Let It Snow – Winter Storm Warnings Posted

Are you in the 10 percent club? A 2013 CBS News poll suggests that Americans really hate winter. In fact, only 1 in 10 respondents said winter was their favorite season. Personally, I don’t think it’s a bug. It’s a feature.

A real winter means you REALLY want to live in Minnesota. That’s a good thing. No bugs. No weeding. No humidity. Extra lip balm. If every day was 70F, we’d start to take the nice days for granted.

A Winter Storm Warning means snow is imminent, and the models are in good agreement: a 6-10 inch pile of powder is likely, with a foot for many communities by Saturday evening.

With arctic air in place, this will be a Colorado snowfall – prone to blowing and drifting. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the National Weather Service issue Blizzard Warnings Saturday morning, especially south/west of MSP, for 30-40 mph winds sparking white-out conditions.

Before you call your travel agent (does anyone still do that?) consider this: a Pacific thaw returns later next week with a run of 30s…above!

NOAA NDFD snowfall numbers above courtesy of Praedictix and AerisWeather.

NOAA NAM Dialing Back Amounts. Last night’s 00z run prints out about 5-6″ for most of themetro, closer to 7-8″ for parts of central and west central Minnesota, but considerably less than earlier model runs. Map credit: pivotalweather.com

On The Other Hand… ECMWF (European) is still bullish on snowfall totals, with 10-12″ for the metro and considerably more west of MSP. At this point I’d split the difference between ECMWF and NAM. Map above: weatherbell.com.

Record Snowfalls in the United States. House Method calculated the biggest snow events for every county in the USA – check it out: “Snowfall can vary depending on which state you live in. Parts of the country could see multiple feet while others could see less than an inch. However, no matter where you live in the United States, snow has reached your home state. As the snow comes down across the country, we at House Method decided to find out just how much (or how little) each state has received. We gathered data on the biggest total snowfall (in inches) of each county in every state of the U.S. The map below shows what we found...”

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Thursday, January 16th, 2020:

  • We’re tracking a system moving out into the central United States over the next couple of days that will bring snow and ice to the mid-section of the nation. Ahead of the system, numerous Winter Storm Watches and Winter Weather Advisories are in place.
  • The heaviest snow will fall in portions of upper Midwest and Great Lakes, where snow totals of at least 6-12” are possible. Some icing will be possible as far south as New Mexico and Texas.
  • Winds will be strong with this system as well, especially behind the snow in portions of the upper Midwest on Saturday. This could lead to blizzard or near-blizzard conditions.

Mid-January Winter Storm. As a system works out into the Plains and eventually Great Lakes late this week into the weekend, wintry weather will spread across the central United States with the potential of heavy snow in the Upper Midwest and some icy conditions from portions of New Mexico into the upper Great Lakes.

Winter Storm Concerns. Winter Storm Watches and Winter Weather Advisories are in place across the central United States ahead of this system as we go throughout the next few days. Breaking down some of the alerts in place:

Winter Storm Watches:

  • Columbia, MO: From late tonight through Friday evening for up to 3” of snow, 0.10-0.20” of ice, and wind gusts to 30 mph.
  • Dubuque, IA: From Friday afternoon through Saturday afternoon for 2-4” of snow, 0.10-0.20” of ice, and wind gusts to 45 mph.
  • Aberdeen, SD: From Friday afternoon through Saturday afternoon for blizzard conditions with snow of up to 2” and wind gusts up to 50 mph.
  • Fargo, ND: From Friday afternoon through Saturday afternoon for blizzard conditions with snow of 2-4” and wind gusts up to 50 mph.
  • Grand Forks, ND: From Friday afternoon through Saturday afternoon for blizzard conditions with snow of 2-4” and wind gusts up to 45 mph.
  • Minneapolis, MN: From Friday afternoon through Saturday afternoon for 6-9” of snow and wind gusts to 40 mph.
  • Duluth, MN: From Friday afternoon through Saturday afternoon for 5-10” of snow (7-12” along the higher terrain of the North Shore) with wind gusts to 35 mph.

Winter Weather Advisories:

  • Amarillo, TX: From 9 AM today through 6 AM Friday due to a wintry mix of precipitation during to freezing rain this afternoon. Ice accumulation of 0.10-0.15”.
  • Wichita, KS: From 5 PM today through Noon Friday for up to 1” of snow, up to 0.20” of ice, and wind gusts to 35 mph.
  • Kansas City, MO: From Midnight tonight to 6 PM Friday for up to 2” of snow and up to 0.20” of ice.
  • Omaha, NE: From 3 AM Friday to 6 AM Saturday for 1-4” of snow, up to 0.10” ice, and wind gusts to 50 mph.
  • Des Moines, IA: From 6 AM Friday through 6 PM Saturday for 3-5” of snow, up to 0.10” ice, and wind gusts to 45 mph.


