Monday, March 5, 2012

50 Today, 70 By Mid-March? (maps looks more like mid April)

35 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities metro Monday.
36 F. average high for March 5.
29 F. high temperature a year ago, on March 5, 2011.
77% average relative humidity in the metro area yesterday.
7.9 mph: average wind speed.
1.1" of snow so far in March. Average March snowfall at KMSP: 10.4" (source: NCDC).
22.1" snow so far this winter.
76.6" snow as of March 5, 2011.

2" snow on the ground as of Monday evening.
9" snow on the ground last year at this time, March 5, 2011.

50 F. predicted high for today in the Twin Cities. Upper 50s possible in southern MN (where there is little snow to cool the air from below).
71 F. predicted high for March 17 (GFS).
1.88" rain predicted between March 16-21.

Another Sign Of Spring? The 39th Annual Auto Show kicks off at the Minneapolis Convention Center on Thursday, and continues through March 18. Even if you're just going to tire-kick and stretch you legs, it's a good excuse to turn off the tube, disconnect your Facebook account, and check out some new wheels.

"In my career I have never seen this many tornadoes or this many fatalities," said Joshua Wurman, the lead tornado researcher and president of the Center for Severe Weather Research." - from a Huffington Post article on last Friday's historic tornado outbreak below.

"The most prolific 5-day period of tornado activity on record for so early in the year?" - story below on Friday's extreme tornado outbreak and whether climate change was a factor.
Photo credit above: "Harrison residents work to salvage from their residences on Monday, March 5, 2012, after an F-3 tornado touched down in the waterfront Chattanooga, Tenn., suburb on Friday, March 2. (AP Photo/Chattanooga Times Free Press, Dan Henry)."

"Insured losses due to thunderstorms and tornadoes in the U.S. in 2011 dollars. Data and image from Property Claims Service, Munich Re." Full story below from Think Progress.

An Unwavering Spirit. You have to admire the residents of Henryville, Indiana. EF-4 tornado on a Friday, 4" snow on a Monday, and yet survivors are still determined to pick up the pieces, start over, rebuild their American Dream. I can't even begin to imagine what these people must be feeling right now.

Tornado Forecasts Saved Countless Lives. USA Today has a good article highlighting the countless lives saved by NWS warnings and local TV broadcasters providing continuous coverage: "HENRYVILLE, Ind. – At the 103-year-old dream home on a hill that Roger Ledbetter had restored, Sunday was burial day. The house had been knocked off its foundation and ruined by killer twisters. A neighbor worked a backhoe to carve open a grave for three of Ledbetter's seven horses, so badly injured they had to be put down. Shep the dog had already been buried. A search was underway for the family cat, Miss Beasley. Yet for all the tears and tragedy that weather delivered along the miles of winding country road here, Ledbetter says, it could have been far worse." Graphic above courtesy of NOAA and USA Today.

Southern Indiana EF-4 Tornado Was On The Ground 49 Miles. From the Louisville, Kentucky office of the National Weather Service: "The red track is the EF-4 tornado; 49 miles, from 2:50 pm EST to 3:39 pm EST."

Warm Winter Helped Fuel Tornado Outbreak. More details from USA Today: "The USA's freakishly warm winter may have played a role in the ferocity of last week's early-season tornado outbreaks. "This year's unusually mild winter has led to ocean temperatures across the Gulf of Mexico that are approximately 1 degrees C (1.8 degrees F) above average," says meteorologist Jeff Masters of the Weather Underground. This places it among the top ten warmest values on record for this time of year, going back to the 1800s, he says. "Friday's tornado outbreak was fueled, in part, by unusually warm, moist air flowing north from the Gulf of Mexico due to the high water temperatures there," Masters says."

Photo credit above: Butch Dill, AP and USA Today.

Global Warming Will Bring Violent Storms And Tornadoes, NASA Predicts. This scientific screed, from those tree-hugging, left-leaning, Al-Gore-loving rocket scientists over at NASA, published this way back in 2007. Might be worth another look, considering the extreme tornado count (and intensities) of the last few years. Here's an excerpt from the article at Science Daily: "NASA scientists have developed a new climate model that indicates that the most violent severe storms and tornadoes may become more common as Earth's climate warms. Previous climate model studies have shown that heavy rainstorms will be more common in a warmer climate, but few global models have attempted to simulate the strength of updrafts in these storms. The model developed at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies by researchers Tony Del Genio, Mao-Sung Yao, and Jeff Jonas is the first to successfully simulate the observed difference in strength between land and ocean storms and is the first to estimate how the strength will change in a warming climate, including "severe thunderstorms" that also occur with significant wind shear and produce damaging winds at the ground." Photo above: NOAA NSSL.

