Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year's Slipping and Sliding (2-4" snow/sleet PM hours today)

Storm Headlines:

* Second (stronger) storm arrives today, dumping heavy snow on western, northern and parts of central MN. The best chance of heavy snow/ice will come from midday into the late evening hours.

PM "burst" of 2-4" possible in the metro area, combination of sleet and snow - best chance of 3-4" northern/western suburbs - probably enough snow/sleet to plow/shovel.

* Relatively quiet (dry) start - but travel conditions go downhill as the day goes on. Worst travel expected this afternoon and evening.

* "Dry Tongue", a surge of dry, desert air, will mean slightly lesser ice/snow amounts for eastern and southeastern MN.

* The farther north/west you drive today, away from the Twin Cities, the more snow you'll encounter on highways.

* Worst conditions: north/west of Alexandria, Wadena and Brainerd, where visibilities may fall to near zero in falling/blowing snow - blizzard warnings are posted from Wheaton and Fargo to Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls, Bemidji and Thief River Falls.

Latest Warnings. The NWS has issued a blizzard warning for much of west central Minnesota, including Fergus Falls, Detroit Lakes and the Fargo/Moorhead area for New Year's Eve, a combination of high winds, low visibility and falling/blowing snow, conditions get worse the farther north/west you drive Friday, especially treacherous west of Wadena and Alexandria, where people may want to think twice about traveling until Saturday, when conditions will improve statewide. The latest watches/warnings are here.

How Much? 2-4" of sleet and snow may pile this afternoon/evening in the Twin Cities metro, 3-6" for metro St. Cloud, as much as 8-10" for the Brainerd Lakes area, closer to 10" Alexandria to Wadena, maybe 12-15" closer to Fargo/Moorhead, Detroit Lakes, Bemidji and Thief River Falls by Saturday morning.

Enough To Shovel/Plow. Yes, probably "plowable". Most likely "shovelable". Not sure that's even a word, but a PM "burst" of snow/sleet during the afternoon and evening hours will accumulate a few inches, enough to make PM driving very tricky.

Snowfall Rate. This map is valid at 7 pm this evening, showing the greastest potential for snow falling at the rate of at least 1"/hour between 4 pm and 7 pm today. A "burst" of snow, lasting 4-8 hours, is likely later today, moving from southwest to northeast as the storm lifts into Minnesota.

Trending Upward. Friday will be an icy mess, sleet (ice pellets) may fall much of the day, changing to snow Friday evening/night. I'm thinking an1-3" icy snow, but the 18z GFS solution is hinting at as much as 4.5" snow for the metro. That's a significant increase from earlier models - still think we may see a plowable amount of snow across much of the metro area.

Thursday Snowfall. Yesterday's storm produced a cool quarter inch of rain in the Twin Cities metro (had it been a few degrees colder that could have easily translated into 2-5" snow). As much as 7" of snow fell late Thursday up in Walker, 2" at Nisswa and Fort Ripley. Today's snowfall should be even heavier for these areas. Click here to see snow updates from the National Weather Service.

2010: A Warm Year For Minnesota. Through December 29 the Twin Cities Average temperature is 48.1 degrees, 2.7 degrees above the normal of 45.4. In 2009 the average was the same as the normal: 45.4 F. Source: Pete Boulay at the MN State Climatology Office.

* The average MSP temperature since 2000 is 47.01 F, 1.81 degrees warmer than the 118 year average.

Psychological Turn-Around? I don't know about you, but for me December 21 is something of an epiphany every year. Based on my rough calculations (and this excellent web site) we've picked up just over 244 seconds, about 4 minutes of additional daylight, since the Winter Solstice on December 21. Can spring be far behind?

Don't answer that.

Tip Of The Icicle. Kevin Giles at the Star Tribune has an excellent recap of the ice dam situation gripping much of Minnesota. A record 33.4" snow in December coupled with the recent thaw (and now Thursday's heavy rain), and an impending freeze Friday into the weekend, has created a perfect storm for ice dams. Heat rising up from your house into the attic can result in partial melting, water trapped near the eaves/gutters of your roof. Large icicles can be a tip-off that you may have a serious ice dam problem. If in doubt, hire some experts to come and take a look. Every year thousands of Americans are injured trying to take matters into their own hands and do their own repair on top of the roof. Unless you really know what you're doing that's a recipe for disaster.

Top 10 Minnesota Weather Events For 2010. This is all somewhat subjective, but I thought the MN State Climatology Office did a good job summarizing the most scientifically significant (eye-opening) weather/climate events of the year. The official list is here. They came up with:

1). 104 Tornadoes, including at least three EF-4 tornadoes. The 1/2 mile wide tornado (captured on video by storm chasers - frame grab above) that hit Wadena was an EF-4, about as strong as they ever get.

2). Heavy rain/flooding of September 22-23. 10.68" of rain swamped Amboy, Minnesota (southern part of the state), resulting in extreme flooding.

3). Blizzard of December 10-11, 2010. You remember it well: 17.1" fell at MSP, the biggest December snowfall on record, the 5th largest for MSP since 1891.

