30 F. average high on February 25.
30 F. Maximum temperature in the STC metro on February 25, 2016.
February 26, 1996: A bolt of lightning from a snowstorm causes an explosion at a fireworks storage site in Milaca. One employee was injured and several homes in the area were damaged. An eight foot crater was all that remained where the storage site had been.
February 26, 1971: Extremely low pressure moves across Minnesota. The Twin Cities had a barometer reading of 28.77 inches and Duluth beat that with 28.75. Freezing rain and snow hit northern Minnesota, dumping up to 18 inches of snow in some areas. Areas around Virginia, MN were without power for 5 days.
February 26, 1896: A balmy high of 60 degrees is reported at Maple Plain. The warm weather hampered the annual ice cutting on Lake Independence to store for summer use.
Limping Into Spring A Little Early This Year
"Joy is not produced because others praise you. Joy emanates unbidden and unforced. Joy comes as a gift when you least expect it. At those fleeting moments you know why you were put here and what truth you serve" writes David Brooks in his remarkable book "The Road to Character".
What brings you joy? Your faith? Kids? Grandkids? All of the above. Yesterday it was the sun waking me up, not the shrieking of an alarm clock.
We've picked up well over 2 hours of daylight since December 1. A higher sun angle and nagging lack of snow cover means the sun's energy can go into heating up the air, not melting snow. The result will be 40s by Monday; even a little rain Tuesday. ECMWF guidance hints at 50s next Saturday.
We'll see more cold fronts (there's a bold prediction) but the odds of sustained, subzero weather are small, and receding fast with each passing day.
Yesterday my sister called me about a tornado warning west of Philadelphia. The east has experienced record-crushing highs in the 70s and 80s; the warmest temperatures ever observed in February.
Mea Culpa From the National Weather Service. Trust me, meteorologists are upset when they (we) miss a forecast, and this was a big bust, no question. But people expect perfection in a very imperfect world. And it almost seemed to me like some people were venting their frustration about another snow-less winter. I like snow - I would have been thrilled with another foot of the white stuff, but it just wasn't meant to be. Patch has a transcript of a post that went out Friday night: "We understand your frustration with the changing forecasts as this system evolved. We realize many people made or changed plans based on our forecasts," the NWS said. "We sympathize with those of you out there who are disappointed with the initial forecasts that didn’t work out." The service also said it would "evaluate" its messaging and forecasts from this week. Patch has reproduced the letter, in full, below:
Dear Minnesota and Wisconsin Residents,
We would like to take a couple minutes to address the latest winter storm to affect our area, and also provide our thoughts on the changes to the forecast the past couple days.
For over a week, the weather models we depend on have been forecasting a significant winter storm across a large portion of the Upper Midwest, including most of central/southern MN and western WI.
Nearly all the weather models we use showed a 10 to 20 inch area of snow across the southern half of Minnesota and in western Wisconsin at one time or another. The precise location of this snow band was not certain, but our recognition of the incoming weather pattern and the weather models all pointed to a significant snowfall event for today. Even as late as Wednesday-Thursday, there were still weather models showing the heaviest snow band farther north with heavy snow impacting the Twin Cities metro area.
Our forecasts on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday depicted a middle-of-the-road solution in terms of location.
By Thursday, it was apparent that the vast majority of the heavy snow would impact northern Iowa, far southern Minnesota and western Wisconsin. By Thursday, we used radar, satellite and weather models with higher detail to see how the snow bands were taking shape, and ultimately where the storm was tracking. In the end, the heavy snow continues to fall 50-100 miles to the southeast of where earlier forecasts were calling for heavy snow. There is also a remarkably small transition zone from heavy snow to absolutely zero snowfall. These are quite difficult to pin down even hours before the snow begins.
We understand your frustration with the changing forecasts as this system evolved. We realize many people made or changed plans based on our forecasts. We sympathize with those of you out there who are disappointed with the initial forecasts that didn’t work out.
We promise to evaluate our messaging and forecasts this week, and continually work to provide you with the best information we possibly can.
Our thoughts are also with the folks of southern MN and western WI, who continue to see heavy snow today and are trying to dig out from the 8-14” of snow that are already on the ground. We would like to thank our local and national media that helped get the winter storm message out. We would like to thank all of the many local, state and federal partners we have worked with this week and continue to work with today. These are the folks making the tough decisions based on the forecasts -- and who are always striving to keep the people of Minnesota and Wisconsin safe.
Thank you to everyone else for your continued support and for following us. Good luck to those dealing with the storm today. We remain committed to providing the most accurate information we can for the rest of the winter and as we head into flooding/severe weather season this spring.