How Local TV Stations Covered March 3 Tornadoes. Al Tomkins has some good information at "I monitored live coverage from Louisville, Nashville, Lexington, Evansville, Paducah, Huntsville and Birmingham as storms roared through the country’s midsection Friday February 2, 2012.  I have no doubt that local TV and radio along with cable and network  broadcasters saved lives. The coverage was simply remarkable. While I watched online, I turned on my screen-capture program so I could share some clips with you. Consider this a sampling, not an exhaustive roundup. WSMV in Nashville was pounded by a hailstorm as a big cell passed right over the station on Knob Hill. The hail was so strong that the sound of it pinging off the roof overwhelmed the weathercaster’s voice on the air. The station cleared the studio but the warnings went on despite it all."

Will Tornado Season Be As Bad As Last Year? Meteorologist Paul Yeager has some observations and predictions at Huffington Post: "Frequent and intense tornado outbreaks resulted in 552 tornado-related deaths in 2011, the second deadliest year on record, from 1,709 tornadoes. The over three dozen of tornado-related deaths in the past week, along with 165 preliminary reports of tornadoes, is raising fears that this will be another devastating year for tornadoes. Overall atmospheric conditions in the coming months will not be as conducive for tornadoes as they were last year -- but an active season is a possibility. It was the combination of unseasonably warm air in the southern part of the country, cooler-than-normal air in the northern tier of the country, and an active spring and early summer storm track fueled by an ongoing La NiƱa that set the stage for the devastating season last year. These are factors that were anticipated by forecasters."

Kentucky Statewide Tornado Drill Scheduled For Today Cancelled. More from NOAA:


FEMA Activates Regional Offices In Wake Of Severe Storms. More information from "President Obama and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano called the governors of states hard hit by tornadoes the week of Feb. 27 to offer condolences and help, as FEMA activated regional offices in relief support in the affected areas. An outbreak of at least 74 tornadoes in the mid west and south killed 39 people in 10 states during the week. Kentucky, with 21 fatalities and Indiana with 13 fatalities, were the hardest hit. Ohio, Alabama and Georgia also suffered fatalities. Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear asked for federal disaster relief on March 4."

What March? When I say the maps look more like April I'm not exaggerating. Here is the extended GFS Outlook from March 13-21. Granted, I wouldn't sell the farm based on a 1-2 week outlook, but it usually does a pretty good job spotting overall trends. In this case we've had a few days/runs in a row with the GFS pulling warm, Gulf air northward, with highs topping 60 between March 15 to about the 18th, when the mercury could even rise above 70. It's too early to talk about severe weather, but if (in fact) we do see 60s and 70s, with dew points reaching the 50s, I wouldn't be surprised to see an early round of March T-storms in here by the third week of March. The GFS also prints out 1.88" rain (warm enough aloft for all rain at this point) between March 16-21. Hope that forecast verifies - we still have some serious catching up to do in the moisture department.

Arctic Oscillation: Positive Phase. As has been the case most of the winter, the Arctic Oscillation is forecast to remain strongly positive through the 3rd week of March, meaning unusually strong west winds howling above North America, and a small chance of (bitter/subzero) air penetrating southward into the Lower 40 States. Graphic courtesy of

Flood Threat Forces Mass Evacuation Of Wagga Wagga. An update on severe flooding from The Australian: "A MASS evacuation was under way in Wagga Wagga last night after new forecasts that the Murrumbidgee River would breach the southern NSW city's levee system. The shock warning came at 9.30pm, only a few hours after the State Emergency Service had dismissed rumours sweeping through Wagga Wagga that the rapidly rising river level could go as high as 11m, well above the 10.7m levee height. The inundation of Wagga Wagga's CBD would cause the flood damages bill -- estimated earlier yesterday by the National Farmers Federation at much more than $1 billion -- to blow out further."

Photo credit above: "The flooded Murrumbidgee River near the NSW town of Wagga Wagga. Picture: Stuart McEvoy Source: The Australian."

Paul's Links. "Bookmark-Worthy" URL's and Links.

1). Weekly Precipitation Across The USA. Here's a useful map from WSI's "Intellicast" that shows NWS Doppler Radar rainfall estimates from coast to coast.

2). Interactive USA Records. O.K. Here's a remarkable site - Ham Weather, one of our family of companies within the Media Logic Group. I'm a little biased, but we have some amazing developers who are experts at parsing and visualizing weather data. You can track records (highs, lows, snowfall, precipitation, etc) for the last day, the last week - and you'll see other useful maps when you click on this site. The best part: absolutely free...and no ads either!

