Sunday, April 21, 2013

Light-Switch Spring? 3-6" slush tonight - 70s by Sunday and Monday

1.04" liquid precipitation forecast later today and tonight. .30 - .40" of that should fall as rain (this afternoon).
3-6" slush possible tonight, between 7 pm and 3 am. Best chance of 5-6" northern and western suburbs.
Slushy, icy start possible for Tuesday AM commutes.
60s by Friday.
70s expected Sunday and Monday. No....really.

51 F. high in the Twin Cities Sunday.
61 F. average high on April 21.
52 F. high on April 21, 2012.
Trace of snow fell yesterday.
.12" rain fell as of 7 pm yesterday at KMSP.
Trace snow left on the ground.

Stages of "Spring"

Irritation. Anger. Incredulity. Shock. I hope I get to acceptance.

Now I look at the maps and just laugh. It's that - or weep uncontrollably, mourning a spring that might have been.

I'm so sorry I pressed the wrong button on my Doppler. It's all my fault.

Earth Day 2013 and the weather map still looks like something out of The Twilight Zone. A wave of low pressure tracking east along a cold front changes rain to snow tonight. Another plowable slush-fest is expected tonight, as much as 3-6" for parts of the metro. Then, a reinforcing cold front Wednesday, with PM sprinkles mixing with snow flurries.

Followed by a Light-Switch Spring: 60s by Friday; temperatures soar into the 70s Sunday & Monday. Snow - mud - green lawns, all in the span of 72 hours?

If you blink, hiccup or sneeze, you may miss spring altogether this year.

Rapid warmth, coupled with moderate to heavy rain predicted for the Red River Valley by Monday, will unleash the 4-10" of liquid water still trapped in the snow cover up north. I have a bad feeling about flood potential in Fargo & tornado season statewide.

What happened to global warming? Winter is hanging on here, but March was the 8th warmest on record, worldwide, according to NASA. Details below.

Not Again. May I be excused? At least for the next 24 hours? I may have to retreat to the Weather Bunker - just when I thought Minnesotan's couldn't get any more depressed. Here is the 00z WSI 12km RPM model, showing a few inches of slush tonight: 3-6", with the best chance of 5-6" northern and western suburbs, maybe some 5-10" amounts southwestern and south central Minnesota. Yes, I hope the models are wrong too.

God-Willing: The Last Time You Have To See This Graph. Here is the model spread for tonight's (last?) snow event. Models print out about .4 to .7" liquid after temperatures in the lowest mile of the atmosphere are cold enough for mostly snow. Expect heavy wet snow (again), mixed with sleet this evening, probably enough to shovel. Whatever falls should be mostly-gone by Tuesday afternoon. Graphic: Iowa State.

Die - Winter - Die. Too melodramatic? You can't begin to appreciate the amount of crap I've been getting in recent weeks: insults, threats...dirty looks. And that's just from friends and family members. I don't even want to think about the general public. Colder air drains into Minnesota today - temperatures aloft warm enough for all rain until the dinner hour, when sleet may mix in, a changeover to mostly snow after 7 pm, give or take. It snows hard until 2-3 am, before tapering to flurries Tuesday morning. This wave of low pressure moves quickly, skies clear Tuesday (with rapid melting of snow). A reinforcing cold front arrives Wednesday, and then we start to warm up. A real warm-up.

-14 F low Saturday morning at Embarrass, Minnesota. According to the Minnesota State Climatology Office that's the coldest temperature ever reported in the state on April 20. Previous record: 0F at Cloquet (1928). It was also the coldest temperature ever reported in MInnesota during the second half of April. (photo: Birch Leaf Photography).

