Conservation Minnesota

No April Fools Joke – Slushy Coating Possible Friday – 50s Return by Sunday

48 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities Wednesday.
49 F. average high on March 30.
57 F. high on March 30, 2015.
.40″ rain fell at KMSP yesterday.

March 31, 1896: A strong snowstorm dumps 13.5 inches of snow at Maple Plain. Vivid lightning is also in the storm with 10-12 flashes per minute. Visibility was down to less than one block. The high temperature was 57 at Maple Plain the day before.
March 31, 1843: The low temperature at Ft. Snelling plummets to -11.

Family of Cooler Fronts – Tracking an Increase in Frost-Free Days

Perspective is important. To a resident of Miami or Los Angeles 50 degrees fits the definition of a cold front. Minnesotans grill at 50 degrees. Considering the average high now is in the upper 40s I would qualify the next 4-5 days as a “cooler front” – 5 to 10F cooler than average, but hardly controversial for early April.

EPA data suggests Minnesota’s frost-free growing season is now 20 days longer than it was in 1895. Arizona and California? Closer to 40 days longer. NASA can track the consistently earlier green-up from space, but it would still be unwise to plant tender annuals until early May. Just saying.
Spotty showers linger today as chilly, Canadian air flushes south – by Friday morning a fleeting coating of slush can’t be ruled out; even an inch of sloppy snow when you stagger out of bed Friday morning. A jacket-worthy Saturday gives way to 50 F Sunday before another minor temperature relapse.

With a sun angle similar to mid-September it can’t stay brisk for long; a week from Friday readings may mellow back up to 60F.

I love this time of year: too late for knee-deep snow drifts; still too early for hail and tornadoes.
Mosquitoes too.



Slushy Lawns? 12 KM NAM data from NOAA shows the best chance of a  slushy inch or two from St. Cloud to Redwood Falls and Windom by 1 AM Sunday. A high sun angle should keep (most) roads wet during the daylight hours but I could see slippery spots, especially Friday – even in the metro. Source: AerisWeather.


Looking Forward to Heat Alerts. Well, not really. 70F and sunny sounds good, though. The Brainerd Lakes area may see a coating to 1″ of slush by breakfast on Saturday.

Winds Increase. The approach of a colder front turns on the wind machine Friday – peak winds on Saturday (sustained 25-30 mph) creating a wind chill in the teens. Model data: Aeris Enterprise.


Chilly Relapse. Not quite as arctic as (some) models were predicting a few days ago, but colder weather lingers into part of next week with a few days in the upper 30s to low 40s; a good 10F colder than average. Not sure about the prediction of 63F on Sunday; that may be a bit extreme but temperatures will blip upward late in the weekend before a reinforcing shot of colder air. Source: WeatherSpark.


Hope Reigns Eternal. NOAA’s GFS run may be rushing the warm air, but it’s been fairly consistent the  last few runs, suggesting 60s by Friday of next week; temperatures mellowing as we head into mid-April.


Mid-Month Warming Trend. After a chilly start a higher sun angle warms up much of the USA during the second week of April; 500 mb predicted winds (GFS) hinting at 50s and 60s by April 13.


Spring Regains Its Bounce. GFS numbers trend above average again by the second week of April with 50s and 60s; maybe a few 70s by mid-month.

Arctic Sea Ice Falls to Record Low for Winter. Climate Home has the details: “Ice cover in the polar region averaged 14.52 million square kilometres (5.607 m sq miles) on March 24, the US science agencies said in a statement on Monday. That’s a 0.2% decline on the previous lowest maximum in 2015, and a 7% fall on the 1981-2010 average of 15.64m sqkm. Scientists cited abnormally warm temperatures from December to February which spurred melting. Temperatures rose between 2-6C across all regions. “I’ve never seen such a warm, crazy winter in the Arctic,” said NSIDC director Mark Serreze. “The heat was relentless…”


New Cousin of El Nino May Forecast Summer Heat Waves Weeks in Advance. Here’s more perspective on the study referenced above at The PBS NewsHour: “El Niño, or the El Niño–Southern Oscillation, is an occasional warming event in the Pacific Ocean that can initiate weather-related havoc across the U.S. Now, it has a new cousin. By examining 38 years of weather, atmospheric scientists have identified an ocean temperature anomaly — the Pacific Extreme Pattern — that can predict droughts on the East Coast up to two months before they hit. The team plans to build an alert system based on these findings, which could allow cities to prep for life-threatening heat waves, while also reducing people’s electric bills…” (File image: Barry Wilmore, NASA/ISS).


