29 F. average high for Valentine's Day.
39 F. high temperature a year ago, February 14, 2011.
Trace of flurries fell on Tuesday.
.3" snowfall so far in February.
+7 F. February temperatures are running 7 degrees warmer than average in the Twin Cities. Source: NWS.
Warming Trend. What happened to -30 F. lows in the metro area? They were fairly common back in the 70s, but data shows a slow moderating trend in the last 40 years. We'll take a look at MSP's coldest nighttime lows for the last 50 years.
"I contend that any gardener who is paying the least bit of attention to what happens in the both summer and winter can see what's happening around us." - gardener (and investment banker) Jack Falker, Edina. Details below.
Azaleas blooming in the Atlanta, Georgia area, roughly 1 month ahead of schedule. So are severe allergies. Photo and story courtesy of activerain.com.
Can A Prius Increase Global Warming? Not sure I follow the logic - it's a story that's bound to stir up some controversy from the Christian Science Monitor, below.
15 foot snows have buried portions of Romania and Albania. Details below.
"Over 5,000 Russians have suffered from hypothermia or frostbite while the country has seen 20 days of unusually cold weather when temperatures fell 13°F to 25°F below normal and Moscow on Feb. 13 endured temperatures of -4°F. (It could be worse though — temperatures in the northern Russian city of Toko fell to -63°F.)" - from a Time Magazine article highlighted below.
550 Americans killed by tornadoes last year. Is it possible to isolate the conditions necessary for tornadoes 1 month in advance? Details below. Photo: NOAA.
February 14, 1947: the Weather Bureau (a precursor to the National Weather Service) commissioned its first weather radar in Washington D.C. Radar technology was originally used in WWII. It was used to track aircraft, but the military noticed blips of interference showing up on the screen (which turned out to be rain and snow).Wikipedia has some good information on the evolution of radar here. Photo credit here.
More Shades Of Early March. If the sun does burn away the clouds and fog later today the mercury may approach 40 in the metro area. Light winds and a weak inversion may keep clouds overhead much of the day, a better chance of spying the sun Thursday as westerly winds increase. Temperatures cool off a few degrees over the weekend before recovering again next week.
No Snow Through Sunday. The GFS map above shows total snowfall expected between now and midday Sunday, a couple inches for Lower Michigan, upstate New York and the Appalachians. Other than that - the Great Snow Drought limps on.
Out On A Limb. Not exactly Snowmageddon, but if (a huge if) the models are right, we may just see a plowable snowfall early next week, a "few inches". Unlike a January snowfall this will probably be a wet, slushy snow, with temperatures around 30-33 freeways may stay mostly wet and slushy. Pure speculation at this point. No inch predictions yet - it's way too early to even consider that. Let's see if we can go a couple of days with the models in agreement, but (if true) it would be the first semi-significant snowfall since early December!
* Since we're talking about weather models, the (frequently more reliable) European ECMWF model whisks a weak frontal boundary across the Upper Midwest Monday, hinting at a few light showers of rain or wet snow - but little or no accumulation. That's why I'm not doing cartwheels just yet. Not that I could even if I wanted to.
Snowy Blocking Pattern? A possible wrinkle in next week's forecast scenario: a strong storm is forecast to "cut-off" or stall out over the Canadian Maritimes, which may slow down the (much weaker) storm over the Upper Midwest, possibly slow enough to tap some moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. That said, we're not talking about a full-latitude trough, capable of supporting a major storm for Minnesota. We may just wind up a few inches of slush Monday/Tuesday. GFS 500mb forecast above valid next Tuesday morning at 7 am.
"I wrote my articles for publication in the Twin Cities Rose Club bulletin to alert rose growers that, while we still have plenty of winter in the Twin Cities (this year notwithstanding), our EMTs of the last 10 years don't justify the back breaking work associated with the Minnesota Tip method of winter protection, which entails digging trenches, bending the roses over and covering them with dirt. I contend that any gardener who is paying the least bit of attention to what happens in the both summer and winter can see what's happening around us. Witness the swarms of Japanese Beetles that have inundated us in the last few years. I saw the first one only five or six years ago in the rose garden; this year I killed thousands (literally). That's because our turf temperatures don't go low enough or deep enough to kill off the grubs from which the beetles emerge. The beetles have travelled from the warmer east coast, right across the lower midwest, into the upper midwest, as winter temperatures have moderated. The University of Michigan (my alma mater) published a study a couple of years ago showing that there is a migratory surge of small mammals northward, such that the seeds they carry in their intestines are creating different plant growth further north in the state. We can see it here with the robins, many of which are wintering in southern Minnesota. The ducks and geese don't move as far south as they used to, as well.
Bottom line: Global climate change is a reality; all you have to do is look in the garden and around you generally to see what's happening. I can't fathom the people who want to deny it."
