Wind, Ice and Snow Make For Treacherous Thursday

Here in the Land of 10,000 Weather Apologies, spring is more theory than reality. 70 degrees one day, a full-blown blizzard with horizontal snow the next? Population-thinning weather.

Last night’s burst of snow mixes with some ice today south and east of the Twin Cities, but most of central and western Minnesota will see all snow. Winds gust as high as 50 mph, creating white- out conditions and treacherous travel. Be careful out there.

As the air overhead cools tonight a changeover back to snow is likely, with another 1-3 inch burst. Many metro suburbs will wind up with a healthy 5 to 10 inches of sloppy, gloppy, cement-like slush by Friday.

If it’s any consolation, the sun is as high in the sky as it was on September 1, so most of the snow in your yard will melt by Sunday or Monday. 50s return next week with a period of light rain Tuesday, before we dry out and cool off. Happy to see rain in the 7-Day.

The extended forecast calls for weather amnesia. Within a few weeks we’ll be mowing the lawn, swatting bugs and putting in docks.

What snow?

Watches and Warnings courtesy of Praedictix and AerisWeather.

Updated Snow Reports. Click here to see the latest numbers from the Twin Cities National Weather Service.

ECMWF Snowfall Totals. The European model (12z Wednesday) was still predicting a total of close to a foot of snow for much of the metro by Friday evening, which seems more believable with every passing hour. Many suburbs will wind up with 8-10″, and a few spots west of MSP could see over a foot. It could be worse (or better if you happen to like mid-April snowstorms). Over 20″ may fall over far southwestern Minnesota. Map: WeatherBell.

Praedictix Briefing: Wednesday, April 10th, 2019

  • A strong April storm over the Central High Plains will continue to move to the east and northeast through the end of the work week, bringing the potential of heavy snow and high winds to the Plains and Upper Midwest.
  • A swath of heavy snow is likely across parts of the Upper Midwest, with areas from northern Nebraska into western Minnesota in line for the potential of 18”+ of snow by the end of the week. Places like Sioux Falls and the Twin Cities are likely to see periods of snow, rain, freezing rain, and sleet at times during the storm helping to decrease snow totals.
  • Blizzard Warnings are in place across six states this morning from Colorado and Wyoming to Minnesota ahead of this storm, with additional Winter Storm Watches/Warnings and Winter Weather Advisories in parts of the Plains and Upper Midwest.
  • As the storm strengthens across the mid-section of the nation, very strong winds are expected with wind gusts over 40 mph at times. These strong winds will be problematic in areas that receive snow, as the blowing and drifting snow will lead to blizzard conditions in areas under Blizzard Warnings, and reduced visibility elsewhere.
  • Across parts of the central and southern Plains, High Wind Warnings are in place due to the potential of 60+ mph winds Wednesday into Thursday. This, along with available dry fuels, will lead to the potential of quickly spreading wildfires.
  • This system will also produce the potential of severe weather across parts of Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa this afternoon and tonight. An Enhanced Risk of severe weather is in place across southern Nebraska and northern Kansas, including Lincoln and Hastings (NE), for the potential of mainly large hail and damaging winds.

Wintry Impacts From This System Include:

  • Difficult to impossible travel conditions due to the heavy snow (potentially falling at 1-2” per hour rates at the height of the storm) and blowing/drifting snow due to wind gusts of at least 40-50 mph. Impacted interstates under Blizzard Warnings include I-25, I-29, I-70, I-76, I-80, I-90, and I-94. Road closures will be possible.
  • Power outages will be possible due to the heavy snow as well as high winds bringing down power lines and tree branches.

April Blizzard In The Upper Midwest This Week. A strong April storm will move across the mid-section of the nation through Friday, bringing the potential of heavy snow and blizzard conditions with it from the Rockies to the Upper Mississippi Valley over the next couple days. At times, snow within this band is expected to fall at a rate of 1-2” per hour, especially Wednesday Night into Thursday across the Upper Midwest. Blizzard conditions are also expected as this snow combines with strong winds from Colorado into Minnesota. We will also be watching a zone where precipitation could be in the form of rain, freezing rain, snow, and sleet at different times during the storm. That right now is expected to set up somewhere near the Sioux Falls and Twin Cities areas, helping to decrease snow totals for those locations. This system will also produce a severe weather threat today from Kansas into western Iowa.

