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Biggest Snow in 2 Years for Twin Cities (so why is Upper Midwest still in a drought?)
Temperature Matters. O.K. We picked up a healthy 8-14″ of snow, but temperature was also a big factor after the storm. Keep in mind that temperatures colder than 10-15 F. make it very difficult for chemicals/sand to melt snow. A snow storm at 10 F. is far more dangerous (on the highways) than a storm at 25-30 F, when it’s still possible to melt snow and ice and have (mostly) wet highway surfaces. It’s not just the amount of snow, but the air temperature that determines how nasty the roads will be. Photo: NOAA.
- Falling upon a mostly frozen landscape, only a portion of the weekly precipitation will enter the soil profile. Soil moisture content in many Minnesota counties was 4-6″ short of the end-of-season historical average. This is a lot of ground to make up. Winter precipitation alone can’t rescue us. We remain very dependent on abundant early-spring rainfall.
- The storm provided only a glancing blow to northwest Minnesota and the southern tier of Minnesota counties, two areas of MInnesota in the Extreme Drought category.Good news:
- If we can retain this snow cover through the heart of winter, the insulating effect of the snow will keep frost depths shallow. A shallow frost leaves the ground quicer in the late-winter, thus leaving the soils more receptive to infiltration (from rain) in the early spring.
- I see that the CPC long-range outlooks (6 to 10 day, 8 to 14 day) tilt towards above-normal precipitation. Will our high-albedo landscape set up a baroclinic zone and thus impact the storm tracks? I’ll defer to you synopticians.Greg Spoden, State Climatologist
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources – Division of Ecological and Water Resources
* Climate Prediction Center 8-14 day precipitation outlook above courtesy of Ham Weather. Thanks Greg.
Positive NAO. The North Atlantic Oscillation, a blocking pattern over North America, is forecast to become positive again during the third week of December, implying a warming trend for much of the USA – the coldest Canadian air bottled up north of the border, at least temporarily. Graph: NOAA.
Amen brother. Thanks for sharing this Kent.
Odds Of A White Christmas. Here’s an informative post from NOAA and NCDC, highlighting those lucky towns in the USA where snow on December 25 is pretty much a forgone conclusion: ” Will we have a white Christmas? It’s an age-old question that occurs to almost everyone this time of year. This report, created by the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), contains maps and tables showing the percent probabilities for a snow depth of at least 1 inch on Christmas morning, as well as the probabilities for a depth of at least 5 inches and 10 inches. The “First Order” Summary of Day Dataset for the period of 1961-1990 was used to compute these statistics. Only stations with at least 25 years of data were used and the ’61-’90 period was chosen to coincide with the standard period for computing climatological normals. Discussion Following is a brief summary of our findings:
Sault Ste Marie MI
International Falls MN
Stampede Pass WA
|INTERNATIONAL FALLS||100%||73%||53%||EAU CLAIRE||87%||33%||17%|
|REDWOOD FALLS||62%||27%||8%||LA CROSSE||66%||28%||10%|
“Hurricane Sandy Was Not An Extreme Black Swan Hurricane”. Sandy was bad enough, but by no means a worst-case scenario. Here’s an interesting perspective, courtesy of Weather Underground’s chief guru, Dr. Jeff Masters: “I was in San Francisco last week for the annual Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the world’s largest gathering of Earth Scientists. Over twenty thousand scientists from all over the world, including many of the world’s top climate scientists and hurricane scientists, were in town to exchange ideas to advance the cause of Earth Science. One of the more intriguing talks was given by Ning Lin, a professor at Princeton University. She and Dr. Kerry Emanuel of MIT are studying “Black Swans”–tropical cyclones that are a surprise to the observer, and cannot be anticipated based on the 162-year historical record. Very rare extreme hurricanes that one might expect to occur naturally once every 10,000 years are possible, and “climate change has increased the probability of such storms,” Emanuel said at a press conference last week. In terms of storm surge, Sandy was not a black swan, since the 1821 hurricane that hit New York City had a higher storm surge. Historical records recount that the water rose thirteen feet in one hour at The Battery on Manhattan during the 1821 hurricane. The water level did not rise as high as during Sandy, though, since the 1821 hurricane hit at low tide…”
Rebuilding The National Weather Service. Personally, I think we have a terrific national weather service – but it pays to be paranoid. In the spirit of full disclosure I wanted to include this blog post from Cliff Mass. I’m not saying I agree with it, but it’s food for thought. Here’s an excerpt: “As noted in various publications, trillions of dollars of U.S. economic activity are sensitive to weather (Dutton 2002), with nearly a half-trillion dollars of variability in our economy due to weather (Lazo et al., 2011). Furthermore, the U.S. experiences a wide range of severe weather conditions (tornadoes, hurricanes, severe convection, windstorms, snowstorms) that not only results in economic impacts, but the loss of hundreds to thousands of lives a year from intense weather. The U.S. should have the best weather prediction capability in the world. We have the world’s most extensive weather research community and many key weather prediction breakthroughs have occurred here, including the first numerical weather prediction. We also spend more money on weather prediction than anyone else and our private sector meteorological community is large and vigorous. But the sad truth is that we are lagging behind the world leaders, and are even farther behind our inherent capabilities. The loss to the nation, both in lives and economic value, is immense and unnecessary. It is time to face up to the problems and fix them….”
