March 16, 1930: The temperature at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport tops out at a record 71 degrees.
The Definition of Raw - Plowable Snow Up North
I have a sudden, inexplicable urge to ski Duluth. The same storm responsible for windswept rain in the Twin Cities will mix with a fresh surge of Canadian air to whip up some 4-8 inch snow totals for the North Shore. Winter's last gasp? Perhaps, but snow in March is hardly newsworthy at this latitude.
At least on paper March is still the 3rd snowiest month of the year, according to NOAA, just behind January and December, in that order. On this date in 1917 the metro area was pasted with 9 inches of fresh snow.
But this year the warm signal has been too strong and too persistent. El Nino accounts for some of the additional warmth, but warming of the arctic is off the scale. There just isn't as much bitter air for Canada to export to the USA.
A cold rain tapers to showers today as winds gust to 40 mph. A terrible hair day for all. A little slush can't be ruled out on metro lawns, but by the time surface temperatures fall below 32F (Friday morning) moisture will be long gone.
Except in Duluth. If you want to slip and slide in a fresh March snow drive 1-3 hours due north.
* First 15 days of March were 12.6 F. warmer than average in the Twin Cities.
A Swing to La Nina Later in 2016? Not so fast - Miriam O'Brien at HotWhopper sent me this nugget from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology: "Based on the 26 El Niño events since 1900, around 50% have been followed by a neutral year, and 40% have been followed by La Niña. International climate models suggest neutral is most likely for the second half of the year. However, La Niña in 2016 cannot be ruled out, and a repeat El Niño appears unlikely."
Graphic credit: Guardian graphic | Source: NASA.
Photo credit above: " Walter Michot.
Catching Storm Runoff Could Ease Droughts, But It's No Quick Fix. KQED has a story with implications that go beyond California's drought; here's the intro: "Stormwater is starting to get some serious attention in California, as the state’s drought enters a fifth year. Thanks in part to El Niño, rain has been surging through downspouts and gutters lately. And a lot of it: one storm in Los Angeles County, packing one inch of rainfall, means 10 billion gallons of water. The Oakland-based Pacific Institute estimates that rainfall captured in the San Francisco Bay Area and metro Southern California could, in a strong year, provide enough water to supply the entire city of Los Angeles..."
Photo credit: "Storm runoff cascades into the street in Glen Ellen." (Craig Miller/KQED).
Top 5 Tornado Myths. Meteorologist Matt Holiner at Fox19 in Cincinnati has some very good reminders as we head into prime time tornado season. You can rate a tornado just by looking at it? "...I blame the movie Twister for this one. Throughout the movie, they constantly look at tornadoes and say, "That's a F-3," or "There's a F-5 heading our way!" This is all wrong. The width of a tornado gives a general idea of the intensity, but there are plenty of examples of relatively skinny tornadoes that had higher winds than wider ones. It is nearly impossible to measure the wind speed of a tornado as they are happening as the instruments would likely be destroyed. Instead, the wind speed within tornadoes is estimated based on the damage they leave behind. The method that is used to do this is the Enhanced Fujita or EF Scale. The evaluation of the damage can't occur until after the tornado has passed, which is why the official rating of a tornado is usually not announced by the National Weather Service until the day after the storm..."
Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership Receiving National Recognition. Kudos to Xcel Energy, CenterPoint Energy and the city of Minneapolis. Here's an excerpt at Midwest Energy News: "Now into its second year, a unique partnership between the city of Minneapolis and two utilities is receiving national recognition and praise from clean energy advocates. On Wednesday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded the Clean Energy Partnership a Climate Leadership Award in the “Innovative Partnerships” category. That followed a January event at the White House where officials from the city and Xcel Energy were recognized by the Department of Energy for a software program that helps building owners to better understand their energy use. The partnership – the first of its kind in the country – brings together the city of Minneapolis, Xcel and the natural gas company CenterPoint Energy in an effort reduce greenhouse gas emissions through efficiency programs, renewable energy options and other approaches..."
United Airlines is Flying on Biofuels. Here's Why That's a Really Big Deal. The Washington Post has details; here's a clip: "...Friday’s launch will be the first application of that agreement. The flights will use a mixture of 30 percent biofuel and 70 percent traditional fuel, and United says that the biofuel will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 60 percent compared with regular fuel. In general, the idea behind renewable fuels is to use a biological source — for example, plant or animal matter — rather than a geological one, like oil. The Honeywell UOP technology that’s being applied at the AltAir refinery can utilize a range of difference sources, from used cooking oil to algae..."
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TODAY: Blustery. Rain slowly tapers. Winds: NW 20-40+ High: 44
WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Light showers mixed with a little snow. Low: 34
THURSDAY: Light rain/snow mix. A little slush Thursday night? Winds: NW 10-20. High: 38
FRIDAY: Slick spots early? Chilly, few leftover flurries. Wake-up: 30. High: 39
SATURDAY: Nagging clouds and flurries. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 28. High: 39
SUNDAY: Partly sunny, feels better out there. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 25. High: 42
MONDAY: Fading sun, breezy and milder. Winds: SE 10-20. Wake-up: 31. High: 44
TUESDAY: Patchy clouds, risk of a rain shower or two. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 33. High: 46
Yes, Scientists Can Link Extreme Weather Events to Climate Change. Here's a summary of new research at ThinkProgress: "When asked about a particular weather event’s link to climate change, scientists are typically cautious to make definitive statements — especially in the immediate aftermath, before they’ve had the chance to study the event. But according to a new study, it’s getting easier for scientists to make the link between climate change and some forms of extreme weather. The study, published Friday by the National Academies Press, found that scientific advances over the past several years have helped scientists link increases in frequency and intensity of temperature and precipitation-related events like droughts and heat waves to climate change..."
Photo credit: AP Photo/Eric Risberg.
Graphic credit: "Polling conducted over the past five years shows a growing acceptance of climate change in Florida, where scientists say rising sea levels from ice melting in the Arctic already are stressing the state's stormwater systems." Data courtesy of the University of Texas Energy Poll.
Climate Change and Conservative Brain Death. Here's a clip from an analysis at New York Magazine: "...Even allowing generously for hyperbole, Rubio’s description is as delusional as right-wing predictions of hyperinflation and Greek-style collapse during Obama’s first term. Literally nothing of the sort has taken place. Energy prices have been completely stable. That is because the green-technology subsidies in the stimulus, combined with a wave of tough regulations on the production and use of carbon, have driven a wave of green-technology innovation. Major new clean-energy technologies — wind, solar, batteries, LEDs — have plummeted in cost. All of these innovations have allowed the economy to decarbonize quickly without imposing noticeable costs on consumers. The coal industry is in a state of collapse..."
Graphic credit: U.S. Department of Energy.
Graphic credit: "Global mean surface temperature (anomaly from 1951-1980 mean). NASA data (h/t Tamino). Red dot is February."
File photo: Scott Ackerman Photography.
The More We Learn About Antarctica's Past, The Scarier the Present Looks. Chris Mooney has the results of new research at The Washington Post; here's a snippet: "For the second time in a month, leading scientists have closely tied the ancient history of the vast Antarctic ice sheet to a key planetary parameter that humans are now controlling — the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Last month, new research showed that during the Miocene era, some 14 to 23 million years ago, Antarctica gave up huge volumes of ice, equivalent to tens of meters of sea level rise, when levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are thought to have been around 500 parts per million. We’re at a little over 400 parts per million now..."
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