Conservation Minnesota

Welcome to the Coldest Week of Winter – Warning for Coastal U.S. Residents

-10 F. low Sunday morning.
-1 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities (at MSP International Airport).
22 F. average high on January 10.
19 F. high on January 10, 2015.

January 11, 1975: A blizzard continues with hurricane force winds in southwestern Minnesota.
January 11, 1899: An odd flash of lightning lights the clouds up around 9 pm at Maple Plain.

Cold & Heartbroken. Even Colder Shot Next Weekend

“Gary Anderson is holding on line 1”. I don’t know who to feel more sorry for: Blair Walsh or loyal Vikings fans. Probably the latter. We all have bad days…

-4F at noon kickoff (at MSP International, the official reading) makes it the 3rd coldest NFL game on record. It was even colder inside my family room at 3 PM.

Hey, we’re just setting the table to play in our own new stadium during Superbowl 52 on February 4, 2018.

“Hey Paul, stick to guessing the weather!”

Fair enough. It may warm your heart to know that NOAA’s short-term climate models show an El Nino-spiked warm signal February into May. That may be so. And winter should be truncated, shortened and milder, overall.

But ECMWF guidance pulls an even colder shot into Minnesota next weekend; maybe 3 consecutive days with highs near 0F. In the meantime you may be amazed how good 20F feels later this week.

When it’s this cold it doesn’t take much moisture or upward motion to whip up a quick, slick inch of fluff. That happens after 3 PM. Remember, the colder the air temperature the less snow required to wreak havoc on Minnesota roads. Be careful out there later today.


Image credit above: Star Tribune.

Lake Effect Comes Late This Year. The midday radar loop yesterday looked like something out of November, icy winds passing over the open water of the Great Lakes producing lake effect snow bands across Michigan, pushing toward Cleveland and Buffalo.


Coldest Week of Winter. If you believe European guidance the next cold spell, from Saturday into Tuesday morning of next week, may be a notch or two than the current stretch. I want to see a few more runs; hopefully NOAA models and ECMWF will all converge, but there’s little doubt that we’ll have to go through at least one more subzero (spanking) before any kind of sustained thaw in late January.


Clipper Potential. NOAA’s NAM model brings a burst of light snow and flurries into town this afternoon and early tonight, printing out about .05″ liquid. But when it’s this cold the rain to snow ratio can approach 1:20, so it’s conceivable we could pick up an inch or two of light, fluffy (very icy) snow in time for PM rush. Animation: AerisWeather.


ECMWF: One Week From Today. Check out the 7 AM predicted temperatures for the Upper Midwest; in the -15 to -17F range for the Twin Cities metro and most of the state. I wouldn’t exactly take this to the bank, not yet, but there’s a good chance the reinforcing cold jab 5-8 days away may be 4-8F colder than what we’re experiencing right now. Now about those frequent flier miles. Does Delta or Sun Country have operators/therapists standing by? (Map: WeatherBell).


Some Late-Month Moderation. I still see 20s and a few 30s returning within 2 weeks or so as upper-air steering winds become more westerly, allowing more moderate air to penetrate inland from the Pacific. It’s still early to browse the seed catalog, but I still predict the next 7-8 days will be the coldest of winter.


Tornado Touches Down in Cape Coral (Florida), Damages Homes. El Nino winters usually generate stronger winds over southern latitudes, whipping up the “shear” required for tornadic supercell thunderstorms. Here’s an excerpt from The Orlando Sentinel: “Authorities are assessing the damage after a tornado with winds up to 135 mph touched down in Cape Coral. Cape Coral Police spokesman Dana Coston couldn’t say how many homes were damaged when the tornado hit Saturday night, but said a roughly 12-square mile area was affected. No one was killed and only a few minor injuries were reported. “We have numerous power lines down, we have numerous homes that have been damaged,” he said. News and witness photos showed cars tipped over, a roof nearly torn off and large trees and street signs scattered across residents’ yards…”

Image credit above: “The National Weather Service confirms an EF2 tornado touched down in Cape Coral, Florida, cutting power to thousands, damaging homes and leaving some residents unsure about where to go.” Reuters.

* 178 buildings damaged in Cape Coral, estimated winds up to 132 mph. Details via Fox4.
* Some amazing photos of the damage at news-press.com. A longer article with more information is here.
* NBC2 has high-resolution mapping of the neighborhoods affected.


Location of Tornado Touchdown. The line of severe storms that blew across southwest Florida Saturday evening sparked hail, wind gusts to near 70 mph and at least one EF-2 tornado. Map: AerisWeather Interactive.


