Thursday, December 23, 2010

1-3" Christmas Eve (bigger storm for New Year's weekend?)

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

 TODAY: Flurries, heavy snow stays south/west. Winds: E 7. High: 26

THURSDAY NIGHT: Clouds linger, a little light snow possible late. Low: 14

CHRISTMAS EVE: 1-3" snow possible - Rudolph sightings late. Some roads may be icy, especially south/west of the metro area. High: 25

CHRISTMAS DAY: Some sun, one VERY "white" Christmas! Travel conditions improve. High: near 20

SUNDAY: More sun as high pressure settles overhead, no worries getting home. High: 18

MONDAY: Blue sky, still cold and quiet. High: 21

TUESDAY: Clouds increase, a bit milder. High: 24

WEDNESDAY: Last dry day? Warming up slightly. High: 28

Extended Weather "Trend":

THURSDAY: Mix of light rain and snow develops. High: near 30

NEW YEAR'S EVE: Potential for a cold rain, some ice possible - heavier snow far north/west. High: 31

NEW YEAR'S DAY: Possible changeover to mostly snow - potential for significant accumulation, especially northern, central and western MN. High: 29 (falling during the day).

"Dreaming Of A White Christmas?" If so - you're definitely in luck this year. By Christmas Day I expect 17-19" on the ground in the Twin Cities, about 12-14" for St. Cloud, a bit less for Brainerd, but as much as 25-30" on the ground from near Rochester to Winona. Santa is pumped.

Winter Weather Advisory. The NWS has issued an advisory for accumulating snow for the southern and western suburbs of the Twin Cities for Christmas Eve. No problems today, but light snow starts up later tonight and continues through the afternoon on Friday.

Latest Model Run. Latest computer guidance brings accumulating snow into the Twin Cities metro on Christmas Eve; 1-3" seems like a reasonable range, the best chance of 2-3" southern and western suburbs, just enough to shovel and plow. Parts of far southern MN may wind up with 3-6" of snow, travel conditions getting progressively worse the farther south/west you drive away from MSP.

Solution 2 - More Significant Christmas Eve Clipper.The GFS solution is 1). delaying the snow until late Thursday night and Christmas Eve, and 2). bringing the snow band farther north, into the metro area. The models did this last Thursday, a phantom, 1-day run painted snow over the metro, only to be followed by a southern track the next day. This could be the same scenario, but the odds of a couple inches of snow have increased for Friday, with considerably more south/west of MSP.

Uh Oh. Proving that major holidays attract accumulating snow, the latest GFS model is hinting at over 1" of liquid precipitation from next Friday (New Year's Eve) through the first few days of 2011. It's too early to panic (or celebrate), but we'll be keeping a close eye on this storm scenario - I want to see a few more model runs to see if this is real, or a computer glitch causing unnecessary weather angst.

Have a Sloppy, Snowy New Year! Here is the GFS solution, valid next Friday evening at 6 pm, showing an impressive storm appproaching from the south, possibly enough warm air wrapping around this intensifying cyclone for a period of rain and ice - changing to wet snow by New Year's Day. It's early, but the models are hinting at the heaviest snowfall amounts over western and northern Minnesota - a sloppy mix may keep amounts down in the MSP metro area. Again, all we need is another 4.4" of snow to set a new December snowfall record for the Twin Cities.

Christmas Travel. We're catching a huge (and well deserved) break through early next week across the Upper Midwest, the storm track whisking sloppy Pacific storms well south of Minnesota and Wisconsin. The west coast will be wet, the prevailing core of the jet stream sparking a mix of wintry weather over the deep south, and what may be a major nor'easter for the coast of New England by Sunday night and Monday. If you're flying back to Boston, Providence or New York City late in the weekend or early next week you'll want to stay up on the latest forecast. Map courtesy of Planalytics.

In California A Wary Eye On Hillsides As Rain Falls. The rains continue to fall - no end to the soggy pattern in the next week or two. Mudslides, flash flooding, even a few isolated tornadoes can't be ruled out. Details from the New York Times: "The rain pummeled much of the Southwest on Tuesday, with Zion National Park in Utah shutting down because of the storm. In at least one town near there, officials declared a state of emergency and warned residents to evacuate, concerned that a dam could be overwhelmed. In northwestern Arizona, four homes were swept away, The Associated Press reported. Potential flooding at the Beaver Dam prompted officials to declare a state of emergency, with residents warned that they might need to evacuate."

Huge Storm Floods Laguna Beach - Roads Closed, Residents Evacuated. The L.A. Times has an update on the epic flooding sweeping across southern California here: “There are rivers coming through town, and they’ve washed out the north end of our beach,” said Jeff Grubert, 48, an entertainment distribution company manager who has an office in Laguna Beach. Standing on the stretch of boardwalk where tidal flows were pushing mounds of debris just beneath his feet, Grubert said, “It’s humbling.” Laguna Beach officials urged residents and workers to avoid the downtown areas, saying flooding was "extensive." A statement from the police department said officials were rescuing stranded residents."

Downtown Laguna Beach Closes Due To Flooding. Orange county, California is being hit very hard by severe flooding - the latest from KABC-TV in L.A. is here.

"Flooding in Mission Valley in San Diego ... the white thing sticking out of the water is the trunk of a car!" Photo courtesy of Twitpic.

Pothole Season. You think our potholes are bad in March? Spend a little time in southern California - or Las Vegas - or San Diego. Hundreds of roads are eroding from below, carving out sinkhole-size potholes across much of the southwestern USA. Damage may ultimately run into the many tens of millions of dollars.

