February 25, 1934: A late season cold snap produces a bitterly cold low of -46 at Big Falls.
Mamma, Don't Let Your Kids Grow Up To Be Meteorologists
Neighbors are still buzzing about the treacherous DUSTING! of snow yesterday in the metro. Hey, I could have slipped and broken a fingernail.
Yes, by all means let's round up the poor meteorologists and shame them publicly. It's not like they're trying to, oh, predict the future. Meteorology isn't an exact science, like economics, foreign policy and fantasy football. The weather models are good, but still far from perfect.
This latest near-miss was another reminder that, overall, the ECMWF (European) model performs better than NOAA's models. Better physics, better data flowing into the model - focusing on one model vs scores of specialized models is having an impact.
I sure wouldn't bet against NOAA in the long run, but we still have some catching up to do. And Friday was a reminder that a 75-mile shift in the storm track can make the difference between flurries, and a foot of flurries.
No more 60s in sight; a series of jacket-worthy cold fronts arrive into mid-March but the biggest, wettest storms stay south.
No, we don't make the weather, we just try to predict it. Some days are better than others. Now...back to my flogging.
Record-Setting Warm Spell. The duration and intensity of warmth in Minnesota in February was unique and unprecedented in the historical record. Dr. Mark Seeley has more details on February's amazing warmth in this week's edition of Minnesota WeatherTalk: "...Two new preliminary statewide maximum temperature records were reported during this warm spell: 67°F at Redwood Falls on the 17th is a new statewide record for the date; and 66°F at Amboy reported on the 22nd is a new statewide record high for the date as well. In addition, some new high record dew point values were reported during this spell of warmth, including a reading of 52°F at MSP on Monday, February 20th which also tied for the highest ever dew point measured in the Twin Cities during the month of February (also occurred on February 25, 2000). Another noteworthy feature in Minnesota's climate was what happened in Voyageurs National Park. Like the warm spell in mid-Jsnuary last month, the warm spell this month forced the closure of the ice roads on Rainy Lake and Kabetogama. To the best of my knowledge this is the first time these ice roads have been closed in back to back winter months..."
Map credit: "An anomaly map showing the degree to which early spring has appeared in the US. In Washington DC, spring arrived 22 days earlier than normal." (Image: US-NPN).
Spring Fades - For Now. Heavy T-storms forecast to push across New England today mark the leading edge of colder air (but not arctic). Snow tapers across the Great Lakes as another storm pushes across the Pacific Northwest. A fairly quiet, dry and comfortable weekend is on tap from the Plains to the Southeast. 12 KM NAM Future Radar product: NOAA and Tropicaltidbits.com.
Drought Covers Just 17% of California - Down From 73% Three Months Ago. I honestly can't remember a more severe case of weather-whiplash. Details via USA TODAY: "Relentless rain and snow in California continues to eat away at the state's five-year drought, federal experts said Thursday. Only 17% of the state remains in a drought — primarily in Southern California — the lowest percentage since 2011, according to this week's U.S. Drought Monitor. For the first time since 2013, none of the state is listed in "extreme" drought. The new numbers represent a drastic decrease. Three months ago, drought covered 73% of California. One year ago, that number was 95%..."
- 636 inches at the Mount Rose ski area in Nevada.
- 584 inches at Boreal Mountain.
- 556 inches at Kirkwood, including 80 inches this week.
- 544 inches at Heavenly, including 81 inches this week.
- 534 inches at Northstar, including 84 inches this week (61 inches in 48 hours).
- 510 inches at Mammoth..."
Photo credit: "University of Alabama climatologist Dr. Rebecca Minzoni, left, is shown during a scientific expedition to Antartic early in her career. Minzoni has helped identify underwater currents that are melting Antarctic glaciers from underneath."
Photo credit: Kevin Ho // CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Air Pollution Affects Preterm Birthrates Globally, Study Finds. Here's an excerpt from The Washington Post: "A pregnant woman's exposure to air pollution has adverse effects on her fetus, according to a new international study, with prolonged exposure associated with nearly 1 in 5 premature births globally. The study, published recently in the journal Environment International, is the first global estimate of preterm births associated with pollution caused by fine particulate matter. This matter, known as PM2.5, is identified by the size of the microscopic particles and droplets it contains (2.5 micrometers in diameter or less), and it can reach deep into the respiratory tract. It is emitted by man-made sources such as diesel engines, industrial plants and the cooking fuels used mostly in parts of Asia, as well as by natural sources such as chemical reactions occurring in the atmosphere..."
Photo credit: Paul Pival, Flickr.
Xcel Energy Switches on 32 MW of Community Solar in Minnesota. I don't take for granted the fact we have a utility that gets it, and is trying to get out in front of the renewable energy revolution. Here's an excerpt from PV-Tech: "Xcel Energy has commissioned seven new community solar gardens, totalling 32MW in Minnesota. The projects were developed under the utility’s Solar Rewards Community programme that aims to spur community solar among residential subscribers and local businesses. Xcel Energy currently has 57MW of community solar gardens online at 17 project sites as part of its programme, which was launched in 2014. The projects are also part of a larger 96MW of community solar to be developed by BHE Renewables and Geronimo Energy that will provide clean energy throughout the Twin Cities metro area and greater Minnesota..."
