Monday, December 2, 2013

The Arctic Comes to Minnesota (dangerously cold by late week)

38 F. high in the Twin Cities Monday.
32 F. average high for December 2.
40 F. high on December 2, 2012.

.5" half an inch of snow fell yesterday.
1.6" snow has fallen so far this winter in the Twin Cities.
10.7" amount of snow that should have fallen as of December 2 at KMSP.

-20F wind chills possible by Thursday night and Friday.

A Defining Chill

What unites residents of Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth? Cheering on Gophers, Twins, Vikes, Wolves and The Wild. And by The Wild I mean our increasingly manic weather patterns.

What may turn into the coldest arctic outbreak in a decade is on the way. Not a casual cold front, but at least two separate waves of "Holy Thinsulate - get me out of here!" Siberian Surges. An old fashioned cold wave spilling into mid-December.

I'm predicting 5 subzero nights through the middle of next week; in spite of a Yukon-blue sky daytime "highs" may not rise above 0F on Saturday. Late week wind chills may dip to -25F or colder.
Bitter blasts are often preceded by significant snow, and we're still on track for some 4-14 inch snowfall amounts over central & northern Minnesota by Thursday; maybe 2 feet along Lake Superior's North Shore.

Today will offer a wintry mix, the rain-snow line hovering over MSP - rain and sleet mixing with wet snow at times, mainly wet roads in the metro area. As temperatures cool a changeover to snow is likely tonight, maybe 2-4" tonight into Wednesday - the best chance of 3 or 4" northern suburbs. The farther north you drive up I-35 and 371 the heavier the amounts, but enough warm air pushes north for a sloppy winter mix in the metro today. ECMWF model data still hints at a few inches of snow Wednesday in the metro.

Temperatures drop below 0F Thursday, and may stay there until Sunday afternoon - before a reinforcing blast arrives next week. Here we go!

Coldest Thanksgiving In 20 Years - Here Comes The Real Deal. Last week's chill was just the appetizer; the main course comes later this week, another Yukon punch early next week. Some slight moderation is expected after December 15, but the next week to 10 days will leave no doubt in your mind that winter has arrived. We track the cold wave, and take a look back at a chilly Thanksgiving holiday, and why (many) retailers were smiling in today's edition of Climate Matters: "WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas has a forecast for those that love winter. Brutal Arctic chills, snow, and lots of it for much of the northern tier of the United States. Also, just how does this Thanksgiving stack up against previous ones?"

Snow By Midday Today. The HopWRF shows significant snows setting up north and east of MSP, a band of 6-9" from near Lake Mille Lacs to Cambridge, Taylors Falls to Spooner, Wisconsin by noon today.

RPM Model. WSI's 12km RPM model shows 2" of snow by Wednesday evening, with 4" far northern suburbs - closer to 8-12" from Hibbing to Duluth.

WRF Total Accumulations. A wintry mix is expected in the Twin Cities today; mainly wet, sloppy roads with surface temperatures (just) above 32F, but snow will stick 30-75 miles north/east of MSP. WRF model total accumulations suggest 1-2" south metro, but as much as 3-5" northern suburbs, most of that falling tonight into Wednesday. I suspect totals will range from 1--2" south metro to 3-4" northern suburbs, with closer to 6-8" near Princeton and Cambridge, maybe 4-7" in the St. Cloud area.

Ouch. Other, more colorful words came to mind, but ouch will suffice for now. What may be one of the coldest airmasses in a decade arrives late this week, a second reinforcing smack of bitter air next week. The ECMWF (above) may be overestimating the cold a bit, but I still expect double-digit subzero lows Friday and Saturday morning, again a couple days next week. Parts of central Minnesota could easily see lows in the -20 to -30F range. I know, unreasonably cold.

Subzero Saturday? By 6am Saturday the GFS shows the 0F isotherm near the Minnesota-Iowa border. In spite of bright sun temperatures may not climb above 0F Saturday afternoon, a rare subzero maximum at MSP. At least winds will ease by then. Chill factors Thursday and Friday may dip to -20F in the metro, -30 to -40 over parts of central and northern Minnesota. We're about to get our cold weather bragging rights back.

Cold Wave. Misery loves company, and as we take turns complaining about the chill, at least least the rest of America will be whining right along with us. The solid red line marks the 32F isotherm, the solid green line shows the 0F temperature sagging southward by Thursday. If you have any frequent flier miles you might want to consider cashing them in. Quickly. NAM 12km guidance courtesy of NOAA and Ham Weather.

Coldest Thanksgiving Since 1993 for USA. Here's an excerpt of a report from Planalytics - good shopping weather, it turns out: "...Overall, it was significantly colder than Thanksgiving Day last year, which was the warmest since 1998. Across the entire U.S., the 2013 Black Friday weekend (November 28 – December 1) was the coldest in 4 years. The Mid-Atlantic, New England, and East North Central regions had their coldest Black Friday weekend in over 15 years, and the South Atlantic region was coldest since 2002. New York City, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Richmond, Charlotte, and New Orleans are just a few of the major markets which had their coldest Black Friday weekend in over 15 years. Boston was coldest since 2000, while Detroit, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Atlanta, Nashville, and Richmond were each coldest since 2002."

