Conservation Minnesota

Cold Without The Snow (coldest air of winter 7 days away?)

5 F. low in the metro area Monday morning.
14 F. high in the Twin Cities Monday.
23 F. average high on January 14.
21 F. high on January 14, 2012.

Trace of snow reported at MSP International Monday evening.

Subzero highs a week from today? Next Tuesday may be the coldest day of winter with wind chill values dipping to -20.

 
I’m “Dancing”
Here’s how my Monday started; a tweet from the city of Shorewood: “We need snow! You are letting us down for our Arctic Fever Festival this weekend in Shorewood, Tonka Bay & Excelsior. Don’t you have a special dance you can do?” I wish it was that simple. And you’ve never seen me dance.
Picture a guy having convulsions while snapping his fingers.
If I could dance, or kick the Doppler, push a button to end our drought, I would in a heartbeat.
We’re at the mercy of larger patterns. Until Pacific storms carve out a persistent trough of low pressure over the Rockies, and steering winds howl from New Mexico and Texas, it’s going to be tough getting significant moisture in here.
At least we’ve picked up 16.9 inches this winter at KMSP. Chicago has seen just over 1 inch. The drought signal is still holding strong.
A dusting of flurries is possible Wednesday as temperatures try to thaw; more 30s possible Friday. A couple inches of dry, fluffy, powdery snow may fall Monday as the coldest air of winter cascades south. Highs may hold below 0 over much of Minnesota next Monday & Tuesday. Temperatures rebound nicely by late January.
Next week we’ll all be dancing (and snapping our fingers?) just to stay warm.
 

Fun With Negative Numbers. Enjoying the warm front? A week from today there may be some serious gripes: cars that won’t start, minor cases of frostbite down at the bus stop. ECMWF model guidance shows a warming trend, a shot at 30-32 F. by Wednesday, maybe low 30s Friday. An Alberta Clipper brushes MSP with a coating to an inch or so of snow Saturday, followed by single digits Sunday and Monday. The core of the coldest air arrives next Tuesday, with a “high” of -9, and wind chills dipping to -20. Lovely. Time to cash in those frequent flier miles.

 

Predicted Snowfall By Midday Saturday. NAM guidance shows the impact of a series of clippers, as much as half a foot of new snow for far northern Minnesota, maybe 3-4″ for Duluth and Grand Rapids (for Saturday’s Mega-Hockey Festivities), possibly an inch or two for the Twin Cities metro by Saturday afternoon.

 

A Real January. Last year was a gift, at least for Minnesotans who love snow and cold. This year? Not so much. I still don’t see significant snow, but numbing air will surge south in a couple of “waves”, one arriving early next week, another the last few days of January, if GFS model data can be believed. My confidence level is fairly high we’ll see a few subzero nights (and days) early next week; a lower confidence level about another outbreak at the very end of the month. No sign of spring fever.

3.7″ snow so far this season at Kansas City.
1.3″ snow so far this winter in Chicago.

35 F. low at LAX International Airport in Los Angeles Monday morning, the coldest in 23 years – tying the old record low set in 1990. The all-time record low for L.A.? 28, most recently set in 1949. NBC Southern California has details.

January Weather Flip-Flops. In Monday’s edition of WeatherNationTV’s Climate Matters I take a look at some of the wild extremes, here in the USA and worldwide: “One side of the country is experiencing record heat. The other side record cold. Who would ever guess the low temperature this morning was warmer 16 degrees warmer in Boston than Los Angeles? For more on the wacky January weather flip flop here’s Meteorologist Paul Douglas.”

* here’s a chronological look at all the climate segments I’ve prepared, available on YouTube (latest clips at screen bottom).

A Very Close Encounter. Although the extended “NAEFS” temperature outlook from NOAA (above) from January 22-28 keeps the core of the most bitter air a few hundred miles to our north, I expect subzero air to brush Minnesota early next week, possibly the coldest outbreak of the winter. Another (brief) subzero encounter is possible by late January, but the core of the very coldest air may pass just north/east of MSP.