3). Current Conditions - Minnesota "Hourlies". To be able to predict the weather you need to know what's happening right now, in Minnesota, and nationwide (worldwide if you want to look beyond 3 days or so). NOAA has a great site that tracks weather at the top of every hour for scores of towns around Minnesota and nearby states. Most of these are from nearby airports, some manned, some automated "ASOS" sites. Hit refresh on your browser for the latest "obs".

4). Current USA Temperatures. If you want to check out current temps, barometric pressure and cloudcover for the nation check out the very latest conditions, courtesy of

5). State Data For All 50 States. This is a great site, data available from NOAA in text or graphical form, for any state in the nation.

"Ask Paul". Weather-related Q&A:

Hi Paul –
"We’ve heard a lot about the importance of early warning when a tornado hits over the last several weeks and was wondering if you could get us any advice on which apps are best for our android phone? Thanks for any help you can give us."
Tom and Jenny Gamble

Dear Tom and Jenny,
At one point I was walking around with an iPhone and a Droid phone. My wife thought I was nuts (she's right) and cut off my Android data plan, so (in all honesty) I'm not quite as up on Android as I am about IOS and iPhone apps. That said, I did some research and found what I believe to be some of the best Android weather apps: RadarScope (for tracking high-res NWS Doppler Radars around the USA, and TorWarn, which sends out watches/warnings when the NWS pulls the trigger for your particular town. In addition, I've included 2 (free) apps that one of my companies created for Polaris, targeting snowmobilers and motorcycle enthusiasts who need personalized weather for their rides.

RadarScope. It's a little bit spendy (one time charge of $9.99) but once you see how well it operates you'll understand why I keep singing it's praises. You can see various Doppler products, warning polygons, even read the full text of NWS warnings and watches. For more information click here.

TorWarn Weather Alerts. I haven't used this personally, but I see some pretty good reviews and ratings in the Android Market. It's free (can't go wrong with that), and certainly worth a try. From the company: "With TorWarn you will have access to Tornado Warnings, Severe Thunderstorm Warnings, Tornado Watches, and Severe Thunderstorm Watches as soon as they become available. This application Uploads your position to our server which then searches the National Weather Service instantly for Warnings / Watches / Alerts in your area. If you are in a Warning or Watch your phone will be alerted and you can take the necessary actions to protect life and property."

Polaris Snow Trails. Full disclosure: one of my companies, Ham Weather, created this fine app (which works on Android and IOS/Apple smartphones). If you're a snowmobiler (tough season, I know...sorry) you need this app. Not only does it have updated snowfall amounts around the USA, it has GPS-specific snowfall predictions for any trail in the USA. And (wait for it), you can see where you are on any and all snowmobile trails in the USA, complete with nearby restaurants, hotels and bars. Best of all, it's free. More from Polaris: "Created by the devoted snow enthusiasts at Polaris, Polaris Snow Trails is a must-have app for the snowmobile rider. With this app, everything you need for your snowmobile adventures is only the touch of your finger away."

Included features:
- display your current location
- view maps of US snowmobile trails
- view snow cover, weather conditions and advisories for any location
- find and contact Polaris dealers
- local services search with integrated direct dialing, including gas stations, restaurants, and lodging
- save waypoints along your route
- track and save multiple snowmobile routes
- automatic map caching so maps can still be viewed while on the trail and outside of data coverage areas*
- share saved routes to Twitter or Facebook
- export route data in GPX or CSV format

Victory Rides. If you're a biker or motorcycle enthusiast you should check out this (free) app, available for Android or iPhones. Call up "layers" of weather data for your town, your state, your ride, including radar, temperatures and winds. You can even save and share your favorite rides. Full disclosure: we created this app for Polaris as well. It's free - with no ad clutter to get in your way.

Redheads Feel A Different Kind Of Pain. Yes, we always new fiery redheads were different, right? has the head-scratching details: "An increasing number of studies show that redheads are differently constituted in terms of pain perception and body reactions. Research reveals that redheads:
  • are more sensitive to cold
  • are less responsive to subcutaneously administered anaesthetics [under the skin]
  • suffer more from toothaches and are more frightened of dentists
  • are at greater risk of developing sclerosis and endometriosis"
Photo credit above: "Redheads have a reputation for being feistier than others, and there may be some truth in this. Scientists are gradually piecing together a picture which seems to indicate that redheads are constituted differently to other people. (Photo: schmidt-z)."

