Vaguely Interesting Snowfall Factoids

If you have one foot in ice water, the other in boiling water, do you feel “average”? Probably not. There’s nothing average about Minnesota’s weather. On paper, average snowfall is 54 inches. Last year we saw 77 inches. Three winters ago only 32 inches. Lately it seems it’s all or nothing in the snowfall department.

If anyone asks (I sure hope not) the average first inch of snow at MSP is November 18. During an average winter MSP enjoys 37 days with a tenth of an inch of snow; a slushy coating.

A cosmetic, candy-coating of snow is possible on metro lawns and fields today. Twin Cities temperatures should hover just above 32F, so most roads remain wet. Watch the bridge overpasses in outlying suburbs, cooled from above and below (they can ice up much faster).

Plowable snows are expected over far western Minnesota and some North Dakota roads may not be passable until Monday.

A reinforcing blip of chilly air arrives Tuesday; more rain next Friday. Great news! We sure need the rain huh? Keep the faith.

ECMWF snowfall prediction above: WeatherBell.

Watches and Warnings. The farther west you travel today the better the odds of driving into slushy roads. Temperatures will hold just above 32F in the MSP metro, keeping most roads wet. Map: Praedictix and AerisWeather.

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Friday, October 11th, 2019:

  • Blizzard conditions can be expected today into Saturday across portions of North Dakota due to a major autumn snowstorm impacting the region. Overall snow totals of 1-3 feet will be possible. No travel is already advised across portions of the Dakotas due to the wintry weather. Winter Storm Warnings are also in effect across portions of the Dakota into northwestern Minnesota for the potential of at least 6” of snow.
  • Fires are burning this morning across portions of southern California, including the Saddleridge Fire near Santa Clarita which is 0% contained and spreading at a rate of 800 acres per hour. Numerous roads are closed between Santa Clarita and the L.A. Basin due to this fire. Extreme fire danger will continue across southern California today with low humidity values and strong winds.
  • Typhoon Hagibis remains a very strong typhoon as it approaches Japan, expected to make landfall on Honshu late Saturday local time. This system could bring record levels of rain, including in the greater Tokyo area, as well as strong winds.

Snowfall So Far. Heavy snow continues to fall this morning across portions of the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest. The highest snowfall report so far is 12.1” out of Bismarck, but 11” had been reported in Harvey, ND. A 10” report also came out of Herreid, SD.

Blizzard Warnings. Blizzard Warnings have been issued across portions of North Dakota through 1 PM Saturday including Devils Lake, Rolla, Rugby, and Bottineau as blizzard conditions are expected with winds to 55-65 mph and whiteout conditions. Winter Storm Warnings are also still in place into Saturday – with most expiring at 1 PM – across portions of the Dakotas into northwestern Minnesota, including Minot, Bismarck, Fargo and Grand Forks (ND), Aberdeen (SD), and Fergus Falls and Detroit Lakes (MN) for the potential of at least 6” of snow.

Road Conditions. Already due to the weather conditions no travel has been advised by the North Dakota Department of Transportation across central and northeast regions of North Dakota, including the cities of Bismarck, Harvey, Devils Lake, Grand Forks, Valley City, and Jamestown. Several no travel advisories are also in place across portions of South Dakota. Find the latest road information by state here:

Additional Snow Expected. Additional snow totals of at least 6” through Saturday will be possible across portions of the Dakotas and into northwestern Minnesota. The heaviest snow will fall across portions of North Dakota, where in some areas an additional 1-2 feet of snow will be possible. This snow will continue to cause tricky to impossible travel conditions across the region, and with the combined wind impacts will cause whiteout conditions as well as very large drifts of snow.

Potential Peak Wind Gusts. The potential exists for wind gusts of 55-65 mph today into Saturday across portions of North Dakota, which will cause whiteout conditions and potentially impossible travel conditions as well as large, impassible drifts. This could help lead to days of travel disruptions as well as power outages and tree/structural damage.

