Friday, December 25, 2015

Plowable Snows Today, Again Late Monday - Numbing New Year Shaping Up

30 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities Friday.
25 F. average high on December 25.
35 F. high on December 25, 2014. There was no snow reported on the ground at KMSP last Christmas.

December 26, 1990: Much of central Minnesota sets record low temperatures near 30 degrees below zero, while others had lows in the teens below zero. Cambridge had the coldest temperature with 31 below. Mora was close behind, with a low of 30 below. Other notably cold lows were at St. Cloud, with 29 below, and Melrose and Menomonie, WI with 27 below.

After-Christmas Miracle: A Plowable Snowfall! (?)

So close. The Twin Cities missed a white Christmas by 1 day. I'll kick the Doppler and work on my timing for 2016. All those disappointed (or disappointing?) relatives who showed up at your door expecting snow for the holidays may finally get their wish.

The lowest mile of the atmosphere should be cold enough for all-snow: a few inches will accumulate before tapering to flurries after lunch. Travel this morning will be slick, 2-4 inches falls before temperatures approach 32F this afternoon, leaving most roads wet and slushy.

Getting home tomorrow by car or plane should be easier; cool with faint glimmers of sunshine. A few more inches of colder, fluffier snow may pile up by Wednesday (the next storm about 5F colder than today's event). By New Year's Eve daytime highs will be stuck in the teens. The New Year kicks off with a whiff of wind chill.

The first December tornado in Michigan; a 130 mile-long tornado track in Mississippi; 70s and 80s out east; the warmest Christmas Eve on record? It was a jaw-dropping finale to the planet's warmest year on record.

Never a dull moment.

Potentially Plowable. Stating the obvious: we are due for some accumulating snow; we're running a 13-14" snowfall deficit for the winter, to date, in the Twin Cities. NOAA's high-resolution 4 KM WRF model prints out some 2-4" amounts by afternoon, considerably less south and east of Northfield and Hastings. Map: WeatherBell.

Extra Colors. The 3 KM HopWRF model is considerably more aggressive with amounts; some 5-10" amounts for far southwestern Minnesota, near the Buffalo Ridge. I have my doubts, but I still believe travel conditions will worsen the farther west you drive away from the metro, especially this morning. Travel conditions improve this afternoon and evening as snow tapers to flurries.

Warnings and Advisories. The worst weather this morning will come over southwestern Minnesota, where near white-out conditions are possible as winds gust over 25 mph. Unlike recent slop-storms temperatures will be cold enough for a drier, fluffier snow capable of blowing and drifting, especially west of the metro. Details from the Twin Cities National Weather Service:



Looks Like Winter. Snow tapers today, at least a couple inches for most neighborhoods, with an outside shot at 3-4" in a few spots. Sunday looks dry but the next southern storm arrives with what may be a burst of plowable snow Monday night into early Tuesday. New Year's Eve and New Year's Day look like the coldest days next week with highs in the teens before a slight rebound next weekend.

Numbing New Year's Celebrations? Models show wind chills ranging from +1F to -9F at midnight next Thursday as the clock counts down to the new year. You may want to party indoors. Source: Aeris Enterprise.

These Wild United States. From Flood Warnings across Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee (some of the same counties hit by killer tornadoes Wednesday) to Blizzard Warnings for eastern New Mexico and the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles to Winter Storm Warnings for southwestern Minnesota and Winter Weather Advisories for the Twin Cities metro, there's seemingly something for everyone on the weather map. Source: Aeris Enterprise.

Survivors "Glad to Be Alive" After Deadly Storms Ravage the South. USA TODAY takes a look at the unusual mega-outbreak of tornadoes in late December; here's a clip: "...In addition to the six deaths in Tennessee, authorities confirmed deaths in Mississippi and one in Arkansas. After a string of tornadoes struck Mississippi on Wednesday, killing seven and injuring more than 40 people, Gov. Phil Bryant issued a state of emergency Thursday. Several people remain missing and search-and-rescue efforts are ongoing, according to local officials. An EF-3 tornado with winds of up to 157 mph leveled homes and several nearby buildings in downtown Lutts, according to the National Weather Service..."

