60 mph peak wind gust in the Twin Cities Wednesday.
25.5 mph average wind speed yesterday.
36 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities.
37 F. average high on March 8.
70 F. high on March 8, 2016.
March 9, 1918: A snowstorm hits Minnesota and dumps nearly 11 inches at the Twin Cities.

Winter’s Last Gasp Tonight Into Sunday? Probably

Just for the record, you won’t be mowing the lawn anytime soon. Yes, many lakes are experiencing the earliest ice-out on record. Birds are chirping, spring break so close you can taste it. But keep your (weather) expectations low.

It seems like Tropical Storm Flo has stalled out over Minnesota with wind gusts over 60 mph yesterday; a tip-off of what’s coming: from shorts & tornadoes on Monday to subzero wind chills just 4 days later.

The same blistering airmass that set record lows from Alaska into the Yukon will brush Minnesota tonight into the weekend. In spite of a higher sun angle temperatures struggle to reach 20F Friday; readings 10-15F colder than average into early next week. Dig out the coats one more time.

A Sunday clipper may leave behind a cosmetic snowfall, even an inch or two of slush – a friendly reminder that winter won’t go away willingly. Every year it’s a struggle. 40s return late next week; the latter half of March dominated by a mild, Pacific wind flow.

A Minnesota spring is always 2 steps forward, one big step back. Sadly 2017 will be no exception.

2-meter temperature forecast for the next 84 hours. NOAA NAM model and Tropicaltidbits.com.

Winter’s Last Gasp? Probably. We’ll see more cold fronts (take that to the bank) but Friday morning may be the last time air temperatures come close to 0 F in the MSP metro area. The mercury recovers next week with a shot at 50 F. a week from Saturday. MSP forecast: ECMWF and WeatherBell.

Minor Canadian Invasion. The same airmass that set records from Alaska into western Canada will brush the northern USA in the coming days, the core of this numbing air aimed at New England, where weekend temperatures may be 20-25 F. colder than average for mid-march. Stormy weather continues with heavy rain and mountain snows from the Pacific Northwest into the Northern Rockies. A series of Alberta Clippers puts down a few snowy streaks across the Plains and Midwest into Sunday.

Snowfall by Monday Morning. You can easily see the track of the clippers forecast to race southeast, on the southern edge of bitterly cold air – probably the last blast of subzero air this winter season. Heaviest snows will fall from near Boise to Billings, but plowable snows are possible from the Dakotas into the Mid South, maybe a few inches Cleveland and Youngstown to Pittsburgh and Wilkes-Barre.

A Warm Finish. March started out with record warmth; based on the latest 2-week outlook for 500 mb winds (GFS) the month may end on a relatively mild note as Pacific winds resume – the core of the coldest air lifting north of Hudson Bay.

Record Warmth for Meteorological Winter. Yes, it was a top 3 warmest December though February for muh of America east of the Rockies. Here’s an excerpt from NOAA NCEI: “The stations shown on the map below had one of their three warmest, coolest, wettest or driest winters on record this year. Stations with a bold white circle saw values that exceed any previous December-through-February value at the station’s current location. The smaller circles indicate year-to-date outcomes that were 2nd or 3rd place among a station’s history…”

An Early Spring for Much of the USA. This reminds me of the freakishly early spring of 2012. In spite of a wintry flashback later this week and the upcoming weekend from the Northern Plains and Midwest to New England, there’s little doubt that spring is coming earlier this year. Here’s a spring update from the National Phenology Network: “...In 2017, we see very large anomalies in the southeastern United States on the Spring Leaf Index map, where the Index was met up to three weeks earlier than what is typical for these locations. The timing of leaf-out, migration, flowering and other seasonal phenomena in many species is closely tied to local weather conditions and broad climatic patterns. The Spring Index maps offered by USA-NPN shed light on plant and animal phenology, based on local weather and climate conditions…”

Record Ice-Out on Lake Calhoun; Lake Minnetonka Close. KARE-11 has more details: “…Jerry Rockvam, owner of Rockvam Boat Yards says, “The average ice-out on Lake Minnetonka is April 15.  And it’s never gone out on April 15.” Lake Minnetonka has 37 bays. Rockvam Boat Yards is nestled in West Arm. According to their ice-out log, the earliest recorded event in West Arm was on March 15 of last year, and in 2000.  According to the Freshwater Society and the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office Water Patrol, the earliest ice-out on Lake Minnetonka was on March 11, 1878.  Last year it was March 17. “A lot of times it depends on what happens with the weather once the ice goes out,” explains Rockvam. “Because if it gets cold, windy and rainy, there isn’t a big demand for boating…”

Earliest Ice-Outs on Minnesota Lakes. Ice out on Lake Calhoun already? That’s nearly a month ahead of schedule. Check out the stats on your favorite lake at the Minnesota DNR.

