Dangers of “Wheel-Track Glazing” Another Snowy Near Miss on Saturday?

What’s more fun than poking fun at meteorologists? Talking smack about MnDOT. It’s easy to throw these hard-working men and women under the bus (plow) – but they have a tough job, and like weather forecasters, find it impossible to please all of the people all of the time.

Wednesday night’s icy fiasco may have involved “wheel-track glazing”, when traffic itself literally creates ice. Friction from your tires hitting pavement can temporarily melt snow into water, which instantly refreezes into glaze ice. Salt and sand questions aside, that may have been a factor.

No travel headaches today but the next threat/opportunity for snow comes Saturday. Models disagree (nothing new there) but ECMWF (European model) keeps the heavy snow bands farther south than NOAA’s models. The metro area may pick up a couple inches, with heavier, plowable amounts over far southern Minnesota on Saturday. A band of 3-6″ with isolated 8″ amounts is possible closer to the Iowa line.

We cool off again next week (probably no white-knuckle commutes) but I still see a milder, stormier pattern evolving by mid-December, as a series of Pacific storms push inland. White Christmas anyone?


12 KM NAM model data (total snowfall by Monday morning) courtesy of NOAA and pivotalweather.com.


Watches and Warnings. The Winter Storm Watch includes all of far southern Minnesota, but not the immediate Twin Cities. Map: AerisWeather.


Model Consensus? What consensus? The models always differ, but meteorologists are relieved when there is some sort of consensus between the various weather models over time. Right now there seems to be some alignment in the 1-3″ range for the Twin Cities metro (more south, less north). Graphic: Iowa State.



ECMWF Keeps Heaviest Snow Bands Well South of MSP. Disclaimer: this is the 12z Thursday run of the “Euro” (I couldn’t stay awake long enough to show the 00z Friday solution). But there’s little doubt that European guidance (which is often better, but not infallible) keeps the heaviest snow bands over far southern Minnesota, closer to the Iowa border, with the best chance of 1-3″ over the southern suburbs. I’ll post the 00z solution as soon as I sober up Friday morning. Map: WeatherBell.


“Wheel-Track Glazing”. On a cold highway surface friction from tires on pavement can melt snow, which can refreeze into glaze ice. Is that what happened Wednesday afternoon and evening?




Mid-December: Trending Slightly Milder (and Stormier). GFS model guidance for the evening of December 13 shows a modified zonal flow (implying temperatures a little closer to average) with a series of Pacific storms pushing across the western USA. We’ll see if a long-wave trough produces enough amplification to pull moisture out of the Gulf of Mexico for a larger storm, but I see a series of snowy opportunities within 2 weeks.

Destructive 2018 Hurricane Season Draws To An End. NOAA has a good summary of yet another very destructive year: “The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season officially concludes on November 30, and will be remembered most for hurricanes Florence and Michael, which caused significant damage in the southeastern U.S. In total, the season produced 15 named storms, including eight hurricanes of which two were “major” (Category 3, 4 or 5). An average season has 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes. “From the start of the 2018 hurricane season to its conclusion, NOAA and its dedicated staff of scientists, researchers, and forecasters have remained on the frontlines, saving countless American lives with critical and accurate data,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “Time and again,  NOAA and NOAA resources have proven their value to the American people during the most urgent of circumstances.” Hurricane Michael, at a Category 4 intensity, was the strongest hurricane on record to strike the Florida panhandle. It was the third-most-intense hurricane to make landfall in the continental U.S. on record in terms of central pressure (919 mb) and the fourth-strongest in terms of maximum sustained winds (155 mph)…”


This aerial image shows extensive damage along the coast in Mexico Beach, Florida, caused by Hurricane Michael. NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey began collecting damage assessment imagery in the aftermath of the storm October 11, 2018. (NOAA NGS)


Climate-Warming El Nino Very Like in 2019, Says UN Agency. Here’s an overview from The Guardian: “There is a 75-80% chance of a climate-warming El Niño event by February, according to the latest analysis from the UN’s World Meteorological Organization. The last El Niño event ended in 2016 and helped make that year the hottest ever recorded by adding to the heating caused by humanity’s carbon emissions. The 2019 event is not currently forecast to be as strong as in 2016. El Niño events occur naturally every few years and stem from abnormally high ocean temperatures in the western Pacific. They have a major influence on weather around the globe, bringing droughts to normally damp places, such as parts of Australia, and floods to normally drier regions, such as in South America. The high temperatures also cause major bleaching on coral reefs…”

IRA ENSO forecast courtesy of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. Details here.


