Thursday, December 23, 2010

2nd Snowiest Christmas Day Since 1891? (2-4" expected today)

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

CHRISTMAS EVE: Winter Weather Advisory South/West. 2-4" snow, more south/west of metro. Roads becoming slippery. Winds: E/NE 5-10. High: 28

CHRISTMAS EVE EVE: Light snow tapers to flurries with little additional accumulation. Low: 11

CHRISTMAS DAY: Blizzard of wrapping paper. Gray with lot's of clouds. High: 19

SUNDAY: Chilled sunshine - good travel weather; no issues getting home. High: 14

MONDAY: Blue sky, still cold. Low: -3. High: 15

TUESDAY: Intervals of sun, not quite as numbing. High: 19

WEDNESDAY: Clouds increase, last good travel day? High: 25

THURSDAY: Chance of rain (or ice). High: near 30

NEW YEAR'S EVE: A mix of rain, ice and snow (best chance of accumulation far northern/western MN). High: 29

NEW YEAR'S DAY: A changeover back to mostly snow, some accumulation possible - heaviest amounts probably over central/northern/western MN. High: 27

Church Of The Nativity. A week ago my wife, Laurie, and I visited Bethlehem, on the Palestinian West Bank.

Birth of Christ. Under the alter (where the star is located) is the purported spot where Christ was born nearly 2,000 years ago.

The Holy Manger in Bethlehem. It was a bit surreal (and very moving) to be in the actual manger where Christ spent his first few days and nights, joined by Mary and Joseph, the Wise Men, and various animals kept nearby. If you ever have a chance to visit Israel - don't hesitate. Go. It will be a spiritual journey unlike any other - and it may just change your world-view and your life.

Probability Of A White Christmas? The odds of at least 1" or more of snow on the ground Dec. 25 are greater than 90% for the northern half of Minnesota, closer to 78% in the Twin Cities, 45% in Chicago and only 10% in Washington D.C.

White Christmas 2010. Nearly half of the USA will have at least 1" or more of snow on the ground for Christmas Day, 2010. The latest from NOAA's National Snow Analyses is here.

Second Snowiest Christmas On Record? We have 16" on the ground at MSP, another 2-3" seems like a pretty good bet today, bringing us up close to 19" on the ground, potentially topping 1996 for the second snowiest Christmas since 1891. If we pick up 4" today (possible) we could (in theory) set a record for the most snow on the ground for Christmas Day since 1891. More details from the local NWS office in Chanhassen here.

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. The NWS has extended the advisory for Wright and Stearns counties, where some 4"+ amounts can't be ruled out. I still think 2-4" is a good overall range for most of the Twin Cities.

Christmas Eve Overview. Here's the latest from the National Weather Service in Chanhassen - isolating the heaviest snow bands setting up just south/west of I-94. Some 6" snowfall amounts are possible just south of Alexandria and St. Cloud. These clippers are notoriously fickle, a difference of 25 miles can make the difference between an inch and 4". I still believe we'll see a "plowable" snowfall today, the farther south/west you travel away from the metro area the heavier the snow amounts should be.

Plowable. The 00z NAM guidance prints out .30" liquid. With temperatures in the mid to upper 20s that should translate into a 10/1 snow/rain ratio, implying about 2-4" of snow for much of the metro.

Christmas Eve Accumulation. Friday's clipper may brush the Twin Cities metro with 2-4" of snow, the best chance of a "plowable" snowfall coming over the southern and western suburbs. The only saving grace: temperatures should be in the mid to upper 20s, keeping many of the freeways and interstates wet/slushy.

An Icy New Year? It's still a week away, but the GFS model is still suggesting enough warm, moist air may stream northward from the Gulf of Mexico for a period of rain next Thursday/Friday, possibly freezing rain (rain freezing on contact). I could see a significant icing event for much of Minnesota late next week, changing over to mostly snow by New Year's Day, with "wrap-around" snow bands continuing some light accumulation into Sunday. If it were all snow we might be looking at some 6-12" amount, but I believe much of the precipitation will fall as rain, freezing rain or sleet, keeping final snowfall amounts down a bit. If you're traveling late next week you will definitely want to keep an eye on the latest forecast.