Earliest Ice-Out On Record for Lake Minnetonka? If the ice comes off before March 11 we may have a new record on ‘Tonka. Data courtesy of The Freshwater Society.

Earliest Known Tornado in Minnesota History. The previous record is March 18, 1968. We broke the record by nearly 2 weeks. Here’s an excerpt from the Twin Cities National Weather Service: “On March 06, 2017, an early spring severe weather outbreak produced large hail and damaging wind in Wisconsin, and even tornadoes across Minnesota. This marks the earliest date in Minnesota history that a tornado was ever recorded. The previous record was March 18, 1968.  The loop to the right shows a comparison of visible and infrared satellite imagery from the GOES16 satellite, along with radar reflectivity, lightning, and warnings at 5:00 PM March 06, 2017.  The line of thunderstorms was located across Central Minnesota and extends southward into Iowa...”

Tracking Reflectivity and Velocity. The Twin Cities National Weather Service has archived Doppler images, not only showing where the rain/hail was falling, but the location of a strong “couplet”, a signature of an especially dangerous rotating thunderstorm, a “mesocyclone” that ultimately converted strong shear (changing wind speed/direction with altitude) and severe instability into an EF-1 tornado at Zimmerman.

Hundreds of Homes Damaged as Storms, Tornadoes Batter Midwest. Here’s an excerpt of a good overview from USA TODAY: “…A severe storm system pummeled parts of the Midwest overnight with tornadoes, huge hailstones and powerful winds, damaging nearly 500 buildings and injuring a dozen people in one Missouri city. The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., received reports of more than 30 tornadoes in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Illinois late Monday and early Tuesday. Powerful winds extended as far south as the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas, where a post office and church were damaged, and as far north as Wisconsin, where trees were downed. In Oak Grove, Mo., 483 homes sustained some type of damage, along with 10 to 12 commercial buildings, said Sni Valley Fire Protection District Chief Carl Scarborough…”

Trained Storm Spotters Are The Key to Severe Weather Alerts. The nearly 400,000 trained Skywarn spotters are literally the eyes and ears of The National Weather Service, nationwide, providing ground-truth. Because Doppler radar, as good as it is, only goes so far. Here’s an excerpt of a timely article at WKRN News 2: “…It really is a team effort. The National Weather Service may issue the watches and warnings, but without the TV media, it is hard to communicate the warnings, and without the storm spotters out in the field and emergency management, we wouldn’t know what is going on out there,” Hurley explained. SKYWARN storm spotters are volunteers trained by the NWS to be the eyes and ears in the field, reporting back about severe weather. They report on hail, damaging winds, and, most importantly, tornadoes. “Our radar, even though it is fantastic technology, it is not scanning on the ground, so we don’t know what is happening on the ground,” said Hurley. “Spotters really help us provide the details on what is happening on the ground and radar is helping provide details of what is going on aloft in the storm...”

Image credit: WKRN; Image: Chris Gullikson.

Rains Expose a New Water Problem in California: Storage. The Wall Street Journal reports: “…It wasn’t just last month’s dramatic near-disaster at Lake Oroville’s dam that is to blame for the water loss. After years of drought, months of rains are exposing a major weakness in California’s water system: lack of storage. No new state dams have been built in California since the first time Jerry Brown served as governor in the 1970s, putting a strain on existing reservoirs as the state’s population has nearly doubled to about 40 million over the same time. “The system we have was built more than 40 years ago, and it is doing more than it was planned to do,” said Ajay Goyal, chief of infrastructure investigations for the state’s Department of Water Resources...”

Photo credit: “Water being released from Lake Oroville Dam on Feb. 14. Enough water has spilled out of the rain-swollen California lake to meet the demands of roughly 14 million people for a year.” Photo: jim urquhart/Reuters.