This Town Is Like Thousands Vulnerable to Contaminated Water, With No Fix in Sight. A story at CNN.com caught my eye: “…The EPA told CNN that more than 300 million Americans depend on 50,000 community water systems across the country for safe, reliable water every day. Over 92% of the population supplied by community water systems receives drinking water that meets all health-based standards all of the time. “The United States has world-class drinking water standards for more than 90 contaminants, including microorganisms, disinfectants, disinfection byproducts, inorganic and organic chemicals, and radionuclides-providing Americans safe and healthy water to drink,” the EPA said. But, a 2018 EPA report found that nationwide, nearly one-third of the nation’s public water systems had at least one violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Those systems serve more than 87 million Americans….”

Image credit: NOAA.


Global Food System is Broken, Say World’s Science Academies. A story at The Guardian caught my eye: “The global food system is broken, leaving billions of people either underfed or overweight and driving the planet towards climate catastrophe, according to 130 national academies of science and medicine across the world. Providing a healthy, affordable, and environmentally friendly diet for all people will require a radical transformation of the system, says the report by the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP). This will depend on better farming methods, wealthy nations consuming less meat and countries valuing food which is nutritious rather than cheap. The report, which was peer reviewed and took three years to compile, sets out the scale of the problems as well as evidence-driven solutions…”

File Image credit: Colorado State.


“If Bobbie Talks, I’m Finished”. How Les Moonves Tried to Silence an Accuser. I didn’t realize there was a Minnesota connection; here’s an excerpt from The New York Times: “…Mr. Dauer grew up in Minnesota, in a small town that was home to the company that manufactured Spam. He got a job in Los Angeles selling computer terminals to stockbrokers. But he craved proximity to Hollywood’s celebrities and beautiful women. In 1984, he enrolled in a class to learn how to be a talent manager. Soon he was prowling Hollywood parties for aspiring actresses whose careers he might manage. Mr. Dauer had “nothing but young girls around him,” Mr. McNall recalled…”

Image credit: “Leslie Moonves in 2007.” Credit: Bruce Gilden/Magnum Photos.


New Study Confirms That E-Cigs Damage Your Heart. Big Think has a post focused on new research that suggests safe-vaping is a myth: “…Vaping might be “healthier” than smoking, but the idea that it’s not dangerous is laughable. For example, in August a study at the University of Birmingham discovered that vaping liquid produces inflammatory cytokines, which over the course of decades could contribute to heart problems. Now a new study that was recently presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions confirms that, like traditional cigarettes, e-cigs cause endothelial cells to produce less nitric oxide, leading to heart damage. Nitric oxide (NO) is a byproduct shared by almost all forms of organic life. The inner lining of blood vessels (endothelium) use nitric oxide in vasodilation, widening blood vessels, to increase blood flow...”


Perfectionism Is Causing “Real Suffering” for Young Adults. The Star Tribune reports: “…I would argue that millennials, more than any other generation in American society, are receiving very strong explicit messages around achieving,” said Jessica Rohlfing Pryor, a Family Institute staff psychologist. “There’s an absence of messaging that trying your hardest is still OK.” This January, the American Psychological Association reported that recent generations of college students have reported higher levels of perfectionism than earlier generations. This “irrational desire to achieve along with being overly critical of oneself and others” is taking a toll on young people’s mental health, according to the association’s research, which analyzed data from more than 40,000 American, Canadian and British college students…”


In South Korea Overworked People Go to Prison on Purpose. Call me crazy but this just sounds like a bad vacation (with no cell phones). Quartz reports: “A mock prison called “Prison Inside Me” has become a retreat for harried South Koreans looking for a clean break from the daily demands of their careers. Located in the Hongcheon county, in Gangwon province east of Seoul, paying visitors are issued a standard blue uniform and must follow the facility’s strict rules. The “inmates” can’t speak to each other, nor do they have access to their phones, or even a clock. Meals, slipped under a swinging door to their cell, are fairly spartan. Prison Inside Me has hosted a few thousand visitors in the past few years, Reuters reports. Many of them are seeking temporary solace from the stresses of South Korea’s competitive schooling and job market...”

Photo credit: “Prison Inside Me, a mock prison facility, is shrouded by fog at dawn in Hongcheon, South Korea on Nov. 11.” Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji.


More Money Than Sense? Now You Hire Someone to Instagram For You. Another head-scratching post from Quartz: “A hotel chain in Switzerland is offering a new service: a “social media sitter” who will take photos of a guest’s vacation and post them on Instagram on their behalf. This is the world we are now all living in. Visitors to Ibis hotel locations in Geneva and Zurich this month had the option to buy a room package that includes a hired Instagram influencer to ostensibly let the vacationers take a break from social media, while still maintaining a jealousy-inducing presence online. The $90-and-up service is called “Relax We Post…”


This Self-Driving Hotel Room Could Revolutionize Travel. The possibilities are endless. CNN Travel explains: “…So when can travelers hope to try out the mobile hotel experience?  It is predicted that in the US, carmakers will be capable of producing fully self-driving vehicles by 2021, but the built infrastructure necessary to deploy them on the public road system will not be in place for at least a decadeLee says that his creation is likely to first hit the roads in East and West coast cities in the US, where the infrastructure will be completed soonest, and points to a cluster of cities including New York, Pittsburgh, Boston and Washington DC which “all fall into the six-to-ten-hour driving range,” as possible candidates for early adoption…”

Image credit: “Autonomous Travel Suite: A hybrid design which combines a hotel room with a self-driving vehicle, the Autonomous Travel Suite (ATS) comes in a range of sizes designed to accommodate solo travelers, couples or families. You can even bring your cat.” Aprilli Design Studio.


