33 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities
23 F. average high on January 6.
8 F. high on January 6, 2015.
January 7, 2003: Record warmth develops over Minnesota. Many places reached the 50s, including the Twin Cities. St. James hit 59 and the Twin Cities reached 51. Nine golf courses were open in the Twin Cities and 100 golfers were already at the Sundance Golf Course in Maple Grove in the morning.
January 7, 1873: A storm named the ‘Great Blizzard’ hits Minnesota. This three-day blizzard caused extreme hardship for pioneers from out east who were not used to the cold and snow. Visibility was down to three feet. Cows suffocated in the deep drifts and trains were stuck for days. More than 70 people died, and some bodies were not found until spring. Weather conditions before the storm were mild, just like the Armistice Day storm.
Next Week’s Arctic SmackDown Arrives in 3 Waves
“As the days lengthen the cold doth strengthen”. Yes it doth. But I have good news: it won’t be quite as cold as previously expected for the Vikes-Seahawks game at TCF Stadium Sunday. The game time temperature should be -3F with a chill factor of -25F. Almost reasonable.
And let’s not blubber over our misfortune or feel too sorry for ourselves. Minnesota is Club Med compared to other northern outposts. The Russian town of Oymyakon keeps schools open as cold as -52F. Air temperature, not wind chill. It’s gotten as cold as -90F in Oymyakon (which may be Russian for Oh My God!) but the local tourist office insists it’s “a perfect destination for travelers with a lust for the extreme”.
We’re waking up to a little slush but roads should be mainly wet today & Friday. Models hint at a couple inches of snow Friday before temperatures begin to plummet.
The much-advertised cold wave arrives in 3 separate waves: subzero Sunday, another shot Tuesday, again next Thursday. Character-building cold.
Next week will be the coldest of the winter. Models show a warming trend within 2 weeks. In theory.
* Sunday 1 pm surface ECMWF temperature prediction courtesy of WeatherBell.
7 of the Coldest Places in the World to Live. Thankfully we did not make the list, but Oymyakon, Russia did. Here’s an excerpt of a description at Mother Nature Network: “Folks in Oymyakon take exception whenever Verkhoyansk lays claim to being the coldest location in the Northern Hemisphere, pointing out that they recorded a low of minus 90 degrees F on Feb. 6, 1933. Depending on whom you ask, 500 to 800 people call Oymyakon home, a three-day drive from Yakutsk. Schools stay open through minus 52 degrees. The village is named after a local hot spring, which some residents tap during the winter by breaking through the thick crust of ice rimming the warm water. Oymyakon’s tourism board has promoted the town as a perfect destination for adventure travelers hungry for a taste of the extreme.”
It’s Baaaack. Although not as intense or long-duration as a couple years ago, the frozen remains of the polar vortex are about to empty southward across the barren, ice-encrusted plains of central Canada, setting the stage for a very cold spell of weather next week. Probably not record-setting, but cold enough for most folks. GFS 10-day 2-meter temperature forecast: NOAA and AerisWeather.
Subzero in the Brainerd Lakes by Saturday Evening. I received the e-mail alert (above) last night, predicting a dip below 0F by 8 PM Saturday evening. By Sunday morning temperatures will be below zero statewide. Source: Aeris Enterprise.
A Little Snow Precedes A Lot of Cold. Here is one model solution, continuing to show the best chance of a plowable snowfall Friday over Wisconsin, maybe a couple inches of snow for parts of central and east central Minnesota. Right now I’m thinking many spots in the metro will wind up with 1-3″ Friday, the best chance of 3″ toward Stillwater and Hudson.
Potentially Slick. Friday temperatures will be close to 32F much of the day before falling sharply Friday night. So many roads and freeways may stay wet and slushy until later in the day and night. I received the text above showing a chance of 2″ of fresh snow in Minneapolis by 2 PM Friday afternoon. Source: Aeris Enterprise Mobile.
No Cause for Panic. Another NOAA model solution keeps most of the snow over Wisconsin, closer to an inch for the MSP metro Friday and Friday night. It may still be plowable, especially east of the St. Croix. That said, I’m still leaning toward 1-3″ of slushy snow Friday before the frozen flood-gates open wide.