The Only Thing Tempering My Excitement About A Real Warm Front. As you know all too well by now - there's still plenty of snow on the ground up north. The map above from NOAA shows SWE, the Snow Water Equivalent, roughly how much water is locked in the remaining snowpack: as much as 6-10" of liquid water over much of the Red River Basin - water that will get flushed into the Red River in the coming weeks as temperatures warm (and more rain falls, accelerating snow melt). I have a hunch the 40% risk of a record crest in Fargo (NOAA prediction) may rise in the coming days. I hope I'm wrong, but this light-switch warm front has me a bit paranoid.

It Looks Real This Time. ECMWF model data shows 60s by Friday, a shot at 70 Saturday, with a better chance of 70s by Sunday and Monday. It's hard to imagine, but there will be precious little snow left on your (rapidly greening) lawn by next weekend.

I've Never Been Happier Tracking A Warm Front. ECMWF model data (courtesy of WSI) valid midday Monday, a week from today, shows a strong southwest flow ahead of an advancing front. Highs may climb well into the 70s Monday afternoon; 80F not out of the question over southwestern Minnesota.

Will Spring "Stick"? Probably. GFS data shows highs consistently in the 60s and 70s the first week of May; a chance of 80F Thursday of next week. We'll see about that - but I don't see any more (severe) wintry relapses after this week. Excuse me while I say a silent prayer...

Cold Weather Nugget. Thanks to NOAA for passing this one along.

Flooding Threatens Along Mississippi River From Iowa To Missouri. Here's a video and excerpt from a Washington Post story on the growing risk of major flooding: "The fast-rising Mississippi River was making travel difficult Saturday, both on the river and for those simply trying to get across it. The Mississippi, Missouri and other Midwestern rivers in at least six states have surged since torrential rains drenched the region over the past few days. At least two deaths are blamed on flash flooding and a third was suspected, while crews in Indiana were searching for a man whose car was swept away. The National Weather Service predicted what it characterizes as “major” flooding on the Mississippi from the Quad Cities to just north of St. Louis by this weekend, with similar projections farther south into early next week. Some smaller rivers are expected to see record flooding..."

Flooding Along The Illinois River. Here are some remarkable photos from The Journal Star, documenting the extent of flooding on the Illinois River Why do I think this is an omen, especially for the Red River Valley within 2 weeks? I hope I'm wrong.

Photo credit above: RON JOHNSON/JOURNAL STAR "A boat sits in a flooded portion of a neighborhood along Oak Lawn Street in Chillicothe on Saturday."

8th Warmest March - Worldwide. NOAA NCDC reports 10th warmest, but NASA GISS data suggests that last month tied 2006 for 8th warmest. Thanks to Graham Saunders for bringing this link to my attention.

"Chasing Ice" Screening At Macalester College This Evening. I'll have the pleasure of presenting meteorological trends, and my journey from skeptic in the 80s to acknowledging climate science, based largely on the meteorological signals of the 90s and more recent years, which pointed me toward peer-reviewed climate science. Here are more details on this evening's screening of Jim Balog's amazing documentary at Macalester College: "On Monday, April 22nd from 7-9pm the Sustainability Office, Geo Club, and Bio Club will be hosting Paul Douglas for a short presentation followed by a screening of the documentary Chasing Ice. Paul Douglas is a nationally respected meteorologist, moderate political conservative, and climate change activist. He will be sharing the story of his evolution from climate change skeptic to acknowledging the science. Douglas’s personal story and account of the science behind climate change will prime the audience for the viewing of Chasing Ice-- a visual masterpiece of the haunting reality of climate change in our world today.