The Forecast Team
National Weather Service Twin Cities
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..."
providing critical information to forecasters which will allow them to focus on developing severe storms much earlier than they can currently, and before these storms produce damaging winds, hail or even tornadoes.Such storms exhibit a significant increase in total lightning activity, often many minutes before the radar detects the potential for severe weather. Used in combination with radar, satellite data, and surface observations, total lightning data from GLM has great potential to increase lead time for severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings and reduce false alarm rates.Knowledge of total lightning activity and its extent will help improve public safety..."
Fast-Forward Spring. There's a little blue (snow) on future radar, but not as much as one would expect in late February. The cold front that spawned Saturday's surreal severe weather outbreak across the northeastern USA yesterday is sailing out to sea as temperatures cool off today. The southeast enjoys cool sun before a return of showers and T-showers by midweek. The Pacific Northwest gets pelted with more wind-whipped rain and snow for the elevations, spreading into northern California tonight and Monday. 84-hour NAM guidance: NOAA and Tropicaltidbits.com.
Accumulating Snow Potential. The Colorado Rockies may pick up over a foot of additional snow by Wednesday morning; generally nuisance amounts of snow for the northern USA into New England - more typical of mid-March.
Map credit: "How do you know when spring has begun? Is it the appearance of the first tiny leaves on the trees, or the first crocus plants peeping through the snow? The Spring Leaf Index is a synthetic measure of these early season events in plants, based on recent temperature conditions. This model allows us to track the progression of spring onset across the country. The map (above) shows locations that have reached the requirements for the Spring Leaf Index model (based on NOAA National Centers for Environmental Prediction Real-Time Mesoscale Analysis temperature products)."
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).
ECMWF Trending Milder. Every run of the European model is tracking milder, to the point where 40s may outnumber 30s for highs looking out 15 days. If the sun is out next Saturday temperatures may top 50F. Twin Cities meteogram: WeatherBell.
Photo credit: "San Jose Fire Department rescuers evacuate the last residents from their homes along the flooded streets on Welch Ave and Needles Drive near Kelley Park in San Jose, Calif. on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017."
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.
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."
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.
Drilling Experts Explain Why Trump Can't Bring Back Oilfield Jobs. Here's an excerpt from ThinkProgress: "Industry experts have some news for the president: Because of automation, a lot of the jobs lost in oil drilling aren’t coming back. And more are going to be lost. “To me, it’s not just about automating the rig,” Ahmed Hashmi, BP’s head of upstream technology, told Bloomberg recently. “It’s about automating everything upstream of the rig.” The story also noted that “automation means wells need only five workers, down from 20.” Donald Trump won the election with promises of creating a massive number of jobs and cracking down on industries that outsource or kill jobs. But because he isn’t discussing the real reasons we’re losing jobs — and because he’s betting on the dirty fuels of the past — he is missing the window to create millions of new jobs in clean energy..."
Photo credit: "Drill rigs are being increasingly automated." CREDIT: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert.
For Marketers, TV Sets Are an Invaluable Pair of Eyes. How would you like your TV set to watch YOU? For science, of course - and to tell marketing companies whether you're really paying attention during the commercial breaks. What can possibly go wrong? The New York Times reports: "While Ellen Milz and her family were watching the Olympics last summer, their TV was watching them. Ms. Milz, 48, who lives with her husband and three children in Chicago, had agreed to be a panelist for a company called TVision Insights, which monitored her viewing habits — and whether her eyes flicked down to her phone during the commercials, whether she was smiling or frowning — through a device on top of her TV. “The marketing company said, ‘We’re going to ask you to put this device in your home, connect it to your TV and they’re going to watch you for the Olympics to see how you like it, what sports, your expression, who’s around,’” she said. “And I said, ‘Whatever, I have nothing to hide...’”
Photo credit: "Dan Schiffman of TVision, demonstrating the software. “The big thing for TV advertisers and the networks is, are you actually looking at the screen or not?” he said." Dolly Faibyshev for The New York Times.
TODAY: Clouds, flakes north. Winds: W 10-15. High: 37
SUNDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy. Low: 23
MONDAY: Patchy clouds, turning milder again. Winds: S 10-15. High: 45
TUESDAY: Light rain and drizzle. Winds: NE 8-13. Wake-up: 33. High: 41
WEDNESDAY: Mostly cloudy, drier and cooler. Winds: N 10-15. Wake-up: 28. High: 36
THURSDAY: Chilly, few passing flurries. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 23. High: 32
FRIDAY: Sunny, milder breeze by afternoon. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 18. High: 39
SATURDAY: Partly sunny, hints of April. Winds: SW 10-15. Wake-up: 30. High: 51
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
Photo credit: "