water trapped in the snow pack over the south metro, but closer to 5-6″ from Isanti and Cambridge to Taylors Falls, as much as 10″ along Lake Superior’s North Shore. Pray for a gradual thaw (with no heavy rain). Unusually Deep Snow Over Northeastern Minnesota. In his most recent post, Dr. Mark Seeley answers a listener question about the deep snow pack along the North Shore and over the Minnesota Arrowhead. Here’s an excerpt of his response at Minnesota WeatherTalk: “…Though not record-setting it is rare to have snow depths over 40 inches, yet several observers have reported these amounts for this winter including 47 inches near Two Harbors, 43 inches at Isabella, 42 inches at Wolf Ridge and Babbitt, 41 inches at Cook, and 40 inches at Cloquet and Grand Marais. The measurement of 47 inches neat Two Harbors is the deepest snow there since they measured 51 inches in March of 1965. Similarly at Babbitt the reading of 42 inches is the most there since a snow depth of 52 inches in February of 1969. The state record by the way is a snow depth of 75 inches at Pigeon River Bridge in March of 1950…”

Alerts Broadcaster Briefing: Issued Sunday night, March 9, 2014.

* Another Significant snowstorm is brewing for midweek: Wednesday looks like the roughest day for travel and facility impacts from the Ohio Valley into New England.
* Evolution of model runs suggesting a plowable snowfall for Chicago (probably 4-6″), with the heaviest snow bands passing south/east of The Windy City. The heaviest amounts are likely from near Toledo and Cleveland into northern Pennsylvania, upstate New York and much of New England Wednesday night into Thursday morning. Boston may wind up with 8-12″ snow by Thursday.

Model Trends. The maps above show NOAA’s snowfall prediction (upper left) and the proprietary Alerts Broadcaster model (upper right), suggesting less snow Chicago and portions of the Ohio Valley, but heavier amounts from Cleveland into interior New England Wednesday and Wednesday night.

Early Snowfall Estimates. The storm is still 48-72 hours away, and any slight variation in the track will impact the final numbers, but the trends our (in-house) models were showing are showing up in the very latest model run, showing significant (plowable) snows for the Ohio Valley, but much heavier amounts east of Cleveland, with nearly a foot of snow possible from northern Pennsylvania and much of New York State into New England. With the atmosphere cold enough for all snow I expect 8-12″ for metro Boston by midday Thursday.

* New York City will see rain at the height of the storm Wednesday PM hours, ending as a few inches of slushy snow late Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Travel will be impacted for the Thursday AM commute in the Tri-State Region.
* Detroit may be close to the northern edge of the heaviest snow band; latest models suggest 4-6″ in the Motor City Wednesday.

BPI Summary. The proprietary Alerts Broadcaster BPI, or Blizzard Potential Index, shows a possibility of near-blizzard conditions (sustained winds and low visibility) from near South Bend and Terre Haute to Toledo and Cleveland, with intensification near the coast sparking another area of very heavy snow from near Boston to Portland by late Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Timing the storm:

Wednesday Complications In Chicago. Although I expect the heaviest snow bands to set up south/aest of Chicago, I do expect delays and cancellations at ORD and MDW Wednesday, with latest models suggesting 3-6″ for the Chicagoland area. Closer to South Bend and Terre Haute closer to 8-9″ may fall Wednesday.

Fast-Moving System. By 10 PM Wednesday night Boston may be experiencing blizzard or near-blizzard conditions, with low visibility and high winds an issue into the morning hours Thursday.

Summary: It’s still early, but enough ingredients are converging for a very significant snowfall from the Ohio Valley into portions of the Great Lakes and New England. A plowable snow is likely in Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, South Bend, Toledo and Cleveland, with as much as 8-12″ from east of Cleveland into Buffalo, Syracuse and Rochester by the PM hours Wednesday, spreading rapidly into the rest of New England Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Latest models suggest 8-12″ of snow for metro Boston, most of that falling Wednesday evening into midday Thursday, enough to shut down the city for 12-18 hours, if the models are on the right track (and I suspect they are).
Another update Monday as we receive more data and weigh the various model solutions. It’s been the roughest winter since the late 70s and early 80s for many northern cities, and Old Man Winter isn’t quite done with us yet. The pattern remains active and volatile. Stay tuned for more details as the specifics on this storm crystallize.

Paul Douglas – Senior Meteorologist – Alerts Broadcaster

Have You Checked The Batteries In Your Smoke Alarm? Switching to Daylight Saving Time is a good time to take stock of the smoke detectors in your home. According to ready.gov 2 out of 3 home fire deaths are the result of fires in homes with no smoke alarms.
The Future Of TV Is Coming Into Focus, And Looks Pretty Great. Will every show you care about eventually be delivered online, and on-demand? What will this do to traditional network TV schedules? Are we heading to more of a Netflix model for most of our entertainment? Quartz has a thought-provoking article; here’s the introduction: “The future of TV is here. It’s just not evenly distributed.  If it doesn’t seem like the American television industry is in the middle of a dramatic transformation, that’s simply because the pieces are scattered all over the place. But they are starting to come together. One transformative piece arrived earlier this week, when Dish Network secured the rights to include ABC, ESPN, and other popular channels owned by Disney in a TV service delivered entirely over the internet. Negotiating deals like that one has generally been the biggest impediment to internet TV in the United States…”

Photo credit above: “It’s all controlled by this guy.” Reuters/Joe Skipper.

TODAY: Peeks of sun, still mild. Winds: West 10. High: 46
MONDAY NIGHT: Clouds increase, wet snow late, mainly south of the Minnesota River. Low: 32
TUESDAY: Morning snow southern Minnesota. Little or no accumulation in the MSP metro. High: 38
WEDNESDAY: Blue sky, light winds. Wake-up: 16. High: 28
THURSDAY: Partly sunny,more hints of spring. Wake-up: 21. High: 42
FRIDAY: Mild start with scrappy clouds, turning cooler. Wake-up: 36. High: 40
SATURDAY: Intervals of sun, good travel day. Wake-up: 15. High: 35
SUNDAY: Chance of wet snow late PM hours. Wake-up: 13. High: 33

Climate Stories….

Global Warming Will Intensify Drought, New Study Says. Here’s more on Kevin Trenberth’s latest paper, a good overview from The Guardian – here’s a clip: “…A very recent study by Trenberth et al., “Global warming and changes in drought” published in Natural Climate Change has investigated the way droughts are measured. They discuss various drought metrics such as the Standardized Precipitation Index which is based entirely on precipitation, the Standardized Precipitation and Evapotranspiration Index which includes ET effects, and the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) which balances precipitation, evaporation, runoff, and includes local soil moisture and vegetation. This most sophisticated metric has led different teams of researchers to very different conclusions about drought trends…”

Photo credit above: “A new study finds that global warming will probably cause droughts to set in quicker and be more intense.” Photograph: David Gray/REUTERS.

* more on the ongoing debate over extreme drought and climate change from Tamino.

Out There: Climate Change Is For Real. Here’s an excerpt from an Op-Ed at The Poughkeepsie Journal: “…The report also states that concerns about major tipping points — illustrated fantastically in the 2004 Hollywood film “The Day After Tomorrow” — are unfounded. No, you won’t need a dogsled to get to the New York Public Library. Nor is the Gulf Stream likely to stop flowing anytime soon. But even here, the report says, we are entering new climate realities and as a result, the uncertainty “is large.” The bottom line? The body of evidence about climate change continues to grow. Many questions still need to be answered. And more research is imperative. Believing otherwise is akin to being an insect that believes windshields don’t exist.”

Who Cares About Flowers Anyway? Here’s a clip from an Op-Ed at The Boston Globe that got my attention: “…Flowers stink. They’re expensive and can’t hold a charge. And for the life of me, I can’t remember the last operating system update. No music. No video. No apps. No, technology is what we find beautiful today. Understated design, clean lines, and functionality have become our preferred aesthetic. Never mind that nature provided us this template to begin with. Being plugged in is what we value. We have no time for sentimentality. Perhaps that’s why we’ve so easily turned our backs on the spot-on warnings of scientists for decades now that our current use of energy, the juice that powers our beautiful products, means the climate will get too hot for plants to survive…” (Photo courtesy of Tricia Frostad).

Cultural Production Of Ignorance Provides Rich Field For Study. This report focuses primarily on smoking and the willingness for corporate interests to keep doubt and confusion going (if it’s good for business), but tell me if this excerpt from The Los Angeles Times has a familiar ring: “…But then there’s ignorance custom-designed to manipulate the public. “The myth of the ‘information society’ is that we’re drowning in knowledge,” he says. “But it’s easier to propagate ignorance.” That’s especially so when issues are so complicated that it’s easier to present them as the topics for discussion in which both sides are granted equal time.…”

Elizabeth Kolbert: “The Whole World Is Becoming A Kind Of Zoo.” Here’s the intro to an interview and book review at The Guardian: “Elizabeth Kolbert is the author of The Sixth Extinction, which argues that a catastrophe that may be as significant as the one that wiped out the dinosaurs is under way around us. But whereas the previous five mass extinctions were caused by natural phenomena, Kolbert shows us that this one is manmade. One third of all reef-building corals, a third of all freshwater molluscs, a third of sharks and rays, a quarter of all mammals, a fifth of all reptiles, and a sixth of all birds, says Kolbert, “are heading towards oblivion…”

Climate Change Is A Conservative Cause – Really. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed from former South Carolina (Republican) Congressman Bob Inglis at The Miami Herald: “…Usually, we conservatives feel dragged along by the ever-expanding liberal ship of state. We see ourselves as the anchor on that ship, and in many ways we are. But on this issue of climate change, we have the opportunity to be the ship’s engine. We passionately believe in markets and free enterprise. We want to avoid regulatory dictates on climate change. And we want to eliminate all subsidies for all fuels. What some of us haven’t considered is the possibility that the biggest subsidy of all is being able to pump pollutants into the air with no accountability. Those pollutants are fouling our families’ lungs and endangering the climate for those who will come after us. We can improve our lives and theirs by simply changing what we tax. Cut taxes on income. Put a tax on pollution…” (Image: Wikipedia).
Amen.

Floods And Gales Are Taste Of Things To Come, Says UN Climate Science Chief. The Guardian has the video interview – here’s the introduction to the story: “The heaviest rainfall in 200 years, floods and gales experienced in Britain this winter are a foretaste of what is certain to occur in a warming world, the head of the UN’s climate science panel has told the Guardian. “Each of the last three decades has been warmer than the last. Extreme events are on the increase. Even if what we have just had [this winter] was not caused by anthropogenic climate change, events of this nature are increasing both in intensity and frequency,” said Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change…”

“Energy Sprawl”. Is A Shrinking Wilderness The Hidden Cost Of Energy Security? LiveScience has an interesting perspective – here’s an excerpt: “…Our study predicts the potential for development of up to 106,004 new gas wells and 10,798 new wind turbines, affecting roughly 1,224,053 acres of forest land and resulting in the creation of up to 1,490,732 acres of impervious surfaces due to development of roads, well-pads and pipelines — materials such as concrete or soils compacted by development are highly impervious, meaning fluids cannot pass through them. As it turns out, this is enough impervious surface to cover an area larger than the state of Delaware…” (Photo credit: Jesse Lewis).

Climate Science Resources. If you’re looking for more information about climate science, impacts and predictions here is a good place to start, with links to (scientifically credible) sources.

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Major Pattern Shift: March Meltdown Begins

Sunday, March 09, 2014

29 F. high in the Twin Cities Saturday.
37 F. average high on March 8.
39 F. high on March 8, 2013.

16″ snow on the ground.

40s likely today and Monday, again later this week.

50+ by Tuesday of next week?

Springing Forward

I set my clock ahead one hour last night. Now I’d like to set my calendar ahead one month. Mid April. Yes, frantic calls with my tax accountant, maybe a stray flood warning or premature mosquito to swat?

I can’t promise spring fever, but for the first time in nearly 4 months you’ll be able to exhale as highs SOAR into the 40s. Birds may chirp hopefully, neighbors emerging from deep hibernation, rubbing their eyes nervously, peeling off a few extra layers of clothing.

Last year it snowed in May; this winter was far colder, turning highways into ice-encrusted ruts of torment. A brewing El Nino (52 percent risk) may tilt the odds slightly in favor of warmer weather later in 2014 and possibly ease the drought for California. Expect more volatility.

But today a sun-kissed airmass direct from Seattle lures the mercury above 40F; mid 40s and an unusual number of smiles for a Monday – give way to cooler weather by midweek. A Tuesday storm may brush southern Minnesota with wet snow; it doesn’t look like a big deal right now.

Look at the bright side: no subzero lows in sight, and NOAA predicts an end to our moderate drought. I just want the glacier in my yard to melt.

Any day now.

Frosty May Start Losing Body Parts Today. We may lose 3-6″ snowcover over the next 48 hours, probably shrinking down to 8-10″ by Wednesday. Graphic above: Twin Cities National Weather Service.

Things Are Looking Up. After being repeatedly beaten by Old Man Winter – fairly relentlessly since mid-December – it’s nice to finally get a break. You’ll be amazed how good 40s can feel, starting this afternoon, even milder Monday before cooling back down. Nothing polar in sight. You have a right to be skeptical, but I suspect we have turned a corner. A few models are hinting at 50s by next Tuesday or Wednesday. More relapses in April? Probably. Graphic: Weatherspark.

A Pacific Breeze. The last vestiges of the much-hyped Polar Vortex are shrinking north. And that’s the thing about cold air. Warm air can’t just push it out of the way. The chill needs to retreat on its own, and that’s happening as steering winds become more westerly (more often) and a higher sun angle begins to erode the core of the coldest air. Temperatures reach 60F Monday as close as Des Moines (little snow cover helps) with 70s over the central Plains. Spring is coming. Not tomorrow, but soon. 2-meter NAM temperature forecast courtesy of NOAA and Ham Weather.

Cheap Applause For A Zonal Flow. No longer are upper level steering currents howling from the Yukon or Arctic Circle. Winds aloft (above) today are pumping in milder, Pacific air, and the result will be warmer than average temperatures much of this week. Map: Climate Reanalyzer.

Saturday Outlook. Temperature anomalies Saturday show the cold pool shrinking over Canada, unusually warm weather over western Canada. In fact the entire Northern Hemisphere is forecast to be 1F warmer than average (for March 15), the Arctic over 2F. warmer than long-term averages – a trend we’ve seen much of the winter.
Super-Sized Winter of 2014: Ice More Damaging Than Snow. Snow gets much of the national media attention, but ice is far more dangerous and damaging, sparking more accidents, roof collapses and downed tree limbs and power lines. That’s the subject of today’s edition of Climate Matters: “Yes, this has been a jaw-dropping, super-sized, winter on steroids winter east of the Rockies.” — Meteorologist Paul Douglas said. A crazy winter it has been for much of the U.S. as snow, ice and freezing rain continues into March. The Great Lakes are breaking ice-cover records and snow covered 54% of the U.S. as of Tuesday, the most since 1978. It has been a wild one.” Snow Water Equivalent. The latest numbers from NOAA estimate 3-4″ of liquid water trapped in the snow pack over the south metro, but closer to 5-6″ from Isanti and Cambridge to Taylors Falls, as much as 10″ along Lake Superior’s North Shore. Pray for a gradual thaw (with no heavy rain). Unusually Deep Snow Over Northeastern Minnesota. In his most recent post, Dr. Mark Seeley answers a listener question about the deep snow pack along the North Shore and over the Minnesota Arrowhead. Here’s an excerpt of his response at Minnesota WeatherTalk: “…Though not record-setting it is rare to have snow depths over 40 inches, yet several observers have reported these amounts for this winter including 47 inches near Two Harbors, 43 inches at Isabella, 42 inches at Wolf Ridge and Babbitt, 41 inches at Cook, and 40 inches at Cloquet and Grand Marais. The measurement of 47 inches neat Two Harbors is the deepest snow there since they measured 51 inches in March of 1965. Similarly at Babbitt the reading of 42 inches is the most there since a snow depth of 52 inches in February of 1969. The state record by the way is a snow depth of 75 inches at Pigeon River Bridge in March of 1950…” Snow, Ice Cover Will Boost Great Lakes Ice Levels. AP has the article – here’s a link and excerpt: “Water levels in the Great Lakes are expected to continue a steady recovery this year, courtesy of widespread ice cover that is slowing evaporation and snowfall that has approached record amounts in some cities, federal experts said Wednesday. The siege of polar air that has gripped the region this winter has caused the most extensive freeze-over of the lakes since the record-setting year of 1979, when nearly 95 percent of their surface area solidified. On Tuesday, the ice cover reached its highest point since then – 91 percent, said George Leshkevich, a physical scientist with the federal Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor...”

Image credit above: “In this Feb. 16, 2014 satellite image provided by the NOAA Great Lakes CoastWatch is the ice cover on the Great Lakes. The Army Corps of Engineers said Wednesday, March 5, 2014 that the heavy ice cover and snowfall across the Great Lakes basin should help water levels move closer to normal over the next six months.” (AP Photo/NOAA Great Lakes CoastWatch).
Trapped In A Devastating Drought, California Needs To Take On Some Surprising Sacred Cows. Here’s a clip from a story at New Republic which puts the the drought into stark perspective: “…Today in California, a different kind of resource shock is unfolding, and it too may end up, a generation hence, defining an era. This time the resource is water, not oil. Today’s California drought is starting to force similarly life-changing choices, this time in the nation’s most populous state, long a bellwether and, according to some counts, the world’s eighth largest economy. The land of milk and honey has begun in recent weeks to get serious about its water crisis: Farmers are ripping out crops, religious believers are praying for rain, and local governments are ordering restaurants to stop serving glasses of water except to diners who specifically request them. This comes at a time when America’s domestic supply of the natural resource it has cared most about—fossil fuel—is more plentiful than ever…”

Climatologist Who Predicted California Drought 10 years Ago Says It May Soon Be “Even More Dire”. Joe Romm at Think Progress delves into the California drought, how much is natural vs. influenced by changes in the Arctic (melting ice) and changes in the upper level steering winds – what one meteorologist dubbed a “ridiculously resilient ridge” of high pressure that has nudged storms away from the west coast – fairly consistently – for nearly 3 years now. How is a warming climate and changes in far northern latitudes impacting the drought? Here’s an excerpt: “…These four mechanisms are:

  1. In a warming world, a larger fraction of total precipitation falls in downpours, which means a larger fraction is lost to storm runoff (as opposed to being absorbed in soil).
  2. In mountain regions that are warming, as most are, a larger fraction of precipitation falls as rain rather than as snow, which means lower stream flows in spring and summer.
  3. What snowpack there is melts earlier in a warming world, further reducing flows later in the year.
  4. Where temperatures are higher, losses of water from soil and reservoirs due to evaporation are likewise higher than they would otherwise be…”
Get Ready For The Next Climate Phenomenon: El Nino. As we told you yesterday the probabilities of lurching into an El Nino warming phase of the Pacific are increasing for later in 2014. The implications for Minnesota and the rest of the nation? Here’s an excerpt from Climate Central: “…An El Niño increases the likelihood of wet conditions in California and the Southwest, which could provide relief to areas suffering through severe drought. Warm conditions are also more likely in the Northeast. That’s welcome news for a region where teeth have been chattering all winter. The Eastern Seaboard could also see the major hurricane drought stretch for another year as El Niño tends to inhibit the formation of Atlantic Hurricanes. The last official major hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. was Hurricane Wilma in 2005…” Image credit above: “Global average surface temperatures, showing El Niño years in red.” Credit: Climate Central using WMO data.

Surviving Beijing’s Pollution While Pregnant: “I Feel Like A Lab Rat”. Not a good time to be working in China’s largest, most polluted cities – unless you’re armed with face masks and air purifiers. The Guardian has the story – here’s an excerpt: “…As someone who grew up in Beijing in the 1990s myself, the deterioration in air quality there is startling – blue skies were once the norm. Not being able to see beyond a certain building in the distance is now today’s reality, though, with readings based on the Air Quality Index (AQI) skyrocketing beyond 500 on the worst-hit days, over 20 times the level set by the WHO. But the difference in how it potentially affects us is stark – Xiaoxia is eight months pregnant...”

Photo credit: “Vehicles clog a highway during a hazy day in Beijing at the end of February.” Photograph: Ng Han Guan/AP
Facebook Looks To Buy Solar-Powered Drone Company To Deliver Worldwide Internet. Because I can’t get FB in nearly enough places. I want to be able to update my profile while steaming off the coast of Nigeria. Gizmag has the story; here’s the intro: “Titan Aerospace’s Solara, a solar-powered unmanned aerial vehicle designed to cruise at an altitude of 20 km (12.42 miles) for five years at a time, certainly got our attention back in August, and it appears to have not gone unnoticed by some of tech’s bigger players either. Facebook is reportedly in talks to acquire the company with a view to using the drones as a means of providing internet access to the world’s under-served regions…” SAT Scores Of The Rich And Famous. I’m not surprised about Bill Gates, but Ke$ha scoring a 1500? Impressive. The New York Times has the blurb – here’s an excerpt: “…The cover story of this weekend’s magazine has the background of the SAT overhaul. You can get an early look at it online Thursday morning. Until then, here are the SAT scores that go with some boldfaced names, as reported in places other than Twitter. 1. Ben Affleck: “Ben had almost perfect SAT scores in high school.”
2. Ke$ha: 1,500
3. Bill Gates: 1,590
4. George W. Bush: 1,206
5. Al Gore: 1,355
6. Scarlett Johansson: 1,080

Photo credit above: Matt Sayles/Invision/Associated Press. “Ke$ha scored 1500 on her SAT.
The Future Of TV Is Coming Into Focus, And Looks Pretty Great. Will every show you care about eventually be delivered online, and on-demand? What will this do to traditional network TV schedules? Are we heading to more of a Netflix model for most of our entertainment? Quartz has a thought-provoking article; here’s the introduction: “The future of TV is here. It’s just not evenly distributed.  If it doesn’t seem like the American television industry is in the middle of a dramatic transformation, that’s simply because the pieces are scattered all over the place. But they are starting to come together. One transformative piece arrived earlier this week, when Dish Network secured the rights to include ABC, ESPN, and other popular channels owned by Disney in a TV service delivered entirely over the internet. Negotiating deals like that one has generally been the biggest impediment to internet TV in the United States…”

Photo credit above: “It’s all controlled by this guy.” Reuters/Joe Skipper.

TODAY: Partly sunny, breezy, much nicer. Winds: SW 15. High: 43
SUNDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy, patchy fog. Low: 36
MONDAY: Hints of early April. Patchy clouds & fog. High: 46
TUESDAY: Chance of snow southern Minnesota. Wake-up: 32. High: 36
WEDNESDAY: Sun returns, light winds. Wake-up: 24. High: 34
THURSDAY: Intervals of sun, quite pleasant. Wake-up: 28. High: 43
FRIDAY: Some sun, a bit cooler. Wake-up: 30. High: 41
SATURDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, still quiet. Wake-up: 26. High: 38

Climate Stories….

Climate Change Is A Conservative Cause – Really. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed from former South Carolina (Republican) Congressman Bob Inglis at The Miami Herald: “…Usually, we conservatives feel dragged along by the ever-expanding liberal ship of state. We see ourselves as the anchor on that ship, and in many ways we are. But on this issue of climate change, we have the opportunity to be the ship’s engine. We passionately believe in markets and free enterprise. We want to avoid regulatory dictates on climate change. And we want to eliminate all subsidies for all fuels. What some of us haven’t considered is the possibility that the biggest subsidy of all is being able to pump pollutants into the air with no accountability. Those pollutants are fouling our families’ lungs and endangering the climate for those who will come after us. We can improve our lives and theirs by simply changing what we tax. Cut taxes on income. Put a tax on pollution…” (Image: Wikipedia).
Amen.

Floods And Gales Are Taste Of Things To Come, Says UN Climate Science Chief. The Guardian has the video interview – here’s the introduction to the story: “The heaviest rainfall in 200 years, floods and gales experienced in Britain this winter are a foretaste of what is certain to occur in a warming world, the head of the UN’s climate science panel has told the Guardian. “Each of the last three decades has been warmer than the last. Extreme events are on the increase. Even if what we have just had [this winter] was not caused by anthropogenic climate change, events of this nature are increasing both in intensity and frequency,” said Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change…”

“Energy Sprawl”. Is A Shrinking Wilderness The Hidden Cost Of Energy Security? LiveScience has an interesting perspective – here’s an excerpt: “…Our study predicts the potential for development of up to 106,004 new gas wells and 10,798 new wind turbines, affecting roughly 1,224,053 acres of forest land and resulting in the creation of up to 1,490,732 acres of impervious surfaces due to development of roads, well-pads and pipelines — materials such as concrete or soils compacted by development are highly impervious, meaning fluids cannot pass through them. As it turns out, this is enough impervious surface to cover an area larger than the state of Delaware…” (Photo credit: Jesse Lewis).

Climate Science Resources. If you’re looking for more information about climate science, impacts and predictions here is a good place to start, with links to (scientifically credible) sources.

The Navy Lays Out Its Plan For A More Accessible Arctic. Mashable has the story; here’s the introduction: “The United States Navy is drawing up a plan to operate in what is rapidly becoming a seasonally-open Arctic Ocean, and thus a new theater of operations. The amount of sea ice that covers the Arctic Ocean at the end of melt season in September has receded by about 3% per decade since 1981, with a record low set in 2012. Less sea ice means more open water, and rapid Arctic climate change has essentially created new international waterways for shipping and resource extraction activities. The area of seasonally ice-free waters is likely to continue to widen over the coming decades, and Navy wants to keep tabs on it...”

9 Foods Threatened By Climate Change. No, not the coffee! Take anything, but please don’t take my coffee beans away. Huffington Post has the story – here’s the intro: “While the next four decades aren’t likely to see an agricultural apocalypse, it’s pretty likely that some foods will be harder to come by — due to increased costs and decreased supply — as harvesting becomes more difficult due to rising temperatures and irregular weather patterns spurred by climate change. Here are a few of the food items you should be most concerned about…”

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Atmosphere Will Spring Forward Next Week – Finally

Saturday, March 08, 2014

33 F. high in the Twin Cities Friday.
37 F. average high on March 7.
31 F. high on March 7, 2013.
16″ snow on the ground at KMSP.

40s likely by Sunday and Monday.

No major storms (of any flavor) in sight.

Don’t Forget. Set your clocks ahead one hour late tonight as we welcome DST, Daylight Saving Time, with open arms. Another sign of lukewarm days to come.

Dirty Snow Season

“Unusual travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God” wrote Kurt Vonnegut. How true. The world has done a pretty good job convincing us that stuff matters. But in the end all we have are memories. As my late mother told me “at the end of your life what matters is what you’ve seen, who you’ve loved and who you helped.”

Our lousy, endless winter probably contributed to my newfound wanderlust, and one-too-many trips to warmer destinations, but my wife and I were always relieved to return to MSP. Because you doesn’t fully appreciate Minnesota until you leave, and then return home.

The DNR reports that, statewide, meteorological winter was the 4th coldest in 119 years of record-keeping. Nationwide early March saw the most snow on the ground since 1978. We’ve earned our spring this year.

Models show 40s Sunday & Monday, again late next week. Milder, Pacific air passing over cold snowpack will moisten up the low layers of the atmosphere, sparking low stratus and fog at times.

Expect a slush-fest next week.

Time to dig out the second-string shoes.