Floodwaters Sweep Away House In Littlefield, Arizona. Keep in mind this is the DESERT southwest. The rains sweeping in off the Pacific are something you would expect to see during an El Nino pattern, and yet a moderate to strong La Nina cooling phase of the Pacific is well underway - that's what makes this pattern even freakier than usual. Some desert communities have picked up 6-12" of rain in just the last week - that's a YEAR'S worth of rain in less than 7 days. More from the Las Vegas Review-Journal here.

The "Mud Bowl"? This was the scene on Wednesday at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. The Poinsettia Bowl game scheduled to be played later today is in doubt - not sure the pumps can get rid of the massive amounts of water on the field. If Navy does take on the San Diego State Aztecs it will be a minor miracle. Advantage Navy! (all that water, they'll know what to do....) Updates here.

The Year In Nonsense. From a great article at (rated PG for language): "It’s been a marvellous year for bull. We saw quantitative evidence showing that drug adverts aimed at doctors are routinely factually inaccurate, while pharmaceutical company ghostwriters were the secret hands behind letters to the Times, and a whole series of academic papers. We saw more drug companies and even regulators withholding evidence from doctors and patients that a drug was dangerous – the most important and neglected ethical issue in modern medicine — and that whistleblowers have a rubbish life. Bias is everywhere. Academic papers from people who get money from tobacco companies are vastly more likely to say that cigarettes prevent Alzheimer’s, and we saw the first good quantitative evidence describing how academics routinely mislead readers about their negative results in academic papers, by spinning them as positive. Dodgy facts aren’t the only reason clever people believe stupid things, as demonstrated by a gale of research on irrationality. Superstitious rituals really do improve performance. What women musicians wear affects listeners’ assessment of their skill. Antibiotics don’t work for a sore throat, but if you’re prescribed them, you come away thinking they do. You can find mysterious alien patterns in ancient sites on a map of the UK, but you can find similar patterns in the locations of former Woolworths stores.

Your Apps Are Watching You. Great, now my iPhone and Android apps are spying on me - just what I wanted to hear. Click here to read a hair-raising story about what (some) of the apps on your smart phones are doing with personal data, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal and

A Scientist, His Work, And A Climate Reckoning. Say and think what you will about climate change, but there's NO denying that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are on the increase. From a recent story in the New York Times about the man who has almost single-handedly tracked the increase in CO2 for many decades: "When Dr. Keeling, as a young researcher, became the first person in the world to develop an accurate technique for measuring carbon dioxide in the air, the amount he discovered was 310 parts per million. That means every million pints of air, for example, contained 310 pints of carbon dioxide. By 2005, the year he died, the number had risen to 380 parts per million. Sometime in the next few years it is expected to pass 400. Without stronger action to limit emissions, the number could pass 560 before the end of the century, double what it was before the Industrial Revolution.
The greatest question in climate science is: What will that do to the temperature of the earth"

Graphic Courtesy of the New York Times.

December Recap. It has snowed (at least a trace of flurries or more) 15 of the last 21 days in the Twin Cities. The most snow on the ground: December 12 (18"). Our total so far: 28.8". For the winter season so far: 38.6". Snow on the ground: 16". My hunch: 31-35" by December 31. See the data from the National Weather Service here.

"My Front Door Is In Here Somewhere!"

Weather Amnesia

Kari Kennedy is a producer for TPT's excellent "Almanac" program every Friday evening. Yesterday she sent me an e-mail. "This is the first winter of my life that I have wanted to move. I know we used to have good old-fashioned winters like this when I was growing up. But when you're a kid it's all fun. The snow removal doesn't affect you in quite the same way!" How true.

At the rate we're going this will almost certainly be the snowiest winter since 2004 (66"), maybe 2001 (76"). People I share this with are often shocked. "We saw 76" in 2001?" Chalk it up to "meteorological amnesia", a badly-needed coping mechanism. Here in Minnesota we don't dwell on past weather indignities. No, we look forward to future atmospheric trials and insults.

I don't see any big pre-Christmas weather challenges. The next clipper arrives Friday with a potential for a couple inches; nothing but renegade flurries for most of Minnesota Saturday and Sunday. Welcome news for travelers trying to get home in time for midnight services (and Santa sightings).

It's a way off, but the GFS is hinting at a major storm for New Year's weekend. Because we just can't go 2 holidays in a row without heavy snow.

E-mail Gets An Instant Makeover. O.K. I'm old. I still use e-mail (most of the time), but I get the power of texting. If I want to reach either of my 20-something sons (or my easily distracted wife....are you reading this honey?) I need to text. Forget e-mail. Phone call is too intrusive. Texting is sort of the perfect compromise between an e-mail and a potentially pushy, in-your-face phone call. From an interesting story in the New York Times: "Signs you’re an old fogey: You still watch movies on a VCR, listen to vinyl records and shoot photos on film. And you enjoy using e-mail. Young people, of course, much prefer online chats and text messages. These have been on the rise for years but are now threatening to eclipse e-mail, much as they have already superseded phone calls. Major Internet companies like Facebook are responding with message services that are focused on immediate gratification. The problem with e-mail, young people say, is that it involves a boringly long process of signing into an account, typing out a subject line and then sending a message that might not be received or answered for hours. And sign-offs like “sincerely” — seriously?"

Climate Fraud And Hypocrisy. Peter Gleick, a water and climate scientist, President of the Pacific Institute, writes: "As the Earth's climate continues to change at an accelerating rate, the juggling and magical thinking and outright hypocrisy of climate change deniers continues to accelerate as well. While there are many examples of the remarkable ability of deniers to hold onto mutually contradictory beliefs and ideas, here are four well-worn arguments regularly put forward by deniers in public forums despite the fact that they've all been debunked (over and over and over) by scientists." The rest of his post is here.

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