Dog Days of Winter?
Climate Central

Wait, It’s Been Snowier Than Average?

With all deference to Winston Churchill, the weather is also a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. We all consume weather differently, based on interests, commutes and hometowns. Because all weather, like politics, is local.

January snow has come in dribs and drabs, with only 3.4 inches at MSP; 4.2 inches below normal, to date. Duluth shows a 10 inch snowfall deficit this month.

Winter snowfall is running less than normal for much of Minnesota, but over 4 inches above average in the metro, largely due to record snows back in October. Then came 60s and 70s in November. What a weird winter season.

After a brief thaw temperatures cool down to or below average this week and next. Friday will feel like January with single digit highs, but that’s about as polar as it gets anytime soon. Snow arrives Saturday, and I’m thinking something in the 1-3 or 2-4 inch range. A storm next Monday may pass to our south and east.

NOAA’s GFS model suggests another thaw in late January and early February.

Weekend Meteogram for MSP

Weekend Meteogram. The best chance of snow in the metro area comes midday Saturday into Sunday morning, and plowable amounts are not out of the question. This will be a cold storm with temperatures in the teens, so snow will be light and powdery, quick to accumulate and slow to melt. I suspect road conditions PM hours Saturday will be poor to awful.

ECMWF Snowfall Prediction
NAM Model Snowfall Potential by Sunday Morning

Dueling Models. The 00z Thursday runs of ECMWF (top) and 12 km NAM (below) show plowable amounts of snow Saturday into Sunday morning, possibly 3-6” of fluff.

January Snowfall and Departures, to Date. I have a hunch we may catch up with “normal” by Sunday morning.

A Few Cold Days, But Polar Lite. I start to pay attention when it gets down to -10F or -20F. I just can’t too agitated about 0F. Not living in Minnesota, where zero degrees and bright sunshine can be invigorating. Sounds like something the Chamber of Commerce might write.

NOAA GFS numbers for MSP

Colder Spell, Then Thawing Out Late January? That’s what NOAA’s GFS model is suggesting, with a fair amount of continuity from model run to run. This Pacific mild signal is a real (and persistent) thing this winter. What La Nina?

Pacific Breezes. We will continue to see cheap shots of cold air, but the dominant signal is steering winds howling from the west, allowing relatively mild air to penetrate unusually far inland, a trend that should spill over into early February.

Bay Area office of the National Weather Service

Fire Season Just Won’t Quit. Record warmth, high winds and lingering drought are fanning more flames across California, as reported by Capital Weather Gang: “An unusually strong and far-reaching high wind event is descending upon California today through Wednesday, bringing damaging winds and the threat of fast-moving wildfires from Sacramento to San Francisco and southward to Los Angeles. The region is dry enough, with hardly any rain having fallen recently in Southern California, that the high winds are prompting concerns about midwinter wildfires after the state’s worst wildfire season on record in 2020. The winds follow several days of record-breaking heat that has amplified fire danger, particularly in Southern California, which saw temperatures soar into the 80s and 90s in the middle of a largely dry winter...”

NOAA Climate Prediction Center

Western Drought Forecast to Persist. NOAA CPC predicts a continuation of drought conditions over roughly the western half of the USA, with drought development likely over much of the southern U.S. between now and late March.

Hope it’s a rental…
NOAA National Severe Storms Lab

Welcome to “Hail Alley”, a U.S. Region Prone to Pelting Ice. Discover Magazine has a post speculating what, if any, impact a warmer, wetter climate may have on hail frequency and size: “…Childs and other researchers have found that in the coming decades, climate change could push hailstorms to become more frequent and drop larger ice pellets in Hail Alley. One study Childs co-authored, for example, predicts three extra days of hail per year come 2100. This shift seems likely because a few major hailstorm influences will grow stronger and more common over time. For one, a warming atmosphere will evaporate more moisture into the air. Increasing the amount of water in thunderstorms will potentially make them more likely to develop hail, Childs says. Research also suggests the upward winds of thunderstorms might grow stronger in an increasingly warmer climate, allowing hail to grow larger and keep reaching the cold-enough atmosphere high above. Larger ice pieces, then, stand a better chance of coming all the way to land, boosting the likelihood that a given storm drops significant ice chunks...”