Alaska Forecast To Cool Down Again. Alaska has been unusually mild (near 40 in Anchorage over the weekend) with rain penetrating into the interior. But models show Alaska chilling down again in the coming week. When Alaska is mild Minnesota is (often) bitterly cold, and vice versa. I sense our coldest weather of winter will come early next week, followed by slight moderation by the end of January. Details from the Anchorage office of the NWS: “Mild air continues to melt southcentral Alaska’s snow and ice this afternoon. Short, warm spells such as this during Winter
are not unusual for the area. The primary cause for the warmup is the configuration of the Jet Stream, the fast-moving river of air that circles the Earth and drives the weather below.

I Feel Your Pain. Not only is the lack of snow bad for snow lovers and winter events around the state, it doesn’t bode well for our ongoing, 6-month old drought. According to local climate experts what will make all the difference is whether we see heavy wet snow and/or significant rain in late winter and early spring, once the ground has a chance to thaw out, and moisture can absorb into topsoil. If we don’t see significant moisture with a shift in the pattern, the current (severe) drought in the metro could eventually rival what we experienced back in 1988. Let’s hope that doesn’t come to pass. I’ll kick the Doppler (again) and see if Old Man Winter is in the mood for snow. Don’t hold your breath.

Ask Paul. Weather-related Q&A:

Hi Paul,
I begin my morning with your column (wanting to know when I get to use my snowmachine!).  Do you have powers to make that happen?

Quick question on the precipitation per 24 hours.  It is written as mm/24 hours but for instance on Sunday you are predicting the possibility of a couple of inches yet the 3.5mm/24 hours only amounts .14inches.  Is there something I am missing here in terms of precipitation and snowfall amounts?
Thank You,
Levi Kraft
Hi Levi – I appreciate you being a loyal reader; and wish I could hit a button and make it snow. Next company? The lawyers would have a field-day with that. Your question is a good one, and here is why (IF) it snows Sunday amounts could be more than .14″ liquid would imply. When it’s bitterly cold (single digits or teens) snowfall ratios can be close to 30 to 1; 30″ of snow for every inch of liquid precipitation. Around 30 F. that ratio is closer to 10 to 1. So assuming we do see a vigorous clipper out ahead of what may be the coldest front of winter, that .14″ could wind up being 2 or even 3″ of light, fluffy, powdery snow. The colder the temperature, the more air between the flakes – like a featherbed the snow gets pumped up. Nothing definite yet. That old adage “when in a drought don’t forecast rain…or snow” is ringing in my ears. Stay tuned.

Serious Extremes. Welcome to the “dead of winter” over the Northern Hemisphere. Historically, this is the week where temperatures bottom out, and the next 1-2 weeks promise to be the coldest of the winter for Canada and the northern tier of the USA, as well as Scandanavia and much of Russia/Siberia. Meanwhile 100-degree heat is baking Argentina, central Africa and much of Australia. 72 hour GFS-based extreme forecast courtesy of Ham Weather.

Thursday Evening’s Balloon Launch Sets New Record. The weather balloon launched by the Twin Cities NWS last Thursday evening set a record for the most moisture ever encountered above the Twin Cities during the month of January. Warmer air can hold more water vapor (this is a simplification, but true) and last week’s balloon launch was historic. Details from the KMPX NWS: “The balloon launched at 6 pm on Januar 10th, 2013 (midnight GMT January 11th) set a record for the most moisture ever recorded by a weather balloon in the month of January since balloons began to be released regularly twice a day at St. Cloud in 1948 (moved to Chanhassen in 1995)….”

Almost Half Of The World’s Food Thrown Away, Report Finds. That’s a sobering statistic; The Guardian has the story – here’s an excerpt: “As much as half of all the food produced in the world – equivalent to 2bn tonnes – ends up as waste every year, engineers warned in a report published on Thursday. The UK’s Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) blames the “staggering” new figures in its analysis on unnecessarily strict sell-by dates, buy-one-get-one free and Western consumer demand for cosmetically perfect food, along with “poor engineering and agricultural practices”, inadequate infrastructure and poor storage facilities. In the face of United Nations predictions that there could be about an extra 3 billion people to feed by the end of the century and growing pressure on the resources needed to produce food, including land, water and energy, the IMechE is calling for urgent action to tackle this waste…”

Photo credit above: “Between 30% and 50% or 1.2-2bn tonnes of food produced around the world never makes it on to a plate.” Photograph: Murdo MacLeod for the Guardian

