Saturday, December 17, 2016

Wind Chill Warning Posted - Dangerously Cold Today - Thawing Out by Tuesday

9" snow on the ground at MSP International Airport.
12 F. high Saturday in the Twin Cities.
26 F. average high on December 17.
29 F. high on December 17, 2016.

December 18, 1923: Southern Minnesota experiences a 'heat wave'. Temperatures rose into the 60s at New Ulm and St. Peter.
December 18, 1917: Milaca has its fifty-ninth consecutive day with no precipitation.

Frostbite Alert - Coldest Day of the Winter?

-20F with a wind chill of -40F? If this was anywhere else the governor might be calling out the National Guard, opening warming centers; evacuating random Floridians who can't handle an arctic spanking.

Minnesotans? We thumb our collective frostbitten noses at the cold. I'm taking my youngest son to see a Vikings game. Many will go to church, stores and area malls. Others will play in the cold. I find that endearing and awe-inspiring. Today will bring out your inner weather pioneer.

But take the chill seriously. A Wind Chill Warning means exposed skin can become frostbitten in under 10 minutes. Multiple layers, cover your face and take in the 3-D Siberian IMAX experience. Admission is free.

Squeaky snow underfoot and ice crystals up your nose with today's (rare) subzero high give way to drippy icicles this week with a streak of 20s and 30s. A coating of slush is possible Wednesday, but I don't see big storms between now and Christmas.

Parkas return in a week, but not as cold as this. Today's weather would probably kill most ordinary Americans. Here it's just another day.

Serious Wind Chills. All the models we track show a chill factor between -36F and -44F this morning at 8 AM. Tempted to sleep in until Tuesday. Source: Aeris Enterprise.

Thaw 48 Hours Away. Once again there is fairly tight model alignment and agreement on the pace and strength of the next warming trend: 30s likely by Tuesday, which should feel like a dream.

Moderating Temperatures. In spite of another cold jab for Minnesota and the Upper Midwest next weekend (just in time for Christmas Day) temperatures trend generally milder for the USA over the next couple of weeks. 384-hour GFS 2-meter temperature forecast: NOAA and

10-Day Predicted Snowfall. At the rate we're going a big chunk of the USA may enjoy a white Christmas, defined as 1" or more of snow on the ground. NOAA's GFS guidance shows significant snows for northern and western Texas into the Ozarks and Mid South.

Friday Snowfall Totals. About 4-7" of powder fell across most of the metro, less over central Minnesota. NOAA has a complete list of snowfall totals here.

First Winter of "Average Snowfall" in 3 Years? We'll see, but at the rate we're going I wouldn't be at all surprised to see us pick up 55-65" or more of snow by April. This year there seems to be more than enough cold air in place to make snow lovers happy.

Cold Temperatures Kill More Americans Than Hot Ones, CDC Data Shows. Some interesting statistics, courtesy of The Washington Post's Wonkblog: "...With heat, there may be a “threshold” temperature beyond which the body's temperature regulating system essentially breaks down. If the temperature is below that threshold (which likely varies between individuals), your body is essentially good to go. It's only when ambient temperatures surpass that point that mortality risks come into play. With cold temperatures, on the other hand, the authors of the Lancet study posit that it seems to produce negative health effects in a fairly linear fashion. There's no threshold; rather, the colder it gets, the more trouble your body has adapting..."

4 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues. nextavenue has some very good advice; here's an excerpt: "...When Carol complained of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) — also known as the winter blues — her doctor gave her a brochure about a company that makes several varieties of high-powered therapy lights and lamps. “A light box mimics outdoor light. Researchers believe this type of light causes a chemical change in the brain that lifts your mood and eases other symptoms of SAD,” says the Mayo Clinic. A light box may be an effective treatment on its own or, the Mayo Clinic adds, “in combination with an antidepressant medication or psychotherapy.”

Think you may suffer from SAD? The Mayo Clinic lists these symptoms:

• Irritability
• Tiredness or low energy
• Problems getting along with other people
• Hypersensitivity to rejection.

5 Ways To Make Sure Your Parents Are Safe in Bad Weather. It pays to be paranoid, especially with older parents; here's a clip from PBS nextavenue: "...Power outages can easily occur in winter and summer weather so it’s important that older adults know what to do and not do when the power is out. For example, I make sure that my dad has a good number of non-perishable food items and bottled water on hand so he’ll have plenty to eat if we can’t get to the store. But my husband and I have stressed that he should never try to heat up those non-perishables using his camping stove. As this piece from explains, because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, no one should ever “burn charcoal or use gasoline- or propane-powered equipment inside [the] home...”

First White Christmas in 3 Years for the Twin Cities. Hard to believe (staring out the window now) but there was only a trace of snow on the ground last year, and 2014. The last white Christmas (defined as an inch of snow or more at MSP International on December 25) was back in 2013, when we woke up to 9". There should be more than that this year. Santa is pleased.

