December 14, 1933: A severe ice storm hits southeast and central Minnesota.
Rainy, Icy, Slushy Mix Today
December Returns Late Week
So here we are, a week before the winter solstice, enjoying a mixed bag of rain, sleet and wet snow. We shouldn't be surprised.
Dr. Mark Seeley has documented a 4X increase in midwinter rain and ice since 2000. We're still seeing cold fronts and snowstorms, but the volume and duration of bitter air, sustained hours below zero, has steadily decreased since the 1970s. It's not getting as cold - or staying as (consistently) bitter as it did for your parents and grandparents.
It's hard finding anyone upset by the prospect of less pain, but the result may be more slop-storms like today. Keeping snow on the ground for an entire winter has become something of a rarity.
Today we're right on the rain/snow line; a warm layer aloft may re-freeze raindrops into sleet (ice pellets), even an inch of mushy slush. Winds gust past 30 mph - it will be raw and unpleasant out there.
A second storm on Wednesday may drop another inch of snow with more over central and western Minnesota. A cosmetic coating of snow on the ground is possible here by late-week with highs stuck in the 20s - a wind chill dipping to 5F. You know, December.
We warm up to 40F by Sunday; 30s lingering into Christmas Day.
Twin Cities: Now Firmly in USDA Zone 5? My friend (and Edina prize-winning rose gardener) Jack Falker takes a look at the trends and implications in his blog, The Minnesota Rose Gardener. In an e-mail he said: "We've been running 20 degrees above average but you also have to remember how much that average has been pulled warmer over the last 50-plus years, right along the trend line in my charts. So there is a compounding effect, with above average temps pulling the average ever higher..."
Here's an excerpt of Jack's blog post that caught my eye: "...For several years now I have been doing 50-plus year statistical analysis on Minneapolis-St. Paul winters and comparing them with winters in other upper-Midwest cities. The results are pretty amazing in that we can see very distinct warming trends developing. And it has become much easier to predict that these trends will continue and that we will see warmer winters going forward. The meteorological winter of 2015-16 began on December 1st and what we are now seeing is exactly what the trend line shows we should expect: temperatures are much warmer than average, an average which itself has been pulled significantly upward over the last 55 years. (Above) is my chart for the 55 winters beginning in 1961, through 2015, in the Twin Cities. What it shows is that since year 2000, all but three of our winters have been in USDA Zone 5 or higher, even though the USDA continues to rate MSP as Zone 4 (based on data that is now 10 years old). What's most important here is the upward slope of the trend-line, which, as mentioned above, is predictive. What the trend-line shows, if you extend it, is that MSP will be firmly in Zone 6 within the next three or four years. Right now, based on what we are seeing, I believe we will see a Zone 6 winter in 2016, for the second time in history, and there is a distinct possibility that it could be Zone 7, i.e. not below zero at all, which would be a first...."
* The graphic above shows the coldest nighttime low temperatures at Twin Cities International Airport since 1961.
TUESDAY: Overcast, slushy mix arrives at night. High: 37
WEDNESDAY: Slushy snow, nuisance accumulation? Wake-up: 34. High: 38
THURSDAY: Colder wind, few flurries. Icy roads. Wake-up: 25. High: near 30
FRIDAY: Coldest day of the week; windchill dips to 5F. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 15. High: 22
SATURDAY: Sunny, not as windy - or numbing. Winds: W 7-12. Wake-up: 11. High: 26
SUNDAY: Some sun, rapid thaw likely. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 24. High: near 40
The One Word That Almost Sank the Climate Talks. Yes, there was (and is) continued parsing of language, which makes the lawyers happy. Here's an excerpt from POLITICO: "After years of preparation and two weeks of tireless negotiations, after all the speeches and backroom compromising, one misplaced word brought the momentum toward a historic global deal on climate change to a halt Saturday — for at least a few hours. Obama administration lawyers discovered early in the day that the latest draft text had a potentially deal-killing tweak: Deep into the document, in Article 4, was a line declaring that wealthier countries "shall" set economy-wide targets for cutting their greenhouse gas pollution..."
The 5 Most Important Components of the Paris Climate Agreement. Andrew Freedman summarizes at Mashable; here's an excerpt: "...The deal is a turning point for climate policy, since it brings the entire globe under the same policy framework, rather than only placing mandates on industrialized nations. It is also a triumph of the concept of multilateralism, and a demonstration that countries with wildly differing interests can in fact come together to address a common concern. But the agreement alone will not solve global warming; it will not stem the rising tides nor cool the sizzlingly hot heat waves that are becoming more prevalent. Instead, it will send a signal that the world is moving away from fossil fuels, and toward renewable energy. It will be up to the activists, investors, inventors and future world leaders to ensure that this agreement translates into real progress..." (Image above: NASA).
Graph credit above: "
The Paris outcome has two documents.
- The all-important, 12-page document “Paris Agreement”, which sets out new commitments for climate action beyond 2020, and potentially through this century.
- An accompanying, 19-page “Decision” which adds the legwork that countries will have to undertake before the Agreement enters into force in 2020.
* Digg.com has an overview of the summit agreement here.
Photo credit above: "French President Francois Hollande (L) takes his seat at a plenary session with Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius (C), President-designate of COP21, and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget" Photo: Reuters/Stephane Mahe.