Ongoing California Wildfires. Several fires have been sparked over the past day or so across portions of southern California, some of which are quickly spreading due to strong winds across the region overnight and this morning. Here’s the latest on some of the fires:

  • Saddleridge Fire: The Saddleridge Fire located southeast of Santa Clarita (started in Sylmar) had burned over 4,700 acres and was 0% contained. The fire is spreading at 800 acres per hour – a rapid rate of spread. 25,000 homes have been evacuated with approximately 100,000 displaced. At least 25 structures have been destroyed. There are multiple road closures in place including the 118, 5, and 210 freeways. Road closures can be found here: There are numerous evacuation orders in place, including all of Porter Ranch. The latest news and evacuation information can be found via the Los Angeles Fire Department:
  • Sandalwood Fire: This fire is 823 acres large and 10% contained in Calimesa. This has destroyed 74 structures. See more from the Riverside County Fire Department:
  • Reche Fire: This fire in the Moreno Valley has burned 350 acres and is 40% contained. Several structures have been burned. Evacuations were lifted around 9 PM last night. See more from the Riverside County Fire Department:

Extreme Fire Danger Continues Today. An extreme fire danger still exists today – especially this morning – across portions of southern California due to low humidity values and strong winds that will gust at times up to 60 mph. Any fires that are either currently across the region or that form will have the ability to quickly spread. The good news is that the winds should decrease a little as we head toward the evening hours, however, the entire area will remain under at least a critical fire danger through the afternoon hours, and a locally critical threat will remain tonight in areas of higher elevation.

Latest On Hagibis. Hagibis remains a very strong typhoon as of late Friday local time with sustained winds of 132 mph, making the system the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane. The system was moving to the north-northwest at 17 mph, and the center of the storm was positioned about 400 miles south-southwest of Yokosuka, Japan.

Hagibis Track. Landfall of a dangerous Hagibis is expected late Saturday local time in the Tokai and Kanto regions of Japan, in a similar area to where Typhoon Faxai made landfall in September, with the center near or over Tokyo around 9 PM Saturday local time (8 AM EDT Saturday). At this time, it is expected to make landfall as a weakening system, but could still pack sustained winds of 90-100 mph and wind gusts up to 135 mph. The storm will continue to weaken as it moves off to the northeast late in the weekend but still will produce strong winds gusts as well as heavy rain across the main island of Honshu.

Rainfall Amounts. One of the major stories with Hagibis will be heavy rain. There is the potential that across portions of central Japan that up to 30-40” of rain could fall with Hagibis, with up to 30” in the greater Tokyo area. This could reach record levels, and, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency via NHK, “could bring rainfall on the same level as the “Kanogawa Typhoon” of 1958 that left more than 1,200 people dead or missing in Shizuoka and the Kanto region.” They also note that emergency warnings may be issued. You can see the latest warnings issued by the Japan Meteorological Agency here: This rain will easily be capable of flash flooding as well as destructive mudslides.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix

Why the PG&E Blackouts Spared California’s Big Tech HQs. (paywall) has a good explainer: “…What PG&E is doing is blacking out the kind of low-voltage wires that deliver power to homes,” says Wara. “But, typically, big commercial customers, like a tech headquarters … tend to be located closer to the bulk transmission system [and] the high-voltage lines, which are much less impacted by this outage.” The types of power lines traditionally seen dangling overhead in residential areas and neighborhoods are considered more of a wildfire risk because of their proximity to the ground and increased likelihood of being surrounded by trees and other forms of vegetation, he explained. Bulky high-voltage transmission lines—which are designed to carry large amounts of energy to large industrial users and local distributors—just aren’t vulnerable in the same way…”

Map credit: Google.