“iPotty: Toilet Training, Now With Added iPad. Is it wrong to want an adult version of this? It is? O.K. Never mind. Gizmag.com has more details if you have a toddler who loves to multitask: “It’s an unspoken truth of gadgets that some people use their smartphone or even tablet computer while in the bathroom. Now even toddlers who are yet to master the toilet can get in on the action with iPotty – a child’s toilet training potty with a built-in iPad stand…”

The Perils Of Auto-Correct. Why does my smartphone hate me? The examples above were part of a very funny (and raunchy) post of the 25 Funniest AutoCorrects of 2012 from Buzzfeed. OMG.

Weather Forecast Calls For Heavy Rainfall, 50% Chance Of Batman. WeatherNation TV is making news, in rather unusual ways. Here’s an excerpt of a post at io9.com: “Over at Newton Blog, Ross Pomeroy serves up a great example of misperceived random stimuli in the form of a 3-day rainfall forecast. The screenshot, he says, was captured by a friend working at Weather Nation, and comes from the Rapid Precision Mesoscale weather forecasting model. Tempting though it may be to take the model as a sign of Batman’s return, Pomeroy rightly chalks its resemblance up to pareidolia…”

Mondays are Tough Enough. At least the sun was out (as it is on most of our coldest days). After a morning low of -6 Alexandria only struggled to 7 for a high. Statewide  highs ranged from 10 at St. Cloud to 14 in the Twin Cities and Eau Claire. MSP is reporting only a trace of snow, 4″ up at St. Cloud.

Paul’s Conservation Minnesota Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:



TODAY: Partly sunny, not as harsh. Temperatures close to normal. Winds: SW 10-15. High: 23
TUESDAY NIGHT: Clouds, flurries possible – rising temperatures overnight. Low: 20

WEDNESDAY: Next clipper. Clouds and flurries. Coating? High: 33

THURSDAY: Thinking warm thoughts. Cold sun. Wake-up: 5. High: 19

FRIDAY: Mostly cloudy, thawing out! Wake-up: 22. High: 35

SATURDAY: Snow possible (heaviest northern MN). Turning windy and colder later in the day. Wake-up: 20. High: 30

SUNDAY: Sunny, feels like -15. Wake-up: 0. High: 3

MONDAY: Coldest air of winter? Snow tapers (light, fluffy accumulation possible). Wake-up: -7. High: 2
TUESDAY: Bitterly cold with blue sky – dangerous wind chills. Possibly the coldest day of winter. Low: -12. High: -7

Climate Stories…

Debunking The Denial: “16 Years Of No Global Warming”. Here’s an excerpt from Slate: “The difficulties in debunking blatant antireality are legion. You can make up any old nonsense and state it in a few seconds, but it takes much longer to show why it’s wrong and how things really are. This is coupled with how sticky bunk can be. Once uttered, it’s out there, bootstrapping its own reality, getting repeated by the usual suspects. Case in point: The claim that there’s been no global warming for the past 16 years. This is blatantly untrue, a ridiculous and obviously false statement. But I see it over and again online, in Op Eds, and in comments to climate change posts…”

More Detail On “No Warming In 16 Years Meme”. The key is to look at the true global temperature trend, subtracting out other forcings like volcanic eruptions, solar variations and La Nina and El Nino. John Cook at Skeptical Science has a great YouTube clip that explains this in detail.

Federal Climate Report Predicts Spike In Hot Days For Washington D.C. By Mid-Century. Our nation’s capital, which is already “stinking-hot” most summers, may become even more inflamed by the middle of the 21st century. The Capital Gang’s Jason Samenow reports: “Washington, D.C. just experienced its warmest year on record, and its three hottest summers in as many years. The message from the draft of a newly released federal report? Get used to it. The draft National Climate Assessment (NCA) posted Friday afternoon says the punishing, record-setting streak of 11 straight days above 95 D.C. experienced last summer is exactly the kind of event that may occur with increasing regularity in the future…”

Map credit above: “Increase in number of days above 95 degrees by mid-century (2041-2070 compared to 1971-2000) under high emissions scenario.” (NCA)

Clearing The Air On Oilsands Emissions. What to believe about the proposed Keystone Pipeline and it’s impact on greenhouse gas emissions? Here’s an excerpt of a good overview from The Pembina Institute: “This backgrounder provides an overview of how oilsands production and expansion contributes to greenhouse gas pollution and climate change, focusing on six key issues:

  • Average oilsands production is significantly more greenhouse gas-intensive than conventional oil production.
  • Oilsands are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada.
  • Alberta’s greenhouse gas regulations do not result in meaningful reductions in emissions from oilsands operations.
  • Large-scale carbon capture and storage for oilsands emissions is unlikely due to high capital cost and lack of regulatory driver...”

