Icy Trees in Tangshan, China
Kent Kruhoeffer

Mid-February Is Looking Particularly Polar

This isn’t cold. “Nippy” or “chilly” maybe. This winter is a faint echo of previous winter hardships. I think of 2013-14, with 53 subzero nights at MSP. Or January 22, 1933, when the Twin Cities experienced the coldest windchill on record. That morning it was -34F with a sustained 20 mph wind. That made it feel like 87 below (old formula) or 67 below using the new (more accurate) wind chill formula. That’s a whole different level of Nanook.

It’s been relatively mild, but it would be premature to write off polar air. Long range models suggest a series of polar punches the second and third week of February with numerous subzero nights – maybe even a few subzero daytime highs. Personally, I’m hoping the models are wrong.

If it’s any consolation temperatures run 5-15F above average from this weekend into most of next week. A southern storm may brush the southern half of Minnesota with a few inches by Sunday; the best chance of plowable amounts south of MSP.

Yes, February is always an acquired taste. Cue 2021.

NAM Snowfall by Sunday Morning
NOAA and pivotalweather.com

NOAA NAM Snowfall Guidance. By 7 am Sunday the NAM is predicting a couple inches of snow for the metro, with the epicenter of heaviest amounts over Iowa and northern llinois.

ECMWF Snowfall by Sunday Morning

ECMWF Snowfall Guidance. The model run above goes also goes through 12z Sunday morning, suggesting 2-5” for the metro, with the axis of snow setting up over Iowa as well. Not The Big One, but a potential for a few inches, maybe plowable.

Winter Season Snowfall To Date

Temperatures Trending Milder – Snow Event Saturday PM into Sunday. “How many inches” is still very much up in the air, but all models are predicting temperatures above average by the weekend into most of next week. Enjoy the mild spell while you can…


Relatively Mild Into First Week of February, Then a Few Polar Swipes? GFS has done this before, predicting frigid weather a couple weeks out, only to self-correct and mute the cold air as the event draws closer. GFS is predicting a few subzero nights (and days) by the second and third week of February. Thoughts and prayers….

Will Mild Pacific Signal Continue to Dominate? The 500mb forecast 2 weeks out looks cold, but there are still hints that our pattern may be flavored by the Pacific, a persistent westerly component to steering winds aloft that may take some of the sting out of any polar air. Still too early to speculate about intensity or duraction of any bitter cold. Or if it’s even real.

CW3E Scripps, Twitter

Atmospheric River in California Poses Debris-Flow Threat. The Capital Weather Gang at The Washington Post has perspective on the current west coast threat: “A potent series of winter storms along the West Coast is poised to produce as much as 10 feet of snow in the Sierra Nevada, along with the potential for a rare bout of heavy snow in the Sacramento Valley beginning Tuesday. These storms will also bring drenching rains to much of the California coast and other low-lying areas.In the wake of the state’s worst wildfire season on record, these rains carry with them a high risk of debris flows in the vicinity of burn scars. They also showcase a feature of California’s changing climate, with a seesaw between drought, heat and fires, and sudden winter storm-related flooding...”

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Wednesday morning, January 27th, 2021:

Heavy Rain And Snow Already Impacting The West Coast. The heavy rain and snow event we have been talking about the past few days for portions of the west coast – particularly California – is underway. There have been some flood reports this morning out of the South Bay and San Francisco Peninsula. In the 12 hours leading up to 4 AM PT, 1.43” of rain had fallen in Novato, with 1.37” in Half Moon Bay and 1.09” in Sacramento. A Flash Flood Warning is in place for the Dolan burn area in Monterey County through at least 9:30 AM this morning.

Rain And Snow To Continue. The stream of moisture – an atmospheric river – will continue to impact central California today and Thursday, bringing heavy rain and snow to the region as the stream somewhat stalls out over the next 24 or so hours. As we head toward Friday, that river of moisture moves south, impacting southern California with rain with heavy snow continuing to impact the Sierra.

Heavy Rain Expected. This system will bring very heavy rain along the central California coast the next few days, with at least 6-12” of rain possible. This will likely lead to flash flooding in the region, especially in burn scar areas.


Flood Risk. The expected heavy rain continues to bring the chance of flash flooding across the Bay Area southward today into Thursday, with Flash Flood Watches in place. The greatest risk is today/tonight, as rainfall rates of at least 0.3”-0.5” will lead to rainfall totals of 6-12” across portions San Luis Obispo and Monterey Counties. Due to this, a Moderate risk of excessive rain leading to flash flooding is in place. In burn scar areas, flash flooding and debris flows will be possible. Located within the region of the expected heaviest rain are the Dolan, River, and Carmel burn scars.

