28 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities Monday.
23 F. average high on January 10.
-1 F. maximum temperature on January 10, 2016.
January 11, 1975: A blizzard continues with hurricane force winds in southwestern Minnesota.
January 11, 1899: An odd flash of lightning lights the clouds up around 9 pm at Maple Plain.
Forecast: Another White-Knuckle Commute Today
For almost 30 years I've talked about the "Hassle Factor". It's not enough to tally up how much snow will fall. When will it fall, how cold is the snowfall, will it be compacted into an impassable layer of ice before rush hour?
It's a complicated matrix of factors that determine how dreadful the impacts will be. An inch of snow at 6 AM on a workday with an air temperature of 15F creates far more problems than 6 inches of snow at 9 PM with a temperature of 30F.
According to the Minnesota DNR's "Winter Misery Index", which factors intensity and duration of cold and snowfall, this winter still falls into the "mild" category. The MSP metro has enjoyed 11 nights below zero so far - average for an entire winter is close to 30 nights.
No worries - be happy!
The arrival of a new Canadian Treat sets off a couple inches of powdery snow this morning. With single digit temperatures the result should be more slipping and sliding. You'll be satisfying numb on Friday, but a slushy warm front arrives next week with a string of 30s.
Keep expectations low and you may even be pleasantly surprised!
Keep Your Pets Warm and Healthy This Winter Season. An article at High Plains Journal has some very good advice: "Just because they have a fur coat does not mean your pet can endure extended time outdoors when the temperature is frigid. Dogs, like other animals, must be out of the wind and dry for the insulating properties of their coats to be effective. Dogs that evolved in warm climates have short hair coats to protect them from the sun and help them stay cool, versus dogs that evolved in cold climates and have longer hair coats. If you are cold, your short-haired pet may be cold, too. Just as people add extra layers of clothing, bump up the thermostat or throw an extra log on the fire to keep warm, pet owners must take action to ensure their four-legged friends stay warm and healthy through the winter season..."
California Firehose; More Light Snow Upper Midwest. Stare at this animation long enough and you will become hypnotized. There's a fair amount of rain (depicted in green) in the 84-hour 12 KM NAM model guidance, considering the next week to 10 days is just about the coldest of the year for most American cities. California, afflicted with flooding rains and ridiculous mountain snowfall totals (above 10,000 feet) doesn't really dry out until Friday. An area of light snow tracks across Minnesota and Wisconsin today; ice for Madison, but mostly rain for the Ohio Valley on south and east. Source: Tropicaltidbits.com.
Not Quite as Dramatic as Monday. Yes, 3-4" was a subtle (yet blunt) reminder that it can still snow, even though that means the traffic report will last 48 minutes. A series of weak, clipper-like swirls of low pressure rippling along the eastward push of colder air may drop a couple more inches of snow today with flurries returning Thursday morning. Stuff stops falling from the sky on Friday as a bubble of Canadian high pressure drifts overhead. 4 KM NAM snowfall totals: NOAA and Tropicaltidbits.com.
What Is An Atmospheric River? Weather Phenomenon Hits California, Nevada with Rain, Snow and Flooding. A few interesting nuggets from International Business Times: "A not-entirely-unwelcome storm dumped heavy rain on parts of California and Nevada Sunday during part of a weather phenomenon known as an atmospheric river. Another followed close on its tail and was expected to bring up to 15 inches of rain in places like the Sierra Nevada mountains Monday. Atmospheric rivers are actually common weather patterns that occur all over the world. The term is used to describe narrow portions of the atmosphere that hold water vapor and bring rain, wind and snow as they travel. At any given moment, an atmospheric river is depositing rain or snow somewhere, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Anywhere between 30 to 50 percent of the annual precipitation that occurs on the West Coast of the United States is caused by atmospheric rivers..."
Infographic credit: NOAA.
December 2016: Really Cold, Really Warm, Nearly Average. The Minnesota DNR has a very good recap highlighting just how manic last month was: -20F on December 18. One week later nearly an inch of RAIN on Christmas Day! Here's an excerpt: "...Minnesotans are used to large variations in temperatures, but December 2016 was notable for its long streaks of warm and cold conditions: the temperatures only switched from one side of average to another two times during the month. The result of these long stretches of seemingly opposite conditions was that the month ended up pretty close to average--slightly warmer in most locations, making it 16 straight warm months Twin Cities. December was also wet enough to help the Twin Cities break its all-time annual precipitation record. What a perfect way to end such a warm, wet, and stormy year!"
Graphic credit: "December 2016 daily temperatures and departures in the Twin Cities."
Graphic credit: "Chart showing annual statewide combinations of average temperature and total precipitation. No year back to 1895 was both as warm and as wet as 2016."
2016: Total of 15 Weather and Climate Disasters. Only 2011 saw more, according to NOAA NCDC: "In 2016, there were 15 weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the United States. These events included a drought event, 4 flooding events, 8 severe storm events, a tropical cyclone event, and a wildfire event. Overall, these events resulted in the deaths of 138 people and had significant economic effects on the areas impacted. The 1980–2016 annual average is 5.5 events (CPI-adjusted); the annual average for the most recent 5 years (2012–2016) is 10.6 events (CPI-adjusted). Three new billion-dollar disaster events were added during the 4th quarter, bringing the 2016 total to 15 events. This represents the 2nd highest total number of events surpassing the 11 events observed in 2012. The record number of events in one year (since 1980) is 16, as observed in 2011..."
