Saturday, November 19, 2016

Feels Like Late November - Chance of Slushy Mix on Tuesday

30 F. high Saturday in St. Cloud.
37 F. average high on November 19.
33 F. high on November 19, 2015.

November 20, 1996: Heavy snowfall accumulations of four to eight inches blanket much of Central Minnesota. Some of the heavier amounts included 8 inches at Montevideo and Gaylord, along with 7 inches at St. James, Mankato, Madison and Stewart. Six inches was reported in the Twin Cities and Glenwood.

November 20, 1953: Freezing rain hits parts of Minnesota. 3 inches of ice accumulates on wires at telephone wires at Lake Benton.

It's Not The Snow or Cold - It's Fear of ICE

"A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water" said Carl Reiner. It took me 30 years living in Minnesota to figure this out: kids adore snow (snow days!) while older residents tolerate the flakes. It isn't so much fear of snow, but "Pagophobia", an irrational fear of ice.

Having broken my ankle last winter slipping on ice (walking the dog - ugh) I get it now.
With cold and snow you can take countermeasures. Ice? Good luck.

This year the first flakes arrived before the first 32-degree low, which is unusual. According to Pete Boulay at the State Climate Office the latest first flakes on record at MSP came November 21, 1953. That winter only 25.7 inches fell. Then again you can prove anything with statistics.

My gut: in spite of a shorter, more compressed winter we'll pick up more than the 37 inches that fell last winter at MSP.

No worries today, but a light icy mix is possible Tuesday. That said, I expect mostly rain with a dry sky on Thanksgiving.

I'd wager a stale bagel we'll have snow on the ground for Christmas this year. Santa is pumped!

USA Snow Cover. This is as of 7am Saturday morning; a swath of heavy snow from Friday's blizzard showing up from eastern South Dakota into much of western, central and northern Minnesota. Map: Aeris AMP.

10-Day Snowfall Potential. This is GFS guidance from NOAA, and it shows some 5-12"+ amounts from lake effect snows for upstate New York. Tuesday's system may arrive as a mix - GFS prints out plowable amounts of snow for central Minnesota, but it's too early to pin down amounts right now. Source: AerisWeather.

Lake Effect Season Has Arrived. A significant temperature differential will whip up strong instability snow showers and squalls over the next 36 hours, dumping some 1-2 foot amounts near Rochester and Watertown, New York. No big snows for the big city centers from Boston to Washington D.C. yet.

Beaver Creek World Cup Races Canceled Due To Lack of Snow. The Denver Post reports: "Men’s World Cup ski races set for Beaver Creek Dec. 2-4 have been cancelled because unseasonably warm temperatures delayed snow-making efforts. Organizers made the announcement Thursday even as the high country was being pounded by a snowstorm that caused Interstate 70 to be closed at times. “Although we have now seen a positive change in the weather and forecast, there is not enough time between today and the first training runs to prepare and fine-tune a full downhill course and finish area,” said Doug Lovell, chief operating officer of Beaver Creek resort..."

Photo credit: Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post. "Victor Muffat-Jeandet of France races in the first run of the giant slalom FIS World Cup Birds of Prey race in Beaver Creek on Dec. 6, 2015."

Slushy Tuesday. Our internal models sent out this notification for 1.4" in the Brainerd Lakes area by 5pm Tuesday. Source: Aeris Enterprise.

Looks LIke Late November. Temperatures will run at or even a couple degrees below average thru the end of November with highs in the 30s and low 40s, lows mostly in the 20s. Like turning on a light switch: instant winter. ECMWF numbers for the Twin Cities: WeatherBell.

Thanksgiving Day Preview. Here's the ECMWF (European) forecast for midday Thursday, showing dry weather over the southern half of the USA. Showers of rain or wet snow push across western Pennsylvania; a little light snow for South Dakota, with the next Pacific storm pushing heavy rain into Seattle and Portland. Map credit: WSI.

Cold, But Not Brutally So. The 2-week 500mb forecast shows a series of Pacific storms pushing snow or mixed precipitation across the northern USA. No sign of Indian Summer anytime soon, but  I don't see frigid air either.

The Heat Is On. It's been the warmest year on record, to date, for the Carolinas; 4th warmest since 1872 for Minnesota and New York; 6th warmest for Colorado and Wisconsin. It was also a record warm start to November for much of the USA, reports WXshift: "...And the warmth is continuing into November. According to the Southeast Regional Climate Center, several locations in the Northern Plains, Northern Rockies, and West Coast are having their warmest November on record so far. This includes cities as diverse Milwaukee; Bismarck, N.D.; Rapid City, S.D.; Salt Lake City; Boise, Idaho; Seattle; Los Angeles, and San Diego. Many locations had long-held records fall this week. On Nov. 16 alone, Oklahoma saw its latest 90°F reading (the previous record had been Nov. 8), Lincoln, Neb., had its latest 80°F day on record, and Fort Collins, Colo., hit 79°F, tying its all-time record high for November. On the same day, the temperature in Reno, Nev., fell below freezing for the first time this season -- that was the latest first freeze of the fall on record. The previous record was Nov. 4..." (Map credit: NOAA).

