Monday, February 4, 2013

No Rest for the Weary

Warming trend

By Paul Douglas

I've said it before. Minnesotans EARN their springs. We tend to compare our winters, not with "average", but with the previous year. Last winter brought a scant 3 subzero nights; January, 2012 was nearly 8 F warmer than average. Last month saw 7 nights of negativity; it was still 1.3 F. above average. Hardly "polar". As winters trend milder & shorter our tolerance for bitter air goes down. Even "average" cold feels cruel & unusual.

Not that our weather has ever been average. Consider: the average high has risen 3 degrees since mid-January. It'll rise to 34 F by the end of February; 2 hours and 19 minutes of additional daylight finally tugging at the thermometer in your backyard! I suspect we'll see a couple more nights (just) below zero mid-month, but the coldest days & nights of winter are behind us.

The latest drive-by Alberta Clipper may put down a couple inches of snow this morning. By tomorrow highs nudge 30 F - another thaw late week. Prepare to emerge from hibernation.

A big, sloppy southern storm may brush southeastern Minnesota with rain changing to snow Sunday and Monday. Latest models nudge this shield of moisture south and east of the Twin Cities. I'm shocked.

Todd's Conservation MN Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:
TUESDAY: Light snow continues early, another 1" possible. Couple inches possible farther north. Some afternoon sun and warmer. High: 28
TUESDAY NIGHT: Mostly cloudy, but snow free. Low: 10
WEDNESDAY: Light snow develops, mainly north. High: 29
THURSDAY: Slow clearing, not too bad. Wake-up: 21. High: 27
FRIDAY: More sun, feeling better out there. Wake-up: 13. High: 30
Saturday: Wintry mix develops. Wake-up: 18. High: 32.
Sunday: Snow possible. Wake-up: 22. High: 31.
MONDAY: Clearing & cooler. Low: 12. High: 24

Northern Lights
Great picture from James Helmericks out of Alaska (Shared by the National Weather Service Alaska Facebook page)!
"While out seeing how many stars I could see in Orion for the Globe at Night project the Aurora came out to dance. Took a photo of the Colville Village cotton shelter and drifts under the aurora."

International Falls Record Cold?

A major Dutch paper reported on the recent cold weather streak and mentioned that International Falls had a chance to break the low temperature record.
As ex-Minnesota residents (1968-1980) we are interested whether this happened indeed.
Hanneke and Bert Potjer

Thanks for your question Hanneke and Bert. I looked at the low temperatures recorded in International Falls, MN thru January and could find no record low temps. They got close, but no record lows were tied or broken.

The coldest February low temp was -39F on the 2nd. The record low for that day is -45 set in 1996.

 January's coldest overnight low in International Falls was -36, but not a record. The record for that date was -40 set in 1966.

All-Time Cold in International Falls?
Here are some of the all-time coldest ever recorded in International Falls since 1897.

Coldest Temp in Minnesota?
The coldest temperature in Minnesota ever recorded was -60F set February 6th, 1996. It was a cold winter in 1996, in fact, according to the Great Lakes Aquarium, Lakes Superior was nearly 100% frozen over.
The image below was taken early March 2009 when Lake Superior was nearly 100% frozen over... pretty cool! I actually remember this quite well because one of the Duluth High School Hockey teams had a practice on Lake Superior!

Clipper-Fest Continues
Take a look at the webcam from earlier Monday out of Chicago! Fast moving clipper systems have been sailing through the Upper Midwest/Great Lakes Region since late last week. Each system has dropped a couple/few inches of fluffy snow in a narrow band, which has already added up to shovelable/plowable amounts since the start of the month. Snow AM Monday led to substantial flight delays in Chicago, which may be possible again Tuesday as another clipper rolls in.

Monday Snow Totals
Here are some of the snow totals that were tallied across Chicago from PM Sunday-AM Monday.

 Monday Snow Totals Across the Twin Cities
The Clipper that rolled through PM Sunday-AM Monday across the Twin Cities was responsible for another couple/few inches of snow as well.

Fresh Snow
One thing about fresh snow is that it really brightens the landscape doesn't it? I have to admit, I actually kind of like not having to stare at ugly brown snow piles. The image below suggest how much snow we've seen since the start of the month! Keep in mind that snow tallies from Sunday-Monday haven't been added into the data below.

Snow Season to Date
Interestingly, we've seen nearly half the seaonal snow in Chicago so far this month and more is on the way!

Seasonal Snow Deficit
Despite the recent snowfall as of late, we're still quite a bit behind schedule. There are still several spots with large season snow deficits. It appears that we'll be making up for lost time through the rest of the week and potentially again late weekend.

Cold Blog Steers Clippers
Low temperatures Monday morning revealed the clipper storm track pretty well. These fast moving (fairly week) systems are riding the edge of the Arctic air, which is bottled up north of the Great Lakes and around the Hudson Bay.

Clipper-Fest Continues
We're not quite done with clippers just yet. We've got at least 2 more before the weather pattern chances this weekend. The image below suggests the additional snow from PM Monday-PM Wednesday. The darker blue across northern Minnesota would suggest the possibility of nearly 4" to 6" through that time.
Weekend Storm System...
Take a look at the storm system over the Pacific Ocean. This is going to be the next system that makes waves across the mid-section of the nation by late weekend/early next week.
Late Weekend Storm
Here's the storm progged by late Sunday/AM Monday over the middle part of the country. Note the heavier snow swath on it's northwestern flank. This could bring shovelable/plowable snow from the Central Plains to the Great Lakes.
Differences in Model Runs
It is important to keep in mind that this is a developing storm and the forecast WILL CHANGE!!! The image below was the 6pm Sunday ECMWF model run.
The image below shows the same storm, but this is a little newer run from 6am Monday... The other thing we'll have to keep an eye on is the severe weather potential across the Lower Mississippi Valley.
Thanks for checking in and have a great rest of you week!
Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @TNelsonWNTV

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