January 2, 1941: Grand Portage gets over 4.5 inches of precipitation in 24 hours. That's roughly how much normally falls there during the 'winter' months from November to February.
Meandering Arctic Oscillation: Colder mid-January
Much of the unusual warmth showing up over North America can be tied to the strongest El Nino since 1998; the equivalent of baking garlic into your apple pie. It flavors everything.
Record heat and El Nino-strengthened winds triggered the deadliest December for tornadoes in U.S. history; a warmer, wetter atmosphere spawning flooding on the Mississippi River not seen since 1993.
Another factor meteorologists track is the AO, the Arctic Oscillation, a measure of the intensity and configuration of the polar vortex swirling above the arctic. Unusually low pressure has kept bitter air bottled up at northern latitudes, but the pattern is shifting; warmer high pressure over the North Pole is about to shove this cold dome southward.
ECMWF guidance pulls a shot of subzero air into Minnesota one week from Monday; the first real Siberian jolt of the winter season. A little snow may fall next Friday but no forbidding storms are brewing. We nudge 30F today, maybe 3 or 4 days near freezing next week before the freezer door swings wide open.
It wouldn't be winter without a subzero smack!
* 250 mb jet stream winds valid 03z, January 8, courtesy of Climate Reanalyzer.
Total Precipitable Water animation above courtesy of NOAA NESDIS.
December: Warmest, Second-Wettest Ever Recorded for Minnesota. Here's an excerpt from Dr. Mark Seeley's latest installment of Minnesota WeatherTalk: "For the 4th consecutive month Minnesota recorded warmer than normal temperatures. Observers reported mean monthly temperatures for December that were from 8 to 12 degrees F above normal, marking the warmest December in history on a statewide basis, surpassing the previous record from December 1939. Extremes for the month ranged from 53F at Marshall on the 9th to -11F at Thief River Falls on the 28th. On a statewide basis December of 2015 was the 2nd wettest in history, with an average value of nearly 1.90 inches. Some observers reported their wettest December in history, including: 4.09" at Two Harbors; 4.90" at Caledonia; 5.38" at La Crescent; 4.28" at Preston; and 4.00 inches at Spring Grove..."
El Nino: Why Predictable Climate Event Still Has The Scientists Guessing. Every El Nino is different, it turns out, and this one already rivals 1997-98. Here's an excerpt from The Guardian: "...The last great El Niño, in 1997-98, helped make 1998 the then warmest year on record – that too was accompanied by a series of devastating events around the world, among them ice storms in North America, floods on the west coasts of the Americas and forest fires in Borneo. It also delayed the monsoon rains in India, warmed tropical waters so severely that coral reefs started to “bleach” and die, and signalled a record-breaking season of typhoons and tropical cyclones in the eastern Pacific. Although researchers are fairly sure that climate change as a consequence of the combustion of fossil fuels, and the release of greenhouse gases, could make El Niño more frequent, or more devastating, or both, it remains a natural, cyclic event..."
Graphic credit above: "False-color images provided by Nasa compare Pacific Ocean water temperatures from the El Niño in 1997 (right) and the current El Niño." Photograph: AP.
+WPO Positive Western Pacific Oscillation (warm Eastern U.S. signal)
+EPO Positive Eastern Pacific Oscillation (warm Eastern U.S. signal)
-PNA Negative Pacific-North American (warm Eastern U.S. signal)
+AO Positive Arctic Oscillation (normally a warm Eastern U.S. signal)
+NAO Positive North Atlantic Oscillation (normally a warm Eastern U.S. signal)
The resulting surface temperature anomaly was astonishing..."
In Midwest, 1,000 Flood-Fighters Work To Hold Back New Year's Floods. CSMonitor.com has an update on Mississippi River flooding now rivaling 1993's epic flood. Here's an excerpt: "With the Mississippi River and four other major US rivers building toward historic crests for a winter flood, some 1,000 US flood fighters have spread out across America's mighty river valleys to once again test the wherewithal of the world's grandest plumbing works: the Mississippi River and Tributaries project. El Niño conditions in the Pacific have created an unusually wet and warm mess across the nation's midsection and into the Deep South. The gauge at St. Louis is clawing up toward 42 feet, its third-highest in recorded history. Parts of St. Louis are already underwater as the confluence of the Missouri River and the Mississippi roil the city's shipping front and close the St. Louis harbor. The waters are expected to crest in Missouri on New Year’s Day..."
Photo credit above: "Homes are surrounded by floodwater in Pacific, Mo., Wednesday. A rare winter flood threatened nearly two dozen federal levees in Missouri and Illinois on Wednesday as rivers rose, prompting evacuations in several places." Jeff Roberson/AP.
CNN has more details on the potentially historic flooding around St. Louis here.
Image credit above: "
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SUNDAY: Blue sky, seasonably chilly. Winds: NW 8-13. High: 25
MONDAY: Cold start, bright sunshine. Wake-up: 9. High: 24
TUESDAY: Partly sunny, turning windy. Wake-up: 11. High: 29
WEDNESDAY: More clouds, trending milder. Wake-up: 18. High: 31
THURSDAY: Cloudy, few flurries possible. Wake-up: 27. High: 30
FRIDAY: Period of light snow. Wake-up: 28. High: 32
Climate Change is Showing up in Blockbusters and Binge Watches. So What? Grist has the article; here's the intro: "At one point midway through the first episode, the camera pans past the skyline of New York. It’s both familiar and uncanny: There’s One World Trade Center, standing in a thicket of shinier, spindlier towers that announce we are now in The Future. And standing sentinel outside the city is the Statue of Liberty — except now she is ringed by a reinforced seawall, set in ten feet of angry surf. That’s it. That’s all the reference to climate change we get in the 45 minute-long pilot of The Expanse, SyFy’s new space drama. In fact, only a handful of those minutes are spent on Earth at all..."
- from the latest installment of an ongoing series at The Los Angeles Times.