Blizzard Warnings. We continue to see numerous Winter Storm Warnings in place at higher elevations due to the expected snow, and over the past 24 hours we have added a few Blizzard Warnings into the mix. These Blizzard Warnings include:

  • The west slope of the northern Sierra Nevada through 2 AM Friday for blizzard conditions with 5-8 feet of snow and wind gusts of at least 50-70 mph.
  • The Greater Tahoe Area through 4 AM Friday for blizzard conditions with 2-6 feet of snow and wind gusts to 50 mph in lower elevations and potentially 100+ mph at times over ridges.
  • Mono County through 4 AM Friday for blizzard conditions with 1-3 feet of snow (3-7 feet above 8,000 feet) with wind gusts to 55 mph in the lower elevations and potentially 100+ mph at times over ridges.

Across portions of the Sierras, at least 100” of snow could fall over the next few days.

Wind Concerns. Strong winds are expected with this system as well, with High Wind Warnings and Wind Advisories in place. As mentioned above, wind gusts over 100 mph will be possible in portions of the Sierras with the heavy snow.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix.


480,000 People Killed by Extreme Weather in Last 20 Years, Analysis Shows. CBS News has an update: “Almost half a million people have died in natural disasters linked to extreme weather events in the last 20 years, according to a new assessment of the direct threat posed to humanity by climate change. The mortality burden of climate-related catastrophes such as storms, flooding and heatwaves is overwhelmingly borne by developing countries. At the start of the Climate Adaptation Summit, held virtually this year due to the pandemic, the think tank Germanwatch calculated that these disasters have cost the global economy a staggering $2.56 trillion this century…

Catastrophic weather disasters cost Canadians around $2.4 billion in insured losses in 2020—the fourth costliest year on record so far.
The Weather Network

$2.4 Billion Price Tage for Natural Disasters in Canada in 2020. The Weather Network explains: “More than half of 2020’s insured damages from weather disasters came from a single hailstorm in Alberta, whose $1.3-billion price tag made it the costliest in Canadian history. More than 80 per cent of that amount comes from just three events, all of them in Alberta. The list is topped by the June 13th storm that did $1.3 billion in hail damage in the Calgary area, the fourth costliest disaster in Canada’s history, and the country’s costliest hailstorm. Springtime flooding in Fort McMurray, at $562 billion, and a series of summer storms in central and southern Alberta that together did $221 million in damages, round out the top three…”

Global Billion-Dollar Weather Disasters
Jeff Masters, Aon

World Hammered by Record 50 Billion-Dollar Weather Disasters in 2020. Dr. Jeff Masters writes for Yale Climate Connections: “Earth was besieged by a record 50 billion-dollar weather disasters in 2020, the most such disasters ever recorded after adjusting for inflation, said insurance broker Aon (formerly called Aon Benfield) in its annual report issued January 25. The previous record was 46 billion-dollar weather disasters, set in 2010 and 2011. The annual average of billion-dollar weather disasters since records began in 1990 is 29. The combined economic losses (insured and uninsured) from all 416 weather and earthquake disasters cataloged by Aon in 2020 was $268 billion (2020 USD). Most of the 2020 total, by far, came from weather-related disasters ($258 billion), 29% above the 2001-2020 inflation-adjusted average. Those numbers make 2020 the fifth costliest year on record for weather-related disasters...”

In this Jan. 23, 2016, file photo taken by astronaut Scott Kelly on the International Space Station, a rare thundersnow lightning strike is shown during Winter Storm Jonas.
Scott Kelly/NASA

Coke with Coffee arrives at US stores on Monday.

When You Need a Jolt with Your Jolt. Caffeine? What caffeine? CNN Business reports: “Coke with Coffee is finally launching Monday in the United States after being available for years internationally. The product is made with Brazilian coffee and comes in dark blend, vanilla and caramel flavors. There’s also a calorie-free zero sugar version. Each 12-ounce can has 69 milligrams of caffeine. That’s about half as much as is in a 12-ounce cup of coffee but far more than what’s in a can of Coke…”

Ancient Roman latrines.
Fubar Obfusco, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

At Least There’s Not a Urine Tax. Mental Floss lists some of the more unusual taxes levied over the years: “Urine collectors were a common sight in the public toilets of Ancient Rome. The ammonia-rich urine was used in a number of processes, including tanning, wool production, the cleaning and whitening of woolen togas, and the whitening of teeth. So when the Emperor Vespasian needed to top up his coffers, he decided to slap a tax on urine, to be paid by all purchasers of public pee. The Latin phrase Pecunia non olet (“money does not stink”), which is still used today, is attributed to Vespasian. Vespasian died in 79 CE during a bout of explosive diarrhea, while incongruously exclaiming, “Dear me, I think I’m becoming a god.”

