Winter The Way It Was Meant To Be?

Minnesota is the Winter Olympics of Cold. We should all get obligatory gold medals. In truth, it’s been an average winter with temperatures running above normal since December.

We were due for a Siberian smack, and it’s here. Two days of pain, and then a quick thaw by Saturday. A poignant reminder that if a friend tells you a cold weather story- odds are you can one-up them.

Today may wind up being the coldest day of winter: waking up to double- digit negative numbers, with a wind chill dipping to -28F (metro) and -35F (Brainerd). The “No Exposed Skin Rule” is in effect at the bus
stop. A helpless sun will shine, luring the mercury close to 0F by mid afternoon. A refreshing -12F early Friday gives way to a quick warming trend, with a thaw by Saturday. Serious weather-whiplash.

Big storms detour south of Minnesota into next week, when daytime highs reach the 20s and 30s. After Friday, no more subzero lows are expected into late February.

Meteorological Spring is 17 days away. Hey, who’s counting?

Coldest Morning of the Winter? Probably, yes, especially with wind chill factored in. The wind will make it feel like -20 to -35F during the morning hours, easing up a little after lunchtime. Cold enough to get your attention. Maps: Praedictix and AerisWeather.

Coldest Air Remains (Just) North. Peering out 2 weeks (into the abyss) NOAA’s GFS shows a continuation of a Pacific bias for most of the USA, numbing air just brushing the northern tier states.

“Start Making Plans Now”. Hydrologists See Warning Signs of Major Spring Flooding. Bill Hudson filed a report for WCCO-TV; here’s an excerpt: “...River levels remain higher than normal, and many places went into winter already saturated. Outside the National Weather Service in Chanhassen, mounting snow piles lend credence to a growing concern. Service Hydrologist Craig Schmidt leads the north central river forecast center. “The soils are very saturated as they froze up,” Schmidt said. Data is constantly crunched at the center into formulas to help predict spring flooding. The troublesome Red River is already off the charts. “Chances normally for reaching major flood is about 10%. This year. it’s about 80,” Schmidt said. River levels statewide are already abnormally high. But swollen lakes, ditches and marshes could spell trouble for folks far from any river…”

Arctic Weather Pattern Shatters Record as it Fends Off Winter Weather in US, Europe. Jason Samenow reports for Capital Weather Gang: “The mildest winter on record is possible in many parts of the Lower 48 and Europe, and it’s directly connected to an Arctic weather pattern that has prevented bitter cold air from surging south. The strength of this pattern, known as the Arctic Oscillation (AO), set a new daily record Monday. Computer models suggest this pattern may hang on for weeks, continuing to limit the extent and severity of winter weather in the Lower 48. The AO, in essence, is a reflection of how much cold air in the Arctic is able to penetrate into the mid-latitudes. When the index is strongly positive, frigid air remains parked near the Arctic Circle as it has for much of the winter. When it’s negative, the cold is unleashed, resulting in punishing Arctic blasts into the Lower 48 and often major snowstorms, even reaching into the Southern states…”

Map credit: “Temperature difference from normal over the past 60 days.” (WeatherBell).

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Wednesday, February 12th, 2020:

  • A cold front dropping south in the upper Midwest today will cause blizzard conditions across portions of the eastern Dakotas and western Minnesota. Wind gusts of up to 55 mph will cause these whiteout conditions. Already this morning I-29 from Fargo to the Canadian border is closed due to the weather conditions.
  • Flood concerns continue today into Thursday from Texas to Pennsylvania where Flood Watches are in place. At least 1-3” of rain across this region is possible. The area that has the highest potential of flash flooding today into tonight will be from central Mississippi northeastward into southeastern Kentucky.

Blizzard Concerns. As a strong cold front continues to drop south across the upper Midwest today, it’ll be accompanied by blustery winds. These strong winds – potentially up to 55 mph in spots – will produce whiteout conditions across the eastern Dakotas and western Minnesota today. Due to this, Blizzard Warnings have been issued for areas like Fargo and Grand Forks (ND), Watertown and Huron (SD), and Fergus Falls and Marshall (MN).

Road Conditions. Already this morning, I-29 from Fargo to the Canadian border has been shut down due to blowing and drifting snow. Portions of MN 200 and US 2 in northwestern Minnesota have also been closed due to the weather conditions. Numerous roads across portions of the Dakotas and northwestern Minnesota have no travel advisories in place. Get the latest road conditions from:

Peak Winds Today. Across the area under Blizzard Warnings, wind gusts of 40-55 mph can be expected, which will greatly reduce visibilities and make for difficult travel conditions.

Light Snow. Some light snow will also fall across the upper Midwest with this system, helping to provide some fresh new snow for the wind to blow around. Temperatures will also be crashing behind the cold front, and with some light snow on the roads it could lead to flash freeze conditions making roadways icy.

Flood Watches. Meanwhile, an area of low pressure moving across portions of the South and Southeast today will lead to more showers and thunderstorms in areas that have been hard-hit by rain recently. Flood Watches stretch this morning from northeastern Texas to Pennsylvania. The area that has the highest potential of flash flooding today into tonight will be from central Mississippi northeastward into southeastern Kentucky.