World's Worst Tourists: Americans Top List In New Survey. Why am I not shocked. Yes, you can always tell the American in the international crowd: tennis shoes (sneakers) and jeans, shirt tucked out, maybe a fanny pack for good measure. Huffington Post has the list no country wants to be #1 on: "It seems Americans might just be their own worst enemy when it comes to traveling abroad. That is, according to the findings of a new survey seeking to uncover the world's worst tourists, USA Today reports. Carried out by LivingSocial and Mandala Research, the survey polled 5,600 respondents from five countries, explains Biz Journal. Not only did Americans rank their own countrymen as the worst tourists; Australians and Canadians also ranked U.S. number one. Across the pond, the Irish singled out the British, while the Brits fingered Germans for their rude behavior, calling them the world's worst." Photo credit above:

Using Facebook While Driving More Dangerous Than Drinking, Texting or Using Marijuana. The story from "New research released today by the Institute of Advanced Motorists in the UK doesn't tell us much we didn't know before, but it does put it in context. The smartphone is headed for ubiquitous usage, and the wonderful real-time communications and information services it offers are making the roads considerably LESS safe."

Calm Before The (Warm Front). Monday was seasonably cool, temperatures within a whisker of average for March 5. Daytime highs ranged from 25 at Duluth (14" snow on the ground) to 34 St. Cloud, 35 in the Twin Cities and 38 at Redwood Falls.

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

TODAY: Mild sun, a hint of early April in the air. Metro snow melting fast. Winds: S 10-20. High: near 50

TUESDAY NIGHT: Clear to partly cloudy, unseasonably mild. Low: 36

WEDNESDAY: More clouds, shower or sprinkle possible. High: near 40

THURSDAY: Intervals of sun, a dry day. Low: 24. High: 41

FRIDAY: Lot's of sun, no weather complaints. Low: 28. High: 43

SATURDAY: Fading sun, breezy and milder - nicer day of the weekend. Low: 32. High: near 50

SUNDAY: Gray. Rain pushes in from south. Low: 37. High: 49

MONDAY: Periods of rain. Cool, windy & damp. Low: 38. High: 46

Maps Look Like April

Talk about a meteorological disconnect. The calendar insists that it's March 6. Then why do the weather maps look like something out of mid-April? Factoring in warmth (4th warmest meteorological winter) and meager snowfall rations (22" so far) it's been the easiest, tamest winter for the Twin Cities in 81 years. Will it snow again? Count on it. But snow in late March or April is a fleeting affair, melting within 24 hours, give or take. I strongly suspect the worst of winter, a Kansas City winter, is behind us.

Dwindling snow on the ground may prevent us from seeing mid-50s today, but we should easily hit 50, the average high for April 1. The GFS is hinting at 60s from March 16-20, the atmosphere not even close to being cold enough for snow anytime soon. Our fast-forward spring limps on.
SPC now reports 128 (preliminary) tornadoes during last Friday's historic tornado outbreak. Was climate change a factor? We don't know, but some climate scientists suspect it may have been one of many factors, including La Nina, which often energizes/increases jet stream winds over the nation's midsection this time of year. Dr. Jeff Masters reports water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico 2 degrees above average, symptoms of a mild winter. Record heat in the southeast fueled huge temperature contrasts last week, setting the stage for a horrific May-like tornado outbreak.

* GFS forecast map above valid March 20. At a glance it looks more like a jet stream configuration for April 20.

2011 Tornadoes: Is Climate Change To Blame For Devastating Weather? Here's an update from Huffington Post: "The tornadoes that tore through the southeast United States on Wednesday were cumulatively the deadliest twister disaster since 1932, with the death toll at 318 people and still rising. "In my career I have never seen this many tornadoes or this many fatalities," said Joshua Wurman, the lead tornado researcher and president of the Center for Severe Weather Research. He is more widely known for his role as the scientist on the Discovery Channel's "Storm Chasers" show. April has already shattered the benchmark for the number of tornadoes in a single month by a long shot. Meteorologists estimate that close to 600 tornadoes have formed thus far in April. That's nearly four times the average of 160, and twice the amount of the previous April record, 267 twisters in 1974." Photo courtesy of AP.

Wacky Winter Weather May Be Global Weirding. Richard Wiles has the story at Climate Central: "Its been a weird wacky winter across most of the country, with crazy hot temperatures smashing hundreds of records, and snow droughts in large swaths of the northeast, mid-Atlantic, the California Sierra, Colorado and Utah. Is this climate change? Global warming? Perhaps global weirding? “Too soon to tell” is what my staff scientists and PhDs tell me. “You can’t cry global warming every time you have a warm year” Really? What do you call it then? Or maybe I should ask, when? When will we have enough goofy weather in a row so that we can start calling it climate change? I guess they’ll get back to me on that one. “Limitations with the climate models, blah, blah, blah . . . “ Luckily, we have more information than just the models (don’t get me wrong, we love climate models here at Climate Central; they just have their limits, like anything else with a million zillion moving parts)."