Photo credit above: "Trista Boga, center, helps salvage what she can from a friend's home along Highway 178 in Holly Springs, Miss., on Thursday, Dec. 24, 2015. At least 10 people were killed in Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas as spring-like storms mixed with unseasonably warm weather and spawned rare Christmastime tornadoes in the South." (Thomas Wells/The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal via AP)

The Planet Keeps Breaking Heat Records. November continues a trend, and it's not entirely the symptoms of a powerful El Nino. Most scientists believe that El Nino is turbocharging/spiking the warming trend now already well underway. Here's an excerpt from Climate Central: "...November was 1.75°F above the 20th century average, making it the hottest November by a long shot and the second most-anomalously warm month recorded in the 135 years of measurements. It marks the seventh month in a row with record setting warmth and has locked in record heat for the year. “December 2015 would have to be 0.43°F colder than the coldest December on record to not break the record,” Jake Crouch, a climate scientist at NOAA, said. “That’s not going to happen in December 2015.” This year will bump 2014 off the top of the charts as the hottest year on record. It’ll be the first time there have been back-to-back hottest years since 1997 and 1998..."

Map credit above: "Global temperature records for the year-to-date." Credit: NOAA National Centers for Environment Information

Tornadoes Rake Mississippi Delta - Twisters As Far North as Michigan - in Late December. Here's an excerpt of a very good recap of Wednesday's killer outbreak of tornadoes from Bob Henson at Weather Underground: "One of the longest-tracked tornadoes ever observed in December carved its way from northwest Mississippi into southwest Tennessee on Wednesday. The twister, likely to be rated at least an EF3 after damage surveys on Thursday, was part of an unusually far-flung year-end outbreak of severe storms that extended from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes. Although several tornadoes were reported as far afield western Illinois and central Indiana--and even Michigan experienced its first December tornado on record--the bulk of the 29 preliminary tornado reports received by NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center (SPC) came from northern Mississippi and adjacent areas. At least 10 deaths were reported by midday Friday, most of them tornado-related..."

Map credit above: "Preliminary damage track of the violent tornado that cut a long swath across northwest Mississippi into southwest Tennessee on Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015. An updated track will be produced after storm surveyors assess the damage." Image credit: NWS/Memphis. Weather Underground.

Tornado Leaves Long Path of Destruction in the South. 70s and 80s on the east coast, killer tornadoes in from Mississippi to Michigan - the maps looked more like late April than late December yesterday. Here's a clip from The New York Times: "...The breadth of the damage in Holly Springs and elsewhere became clear only at sunrise, after a day of storms that killed at least 10 and ravaged the rural South. In Mississippi, where homes and businesses were devastated and rescuers were searching for survivors, Gov. Phil Bryant declared an emergency and federal officials sought to determine whether a single tornado had remained on the ground for more than 130 miles..."

Photo credit above: "Vehicles and debris are scattered in an area near Linden, Tenn., Thursday, Dec. 24, 2015. Several people were killed in Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas as spring-like storms mixed with unseasonably warm weather spawned rare Christmastime tornadoes in the South." (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey).

"Hurricane Hunters" Bundle Up for Winter Storm Missions. The men and women who fly into hurricanes don't take time off in the winter, according to an article at Federal News Radio; here's an excerpt: "...But now that hurricane season is over the squadron is gearing up for its winter mission — storm hunting. During the winter months the squadron provides data to the National Weather Service for “societal impact” storms along the East Coast, the Gulf of Mexico and occasionally in the Pacific Ocean. “Strong winter storms kill more people than hurricanes do,” Talbot said. “We fly these tracks out in the ocean and we drop instruments out over the areas where these storms are forming and the idea is to provide this data to the computer forecast models that the National Weather Service uses to forecast the intensity of these storms, how much snow is going to fall, how much impact there is going to be...”

