Coldest Polar Plunge Since 1996

Just once I want to drive to MSP International and be spontaneous. Where can I fly to thaw out? Hawaii? Baghdad? Dubuque? Just buy a ticket and go – take nothing but a toothbrush and shorts.

The reality? Bring it. We get our weather-boasting rights back this week. Siberia, with better restaurants and nightlife!

This may be the coldest outbreak since early February, 1996, when the mercury at MSP dipped to -32F, with a wind chill of -48F.

Today will be bad enough (wind chills dip to -35F) but the worst of this polar punch comes tomorrow. Bus stop readings may be -28F (air temperature) with a wind chill near -50F at times. Under these extreme conditions, frostbite on unprotected skin is likely in under 5 minutes.

Let’s keep an eye on each other, and consider bringing our pets indoors. They will feel the burn/pain too.

Just 3 days of barely-breathable battery acid into Thursday, and then we recover into the 30s Saturday. No
sign of an extended arctic invasion.

Cold enough for ‘ya? I prefer Pluto-like conditions. But close enough, thanks!

Serious Cold. NOAA’s models are predicting wind chill values as low as -52F at MSP Wednesday morning; 60 below at Rochester and Bemidji. If this verifies it would be the coldest outbreak since Groundhog Day, 1996, when a wind chill of -48F was reported at MSP. A record? Probably not. On January 22, 1936 a wind chill of -67F was reported in the Twin Cities. I can’t even imagine…

Wednesday Morning Minimum Temperatures. Temperatures bottom out Wednesday morning close to -30F in the MSP metro area, although the “urban heat island” may keep us a few degrees warmer than we would be otherwise within 25 miles of the downtowns. These readings should be the coldest in 23 years.

Wednesday “Highs”. Wednesday will be memorable, maximum late afternoon temperatures not climbing much above -14F in the Twin Cities metro despite sunny periods. Winds of 10-20+ will create -40F wind chill values much of the day. A good day to stay inside and dream of spring. Or watch Netflix.

3 Days of Pain. ECMWF guidance shows polar air lingering for 3 days, before temperatures bounce back into the 30s next weekend. Only in Minnesota: “30s, hey, it feels pretty good!”

Bring Your Pets Indoors! Here’s some timely advice from the ASPCA:

  • “Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.
  • Remember, if it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet, so keep your animals inside. If left outdoors, pets can freeze, become disoriented, lost, stolen, injured or killed. In addition, don’t leave pets alone in a car during cold weather, as cars can act as refrigerators that hold in the cold and cause animals to freeze to death…”

Historic Wind Chill Temperatures in Minnesota. The Minnesota DNR has a timely post. Yikes. Here’s an excerpt: “What is the coldest windchill ever seen in the Twin Cities or Minnesota? The answer can be a little tricky because on November 2001 the formula on how to calculate the windchill    was changed. Perhaps the coldest windchill the Twin Cities has ever seen was -67 degrees F with the new formula (-87 degrees F with the old formula) back on January 22nd 1936. The temperature was -34 degrees F with a wind speed of 20mph. All traffic in the Twin Cities was severely hampered and a number of fatalities were caused by the cold. Without a lengthy state-wide wind record, it is difficult to say when was the coldest statewide windchill. There are some candidate dates though besides January 22, 1936. On January 9th and 10th, 1982 temperatures of -30 degrees F and winds of around 40mph were reported in Northern Minnesota. This would translate to -71 degrees F by the new formula (-100 degrees F by the old formula)…”

File image: Steve Burns.

5th Coldest Temperature on Record at International Falls early Saturday. This ties the 5th coldest all-time low temperature in recordedhistory for International Falls. Therecord coldest temperature in station history is -55F, set in 1909. Good grief. This is air temperature, not wind chill, and it’s from Saturday morning, providing a taste of what’s to come.

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Monday, January 28th, 2019:

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  • Snow continues to fall across the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley regions this morning with a clipper system moving through the region. Snowfall totals of 6-10” have been reported across southeast Minnesota into southern Wisconsin, meanwhile up to a foot of snow will be possible across parts of lower Michigan.
  • This system will eventually spread snow into the Northeast tonight into Tuesday, with heavy snow possible at times. Some totals across the interior Northeast will top a foot by the time snow moves out Wednesday. Meanwhile, lake effect snow will bring snow totals of over a foot downwind of Lakes Erie and Ontario, including for Buffalo and the Tug Hill Plateau.
  • A cold front extending south from this system will change rain over to snow tonight into Tuesday across parts of the lower Mississippi Valley into the Southeast. Snowfall totals of up to 3” will be possible for areas in central and northern Alabama and northern Georgia.
  • Behind the snow, dangerously cold air will move into the upper Midwest for the middle of the week. The coldest day for many areas is expected to be Wednesday, when areas from Minnesota to Chicago may not make it out of the teens below zero for highs. Wind chill values will be even colder, with some areas of the upper Midwest expected to see wind chills as cold as -60F Wednesday morning.