A Very Extended Outlook. With El Nino not forecast to fade until late spring (in truth: it’s been stronger and more persistent than models have been predicting) it’s probably safe to say a mild signal will be with us into the summer, possibly most of 2016. Mean, monthly temperature anomalies are forecast to be as much as 15F. warmer than average over central Canada in February, with a warm signal over the northern states. Above-average temperatures (shaded in red) linger into May. Maps: NOAA CFSv2 guidance courtesy of WeatherBell.


16 Nations Set All-Time Heat Records in 2015. Here’s an excerpt from Weather Underground’s Jeff Masters – a full post is coming on the long list of jaw-dropping records: “…In addition to being the warmest year on record when averaged over the entire globe, 2015 was also notable for all-time extreme heat records. Sixteen nations or territories tied or set all-time records for their hottest temperature in recorded history in 2015, and two (Israel and Cyprus) set all-time cold temperature records. For comparison, only two nations or territories set all-time heat records in 2014, and nine did in 2013. The most all-time national heat records held by any year is nineteen in 2010. Most nations do not maintain official databases of extreme temperature records, so the national temperature records reported here are in many cases not official. I use as my source for international weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera, one of the world’s top climatologists, who maintains a comprehensive list of extreme temperature records for every nation in the world on his website...”

Map and data courtesy of Weather Underground and climate researcher Maximiliano Herrera.


This Is What the Anthropocene Looks Like – Tropical Storms are Forming During Winter. January tropical storms and cyclones are exceedingly rare, but the frequency is increasing, due to unusual warmth in the oceans, especially the Pacific. Here’s an excerpt from RobertScribbler: “Since climatology is the understanding of trends in average weather over long periods, we can probably say that the off-season tropical cyclone climatology has already changed for the Pacific. During the 148 years since record keeping began in 1832 for the Pacific through to 1980 only seven tropical cyclones were recorded to have formed during the period of December through May. During just the 35 years since 1980, we’ve seen nearly twice that many — 12. In other words, the rate of recorded off-season storm formation septupled or increased a factor of 7. And both the earliest and the latest named stormed have now formed during back-to-back years — Nine C on New Years Eve less than two weeks ago and now Pali on January 7th. What we are seeing now is unprecedented by any measure of tropical weather system climatology. We have never seen a tropical storm form so early in the Central Pacific at the same time during which a similar, very rare, tropical system was threatening to form in the Atlantic…”


El Chapo Speaks. Here is a clip from the already-infamous Sean Penn story at RollingStone: “…This would be the second prison escape of the world’s most notorious drug lord, the first being 13 years earlier, from Puente Grande prison, where he was smuggled out under the sheets of a laundry cart. Since he joined the drug trade as a teenager, Chapo swiftly rose through the ranks, building an almost mythic reputation: First, as a cold pragmatist known to deliver a single shot to the head for any mistakes made in a shipment, and later, as he began to establish the Sinaloa cartel, as a Robin Hood-like figure who provided much-needed services in the Sinaloa mountains, funding everything from food and roads to medical relief. By the time of his second escape from federal prison, he had become a figure entrenched in Mexican folklore…”


The 13 Most Underrated Movies of 2015. Here’s an excerpt of one short-list, courtesy of Variety: “…But despite a challenging year for indie films, there are still distributors eager to deliver material, including Netflix, Amazon, The Orchard, Broad Green, A24 and Bleecker Street. As the independent-film market tries to stay afloat, some of these players will need to discover the right formula — between VOD and theatrical releases or some combination — that can deliver smaller movies to bigger crowds. For now, here are the most 13 underrated titles of 2015 that deserve another look…” (Photo credit: SPC).

How Commercials Get Us To Buy Stuff We Don’t Need. 3,500 ads a day? And that’s just before lunch. Here’s an excerpt from TreeHugger: “…Unless the company or product or marketing campaign is an extreme outlier (as some of Patagonia’s advertising is), or unless we’re ad-blocking ninjas both online and off, we’re getting exposed to some 3500 advertisements each day that all want us to do one thing – buy more stuff. How do they do it? This quick video from AJ+, featuring Jonah Sachs, founder of Free Range Studios (which produced The Story of Stuff and The Meatrix), lays out some of the psychological tactics used in commercials and advertising, among which is instilling in us a fear of missing out...”


8 Things You Should Always Do on a Plane. Airfarewatchdog.com has the article; here’s an excerpt: “…Speaking of germs, if you’re trapped in an enclosed space with someone who has a contagious disease, you’ve got a pretty good chance of catching the virus. If you want to really freak yourself out, read about your chances of catching something form a sick passenger—like TB, which you can catch if you’re within two rows of patient zero; or SARS, which can transmit to flyers as far of seven rows away. Save yourself by blowing away the germs via the air vent above your head. Set the ventilation to low or medium and position it directly in front of your head, blowing straight down. If you can feel the air flow on your lap, you’ve done it right...”



