29 F. average high on February 21.
31 F. high in the STC metro area on February 21, 2016.
February 22, 1922: A blizzard, ice storm and thunderstorms all occur on the same day across Minnesota. Winds hit 50 mph in Duluth while thunderstorms were reported in the Twin Cities. Heavy ice over southeast Minnesota with 2 inches of ice on wires near Winona. Over two inches of precipitation fell. This was also one of the largest ice storms ever in Wisconsin history.
From Fake Spring to Real Blizzard in 36 Hours?
This week feels like a Meteorology 001 final exam: rain, thunder, fog, record warmth, blizzard potential. Wait, say what? You heard right. There's a small but growing risk of an old fashioned snowy dumping by Friday. Although, as a recovering snow-lover, I keep asking "what can go wrong, and what time?"
Will planets align - or is this another cruel false alarm for snow aficionados? Confidence levels remain low; a slight wobble in the storm track of only 50-75 miles will make the difference between 3 inches and 13 inches. Right now it appears the best chance of 6-10 inches or more will come north and west of the Twin Cities but more tweaks in the snowfall outlook are likely as we zero in on the final storm track. Friday looks like the roughest travel day - and the lowest mile of the atmosphere should be cold enough for all-snow north and west of MSP; mostly-snow in the immediate Twin Cities.
Buyer beware: if the storm track shifts your results may vary. Either way it's a subtle (yet blunt) reminder that, no, spring is NOT here.
Record warmth, 60s in February - this nice little daydream we've enjoyed together, will soon give way to reality. March kicks off with highs in the 30s, where we should be.
Winter Storm Watch. I haven't seen wording like this from the local National Weather Service office in a long time. On our (patented, trademarked, Judge Judy-certified) snowstorm scale from nuisance to plowable to crippling this will probably fall somewhere between plowable and crippling.
Shifting Track. Latest (NAM) guidance shifts the heaviest snow band north and west of the Twin Cities. A more northward storm track might pull a brief mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain as far north as the Twin Cities Thursday night, taking the edge off the heaviest amounts in the immediate metro - with all snow just north/west of MSP. A 50 mile jiggle in the storm track will mean the difference between 4-5" of slush and a cool foot of snow. Future snowfall product (12 KM NAM) from NOAA and Tropicaltidbits.com.
Photo credit: Kevin Rivoli/AP Photo. "Steve Meier, right, and John Bellavia dig out Bellavia's car in Osewgo, N.Y., Friday, Feb. 9, 2007. New York's Governor Eliot Spitzer declared a disaster in Oswego County, where five straight days of lake-effect squalls have dumped nearly 100 inches (254cm) of snow, with even more snow forecast through the weekend."
Photo credit: "Lake Mead reservoir and the Hoover Dam show a "bath tub ring" from low water levels in 2015." (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
California Braces For More Rain. How Bad Can It Get? Here's an excerpt from a story at The New York Times: "...This latest storm is what’s called an “atmospheric river” — a weather event more commonly known as the “pineapple express.” It is moist tropical air from the central Pacific trapped in a band between different pressure systems, Mr. Kurth said. When it hits California, it unleashes a high amount of rain. “It’s like a fire hose of moisture when we get these atmospheric rivers,” he said. An atmospheric river is not especially unusual. “We usually get a couple every year,” he said. “On average we get maybe three to five or so. This year we’ve gotten quite a few more.” How many more? “More than a dozen prior to this one,” he said..."
Photo credit: " " Credit Randy Pench/The Sacramento Bee, via Associated Press.
Animation credit: NOAA/ESRL/PSD.
The Other "Big One". California's Pending Megaflood. Science fiction? Let's hope so, but waterlogged residents of California could endure something far worse. Here's an excerpt from Curbed San Francisco: "...The results are similar to a hurricane, except they can last for weeks. USGS tapped 117 “scientists, engineers, public-policy experts, [and] insurance experts” to suss out what it would look like:
The Central Valley experiences flooding 300 miles long and 20 or more miles wide.Serious flooding also occurs in Orange County, Los Angeles County, San Diego, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Wind speeds reach 125 miles per hour. [...] Hundreds of landslides damage roads, highways, and homes. Property damage exceeds $300 billion, most from flooding.[...] Agricultural losses and other costs to repair lifelines, dewater (drain) flooded islands, and repair damage from landslides, brings the total direct property loss to nearly $400 billion. Flooding evacuation could involve 1.5 million residents.
In all, 25 percent of the state could end up submerged. And the total cost could surge as high as $725 billion—more than three times the estimate of a mega-earthquake. $1.17 billion of that would be in San Francisco alone..."
Map credit: "
File photo: Andrew Demp, Yale.
Number of Minnesota Farms Dips by 300 to 73,300 in 2016. So reports the Crookston Times: "Minnesota has slightly fewer farms than a year ago but the ones that remain tend to be getting larger, following national trends. A U.S. Department of Agriculture report released Friday says the total number of farms in Minnesota in 2016 was 73,300. That's down 300 from 2015. The total amount of Minnesota farmland last year was 25.9 million acres, which hasn't changed since 2013..."
File photo: meteorologist Rob Koch.