File Photo credit above: "The pilot's view of sunset as seen through the Heads-up Display after fling into Hurricane Ike. The Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters fly nonstop, 24 hours a day collecting data in the storm that threatened the coastline of Texas in 2008." Source: U.S. Air Force photo by Major Chad E. Gibson).

Polluted Waters Give Rise to Environmental Pulpit. The health of the world's oceans is under threat, as described in a New York Times article; here's an except: "...A study published in February in the journal Science based on research by the University of California Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis estimated that between 4.8 million and 12.7 million metric tons of plastic waste enter the oceans annually from land: with the midpoint of that range enough to cover an area 34 times the size of Manhattan with ankle-deep waste. Experts estimate 80 percent of the plastic in the ocean enters from land and the other 20 percent from the sea through sources like direct dumping from boats, container spills and fishing gear..."

Photo credit above: "Waste floating in February in Guanabara Bay off Rio de Janeiro, the site of the 2016 Olympics." Credit Leo Correa/Associated Press.

How The World Looked When Jesus Was Born, According to Roman Geographers. Here's an excerpt of an interesting and timely article at Atlas Obscura: "Two thousand years ago, around the time that Jesus of Nazareth was born, the second Holy Temple was still standing in Jerusalem. The Great Pyramid at Giza was already 2,500 years old, but the Library of Alexandria was still around. In Rome, the Colosseum hadn’t been built yet. It’s a bit uncanny to think about the political geography of a time and place that’s also the setting for a timeless story–the birth of Jesus Christ. Because that story is so often told, its context feels familiar. And, in the part of the world that Jesus lived in, the best knowledge about the rest of the world was, in some ways, thorough and accurate..."

Map credit: "The world according to Strabo." (Image: Paolo Porsia/flickr).

50 Universal Truths That Will Make You More Successful. Business Insider has an article with a few good nuggets; here's an excerpt: "...All of that has led me to conclude that there are certain universal "business truths" — tips and tricks that work for nearly everyone in every business. They are:
  1. You don't have to turn your favorite hobby or past time into your full-time living, but you do need to have a passion for your work. If your work is meaningful to you, your work life will be a joy.
  2. If you can't be passionate about the work itself, be passionate about the reason you do it..."

The Great Republican Revolt. Donald Trump may be a polarizing figure, but he represents a deep undercurrent of dissatisfaction, anger and pessimism about the direction America is moving. Here's an excerpt of an eye-opening analysis at The Atlantic: "The angriest and most pessimistic people in America aren’t the hipster protesters who flitted in and out of Occupy Wall Street. They aren’t the hashtavists of #BlackLivesMatter. They aren’t the remnants of the American labor movement or the savvy young dreamers who confront politicians with their American accents and un-American legal status. The angriest and most pessimistic people in America are the people we used to call Middle Americans. Middle-class and middle-aged; not rich and not poor; people who are irked when asked to press 1 for English, and who wonder how white male became an accusation rather than a description..."

Photo credit above: Mark Ostow / New Hampshire Magazine / The Atlantic.

Santa Needs To Bring Us Some Sanity Before Rage Consumes our Christmas Spirit. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Washington Post that hit home: "Santa, baby, just slip a little something useful under America’s Christmas tree. We don’t need hoverboards, Apple Watches, drones or the Pie Face game. Our country needs courage. Reason. Sanity. But we’d settle for sedation. Maybe a Valium in every stocking? Probably not. And if Santa did bring us some meds to soothe our collective rage, pharma bro Martin Shkreli would find a way to price-gouge it. There is too little Christmas spirit and too much fear and outright hatred..."