Blizzard Warnings In Place. Six states are under Blizzard Warnings from Colorado and Wyoming to Minnesota this morning ahead of this winter storm, which includes interstates like I-25, I-29, I-70, I-76, I-80, I-90, and I-94. In these areas, snow and wind will combine to cause whiteout conditions during the storm. Surrounding that Blizzard Warning area are Winter Storm Watches/Warnings and Winter Weather Advisories. Areas under winter weather alerts this morning include:

  • Denver, CO: Blizzard Warning from Noon today to Noon Thursday for BLIZZARD conditions with 5-10” of snow and wind gusts to 65 mph.
  • Cheyenne, WY: Blizzard Warning from Noon Wednesday to 3 PM Thursday for BLIZZARD conditions with 6-12” of snow and wind gusts to 55 mph.
  • Casper, WY: Winter Storm Warning until Midnight tonight for 4-8” of snow and wind gusts to 40 mph.
  • Goodland, KS: Blizzard Warning from 6 PM tonight to 6 PM Thursday for BLIZZARD conditions with 2-8” of snow and wind gusts to 70 mph.
  • North Platte, NE: Blizzard Warning from 7 PM tonight to 5 AM Friday for BLIZZARD conditions with 4-11” of snow, ice up to one-tenth of an inch, and wind gusts up to 55 mph.
  • Valentine, NE: Blizzard Warning from 1 PM Wednesday to 5 AM Friday for BLIZZARD conditions with 12-18” of snow, ice up to one-tenth of an inch, and wind gusts to 50 mph.
  • Rapid City, SD: Winter Storm Warning until Noon Thursday for 10-18” of snow and wind gusts to 40 mph.
  • Pierre, SD: Blizzard Warning until 1 PM Friday for BLIZZARD conditions with 16-24” of snow, ice up to one-tenth of an inch, and wind gusts to 45 mph.
  • Aberdeen, SD: Blizzard Warning from 7 PM Wednesday to 1 PM Friday for BLIZZARD conditions with 10-15” of snow and wind gusts to 45 mph.
  • Sioux Falls, SD: Winter Storm Watch from Wednesday evening through Friday morning for the potential of BLIZZARD conditions with 1-7” of snow, ice up to four-tenths of an inch, and wind gusts to 50 mph.
  • Bismarck, ND: Winter Storm Watch from 7 PM tonight to 1 PM Friday for up to 4” of snow and wind gusts to 40 mph.
  • Fargo, ND: Winter Storm Warning from 1 AM Thursday to 1 PM Friday for 6-12” of snow and wind gusts to 45 mph.
  • Grand Forks, ND: Winter Storm Watch from Thursday morning through Friday afternoon for 2-7” of snow and wind gusts to 45 mph.
  • StCloud, MN: Blizzard Warning from 7 PM Wednesday to 10 AM Friday for BLIZZARD conditions with 12-18” of snow and wind gusts to 50 mph.
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN: Winter Weather Advisory from 1 AM Thursday to 1 PM Friday for 2-8” of snow, ice up to two-tenths of an inch, and wind gusts to 45 mph.
  • Duluth, MN: Winter Storm Warning from 1 AM Thursday to 1 PM Friday for 10-16” of snow and wind gusts to 50 mph.
  • Eau Claire, WI: Winter Weather Advisory from 1  AM Thursday to 1 PM Thursday for up to an inch of snow, ice up to four-tenths of an inch, and wind gusts to 50 mph.
  • Green Bay, WI: Winter Weather Advisory from 10 PM tonight to 1 PM Thursday for 3-5” of snow, ice up to a quarter inch, and wind gusts to 45 mph.
  • Marquette, MI: Winter Weather Advisory from 10 PM tonight to 10 AM Thursday for up to 3” of snow, ice up to one-tenth of an inch, and wind gusts to 35 mph.