Global Temperature Anomalies on January 27


15 F. Twin Cities high temperature yesterday.

24 F. average high on January 27.

27 F. MSP high on January 27, 2020.

January 28, 1914: A very rare thunderstorm (for this time of year) is observed at Maple Plain during the evening. Heavy thunder and vivid lightning was observed.

January 28, 1846: Temperatures are not too shabby for a January day. The high in the Twin Cities was 50, which is the normal high for the beginning of March.

Michael Beschloss, Twitter

THURSDAY: Mix of clouds and sun. Winds: SE 7-12. High: 22

FRIDAY: Patchy clouds, breezy. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 16. High: 26

SATURDAY: Snow arrives PM hours. Winds: E 10-15. Wake-up: 21. High: 28

SUNDAY: Snow slowly tapers. Few inches? Winds: NE 8-13. Wake-up: 25. High: near 30

MONDAY: A few sunny breaks. Winds: SW 3-8. Wake-up: 17. High: 29

TUESDAY: Partly sunny, relatively mild. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 14. High: 30

WEDNESDAY: Mostly cloudy and breezy. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 23. High: 31

Climate Stories….

Climate Central

Trends: Fewer Days and Nights Below Freezing. Climate Central analyzes the trends, locally and nationwide: “A Climate Central analysis reveals that 89% (217) of 245 cities have fewer cold nights since 1970. In addition, projections from Climate Impact Lab reveal that every state in the contiguous U.S. will see fewer days with below-freezing temperatures by midcentury (2040-2059). The decline in colder days and nights has consequences, including economic disruptions in winter recreation and the extension of disease-carrying tick and mosquito seasons…Results reveal that if emissions continue to go unchecked, every state in the contiguous U.S. will see fewer days with below-freezing temperatures by midcentury (2040-2059)...”

Climate Central
Climate Central

The Jökulsárlón glacial lake is seen in Iceland in 2015. New research shows that Earth’s ice is melting faster than ever. The annual melt rate grew from 0.8 trillion tons in the 1990s to 1.3 trillion tons by 2017.
Bob Berwyn, Inside Climate News

Global Ice Loss on Pace to Drive Worst-Case Sea Level Rise. Another compelling excuse to rent, not purchase, coastal properties from Inside Climate News: “…The ice sheets are now following the worst-case climate warming scenarios set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,” he said. “Sea-level rise on this scale will have very serious impacts on coastal communities this century.” Sea level has gone up about eight or nine inches since 1880. It’s likely to rise at least 12 inches, and could rise by as much as 8.2 feet by 2100, according to recent estimates by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates a rise of between two and three feet by 2100 if global warming is kept well below two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), or three to five feet if temperatures rise past that…”

Scott Duncan, Twitter


BlackRock’s Larry Fink to CEOs: Get Serious on Net-Zero Targets or Else. Climate action may not be optional for U.S. businesses going forward, according to a post at Fortune: “Larry Fink, the chief executive of the world’s largest asset manager, is doubling down on a strategy of integrating climate risks into investing, telling his fellow CEOs he expects companies in which BlackRock invests to make clear how they will achieve their net zero emissions goals. In his annual letter published on Tuesday, Fink also said that the companies would need to lay out how exactly such a target is incorporated within their long-term strategies, and how it will be reviewed and measured by individual boards. In an accompanying letter to clients, BlackRock warned it would take action against those companies that have a high carbon intensity, and which do not align with its own net zero goals...”

Largest-Ever Climate Poll: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “Taking an unconventional approach to conduct the largest-ever poll on climate change, the United Nations’ Development Program and the University of Oxford surveyed 1.2 million people across 50 countries from October to December of 2020 through ads distributed in mobile gaming apps. The survey found that 64 percent of people think climate change is a global emergency and only 10 percent think world leaders are doing enough to address it. The number of people who considered climate change an emergency was even higher – 69 percent – among those ages 14 to 18. The survey also asked respondents to rank 18 specific policies to address climate change, and found that the most popular policies were restoring forests, using renewable energy, and using climate-friendly farming techniques. “There is a groundswell of people that are saying even during a pandemic that climate change is an emergency and here’s how we want to solve it,” Cassie Flynn, UNDP’s strategic adviser on climate change and head of its Climate Promise initiative, told Al Jazeera.” (Al Jazeera, Bloomberg $, Guardian, Reuters, NBC, BBC $, Axios, The Independent, New Scientist, MarketWatch)