Local Scientists Help Create First Long-Range Tornado Forecasts. Broad, sweeping generalizations about when upper level winds may be primed for severe weather? Yes. But specifics weeks out? I’m skeptical, but open to new data. Here’s an excerpt from “Tornadoes can be among the most terrifying and destructive of extreme weather events. Earlier this year, for the first time ever a small team of scientists was able to forecast a severe tornado outbreak almost one month in advance. The outbreak hit a vast swath of the U.S., from Texas to Illinois and New York. Victor Gensini, an assistant professor in the Department of Geographic and Atmospheric Sciences at Northern Illinois University is a key member of that team. Gensini, whose research focuses on extreme weather events, was the lead author of a scientific paper that explained how the team made the forecast. He notes that with such a long-range forecast it’s impossible to say where exactly the storm-producing tornadoes will strike – but you can determine whether the conditions are right for a tornado outbreak…”

Map credit: “The 757 tornado warnings (red polygons) issued by NOAA’s National Weather Service from May 17 to May 30 of this year.” (Credit: Northern Illinois University)

Why Lightning Strikes Twice as Much Over Shipping Lanes. (paywall) has an interesting post; another learning experience: “...The official term for this is “aerosol convective invigoration.” Thornton also calls it “catalyzing lightning.” You just need to know that more particles means more lightning, and burning fossil fuels is a reliable way to make those particles. Ships are especially culpable because they use bunker fuel to get from port to port. Made from the dark, viscous stuff that’s left at the bottom of the barrel after the comparatively ethereal gasoline, jet fuel, and kerosene have been distilled off, it contains about 3,500 times as much sulphur as automotive diesel. The world’s fleet burns some 3.3 million barrels of it daily. (At least until December 31—more on that in a flash.) For the 2017 study, Thornton and his coauthors pulled data on 1.5 × 109 individual strokes (aka discharges) between 2005 and 2016 from the World Wide Lightning Location Network…”

Graphic credit: American Geophysical Union.

Tracking Air Pollution by Zip Code. Star Tribune reports: “Twin Cities residents interested in the air quality of their neighborhoods can now find out with the click of a mouse on a state website…“We do understand that there is some kind of relation between air pollution and asthma,” said MPCA environmental research scientist Monika Vadali. “The goal was to understand how air pollution varies from ZIP code to ZIP code because we don’t have any data on that.” State health officials have already shown that hospitalization rates for asthma, for example, vary greatly by ZIP code in Minneapolis and St. Paul, with neighborhoods that are poorer and more heavily minority suffering significantly higher rates. In fact, Minnesota “has some of the largest health disparities in the country,” according to the state’s second “Life and Breath” report released in June...”

Image credit: “Air monitors like these will sample air quality in all Minneapolis and St. Paul ZIP codes.” MPCA.

Jeff Bezos’s Master Plan. Is it to get us into space? Let the conspiracy theories begin. A story at The Atlantic is a worthy read: “...Today, Bezos controls nearly 40 percent of all e-commerce in the United States. More product searches are conducted on Amazon than on Google, which has allowed Bezos to build an advertising business as valuable as the entirety of IBM. One estimate has Amazon Web Services controlling almost half of the cloud-computing industry—institutions as varied as General Electric, Unilever, and even the CIA rely on its servers. Forty-two percent of paper book sales and a third of the market for streaming video are controlled by the company; Twitch, its video platform popular among gamers, attracts 15 million users a day. Add The Washington Post to this portfolio and Bezos is, at a minimum, a rival to the likes of Disney’s Bob Iger or the suits at AT&T, and arguably the most powerful man in American culture…”

Carlsberg is Working on Beer Bottles Made of Paper. CNN has the details: “Carlsberg is getting closer to its goal of selling beer in paper bottles. On Thursday, the Danish beer company revealed two new recyclable prototypes of the sustainably-sourced wood fiber bottle it hopes to eventually bring to market. One version is lined with a thin film of recycled PET plastic to keep beer from seeping out. The other uses a bio-based lining. The prototypes will be used to test the linings. For Carlsberg, the innovation is a way to lower its impact on the environment and present consumers with an interesting new option. Fiber bottles are better for the environment than aluminum or glass because they are sourced in a sustainable way, and because the material has a “very low impact on production process,” explained Myriam Shingleton, vice president of group development for Carlsberg…”