Tornadoes, Extreme Weather And Climate Change, Revisited. The story from Think Progress: "The unexpectedly fierce and fast tornado outbreak so early in the season has folks asking again about a possible link to climate change. Climatologist Dr. Kevin Trenberth emailed me that, because of climate change, “there is every expectation that the [tornado] season will move up in time.  The warm winter in the US is perhaps an indicator of the nature of the changes to be expected.” The former head of the Climate Analysis Section of the National Center for Atmospheric Research stands by his 2011 statement, “It is irresponsible not to mention climate change in stories that presume to say something about why all these storms and tornadoes are happening.”

Paying More Attention To Global Weather. An interesting perspective from Huffington Post: "Are the several tornadoes that recently hit the United States an indication of what is to come? Perhaps 2012 will make the hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, torrential rains, wildfires, and the record-breaking heat wave of 2011 seem ordinary. Were all the extreme weather occurrences of last year a product of global warming or just a coincidental string of events? I'm not a scientist but my interest in global warming has led me to do extensive research and meet with leading climatologists doing research in ozone depletion. Thus, I've become convinced that further investigation into global weather patterns could allow us to make better-informed predictions that ultimately save lives."

Global Warming: A Communist Plot? Of course it is! The Business Spectator has the story: “For the extreme left it [the existence of climate change] provides the opportunity to do what they've always wanted to do, to sort of de-industrialise the western world. You know the collapse of communism was a disaster for the left...and really they embraced environmentalism as their new religion.” – Nick Minchin, Liberal Senator and former Australian Government Minister."

"I happen to think carbon dioxide re-radiates energy within the infrared spectrum. I also believe combustion of a million years of fossilised carbon within the space of a year, as well as deforestation of large tracts of the world’s forests, is likely to lead to a material increase in carbon dioxide within the atmosphere. All other things being equal, I think this is likely to lead the Earth’s atmosphere to trap greater amounts of the sun’s energy, leading to an increase in global temperature. I also think that if we make emitting carbon dioxide more expensive and harder to do, we’ll reduce the amount of carbon dioxide we emit and moderate temperature rises."

Study Finds Climate Change Link To Region's Recent Wild Weather. The story from "A new report by an environmental advocacy group shows our region has been particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events — driven by what it believes is climate change. The report, compiled by Environment New York Research and Policy Center, shows our nook of the Northeast has had a high number of federal disaster declarations since 2006. Numbers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency show Ulster County has had six weather-related federal disaster declarations in the last five years, while Orange County has had five and Sullivan County, four. "Catskill, Hudson Valley, and Mohawk River Valley residents have endured extreme weather beyond the usual cold winters during the last five years," David VanLuven, director of the Center, said in a statement."

Photo credit above: “People are concerned” about climate change and want to do something about it, says Patrick Gallagher of Gallagher Solar Thermal in Warwick. He's been selling more solar panels, like those behind him.MICHELE HASKELL/Times Herald-Record."

Climate Change Made The Drought Worse, Scientists Say. has more details: "Several scientists at NASA and the state climatologist say the record-setting heat and drought of last summer in Texas was made worse by climate change. More than just providing bragging rights that Texas now holds the record for hottest summer ever recorded in the United States, that conclusion adds another layer of uncertainty for water planners. James Hansen of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University's Earth Institute titled his still unpublished climate analysis, “Perceptions of Climate Change: The New Climate Dice.” “We conclude that extreme heat waves, such as that in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010, were ‘caused' by global warming, because their likelihood was negligible prior to the recent rapid global warming,” he wrote in the paper that is still undergoing peer review."

Photo credit above: "Bret Barnett, who owns property along the Guadalupe River, walks in late February in an area upstream from Canyon Lake where the river stopped flowing last year. Photo: TOM REEL, San Antonio Express-News / San Antonio Express-News."

In Climate Wars, Radicalization Of Researchers Brings Risks. The Washington Post has the story: "Everybody talks about the weather, Mark Twain famously wrote, but nobody does anything about it. Many climate researchers are no longer following Twain’s adage, noted Michael McPhaden, president of the American Geophysical Union. “Scientists today, they don’t just want to talk about it. They want to do something about it,” he said in an interview. “We’re the trustees of information which, in many ways, is of critical benefit to society. Some researchers are taking on a greater public-advocacy role to confront what many of them consider an existential crisis."

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