Late Month Recovery. Long-range guidance (GFS) shows hints at a thaw as we push into the 4th week of January as winds aloft blow from the Bay Area, instead of the Yukon. I expect some moderation, at least 20s and probably a few 30s as we end out the month of January.
Remembering the Ice Bowl. Did bitter cold give an edge to the Packers back in 1967? You could make a case that the Cowboys just weren’t prepared for the intensity of the chill. Here’s an excerpt of a fascinating account from Wikipedia: “…Prior to the game, many of the Green Bay players were unable to start their cars in the freezing weather, forcing them to make alternate travel arrangements to make it to the stadium on time. Linebacker Dave Robinson had to flag down a random passing motorist for a ride. The referees for the game found they did not have sufficient clothing for the cold, and had to make an early trip to a sporting goods store for earmuffs, heavy gloves, and thermal underwear. Packers quarterback Bart Starr attended an early church service with his father, who had visited for the game, and as Starr later said, “It was so cold that neither of us talked about it. Nobody wanted to bring it up.” The officials were unable to use their whistles after the opening kick-off. As referee Norm Schachter blew his metal whistle to signal the start of play, it froze to his lips. As he attempted to free the whistle from his lips, the skin ripped off and his lips began to bleed. The conditions were so hostile that instead of forming a scab, the blood simply froze to his lip. For the rest of the game, the officials used voice commands and calls to end plays and officiate the game. At one point during the game, CBS announcer Frank Gifford said on air, “I’m going to take a bite of my coffee...” (Image credit above: Wisconsin Public Radio).
Sharply Negative AO – Some Recovery After January 20? After being positive most of autumn the Arctic Oscillation, a measure of the “compactness” of the polar vortex, has gone sharply negative, meaning a more meandering, southward flowing surge of polar air which will finally catch up with us over the weekend. It’s early, but models suggest a positive turn within 2 weeks, which should mean some moderation by the last week of January. By then we’ll all be ready for a not-as-arctic front. Source: NOAA CPC.
“Freak” Atlantic Storm Eats Away at Arctic Ice Cap. Here’s an excerpt of an interesting article at The Weather Network: “…As the animation shows, Arctic sea ice extent was still growing as as of Dec 27-29, but once the storm pushed in on Dec 30, it began to eat away at the sea ice in the region of the Arctic north of Europe. According to the US National Snow and Ice Data Center, sea ice extent in the Arctic during the latter half of Dec 2015 grew at a rate just greater than was seen in the last two weeks of Dec 2014. When Storm Frank arrived, however, that growth ground to a halt, as losses from that region of the Arctic almost completely offset gains in sea ice extent in other areas (such as the Bering Strait)...”
Image credit: “Mean sea level pressure between Saturday, December 27, 2015 and Monday, January 4, 2016, as forecast by the GFS model, showing the progression of the low from Texas to the Arctic Ocean.” Image credit: Tropical Tidbits
Arctic Sea Ice Extent. Based on unusual warmth and hurricane-like storms pulling 30s into the North Pole 2016 is starting out with the lowest arctic sea ice coverage in the modern record. Here’s an excerpt from The National Snow and Ice Data Center: “Arctic sea ice growth for December averaged 65,000 square kilometers (25,000 square miles) per day compared to the long-term average of 64,000 square kilometers (24,700 square miles) per day. Cool conditions at the 925 hPa level (2 to 4 degrees Celsius or 4 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit below average) existed in Baffin Bay, the Alaskan North Slope, and parts of eastern Siberia. A broad area of Europe and western Russia, including the northern Barents Sea, saw temperatures as much as 4 to 8 degrees Celsius (7 degrees to 14 degrees Fahrenheit) above average at the 925 hPa level...”
