But Wait – There’s More (Snow) On The Way!

I put the 12-foot snow drift in our front yard on Craigslist. So far no takers. High-quality, Aspen-like snow, never been used. It’s blocking our mailbox, which has cut down on bills in recent days. One silver lining.

At 31.5 inches, February 2019 is the 10th snowiest month on record in the Twin Cities. Will we break the all-time record of 46.9 inches in November, 1991? Like many of you I’ll take the Halloween Superstorm to my grave. No, I don’t think we’ll see that much in the next week, but an inch or two may fall tonight; another 2-4 inches Saturday night, as a major storm tracks south and east of Minnesota. A few models print out a foot of snow for parts of southeastern Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Unusually cold weather follows the storm next week, with temperatures as much as 20-25F below average. Not Polar Vortex territory, but chilly weather spills into the first week of March.

Look at the bright side: we’ve picked up 2 hours of daylightmsince December 21. 3 additional minutes of
daylight daily! At some point – all this snow will melt.

No, really.

But Wait, There’s More. An inch or 2 of wet snow may fall Friday night; another southern surge late Saturday and Saturday with a few inches – possibly plowable. And look how close the heavy accumulation comes to MSP. ECMWF prints out over a foot of additional snow for far southeastern Minnesota and much of Wisconsin. I mean, what can possibly go wrong (right?) Map: WeatherBell.

Glaze Ice Potential. Temperatures aloft may be just mild enough for a little rain, freezing on contact with cold surfaces. The greatest risk of icing runsfrom Omaha to Des Moines into far southern Minnesota.

Future Radar courtesy of AerisWeather and Praedictix.

Record-Smashing. 31.5″ of snow in the Twin Cities this month obliterates the old record of 26.5″ set in 1962. St. Cloud and Rochester have also set February snowfall records – Duluth is close to a record. Graphic: Praedictix.

Climbing Out of a Deep Rut. Tulips won’t be blooming anytime soon, but by the second week of March I expect to see more persistent 30s. By late March we should see 40s, even a shot at 50 as snow melt accelerates.

March Temperature Outlook. Will temperatures remain colder than average from Seattle to Billings and the Twin Cities? My confidence level is low, but the current pattern does seem supernaturally persistent. CFSv2 climate model courtesy of NOAA and WeatherBell.

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Thursday, February 21st, 2019:

  • More rounds of heavy rain will occur through the end of the week and into the weekend across parts of the Southeast due to a stalled frontal boundary. An additional 2-4”+ of rain could fall across parts of Arkansas into Mississippi and Tennessee, which will continue to produce a heightened flood threat.
  • Meanwhile, an Enhanced Risk of severe weather exists from Arkansas to Kentucky Saturday from midday onward for the potential of damaging winds and a few tornadoes.
  • That same system responsible for the severe weather risk will also produce heavy snow and potentially blizzard conditions somewhere in the upper Midwest Saturday into Sunday.

Past 72 Hour Rain. Over the past few days, very heavy rain has fallen across parts of the Southeast, with over three inches of rain reported in parts of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. This heavy rain has caused numerous Flash Flood Warnings across the region.

Heavy Rain Threat Continues. Rounds of heavy rain will continue across parts of the Southeast over the next several days due to a stalled frontal boundary and a new area of low pressure in the central part of the nation. Parts of the region – especially parts of Arkansas into Mississippi and Tennessee – could see an additional 2-4”+ of rain through 7 PM Saturday.

Flooding Potential. Due to the additional heavy rain expected across the region today and Friday in areas that already have saturated soil due to heavy rain over the past several days, the Weather Prediction Center once again has a Moderate Risk of excessive rain in place. On Thursday, the threat exists from northeastern Louisiana to northwestern Alabama, where 1-3” of rain can be expected. On Friday, the greatest flooding threat exists from northern Mississippi and Alabama into far southern Kentucky, where 2-3” of rain is possible.

Flood Watches. Due to the potential of heavy rain over the next several days, Flood and Flash Flood Watches remain in effect across parts of the Southeast. In Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and most of Tennessee, these watches are in effect through Saturday.