Measuring Christmas Creep Through “All I Want For Christmas is You”. Soon they’ll be playing it on the 4th of July. Here’s an excerpt from Quartz: “…Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” is one of the most popular songs of all time. According to the Economist, the song has already netted Carey more than $60 million in royalties. It seems to be only getting bigger. Come holiday times, Carey’s Christmas anthem shoots up the Billboard Hot 100—the American music industry’s standard for ranking the most popular songs in a given week. Since 2012, when Billboard changed their rules to allow older songs to appear on the charts, it has arrived a little sooner each year. In 2018, the song charted earlier than ever, appearing at number 29 on the rankings for Nov. 16–22…”



4″ of snow so far this winter season at MSP.

2″ on the ground in the Twin Cities Thursday morning.

31 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities.

33 F. average high on November 29.

46 F. high on November 29, 2017.

November 30, 2006: Lake effect snow occurs downwind of the larger lakes in Minnesota. Northwest winds from 8 to 12 mph accompanied an air mass in the single digits. This moved over lakes with water temperatures near 40 degrees. A cloud plume from Mille Lacs stretched all the way to Siren Wisconsin. Snow from Ottertail Lake and Lake Lida reduced visibilities at Alexandria to a few miles. Even some low clouds formed from Lake Minnetonka and were observed at Flying Cloud Airport.

November 30, 2000: A surface low pressure system moves into extreme southwestern Minnesota from South Dakota. The heaviest snow reported was in the 6 to 8 inch range, and fell in a narrow band just southwest of the Minnesota River in and around the Canby (Yellow Medicine County) and Madison (Lac Qui Parle County) areas. Northeast winds rising out of the Minnesota river valley up the slopes of the Buffalo Ridge in southwest Minnesota helped enhance snowfall amounts. The northeasterly winds between 10 and 20 mph were responsible for producing visibilities in the one to two mile range.

November 30, 1991: A storm dumps 14 inches of snow in the Twin Cities in about 12 hours.

November 30, 1896: Bitterly cold temperatures are reported across Minnesota. A low of 45 below zero occurs at the Pokegama Dam.



FRIDAY: Mostly cloudy, dry. Winds: S 5-10. High: 37

FRIDAY NIGHT: Cloudy. Low: 29

SATURDAY: Winter Storm Watch Far Southern MN. 1-3 inches of wet snow MSP by late Saturday night. More south. Winds: NE 15-30. High: 38

SUNDAY: Flurries taper, travel improves. Winds: N 10-20. Wake-up: 28. High: 32

MONDAY: Peeks of sun, quiet. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 22. High: 29

TUESDAY: Mostly cloudy, drama-free. Winds: W 8-13. Wake-up: 17. High: 28

WEDNESDAY: A stubborn quilt-work of clouds. Winds: SW 10-15. Wake-up: 15. High: 31

THURSDAY: Potential for wet snow or flurries. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 20. High: 29


Climate Stories…

Climate Change: Last 4 Years Are “World’s Hottest”. BBC News has details: “The year 2018 is on course to be the fourth warmest on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization. It says that the global average temperature for the first 10 months of the year was nearly 1C above the levels between 1850-1900. The State of the Climate report says that the 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years, with the 2015-2018 making up the top four. If the trend continues, the WMO says temperatures may rise by 3-5C by 2100. The temperature rise for 2018 of 0.98C comes from five independently maintained global data sets. The WMO says that one of the factors that has slightly cooled 2018 compared to previous years was the La Niña weather phenomenon which is associated with lower than average sea surface temperatures…”


A Carbon Tax Wave? 7 States Considering Carbon Pricing to Fight Climate Change. Policy isn’t coming at a federal level, so states are stepping up. Here’s an excerpt of a story at InsideClimate News: “At least seven state governments are poised at the brink of putting a price on climate-warming carbon emissions within the next year. Some are considering new carbon taxes or fees. Others are making plans to join regional carbon markets. The situation runs counter to the instant analysis of the November election, which focused on a defeat for carbon pricing in Washington state and discounted incremental progress across the board. Overall, the midterm election results increased their odds for success, say activists and analysts who are watching for the next step in a policy realm where proposals have been many but commitments to act have been weak...”