Cold Weather Perspective. Here's an excerpt from this week's installment of Minnesota WeatherTalk, courtesy of Mark Seeley: "...In addition to the added snow cover, the trend for below normal temperatures has continued this week, now 9 consecutive days across most of the state. This is the longest spell of cooler than normal temperatures since mid-February of 2015. Some northern Minnesota climate stations fell to -20°F or colder this week, including Georgetown (Clay County), Orr (St Louis County), and Camp Norris (Lake of the Woods County). Snow cover around the state ranges from as little as 2 inches to over 12 inches in many northern counties. Despite the snow cover, frost depths in the soil have progressed over the past week and now range from 6 to 12 inches in most areas. Ice cover on area lakes is increasing as well with reports ranging mostly from 2 to 4 inches, but caution is still advised not to venture out on the ice yet..."

A Minnesota Warm Front. After a subzero Sunday relief takes the form of 20s and 30s. The sound of dripping icicles by Tuesday afternoon will be a soothing balm for the soul. Today? Yukon Boot Camp. ECMWF numbers: WeatherBell.

Not Ripe for Major Storms Close to the New Year. Of course this can change over time, but right now GFS guidance does not suggest a high amplitude pattern capable of spinning up big storms around New Year's Eve. In fact that pattern for the last few days of 2016 looks unusually mild for much of the USA.

Positive Phase of NAO = Milder Phase. A temporary strengthening of the polar vortex winds swirling around the Northern Hemisphere will confine the coldest air north of the USA for much of the next 2 weeks. There will be more cold intrusions, just not as numbing as the brutal airmass impacting the USA today.

Warm Bias in January? My confidence levels are very low, because NOAA's CFSv2 climate model keeps flip-flopping back and forth between cold and mild solutions. NOAA CPC is predicting colder and wetter than average for the northern tier of the USA into March. January temperature anomalies above: WeatherBell.

3rd Warmest - 3rd Wettest Year on Record for MSP. 3.4F warmer than the 30 year average and nearly 9" wetter than average, 2016 was a warm and soggy year. Payback was inevitable.

Large Regions of U.S. Damaged by Drought in 2016. Here's the intro to a story at The Wall Street Journal: "Droughts sparked deadly wildfires, killed tens of millions of trees and damaged crops and livestock in large regions of the U.S. in 2016. Major regional droughts hit the U.S. this year in the Southeast, California and New England—and all developed differently. But changes in the earth’s climate mean regional droughts and other “extreme events are going to be more common than in the past,” said Brian Fuchs, climatologist at the Nation Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska—Lincoln..."

Photo credit: "Scorched cars and trailers burned by the Blue Cut fire in August line a residential street in Phelan, Calif." Photo: Noah Berger/Associated Press.

Report Offers Roadmap for Overhaul of U.S. Electrical Grid. Midwest Energy News has the story: "A new report by a team of engineers, scientists and researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers a roadmap for the redesign of one of history’s most critical inventions. The power grid – named the greatest engineering feat of the 20th century by the National Academy of Engineering – is in need of an upgrade, according to “Utility of the Future,” released Thursday. Designed for last century’s rigid, analog and centralized world, the grid must now be recalibrated for today’s flexible, digital and decentralized landscape..." (Map source: FEMA, Wikipedia).

Something Americans Can Agree On. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed from Robert Redford at TIME: "...There are not many things the vast majority of Americans agree on. The election certainly reminded us of this fact. In an increasingly divided country, it is becoming harder and harder to find common ground, particularly surrounding the issues of energy development and climate change. One of the few issues with strong bipartisan support is, surprisingly, solar power. A recent poll found nearly nine in 10 Americans support the expansion of solar power. Among all the energy sources, it has the highest favorability rating. That’s for good reason..." (Photo credit: Solar City).

Cost Of Clean, Renewable Energy Dropping Rapidly. Check out Lazard's Levelized Cost of Energy document (PDF).

Will Elon Musk Be The Champion Cleantech Needs at the White House? Greentech Media has the article; here's a clip: "...Where Musk could be most effective as a Trump adviser is in advocating for continued investments in cleantech research and development at the Department of Energy. Among many other things, the DOE has played an instrumental role in bringing down the cost of lithium-ion batteries and helping to develop the next generation of battery technologies. Companies like Tesla stand to benefit from government-led innovation and government-trained talent pool. However, it's unclear what kind of policy advice Musk's "go-it-alone" attitude will translate into. Tesla's leadership frequently touts the company's abilities, like cutting battery costs faster than projections. So it's possible that Musk will argue that entrepreneurship is the true source of innovation, not the state..." (Image: Investopedia).

