A Real Snowstorm Brewing Friday & Saturday

I don’t hear much from my Florida friends during hurricane season, but January? Let the trash talking commence. “Paul, can we send food and medicine? Thoughts & prayers.” It’s really not so bad, I respond. I appreciate your concern. “How are YOU doing? Are the bugs still showing up on Doppler? With rising seas is house on stilts yet?” It’s vital to maintain a grim sense of humor.

Halftime is over. After a supernaturally quiet spell, Old Man Winter is back in business. A quick inch of snow is possible today, but Thursday should be a good travel day.

Models are printing out a long-duration snow event Friday into Saturday, with temperatures aloft cold enough for all-snow. It’s still early for inch-amounts, but let’s just say this could be (very) plowable – maybe a foot or more for much of Minnesota.

Heavy snow will be followed by a numbing slap. Not “We’re all ‘gonna die!” cold. More like “Get your attention” cold early next week, with lows dipping below zero. That said, no prolonged polar pain is in

Fast-Moving Clipper Today. No, this is not the main event, barely a snowy appetizer. A quick inch of snow is possible today, more north of the Twin Cities.

Snowfall prediction through Saturday morning: NOAA’s NAM model, 00z Wednesday run, courtesy of pivotalweather.com.

Not Buying It…Yet. I want to see a few more model runs before dangling over the precipice, but right now it looks impressive for snow amounts. The map above is (total) ECMWF snowfall valid 00z Sunday, so by Saturday evening. Over a foot? At this point nothing would surprise me. Stating the obvious: we are due for some snow. Map credit: WeatherBell.

Snowy, Then Colder. Significant outbreaks of chilly air are often preceded by major dumpings of snow. Heavy snow Friday and Saturday gives way to a cooling trend; a few days early next week in single digits or low teens will get your attention. Map sequence above: Praedictix and AerisWeather.

Polar Punches, But No Extended Strangleholds. The weather early next week will get your attention, but both ECMWF (top) and GFS (bottom) show temperatures warming into the 20s and 30s later next week. No sign of an extended blocking pattern materializing that would lock in bitter cold, week after week. Graphics: WeatherBell.

Numbing End to January. The last week of January looks plenty cold with subzero nights; temperatures as much as 10-20F below average. But I still see a progressive pattern with a potential warming trend as we sail into February and the flow takes on a more Pacific component again.

An “Average” Winter in the Twin Cities (So Far). So says The Midwestern Regional Climate Center, with their updated AWSSI, or Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index: “Winter seasons have significant societal impacts across all sectors ranging from direct human health and mortality to commerce, transportation, and education. The question “How severe was this winter?” does not have a simple answer. At the very least, the severity of a winter is related to the intensity and persistence of cold weather, the amount of snow, and the amount and persistence of snow on the ground. The Accumulated Winter Season Index (AWSSI) was developed to objectively quantify and describe the relative severity of the winter season…”

January Heat Wave? Temperatures 30-40F warmer than average? Impressive. Capital Weather Gang has details: “A winter heat wave made history over the weekend, setting dozens upon dozens of records in the eastern United States. As temperatures shot up more than 30 degrees above normal, January seemed to leap ahead to May. Boston, where highs are normally in the mid-30s at this time of year, soared to 74 degrees Sunday, joining several other cities in posting their warmest January day ever observed. The abnormally toasty conditions occurred as warm air surged out ahead of a deadly storm system responsible for severe weather in the South on Friday and Saturday. And it happened amid a weather pattern that has been more springlike than winterlike since late December. The magnitude of the warmth was yet another reminder of the influence of climate change, which is intensifying heat events and having a detectable influence on day-to-day weather, according to studies…”

Map credit: “An expansive area of well above normal temperatures stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada as the weekend started.” (Tropical Tidbits).

Australian Open Impacted by Wildfires. Daily Beast explains: “A player has been forced to retire from her match at the Australian Open after smoke from raging bushfires across the continent caused her to have a coughing fit. Slovenian Dalila Jakupovic had to stop Tuesday’s match against Switzerland’s Stefanie Voegel in Melbourne. The smoke haze forced the suspension of practice sessions earlier Tuesday, and qualifying rounds only started following a delay. Jakupovic said it was “not fair” that officials asked players to take to the court in the smoky conditions. “I was really scared that I would collapse,” she said. “I don’t have asthma and never had breathing problems…”

Image credit: Reuters.

