70 F. reported at International Falls, 71 at Brainerd.
.01" rain predicted today (NAM model).
.43" liquid precipitation predicted by 7 am Saturday. Most of that will fall as rain Friday, but a changeover to wet snow is still possible late Friday night into a portion of Saturday, still a potential for 1/2 to 2" of slush in the metro.
Top April Snowfalls in the Twin Cities (source: National Weather Service)
1). 13.6" April 15, 1983
2). 13" April 27-28, 1907
3). 10" April 20-21, 1893
4). 9.7" April 29039, 1984
5). 9.4" April 6-7, 1923
* Most recently, 1983 and 1984 were pretty tough Aprils in the snow department. Since then we've been (mostly) spoiled.
Dodging A Snowy Bullet? It's still early (the storm is still 48-60 hours away), but the most recent model runs take an intense area of low pressure farther south/east, on a track across Missouri into Illinois. The eastern Dakotas may still wind up with 6-12" of heavy wet snow, with 2-5" for southwestern Minnesota, but the GFS prediction (above) backs off considerably on expected snowfall amounts across the metro region.
My Blood Pressure Is Coming Down (so should your's). The fate of this upcoming storm is by no means sealed, but the trend is pretty undeniable. The 12z runs were printing out anywhere from 7-9" of snow, but the 18z Tuesday model runs backed (way) off on amounts, hinting at (maybe) an inch or two, if that. We'll see, but the odds of a staggering amount of snow seem to have come down.
Southerly Track. All the models seem to be coming around to the European (ECMWF) solution, closing off the low aloft, keeping the track 100-200 miles farther south. The heaviest precipitation bands are forecast to set up across Iowa, far southeastern MN, southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois, where temperatures aloft may be warm enough for mostly-rain.
Close Call. I'm still nervous - come to think of it to be a meteorologist (in Minnesota) is to be perpetually nervous. Friday's storm will be powerful, loaded with moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. A cold rain during the day Friday may still mix with - or change over to - a period of wet snow Friday night and early Saturday before tapering off. That said, the storm track is still forecast to be a little close for comfort...
Details From The National Weather Service:
...BIGGEST APRIL TORNADO OUTBREAK IN WISCONSIN HISTORY...
APRIL 10 2011 WILL GO DOWN AS ONE OF THE BIGGER TORNADO OUTBREAKS IN
WISCONSIN HISTORY. IT IS TIED FOR THE BIGGEST TORNADO OUTBREAK IN
TERMS OF NUMBERS OF TORNADOES IN ONE DAY IN THE MONTH OF APRIL
(APRIL 27 1984-WALES F4 IN WAUKESHA COUNTY)
SO FAR...AT LEAST 10 TORNADOES HAVE BEEN CONFIRMED AS THREE NWS
OFFICES ARE COMPLETING STORM SURVEYS.
HERE ARE THE TORNADO TOTALS SO FAR:
NWS GREEN BAY AREA: 7*
NWS LA CROSSE AREA: 2
NWS TWIN CITIES AREA: 2
Physicist Reviews Nuclear Meltdowns. In a relative sense, the USA has been very lucky with it's civilian nuclear track record, compared to the rest of the world. Details from the New York Times: "The three partial Japanese nuclear meltdowns bring the worldwide total to a dozen accidents with reactor core damage since the first one in 1957, and nuclear reactors worldwide are suffering such accidents about eight times more frequently than the United States’ safety goal, an American physicist said. Thomas B. Cochran, a Natural Resources Defense Council scientist, looked at 12 accidents — four in the United States, two in France, one each in Scotland, East Germany and Ukraine, and the three in Japan. He excluded one accident, SL-1, an experimental United States Army reactor that was being tested 50 years ago as a remote power source for radar in the Canadian Arctic to watch for a Soviet nuclear attack. Among the dozen reactors, it was the only one not connected to the power grid."