4). Record low pressure of October 26, 2010. The "Landi-cane" whipped up a central pressure of 28.21" over Bigfork, Minnesota, possibly the lowest atmospheric pressure ever observed between the Rockies and the Appalachians.

5). Record tornado outbreak of June 17, 2010. A total of 48 tornadoes touched down in a single day, setting a new record for the state of Minnesota. There were 3 deaths and 45 injuries.

I had to add a few more of my own....get it up to a "Top 10" List.

6). Record December Snowfall: 33.4" and counting for the Twin Cities. We may add a couple of inches to that number later today/tonight.

7). Snowless March. Once the "snowiest month of the year" at MSP, March, 2010 was a supreme disappointment for Minnesota snow-lovers.

8). Record September Rainfall for the entire state. 5.53" fell at MSP, more than twice as much as normal for KMSP. More on the unusually wet September here.

9). End to the long-term drought gripping much of Minnesota. Latest drought monitor is here.

10). Snowy May. More snow fell - statewide - in May than in March and April combined. Details here.

Pete Boulay has more details and links focused on some of the biggest weather/climate stories of 2010. Thanks Pete!

1. From Rain to Blizzard Jan 23-25 2010 (19 inches of snow in Cook County)

2. Snowless March 2010

3. Warmest March on Record at International Falls

4. Snowy May 7

5. 48 Tornadoes on June 17

6. Wilkin County Tornado: August 7

7. Heavy Rain and Flood of September 22-23

8. November 13-14 Heavy Snow (tree branch breaking storm)

9. Record Low Pressure

10. December 10-11 Blizzard (17.1 inches in the Twin Cities)

11. 104 Tornadoes for 2010

Snow at North Branch in Chisago County, May 7, 2010. Courtesy Patrice Ramaley and the MN State Climate Office.

The Most Amazing Map of 2010? I still can't quite believe this: 145 individual tornado reports, which has been whittled down to 104 separate (confirmed) tornadoes for Minnesota, more than any other state in the USA. Below is the Texas subtotal, for comparison, #2 on the list. Yes, when it came to tornadoes in 2010 Minnesota was definitely number one.

Polar Bears "Playing" With Spy Camera. Apparently BBC is running a special on polar bears called "Spy On The Ice", which you may be able to watch on the BBC iPlayer. Turns out polar bears are very curious - click here to see a rather amazing YouTube clip.

Britain Experiences Coldest Winter Since 1683. From an article at "BRITAIN’S winter is the coldest since 1683 and close to being the chilliest in nearly 1,000 years. Latest figures reveal that the average temperature since December 1 has been a perishing -1C."

* Bloomberg's Blizzard Blunder. More fallout from the handling of the 2-3 feet of snow that buried metro New York last weekend, although the latest news stories are suggesting that sanitation and snow removal crews may have intentionally "slowed things down" to rack up more overtime. I Love New York...

Troubling Trends. This "infographic" from caught my eye. A 1.17 F. global temperature rise since 2000. A 61% increase in endangered species in just a decade. A 15X spike in deaths attributed to natural disasters in only 10 years? Economic losses went from an average of $38 billion/year in 2000 to $222.8 billion/year in 2010. Most ominously, the price of crude went from $28/barrel to $64/barrel over a ten year period. Even accounting for minor inflation that's a pretty big jump.

10 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Technology. From a recent New York Times article: Your gadgets and computers, your software and sites — they are not working as well as they should. You need to make some tweaks. But the tech industry has given you the impression that making adjustments is difficult and time-consuming. It is not. And so below are 10 things to do to improve your technological life. They are easy and (mostly) free. Altogether, they should take about two hours; one involves calling your cable or phone company, so that figure is elastic. If you do them, those two hours will pay off handsomely in both increased free time and diminished anxiety and frustration. You can do it."

The Pogies: Best Tech Ideas Of The Year. David Pogue at the New York Times has a list of the hardware and software that got him excited in 2010. There are a few things here that caught my eye as well. I need that Samsung Twin View Remote thingy. Yes, I now have remote-envy....

"Great News: I've Shoveled A Path!" Someone had entirely too much time on their hands - and had some fun shoveling a "path". More like an obstacle course/labyrinth. But the video clip shows just how much people don't like wading through knee-deep snow. Not sure if this is from Poland (quite possible), but thanks to for the chuckle.

450 PM CST THU DEC 30 2010








Climate Data: Thursday's high was 41 in the Twin Cities with at least .25" of rain, the snow on the ground melted from 17" to 13" in less than 24 hours.

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

NEW YEAR'S EVE: Icy. A mix of sleet and freezing rain changes over to mostly-snow by late afternoon/evening. 2-4" of snow/sleet possible afternoon/evening hours. Winds: NE 10-15. High: 24 (layer of ice possible under the sleet and snow - will make for tricky travel as the day goes on).

FRIDAY NIGHT: Snow tapers to flurries late - icy travel, very treacherous conditions over much of the state Low: 2 (wind chills dipping to -15).

