32 F. high in the Twin Cities Saturday.
35 F. average high for March 2.
35 F. high on March 2, 2012.
February, 2013 was only the second cooler than average month in the Twin Cities in the last 21 months. The other was October of 2012.
10.3″ average March snowfall in the Twin Cities; third snowiest month of the year, behind January and December. Data is from the latest 30 year average. Source: NOAA NESDIS and the Minnesota State Climate Office.
Winter Storm Watch posted late tonight into Tuesday. A plowable snowfall seems likely for MSP.
Why Meteorologists Have Gray Hair and Ulcers. Alberta Clippers are notoriously fickle, a slight jog in the storm track can make a difference between flurries and 6″ of flurries. The GFS has the heaviest snow bands just south/west of the Twin Cities. More changes are likely between now and when the flakes start to fly later in the day Monday. Count on it.
A Wide Range. Confidence levels are rising that we’ll see a plowable snowfall in the Twin Cities metro (and much of central and southern Minnesota for that matter). There’s still a formidable range in expected amounts, most models aligning between 4-8″ by Tuesday evening. Graphic: Iowa State.
Winter Storm Watch. The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch, meaning a potential for at least 6″ of snow – best chance of higher amounts south/west of MSP. Details from the local National Weather Service:
...SNOWFALL EXPECTED FROM SUNDAY NIGHT INTO TUESDAY...
.A WINTER STORM IS EXPECTED TO IMPACT THE NORTHERN PLAINS AND
UPPER MIDWEST FROM SUNDAY THROUGH TUESDAY. THIS SYSTEM MAY BRING
SNOWFALL ACCUMULATIONS OF 6 INCHES OR MORE TO MUCH OF CENTRAL AND
SOUTHERN MINNESOTA. AT THIS TIME... THE GREATEST THREAT FOR HEAVY
SNOW IS ALONG AND WEST OF A LINE FROM LITTLE FALLS TO ALBERT LEA.
CONFIDENCE HAS INCREASED ENOUGH THAT WINTER STORM WARNINGS MAY BE
ISSUED LATER TONIGHT FOR PORTIONS OF THE REGION. PLEASE CHECK
LATER WINTER WEATHER MESSAGES FOR MORE DETAILS AND POSSIBLE
...WINTER STORM WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM SUNDAY EVENING
THROUGH LATE MONDAY NIGHT...
A WINTER STORM WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM SUNDAY EVENING
THROUGH LATE MONDAY NIGHT.
* TIMING: ACCUMULATING SNOW DEVELOPING SUNDAY NIGHT IN WEST
CENTRAL MINNESOTA AND THEN SPREADING EAST AND SOUTH ON MONDAY.
THE SNOWFALL WILL CONTINUE THROUGH MONDAY NIGHT...BEFORE
DIMINISHING ON TUESDAY.
* MAIN IMPACTS: SNOW ACCUMULATION OF 6 INCHES OR MORE POSSIBLE
ALONG WITH DIFFICULT TRAVEL CONDITIONS.
A WINTER STORM WATCH MEANS THERE IS A POTENTIAL FOR SIGNIFICANT
SNOW...SLEET...OR ICE ACCUMULATIONS THAT MAY IMPACT TRAVEL.
CONTINUE TO MONITOR THE LATEST FORECASTS.
Looks Like March: Snow and Rain In The Same Outlook. The ECMWF model prints out about .62″ liquid Monday and Tuesday. With surface temperatures between 25-31 that should equate into a snow/rain ratio of closer to 10/1, or about 6″ of snow (if you buy the European solution). We warm up late next week, low 40s possible early next week; even a little rain a week from tomorrow. Something for the entire family.
Preliminary February Climate Summary. Here’s an excerpt of Mark Seeley’s always-excellent weekly edition of WeatherTalk: ”Most observers in Minnesota reported a mean monthly temperature for February that was 2 to 4 degrees cooler than normal. Since June of 2011 (a 21 month period), February 2013 is only the 2nd month with a statewide average temperature that is cooler than normal (the other was October 2012). Extremes for the month were 45 degrees F at Grand Rapids on the 27th and -39 degrees F at International Falls on the 2nd. Precipitation was generally abundant during the month of February, except for small portions of southwestern Minnesota. It was the wettest February statewide since 2007. Many observers reported over 2 inches of precipitation, most of which came as snowfall…”
March 2013: Nothing Like March 2012. Last year we had late May in mid-March, nearly 14,000 warm weather records. It was the warmest March in U.S. history. This year the pattern is dramatically different, the core of the jet stream farther south, more Canadian air spilling south of the border. In today’s edition of Climate Matters I compare March 2012 and March 2013, and track another potential Nor’easter late next week: ”Almost half the country started March with snow on the ground. What’s in store the rest of this month? Meteorologist Paul Douglas doesn’t think it will be anything like the March of 2012 when nearly 14,000 warm weather records were broken. In fact, fresh snow could be in store for many over the next week.”