Minnesota Blizzard Caught By Terra Satellite. From "The upper Midwest was hit by a powerful winter storm this past weekend as more than 17 inches of snow brought down the roof to the Metrodome football complex in Minneapolis. NASA's Terra satellite flew over the upper Midwest the next day and captured an image of that snowy blanket left behind."

Potential for Major Spring Flooding on The Red River Near Fargo/Moorhead? Here is the latest from the National Weather Service hydrologists up in Grand Forks (scroll down to see the text forecast). Hundreds of thousands of variables are factored, including soil moisture going into the winter, the depth of the frost, the amount of water locked up in the current snow, and precipitation forecasts into March and April (we're likely to trend cooler and wetter than average into early spring). A few details:

- Residual Summer and Fall moisture continues to be a concern.  Much of the area received five or more inches of above normal precipitation this year, with areas south and east of Fargo receiving nearly a foot above normal of growing season rainfall.  

- Areas soils are largely saturated and most rivers are running at seasonally high levels, with much wetter soils in several northern basin areas as well.

These factors typically account for less than half of the variability we see from one spring flood to the next, so clearly the rest of this winter season and the coming spring thaw cycle will likely be our most significant players. 

- The latest winter outlook continues to call for a cooler winter and spring season, with slightly above normal winter precipitation expected.  High levels of snow or rain like that which occurred during the winter/spring periods in 1997 or 2009 are not expected.  However, we have had several consecutive seasons of above normal precipitation.

- The threat of major riverine flooding appears highest along the mainstem Red River, within the Otter Tail basin, along the Sheyenne and portions of the Pembina Rivers.  New record lake level increases are also expected for Devils Lake and Stump Lake. 

Hillsides Collapse As Storm Lashes Southern California. Fox-TV in Phoenix has a good update on the overwhelming quantities of rain soaking the southwestern U.S. 13-25" rainfall amounts were common last week, the threat now shifting from flash flooding to mudslides, as water saturates hillsides, turning many of them to jelly. The link is here.

Avalanche Danger Could Be Worst In Colorado History. Some 15-30 foot snows in recent weeks have turned up the avalanche risk, especially near Loveland Pass, where the threat is described as "on the cusp of extreme" Some officials are predicting avalanaches unlike anything seen for 50-100 years in the coming days. Another 1-2 feet of snow is expected over the Colorado Rockies by Christmas Day. More from the CBS affiliate in Denver here.

Top 10 Christmas Gifts You Can't Have. A submersible, shark-like watercraft that reaches 50 mph (above and below the water), a Mercedes-Benz style helicopter, the most exclusive motorcycle in the world. Click here to see the pinnacle of decadence when it comes to unaffordable Christmas gifts, courtesy of

Thursday Numbers. Admit it, 27 F. (above zero) felt pretty darn good out there, especially since winds were light. That's 3 degrees above average, by the way. December temperatures (highs and lows averaged together) are running 6 degrees F. colder than average. Thursday highs ranged from 19 at Hibbing to 27 in Rochester, where a whopping 26" of snow is on the ground!

Church of the Nativity

A week ago I visited the Church of the Nativity, in Bethlehem, seeing the spot where Christ was born, parts of the original manger still intact, below the altar of the ornate church. It was a treat to be there so close to Christmas, what may turn into the second "whitest" Christmas on record for the Twin Cities.

We had 16" on the ground Thursday; if we pick up more than 2" from today's clipper (likely), we'll break the second-place record of 18" set on Christmas Day, 1996. In the unlikely event that 4" falls, we could tie or even break the all-time record of 20" of snow on the ground, set on Dec. 25, 1983. That's the winter we saw a staggering 98.6" snow. I had just arrived in Minnesota, working for KARE-11, and wondered (out loud) what I had gotten myself into!

