Monday, February 2, 2015

Another Wimpy Clipper - Colder Phase into mid-February

0 F. morning low Monday in the Twin Cities.
16 F. afternoon high yesterday at MSP.
25 F. average high on February 2.

14 F. high on February 2, 2014, after waking up to -7 F.

February 2, 1989: Severe cold across Minnesota with lows in the 40-below-zero range in the north.
February 2, 1947: Strong dust storm hits Crookston with winds near 50 mph. Visibility was reduced down to 300 feet.

One Shade of Grey

How was I to know "50 Shades of Grey" isn't about drab, stormy winters in England? I think I got some bad advice.

What a strange winter. In Glencoe Saturday I talked to corn and soybean farmers, already concerned about another drought setting up in 2015. While Chicago digs out from a 20 inch blizzard; 5th biggest storm in Windy City history. Detroit picked up nearly 17", the 3rd largest snowstorm in Motor City history. Crews in Boston don't know where to put all the snow; 35 inches from 2 storms in one week, an all-time record. And here we sit, staring out at brown yards and fields, wondering what comes next.

The groundhog saw his shadow, meaning 6 more weeks of wintry spam from Canada. Big surprise.
But daylight is increasing rapidly now. Since December 21 we've seen an additional 65 minutes of light, at the rate of 2-3 minutes every day.

Any sun quickly fades; today's clipper dropping a coating to an inch of snow by evening. Arctic air sideswipes Minnesota tomorrow with a wind chill dipping to -10. The ECMWF (Euro) hints at a more potent clipper next weekend, even a couple inches, but I'm not holding my breath. No big storms or subzero smacks are brewing into the second week of February.

Out east it's a different story: another snowy nor'easter next Monday? At this rate Boston may turn into the Super Bowl of Snow.

An Historic Storm for Chicago. Yes, if it was up to me (it's not) temperatures would range from 25-30F (above zero) with non-stop snowstorms. No, that wouldn't make commuters happy, but that's not my job. It would, however, make me happy. Which means I've pretty jealous of friends and colleagues in Chicago, still digging out from nearly 20" of snow. Here's an excerpt from a great review from the Chicago National Weather Service: "...The 16.2 inches recorded at O'Hare just during the hours of February 1st (out of 19.3 inches total) were the most ever for any February day in Chicago.  The 10.5 inches recorded on February 1st at Rockford (out of 11.9 inches total) ranked #2 all time for the date and #3 all time for any February day in Rockford.  For the event as a whole, the 19.3 inches at O'Hare ranks as #5 out of all snow events in Chicago, while the 11.9 inches at Rockford ranks as #10 overall for that city..."

6 Things To Know About Groundhog Day. TIME has a story with interesting factoids; here's an excerpt: "...The tradition has ancient roots. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says Groundhogs Day’s origins are linked to “ancient European weather lore,” in which a badger or sacred bear made the prediction..."

Another Clipper. Not quite the same as 20" of snow (Chicago) or 35" (Boston, from 2 storms in the last week) but we'll take what we can get; models hinting at a coating to an inch this afternoon and evening. Roads may be greasy for the drive home. NOAA's NAM guidance: Aeris Weather.

Colder Than Average. After a milder than average January temperatures relapse over the next week to 10 days, tens into Thursday before slight recovery by late week. The best chance of a couple inches of snow comes Saturday into Sunday morning from a more impressive Alberta Clipper; the pattern not ripe for southern moisture reaching Minnesota into mid-February.

What A Difference A Year Makes. Planalytics compares January 2015 with January 2014, when TV meteorologists were being paid under the table to hype the "polar vortex". Here are a few January highlights from the latest report:
  • A Cold Start to the Month.
    • Week 1 was the coldest start to January in 5 years and coldest since 2004 for Canada, driven by bitter cold in the East.
    • NYC, Chicago, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh were all coldest since 1988.
  • Consistent Warmth Through the West.
  • Despite week 2 trending colder across all regions, western locations experienced warm comparisons for a majority of the month.
  • San Diego had its warmest  week 1 since 1986.

Brazil Farmers Deal With Worst Drought In 80 Years. I have relatives in Brazil, who are telling tales of water supplies being suspended for days on end in large cities, people filling bathtubs trying to save as much water as possible. Not good. Reuters has a video report here.

Photo credit above: "A water system station pumps water from the Atibainha reservoir, part of the Cantareira System that provides water to the Sao Paulo metropolitan area, in Nazare Paulista, Brazil, Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015. Southeastern Brazil is suffering the worst drought in more than eight decades and authorities put Sao Paulo in a state of alarm when the water utility director said that rationing could be implemented in a dramatic five days-off, two days-on." (AP Photo/Andre Penner).