Heavy Snow Potential. A band of heavy snow is expected to fall from parts of the Front Range into the western Great Lakes through the end of the week, with the heaviest amounts falling from northern Nebraska into western Minnesota. In that defined area is where snowfall tallies of at least 18″ will be possible, with the potential that some spots could see over two feet. This heavy snow will cause difficult to nearly impossible travel issues across the region as snow will likely fall at a rate of 1-2” per hour at times, which will be difficult for DOT crews (and shovelers as well) to keep up with. There will be a sharp cut-off on the south side of the system as warm air works northward, meaning that totals will quickly decrease from plowable to potentially little more than a nuisance. This is where precipitation will change back and forth between snow, rain, freezing rain, and sleet at times throughout the event. This area of potentially mixed precipitation will include areas like Sioux Falls and the Twin Cities, leading to lower overall snow totals. There is still some uncertainty as to how far north and west this warm pocket of air goes.

Ice Potential. Particularly in areas that see several changeovers in precipitation-type, icing will be a concern with this system. While icing will be possible from Nebraska into the Great Lakes, some of the highest amounts are expected from southern Minnesota into Wisconsin where totals of 0.25-0.40” are possible – including in the Worthington, MN area. This ice could cause power outages and tree damage, and make travel nearly impossible due to slick conditions.

Strong Winds Leading To Blizzard Conditions. As the system continues to strengthen across the central United States, winds will increase across the region over the next couple of days. Wind gusts of at least 40-50 mph will be possible, with some of the strongest winds expected to occur Wednesday Night into Thursday. These strong winds will be problematic in areas that receive snow, as the blowing and drifting snow will lead to blizzard conditions in areas under Blizzard Warnings, and reduced visibility elsewhere. The snow and wind – especially combined – will lead to very difficult to impossible travel conditions. Numerous roads could be shut down across the region, including major interstates, similar to other strong winter storms/blizzards we’ve seen since February.  These strong winds will also bring the potential of power outages.

Strong Winds In The Southern Plains. This strong storm will also produce gusty winds across parts of the Southern Plains Wednesday into Thursday. Wind gusts over 60 mph will be possible. These strong winds will have the potential to cause driving issues, blowing dust, flying debris, and power outages.

High Wind Warnings. Due to the expected strong winds across parts of the Plains Wednesday into Thursday, numerous High Wind Warnings have been issued from southern Nebraska to the Mexico border.

Extreme Fire Danger. With the strong winds expected across parts of the Plains, as well as expected low humidity values and dry fuels in place, an environment ripe for wildfire growth will be present today across the region. Across parts of Texas and New Mexico – including El Paso and Amarillo – an Extreme Fire Danger is in place.

Severe Weather Threat As Well. This system will also produce the potential for severe weather in the warm sector. An Enhanced Risk of severe weather is in place today across parts of Nebraska and Kansas, including Lincoln and Hastings (NE). By the mid-to-late afternoon hours, storms are expected to form across the region and quickly strengthen. These storms will mainly be capable of very large hail and damaging winds, but an isolated tornado can’t be ruled out. These storms will push into western Iowa overnight.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix

Understanding Tornadoes: 5 Questions Answered as Tornado Season Arrives. Capital Weather Gang has an informative post; here’s an excerpt: “…Is climate change making tornadoes bigger or more frequent? It’s hard to say. Reliable U.S. records of tornadoes go back only to roughly 1950, and records outside of the United States are even less complete. Thanks to storm chasing and the spread of camera phones, more tornadoes are counted today compared with yesteryear, but that does not necessarily mean that more are occurring. And there’s a lot of natural variability from year to year. Over the past decade, the annual U.S. tornado count has ranged from 886 to 1,690 storms per year. Estimates of wind speeds based on post-storm damage surveys can be off by 50 percent or more. And many tornadoes in remote areas leave no clues as to how strong their winds were...”