Enhanced Severe Threat Saturday. Meanwhile, we’re tracking the potential of severe weather Saturday with that next system in the central United States. An Enhanced Risk of severe weather is in place from Arkansas to Kentucky, including Memphis, Nashville, and Little Rock. Storms are expected to develop during the midday hours on Saturday in Arkansas, moving toward the Ohio Valley by the evening hours. These storms may be capable of considerable damaging winds as well as a few tornadoes, some of which could be strong.

Potential Upper Midwest Blizzard. That same system will also produce a swath of heavy snow across parts of the upper Midwest. While there is uncertainty in the exact placement of the heavy band of snow this weekend, confidence is higher that the heaviest snow with this system could fall in a band that is only 2-4 counties wide. Meanwhile, winds will also increase across the upper Midwest, potentially causing blizzard conditions Saturday into early Sunday. We’ll keep an eye on this system over the next few days.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix

The Government’s New Weather Model Faces a Storm of Protest. Will NCEP (ever) be able to catch up with ECMWF? I sure hope so, but that blessed day does not appear imminent. Here’s an excerpt from a post at WIRED.com: “The government’s new weather forecast model has a slight problem: It predicts that outside temperatures will be a few degrees colder than what nature delivers. This “cold bias” means that local meteorologists are abandoning the National Weather Service in favor of forecasts produced by British and European weather agencies. For the past few weeks, the National Weather Service has been forecasting snowfall that ends up disappearing, according to Doug Kammerer, chief meteorologist at WRC-TV in Washington, DC. “It’s just not performing well,” Kammerer says. “It has continued to show us getting big-time snowstorms in this area, where the European model will not show it.…”

Rare L.A. Mega-Storm Could Overwhelm Dam and Flood Dozens of Cities, Experts Say. A story at The Los Angeles Times caught my eye: “Scientists call it California’s “other big one,” and they say it could cause three times as much damage as a major earthquake ripping along the San Andreas Fault. Although it might sound absurd to those who still recall five years of withering drought and mandatory water restrictions, researchers and engineers warn that California may be due for rain of biblical proportions — or what experts call an ARkStorm. This rare mega-storm — which some say is rendered all the more inevitable due to climate change — would last for weeks and send more than 1.5 million people fleeing as floodwaters inundated cities and formed lakes in the Central Valley and Mojave Desert, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Officials estimate the structural and economic damage from an ARkStorm (for Atmospheric River 1,000) would amount to more than $725 billion statewide...”

Image credit: “Lead engineer Douglas Chitwood at the Whittier Narrows Dam. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the aging structure could fail in heavy rains.” (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times).

Sleep Deprivation is Killing You and Your Career. A story at LinkedIn is a worthy reminder that quality REM sleep isn’t optional, much as we’d like it to be: “…Sleep deprivation is linked to a variety of serious health problems, including heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. It stresses you out because your body overproduces the stress hormone cortisol when it’s sleep deprived. While excess cortisol has a host of negative health effects that come from the havoc it wreaks on your immune system, it also makes you look older, because cortisol breaks down skin collagen, the protein that keeps skin smooth and elastic. In men specifically, not sleeping enough reduces testosterone levels and lowers sperm count. Too many studies to list have shown that people who get enough sleep live longer, healthier lives, but I understand that sometimes this isn’t motivation enough. So consider this—not sleeping enough makes you fat...”

Urban Organics Wants to Fix Food. A local Minnesota angle and entrepreneur, courtesy of Outside: “…The implications of a system like this are enormous. In the modern economy, most fresh produce is trucked vast distances, typically from California and Mexico in diesel-fueled refrigerated semitrailers. Seafood travels even farther, coming from places like Vietnam and Indonesia. The distribution costs associated with shipping food can add 25 percent to the final shelf price. The Urban Organics model reduces this expense, while subsequently slashing the carbon footprint of farming. “Almost all our customers do pickup,” Haberman told me. “We only own a few trucks.” His products are also immune to droughts, floods, and other global-warming weirdness. Haberman’s hope, he said, was to erect similar facilities elsewhere “to decentralize the food system and eradicate hunger…”

Photo credit: Urban Organics/Steve Woit.

This AI Is So Good at Writing That Its Creators Won’t Let You Use It. A story at CNN.com caught my eye: “…It’s quite uncanny how it behaves,” OpenAI policy director Jack Clark told CNN Business. While the technology could be useful for a range of everyday applications — such as helping writers pen crisper copy or improving voice assistants in smart speakers — it could also be used for potentially dangerous purposes, like creating false but true-sounding news stories and social-media posts. OpenAI typically releases its research projects publicly. But in a blog post about the text generator, the researchers said they would not make it publicly available due to “concerns about malicious applications of the technology.” Instead, the company released a technical paper and a smaller AI model — essentially a less capable version of the same text generator — that other researchers can use...”