Using Artificial Intelligence to Manage Extreme Weather Events. I was interested in a press release from McGill University: “Can combining deep learning (DL)— a subfield of artificial intelligence— with social network analysis (SNA), make social media contributions about extreme weather events a useful tool for crisis managers, first responders and government scientists? An interdisciplinary team of McGill researchers has brought these tools to the forefront in an effort to understand and manage extreme weather events. The researchers found that by using a noise reduction mechanism, valuable information could be filtered from social media to better assess trouble spots and assess users’ reactions vis-à-vis extreme weather events. The results of the study are published in the Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management…”

Dippin’ Dots Unlikely Hero of Coronavirus Pandemic. I did not have this on my 2021 Apocalypse Bingo Card. Here’s an excerpt from “…But the “ice cream of the future” may just provide a key component needed for distributing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The vaccine must be stored at -94 degrees Fahrenheit to remain effective at fighting the coronavirus, not an easy feat for many facilities. Dippin’ Dots operates freezers that dip to -122 degrees Fahrenheit. PopSci’s Maddie Bender first reported that we could learn a lot of tips about allocating this vaccine from Dippin’ Dots, who have managed to successfully distribute their pelletized ice cream on a massive scale for years…”

There are no coincidences…
High in Washington D.C. yesterday, NOAA

37 F. maximum temperature in the Twin Cities yesterday.

24 F. average high on January 20.

18 F. MSP high on January 20, 2020.

January 21, 1936: Warroad drops to a bone-chilling 55 below zero.

January 21, 1922: The barometer at Collegeville hits 31.11 inches, a record high pressure reading for the state.

Scott Duncan, Twitter

THURSDAY: Partly sunny, windy. Winds: NW 15-30. High: 32

FRIDAY: Sunny and nippy. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 2. High: 11

SATURDAY: Snow develops, icy PM roads. 3-5” powder. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 0. High: 19

SUNDAY: Flurries taper, some PM sunshine. Winds: NE 5-10. Wake-up: 17. High: 25

MONDAY: Patchy clouds, probably dry. Winds: NE 10-20. Wake-up: 9. High: 19

TUESDAY: Partly sunny, mostly chilly. Winds: NE 5-10. Wake-up: -2. High: 12

WEDNESDAY: Still cold, PM flurries possible. Winds: SE 5-10. Wake-up: 2. High: 18

Climate Stories…

Winter Warming at MSP
Climate Central

Midwinter Trending Milder. It still gets cold in the winter (no kidding) and with any luck that won’t change anytime soon, but the intensity and duration of the coldest air is decreasing over time as the planet warms up. Here’s an excerpt of an explainer at Climate Central: “Much of the country is entering its coldest stretch of days. Differences in topography, latitude and proximity to large bodies of water all play a role in the climate of individual areas. However, due to climate change, the coldest days of winter are losing their chill. Climate Central analyzed the average temperature on what is statistically the coldest stretch of days for 244 weather stations across the country, and how those temperatures have trended over the past fifty years. 83% of locations analyzed are losing their winter chill, especially in the Northeast, Southeast and Alaska. Losing winter’s cold comes with important consequences. Warmer temperatures mean that more winter precipitation is falling as rain instead of snow—impacting the Northeast and mountainous Southeast regions where the economies of many smaller, rural communities depend on winter sports tourism…”

Jeff Williams, NASA

Arbitrary And Capricious — The Donald Trump Story: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “Despite Trump’s campaign promise to “win so much, you’re going to get tired of winning,” a federal appeals court struck down his administration’s attempt to weaken limits on greenhouse gas pollution Tuesday, the latest in a litany of legal losses. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia eviscerated Trump’s Affordable Clean Energy Rule, describing it as a “fundamental misconstruction” of environmental law created through a “tortured series of misreadings” of legal statutes. EPA “may not shirk its responsibility by imagining new limitations that the plain language of the statute does not clearly require,” the judges wrote. The court declined to reinstate the Obama-era Clean Power Plan it put on hold in 2016, leaving the incoming Biden administration with a blank, if not completely clean, slate on which to craft new GHG pollution limits for power plants.” (New York Times $, Washington Post $, E&E $, Politico, Axios, The Hill, Washington Examiner)

Emissions from driving in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area grew faster than population between 1990 and 2017, which means emissions per person have increased.
Boston University’s Database of Road Transportation Emissions. New York Times

The Most Detailed Map of Auto Emissions in America. The transportation sector remains the largest single source of planet-warming greenhouse gases; accelerating electrification can help to lower emissions, according to an article at The New York Times (paywall): “Even as the United States has reduced carbon dioxide emissions from its electric grid, largely by switching from coal power to less-polluting natural gas, emissions from transportation have remained stubbornly high. The bulk of those emissions, nearly 60 percent, come from the country’s 250 million passenger cars, S.U.V.s and pickup trucks, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Freight trucks contribute an additional 23 percent...”

