Sunday, March 6, 2016

Atmospheric Time Warp: April Arrives Early - Lingers Into Much of Next Week

60 F. high in the Twin Cities Sunday.
36 F. average high on March 6.
39 F. high on March 6, 2015, after waking up to 7 F.

March 7, 1987: A heat wave across Minnesota brings the earliest 70 degree readings on record to the Twin Cities. The record high for the day was 73, breaking the old record by 13 degrees. Shorts were common and people were turning over dirt in their gardens for planting.

March 7, 1950: A snow and ice storm hits Minnesota. The heaviest ice was in northwest and west central Minnesota, especially in Norman County near Twin Valley. 52 electrical poles were down in this area with ice up to 1 ½ inches on wires. All communication lines out of Fargo were out with wind gusts estimated up to 60 mph. In order to provide temporary long distance service to and from isolated communities, short wave radio equipment was used to bridge the gaps. In Pipestone, several plate glass windows were blown in. During the snowstorm that followed later in the day, a Northwest Airlines plane crashed into three homes in Minneapolis killing all 13 on the plane and two on the ground. The left wing of the plane struck a flagpole at Ft. Snelling National Cemetery as it circled to land.

You Really Slept In - Welcome to April 7, 2016

I'm a big believer in time travel. Or maybe it's just an acute case of sleep deprivation. Thank you Netflix.

I set the alarm but - somehow - ALL of us are waking up to April 7. As far as our fickle atmosphere is concerned it's early April with low 60s - a few scattered thunderstorms by tonight. Maybe my tax accountant will call and brighten my day? The fog of winter is just a slushy memory now.

We cool off by midweek (only 10-15F warmer than average) before another transfusion of mild Pacific air arrives. More 60s are possible Friday into next weekend with a few sloppy claps of thunder by Sunday.

Warm fronts in March are hardly unusual. What's bizarre is the sheer persistence of the warm signal, going well above and beyond the additional heat thrown off by a major El Nino event. This is El Nino on turbo-steroids.

NOAA's GFS model hints at a soaking (rain) storm the middle of next week, followed by a cool correction after March 18 or so.

We may enjoy a few days in the 30s later this month - even a slushy encounter or 2. But snow days, wind chill, car starters? Ancient history.

Record Early Ice Out Dates on Minnesota Lakes. The ice came off Lake Calhoun on March 9, 2000. Lake Mille Lacs and Gull Lake? March 26, 2012. Click here for an interactive map with record (early) ice-out dates, courtesy of the Minnesota DNR.

Strong Hints of Spring. After peaking near or just above 60F today and Tuesday we cool off slightly by midweek, before warming up again next weeked with another round of 60s. If you don't have the fever yet, give it a few days - you will. Source: WeatherSpark.

Tracking Showers and T-showers in Early March. A surge of moisture from the south increases the chance of rain showers today, especially PM hours, enough marginal instability and moisture for a stray thundershower tonight or early Tuesday. 84-hour future precipitation loop: NOAA and AerisWeather.

Predicted Rainfall Amounts. Heaviest rains are predicted for the Red River  Valley, where some .5 to 1" amounts are possible. In the metro I expect just enough rain to settle the dust, probably under a tenth of an inch.

Fast-Forward Spring. Much of the Lower 48 will experience a premature jolt of spring as the core of numbing air lifts north and east of Hudson Bay, Canada. Again, the pattern is more typical of early April, and when it gets too warm too fast there's usually a correction. Nothing like January, but don't pack away the heavy jackets just yet. GFS 2-meter temperature forecast for the next 10 days: NOAA and AerisWeather.

Hints of a Correction. After trending well above average into next week models show a downward spiral within 2 weeks; perhaps 30s for highs after March 18-19. With a rapidly rising sun angle it can't get nearly as cold as it did in early February, but don't rule out a couple more slushy slaps toward the end of March. Source: Aeris Enterprise.

A Subtle Yet Blunt Reminder (That It's Still March). 500 mb predicted winds for Sunday evening, march 20, show a colder, northerly wind flow aloft as a slow-moving cut-off low lingers over the Great Lakes. Cold enough for slushy snow? Probably.

More Significant Rain Late Next Week? Confidence levels are still low, but GFS guidance is fairly consistent, pulling southern moisture into Minnesota by the end of next week with some 1"+ amounts.

Warm (and Wet) Signal Grows. An energized southerly branch of the jet stream will hurl a series of very wet storms into the west coast; a plume of Gulf moisture drenching the Lower Mississippi Vally with 4-8" rains later this week. Flash flooding is likely.

Study: Atmospheric River Storms Can Reduce Sierra Snow. Here's an excerpt from NASA: "A new study by NASA and several partners has found that in California's Sierra Nevada, atmospheric river storms are two-and-a-half times more likely than other types of winter storms to result in destructive “rain-on-snow” events, where rain falls on existing snowpack, causing it to melt. Those events increase flood risks in winter and reduce water availability the following summer. The study, based on NASA satellite and ground-based data from 1998 through 2014, is the first to establish a climatological connection between atmospheric river storms and rain-on-snow events. Partnering with NASA on the study were UCLA; Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego; and the Earth System Research Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado..."