Old Jobs That No Longer Exist. Some professions get disrupted faster than others. Check this out from Holy Kaw! "Chances are, if you’re in the town crier or resurrectionist business, opportunities have been few and far between in the last century or two. As we look to the future to predict what jobs the robot armies will overtake, it’s refreshing to glance back the other direction in time to see where we’ve been..."

TODAY: Arctic sunshine. Feels like -35F this morning. Winds: SW 5-10. High: -2

SUNDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy, not as cold. Low: 0

MONDAY: Clouds increase, breathing easier. Winds: SW 10-20. High: 26

TUESDAY: Patchy clouds, few flurries. A thaw! Winds: W 10-15. Wake-up. 22. High: 37

WEDNESDAY: Wet snow, slushy coating possible. Winds: NE 7-12. Wake-up: 24. High: 31

THURSDAY: Intervals of sun, dripping icicles. Winds: SW 7-12. Wake-up: 21. High: 32

FRIDAY: Mostly cloudy, no travel headaches. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 25. High: 34

CHRISTMAS EVE: Leftover clouds, colder breeze. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 20. High: 25 (falling)

Climate Stories...

Every State Had a Top 10 Warmest Year in 2016. WXshift has the story; here's an excerpt: "Like the previous two years, 2016 is on pace to be the hottest year on record globally. In the U.S., the average temperature for the year is on track to be the second hottest in 122 years of records. In this analysis, we drilled down to the local level and examined how hot each of these cities has been in 2016 through the end of November...."

Map credit: "Each of the lower 48 states is having one of its 10 hottest years on record." Credit:

Conservatives Can Be Convinced to Fight Climate Change With a Specific Kind of Language. Quartz has the story: "...Progressive politicians often campaign with the promise of a better future. But conservatives recognize that pledging to restore a golden past resonates with their electorate. Environmentalists may want to consider using that to their advantage: a new study shows that focusing on the past is effective in getting conservatives (who are much more likely than liberals to deny climate change) to act to protect the planet. Specifically, the key is using pro-environment messaging that focuses on preserving a greener past, rather than averting future climate disasters, according to the study, published Dec. 12 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences..."

Scientists Are Tying More Extreme Events to a Changing Climate. Here's an excerpt from The Washington Post: "A new report, published Thursday as a special edition of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, provides some of the best evidence yet that climate change already has a hand in our worst weather. It points to a variety of extreme weather events in 2015 that were likely influenced by global warming, from heat waves in Australia to heavy rain in China to raging wildfires in Alaska. The report, examining research on two dozen weather events, was compiled and edited by scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as well as the Met Office Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research..."

Photo credit: "The setting sun is partially obscured by smoke from an out of control 2015 wildfire on the Parks Highway near Willow, Alaska." (Reuters/Mat-Su Borough/Stefan Hinman).

Explaining Extreme Events From a Climate Perspective. How much can be attributed to a warmer, wetter climate vs. natural variability? Here's a link to more science, courtesy of the AMS, the American Meteorological Society: "This fifth edition of explaining extreme events of the previous year (2015) from a climate perspective continues to provide evidence that climate change is altering some extreme event risk. Without exception, all the heat-related events studied in this year’s report were found to have been made more intense or likely due to human-induced climate change, and this was discernible even for those events strongly influenced by the 2015 El Niño. Furthermore, many papers in this year’s report demonstrate that attribution science is capable of separating the effects of natural drivers including the strong 2015 El Niño from the influences of long-term human-induced climate change."

Climate Central has more perspective.

Climate Change Worsened Deadly Heatwaves Last Year. Following up on the recent report on climate attribution, here is more perspective at USA TODAY: "From Europe to India to Australia, climate change worsened several deadly heat waves around the world in 2015, according to a report released Thursday. "We’re seeing mounting evidence that climate change is making heat waves more extreme in many regions around the world,” said report lead editor Stephanie C. Herring, a scientist with the National Centers for Environmental Information at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) . In all, 10 extreme hot streaks last year, including heat waves in Europe, Egypt, India, Pakistan, China, Indonesia, Japan and Australia, were worsened by climate change..."

Scientists: Strong Evidence that Human-Caused Climate Change Intensified 2015 Heat Waves. NOAA provides more context: "Human-caused climate change very likely increased the severity of heat waves that plagued India, Pakistan, Europe, East Africa, East Asia, and Australia in 2015 and helped make it the warmest year on record, according to new research published today in a special edition of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. The fifth edition of Explaining Extreme Events from a Climate Perspectiveoffsite link presents 25 peer-reviewed research papers that examine episodes of extreme weather of 2015 over five continents and two oceans. It features the research of 116 scientists from 18 countries analyzing both historical observations and changing trends along with model results to determine whether and how climate change may have influenced the event..." (Image credit: NOAA).

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