22 F. average high on December 31.
17 F. high on December 31, 2014.
4 minutes of additional daylight in the Twin Cities since December 21st's Winter Solstice.
January 1, 2003: On this date there is an inch or less of snow on the ground from Duluth to the Iowa border. In the Twin Cities there isn't even a dirty snowbank to be found.
January 1, 1997: Freezing rain causes numerous accidents along the North Shore. In Lake County, vehicles could not get up hills and were blocking roads. Highway 61 was closed for several hours from Two Harbors to Silver Bay.
January 1, 1864: Extremely cold air moves into Minnesota. The Twin Cities have a high of 25 degrees below zero.
Happy 2016! - Historic December - Risk of a January Thaw
My New Year's resolutions are simple: a healthy right ankle, inventing new ice-proof shoes, having my wife walk the dog during the winter months, and not blaming everything on El Nino.
December was the warmest and the second wettest on record, statewide, according to Dr. Mark Seeley. 2015 was the 21st wettest year on record, statewide.
Second warmest autumn, a glorious summer, interrupted by a few spasms of severe weather, including an epic straight-line wind event on July 12 at Gull Lake. Smoke from western fires swept over Minnesota much of the summer, resulting in a cloak of haze.
January is the coldest month of the year and there are signs the AO (arctic oscillation) is going negative, meaning a better chance of polar air splashing into the USA. We'll see our fair share of cold fronts this month, but it probably won't be as numbing as recent years, thanks to El Nino.
The sun peeks out today; near 30F Saturday - maybe 3 days above 32F next week. A welcome January Thaw may give way to a couple subzero nights in 2 weeks.
Faint echoes of muscular winters gone by.
December: Warmest, Second-Wettest Ever Recorded for Minnesota. Here's an excerpt from Dr. Mark Seeley's latest installment of Minnesota WeatherTalk: "For the 4th consecutive month Minnesota recorded warmer than normal temperatures. Observers reported mean monthly temperatures for December that were from 8 to 12 degrees F above normal, marking the warmest December in history on a statewide basis, surpassing the previous record from December 1939. Extremes for the month ranged from 53F at Marshall on the 9th to -11F at Thief River Falls on the 28th. On a statewide basis December of 2015 was the 2nd wettest in history, with an average value of nearly 1.90 inches. Some observers reported their wettest December in history, including: 4.09" at Two Harbors; 4.90" at Caledonia; 5.38" at La Crescent; 4.28" at Preston; and 4.00 inches at Spring Grove..."
El Nino: Why Predictable Climate Event Still Has The Scientists Guessing. Every El Nino is different, it turns out, and this one already rivals 1997-98. Here's an excerpt from The Guardian: "...The last great El Niño, in 1997-98, helped make 1998 the then warmest year on record – that too was accompanied by a series of devastating events around the world, among them ice storms in North America, floods on the west coasts of the Americas and forest fires in Borneo. It also delayed the monsoon rains in India, warmed tropical waters so severely that coral reefs started to “bleach” and die, and signalled a record-breaking season of typhoons and tropical cyclones in the eastern Pacific. Although researchers are fairly sure that climate change as a consequence of the combustion of fossil fuels, and the release of greenhouse gases, could make El Niño more frequent, or more devastating, or both, it remains a natural, cyclic event..."
Graphic credit above: "False-color images provided by Nasa compare Pacific Ocean water temperatures from the El Niño in 1997 (right) and the current El Niño." Photograph: AP.
+WPO Positive Western Pacific Oscillation (warm Eastern U.S. signal)
+EPO Positive Eastern Pacific Oscillation (warm Eastern U.S. signal)
-PNA Negative Pacific-North American (warm Eastern U.S. signal)
+AO Positive Arctic Oscillation (normally a warm Eastern U.S. signal)
+NAO Positive North Atlantic Oscillation (normally a warm Eastern U.S. signal)
The resulting surface temperature anomaly was astonishing..."