Why Nuclear Energy Can Help Fight Climate Change. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed from former EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman at Fortune: "America is facing critical decisions as a country about how to combat climate change, and it’s imperative that those decisions are based on solid facts as we shape a clean energy future for the U.S. We are at a turning point, and if we are going to effectively fight climate change, we will need every carbon-free source of electricity we can bring to bear. Although many misconceptions persist about the safety record of nuclear power facilities, the truth of the matter is that 61 nuclear power facilities in the country have been safely operating for more than 50 years. U.S. nuclear power plants have been a model of U.S. industrial safety for more than 50 years, powering communities, keeping the air clean and fueling state and local economies..." (File image: CNN).

iPhone 7 Rumors: Thinner with Stereo Speakers? 9to5Mac has the speculative piece; here's a clip: "...Next, the blog reports that the iPhone 7 will feature stereo speakers, making it the first iPhone to do so. In the past, all iPhone models have only featured a single mono speaker, so the addition of a second speaker should greatly improve the device’s sound quality. Finally, in yet another effort to keep the thickness of the device down, the iPhone 7 may feature a thinner Lightning port than previous devices..."

A Change of Heart: Journalist Who Reported Minnesota County is "Worst Place to Live" Is Moving There. Karmic justice? Here's an excerpt of an interesting tale at The Grand Forks Herald: "...Ingraham triggered a social media storm after he penned "Every county in America, ranked by scenery and climate" in mid-August. The article listed the best and worst places to live in the contiguous U.S. based on measurable qualities, including sunny winters, temperate summers, low humidity, topographic variation and access to a body of water, researched by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Red Lake County, which is known for being the only landlocked county in the country surrounded by two neighboring counties, ranked last in Ingraham's article. In fact, almost every county in Minnesota and North Dakota had extremely low to low natural amenities, according to the article..."

Photo credit above: "Christopher Ingraham is greeted by a dairy cow during his tour of Red Lake County, "the ugliest county in the country" , on Thursday, August 27, 2015, in Red Lake Falls, Minn." (Logan Werlinger/Grand Forks Herald).

TODAY: Mild with fading sun, PM shower possible. Winds: S 10-15. High: 61

MONDAY NIGHT: Humid, chance of a few showers, possible T-storm. Low: 54

TUESDAY: Early thunder, feels like April with slow clearing. Winds: SW 15-25. High: 62

WEDNESDAY: Mostly cloudy and cooler. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 38. High: 47

THURSDAY: Partly sunny and pleasant. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 33. High: 51

FRIDAY: Mild sunshine, leaving work early. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 42. High: 62

SATURDAY: Clouds increase, late shower? Winds: S 7-12. Wake-up: 47. High: 61

SUNDAY: Few showers, possible T-showers. Winds: SW 7-12. Wake-up: 52. High: 63

Climate Stories....

Climate Change Resistant Crops Needed. Threat - and opportunity. Here's the intro to a story at MSN News: "More investment is needed to develop climate change resistant varieties of crops to prevent paying the "ugly" price of food shortages, an expert has warned. Rising temperatures are set to hit key crops, damaging food supplies and sparking national security and geopolitical threats, according to Dr Cary Fowler, former head of the Crop Trust and member of the board advising US government aid agency USAID on agriculture. Investing in developing varieties of crops that are resistant to drought, floods or high temperatures, were "low-cost investments with a big pay-off", he suggested. But a failure to do so could prompt starvation, malnutrition and war or unrest..."

The Mercury Doesn't Lie: We've Hit a Troubling Climate Change Milestone. Bill McKibbon has an Op-Ed at The Boston Globe: "Thursday, while the nation debated the relative size of Republican genitalia, something truly awful happened. Across the northern hemisphere, the temperature, if only for a few hours, apparently crossed a line: it was more than two degrees Celsius above “normal” for the first time in recorded history and likely for the first time in the course of human civilization. That’s important because the governments of the world have set two degrees Celsius as the must-not-cross red line that, theoretically, we’re doing all we can to avoid. And it’s important because most of the hemisphere has not really had a winter. They’ve been trucking snow into Anchorage for the start of the Iditarod; Arctic sea ice is at record low levels for the date; in New England doctors are already talking about the start of “allergy season...”

The Fight to Hear Debate Questions on Climate Change in a State Struggling With Sea Level Rise. Here's a clip from ThinkProgress: "...Both the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates will be headed to Miami next week in advance of their next primary debates. Local Floridians, already on the front lines of climate change as rising seas spill into their neighborhoods, want them to talk about climate change. Cindy Lerner is the Mayor of Pinecrest, a coastal suburb of Miami. She and 14 other South Florida mayors sent letters to GOP candidates Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush (before he ended his campaign) asking to meet with them about climate change. Both candidates agreed when Lerner went to New Hampshire to make the request in person. Bush has since ​dropped out of the race, and she is still trying to schedule a meeting with Rubio next week..." (File image: Stephen B Morton, AP).

Scientist Joanna Haigh Warns Global Warming is a "Runaway Train". Here's a snippet from an interview at Financial Times: "...Haigh says global warming is like a runaway train. Unless we put the brakes on, it will keep on rolling. People may argue about whether we’ll see 2C or 5C of warming this century, she says. “But if you ever want the global temperature to plateau, you’ve got to get to zero carbon emissions.” Zero? Haigh is firm. “At some stage we’ve got to bite the bullet.” Is that really going to happen? The 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris buoyed Haigh: 195 governments made surprisingly ambitious pledges. “I’m a careful optimist,” she says. “I think that the wind is in the right direction now.

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