NEW YEAR'S DAY: Arctic breeze, few flakes - little additional accumulation. Wind chills dip to -10 to -15 at times. High: 11

SUNDAY: Coldest day, no travel problems. Intervals of sun. Low: -3. High: 8

MONDAY: Clouds increase, late flurries possible. High: 15

TUESDAY: Flurries taper, PM sun. High: near 20

WEDNESDAY: More clouds than sun, "average" temperatures. High: 23

THURSDAY: Peeks of sun, still quiet and storm-free. High: 24

Increasingly Icy

Yesterday, my faced pressed up against the office window, I kept thinking "what a waste of perfectly good moisture." Had it been 2-4 degrees colder we might have picked up 6-8" Thursday, adding to our record 33.4" December snowfall here in the cities.

Warnings are posted north and west, a cool foot or more of snow will plaster Fargo, Bemidji and Thief River, maybe 6-9" of badly needed snow for Brainerd, 3-5" St. Cloud, while MSP picks up an icy 2-4" of sleet and snow this afternoon and tonight. A few factors coming into play - with the storm tracking right over the metro the "dreaded dry tongue", a surge of dry, desert air aloft, will keep amounts less over eastern MN.

But wet roads and puddles turn to ice later today as temperatures tumble. The farther north/west you drive, away from the metro, the heavier the snowfall amounts. We just get a taste here in the metro area.

What a year: 104 tornadoes in Minnesota, most in the USA. Record floods, snow-less March, and temperatures in the metro 2.7 F warmer than average. More on my blog. As you shake your fist at a New Year's Day cold front consider this: we've picked up 4+ minutes of daylight since Dec. 21. Spring's coming. I think.

Best Photos Of The Year From National Geographic. I found the link at here. What are we looking at? "On June 2009, my friends and I planned to trekked Gunung Rinjani. Our plans were foiled due to the eruption & we can only trek to the crater rim. This was what I saw when I was there. Trekkers whom were able to make it up to the crater rim on time are able to camp overnight to witness the eruption whole night long. I wanted to share with everyone this experience of seeing many elements going on at a particular point in time, that is many trekkers beholding the sight of a volcanic eruption as the sun slowly rises from behind Rinjani on the left & the moon setting on the right (provided by photographer). Teck won the grand prize in this year's photo contest. His photo will be published in National Geographic magazine. CLICK HERE to see more submitted photos and download wallpaper."

The Last Text. The recent death of an 18 year old girl, about to graduate, prompted AT&T to put together a brief documentary about the perils of texting and driving. The statistics are grim: you are 23 times more likely to get into an accident if you are texting while driving - that's even worse than drinking and driving. How many of us haven't checked a text while driving? You may get away with it (for awhile), but at some point the law of averages will catch up with you. Don't become a statistic. Watch this video and forward it to the people you care about.

My, How We've Changed Since 2000. I thought this was an interesting graphic - check out the article from to see how much the world (and the USA) has changed in just a decade.

Storms May Be From Climate Change: Researcher. From an article at CBC News: "A researcher with New Brunswick's Environment Department says severe storms that hit the province this month may be examples of climate change. Robert Hughes said Wednesday that the provincial Climate Change Secretariat is working to identify erosion rates and make projections of future rises in the sea level. That's to prepare for weather events and to plan development accordingly. "There's certainly many areas where, really, development is better not to take place or to be relocated or reconsidered, rather than to deal with many years of battling nature. In the end, nature will tend to win," Hughes told CBC Moncton's Information Morning."

* Why Even Skeptics Should Tackle Climate Change. A thought-provoking article here.

The 2010 Climate B.S. of the Year Award. 2010 saw widespread and growing evidence of rapidly warming global climate and strengthening scientific understanding of how humans are contributing to climate change. Yet on the policy front, little happened to stem the growing emissions of greenhouse gases or to help societies prepare for increasingly severe negative climate impacts, including now unavoidable changes in temperature, rainfall patterns, sea-level rise, snowpack, glacial extent, Arctic sea ice, and more. These physical impacts will lead to sharply increased disease, military and economic instabilities, food and water shortages, and extreme weather events, among other things. Without appropriate risk management action, the United States will be hit hard. There is no safe haven. Yet confusion and uncertainty about climate change remain high in the minds of too many members of the public and Congress.
Why? In large part because of a concerted, coordinated, aggressive campaign by a small group of well-funded climate change deniers and contrarians focused on intentionally misleading the public and policymakers with bad science about climate change. Much of this effort is based on intentional falsehoods, misrepresentations, inflated uncertainties, and pure and utter B.S. about climate science. These efforts have been successful in sowing confusion and delaying action - just as the same tactics were successful in delaying efforts to tackle tobacco's health risks.
To counter this campaign of disinformation, we are issuing the first in what may become a series of awards for the most egregious Climate B.S.* of the Year. In preparing the list of nominees, suggestions were received from around the world and a panel of reviewers - all scientists or climate communicators - waded through them. We present here the top five nominees and the winner of the 2010 Climate B.S.* of the Year Award.
The entire story is here.

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