“Pollenpocalypse” in North Carolina. I can’t say I recall ever seeing anything quite like this. CNN has the story: “#ThePollening. It sounds like an M. Night Shyamalan horror film. If you suffer from pollen allergies, just looking at the above photo may make you want to choke. It was taken Monday by photographer Jeremy Gilchrist, who used a drone to snap aerial pictures of the yellowish green haze blanketing Durham, North Carolina. The pollen wasn’t just coating cars and patio chairs — it was hanging thick in the air. He called it #pollenpocalypse. Gilchrist told CNN he was driving around when he noticed a green cloud in the air. “It was surprising to see it up that high,” he said. He’s seen pollen shrouds like this before in North Carolina, but from the ground it’s difficult to capture their sheer magnitude. So he sent up his drone to a get a better vantage point…”

Photo credit: “Photographer and storm chaser Jeremy Gilchrist captured aerial images of a pollen cloud hovering over Durham, North Carolina.”

Radar Data Analysis Pinpoints Precipitation Risk for Vehicle Fatalities. Claims Journal highlights new research that confirms suspicions: “…A paper soon to be published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society concludes that the risk of a fatal vehicle accident increases by 34 percent during a precipitation event. That falls within the range of a previous study based on observations that put the increased risk from 10% to 76%. The North Carolina State University analysis goes further than previous studies in that it also projects the increased risk during heavy precipitation events. The radar data shows that driving in heavy rain or snow increases the chance of dying in a crash by 246 percent. That compares to 127 percent for light precipitation. The analysis also found that the greatest risk of precipitation causing a fatal motor vehicle accident occurs during the morning rush hour. Oddly, there is not a similar spike in relative risk during the evening rush hour…”

Exercise Makes You Happier Than Money, New Research Suggests. I read it on the Interwebs….so it must be true. Business Insider has details: “…The scientists found that while those who exercised regularly tended to feel bad for 35 days a year, nonactive participants felt bad for 18 days more, on average. In addition, the researchers found that physically active people feel just as good as those who don’t do sports but who earn about $25,000 more a year. Essentially, you’d have to earn a lot more to get you the same happiness-boosting effect that sport has…”

“Dumb Phones” Are Sounding Better By The Day. Business Insider has the curious details: “The Brooklyn-based startup Light has set an impossible goal of getting people to put down their smartphones. Light launched in 2014 and a year later debuted its first product, the Light Phone. It could only make calls and tell the time, and the company described it as a “quite a smart ‘dumb’ phone.” Light intended for it to be something of a companion to your smartphone and a way to get people to leave their phones at home and go enjoy life. Now, Light is back with its second product, the Light Phone 2, an upgraded version of its phone that might just replace your smartphone for good. The second-generation device couldn’t be coming at a better time. There’s increased scrutiny on how too much screen time affects our brains, and a movement among even the most tech-savvy parents to limit their kids’ access to smartphones…”

Image credit: Light.

The U.S. Is The Unhappiest It’s Ever Been. I’ll bet people were more unhappy during the Civil War – just a hunch. Here’s a clip from Fortune: “The United States is the unhappiest it’s ever been. The 2019 World Happiness Report says that Finland remains the happiest country on Earth for the second year in the row, while the U.S. drops to No. 19, its worst ranking ever (it was No. 18 in 2018 and No. 14 in 2017). The global report on 156 countries released Wednesday placed five Nordic countries in the top 10, with the Netherlands (5), Switzerland (6), New Zealand (7), Canada (9), and Austria (10) filling out the other top spots. At No.15., even the Brexit-divided United Kingdom ranked higher than the U.S...”

4.3″ snow fell Wednesday as of 7 PM at MSP International Airport.

34 F. high temperature yesterday in the Twin Cities.

55 F. average high on April 10.

41 F. high on April 10, 2018.

April 11, 1929: An intense downpour occurs in Lynd, Minnesota (near Marshall), where 5.27 inches of rain would fall in 24 hours.