Neither can I, Jack. Appreciate the additional information - wanted to share this with my readers.
One More Subzero Fling? We've gone a few GFS runs/row showing a big cool-down for the end of February. Nothing etched in stone yet, but there's a growing chance of a couple of nippy days around Feb 27-29, maybe even 1 or 2 more nights below zero. We've only experienced 3 subzero nights so far, the second fewest in modern-day records. I want to see a few more runs - confidence level is still low.
March 1: Zonal Flow. The 500mb forecast above (GFS) seems to contradict the previous forecast of possible subzero weather the last few days of February. If this upper level prediction verifies we'll be enjoying 30s, possible 40s the first few days of March - winds aloft howling from Seattle and Portland. Disclaimer: this is the meteorological equivalent of making sausage - hard to watch. I'm including all these (contradictory) elements to show you the difficulty of long-range forecasting. Which model do you believe, and why? The models are all over the map (literally), and any forecast beyond 4-5 days is more of a wish-cast than a forecast.
One Reason I'm Doubting The (Subzero) Potential For Late February. The AO (Arctic Oscillation) prediction shows positive values for late February. The AO has been (strongly) positive for much of the winter - meaning unusually strong westerly winds, bottling the coldest air over Alaska and northern Canada. If the AO was predicted to go negative I'd be more confident of bitter air pushing into the lower 48 states. So, to summarize: the models are contradictory about the potential for cold weather the end of the month. Yes, there's a chance of a brief bitter spell, but I'm not convinced. Not yet. Graph above courtesy of policlimate.com.
Photo credit above: "A crew member of an icebreaker looks at the frozen Danube River near the Romanian city of Giurgiu on Feb. 10, 2012. Bogdan Cristel / Reuters."
Photo credit above: "Ice floes on the Danube in Budapest, as seen on Feb. 11, 2012. Image: Flickr/adambotond."
Photo credit above: "Nicolae Cocioaba, 58, loses his balance walking on a pathway he dug to reach his cattle in the village of Silistea Glodeanu, Romania, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012 the day after more snow storms hit the area. Snow as deep as 15 feet (4.5 meters) isolated areas of Romania, Moldova and Albania on Tuesday, and helicopters and army trucks were used to deliver food and medicine, and to transport sick people to hospitals. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)."
* MIT has more on the new paper focused on flooding in Lower Manhattan here.
Scientists A Step Closer To Predicting Tornadoes. A one-month lead time predicting when atmospheric conditions might be ripe for tornadoes (sufficient shear, instability, low-level moisture, etc)?? USA Today has the details: "In the new study, Tippett and his team looked at 30 years of past climate data. They used computer models to determine that the two weather factors most tied to active tornado months and seasons were heavy rain from thunderstorms and extreme wind shear (wind blowing from different directions at different layers of the atmosphere). "If, in March, we can predict average thunderstorm rainfall and wind shear for April, then we can infer April tornado activity," Tippett says. The method worked for each month except for September and October, and it worked best in June." Photo: EPA.
O'Hare Holding Pattern Shows Up On Doppler Radar. The new generation of Doppler is so sensitive it can pick up dust, even insects. Airplanes show up as well, as they did during last Friday's snow event. Look for the donut-shaped swirl near the center of the screen, created by jets holding above ORD. More from the Chicago office of the NWS: "You may have noticed this on the Chicago-Romeoville WSR-88D Doppler radar Friday afternoon, February 10, 2012, between 230-400 PM CST. An unusual "halo" in radar imagery developed in the vicinity of O'Hare International Airport...roughly in the middle of the image loop below. The winds at KORD up through about 200 PM CST were light and from the northwest (320 degrees) at less than 10 knots. The cold front came through and winds turned to the north-northeast at 20 mph with gusts to around 30 mph. Air traffic controllers probably had to reconfigure the runways and put some aircraft in a holding pattern. A circular pattern became evident for a time in the radar display to the north-northwest of KORD. We've seen this before where the exhaust particles from the aircraft feed/seed the clouds and coalescence accelerates, resulting in the development and fallout of ice crystals. Doppler radar can detect these ice crystals along with precipitation."
Where The "One Percent" Live: The 15 Richest Counties In The USA. Loudoun County, Virginia #1? Yep, I was a bit surprised, although the suburbs of Washington D.C. are pretty amazing. All that government cash sloshing around. The Street and Businessinsider.com have more details: Median household income: $119,540. With a median household income that is a full $16,000 higher than our second-place finisher, Loudoun county has trounced the competition on its way to becoming the richest county in America. Another county surrounding our nation's capital, Loudoun borders West Virginia and Maryland and is the home to Washington Dulles International Airport. The Appalachian Trail runs along its western border and the area was largely an agricultural community until the airport was built in the 1960s.