I just had serious ice dams removed from my roof, so I’m praying for a slow thaw and no tournament snowstorms. But after this winter-on-steroids, I’m not feeling very lucky.

Breaking News: Maps Actually Look Like “March”. After a numbing, record-breaking start to the month things are finally looking up. Today will be brisk, but blue sky will make it feel OK out there. With a welcome Pacific breeze returning early next week highs should climb above 40F Sunday and Monday before cooling off a little by midweek; warming up again late next week, according to ECMWF guidance. Flurries or very light snow may brush southern Minnesota Tuesday (most of it passing south of MSP). Graph: Weatherspark.

Mid-Month Moderation. By the third week of March we expect a subtle shift in upper level steering winds, the fabled jet stream we love to pontificate about. A lingering long-wave trough out east will keep colder, stormier weather east of the Mississippi, but roughly the western half of America is under the influence of a Pacific flow, meaning moderating temperatures. Marc 13-17 500 mb wind forecast courtesy of NOAA.
Relieved To Be Average Again. GFS numbers confirm a slow moderating trend, daytime highs in the 30s and 40s the third week of November with no sign of a Tournament storm – at least not yet. Super-Sized Winter of 2014: Ice More Damaging Than Snow. Snow gets much of the national media attention, but ice is far more dangerous and damaging, sparking more accidents, roof collapses and downed tree limbs and power lines. That’s the subject of today’s edition of Climate Matters: “Yes, this has been a jaw-dropping, super-sized, winter on steroids winter east of the Rockies.” — Meteorologist Paul Douglas said. A crazy winter it has been for much of the U.S. as snow, ice and freezing rain continues into March. The Great Lakes are breaking ice-cover records and snow covered 54% of the U.S. as of Tuesday, the most since 1978. It has been a wild one.” Snow Water Equivalent. The latest numbers from NOAA estimate 3-4″ of liquid water trapped in the snow pack over the south metro, but closer to 5-6″ from Isanti and Cambridge to Taylors Falls, as much as 10″ along Lake Superior’s North Shore. Pray for a gradual thaw (with no heavy rain). Unusually Deep Snow Over Northeastern Minnesota. In his most recent post, Dr. Mark Seeley answers a listener question about the deep snow pack along the North Shore and over the Minnesota Arrowhead. Here’s an excerpt of his response at Minnesota WeatherTalk: “…Though not record-setting it is rare to have snow depths over 40 inches, yet several observers have reported these amounts for this winter including 47 inches near Two Harbors, 43 inches at Isabella, 42 inches at Wolf Ridge and Babbitt, 41 inches at Cook, and 40 inches at Cloquet and Grand Marais. The measurement of 47 inches neat Two Harbors is the deepest snow there since they measured 51 inches in March of 1965. Similarly at Babbitt the reading of 42 inches is the most there since a snow depth of 52 inches in February of 1969. The state record by the way is a snow depth of 75 inches at Pigeon River Bridge in March of 1950…” Snow, Ice Cover Will Boost Great Lakes Ice Levels. AP has the article – here’s a link and excerpt: “Water levels in the Great Lakes are expected to continue a steady recovery this year, courtesy of widespread ice cover that is slowing evaporation and snowfall that has approached record amounts in some cities, federal experts said Wednesday. The siege of polar air that has gripped the region this winter has caused the most extensive freeze-over of the lakes since the record-setting year of 1979, when nearly 95 percent of their surface area solidified. On Tuesday, the ice cover reached its highest point since then – 91 percent, said George Leshkevich, a physical scientist with the federal Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor...”

Image credit above: “In this Feb. 16, 2014 satellite image provided by the NOAA Great Lakes CoastWatch is the ice cover on the Great Lakes. The Army Corps of Engineers said Wednesday, March 5, 2014 that the heavy ice cover and snowfall across the Great Lakes basin should help water levels move closer to normal over the next six months.” (AP Photo/NOAA Great Lakes CoastWatch).
Trapped In A Devastating Drought, California Needs To Take On Some Surprising Sacred Cows. Here’s a clip from a story at New Republic which puts the the drought into stark perspective: “…Today in California, a different kind of resource shock is unfolding, and it too may end up, a generation hence, defining an era. This time the resource is water, not oil. Today’s California drought is starting to force similarly life-changing choices, this time in the nation’s most populous state, long a bellwether and, according to some counts, the world’s eighth largest economy. The land of milk and honey has begun in recent weeks to get serious about its water crisis: Farmers are ripping out crops, religious believers are praying for rain, and local governments are ordering restaurants to stop serving glasses of water except to diners who specifically request them. This comes at a time when America’s domestic supply of the natural resource it has cared most about—fossil fuel—is more plentiful than ever…”

Climatologist Who Predicted California Drought 10 years Ago Says It May Soon Be “Even More Dire”. Joe Romm at Think Progress delves into the California drought, how much is natural vs. influenced by changes in the Arctic (melting ice) and changes in the upper level steering winds – what one meteorologist dubbed a “ridiculously resilient ridge” of high pressure that has nudged storms away from the west coast – fairly consistently – for nearly 3 years now. How is a warming climate and changes in far northern latitudes impacting the drought? Here’s an excerpt: “…These four mechanisms are:

  1. In a warming world, a larger fraction of total precipitation falls in downpours, which means a larger fraction is lost to storm runoff (as opposed to being absorbed in soil).
  2. In mountain regions that are warming, as most are, a larger fraction of precipitation falls as rain rather than as snow, which means lower stream flows in spring and summer.
  3. What snowpack there is melts earlier in a warming world, further reducing flows later in the year.
  4. Where temperatures are higher, losses of water from soil and reservoirs due to evaporation are likewise higher than they would otherwise be…”
Get Ready For The Next Climate Phenomenon: El Nino. As we told you yesterday the probabilities of lurching into an El Nino warming phase of the Pacific are increasing for later in 2014. The implications for Minnesota and the rest of the nation? Here’s an excerpt from Climate Central: “…An El Niño increases the likelihood of wet conditions in California and the Southwest, which could provide relief to areas suffering through severe drought. Warm conditions are also more likely in the Northeast. That’s welcome news for a region where teeth have been chattering all winter. The Eastern Seaboard could also see the major hurricane drought stretch for another year as El Niño tends to inhibit the formation of Atlantic Hurricanes. The last official major hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. was Hurricane Wilma in 2005…” Image credit above: “Global average surface temperatures, showing El Niño years in red.” Credit: Climate Central using WMO data. Bow Echo. Here’s a good summary of the bow echo – straight-line wind event that swept across south Florida Thursday, producing 60-65 mph. wind gusts, courtesy of NOAA SPC meteorologist Greg Carbin and the Miami National Weather Service. Shelf Cloud. WeatherNation TV meteorologist Bryan Karrick snapped this photo of a thunderstorm gust front and resulting shelf cloud at Isla Mujeres, just off the coast of Cancun, Mexico. Not a bad selection at all for Spring Break. Don’t Worry. WWIII Will Almost Certainly Never Happen. The old axiom that nations that trade together rarely go to war together may have some merit – but complacency is never a good idea either. The Week has the story – here’s a clip: “…But what about a non-nuclear global war? Other changes — economic and social in nature — have made that highly unlikely too. The world has become much more economically interconnected since the last global war. Economic cooperation treaties and free trade agreements have intertwined the economies of countries around the world. This has meant there has been a huge rise in the volume of global trade since World War II, and especially since the 1980s...” File Image credit above: AP Photo/U.S. Navy, Cmdr. Christy Hagen. Facebook Looks To Buy Solar-Powered Drone Company To Deliver Worldwide Internet. Because I can’t get FB in nearly enough places. I want to be able to update my profile while steaming off the coast of Nigeria. Gizmag has the story; here’s the intro: “Titan Aerospace’s Solara, a solar-powered unmanned aerial vehicle designed to cruise at an altitude of 20 km (12.42 miles) for five years at a time, certainly got our attention back in August, and it appears to have not gone unnoticed by some of tech’s bigger players either. Facebook is reportedly in talks to acquire the company with a view to using the drones as a means of providing internet access to the world’s under-served regions…” SAT Scores Of The Rich And Famous. I’m not surprised about Bill Gates, but Ke$ha scoring a 1500? Impressive. The New York Times has the blurb – here’s an excerpt: “…The cover story of this weekend’s magazine has the background of the SAT overhaul. You can get an early look at it online Thursday morning. Until then, here are the SAT scores that go with some boldfaced names, as reported in places other than Twitter. 1. Ben Affleck: “Ben had almost perfect SAT scores in high school.”
2. Ke$ha: 1,500
3. Bill Gates: 1,590
4. George W. Bush: 1,206
5. Al Gore: 1,355
6. Scarlett Johansson: 1,080

Photo credit above: Matt Sayles/Invision/Associated Press. “Ke$ha scored 1500 on her SATs.”
I Hope You’re Right. The power of positive thinking, right?

TODAY: Sunny, cool breeze. Winds: NW 5-10. High: 25
SATURDAY NIGHT: Clear to partly cloudy and chilly. Turn your clocks ahead late. Low: 14
SUNDAY: Partly sunny, feels like March! High: 41
MONDAY: Some sun – hint of April. Outdoor lunch? Wake-up: 33. High: 44 (falling during the afternoon)
TUESDAY: Chance of snow southern MN. Sunshine central and north. Wake-up: 31. High: 37
WEDNESDAY: Intervals of sun, a quiet day. Wake-up: 16. High: 33
THURSDAY: Some sun, milder breeze. Wake-up: 19. High: 41
FRIDAY: Patchy clouds & fog. Not bad at all. Wake-up: 30. High: 42

Climate Stories….

The Navy Lays Out Its Plan For A More Accessible Arctic. Mashable has the story; here’s the introduction: “The United States Navy is drawing up a plan to operate in what is rapidly becoming a seasonally-open Arctic Ocean, and thus a new theater of operations. The amount of sea ice that covers the Arctic Ocean at the end of melt season in September has receded by about 3% per decade since 1981, with a record low set in 2012. Less sea ice means more open water, and rapid Arctic climate change has essentially created new international waterways for shipping and resource extraction activities. The area of seasonally ice-free waters is likely to continue to widen over the coming decades, and Navy wants to keep tabs on it...”

9 Foods Threatened By Climate Change. No, not the coffee! Take anything, but please don’t take my coffee beans away. Huffington Post has the story – here’s the intro: “While the next four decades aren’t likely to see an agricultural apocalypse, it’s pretty likely that some foods will be harder to come by — due to increased costs and decreased supply — as harvesting becomes more difficult due to rising temperatures and irregular weather patterns spurred by climate change. Here are a few of the food items you should be most concerned about…”

Climate Change: Backdoor Conversion. Nobody wants to be subjected to incessant gloom and doom. I get that. I tell people the truth: that addressing this long-term problem will lead to innovation, new technologies (and new jobs), not just in the energy sector, but across the board. Here’s an excerpt of a story at Huffington Post that resonated: “…It is not by indulging in hyperbolic doomsday oratory. No one wants to hear about a hypothetical calamity that would turn their life into a nightmare. It is just human nature to procrastinate if delaying in taking on a menacing existential challenge can be justified by its uncertainty (which in this case relates to the degree, not the occurrence of temperature rise). What will work is a positive message. To get Americans engaged, speak to them in a language they readily understand and can appreciate–dollars and cents…”

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A Square Deal for Conservation

Friday, March 07, 2014

“A square deal for every man, great or small, rich or poor.”

President Theodore Roosevelt

August 25, 1902

In a speech in Lynn, Massachusetts in the summer of 1902, Teddy Roosevelt first coined the phrase “a square deal”. This short phrase would become his message brand for his successful campaign to retain the presidency in 1904. It was in 1902 that the president was stumping for candidates leading up to the midterm elections where he hoped to create momentum for some of the most progressive legislation ever to be passed by a single Congress. The Congressional session of 1903 would produce one of the most substantial sea changes in the history of American politics, moving the country away from a hands-off laissez-faire attitude towards commerce to the strengthening of the Sherman Antitrust Act, substantial railroad regulation, strong food inspections, drug regulation and an empowered Department of Commerce and Labor to investigate monopolies.

Historians all agree it was hard-driving Teddy Roosevelt who brought about the progressive success of the 1903 Congress and that the crowning achievement was the creation of the Bureau of Corporations within the new Department of Commerce and Labor to investigate monopolies. This provision passed easily in the much more progressive leaning House, but the Senate was far less receptive to the idea. It was a young senator from Minnesota by the name of Knute Nelson who would take up the battle on behalf of the president within the reluctant Senate.

Knute Nelson was the first United States senator of Norwegian descent and one of the great populists in our state’s history.  Of illegitimate birth, he arrived in America from Norway at age 7 with his single mother in 1849.  He learned how to curse and fight with the best of them as a paperboy on the streets of Chicago while staying with his uncle.  After his mother wed, his stepfather moved them to Dane County, Wisconsin.  During the Civil War, Knute joined the Wisconsin Fourth Volunteers and served with distinction as a corporal.

Upon returning home from the war, he worked hard to educate himself to become a lawyer and received admittance to the Wisconsin Bar.  He even served two terms in the Wisconsin Assembly. He was encouraged to join other Scandinavian immigrants flooding to settle the outward reaches of Minnesota and found his place in the community of Alexandria where he rose to the level of serving as their State Senator for one term. In 1882 he took on a handpicked mining and Rail Road candidate to win a hard-fought a seat in Congress. He would later win election as governor followed up by an appointment to the U.S. Senate in 1895 where he gained a reputation of battling for the little guy.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that the scrappy Nelson was able to overcome substantial opposition with the assistance of Roosevelt to successfully pass a strong Bureau of Corporation amendment to the Commerce Bill to help ensure competitive markets in our country and a square deal for smaller businesses.

In the spirit of Nelson and Roosevelt in this year’s Minnesota legislative session, Rep. Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska) is making sure Minnesota landowners who want to do the right thing in preserving critical pieces of land also get a square deal. Last year the Minnesota Senate slipped in a provision that would treat conservation easements inequitably when it came to valuation for property taxes. Instead of valuing these new easements at the market value the new law forbid county assessors from reducing a property’s assessed base to its true market value when protected by the conservation easement. Therefore, the new law creates a disincentive for doing the right thing.

Rep. Torkelson introduced a bill (HF2102) this session to repeal the law from last year and treat conservation easements equitably. On Tuesday he successfully moved the bill with unanimous consent through the House Property and Local Tax Division. Just like Roosevelt’s Square Deal proposals, this smart tax revision will have its hardest challenge in the Senate. This would be a good time to let your State Senator hear your voice calling for a square deal for all conservation easement holders and to repeal this ill-advised tax provision from last year on conservation easements. Landowners doing the right thing deserve the square deal embodied in Torkelson’s HF2102.

40s Early Next Week (El Nino Watch; can USA catch up to Europe on weather model accuracy?)

Friday, March 07, 2014

26 F. high in the Twin Cities Thursday.
36 F. average high on March 6.
29 F. high on March 6.

16″ snow on the ground at KMSP.

40s expected early next week.

El Nino Watch issued by NOAA for later in 2014. Details below.

GFS vs. ECMWF

Meteorologists are an odd bunch. When we’re right (it has been known to happen) we puff out our chests, noting our experience and good sense. When we’re wrong we blame the weather models. “It’s not my fault, the computers made me do it!”

In 1976 there was 1 weather model (LFM). Now there are dozens. Lately the Europeans have been focusing all their time & money on 1 model, the ECWMF, which has done a better job on many (but not all) days. The “Euro” gave me an 8-day heads-up that Superstorm Sandy might hook into the northeast in 2012.

But don’t bet against the USA. Dan Luna, at the local NOAA office, told me “our NOAA NCEP Computer, the one running the weather models, will have its computing power increased from 208 Teraflops to 1900 Teraflops…very soon the GFS will be upgraded to 13KM out to 10 days. That will be a game changer!”

The weather models we study continue to predict a glorious rerun of Pacific air; 3 days at or above 40F next week? In Minnesota we call this a warm front.

No major storms are brewing, but NOAA has issued an El Nino Watch for late 2014. The last major El Nino was 1998, which turned into the warmest year on record, worldwide. Details below.
* as of February 25, Cliff Mass reports that NOAA’s new supercomputer hasn’t even been ordered, while the European Center (ECMWF) has just secured a new (American) supercomputer to try and push the envelope even further. His must-read post is here.

Looks More Like March. After a very cold start, we’re finally seeing evidence of slow moderation in the coming weeks, when 30s should be the norm, with a few days above 40F. Pacific air may lure the mercury well into the 40s Monday before cooling down again around midweek. Nothing subzero in sight for MSP at this point. Graphic: Weatherspark.

Minor Weekend Relapse, Then Welcome Temperature Inflation Next Week. I hesitate calling this a warm front (unless you live on the central Plains, where 60s are possible by early next week). For the rest of us: a not-as-cold-front is shaping up, as steering winds aloft become more westerly, more zonal, treating many ice-encrusted northern cities to a welcome spurt of 40s. 2-meter NAM temperatures courtesy of NOAA and Ham Weather.

Huh? I almost dialed 911 after calling up the latest GFS numbers. No, I don’t believe it – we have to get rid of more snow before 50s become a reality, but it was a welcome, heartwarming sight nonetheless; more hints of what’s to come.

NAEFS Extended Outlook. Here is the temperature anomaly outlook for March 14-21, courtesy of Environment Canada. The pattern is shifting, but painfully slow.

4th Coldest Meteorological Winter, Statewide. Here are a few highlights from the latest HydroClim Update from The Minnesota DNR:

  • February precipitation totals were well above historical averages in eastern Minnesota counties, near to below-average in western Minnesota locales. Record February monthly snowfall totals of 24 to 36 inches were reported in many northeast Minnesota communities.
  • Average monthly temperatures for February in Minnesota were well below historical averages, finishing 10 to 12 degrees below normal.
  • The statewide average temperature for the meteorological winter (December through February) ranked fourth coldest of the 119-year modern climate record.
  • Except for a few west central Minnesota counties, current snow depths are well above the historical median for the date at all locations.
  • There is a near-normal risk for moderate or higher level spring flooding along the Red River, Minnesota River, and Upper Mississippi River. There is a somewhat elevated risk for moderate or higher level spring flooding in the St. Croix River basin.

* Moderate risk of river flooding on the Red River. Details from inforum.com.

USA Snowcover In Early March: Third Highest Level On Record. Only 1969 and 1978 saw more snow on the ground in early March, from coast to coast. Here’s an excerpt from a story at USA Today: “As of Tuesday, North America is covered by the third-highest amount of snow this late in the season since records began in 1966, according to NOAA’s U.S. National Ice Center. Only 1969 and 1978 had more snow cover at this point in the year, according to Sean Helfrich of NOAA’s National Ice Center…”

Air Pollution Advisory Western Minnesota. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has issued an advisory for poor air quality over much of western and southwestern Minnesota through midday today. Details here.
Spring Forward. Yes, we lose an hour of sleep Saturday night, but here’s another encouraging sign of lukewarm days to come. Don’t forget to turn your clocks ahead 1 hour before you turn in Saturday night.

Something’s Missing. Yes, snow, at least in Alaska, where the Iditarod is underway. Monica Zappa (a St. Cloud State University graduate participating in the grueling race, featured in the photo above) reports unusual amounts of ice vs. snow on the course; many lakes and streams are slushy and unstable. Eric Holthaus has a good recap of the springlike conditions at Slate; here’s an excerpt: “The dogs are ready, the gear is in place, and mushers are gathering for this weekend’s start of Alaska’s classic sled dog race, the Iditarod. There’s just one thing missing: snow. After one of the warmest Januaries in Alaska’s meteorological record books, parts of the epic thousand-mile sled dog route were bare ground and open water as recently as last week—not exactly the winter wonderland that’s more typical this time of the year in what is usually one of the coldest parts of North America…”

* Here are the latest Iditarod standings – at least report Monica was 48th.

What The Heck Is “Blow Ice”? It’s not trending like “Polar Vortex” but a new phrase has been coined to describe an age-old problem. Details at Rick Kupchella’s BringMeTheNews.com: “…So, after “polar vortex,” “umbles,” and “bombogenesis,” add “blow ice” to your winter-weather vocabulary. Grabow tweeted BringMeTheNews that blow ice is the result of wind blowing snow across the road and either slightly warmer temperatures or tires melt it, but the moisture is still cold enough to freeze and quickly become ice…”

Who knew?

Great Lakes Ice. Check out the CIMSS high resolution visible satellite image from Thursday morning, courtesy of the University of Wisconsin. What caught my eye was the ice calving off the eastern regions of Lake Michigan, water currents pushing the ice flows south and west – an amazing sight.

Scientists: El Nino (May Be) A-Comin’. There are markers in the Pacific that suggest some of that warm water that’s been accumulating over time may slosh east later in 2014. There’s only one problem: NOAA is flying blind to some extent; about 40% of ocean buoys that monitor wind, swells and water temperatures are operational right now. Here’s an excerpt from Mashable: “…Michael McPhaden, a senior scientist with NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, told Mashable that some similarities exist between the ocean and atmospheric state right now compared to observations shortly before the onset of the 1997-1998 El Niño event. This suggests that if an El Niño does occur, it could be an unusually strong one…”

Image credit above: “Sea surface height anomalies across the Pacific Ocean on December 1, 1997. The warm water associated with El Nino raises sea surface heights. Measurements taken by the U.S. and French TOPEX/Poseidon satellite.” Image: NASA/JPL.

El Nino Watch Issued By NOAA NCEP. ENSO-neutral is expected to continue through the Northern Hemisphere spring of 2014, with about a 50% chance of El Nino developing during the summer or fall. More details from NOAA in this 6 page PDF.

What Is An El Nino Watch? There’s a growing body of scientific evidence that the most recent La Nina cooling phase in the Pacific may have masked some of the (atmospheric) warming in recent years. Certainly ENSO, swings in temperature, moisture and winds in the Pacific can have a domino effect downwind over North America. That’s why oceanographers and meteorologists will be keeping a close eye on a possible El Nino event later in 2014. More on the El Nino Watch issued by NOAA in today’s Climate Matters: “WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas goes over the El Nino forecast issued from NOAA. How does this set up compare to previous El Ninos? And what can we expect from the long range forecasts? Will this help or hurt the historic drought situation across the West?

A Brewing El Nino? Here is more information from NOAA on a growing possibility of an El Nino warm phase of ENSO in the Pacific for later in 2014: “The NWS Climate Prediction Center has issued an El Niño Watch, indicating a possibility of El Niño developing during the summer or fall. El Niño, which is marked by warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the eastern Pacific Ocean near the equator, is known for influencing weather across the U.S. and other parts of the globe. Currently, the Climate Prediction Center is monitoring a very warm pool of water in the Western Pacific, and is seeing this pool move eastward, which will likely warm the Eastern Pacific in the coming months.”

52% Probability Of El Nino By Late Summer. More details via NOAA: “The Climate Prediction Center (CPC) consensus forecast on ENSO conditions shows a 52% probability of El Nino conditions by late this summer and fall 2014. therefore, an El Nino Watch has been issued for this potential. The chart below shows the red bars associated with El Nino increasing in time from left to right. OND stands for the months of October-November-December.”

El Nino Monitoring System In Failure Mode. Well that’s convenient – one of many potential impacts of budget cuts? Nature has the article; here’s the introduction: “An ocean-monitoring system that extends across the tropical Pacific is collapsing, depriving scientists of data on a region that influences global weather and climate trends. Nearly half of the moored buoys in the Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO) array have failed in the past two years, crippling an early-warning system for the warming and cooling events in the eastern equatorial Pacific, known respectively as El Niño and La Niña. Scientists are now collecting data from just 40% of the array…”

Photo credit above: “Nearly half of the buoys in the Tropical Atmosphere Ocean array have failed because of delayed maintenance.” NOAA.

One Way To End A Drought. El Nino correlates with a (much) more active southerly branch of the jet stream, often pushing big, wet, sometimes violent storms into California and the western USA. Such was the case in 1998, the most extreme El Nino event ever measured. Additional heat from the oceans contributed to 1998 being the warmest year ever measured, worldwide. Photo credit above: “In this Wednesday, March 25, 1998 file photo, Enrique Lagunas digs a trench to redirect water toward a street in Laguna Beach, Calif. after heavy rains from an El Nino storm hit Southern California. On Thursday, March 6, 2014, the U.S. National Oceanic Atmospheric and Administration announced their prediction of an El Nino warming of the central Pacific Ocean in 2014 that will change weather worldwide. It is expected to trigger fewer Atlantic hurricanes, more rain next winter for drought-struck California and southern states and even cause a milder winter for the nation’s cold-struck northern tier next year, meteorologists say. For the world it can mean an even hotter year coming up and food crop losses.” (AP Photo/Orange County Register, Bruce Chambers)

Not Much Long-Term Drought Relief For California. Last week’s rains helped (to settle the dust), but they didn’t do much to replenish depleted reservoirs, aquifers or snowpack in the Sierra. Much of California is still in the “Exceptional Drought” designation – pockets of moderate drought as far north and east as central Minnesota. Map: NOAA.

An Encouraging Drought Outlook For The Upper Midwest. NOAA is predicting “Drought Removal Likely” for portions of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa in the coming months, but persistence, possibly intensification of drought from Texas into much of the western USA.

How Recent California Rains Could Make Wildfire Season Worse. It seems counterintuitive, but Climate Central explains; here’s the introduction: “The massive Pacific storms that streamed onto the California shoreline dropped a lot of rain, but they did little to ease long-term drought conditions and may end up exacerbating what is already expected to be a disastrous wildfire season. This week’s U.S. Drought Monitor, released Thursday morning, shows that the “blockbuster” storms that lasted from Feb. 26 to March 2, dropped as much as 75 percent of the moisture some California cities have received all season. Burbank received 4.78 inches of its 5.28-inch season-to-date rainfall total and downtown Los Angeles received 4.52 inches of its 5.72-inch total...”

Photo credit above: “Children get splashed by a passing car while playing in a puddle in Long Beach, Calif., Sunday, March 2, 2014. The storm, the largest since 2010, kept emergency planners and rescue crews busy, but it did not produce enough rain to pull California out of a crippling drought that has grown to crisis proportions for the state’s vast farming industry.” (AP Photo/The Orange County Register, Anibal Ortiz)

Colorado State Hurricane Outlooks To Continue, For Now. I’m always vaguely amused when these hurricane predictions come out around June 1, looking 2-6 months into the future. Last year was especially rough, but according to this story at USA Today, the hurricane hand-waving will continue in 2014: “They didn’t want to end on such a sour note. Following the self-described “worst” seasonal hurricane forecast in 30 years in 2013, Colorado State University (CSU) meteorologists Phil Klotzbach and William Gray were at risk of losing funding for their well-known Tropical Meteorology Project. But there is hope for this season, at least for now: “While we are not fully funded, we have made some reasonable progress in obtaining funding over the past few weeks,” Klotzbach writes in an e-mail…”

360 Fly Captures Interactive, Panoramic Video. Move over GoPro? For those who need a full 360-degree view there are new options to clamp onto your helmet; details from gizmag.com: “Though moving around panoramic photos can feel fairly natural, the ability to do so in a video still feels a little unusual. Perhaps it’s because there’s a sense that you’re always missing part of the recording. Nonetheless, panoramic video is gradually moving into the mainstream, with EyeSee360 announcing two offerings that will join the market later this year…”

Smile! A Short Guide To A Long Life. Here’s a clip from an informative book review and article at PBS Next Avenue: “…Smiling is a great stress reliever. It boosts pain-killing, brain-happy endorphins, and as I say in the book, it takes only 17 muscles to smile and 43 muscles to frown. I also believe you should avoid multivitamins because studies show they block the body’s natural ability to control itself — you disrupt a system we don’t fully understand yet. However, I do believe in taking statins if you are over the age of 40 because we now know they don’t just lower cholesterol but they lower inflammation, which has a profound effect on reducing things such as heart disease, still the No. 1 killer of men and women. In the end, the data points to multivitamins and supplements raising your health risks but statins reducing death...”

