Temperatures Bottom Out - January Thaw Next Week!
Numb and Number, The Sequel. Welcome to the coldest morning since December 18, 2016, when the official low at MSP was a crisp -20F. We're waking up to -10 to -15F in the close-in suburbs, where the urban heat island is taking some of the edge off the burn.
Winds are nearly calm, so the wind chill won't be much colder than the actual air temperature. Even so, unprotected skin can be frostbitten within 10 minutes.
At -40F exposed skin freezes within 1 minute; at -60F (hello Tower, Minnesota!) exposed skin can freeze within seconds. When it's that cold your breath turns to ice crystals that fall to the ground. Really.
The MSP metro area has picked up 23 inches of snow this winter; a whopping 4 inches on the ground. A far cry from January, 1982, when snow lovers were delirious, with 38 inches to report!
Word to the wise: get out and play in that new Minnesota powder this weekend. We thaw out by Monday, when a light mix arrives. ECMWF guidance hints at 40F late next week; more rain by the weekend of January 21-22.
Rain? Hard to fathom on a brisk, invigorating morning like this.
Thump Your Chest! And here it is, the reason so many American's eyes get big when pondering what Minnesota is like in January. "How do you live out there?" Well, I hold my breath a lot and try not to lick metal objects. "What does it feel like?" Like being dipped headfirst into a vat of mild acid - a slight burning sensation that makes you want to check and see if you still have all your fingers and toes. Then again I've been more uncomfortable at grade school assemblies, and this cold sting won't last nearly as long. 30s return next week; the atmosphere warm enough for a light mix by Monday and Tuesday. We keep oscillating between subzero and March temperatures with rain. Odd, to say the least.
Ice Storm Develops. The 84-hour 12 KM NAM model shows a smear of ice developing near Wichita, spreading toward St. Louis, Champaign-Urbana and Indianapolis as surface temperatures should be cold enough for rain to freeze on contact. California gets a brief break, but another big storm will whack the west coast the latter half of next week. Animation: Tropicaltidbits.com.
Excessive Salt Use is Hurting Minnesota Lakes, State Officials Warn. Here's an excerpt from Lake Minnetonka Patch: "...There are currently 47 waterbodies in Minnesota that tested above the water quality standard for chloride, with 39 in the metro. An additional 39 surface waters in the metro are near the chloride standard and many others are unknown. The data show that salt concentrations are continuing to increase in both surface waters and groundwater across the state. Currently, there are no environmentally safe, effective and inexpensive alternatives to salt. However, officials say residents can reduce salt at the source through smart salting application strategies..."
Photo credit: "Heavy rain and snowfall hit parts of California, Nevada and Oregon early on Wednesday, causing roads to be closed, schools to cancel classes and widespread flooding along already swollen waterways." USA TODAY NETWORK.
Meanwhile - Record Warmth Out East. Check out a long list of record highs on Thursday. Amazing.
Climatology of Freezing Rain. Minnesota sees about 3-5 days a year with freezing rain (glaze ice). But the greatest frequency is found in New England. Here's an excerpt from Midwestern Regional Climate Center: "The Midwest and Northeast are prime areas for freezing rain events. Note the high frequency areas in western Minnesota and western Iowa, and the band from central Illinois eastward through northern Indiana, Ohio, and eastward. In the high frequency band in the Midwest, an average of 12 to 15 hours of freezing rain occurs annually. While freezing rain can occur anytime between November and April, most freezing rain events occur during December and January...."
* A major ice storm is shaping up for the end of the week and into the early weekend for areas from northern Texas into the Ohio Valley.
* Ice accumulations of at least a quarter to a half an inch will be possible across portions of this region. Current forecasts show the potential of three quarters of an inch or more of ice across parts of Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri.
* Ice accumulations of this magnitude would cause significant travel issues, with the potential of many roads becoming ice covered making travel impossible. This significant icing would accumulate on trees and power lines, leading to power outages.
* Winter Storm Watches are now in place from northern Texas to Illinois for the significant icing threat. These watches include Oklahoma City, Wichita, Dodge City, Kansas City, and St. Louis.