Tracking The Snow. This system will continue to move east over the next couple of days, with a cold front extended southward into the Deep South. Across the Great Lakes and Northeast, snow will fall as the area of low pressure moves through the area, with lake effect snow forming behind the system downwind of the Great Lakes. In parts of the Mid-Atlantic and South, precipitation will start out as rain today and tonight before the cold front sweeps through, changing precipitation to snow as the temperature drops to near freezing tonight into Tuesday.

Winter Storm Alerts. We’re tracking three areas of winter weather alerts this morning, all associated in one way or another with this storm. Starting across the upper Midwest and Great Lakes, numerous Winter Storm Warnings and Winter Weather Advisories are in effect due to additional snow and blowing snow. In the Northeast, Winter Storm Watches are in effect downwind of Lakes Erie and Ontario for the potential of heavy lake effect snow, as well as in interior sections from northeastern Pennsylvania north and northeastward into Maine due to expected heavy snow from this storm system. In the Southeast, numerous Winter Storm Watches and Warnings and Winter Weather Advisories are in place due to the potential of several inches of snow tonight into Tuesday. Some cities under winter alerts are:

  • Fargo, ND: Winter Weather Advisory until Noon today for light snow and winds that may produce reduced visibilities.
  • Minneapolis, MN: Winter Storm Warning until Noon today for up to an additional 2” of snow along with blowing snow.
  • Chicago, IL: Winter Weather Advisory through 6 PM this evening for 3-6” of snow and up to a light glaze of ice.
  • Milwaukee, WI: Winter Storm Warning through 6 PM this evening for total snow accumulations of 7-13”.
  • Grand Rapids, MI: Winter Storm Warning through 7 PM this evening for total snow accumulations of 8-12”.
  • Detroit, MI: Winter Weather Advisory through Midnight tonight for 3-5” of snow.
  • Buffalo, NY: Winter Storm Watch from Tuesday afternoon through Thursday evening for 1-2 feet of lake effect snow. Near blizzard conditions will be possible Wednesday and Thursday.
  • Syracuse, NY: Winter Storm Watch from Tuesday morning to Wednesday morning for 6-9” of snow.
  • Montpelier, VT: Winter Storm Watch from late tonight through Wednesday morning for 6-10” of snow.
  • Portland, ME: Winter Storm Watch from Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday morning for 6-10” of snow.
  • Caribou, ME: Winter Storm Watch from Tuesday evening to Wednesday afternoon for 7”+ of snow.
  • Alexandria, LA: Winter Weather Advisory from 2 AM to 9 AM Tuesday for up to an inch of snow.
  • Jackson, MS: Winter Storm Warning from Midnight tonight to 9 AM Tuesday for up to 2” of snow.
  • Birmingham, AL: Winter Storm Warning from Midnight tonight to Noon Tuesday for 2-3” of snow.
  • Huntsville, AL: Winter Storm Warning from Midnight tonight to Noon Tuesday for 2-2.5” of snow.
  • Atlanta, GA: Winter Storm Watch from late tonight to Tuesday evening for up to 2” of snow (heaviest snow is expected north of Atlanta at the moment).
  • Knoxville, TN: Winter Weather Advisory from 4 AM to 4 PM Tuesday for 2-3” of snow.
  • Roanoke, VA: Winter Weather Advisory from 5 AM to 7 PM Tuesday for 1-3” of snow.
  • Charleston, WV: Winter Weather Advisory from 3 AM to 8 PM Tuesday for 1-3” of snow.

Additional Great Lakes Snow. The heaviest additional snow today will be mainly across Michigan, where parts of Lower Michigan could pick up a foot or more. Lake effect snow through Thursday will also bring additional snow downwind of Lakes Superior and Michigan.

Northeast Snow Potential. The heaviest snow totals across the Northeast will be in interior sections from northeastern Pennsylvania north and northeastward into Maine. In some areas, snow totals could approach – if not exceed – a foot. Snow totals will be enhanced downwind of Lakes Erie and Ontario – including in the Buffalo area and the Tug Hill Plateau – due to lake effect Wednesday into the second half of the week. Meanwhile, about 1-3” of snow will be possible for New York City down through Philadelphia and Washington D.C. Tuesday into Wednesday.