Google Says New AI Model Allows for “Nearly Instantaneous” Weather Forecasts. I’ll believe it when I see it. The Verge reports: “Weather forecasting is notoriously difficult, but in recent years experts have suggested that machine learning could better help sort the sunshine from the sleet. Google is the latest firm to get involved, and in a blog post this week shared new research that it says enables “nearly instantaneous” weather forecasts. The work is in the early stages and has yet to be integrated into any commercial systems, but early results look promising. In the non-peer-reviewed paper, Google’s researchers describe how they were able to generate accurate rainfall predictions up to six hours ahead of time at a 1km resolution from just “minutes” of calculation. That’s a big improvement over existing techniques, which can take hours to generate forecasts, although they do so over longer time periods and generate more complex data...”

Image credit: “Google’s work used radar data to predict rainfall. The top image shows cloud location, while the bottom image shows rainfall.” Credit: NOAANWSNSSL

Even by Minnesota Standards 2019 Was a Wild Weather Year. Last year was the wettest year on record for Minnesota. In case you missed a very good summary from Star Tribune; here’s the intro: “From January, which produced the coldest air mass in almost three decades, to mid-July, which gave us a flash heat wave, we saw an extraordinary 170 degree difference between the wind chill and the heat index in the Twin Cities. A barrage of winter and spring storms throughout Minnesota led to widespread river flooding and shattered the February snowfall record. Intense thunderstorms battered all corners of the state from mid-July through September, with straight-line winds, tornadoes, hail as large as grapefruits and localized flooding. Almost every month of the year saw above-average precipitation, leaving the Twin Cities and many other cities with record-breaking totals….”

2019: Wettest on Record From Dakotas to Michigan. In was the wettest on record (125 years of record-keeping), according to NOAA NCEI.

National Precipitation Trends Since 1895. It’s not a controversial statement to say that it’s getting wetter in the Lower 48 stats over time, according to NOAA data.

10 of the Most Memorable and Extraordinary Tornado Events of the 2010s. Matthew Cappucci has a good summary at Capital Weather Gang: “As we flip the calendar on the decade, many meteorological events will remain etched into our memory. But few tempests can rival the power, beauty and horror of a tornado. The 2010s featured their fair share of memorable tornadoes. 2011 included the most extreme tornado outbreak on record. Destructive tornadoes peppered population centers, altering lives forever. Others remained over open fields, as if posing for a camera. We look back — in no particular order — on 10 of the most memorable tornado events of the 2010s. The tornado and tornado events listed are not necessarily the most damaging and deadly in every case; some are included for their unique meteorological qualities and/or appearance…”

Photo credit: “Tornado damage at an industrial facility just north of Linwood, Kan.” (Matthew Cappucci).

Dirty Diaper? There’s an App for That!  WDAF.com in Kansas City has the lovely details: “Lumi by Pampers is a smart sensor that attaches to your infant’s diaper and sends you a notification when they go to the bathroom. Pampers showed off the sensor, which also tracks sleep, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week. Lumi by Pampers is described on the company’s website as “the world’s first all-in-one connected care system that helps parents track day-to-day developments, and monitor their baby, 24/7, so they can see emerging patterns and establish a suitable routine.” The Lumi system uses an HD night vision camera capable of monitoring temperature and humidity, the baby sensor and an app to compile the data for parents…”

Snoop Dog Just Made a Sandwich for Dunkin Donuts. CNN has the delicious news: “Dunkin’s new menu item is Snoop Dogg-approved. Beginning Monday, the chain will sell a Beyond Sausage patty with egg and cheese, served on a sliced glazed donut. The sandwich will only be available for a week, and its the latest promotion for the plant-based protein since it launched nationally in November.  The “Beyond D-O-Double G Sandwich,” as its called, was inspired by the rapper’s “passion for plant-based protein and love of glazed donuts,” according to a press release. Dunkin’ first enlisted Snoop last year and surprised customers with the plant-based meat in a TV ad campaign…”

Photo credit: “The “Beyond D-O-Double G Sandwich” is being served at Dunkin’.”