THURSDAY: Winter Storm Warning. Icy mix, drifting snow. Winds: E 25-50. High: 33

FRIDAY: Snow tapers, 5-10″ total metro, more west of MSP. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 30. High: 37

SATURDAY: Partly sunny, snow starts to melt. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 29. High: 42

SUNDAY: More clouds than sun, dry. Winds: NE 7-12. Wake-up: 32. High: 46

MONDAY: Dim sun, most of the snow is gone. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 35. High: 52

TUESDAY: Periods of rain. Happy to see rain. Winds: E 10-15. Wake-up: 40. High: 56

WEDNESDAY: Damp start, then partial clearing. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 42. High: 54

Climate Stories….

The Next Reckoning: Capitalism and Climate Change. Can a market-driven economy come up with the solutions we need to lower carbon (faster) without heavy-handed government intervention? Here’s an excerpt from a New York Times article: “…The most fundamental question is whether a capitalistic society is capable of sharply reducing carbon emissions. Will a radical realignment of our economy require a radical realignment of our political system — within the next few years? Even if the answer is no, we have some decisions to make. How, for instance, should the proceeds of a carbon tax be directed? Should they be used to finance clean-energy projects, be paid out directly to taxpayers or accrue to the national budget? In a healthy democracy, you could expect a rigorous public debate on this question. But such a debate has rarely surfaced in the United States because, as of this writing, only a handful of Republican members of the House of Representatives, out of a caucus of 197, have endorsed the basic concept of a carbon tax — an idea that has its roots in conservative economic thought...”

File image: James Yungel, NASA.

An Ancient Ice Core May Show 1.5 Million Years of Climate History. Until now most of the ice core samples from Antarctic and Greenland go back closer to 800,000 years. Quartz has details: “Selecting the right spot for ice-core drilling is a difficult pursuit. And after three years of searching with radar and on-the-ground sampling, an international team just struck gold: They found a spot on Antarctica where the ice is thick enough to reveal 1.5 million years of climatic history. It will take another three years to drill down that far. Ice cores reveal what the climate was like on Earth throughout time. Air bubbles trapped in the ice can be sampled to measure how much carbon, methane, and other gases were in the atmosphere at the moment the ice froze. A single meter-long piece could contain 10,000 years of climate history, if selected carefully. And the deeper the ice core, the farther back in time the samples can go…”

Photo credit: “Reaching the oldest ice ever drilled will take three years.” AP Photo/Brennan Linsley.

From Ruined Bridges to Dirty Air, EPA Scientists Price Out The Cost of Climate Change. The Los Angeles Times reports: “By the end of the century, the manifold consequences of unchecked climate change will cost the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars per year, according to a new study by scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency. Those costs will come in multiple forms, including water shortages, crippled infrastructure and polluted air that shortens lives, according to the study in Monday’s edition of Nature Climate Change. No part of the country will be untouched, the EPA researchers warned…”

Photo credit: “Orange County public works crews use heavy machinery to remove a damaged boardwalk at Capistrano Beach in Dana Point. Damage to coastal property is one of the greatest costs of climate change.” (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times).

The Weather Channel Flooded Charleston to Make You Give a Damn. explains the use of special effects to tell the climate story: “…The report starts by placing meteorologist Jen Carfagno in the year 2100, where rising sea levels have left the city of Charleston, South Carolina, broadly, perpetually flooded. It then cuts to present-day Norfolk, Virginia, home to the largest naval base in the US, where that same crisis plays out on a near-annual basis. Finally, it hurtles back to 1851, showing just how much ice the famed Jakobshavn glacier has shed over nearly two centuries. Together, the three portions present a look not just at the future of climate change, but its present and past, a three-pronged effort to shake viewers out of their malaise...”