Coldest November Since 2000. Here's another timely clip from the weather analysts at Planalytics: "In the U.S., November 2013 was the coldest since 2000 and much colder than normal. Precipitation and snowfall were both greater than last year, although still below normal. Canada had its coldest November since 1996. Rain and snowfall were both greater than last year, although below normal.
  • Thanksgiving was the coldest since 1993 and driest since 2002. The Black Friday Weekend was the coldest in 4 years. Several major markets in the East had their coldest Black Friday weekend in over 15 years, including NYC, Baltimore, Charlotte, and New Orleans. Boston was coldest since 2000, Detroit and Atlanta since 2002, helping put seasonal items in customer baskets.
  • Week 4 in the U.S., which included Thanksgiving and Black Friday, was the coldest end to November in over 50 years. Canada was colder than normal..."

"...Although the first real snow of the season is [on the ground/ in the forecast], the first signs of spring are already showing up in the time of sunset. The sun is now within one minute of its earliest setting of the winter season. This will come in less than a week, on Dec. 9, when the sun will set at 4:31 PM. After that it sets later every day, reaching 4:41 PM by New Years Eve and then 5 PM by Jan. 17. It's true that the shortest day of the year is Dec. 21, but the December acceleration of the earth in its orbit around the sun distorts the time of earliest sunset back to Dec. 9. To compensate, the sun will be rising later every day until Dec. 30, when it's latest sunrise at 7:51 AM." - consulting meteorologist Dean DeHarpporte.

One Perfect Rainbow. Thanks to the Billings office of the National Weather Service (and Twitter) for sharing this one.

Farmers Describe "Worst Storm In 150 Years". The freakish October blizzard that hit the Black Hills of South Dakota is still making news - here's a clip from The BBC: "Nearly two months after devastating blizzards hit parts of South Dakota and Wyoming, farmers are still recovering from the loss of cattle and the effect on their businesses. The week before the storm, it had been wet and mild and the prairies of the Great Plains were deep in mud. Then, the first winter snow came early and unexpectedly in an icy blast from the north-west. Trapped in the mud, 30,000 cattle suffocated and froze to death. They were buried in 20ft (6m) snow drifts, entombed in ice in what ranchers call the "breaks and draws" - the slopes and valleys - of the rolling prairie hills..." (Photo: AP).

"Forecast Bust". Why 2013 Hurricane Predictions Were So Wrong. It was a season that left many tropical meteorologists scratching their heads. NPR has the audio interview; here's an excerpt: "Forecasters expected the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season to be really busy — the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told Americans to expect between seven and 11 hurricanes. But this year has been one of the quietest on record. Why were the predictions so far off?"

Scientists Improve Models That Can Predict Killer Cyclone Surge. Similarities between Haiyan's catastrophic storm surge in the Philippines and the killer surge that hit Galveston, Texas in 1900? Here's an excerpt of new research into storm surges at E&E Publishing: "...Tacloban's surge was possibly the highest recorded in the Philippines, rivaling the 24-foot surge record set in 1897, Needham noted. But in that surge, the researcher saw more than a record. He saw a comparison. Needham is a self-proclaimed "extreme weather" enthusiast, whose blog, Hurricane Hal's Storm Surge Blog, analyzes present and past cyclones. His ability to run down historic storm surges is similar to how a farmer can rattle off past bumper crops and famine years..."

Photo credit above: "The result of the storm surge that swept over Tacloban in the Philippines." Photo by Ton Carmello Pido Tallon.

Sydney Records Warmest Spring On Record. Weatherzone has the story - here's the introduction: "Sydney has recorded its warmest spring on record, largely due to a fiery September and October. The combined minimum and maximum for the New South Wales capital of 19.9 degrees for spring comfortably broke the previous record of 19.5 degrees set in 1988. The average maximum of 24.7 degrees smashed the previous record set in 2002 of 24.2 degrees..."

Sickweather Tracks, Then Alerts You Of Nearby Illnesses. Yes, there's even an app for that - reports of flu and other bugs surrounding your neighborhood or GPS location. CNET has more details: "...Download the free Sickweather app from the App Store, designate which viruses and conditions you want to be alerted of, and let the app do the rest. By scanning social networks for mentions of specific illnesses while filtering out redundant phrases or random uses of the word "sick" (and the like), Sickweather is able to plot where the plague has occurred on a map. When you approach an area marked on the map, you'll receive an alert of the illness and when it was last reported..."

Image credit above: Jason Cipriani/CNET.

Four Auto Features That Make Driving Easier For The Elderly. Nice photo selection for this article. Wow. What is that, a Model T? Business Insider Australia has the story - here's a clip: " Driving as a senior citizen can be hard: According to AAA, nearly 90% of drivers 65 and older suffer from health issues that affect their ability to drive safely. But as I learned when I put on a crazy suit to see what it’s like to drive as an 80-year-old man, there are lots of features that can make things easier..."

Dear Santa - Please Don't Screw Up The URL. I do this with my wife, to make sure I get the right size and color, and now kids have caught on in their pleas to Santa. Or is it a promotional device for Amazon? Details from Yahoo News.