An iPhone Case That Plays Doctor. Because I absolutely want to be monitoring my heart rate when I’m sprawled on the couch watching “The Walking Dead”. Details from Gizmag: “Health monitoring start-up Azoi has announced the availability of a significant product in the form of the Wello, a thin lightweight smartphone case embedded with sensors that measures blood pressure, electrocardiography (ECG), heart rate, blood oxygen, temperature, and lung functions to a high level of accuracy. The US$199 Wello case will be initially available for iPhone 4S, 5 and 5S, but for those who don’t have one of those phones, the case will still work with any IOS or android device which has Bluetooth LE functionality – you just won’t be able to use the case on your phone…”

10 Rejection Letters Sent To Famous People. I felt better after reading this article at Mental Floss. How would you like to be the (doofus) who rejected U2? “We’ve all heard that the road to success is paved with failure. But that doesn’t make rejection any easier to swallow. What does help? Knowing that the world’s most talented people have been there, too. Here are 10 actual rejection letters that prove it...”

Another Sign Of Spring. Why should weather-disappointment be confined to snow, ice and the dreaded Polar Vortex? Thursday’s Twins Exhibition game was rained out in Fort Myers by a squall line: torrential rains and high winds. Reminder: The Twins Home Opener is April 7 against the Oakland Athletics.

From Your Faithful Weather Servant, Paige Dorniels. Have you tried Travoltifying your name? It’s free, which is a very good thing. If you’re looking to waste a little time and have a good laugh check out the link at Slate.

TODAY: Mild start, turning cooler under a mostly cloudy sky. Winds: NW 10-15. High: 33 (falling by PM)
FRIDAY NIGHT: Partial clearing, colder. Low: 11
SATURDAY: Blue sky, brisk (but dry). High: 28
SATURDAY NIGHT: Clear to partly cloudy. Don’t forget to “spring forward”. Low: 14
SUNDAY: Partly sunny, turning breezy and milder. High: near 40
MONDAY: Neighbors emerge from hibernation. Patchy clouds, but balmy. Wake-up: 30. High: 46
TUESDAY: Clouds, storm passes south of Minnesota. Wake-up: 31. High: 38
WEDNESDAY: More sun, less wind. Cooler again. Wake-up: 14. High: 26
THURSDAY: More clouds than sun, still quiet. Wake-up: 11. High: 38

Climate Stories….

Draft U.N. Report: Global Warming Could Cost $1.45 Trillion. I’m not sure how you even put a dollar amount on the financial implications yet, between rising sea level, more intense and long-lasting drought, and a potential increase in extreme weather events. That said, here’s a clip from a story at Live Science: “The effects of global warming could cost the world $1.45 trillion in economic damages, with the planet’s crop production projected to decline up to two percent every decade, according to news coverage of a new UN report. The new figures were detailed in a draft of an upcoming report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which will be publicly released later this month during a meeting in Yokohama, Japan, reported The Economic Times...”

Clarifying The Discussion About California Drought & Climate Change. Here’s an excerpt of a post from Peter Gleick at scienceblogs.com: “In the last few months, as the severe California drought has garnered attention among scientists, policymakers, and media, there has been a growing debate about the links between drought and climate change. The debate has been marked by considerable controversy, confusion, and opaqueness. The confusion stems from the failure of some scientists, bloggers, reporters, and others to distinguish among three separate questions. All three questions are scientifically interesting. But the three are different in their nuance, their importance to policy, and their interest to politicians and water managers. Here are the three different questions:

  1. Is the California drought caused by climate change?
  2. Is the California drought, no matter the cause, influenced or affected by climate changes already occurring?
  3. How will climate changes affect future drought risks in California?

These questions are not the same thing…”

Floating Farm Harvests Water From Floating Icebergs. Here’s a novel approach to finding fresh water from all that (rapidly) melting ice up north, highlighted in a Mashable story: “Fresh water is becoming scarce. At the same time, rising global temperatures are melting the ice caps. One group of architectural students wants to put the melting ice to practical use. Meriem Chabani and colleagues won first prize in the latest Jacques Rougerie Competition for their Arctic Harvester, which is designed to support 800 people. The idea is to float this donut-shaped facility off the coast of Greenland, where workers would collect small bergs from the surrounding area and move them into a central bay where they’d melt…”

Image credit above: Meriem Chabani, Etienne Chobaux, John Edom, Maeva Leneveu.

Read More

Hints of Spring (thaw today – 40s by early next week)

Thursday, March 06, 2014

24 F. high in the Twin Cities Wednesday.
36 F. average high on March 5.
30 F. high on March 5, 2013.

19″ snow on the ground at KMSP.

40s likely by early next week.

Deliriously Sloppy

You can only imagine the earful I’ve gotten this hyper-winter. I feel like an economist, standing in the wreckage of 1929′s Great Depression. “It WILL get better!” Because it can’t get any worse.

I looked at the weather maps this morning and couldn’t decide whether to wake the neighbors or weep for joy. New colors are showing up: less blues and purples, more yellow and orange. We’re limping into spring, and your faith in March may be partially restored in the week ahead as steering winds aloft become zonal; blowing west to east. The Polar Vortex gives way to a Pacific breeze.

Expect a thaw today – the drive home will be a sloppy slush-fest, but who cares? The short-term outlook calls for occasional showers of blue windshield washer fluid, but I still don’t see any Tournament Storms looking out at least a week.

Nearly 20 inches of snow on the ground will limit just how mild it can get in the short term; ECMWF guidance hints at a few 40s early next week. Above average? Unheard of. Nothing subzero looking out a week, just an Ice Dam Advisory.

In today’s weather blog: a rough winter for Minnesota’s white-tail deer & Lake Superior ice cover is approaching 95 percent, the all-time record set in 1979.

Yes, we’ve seen worse, but not lately.

 * GFS forecast temperatures midday Monday courtesy of Climate Reanalyzer at the University of Maine.

New Concept: Warmer Than Average. After the 9th coldest meteorological winter on record in the Twin Cities our collective expectations have been lowered. Suddenly freezing is a big deal, 40s are an almost unimaginable meteorological treat. ECMWF guidance is fairly consistent, trending even milder for the first few days of next week; highs may reach 40F Sunday, climbing well into the 40s Monday. 19″ of snow will limit just how mild it can get anytime soon, but the maps are, for lack of a better word, encouraging. Graphic: Weatherspark.

Subzero-Free. Have we seen the last subzero lows of the winter season? I hope so, and the latest GFS numbers lean in that direction. It will chill down late next week, maybe a couple nights of single-digit lows, but we warm up into the 30s and low 40s again the third week of March.

What’s Wrong With This Winter? Investment banker and prize rose grower Jack Falker in Edina takes a look at the Polar Vortex and other weather oddities in his latest blog post, reminding us that one (very cold) winter does not a trend make; here’s an excerpt: “..I am also a great believer in statistical trend lines, and the extreme minimum temperature (EMT) trend lines that I have plotted for almost all Midwest cities, for the years since 1962, show that we are all on a steady trend toward higher winter temperatures. The Twin Cities’ EMT trend line shows conclusively that we have moved into zone 5 and are on our way to zone 6 in just a few years. One night of marginally zone 4 temperatures in 2014 certainly does not change the upward slope of our trend line in a meaningful way, so it is statistically reasonable to assume that we will continue to see warmer EMT’s in the year’s ahead…”
Lake Superior Approaching The Record Of 95% Ice-Covered. At last report, NOAA showed ice cover of 94.7% – very close to the all-time record set in 1979. NBC News has the story; here’s an excerpt: “..The ice cover may even eclipse the 1979 record of 95 percent with temperatures expected to dip in the coming days after “one polar vortex after another,” Jia Wang, a research ice climatologist for the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, told NBC News. “In the next week or two, the forecast is that the temperatures will be under freezing.The lake still has about 10 days to grow in ice cover — 5 percent is no problem,” he said…” * Time Magazine has a time-lapse of Lake Superior freezing up here.

Tracking The Ice. According to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory this year’s ice cover probably will not exceed the previous record of 94.76% set in 1979.
Winter Severity Index For White-Tailed Deer. We aren’t the only ones feeling the effects of a pioneer winter. The persistent cold is impacting Minnesota’s white-tailed deer population, as tracked by the Minnesota DNR: “The Winter Severity Index (WSI) is a general measure of winter conditions based on the premise that prolonged cold temperatures and deep snow can reduce overwinter survial of white-tailed deer. In Minnesota the WSI is calculated by accumulating a point for each day with an ambient temperature of 0F and an additional point for each day with a snow depth greater than 15″. End of season values less than 100 indicate a mild winter. Values greater than 180 indicate a severe winter.”

Be A Force Of Nature: National Severe Weather Preparedness Week. I know it seems odd to be talking severe thunderstorms and tornadoes with a semi-permanent glacier in your yard, but the first severe thunderstorms of 2014 are probably no more than 3 or 4 weeks away. Here are some links to resources and timely reminders, courtesy of NOAA: “In 2013, there were seven weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the United States. These events included five severe weather and tornado events, a major flood event, and the western drought/heat wave. Overall, these events killed 109 people and had significant economic effects on the areas impacted. During National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, March 2-8, 2014, NOAA and FEMA will highlight the importance of preparing for severe weather before it strikes. Being prepared for severe weather doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. A few simple steps, such as having a disaster supplies kit, could help save your life. During National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, we ask that you Be a Force of Nature by knowing your risk, taking action and being an example where you live…”

Storm Brings 100-Year Flood To Christchurch, New Zealand. ImaGeo at Discover Magazine has the story; here’s the introduction: “The satellite image above shows the powerful storm that brought gale force winds and 36 hours of heavy rainfall to New Zealand, triggering what has been described as a 100-year flood in the city of Christchurch. The city has been beset by flooding before, as well as a devastating magnitude 6.3 earthquake in 2011 that killed 185 people…”

Image credit above: “NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image of a powerful storm swirling off the coast of New Zealand on March 4. The storm has caused what has been reported as a 100-year flood in the city of Christchurch.” (Source: NASA).
Why Snowstorms Are More Devastating Now To American Cities. An inch of snow in the 60s? No big deal. Our parents called this “flurries”. Today an inch of snow falling at the wrong time and wrong temperature can bring a city’s transporation grid to a halt. What has changed? Here’s an excerpt of an interesting story at NBC Philadelphia: “Snowstorms have become devastating to American cities — thanks to a commonplace technology: the private automobile. “The evil snow is upon us.” So wrote New York lawyer and diarist George Templeton Strong in December 1879, describing a storm that had paralyzed the city. Teams of horses pulled ploughs through the snow, piled high along the sidewalks; downed electrical lines pitched the streets into darkness. In the future, Strong imagined, things would be better. “A century hence cities will be put under glass,” he predicted, “and New York will be enclosed in a huge crystal palace…”

Photo credit above: “Slippery West Sedgwick Street in Northwest Philadelphia afer a recent storm.” Bas Slabbers – NewsWorks.org.

Ice-Covered Lakes May Be Bottling Arctic Cold For Spring. Chicago has had a very memorable winter: 3rd coldest meteorological winter with 74″ snow, more than 43″ above average, to date. They’ve experienced 2 winters in the Windy City! Here’s a recent video and excerpt from The Chicago Tribune: “With March just days away, Chicagoans can’t be blamed for looking forward to the disappearance of the polar vortex. But be warned: with the Great Lakes more ice-covered than they have been in decades, the latest blast of arctic chill is being bottled for spring. The early descent of this season’s chill forced the Coast Guard to start its ice-breaking ships sooner than any time  in recent memory and raises the prospect that all that frozen water will slow any hint of a spring warmup...”

Storm-Tracking NOAA Satellite System Gets A Technology Boost. CNET describes how these new Earth platforms may improve storm predictions by providing higher-resolution data streams into the models we use on a daily basis; here’s a clip: “A three-satellite storm-tracking system run by the U.S. government is getting some updates that will support a complete technological refresh. Raytheon said today that it has booked $185 million in new business for the Joint Polar Satellite System’s Common Ground System. The JPSS, a collaborative system between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA, is a polar-orbiting environmental system designed to both track storms and other weather events and take and send back to Earth imagery showing changes in the planet’s environment over time…”

Image credit above: “One of the three Joint Polar Satellite Systems satellites.” (Credit: NOAA/NASA).

New Hurricane Model Can More Accurately Predict Hurricane Path, Intensity. redOrbit has an interesting story – here’s the introduction: “…In addition to incorporating real-time Doppler radar information, the convection-permitting hurricane analysis and forecasting system (WRF-EnKF) also uses high-resolution cloud-permitting grids, which allow for the consideration of individual clouds in modeling a storm system. “Our model predicted storm paths with 100 km – 50 mile – accuracy four to five days ahead of landfall for Hurricane Sandy,” Zhang said. “We also had accurate predictions of Sandy’s intensity...”

Image credit above: “Superstorm Sandy as it slams the Northeast in October 2012.” Credit: NOAA/NASA.

Oklahoma Congressman’s Proposal Would Extend Lead Time For Tornado Warnings. A 45-60 minute lead time for tornadoes? It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. But it brings up an interesting dilemma: can you provide too warning? If I have an hour’s notice I might be tempted to run home, or pick up the kids at school – instead of heading to the basement. Here’s an excerpt from Insurance Journal: “An Oklahoma congressman has proposed legislation that would make the protection of people and property a priority for federal weather forecasters and extend the lead time for tornado warnings. Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak has expressed his support for the Weather Forecasting Improvement Act (H.R. 2413), sponsored by Congressman Jim Bridenstine (R-Oklahoma), which would establish the Tornado Warning Extension Program. The resolution is aimed at funding a research program within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to extend the lead time for tornado warnings beyond one hour…” When Hurricane Sandy slammed into southern New Jersey in October 2012, it had essentially confounded both the NOAA‘s Global Forecast System (GFS) and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF).
Now, a new real-time hurricane analysis system being developed at Penn State University has been shown to accurately predict the track and intensity of the deadly storm.
“For this particular study aircraft-based Doppler radar information was ingested into the system,” said Fuqing Zhang, a professor of meteorology at Penn State. “Our predictions were comparable to or better than those made by operational global models.”

Read more at http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1113081033/hurricane-model-accurately-predict-storm-path-intensity-022614/#ezvDvxMucTOvdtR6.99Oklahoma Congressman’s Proposal Would Extend Lead Time For Tornado Warnings. A 45-60 minute lead time for tornadoes? It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. But it brings up an interesting dilemma: can you provide too warning? If I have an hour’s notice I might be tempted to run home, or pick up the kids at school – instead of heading to the basement. Here’s an excerpt from Insurance Journal: “An Oklahoma congressman has proposed legislation that would make the protection of people and property a priority for federal weather forecasters and extend the lead time for tornado warnings. Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak has expressed his support for the Weather Forecasting Improvement Act (H.R. 2413), sponsored by Congressman Jim Bridenstine (R-Oklahoma), which would establish the Tornado Warning Extension Program. The resolution is aimed at funding a research program within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to extend the lead time for tornado warnings beyond one hour…”

Reality Check: The Tornado “False Alarm” Problem. The last I checked 70% of tornado warnings were false alarms, nationwide. It’s always better to err on the side of safety, caution and protecting human life, but too many false alarms and the public can be apathetic. “They’re crying wolf again – just ignore the sirens”. Here’s a video clip and excerpt from a story at fox19.com: “It has been a crazy winter, filled with snow and bitter cold. Mother nature trumped the winter weather on Thursday with the first severe weather episode of 2014. The National Weather Service issued five tornado alerts. Only three weak funnels appeared -three out of five with a false alarm rate of 40 percent. Why does the Tornado Warning policy treat weak, spin-up funnels the same as it does monstrous killer tornadoes? The policy is set at high levels in the National Weather Service bureaucracy. The system needs to be fixed...”

Tornado And Severe Storm Watches Issued In 2013. Last year was relatively quiet, especially for tornadoes, with a few notable exceptions (around Oklahoma City). The upper left graphic shows the total number of tornado watches, the lower left depicts departure from the 20 year averages – showing a slight increase in tornado watches over the Middle Mississippi Valley and Mid Atlantic. The column on the right shows total number of severe storm watches (upper left), and departure from average, with a more significant spike in severe storm watches for the Plains. Source: NOAA SPC.

The Future Of Severe Weather Forecasting. Here’s a video and excerpt from News 9 Chief Meteorologist David Payne in Oklahoma City on NewsOn6.com: “…He said he’s never seen so many intense tornadoes in such a short period of time as we saw in May 2013.  He adds we took something good from the outbreak, new data models that will help us better predict future storms. “These are models that can actually model individual storms and they’re going to come up with an ensemble of forecasts of varying initial conditions,” Bluestein said. “You may be able to assign, a better probability that yes, the next day there will be storms. Of those storms, there will be a certain chain that there will be tornadoes…”

Your Joints, Pain And The Weather. All those things your grandmother taught you are true. Our bodies are (mostly) water – why wouldn’t we respond to pain sparked by continuous fluctuations in atmospheric pressure, temperature and moisture? Here’s a clip from an article at Grandparents.com. What, you don’t troll this site? “…Several medical studies—although not all—back up these suspicions. As early as the 1960s, a University of Pennsylvania physician put people with arthritis into a weather chamber and found that falling barometric pressure and increased humidity increased the perception of pain. In 2007, Tufts researchers studied 200 people with knee arthritis and found that both barometric pressure and cold affected pain. In January of 2014, Dutch researchers found that in people with severe hip arthritis, barometric pressure and humidity had a modest effect on pain perception. (Weather can have other painful effects, too: There’s evidence that lightning can trigger migraine headaches, for example.)…”

Minnesota Deserves a State-Of-The-Art Planetarium and Natural History Museum. I’m a big believer in science education and science literacy – our kids and grandkids will need to be well-versed in science to succeed and maximize their potential in a very tech-savvy world. We lead the nation in the agricultural science, the arts, medical device technology and innovation, but the Twin Cities metro has yet to build a planetarium, and the Bell Museum of Natural History needs an overhaul and upgrade to remain competitive. Moving forward on a bonding request before the State Legislature and building a new planetarium and natural history museum would be a boon, not only to the University of Minnesota St. Paul Campus, but the Twin Cities and the entire state, serving kids and adults interested in science – making us even more competitive on the national and world stage. Learn more about the need, and the plans to move forward. A new Bell Museum and Planetarium will:

•  better address Minnesota’s achievement gap in STEM education.
•  inspire the next generation of STEM workers needed by Minnesota businesses.
•  expand University of Minnesota environmental, biological and astrophysical information and education for schools and families.
•  create the flagship planetarium in Minnesota.
•  increase it statewide reach by investing the increased revenues generated by a new facility to expand.

Dr. Mark Seeley is involved in the ongoing campaign to turn this vision into a reality. Here is an excerpt of what he told me: “I, like you, give a strong priority to do all I can to support science literacy among Minnesotans, and also to support all efforts to increase appreciation and awareness of our state’s natural history.  The new Bell Museum and Planetarium will provide far more opportunities to educate and engage students and citizens about science and about our natural history (including climate and weather).  The planetarium will help us understand the universe we live it.  These are investments that our needed to forge a path for the future where we can engage citizens on important issues of science and we can deploy new knowledge to better manage and preserve our natural resources.”

Tell your local legislator that our kids deserve a world-class planetarium and natural history museum.

9 Things You Should Know About Your Caffeine Habit. Yeah, I’m hooked, along with most people I know. In my 20s I trained for a climb up the Matterhorn in Switzerland and tried to kick coffee altogether (to help reduce the risk of altitude sickness). I was miserable for a week and then the headaches went away. Not sure I want to go through that again. Here’s a clip from a story at Huffington Post: “…What’s the verdict? Is it good or is it bad? If I had a simple answer, it would have been a five-page book. It can be more effective than I had any idea, in terms of improving your alertness, your cognition, your athletic ability. It can have stronger more acute effects on sleep and anxiety than I’d imagined. It can be terrific. I think it’s important that everybody recognize how much is good for them, what it does for them when they take it, what they feel like when they don’t take it, and experiment…”

TODAY: Ring the churchbells. Partly sunny. Thaw likely. Winds: S 20. High: 34
THURSDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy, patches of fog. Low: 29
FRIDAY: Patchy clouds, still sloppy. High: 31
SATURDAY: Sunny, slight cooler. Wake-up: 13. High: 28
SUNDAY: Some sun, breezy, turning milder by afternoon. Wake-up: 10. High: near 40
MONDAY: A faint whiff of early April. Wake-up: 30. High: 45
TUESDAY: Nice to be average again. Some sun. Wake-up: 27. High: 40
WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny and cooler, still pretty quiet. Wake-up: 18. High: 32

* graphic above courtesy of buzzle.com. Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/2014/03/03/3321809/researcher-finds-possible-clue.html#storylink  Climate Stories…. British Floods Could Be A Harbinger. Britain just experienced its wettest winter since accurate records were started in the 1800s, and a sentence in this article at The New York Times did a good job (in my humble opinion) of explaining the implications of climate change and climate volatility. No, it doesn’t mean we’ll all be warmer (all the time), but it increases the potential for unusual events that manifest themselves via freakish weather. We’re already seeing that, worldwide. Here’s an excerpt: “…Yet Somerset may be a microcosm for the dilemmas that Britain and other countries are likely to face in the future as sea levels rise and climate change accentuates unusual weather. As in other places around the world, people in Britain have chosen to live near water, where damaging floods may occur and are likely to become more frequent. “You often hear people saying, ‘You shouldn’t build on flood plains,’ but many cities are on flood plains,” said Roger A. Falconer, a professor of water management at Cardiff University in Wales, not far from the Levels. “Where do you draw the line?…” Photo credit above: ” Flood waters inundate the area as one house stands alone and dry near the flooded village of Moorland in Somerset, southwest England, Thursday Feb. 13, 2014. The house is owned by Sam Notaro, who has built his own levee to hold back the flood waters, as the local communities face further misery in the coming days with heavy rain, wind and snow predicted to sweep across Britain.” (AP Photo/Steve Parsons, PA).

Energy CEO: Climate Change Is Real, Driven By Humans. I almost fell off the Doppler after reading this story at fuelfix.com; here’s an excerpt: “BHP Billiton CEO Andrew Mackenzie, who leads the world’s largest mining company, said Tuesday that climate change is real and driven by human activity. Speaking to energy industry leaders at the CERAWeek conference in Houston, Mackenzie, a geologist by training, said evidence of the climate trend is clear and compelling. “You can’t argue with a rock,” Mackenzie said, noting geological signs of the change. Mackenzie — whose Australia-based company produces oil, gas, coal and uranium — also advocated for the creation of a carbon pricing system that would enable the market “to identify the most cost-effective methods of cutting emissions...”

Photo credit above: “BHP Billiton CEO Andrew Mackenzie speaks at the IHS CERAWeek energy conference in Houston on March 4, 2014.” (Mayra Beltran/Houston Chronicle).

The Defense Department Takes Climate Change Seriously. The Navy is concerned about projecting power in a rapidly melting Arctic, and implications of higher sea levels on their major ports of Norfolk and San Diego. The 88 page PDF of The Department of Defense Quadrennial Defense Review 2014 is here. Navy Admiral David Titley (retired) writes: “For all the defense policy geeks … DoD released today the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review — climate change and its impacts to national security highlighted throughout. About as good as it gets from a high level policy document.”

* more details on the implications of rising seas and increased climate volatility on the military at The Center for Climate & Security.

Climate Study: Rising Seas Could Wipe Out Many Cultural Landmarks. LiveScience has the story – here’s a clip: “…Sea-level rise has been a key concern for climate scientists, but making precise projections of how much, and how fast, sea levels may rise remains tricky. As water heats up, it expands and takes up more space, which causes sea levels to rise. Furthermore, rising surface temperatures trigger melting ice, particularly in the sprawling ice sheets that cover Greenland and Antarctica. It is difficult to make accurate predictions of how much sea levels may rise, but Marzeion said it is generally thought that for every 5.4 degrees F of warming, sea levels could rise nearly 23 feet (7 meters)…”

Global Warming Slows Down Antarctica’s Coldest Currents. Scientific American has the article – here’s the introduction: “A shift from briny to fresh in Antarctica’s ocean waters in recent decades could explain the shutdown of the Southern Ocean’s coldest, deepest currents, a new study finds. The cold currents, called the Antarctic Bottom Water, are chilly, salty rivers that flow from the underwater edge of the Antarctic continent north toward the equator, keeping to the bottom of the seafloor. The currents carry oxygen, carbon and nutrients down to the deepest parts of the ocean. Previous studies have found this deep, dense water is disappearing, though researchers aren’t sure if the shrinkage is part of a long-term trend linked to global warming, or a natural cycle...”

Photo credit: “Icebergs and sea ice floating atop near-freezing surface waters of the Weddell Sea.” Courtesy of Eric Galbraith.

Cartoon: The Climate Contrarian Guide To Managing Risk. Maybe if we ignore it – it’ll go away? If we managed the rest of our lives the way some want to “manage” climate change and increased weather volatility, we’d be accused of taking leave of our senses. Here’s an excerpt from The Guardian: “…When it comes to managing risk, uncertainty is not our friend. Uncertainty means it’s possible the outcome will be better than we expect, but it’s also possible it will be much worse than we expect. In fact, continuing with business-as-usual would only be a reasonable option in the absolute best case scenario. Doing nothing is betting the farm on a very low probability scenario.  It’s an incredibly high-risk path that fails to reduce the threats posed by the worst case or even most likely case scenarios…”

Cartoon credit above: “The climate contrarian guide to managing risk.” Created by John Cook.

Read More

Fish On!

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

The Minnesota state bird is the common loon.  The Minnesota state tree is the Norway pine. The Minnesota state muffin is the blueberry.  And Minnesota’s state soil is lester.  But did you know that the state fish is the walleye?

Students in grades K-12 have a great opportunity to show just how much they know about the state-fish by entering a contest that combines artistic abilities and biology to see which Minnesota student is the king or queen of the fish.

For the sixteenth year, Wildlife Forever will be organizing an international competition in which students are being invited to participate in the State-Fish Art Contest. The goal is to have students of every age and talent level submit drawings of any state-fish, as well as a one- page written essay, story or poem on its behavior, habitat and conservation needs.

And not to leave out the teachers, Wildlife Forever has created, Fish On!, a curriculum to go with the contest educating students about aquatic conservation.  The curriculum can easily be downloaded from the Wildlife Forever website or it can be sent in CD form free of charge to any teacher who would like to use it.

The best entries from each state in four age ranges (K-3, 4-6, 7-9 and 10-12) will be selected and displayed online and at the State-Fish Art EXPO in conjunction with the FLW Forrest Wood Cup bass world championship on August 15-17 in Columbia, South Carolina.  Winning entrants who chose to attend the event will be recognized on stage for their talents.

Entrants must be postmarked by March 31.  For more information on the contest, go to www.statefishart.org.

