* No major travel problems Friday, temperatures hold in the 20s under a mostly cloudy sky.
* Light snow arrives Friday night, gets heavier late Friday night into Saturday as a storm tracks to our south, across Iowa into southern Wisconsin.
* Winds gradually increase Saturday (sustained at 20-30 mph, with gusts to 35 mph). A blizzard is defined as 35 mph. sustained winds + 1/4 mile visibility in falling/blowing snow. We may be very close to blizzard criteria by midday Saturday. Travel will get progressively worse as the day goes on as temperatures fall through the teens into single digits - I expect even the freeways/interstates to become snow-covered and potentially treacherous.
* Winter Storm Watch for much of central/southern MN (includes the Twin Ciites and much of western/northern WI). If current model trends continue I expect the watch to be upgraded to a Winter Storm Warning later in the day Friday. A warning means that 6"+ snow in 24 hours or less are imminent - no travel advised.
* How much? Great question. Pass the Maalox please. My pet ulcer is acting up. The latest NAM/WRF model (probably the most accurate simulation) prints out over 1" of liquid. Assuming an average snow/rain ratio of 15/1 during the lifetime of the snow - that equates into 15". I'm deducting a few inches because - somehow - we always get hosed. But that still leaves us with 8-12" (at the low end). At some point it won't matter, with all the blowing and drifting good luck trying to get an accurate measurement of snow Saturday afternoon/night. It'll be a big pile. That's my prediction.
* Blizzard Potential. As I mention in my column (below) I don't use the "B-Word" lightly. It inspires fear and panic, as it should. A blizzard is defined as falling or blowing snow with visibilities under 1/4 mile with sustained winds of 35 mph or more. We'll be close to that criteria Saturday afternoon/night. Sustained winds of 30 mph are likely, and I could easily see gusts of 30-40 mph, creating white-out conditions, especially outside the metro. I don't say this lightly: think twice about attempting travel between noon Saturday and 7 am Sunday morning.
* Risk of frostbite and hypothermia (slow drop in body temperature) will be very high Saturday afternoon into midday Monday. Factoring wind, it will FEEL like -10 Saturday afternoon, but wind chills dip to -25 to -30 by Sunday morning. Most at risk: infants, people with respiratory, heart and circulation problems, and the elderly. Make it a point to check in on older friends, family and neighbors, especially Sunday and Monday (when travel conditions improve). Hypothermia can be fatal if not caught early. Symptoms include uncontrollable shivering, disorientation, slurred speech, and incoherence.
Looking More And More Like A Cool Foot. This is the rough meteorological equivalent of trying to predict where a tornado will touch down, 24-36 hours in advance. "How many inches of snow in my yard, Paul?" Next question please. Based on the best available model guidance (and a strong gut feel, which may be nausea) I'm leaning toward 8-14" in the metro on Saturday. Now, about that "real winter"....
* If you want to learn more about meteorology UCAR (University Corp. of Atmospheric Research) in Boulder has an amazing on-line program, called "MetEd". As far as I can tell the course "modules" are free - all you have to do is register.
Snow Surplus As Of December 9:
Twin Cities: + 3.7"
International Falls: + 11"
Duluth: + 15.5"
The other day I logged into Facebook and noticed a new message at the top of the screen. I was presented with a simple way to make Facebook my homepage so that I could see “what’s happening with friends as soon as I opened my browser.” And, I’m not the only one.
Why am I taking the time to let you know that Facebook is making it easy for you to drag and drop Facebook to your home button?
Facebook started out as a social network, but it is officially growing into a full-fledged personal OS, where friends and experiences are interconnected inside and outside of Facebook. And, at the center of everything is you. Facebook is a platform where relationships create the construct for the 3C’s of information commerce. The acts of sharing and consuming content in social media represent the social dealings between people and set the stage for interaction and education.But, it is the platform that offers a sandbox for development and also a solid foundation for social architecture. It is the sites that feature Facebook interconnects that weave the fabrics of relationships and the ties and interests that bind us.
More than one million websites have integrated with Facebook Platform.
150 million people engage with Facebook on external websites every month.
10 Apps That Make Magic On Your iPad. Bob Tedeschi from the New York Times is hooked on his iPad. Here are a few of the things that bring a smile to his lips. My favorites are Netflix, Pandora, Flipboard and Star Walk - made his Top 10 List as well.
Thurday Numbers. Admit it, 34 felt pretty good out there yesterday, the first thaw we've experienced in the MSP metro area since November 30. 2/10ths of an inch of slush fell in the Twin Cities as that band of snow/freezing drizzle raced into town during mid morning. Highs ranged from 28 at St. Cloud to 35 at Redwood Falls.
Paul's Conservation MN Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:
Expert Issues Stark Warning On Climate Change. An excerpt from an article at syfy.com: "A climate change expert has warned that if humans don't moderate their use of fossil fuels, there is a real possibility that we will face the environmental, societal and economic consequences of climate change faster than we can adapt to them. Lonnie Thompson, distinguished university professor in the School of Earth Sciences at Ohio State University, also discussed how the rapid and accelerating retreat of the world's glaciers and ice sheets dramatically illustrates the nature of the changing climate. It is the first time in a published paper that he has recommended specific action to forestall the growing effects of climate change. "Unless large numbers of people take appropriate steps, including supporting governmental regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, our only options will be adaptation and suffering," he wrote in the concluding paragraph. "And the longer we delay, the more unpleasant the adaptations and the greater the suffering will be."
Still Awaiting Our Global Warming "Scopes" Trial. Here is a post from Chris Mooney at discovermagazine.com: "My latest post has just gone up at DeSmogBlog. It’s about the Supreme Court’s decision yesterday to hear a case I’ve written a lot about–Connecticut vs American Electric Power–which seeks to hold a group of power companies responsible for their contributions to global warming.
In essence, this will be a global warming tobacco-style lawsuit, if it is allowed to go forward–and the decision of the Supremes about that could get pretty interesting. Why? Because ironically, the do-nothing Congress that we’re going to have in some ways empowers the lawsuit:
Connecticut v. AEP was originally dismissed by district court judge Loretta Preska in New York City. She said the plaintiffs were essentially asking her to go beyond the scope of her office—“political questions are not the domain of judges,” she wrote. After all, we’re all waiting on Congress or the administration or the international community to deal with global warming, right? (Riiiiight.)
But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit disagreed strongly. It ruled that the question at stake was not “non-justicable political” one, and empowered the case to go forward….
Which brings us to the Supreme Court. Any realistic survey of the political and regulatory landscape today suggests little reason to expect that global warming is going to be dealt with by Congress (which is feeling obstructionist). As for EPA? It seems likely to be obstructed.
If both avenues are blocked, and there’s no other clear climate remedy, will the Supremes really say that states being damaged by global warming can’t sue the polluters doing it?