Conservation Minnesota

Welcome to Meteorological Spring! (keep heavy jackets handy into mid-March)

31 F. high in the Twin Cities Thursday.
34 F. average high for February 28.
33 F. high on February 28, 2012.

15.1″ snow fell on the Twin Cities in February.
+ 7.3″ above average.

-2.4 F. February temperatures were more than 2 F. cooler than average at KMSP.

March!
The only predictable thing about weather and life? Change. We track long-term trends over many years and decades, but the weather is rarely identical from one year to the next. March 2012: 70s and 80s in Minnesota; record or near-record ice-outs; flowers in full bloom; boats on area lakes by late month. May came 75 days early last year.
Keep your March expectations modest this year. Canadian air will keep seeping south into at least mid-month; a thicker, wider swath of snow cover delaying any spring flings for northern tier states. NOAA predicts a slight cool bias for Minnesota. At 10.3 inches of snow, March is the 3rd snowiest month of the year, behind January & December. But a March snowfall is different: wet & slushy – a higher sun angle usually melts any new snow within 48 hours.
Next Monday’s clipper should sail south of town; no significant precipitation of any flavor in sight thru late next week.
No frigid outbreaks either. That may be it for subzero lows, at least in the metro area.
I’m grateful for small things: no need for undershirts, I’ve retired my ugly earmuffs for the winter – I can walk our dog, Leo, without holding my breath.
A lamb-like start to March!

Why Spring Is Not Right Around The Corner. We may see 40 F by late next week, but don’t expect any 50s or 60s into mid-March. There’s too much snow on the ground, nationwide, and a negative phase of the NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) means a ‘wavier” jet stream, capable of pulling more Canadian air south into the USA. Last year a strongly positive NAO mean (howling) west winds from the Pacific were so powerful and persistent that the coldest air was bottled up over northern Canada.

Negative Phase of NAO. NOAA models show a (slightly) negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation lingering into mid-March. Once the NAO goes positive (late March) we may finally see a stronger westerly wind flow and a better chance of 1). melting snow, and then 2). a few 50s. 70s and 80s this year, in March? I highly doubt it.

ECMWF: No Drama. The European model keeps us dry for the next week; Monday’s clipper staying south and west of the Twin Cities. After a chilly weekend temperatures moderate the latter half of next week – a shot at 40+ by the end of next week.

Risk Of A Clipper. The ECMWF forecast, valid Monday evening, shows a clipper pushing snow across the Dakotas into southwestern Minnesota. Confidence level is still low as to whether we’ll see any snow in the metro area.

U.S. Models: Snow Potential Sunday Night Into Monday Morning. We’re keeping an eye on the next clipper, which may drop a few inches of snow on southern and western Minnesota late Sunday into Monday. A light accumulation is possible in the metro – I want to see a few more model runs to see if there’s any continuity.

March Temperature Outlook. NOAA’s CPC (Climate Prediction Center) is forecasting a slight cool bias from Montana into the Dakotas and Minnesota – which jives with the long-range temperature data I’m seeing. Keep the heavy jackets handy – spring is most definitely not right around the corner. Map: Ham Weather.

Attention Shoppers: There’s So Much Snow The Roof May Collapse. This is probably not what you want to hear when you’re in one of those Big Box retail stores. KOMU.com has the details from the University of Missouri-Columbia: “Shoppers at Sam’s Club and Walmart on Conley Road report being told to evacuate the store Thursday morning because of a threat of roof collapse. The shoppers said stores were worried the load of snow on the roofs of the buildings is too great. Eyewitnesses said they could see workers removing snow from some of the roofs…”

Dueling Tornadoes. The YouTube clip is spectacular – twin waterspouts off the coast of Spain. I wish My Spanish was better….

Another Perspective. Check out the photo from Facebook and Irish Weather Online – another look at a pair of waterspouts clearly visible just offshore. Tornadoes are rare across Europe, but small twisters are possible during the spring months when instability and wind shear values are high.