Wildlife Forever is a Brooklyn Center-based organization whose mission is to conserve America’s wildlife heritage through conservation education, preservation of habitat and management of fish and wildlife. As the nonprofit conservation arm of the North American Hunting Club and North American Fishing Club, Wildlife Forever represents the conservation interests of 1.3 million members.

Polar Shrinkage – 40s In Sight (using windchill warnings as the measure of a winter's severity)

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

19 F. high in the Twin Cities Tuesday.
35 F. average high on March 4.
29 F. high on March 4, 2013.

19″ snow on the ground.

Polar Shrinkage

The view out my window looks like the opening credits in the movie “Fargo”. I have a pet glacier in my back yard. When I tell my dog (Leo) to go outside and do his business I swear he shakes his head no. “You kidding me?”

It’s so cold I can barely stand the four minutes I’m outdoors every day.

But hope springs eternal. Today the sun is as high in the sky as it was on October 6. Daylight is almost 2 hours and 40 minutes longer than it was on December 21. Daylight saving time kicks off early Sunday morning! Warm air can’t push cold air out of the way. The Polar Vortex has to retreat on its own, a process that will happen slowly, incrementally, during March.

Breaking news: not one subzero low in sight. That’s progress. Last night’s clipper may slow down your morning commute, but I expect good travel weather into Monday, as winds aloft swing to the west, allowing a precious puff of Pacific air to waft into Minnesota. A thaw is likely Friday, again early next week. ECMWF guidance hints at highs near 40F Sunday and Monday. We’ll see more relapses of cold air this month (count on it), but probably nothing polar.

NOAA’s CFS 45 day trend shows 60s the second week of April closer to the Twin Cities. What can possibly go wrong?

Trust me, I’m a weatherman.

* image above courtesy of Climate Reanalyzer at the University of Maine.

Slow Thaw. The latest (12z) ECMWF guidance is trending warmer than previous runs for next week; highs may top 40 Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. It may actually feel like March out there – no major storms brewing just yet. Graphic: Weatherspark.

Long Overdue Shift In The Jet Stream. Winds at 250 mb, where the core of the jet stream blows, become more zonal, west to east, early next week, pushing milder, Pacific air across the USA, a blessed hint of spring to come. Map: Climate Reanalyzer.

Cheering For The Solid Red Line. Because that red line is the 32F isotherm, pushing into Minnesota by Friday. The February-like airmass gripping much of America east of the Rockies will slowly relax its stranghold in the coming days. 2-meter NAM temperatures courtesy of NOAA and Ham Weather.

Feeling Better About March. GFS data from NOAA shows more 30s and a few 40s into the third week of March – no subzero relapses in sight, although I wouldn’t rule out at least one more night of negative numbers. No cause for noisy celebration (yet), but at least we can all exhale. No more cringe-worthy cold fronts are looming on the horizon.

In Search Of Perspective. We all know it’s been a tough winter for much of the USA, but does it really compare with the (savage) winters of the 70s and early 80s? One measure is the number of winter days with a windchill below -35F, dangerous enough for NOAA to issue Windchill Warnings. We had 5 of those this winter. In the 70s and 80s we had a few winters with as many as 10-12 days of Windchill Warnings. 9th coldest meteorological winter for MSP; 50 subzero nights, but no record lows, very few thaws to speak of for 3 straight months. There are other measures, of course: ice on the Great Lakes, the amount of snow that falls, and from Chicago to Detroit locals may be even more sick of winter than we are in Minnesota. That’s the subject of today’s Climate Matters: “WeatherNation Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas goes over some of the record breaking cold and snow stats from the previous 3 months, which are statistically the coldest months of the year. All time record lows broken… in March? Par for the course the way this winter has been. But in the grand scheme of things, we have seen worse. And folks out west are wondering what all the fuss is about as Alaska saw its 15th warmest winter and Las Vegas saw its warmest winter ever!

Ask Paul. Weather-related questions, comments (and threats):

Paul – since I live in the “feels like” weather (and not the actual air temp), I am wondering how many days has the “feels like temp” been below zero? Or maybe easier for you to count, the number of 24 hour periods when the “feels like temp” has been zero? Real temps do not count except for the record books.”
- Angela Newfield

Angela – your point is a good one, but NOAA and the local Climate Office don’t track the number of subzero windchill days during a given winter. What they do keep tabs on are the coldest wind chills for each winter dating back to 1906, and the number of Windchill Advisories (-25 WC or colder) and Windchill Warnings (-35 WC or colder) issued from winter to winter. Pete Boulay at the Minnesota Climatology Working Group passed along a link which made me do a double-take. His comment: “Bottom line is that there have been worse winters!” Indeed.

Coldest Windchill Temperature Of The Winter. It’s true the windchill formula was revised around 2001, but the trend in recent winters is for fewer (severe) wind chill readings from winter to winter. Our coldest wind chill at MSP to date this winter: -48F. The 60s, 70s and 80s saw wind chills dipping into the -50 to -57F range, as cold as -63F during the winter of 1936. Graphic: Minnesota Climatology Working Group.

Number of Windchill Advisories Issued Each Winter at MSP. So far it looks like 18 days with Windchill Advisories this winter in the Twin Cities. From the 60s thru the 80s we tended to see more advisories for a windchill of -25F or colder.

Winter Days With Windchill Warnings In The Twin Cities. So far this winter we’ve enjoyed/endured 5 days with Windchill Warnings, issued by NOAA when the chill factor is expected to dip to -35F or lower. We saw far more dangerously cold days (combination of temperature and wind) in the 60s, 70s and early 80s. Not to minimize the pain this winter, but Pete is right – we have seen worse.

Silent Spring. Old Man Winter is hanging on for dear life, you can see his snowy scratch-marks as far south as Texas and Arkansas, where snow on the ground in early March is rare, but not unprecedented. As of yesterday NOAA reports snow on the ground over 53.9% of the lower 48 states. That’s down from 61.2% of the USA on February 4.
Why Snowstorms Are More Devastating Now To American Cities. An inch of snow in the 60s? No big deal. Our parents called this “flurries”. Today an inch of snow falling at the wrong time and wrong temperature can bring a city’s transporation grid to a halt. What has changed? Here’s an excerpt of an interesting story at NBC Philadelphia: “Snowstorms have become devastating to American cities — thanks to a commonplace technology: the private automobile. “The evil snow is upon us.” So wrote New York lawyer and diarist George Templeton Strong in December 1879, describing a storm that had paralyzed the city. Teams of horses pulled ploughs through the snow, piled high along the sidewalks; downed electrical lines pitched the streets into darkness. In the future, Strong imagined, things would be better. “A century hence cities will be put under glass,” he predicted, “and New York will be enclosed in a huge crystal palace…”

Photo credit above: “Slippery West Sedgwick Street in Northwest Philadelphia afer a recent storm.” Bas Slabbers – NewsWorks.org.

Ice-Covered Lakes May Be Bottling Arctic Cold For Spring. Chicago has had a very memorable winter: 3rd coldest meteorological winter with 74″ snow, more than 43″ above average, to date. They’ve experienced 2 winters in the Windy City! Here’s a recent video and excerpt from The Chicago Tribune: “With March just days away, Chicagoans can’t be blamed for looking forward to the disappearance of the polar vortex. But be warned: with the Great Lakes more ice-covered than they have been in decades, the latest blast of arctic chill is being bottled for spring. The early descent of this season’s chill forced the Coast Guard to start its ice-breaking ships sooner than any time  in recent memory and raises the prospect that all that frozen water will slow any hint of a spring warmup...”

A World Of Water, Seen From Space. Here’s an excerpt of a good description of the latest NASA satellite to be launched into low orbit to study Earth’s water supply, courtesy of The Atlantic and Yahoo Finance: “…NASA calls this latest satellite the Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory. I propose we call it, to make things simpler for ourselves, “Core.” Core is, technically, a weather satellite, built to observe the workings of the Earth from beyond its bounds. But it’s more complex than a traditional satellite: Core gets its name from the fact that it is the central unit in a network of nine satellites studded across the exterior perimeter of the Earth, contributed to the cause by various countries and space agenices. Their job? To analyze the planet’s water, from beyond the planet…”

Image credit above: “The GPM Core satellite launches from Japan on Thursday, February 27.” (NASA).

Storm-Tracking NOAA Satellite System Gets A Technology Boost. CNET describes how these new Earth platforms may improve storm predictions by providing higher-resolution data streams into the models we use on a daily basis; here’s a clip: “A three-satellite storm-tracking system run by the U.S. government is getting some updates that will support a complete technological refresh. Raytheon said today that it has booked $185 million in new business for the Joint Polar Satellite System’s Common Ground System. The JPSS, a collaborative system between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA, is a polar-orbiting environmental system designed to both track storms and other weather events and take and send back to Earth imagery showing changes in the planet’s environment over time…”

Image credit above: “One of the three Joint Polar Satellite Systems satellites.” (Credit: NOAA/NASA).

New Hurricane Model Can More Accurately Predict Hurricane Path, Intensity. redOrbit has an interesting story – here’s the introduction: “…In addition to incorporating real-time Doppler radar information, the convection-permitting hurricane analysis and forecasting system (WRF-EnKF) also uses high-resolution cloud-permitting grids, which allow for the consideration of individual clouds in modeling a storm system. “Our model predicted storm paths with 100 km – 50 mile – accuracy four to five days ahead of landfall for Hurricane Sandy,” Zhang said. “We also had accurate predictions of Sandy’s intensity...”

Image credit above: “Superstorm Sandy as it slams the Northeast in October 2012.” Credit: NOAA/NASA.

Oklahoma Congressman’s Proposal Would Extend Lead Time For Tornado Warnings. A 45-60 minute lead time for tornadoes? It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. But it brings up an interesting dilemma: can you provide too warning? If I have an hour’s notice I might be tempted to run home, or pick up the kids at school – instead of heading to the basement. Here’s an excerpt from Insurance Journal: “An Oklahoma congressman has proposed legislation that would make the protection of people and property a priority for federal weather forecasters and extend the lead time for tornado warnings. Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak has expressed his support for the Weather Forecasting Improvement Act (H.R. 2413), sponsored by Congressman Jim Bridenstine (R-Oklahoma), which would establish the Tornado Warning Extension Program. The resolution is aimed at funding a research program within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to extend the lead time for tornado warnings beyond one hour…” When Hurricane Sandy slammed into southern New Jersey in October 2012, it had essentially confounded both the NOAA‘s Global Forecast System (GFS) and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF).
Now, a new real-time hurricane analysis system being developed at Penn State University has been shown to accurately predict the track and intensity of the deadly storm.
“For this particular study aircraft-based Doppler radar information was ingested into the system,” said Fuqing Zhang, a professor of meteorology at Penn State. “Our predictions were comparable to or better than those made by operational global models.”

Read more at http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1113081033/hurricane-model-accurately-predict-storm-path-intensity-022614/#ezvDvxMucTOvdtR6.99Oklahoma Congressman’s Proposal Would Extend Lead Time For Tornado Warnings. A 45-60 minute lead time for tornadoes? It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. But it brings up an interesting dilemma: can you provide too warning? If I have an hour’s notice I might be tempted to run home, or pick up the kids at school – instead of heading to the basement. Here’s an excerpt from Insurance Journal: “An Oklahoma congressman has proposed legislation that would make the protection of people and property a priority for federal weather forecasters and extend the lead time for tornado warnings. Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak has expressed his support for the Weather Forecasting Improvement Act (H.R. 2413), sponsored by Congressman Jim Bridenstine (R-Oklahoma), which would establish the Tornado Warning Extension Program. The resolution is aimed at funding a research program within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to extend the lead time for tornado warnings beyond one hour…”

Reality Check: The Tornado “False Alarm” Problem. The last I checked 70% of tornado warnings were false alarms, nationwide. It’s always better to err on the side of safety, caution and protecting human life, but too many false alarms and the public can be apathetic. “They’re crying wolf again – just ignore the sirens”. Here’s a video clip and excerpt from a story at fox19.com: “It has been a crazy winter, filled with snow and bitter cold. Mother nature trumped the winter weather on Thursday with the first severe weather episode of 2014. The National Weather Service issued five tornado alerts. Only three weak funnels appeared -three out of five with a false alarm rate of 40 percent. Why does the Tornado Warning policy treat weak, spin-up funnels the same as it does monstrous killer tornadoes? The policy is set at high levels in the National Weather Service bureaucracy. The system needs to be fixed...”

Tornado And Severe Storm Watches Issued In 2013. Last year was relatively quiet, especially for tornadoes, with a few notable exceptions (around Oklahoma City). The upper left graphic shows the total number of tornado watches, the lower left depicts departure from the 20 year averages – showing a slight increase in tornado watches over the Middle Mississippi Valley and Mid Atlantic. The column on the right shows total number of severe storm watches (upper left), and departure from average, with a more significant spike in severe storm watches for the Plains. Source: NOAA SPC.

Researcher Finds Possible Clue To Some Tornadoes’ Paths. The Wichita Eagle has the story; here’s an excerpt at kansas.com: “Tornado Alley weather officials say they’ll be watching supercell thunderstorms closely this year for a potential clue indicating a potential tornado’s path. That clue lies in the speed of winds at the middle levels of the atmosphere. If some preliminary data is confirmed by additional research, meteorologists may be able to more readily convince people near but not in a tornado’s expected path to take shelter…”

The Future Of Severe Weather Forecasting. Here’s a video and excerpt from News 9 Chief Meteorologist David Payne in Oklahoma City on NewsOn6.com: “…He said he’s never seen so many intense tornadoes in such a short period of time as we saw in May 2013.  He adds we took something good from the outbreak, new data models that will help us better predict future storms. “These are models that can actually model individual storms and they’re going to come up with an ensemble of forecasts of varying initial conditions,” Bluestein said. “You may be able to assign, a better probability that yes, the next day there will be storms. Of those storms, there will be a certain chain that there will be tornadoes…”

The Impact Of Disregarding Weather Related Risk. Here’s an excerpt of an article at seekingalpha.com that caught my eye: “…Recent events have emphasized the need for an all-encompassing, easily implementable risk management plan, especially with respect to weather related risk. Though often overlooked by many companies and governing leaders, weather related crises are a primary risk to many organizations, as these incidents have the potential to significantly and unexpectedly impact operations, supply chains, and customer demands…”

Your Joints, Pain And The Weather. All those things your grandmother taught you are true. Our bodies are (mostly) water – why wouldn’t we respond to pain sparked by continuous fluctuations in atmospheric pressure, temperature and moisture? Here’s a clip from an article at Grandparents.com. What, you don’t troll this site? “…Several medical studies—although not all—back up these suspicions. As early as the 1960s, a University of Pennsylvania physician put people with arthritis into a weather chamber and found that falling barometric pressure and increased humidity increased the perception of pain. In 2007, Tufts researchers studied 200 people with knee arthritis and found that both barometric pressure and cold affected pain. In January of 2014, Dutch researchers found that in people with severe hip arthritis, barometric pressure and humidity had a modest effect on pain perception. (Weather can have other painful effects, too: There’s evidence that lightning can trigger migraine headaches, for example.)…”
Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/2014/03/03/3321809/researcher-finds-possible-clue.html#storylink=cpy

Play With Earth’s Beautiful Weather Systems In Your Browser. They look beautiful, almost poetic from 22,300 miles above the ground. Here at ground level? Not so much. Here’s a clip from a story at geek.com: “With a program called Natural Earth, programmer Cameron Beccario has created a beautiful, real-time model of Earth’s wind and ocean dynamics. Though it’s fed with some of the most accurate and up-to-date information we have, most people probably won’t be using it as an educational or scientific tool; rather, they will marvel at its aesthetic beauty, and fiddle with the included controls to see various aspects of the weather over their home country. Check out the map and be sure to click on the ‘Earth’ logo at the bottom left for access to the surprisingly robust rendering controls…”

Apple’s New CarPlay System Will Turn Tens Of Millions Of Cars Into iPhone Accessories. TechCrunch has a good overview of how (soon) you may be able to tap into apps and music and safely (?) respond to texts in your favorite vehicle; here’s the intro: “Apple’s newly announced CarPlay, which is the rebranded version of iOS in the Car, a system for converting your vehicle’s in-car entertainment system into an iOS-powered dashboard fed content and brains by your phone, is a play that could massively expand the Apple mobile ecosystem – by turning cars into app-enabled iPhone accessories. The CarPlay system was revealed today during the Geneva Motor Show, where partners Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo all announced that they’d begin shipping CarPlay-enabled vehicles to drivers this week…”

TODAY: Icy start. Clouds linger. Winds: East 10. High: 25
WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy. Low: 12
THURSDAY: Breezy and milder with peeks of sun. High: 30
FRIDAY: More clouds than sun. Tolerable. Wake-up: 26. High: 34
SATURDAY: Partly sunny, slightly cooler. Wake-up: 13. High: 28
SUNDAY: Some sun. Grilling weather. Wake-up: 15. High: 40
MONDAY: Slushy mess, but who cares? Wake-up: 28. High: 44
TUESDAY: Cooler with intervals of sun. Wake-up: 24. High: 36

* Photo above courtesy of Neil Weaver at neilweaverphotography.com.
Climate Stories….

Energy CEO: Climate Change Is Real, Driven By Humans. I almost fell off the Doppler after reading this story at fuelfix.com; here’s an excerpt: “BHP Billiton CEO Andrew Mackenzie, who leads the world’s largest mining company, said Tuesday that climate change is real and driven by human activity. Speaking to energy industry leaders at the CERAWeek conference in Houston, Mackenzie, a geologist by training, said evidence of the climate trend is clear and compelling. “You can’t argue with a rock,” Mackenzie said, noting geological signs of the change. Mackenzie — whose Australia-based company produces oil, gas, coal and uranium — also advocated for the creation of a carbon pricing system that would enable the market “to identify the most cost-effective methods of cutting emissions...”

Photo credit above: “BHP Billiton CEO Andrew Mackenzie speaks at the IHS CERAWeek energy conference in Houston on March 4, 2014.” (Mayra Beltran/Houston Chronicle).

The Defense Department Takes Climate Change Seriously. The Navy is concerned about projecting power in a rapidly melting Arctic, and implications of higher sea levels on their major ports of Norfolk and San Diego. The 88 page PDF of The Department of Defense Quadrennial Defense Review 2014 is here. Navy Admiral David Titley (retired) writes: “For all the defense policy geeks … DoD released today the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review — climate change and its impacts to national security highlighted throughout. About as good as it gets from a high level policy document.”

* more details on the implications of rising seas and increased climate volatility on the military at The Center for Climate & Security.

Climate Study: Rising Seas Could Wipe Out Many Cultural Landmarks. LiveScience has the story – here’s a clip: “…Sea-level rise has been a key concern for climate scientists, but making precise projections of how much, and how fast, sea levels may rise remains tricky. As water heats up, it expands and takes up more space, which causes sea levels to rise. Furthermore, rising surface temperatures trigger melting ice, particularly in the sprawling ice sheets that cover Greenland and Antarctica. It is difficult to make accurate predictions of how much sea levels may rise, but Marzeion said it is generally thought that for every 5.4 degrees F of warming, sea levels could rise nearly 23 feet (7 meters)…”

Global Warming Slows Down Antarctica’s Coldest Currents. Scientific American has the article – here’s the introduction: “A shift from briny to fresh in Antarctica’s ocean waters in recent decades could explain the shutdown of the Southern Ocean’s coldest, deepest currents, a new study finds. The cold currents, called the Antarctic Bottom Water, are chilly, salty rivers that flow from the underwater edge of the Antarctic continent north toward the equator, keeping to the bottom of the seafloor. The currents carry oxygen, carbon and nutrients down to the deepest parts of the ocean. Previous studies have found this deep, dense water is disappearing, though researchers aren’t sure if the shrinkage is part of a long-term trend linked to global warming, or a natural cycle...”

Photo credit: “Icebergs and sea ice floating atop near-freezing surface waters of the Weddell Sea.” Courtesy of Eric Galbraith.

Cartoon: The Climate Contrarian Guide To Managing Risk. Maybe if we ignore it – it’ll go away? If we managed the rest of our lives the way some want to “manage” climate change and increased weather volatility, we’d be accused of taking leave of our senses. Here’s an excerpt from The Guardian: “…When it comes to managing risk, uncertainty is not our friend. Uncertainty means it’s possible the outcome will be better than we expect, but it’s also possible it will be much worse than we expect. In fact, continuing with business-as-usual would only be a reasonable option in the absolute best case scenario. Doing nothing is betting the farm on a very low probability scenario.  It’s an incredibly high-risk path that fails to reduce the threats posed by the worst case or even most likely case scenarios…”

Cartoon credit above: “The climate contrarian guide to managing risk.” Created by John Cook.

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A Lake Manager’s Notebook: Citizens’ Roles in Managing Lakes

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Citizens’ Roles in Managing Lakes

February 2014

When I began as a lake scientist and manager, I wanted to have a role in cleaning lakes.  Now, more than 35 years later, I am frustrated with insufficient tangible outcomes from our lake programs.  Sure there have been success stories, however for the time, effort and money we have dedicated to fixing lakes, we can do much better.

Rain gardens, native plantings, permeable pavers and many other runoff control projects, called best management practices or BMPs, are helping our lakes when implemented by individuals and neighborhoods, right?  Not so fast.

Most often these well-intentioned actions are applied lacking clear objectives or any management context.  The intended or expected benefits do not occur.

The lake management profession has long encouraged citizens to help improve lakes and our institutions have gotten into the act.  Pretty much every agency and do-gooder environmental organization has a “What You Can Do” element to their programs.  Unfortunately, we have over-sold the role of citizen-based initiatives by unrealistically raising their expectations.

Most lake impairments are the result of widespread and hardwired changes to the landscape.  BMPs, at best, provide minimal mitigation.  In addition, many impaired lakes no longer are responsive to pollution reductions because the impairments are internalized.

Then, should we abandon these practices?  No.  We should urge their use in a larger management context, applying them strategically as part of a management plan that has clear expectations and outcomes.

If we continue on the current track – training, encouraging and rewarding citizens to implement BMPs with no objective management context – I fear are misleading our citizens to expect lakes are improving as a result of their collective actions.  I see no evidence of this.  In fact, the state’s list of impaired lakes keeps growing.

Advising citizens that BMPs are good is like advising people to eat less fat.  Less fat in your diet is generally considered “good,” but if you are morbidly obese or have serious cardiac issues, “good” is not good enough and you’d be ill advised to rely on that as the sole strategy for maintaining health.

Diamond Lake in Minneapolis is a “poster child” for my point.  The Clean Water Legacy Fund granted the Friends of Diamond Lake $224,224, which along with leveraged funds reached a total of $598,324 for their “Go Blue Diamond Lake Community Makeover.”  The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) refers to this project as “A Clean Water Success Story.”  The MCWD report noted these outcomes: 25 rain gardens, 14 permeable pavement systems, 22 rain barrels, 3 RainXChange systems, 4 trees planted, 1.5 million gallons of runoff diverted and 3.3 pounds of phosphorus (per year) prevented from entering Diamond Lake.  Of the listed outcomes, the only actual pollutant was phosphorus.

So, what was the problem phosphorus caused in Diamond Lake and how well did this project mitigate it?

First of all, Diamond Lake isn’t a lake.  It is a “high profile wetland” according to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB).  According to the MPRB, the usual measures of water quality (like phosphorus) do not apply to wetlands.  Also, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), Diamond Lake is not impaired for phosphorus – it is impaired for chlorides, which this project did not address.

What about the phosphorus reduction of 3.3 pounds per year?  Aside from Diamond Lake not being impaired for phosphorus, the MPRB’s management plan for Diamond Lake neither assessed possible impacts of excessive (or any) phosphorus nor recommended any specific phosphorus reduction goals.  On the other hand, the MCWD is requiring an 84-pound reduction (but with no expected outcome reported).  So, the 3.3 pounds is about 4% of that target.  On a unit cost basis, it could cost an additional $15 million to remove the remainder, even though it is unclear that phosphorus is a problem in the first place.

I know some of the people involved in the Diamond Lake project.  They are motived by a sincere desire to improve Diamond Lake.  In this case, and in many, many cases like this, they have been led to expect water quality improvements in Diamond Lake, which will not occur as a result of this project.

I don’t know what the real water quality problems in Diamond Lake are.  Apparently neither does anyone else.  I found several references to the lake having an “F” grade, but as the MPRB noted, this grading system is not applicable to wetlands (I agree, I invented the grading system).  In the documentation for this project, there was an overall lack of good planning.  I found no definitive statement of specific problem(s), no diagnostic assessment or modeling, no statement of measurable goals or outcomes.

The Friends of Diamond Lake participated in this publically funded project with good faith and the expectation that Diamond Lake would be improved as a result of their efforts.  Instead, they got a 4% reduction in a non-problem at a great cost.

Our institutions have done a poor job at restoring impaired lakes.  It’s time to engage citizens in effective and meaningful ways to help make our lakes better.  We should all do our part to reduce runoff and remove pollution, but we must do much more if we want to clean up our lakes.

Those having the responsibility for protecting and improving our lakes can better engage citizens and citizens can be better advocates for the lakes they care about.  Here is how:

  • We should expect and demand real, measurable improvements in lake quality with the investment of public money and citizen efforts.  This can happen only when we clearly identify the problem(s) affecting our lake, accurately diagnose and quantify the causes, list measurable outcomes (and measure them), then demonstrate how each management action is necessary to accomplish the goal.
  • Citizens should expect to have meaningful roles and responsibilities in protecting and caring for lakes they love.  When asked to implement actions in their yards or neighborhoods, they should have good information regarding how their actions contribute (or not) to a common goal.
  • Citizens can and should do their part to reduce runoff and pollution in runoff.  This is good general advice.  Even if these efforts do not result in significant pollution reductions, it gives citizens good standing to expect the agencies charged with improving our lakes to achieve results.

Our lakes are in trouble and citizens want to help.  Let’s lead them down a path toward cleaner lakes.

A Whiff of March! (40F today – 43rd snowiest winter on record for MSP to date)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

29 F. high in the Twin Cities Monday.
30 F. average high on February 17
32 F. high on February 17, 2013.

15″ snow on the ground in the Twin Cities.
4.9″ snow fell yesterday, a new 24 hour snowfall record. Second biggest snowfall of the winter for MSP.
47.1″ snow so far this winter (8.7″ above average, to date, and 16″ more than we had seen as of February 17, 2013).

43rd snowiest winter since 1873 in the Twin Cities, to date.

Finally: Hints of March

Well, at least snow lovers are content. Not nearly as many (flaming) e-mails from irate snowmobilers wondering where to drive their sleds to see snow. That’s an improvement.

An extended stay from the Polar Vortex is treating the continental U.S. to the coldest winter since 1979; the 3rd coldest on record, to date. A real winter. The same stagnant, mostly-stalled jet stream is sparking record drought across California, biblical storms for Britain, a springlike February across Europe – along with shirtsleeves & surplus slush for Sochi, Russia.

For the first time in 20 days we surge above 32F today. Some towns may see the first 40F high since January 12. A poignant reminder of a higher sun angle, making it harder to get extreme, school-closing cold fronts by late February.

Lows slip below zero again early next week, but it won’t be anything like January’s Siberian Smack. Enjoy a partial thaw into Thursday, but keep heavier coats handy for the weekend. No big snows brewing; cold air from the weekend into much of next week will push the storm track well south of Minnesota. Some light accumulation is possible Thursday – maybe a couple inches.