First Images from GOES-16 Lightning Mapper. Dan Satterfield shares the good news for meteorologists and consumers at AGU Blogosphere: “The Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) is working. This instrument will likely be a revolutionary advance in severe storm forecasting and warnings and can measure the total lightning in storms. Current lightning data sees cloud to ground strokes, but these coordinate poorly with severe weather. Research shows that total lightning does correlate well with severe weather and can significantly increase lead times and it will likely reduce false alarms as well. I was involved in a NOAA experiment using total lightning data, and I think it will be a real game changer…”

Fog Detection Using GOES-16. Here’s a clip from the CIMSS Satellite Blog at The University of Wisconsin: “…GOES-16 data in AWIPS includes pre-defined channel differences judged to have utility in Decision Support Services. One of these is Fog detection (the infrared Brightness Temperature Difference between 3.9 µm and 11.2 µm) that extracts information at night based on emissivity differences from water-based clouds at those two wavelengths. This is a product that can detect stratus clouds at night, if cirrus clouds do not block the satellite’s view. If those stratus clouds extend to the surface, then fog is a result...”

Climate Scientists and Weather Forecasters Outraged by Proposed Cuts to NOAA. Jason Samenow reports at Capital Weather Gang: “…NOAA, which is part of the Department of Commerce, houses the National Weather Service and the divisions responsible for weather satellites and atmospheric research. The weather satellite division, known as the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service, would be hardest hit by the proposed cuts. The administration proposes slashing its budget by $513 million in the 2018 fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1. Data from weather satellites are indispensable for models used to predict the weather. NOAA has conducted experiments that show that forecasts for costly and deadly storms would be far less accurate without such information…”

Image credit: “Visualizations of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.” (Mel Shapiro, NCAR).

8 Fossil Fuel Majors Seen Polluting as Much as U.S. Bloomberg has the story: “Eight of the world’s largest oil companies are responsible for as much of the climate-damaging pollution spewed into the atmosphere as the entire U.S., according to a study by a London-based researcher. Saudi Aramco, Exxon Mobil Corp., OAO Gazprom, the National Iranian Oil Co., BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc were among the eight companies whose fuel was responsible for a third of emissions from oil and gas, according to the non-profit group CDP. The companies released a fifth of all greenhouse gases outside of farming and forestry since 1988, the year most governments acknowledged man-made climate change as a risk…”

Will Electric Cars Soon Have Solar Roofs? Toyota and Tesla Say Yes. Driving for free – what a concept. Here’s an excerpt from ThinkProgress: “Last week, Panasonic announced an advanced solar panel system that will debut on the 2017 model Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid in Japan (the Prius Prime). It is “the first commercially available, mass-produced passenger car to feature an optional solar charging system,” PV magazine explained. Panasonic notes that, previously, rooftop solar cells had outputs of only “several tens of watts.” So they were used only for ventilating parked cars and “auxiliary charging” of the standard 12-Volt lead-acid battery. But improvements in solar efficiency combined with advanced design and “technologies to laminate three-dimensional curved glass” have allowed a high output — some 180 watts, which is more than triple the output of the previous solar roof…”
Image credit: Panasonic via NewAtlas.com.

Don’t Roll Back the Vehicle Fuel Standards. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The New York Times: “…Weakening these standards would be a mistake for consumers, the environment and the auto industry itself. They are the most important action the United States has taken to address climate change and reduce the nation’s dependence on oil. From 2022-25 alone, they are projected to reduce American oil consumption by 1.2 billion barrels, cut half a billion metric tons of carbon pollution and save consumers millions of dollars in fuel costs, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The net benefits to society are estimated at $100 billion. And these gains are on top of those achieved through 2016 and expected through 2021…”

Bentley’s First-Ever, Electric Concept Car is a Luxury Fever Dream. BloombergPursuits has more details: “Although most of the notable debuts at the Geneva Motor Show are teased months ahead of time, Bentley came out swinging on Tuesday with a surprise showing of the marque’s first-ever, pure-electric concept. The Bentley EXP 12 Speed 6e Concept is meant to explore the possibility of Bentley producing a true all-electric vehicle for production; it’s a separate endeavor from the recently promised plug-in hybrid Bentayga SUV, which is due out in 2018. If it is received well by VIP guests and analysts at future car circuit stops in Shanghai and Pebble Beach, Calif., said execs, the convertible could lead to an electric vehicle from Bentley by 2021. (The car, while drivable, is one of one, so in order to prevent damage it will not be available for prospective buyers to drive.)...”