TODAY: Wintry mix - rain mixed with wet snow. Mainly wet roads metro. Winds: E 10. High: 37
TUESDAY NIGHT: Rain changes to mostly snow. Low: 29
WEDNESDAY: 2-4" of snow possible (best chance of 3 or 4" north metro). Slick roads. High: near 30 (sharply colder Wednesday night).
THURSDAY: Some sun. Temperature tumble. Wake-up: 4. High: 7
FRIDAY: Dangerously cold with intervals of sun. Feels like -20F. Wake-up: -8. High: 2
SATURDAY: A blue, arctic sky. Less wind. Wake-up: -13. High: -1
SUNDAY: Few inches of additional snow possible. Icy roads. Wake-up: -8. High: 12
MONDAY: Clearing, second reinforcing shot of numb arrives. Wake-up: 8. High: 10

Climate Stories....
"The problem is that enough people aren’t willing to change their own behaviors or pay to support an aggressive anti-emissions program right now. That’s not simply because of oil-company lobbying. It’s because fossil fuels are cheap. They are abundant, energy-rich and easy to transport." - Editorial, Washington Post.

Power In 2030 - The Roads We May Take. Daniel Yergin, who has written extensively about energy and oil, has a very interesting Op-Ed in The New York Times, focused on America's energy mix going forward, a smooth transition toward less polluting and renewable fuels, or a vortex of pain? Here's an excerpt: "...How, then, to assess the energy future? One way is through the use of scenarios. These are not meant to be predictions or forecasts, but rather plausible ‘‘stories’’ about the future. They help to identify what seems to be predetermined, the things you can count on. They also highlight the driving forces and big uncertainties  —  and even the potential surprises before they occur. The scenarios below are written from the vantage point of 2030. Drawing on work that I oversaw at the research firm IHS, of which I am vice chairman, I propose three futures: ‘‘Global Redesign,’’ ‘‘Meta’’ and ‘‘Vortex.’’ Each is quite plausible but leads to very different balances between conventional energy  —  oil, natural gas and coal  —  and renewables like solar and wind..."

Image credit: Eion Ryan.

Sports Bigs Step Up On Climate Change - And They're Not Tree Huggers. Here's an excerpt of a story at The New York Daily News: "...But here was husky Craig Harnett, the NHL’s chief financial officer, talking about ponds on which many players grew up no longer freezing. “To the extent it becomes more difficult to create ice, you’re limiting access. Already in this country, there is not enough access to ice time.” He detailed league involvement with new HVAC systems in arenas and on-site renewable energy. Similarly, some MLB stadiums use solar-panel systems and wind turbines to reduce their carbon footprints. The NFL will be planting 27,000 trees, managing food recovery and taking other environmentally mindful steps in the lead up to and after February’s Super Bowl in New Jersey..."

Something In The Weather Tells Us Climate Change Is Real. Yes, as I've been describing for 15 years the Symphony of Seasons is playing out of tune - the patterns have shifted. Here's a clip of an Op-Ed at The St. Louis Post Dispatch that caught my eye: "...I suspect that nearly everyone who reads this knows deep inside that something isn’t right with the weather. Science has been telling us for decades what “isn’t right.” The atmosphere has too much carbon and it’s trapping more heat, like a thicker blanket over the earth. My dad taught me something else very important and this explains why I spoke to the Environmental Protection Agency, why I give talks in the community and why I’m writing this letter. He taught me to do the right thing. It’s time for all of us “to do the right thing” and listen to what we all know deep down to be true. The evidence is overwhelming — which is why climate scientists worldwide now are 95 percent confident climate change is manmade. Not one major scientific body in the world disputes it. And don’t forget the threat the Pentagon sees..."

How Do Meteorologists Fit Into The 97% Global Warming Consensus? The author of this story at The Guardian accurately describes the vast majority of AMS members as meteorologists, not climate scientists, which is absolutely true. Here's an excerpt: "...The AMS on the other hand is not comprised primarily of climate experts. Some of its members do climate research, but only 13 percent of survey participants described climate as their field of expertise. Among those respondents with climate expertise who have published their climate research, this survey found that 93 percent agreed that humans have contributed significantly to global warming over the past 150 years (78 percent said it's mostly human-caused, 10 percent said it's equally caused by humans and natural processes, and 5 percent said the precise degree of human causation is unclear, but that humans have contributed). Just 2 percent of AMS climate experts said global warming is mostly natural, 1 percent said global warming isn't happening, and the remaining 4 percent were unsure about global warming or human causation..."

Tech Leaders, Economists Split Over Clean Energy's Prospects. Here's a clip of a story from NPR: "...Kammen thinks advances in technology are on the horizon that could push the United States rapidly away from fossil fuels. If we put a price on the environmental damage caused by carbon dioxide, clean forms of energy like solar would become comparatively cheaper, he says. That would trigger a whole new relationship between people and energy, he says, as homeowners produce power instead of simply consuming it. People would have a powerful reason to install solar panels and store some of that energy in the batteries in their electric cars — and even send short bursts of it to the power grid..."

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