Kent from Eden Prairie writes: “Hey Paul, I witnessed at least 10 fat robins in the midday sun hopping from branch to branch under a marvelous blue sky. Are these birds crazy and confused?”

Yep. Join the crowd.

Monday Morning Amounts. Some clipper-like storms are more fickle than others. Yesterday’s snow burst dumped nearly half a foot of snow from near Lake Minnetonka and Shakopee westward to Waconia, while White Bear Lake reported 1″, 3.5″ at Woodbury and 2-5″ for the downtowns. The latest amounts from the Twin Cities NWS are here.

Bring Out Your Dead! O.K. If you’re not a Monty Python fan you probably think I’ve lost my mind, which, under the circumstances, is quite possible. Maybe ring the church bells? More PC. If nothing else go ahead and exhale – for the first time in 20 days the mercury should rise well into the 30s to near 40F, in spite of the 15″ snow on the ground in the Twin Cities. 3 pm 2 meter NAM predicted temperatures courtesy of NOAA and Ham Weather.

A Precious Puff of Pacific Air. Canadian air will be in full retreat, at least for the next 48-72 hours as a more westerly kink in the jet stream blows milder air across the USA. The solid red line marks the 32F isotherm, which pushes as far north as Duluth and Grand Rapids, Michigan in the coming days. 50s stream up the East Coast by Friday ahead of the next cold frontal passage.

84-Hour Snow Potential. Thursday’s storm system may drop another plowable snow from northern Iowa into southeast Minnesota and much of Wisconsin. It’s still early to be assigning inch-amounts, but if you’re traveling into the Upper Midwest late Wednesday into Thursday you may run into some slushy delays. 2-4″ of snow may drop on New York City and Boston this morning, a taste of spring in the air by late week. NAM snowfall numbers: NOAA and Ham Weather.

A More Ominous Sign of Spring. NOAA SPC (Storm Prediction Center) is predicting a slight risk of a severe weather outbreak from near South Bend to Memphis and Little Rock Thursday, shifting to the East Coast by Friday – with enough low level moisture, wind shear and instability to support supercell T-storms capable of large hail, straight-line wind damage, even an isolated tornado. What’s ironic is that there’s still snow on the ground over much of the Ohio Valley. Talk about weather whiplash.

European Numbers. Highs should rise up 32F each afternoon into Thursday, followed by a cooling trend by late week, a couple more subzero lows possible early next week. Cold, but not school-closing cold. Graph: Weatherspark.

Evidence Of A Higher Sun Angle. We’ll see more cold fronts (take it to the bank), but the odds of subzero daytime highs drop rapidly as we enter March – the sun is just too high in the southern sky for the level of cold we saw in January and even early Febraury. GFS numbers shows 30s the first 5 days of March, even a shot at 40F. That would be nice.

Third Coldest U.S. Winter On Record For USA? Here’s an excerpt from Steven Goddard: “If February ended today, this would be the third coldest winter on record in the US, after 1979 and 1899.”

The Winter of All or Nothing. Flood or drought, record warmth or record chill? A stalled kink in the jet stream steering winds is creating chaos and unusual anomalies of moisture and temperature across the Northern Hemisphere; the topic of today’s Climate Matters: “WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas goes over the historically cold meteorological winter the Lower 48 has been experiencing. Lots of snow, lots of ice, and bone chilling temps were all par for the course this winter. But Spring is around the corner! Just because the US has been cold, what has the temperature trend been around the globe? Find out what a stuck jet stream has to do with it all.”

Warming Arctic May Be Causing Jet Stream To Lose Its Way. Echoing trends I’ve been seeing since roughly 2010-2011, NPR reports on how changes in far northern latitudes may be showing up in the skies floating above your house; here’s an excerpt: “…The temperature difference between the Arctic and lower latitudes is one of the main sources of fuel for the jet stream; it’s what drives the winds. And because the Arctic is warming so fast, that temperature difference is getting smaller, and so the fuel for the jet stream is getting weaker,” Francis says. “When it gets into this pattern, those big waves tend to stay in the same place for some time. The pattern we’ve seen in December and January has been one of these very wavy patterns...”

Image credit above: “The jet stream that circles Earth’s north pole travels west to east. But when the jet stream interacts with a Rossby wave, as shown here, the winds can wander far north and south, bringing frigid air to normally mild southern states.” NASA/GSFC.

A Surplus Of Ice. Photographer Steve Burns captured this remarkable photo of the ice-covered North Shore of Lake Superior Sunday morning. Check out his gallery here.

Chest-Thumping Warmth Across Arizona. Are you hearing anything from your long-lost friends down in Phoenix, Scottsdale or Tucson? Expect a call, text or tweet, because near-record warmth continues. Must be nice. Graphic: Phoenix office of The National Weather Service.

At Sochi Olympics, Finding Risk Is Snow Problem. No shortage of lukewarm slush on the slopes of Sochi. In the city of Sochi itself there are days when I ask myself “Winter or Summer Olympics?” Here’s an excerpt from The Washington Post: “The snow around here looks like soup, a creamy bisque that seems harmless enough until the athletes plunge into it and find the hard crags of the Caucasus beneath, which is when the medics race out. The sounds of the Sochi Games are a whack and the clatter of boards and skis, followed by wails — or worse, a terrible stillness. The mounting crash toll includes a broken back, a broken jaw and an assortment of head injuries. The logo for this Olympics ought to be a stretcher...”

Photo credit above: “Rain drops hang on a railing at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. After days of warm weather at the Sochi Olympics, fog up in the mountains is causing an even bigger disturbance.Thick fog rolled in over the mountains in Krasnaya Polyana on Sunday night and was still lingering on Monday, and the limited visibility forced organizers to delay a biathlon race and cancel the seeding runs in a snowboard event.” (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth).

A Mad Dash For Salt Rescues Olympic Slopes. This sounds like the plot for a (bad) made-for-TV-movie of the week, but it’s true. Here’s an excerpt from The New York Times: “…Homeowners use salt to melt ice on the sidewalk, but Alpine experts cleverly use it to overcome soft snow conditions when a hard, icy surface is preferable. The salt melts the soft snow, and when the temperature drops — usually overnight — a layer of ice forms. Large-grain salt, about five millimeters in size, is best for soft, deep snow, because it drops farther into the snow and lasts for days, not hours…”

Photo credit above: “A referee throws salt on the track prior to the men’s biathlon 20k individual race, at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.” (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man).

Can Anybody Save California? Politico has the article; here’s an excerpt: “…The mega-drought is pitting farmers against fishermen, north against south and, of course, Democrats against Republicans. But that’s frequently the case in California, which has battled for more than a century over how to allocate too little water for too many people. The dry landscape adds another layer of rancor, and with the planet heating up and fueling bigger, longer and more severe droughts, that’s likely to be a permanent fixture. How state and federal lawmakers respond to the crisis could offer a window into how the United States writ large will react to climate events in real time—and so far, the politics appear too small for the task…”

4 Sales Strategy Lessons From House Of Cards. Yeah, I’m hooked, up to Episode 12 of Season 2. Thank you Netflix. Here’s an excerpt of a well-timed article from LinkedIn that made me do a double-take: “…Underwood is known for his particularly ruthless political tactics, but he ultimately gets his way through sheer determination. While we don’t endorse any under-the-table dealings, sales professionals can still take a few lessons from Underwood when looking to advance their goals. Keep these 4 thoughts in mind when structuring your sales strategy:

1). Know (and grow) your network
In season one, Underwood served as the Democratic House Majority Whip under a new White House administration.…”

Weird Weather – Minnesota’s New Normal? This evening I’ll be talking about the trends I’m seeing in the data, focusing on Minnesota and the Midwest, part of a broader educational and informational overview on climate change. Doors open 6 PM Tuesday at Eden Prairie High School; more details from Environment Minnesota, where you can RSVP: “Our climate is changing at an alarming rate. From giant hailstorms to polar vortices, Minnesotans are already experiening extreme weather. Are weird weather events becoming Minnesota’s new normal?  On Tuesday, February 18 join Environment Minnesota, Citizen’s Climate Lobby, and Cool Planet to hear from nationally recognized meteorologist and entrepreneur Paul Douglas for “Weird Weather: Minnesota’s new normal? Our Changing Climate and What We Can Do About It.”

TODAY: Icy start, slushy finish. Blue sky with hints of March. Winds: W 10. High: 39
TUESDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy, cooling off slightly. Low: 19
WEDNESDAY: Chilly start, some PM drips. High: 36
THURSDAY: Cloudy, couple inches of slushy snow? Wake-up: 29. High: 33
FRIDAY: Mostly cloudy, colder wind. Wake-up: 16. High: 23
SATURDAY: Intervals of sun, still chilled. Wake-up: 4. High: 18
SUNDAY: Some sun. Praying for spring. Wake-up: 1. High: 16
MONDAY: Brisk. Storms detour south of Minnesota. Wake-up: 3. High: 12

Climate Stories….

While Britain Floods, Politicians Debate Climate ChangeTime Magazine has a good overview of historic flooding gripping the U.K., and how it’s unleashed a political firestorm of debate. Here’s a clip: “Britons are normally never more comfortable than when talking about the weather, but recent extreme weather events have began to test that theory. Since December, the U.K. has faced a relentless assault from some of the worst winter weather on record. It began with the worst storm and tidal surges in 60 years hitting the North Sea coastline, floods that ruined Christmas for thousands across Surrey and Dorset and in January, the most exceptional period of rainfall since 1766. The deluge has transformed swathes of southern England into cold, dark lakes, destroying homes and businesses, and in some cases taking lives…”

Photo credit above: “Flood water surrounds homes in Shepperton, Surrey, England, as Royal Engineers are now being tasked to carry out a high-speed assessment of damage to the UK’s flood defense infrastructure, Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014. The military could have been brought in earlier to help deal with the winter storms that have been wracking Britain, a Cabinet minister has admitted. As the weather finally gave the country a respite, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond defended the Government’s handling of the crisis.” (AP Photo/PA, Steve Parsons).

More Heat Is Going Into The Ocean. Really. The experiment continues, and we’re not really sure how the deep-ocean heating will manifest itself with weather. Here’s an excerpt of a post fromSimon Donner: “You may have heard climate scientists, myself included, state that “global warming” has indeed continued with little interruption over the past 10-15 years, but that more of the heat trapped in the climate system by greenhouse gases has been “going into the ocean”. This is not the rhetoric of irrational climate alarmists. This is what the measurements show. The human enhancement of the greenhouse effect has reduced the outgoing radiation to space and increased the energy content of the climate system, as is shown on the graph (above)….”

Graphic credit above: “Change in energy content of different components of the climate system.” (IPCC, 2013).

You Don’t Have To Live On A Coast To Get Flooded Out By Climate Change. The African nation of Zimbabwe is experiencing record floods; here’s an excerpt from Grist: “…The crisis has prompted the country’s leaders to plead for international aid. They are asking for $20 million of assistance to evacuate more than 2,000 families living downstream from the Tokwe-Mukorsi dam, which is so overladen with water that experts fear it is about burst. Such floods may be a symptom of climate change, which is also ravaging the impoverished country with rising temperatures and increasingly frequent droughts...” Map above: Google Earth.

Featuring Skeptics In News Media Stories Reduces Public Beliefs In The Seriousness Of Global Warming. Here’s an excerpt of a summary of a study from Stanford University: “News media coverage of global warming has often offered “balanced” accounts, quoting mainstream scientists and skeptics in the same story. Balanced accounts might be considered admirable efforts to abide by the journalistic norms of objectivity and fairness.However, critics have noted that balanced reporting of this particular issue actually conveys a misleading portrait of the science of climate change, since scientists endorsing the mainstream view appear to outnumber skeptics.Our study explored the impact of including skeptical voices in news media coverage. In particular, we explored whether adding a skeptic to a story about a mainstream scientist’s views or findings would reduce the number of people who perceive agreement among scientific experts on this issue and think global warming is a serious problem…”

Viewpoints: Fracking During The Drought Is Destructive and IrresponsibleThe Sacramento Bee has an Op-Ed that caught my eye; here’s a clip: “…Fracking is a triple threat to California’s water. Not only does it exacerbate the climate crisis, it requires mixing vast amounts of water with harmful chemicals, and it puts our vital aquifers at risk of contamination for generations. Last week, the green investment group Ceres released a report that found that 96 percent of fracking wells in California were drilled in regions under high or extremely high water stress…”

Photo credit above: “This Feb. 14, 2014 photo shows a freeway sign in Los Angeles advising motorists to save water because of the state’s severe drought. This week the California Department of Transportation launched an education campaign with 700 electronic highway boards displaying the message: “Serious Drought. Help Save Water.

Winter Storm Warning: Plowable Snow This Morning (welcome thaw is imminent)

Monday, February 17, 2014
19 F. high in the Twin Cities Sunday.
29 F. average high on February 16.
20 F. high on February 16, 2013.

14″ snow on the ground in the Twin Cities.

Winter Storm Warning posted this morning.

A Winter Hurricane

Evan Gold is an analyst with Planalytics. He estimates that last week’s snow and ice blitz over the southern and eastern USA cost the American economy close to $15 billion, the rough equivalent of a moderate hurricane. There was far less structural damage, but the impact to company’s bottom lines was significant. People were stranded at home; they didn’t go to restaurants or buy cars. Job productivity suffered; impacts to supply chains – there was a ripple effect.

Based on HDD, Heating Degree Days compiled by NOAA, we’ve spent about 10 percent more than usual to heat our homes this winter. Think of this stretch of numb as a forced savings plan.
A new paper at Harvard Business Review suggests that we are all hard-wired to attach more value to items (and ultimately spend more money) the warmer it is outside.

No kidding. Most of us are too busy hibernating to shop.

Winter Storm Warnings are posted this morning for 2-4 inches of snow; over a half foot possible east of the St. Croix. The worst travel comes this morning, with conditions improving somewhat for the drive home later today.

The big news: 30s return, even a shot at 40F by Tuesday. Models hint at a few more subzero nights early next week – but the sun is now as high in the sky as it was on October 25. At some point the Polar Vortex will run out of juice.

Oh blessed day.

Plowable. The high-resolution HopWRF model is hinting at a few bands of 4-6″ across portions of Hennepin and Ramsey county this morning, but most towns and suburbs will probably wind up somewhere in the 2-4″ range, especially west of the Twin Cities, still enough to shovel and plow, and turn the morning commute into a long, white-knuckle slog.

Winter Storm Warning. The local Twin Cities National Weather Service has issued a warning for the metro area, most of far eastern and southeastern Minnesota, and western Wisconsin, for a burst of moderate to heavy snow during the morning hours. Details:

...A PERIOD OF HEAVY SNOW WILL SIGNIFICANTLY IMPACT THE MONDAY MORNING COMMUTE... A WINTER STORM WARNING IS IN EFFECT GENERALLY EAST OF A LINE FROM SAINT CLOUD TO FARIBAULT...AND INCLUDES THE TWIN CITIES METRO AND WEST CENTRAL WISCONSIN. MODERATE TO OCCASIONALLY HEAVY SNOW WILL DEVELOP LATE TONIGHT AND PERSIST THROUGH THE MONDAY MORNING COMMUTE. THE SNOW WILL TAPER OFF FROM LATE MORNING MONDAY OVER MINNESOTA TO MONDAY AFTERNOON OVER WESTERN WISCONSIN. SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF 4 TO 6 INCHES ARE EXPECTED...WITH LOCAL AMOUNTS OF AROUND 7 INCHES EAST OF US-53 IN WEST CENTRAL WISCONSIN. NORTH AND WEST OF THE WARNING AREA...WHERE SNOW AMOUNTS AND IMPACTS ON TRAVEL WILL BE LESS...A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IS IN EFFECT. THE ADVISORY AREA IS GENERALLY EAST OF A LINE FROM LONG PRAIRIE TO MANKATO. SNOWFALL AMOUNTS IN THE ADVISORY AREA ARE EXPECTED TO BE 3 OR 4 INCHES.

Future Radar. NOAA’s NAM model generates numerous products, including “Future Radar”, showing the timing of today’s snow event. Most of the snow should be winding down by lunchtime, afternoon temperatures topping 30F – the drive home later today a lot less stressful. In theory. Loop: Ham Weather.

About Time. For the first time in nearly 3 weeks the mercury rises above freezing Tuesday, again Wednesday and possibly Thursday, before cooling back down again. ECMWF guidance is hinting at a few more subzero nights early next week, but not exactly polar, school-closing cold. Graph: Weatherspark.

Cheering On The Solid Red Line. That red line marks the 32F isotherm, which I would much rather be tracking than the solid green (0F) isotherm, so we are making slow progress. A brief, tantalizing puff of Pacific air results in slushy sidewalks and drippy icicles Tuesday into Thursday, before Canada flushes another chilly airmass south of the border. 2-meter NAM temperature forecast: NOAA and Ham Weather.

One Group Sees Silver Lining In Winter’s Storm Clouds: Meteorologists. It’s amazing (to me) how quick some politicians are to throw meteorologists under the bus when they take heat from the public (Atlanta a few weeks ago, late last week it was New York City). Here’s an excerpt from an interesting story at The New York Times: “…That science has grown much more accurate and much more complex in recent years. It begins with huge troves of data fed through a variety of sophisticated analytic models. Adam Sobel, a professor of earth and environmental sciences at Columbia University, points out that this “big, automated, computationally intensive nonhuman process that produces the raw material of the forecast” still requires human beings to evaluate the results and turn them “into an actual prediction that can be communicated to people.…”

Photo credit above: “John Cristantello, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, checks forecasts at the NWS offices in Upton, N.Y., Feb. 16, 2014. Meteorologists have been working long hours through the extremely active winter season in the New York area,and their stress was compounded by a public row between Mayor Bill de Blasio and a number of prominent weathermen.” (Gordon M. Grant/The New York Times).

Sochi Among The Warmest Winter Olympics Host Cities. You’ve seen video of fans in shirtsleeves, athletes taking their shirts off to stay cool – during the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Here’s some perspective on the venue from NOAA’s climate.gov: “The 2014 Winter Olympics are taking place from February 7-23, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. Sochi will be among the warmest cities to have hosted a Winter Olympic Games, with overnight low temperatures of 39°F (4°C) on average in February, and average daytime highs of 50°F (10°C). The map (above) shows the average minimum temperatures (overnight lows) for January and February from 1911-2011 for all the locations that have hosted the Olympic Winter Games, starting with Chamonix, France, in 1924 and ending with Sochi, Russia, in 2014…”

The “Hope Graph”. The sun is climbing higher into the southern sky. Some melting is likely next week, with an extended thaw possible by early March. Here’s an excerpt of an interesting post from Minnesota climate scientist Greg Laden that caught my eye – and gave me hope: “…About this time of year, some time in early or mid February, I make a graph. Using climatological data, I make a graph (I’ve done this with a table as well) showing what day we can expect, on average, for the daily high temperature to reach freezing. In theory, five or six days of the daily high reaching about freezing is enough to start the cascade of events that clears the roads and walkways of icy and hard-packed snow...”

Even A Deluge Can’t Help California’s “Drought Of Epic Proportions”. Here’s an excerpt of some good perspective on the west coast drought from Eric Holthaus at Slate: “…This week, Northern California’s Lake Shasta, the state’s largest reservoir and an important source of water for agriculture in the vast Central Valley, added only 2 percent to its total water storage and is stillmuch below its historical average water level. This meager improvement comes despite getting hit square on with the recent atmospheric river event. As it turns out, that’s only a drop in the bucket. An incredible amount of rainfall—as much as three feet—would be needed to end accumulated rainfall deficits in the hardest hit areas farther south...”

California’s Drought Could Be The Worst In 500 YearsMother Jones explains how the historic drought gripping the west may soon show up at a grocery store near you; here’s an excerpt: “The Golden State is in the midst of a three-year drought—and scientists believe that this year may end up being the driest in the last half millennium, according to University of California-Berkeley professor B. Lynn Ingram. Californians are scared, with good reason: Fire danger in the state is high, and drinking-water supplies are low. But the drought will have repercussions outside the state’s borders, as well…”

Photo credit above: “The remains of Cachuma Lake, the main water source for 200,000 people in southern Santa Barbara County.” Ruaridh Stewart/ZUMA.

Drought-Stricken California, Other States Prepare For Landmark Year In Fires. The fact that fires are burning during the height of the (alleged) rainy season on the west coast doesn’t bode well for later in 2014, when things really heat up. Here’s a clip from The Washington Post: “…We’re seeing summertime weather conditions in January,” Hein said as two of his crews continued to mop up the smoking remnants of the Red Fire. “If we don’t get some rain now, just imagine what the summer is going to be like.” Across the Western United States, officials tasked with fighting forest fires worry that a confluence of factors, including climate change and human development, are conspiring to create conditions ripe for a landmark fire year...” (File photo above courtesy of ThinkProgress).

Stroke Risk Tied To Cold, Humidity, Weather Swings. Here’s a clip from a story at boston.comthat caught my eye: “There may be a link between weather and the risk of suffering a stroke, say researchers who analyzed climate trends and hospital records on millions of Americans. Cold weather, high humidity and big daily temperature swings seem to land more people in the hospital with strokes. As it got warmer, risk fell — 3 percent for every 5 degrees, the study found. ‘‘Maybe some of these meteorological factors serve as a trigger,’’ said Judith Lichtman, a Yale University stroke researcher who led the study…”

Image above: strokesmart.org.

Warm Weather Leaves You In The Mood To Buy. No kidding. And we tend to attach a higher price/value to objects when it’s warm outside. Confirming what may just be good old fashioned common sense, here’s a clip from The Journal of Consumer Psychology at sciencedirect.com. What, you don’t skim this from time to time? “A series of five field and laboratory studies reveal a temperature-premium effect: warm temperatures increase individuals’ valuation of products. We demonstrate the effect across a variety of products using different approaches to measure or manipulate physical warmth and different assessments of product valuation. The studies suggest that exposure to physical warmth activates the concept of emotional warmth, eliciting positive reactions and increasing product valuation. Further supporting the causal role of emotional warmth, and following prior research relating greater positive feelings to reduced distance, we find that warm temperatures also reduce individuals’ perceived distance from the target products…” Imagining An Alaska-Generated Tsunami Hitting Los Angeles. Statistically it’s only a matter of time before a scenario similar to the one described by Alaska Dispatch becomes reality. Will L.A. and other west coast cities be prepared? Image credit above: “A hypothetical magnitude 9.1 earthquake off the Alaska Peninsula could send a devastating tsunami to Los Angeles in as little as four hours, according to some researchers predictions.” Courtesy Vasily Titov, NOAA Center for Tsunami Research. Will Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Death Be A Wake-Up Call? Opiate addiction in this country has reached epidemic proportions. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Los Angeles Times: “…Keep in mind though: Since the rise of the American automobile, traffic fatalities have been our leading cause of accidental death — until now. More people now die of drug overdoses — about 38,000 a year, according to the latest numbers from the National Center for Health Statistics. The largest category of drugs represented within that number is prescription opioids (16,000 roughly), according to the CDC…” Image above: drugfree.org.

Weird Weather – Minnesota’s New Normal? Tuesday evening I’ll be talking about the trends I’m seeing in the data, focusing on Minnesota and the Midwest, part of a broader educational and informational overview on climate change. Doors open 6 PM Tuesday at Eden Prairie High School; more details from Environment Minnesota, where you can RSVP: “Our climate is changing at an alarming rate. From giant hailstorms to polar vortices, Minnesotans are already experiening extreme weather. Are weird weather events becoming Minnesota’s new normal?  On Tuesday, February 18 join Environment Minnesota, Citizen’s Climate Lobby, and Cool Planet to hear from nationally recognized meteorologist and entrepreneur Paul Douglas for “Weird Weather: Minnesota’s new normal? Our Changing Climate and What We Can Do About It.”

TODAY: Winter Storm Warning. 2-4″ snow this morning, more for Wisconsin. High: 32
MONDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy, not as cold. Low: 28
TUESDAY: Some sun. I can feel my toes! High: 38
WEDNESDAY: Mostly cloudy, hints of March. Wake-up: 18. High: 36
THURSDAY: Flurries early, then clearing. Wake-up: 27. High: 34 (falling by afternoon)
FRIDAY: Blue sky, another temperature relapse. Wake-up: 13. High: 19
SATURDAY: Sunny, storm tracks south of Minnesota. Wake-up: 2. High: 16
SUNDAY: Period of light snow. Wake-up: 4. High: 22

Climate Stories…

Kerry Mocks Those Who Deny Climate Change, Compares Them To People Insisting The Earth Is Flat. Here’s an excerpt from the story from AP and The Star Tribune: “U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday called climate change perhaps the world’s “most fearsome” destructive weapon and mocked those who deny its existence or question its causes, comparing them to people who insist the Earth is flat. In a speech to Indonesian students, civic leaders and government officials, Kerry tore into climate change skeptics. He accused them of using shoddy science and scientists to delay steps needed to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases at the risk of imperiling the planet...”

Climate Change: Time For The Skeptics To Put Up Or Shut Up. Here’s a snippet of an Op-Ed at The Guardian: “If climate change sceptics have a coherent explanation for the events we are witnessing, it’s time they held an international conference and told us what they believe…”

Photo credit above: “A slogan is projected by Greenpeace activists on a cooling tower of Belchatow power station.” Photograph: Kacper Pempel/REUTERS.

Obama On California Drought: Climate Change Threatens The Nation. Here’s an excerpt from AP and The Huffington Post: “Warning that weather-related disasters will only get worse, President Barack Obama said Friday the U.S. must rethink the way it uses water as he announced new federal aid to help drought-stricken California. Obama drew a clear connection between California’s troubles and climate change as he toured part of a farm that will go unsown this year as the state faces its worst drought in more than 100 years. Even if the U.S. takes action now to curb pollution, the planet will keep getting warmer “for a long time to come” thanks to greenhouse gases that have already built up, Obama said...”

Photo credit: “In this Feb. 4, 2014 file photo a warning buoy sits on the dry, cracked bed of Lake Mendocino near Ukiah, Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown was governor the last time California had a drought of epic proportions, in 1975-76 and now is pushing a controversial $25 billion plan to build twin tunnels to ship water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to farmland and cities further south.” (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, file)

Newell: Climate Change Impacts Winter Sports. Here’s a clip of an Op-Ed at USA Today from Andrew Newell, a member of the U.S. Cross Country Ski Team now in Sochi: “…As a skier, my life revolves around winter and being outside. Years spent training have not only honed my skills, but also shown me the negative impacts of climate change first-hand. There have been countless times in the past 10 years when our early season competitions have been delayed or canceled due to lack of snow, or our spring and summer training camps disrupted due to erratic weather or insufficient snowpack. It’s no coincidence then that the last decade was also the hottest decadeever recorded...”

Future Forecast: More Severe ThunderstormsInside Science has the story – here’s an excerpt: “…We find that over the next three decades, over the eastern United States, there’s a region [where] there’s a robust increase in the occurrence of severe storm conditions,” he said. Diffenbaugh used climate models based on physics principles to project severe thunderstorm conditions for the next century. He found that global warming may increase the likelihood of these events…”

Climate Change Skepticism’s Funding Sources Are ObscurePhilly.com has a very interesting article that attempts to shine a light on who is funding an ongoing and organized effort at climate science denial; here’s a clip: “In the high-stakes conflict over U.S. climate-change policy, groups that deny or cast doubt on global warming brought in $7.2 billion from 2003 through 2010 – less than a third of it publicly traceable to the donors. In a recently released study of 91 such organizations, a Drexel University professor found that $5.2 billion of their funding was “dark money” from undisclosed sources. Also of unknown origin: $78 million channeled by major benefactors through a special nonprofit that then redirected the money while keeping the givers’ identities private…”

Photo credit above: “Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.) called “dark funding” “an identity-laundering scheme.” (MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff).