Why We Need the EPA. Rivers are no longer catching on fire - that's probably a good thing, right? Here's an excerpt from NRDC: "...A collective memory lapse seems to have descended on lawmakers who seek to dismantle an agency that has transformed American life for the better. Since the EPA’s founding in 1970, concentrations of common air pollutants, like sulfur dioxide, have dropped as much as 67 percent. The EPA helped mitigate catastrophes like acid rain, leaded gasoline, and DDT. The agency bravely classified secondhand smoke as a known carcinogen in 1993, paving the way for successful litigation against the tobacco industry and an incredible reduction in U.S. smoking rates...."
Photo credit: "
Los Angeles: The World's Most Traffic-Clogged City? So says a new report highlighted at ABC News: "Low fuel prices and economic stability are straining the country's roadways, leading to congestion that cost U.S. drivers nearly $300 billion in wasted gas and time last year, according to a new report released today. Los Angeles had the worst traffic in the world among 1,064 cities studied by traffic analytics firm INRIX. L.A. also topped the Kirkland, Washington, firm’s list the year before. On average, Los Angeles motorists spent about 104 hours stuck in traffic during the peak commuting hours of 2016, contributing to a loss of $2,408 per driver, or about $9.7 billion collectively, in wasted fuel and productivity, according to the firm’s Global Traffic Scorecard report..." (Image credit: INRIX Global)
A Warning from Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking. It may not be an actual robot, but automation and AI will replace not only blue-collar manufacturing jobs but many white-collar jobs as well. It's already happening and America needs a plan to keep people gainfully employed. Here's an excerpt from Medium: "...There’s a rising chorus of concern about how quickly robots are taking away human jobs. Here’s Elon Musk on Thursday at the the World Government Summit in Dubai:
“What to do about mass unemployment? This is going to be a massive social challenge. There will be fewer and fewer jobs that a robot cannot do better [than a human]. These are not things that I wish will happen. These are simply things that I think probably will happen.” — Elon Musk
What is Killing the American Dream: NAFTA or Automation? CNN Money takes a look at Michigan, where there is an ongoing debate about the virtues of robotics and automation.
TODAY: Last mild day with intervals of sun. Winds: NW 7-12. High: 55 (record high is 55 in 196)
WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Patchy clouds. Low: 36
THURSDAY: Cooler with increasing clouds. Snow arrives Thursday evening and Thursday night. Winds: NE 8-13. High: 39
FRIDAY: Snow likely, potentially plowable amounts; over 4-6" possible. Winds: NE 15-25+ Wake-up: 25. High: 30
SATURDAY: Sun returns, travel slowly improves. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 21. High: 31
SUNDAY: More clouds than sun, brisk. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 17. High: near 30
MONDAY: Sunny breaks, temps. near average. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 18. High: 36
TUESDAY: Rain/snow mix possible. Winds: E 10-20. Wake-up: 28. High: 37
Graphic credit: "Northern California Sierra precipitation - average, previous wettest year, and 2016-2017." Illustration: California Department of Water Resources.
Graphic credit: "Air temperature 2 meters above the surface for the Arctic north of 80 degrees latitude for 2017 (red), compared to 2016 (yellow), and the long-term average (blue)." Credit: Zack Labe/ Danish Meteorological Institute
Companies Are Concealing the Risks of Climate Change. So says a post at Inverse; here's an excerpt: "...Whatever policy direction the SEC takes on climate risk, it is unlikely to deter those investors who believe the present system of voluntary and mandatory disclosure has failed to provide them with sufficient information on the risks of climate change. And some market participants, such as Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, worry that the underreporting of climate change information is creating a big risk for financial markets – a carbon bubble – that could lead to a major market failure. Currently, the SEC requires mandatory disclosure of all “material” information, while everything else is voluntary. This system has created a vast amount of publicly available information on the costs and risks of climate change..."
Photo credit: "ExxonMobil’s refinery in Billings, Montana."
The Problems with Winter Warming. I'm enjoying the extended streak of spring fever in February (!) as much as everyone else, but at the risk of being Debby Downer there are some downsides to spring coming extra-early. Here's a post from Climate Central: "The decrease in winter cold effectively makes the winter shorter. While that might sound good at first, it comes with consequences for recreation, farming, and the environment. In colder climates, winter-based recreational activities, like skiing, ice fishing, and snowmobiling will become less prevalent. More disease-carrying insects, like mosquitoes and ticks, will survive through a milder winter. Declining snow pack leads to lower reservoir levels, providing less water for irrigation of crops. Fruit trees, which need to become dormant in the winter to blossom in the spring, may produce smaller yields. Pollen counts will rise, which can trigger respiratory illnesses for allergy sufferers."
Humans Changing Climate 170 Times Faster than Natural Forces. Yale Environment360 has a summary of new research: "Humans are changing the climate 170 times faster than natural forces, according to a new study published in the peer-reviewed journal The Anthropocene Review. The research is the first mathematical equation to compare the impact of human activity on current climate to naturally occurring changes. For 4 billion-plus years, astronomical and geophysical factors, such as solar heat output and volcanic eruptions, were the dominating influences on Earth’s climate, argue study authors Owen Gaffney and Will Steffan, climate scientists at Stockholm University and Australian National University, respectively. But over the past six decades, human activities like the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation “have driven exceptionally rapid rates of change,” the study says..."
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