In Wild Winter, Warm Arctic Storm Chills U.S. Forecast as Flooding Threatens Levees. From Missouri to Britain severe flooding is taking a mounting toll, but there are signs a tight polar vortex may be about to break down as the AO (arctic oscillation index above) goes from positive to negative, weaker winds allowing colder air to surge farther south, into the USA and Europe later in January. Here's an excerpt from Andrew Revkin at The New York Times: "...The outcome will depend on how an atmospheric tussle plays out — one well captured nicely in the title of a post by Brenda Ekwurzel, senior climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists: “El Niño vs. the Arctic: Which Will Dominate This Year’s Winter Weather?” She wrote:
All signs point to the El Niño pattern continuing to dominate the end of December with the potential for delivering some rain or snow to drought-stricken California and a high probability of a warmer than normal Christmas in the U.S. northeast.However, there may be a need to keep those winter coats in the front of the closet. Some scientific indicators suggest a January 2016 weakening of the stratospheric polar vortex, increasing the chance for severe late winter weather over the continents..."
In Midwest, 1,000 Flood-Fighters Work To Hold Back New Year's Floods. CSMonitor.com has an update on Mississippi River flooding now rivaling 1993's epic flood. Here's an excerpt: "With the Mississippi River and four other major US rivers building toward historic crests for a winter flood, some 1,000 US flood fighters have spread out across America's mighty river valleys to once again test the wherewithal of the world's grandest plumbing works: the Mississippi River and Tributaries project. El Niño conditions in the Pacific have created an unusually wet and warm mess across the nation's midsection and into the Deep South. The gauge at St. Louis is clawing up toward 42 feet, its third-highest in recorded history. Parts of St. Louis are already underwater as the confluence of the Missouri River and the Mississippi roil the city's shipping front and close the St. Louis harbor. The waters are expected to crest in Missouri on New Year’s Day..."
Photo credit above: "Homes are surrounded by floodwater in Pacific, Mo., Wednesday. A rare winter flood threatened nearly two dozen federal levees in Missouri and Illinois on Wednesday as rivers rose, prompting evacuations in several places." Jeff Roberson/AP.
CNN has more details on the potentially historic flooding around St. Louis here.
Death Toll Rises in Missouri Floods, Threat Not Over. Historic December rains falling on partially frozen ground and running off into tributaries has tipped the Mississippi River to flood stages not seen since 1993. Here's an excerpt from NBC News: "... (Governor) Nixon declared a state of emergency on Monday and activated the National Guard on Tuesday. He pledged help for inundated towns. President Barack Obama called Nixon for a briefing on the situation Wednesday, and directed his staff to coordinate with the state on any federal assistance required, the White House said. "We are here before the water rises, we're here after it falls," Nixon said. "We're here until this place is back to where it was before. And sometimes that takes a while." Parts of the Meramec River were between two and three feet higher than during a devastating flood in 1993, which is also known as the "great flood," Nixon said. The Mississippi River at Thebes, Illinois, reached two feet higher than in 1993, he said..."
Photo credit above: "In this aerial photo, the Mississippi River flows out of its banks Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015, near West Alton, Mo. A rare winter flood threatened nearly two dozen federal levees in Missouri and Illinois on Wednesday as rivers rose, prompting evacuations in several places." (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Photo credit above: "Water swells on Highway 141 underneath a closed Interstate 44 overpass on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015." Photo by Robert Cohen.
* U.S. Army Corp of Engineer flood-fighters are now fully engaged. Details here.
Picture of Eastern Colorado Tornado Wins National Geographic Photo Contest. Here's the intro to an explanation at NatGeo: "A picture of a tornado that touched down 50 miles northeast of Colorado Springs last summer has been chosen as the grand-prize winner of the 2015 National Geographic Photo Contest. The winning twister was one of as many as five tornadoes that touched down in the Simla area on June 4, damaging sheds, barns and outbuildings. The photograph was captured by James Smart of Melbourne, Australia. Smart took the award winning picture on the last day of a 15 day storm chasing tour..."