Moments of Grace in a Grim Year. Here's an excerpt of a timely Op-Ed at The New York Times: "...Humanity being what it is, the world remains a place of suffering and calamity. In 2015, catastrophes in the Middle East spread misery and terror the world over. The United States was brutalized, as ever, by the tyranny of gunfire. Our coarsened politics, so expert at keeping the populace fearful and distraught, got ever louder and cruder in the heat of a presidential race. The strutting and fretting promise only to get worse in 2016. There is ample reason to feel weary and ill at ease. Today, though, it might help to look skyward, upon the Christmas full moon and, through an act of willful optimism, to swivel the mind away from the worst of this fading year. To tune out the rancor and find reasons to believe in the persistence of better values: humility, conciliation, kindness, dignity and reason..." (File image: NASA).

What Makes Dogs Tilt Their Heads? They're just trying to humor us. My theory: they're all little hairy space aliens waiting for just the right time to take us all up to the Mother Ship. Wait for it. Here's an alternative explanation from Mental Floss: "...Experts say the real answer has more to do with your dog’s ability to empathize. Dogs are impressively good at reading and responding to our body language and vocal cues. When you’re lecturing your pooch for taking food off the counter, they’re taking it all in even if the literal message gets lost in translation. Same goes for when you’re giving your pup praise. Dogs are capable of recognizing certain parts of human language, so when they cock their heads as you speak to them it’s possible they're listening for specific words and inflections they associate with fun activities like meals and playtime..."

Image credit: Giphy.

Beijing Restaurant Tries to Charge Customers for Clean Air. Well, why not try to make a buck off the foul air hanging over much of China? Here's an excerpt from The Independent: "The pollution in China is so bad, a restaurant started putting a surcharge on top of customers’ food bills as an “air cleaning fee”. A restaurant in Zhangjiagang city, in the Jiangsu Province , recently purchased “air filtration machines” following reports of dangerously high pollution levels in the country. Patrons who dined in the restaurant were unknowingly about to pay for the operational costs, and only found out when they were handed the bill at the end of their meals, according to the South China Morning Post..."

Photo credit above: "A policeman talks to the driver of a motor-tricycle on a road amid heavy haze in Handan city in northern China's Hebei province Thursday, Dec. 24, 2015. Meteorological authorities in Hebei, a province which neighbors Beijing and is regarded as China's most polluted, issued its first red alert for smog on Tuesday as more Chinese cities are issuing their first red alerts for pollution in response to forecasts of heavy smog." (Chinatopix via AP).

TODAY: Snow tapers. 2-4" possible. Winds: NE 10-20. High: 32

SATURDAY NIGHT: A few flurries - many roads still slick. Low: 18

SUNDAY: Partly sunny and colder, better travel conditions. Winds: NW 10-15. High: 20

MONDAY: Clouds increase, snow moves in at night. Wake-up: 9. High: 22

TUESDAY: Snow tapers, couple inches early. Wake-up: 22. High: 27

WEDNESDAY: Light snow and flurries, icy roads. Wake-up: 23. High: 26

NEW YEAR'S EVE: Chilly breeze. Feels like 0-5F. Winds: W 10-15. Wake-up: 16. High: 19

NEW YEAR'S DAY: A numbing New Year! Hello 2016. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 9. High: 17

Climate Stories...

Surface Melting Affected More Than Half of Greenland's Ice Sheet in 2015. NOAA's has an update; here's an excerpt: "...Adapted from the Arctic Report Card: Update for 2015, this map shows the number of melt days in June, July, and August 2015 compared to the 1981–2010 average. Areas that experienced a greater-than-normal number of melt days appear in shades red. Areas that experienced a lower-than-normal number of melt days appear in shades of blue. The melt season was up to 30 to 40 days longer than average in western, northwestern, and northeastern Greenland, but was close to or below average elsewhere on the ice sheet. On July 4, 2015, melt area extended over more than half of the Greenland Ice Sheet for the first time since July 2012. For 52 days of the 90-day melt season, melt area exceeded the 1981–2010 average.."