Image credit:

New Coke Bottles Made from 25% Marine Plastic. has the post; here’s a clip: “Coca-Cola has done all kinds of gimmicky things with the labels on its bottles over the years. This new one’s actually telling you a little something about the bottle it is wrapped around. The greenish background and multicolored flecks are there to let you know that this particular Coke bottle was made from marine plastic. Specifically, plastic that was polluting the Mediterranean Sea or found washed up on its many beautiful beaches—84 of them, according to Waste360…”

Image credit: “Coca-Cola announced new plastic bottles made with 25 percent marine plastic.” (Photo Credit: The Coca-Cola Co. / YouTube)

Fish That Can Live on Land and Breathe Air? The Washington Post (paywall) had a post that almost made me fall off my sofa. Almost. Here are a few excerpts: “There’s a fish that can live on land. Georgia officials want you to kill it immediately. A northern snakehead fish was caught earlier this month in a Gwinnett County pond, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division, and it’s the first time the species has been reported in Georgia waters, the agency said… The northern snakehead fish, a native to East Asia, used to be sold in pet stores, live-food fish markets and restaurants in some major cities before 2002, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service added the species to its list of injurious wildlife… The air-breathing fish are able to draw breath through an air bladder that’s similar to a lung, according to the Chesapeake Bay Program. Their breathing ability makes it possible for them to navigate to other small areas of land and new bodies of water. The fish can survive up to four days out of water...”

Photo credit: “A Bowfin fish that has just been caught for caviar in Pierre Part, La., in 2004.” (Chris Graythen/AP)

Horny Tarantulas Are Taking Over San Francisco. has the details: “October is turning out to be a bad month to live in San Francisco. First, utilities company PG&E initiated wide-ranging Bay Area blackouts to protect against the possibility of wildfires. Now it seems the warmer weather is attracting thousands of tarantulas looking for mates, so residents will have to fight off horny spiders in the dark.  To be fair, while tarantulas mostly come out at night during mating season, males can also be seen roaming around all hours to find a female for some lovin’. “San Francisco officials are warning residents to be on the lookout for thousands of giant male spiders,” according to The Wall Street Journal…”

Photo credit: “They might look scary, but tarantulas are not actually dangerous to humans.“Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET.

Trace of snow reported at MSP International Airport on Friday.

41 F. maximum temperature in the Twin Cities yesterday.

61 F. average high on October 11.

39 F. high on October 11, 2018.

October 12, 1969: Snow accumulates in several locations. Minneapolis receives 2 inches, while St. Cloud records 3.6 inches, Redwood Falls gets 1.7 inches, and Springfield records 1.5 inches.

October 12, 1918: Dry fall weather sets the stage for dangerous fires. Several fires roar through large areas of Carlton and St. Louis Counties. The towns of Cloquet, Moose Lake and Brookston are the hardest hit. The Carlton County Vidette calls it a ‘Hurricane of burning leaves and smoke’. At least 453 fatalities are reported, and possibly as many as 1,000 occurred. Over 11,000 people would be left homeless.

SATURDAY: Windy with a coating of slush. Raw. Winds: SW 15-30. High: 38

SUNDAY:Lingering clouds, flurries & sprinkles. Winds: W 10-15. Wake-up: 33. High: near 40

MONDAY: Early frost risk. Patchy clouds. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 32. High: 49

TUESDAY: Mostly cloudy, stray shower. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 39. High: near 50

WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny and nicer. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 36. High: 52

THURSDAY: Partly sunny, breezy and milder. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 41. High: near 60

FRIDAY: Periods of rain possible. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 49. High: 57

Road conditions courtesy of MnDOT. Click here to see the latest map.