Evidence Noah’s Biblical Flood Happened, Says Robert Ballard. Here’s a clip from a fascinating article at ABC News: “…The questions is, was there a mother of all floods,” Ballard said. According to a controversial theory proposed by two Columbia University scientists, there really was one in the Black Sea region. They believe that the now-salty Black Sea was once an isolated freshwater lake surrounded by farmland, until it was flooded by an enormous wall of water from the rising Mediterranean Sea. The force of the water was two hundred times that of Niagara Falls, sweeping away everything in its path. Fascinated by the idea, Ballard and his team decided to investigate. “We went in there to look for the flood,” he said. “Not just a slow moving, advancing rise of sea level, but a really big flood that then stayed… The land that went under stayed under.….”
“Snowbull” Sled Takes Skiing Lying Down. I like the lying down part. If I could put skis on my sofa I’d give that a try too. If you’re looking for a unique new snow-gadget check out this article from gizmag.com; here’s an excerpt: “Traditionally the domain of small children celebrating a snow day, sledding is slowly working its way up to a serious snow sport akin to skiing. About a month ago, we covered the US$3,000 Snolo Stealth-X carbon fiber sled, and now we have another high-tech sled built for serious downhillers. The Snowbull is an Austrian-designed sled that uses high-tech components for a sharp, fast ride….”
Top 10 Ways To Avoid Being Tracked Online. I get a lot of useful nuggets of information listening to “Marketplace“; here’s an excerpt of a story you might want to graze before plugging your Visa number into some nameless, faceless online account:
“1. Read the agreements for all mobile phone apps before you download them. Some of them are scary! They will track your location using your GPS and some (like Facebook) will download ALL OF THE CONTACTS IN YOUR PHONE. Can’t remember who you’ve handed your data to? MyPermissions can help.
2. Read the Terms of Service Agreements for sites you give your information to. Especially sites you give your financial information to. You maybe thinking:”I’ve been on page 5 of Freedom for 8 months, HOW am I going to find the time to read online agreements?” ToS;DR can help.…”
What’s 111 Degrees Among Friends? Talk about extremes. Check this out, courtesy of NOAA and Chad Merrill at Earth Networks:
Natural Gas’ Role In Combating Climate Change. Here’s an excerpt of a post from David Frum at The Daily Beast: “The chart above shows the Department of Energy’s estimates of CO2 emissions per capita from 1973 to 2040. Total energy-related carbon emissions are expected to fall to a 20-year low this year, and on a per-capita basis will be the lowest since at least 1973 when the Department of Energy’s data begins. From the current level of 17 tons per capita, we can expect CO2 emissions per capita to fall to 14 tons per capita in 2040, a 25.2% decrease…”
Welcome to the WeatherNation blog. Every day I sift through hundreds of stories, maps, graphics and meteorological web sites, trying to capture some of the most interesting weather nuggets, the stories behind the forecast. I’ll link to stories and share some of the web sites I use. I’m still passionate about the weather, have been ever since Tropical Storm Agnes flooded my home in Lancaster, PA in 1972. I’ve started 5 weather-related companies. “EarthWatch” created the world’s first 3-D weather graphics for TV stations – Steven Spielberg used our software in “Jurassic Park” and “Twister”. My last company, “Digital Cyclone”, personalized weather for cell phones. “My-Cast” was launched in 2001 and is still going strong on iPhone, Android and Blackberry. I sold DCI to Garmin in 2007 so I could focus on my latest venture: WeatherNation. I also write a daily weather column for The Star Tribune startribune.