Water Wars? Here In The U.S.? Here’s the intro to a story at scienceblogs.com: “OK, put away your guns. We’re not talking shooting wars, at least not yet, at least not in the U.S. We’re talking politicians shooting off their mouths, political wars, and court battles. But water is serious business. But it is a different story around the world, where there is a long and sad history of violent conflict over water. At the Pacific Institute we maintain the Water Conflict Chronology, documenting examples going back literally 5,000 years. As others have pointed out, water can be – and often is – a source of cooperation rather than conflict. But conflicts over water are real. And as populations and economies grow, and as we increasingly reach “peak water” limits to local water resources, I believe that the risks of conflicts will increase, even here in the United States, and not just in the water-scarce arid west…”

Google Glass And Other Tech Stuff I Don’t Need. Here is a clip of an article at PBS’s Next Avenue that caught my eye: “…As a tech-minded person and writer, I see new products all the time. Sometimes they’re exciting, but more often than not I find them borderline ridiculous. But don’t take my word for it. Decide for yourself what you think about this sampling of new gizmos that I came across at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas last January.

  1. GameCube Exergaming is hot, especially for 50-plussers who want to Zumba in the privacy of their living rooms. But with all its harness and pulleys, GameCube looks like something the Marquis de Sade would have designed if he were alive today.
  2. The iPotty The premise: Bribe the kid to go on the potty with iPad time instead of candy. I doubted anyone would get on board with this — until a young friend hoping to send her toddler to a preschool that accepts only toilet-trained kids told me this is her last resort.
  3. Jeans with built-in keyboard, mouse and speakers Who. Would. Want. These? They’ve got to be horrible for every joint in a boomer’s hips, neck, back, arms and hands. (Plus they’d make us look fat.) Right now there’s only one prototype pair. Let’s hope it stays that way.…” (image above: Wired.com).

19 People Who Are Having A Way Worse Day Than You. O.K. It’s juvenile, but a friend sent me this link from Buzzfeed, and I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard. Click the link at your own risk.

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

TODAY: Partly sunny, cool breeze. Winds: N 10. High: near 30
FRIDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear and chilly. Low: 11

SATURDAY: Intervals of cool sun, less wind. High: 27

SUNDAY: Quiet. Mix of clouds and sun. Wake-up: 10. High: 32

MONDAY: Clipper stays south. Flurries? Wake-up: 19. High: 31

TUESDAY: More clouds than sun. Wake-up: 20. High: 30

WEDNESDAY: Sunny and milder. Wake-up: 21. High: 36

THURSDAY: Mostly cloudy, windy. Wake-up: 23. High: near 40

* photo above courtesy of Big Mike and Ruby Bousman (and WeatherNation TV).

Climate Stories…

Waves In Atmosphere Could Be Linked To Extreme Weather, New Study Finds. A warmer Arctic may be impacting jet stream patterns, especially in the summer and fall, increasing the potential for more weather extremes. Here’s an excerpt from LiveScience and Huffington Post: “Extreme weather events have been on the rise in the last few decades, and man-made climate change may be causing them by interfering with global air-flow patterns, according to new research. The Northern Hemisphere has taken a beating from extreme weather in recent years — the 2003 European heat wave, the 2010 Pakistan flood and the 2011 heat wave in the United States, for example. These events, in a general sense, are the result of the global movement of air. Giant waves of air in the atmosphere normally even out the climate, by bringing warm air north from the tropics and cold air south from the Arctic. But a new study suggests these colossal waves have gotten stuck in place during extreme weather events…” (Image above: NASA).