There’s a Fascinating Reason Why You’re More Likely To Get Sick in the Winter. MSN.com takes a look at new research; here’s an excerpt: “…Some research suggests that both the cold air from outdoors as well as the dry air from indoors may play a role in protecting the aerosol droplets we sneeze and cough into the air, allowing them to more easily spread from one sick person to another. Plus, stuffy, unventilated indoor air could make it easier for colds to spread; a 2011 study of crowded college dorms in China found that in rooms with poorer ventilation, colds were more likely to thrive. Some research from the National Institutes of Health suggests that in cold temperatures, the outer shell of flu virus particles get tougher and more hardy so that it survives longer and could be easier to spread...”
Keeping Warm in Winter is For The Birds. Smithsonian Science News takes a look at how birds make it through the frigid winter months; here’s an excerpt: “…And just like the coats people wear, birds tend to get puffier in winter. “A bird’s body heat warms the air between its feathers,” Marra explains. “So birds fluff up in the cold to trap as much air in their feathers as possible. The more trapped air, the warmer the bird.” So feathers are great for the parts of a bird that have feathers, but what about a bird’s legs and feet? It’s not like birds have pockets they can stick them into…or do they? One way birds keep their legs and feet warm is to stand on one leg, while the other is tucked up warmly in its feathers. And then they switch to give the other leg a turn…”
Photo credit above: “Small birds like this European robin puff up their feathers in order to trap more air in them, which is then warmed by their body heat and keeps the bird toasty on a cold winter morning.” (Flickr photo by Theirry Marysael).
Traffic Cams Capture Terrifying EF-4 Tornado. This is the killer tornado that hit the Garland, Texas area on December 26, 2015; here’s a link to the video and explainer from The Weather Channel: “This incredible video sheds a stark light on the deadly tornado that passed over Interstate 30 in Garland, Texas the day after Christmas – the same tornado that would go on to kill eight people. It’s a video that Garland Police Department spokesman Pedro Barineau called “terrifying.” The video, comprised of clips from five cameras at the intersection of I-30 and the Bush Turnpike, shows first a distant, flashing glimpse of the EF-4 tornado. Then the destructive power of the tornado comes front and center as debris flies across the screen…”
Mississippi River Floods Could Cost $1 Billion, And They’re Not Over Yet. Here’s a clip from a story at WXshift: “…While major flood events in the Midwest and the Mississippi Valley are not unusual, the fact that we had such extraordinary flooding in late December is certainly one for the record books,” Steve Bowen, a meteorologist at re-insurer Aon Benfield, said. The Midwest has seen catastrophic flooding as recently as spring 2011 when the Mississippi and Missouri rivers set a number of records. In an odd twist of fate, the tropical Pacific also played a role, though it was due to El Niño’s opposite phase, La Niña. That helped drive a cold, snowy winter in the northern stretches of the rivers’ basins, which fueled a massive runoff in spring. The damage could top $1 billion. The flood is expected to continue into at least next week, but the financial toll it has taken already is clear…”
Risk of Tornadoes and Dime Size Hail…in Los Angeles? Yep, and you can thank a super-sized El Nino for that. Here’s an excerpt from The Los Angeles Times: “The next in a series of storms rolling through Southern California on Wednesday is bringing with it the risk of severe thunderstorms and a slim chance of a tornado, the National Weather Service said. In an unusual development, the Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center listed Southern California — and its more than 19.2 million residents — as having a “marginal” risk of severe thunderstorms or even a tornado. Marginal is the center’s lowest category of risk…”
How To Survive El Nino Like an Angeleno. Residents of southern California are happy to see it rain again. They could live without the mudslides, tornadoes and traffic nightmares though. Here’s how they’re coping, courtesy of The Los Angeles Times.
Record El Nino, Climate Change Drive Extreme Weather. Are consistenty warmer Pacific Ocean temperatures helping to drive a record El Nino and many of the weather symptoms popping up across the planet? Here’s an excerpt from BDLive: “Deadly extreme weather on at least five continents is driven in large part by a record-breaking El Niño, but climate change is a likely booster too, experts said on Monday. The 2015-16 El Niño, they added, is the strongest ever measured. “It is probably the most powerful in the last 100 years,” said Jerome Lecou, a climate expert at the French weather service Meteo France, noting that accurate measurements have only existed since the mid-20th century. Flooding and mudslides unleashed by torrential rains have killed at least 10 people and driven more than 150,000 from their homes in Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay in recent days. …” (Graphic credit: NOAA CPC).