Image credit: Paul Horn, InsideClimate News.


Farmer in Iowa City Notices Similar Changes Outlined in Federal Climate Change Report. Too much water, not enough water – I’m hearing similar stories from Minnesota farmers who are increasingly challenged by wild moisture extremes. Here’s a clip from KCRG.com: “…Edwards just wrapped up her growing season at Wild Woods Farms. She started her own organic vegetable farm, just outside of Iowa City, about nine years ago. “I produce 80 acres of vegetables, and this is where I deal with it all before I get it to the customers,” Edwards said. While science has consensus on climate change, politicians obviously do not. But Edwards sees that something is happening, and the evidence was in this year’s onion crop. “I have never had to irrigate onions. This year I had to irrigate onions,” Edwards said. The National Climate Assessment report says dryer summers are in Iowa’s future because of temperature increases tied to the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere…”



How Climate Change is Impacting Health Now: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “Rising temperatures as a result of climate change are already exposing populations around the world to an unacceptably high health risk, new research published in The Lancet medical journal shows. The 2018 report of the Lancet Countdown on health and climate change, produced by 150 experts from 27 global institutions, documents how vulnerability to heat is rising in all regions of the world, with 157 million more vulnerable people subjected to a heatwave last year than in 2000, and 18 million more than in 2016. The dire and wide-ranging report also finds that 153 billion hours of work were lost in 2017 due to extreme heat as a result of climate change, that rising temperatures and unseasonable warmth are responsible for cholera and dengue fever spreading, and that aging populations—especially those living in cities in Europe and the East Mediterranean—are particularly at risk to heat exposure. “These are not things happening in 2050 but are things we are already seeing today,” Countdown executive director Nick Watt told the Guardian.” (New York Times $, The Guardian, USA TodayInsideClimate News, CNNThomson Reuters Foundation, Mother Jones)

File image: care2.com.


NRA-Style Superlobby is Exactly What’s Needed to Fight Climate Change. An Op-Ed at USA TODAY broaches an interesting approach – would it help? “…The NRA and its nonprofit lobbying arms raise and spend millions of dollars to lobby Congress and run issue-based campaign ads. Industries hurt by climate change — including insurance and re-insurance, health care, agriculture, recreation and real estate — have combined values in the trillions of dollars. They stand to loss tens of billions if even moderate climate change occurs. Moreover, growing numbers of climate-concerned megadonors such as Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer are willing to invest in the cause. If they all join forces, they could generate more than enough to offset money contributed by oil and coal companies to block restrictions or new taxes on fossil fuels...”


Human Behavior Might Be the Hardest Part of Climate Change to Predict. FiveThirtyEight has some interesting perspective: “…This is where we edge away from physics and into sociology. The consequences of sea level rise are about more than just flooding. Politics, legal systems, social and cultural histories all play a role in determining humanity’s response. What infrastructure will get built and when? What laws will be written? Which communities will be forced to move? As the assessment released last week states, “The ability of adaptation to reduce severe climate impacts like these will ultimately depend less on scientific uncertainties and the ability to implement engineering solutions than on perceived loss of culture and identity, in particular identities associated with unique cultural heritage sites and a sense of place.” That’s true for a number of ways that climate change will complicate our lives…”


“I Was Wrong on Climate Change. Why Can’t Other Conservatives Admit It Too? Conservative columnist and pundit Max Boot talks about an acceptance of the scientific consensus in an Op-Ed at The Washington Post: “I admit it. I used to be a climate-change skeptic. I was one of those conservatives who thought that the science was inconclusive, that fears of global warming were as overblown as fears of a new ice age in the 1970s, that climate change was natural and cyclical, and that there was no need to incur any economic costs to deal with this speculative threat. I no longer think any of that, because the scientific consensus is so clear and convincing. The Fourth National Climate Assessment, released Friday by the U.S. government, puts it starkly: “Observations collected around the world provide significant, clear, and compelling evidence that global average temperature is much higher, and is rising more rapidly, than anything modern civilization has experienced, with widespread and growing impacts…”

Photo credit: “A firefighter searches for human remains in a trailer park destroyed in the Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif.” (John Locher/AP).


15 Take-Aways From The U.S. Climate Change Report. Here’s an excerpt from CNN.com: “…Higher temperatures will also kill more people, the report says. The Midwest alone, which is predicted to have the largest increase in extreme temperatures, will see an additional 2,000 premature deaths per year by 2090. People who live in Rhode Island could see an additional 1,500 heat-related ER visits by 2095, and some of those visits will end in death, according to the report. Poor air quality can also lead to more strokes and heart attacks. The heat will be a problem for elderly people with chronic conditions, increasing the death rate by 2.8% to 4% with each increase of approximately 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) in summer temperature…”