Highs in the mid to upper 20s should keep freeways mostly wet and slushy today; it won't be as bad as last Monday. I'm thinking 1-3", the best chance of 3" southern and western suburbs.

A gray Christmas Day gives way to chilled sunlight Sunday, great weather for getting home. Dry weather lingers through midweek; an approaching storm may pump enough warm air north for a period of rain/ice late next week, changing to wet snow New Year's weekend. The best chance of heavy snow: far northern and western Minnesota. A mix may keep amounts down at MSP.

Massive Storms On The Sun. NASA's new, solar-observing satellite, the Solar Dynamics Observatory, made a stunning discovery recently. Quoting an article in National Geographic online: "Though it started small, the eruption stunned scientists by quickly expanding to envelop much of the star. Scientists had previously known that intense solar activity could occur simultaneously on multiple sections of the sun, but the satellite's new capabilities have enabled researchers to see that these events aren't always coincidental."

Mars Movie: I'm Dreaming Of A Blue Sunset. NASA's JPL has released a very cool movie that shows what it would be like to stand on Mars and watch a (very blue) sunset, or in the case of the photo above one of Mar's moons (Phobos), passing in front of the sun's face. A few more details from a JPL article: "A new Mars movie clip gives us a rover's-eye view of a bluish Martian sunset, while another clip shows the silhouette of the moon Phobos passing in front of the sun. America's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, carefully guided by researchers with an artistic sense, has recorded images used in the simulated movies. These holiday treats from the rover's panoramic camera, or Pancam, offer travel fans a view akin to standing on Mars and watching the sky. "These visualizations of an alien sunset show what it must have looked like for Opportunity, in a way we rarely get to see, with motion," said rover science team member Mark Lemmon of Texas A&M University, College Station. Dust particles make the Martian sky appear reddish and create a bluish glow around the sun."

A Christmas Warning. Hey, I don't want to be Debbie Downer - this is a time of family, spirituality and joy. It's also a time when many of us celebrate (with drink in hand) a little more than usual. Family together, one football game after another - it's easy to lose track and then wonder if you've had one too many, as you turn the car key. By then it may be too late. This is a tough video, no question. If you have a weak stomach don't watch. From what I understand roughly have of this is video from real alcohol and drug-related accidents, the other half reenactments. I found it all profoundly troubling and simultaneously moving - the first thing I did was e-mail this to my 23 year old and 20 year old sons. They probably think Dad is a pain in the butt, but that's OK. The YouTube clip is hard to watch, but you may want to consider forwarding this to the people you love (and want to keep around for a good long time). No question: the threat of alcohol-related accidents goes up over the holidays. Please be careful out there...
Wishing you and yours a very merry (and safe) holiday season.

* YouTube video clip courtesy of Safekey Corporation.

Cheap, Effective Life Insurance. Full disclosure: I'm on the board of Safekey Corporation, a high-tech company on a mission to make DUI's (and stolen vehicles) a thing of the past. For a few hundred dollars you can wire up any vehicle and make it IMPOSSIBLE for an impaired driver (alcohol, drugs, pills, anything) to start up that vehicle. It only takes 2-3 seconds punching a few keys into a special, tiny, pocket-size key fob to "prove" that you're capable of operating a vehicle. This is ingenious technology, designed to prevent catastrophic decisions that leave you or your loved ones vulnerable to DUI, or worse. And at the same time you're getting a theft-deterrent system for your vehicle. Once this thing is wired up there is NO WAY a thief is going to be able to drive off with your car or truck. Zero chance. You can spend over 1K on a Lojack system, or a few hundred dollars for the Safekey system, which is essentially 2 products in one: it prevents you from driving impaired, while simultaneously making it virtually impossible for a knuckle-head to drive off with your car. I believe in this technology - it's already saving lives around the USA. I'm proud to be consulting for Safekey Corporation, proving once again that amazing services and innovations are being launched right here in the Twin Cities. For more information check out their web site.

No comments:

Post a Comment