Southeast Snow Potential. A swath of at least 1-2” of snow is expected to fall from northern Louisiana into parts of northern Georgia and eastern Tennessee. Some of the heaviest totals (outside of the Smoky Mountains) are expected across parts of northern and central Alabama (including Huntsville) and northern Georgia, where some 3” totals will be possible. This is expected to impact traffic across the region Tuesday.

High Wind Warnings. Meanwhile, strong winds will continue behind the front across parts of the central United States today. Due to the potential of wind gusts of 55-65 mph, High Wind Warnings continue from South Dakota to northeastern Kansas, including Rapid City (SD) until 11 AM and Omaha (NE) until Noon. These winds could cause power outages and knock down trees and tree limbs.

Dangerously Cold Air Follows Behind The Snow. We’re still tracking a blast of dangerously cold air for the mid-week timeframe across the upper Midwest. Here are expected highs and lows for Tuesday through Thursday across the region. Wednesday is expected to be the coldest day of the outbreak in most areas of the upper Midwest, with highs not expected to get out of the teens below zero for locations like the Twin Cities and Chicago.

Wind Chill Values. Dangerous and life-threatening wind chill values are also expected with this stretch of bitterly cold weather. The worst morning in the upper Midwest will be Wednesday, as wind speeds will make it feel as cold as -60F in spots. Wind chill values won’t improve too much during the day Wednesday, with another bitterly cold start expected Thursday. These wind chills would cause frostbite in less than 5-10 minutes.

Wind Chill Alerts. Numerous Wind Chill alerts have been issued for the Tuesday through Thursday timeframe for these expected cold wind chills. Some cities under wind chill alerts include:

  • Bismarck, ND: Wind Chill Warning from 2 AM Tuesday to Noon Thursday for wind chills as low as -60F.
  • Pierre, SD: Wind Chill Warning from 6 PM Tuesday to Noon Thursday for wind chills as low as -50F.
  • Sioux Falls, SD: Wind Chill Advisory from 6 AM to 3 PM Tuesday, a Wind Chill Warning from 3 PM Tuesday to Noon Wednesday, and a Wind Chill Advisory from Noon Wednesday to 9 AM Thursday. Wind chills as low as -45F to -55F during the warning period, with wind chills as low as -35F to -40F during the advisory periods.
  • Minneapolis, MN: Wind Chill Advisory from 3 AM to 3 PM Tuesday with a Wind Chill Warning from 3 PM Tuesday to 9 AM Thursday for wind chill values as low as -60F.
  • Des Moines, IA: Wind Chill Advisory from 6 PM tonight to 6 PM Tuesday with a Wind Chill Warning from 6 PM Tuesday to 9 AM Thursday for wind chill values as low as -55F.
  • Omaha, NE: Wind Chill Warning from 6 PM Tuesday to Noon Wednesday with a Wind Chill Watch from Wednesday afternoon to Thursday morning for wind chill values as low as -30F to -40F.
  • Kansas City, MO: Wind Chill Watch from Tuesday evening to Wednesday morning for wind chills as low as -20F.
  • St. Louis, MO: Wind Chill Watch from Tuesday evening to Thursday morning for wind chills as low as -40F.
  • Chicago, IL: Wind Chill Watch from Tuesday evening through Thursday morning for wind chills as low as -50F to -55F.
  • Indianapolis, IN: Wind Chill Watch from Tuesday evening to Thursday afternoon for wind chills as low as -40F.
  • Cincinnati, OH: Wind Chill Watch from Tuesday evening to Wednesday evening for wind chills as low as -30F.
  • Cleveland, OH: Wind Chill Watch from late Tuesday night to Thursday afternoon for wind chills as low as -35F.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix.

Moderation in February. Monday’s run of the GFS model suggests a return of a split flow with a strong southerly branch of the jet stream; implying more numerous western storms and a somewhat milder, Pacific flow for much of the USA into the second week of February. I sure hope it’s on the right track.

2 or More Consecutive Days Below 0F at MSP? It’s happened 4 times since 2000, the most recent 2-day stretch of negative numbers in the Twin Cities from December 30-31, 2017. If we pick up 3 consecutive days below zero at MSP it will be thefirst time since January of 2009.

Last -20F Air Temperature at MSP. It looks like there have been 6 nights of -20F or colder since 2000 (more than I thought). The last time was December 18, 2016 with a low of -20F at MSP. The last time the airport registered anything colder than -22F was January 30, 2004. I’m thinking we may get that cold one night next week.