Photo credit: "More community solar comes online in Minnesota, with seven new projects by Xcel Energy, Geronimo Energy and BHE Renewables." Source: Xcel Energy
Today's Infrastructure Plans Must Account for Tomorrow's Technology. Infrastructure needs to be upgraded, but what's the smartest, most cost-effective way to plan for future modes of transportation? Here's an excerpt from TheHill: "...General Motors CEO Mary Barra, who also serves as one of President Trump’s economic advisors, often says that the next five years will see more change in mobility than have the past 50 years. If she is right — and we think she is — we have some work to do. The nation’s current transportation system largely operates as it did some 60 years ago when President Eisenhower signed the National Interstate Highway Act into law. Ford CEO Mark Fields, who serves as an advisor to President Trump on manufacturing, recently wrote in Medium, “Longer term —15, 20 and even 30 years out — we’re imagining a world with significant concentrations of autonomous vehicles, most of which will be electrified...”
St. Paul file photo: Dan Anderson, Flickr.
Photo credit: "Senate Democrats' boycott of a vote on Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency was one sign of how divided Congress has become on environmental issues."
Photo credit: " Credit Andrew Renneisen for The New York Times.
Photo credit: "
TODAY: Some sun, less wind. Winds: NW 10-15. High: 33
SATURDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy and cool. Low: 22
SUNDAY: More clouds, few flurries in the air. Winds: W 8-13. High: 35
MONDAY: Partly sunny and pleasant. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 21. High: 39
TUESDAY: Light mix, mainly wet roads. Winds: NE 8-13. Wake-up: 29. High: near 40
WEDNESDAY: Lamb-like start to March. Few clouds. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 27. High: 38
THURSDAY: Brisk with a few flurries. Winds: N 10-20. Wake-up: 21. High: 33
FRIDAY: Intervals of sun, few flakes. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 20. High: 32
February 24 full-disk image above courtesy of GOES-16 and NOAA. Check out NOAA's GOES-16 Image Gallery for more eye-popping imagery.
Map credit: coolwx.com.
It Might Feel Good, But February's Intense Heat is a Very Bad Sign. Which makes it a little harder to fully enjoy these freakish February warm fronts. ThinkProgress reports: "...This change in weather patterns does not come without a cost. For those living in frigid Midwestern states, a balmy day in February is a welcome respite from the typical winter chill. But the early thaw — what scientists call “season creep” — can have disastrous consequences for ecosystems. Flowers are already beginning to emerge in Chicago, which has gone a record 67 days without an inch of snow. Early blossoms may wilt before they can be pollinated. Farmers in the region may see their crops bud after an early thaw only to perish in a late-season frost..."
Map credit: "Plants are regrowing leaves days or weeks earlier than they typically do." CREDIT: National Phenology Network
Why You Shouldn't Hope for an Early Spring. Here's a clip from Ensia: "...Some of the longest running records, which chronicle first leaf growth of honeysuckle and lilacs across the lower 48 states, show a noticeable shift toward earlier dates since the 1980s. Like the temperatures recorded as part of climate change research, the leaf-out dates show great variability from year to year but the trend is distinct — earlier warmer temperatures and earlier first buds and blooms. While occasional false springs are not new, what is new in recent years is the combination of increasingly warmer springs and extreme temperature swings, overall shorter times throughout fall and winter of below-freezing temperatures, and the altered precipitation patterns associated with global climate change..."
Weather Whiplash. Parts of southern Minnesota went from 60s to a blizzard in a couple of days; it seems the extremes are trending more extreme over time. Hunter Cutting explains at Medium: "...We see the signs of warming everywhere: in temperature readings, satellite measurements, disappearing sea ice, vanishing glaciers, melting ice sheets, changing seasons, migrating species, and the accelerating rise of the oceans as the seas warm and expand. At last count, there are more than 26,500 such signals. We are now also living with dramatic changes in extreme weather and its impacts. Extreme downpours, storm surges, heat waves, droughts and wildfires have all been significantly amplified by climate change, in some cases dramatically. These changes were expected — a small shift in Earth’s climate produces a substantial shift in extreme weather..."
Red State America Acts on Climate Change - But Calls It Other Names. If we focus on cleaner, cheaper, renewable American energy sources - the climate challenge may take care of itself. Here's an excerpt from Scientific American: "My colleagues and I did a survey of over 200 local governments in 11 states of the Great Plains region to learn about steps they’re taking to mitigate the effects of climate change and to adapt to them. We found local officials in red states responsible for public health, soil conservation, parks and natural resources management, as well as county commissioners and mayors, are concerned about climate change, and many feel a responsibility to take action in the absence of national policy. But because it is such a complex and polarizing topic, they often face public uncertainty or outrage toward the issue. So while these local officials have been addressing climate change in their communities over the past decade, many of these policy activities are specifically not framed that way..."
File photo credit: Associated Press.