Funding Climate Denial. Here’s an excerpt from Media Matters: “A group named Donors Trust has been funneling far more money than ExxonMobil ever did to climate denial groups, but because the source of the funds remains largely hidden, the public has been unable to pressure the donations to stop as they did with Exxon. A small portion of Donors Trust’s funding was recently revealed by the Center for Public Integrity, yet even that small portion has significant ties to the Koch brothers and other fossil fuel interests….One of the “controversial issues” that Donors Trust and its sister organization Donors Capital Fund have bankrolled is the campaign to cast doubt on the science of climate change and delay any government action to reduce emissions.* The following chart created by The Guardian based on data from Greenpeace shows that as ExxonMobil and the Koch Foundations have reduced traceable funding for these groups, donations from Donors Trust have surged…” (Graphic above: The Guardian and Greenpeace).

Forecasting Change: A Meteorologist And An Artist On The Climate Crisis. Cynthia Hopkins, whose play, “This Clement World”,  focuses on a rapidly changing climate, garnered rave reviews when it opened in the New York City area. The play is coming to The Walker next week. Here’s an excerpt of a recent interview at The Walker Art Center’s Magazine: “Paul Douglas considers himself an “albino unicorn.” A moderate Republican, he’s also a meteorologist who believes climate change is real. That position was met with scorn by some of the right, who called him a “RINO [Republican In Name Only] climate poser,” a “global warming hoax promoter,” and worse. Theater artist and musician Cynthia Hopkins didn’t need much convincing about the dire consequences we face if we don’t address the climate crisis, but two events were pivotal in pushing her to take up the subject in her art—a talk on sustainability at the 2009 Tipping Point conference and a residency with Cape Farewell, a program that aims to “instigate a cultural response to climate change.” In 2010, she joined Cape Farewell’s Arctic Expedition, in which artists and marine scientists experienced the very environment most threatened by global warming. While their career paths are sharply divergent, Douglas and Hopkins share twin tools when addressing climate change—science and spirituality.…”

NASA: Climate Change Things Forests In Eastern U.S. You think you’re stressed by recent summers? So are the trees. Here’s a story that caught my eye, an excerpt courtesy of USA Today: “Years of drought and high temperatures are thinning forests in the upper Great Lakes and the eastern United States, NASA satellites show. Nearly 40% of the Mid-Atlantic’s forests lost tree canopy cover, ranging from 10% to 15% between 2000 and 2010, according to a NASA study released this week. Other afflicted areas include southern Appalachia, the southeastern coast and to a lesser extent, the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada. “There has been a series of summers — growing seasons for trees — that have been deficient in moisture. When you combine that with higher temperatures, it’s stressing the trees,” says author Christopher Potter, a research scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif…”

Graphic credit above: “Drought and heat have caused thinning of forest canopy in the eastern United States from 2000 to 2010, according to a NASA study released in this month. Green areas show increasing tree canopy whereas brown shades show a thinning. Four forest areas negatively affected are circled in red: Great Lakes, Southern Appalachian, Mid-Atlantic, and southeastern Coastal Plain.” (Photo: NASA)

How Climate Change Affects Your Winter Sports. Here’s an excerpt from a story at The PBS News Hour: ”Jenny Bushmaker teaches children to love the outdoors at an environment education facility in Silver Bay, Minn. But with less and less snow each winter, her work is becoming more difficult. “Without snow in the winter, [I] have a hard time teaching snowshoeing, Ojibwe winter history, cross country skiing, animal tracking, winter animal adaptations and much more,” Bushmaker said. “I spend more time indoors than I used to and I’m not nearly as active as I normally am.”

Antarctica’s Exit Glaciers: The Drunk Drivers of Climate Change. Here’s a portion of a fascinating article at arstechnica.com: ”Richard Alley’s studies of the role of ice sheets in climate change have earned him various awards, a PBS special, and have made him a repeat performer at the meetings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. When I first saw him speak a few years ago, he argued that the ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland play a huge role in controlling sea levels. Mountain glaciers don’t hold nearly as much water, while the thermal expansion of water in the oceans is a slower and more predictable process. The ice sheets, in contrast, have been a big unknown. At the time, we didn’t yet fully understand how much of them might melt, or how quickly they might dump water into the oceans…”

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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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