Climate Stories….

Carbon Tax is “Single Most Powerful” Way to Combat Climate Change, IMF Says. reports: “Increasing the price of carbon is the most efficient and powerful method of combating global warming and reducing air pollution, according to a new report from the International Monetary Fund. While the idea of carbon taxes on fossil fuel corporations has been spreading across the globe in the past couple decades, increasing prices on carbon emissions has received widespread backlash from those who argue the tax would raise energy bills. But economists have long contended that raising the cost of burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas is the best way to mitigate climate change, and that revenue raised from the tax can be returned to consumers through rebates and dividends…”

Revealed: Google Made Large Donations to Climate Change Deniers. Why on Earth? The Guardian has the scoop: “Google has made “substantial” contributions to some of the most notorious climate deniers in Washington despite its insistence that it supports political action on the climate crisis. Among hundreds of groups the company has listed on its website as beneficiaries of its political giving are more than a dozen organisations that have campaigned against climate legislation, questioned the need for action, or actively sought to roll back Obama-era environmental protections. The list includes the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a conservative policy group that was instrumental in convincing the Trump administration to abandon the Paris agreement and has criticised the White House for not dismantling more environmental rules…”

Climate Change May Be Disastrous for America’s Birds. A story at sums up the challenges facing of feathered, flying friends: “Sanderlings, red-headed woodpeckers and great gray owls are just a few of the North American bird species projected to be threatened by climate change in the coming decades, according to the latest assessment depicting an increasingly dire situation for the continent’s avian wildlife. “Two thirds of birds in North America are at risk from climate change, to large range losses, potentially extinction, and this is especially so if we continue on the current trajectory,” says Brooke Bateman, senior climate scientist for the National Audubon Society, which carried out the report. The October 10 report, titled “Survival by Degrees: 389 Bird Species on the Brink,” details the projected range losses for more than 600 bird species in North America under climate change scenarios of 1.5, 2 and 3 degrees Celsius of warming...”

File image: Wikipedia.

Rich Counties Get More Help to Escape Climate Risk, New Data Show. The New York Times (paywall) has a summary of recent research: “Federal programs to help Americans move away from disaster-prone areas are skewed by the income levels of communities seeking help — rather than being based solely on the risk they face — new data shows, blunting an important tool for helping people cope with climate change. Since 1989, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has bought and demolished more than 43,000 homes in flood-prone areas, a strategy meant to make communities less vulnerable to disasters. But which homes get selected for the buyouts depends as much on the wealth of the affected neighborhoods as on the actual level of danger that those areas are exposed to, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances. The findings raise concerns that limited federal funding for adapting to climate change isn’t helping the areas that need it the most, according to the paper’s authors…”

Photo credit: “” Credit: Johnny Milano for The New York Times.

Revealed: the 20 Firms Behind a Third of All Carbon Emissions. The Guardian reports: “The Guardian today reveals the 20 fossil fuel companies whose relentless exploitation of the world’s oil, gas and coal reserves can be directly linked to more than one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions in the modern era. New data from world-renowned researchers reveals how this cohort of state-owned and multinational firms are driving the climate emergency that threatens the future of humanity, and details how they have continued to expand their operations despite being aware of the industry’s devastating impact on the planet...”

How Climate Change and Flash Flooding is Affecting Communities Across the Country. NPR has the story of what is happening in Ellicott City, Maryland; here’s an excerpt: “...But it was the third part of the plan that would destroy friendships and pit neighbors against each other and nearly destroyed the entire social fabric of old Ellicott City. The third part of the plan was to tear down 10 buildings on Main Street to make room for the river. And this is where the story of the people of Ellicott City becomes the story of climate change in America. When the climate changes and the future no longer looks like the past, people all over the country are forced to make huge, life-changing decisions. There’s no playbook for how to do it, and there’s no cavalry coming to help, and if it goes wrong, your town can die…”