Weather As A Decisive Factor In The Civil War. Still with me? Got a little time to kill? Check out this vaguely interesting story from Accu Weather about the weather's impact on the ultimate outcome of the Civil War. From Napolean to Hitler's march on Moscow to Operation Desert Storm, weather has been a huge factor in war. "Although weather records and information this far back in history is hard to come by, several notable weather events during the war have survived the decades. The book Washington Weather chronicles two particular weather events during the War Between the States. On Jan. 20-23, the Union Army encountered a strong nor'easter, one that completely halted the Army of the Potomac. However, it wasn't heavy snow that stopped the troops; it was mud. "The weather had been fairly dry and mild for most of January and the prospects for a winter campaign seemed good," the account reads. Little did they know a storm was brewing southeast of them. A classic nor'easter moved up the East Coast and hit the army. Since temperatures were in the 30s, rain fell instead of snow. It did not take long for General Burnside's troops to be bogged down in mud. Wagons and cannons became stuck, and many soldiers fell in the mud and lost their shoes. The troops had no choice but to abandon their mission and return to camp. Upon their arrival, they found their shelters flooded. According to Washington Weather, 3.2 inches of rain fell in Washington, D.C."
Eagle-Cam. If you haven't checked this U-Stream live video feed out yet - it's worth a look: "The Raptor Resource Project brings you the Decorah Eagles from atop their tree at the fish hatchery in Decorah, Iowa. The live video feed is streamed online 24/7. At night an infrared light provides night vision to viewers through the cam. Infrared light is not visible to eagles, they do not see it or know it is there.
First hatch 4/2/11.
24-hour collage of first egg pip and hatch
Second hatch 4/3/11.
First glimpse of second hatchling
Third hatch 4/6/11.
Close-ups of the third hatch
Now That's More Like It. If you didn't develop a twinge of spring fever yesterday I fear you may not have a pulse. What a remarkable display of April at its finest! International Falls warmer than the Twin Cities? 70 at INL, a respectable 68 at MSP, St. Cloud reported 69 degrees, with a balmy 71 at Brainerd (in spite of being surrounded by ice-covered lakes).
Pauls Conservation Minnesota Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:
WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy and chilly. Low: 37
Before And After. The photo up top was taken last week, still plenty of ice left on Tonka Bay. The photo at the bottom was snapped yesterday, while wearing a t-shirt (and a smile that wouldn'g to away). I know it's going to get colder, it may snow (a little) Friday night. So what. Yesterday ALMOST made up for 84.7" of snow. Almost. I can't think of another place on the planet (except for Siberia?) where the locals appreciate 70 more than right here in Minnesota.
* If you're interested in seeing more details, here is a fairly technical paper: "Methane and the Greenhouse-Gas Footprint of Natural Gas from Shale Formations". A little light reading...
- Humanity in general and certainly the US will use all the natural gas we can pull out of the ground for the next few decades. US use will be greatly encouraged by domestic fracked natural gas and the tendency for politicians to recite the “we can achieve energy independence” mantra, one of the stronger forms of political crack available today.
- Greenwashing via natural gas will reach staggering proportions, compared to what we’re already seeing from entities like Pickens, AT&T, car manufacturers, etc.
- Virtually no one will pay attention to the fact that such use won’t deliver anywhere near the savings in CO2 emissions we need. Witness my endlessly quoted statistic about CNG vehicles still emitting 75% of the CO2 of an equivalent gasoline powered car.
- We still don’t completely understand the ramifications of natural gas fracking, but given how adept we’ve already shown ourselves to be at ignoring the known issues, I have no doubt we’ll be able to overcome any future information that comes our way, no matter how horrible. The diffuse nature of the impacts of fossil fuels extraction and use, in contrast to the concentrated horror of nuclear power, make it all the more difficult to assess the true cost of using them. The fossil fuel companies could not ask for a greater gift from human psychology.
- Politicians and everyone else with a vested interest in resisting rapid change will continue to tout the reductions in our CO2 emissions from using “clean” natural gas, at least in absolute numbers. They won’t go anywhere near the percentages which will show we’re not just shifting our fuel reliance from one fossil fuel to another, but locking into one that leaves us substantially “above the curve” and therefore guarantees we’ll have no chance of meeting the necessary reduction goals.