Long-Lead Predictions of Eastern United States Hot Days from Pacific Sea Surface Temperatures. Here’s a link and abstract excerpt of the research referenced above at Nature Geoscience: “…Here we present a clustering analysis of daily maximum summer temperatures from US weather stations between 1982–2015 and identify a region spanning most of the eastern US where hot weather events tend to occur synchronously. We then show that an evolving pattern of sea surface temperature anomalies, termed the Pacific Extreme Pattern, provides for skillful prediction of hot weather within this region as much as 50 days in advance…”


7 Million Americans at Risk of Man-Made Earthquakes, USGS Says. The Washington Post has the story – here’s an excerpt: “…On Monday, the U.S. Geological Survey published for the first time an earthquake hazard map covering both natural and “induced” quakes. The map and an accompanying report indicate that parts of the central United States now face a ground-shaking hazard equal to the famously unstable terrain of California. Some 7 million people live in places vulnerable to these induced tremors, the USGS concluded. The list of places at highest risk of man-made earthquakes includes Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Ohio and Alabama…”
Map credit: “U.S. Geological Survey map shows the potential for Americans to experience damage from natural or human-induced earthquakes in 2016. Changes range from less than 1 percent to 12 percent.”(Courtesy of USGS).

Minnesota Legislators Buzzing With Electric, Plug-In Hybrid Car Rebate. I suspect our kids and grandkids won’t think twice about driving an electric vehicle, powered by community or rooftop solar. Here’s the intro to a story at The Star Tribune: “Minnesota legislators are looking at offering new rebates as financial incentive for consumers considering electric or plug-in hybrid cars. “It’s justified to have an early investment by the state to kick-start that market,” said Brendan Jordan, head of Drive Electric Minnesota, a coalition that aims to increase the number of electric vehicles. The proposal, which has gained bipartisan support, would give rebates of up to $2,500 for those who buy or lease a new electric or plug-in hybrid car. The measure also would require public utility companies to create programs to encourage the use of electric vehicles and to construct charging stations for electric cars. The taxpayer-backed incentives would expire in 2021...”
Photo credit above: “CHARGED UP: Matthew Blackler and Rhea O’Connor said federal tax breaks helped when they leased two Nissan Leafs. “It would be fantastic to get more people into these cars,” Blackler says.”

Guest Editorial: Midwest Leads Reshaping of American Energy. Daily Globe has an article with interesting nuggets; here’s an excerpt that caught my eye: “…So much wind power came online last year that the total amount installed in the U.S. is enough to produce power for 19 million American homes. That’s also enough power to drive 26 million electric cars around the world. No region of the United States exemplifies this progress better than the American heartland. More than 31 percent of Iowa’s electricity was generated by wind power last year, the first time a U.S. state topped the 30 percent milestone. Similar gains have been made in Minnesota, where in a little over a decade the amount of electricity generated by wind increased from 3 percent in 2005 to over 17 percent in 2015…”



Study: California Could Get 74% of Power From Rooftop Solar. The Desert Sun reports; here’s the intro: “Rooftop solar panels could meet three-quarters of California’s electricity needs and about 40 percent of the country’s electricity needs, according to a new study from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Researchers at the federally funded lab, which is based in Colorado, had estimated in 2008 that rooftop solar could generate 800 terawatt-hours of electricity per year, supplying about 21 percent of the country’s current electricity demand. Now they’ve upped their estimate to 39 percent, in an analysis sure to be embraced by clean-energy advocates who see solar power as critical to fighting climate change...” (Image credit: Fresh Energy).

After The Tesla Model 3 Launches This Week, The World Will Know if Elon Musk Called the Electric-Car Future Correctly. Here’s a snippet from Quartz: “…On March 31, Musk will finally unveil the car that he has always promised—the mass-market vehicle meant to be the big-bang for electrics. It’s the Model 3, a $35,000 sedan that will go at least 200 miles on a single charge. The positioning is deliberate—at half the base price of his two luxury models, it’s around the average cost for new cars in the US; and the distance is thought sufficient to alleviate most cases of so-called range anxiety, the fear of becoming stranded with a dead battery. Although Tesla has maintained tight secrecy around the car, predictions call for the Model 3 to be crammed with technology including autonomous functionality, and to feature Musk’s usual exquisite styling...”