Chasing Ice, follows 'National Geographic' photographer James Balog across the Arctic as he deploys revolutionary time-lapse cameras designed for one purpose: to capture a multi-year record of the world's changing glaciers. Balog's videos compress years into seconds and capture ancient mountains of ice in motion as they disappear at a breathtaking rate. Traveling with a young team of adventurers by helicopter, canoe and dog sled across three continents, Balog risks his career and his well-being in pursuit of the biggest story in human history. As the debate polarizes America and the intensity of natural disasters ramp up around the world, 'Chasing Ice' depicts a heroic photojournalist on a mission to gather evidence and deliver hope to our carbon-powered planet

Boston Made TV Feel "So Slow". Were you on Twitter during the Boston terrorism event? There is always a risk of getting bad information on social media, but you can also get erroneous "news" on traditional media. It all comes down to "trusted sources" on Twitter - the velocity of news was incredible last week, and as this story at points out, Twitter almost made the TV networks seem like they were operating in slow motion. It's part of the democratization of media. I suspect it's not a fad, but a powerful trend in the making: "...(CNN) Host Howard Kurtz and Daily Beast columnist Lauren Ashburn went over some of the scoops and images which twitter users were able publish instantly over the course of the week’s events, from the instant the bombing in Boston was reported to the eventual capture of Dzokhar Tsarnaev. “Is Twitter and other social media sites, are they putting pressure on the media?” Kurtz asked. “Are they adding to what the media are able to report? Because, after all, there are only so many journalists in every newsroom.” Kurtz said that Concha had identified a trend in which Twitter has opened the dialogue to millions of people rather than a select few in old media. “I would say there are now six news networks,” Concha said. “There’s CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, Fox, and Twitter...”

* more on the (sometimes imperfect) coverage on the networks last week from Huffington Post.

Sunday Numbers. 23" of snow on the ground at Duluth, on April 21? Amazing. Highs statewide yesterday ranged from 37 at International Falls to 44 St. Cloud and 51 in the Twin Cities.

TODAY: Rain developing by afternoon, cool and damp. Winds: N 15. High: 41

MONDAY NIGHT: Wet snow, 3-6" slush possible. Low: 30

TUESDAY: Slow, slushy start. Partly sunny. Melting snow. High: 43

WEDNESDAY: Clouds, PM flurries/sprinkles. Wake-up: 29. High: 42

THURSDAY: Partly sunny, turning milder. Wake-up: 31. High: near 50

FRIDAY: Intervals of sun. Here's a new one: "Spring Fever". Wake-up: 40. High: 64

SATURDAY: Some sun, most snow gone. Wake-up: 45. High: 68

SUNDAY: Ring the church bells. Warm air! Partly sunny skies. Wake-up: 50. High: 71

Climate Stories...

Is Our Extreme Weather Linked To Climate Change? Here's an excerpt of a story at The La Crosse Tribune: “...It’s a shame that people and ideas are pigeonholed into classifications of alarmism or science deniers,” Lussky said. “I don’t know that I’ve seen any two people that would be classified by some as skeptics that would agree with each other.“ Calling the debate on climate change closed is the antithesis of science, Lussky said. And combining science with politics isn’t always a great mix. “If you’re going to stay true to the science, becoming an advocate… it takes away from that,” he said. Lussky earned his master’s degree at the University of Wisconsin, doing research for the Center for Climatic Research that Notaro helps guide. Yet, he disagrees with some of its conclusions. “There’s so much we don’t know,” he said..." (file derecho image: Brittney Misialek, NOAA SPC).

China's Clean Energy Investment Puts America To Shame. Will we be buying most of our solar panels, wind turbines and next-generation batteries from China? I'm starting to wonder. Here's an excerpt from an important article at The Motley Fool: "...In China, the energy debate is very different. When China sees its imports of coal rising and dependence on foreign oil growing, it springs into action. Not by screaming, "Drill, baby, drill," but by investing billions of dollars in home-grown energy sources. Yes, I'm talking about clean, renewable energy, and China's investment in these energy sources make U.S. subsidies look like the half-hearted effort they are. China has put tens (maybe hundreds) of billions of dollars into building a renewable manufacturing industry, and it started long before the U.S. even noticed the emergence of wind and solar power..."