“Flight Shame” Has Swedes Rethinking Air Travel. Then again, Sweden (and just about all of Europe has something the United States doesn’t have: clean, dependable, high-speed rail). Here’s a clip from “Saddled with long dark winters at home, Swedes have for decades been frequent flyers seeking out sunnier climes, but a growing number are changing their ways because of air travel’s impact on the climate. “Flygskam”, or flight shame, has become a buzz word referring to feeling guilt over the environmental effects of flying, contributing to a trend that has more and more Swedes, mainly young, opting to travel by train to ease their conscience...”

Photo credit: “It turns out Swedes have a word for guilt over the carbon footprint of air travel.” AFP/File

Global Warming is Pushing Arctic Toward “Unprecedented State” Research Shows. A post at InsideClimate News had me doing a triple-take: “Global warming is transforming the Arctic, and the changes have rippled so widely that the entire biophysical system is shifting toward an “unprecedented state,” an international team of researchers concludes in a new analysis of nearly 50 years of temperature readings and changes across the ecosystems. Arctic forests are turning into bogs as permafrost melts beneath their roots. The icy surface that reflects the sun’s radiation back into space is darkening and sea ice cover is declining. Warmth and moisture trapped by greenhouse gases are pumping up the water cycle, swelling rivers that carry more sediment and nutrients to the sea, which can change ocean chemistry and affect the coastal marine food chain. And those are just a few of the changes.  The researchers describe how warming in the Arctic, which is heating up 2.4 times faster than the Northern Hemisphere average, is triggering a cascade of changes in everything from when plants flower to where fish and other animal populations can be found…”

Guardian Publishing CO2 Levels in Weather Forecasts. The Guardian explains why they’re taking this step: “…Today, the CO2 level is the highest it has been for several million years. Back then, temperatures were 3-4C hotter, sea level was 15-20 metres higher and trees grew at the south pole. Worse, billions of tonnes of carbon pollution continues to pour into the air every year and at a rate 10 times faster than for 66m years. At the dawn of the industrial revolution, CO2 was at 280 parts per million (ppm) in the atmosphere. By 1958, when the first measurements were made at Mauna Loa in Hawaii, it had reached 315ppm. It raced past 350ppm in 1986 and 400ppm in 2013. The Guardian will now publish the Mauna Loa carbon count, the global benchmark, on the weather page of the paper every day…”

Image credit: ERSL.

390 Billion Tons of Glaciers Are Melting Every Year Due to Climate Change: Study. Daily Beast has details: “Earth’s glaciers are melting at a starling rate of 390 billion tons of snow and ice per year because of climate change, according to a new study. Nature International Journal of Science published its findings Monday, which includes a tally of the biggest losses worldwide—the largest being the Alaskan glaciers followed by South American ice fields and the Arctic glaciers. “Over 30 years, suddenly almost all regions started losing mass at the same time,” said the study’s lead author, Michael Zemp of the University of Zurich, who projects that glaciers in some mountain ranges will completely melt by the end of the century...”

Boulder Glacier Montana photos: left (1932) right (2005) courtesy of USGS.

Bye, Glaciers: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “Earth’s glaciers lost nine trillion metric tons of ice between 1961 and 2016 and may disappear completely in some areas by 2100 if current warming continues, according to new research. A study published Monday in the journal Nature finds that glacial melt has contributed to an inch of sea level rise over the past fifty years. “Under current loss rates we are going to lose glaciers–basically all glaciers—in several mountain ranges,” lead author Michael Zemp told reporters.” (AP, CNN, USA Today, Mashable, National Geographic).

Several Agencies Refusing to Take Part in Trump’s Committee to Reassess Climate Change Report. TheHill reports; here’s a clip: “…The Department of Defense, the State Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence are among the agencies that have not yet offered experts to the White House for the initiative, according to the Post. An intelligence official told the newspaper that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence recommended that the intelligence community be excluded from the committee “given [its] role is not to conduct scientific climate change studies but to assess and analyze national security implications of climate change.” Defense Department spokesman Johnny Michael referred questions from the Post about the department’s participation in the initiative to the White House…”

File image: Climate Reality.