2-7" snow reported across far southeastern Minnesota, closer to Winona, Rochester and La Crosse.
8.7" snow reported in Green Bay, WI Tuesday, the greatest daily snowfall so late in the season. 91.2" for the season, snowiest since 1889-90.
Slushy Coating to 1" possible on some lawns/fields this morning - any snow will melt within an hour or two.
Sunday: nicer day of the weekend with highs near 60; a more springlike pattern returns early next week.
T-storms possible by Monday/Tuesday of next week. Slight chance of a severe storm outbreak close to home by Tuesday.
It Did Snow - Just Not Much Here. Austin, Minnesota picked up 3.8", with 4.4" reported at Peterson, in Fillmore County, far southeastern Minnesota. Rochester saw nearly 4", with over 8" in the La Crosse area.
"NAM" Snowfall Forecast, Issued Midday Sunday. This is the raw data we were looking at Sunday, hinting at a major snowfall for the Twin Cities.
"NAM" Snowfall Forecast, Issued Tuesday Afternoon. The reality of numerical weather prediction: there will always be changes and gyrations from model run to model run. As newer, more accurate and reliable data initializes the supercomputers and we get closer to the actual storm event the accuracy should (in theory) improve dramatically as we get closer to the storm. But I've never seen the models off by this much in the span of just 48 hours. It's a trend I've noticed in the U.S. models since late February. A bit of a meteorological mystery...
Anatomy of a Bust. It's too easy, and something of a cop-out, to shrug your shoulders, point to the weather models, and blame the computer simulations we use day-in and day-out. The best forecasts take advantage of computer models, historical perspective, and common sense. Much of the challenge is knowing which model (if any) to believe! Maybe it's just my imagination, but I've noticed a gradual degradation in the models ever since late February; they're just far more unreliable than they were back in December, January and early February, when the models did a pretty good job helping us nail a few (major) snowstorms. Since then it's been all downhill, and I'm at something of a loss to explain why. Is it the transition from a wintry regime to a more springlike pattern, a change in the physics of the models (which does take place) that makes them less accurate for winter-type, cold-core snow/ice events in April? That's one possible explanation: that we're running a summer model, while the pattern is still locked in a March-like pattern. The other explanation: cuts at NOAA? I have heard nothing about cuts in staffing or operations at NCEP, the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, based at Camp Springs, MD. I'm not a conspiracy theorist - I have to believe if there were (significant) changes to the models (or layoffs) we would have heard something through official channels. It's a real head-scratcher. As recently as Sunday the (usually reliable) NAM model was hinting at 12-15" for the Twin Cities. Within 2 days the NAM went from over a foot to less than an inch. You don't see those kinds of gyrations (within 2 days of the arrival of a storm) very often. If it weren't for weather models we'd be hard-pressed to make any kind of forecast beyond 36 hours. We absolutely rely on them to get any kind of handle. Looking at current data only gets you so far. But something is going on - the European ECMWF model is performing admirably (with this last "storm" it correctly kept the heaviest precipitation shield well south of Minnesota). The U.S. models are underperforming, and I'm at a loss to explain why.
Another Outbreak. As of 10 pm Tuesday night 24 tornadoes had been observed, most of them in Illinois. Details from SPC here.