A Conservative’s Middle Ground Solution For Climate ChangeLiveScience has an article and video that caught my eye; here’s an excerpt: “…At a recent conference in Washington, D.C. on “Building Climate Solutions,” he offered a handful of tips for changing the conversation and educating wider audiences on the impacts and opportunities of climate change. Here are four that are critical (see video for complete clips):

  1. Speak more like Apple, and less like Microsoft.
  2. Make the impacts of climate change relatable. It may be hard to comprehend the impacts of climate change in general terms, but people are certainly willing to listen when its happening to them.
  3. Environmentalism isn’t anti-growth — it’s anti-waste. Emphasize the economic opportunities that come with adaptation to climate change...”

What Is Up With The Jet Stream? (snowy Monday commute – risk of a midweek thaw)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

18 F. high in the Twin Cities Saturday.

29 F. average high on February 15.
18 F. high on February 15, 2013.

1.8″ snow fell yesterday at KMSP.

13″ snow on the ground.

Winter Storm Watch posted late tonight into Monday morning.

Disgustingly Baffling

“Every one of my customers is just disgusted with winter” Minnetonka friend Heidi Rusch explained. “It’s enough to turn us all into reluctant snowbirds.” I hear you. You can only imagine the grief I’m getting these days. Note to self: I don’t make the weather, I’m just foolish enough to try and predict it.

While we enjoy a non-stop arctic bulge in the jet stream Europeans are scratching their heads in wonder, many disgusted by a lack of snow. A distant relative living outside Cologne, Germany sent me a photo of her red roses in full bloom. It’s been in the 50s in recent weeks, she wrote. They should be knee-deep in snow, but winter never arrived.

Bitter or balmy?

Cities out east running out of salt due to a non-stop parade of snowstorms – severe flood emergencies across Britain – while California runs out of water. Dry areas get drier while wet areas get wetter. Where have you heard that before?

Natural chaos or fingerprints of a more volatile climate system? Not sure, but the jet stream is doing things I haven’t seen in 40 years of tracking the weather.

We pick up a couple inches of additional snow early Monday; otherwise storms detour well south of Minnesota this week. For the first time in nearly 3 weeks the mercury rises above 32F by Tuesday.

A longer-lasting thaw is shaping up for early March. Spring is coming. Slowly.

Winter Storm Watch Sunday Night Into Monday Morning. The Twin Cities is in the Winter Storm Watch in effect for late Sunday night into Monday morning, but the heaviest snows should fall east of the St. Croix. I could still see a plowable accumulation of 2-4″ just in time for a fun-filled Monday morning commute. Details from the Twin Cities National Weather Service.

Predicted Amounts. 12km NAM guidance from NOAA suggests a few inches of snow for the Twin Cities; amounts heavier on the east side of St. Paul than the west side of Minneapolis, with some 4-8″ amounts possible over Wisconsin by Wednesday at 6 AM. Map: Ham Weather.

Risk Of A Thaw. The last time it was above freezing at MSP was January 29 (34F). Watch the solid red line, marking the 32F isotherm, surging north Tuesday, again Wednesday as steering winds aloft become more westerly. Colder weather returns by next weekend, but not the polar chill of a few weeks ago. 2-meter NAM temperatures guidance courtesy of NOAA and Ham Weather.

Progress. On some level it’s kind of sad to get excited about the prospect of “freezing”, but that shows you what a winter we’ve had, with 44 subzero nights so far in the Twin Cities. ECMWF (European) guidance as well as GFS and NAM data show highs blipping above freezing Tuesday into Thursday. Graph: Weatherspark.

Reason To Keep On Going. After chilling back down next weekend GFS guidance shows a more consistent that the last week of February, maybe a few days topping 40F in late February and early March. Considering the sun angle is now as high in the sky as it was on October 22 – it’s about time.

Faint Echoes Of The Polar Vortex. Wave goodbye to the coldest lobe of polar air, courtesy of a buckling jet stream. What has been impressive (at least to me) is the sheer persistence of Yukon air pouring south of the border since early December, how the jet stream configuration has become locked, treating Alaska, Greenland and Europe to near-record warmth; bitter air stalling over much of the central and eastern USA. Temperature anomalies valid this morning, courtesy of Climate Reanalyzer.

Sochi Among The Warmest Winter Olympics Host Cities. You’ve seen video of fans in shirtsleeves, athletes taking their shirts off to stay cool – during the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Here’s some perspective on the venue from NOAA’s climate.gov: “The 2014 Winter Olympics are taking place from February 7-23, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. Sochi will be among the warmest cities to have hosted a Winter Olympic Games, with overnight low temperatures of 39°F (4°C) on average in February, and average daytime highs of 50°F (10°C). The map (above) shows the average minimum temperatures (overnight lows) for January and February from 1911-2011 for all the locations that have hosted the Olympic Winter Games, starting with Chamonix, France, in 1924 and ending with Sochi, Russia, in 2014…”

The “Hope Graph”. The sun is climbing higher into the southern sky. Some melting is likely next week, with an extended thaw possible by early March. Here’s an excerpt of an interesting post from Minnesota climate scientist Greg Laden that caught my eye – and gave me hope: “…About this time of year, some time in early or mid February, I make a graph. Using climatological data, I make a graph (I’ve done this with a table as well) showing what day we can expect, on average, for the daily high temperature to reach freezing. In theory, five or six days of the daily high reaching about freezing is enough to start the cascade of events that clears the roads and walkways of icy and hard-packed snow...”

Below Zero Nights Ending? We can only hope and pray. Here’s an excerpt from Dr. Mark Seeley’s latest edition of Minnesota WeatherTalk: “For the Twin Cities the count of nights with 0 degrees F or lower temperatures stands at 44 for the current winter season (since December 1st), the most since the winter of 1981-1982. A string of 17 consecutive days with minimum temperatures of 0 degrees F or lower was observed from January 26 to February 11, the 8th longest such streak in the Twin Cities climate records…Some other counts of days with 0 degrees F or colder this winter for other cities include:

St Cloud 52 days (most since 1981-1982)
Duluth 58 days (most since 1964-1965)
Rochester 42 days (most since 1978-1979)
International Falls 65 days (most since 2008-2009)…”

Days At Or Below Zero In The Twin Cities. More perspective on subzero fun at MSP from theMinnesota DNR; here’s an excerpt: “…How does the winter of 2013-14 stack up for counts of minimum temperatures at or below zero in the Twin Cities? As of February 11, there have been 44 minimum temperatures of zero or colder: 13 in December, 20 in January and 11 so far in February…” Frost And Thaw Depths. How bad will spring flooding be? It depends on many factors, including the rate of warming, and whether (heavy) rain accompanies the inevitable warm fronts to come. That, and the depth of the ground frost. Until we lose frost from the ground rain and melting snow will be unable to soak into topsoil. With this year’s persistent chill the ground frost is unusually deep, over 70″ deep in Otsego (Wright County). Thanks to MnDOT for providing this link to check out frost depth close to home. Roses In Bloom Across Germany. A relative near Cologne, Germany sent me this photo of her prize roses, now in full bloom. In mid-February. Yes, highly unusual. Eva Fels-Huber writes:

We are still waiting for winter to arrive. We had springlike temperatures since December, 10-12C every day. The birds are singing; my roses started blooming in mid-January.”

Highs have been in the 50s in recent weeks. My father, who translated the e-mail for me, points out that roses bloom after crocus, tulips, and daffodils. The Symphony of the Seasons is seriously messed up. Springlike weather in Sochi for the (alleged) Winter Olympics, while the Polar Vortex stalls over the northern USA. Biblical flooding in Britain while California wilts during historic drought. The Winter of All or nothing. Winter-Cane. Although this week’s ice and snow storm didn’t produce as much structural damage as a hurricane, if you look at economic losses related to the wintry smack damage will probably be equivalent to a moderate hurricane hitting a populated coastal region of the USA; one weather analyst at Planalytics estimates $15 billion in economic losses. That, and the the fact that New York City has picked up considerably more snow than the Twin Cities, Denver and Anchorage (!) is the subject of today’s Climate Matters: “WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist looks at the details and impacts of the winter storm that impacted everything from Texas to Maine. We’ve seen the pictures of the damage, but what happened? 75,000 flights cancelled this winter and find out which places are WAY above normal for snowfall.”

Snow On The Ground In Portions Of 49 States. Only Florida is entirely snow-free. That’s comforting. USA Today has the story; here’s a clip: “Snow is on the ground in 49 out of the 50 states — only the Sunshine State of Florida is completely snow-free, according to a map produced Thursday morning by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (This doesn’t mean that those 49 states are snow-covered, of course, only that some part of each state has snow.)…”

California’s Drought Could Be The Worst In 500 YearsMother Jones explains how the historic drought gripping the west may soon show up at a grocery store near you; here’s an excerpt: “The Golden State is in the midst of a three-year drought—and scientists believe that this year may end up being the driest in the last half millennium, according to University of California-Berkeley professor B. Lynn Ingram. Californians are scared, with good reason: Fire danger in the state is high, and drinking-water supplies are low. But the drought will have repercussions outside the state’s borders, as well…”

Photo credit above: “The remains of Cachuma Lake, the main water source for 200,000 people in southern Santa Barbara County.” Ruaridh Stewart/ZUMA.

Drought-Stricken California, Other States Prepare For Landmark Year In Fires. The fact that fires are burning during the height of the (alleged) rainy season on the west coast doesn’t bode well for later in 2014, when things really heat up. Here’s a clip from The Washington Post: “…We’re seeing summertime weather conditions in January,” Hein said as two of his crews continued to mop up the smoking remnants of the Red Fire. “If we don’t get some rain now, just imagine what the summer is going to be like.” Across the Western United States, officials tasked with fighting forest fires worry that a confluence of factors, including climate change and human development, are conspiring to create conditions ripe for a landmark fire year...” (File photo above courtesy of ThinkProgress).

Stroke Risk Tied To Cold, Humidity, Weather Swings. Here’s a clip from a story at boston.comthat caught my eye: “There may be a link between weather and the risk of suffering a stroke, say researchers who analyzed climate trends and hospital records on millions of Americans. Cold weather, high humidity and big daily temperature swings seem to land more people in the hospital with strokes. As it got warmer, risk fell — 3 percent for every 5 degrees, the study found. ‘‘Maybe some of these meteorological factors serve as a trigger,’’ said Judith Lichtman, a Yale University stroke researcher who led the study…”

Image above: strokesmart.org.

Warm Weather Leaves You In The Mood To Buy. No kidding. And we tend to attach a higher price/value to objects when it’s warm outside. Confirming what may just be good old fashioned common sense, here’s a clip from The Journal of Consumer Psychology at sciencedirect.com. What, you don’t skim this from time to time? “A series of five field and laboratory studies reveal a temperature-premium effect: warm temperatures increase individuals’ valuation of products. We demonstrate the effect across a variety of products using different approaches to measure or manipulate physical warmth and different assessments of product valuation. The studies suggest that exposure to physical warmth activates the concept of emotional warmth, eliciting positive reactions and increasing product valuation. Further supporting the causal role of emotional warmth, and following prior research relating greater positive feelings to reduced distance, we find that warm temperatures also reduce individuals’ perceived distance from the target products…” El Nino May Make 2104 The Hottest Year On RecordNew Scientist has the article; here’s the introduction: “Hold onto your ice lollies. Long-term weather forecasts are suggesting 2014 might be the hottest year since records began. That’s because climate bad-boy El Niño seems to be getting ready to spew heat into the atmosphere. An El Niño occurs when warm water buried below the surface of the Pacific rises up and spreads along the equator towards America. For nine months or more it brings rain and flooding to areas around Peru and Ecuador, and drought and fires to Indonesia and Australia. It is part of a cycle called the El Niño-Southern Oscillation...” * NOAA NCEP’s latest ENSO discussion is here. Flood Simple: The U.K. Flooding Crisis Explained. I thought The Guardian did a very good job explaining why the wettest winter in 250 years across much of Britain is creating so much chaos and devastation; here’s an excerpt: “Rainfall which in many areas has been twice the average for January and February has left large parts of southern England under water. What causes the unusual weather, why is the country so ill-prepared, and what will be the political effect of 2014’s watery winter?…” Photo credit above: “Flood waters inundate the area as one house stands alone near the flooded village of Moorland in Somerset, southwest England, Thursday Feb. 13, 2014. The house is owned by Sam Notaro, who has built his own levee to hold back the flood waters, as the local communities face further misery in the coming days with heavy rain, wind and snow predicted to sweep across Britain.”  (AP Photo/Steve Parsons, PA)

U.K Floods: How Bad Have These Floods Been? Although much of Britain has experienced the most winter rain in the last 250 years, previous years have seen even worse flooding across the United Kingdom. The BBC provides perspective; here’s an excerpt: “…Clearly, the bad weather is not yet over, but so far the Environment Agency says that since the beginning of December, 5,800 homes and businesses have flooded. As devastating as flooding is for residents, from a statistical point of view the national scale of the damage is, so far, relatively limited. In the summer floods in 2007, 48,461 homes were flooded and 6,896 businesses, according to theEnvironment Agency...”

The Dust Bowl Returns. With California entering the third year of an historic drought, and precious little rain or snow this winter season, the stage is set for a year of extreme drought, water shortages and record wildfires out west. Here’s a clip from a story at The New York Times: “…Experts offer dire warnings. The current drought has already eclipsed previous water crises, like the one in 1977, which a meteorologist friend, translating into language we understand as historians, likened to the “Great Depression” of droughts. Most Californians depend on the Sierra Nevada for their water supply, but the snowpack there was just 15 percent of normal in early February. And the dry conditions are likely to make the polluted air in the Central Valley — which contributes to high rates of asthma and the spread of Valley Fever, a potentially fatal airborne fungus — even worse. The current crisis raises the obvious question: How long can we continue to grow a third of the nation’s fruit and vegetables?..” Photo credit above: “A sercret service agent looks over a farm field as President Barack Obama speaks to the media on California’s drought situation Friday, Feb. 14, 2014 in Los Banos, Calif. Farmers in California’s drought-stricken Central Valley said the financial assistance President Barack Obama delivered on his visit Friday does not get to the heart of California’s long-term water problems.” (AP Photo/Los Angeles Times, Wally Skalij, Pool). Imagining An Alaska-Generated Tsunami Hitting Los Angeles. Statistically it’s only a matter of time before a scenario similar to the one described by Alaska Dispatch becomes reality. Will L.A. and other west coast cities be prepared? Image credit above: “A hypothetical magnitude 9.1 earthquake off the Alaska Peninsula could send a devastating tsunami to Los Angeles in as little as four hours, according to some researchers predictions.” Courtesy Vasily Titov, NOAA Center for Tsunami Research. Will Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Death Be A Wake-Up Call? Opiate addiction in this country has reached epidemic proportions. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Los Angeles Times: “…Keep in mind though: Since the rise of the American automobile, traffic fatalities have been our leading cause of accidental death — until now. More people now die of drug overdoses — about 38,000 a year, according to the latest numbers from the National Center for Health Statistics. The largest category of drugs represented within that number is prescription opioids (16,000 roughly), according to the CDC…” Image above: drugfree.org. From The Desk Of A Former FCC Commissioner. Will the pending Comcast – Time Warner merger be a good thing for consumers? The big get bigger, which seems to be the way of the world. Here’s an excerpt of an interesting take from a former FCC Commissioner at Columbia Journalism Review: “…So instead of making good things happen, I would be spending untold hours listening to big media tell me how their latest merger proposal would translate into enormous “efficiencies” and “economies of scale” to produce more and better news. Meanwhile, everywhere I looked, I saw newsrooms like yours being shuttered or drastically downsized, reporters getting the axe, and investigative journalism hanging by the most slender of threads. Instead of expanding news, the conglomerates cut the muscle out of deep-dive reporting and disinvested in you…” Still Mad As Hell. Remember Howard Beale in the movie “Network”? We’re so far beyond that now. An Op-Ed from Maureen Dowd at The New York Times resonated with me; here’s an excerpt: “…What would Paddy rant about the viral, often venomous world of the Internet, Twitter and cable news, where fake rage is all the rage all the time, bleeding over into a Congress that chooses antagonism over accomplishment, no over yes? What would he think of ominous corporate “synergy” run amok, where “news” seamlessly blends into promotion, where it’s frighteningly easy for corporate commercial interests to dictate editorial content?…” 32 Famous People Rejected By Saturday Night Live. I found this nugget interesting, courtesy of Mental Floss. Here’s a clip: “The 39-year history of Saturday Night Live is littered with thousands of sketches, hundreds of guest hosts, and even more Not Ready for Prime Time Player wannabes—some more memorable than others. In fact, the list of now-famous folks who auditioned and were denied access to a permanent spot in 30 Rock’s Studio 8H is long enough to fill multiple casts on their own…” (Image above: NBC).

A big event, Sizzle For A Cause, is coming Thursday Feb. 20th from 6:30-9:30 p.m. at Bayview Event Center in Excelsior. This Iron Chef style competition will feature five Minnetonka area restaurants. Enjoy live music, delicious appetizers, wine, beer or cocktails. I’m honored to be a returning judge, along with Mrs. Minnesota Tara Malone Mulkey, Lifestyle Expert Ross Sveback, Natalie Hagemo Host at MY TALK 107.1 and  WCCO Host Mike Woodley. The event benefits theICA Food Shelf. It’s going to be sizzling HOT! Get your tickets fast at: icasizzle.eventbrite.com….or, for more info: www.facebook.com/sizzle2014,

Here’s a YouTube clip of the event. I had a blast participating last year – hope you can stop by and make an appearance, supporting a very good cause, the ICA Food Shelf:http://youtu.be/GqwGOB8A14E

TODAY: Some sun, chilly. Winds: SE 10. High: 22
SUNDAY NIGHT: Winter Storm Watch. Light snow developing, icy roads by morning. Low: 19
MONDAY: Winter Storm Watch early. 2-4″ snow expected. Slick roads. High: 28
TUESDAY: Partly sunny, risk of a thaw. Wake-up: 23. High: 35
WEDNESDAY: Mostly cloudy. Dripping icicles. Wake-up: 21. High: 36
THURSDAY: Partial clearing, slightly cooler. Wake-up: 25. High: 32
FRIDAY: Intervals of sun, chilly again. Wake-up: 15. High: 25
SATURDAY: Clouds, snow may track south of MN. Wake-up: 10. High: 22

Climate Stories…

Obama On California Drought: Climate Change Threatens The Nation. Here’s an excerpt from AP and The Huffington Post: “Warning that weather-related disasters will only get worse, President Barack Obama said Friday the U.S. must rethink the way it uses water as he announced new federal aid to help drought-stricken California. Obama drew a clear connection between California’s troubles and climate change as he toured part of a farm that will go unsown this year as the state faces its worst drought in more than 100 years. Even if the U.S. takes action now to curb pollution, the planet will keep getting warmer “for a long time to come” thanks to greenhouse gases that have already built up, Obama said...”

Photo credit: “In this Feb. 4, 2014 file photo a warning buoy sits on the dry, cracked bed of Lake Mendocino near Ukiah, Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown was governor the last time California had a drought of epic proportions, in 1975-76 and now is pushing a controversial $25 billion plan to build twin tunnels to ship water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to farmland and cities further south.” (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, file)

Newell: Climate Change Impacts Winter Sports. Here’s a clip of an Op-Ed at USA Today from Andrew Newell, a member of the U.S. Cross Country Ski Team now in Sochi: “…As a skier, my life revolves around winter and being outside. Years spent training have not only honed my skills, but also shown me the negative impacts of climate change first-hand. There have been countless times in the past 10 years when our early season competitions have been delayed or canceled due to lack of snow, or our spring and summer training camps disrupted due to erratic weather or insufficient snowpack. It’s no coincidence then that the last decade was also the hottest decadeever recorded...”

Future Forecast: More Severe ThunderstormsInside Science has the story – here’s an excerpt: “…We find that over the next three decades, over the eastern United States, there’s a region [where] there’s a robust increase in the occurrence of severe storm conditions,” he said. Diffenbaugh used climate models based on physics principles to project severe thunderstorm conditions for the next century. He found that global warming may increase the likelihood of these events…”

Climate Change Skepticism’s Funding Sources Are ObscurePhilly.com has a very interesting article that attempts to shine a light on who is funding an ongoing and organized effort at climate science denial; here’s a clip: “In the high-stakes conflict over U.S. climate-change policy, groups that deny or cast doubt on global warming brought in $7.2 billion from 2003 through 2010 – less than a third of it publicly traceable to the donors. In a recently released study of 91 such organizations, a Drexel University professor found that $5.2 billion of their funding was “dark money” from undisclosed sources. Also of unknown origin: $78 million channeled by major benefactors through a special nonprofit that then redirected the money while keeping the givers’ identities private…”

Photo credit above: “Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.) called “dark funding” “an identity-laundering scheme.” (MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff).

A Conservative’s Middle Ground Solution For Climate ChangeLiveScience has an article and video that caught my eye; here’s an excerpt: “…At a recent conference in Washington, D.C. on “Building Climate Solutions,” he offered a handful of tips for changing the conversation and educating wider audiences on the impacts and opportunities of climate change. Here are four that are critical (see video for complete clips):

  1. Speak more like Apple, and less like Microsoft.
  2. Make the impacts of climate change relatable. It may be hard to comprehend the impacts of climate change in general terms, but people are certainly willing to listen when its happening to them.
  3. Environmentalism isn’t anti-growth — it’s anti-waste. Emphasize the economic opportunities that come with adaptation to climate change...”

The End Of Snow? Just in case you missed this article in the Sunday New York Times; here’s an excerpt: “…The planet has warmed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1800s, and as a result, snow is melting. In the last 47 years, a million square miles of spring snow cover has disappeared from the Northern Hemisphere. Europe has lost half of its Alpine glacial ice since the 1850s, and if climate change is not reined in, two-thirds of European ski resorts will be likely to close by 2100. The same could happen in the United States, where in the Northeast, more than half of the 103 ski resorts may no longer be viable in 30 years because of warmer winters…”

Photo credit above: “Slopes were closed last month at Fichtelberg mountain in Oberwiesenthal, Germany.” Jan Woitas/European Pressphoto Agency.

Global Warming, Winter Weather And The Olympics – Five Leading Climate Scientists Weigh In. Is there a connection between “global weirding” and what’s happening in the Arctic during the summer months? Here’s an excerpt from Andy Revkin at The New York Times: “…The research linking summertime Arctic sea ice with wintertime climate over temperate latitudes deserves a fair hearing. But to make it the centerpiece of the public discourse on global warming is inappropriate and a distraction. Even in a warming climate, we could experience an extraordinary run of cold winters, but harsher winters in future decades are not among the most likely nor the most serious consequences of global warming…”

Photo credit above: “Visitors to the Olympic Park enjoy the warm weather at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 14, 2014, in Sochi, Russia.” (AP Photo/David J. Phillip).

The Gravitational Pull Of Planet Carbon. Can we eventually wean ourselves off our global addiction to carbon-based fuels? An epic question, and I’m still cautiously optimistic that the markets will come up with cleaner, cost-effective alternatives in the years to come. If we can save money AND clean up the air in the process it becomes a win-win proposition. Here’s an excerpt from Huffington Post: “…In the past few years, the ever more widespread use of new extractive technologies — notably hydraulic fracturing (to exploit shale deposits) and steam-assisted gravity drainage (for tar sands) — has led to a significant increase in fossil fuel production, especially in North America.  This has left in the dust the likelihood of an imminent “peak” in global oil and gas output and introduced an alternative narrative — much promoted by the energy industry and its boosters — of unlimited energy supplies that will last into the distant future…”

First Thaw in 3 Weeks On The Way (the gravitational pull of Planet Carbon)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

16 F. high in the Twin Cities Friday. 29 F. average high on February 14. 34 F. high on February 14, 2013. 13″ snow on the ground in the Twin Cities. 40.4″ snowfall so far this winter at KMSP.

Olympic Daydreams

I wonder if I’d get any points from Olympic judges for just skating in a sloppy circle, waving at the crowd? Better yet, pick a person at random from the stands to “compete” in each event. For some perspective. It’s a wonder I’m not in charge of programming at NBC Sports.

We’ve had our own Winter Games: 44 subzero nights – most since 1981-82; coming off a stretch of 17 subzero nights in a row. That’s the 8th longest subzero streak in Twin Cities climate records, according to Dr. Mark Seeley.

Since 2010 I’ve been telling you that something has changed with the jet stream. It may be related to summer ice melt in the Arctic (too early to know) – but the weather, increasingly, is getting stuck. The same persistent block responsible for our stubborn Polar Vortex is creating historic drought across California and strafing Britain with a parade of record floods.

A weak clipper may brush us with an inch of snow today; a few more inches Monday – again next Thursday. By the middle of next week highs approach 40F.

There is hope in the extended outlook.

It could always be worse. Chicago has picked up 62 inches of snow this winter. Central Park (New York City) is up to 54″. Here in the Twin Cities? A mere 40.4 inches…and counting.
* 88% of the Great Lakes are ice-covered, the most since 1994, when 94% of the lakes were frozen. Details here. Additional Snowfall By Tuesday Morning. A dusting or coating is possible today, with a better chance of an inch or two of snow Sunday night into Monday morning – heavier amounts closer to Dubuque, Madison and Green Bay. Grand Marais may pick up as much as 8″ of snow. NAM guidance: NOAA and Ham Weather. Ring The Church Bells. The last time the Twin Cities saw freezing? 34F on January 29. We’re due for a thaw, and it’s coming next week, with 3 days above freezing, followed by a slight cooling trend the end of next week. A higher sun angle is (finally) starting to show up on the weather maps. Graph: Weatherspark. Below Zero Nights Ending? We can only hope and pray. Here’s an excerpt from Dr. Mark Seeley’s latest edition of Minnesota WeatherTalk: “For the Twin Cities the count of nights with 0 degrees F or lower temperatures stands at 44 for the current winter season (since December 1st), the most since the winter of 1981-1982. A string of 17 consecutive days with minimum temperatures of 0 degrees F or lower was observed from January 26 to February 11, the 8th longest such streak in the Twin Cities climate records…Some other counts of days with 0 degrees F or colder this winter for other cities include:

St Cloud 52 days (most since 1981-1982)
Duluth 58 days (most since 1964-1965)
Rochester 42 days (most since 1978-1979)
International Falls 65 days (most since 2008-2009)…”

Days At Or Below Zero In The Twin Cities. More perspective on subzero fun at MSP from the Minnesota DNR; here’s an excerpt: “…How does the winter of 2013-14 stack up for counts of minimum temperatures at or below zero in the Twin Cities? As of February 11, there have been 44 minimum temperatures of zero or colder: 13 in December, 20 in January and 11 so far in February…” Frost And Thaw Depths. How bad will spring flooding be? It depends on many factors, including the rate of warming, and whether (heavy) rain accompanies the inevitable warm fronts to come. That, and the depth of the ground frost. Until we lose frost from the ground rain and melting snow will be unable to soak into topsoil. With this year’s persistent chill the ground frost is unusually deep, over 70″ deep in Otsego (Wright County). Thanks to MnDOT for providing this link to check out frost depth close to home. Roses In Bloom Across Germany. A relative near Cologne, Germany sent me this photo of her prize roses, now in full bloom. In mid-February. Yes, highly unusual. Eva Fels-Huber writes:

We are still waiting for winter to arrive. We had springlike temperatures since December, 10-12C every day. The birds are singing; my roses started blooming in mid-January.”