Forecast Rainfall. A band of at least 1-2” of rain is expected to fall from portions of northeastern Texas into the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys over the next couple of days. Some of the heaviest rain will fall around the Ark-La-Tex, where at least an additional 3” of rain is possible.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix

How’s the Weather? It Could Be EPIC. The Boston Globe has the story: “As meteorologists gather in Boston this week to mark the 100th anniversary of the American Meteorological Society, they will celebrate one of our era’s greatest scientific accomplishments: the ability to forecast the weather. A century ago, scientists had yet to demonstrate that weather could be predicted in any detail. Cities received notice of snow or rain moving toward them a day or two ahead of time, but they did not know the amount of precipitation or even if it would actually arrive. Forecasters now can alert communities to major storms as much as a week or more in advance, filling in such details as the timing and location while putting realistic bounds on the uncertainties. These forecasts, which build on generations of research into the physics and chemistry of the atmosphere, use far-reaching observations and high-resolution weather models run on increasingly powerful supercomputers…”

Photo credit: “Swirling sediment reveals erosive power of New England storm.” NASA/Jesse Allen/LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response.

Taking Zinc Tablets Can Shorten Your Cold. has a fascinating story: “The common cold is a top reason for missed work and school days. Most of us have two or three colds per year, each lasting at least a week. There’s no real cure, but studies from the last several years show that some supplement containing zinc can help shorten the duration of cold symptoms by up to 40% — depending on the amount of the mineral in each dose and what it’s combined with. Zinc has an interesting back story. It wasn’t even acknowledged as an essential mineral for human health until the 1970s. But that changed thanks to the work of Dr. Ananda Prasad — a 91-year-old doctor who, decades ago, had a hunch that led to a better understanding of zinc’s role in immunity…”

Note to Self: Pay for Moving Insurance. Ouch. has the story: “An extremely rare, $194,000 grand piano was smashed when movers dropped it while taking it out of a recording studio, Canadian virtuoso Angela Hewitt has revealed. Hewitt, one of the world’s leading classical pianists, said in a Facebook post that she had just finished recording Beethoven’s piano variations in Berlin when the movers entered the studio control room to tell her they had dropped her handmade Fazioli piano. The pianist said it had taken her 10 days to share the “very sad piece of news” because it “has been such a shock to me that I didn’t immediately want to share it with the world.” Her precious F278 Fazioli piano was the only one in the world with four pedals, she wrote...”

9″ snow on the ground Wednesday in the Twin Cities.

35 F. high yesterday at MSP.

28 F. average Twin Cities maximum temperature on February 12.

25 F. high on February 12, 2019.

February 13, 1872: A snowstorm buries Sibley County with 12 foot drifts. Many people perished in the storm.

February 13, 1866: What may be Minnesota’s ‘Greatest Blizzard.’ It lasted for three days and buried barns in drifts. Luckily, it began at night when many people were at home.

February 13, 1838: In the days before Tower…at 2:00 am the mercury thermometer at Ft. Snelling freezes at 40 below. The actual temperature is unknown.

THURSDAY: Windchill Advisories and Warnings. Coldest day of winter? Numbing sunshine. Wind chill: -25 to -30F. Winds: NW 10-20. High: 2

FRIDAY: Nippy start. Clouds increase, gusty. Winds: S 15-25. Wake-up: -12. High: 15

SATURDAY: Mostly cloudy, thawing out. Winds: W 8-13. Wake-up: 12. High: 34

SUNDAY: Still gray, cooler wind kicks in. Winds: N 8-13. Wake-up: 20. High: 28

MONDAY: Storm may stay south. Winds: N 8-13. Patchy clouds. Wake-up: 14. High: 24

TUESDAY: More clouds than sun, dry. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 12. High: 26

WEDNESDAY: Another clipper. Flurries taper. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 10. High: 19

Climate Stories…

Plant a Trillion Trees: Republicans Offer Fossil-Friendly Climate Fix. Reuters has an update: “Republican lawmakers on Wednesday will propose legislation setting a goal for the United States to plant a trillion trees by 2050 to fight global warming, a plan intended to address climate change by sucking carbon out of the air instead of by cutting emissions. The proposed legislation reflects an acknowledgement in the Republican party of rising voter demand for action on climate change, even as it seeks to preserve the economic benefits of an historic drilling boom that has made the United States the world’s biggest oil and gas producer. President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly cast doubt on the science of climate change, had expressed support for the idea of a massive tree-planting campaign during a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month…”

Photo credit: Paul Douglas.

Fossil Fuels Cost Us Millions of Lives, Billions of Dollars: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “Air pollution from burning fossil fuels causes more than 4 million premature deaths worldwide each year and costs the global economy $8 billion a day, a new report from Greenpeace Asia shows. The report estimates that more than 40,000 children die before their fifth birthday due to exposure to particulate pollution, which also causes three times the number of deaths as road accidents in the global population. Economically, China, the US and India suffer from $900 billion, $600 billion and $150 billion of yearly losses from pollution, while pollution-related illnesses cause 1.8 billion missed work days each year.” (The Guardian, Bloomberg,

File image: Paul Douglas.