We Know Just How You Feel. Thanks to Kent Kruhoeffer, who snapped this memorable photo with his smartphone in Tangshan, China. I have to believe most Minnesotans had roughly the same expression by mid-afternoon yesterday.

TODAY: PM snow, becoming icy by afternoon. Slow PM commute. Winds: SW 7-12. High: 10

MONDAY NIGHT: Burst of snow tapers to flurries, inch or two of snow will make roads very slippery. Low: -5

TUESDAY: Partly sunny, feels like -20F. Winds: NW 10-20. High: 2

WEDNESDAY: More flurries, another coating? Winds: SW 8-13. Wake-up: -6. High: 15

THURSDAY: Light snow – nuisance accumulation. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 11. High: 19

FRIDAY: Storm should track south/east. Flurries possible. Winds: N 10-15. Wake-up: 12. High: 17 (falling)

SATURDAY: Colder wind, feels like -25F. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: -3. High: 3

SUNDAY: So cold I almost want to go to Florida. Some sun, feels like -20 to -30F. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: -10. High: -1


Climate Stories…

El Nino Making Snow Now, But Climate Change “Loads the Dice” for Warmer, Future Winters. The Reno Gazette-Journal has the story; here’s an excerpt that caught my eye: “…Caldeira said that while neither a single storm nor even a single season of weather can be directly attributed to human-caused climate change, the rapid warming of the planet can create conditions that make warmer winters with less snow a greater likelihood. He contrasted the winter of 2014-15, which was considered the worst snowpack in hundreds of years, with the strong start to the winter of 2015-16 and said climate change essentially loads the dice in favor of warmer scenarios. “As it gets warmer and warmer the likelihood of last year’s snowpack gets more and more likely,” Caldeira said. “This year’s snowpack gets less likely...”


Why Climate Change is an Ethical Problem. I’ve heard it described as the perfect problem: global, we’re all contributing, and there’s no obvious (easy) solution. Here’s an excerpt from The New York Times: “Climate change presents a severe ethical challenge, forcing us to confront difficult questions as individual moral agents, and even more so as members of larger political systems. It is genuinely global and seriously intergenerational, and crosses species boundaries. It also takes place in a setting where existing institutions and theories are weak, proving little ethical guidance. The critical question as we seek to address climate change will be which moral framework is in play when we make decisions...”


A Warning for Coastal Residents. Minnesota’s lakes, however frozen, are looking better and better with each passing year. Alarmist hype? Stay tuned. Here’s a clip from CBSPhilly: “A Florida-based geologist has some dire warnings about climate change. Among them, many of the barrier islands along the Jersey shore could be under water in as little as 50 years. Professor Harold Wanless chairs the Geological Sciences Department at the University of Miami. He suggests the feds are grossly underestimating the rate at which sea levels are rising because the polar ice caps are melting so rapidly. His advice? Towns along the shore should start preparing now...” (File image: Andrew Demp, Yale).


Global Warming, El Nino Combine to Fuel Extreme World Weather. Here’s the intro to a story at Voice of America: “A series of weather disasters has shaken the world in recent weeks, with deadly floods in the United States and Britain adding to ongoing droughts in Brazil, South Africa and India. Global warming is partly to blame because it heats up the world’s oceans and sends evaporated water into the atmosphere, where it generates more heat, says Jeff Masters, director of meteorology at U.S. online news service Weather Underground...”


The Farce Awakens: Deniers Dispute 2015’s Record Heat. Don’t like the implications of minor details such as data, facts and evidence? Question the scientists, the instruments, even the scientific method. Cherry-pick the data that fits your ideological narrative, throw everything else out, and when you get boxed into a corner start shouting conspiracy theories. That sounds about right. Here’s an excerpt from ClimateDenierRoundup: “…As legitimate media sources start reporting on the reliable thermometer record showing 2015 as a record-hot year, we can expect deniers to push back with the satellite data. But that puts them in the uncomfortable position of admitting that, even according to this problematic data, the three hottest years have occurred since 1998, which doesn’t exactly support the position that there’s been no warming. Denier’s nonsensical reliance on the satellite record (which only goes back to 1979) ignores the history of errors with this data and the fact that satellites infer, based on complex measurements, temperatures up in the atmosphere and don’t calculate those on the ground or in the ocean. So deniers are ignoring the historical record that dates back to the 1800s, as well as the ocean – which absorbs 93% of the heat added due to global warming – and actual physical temperature measurements, in favor of repeatedly-corrected air temperature measurements….”

January – November, 2015 global temperature anomalies (land and ocean) courtesy of NOAA NCDC.

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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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