How The Sequester Impacts Weather And Hurricane Reporting. Here’s a story that caught my eye; an excerpt courtesy of Central Florida News 13: “How you are protected and receive information about extreme weather conditions from the government could be affected by the sequester. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which runs the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center, stands to take a large hit if the sequester takes effect, according to the Obama administration. The Department of Commerce, oversees NOAA, stated that the budge cuts could potentially impact the public in a storm. In an emailed statement, a spokesman wrote:
Photo credit above: ““
Percentage Annual Sunshine. The list above highlights America’s sunniest cities. Phoenix and Las Vegas get top honors for the most sunshine (85% of daylight hours are sunny, on average). As a point of comparison 58% of daylight hours in the Twin Cities are clear to partly cloudy, a higher number than Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit or Boston. Source: currentresults.com.
If Anyone Asks (Doubtful) St. Cloud Is Sunnier Than The Twin Cities. Who knew? I dug around the currentresults.com web site and found the nugget above: St. Cloud is the sunniest (large) city in Minnesota. It should be a trivia question.
2012 U.S. Extreme Weather Overview. Here’s a portion of an excellent recap and summary (PDF) of America’s weather extremes during 2012 from Climate Nexus: “With oppressive heat waves, devastating droughts, ravaging wildfires, and hard-hitting storms, 2012 was one for the record books. Thousands of precipitation and temperature records were broken, plaguing almost all of the United States this year and underscoring the connection between increasingly frequent and intense extreme weather and climate change. With climate change, we’ve set the table for precisely this kind of extreme weather, and unfortunately, our changing climate threatens to alter the weather for years to come.
A year of extremes: 2012 was the second most extreme year on record for the nation, according to the U.S.Climate Extremes Index. The year had 11 disasters costing $1 billion or more. The only year on record that had more billion dollar disasters was 2011, which had 14. According to Munich Re, extreme weather caused $107.2 billion worth of damage in the U.S in 2012….”
Going Blind: The Coming Satellite Crisis. The USA has 24 earth-observing satellites in orbit right now; several of the polar-orbiting satellites are about to go dark, and replacements may not be available for a period of time, resulting in a potential forecast-accuracy-gap. Some predictions have only 6 earth-observing satellites in operation by 2020. More from PBS Nova: “…That’s where polar orbiting satellites come in. They complement geostationary satellites by trading frequent updates for sharper images. Polar orbiting satellites sit much closer to Earth—generally about 500 miles up—and complete a trip around the globe every 100 minutes or so. Most Earth-observing satellites, weather and otherwise, fly in polar orbits. With the right sensor, they can image the entire planet twice a day, once on the day side, once on the night side. Their role in meteorology is unquestionable. “The polar orbiting satellites give us the ability to do long term weather forecasts,” says Jane Lubchenco, outgoing administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “Currently, NOAA’s forecasts go out 7 to 10 days. If we don’t have a polar orbiting satellite, we would do 2 to 3 day forecasts. That’s a huge difference…”
Image credit above: “Suomi NPP is a weather satellite in low-Earth orbit—the only one the U.S. currently operates for civilian uses.”
The King Tides. What Happens When The Sea Level Rises. This is the first I’ve heard the expression “King Tides”; here’s a segment of an article at Huffington Post: ”Did California just get a glimpse of what future sea level may look like? California experienced King Tides, especially high tides, during early February. The King Tides come three times a year, predicted because of the orbit and alignment of the Earth, sun, and moon. I was interested in tracking them because I am an advocate for low-lying islands and coastal communities, and I frequently write about issues facing these islanders from an eyewitness perspective. The timing of the latest King Tide in California turned out to be poignant, as the Solomon Islands experienced an earthquake and subsequent tsunami that took lives and again challenged the world to think about the way communities are shaped and sometimes traumatized by the water…”
Photo credit above: “Drowning Islands Facebook fan Tracey Coleman took this before and after photo in San Clemente, California to highlight the before and after effect of the King tide. Of all the submissions received, this was my favorite – what a great shot.“
Asian And African Dust Influences North American Weather. Here’s a snippet of a very interesting article at Scientific American: “In the western United States, winter precipitation is key to providing the water states like Colorado and California need to survive their dry summers. The snow and rain that comes in the cold season runs off into reservoirs, where it is stored for drinking water, agriculture, hydropower and other uses. Now, researchers have linked airborne dust and other particles from as far away as the Sahara and Asian deserts with the precipitation that falls over California’s Sierra Nevada mountains…”
Photo credit above: “Researchers have linked airborne dust from the Sahara and Asian deserts with the precipitation that falls over California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. Pictured: mountains outside of Bishop, CA.” Image: Flickr/Justin in SD.