Highs have been in the 50s in recent weeks. My father, who translated the e-mail for me, points out that roses bloom after crocus, tulips, and daffodils. The Symphony of the Seasons is seriously messed up. Springlike weather in Sochi for the (alleged) Winter Olympics, while the Polar Vortex stalls over the northern USA. Biblical flooding in Britain while California wilts during historic drought. The Winter of All or nothing.

Alerts Broadcaster Briefing: Issued Saturday night, February 14, 2014.

* Computer guidance showing a growing potential for blizzard or near-blizzard conditions for Boston and Cape Cod late Saturday and Saturday night, with sustained winds of 30-40 mph producing white-out conditions.
* 6-10″ of additional snow likely in the Boston area, over 1 foot for Cape Cod with significant blowing and drifting, peaking Saturday night.
* New York City may pick up about 2″ of snow from this coastal storm Saturday; heavier amounts over Pennsylvania and upstate New York.

Additional Snowfall. Our models show the brunt of the next Nor’easter staying out to sea, just clipping Boston and Cape Cod with heavy snow and strong winds. Conditions will deteriorate as the day goes Saturday in the Boston area; the worst travel conditions coming Saturday night. Map: NOAA and Ham Weather.

Blizzard Potential: 9 PM Saturday Evening. Our internal BPI models show a strong probability of blizzard conditions from Concord and Peabody into metro Boston, conditions become progressively worse the closer you get to Cape Cod, where white-out conditions are likely Saturday night.

Summary: Although the brunt of the next coastal storm will remain just offshore, there’s growing confidence in a forecast of hazardous to treacherous winter conditions from near Providence to Boston Saturday PM and nighttime hours. I expect delays and cancellations at Boston Logan, especially after 3 PM ET Saturday. Conditions improve during the day Sunday as snow tapers and winds begin to ease.

Paul Douglas – Senior Meteorologist – Alerts Broadcaster

Snowy Perspective. The meteorologists at WeatherNation TV have compiled some interesting (and at times jaw-dropping) stats about the recent East Coast storm, and the extent of winter disruption. Image above: NOAA.

Roanoke, VA:
19″- biggest 24-hour snowfall in 18 years
Third-biggest snowfall recorded
Blacksburg, VA:
20.1″- 3rd-snowiest snowfall recorded
Philadelphia, PA:
4th 6″-plus
5th snowiest season on record already!
Central Park, NYC:
54″ so far this season, now 9th snowiest season on record
Minneapolis averages 54″ for the season, has 40.4″ so far this year.
Baltimore:
Set single-day precip/liquid equivalent total with 1.77″

A Real Winter

- This winter has led to the most flight cancellations in 25 years
- More than 75,000 flights have been cancelled since Dec. 1 (about 5.5% of flights) - Includes 14,000 flights cancelled this week alone Winter-Cane. Although this week’s ice and snow storm didn’t produce as much structural damage as a hurricane, if you look at economic losses related to the wintry smack damage will probably be equivalent to a moderate hurricane hitting a populated coastal region of the USA; one weather analyst at Planalytics estimates $15 billion in economic losses. That, and the the fact that New York City has picked up considerably more snow than the Twin Cities, Denver and Anchorage (!) is the subject of today’s Climate Matters: “WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist looks at the details and impacts of the winter storm that impacted everything from Texas to Maine. We’ve seen the pictures of the damage, but what happened? 75,000 flights cancelled this winter and find out which places are WAY above normal for snowfall.”

Snow On The Ground In Portions Of 49 States. Only Florida is entirely snow-free. That’s comforting. USA Today has the story; here’s a clip: “Snow is on the ground in 49 out of the 50 states — only the Sunshine State of Florida is completely snow-free, according to a map produced Thursday morning by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (This doesn’t mean that those 49 states are snow-covered, of course, only that some part of each state has snow.)…”
Warm Weather Leaves You In The Mood To Buy. No kidding. And we tend to attach a higher price/value to objects when it’s warm outside. Confirming what may just be good old fashioned common sense, here’s a clip from The Journal of Consumer Psychology at sciencedirect.com. What, you don’t skim this from time to time? “A series of five field and laboratory studies reveal a temperature-premium effect: warm temperatures increase individuals’ valuation of products. We demonstrate the effect across a variety of products using different approaches to measure or manipulate physical warmth and different assessments of product valuation. The studies suggest that exposure to physical warmth activates the concept of emotional warmth, eliciting positive reactions and increasing product valuation. Further supporting the causal role of emotional warmth, and following prior research relating greater positive feelings to reduced distance, we find that warm temperatures also reduce individuals’ perceived distance from the target products…” Auroras For Valentine’s Day? More activity on the sun – no promises (there never are), but here’s a clip from spaceweather.com: “Three CMEs are heading for Earth. Individually they are minor clouds. However, by striking Earths magnetic field in quick succession on Feb 14-15, they could cause significant geomagnetic activity around the poles. High latitude skywatchers should be alert for auroras on Valentines Day when NOAA forecasters estimate a 60% chance of geomagnetic storms…” El Nino May Make 2104 The Hottest Year On Record. New Scientist has the article; here’s the introduction: “Hold onto your ice lollies. Long-term weather forecasts are suggesting 2014 might be the hottest year since records began. That’s because climate bad-boy El Niño seems to be getting ready to spew heat into the atmosphere. An El Niño occurs when warm water buried below the surface of the Pacific rises up and spreads along the equator towards America. For nine months or more it brings rain and flooding to areas around Peru and Ecuador, and drought and fires to Indonesia and Australia. It is part of a cycle called the El Niño-Southern Oscillation...” * NOAA NCEP’s latest ENSO discussion is here. Flood Simple: The U.K. Flooding Crisis Explained. I thought The Guardian did a very good job explaining why the wettest winter in 250 years across much of Britain is creating so much chaos and devastation; here’s an excerpt: “Rainfall which in many areas has been twice the average for January and February has left large parts of southern England under water. What causes the unusual weather, why is the country so ill-prepared, and what will be the political effect of 2014’s watery winter?…” Photo credit above: “Flood waters inundate the area as one house stands alone near the flooded village of Moorland in Somerset, southwest England, Thursday Feb. 13, 2014. The house is owned by Sam Notaro, who has built his own levee to hold back the flood waters, as the local communities face further misery in the coming days with heavy rain, wind and snow predicted to sweep across Britain.”  (AP Photo/Steve Parsons, PA)

U.K Floods: How Bad Have These Floods Been? Although much of Britain has experienced the most winter rain in the last 250 years, previous years have seen even worse flooding across the United Kingdom. The BBC provides perspective; here’s an excerpt: “…Clearly, the bad weather is not yet over, but so far the Environment Agency says that since the beginning of December, 5,800 homes and businesses have flooded. As devastating as flooding is for residents, from a statistical point of view the national scale of the damage is, so far, relatively limited. In the summer floods in 2007, 48,461 homes were flooded and 6,896 businesses, according to the Environment Agency...”
The Dust Bowl Returns. With California entering the third year of an historic drought, and precious little rain or snow this winter season, the stage is set for a year of extreme drought, water shortages and record wildfires out west. Here’s a clip from a story at The New York Times: “…Experts offer dire warnings. The current drought has already eclipsed previous water crises, like the one in 1977, which a meteorologist friend, translating into language we understand as historians, likened to the “Great Depression” of droughts. Most Californians depend on the Sierra Nevada for their water supply, but the snowpack there was just 15 percent of normal in early February. And the dry conditions are likely to make the polluted air in the Central Valley — which contributes to high rates of asthma and the spread of Valley Fever, a potentially fatal airborne fungus — even worse. The current crisis raises the obvious question: How long can we continue to grow a third of the nation’s fruit and vegetables?..” Photo credit above: “A sercret service agent looks over a farm field as President Barack Obama speaks to the media on California’s drought situation Friday, Feb. 14, 2014 in Los Banos, Calif. Farmers in California’s drought-stricken Central Valley said the financial assistance President Barack Obama delivered on his visit Friday does not get to the heart of California’s long-term water problems.” (AP Photo/Los Angeles Times, Wally Skalij, Pool). This Is What The World’s Largest Solar Plant Looks Like When It’s Catching Rays. The Verge has the story – here’s an excerpt: “A massive solar plant in the Mojave Desert officially began operation today after years of construction, testing, and development. Co-owned by NRG Energy, BrightSource Energy, and Google, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is said to be ready to generate nearly 30 percent of all solar thermal energy produced in the United States. The plant consists of three 459-foot tall towers each with tens of thousands of robotic, garage-door sized mirrors that angle sunlight toward a water boiler sitting atop them…” All images credit of BrightSource Energy. From The Desk Of A Former FCC Commissioner. Will the pending Comcast – Time Warner merger be a good thing for consumers? The big get bigger, which seems to be the way of the world. Here’s an excerpt of an interesting take from a former FCC Commissioner at Columbia Journalism Review: “…So instead of making good things happen, I would be spending untold hours listening to big media tell me how their latest merger proposal would translate into enormous “efficiencies” and “economies of scale” to produce more and better news. Meanwhile, everywhere I looked, I saw newsrooms like yours being shuttered or drastically downsized, reporters getting the axe, and investigative journalism hanging by the most slender of threads. Instead of expanding news, the conglomerates cut the muscle out of deep-dive reporting and disinvested in you…” Still Mad As Hell. Remember Howard Beale in the movie “Network”? We’re so far beyond that now. An Op-Ed from Maureen Dowd at The New York Times resonated with me; here’s an excerpt: “…What would Paddy rant about the viral, often venomous world of the Internet, Twitter and cable news, where fake rage is all the rage all the time, bleeding over into a Congress that chooses antagonism over accomplishment, no over yes? What would he think of ominous corporate “synergy” run amok, where “news” seamlessly blends into promotion, where it’s frighteningly easy for corporate commercial interests to dictate editorial content?…”

The Ice Desk: It’s What Stations Are Wearing This Winter. At least NBC affiliates. If you’ve been admiring KARE’s Ice Desk (in honor of the Winter Olympics) feast your eyes on what other stations are doing around the USA, courtesy of TVSpy: “It seems a historical record of sorts is being created of what appears to be the recent trend of stations sending their anchors out into the freezing cold to report the news from behind desks made of ice. With thanks to Poynter and TVSpy rival FTVLive, we cobbled together our own list of stations jumping on the ice trend...” (Photo: WJAR-TV in Providence).

In The Digital Age, Breaking Up Is Hard To Do. Because the Internet (and Facebook specifically) has a long, long memory. Here’s an excerpt from a cautionary tale at The Los Angeles Times: “It’s Valentine’s Day, and I’m not celebrating. A few weeks ago my fiancee and I broke up. It was a difficult breakup, so I immediately stopped following her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and deleted her name from my iPhone address book. I thought that would be enough to disconnect her from my digital life. But I’m finding out — as many others have in the age of smartphones and social networks — that connecting is easy, but severing ties online is nearly impossible...”

Death To Cupid. Love Is Not “All You Need”. Far From It. New Republic has the cheerful story, a powerful antidote to all those dopey Hallmark cards you’ve gotten over the years. Here’s a clip: “…Nineteenth-century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer believed that “love is an illusion like no other; it will induce a man to sacrifice everything he possesses in the world, in order to obtain this woman, who in reality will satisfy him no more than any other”—but it’s an essential illusion, tricking a man into thinking he’s acting in his own interest when, in fact, he’s helping preserve the species…”
32 Famous People Rejected By Saturday Night Live. I found this nugget interesting, courtesy of Mental Floss. Here’s a clip: “The 39-year history of Saturday Night Live is littered with thousands of sketches, hundreds of guest hosts, and even more Not Ready for Prime Time Player wannabes—some more memorable than others. In fact, the list of now-famous folks who auditioned and were denied access to a permanent spot in 30 Rock’s Studio 8H is long enough to fill multiple casts on their own…” (Image above: NBC).

A big event, Sizzle For A Cause, is coming Thursday Feb. 20th from 6:30-9:30 p.m. at Bayview Event Center in Excelsior. This Iron Chef style competition will feature five Minnetonka area restaurants. Enjoy live music, delicious appetizers, wine, beer or cocktails. I’m honored to be a returning judge, along with Mrs. Minnesota Tara Malone Mulkey, Lifestyle Expert Ross Sveback, Natalie Hagemo Host at MY TALK 107.1 and  WCCO Host Mike Woodley. The event benefits the ICA Food Shelf. It’s going to be sizzling HOT! Get your tickets fast at: icasizzle.eventbrite.com ….or, for more info: www.facebook.com/sizzle2014

Here’s a YouTube clip of the event. I had a blast participating last year – hope you can stop by and make an appearance, supporting a very good cause, the ICA Food Shelf: http://youtu.be/GqwGOB8A14E

TODAY: Dusting or coating of light snow and flurries. Winds: SE 10-15. High: 20
SATURDAY NIGHT: Flurries taper, a few slick spots. Low: 8
SUNDAY: Partly sunny, not subzero. High: 24
SUNDAY NIGHT: More light snow arrives – roads may be slick for the Monday AM commute. Low: 20
MONDAY: A few inches of additional snow? Potentially plowable. High: 26
TUESDAY: Patchy clouds, turning milder. Wake-up: 24. High: 36
WEDNESDAY: Hints of March. Clouds increase. Wake-up: 21. High: 38
THURSDAY: More accumulating snow/ice. A few inches of slushy snow possible. Wake-up: 31. High: 34
FRIDAY: Colder with intervals of sun, better travel day. Wake-up: 15. High: 26

Climate Stories…

The End Of Snow? Just in case you missed this article in the Sunday New York Times; here’s an excerpt: “…The planet has warmed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1800s, and as a result, snow is melting. In the last 47 years, a million square miles of spring snow cover has disappeared from the Northern Hemisphere. Europe has lost half of its Alpine glacial ice since the 1850s, and if climate change is not reined in, two-thirds of European ski resorts will be likely to close by 2100. The same could happen in the United States, where in the Northeast, more than half of the 103 ski resorts may no longer be viable in 30 years because of warmer winters…”

Photo credit above: “Slopes were closed last month at Fichtelberg mountain in Oberwiesenthal, Germany.” Jan Woitas/European Pressphoto Agency.

Global Warming, Winter Weather And The Olympics – Five Leading Climate Scientists Weigh In. Is there a connection between “global weirding” and what’s happening in the Arctic during the summer months? Here’s an excerpt from Andy Revkin at The New York Times: “…The research linking summertime Arctic sea ice with wintertime climate over temperate latitudes deserves a fair hearing. But to make it the centerpiece of the public discourse on global warming is inappropriate and a distraction. Even in a warming climate, we could experience an extraordinary run of cold winters, but harsher winters in future decades are not among the most likely nor the most serious consequences of global warming…”

Photo credit above: “Visitors to the Olympic Park enjoy the warm weather at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 14, 2014, in Sochi, Russia.” (AP Photo/David J. Phillip).

The Gravitational Pull Of Planet Carbon. Can we eventually wean ourselves off our global addiction to carbon-based fuels? An epic question, and I’m still cautiously optimistic that the markets will come up with cleaner, cost-effective alternatives in the years to come. If we can save money AND clean up the air in the process it becomes a win-win proposition. Here’s an excerpt from Huffington Post: “…In the past few years, the ever more widespread use of new extractive technologies — notably hydraulic fracturing (to exploit shale deposits) and steam-assisted gravity drainage (for tar sands) — has led to a significant increase in fossil fuel production, especially in North America.  This has left in the dust the likelihood of an imminent “peak” in global oil and gas output and introduced an alternative narrative — much promoted by the energy industry and its boosters — of unlimited energy supplies that will last into the distant future…”

Read More

Friday Chill, Saturday Snow and Puddles Next Week

Friday, February 14, 2014

“I thought you said it was supposed to be warmer, Todd!” Yes, I did… be patient!

Yes, I know it’s a bit on the chilly today, but it was expected. We’re seeing cold exhaust on the back side of that fast moving clipper system that kicked out a few wind whipped snow flakes yesterday. There is yet again another clipper system that will blow through our neck of the woods tomorrow. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself doing a little light shoveling on Saturday, but let it melt. The onset of the warming will take place into early next week. Our first +30F day is on deck for Monday with another +30F in the hole for Tuesday!

Old Man winter is tired and we should get a few more cracks at +30F next week before his relief arrives. There is a slight indication of additional cooling late next weekend, so don’t get too excited.

This is normal… It’s still February and we’ll likely see a few more wintry spats before this extra inning game is over. Don’t forget, we saw 30s and 0.5″ of snow into May of last year; It was enough to make my parents move to Phoenix! I might still have to book a flight this year to take the edge off this wintry sting.
_______________________________________________________________________

THURSDAY NIGHT: Breezy and colder. Low: 0. Winds: NW 15-25.

FRIDAY: Minor setback in the temperature department. More sun. High: 14. Winds: NW 5-15.

FRIDAY NIGHT: Another cold night. Low: -1.

SATURDAY: Another clipper arrives. Snow likely. Dusting up to 2″ possible. High: 22.

SUNDAY: Bright start. Increasing clouds with a light wintry mix developing late/overnight. Wake-up: 7. High: 23.

MONDAY: Wintry mix possible early, then gradual clearing and warmer! Wake-up: 21. High: 35.

TUESDAY: Partly sunny, continued thaw. Wake-up: 20. High: 36.

WEDNESDAY: Puddles continue to grow. Wake-up: 22. High: 34.

THURSDAY: More clouds, light mix possible. Wake-up: 21. High: 35.
___________________________________________________________________________

MSP Temp Trend
After a brief cool down on Friday, temperatures warm into the 30s for an extended period next week. There are some indications that it chill down a bit by the end of the month… stay tuned!

FutureRadar
Watch the blue streaks moving southeast through the Upper Midwest. We had one AM Thursday, another one snakes through on Friday morning and yet another one (not picture shown here) will slide through on Saturday.

Snow Potential
Here’s the snow potential through midday Sunday, which shows 2 snow streaks. The one over much of Minnesota is the Saturday snow chance, which could bring a dusting up to 2″ to parts of the state.

Snowy DC
Thanks to @uplandcounty for this picture out of Washington D.C. where they tallied over a foot of snow!

Philadelphia
Thanks to @BearsJState for this image from the Philadelphia Airport

New York
Thanks to @jhowardpr for this picture out of New York. It’s a very snowy Union Square!

Bronx Accident
Thanks to Tri-State Weather for this image out of the Bronx from yesterday. Interestingly, schools were NOT closed on Thursday in New York. By the way, New York City public schools have only been closed 11 times since 1978!

Pilot, VA
WOW! Thanks to Earl Shortridge for this image out of Pilot, VA where he measured 20″ !!

Snow Tallies
NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center has a huge list of snow tallies from the latest storm system. As of 4pm EST, there were several reports exceeding 18″ and a few nearing 2ft.! Maryland, Virgina and West Virginia seemed to be the two states where some of the heaviest tallies were found.

See the full list HERE:

Snow Map
Here’s a map of snowfall amounts from Midday Tuesday into Midday Wednesday. Note the extreme snowfall amounts from the northern portions of the Gulf Coast States to near New York.

Winter Storm Warning Continues
The Winter Storm Warning in the Northeast will begin to fade on Friday as the storm system pulls away from the coastline. Total snowfall tallies on the high end could be 12″ to 18″ or more in isolated spots. Blowing snow will be an issue through Friday as strong winds surround the low pressure system.

August, GA Ice Damage
Thanks to Jason Nappi from WJBF TV showing more ice damage from Augusta, GA

August, GA
Thanks to @Weatherman319 for this image out of August, GA where a tree fell on this Augusta National Golf Club sign.

Supportive Snowman
Thanks to Madison Tank out of Woodstock, GA for this image who is showing her support during the Winter Olympics in Sochi Russia. GO USA!!

Active Pattern Continues
The forecast looks quite active into the upcoming weekend. A near continuous fountain on moisture continues to wring itself out over the Pacific Northwest. Pieces of these storms will move through the nation quite frequently, each will bring some rain and snow to parts of the eastern U.S.

Wet in the Pacific Northwest
Heavy precipitation continues to fall in the Pacific Northwest. The image below shows NOAA’s 5 day precipitation forecast, where 5″ to 10″ or more can’t be ruled out by early next week!

Atmospheric River
The plume of tropical moisture in the Eastern Pacific continues. The Atmospheric River has been responsible for copious amount of moisture lately. Hopefull we can see this wobble a little farther south into California as well.

February Precipitation So Far
This is an interesting map, it shows the radar estimated precipitation over the last 7 days. Note how much precipitation we’ve seen in the western U.S. since the start of the month. This certainly is nice to see, but we still need a lot more, especially in California.

Thanks for checking in and have a great weekend ahead!
Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @TNelsonWNTV

Brief Cool Down Friday, Then Warming By Next Week

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Winter’s Last Gasp?
By Todd Nelson

Hey, guess what… Meteorological Winter ends in a little more than 2 week! March 1st will mark the date when the coldest 3 months (on average) are behind us and it seems as if it’s only an arm’s reach away. We will likely encounter a few wintry spats between now and the official start to Spring, which is March 20th, but the worst of the winter weather may be deteriorating.

Today will bring another snow chance to the Upper Midwest with the heaviest snowfall potential sitting across far northern Minnesota. There will be a quit shot of cold exhaust on the back side of this quick moving clipper system, but the face numbing cold air will start to erode by the weekend.

The warming atmosphere will squeeze out a couple more clipper systems over the weekend with light snow possible both days, but the prize arrives into next week as we finally thaw out! By the way, the last time we had a daytime high in the 20s was February 1st and the last time we had a high temperature in the 30s was back on January 29th, 2 weeks ago.
The extended forecast calls for a string of 30s next week! It’ll feel better out there, but it’s going to get a little sloppy. #PuddleWeather
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WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Another clipper arrives with a light snow chance. Low: 14. Winds: S 5-15.

THURSDAY: A little light snow early. Turning breezy and cooler late. High: 30. Winds: NW 10-20.

THURSDAY NIGHT: Mostly cloudy and colder. Low: 0. Winds: NW 10-15

FRIDAY: Minor setback in the temperature department. High: 12.

SATURDAY: Light snow chance. Wake-up: -1. High: 18.

SUNDAY: Warming, wintry mix late. Wake-up: 8. High: 26.

MONDAY: Mix early, then gradual clearing and warmer! Wake-up: 22. High: 34.

TUESDAY: More sun and still mild. Wake-up: 15. High: 34.

WEDNESDAY: Continued thaw. Sprinkles? Wake-up: 25. High: 36.
_______________________________________________________________

Minneapolis Temperature Trend
After a brief shot of cooler air on Friday, the temperature trend looks pleasing into much of next week! Note how we see a string of 30s before a possible secondary shot of cold weather next Saturday. The important thing to note with this is that the wintry sptats don’t seem to be sticking around for quite as long as they did in January or early February! We might be starting to see the demise of the extreme Arctic air close to home!

850mb Temperature Trend
Here’s the temperature trend for the 850mb level, which is a few thousand feet off the ground. Note the red colors showing up into next week. This indicated temperatures warming at this level and is a good indicator of how temperatures may respond at the surface.

FutureRadar
Fast moving clippers systems continue to roll through the Upper Midwest. Each one will be responsible for light snow chances as they quickly move south.

Snow Chances Continue
Here’s the snow potential through Saturday, which shows a better chance of accumulations across far northern Minnesota.

Major Snow & Ice Event
Thanks to @M_Benson06 out of Moncks Corner, SC for the picture below. Unfortunately, this was an all too familiar scene in many spots across the Southeastern part of the nation.

Murrells Inlet, SC
Thanks to Austin Bond Photography for this picture. The ice was too much for this tree… YIKES!

“Live Oak Tree down on Belin Drive in Murrells Inlet, SC today due to ice storm. Many large branches are falling from the trees in the woods surrounding Belin UMC’s cemetery. Approximately one large branch every five minutes. This ice storm doesn’t seem as much ice as the last one but the trees are having a tough time here! Please share and be careful out there!

See more HERE:

Augusta, Georgia
Thanks to The Augusta Chronicle for this image out of Augusta, GA where the weight of the ice on trees unfortunately led to many of these images. With downed trees comes downed power lines and the big issue over the next several days is going to be restoring power to those who have lost it.

See more HERE:


Reminiscent of Atlanta 2 Weeks Ago
Thanks to NCDOT for the image below, which showed the traffic situation from around the Raleigh-Durham, NC region yesterday afternoon/evening. It’s very reminiscent of what happened a couple of weeks ago in Atlanta, GA


Charlotte, NC Snow
Thanks to Bobbi Marshall Sundeen for this picture out of Charlotte, NC

Ice & Snow Reports
This is a look at some of the ice and snow reports that came in as of early evening from the southeastern part of the country. Unfortunately, the storm will continue to pump out ice and snow reports through Friday.

Flight Cancellations Wednesday
Another slow/frustrating day at the airports. Take a look at how many flights were either delayed or canceled on Wednesday. More than 3,000 flights were canceled across the U.S. while nearly 1,600 of those flights being canceled to or from the Atlanta airport.

See the latest flight delays/cancellations from FlightAware.com HERE:

Storm Churns Up the Coast
This powerful storm system will continue to intensify as it lifts northeast along the coastline. The biggest threat heading into the end of the week will be significant snow tallies.

Here’s more from NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center:

THE LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM IS EXPECTED TO INTENSIFY AND WILL BEGIN TO MOVE NORTHEASTWARD UP THE EASTERN SEABOARD IN THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS. WITH COLD AIR IN PLACE NEAR THE GROUND WHILE WARM AIR ALOFT BEING DRAWN INTO THE INTENSIFYING STORM FROM THE ATLANTIC…CONSIDERABLE AMOUNT OF ICE ACCUMULATIONS OF OVER ONE INCH WILL BE POSSIBLE FOR PORTIONS OF NORTH-CENTRAL GEORGIA AND SOUTH CAROLINA…WITH A LITTLE OVER HALF AN INCH OF ICE OVER CENTRAL NORTH CAROLINA. MEANWHILE…SNOW IS EXPECTED ALONG THE NORTHERN EDGE OF THE PRECIPITATION SHIELD TONIGHT ACROSS EXTREME NORTHERN MISSISSIPPI…ALABAMA…AND GEORGIA AS WELL AS TENNESSEE WITH 1 TO 4 INCHES EXPECTED. HEAVY SNOW IS EXPECTED TO SPREAD NORTHWARD INTO THE SOUTHERN APPALACHIANS…WITH SNOWFALL AMOUNTS 10 TO 14 INCHES EXPECTED FROM EXTREME NORTHERN GEORGIA AND SOUTH CAROLINA NORTHWARD ALONG AND JUST EAST OF THE HIGHER TERRAIN OF THE APPALACHIANS IN NORTH CAROLINA…TENNESSEE…AND SOUTHERN VIRGINIA BY THIS EVENING. HEAVY SNOW WILL CONTINUE INTO THE MID ATLANTIC AND NORTHEAST THIS EVENING AND THURSDAY WITH SIGNIFICANT ACCUMULATIONS OF 10 TO 15 INCHES POSSIBLE. CLOSER TO THE COAST…WARMER AIR FROM THE ATLANTIC IS EXPECTED TO CHANGE THE SNOW TO A WINTRY MIX OR ALL RAIN.