Robots Will Take Jobs From Men, the Young, and Minorities. explains: “…The evidence indicates US workers will instead be lapped by the gentler swells of a gradual revolution, in which jobs are transformed piecemeal as machines grow more capable. Now a new study predicts that young, Hispanic, and black workers will be most affected by that creeping disruption. Men will suffer more changes to their work than women. The analysis, from the Brookings Institution, suggests that just as the dividends of recent economic growth have been distributed unevenly, so too will the disruptive effects of automation. In both cases, nonwhite, less economically secure workers lose out. “In general we see a rather manageable transition [for most workers], especially those who have a bachelor’s degree,” says Mark Muro, a senior fellow at Brookings…”

After 25 Years Studying Innovation, Here Is What I Have Learned. An author and professor at Harvard Business School offers perspective and insight. Here’s an excerpt from LinkedIn: “…More recently, I’ve asked what may be the most important question yet: Where does lasting prosperity come from? The answer: Market-Creating Innovations. These are innovations that transform complicated and expensive products into products that are simple and affordable so that many more people in society can access them. In some cases these innovations are disruptive, but in every case the new markets that are created serve as a strong foundation for sustained economic growth. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to learn how to ask good questions from so many people — my family, my students at Harvard Business School, executives of major corporations, and Presidents and Prime Ministers of nations. But the goal of asking questions is always to get to better answers. So I offer here some of the most important answers I’ve found over my years of teaching to life’s most challenging question…”

Why We Dominate the Earth. A post at Farnam Street got me thinking: “Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens is one of those uniquely breathtaking books that comes along but rarely. It’s broad, but scientific. It’s written for a popular audience, but never feels dumbed down. It’s new and fresh, but not based on any new primary research. Sapiens is pure synthesis. Readers will easily recognize the influence of Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs, and Steel, The Third Chimpanzee, and other similarly broad-yet-scientific works with vast synthesis and explanatory power. It’s not surprising, then, that Harari, a history professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has noted Diamond’s contributions to his thinking…”

Florida Man Makes Explosive Discovery. Of course it’s Florida. reports: “A Florida man made an explosive discovery Saturday while magnet fishing.  While using a magnet to search water for salvage items, the fisherman pulled up a World War II hand grenade, according to police in Ocala, Florida, about 80 miles northwest of Orlando. The fisherman threw the grenade in his trunk and drove to a Taco Bell, where he called police. The Taco Bell was evacuated, police said, but was reopened later that day.  Ocala police later verified on their Facebook page the device was a WWII hand grenade and a bomb squad had removed the device without incident.”

13 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities

25 F. average high on January 28.

20 F. high on January 28, 2018.

January 29, 1977: Due to the extreme cold, the St. Paul Winter Carnival is held indoors for the first time.

TUESDAY: Partly sunny. Numbing wind. WC: -35F. Winds: NW 15-30. High: -7

WEDNESDAY: High frostbite risk. Sunny peeks. Feels like -50F. Wake-up: -28. High: 15

THURSDAY: Frigid start, PM flurries possible. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: -27. High: -4

FRIDAY: Mostly cloudy, breathing easier. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: -8. High: 17

SATURDAY: Peeks of sun, 30s feel amazing. Winds: SW 8-13. Wake-up: 12. High: 38

SUNDAY: Patchy clouds, turning cooler. Winds: NE 10-15. Wake-up: 27. High: 31

MONDAY: Accumulating snow possible. Winds: NE 10-20. Wake-up: 17. High: 21

Climate Stories…

The New Language of Climate Change. Politico Magazine has the story: “Leading climate scientists and meteorologists are banking on a new strategy for talking about climate change: Take the politics out of it. That means avoiding the phrase “climate change,” so loaded with partisan connotations as it is. Stop talking about who or what is most responsible. And focus instead on what is happening and how unusual it is—and what it is costing communities. That was a main takeaway at the American Meteorological Society’s annual meeting this month, where top meteorologists and environmental scientists from around the country gathered to hear the latest research on record rainfall and drought, debate new weather prediction models and digest all manner of analysis on climatic mutations...”

Florida’s New Governor Shifts Gears on Environment, Maybe Climate Change. So much for legacy of Rick Scott. Here’s an excerpt from InsideClimate News: “Florida’s new Republican governor has moved quickly on a number of environmental priorities, but so far, he has stopped short of any comprehensive plan to cut greenhouse gas pollution. That’s a gaping hole, say environmental advocates, but they give him credit where they say it’s due. Several of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ early environmental directives are aimed at cleaning up water and helping Florida adapt to the effects of global warming, including more intense hurricanes and sea level rise that threatens to swallow parts of the state in the coming decades. He called for appointing chief science officer to coordinate scientific research, and he staked an opposition to fracking and offshore oil and gas activities...”