Falling In Love Is All In Our Brains. An intriguing story from The Washington Post: "This Valentine’s Day, as our collective thoughts shift to tender cards, heart-shaped chocolates, overpriced bouquets and other extravagant gestures of love, I can’t help but wonder what really attracts us to one mate over another. Is it hot sex? Fairy-tale romance? Destiny? Or are we merely at the beck and call of our hormones and brain circuitry? Online dating sites trumpet their knack at identifying “chemistry,” but it turns out that basic biology may play at least as strong a role in love as do socialization, environment, fate and other factors. “We like to feel independent and free of the brain systems that regulate the mating habits and regimens of animals, but the fact is that we’re not,” says neuroendocrinologist Tom Sherman, an associate professor at Georgetown University School of Medicine."
"With the lack of snow are our house roofs safe from ice build-up? Or is the one month we have left for snow/thaw/freeze enough to do damage? Thank you for all your work, it is appreciated." - Irving Kellman
Irving - the freeze/thaw cycle is coming early this year; the pattern we're in now is more typical of the first or second week of March. Although we can't entirely rule out problems with ice-dams in the coming weeks, there's a direct correlation between the amount of snow, and the potential for costly ice dams. There's simply no snow to melt on most rooftops, and unless we see a couple of big snowstorms in the weeks ahead, the risk should be significantly less than the previous 2 winters. It's a little early to let our guard down, but I don't think it will be nearly as problematic as previous winters.
Mostly-Murky Tuesday. We've seen sunnier Valentine's Days, that's for sure. Skies did brighten with a little late PM sun, but gray was the color of the day; highs ranging from 31 at Rochester to 34 Twin Cities, 35 St. Cloud to 40 in Rochester, where the sun was out much of the day, after a fresh 1.1" of snow.
Paul's Conservation Minnesota Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:
Fewer Ice Dams?
Can A Prius Increase Global Warming? Say what? Not sure about this one. The author's point is that any savings from driving EV's will be more than offset because consumers will drive more. Strange logic. This will get Prius-owners fuming, but hold off judgement until you read this article in The Christian Science Monitor: "Hybrid cars, fast trains, compact florescent light bulbs, solar panels, carbon offsets: Everything you've been told about living green is wrong. The quest for a breakthrough battery or a 100 mpg car are dangerous fantasies. We are consumers, and we like to consume green and efficiently. But David Owen argues that our best intentions are still at cross purposes to our true goal - living sustainably and caring for our environment and the future of the planet. Efficiency, once considered the holy grail of our environmental problems, turns out to be part of the problem. Efforts to improve efficiency and increase sustainable development only exacerbate the problems they are meant to solve, more than negating the environmental gains. We have little trouble turning increases in efficiency into increases in consumption."
Photo credit above: "
Photo credit above: "Downtown Waterbury in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene in August. The state's Climate Change Team says that Vermont will get more extreme rain events in the future, and "flood resiliency" may be critical to adapting to climate changes."
Heartland Institute Exposed: Internal Documents Unmask Heart Of Climate Denial Machine. From desmogblog.com: "Internal Heartland Institute strategy and funding documents obtained by DeSmogBlog expose the heart of the climate denial machine – its current plans, many of its funders, and details that confirm what DeSmogBlog and others have reported for years. The heart of the climate denial machine relies on huge corporate and foundation funding from U.S. businesses including Microsoft, Koch Industries, Altria (parent company of Philip Morris) RJR Tobacco and more. We are releasing the entire trove of documents now to allow crowd-sourcing of the material. Here are a few quick highlights, stay tuned for much more.
- Confirmation that Charles G. Koch Foundation is again funding Heartland Institute’s global warming disinformation campaign. Greenpeace’s Koch reports show the last time Heartland received Koch funding was in 1999.
The January 2012 Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy states:
“We will also pursue additional support from the Charles G. Koch Foundation. They returned as a Heartland donor in 2011 with a contribution of $200,000. We expect to push up their level of support in 2012 and gain access to their network of philanthropists, if our focus continues to align with their interests. Other contributions will be pursued for this work, especially from corporations whose interests are threatened by climate policies.”
Heartland Documents Reveal Fringe Denial Group Plans To Pursue Koch Money, Dupe Children and Cultivate Revkin. Details from Think Progress: "Racing around the internet are some internal documents that appear to be from the Heartland Institute, a relatively obscure hard-core anti-science think tank. As DeSmogBlog explains, “An anonymous donor calling him (or her)self ‘Heartland Insider’ has released the Heartland Institute’s budget, fundraising plan, its Climate Strategy for 2012 and sundry other documents (all attached) that prove all of the worst allegations that have been levelled against the organization.” Personally, I was skeptical of these docs, at least until I read the 2012 Fundraising Plan, which attacks the temperature station data of the “the National Aeronautics and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).” That kind of error is classic Heartland."