32 F. Twin Cities maximum temperature yesterday.

23 F. average high on January 14.

32 F. high on January 14, 2019.

January 15, 1972: Cold air invades the region with a minimum temperature of -33 degrees F at Alexandria, -32 at Eau Claire, and -29 at the Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport.

WEDNESDAY: Light snow. Coating to 2″ possible. Winds: E 7-12. High: near 20

THURSDAY: Sunny and brisk. Better travel. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: -5. High: 15

FRIDAY: Snow arrives, heavy PM hours. Winds: SE 10-20. Wake-up: 3. High: 23

SATURDAY: Snow slowly tapers. Very plowable amounts. Winds: NW 15-25. Wake-up: 18. High: 28

SUNDAY: Mostly cloudy. Mostly numb. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: -2. High: 6

MONDAY: Hello January. Sunny and numb. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: -9. High: 4

TUESDAY: Cold start, clouds increase. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: -14. High: 10

Climate Stories…

James Murdoch Slams Fox News and News Corp Over Climate Change Denial. Well this is interesting – it takes OK Boomer to an entirely new level. Here’s the intro to a Daily Beast story: “In a long-simmering rift between factions of the Murdoch family over climate change, Rupert’s younger son, James, and his activist wife, Kathryn, are attacking the climate denialism promoted by News Corporation, the global media group, and also by the Fox News Channel overseen by James’ older brother, Lachlan. “Kathryn and James’ views on climate are well established and their frustration with some of the News Corp and Fox coverage of the topic is also well known,” a spokesperson for the couple exclusively told The Daily Beast as wildfires rage in Australia. “They are particularly disappointed with the ongoing denial among the news outlets in Australia given obvious evidence to the contrary.”  The extraordinary public rebuke from Kathryn and James—who is the CEO of Lupa Systems, a private investment company he founded—comes as Australia has been ravaged by the worst fires seen in decades…”

Blackrock CEO Larry Fink: Climate Crisis Will Reshape Finance. Yes it will; it already is. The New York Times reports: “Laurence D. Fink, the founder and chief executive of BlackRock, announced Tuesday that his firm would make investment decisions with environmental sustainability as a core goal. BlackRock is the world’s largest asset manager with nearly $7 trillion in investments, and this move will fundamentally shift its investing policy — and could reshape how corporate America does business and put pressure on other large money managers to follow suit. Mr. Fink’s annual letter to the chief executives of the world’s largest companies is closely watched, and in the 2020 edition he said BlackRock would begin to exit certain investments that “present a high sustainability-related risk,” such as those in coal producers. His intent is to encourage every company, not just energy firms, to rethink their carbon footprints…”

Australia’s Wildfires Are Releasing Vast Amounts of Carbon. NPR has an update: “Smoke from the ongoing firestorm in Australia is obscuring skies halfway around the world. Satellite images from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show a haze from the deadly fires spreading over South America. The swirling plume is nearly the size of the continental United States. All fires emit smoke — a combination of thousands of compounds, including climate-warming greenhouse gases. But the sheer scale of the emissions, and the severity of the fires causing them, are concerning climate scientists around the world. Already, atmospheric watchdogs say, the fires have pumped hundreds of millions of tons of carbon dioxide into Earth’s atmosphere…”

After a Rough Year, Farmers and Congress Are Talking About Climate Solutions. Here’s an excerpt from InsideClimate News: “…The fields that were slow to drain and remained waterlogged longer had been farmed conventionally—tilled, left bare and unplanted over the winter. The fields that drained quickly and were ready for sowing hadn’t been tilled in years and had been planted every winter with cover crops, like rye and clover, which help control erosion, improve soil health and trap carbon in the soil. “There’s a pretty stark contrast,” said William Salas, the interim CEO of Dagan Inc., a firm that specializes in geospatial data. As the disastrous 2019 farming season unfolded, Salas and his colleagues decided to analyze whether conservation methods, like planting cover crops and using “no-till” farming—which research shows can prevent erosion and improve the soil’s ability to filter water—had any effect on whether fields could be planted or not this year...”