A “Smart Wall” Could Spark a New Kind of Border Crisis. Be careful what you wish for, argues a post at WIRED.com: “…Drones used in aerial surveillance, along with tools like license plate readers used by CBP in the broader border zone, create the potential for large-scale surveillance dragnets that could record vast amounts of data over time. CBP also has been known to share this data—and even use of its drones—with other law enforcement agencies at both the federal and state levels, expanding the impact of these tools beyond the border. “Technology deployment and investment at the border is not new. This is something that Congress has invested in repeatedly,” says Mana Azarmi, policy counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology. “Some technologies are more invasive than others. Some tools allow CBP to identify, track, and monitor individuals. And people, particularly people living at the border, shouldn’t have to have the government monitor when they go to the doctor or to their place of worship…”

Photo credit: Defense One. “A drone view of the US-Mexico border fence outside Nogales, Arizona, Saturday, April 1, 2017.” AP Photo – Brian Skoloff.

Is News Ripe for Disruption? Will Apple become the “Netfix of News”? A post at LinkedIn provides some perspective: “…Whatever ends up happening with Apple’s experimental foray into the news space, the fact remains: the value of news content has been cheapened by offering it for free or at an unsustainably low cost. Google, Facebook, Amazon and now Apple, pose formidable threats to the standard news model as we know it. And traditional news giants like The Times, WSJ, and Washington Post confront their own mortality on a daily basis (although The Times seems to have picked up steam). So, while it doesn’t seem like Apple’s latest news endeavor is anywhere near a sure thing, what does seem sure is that the industry is facing a moment of reckoning. There will be a “disruption” to the current model, the only question is—what will it look like? “Netflix for news” or something that we haven’t yet thought about coming directly from the news sources themselves?…”

16″ snow on the ground in the Twin Cities. Wow.

21 F. high Thursday at MSP.

31 F. average high in the Twin Cities.

20 F. maximum temperature on February 21, 2018.

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 with ice four inches in diameter on telegraph wires. One foot of ice covered wire weighed 11 pounds. One killed and four injured in Wisconsin.

FRIDAY: Gray, 1-2″ snow at night. Winds: SE 7-12. High: 31

SATURDAY: Wet snow develops, few inches possible Saturday night. Winds: NE 8-13. Wake-up: 27. High: 33

SUNDAY: Mostly cloudy and very windy. Winds: NW 15-30. Wake-up: 22. High: 25

MONDAY: Sunny peeks, unnecessarily cold. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: -2. High: 6

TUESDAY: Coating of flurries. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: -5. High: 13

WEDNESDAY: Flurries give way to clearing. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 7. High: 19

THURSDAY: Mix of clouds and sun. Winds: W 8-13. Wake-up: 3. High: 21

Climate Stories…

Carbon Capture Could Be Key to Decarbonizing U.S. Fossil Fuels. But will it work, cost-effectively, at scale? Here’s an excerpt from Axios: “Approximately 49 million tons of CO2 could be cut via carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) in the power sector — equivalent to removing 7 million cars from the roads — by 2030, according to a Clean Air Task Force (CATF) report published this week.

Why it matters: The oil and gas industry has experimented with CO2 removal technology since the 1930s to purify process streams from CO2. Now similar technology could be used to ease the transition from fossil fuels to more sustainable energy sources.

Background: CCUS is considered an important medium- and long-term means of reducing carbon emissions in fossil fuel–intensive industries…”

File image: Future Leadership Institute.

The $32 Trillion Pushing Fossil Fuel CEOs to Act on Climate Change. Bloomberg has an explanation: “Behind Glencore Plc’s decision to limit coal investment is a little-known, but powerful group of investors. Glencore made its decision after facing pressure from a shareholder network known as Climate Action 100+, which has the backing of more than 300 investors managing $32 trillion. The group was founded a little over a year ago, but has already extracted reforms from oil heavyweights, like BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc. While skeptics may regard Glencore’s changes as minimal (the company still stands to reap billions from its huge coal business), the announcement still shows the influence that investors hold at being able to push even the most reticent companies to respond to their demands...”