  • Sioux Falls, SD: Winter Weather Advisory from 6 AM Friday through Midnight Friday Night for 3-6” of snow and wind gusts to 40 mph. Winter Storm Watch from late Friday Night through Saturday afternoon for blizzard conditions with up to an additional inch of snow and wind gusts to 50 mph.

Potential Snow Totals Through Saturday Evening. The heaviest snow is expected to fall across portions of the upper Midwest into the Great Lakes, where snowfall tallies of at least 6-12” are possible through Saturday evening. This snow will lead to hazardous travel conditions and could impact portions of both the Friday morning and evening commute across the region.

Potential Ice Totals Through Saturday Evening. Freezing rain will be possible at times over the next 24-48 hours from New Mexico into the upper Great Lakes. The heaviest amounts are possible in portions of western Oklahoma and southern Kansas, where up to a quarter-inch of ice will be possible.

High Wind Gusts Expected. Strong wind gusts are also expected across the Northern Plains and upper Midwest with this system. The strongest winds will move across the Dakotas as we head through Friday Night into Saturday, with the strongest winds in Minnesota and Iowa expected Saturday. Numerous wind gusts of at least 40 mph can be expected, with peak wind gusts of 50+ possible in some locations, especially in the Dakotas. These winds will lead to blowing snow and reduced visibility where snow does fall. The potential of blizzard conditions exists across portions of the eastern Dakotas and western Minnesota, especially on Saturday.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix

Another Thaw Brewing. ECMWF pulls the mercury into the 30s the latter half of next week as a Pacific flow resumes – still no sign of polar air becoming locked overhead for an extended period of time.

January: A Mild Finish? It will be if NOAA’s GFS 500mb wind forecast above verifies, showing a predominately zonal, west to east wind flow aloft the last couple days of January. This solution implies considerably milder than average temperatures across most of the USA 2 weeks out.

An “Average” Winter in the Twin Cities (So Far). So says The Midwestern Regional Climate Center, with their updated AWSSI, or Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index: “Winter seasons have significant societal impacts across all sectors ranging from direct human health and mortality to commerce, transportation, and education. The question “How severe was this winter?” does not have a simple answer. At the very least, the severity of a winter is related to the intensity and persistence of cold weather, the amount of snow, and the amount and persistence of snow on the ground. The Accumulated Winter Season Index (AWSSI) was developed to objectively quantify and describe the relative severity of the winter season…”

Even by Minnesota Standards 2019 Was a Wild Weather Year. Last year was the wettest year on record for Minnesota. In case you missed a very good summary from Star Tribune; here’s the intro: “From January, which produced the coldest air mass in almost three decades, to mid-July, which gave us a flash heat wave, we saw an extraordinary 170 degree difference between the wind chill and the heat index in the Twin Cities. A barrage of winter and spring storms throughout Minnesota led to widespread river flooding and shattered the February snowfall record. Intense thunderstorms battered all corners of the state from mid-July through September, with straight-line winds, tornadoes, hail as large as grapefruits and localized flooding. Almost every month of the year saw above-average precipitation, leaving the Twin Cities and many other cities with record-breaking totals….”

Google Says New AI Model Allows for “Nearly Instantaneous” Weather Forecasts. I’ll believe it when I see it. The Verge reports: “Weather forecasting is notoriously difficult, but in recent years experts have suggested that machine learning could better help sort the sunshine from the sleet. Google is the latest firm to get involved, and in a blog post this week shared new research that it says enables “nearly instantaneous” weather forecasts. The work is in the early stages and has yet to be integrated into any commercial systems, but early results look promising. In the non-peer-reviewed paper, Google’s researchers describe how they were able to generate accurate rainfall predictions up to six hours ahead of time at a 1km resolution from just “minutes” of calculation. That’s a big improvement over existing techniques, which can take hours to generate forecasts, although they do so over longer time periods and generate more complex data...”

