Thursday, March 11, 2010

From 12" to a Trace of Snow in 11 Days

* NAM computer model printing out another .33" of rain between now and Sunday.

* Last 50-degree high at MSP? November 23, 2009 (52 F).

Where am I? What month is this again? April 12, right? Fog, heavy rain, thunder & lightning, a few pathetic piles of gritty, grubby snow left. The calendar says March, but as far as the atmosphere is concerned it's the first week of April, and will remain so through most of next week as highs flirt with 50 (or beyond). The more snow that melts, the more of the sun's energy can go into heating up the air vs. melting snow pack. We've lost 8-15" of snow in the last 2 weeks, and the rain/drizzle coupled with temperatures consistently (well) above freezing will mean precious little snow on the ground by Sunday. I wish I had better news for Minnesota's legions of snow-lovers and area ski resorts - but it would seem that winter has made an abrupt departure.

First Thunder. NWS Doppler Radar around 11 am Wednesday, showing thunderstorms moving through the metro area, the first observed thunderstorm of the spring season. All that rain is falling on frozen/saturated ground, accelerating snow melt - any and all water running off into storm sewers, streets, streams and eventually, Minnesota's rivers. Flood Warnings are in effect for parts of the Minnesota and Crow River. For the very latest advisories click here.

24 Hour Rainfall. Much of the Twin Cities metro area picked up .25"+, with some .50"+ rainfall amounts from near Mankato and Delano northward into the northern suburbs of the Twin Cities, over 1" near Albertville. For the latest 24 hour rainfall report from Intellicast click here.

Thursday Almanac. The high reached 47 in the Twin Cities, 44 at St. Cloud (3" of snow left on the ground). There is only a TRACE of snow officially at MSP, which is one of the more dramatic meltdowns in recent memory.

10-Day Meltdown. Check out the snow cover row - MSP went from 12" of snow on the ground March 1 to 2" the morning of the 10th, to a TRACE on Thursday, March 11. I can't recall a more rapid melting of snow in recent years. Click here to check out the Twin Cities Almanac information. No, Minnesota weather never ceases to amaze...

The GFS model is hinting at another inch of rain the weekend of March 20-21, followed by a colder front - even a touch of slush by March 25, give or take. Subzero weather? Doubtful, the odds very minimal at this point, but count on a few more chilly fronts, daytime highs possibly stuck in the 30s. The sun is just too high in the sky to get prolonged arctic weather in mid/late March. I'm nervous about the ongoing flood threat - part of me doesn't want to believe that we could have two record flood crests on the Red River, back to back. Last year: 60 days in a row above flood stage. I don't think it will wind up being that bad, but .50 to 1.5" of rain, falling on snow cover with a liquid water content of 4-8" will produce rapid melt and runoff into the Red River and Minnesota River basins, with a growing risk of flooding on the Mississippi, especially south of St. Paul. You've heard it ad nauseum, but the mantra still has merit for people living in flood-prone neighborhoods: stay alert, and stay tuned.

Weather & Climate Stories

"Panel will review U.N. Climate Work" New York Times article here.

"The Trouble with Trusting Complex Science" A thought-provoking article in the UK Guardian here.

"2010 Hurricane Season Could Be Extreme" At least according to Accu-Weather meteorologists. For the story at click here.

Paul's Conservation MN Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota

Today: Patchy fog, damp with drizzle, periods of light rain. Winds: NE 5-10. High: near 50

Tonight: Foggy, gloomy, more drizzle. Low: 40

Saturday: Still damp and mostly-gray with a few light showers. High: 52

Sunday: More clouds than sun, a few more showers (but drier overall). High: 53

Monday: Brighter, some sun (a stray shower/sprinkle). high: 55

Tuesday: Hints of spring with intervals of sun. High: 52

Wednesday: Plenty of sun - too early for spring fever. High: 55

Thursday: Partly sunny, no sign of winter (yet). High: 53

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