Ask Paul. Weather-related Q&A:
I am wondering how the 30 year average daily highs and lows are measured. As someone who works with statistics, I would think that just using mean average of 30 data points would make the measure unstable. For example, if the last 30 years of data for January 20th had several very warm high temperature outliers, the average may be moved up several degrees, say to 26 degrees. Then if January 21 had several very cold temperature outliers within 30 years, the average might be 17 degrees. Yet when I look them up the temperatures seem relatively smooth from day to day. Is there a special process used?
Brent – I teed up your question with Greg Spoden, Minnesota’s State Climatologist. You are definitely on the right track with your reasoning. Here is Greg’s response to your question:
Your reader is right on the mark…the daily temperature normals are derived using more math than simple arithmetic. If Brent wants to see how the sausage is made, the National Climate Data Center (NDCD) describes their methodology in this document.
The “constrained harmonic least squares fit” technique used by NCDC smooths day-to-day variations, plus assures that the mean monthly normals are consistent with the means of the daily normals for a particular month.
Minnesota State Climatologist.
House of Cards. Netflix is shaking up the TV world by making all 13 hour-long episodes of this Washington D.C. based thriller available at once. And it’s very, very well done. Binge TV viewing anyone?
Chilled Sunshine. Temperatures were 3-5 F. cooler than average, but the sun was out, and you could feel that higher sun angle at work. The sun is now as high in the sky as it was back on October 7. That’s why most of the snow and ice is probably off your driveway or alley, in spite of temperatures at or below freezing for much of the last week. We got off to a cold start Saturday morning (-20 at International Falls, -7 St. Cloud, but +10 in the Twin Cities). HIghs ranged from 23 at Alexandria to 32 in the Twin Cities.
How Much? No, not this much.
Paul’s Conservation Minnesota Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:
* highs may top 40 early next week with a chance of a little rain or drizzle.
Trapped As Climate Changes, Giant Gusts Of Hot Air Trigger Weather Extremes. Here’s the intro to a story at smithsonian.com that caught my eye: “During the month of July 2011, the United States was seized by a heat wave so severe that roughly 9,000 temperature records were set, 64 people were killed and a total of 200 million Americans were left very sweaty. Temperatures hit 117 degrees Fahrenheit in Shamrock, Texas, and residents of Dallas spent 34 consecutive days stewing in 100-plus-degree weather. For the past couple of years, we’ve heard that extreme weather like this is tied to climate change, but until now, scientists weren’t sure exactly how the two were related. A new study published yesterday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals the mechanism behind events such as the 2011 heat wave. What it comes down to, according to scientists at Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), is that higher temperatures caused by global warming are disrupting the flow of planetary waves that oscillate between Arctic and tropical regions, redistributing the warm and cold air that usually help regulate the Earth’s climate. “When they swing up, these waves suck warm air from the tropics to Europe, Russia, or the US, and when they swing down, they do the same thing with cold air from the Arctic,” lead author Vladimir Petoukhov of PIK explained in a statement….”
Photo credit above: “Scientists have identified a link between global warming and extreme weather events such as heat waves.” Photo by Flickr user perfectsnap
Our View: America, Pick Your Climate Choices. Climate deniers and birthers in the same Op-Ed? Here’s an excerpt from USA Today: “One way to deal with a problem is to pretend it doesn’t exist. This approach has the virtue of relieving you from having to come up with a solution, spend money or make tough choices. The downside, of course, is that leaky faucets and other problems rarely solve themselves and, in fact, usually get worse if ignored. Such is the case with climate change, a threat that too many members of Congress, most of them Republicans, have decided to manage by denying the science. That head-in-the-sand approach avoids messy discussions of higher energy prices, but it just got harder to justify...”