Russia Warming "2.5 Times Quicker" Than Global Average: Ministry. Odd that even the oil-rich Russians aren't denying climate change anymore, while many in the U.S. Congress sit on their hands and swap conspiracy theories. Here's an excerpt from AFP and Yahoo News: "Russia is warming more than twice as fast as the average for the rest of the world, the environment ministry said Friday, sounding an alarm on the rise in floods and wildfires nationwide. A government report on environmental protection said temperatures in Russia had warmed by 0.42 degrees Celsius per decade since 1976, or 2.5 times quicker than the global warming trend of 0.17 degrees. "Climate change leads to growth of dangerous meteorological phenomena," the ministry said in a comment to the report published Friday..."

Photo credit above: "Out-of-control fires and deadly floods have hit Russia nearly every year this decade, and the emergency situations ministry in October conceded it has to come up with a new strategy." (AFP Photo/Natalia Kolesnikova)

Huge Gas Lead Undermines California's Climate Change Plans. describes the methane leak that is leading to evacuations and health concerns in southern California; here's an excerpt: "A two-month-long natural gas leak that has caused local evacuations and Federal Aviation Administration flight restrictions in southern California is highlighting the need to better control methane emissions from United States oil and gas production and storage. On Oct. 23, Southern California Gas Company discovered the leak from a storage well at the utility's Aliso Canyon facility in the Santa Susana Mountains at the northwestern end of the San Fernando Valley. At its peak in late November, the leak from the fifth-largest underground gas storage facility in the US was releasing 58 metric tons of methane an hour, according to preliminary estimates from the California Air Resources Board. By mid-December, the release had eased to 36 metric tons an hour..."

Photo credit above: "Southern California Gas Co. technical experts try to stop the flow of natural gas leaking from a storage well at the utility's Aliso Canyon facility near the Northridge section of Los Angeles." Javier Mendoza/SoCalGas/AP.

U.S. Bread Basket Shifts Thanks to Climate Change. More volatility in the system, more "whiplash" between drought and flood, more midsummer heat and higher dew points will stress current systems and best practices. There will be a new to bake resiliency and better water management systems into ag to maintain the kinds of yields farmers (and consumers) are accustomed to. Here's an excerpt from Scientific American: "...Farmers are already responding to more variable weather by installing drainage systems to keep their fields from becoming waterlogged during heavy rains and expanding irrigation to ward off the effects of drought. Some farmers are reducing tillage to increase soil carbon content and reduce erosion. Others are buying larger equipment so they can complete planting faster when the conditions are favorable. But all these measures may not be enough to prepare Midwestern farmers for the dramatic environmental changes ahead. By between 2035 to 2065, temperatures in Illinois will be more like those in the mid-South, with rainfall patterns ranging between today's East Texas and the Carolinas. While higher temperatures may make certain regions more hospitable for growing, other problems like low soil quality or not enough rainfall could make shifting production there more unlikely..."

As Climate Change Imperils Winter, The Ski Industry Frets. Here's an excerpt of an article at InsideClimate News: "...The snowsports industry—which supports hundreds of thousands of jobs and contributes $12.2 billion to the U.S. economy every year—is already hurting. "This is an industry that is literally seeing climate change first hand," said Chris Steinkamp, the executive director of the environmental advocacy group Protect Our Winters. "People are realizing this is something that needs to be addressed, that climate change is not this theory anymore." The number of ski areas in the U.S. has dropped almost 20 percent in the last two decades, from 546 in 1992 to 470 today, according to the National Ski Areas Association..."

Unusual Weather Has Millenials Concerned About Climate Change. Weather has always been variable, unpredictable, often extreme. But are the extremes becoming more extreme over time? Here's an excerpt from Yahoo News: "Unusual weather is dominating the conversation on social media for the holidays, especially among millennials, who are increasingly concerned about climate change. Yik Yak, a location-based mobile app popular with millennials, surveyed its audience and found nearly 70 percent are worried about climate change. More than a quarter of them say their concern has grown due to the unusual winter weather this year..."

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