From El Nino to La Nina Later in 2016? Severe El Nino warm phases are often (but not always) followed by swings in the opposite direction, into a La Nina cool phase, which increases the potential for drought across much of the USA east of the Rockies. We’ll see. Here’s an excerpt from Bloomberg Business: “A number of El Nino-Southern Oscillation indicators suggest that the 2015-16 El Nino has peaked and weather models predict it will decline in coming months, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said on its website on Tuesday. Conditions will return to neutral during the second quarter with a chance of La Nina in the second half of 2016, it said. La Nina is a cooling in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, sometimes thought of as El Nino’s opposite…”
What North America Can Expect From El Nino. Every El Nino has a different “flavor” and slightly different symptoms, no two events are identical, according to a good overview at The Conversation; here’s an excerpt: “…During the coming months, climate scientists expect that El Niño will pull the east Pacific Northern Hemisphere jet stream and its associated storm track southward. Normally these storms veer to the north toward the Gulf of Alaska or enter North America near British Columbia and Washington, where they often link up with cold Arctic and Canadian air masses and bring them down into the United States. Instead, with the jet stream following an altered path, the northern states are likely to experience relatively mild and drier-than-normal weather. Storms tracking across the continent further to the south will likely create wet conditions in California and across the South as far east as Florida…”
Photo credit above: “Dave Gatley/FEMA.
The Conservative Case for Solar Subsidies. An Op-Ed at The New York Times makes the case; here’s a snippet: “… Solar energy prices have continued to fall rapidly, twice as many Americans work in the solar industry as in coal mining, and last year one-third of new electricity generation came from solar power. Solar, long viewed through the lens of crony capitalism, has shown the ability to inject real market competition in energy distribution, one of the last monopolies in the energy sector, while improving the efficiency of the grid and putting more dollars in the pockets of middle-class Americans. Conservatives, in other words, need to take another look at solar. The case for solar isn’t limited to prices and jobs. Consumers want choice.…” (File image: Fresh Energy).
American Rage: The Esquire/NBC News Survey. Why are so many of us so pisssed off? Here’s the intro to an explanation at Esquire: “WE THE PEOPLE ARE PISSED. THE BODY POLITIC IS BURNING UP. AND THE ANGER THAT COURSES THROUGH OUR HEADLINES AND NEWS FEEDS—ABOUT INJUSTICE AND INEQUALITY, ABOUT MARGINALIZATION AND DISENFRANCHISEMENT, ABOUT WHAT THEY ARE DOING TO US—SHOWS NO SIGN OF ABATING. ESQUIRE TEAMED UP WITH NBC NEWS TO SURVEY 3,000 AMERICANS ABOUT WHO’S ANGRIEST, WHAT’S MAKING THEM ANGRY, AND WHO’S TO BLAME…”
All caps, nice touch…
Meet the Chef Who Decides What Tom Brady Eats. Yes, really. Boston.com has the (ahem) story.
The U.S. Navy Is Very Interested in This Swimming Drone. Quartz has the video clip and explainer: “Rutgers University has built a drone that can swim as well as it can fly, as you can see in the video above. The “Naviator,” as they’ve called it, has sparked the interest of the US Navy, which recently funded the project with a $618,000 grant. Rutgers engineers say they will use the money to make it stronger and faster...”
Meru. If you like mountain-climbing docs you don’t want to miss this – the first ascent of a seemingly impossible peak in the Himalayas, a sharkfin-shaped blade of ice and rock, a mountain so technically impossible it makes Everest look like a day-hike. I watched it on Amazon Video – I think it’s available on iTunes as well. The cinematography is awe-inspiring, the story will lift your spirits. The YouTube trailer is here.