File image: NASA.

Food, Climate & The Global Syndemic: Links and headlines via Climate Nexus: “Obesity, malnutrition and climate change are three of the largest interlinked threats facing the world today and are being exacerbated by poor policy decisions, a new report says. The latest installment from the Lancet Commission on Obesity, published in the medical journal this week, finds that climate change will “considerably compound” the impacts of obesity and starvation worldwide, and the three threats compose “a synergy of pandemics that co-occur,” otherwise known as a “global syndemic.” The report makes several policy recommendations, including nutrition and sustainability labels on food, investments in public transportation, and increased transparency on political contributions to show the influence of agribusiness and food conglomerates. “What we’re doing now is unsustainable,” study author William Dietz told reporters. “The only thing we can hope is that a sense of urgency will permeate. We’re running out of time.” (CNN, Thomson Reuters Foundation, BloombergVox. Commentary: The Guardian, Felicity Lawrence op-ed).

File image: WCCO Radio.

We Weren’t Always So Divided on Climate. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at TheHill: “…The Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago found that nearly half of Americans support a carbon tax and that support climbs once people understand how the funds would be used. If the tax is targeted toward environmental restoration, almost two-thirds support it. More than half support it if the tax goes toward renewable energy programs and public transportation solutions. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates a $2 trillion investment gap on the needs in our built environment. If made well, investments in transportation, water and wastewater, and energy, among other areas, could improve our resilience while also enhancing our economic competitiveness...”

Image credit: Big Think.

The World Just Experienced the Four Hottest Years on Record. Details via The Atlantic: “2018 was hotter than any year in the 19th century. It was hotter than any year in the 20th century. It was hotter than any year in the first decade of this century. In fact, with only three exceptions, it was the hottest year on Earth since 1850. Those three exceptions: 2018 was slightly cooler than 2015, 2016, and 2017. The past four years, in other words, have been the four hottest years ever reliably measured. That’s according to Berkeley Earth, a nonprofit research group that published its annual temperature analysis on Thursday. The new finding “remains consistent with a long-term trend toward global warming,” the report says...”

Graphic above: Berkeley Earth.

Extreme Weather Events Could Worsen Climate Change. Scientific American delves into near research showing a possible feedback cycle between extreme weather events and longer-scale climate trends: “…Using earth system models, the authors calculated land might actually absorb about twice as much carbon if it weren’t for the fluctuations caused by these unusual weather and climate events. That’s a big deal for the climate. A substantial proportion of the greenhouse gas emissions humans put into the atmosphere—as much as 25 percent, by some estimates—get reabsorbed into the Earth’s soil and vegetation. “The concern is if these events became more commonplace, and then ecosystems didn’t have the time to recover between events, that they could take a larger toll on overall carbon flux,” said Julia Green, lead study author and a doctoral student at Columbia University…”

Why Cold Weather Doesn’t Mean Climate Change is Fake. Weather vs. climate. A single freeze frame vs. an entire 2-hour movie. CNN Headline News vs. The History Channel. Here are a few excerpts from a good explainer at NatGeo: “…In a time when climate change is discussed in the context of record highs, droughts, and wildfires, cold weather and blizzards can seem out of place. For those who deny that climate change is happening, it’s an opportunity to undermine scientific consensus. How do you explain a cold winter in a world that scientists say is getting hotter?…A separate study published in March of last year in the journal Nature Communications found the same link but predicted the northeastern portion of the U.S. would be particularly hard hit. “Warm temperatures in the Arctic cause the jet stream to take these wild swings, and when it swings farther south, that causes cold air to reach farther south. These swings tend to hang around for awhile, so the weather we have in the eastern United States, whether it’s cold or warm, tends to stay with us longer,” said study author Jennifer Francis in a press release…”

Climate Change is Making Winter Colder in the Northeast. More perspective on how rapid warming of the Arctic is disrupting jet stream winds, creating more instability and volatility – increasing the odds of extreme temperature swings, courtesy of NexusMedia: “…Climate change is weakening the jet stream by reducing the difference in temperature between cold, northern air and warm, southern air. As the Earth warms, it’s not warming evenly. The Arctic is warming faster than the rest of the planet, meaning it is growing closer in temperature to more southern latitudes. As a result, the barrier between cold and warm air is growing weaker, and the jet stream is going wobbly. Instead of forming an even ring around the Arctic, the jet stream is now twisting and contorting, allowing the polar vortex, the mass of cold, dense air over the north pole, to reach its tendrils further south, chilling large parts of the United States and Europe…”