Thursday, April 1, 2010

81 on April Fool's Day ?!!?

* St. Cloud sees a high of 76 on Thursday, smashing the old record of 67 in 1925.

* Rochester's high of 83 breaks the old record of 75 set in 1981.

* Twin Cities Thursday high: 81, missed a record by one degree.

* March temperatures at MSP: nearly 9 degrees above average, 4th warmest March on record.

* First snow-less March in the cities since 1878, back in the pioneer records. Having no snow in March has happened only 2 years since Ft. Snelling was settled in the 1830s, in 1860 and 1878.

March Snow Totals from the MN State Climate Office. Simply amazing...

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

Today: Cloudy with a period of light rain developing. Temperatures holding steady or slowly falling by afternoon. Winds: W 8-13. High: 65

Friday night: Periods of rain. Low: 47

Saturday: Mostly cloudy, breezy and cooler with a passing shower or sprinkle (NOT an all-day rain). Winds: NW 10-15+ High: 55

Easter Sunday: Nicer day of the weekend. Intervals of sun, less wind - a drier day. High: 58

Monday: Mostly cloudy, rain possible by Monday night. High: 59

Tuesday: Heavier, steadier rain expected. High: near 50

Wednesday: Cloudy, gusty and cooler with sprinkles and showers. High: 47

Thursday: Brighter, better with sunshine returning. High: 54

Early Ice Out on 'Tonka. Not sure if it's official on Lake Minnetonka, but this was the scene yesterday in Tonka Bay, where the ice was almost completely gone, nearly 2 weeks ahead of schedule. White Bear Lake reported the official ice-out on April 1. It usually is reported on April 13.

Cumulus Congestus. A rising thermal of warm, moist air, on the verge of breaking through a "cap", an inversion, sprouting, mutating into a full blown cumulonimbus, a thunderstorm. We can't rule out a clap of thunder today, but the atmosphere overhead is a bit too dry and stable for a widespread severe storm outbreak.

Thursday Almanac. Check out these highs: 81 at MSP, 83 in Rochester (!) On the cool side of the front Duluth saw 62, 57 at Grand Marais, but these readings are still 15-20 degrees above average for April 1.

Happy Good Friday. Just when you think you've seen everything. T-shirts, shorts, bicycles, big burly guys on motorcycles - people sunbathing, while there - on the horizon - you can just barely make out ice ICE! on the lake. Not sure it's official yet, but my hunch is that Thursday, April 1, was the official ice-out date for Lake Minnetonka, possibly White Bear Lake as well, coming nearly 2 weeks ahead of schedule.

The mercury soared to 81 in the Twin Cities Thursday - a little above our average high of 49 on April 1. 31 degrees above average? Statistically that's pretty much off the charts. We missed a record by only 2 degrees (82 in 1882). Rochester soared to 83 - just incredible for the first day of April! Across east central MN ice is coming off area lakes 7-10 days ahead of schedule, but some northern lakes may see an ice-out 2-3 weeks ahead of normal, factoring in near-record warmth and gusty winds, which help to break up the ice faster. For the latest ice-out information for a Minnesota lake near you click here. Data from the MN State Climate Office.

Ice-Out Status. As you can see ice is already off lakes across roughly the southern third of Minnesota, it came off Rush Lake in Chisago county on March 31. For the very latest information for a lake near you click here. Yep, looks like you're going to get the dock in early this year.

* If you're chronically bored and interested in how lake ice melts click here to waste away a few more precious minutes. I've got your back.

We use "phrenology" as a marker with long-term weather and climate, tracking the movement of animals and the blossoming of specific plants and flowers to get a feel for how quickly (or slowly) the seasons are progressing. According to the MN State Climate Office:

2010 Data

First Red-winged blackbirds heard on March 14

Frost left the ground at MSP on March 16

First Western Chorus Frogs heard on March 30

2009 Data

Crab-apples started blooming on May 8

Lilacs started blooming on May 15

The Mother Lode of phrenology events/dates for the last 10 years is here.

Don't Write Winter Off Just Yet. Here is predicted snow through early next week, a few inches of slush likely across the Dakotas, where winter weather advisories are posted. Yes, about 6-8 hours west of town it will still look very much like winter into Saturday morning. But even there, most of the snow will be gone by Easter Sunday or Monday at the latest. The sun is too high in the sky for snow to linger on the ground for long in early April.