Lawmakers Who Denied Biden’s Victory Also Embrace a Deadlier Conspiracy: Climate Denial. Here’s the intro of a post at “The members of Congress who spread dangerous disinformation about Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election are the same lawmakers spreading dangerous disinformation about the climate crisis, a HEATED investigation has found. According to an analysis of their public statements and votes, 90 of the 147 Republican members of Congress who voted to overturn the results of the presidential election explicitly deny or have denied that climate change is human-caused and dangerous. These lawmakers’ denials of basic scientific facts range from delicate expressions of doubt to preposterous claims of conspiracy. Maryland Rep. Andy Harris, for example, has merely said he believes climate science “is uncertain,” while Texas Rep. John Carter calls climate change “a chicken-little scheme” to use “government propaganda” to brainwash the “unwashed masses...”

Greta Thunberg, Twitter


“The President Needs to Hit the Ground Running on Climate”. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed from friend and climate scientist Michael Mann at The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: “…As a climate scientist, I know all too well that we are running out of time to avert climate catastrophe. In fact, we’ve already run out of time. It’s too late to protect everyone. From “zombie storms” in superheated oceans to wildfires so widespread and intense that they’re creating “smoke waves” that blanket the country, befoul the air and endanger public health, to an unprecedented Atlantic hurricane season that can be tied to a bathtub-warm tropical Atlantic, the past year alone has provided ample evidence that climate change is now an ongoing, rolling threat from one place to another. The carbon we either do or don’t choose to emit could shape not only the climate threats we must contend with in the decades ahead, but those that loom over the next 10,000 years. At this point it’s a matter now of limiting, rather than preventing, the damage...”

September 9, 2020 image showing smoke from western fires.
NASA Earth Observatory

Biden To Rescind Keystone, Rejoin Paris On Day One: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “President-elect Biden is expected to revoke permits for the Keystone XL pipeline as one of his first acts upon taking office Wednesday. The cancellation of the $8 billion pipeline would be a major victory to environmental advocates and Indigenous groups and a demonstration of Biden’s commitment to making climate actions a top priority of the new administration. Rescinding the cross-border permit would be just the latest twist in the project’s tumultuous, 15-year history. President Obama delayed construction in 2015 under pressure from protests led by Lakota and other Indigenous front line groups, only to see Trump reinstate it in 2017. This week, in an apparent – and seemingly unsuccessful – bid to get Biden to change his mind, TC Energy Energy Corp, the pipeline’s Canada-based developer, pledged to spend $1.7 billion to install renewable energy and eliminate all greenhouse gas emissions from the pipeline’s operations, as well as hire an all-union workforce to build it. By stopping the pipeline, Biden would be “showing courage and empathy to the farmers, ranchers and Tribal Nations who have dealt with an ongoing threat that disrupted their lives for over a decade.” Jane Kleeb, founder of the anti-pipeline group Bold Nebraska, told the Washington Post. “Today marks healing, hope and a path for the clean energy that builds America back better.” (CBC, Washington Post $, New York Times $, Wall Street Journal $, Reuters, Politico, The Guardian, BBC, The Hill, Earther, Climate Home, Truthout. Biden’s first 10 days: Wall Street Journal $, CNN, The GuardianBloomberg $, Bloomberg $)

Tim McCabe, USDA

How Consumers Could Drive More Farmers to Fight Climate Change. has the post; here’s an excerpt that caught my eye: “…Efforts are underway across the country to propel the idea of sustainable agriculture beyond the term “organic” and bring regenerative farming into the mainstream. This type of farming — which includes things like planting cover crops, not tilling the soil and grazing livestock on pasture — can build nutrients in the soil, prevent erosion and improve overall soil health. It also creates a vast carbon sink that pulls the greenhouse gas out of the air and stores it in the ground. But it doesn’t come without a complete overhaul to how farmers do what they’ve done their whole lives...”