TODAY: Flurries, mainly wet roads. Winds: SE 5-10. High: 34
THURSDAY NIGHT: More flurries, patchy fog possible. Low: 31
FRIDAY: Period of wet snow, couple inches may fall. Winds: N 7-12. High: 33
SATURDAY: Flurries, turning gusty and colder. Wake-up: Winds: NW 10-20. 15. High: 17 (falling rapidly)
SUNDAY: Brutal. Feels like -25F at times. Risk of frostbite. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: -6. High: -1
MONDAY: Mostly cloudy, coating of flurries? Wake-up: -8. High: 13
TUESDAY: Next shot of arctic air arrives. Delightfully numb. Wake-up: 0. High: 5
WEDNESDAY: Chance of light snow after a very cold start. Wake-up: -12. High: 15
Climate Change is Indeed a Cause of Social Conflict. When people ask me if climate volatility is a bigger threat than ISIS I tell them the truth: we have multiple challenges and threats at any given point in time. Did perpetual drought in Syria help to create the conditions that allowed ISIS to flourish? As is often the case it’s a combination of factors, a perfect storm of variables. Here’s an excerpt from The Goldman School of Public Policy at The University of California, Berkeley: “…Another caveat: We can’t predict that a particular conflict will or will not happen. Instead, we can assess the risk that violence might occur in response to changes in the climate. The situation is similar to assessing the risk of a car accident. Nobody ever says, “If you drive to the store now, you will get into an accident.” Instead, we might say, “If you drive to the store during this rainstorm, you are more likely to get into an accident than if you wait until the rain stops.” We have studied many types of violence — including sports violence, murder, gang violence, riots and civil wars. What we find time and again, around the world and throughout human history, is that climatic events are a cause of social conflict. They are not the only cause, but in places where there is a risk of violence because of non-climate factors, climate changes can amplify this risk…”
America Has Been Duped on Climate Change. Why and how? Follow the money. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Washington Post: “…The Declaration of Independence says the legitimacy of government is based on the consent of the governed. But when vested interests with outsize economic and cultural power distort the public debate by introducing falsehoods, the integrity of our deliberations is compromised. Such seems the case today when we consider the fossil fuel industry’s role in distorting discourse on the urgent topic of climate change. If vested economic interests and public relations firms can systematically alter the national debate in favor of their own interests and against those of society as a whole, then the notion of democracy and civic morality is undermined. Congress can and should act to investigate this issue fully. Only then can we restore trust and legitimacy to American governance and fulfill our moral duty to aggressively address climate change...”
The Silent Way Global Warming is Affecting Your Wardrobe. Here’s an excerpt of a story from Quartz and WhoWhatWear: “When it comes to climate change, there are two camps of people—those who contend with it and those who don’t—but the more time passes, the harder it is to ignore. Among the evidence? Rising seas, violent storms, and extreme drought. Not to mention the fact that 2015 is slated to be the hottest year on record. And, according to a recent article on Quartz, climate change may well be affecting our wardrobes, too. Due to its depletion of so many crucial natural resources, a host of our favorite clothing and accessories materials are now at risk too. This could result in poorer quality or downright depletion—neither of which would be good for the fashion industry at large or our closets...”
Photo credit above: Adam Katz Sinding of Le 21ème
Earth is Experiencing a Global Warming Spurt. The effects of ENSO (El Nino warming phases and La Nina cooling phases of the Pacific) can either magnify or mask the gradual warming already well underway, as reported by Climate Central: “Cyclical changes in the Pacific Ocean have thrown earth’s surface into what may be an unprecedented warming spurt, following a global warming slowdown that lasted about 15 years. While El Niño is being blamed for an outbreak of floods, storms and unseasonable temperatures across the planet, a much slower-moving cycle of the Pacific Ocean has also been playing a role in record-breaking warmth. The recent effects of both ocean cycles are being amplified by climate change…”
Global temperature anomalies valid 12z this morning, courtesy of Climate Reanalyzer.
Short Sleeves on Christmas Eve: El Nino or Climate Change? Or a mix of both, spiked with a little “climate chaos”? Here’s an excerpt from the National Center for Science Education: “…In this same article, Kevin Trenbeth, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, discussed this further:
“With even a modest warming of the globe comes dramatic increases in the likelihood of extreme individual warm spells and heat waves, like the one we are seeing…Add global warming to the mix and you get a veritable ‘perfect storm’ of conditions favoring heat spells like the one we’re seeing right now.”