Damp Saturday Blues? Although I don't expect an all-day rain, expect to wake up to some (badly needed) puddles Saturday morning, a few instability showers/sprinkles may linger into the midday and afternoon hours, a stiff northwest wind keeping temperatures in the 50s. yes, we have been VERY spoiled in recent days. Mid 50s would still be nearly 10 degrees above average for early April.

Encouraging Trends. We've gone 2 1/2 weeks without rain in the area - we NEED a good soaking to recharge soil moisture in time for spring planting. Models are hinting at close to half an inch of rain from Friday afternoon into Saturday morning, but I doubt we'll see that much. I'll be pleasantly surprised if we pick up a half inch of rain. Another opportunity for rain comes Tuesday of next week as a storm spins up nearby, and that could be heavier/more widespread. We SEEM to be sliding into a slightly wetter, stormier pattern. Fingers crossed that we break out of this dry pattern (although it's going to be tough waving goodbye to 80-degree warmth).

We will cool down, maybe have one day (Wednesday of next week) with highs stuck in the 40s, a raw wind and a few sprinkles. But the GFS model is already suggesting a warming trend kicking in the latter half of next week, more 60s returning as early as the weekend of April 10-11. No arctic fronts, no accumulating snow, no sustained wind chill. Could we really get off with no snow the rest of the season? Starting to look that way. Yes, this year we've been blessed. We all got a GET OUT OF WEATHER-JAIL FREE card!

Definition of "Bad Roads". You think you have some serious pothole problems on your roads? Check out what flooding rains did to this highway surface near Providence, Rhode island! For more on what some are now calling a 1-in-500-year-flood for parts of New England click here.

TV Meteorologists and Climate Change. I realize I've alienated some percentage of readers out there who's minds are pretty much made up on the subject of climate change. But the science is the science. I'm serious when I say I'm keeping an open mind, always have, always will. If a newer, BETTER theory comes along that better explains the changes we're observing, melting glaciers, thinning arctic ice, rising water levels, I'll gladly change my mind and trumpet this new scientific finding. But there is still a pretty strong bedrock of science (coming from climate scientists, not bloggers, TV pundits or radio blow-hards) that supports the fact that man is (most likely) contributing to some of the changes we're seeing all around us. No, the "house of cards" did not come crashing down after "ClimateGate". The foundation of the house is still pretty strong, a few paint chips have been dislodged, proving that scientists are capable of being fickle, petty and not thrilled about spending time precious time with professional skeptics. If 90 out of 100 doctors give me the same diagnosis chances are I'm going to believe the - majority - of doctors and heed their advice. Yet when it comes to climate scientists now everyone is an expert, even people who have no grounding or schooling in chemistry, oceanography or computer modeling. Because we all experience "weather" that automatically makes us all experts on "climate", right? No. I defer to the climate scientists - when the majority of climate scientists change their tune, when a REAL smoking gun comes along that better explains what we're measuring all across the planet, then I'll be happy to change my tune too. Frankly, I hope these Phd's are wrong. Because if they're right we are wasting valuable time. At some point, within the next 5-15 years, there will be a moment of reckoning, a true oh-crap moment. The scientific method is sloppy, we zig and zag our way toward something approximating truth. By the time there is zero doubt, and even the industry-paid, professional skeptics finally throw in the towel, it will probably be too late to do much about it. I'm starting to think that it will take a series of global climate disasters to get people to wake up, and $$ may be better spent toward mitigation and adaptation, rather than trying to slow down this runaway freight-train. Hope I'm wrong on that one. For a look at why some TV meteorologists still harbor serious doubts click here.

Hey, I get it! Meteorologists, who study and predict short-term weather, not long-term climate patterns, get burned by bad computer models all the time. It's in our DNA. Meteorologists have a built in bias NOT to believe the computers. But we're not trying to predict whether or not it will rain next Sunday - we're using the simulations to predict how additional greenhouse gases will impact global patterns. The oceans can only absorb so much CO2, it's not an unlimited, infinite "sink" of carbon. Even the skeptics admit that greenhouse gases have spiked 38% in the last 200 years, higher now than any time in the last 650,000 years. To think this won't have any impact is hopelessly naive, we're whistling past the graveyard to ignore this and dump it in the laps of our kids and grandkids. We ignore the science at our own long-term peril. Future generations will hold us accountable for our words - and our actions.

* Thanks to Dave Dempsey from Conservation Minnesota for passing along this article.

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