Arctic Bogs Hold Another Global Warming Risk That Could Spiral Out of Control. InsideClimate News explains: “Increasing spring rains in the Arctic could double the increase in methane emissions from the region by hastening the rate of thawing in permafrost, new research suggests. The findings are cause for concern because spring rains are anticipated to occur more frequently as the region warms. The release of methane, a short-lived climate pollutant more potent than carbon dioxide over the short term, could induce further warming in a vicious cycle that would be difficult if not impossible to stop. “Our results emphasize that these permafrost regions are sensitive to the thermal effects of rain, and because we’re anticipating that these environments are going to get wetter in the future, we could be seeing increases in methane emissions that we weren’t expecting,” said the study’s lead author, Rebecca Neumann, a civil and environmental engineering professor at the University of Washington…”

Photo credit: “A doubling of the rate of methane released in the Arctic could have consequences that climate change projections don’t currently take into account.” Credit: S Hillebrand/USFWS.

Hurricanes Create Natural Climate Change Labs in Puerto Rico. AP News explains: “The hurricanes that pounded Puerto Rico in 2017, blasting away most of its forest cover, may give scientists clues to how the world will respond to climate change and increasingly severe weather. Researchers at El Yunque, the only tropical rain forest overseen by the U.S. Forest Service, are running controlled studies on how plants respond to higher temperatures combined — since the cataclysmic blow from Hurricane Maria — with severe weather. Not far away, another group is looking at how hurricanes affect the forest environment. “It’s a once-in-a-century opportunity to look at these two aspects of climate change together,” said Tana Wood, a research ecologist with the Forest Service…”

Photo credit: “In this Feb. 13, 2019 photo, project technician Robert Tunison, who spends between 30 minutes to an hour per leaf, collects plant physiology data inside the El Yunque tropical rainforest, in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. In this corner of northeast Puerto Rico, U.S. scientists are trying to figure out how Earth might recover from extreme weather events amid increasingly warmer temperatures.” (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti).

White House Prepares to Scrutinize Intelligence Agencies’ Findings That Climate Change Threatens National Security. Here’s the intro to a Washington Post update: “The White House is working to assemble a panel to assess whether climate change poses a national security threat, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post, a conclusion that federal intelligence agencies have affirmed several times since President Trump took office. The proposed Presidential Committee on Climate Security, which would be established by executive order, is being spearheaded by William Happer, a National Security Council senior director. Happer, an emeritus professor of physics at Princeton University, has said that carbon emissions linked to climate change should be viewed as an asset rather than a pollutant…”

Image credit: “The proposed Presidential Committee on Climate Security is being spearheaded by William Happer, a National Security Council senior director.” (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post).

Why Do We Fail When We Try to Tell the Story of Climate Change? Slate ponders the enormity of the challenge in front of us; here’s an excerpt: “…What does it mean to be entertained by a fictional apocalypse as we stare down the possibility of a real one? One job of pop culture is always to serve stories that distract even as they appear to engage—to deliver sublimation and diversion. In a time of cascading climate change, Hollywood is also trying to make sense of our evolving relationship to nature. We have long regarded the environment from at least arm’s length and assumed we had built our way out of it. Climate change is making us acknowledge it again—both that we live within nature, and all the ways we have damaged it and therefore made ourselves vulnerable to it. The adjudication of that guilt is another thing entertainment can do, when law and public policy fail, though our culture, like our politics, specializes in assigning the blame to others—in projecting rather than accepting guilt...”

Do You Believe in Climate Change? Really? Truth be told I acknowledge the data and test the science. Here’s a clip from an interesting post at Mother Jones: “…We believe that climate change is an existential crisis for the planet, and the evidence supports that. But if it’s really that big a crisis, why don’t we act like it? Let me put this in concrete terms. If you truly believe that climate change will broil the planet in the next 50 years or so, the very least you should do is immediately get rid of your car and adopt a vegan diet. How many of you have done that? How many of you have even considered it? Virtually none of you.² And like I said, that’s just a start. If you’re really serious, you should also toss out your air conditioning; only heat your house if temps are down in the 40s; never travel anywhere by plane; buy local food; and install rooftop solar. I’m going to let you keep your too-big house, but only because I’m a nice guy...”