Unburnable Carbon 2013: Wasted Capital And Stranded Assets. Here is an excerpt of the report from The Carbon Tracker Initiative that generated a lot of press last week: "...This new research from Carbon Tracker and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at LSE calls for regulators, governments and investors to re-evaluate energy business models against carbon budgets, to prevent $6trillion carbon bubble in the next decade. Unburnable carbon 2013: Wasted capital and stranded assets has revealed that fossil fuel reserves already far exceed the carbon budget to avoid global warming of 2°C, but in spite of this, spent $674billion last year to find and develop new potentially stranded assets.

“Smart investors can see that investing in companies that rely solely or heavily on constantly replenishing reserves of fossil fuels is becoming a very risky decision. The report raises serious questions as to the ability of the financial system to act on industry-wide long term risk, since currently the only measure of risk is performance against industry benchmarks.” Professor Lord Stern

Antarctic Ice Melt Has Increased Ten-Fold Over Past 1,000 Years. Here's the intro to a story at Mother Nature Network: "Summer ice melt has increased tenfold over the last millennium in the Antarctic Peninsula, with most of the melt occurring during the last several decades in conjunction with global warming, new research suggests. Rapid melt can destabilize glaciers and ice shelves (the tongues of glaciers that float on the ocean), suggesting that there could be some dramatic collapses and a resulting increase in sea levels if the melting continues. "What that means is that the Antarctic Peninsula has warmed to a level where even small increases in temperature can now lead to a big increase in summer ice melt," study co-author Nerilie Abram, a researcher at the Australian National University and the British Antarctic Survey, said in a statement..."

Photo credit above: Armin Rose/Shutterstock

Seeing Climate Change: Film By National Geographic Photographer Visits MSU. Here's a story about the film "Chasing Ice", which is now being shown on The National Geographic Channel - you definitely want to check it out, if you can. This story ran at "...As a photographer, Orlowski says, James Balog wants to make climate change and other social issues visible. Glaciers react dramatically to atmospheric changes, he says, that are otherwise hard to notice. “It’s inherently invisible,” Orlowski says. “You’re talking about temperature and carbon dioxide changes.” Moving and changing ice-covered landscapes illustrate climate change, he says, which is why photographer Balog was so dedicated to and passionate about the project. The two met through a mutual friend, Orlowski says, and he offered to film Balog’s initial visit to Iceland. The original intent was to document Balog’s story for the sake of having a record, he says, but the team decided to make a film after a year and a half of documentation. On his first few trips, Orlowski says it was impactful to hear about where the glacier was a year ago or to see a data marker in the ground. However, he says seeing the changes in person or through Balog’s time lapses is much more impactful..."

Dr. Frank Bures: Climate Change Is Hurting Our Health. Here's a snippet of a story that ran in The Winona Daily News: "...Indicators of early health effects of climate change include increases in annual deaths from extreme heat, both in high- and low-income countries; increases in deaths and injuries from rising weather disasters; extensions in the geographic ranges of insect-borne infections due to warming and longer summers; and increases in the prices of foods, especially in vulnerable, food-insecure regions....Air pollution by particulates from coal burning and diesel fumes is another dimension of the medical issue. China has been the largest emitter of greenhouse gases since 2007, and recent air alerts in Beijing were graphic. The British medical journal Lancet reported that 1.2 million premature deaths in China were attributed to air pollution, called ambient particulate matter..."

Burn Our Planet Or Face Financial Meltdown. Not Much Of A Choice. Here's a portion of an Op-Ed at The Guardian: "The world is going to fry – unless there is change soon. There is weakening political will to make national and international targets for carbon reduction stick, no strong business and financial coalition prepared to lead and a weakening groundswell of public opinion prepared to foot the bill. Instead, the international consensus of 25 years ago – that the world must act to challenge climate change – is dissolving. Individual countries are trying to steal a march on each other in a race to the bottom, dropping whatever scant penalties there have been for burning fossil fuels...."

Photo credit above: "The polluted town of Huaxi in China, where excessive carbon use isn't penalised." Photograph: Carlos Barria/Reuters.

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