Meteorologist Gary Dobbs on Living Through a Tornado. Check out the interview from Marketplace to get a better understanding of the trauma experienced by tornado-survivors, even a weather expert trained to talk about tornadoes. Here's an excerpt: "A traumatic crash can be a very personal, deeply transformative moment, an event where life's momentum stops and your reality is changed. How do you move forward? How does it affect the way you look at things?  Gary Dobbs dealt with that firsthand. For 31 years, Dobbs worked as a meteorologist at ABC's affiliate in Huntsville, Alabama. In April of 2011, Gary had just gotten home after a long day of covering a tornado outbreak. With storm warnings still in effect, he laid down to take a nap ... and everything changed..."

File photo above: "In this April 27, 2011 file photo, a tornado moves through Tuscaloosa, Ala. The Tuscaloosa News won a Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News Reporting for their coverage of the April 27, 2011 tornado that destroyed much of Tuscaloosa. A year after the Pulitzer judges found no entry worthy of the prize for breaking news, The Tuscaloosa News of Alabama won the award for coverage of a deadly tornado." (AP Photo/The Tuscaloosa News, Dusty Compton, File)

The Anxiety Of Dangerous Weather: What Happens When Climate Change Drops In For A Visit. What are increasingly turbocharged storms doing to our mental health, and how do we avoid a sense of apathy or hopelessness? Here's an excerpt of a post at Forbes that caught my eye: "...But a residue of anxiety remains. The so-called “natural world” we encounter through mediated weather events became seemingly more random, more chaotic, less understandable—in short, more anxious. And anxiety about weather is a psychological issue of significant importance because weather is how we experience moments of climate. You see, severe weather is climate coming by for a visit. It's like the crazy, drunk uncle whose visits disrupt everything..."

Amish Donuts. Not those kind of donuts, the kind you do in a vehicle, or a horse and buggy, whatever's handy. Check out this YouTube clip from Ohio in the aftermath of Sunday's heavy snow - there's a first time for everything!

“Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.” – Henry Van Dyke.

TODAY: Clouds increase. Coating to 1" snow PM hours. Winds: East 5. High: 21
TUESDAY NIGHT: Flurries taper, chilly. Low: 7
WEDNESDAY: Slow clearing, cold wind. Wind chill: -10. High: 15
THURSDAY: Fading sun, stiff breeze. Wake-up: 5. High: 23
FRIDAY: Mostly gray, thawing out! Wake-up: 18. High: 34
SATURDAY: Stronger clipper, couple inches? Wake-up: 25. High: 31
SUNDAY: Flurries taper early. Some PM sun. Wake-up: 19. High: near 30
MONDAY: Blue sky, not bad at all. Wake-up: 12. High: 29

Climate Stories.

An Urban Climate Double Whammy: More Heat, Less Wind. The Washington Post summarized new research into the implications of a changing climate; here's the introduction: "It is hardly news that in a warming world, there is a greater risk of increased hot temperatures, including truly extreme heat days that push the boundaries of what people are used to experiencing. But according to new research, most major cities across the world are not only experiencing more days and nights with extreme heat; they’re also seeing less overall strong wind. That’s a potential double whammy, in that on extremely hot days, you need breeze to help cool the body down..."

Climate Change May Cause Extreme Storms To Strengthen And Weak Ones To Abate. Science World Report has the article; here's a clip: "...In other words, they found that powerful storms are strengthened at the expense of weaker storms. However, there were the same number of storms overall. These findings may tell us exactly what we may be in for in terms of weather in the future as our climate continues to warm. The findings are published in the journal Science...." (Hurricane Denny image: NASA).

KU Team Helps Chart Climate Change With 3-D Map of Greenland Ice Sheet. The Kansas City Star has a story that got my full, undivided attention; here's the intro: "To get a better look at Greenland, climate scientists turned to Kansas. A team of engineers from the University of Kansas developed ice-penetrating radar that helped create the first comprehensive 3-D map of the receding Greenland Ice Sheet. And the picture they produced is scary. The data reveal that the last time the Earth’s climate was roughly as warm as now, the ice sheet retreated to a fraction of what it is today..."

Is The Pentagon Hyping Climate Change? Here, Take A Look. Here's an excerpt from a story at The Washington Post: "...David Titley, director of the Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk at Penn State University and a former rear admiral in the Navy, said the Pentagon does deserve credit for taking “tangible, discrete actions … to address some of the impacts of climate change,” though few of them are “as exciting as buildings collapsing in the permafrost.” In particular, he said, planning is well underway for one of the most immediate threats: rising tides at Naval Station Norfolk. Still, “overhyping is just as bad as ignoring or denying,” Titley said. “This is a challenge, not necessarily a crisis.”

Image credit: Department of Defense.

Scientists Much More Certain Than Lawmakers on Climate Change. Here's a snippet from a story at "...Scientists in Nebraska and Iowa are among those sounding the alarm about climate change. For example, climate scientists at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln advised the state last year that the effect of humans on Earth’s climate is “very real and very large” and that projected changes are unprecedented. “The evidence is overwhelming,” their report states. In Iowa, some 150 of the state’s instructors and professors of climate science have signed a joint statement saying that humans are the major cause of warming now underway..."

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