Nikon’s New Shoe Could Propel Marathoners to an Impossible Feat. A sub 2-hour marathon? WIRED.com has details: “The marathon world record stands at two hours, two minutes, and 57 seconds. Nike wants to chisel that time down to less than two hours and has designed a shoe to do it. Today Nike unveils the Zoom Vaporfly Elite, a concept running shoe that three world-class runners will wear this spring during the Breaking2 initiative to run a sub-two-hour race. Given the trajectory of human athletic performance—in 1906, the best marathoners clocked in at just under three hours—a sub-two-hour run seems achievable, if not inevitable. But scientists, athletes, and designers agree this is a mighty goal. “It’s ones of those big barriers of human potential,” says Tony Bignell, VP of footwear innovation at Nike…”

Fake Armies? Visual Guide to Fake Fleets and Inflatable Armies of WWII. Here’s a clip from Atlas Obscura: “The image above depicts a clever trick played on battlefields during World War II: Bobbing next to a sturdy metal tank is a rubber inflatable copy meant to fool enemies. An army could look twice as large as it was thanks to elite divisions of the military that specialized in the art of decoys and deception. Military units within both the Allied and Axis forces practiced and deployed an assortment of peculiar, yet effective tactics, from building inflated dummy tanks to constructing wooden artillery and straw airplanes. A fleet of dummy tanks could lead an enemy to overestimate a force’s actual strength or draw an attack away from a vulnerable area, explained Gordon Rottman in World War II Tactical Camouflage Techniques…”
Photo credit: “From afar, this British dummy tank would be easily fooled for the real tank it stands next to.” NARA/111-SC-216202-001

“God loves each one of us as if there were only one of us to love.” – Augustine

TODAY: Early flakes, colder. Winds: N 8-13. High: 33

THURSDAY NIGHT: Clearing and very cold, subzero wind chills late. Low: 7

FRIDAY: Comfortably numb with blue sky. Feels like -8 F. early. Winds: N 8-13. High: 21

SATURDAY: Clouds linger, colder than average. Winds: N 5-10. Wake-up: 6. High: 25

SUNDAY: Clipper potential. Light accumulation? Winds: NE 7-12. Wake-up: 14. High: 28

MONDAY: Flurries taper, slow clearing. Winds: N 10-15. Wake-up: 19. High: 29

TUESDAY: Sunny, feeling better about March. Winds: SW 8-13. Wake-up: 10. High: 33

WEDNESDAY: Gray, freezing drizzle early? Winds: SE 5-10. Wake-up: 18. High: 38

Climate Stories….

Spring Came Early. Scientists Say Climate Change is a Culprit. Here’s an excerpt of a New York Times analysis: “…The new research shows a strong link between global warming and the very warm February that helped to drive the extremely early spring this year. For the entire continental United States, February 2017 was the second warmest on record, and mean temperatures were especially high east of the Rockies: as much as 11 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. The study, by scientists working as part of a group called World Weather Attribution, looked at the influence of climate change on the temperatures, using models of the atmosphere as it exists and of a hypothetical atmosphere with no greenhouse gas emissions and thus no human-driven climate change. They found that a warm February like the one just experienced is about four times more likely in the current climate than it would have been in 1900, before significant emissions began to change the climate…”

A Tornado in Early March? In Minnesota? Really? Republican Tim Reckmeyer makes a convincing case for bipartisan action in this Op-Ed at Star Tribune; here’s an excerpt: “…In colder climates, like ours, winter-based recreational activities, like skiing, ice fishing, and snowmobiling are less prevalent. This has effects on local businesses and kids who just want to play pond hockey throughout winter. The frequency of Lyme disease in Minnesota is increasing because more disease-carrying insects, like ticks, survive milder winters. Allergy season is already 21 days longer than it was in 1995, and pollen counts are rising, which can trigger respiratory illnesses for allergy sufferers. This can have deadly implications for children and the elderly. The most important actions we can take are to support smart pro-growth economic policies that reduce our energy waste and fully embrace clean energy to power our modern world. Doing so will stabilize our climate and winters, reduce the risks of further damage to our economy, and immediately provide better health via cleaner air and water...”
Photo credit: David Joles, Star Tribune. “The entire side of a house was blown off during a storm Monday evening in Orrock Township near Zimmerman, Minn.”

Study: Climate Change May Hurt Nation’s Agricultural Productivity. Here’s an excerpt from Iowa Public Radio: “…They found that without changes to farm policy and improvements to agricultural technology, the nation’s productivity in 2050 could look like it did in 1980. That’s because at the present rates of innovation, new technologies won’t be able to keep up with the damage caused by the changes in climate in our major growing regions. Lead author Xin-Zhong Liang, a professor at the University of Maryland, says both policymakers and those who work directly in agriculture should consider changes that might prevent this drop. On the policy side, Liang said, changes to  water management could help. On the technology side, the development of seeds that can withstand more extremes of heat and rain would likely help mitigate the climate’s impact on overall productivity...”
Photo credit: “Farming in the Midwest could suffer under future climatic conditions. A new study says if the threats aren’t addressed, future US food production could be lower than necessary to meet global demand.” Harvest Public Media file photo.