Climate Change, Conflict and TV Weather. Don’t get me started. I began talking about climate change and the trends I was witnessing with Minnesota’s increasingly manic weather back in the late 90s on WCCO-TV. I was looking at science, not policy implications or politics, but even then there were some who saw this as evidence of a vast, global conspiracy. Since then more TV meteorologists are talking about climate change on the air, but it’s a daily struggle. Why? Not enough time allotted to accurately tell the story, and a desire to be loved (by all). Because when you start talking about climate change on the air you just know that 20-30% of viewers, especially older viewers, will see this as a negative. Ratings and research drive local TV news; every news director I’ve ever worked with told me “not to be controversial”. No negatives. Which is why talking about climate trends can be kryptonite for TV meteorologists. Here’s an excerpt of an article from NCAR: “…Yet in a 2011 survey of more than 400 weathercasters led by GMU’s Edward Maibach, only 19% agreed that global warming was real and primarily caused by humans, whereas 35% felt it was due to a mix of human and natural causes and 29% believed it was primarily a natural phenomenon. To get a clearer picture of what’s motivating or demotivating weathercasters, the GMU group conducted 49 in-depth interviews with weathercasters and moderated a workshop that drew on methods used for conflict analysis and resolution. Analyzing their feedback, Schweizer identified three main types of barriers.
- Occupational: Given that local TV news is a highly competitive business, some weathercasters fear that discussing climate change could cast them or their stations in a negative light.
- Social: Because climate change is such a highly charged topic, there’s a natural tendency to avoid conflict by avoiding the subject.
- Cultural: Among the 35% of weathercasters in the above-mentioned survey who cited both natural and human factors in climate change, many stressed the uncertainties inherent in any research conclusion. Some also feared that politics might be affecting the research itself, including the ways in which scientists presented and discussed their policy-relevant findings. The 29% of weathercasters who viewed climate change as primarily natural had even deeper reservations about the process of climate science, including peer review and funding decisions…”
Photo credit above: “Gary Lezak (KSHB, Kansas City) is among TV weathercasters who deliver occasional reports on the global and local implications of climate change.” (©UCAR. Photo by Carlye Calvin).
Why You Should Sweat Climate Change. USA Today has some good interactive graphics that help to tell the climate story and the implications of a warmer, stormier pattern.
USA Today’s Climate Change Series Comes At A Critical Time. Media Matters has the story – here’s the intro: “USA TODAY announced in its cover story today that it will be doing a year-long series on climate change, sending reporters around the U.S. to examine how climate change is already affecting Americans. The series, “Weathering The Change,” comes at time when climate change coverage – including at USA TODAY – has been relatively low in the U.S.
USA TODAY covered climate change the least of the major national newspapers in the context of the 2012 presidential election. It entirely ignored how climate change has worsened fire risks in the Western U.S. in its print coverage of the destructive 2012 wildfires. It only mentioned ocean acidification once between January 2011 and June 2012, and ignored a study that found that the Great Barrier Reef has declined by 50 percent in the past 27 years largely due to human activities. And it closed its green blog in September 2012…”
Study Of Ice Age Bolsters Carbon And Warming Link. Here’s an excerpt of a story from Justin Gillis at The New York Times: “A meticulous new analysis of Antarctic ice suggests that the sharp warming that ended the last ice age occurred in lock step with increases of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the latest of many indications that the gas is a powerful influence on the earth’s climate. Previous research suggested that as the world began to emerge from the depths of the ice age about 20,000 years ago, warming in Antarctica preceded changes in the global carbon dioxide level by something like 800 years. That relatively long gap led some climate-change contrarians to assert that rising carbon dioxide levels were essentially irrelevant to the earth’s temperature — a side effect of planetary warming, perhaps, but not the cause…” (Photo: James Yungel, NASA).
Humanitarian Disaster Blamed On Climate Change. NewScientist has the story; here’s the introduction: “For the first time, we have proof that climate change has led to a humanitarian disaster. The East African drought of 2011, which resulted in a famine that killed at least 50,000 people, was partly caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases. The drought was brought about by the failure of two consecutive rainy seasons: the “short rains” in late 2010 and the “long rains” at the start of 2011. Climatologist Peter Stott of the Met Office Hadley Centre in Exeter, UK, and his colleagues ran climate models, with and without a human influence on climate, and compared the likelihood of the rains failing. Humanity’s activities had no effect on the short rains – they failed because of a strong La Niña in the Pacific. “That’s natural,” says Stott. But climate change did affect the long rains, making them more likely to fail (Geophysical Research Letters, doi.org/kmv). The model could only reproduce the scale of the drought if it included greenhouse gas emissions…”
Photo credit above: “Was climate change to blame?” (Image: Reuters/Jakob Dall/Danish Red Cross/Handout)