So it looks like it is a little of both—an El Niño exacerbated by something known as…climate change. Shocking to my New Englander soul, but also a good explanation of why in all my years—and my parents’ years—El Niño was never really on our radar…”
Global Warming: Normal Weather is a “Thing of the Past”, Says Scientist. That scientist happens to be located in the UK, where they’ve seen record warmth and a series of flooding rain events. Can these (more extreme) extremes be tied to climate volatility? Here’s an excerpt from The Telegraph: “…Professor Myles Allen, leader of the Climate Research Programme at the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute said: “Normal weather is actually a bit of a thing of the past. “Here in Oxford we maintain the world’s longest daily weather record, we just beat the previous record by a whopping two and a half degrees and that record was set back in 1852. “You’re not meant to beat weather records by that kind of margin and just like in athletics if you start doing so, it’s a sign that something’s actually changed…”
Some Good News About Climate Change. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “It seems as though every day we read a story with dire news about climate change. Experts now warn that it will be impossible to hold global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, even with the carbon-emissions limits set by the recent Paris round of climate talks. Some environmentalists warn darkly that we must choose between saving the planet or capitalism. But I have some very good news to report. In 2015, global carbon emissions actually fell. This isn’t an occasion for complacency. The fall might be a temporary blip. Even if it’s not, emissions represent the amount of additional carbon that is added to the atmosphere every year — that carbon builds up, so toreally halt climate change we will need to decrease emissions drastically, not just halt their growth…”
Poll: Americans Believe in Climate Change, Remain Iffy on the Cause. Here’s the intro to new research and story analysis from Grist: “Well, there’s good news and there’s bad news. First, the good: A new poll from Monmouth University finds that 70 percent of Americans — unlike nearly all of Republican presidential hopefuls — do indeed believe in climate change. The bad news is we’re sharply divided on how important it is, or even what the cause is. While the rest of the world has concluded that human activities are responsible for the changing climate, the Monmouth poll found that a mere 27 percent of respondents believe it’s mostly our fault and 34 percent assign equal blame to natural and human causes. The rest, we presume, think all the extra water in the ocean comes from angel tears…” (Image credit: Alamy).
Can We Stop Climate Change by Tinkering With the Atmosphere? It’s widespread tinkering that got us to where we are now: 400 ppm of CO2. Are there existing technologies or breakthroughs we can’t even imagine (today) that could reverse the build-up of greenhouse gases? Here’s an excerpt focused on geoengineering from Slate: “...Even geoengineering’s more cautious proponents tend to argue that the field requires further research and clearer international standards before any we deploy any version of it on a global scale. However, even if we are able to safely implement some of these strategies, the greatest risks may be social. As many have observed, ameliorating the effects of climate change may create the illusion that it’s no longer necessary to fight its root causes. As the sci-fi writer Robinson has suggested, human engineering—transforming the ways that we live—may ultimately be the only truly effective form of geoengineering…”
Storm Desmond Rainfall Partly Due to Climate Change, Scientists Conclude. Here’s an excerpt from The Guardian: “Manmade climate change was partly responsible for Storm Desmond’s torrential rain which devastated parts of Scotland, the Lake District and Northern Ireland, scientists have concluded. The researchers at Oxford University and the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) calculated that climate change had made the flooding event 40% more likely, with the estimate of the increased likelihood ranging between 5% and 80%…” (File image: The Guardian).
Power Plants Threatened as Global Warming Affects Water Supplies. Too much – or too little water may trigger increasing challenges and potential disruptions at the nation’s power plants that rely on a steady supply of fresh water; here’s an excerpt from Bloomberg Business: “More than two-thirds of the world’s power plants may have trouble running at full capacity as the warming climate affects water supplies, according to a new study. Reduced streamflows and rising water temperatures may reduce monthly generating capacity at nuclear, fossil-fuel and biofuel-powered plants by as much as 30 percent by the 2050s, according to research published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change. Global hydropower capacity is expected to drop by as much as 3.6 percent in the 2050s and almost double that amount by the 2080s...” (An abstract of the paper in question is here).