Photo credit above: “In this Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012 file photo, miles of pipe ready to become part of the Keystone Pipeline are stacked in a field near Ripley, Okla. The controversy over the pipeline in the hub of Oklahoma’s oil activity, was voted the number nine story of the state for 2012.” (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File) Geology.com has another good primer on oil sands here.

Climate Change Measures: Report Praises Politicians. This may be so in other countries around the planet, but here in the USA? You’d be hard-pressed to find many politicians to praise on this topic these days. The BBC reports: “Politicians are doing more to combat climate change than they are given credit for, according to a report. It says 32 out of 33 countries surveyed have introduced, or are producing, significant climate-related laws. Out of these, 18 nations are making “significant” progress, with some emerging economies taking a lead. The Globe group of parliamentarians, which published the report, admits that emissions are still growing at a dangerous level. But Globe president John Gummer, the former Environment Secretary, says progress on a national level gives some cause for optimism. “The tide is beginning to turn decisively on tackling climate change, the defining material challenge of this century,” he said…”

Extreme Weather Map 2011. A friend forwarded me this link and timelapse animation from NRDC, the Natural Resources Defense Council – looking back at 2011, possibly the most extreme year for U.S. weather since the early 1800′s. Here’s an excerpt: “Climate change increases the risk of record-breaking extreme weather events that threaten communities across the country. In 2011, there were 3,251 monthly weather records broken by extreme events that struck communities in the US. Check out the interactive map below to find out what events hit your area.”
Minnesota experienced in 2011:

  • Record-breaking heat in 13 counties and a total of 16 broken heat records
  • Record-breaking rainfall in 21 counties and a total of 34 broken rainfall records
  • Record-breaking snow in 16 counties and a total of 21 broken snowfall records
  • Extreme flooding

Climate Change Fuels Wildfires Around The World. Deutsche Welle has a story focused on the link between climate extremes (hot, dry areas becoming even hotter and drier) and the potential for major wildfires; here’s an excerpt: “Every year, large areas of the Earth’s surface burn, and the number of fires is increasing. Is climate change fanning the flames? Or are the fires making climate change worse? The climate is complex. It is so complex that it’s difficult for researchers to give accurate climate forecasts because it is so heavily influenced by external factors – solar radiation, greenhouse gasses and oceans. Another factor, which has been largely ignored until now, is fire. Only recently have experts realized that large forest and bush fires are noticeably changing the climate while being affected by it. “Every year, more than 400 million acres (160 million hectares) are burnt. That’s an area bigger than the size of India,” says Silvia Kloster from the Max Plank Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg…” (Image credit: Minnesota DNR).

Climate Change Study: Emission Limits Could Avoid Damage By Two-Thirds. Here’s the intro to a story from Reuters and Huffington Post: “The world could avoid much of the damaging effects of climate change this century if greenhouse gas emissions are curbed more sharply, research showed on Sunday. The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, is the first comprehensive assessment of the benefits of cutting emissions to keep the global temperature rise to within 2 degrees Celsius by 2100, a level which scientists say would avoid the worst effects of climate change. It found 20 to 65 percent of the adverse impacts by the end of this century could be avoided. “Our research clearly identifies the benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions – less severe impacts on flooding and crops are two areas of particular benefit,” said Nigel Arnell, director of the University of Reading’s Walker Institute, which led the study…”

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About Paul Douglas

Paul Douglas
Paul Douglas is a meteorologist, author, entrepreneur, and software expert in Minneapolis-St.Paul, Minnesota. He is a nationally recognized meteorologist with over 30 years of broadcast television and radio experience.
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