I Was a Fourth Generation Coal Miner. Here’s Why I Quit. Yes Magazine has an interesting Op-Ed; here’s an excerpt: “When my great-grandfather began his career as an underground coal miner, the United States was averaging 2,000 coal-mining deaths a year. It was a hard and dangerous life, the existence left for Appalachian mountaineers once outside companies had harvested the hardwood forests and swindled everyone’s mineral rights. Families that had once sustained themselves on their own farms became more and more dependent on coal-mining wages…”

Exercise Makes Our Muscles Work Better With Age. It pains me to include this link – but it’s true (and in my case relevant). Here’s a clip from The New York Times: “To keep our muscles healthy deep into retirement, we may need to start working out more now, according to a new study of world-class octogenarian athletes. The study found substantial differences at a cellular level between the athletes’ muscles and those of less active people. Muscular health is, of course, essential for successful aging. As young adults, we generally have scads of robust muscle mass. But that situation doesn’t last…”

Do You Live In A Bubble? The PBS NewsHour (which I watch every night – best network news out there right now in my humble opinion, although I am still a Lester Hold/NBC News fan as well) has a quiz to see just how big your bubble is. Go ahead, give it a shot: “Do you live in a bubble? There exists a new upper class that’s completely disconnected from the average American and American culture at large, argues Charles Murray, a libertarian political scientist and author. Take this 25-question quiz, based on a similar one published in Murray’s 2012 book, “Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010,” to find out just how thick your bubble is...”


This Student Put 50 Million Stollen Research Articles Online. And They’re Free. Talk about forcible disruption; details via The Washington Post: “…Many academics, university librarians and longtime advocates for open scholarly research are closely following Elbakyan’s efforts. They believe she is finally giving academic publishers their Napster moment, a reference to the illegal music-sharing service that disrupted and permanently altered the industry. “While we don’t condone fraud and using illegal sources, I will say that I appreciate how she is shining a light on just how out of whack the system is of providing easy access to basic information that our universities and scholars need to advance science and research,” said Heather Joseph, executive director of SPARC, an organization that advocates for open access to research. “This has been a problem for decades…”



TODAY: Raw, few showers.Winds: N 10-20. High: 47

THURSDAY NIGHT: Rain and snow showers. Low: 33

FRIDAY: Dusting of flakes early? Partial clearing. Winds: NW 10-20. High: 41

SATURDAY: Gusty and chilly, flurries taper. Winds: NW 15-25. Wake-up: 32. High: 38

SUNDAY: Mostly cloudy and milder. Winds: SW 10-20. Wake-up: 29. High: near 50

MONDAY: Clearing skies, colder than average. Winds: N 10-15. Wake-up: 31. High: 38

TUESDAY: Clouds increase, turning milder. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 28. High: 52

WEDNESDAY: Windy and cooler, few showers. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 38. High: 46


Climate Stories…

History of Climate Change, As Seen in Frost Maps From 1916. Here’s an excerpt from Slate: “…On a website charting indicators of climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency offers a few graphs showing how the growing season in the continental United States has lengthened between 1895 and 2015, with most of the upswing taking place in the past 30 years. While stipulating that a lengthening growing season could have positive effects on yield for some farmers, the EPA notes that “overall, warming is expected to have negative effects on yields of major crops.” A long season “could limit the types of crops grown, encourage invasive species or weed growth, or increase demand for irrigation…”

Map credit: EPA.


30 Years of Climate “Deception” Could Become Offense Under New California Law. InsideClimate News has an update; here’s a clip: “Fossil fuel companies in California could face investigation under legislation introduced by a state senator who says the proposed law is designed to hold industry accountable for “many years of public deception” and fraud over the scientific evidence about climate change. The Climate Science Truth & Accountability Act would extend the statute of limitations under California’s Unfair Competition Law from four to 30 years, giving greater leverage to state and local prosecutors to file civil charges in connection with the conduct of fossil fuel companies going back decades…”


New Paper: Antarctica Melt Could Be Higher, Faster. Alarmist hype. If you live in south Florida you better hope so. Don’t be too surprised by tipping points we didn’t see coming, accelerations the climate models didn’t pick up. Here’s a video and text summary of new research highlighted at Climate Denial Crock of The Week: “Video from 2 years ago, as so often happens, further reinforced by the newest studies.
Daily Galaxy:

A new study from climate scientists Robert DeConto at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and David Pollard at Pennsylvania State University suggests that the most recent estimates by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for future sea-level rise over the next 100 years could be too low by almost a factor of two. Details appear in the current issue of Nature.

