-12 F. low temperature Tuesday morning.
2 F. high temperature yesterday in the Twin Cities.
24 F. average high on January 22.
26 F. high on January 22, 2012.
Coating of snow possible late Thursday, maybe an inch or two Sunday morning. No major storms are brewing.
Low 30s expected early next week. Grilling weather.
The Source Of "Lake Effect". I love this photo from Split Rock Lighthouse north of Duluth, along the rocky shoreline of Lake Superior. You can see the air churning above the relatively warm lake water as bitter air pours over the lake. This will result in some 1-2 foot snowfall amounts on the downwind side of Superior. Details via FB: "Lake Superior is a steaming cauldron this morning. Open water and -17. This is where lake-effect snow comes from."
How Do Snowflakes Form? Here's an excerpt of the answer from NOAA: "...These ice crystals that make up snowflakes are symmetrical (or patterned) because they reflect the internal order of the crystal’s water molecules as they arrange themselves in predetermined spaces (known as “crystallization”) to form a six-sided snowflake. Ultimately, it is the temperature at which a crystal forms — and to a lesser extent the humidity of the air — that determines the basic shape of the ice crystal. Thus, we see long needle-like crystals at 23 degrees F and very flat plate-like crystals at 5 degrees F. The intricate shape of a single arm of the snowflake is determined by the atmospheric conditions experienced by entire ice crystal as it falls. A crystal might begin to grow arms in one manner, and then minutes or even seconds later, slight changes in the surrounding temperature or humidity causes the crystal to grow in another way. Although the six-sided shape is always maintained, the ice crystal (and its six arms) may branch off in new directions. Because each arm experiences the same atmospheric conditions, the arms look identical...."
"I happened to run across a NASA web site that described three different variations in the Earth's orbit around the sun. As I recall, they occur every 19,000, 45,000, and 100,000 years.
Question: Is it possible that we are in one or more of these orbit shifts, and is it possible that this is part of the climate change picture? I haven't heard anyone discuss these shifts, and the possibility of an impact.
Keep up the good work."
Little Falls, MN
Has there ever been a "snownado" (a tornado recorded during a snowstorm?)
Brent - I've never heard of such a thing, 'nor do I think it's even theoretically possible. Tornadoes require violent updrafts, as well as shifting wind direction/speed with altitude (wind shear). During the winter, with snow on the ground you just don't have the instability that exists in spring and early summer. I've heard reports of tornadoes passing over the Rockies, tracking over patches of snow, but not an actual "snownado".
"Hole Punch Cloud". This is an unusual formation, captured by Don Clark in Auburn, Washington. Turbulence around a descending jet provided enough additional "lift" for snow to fall out of a layer of mid-level clouds, leaving a clear hole behind: "I heard like a plane or planes go by then three sounds like thunder or concusions, then I saw these strange clouds appear. I watched this unfold shortly after the fog lifted."
Winter Panorama. Uber-photographer Mike Hall snapped this photo of the setting sun near Lewisport, Kentucky Tuesday evening - talk about a chaotic sky. Note the massive plumes from power plants in screen right, much more pronounced as bitter air envelopes the Ohio Valley.
Anyway, enough winter musing. This morning, I ventured to my favorite tombolo. It's east of Grand Marais by about 10 miles. To get to the point where I set up my tripod, I had to wade across a gap (water was flowing through it like a stream), slip across ice and then balance on an uneven surface of glare ice. I waited for twenty minutes tucked into my hood, while my glasses froze and my breath coated my collar with rime. Then the pink happened."
Paul's Conservation Minnesota Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:
* photo above courtesy of Birch Leaf Photography.
Photo credit above: "President Barack Obama waves after his speech while Vice President Joe Biden applauds at the ceremonial swearing-in at the U.S. Capitol during the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013." (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
File Photo credit above: "Rainforest being cleared by farmers, south of Itaituba, Para State, Brazil. Part of "Full Exposure: Images to Change the Future," a photography symposium featuring acclaimed photographers Daniel Beltra and Molly Steinwald on June 11 at the Arboretum."
(Image credit here).
Map credit above: "A satellite image of the 2005 drought, now megadrought, in the Amazon, with the worst imacts in red and yellow." (Credit: NASA/JPL-CALTECH/GFSC)