Summary: A potentially crippling ice storm is on track as we head into Friday and the weekend for parts of the central and southern Plains, with ice accumulations of at least a quarter to a half an inch possible from Oklahoma to Missouri. Winter Storm Watches have been issued from northern Texas to Illinois for this significant icing threat. These watches include Oklahoma City, Wichita, Dodge City, Kansas City, and St. Louis. Ice accumulations of this magnitude would cause significant travel issues, with the potential of many roads becoming ice covered making travel impossible. This significant icing would accumulate on trees and power lines, leading to power outages. This would have the potential to greatly disrupt operations through the weekend and into early next week, depending on how fast power companies would be able to get power back up.
D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, AerisWeather
The largest flash flood in Minnesota since the event of June 19-20, 2012 struck part of the same region on July 11-12, 2016. The highest two-day total was a volunteer reader in Pine County with 9.34 inches. Southbound I-35 and Highway 61 was closed for a time on July 12. The area covered by six inches or more of rainfall exceeded 2,000 square miles, qualifying it as a "Mega Rain" event. The flooding would have been worse had it not been for the relatively dry conditions beforehand. In addition to the heavy rain, there were three tornadoes, two of which were EF2. .
#1 State Record Precipitation Total at Waseca and Record Annual Twin Cities Precipitation.
The event that garnered the most votes was the statewide annual precipitation record set at Waseca and the Twin Cities annual record precipitation. The preliminary 2016 precipitation total at Waseca is 56.24 inches, handily breaking the old record at St. Francis in Anoka County of 53.52 inches in 1991. The 2016 total at Waseca breaks the old record by 2.72 inches. The Twin Cities also broke the annual precipitation record that was set over 100 years ago. The preliminary total for 2016 is 40.32 inches, breaking the old record of 40.15 inches set in 1911. The precipitation record for the Twin Cities begins in 1871..."
Map credit: Minnesota DNR, State Climate Office. The July 11-12 "Mega-Rain" was one of 2 mega-rain events of 2016; the first time on record Minnesota has experienced 2 such widespread flood events.
Press release from Cadillac is here.
Report Ranks Iowa as Top State for Corporate Access to Clean Energy. Midwest Energy News reports: "According to a new report, companies looking for easy access to renewable energy should consider moving to Iowa. That state, followed by Illinois, topped a ranking released Tuesday by the nation’s retail and tech sectors urging state governments to lower barriers to the further development of renewable energy. Ohio came in 8th. The report, assembled by Clean Edge on behalf of the Retail Industry Leaders Association and the Information Technology Industry Council, comes just as state legislatures across the country are convening for their 2017 sessions. The report was quite clear about its intentions: to urge changes in state laws and regulations regarding renewable energy, and especially corporate access to it..."
Minnesota Utility Sees Declining Returns in Coal Power Generation. Midwest Energy News reports: "Minnesota’s second biggest utility, Great River Energy, has begun to significantly ramp down the output of its largest coal plant as the market has shifted to wind power and natural gas production. The transmission utility’s Coal Creek Station, located 50 miles north of Bismarck, North Dakota, can produce 1,100 megawatts (MWs) of electricity. That makes it the largest power plant in North Dakota and by far the biggest in Great River Energy’s system. Currently, though, the plant operates at less than a third of its full output in times of high wind production – spring and fall – as the cost of having it operate at full capacity costs the company money. Some days the plant produces less than 300 MW..."
SATURDAY: Intervals of sun, getting better. Winds: SW 5-10. High: 20
SUNDAY: Partly sunny, hibernation optional. Winds: SE 5-10. Wake-up: 13. High: near 30
MONDAY: Cold rain or light mix. Winds: E 8-13. Wake-up: 22. High: 33
TUESDAY: Light mix or drizzle. Mainly wet roads. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 30. High: 34
WEDNESDAY: Intervals of sun, hints of March. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 23. High: 36
THURSDAY: Partly sunny, January Thaw lingers. Winds: SE: 5-10. Wake-up: 25. High: 37
Photo credit: "Mack Faamausili of Northeast Portland headed into work on bike, only to return home after learning it was closed for the day due to the winter storm. In Northeast Portland, residents wandered through the streets and in the snow in the early morning hours. Several inches of snow blanketed Portland, January 11, 2017." Beth Nakamura/Staff.
File photo: Water Environment Federation.
Photo credit: "The Ninglick River is eating away at the shoreline in Newtok, Alaska, shown here in August 2016. Engineers estimate the village is losing 70 feet of land per year." Eric Keto/Alaska's Energy Desk.
Photo credit: "Carbon dioxide trapped in crystals."
Photo credit: "