Winter Travel Tips. Here's an excerpt of a pretty good list of things to consider as we head into snow and ice season, courtesy of The Twin Cities National Weather Service:

Out on the Road
  • Before increasing your speed, get a feel for the traction. Remember that bridges and overpasses can be more slippery than other parts of the road. Do not brake suddenly. If you have anti-lock brakes, apply steady and firm pressure to the pedal. Do not pump anti-lock brakes
  • If you begin to skid, remain calm. Ease your foot off of the gas and turn the wheel in the direction you want the front of the car to go
  • When driving near snowplows, remember: Stay Back, Stay Alive.  Reduce your speed. Never drive into a snow cloud. An average snowplow weighs 17 times more than an average car. If you are in a collision with a snowplow, you will lose. Be patient; follow eight seconds behind snowplows
During a Winter Storm
  • Check the latest weather information as you drive
  • If severe winter weather is expected, consider postponing travel
  • Avoid traveling alone during a winter storm
  • Always fill the gas tank before entering open country, even for a short distance
  • Stock your vehicle with a winter storm safety kit
  • If the storm begins to be too much for you to handle, seek refuge

The North Pole Is An Insane 36 Degrees Warmer Than Normal As Winter Descends. Here's an excerpt from The Washington Post: "...This is the second year in a row that temperatures near the North Pole have risen to freakishly warm levels. During 2015’s final days, the temperature near the Pole spiked to the melting point thanks to a massive storm that pumped warm air into the region. So what’s going on here? “It’s about 20C [36 degrees Fahrenheit] warmer than normal over most of the Arctic Ocean, along with cold anomalies of about the same magnitude over north-central Asia,” Jennifer Francis, an Arctic specialist at Rutgers University, said by email Wednesday..."

Image obtained using a climate reanalyzer. (Climate Change Institute/University of Maine)

This Stunning World Map Shows The Awful State of Air Pollution. Here's an excerpt from The Washington Post: "It is a shocking real-time visualization of the damage we are doing to the planet — and to ourselves. According to the most recent estimates from the World Health Organization, 7 million people died in 2012 from breathing polluted air, either outdoors or inside their homes. But sometimes it is hard to get your head around those kinds of numbers. This three-dimensional interactive world map, produced by an award-winning French start-up company based in Beijing, makes it easier for everyone to gauge the depth of the problem..."

102 Million Dead California Trees "Unprecedented In Our Modern History" Officials Say. Here's the intro to a sobering story at the L.A. Times: "The number of dead trees in California’s drought-stricken forests has risen dramatically to more than 102 million in what officials described as an unparalleled ecological disaster that heightens the danger of massive wildfires and damaging erosion. Officials said they were alarmed by the increase in dead trees, which they estimated to have risen by 36 million since the government’s last survey in May. The U.S. Forest Service, which performs such surveys of forest land, said Friday that 62 million trees have died this year alone..."

Photo credit: U.S. Forest Service. "Dead pine trees dominate a hillside in the Los Padres National Forest, north of Frazier Park."

Weather Satellite Revolution. Here's more detail from NOAA: "Included in the advanced equipment on the satellite is the new Geostationary Lightning Mapper. In addition to providing forecaster with information on the potential for severe storm development this new technology will allow NOAA to provide real-time observations of lightning data directly to the public. This will allow the public to track lightning activity throughout the country, monitor nearby storms, and curtail outdoor activities early to avoid the lightning threat.

This year there have been 36 lightning deaths in the U.S., the most since 2007 when there were 45 fatalities. On average there have been about 30 lightning deaths in the U.S. in recent years.

More information on the Geostationary Lightning Mapper can be found at:

Major Hurricane Joaquin is shown at the far eastern periphery of the GOES West (GOES-15) satellite’s full disk extent, taken at 1200Z on October 1, 2015. Credit: NOAA

Read more at:
Major Hurricane Joaquin is shown at the far eastern periphery of the GOES West (GOES-15) satellite’s full disk extent, taken at 1200Z on October 1, 2015. Credit: NOAA

Read more at:

We Really Need To Figure Out How To Stop a Killer Asteroid, Scientists Say. Here's a clip from The Washington Post: "...NASA has discovered some 17,000 potentially hazardous near-Earth objects, but none of them is projected to come close to Earth in the next hundred years. No human that we know of has been killed by a meteorite or the effects of an impact, and the likelihood that this could happen to any of us is very, very slim. The chance of an impact big enough to destroy our planet is even smaller. Remember that Earth has suffered only one mass extinction-inducing impact that we know of in its 4.6 billion-year history, and even that asteroid didn't end life entirely. Our planet is pretty resilient. Still, plenty of researchers don't want to simply wait around and see what happens..."