Teenagers Are The Most Convinced There’s a Climate Emergency. Bloomberg Green has the post: “Teenagers in some of the world’s top polluting nations are the strongest believers that global warming is an emergency, according to the largest-ever climate opinion poll. Globally, 69% of people under 18 years old believe climate change is an emergency, compared with 58% of those older than 60, according to a survey of 1.2 million people across 50 countries by the United Nations’ Development Program and the University of Oxford. The study doesn’t include China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. “Recognition of the climate emergency is much more widespread than previously thought,” Stephen Fisher, a sociology professor at the University of Oxford and a co-author of the study, said in a statement...”

The Wilderness Society
Lauren Tierney, The Washington Post

Biden to Place Environmental Justice at the Center of His Climate Plan. The Washington Post (paywall) reports: “President Biden will make tackling America’s persistent racial and economic disparities a central part of his plan to combat climate change, prioritizing environmental justice for the first time in a generation. As part of an unprecedented push to cut the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions and create new jobs as the United States shifts toward cleaner energy, Biden will direct agencies across the federal government to invest in low-income and minority communities that have traditionally borne the brunt of pollution, according to the White House. Biden will sign an executive order establishing a White House interagency council on environmental justice, create an office of health and climate equity at the Health and Human Services Department, and form a separate environmental justice office at the Justice Department…”

Uganda Red Cross helps evacuate families after flash floods destroyed their village and the nearby hospital in Uganda’s western Rwenzori mountains in May.
Red Cross Climate Centre/Flickr

John Kerry Promises “Significantly” More Climate Finance at Adaptation Summit. Here’s an excerpt from Climate Change News: “The US will “significantly increase” funding to help vulnerable communities cope with the impacts of climate change, including through concessional finance, presidential climate envoy John Kerry has said. Speaking at the first global summit on adaptation hosted by the Netherlands on Monday, Kerry said: “In the long term, driving towards net zero emissions no later than 2050 and keeping a 1.5C [warming] limit within reach remain the best policies for climate resilience and adaptation. “There is simply no adapting to a 3 or 4C world, except for the very richest and most privileged...”

The Minnesota Climate Adaptation Awards, presented by the Minnesota Climate Adaptation Partnership (MCAP) since 2014, recognize and celebrate exceptional achievements in leadership, education, research, policies, and practices that improve resilience through the development, advancement or implementation of climate adaptation strategies. To honor their accomplishments and impact, MCAP will present each recipient with an award created from recycled glass by Michael Tondor of Blue Skies Glassworks in Two Harbors, Minnesota…” (for a complete rundown of mission and award recipients click here. My thanks to Dr. Mark Seeley for sharing the link and encouraging adaptation efforts).

The Oceans Melting Greenland mission carried out depth and salinity measurements of Greenland’s fjords by boat and aircraft.

Earth is Losing 1.2 Trillion Tons of Ice Each Year. And It’s Going to Get Worse. The Washington Post (paywall) has the story: “Global ice loss has increased rapidly over the past two decades, and scientists are still underestimating just how much sea levels could rise, according to alarming new research published this month. From the thin ice shield covering most of the Arctic Ocean to the mile-thick mantle of the polar ice sheets, ice losses have soared from about 760 billion tons per year in the 1990s to more than 1.2 trillion tons per year in the 2010s, a new study released Monday shows. That is an increase of more than 60 percent, equating to 28 trillion tons of melted ice in total — and it means that roughly 3 percent of all the extra energy trapped within Earth’s system by climate change has gone toward turning ice into water…”

Ars Technica

NYC Pension Funds Move to Divest $4 Billion from Fossil Fuels: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “Three of New York City’s largest employee pension funds representing civil servants, teachers, and school administrators, are divesting from securities tied to fossil fuel companies. With a combined value of $239 billion, representing 70% of the city’s pension assets, the move is one of the largest fossil fuel divestments in the world. Under the resolution, the pensions would phase out fossil fuel investments over five years. “Fossil fuels are not only bad for our planet and our frontline communities, they are a bad investment,” said NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. The NYC pension funds join others, including cities in California and Australia, in the divestment movement.” (Bloomberg $, The Independent, Reuters, Kings County Politics, Patch, NY Daily News)