Image credit: “Google’s work used radar data to predict rainfall. The top image shows cloud location, while the bottom image shows rainfall.” Credit: NOAANWSNSSL

Snoop Dog Just Made a Sandwich for Dunkin Donuts. CNN has the delicious news: “Dunkin’s new menu item is Snoop Dogg-approved. Beginning Monday, the chain will sell a Beyond Sausage patty with egg and cheese, served on a sliced glazed donut. The sandwich will only be available for a week, and its the latest promotion for the plant-based protein since it launched nationally in November.  The “Beyond D-O-Double G Sandwich,” as its called, was inspired by the rapper’s “passion for plant-based protein and love of glazed donuts,” according to a press release. Dunkin’ first enlisted Snoop last year and surprised customers with the plant-based meat in a TV ad campaign…”

Photo credit: “The “Beyond D-O-Double G Sandwich” is being served at Dunkin’.”

Spotify Launches Playlist for Dogs Left Home Alone. Because, why not. Fox Business has the story: “Spotify has made playlists and a podcast for dogs to listen to in their owners’ absence, after finding that nearly 74 percent of UK pet-owners play music for their animals. The Swedish audio-streaming business company said it has launched a podcast featuring soothing music, “dog-directed praise”, stories, and messages of affirmation and reassurance narrated by actors to alleviate stress for dogs who are home alone. Meanwhile, playlists aimed at pets offer tracks selected by algorithms to match pets’ characteristics such as energetic or slow.bSpotify said it found in a survey that one in four pet-owners play music for their pets to listen to for company when they are away from home, with 42 percent of owners saying their pets have a favorite type of music...”

5″ snow on the ground as of Thursday evening.

6 F. maximum temperature yesterday.

23 F. average high on January 16.

21 F. high on January 16, 2019.

January 17, 1996: A severe ice storm hits the western and northern Twin Cities with accumulations between a half an inch and an inch. A foot of snow fell over central Minnesota.

January 17, 1982: The citizens of Tower wake up to a frigid low of -52 degrees F.

FRIDAY: Winter Storm Warning. Snow becomes heavy. Winds: SE 15-35. High: 23

SATURDAY: AM whiteout potential. 5-10″ totals. Winds: NW 20-40+. Wake-up: 15. High: 16

SUNDAY: Peeks of sun, better travel. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: -2. High: 5

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY: Bright sunshine, light winds. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: -9. High: 8

TUESDAY: Partly sunny, average again. Winds: S: 8-13. Wake-up: -1. High: 24

WEDNESDAY: Showers of rain or wet snow possible. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 20. High: 36

THURSDAY: Light snow or flurries. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 27. High: 35

Climate Stories…

HOT DECADE: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “NASA and NOAA announced yesterday that the last decade was the hottest on record, and that 2019 was the second-hottest year on record, only after 2016, making the last five years the hottest on record. Additionally, 19 of the hottest years have been in the last two decades. “No individual hot year — or hot day or hot season, for that matter — is by itself evidence for climate change. But this hot year is just one of many hot years in this decade,” said Kate Marvel, a research scientist at NASA and Columbia University. It has been 43 consecutive years since global temperatures were cooler than the 20th century average.” (New York Times, Washington Post $, The Guardian, Thomson Reuters Foundation, CBS, Wall Street Journal $, The Hill, NPR, HuffPost, Washington Examiner, AP, CNBC, Mother Jones, Axios, Gizmodo, The Atlantic, Mashable; Background and graphics: Climate Signals)

“Fire Clouds”: After Australia, Scientists Warn the Erratic Weather Phenomenon Could Become a New Reality. Here’s a clip from a story at NBC News: “…With these high-intensity fires, you can drop water or fire retardant on them, but it’s like spitting on a campfire,” Flannigan said. “There’s not much you can do. You basically have to get out of the way.” But scientists are also interested in studying the impact the voracious fire clouds can have on the climate. Fromm was a co-author of a 2018 study published in the journal Climate and Atmospheric Science that found that the amount of aerosols lofted into the stratosphere from pyroCbs is equivalent to the release of a moderate volcano eruption. As has been observed after volcanic eruptions, the plumes of ash and other fine particles can actually have a cooling effect because they absorb solar radiation, which decreases how much sunlight reaches Earth’s surface…”

This Is Your Life on Climate Change. The Atlantic takes a look at another unusually warm year – and decade: “The 2010s were the hottest decade ever measured on Earth, and 2019 was the second-hottest year ever measured, scientists at NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced today. After a year of flash droughts, rampant wildfires, and searing heat waves that set all-time records across Europe and turned parts of Greenland’s ice sheet into slush, the finding was not a surprise to researchers, or likely anyone else. But it capped an anxious decade that saw human-caused climate change transform from a far-off threat into an everyday fact of life…”