Image credit: "Last month, NASA performed a simulation of what might happen if an asteroid was on a collision course with Earth." (NASA

America's First All-Renewable-Energy City. What is happening in Burlington can (and will) be replicated elsewhere. Here's the intro to a story at Politico Magazine: "To understand what makes Burlington unlike almost any other city in America when it comes to the power it consumes, it helps to look inside the train that rolls into town every day. The 24 freight cars that pull up to the city’s power plant aren’t packed with Appalachian coal or Canadian fuel oil but wood. Each day 1,800 tons of pine and timber slash, sustainably harvested within a 60-mile radius and ground into wood chips, is fed into the roaring furnaces of the McNeil Generating Station, pumping out nearly half of the city’s electricity needs. Much of the rest of what Burlington’s 42,000 citizens need to keep the lights on comes from a combination of hydroelectric power drawn from a plant it built a half mile up the Winooski River, four wind turbines on nearby Georgia Mountain and a massive array of solar panels at the airport..."
Photo credit: Mark Peterson/Redux Pictures for Politico Magazine.

Stephen Hawking Just Gave Humanity a Due Date For Finding Another Planet. The Washington Post has the story: "If humanity survives the rise of artificial intelligence, the ravages of climate change and the threat of nuclear terrorism in the next century, it doesn't mean we're home free, according to Stephen Hawking. The renowned theoretical physicist has gone as far as providing humanity with a deadline for finding another planet to colonize: We have 1,000 years. Remaining on Earth any longer, Hawking believes, places humanity at great risk of encountering another mass extinction. “We must ... continue to go into space for the future of humanity,” the 74-year-old Cambridge professor said during a speech Tuesday at Oxford University Union, according to the Daily Express..." (File image: NASA).

Dancing in a Hurricane. Thomas Friedman explains our collective angst and paranoia in an Op-Ed at The New York Times: "...So no wonder many in the West feel unmoored. The two things that anchored them in the world — their community and their job — are feeling destabilized. They go to the grocery store and someone there speaks to them in a different language or is wearing a head covering. They go into the men’s room and there is someone next to them who looks to be of a different gender. They go to work and there’s now a robot sitting next to them who seems to be studying their job. I celebrate this diversity of people and ideas — but for many others they’ve come faster than they can adapt..." (Image: GE Reports)

TODAY: Sunny and brisk. Winds: SE 5-10. High: 35

SUNDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear and chilly. Low: 26

MONDAY: Partly sunny, still dry. Winds: SE 8-13. High: 39

TUESDAY: Icy mix, then mostly rain. Winds: E 10-20. Wake-up: 30. High: 38

WEDNESDAY: Light snow tapers to flurries. Coating? Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 32. High: 36

THURSDAY: Nervous turkeys. Mostly cloudy. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 29. High: 41

FRIDAY: More clouds than sun, risk of shopping. Winds: W 5-10. Wake-up: 28. High:  40

SATURDAY: Lot's of clouds, no weather drama. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 26. High: 38

Climate Stories

Global Sea Ice. We appear to be in uncharted waters (literally) when it comes to the global sea ice area trends in recent months, based on data from The National Snow and Ice Data Center. Graph courtesy of Wipneus.

America's TV Meteorologists: Symptoms of Climate Change Are Rampant, Undeniable. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed I wrote for the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang: "...One snapshot in time doesn’t prove anything, but string these snapshots together into a longer-running movie and you start to see the outline of something larger in play. Imagine your favorite college football team running out onto the field, but all the players have a case of the flu. They suited up, but now they’re slow, groggy and sluggish, running the wrong routes, more prone to confusion and injury. Our atmosphere and oceans have a mild case of the flu — and symptoms are now showing up in the weather. I interviewed 11 of America’s premiere broadcast TV meteorologists, to hear their thoughts and stories of how a rapidly changing climate is affecting local weather patterns..."

President Trump Might Be Exactly What The Climate Movement Needs. Here's an excerpt from an analysis at Slate: "...His decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement could incite international backlash with adverse U.S. economic consequences—for instance, it could cause France to impose a carbon tax on imported American goods. Such moves by a Trump administration could trigger broad populist support for climate policy that, to date, has yet to emerge.   There are hints that this is already happening. In the week since Trump’s election, many environmental organizations have received record-breaking numbers of donations. Many came from first-time donors; in fact, in just the past week, one group received gifts from as many new donors as it usually gets in an entire year. Indeed, the passion shown in Sanders rallies does not appear to be withering. Rather, it could gather strength in the coming months as people rally around Trump’s anti-environmental policies..." (File photo: AP)

Greenland's Getting Warmer, But Farmers There Are Struggling More Than Ever. Here's an snippet of an NPR story: "...Since Greenland's 60,000 citizens rely almost entirely on food imports from Denmark and other European countries, farmers and officials have hoped that steadily rising temperatures, and shorter winters, would spur a growth in agriculture here. (Summer temperatures have risen about 2 degrees Fahrenheit in southern Greenland since 1975, increasing the growing season by two weeks.) And media stories about Arctic gardening in greenhouses or the warming temperatures have hyped the possibilities. Instead, says Aqalooraq Frederiksen, a third-generation farmer who works at a regional farmer assistance bureau, the dry summers are diminishing the prospects for Greenlandic farming..."

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