DeConto says, “This could spell disaster for many low-lying cities. For example, Boston could see more than 1.5 meters [about 5 feet] of sea-level rise in the next 100 years. But the good news is that an aggressive reduction in emissions will limit the risk of major Antarctic ice sheet retreat...”



Severe Coral Bleaching is Damaging Huge Swaths of the Great Barrier Reef, Scientists Say. Chris Mooney has the story at The Washington Post; here’s an excerpt: “Scientists have declared that key portions of the Great Barrier Reef — over a thousand miles long and the “largest living structure on the planet,” according to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority — are now seeing the worst coral bleaching in recorded history. “We’re seeing very severe bleaching in the northern part of the reef,” said professor Terry Hughes of James Cook University, where he heads the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. “And I think that just highlights how precarious the situation has become, whereby severe El Niño events, which happen every few years, are enough to trigger a bleaching event. And it wasn’t always like that...”

Photo credit above: “Bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef observed by aerial survey.” (Terry Hughes/ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies).


Climate Change Opens Up The First Luxury Arctic Cruise Route. If you are morbidly curious about the loss of arctic ice and have a spare 22K burning a hole in your pocket, check out details at WIRED: “…The loss of Arctic sea ice cover, due to climate change, has spurred a sharp rise in shipping traffic—as well as coast guard rescue missions—and increased the risks of oil spills, shipping accidents, and pollution, much to the apprehension of native communities who make their living on the ice. It’s into these turbulent waters that the luxury cruise ship Crystal Serenity will set sail next August, departing from Seward, Alaska, and transiting the Bering Strait and Northwest Passage, before docking in New York City 32 days later…”

Photo credit: “The Crystal Serenity at sea“. Crystal Cruises.


Time Magazine Got Global Warming Right in 2016: “Be Worried, Be Very Worried”. We should be perpetually paranoid – and simultaneously empowered to do something about it. Here’s a clip from ThinkProgress: “…Indeed, Time warned that “global climate systems are booby-trapped with tipping points and feedback loops, thresholds past which the slow creep of environmental decay gives way to sudden and self-perpetuating collapse” — tipping points that a decade of inaction has brought us right to the edge of. The article even warns of the possible ramifications if warming shuts down the Gulf Stream or if our dawdling locks in multi-meter sea level rise — much the same concerns that James Hansen and 18 leading climatologists warned of in their recent bombshell peer-reviewed paper. Except Time magazine laid it all out for all Americans to see 10 years ago when the possibility of avoiding the worst impact would have been far easier to achieve…”


The End of Climate Denial? An article at Huffington Post left me hopeful that common sense and pragmatism will prevail; here’s a clip: “…Rumors have persisted that there are Republicans in Congress who acknowledge the climate crisis but have been afraid to say so. Now, some are breaking ranks. A dozen Republicans have signed a House Resolution that acknowledges the adverse impacts of climate change on weather, national security, economic productivity, the environment, government spending, and every region of the United States. “There is increasing recognition that we can and must take meaningful and responsible action now to address this issue,” the resolution says. Also in the House, a Republican and a Democrat have teamed up to create the body’s first Climate Solutions Caucus to explore economically viable solutions to global warming. The Democrat, Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida, hoped the Caucus “sends a powerful message not just to our colleagues in the house but to the American people that a bipartisan dialogue on climate change is actually possible…” (File photo: Matt Brown).


Jets vs. the Jet Stream. I’ve seen research suggesting a weakening of jet stream winds as the arctic region warms faster than mid-latitudes. The jury is still out, but this excerpt at The Guardian caught my eye: “…And the effect of a powerful jet stream was brought home in a remarkable flight in January last year, when a British Airways flight from New York to London reached 745mph, near supersonic speed, by riding on an exceptionally fast jet stream of around 250mph. Airlines face other troubles as the climate warms. Planes taking off in hot weather need to reach higher speeds, because warm air is less dense than cold air. That means aircraft having to travel lighter, with fewer passengers or less cargo. Since 1980, the number of flights forced to cut their loads increased at four airports studied in the US, as average temperatures rose at each location...”

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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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