ConocoPhillips CEO Says U.S. Should Stick With Paris Climate Deal. Axios has the details.

Trees Might Not Be Able to Store as Much Carbon As We Thought, New Study Suggests. An article at CNBC highlights new research raising concerns that soil nutrients may not be sufficient for plants to process increasing CO2 efficiently: “Researchers at Western Sydney University (WSU) in Australia have found that “common” Australian trees do not store as much carbon as had been previously assumed, a discovery that could have big implications on how we tackle climate change. According to a news release from the university, the study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, found that Eucalyptus forests may require extra soil nutrients to grow and “take advantage” of additional carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. Large areas of “remnant native eucalypt forest” were exposed to heightened levels of CO2 at a WSU facility. Researchers found that while the extra CO2 increased levels of photosynthesis, it did not result in increases in leaves, stems and wood...”

Arctic Sea Ice May Vanish Even If World Achieves Climate Goal: Study. Here’s a story excerpt from Reuters: “Arctic sea ice may vanish in summers this century even if governments achieve a core target for limiting global warming set by almost 200 nations in 2015, scientists said on Monday. Arctic sea ice has been shrinking steadily in recent decades, damaging the livelihoods of indigenous peoples and wildlife such as polar bears while opening the region to more shipping and oil and gas exploration. Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, governments set a goal of limiting the rise in average world temperatures to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times, with an aspiration of just 1.5C (2.7F).  “The 2 degrees Celsius target may be insufficient to prevent an ice-free Arctic,” James Screen and Daniel Williamson of Exeter University in Britain wrote in the journal Nature Climate Change after a statistical review of ice projections...”

Image credit: Difference in September ice from 1984 to 2016. NOAA and NASA.

The Republican Mayor is Bucking his Party to Stand Up for Climate Action. ThinkProgress has the story: “…That’s because to six-term mayor and lifelong Republican Jim Brainard, making his city more sustainable — and reducing Carmel’s contribution to climate change — isn’t a liberal issue. It’s an issue that speaks to his vision of conservatism, and he deeply believes more Republican leaders should start speaking up about climate change as well. “I somewhat regret not speaking out sooner,” he told ThinkProgress. “There’s a lot of Republicans out there that think like I do. They have been intimidated, to some extent, by the Tea Party and the conservative talk show hosts. But at a certain age, you just don’t care. You think, ‘I’m going to say what I think and what I think is best for my constituents.’ If you do that, I think it comes through to the voters...”
Photo credit: “Mayor Jim Brainard in his office in Carmel, Indiana.” CREDIT: Tom Britt

How to Talk Climate Change Across the Aisle: Focus on Adaptive Solutions Rather Than Causes. Here’s an excerpt of a story from The Conversation and Salon: “…We should not choose between mitigation or adaptation because we need both. We cannot lose sight of this dual need. But we will continue to face very demanding decisions about how to allocate finite resources — money, time, effort and so on — across multiple strategic options. This is where tomorrow’s difficult conversations will unfold. How will trade-offs be made, and what kinds of perceptions and biases will determine our choices? We will not be able to optimize our strategies, as objectively and effectively as humanly possible, without understanding the psychologies underlying them. Research into the psychology of different climate solutions is in its infancy. A recent study showed how different political ideologies predict different levels of support for free market versus regulatory solutions for cutting carbon emissions…” (Photo: Reuters).

James Balog on Climate Change: “It’s a Tragedy That It’s Been Politicized”. Here’s an excerpt of a story at Sarasota’s Herald-Tribune: “…We have lived in a fairly narrow zone of temperature and moisture for the last 10,000 years,” Balog said. “To ignore (climate change), we’re basically gambling in our world.” Although climate change has been a controversial topic politically, Balog rejected those who view it as a partisan topic. Instead, he said climate change is simply an objective fact regardless of political party. “It’s a tragedy that the issue has been politicized,” Balog said. “It never should’ve been turned into political football.” At that statement, nearly the entire audience began to applaud...”
Photo credit: “The Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska was photographed by James Balog in 2015 for the Extreme Ice Survey project.” Ccurtesy: James Balog.