Photo credit above: Photo by James Smart / Provided by National Geographic.
With Taps on the Wrist, Apple Watch Points to the Future. Just another gadget, or something more profound? This tech writer at The New York Times is pretty sold; here's an excerpt: "...And yet, after almost eight months, the Apple Watch feels like the future to me. More than anything else, the watch has changed the way I communicate via email and text messages. Using Apple’s VIP feature, I direct all of the most important messages to my watch, which alerts me with a subtle tap on my wrist or a soft ding. I ignore most after a quick glance. (Sorry, Mom.) Many get a quick “O.K.” or “Sounds good.” I pull out my phone only for the ones I need to respond to at length. The same is true for phone calls, which appear on my watch while my phone remains tucked away in my pocket, or still at my desk on the other side of the office. It’s like Caller ID for my wrist..."
NEW YEAR'S DAY: Partly sunny, brisk. Winds: W 10-15. High: 26
FRIDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear and chilly. Low: 10
SATURDAY: Plenty of sun, a bit milder. Winds: NW 8-13. High: near 30
SUNDAY: Blue sky, milder than average. Winds: N 8-13. Wake-up: 11. High: 28
MONDAY: High pressure overhead, light winds with some sun. Wake-up: 16. High: 29
TUESDAY: Fading sun, windy and milder. Wake-up: 18. High: 32
WEDNESDAY: More clouds than sun, thawing out. Wake-up: 23. HIgh: 33
THURSDAY: Overcast, light mix possible late. Wake-up: 29. High: 34
- from the latest installment of an ongoing series at The Los Angeles Times.
Climate Chaos, Across the Map. Justin Gillis at The New York Times tries to connect the dots between weather volatility, ENSO (El Nino) and larger planetary trends. As always, trying to prove cause and effect with the atmosphere is problematic, but are we inadvertently loading the dice in favor of more extremes, especially with rainfall and heat? Here's an excerpt: "...In both the Atlantic and Pacific, the unusually warm ocean surface is throwing extra moisture into the air, said Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. Storms over land can draw moisture from as far as 2,000 miles away, he said, so the warm ocean is likely influencing such events as the heavy rain in the Southeast, as well as the record number of strong hurricanes and typhoons that occurred this year in the Pacific basin, with devastating consequences for island nations like Vanuatu. “The warmth means there is more fuel for these weather systems to feed upon,” Dr. Trenberth said. “This is the sort of thing we will see more as we go decades into the future.”
- Gary Garfield, CEO and president of Bridgestone Americas Inc.;
- Pete Selleck, chairman and president of Michelin North America Inc.;
- Pierluigi Dinelli, chairman and CEO of Pirelli Tire North America Inc.;
- James Hawk, chairman of Toyo Tire Holdings of Americas Inc.; and
- Takaharu Fushimi, CEO and president of Yokohama Tire Corp..."
U.S. Views on Climate Change Pose Test for 2016 Candidates. Financial Times explains the paradox: Americans are increasingly concerned, but wary if taking action imposes costs. If the GOP candidate denies the science swing voters may be turned off, if the Democratic nominee has a road map for action that is deemed too costly or "job-killing" there may be a similar backlash. Here's an excerpt from Financial Times: "Barry Rabe, who has done extensive analysis of opinion polls, says: “All the evidence suggests there is growing concern about this issue, but limited evidence that that translates to any groundswell of support for any particular policy, especially one that imposes costs.” Mr Rabe, a public policy professor at the University of Michigan, says the lack of a “pivot” from concern to action has created a paradox, which the eventual 2016 nominees will have to navigate in November’s general election. The Republicans’ candidate cannot afford to alienate swing voters by appearing insufficiently worried; the Democratic nominee, expected to be Hillary Clinton, cannot risk turning them off with overly-aggressive solutions..."
Image credit: Voice of America.