Where Nitrous Oxide, a Greenhouse Gas 300 Times Stronger Than CO2, Is Being Emitted. Quartz has the details: “If something is burning, nitrous oxide is flowing into the atmosphere. Increasingly, the most concentrated nitrous oxide sources come from humans burning fossil fuels and transforming ecosystems. Natural sources, such as Australia’s currently raging wildfires contribute too (if those fires can even be considered “natural”). As a greenhouse gas, it gets less attention than carbon dioxide, accounting for just 6% of all emissions 2017. But it’s a major factor intensifying climate change: NOx, as the gas is known, lasts for a century and is far more potent. It is nearly 300 times stronger than carbon dioxide at trapping heat...”

Data and map credit: Descartes Labs, Natural Earth.

Why Generational Pressure Is the Key to Climate Change Policy. Big Think has a compelling video: “With figures like Greta Thunberg and demonstrations like the global climate strike, it’s become apparent that young people are driving the effort to stop climate change. This generational pressure is the key to change. In the same way that smoking became less accepted in society, even frowned upon, so too can the behaviors that have sped up climate change. Moving forward, energy companies will play a major role if they can reimagine themselves as part of the solution to this crisis and forge a better path to save the planet…”

Ocean Temperatures Hit Record High as Rate of Heating Accelerates. The Guardian has details: “The heat in the world’s oceans reached a new record level in 2019, showing “irrefutable and accelerating” heating of the planet. The world’s oceans are the clearest measure of the climate emergency because they absorb more than 90% of the heat trapped by the greenhouse gases emitted by fossil fuel burning, forest destruction and other human activities. The new analysis shows the past five years are the top five warmest years recorded in the ocean and the past 10 years are also the top 10 years on record. The amount of heat being added to the oceans is equivalent to every person on the planet running 100 microwave ovens all day and all night…”

Study Confirms Climate Models Are Getting Future Warming Projection Right. So says NASA; here’s a clip: “…In a study accepted for publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, a research team led by Zeke Hausfather of the University of California, Berkeley, conducted a systematic evaluation of the performance of past climate models. The team compared 17 increasingly sophisticated model projections of global average temperature developed between 1970 and 2007, including some originally developed by NASA, with actual changes in global temperature observed through the end of 2017. The observational temperature data came from multiple sources, including NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies Surface Temperature Analysis (GISTEMP) time series, an estimate of global surface temperature change. The results: 10 of the model projections closely matched observations. Moreover, after accounting for differences between modeled and actual changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide and other factors that drive climate, the number increased to 14…”

In Rural Colorado, the Kids of Coal Miners Learn to Install Solar Panels. Adapt or fade away. I was happy to see this post at Mother Jones: “…In Colorado’s North Fork Valley, solar energy—along with a strong organic farm economy and recreation dollars—is helping to fill the economic hole left by the dying coal industry, which sustained the area for more than 120 years. When the mines still ran, graduating seniors could step immediately into good-paying jobs. But in the past five years, two of Delta County’s three mines have closed. Approximately 900 local mining jobs have been lost in the past decade. Ethan Bates, for example, another senior in the solar energy training class, is the son of a mine foreman who lost his job when the Bowie Mine outside Paonia closed in 2016. Now, he’ll graduate as a certified solar panel installer…”

Voyagers to the “Epicenter of Global Warming” Struggle with Bears, Storms and Thin Ice. Here’s the intro to a post at The Washington Post (paywall): “Not long after the Arctic sun set for the final time last year, a ferocious storm descended on the isolated, icebound crew of the research vessel Polarstern. The polar night filled with the gunshot cracks of fracturing ice and the howls of 60 mph winds. The ship heaved, power cables snapped and a 100-foot meteorology tower toppled. A tremendous fissure opened in the floe to which the Polarstern was fixed, exposing the ocean waves. Researchers scrambled onto the ice to retrieve and restore their instruments. Hundreds of miles from the nearest source of help, the scientists were both unnerved and utterly exhilarated. This was exactly the sort of drama they were seeking when they set out to document climate change at the top of the world…”

Photo credit: “A snow suit-clad researcher works to set up an oceanography experiment.” (Stefan Hendricks/Alfred Wegener Institute).