BP Boss Sets Out to Reinvent Oil Giant with Zero Carbon Goal. Color me skeptical, but I hope they can pull this off. Details via Reuters: “...We have got to change and change profoundly because the world is changing fast and so are society’s expectations of us,” Looney said in his first major speech as CEO, after earlier highlighting a need to “reinvent BP”. “It is aiming to reduce and neutralize the carbon in the oil and gas that we dig out of the ground,” Looney added. BP did not say how it intends to get emissions from its operations and barrels produced to net zero and halve the intensity of emissions by all products it sells, including diesel and petrol, a measure known as Scope 3...”

Trump’s Biggest Vulnerability Is His Climate Change Denial. So says Mother Jones in a recent post; here’s an excerpt: “…For the last year, there’s been a clear trend in polls finding that climate change is Trump’s most unpopular position, outranking health care, immigration and foreign policy as the issue he gets the worst marks on from registered voters. A Politico/Morning Consult poll released in late January—smack in the middle of the impeachment trial—asked 2,000 voters about Trump’s performance on a number of issues ranging from jobs, economy, and terrorism to trade, climate, immigration, foreign relations, health care, and draining the swamp. They were the least impressed with climate: More than half—54 percent—gave Trump a D or F, while just 21 percent gave him an A or B…”

Rising Seas Already Overwhelm the Bay Area. Time is Running Out for California To Act. The Los Angeles Times reports: “…For a city of 34,000 that was built on filled-in marshland along San Francisco Bay, the future hinges on the strength of an eight-mile-long levee that for decades has held back the rising sea. But with every tide and storm, the water keeps trying to move back and reclaim the town. Flood maps, even in more moderate scenarios, show much of the city inundated if nothing is done. The fate of Foster City and the rest of the Bay Area was front and center last week as state lawmakers grappled with the many threats California must confront as the ocean pushes farther inland. A special committee of state lawmakers gathered — for the second time in two months after years without meeting — to reignite a much-needed discussion on how to better prepare communities up and down the coast from devastating loss...”

Map credit above: Thomas Suh Lauder / Los Angeles Times.

Get Used to Record Heat Because It’s Here to Stay. Bloomberg Green looks at the trends: “Unprecedented warming will dominate the coming decade, according to a new study, which said every year is likely to rank among the planet’s 10 hottest. Global temperatures are already consistently breaking records, with 2016 the warmest ever followed by 2019, data from the World Meteorological Organization show. That trend is likely to continue through 2028 with a 75% chance that every year will feature in the top 10 hottest of all time, according to the study submitted to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. While there could be some cooler years because of natural variability, they’re unlikely to disrupt the broader global trend for rising temperatures, according to the analysis, which sees a more than 99% chance that most years in the next decade will rank in the top 10 of all time…”

Image credit: “Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. Based on NOAAGlobalTemp data from 1880-2018.” Link to study:

The Heartland Lobby. Turns out organized disinformation pays pretty well. Here’s an excerpt from CORRECTIV: “A joint investigation from CORRECTIV and Frontal 21 reveals how the American Heartland Institute is supporting climate change deniers in Germany with the goal of undermining climate protection measures. We went undercover to meet with the institute’s chief strategist. He told us how the network of climate change deniers works, how donations are disguised and how they intend to use a German YouTuber affiliated with the AfD to reach young people. In the end, he made us a concrete offer...”

US’s Oil Bonanza: Climate Nexus has links and headlines: “Oil production on US federal lands and waters reached a record 1 billion barrels in 2019 as increasingly relaxed regulations and quicker government approval times are helping to drive production, officials told the AP. The 1-billion-barrel milestone marks a 13 percent increase from 2018’s production figures, which Acting Assistant Secretary of the Interior Casey Hammond told the AP is thanks to the administration’s willingness to create a “fair and efficient” process for industry. “This is another example of the Trump administration undoing four or five decades of thoughtful laws to protect the public lands,” former Bureau of Land Management director Mike Penfold told the AP. “The benefits of this go to the oligarchs who put more money in their pockets — not other public land users or the taxpayers.” (AP)

Antarctic’s New Record High Temperature: Is It Climate Change? USA TODAY provides perspective and context: “…Experts differ on what the new record high may have to do with human-caused climate change.  “This record looks to be a one-time extreme event that doesn’t tell us anything about Antarctic climate change,” David Bromwich, a climate researcher at the Ohio State University, told The Washington Post. Bromwich added, however, that the peninsula has warmed noticeably since the late 1940s. “This is a record from only a single station, but it is in the context of what’s happening elsewhere and is more evidence that as the planet warms we get more warm records and fewer cold records,” Steve Rintoul, an oceanographer and Antarctic expert at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, told the Guardian...”