Climate Disasters Cost U.S. $46 Billion as Flooding Leads List. Bloomberg has more perspective on 2016's toll: "Climate-based disasters caused $46 billion in damage and killed at least 138 in the 48 contiguous U.S. states last year, with inland flooding emerging as the costliest weather event for the first time since 1997. The number of billion-dollar occurrences was the second-highest since 1980, with one less than the 16 in 2011, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information. It was also the second warmest year behind 2012 over 122 years, and the 20th consecutive warmer-than-normal year..."
File photo: Coast Guard.
Billion Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters Since 1980. Severe storms and flooding events have been on the increase, especially since 2010, according to NOAA NCDC.
U.S. Warns of "Imminent" Cyberattack Threat on Electric Grid. Another argument for solar, battery storage and not being totally dependent on the grid. CNET reports: "A report that Russian computer attackers had penetrated a Vermont electrical utility company may have turned out to be baseless, but the nation's grid is in "imminent danger" of cyberattacks, the Energy Department warned Friday. "Widespread disruption of electric service because of a transmission failure initiated by a cyberattack at various points of entry could undermine U.S. lifeline networks, critical defense infrastructure and much of the economy; it could also endanger the health and safety of millions of citizens," the DOE said in a massive 494-page report. "Also, natural gas plays an increasingly important role as fuel for the nation's electricity system; a gas pipeline outage or malfunction due to a cyberattack could affect not only pipeline and related infrastructures, but also the reliability of the nation's electricity system..." (Image: Department of Energy).
Photo credit: "Newly built solar gardens stand off of Hwy. 19 (330th Street West) on St. Olaf land. The site is leased by BHE Renewables, which owns and operates the gardens. The company said subscriptions to the gardens are 100 percent filled." (Philip Weyhe/Northfield News).
The Most Solar-Friendly States in America? Greentech Media has the list and explainer: "Solar research and advocacy group Solar Power Rocks released its 2017 ranking of the states most friendly to rooftop solar Friday, based on a compilation of state renewables policies and incentives. Massachusetts retained top honors, shaking off New York and New Jersey, which had split the gold three ways last year. Eleven states earned failing grades, with Oklahoma, Alabama and Mississippi rounding out the bottom three. The ranking factors in 12 variables, including policy (like renewable portfolio standards, electricity prices, net energy metering), incentives (including tax credits, performance payments, tax exemptions), and outcomes (payback time and internal rate of return). The rankings don't equate to the states with the most solar; they capture the states with the policy framework most amenable to customers putting solar on their roofs..."
THURSDAY: Clouds, gusty winds. Feels like -15F. Winds: NW 10-20. High: 13
FRIDAY: Pleasantly numb. Bright sun, feels like -25F early. Winds: SE 5-10. Wake-up: -9. High: 5
SATURDAY: Early flurries, then partial clearing. Winds: SW 5-10. Wake-up: 0. High: 21
SUNDAY: Peeks of sun, feels better out there. Winds: SW 5-10. Wake-up: 10. High: 29
MONDAY: Relatively mild. Icy mix late? Winds: SE 3-8. Wake-up: 15. High: 33
TUESDAY: Mostly cloudy and mild, a little drizzle. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 23. High: 35
Image credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Flickr
U.S. Should Pursue Controversial Geoengineering Research, Federal Scientists Say for First Time. Because the world's governments aren't moving fast enough. Here's an excerpt from AAAS at Science: "The U.S. government office that oversees federally funded climate research has recommended studies into two areas of geoengineering research, marking the first time scientists in the executive branch have formally called for studies in the controversial field. The move, part of a climate science planning report sent today to Congress, will likely further normalize discussion of deliberate tinkering with the atmosphere to cool the planet, and of directly collecting carbon from the sky, both topics once verboten in the climate science community. Yet the new endorsement of geoengineering research comes amid deep uncertainty about the direction that climate research will take under the new administration of President-elect Donald Trump. Geoengineering is discussed in just two paragraphs of the 119-page plan, which aims to set out a research roadmap through 2021..."
Photo credit: NASA/ISS Crew/Johnson Space Center.
U.S. Intelligence Study Warns of Growing Conflict Risk. Reuters has the story: "The risk of conflicts between and within nations will increase over the next five years to levels not seen since the Cold War as global growth slows, the post-World War Two order erodes and anti-globalization fuels nationalism, said a U.S. intelligence report released on Monday. "These trends will converge at an unprecedented pace to make governing and cooperation harder and to change the nature of power – fundamentally altering the global landscape," said "Global Trends: Paradox of Progress," the sixth in a series of quadrennial studies by the U.S. National Intelligence Council. The findings, published less than two weeks before U.S. President-elect Donald Trump takes office on Jan. 20, outlined factors shaping a "dark and difficult near future," including a more assertive Russia and China, regional conflicts, terrorism, rising income inequality, climate change and sluggish economic growth..."
Photo credit: "A U.S. soldier walks in front of a tank at an army base in Karamless town, east of Mosul, Iraq, December 25, 2016. Picture taken December 25, 2016." REUTERS/Ammar Awad
Photo credit: "An Adelie penguin stands atop a block of melting ice near the French station at Dumont díUrville in East Antarctica January 23, 2010. Picture taken January 23, 2010." REUTERS/Pauline Askin/File photo