James Murdoch Slams Fox News and News Corp Over Climate Change Denial. Well this is interesting – it takes OK Boomer to an entirely new level. Here’s the intro to a Daily Beast story: “In a long-simmering rift between factions of the Murdoch family over climate change, Rupert’s younger son, James, and his activist wife, Kathryn, are attacking the climate denialism promoted by News Corporation, the global media group, and also by the Fox News Channel overseen by James’ older brother, Lachlan. “Kathryn and James’ views on climate are well established and their frustration with some of the News Corp and Fox coverage of the topic is also well known,” a spokesperson for the couple exclusively told The Daily Beast as wildfires rage in Australia. “They are particularly disappointed with the ongoing denial among the news outlets in Australia given obvious evidence to the contrary.”  The extraordinary public rebuke from Kathryn and James—who is the CEO of Lupa Systems, a private investment company he founded—comes as Australia has been ravaged by the worst fires seen in decades…”

Blackrock CEO Larry Fink: Climate Crisis Will Reshape Finance. Yes it will; it already is. The New York Times reports: “Laurence D. Fink, the founder and chief executive of BlackRock, announced Tuesday that his firm would make investment decisions with environmental sustainability as a core goal. BlackRock is the world’s largest asset manager with nearly $7 trillion in investments, and this move will fundamentally shift its investing policy — and could reshape how corporate America does business and put pressure on other large money managers to follow suit. Mr. Fink’s annual letter to the chief executives of the world’s largest companies is closely watched, and in the 2020 edition he said BlackRock would begin to exit certain investments that “present a high sustainability-related risk,” such as those in coal producers. His intent is to encourage every company, not just energy firms, to rethink their carbon footprints…”

Australia’s Wildfires Are Releasing Vast Amounts of Carbon. NPR has an update: “Smoke from the ongoing firestorm in Australia is obscuring skies halfway around the world. Satellite images from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show a haze from the deadly fires spreading over South America. The swirling plume is nearly the size of the continental United States. All fires emit smoke — a combination of thousands of compounds, including climate-warming greenhouse gases. But the sheer scale of the emissions, and the severity of the fires causing them, are concerning climate scientists around the world. Already, atmospheric watchdogs say, the fires have pumped hundreds of millions of tons of carbon dioxide into Earth’s atmosphere…”

After a Rough Year, Farmers and Congress Are Talking About Climate Solutions. Here’s an excerpt from InsideClimate News: “…The fields that were slow to drain and remained waterlogged longer had been farmed conventionally—tilled, left bare and unplanted over the winter. The fields that drained quickly and were ready for sowing hadn’t been tilled in years and had been planted every winter with cover crops, like rye and clover, which help control erosion, improve soil health and trap carbon in the soil. “There’s a pretty stark contrast,” said William Salas, the interim CEO of Dagan Inc., a firm that specializes in geospatial data. As the disastrous 2019 farming season unfolded, Salas and his colleagues decided to analyze whether conservation methods, like planting cover crops and using “no-till” farming—which research shows can prevent erosion and improve the soil’s ability to filter water—had any effect on whether fields could be planted or not this year...”

Where Nitrous Oxide, a Greenhouse Gas 300 Times Stronger Than CO2, Is Being Emitted. Quartz has the details: “If something is burning, nitrous oxide is flowing into the atmosphere. Increasingly, the most concentrated nitrous oxide sources come from humans burning fossil fuels and transforming ecosystems. Natural sources, such as Australia’s currently raging wildfires contribute too (if those fires can even be considered “natural”). As a greenhouse gas, it gets less attention than carbon dioxide, accounting for just 6% of all emissions 2017. But it’s a major factor intensifying climate change: NOx, as the gas is known, lasts for a century and is far more potent. It is nearly 300 times stronger than carbon dioxide at trapping heat...”

Data and map credit: Descartes Labs, Natural Earth.

Why Generational Pressure Is the Key to Climate Change Policy. Big Think has a compelling video: “With figures like Greta Thunberg and demonstrations like the global climate strike, it’s become apparent that young people are driving the effort to stop climate change. This generational pressure is the key to change. In the same way that smoking became less accepted in society, even frowned upon, so too can the behaviors that have sped up climate change. Moving forward, energy companies will play a major role if they can reimagine themselves as part of the solution to this crisis and forge a better path to save the planet…”