Winter Weather Concerns Continue
Winter weather headlines have been posted all the way up the Eastern Seaboard to the Northern New England States. The major icing threat will begin to fade AM Thursday, but heavy snow will be the biggest concern through Friday.

Snowfall Potential
There is going to be a fairly extensive snow swath along the Eastern Seaboard through the end of the week. Some areas could walk away with 6″ to 12″+ by the time this is all said and done.

Here’s a look at snowfall tallies from the National Weather Service Eastern Region Headquarters.
See more HERE:

Wednesday Severe Weather
If the wintry weather wasn’t enough, we even had severe weather issues across parts of Florida on Wednesday. This was the radar across Florida on Wednesday afternoon.

Florida Tornado
The storm reports from Wednesday showed a tornado report near Fort Meade in central Florida where a tornado reportedly blew the roof off of a porch.

Warmer Weather Ahead
According to NOAA’s 6 to 10 day temperature outlook, which will take us through next week. It appears that the eastern two-thirds of the nation will be warmer than average. The good news is that much of the snow and ice that has fallen in the deep south will melt quickly! This should help power crews with the upcoming task of restoring power to all the customers that have lost their power.

Valentine’s Day Northern Lights Potential?
NOAA has issued 2 Solar Storm Watches! The potential for northern lights viewing may be increasing for northern dwellers.

“The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center has issued two consecutive 24 hour magnetic storm watches indicating a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) emanating from the Sun may be heading towards Earth. A CME is a fast moving cloud of charged particles which can cause a Northern Lights display.”

See more information from www.SoftServeNews.com HERE:

Thanks for checking in and have a great rest of your week!
Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @TNelsonWNTV

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Press Release: Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! Gains New Partner

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Brooklyn Center, MN - On January 28, 2014, Conservation Minnesota, Wildlife Forever, and Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers™! (a national campaign coordinated by Wildlife Forever), signed a memorandum of understanding that will further strengthen the shared goal of protecting lakes and rivers from invasive species. Through this new partnership, Conservation Minnesota members will gain valuable access to tools and partnership resources to help stop the spread of invasives, and SAH! will gain a new, engaged audience.

Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! (SAH!) is excited to have Conservation Minnesota as the February Partner in Action. As a leader in protecting Minnesota’s wilderness, Conservation Minnesota is dedicated to protecting Minnesota through community engagement and legislation. Conservation Minnesota takes a unique approach to engagement by asking Minnesotans what issues matter most to them and then turns these answers into action on behalf of citizens.

One program of particular interest to SAH! is the Minnesota Waters program. Through this program, Conservation Minnesota assists over 500 lake and river associations in protecting their waters. The program offers water monitoring training programs, a statewide monthly newsletter and event calendar, website hosting, and guidance on effective grassroots action to its member groups. It also works with other organizations and state agencies to offer a biennial conference on water issues for Minnesota citizens.

“Lake and river associations are the critical connection to help educate boaters, anglers and local communities about AIS prevention. Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! helps provide the Clean, Drain, Dry consistent messaging with tools that we know can change behavior,” said Pat Conzemius, Conservation Director at Wildlife Forever.

SAH! is the internationally recognized public service campaign for the prevention of invasive species,” said Paul Austin, Executive Director at Conservation Minnesota. “We are excited to join the thousands of agencies, organizations, and groups have signed on to support these efforts to raise awareness through SAH!’s consistent marketing, messaging and outreach.”

Groups and clubs can sign up free at www.ProtectYourWaters.net and take part in America’s movement to help recreational users conserve our fish and wildlife resources by preventing the spread of invasive species.

Become a member of Conservation Minnesota and the Minnesota Waters Program to take advantage of all this partnership has to offer. More information is available: http://www.minnesotawaters.org/content/membership-renewal, and at http://www.conservationminnesota.org.

About Wildlife Forever: Wildlife Forever’s mission is to conserve America’s wildlife heritage through conservation education, preservation of habitat and management of fish and wildlife. As the nonprofit conservation arm of the North American Hunting Club and North American Fishing Club, Wildlife Forever represents the conservation interests of 1 million members. As operational lead for the national Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! campaign Wildlife Forever also works to engage America’s youth through the State-Fish Art Program. Visit www.WildlifeForever.org for more information.

Contact at Wildlife Forever: Julia Luger at jluger@wildlifeforever.org
Contact at Conservation Minnesota: Jaclyn Urness at Jaclyn@conservationminnesota.org.

A Little Warmer With a Little More Snow

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

TUESDAY NIGHT: Coating of snow overnight. Low: 9 and warming.

WEDNESDAY: Lingering AM flurries. More midday sun. High: 20. Winds: NW 5.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Another clipper arrives with a light snow chance. Low: 15.

THURSDAY: A little light snow with a few peeks of sun. High: 26.

FRIDAY: Clearing and a bit cooler. Wake-up: 5. High: 14.

SATURDAY: Light snow chance. Wake-up: 0. High: 22.

SUNDAY: Partly sunny and warmer. Wake-up: 13. High: 33.

MONDAY: Light rain/snow mix possible. Wake-up: 24. High: 34.

TUESDAY: I can finally feel my fingers!. Wake-up: 18. High: 35.
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Minneapolis Temperature Trend
Well, it sure is nice to see some warmer temperature in the forecast. It will still be a little chilly this week, but next week there is a chance that we may actually have an extended period with temperatures in the 20s and 30s!

Clipper Parade
Take a look at the FutureRadar through AM Thursday. Through that time we’ll have had 2 fast moving clipper systems moving through the Upper Midwest. Each one will be responsible for some light snow accumulations, but mainly across northern Minnesota.

Snow Chances
The snow potential through Thursday suggests a light coating of snow for areas in white, but the far northern reaches of the state could see a little more.

Update on MSP Sub-Zero Nights
As of Tuesday, Minneapolis has seen 42 sub-zero nights, which is currently 3 shy of getting into the “Top 10 Winters for Days with Low Below Zero”. The other important note is that there were 17 consecutive days in a row with sub-zero lows and this is tied for the 8th longest streak in recorded history.

National Weather Outlook
The national weather outlook shows a fairly robust storm system moving up from the Gulf Coast states into the Northeast through Thursday. This storm, unfortunately, will be responsible for a significant amount of ice and snow, which will have big impacts on travel and power outages that could last for several days.

Here’s an outlook from NOAA:

“A strong storm will develop along the Central Gulf Coast and move to the Southeast Coast by Thursday morning. The system will produce areas of freezing rain and sleet over parts of Eastern Texas and the Lower Mississippi Valley through Wednesday morning. In addition, another area of freezing rain/sleet will develop over parts of the Southeast through Thursday morning. Light to moderate rain will develop over the Lower Mississippi Valley and move eastward to parts of the Southeast while intensifying to moderate to heavy rain on Wednesday. Pockets of snow will develop over parts of the Southern Appalachians Tuesday night into Wednesday and blossom to heavy snow over parts of the Mid-Atlantic Wednesday night. The heavy snow will expand along the Mid-Atlantic coast into Southern New England by Thursday morning. Furthermore, showers and thunderstorms will develop along the Central Gulf Coast that will move eastward into Florida by Wednesday evening, then ending overnight.

National Winter Weather Headlines
The National Weather Service has issued several winter weather headlines from Texas to the Northern New England States. Snowfall amounts in some areas could be as much as 6″ to 12″ while icing could be as much as 0.50″ to 1.0″!

Icing Potential
The National Weather Service out of Peachtree City, GA has issued an Ice Storm Warning for a number of locations. Here’s the latest

…ICE STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 1 PM EST THURSDAY… 

* LOCATIONS…ALONG AND EITHER SIDE OF A LINE FROM FRANKLIN TO NEWNAN AND PEACHTREE CITY TO WARRENTON. 

* HAZARD TYPES…MAINLY FREEZING RAIN WITH SOME SNOW AND SLEET. 

* ACCUMULATIONS…SOUTHERN SECTIONS OF THE ICE STORM WARNING WILL BE ON THE EDGE OF WARNING CRITERIA WITH WARNER ROBINS AND MACON SEEING ANYWHERE FROM A TENTH TO A QUARTER INCH OF ICE. FURTHER NORTH HOWEVER…MORE CRIPPLING EFFECTS ARE LIKELY WITH A HALF TO POSSIBLY AS HIGH AS AN INCH OF ICE FROM THIS STORM. 

* TIMING…SNOW…SLEET AND FREEZING RAIN WILL BEGIN LATE TONIGHT…GENERALLY AFTER MIDNIGHT AND CONTINUE INTO WEDNESDAY. THIS WILL GRADUALLY CHANGEOVER TO ALL FREEZING RAIN WEDNESDAY INTO WEDNESDAY NIGHT. THE ACTIVITY SHOULD END AS LIGHT SNOW LATE WEDNESDAY NIGHT INTO THURSDAY MORNING. 

* IMPACTS…THESE HIGH ICE ACCUMULATION AMOUNTS WILL MAKE TRAVEL IMPOSSIBLE. THIS HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BE A CATASTROPHIC EVENT. WIDESPREAD AND EXTENDED POWER OUTAGES ARE LIKELY AS ICE ACCUMULATES ON TREES AND POWERLINES AND BRINGS THEM DOWN. PLEASE PREPARE TO BE WITHOUT POWER IN SOME LOCATIONS FOR DAYS AND PERHAPS AS LONG AS A WEEK. ONCE THE ICE BEGINS TO MELT ON THURSDAY AND FRIDAY…FALLING ICE FROM BRIDGES AND OVERPASSES WILL CREATE AN ADDITIONAL HAZARD.

 
Icing Potential Continued…
Here’s another Graphicast from the NWS out of Peachtree City, GA, which shows the ice and snow potential across the area. They are calling this potentially “Catastrophic Ice Totals”.


Icing Potential
The icing potential won’t be limited to just Georgia, take a look at how widespread it could be into AM Thursday. Keep in mind that just 0.50″ of ice can add an extra 500lbs of weight to a span of power lines. With that said, think about how widespread power outages could be with the freezing rain potential shown here!

Snow Potential
The next phase of the storm will be the heavy snow potential acorss the Eastern Seaboard through Friday. Here’s a look snow potential through Friday. This particular model suggests nearly 6″ to 12″ amounts right along the coast.

Thanks for checking in and have a great rest of your week!
Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @TNelsonWNTV

Arcitc Air Eases; Clipper Parade Returns

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Winds of Change
By Todd Nelson

The morning low on Tuesday will be the 42 sub-zero low of the winter season, which will fall short of getting into the “Top 10 Winter for Lows with Days Below Zero” for now by 3. Just glancing at weather forecasts over the next several days, we get close to dipping below zero, but should stay just above it for the rest of the week.

With the slight bump in the temperature department, the storm track finds it’s way back into our neck of the woods. Our first clipper in the clipper parade arrives later today with a quick coating of snow. The next fast moving system drops into the region by Thursday and yet another one could blow through the area on Saturday! Each one will bring the chance of a light coating of snow, which appears to be no more than just a nuisance at this point.

The big story heading into next week is going to be the ensuing warmup! It doesn’t appear to be record warmth heading our way, but noticeable enough that we may actually have a chance to thaw out for consecutive days.

I’m encouraged by what appears to be a change in the weather pattern for the 2nd half of Feb., but I guess that means we’ll be using more of the blue bug juice for the windshield.
___________________________________________________________________________

MONDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear, cold and quiet. Low: -14F. Feels Like: -25F.

TUESDAY:  Raw start. Increasing clouds with light snow later. High: 12. Feels Like -20F early. Winds: S 10-25.

TUESDAY NIGHT: Coating of snow overnight. 1″ to 2″ possible across northern Minnesota. Low: 7 and warming.

WEDNESDAY: Lingering AM flurries. Clearing a bit with another clipper arrives in the afternoon. Snow possible in northern MN. High: 22.

THURSDAY: Mild start with a few light snow showers. Breezy afternoon. Wake-up: 12. High: 30.

FRIDAY: Clearing and a bit cooler. Wake-up: 6. High: 16.

SATURDAY: Yes, another clipper. Light snow chance. Wake-up: 6. High: 26.

SUNDAY: Bright sun, brisk wind. Wake-up: 12. High: 27.

MONDAY: Much needed thaw arrives. Wake-up: 14. High: 33.
____________________________________________________________________________

Minneapolis Temperature Trend
According to weather model data, we’re going to FINALLY head in the right direction or at least be a little closer to average later this week/weekend. Tuesday mornings low will be brutal again, but note the gradual warming into Thursday. After spending so mays days in the Arctic cellar, 30F is going to feel amazing!

850mb Temperature Trend
Here’s another look at the temperature trend for the Minneapolis into next week. The 850mb level is located a few thousand feet off the ground. At this level, temperature trends can be tracked a little easier, but it implies how surfaces temperatures may respond as this level warms or cools. The important thing to note is that we see red by next week! That means that temperatures at this level may actually warm above the freezing warm, which would help surface temperatures warmup as well!

Tuesday Clipper
Here’s a view of the first of many clipper expected to roll through the Upper Mississippi Valley over the next several days. This particular clipper will move in later Tuesday with a quick coating of snow by AM Wednesday.

Snow Chance
Here’s a view of snowfall potential through AM Thursday, which will also encompass another clipper PM Wednesday/AM Thursday. It doesn’t look like much, but there could be some light accumulations across parts of Minnesota through that time frame.

Atmospheric River Continues
The western part of the country has seen quite a bit of moisture since last week all thanks to a deep plume of tropical moisture originating from near Hawaii. Note the finger of bright colors stretching from the Hawaiian Islands to the West Coast.

More Western Precipitation on the Way
According to NOAA’s HPC, the 5 day precipitation forecast still suggests a bunch of moisture through the end of the week!

Precipitation Past 7 Days
This is unreal… In just a matter of days, we’ve seen nearly 12″ of total liquid precipitation across parts of northern California.

Update on Folsom Lake
Folsom Lake was in the news recently about how low the water level was. How about this, after a weekend of heavy rainfall, Folsom Lake has risen nearly 15ft! WOW!

“Folsom Lake has risen about 15 feet in just four days of rain, and continues to increase as showers linger into Monday morning. That’s according to preliminary data recorded by sensors on the lake. The increase may be hard to see with the naked eye, but puddles around the lake on the western edge, and streams near Browns Ravine have taken over what has been a dry, barren landscape.

See more from Fox40.com HERE:

(Image courtesy: Fox40.com)

Record Seattle Snow
Thanks to my good friend Nicholas Shipes for this picture out of Seattle, WA where 2.9″ of snow fell on Saturday! That was good enough for a daily snowfall record. The old record was only 0.4″ set in 1957.

More Wintry Weather on the Way
Take a look at all the winter weather headlines that have been issued by the national weather service across the nation. Note that a few remain in the western U.S., but there are certainly not as many as there used to be. Note also the large swath of wintry weather headlines from the Lower Mississippi Valley to the Mid Atlantic Region. There will be a fairly significant swath of snow and ice potential through AM Thursday.

Here’s the latest from the National Weather Service:

“…A major winter storm will affect the Lower Mississippi Valley and southeastern U.S. through mid-week…

…More heavy rain/snow expected across the Pacific Northwest…
The second week of February will be quite active with another round of wintry precipitation forecast across the southern tier of the country this week. A frontal boundary sinking southward into the northern Gulf of Mexico will allow northerly flow to persist along the Gulf Coast. This will ultimately draw cool Canadian air from the dome of high pressure to the north which should bring readings to near the freezing mark. With the sub-freezing air in place, a series of mid-level impulses will cross overhead resulting in precipitation which should spread from west to east across the Deep South. What will complicate matters is a tongue of warmer air just above the surface layer should lead to a mixture of freezing rain and sleet. This region of mixed wintry precipitation will focus along the rain/snow line with fairly extensive ice accumulations being forecast by the WPC winter weather desk. Through Wednesday evening, the current forecast depicts anywhere from 2 to 6 inches of snow from northern Mississippi eastward into much of North Carolina. A localized heavier axis is possible along upslope regions of the Southern Appalachians. Additionally, bounding this area of snow to the south will be sufficiently high ice accumulations extending from northern Louisiana through central portions of the southern states into the southeastern U.S. coast. The current maxima is expected from eastern Georgia into central South Carolina with 0.50 to 0.75 inches of ice possible. Of course any measurable ice will make travel hazardous.

Empty Store Shelves in Georgia
How about this… I guess people are taking this store seriously. The store shelves are nearly empty in Smyrna, GA. Thanks to Steve Schmidt for the picture!

FutureRadar Through PM Wednesday
Here’s the outlook through PM Wednesday, which shows a fairly robust blob of moisture across the Gulf Coast States through that time period. This southern branch of precipitation is going to fall in a wintry fashion. Unfortunately, there’s a pretty good snow and freezing rain potential.

Southern Snow Potential
Snowfall amounts could ramp up quickly with this particular system as it nears the Carolinas. The particular image below suggests 3″ to 6″+ possible in some areas from Georgia to North Carolina by Wednesday evening.

Icing Potential
Here’s NOAA’s probability of 0.25″ or more through Thursday. Note the near 80% chance across parts of the Carolinas.

Ice Storm Warning
The National Weather Service out of Charleston, SC has issued an Ice Storm Warning for parts of South Carolina from PM Tuesday into AM Thursday.

…ICE STORM WARNING IN EFFECT FROM MIDNIGHT TUESDAY NIGHT TO 10 AM EST THURSDAY… THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN CHARLESTON HAS ISSUED AN ICE STORM WARNING…WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM MIDNIGHT TUESDAY NIGHT TO 10 AM EST THURSDAY.

* ICE ACCUMULATIONS…AROUND ONE QUARTER OF AN INCH.

* TIMING…RAIN IS FORECAST TO MIX OR CHANGE TO FREEZING RAIN TUESDAY EVENING INTO THE OVERNIGHT HOURS…THEN CONTINUE INTO AS LATE AS THURSDAY MORNING.

* IMPACTS…SIGNIFICANT ICE ACCUMULATIONS COULD CREATE DANGEROUS OR IMPOSSIBLE DRIVING CONDITIONS…ESPECIALLY ON BRIDGES…OVERPASSES AND UNTREATED ROADS. DAMAGE TO TREES AND POWER LINES ARE LIKELY AS WELL AS POWER OUTAGES ACROSS THE AREA.

Watching the Low Track Northeast
This is going to be an interesting storm system to watch develop. Not only will it have significant impacts on places in the south, but there may also be some issues later this week in the Northeast as the storm intensifies… The storm track could bring accumulating snow to the coastal communities in the Northeast as it skirts along the coast. Stay tuned!

Warmer Weather Ahead
Here’s a graphic that a few folks might be appreciative of… NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center suggests that the 6 to 10 day temperature outlook looks much warmer than what we’ve currently been dealing with! Note also how Alaska will be cooling down during this time frame.

Thanks for checking in and have a great rest of your week!
Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @TNelsonWNTV

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Arctic Air Eases; Clipper Parade Returns

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The morning low on Tuesday will be the 42 sub-zero low of the winter season, which will fall short of getting into the “Top 10 Winter for Lows with Days Below Zero” for now by 3. Just glancing at weather forecasts over the next several days, we get close to dipping below zero, but should stay just above it for the rest of the week.

With the slight bump in the temperature department, the storm track finds it’s way back into our neck of the woods. Our first clipper in the clipper parade arrives later today with a quick coating of snow. The next fast moving system drops into the region by Thursday and yet another one could blow through the area on Saturday! Each one will bring the chance of a light coating of snow, which appears to be no more than just a nuisance at this point.

The big story heading into next week is going to be the ensuing warmup! It doesn’t appear to be record warmth heading our way, but noticeable enough that we may actually have a chance to thaw out for consecutive days.

I’m encouraged by what appears to be a change in the weather pattern for the 2nd half of Feb., but I guess that means we’ll be using more of the blue bug juice for the windshield.
___________________________________________________________________________

MONDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear, cold and quiet. Low: -14F. Feels Like: -25F.

TUESDAY:  Raw start. Increasing clouds with light snow later. High: 12. Feels Like -20F early. Winds: S 10-25.

TUESDAY NIGHT: Coating of snow overnight. 1″ to 2″ possible across northern Minnesota. Low: 7 and warming.

WEDNESDAY: Lingering AM flurries. Clearing a bit with another clipper arrives in the afternoon. Snow possible in northern MN. High: 22.

THURSDAY: Mild start with a few light snow showers. Breezy afternoon. Wake-up: 12. High: 30.

FRIDAY: Clearing and a bit cooler. Wake-up: 6. High: 16.

SATURDAY: Yes, another clipper. Light snow chance. Wake-up: 6. High: 26.

SUNDAY: Bright sun, brisk wind. Wake-up: 12. High: 27.

MONDAY: Much needed thaw arrives. Wake-up: 14. High: 33.
____________________________________________________________________________

Minneapolis Temperature Trend
According to weather model data, we’re going to FINALLY head in the right direction or at least be a little closer to average later this week/weekend. Tuesday mornings low will be brutal again, but note the gradual warming into Thursday. After spending so mays days in the Arctic cellar, 30F is going to feel amazing!

850mb Temperature Trend
Here’s another look at the temperature trend for the Minneapolis into next week. The 850mb level is located a few thousand feet off the ground. At this level, temperature trends can be tracked a little easier, but it implies how surfaces temperatures may respond as this level warms or cools. The important thing to note is that we see red by next week! That means that temperatures at this level may actually warm above the freezing warm, which would help surface temperatures warmup as well!

Tuesday Clipper
Here’s a view of the first of many clipper expected to roll through the Upper Mississippi Valley over the next several days. This particular clipper will move in later Tuesday with a quick coating of snow by AM Wednesday.

Snow Chance
Here’s a view of snowfall potential through AM Thursday, which will also encompass another clipper PM Wednesday/AM Thursday. It doesn’t look like much, but there could be some light accumulations across parts of Minnesota through that time frame.

Atmospheric River Continues
The western part of the country has seen quite a bit of moisture since last week all thanks to a deep plume of tropical moisture originating from near Hawaii. Note the finger of bright colors stretching from the Hawaiian Islands to the West Coast.

More Western Precipitation on the Way
According to NOAA’s HPC, the 5 day precipitation forecast still suggests a bunch of moisture through the end of the week!

Precipitation Past 7 Days
This is unreal… In just a matter of days, we’ve seen nearly 12″ of total liquid precipitation across parts of northern California.

Update on Folsom Lake
Folsom Lake was in the news recently about how low the water level was. How about this, after a weekend of heavy rainfall, Folsom Lake has risen nearly 15ft! WOW!

“Folsom Lake has risen about 15 feet in just four days of rain, and continues to increase as showers linger into Monday morning. That’s according to preliminary data recorded by sensors on the lake. The increase may be hard to see with the naked eye, but puddles around the lake on the western edge, and streams near Browns Ravine have taken over what has been a dry, barren landscape.

See more from Fox40.com HERE:

(Image courtesy: Fox40.com)

Record Seattle Snow
Thanks to my good friend Nicholas Shipes for this picture out of Seattle, WA where 2.9″ of snow fell on Saturday! That was good enough for a daily snowfall record. The old record was only 0.4″ set in 1957.

More Wintry Weather on the Way
Take a look at all the winter weather headlines that have been issued by the national weather service across the nation. Note that a few remain in the western U.S., but there are certainly not as many as there used to be. Note also the large swath of wintry weather headlines from the Lower Mississippi Valley to the Mid Atlantic Region. There will be a fairly significant swath of snow and ice potential through AM Thursday.

Here’s the latest from the National Weather Service:

“…A major winter storm will affect the Lower Mississippi Valley and southeastern U.S. through mid-week… 

…More heavy rain/snow expected across the Pacific Northwest… 
The second week of February will be quite active with another round of wintry precipitation forecast across the southern tier of the country this week. A frontal boundary sinking southward into the northern Gulf of Mexico will allow northerly flow to persist along the Gulf Coast. This will ultimately draw cool Canadian air from the dome of high pressure to the north which should bring readings to near the freezing mark. With the sub-freezing air in place, a series of mid-level impulses will cross overhead resulting in precipitation which should spread from west to east across the Deep South. What will complicate matters is a tongue of warmer air just above the surface layer should lead to a mixture of freezing rain and sleet. This region of mixed wintry precipitation will focus along the rain/snow line with fairly extensive ice accumulations being forecast by the WPC winter weather desk. Through Wednesday evening, the current forecast depicts anywhere from 2 to 6 inches of snow from northern Mississippi eastward into much of North Carolina. A localized heavier axis is possible along upslope regions of the Southern Appalachians. Additionally, bounding this area of snow to the south will be sufficiently high ice accumulations extending from northern Louisiana through central portions of the southern states into the southeastern U.S. coast. The current maxima is expected from eastern Georgia into central South Carolina with 0.50 to 0.75 inches of ice possible. Of course any measurable ice will make travel hazardous.

Empty Store Shelves in Georgia
How about this… I guess people are taking this store seriously. The store shelves are nearly empty in Smyrna, GA. Thanks to Steve Schmidt for the picture!

FutureRadar Through PM Wednesday
Here’s the outlook through PM Wednesday, which shows a fairly robust blob of moisture across the Gulf Coast States through that time period. This southern branch of precipitation is going to fall in a wintry fashion. Unfortunately, there’s a pretty good snow and freezing rain potential.

Southern Snow Potential
Snowfall amounts could ramp up quickly with this particular system as it nears the Carolinas. The particular image below suggests 3″ to 6″+ possible in some areas from Georgia to North Carolina by Wednesday evening.

Icing Potential
Here’s NOAA’s probability of 0.25″ or more through Thursday. Note the near 80% chance across parts of the Carolinas.

Ice Storm Warning
The National Weather Service out of Charleston, SC has issued an Ice Storm Warning for parts of South Carolina from PM Tuesday into AM Thursday.

…ICE STORM WARNING IN EFFECT FROM MIDNIGHT TUESDAY NIGHT TO 10 AM EST THURSDAY… THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN CHARLESTON HAS ISSUED AN ICE STORM WARNING…WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM MIDNIGHT TUESDAY NIGHT TO 10 AM EST THURSDAY.

* ICE ACCUMULATIONS…AROUND ONE QUARTER OF AN INCH.

* TIMING…RAIN IS FORECAST TO MIX OR CHANGE TO FREEZING RAIN TUESDAY EVENING INTO THE OVERNIGHT HOURS…THEN CONTINUE INTO AS LATE AS THURSDAY MORNING.

* IMPACTS…SIGNIFICANT ICE ACCUMULATIONS COULD CREATE DANGEROUS OR IMPOSSIBLE DRIVING CONDITIONS…ESPECIALLY ON BRIDGES…OVERPASSES AND UNTREATED ROADS. DAMAGE TO TREES AND POWER LINES ARE LIKELY AS WELL AS POWER OUTAGES ACROSS THE AREA.

Watching the Low Track Northeast
This is going to be an interesting storm system to watch develop. Not only will it have significant impacts on places in the south, but there may also be some issues later this week in the Northeast as the storm intensifies… The storm track could bring accumulating snow to the coastal communities in the Northeast as it skirts along the coast. Stay tuned!

Warmer Weather Ahead
Here’s a graphic that a few folks might be appreciative of… NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center suggests that the 6 to 10 day temperature outlook looks much warmer than what we’ve currently been dealing with! Note also how Alaska will be cooling down during this time frame.

Thanks for checking in and have a great rest of your week!
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