Tornadoes Prompt Run Of Phone Calls To Storm Shelter Companies. I'm always amazed by the number of people living in Tornado Alley, or "Dixie Alley" (Mississippi and Alabama to Tennessee) who don't have basements, for a variety of reasons: expense, too much bedrock making excavation prohibitively expensive. USA Today has story about companies with a solution to deadly, tornado-force winds: "The wave of tornadoes and storms that brought death and destruction across the South and Mid-Atlantic has triggered another surge: inquiries to companies that specialize in storm shelters. Phones at Granger Plastics Co. of Middletown, Ohio, which makes in-ground storm shelters, lit up Monday morning and calls haven’t stopped. “When you go though a weekend like this, you realize how much damage these storms can do,” says Alli Cravens, Granger’s marketing manager. Even at $5,000-$6,000 a pop for a five-person shelter, installation extra, callers are unfazed, she says: “Our website had its busiest day Sunday.” The calls are an understandable reaction to tornadoes from Thursday through Saturday, killing at least 46 people in six states. And with the National Weather Service forecasting more severe weather from Texas to the Great Lakes through today, the calls aren’t likely to abate. The Granger shelters (photo above) are just over 5 feet high and 5 feet across and designed to be buried underground, fit five adults “or more in a real emergency,” Cravens says. They take a half-day to install."
Life Insurance. I've said it before: NOAA Weather Radio is an amazingly (affordable) form of life insurance: $30-50 buys you a radio that turns on (automatically) in the middle of the night if a tornado warning is issued for your county. No other device will do that. For people living in mobile homes a shelter like the one above, built by Granger, is a good option. Costs vary, but for $3-6k you can have an in-ground shelter that installs in a garage, or in your yard - one that WILL protect you in the event of a tornado.
657 New Islands Discovered Worldwide. As our tools improve, new discoveries mount, from a sub-atomic level to distant galaxies. It would seem that there are some islands out there that have never been accurately documented, until now. Here's an excerpt of a story from Live Science: "Here's something you don't see every day — hundreds of new
* To see "8 Of The World's Most Endangered Places" click here, courtesy of ouramazingplanet.com.
Don't Take Away My Cell Phone! The AP has a rather unsurprising finding: younger people would rather go without TV than their smart phones: "Young people would rather give up watching TV than go without their mobile phones - for the first time since an annual media survey began. Ever since media regulator Ofcom began conducting its research in 2005, TV has consistently come top of the popularity stakes. But for the first time, 16 to 24-year-olds have said they would miss both their mobile phone (28%) and the internet (26%) more than TV (23%). Children aged between 12 and 15 are also more attached to their mobile - saying that they would struggle from not having a mobile (26%) more than TV and the internet (24%). For adults aged 16 and over, TV remains the medium that would be missed the most, but the figure has decreased from 50% in 2009 to 44% in 2010. Those aged 12 to 15 spend 17.2 hours each week watching TV - with time spent on the internet nearly catching up at 15.6 hours."
Spring On Hold. Under a gray, threatening sky, temperatures held in the 40s statewide, ranging from 41 at Eau Claire, WI to 48 in St. Cloud, 45 in the Twin Cities. That's a far cry from the average high of 59 in the metro area. By Sunday we should see a return to more springlike conditions, statewide.
Paul's Conservation Minnesota Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:
WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Mostly cloudy and cool. Low: 31
U.S. Greenhouse Gases Drop To 15 Year Low. One rare silver lining to the worst recession/downturn in 65 years? Details from Fox News: "A slow economy and less demand for energy caused the U.S. to emit a smaller volume of greenhouses gases in 2009 than in any year since 1995, according to a government report released Wednesday. The drop in emissions was due primarily to less demand, but changes in coal and natural-gas prices were also an important cause, the report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said. Energy demand across all sectors dropped in 2009, the report said. It said the price of natural gas fell while the price of coal increased, leading the U.S. to burn less coal, which emits more greenhouse gases than other energy source. In total, in 2009 emissions of the greenhouse gases, which are linked to climate change, were the equivalent of 6,640 metric tons of carbon dioxide, down from 7,062 metric tons in 2008 and a high of 7,265 metric tons in 2007. U.S. emissions in 2009 were more than 7% greater than 1990 levels, the report said. Fossil fuels burned to generate electricity remained the largest contributor to U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions, followed by fuels burned for transportation and non-electrical fuel consumption by factories, homes, and businesses."
* To see the pdf of the study itself, "Climate Change, Partisanship, Understanding, And Public Opinion", click here.