Plowable Snow Monday – Polar Punch Next Week

At the rate we’re going I project a very white Christmas for Minnesota this year. Santa will have no difficulty finding snow on area rooftops.

NOAA data suggests roughly 7 in 10 Christmas Days are white, with at least an inch of snow on the ground. Duluth? Closer to 100 percent. Chicago? 40 percent. New York City? 12 percent. Honolulu? Zero-point-zero. Whew.

Don’t bury the lead, Paul. The chance of plowable snow has gone up considerably for Monday. Which isn’t hard to believe. Big blasts of arctic air are usually preceded by snow. The greater the temperature tumble, the heavier the amounts.

It’s too early to throw amounts around (the forecast WILL change over time as new data arrives) but ECMWF predicts 4-8 inches of powder on Monday. An arctic breeze pulls wind chills below zero Tuesday; the MSP metro may wake up to -12F Wednesday morning with highs near 0F. Ouch.

The pattern is “progressive” – no sign of bitter air stalling for an extended time. 30s late next week will feel like sweet relief!


ECMWF Twin Cities temperature meteogram above courtesy of WeatherBell.


Dreaming of a White Christmas? I think it’s pretty much a slam-dunk this year. NOAA’s Climate.gov has a post that looks at the statistical probabilities of at least an inch of snow on the ground Christmas morning: “Minnesota. Maine. Upstate New York. The Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Practically anywhere in Idaho. And of course, the Rockies or the Sierra Nevada Mountains. These are the parts of the Lower 48* where weather history suggests you want to be if you’re looking for the best chance of a white Christmas. The map at right shows the historic probability of there being at least 1 inch of snow on the ground in the Lower 48 states on December 25 based on the latest (1981-2010) U.S. Climate Normals from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). The background map shows interpolated values for all locations…”













Light Snowfalls Just as Dangerous for Drivers as Major Winter Storms, Study Finds. A story at weather.com caught my eye: “Light snowfalls typically don’t receive much attention, but for drivers they can be just as dangerous as major winter storms. The National Weather Service issues winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories when snow or ice is expected to be significant enough to pose a danger to travel or property. Each region has varying criteria for when the warnings or advisories are issued. Only 46% of deadly snow-related accidents were in an area where an NWS warning or advisory was in effect during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 winter seasons, according to NTSB statistics compiled by Joe Burzdak, undergraduate researcher for the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies (CIMMS)…”


2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season was Fourth Straight Busy Year, Headlined by Dorian. Yes, Dorian was almost in a class by itself. Capital Weather Gang has a good summary: “The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season, the fourth in a row with above-average activity, was one we won’t soon forget. It will be remembered most for Dorian, which razed the northwest Bahamas as one of the most intense hurricanes observed in the Atlantic. Both Dorian and Lorenzo, which became the strongest hurricane to develop so far northeast in the Atlantic, attained Category 5 strength. The storms brought the count of Category 5s in the Atlantic since 2016 up to six, whereas only 26 Category 5s have formed since 1960. The historic intensity of both Dorian and Lorenzo, along with the record-setting rains produced by storms Barry and Imelda in the United States, exhibited influences consistent with warming ocean waters and climate change…”

File photo credit: “A man stands on the rubble of his home in the Haitian Quarter after the passage of Hurricane Dorian in Abaco, Bahamas, Sept. 16.” (Ramon Espinosa/AP)


Trashy Statistics. My thanks to Rob Greenfield and The Story of Stuff Project (Twitter).


Cheap at Last, Batteries Are Making a Solar Dream Come True. WIRED.com runs the numbers: “…Todd Karin was prepared when California’s largest utility shut off power to millions of people to avoid the risk of wildfires last month. He’s got rooftop solar panels connected to a single Tesla Powerwall in his rural home near Fairfield, California. “We had backup power the whole time,” Karin says. “We ran the fridge and watched movies.” Californians worried about an insecure energy future are increasingly looking to this kind of solution. Karin, a 31-year-old postdoctoral fellow at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, spent just under $4,000 for his battery by taking advantage of tax credits. He’s also saving money by discharging the battery on weekday evenings, when energy is more expensive. He expects to save around $1,500 over the 10 years the battery is under warranty…”


Why 536 Was the “Worst Year to Be Alive”. A post from Science AAAS made me extra-happy to be alive now: “…But 536. In Europe, “It was the beginning of one of the worst periods to be alive, if not the worst year,” says McCormick, a historian and archaeologist who chairs the Harvard University Initiative for the Science of the Human Past. A mysterious fog plunged Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Asia into darkness, day and night—for 18 months. “For the sun gave forth its light without brightness, like the moon, during the whole year,” wrote Byzantine historian Procopius. Temperatures in the summer of 536 fell 1.5°C to 2.5°C, initiating the coldest decade in the past 2300 years. Snow fell that summer in China; crops failed; people starved. The Irish chronicles record “a failure of bread from the years 536–539.” Then, in 541, bubonic plague struck the Roman port of Pelusium, in Egypt…”

Photo credit: “An 72-meter ice core drilled in the Colle Gnifetti Glacier in the Swiss Alps entombs more than 2000 years of fallout from volcanoes,  storms, and human pollution.” NICOLE SPAULDING/CCI FROM C. P. LOVELUCK ET AL., ANTIQUITY 10.15184, 4, 2018.


Driving Coast to Coast in a Record 27 Hours, 25 Minutes. Illegal? You ‘betcha! And not one traffic ticket. Road and Track has the mind-melting details: “Three guys you’ve probably never heard of recently broke a speed record most people don’t care about—the New York to Los Angeles run referred to colloquially among aficionados as the Cannonball. Unlike most speed records and races, there’s no sanctioning body or official rules. That’s because setting a Cannonball record invariably involves breaking multiple traffic laws. In other words, it’s illegal. But that doesn’t stop people from doing it…”

Image credit: “The interior was loaded with tech.” Courtesy Arne Toman.


5″ snow on the ground at MSP.

37 F. Twin Cities high temperature yesterday.

30 F. average high on December 5.

29 F. Twin Cities high on December 5, 2018.

December 6, 1950: A snowstorm hits Duluth with 23.2 inches of snow in 24 hours, and a storm total of 35.2 inches.

December 6,1939: Warm weather occurs over parts of Minnesota. The high temperature hits 62 at New London.



FRIDAY: Partly sunny, chilly. Winds: SW 5-10. High: 25

SATURDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, milder. Winds: S 7-12. Wake-up: 21. High: 35

SUNDAY: Mostly cloudy. Snow at night. Winds: N 7-12. Wake-up: 29. High: 36

MONDAY: Icy with potentially plowable snow. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 24. High: 27

TUESDAY: Pass the parka please. Feels like -10F. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 3. High: 6

WEDNESDAY: Sunny and character-building. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: -12. High: near 0

THURSDAY: Clouds increase, not as numb. Winds: S 7-12. Wake-up: -7. High: 21


Climate Stories….


The Simplist of Climate Models Run Decades Ago Accurately Predicted Global Warming. Andrew Freedman reports for Capital Weather Gang (paywall): “It’s a common refrain from those who question mainstream climate science findings: The computer models scientists use to project future global warming are inaccurate and shouldn’t be trusted to help policymakers decide whether to take potentially expensive steps to rein in greenhouse gas emissions. A new study effectively snuffs out that argument by looking at how climate models published between 1970 — before such models were the supercomputer-dependent behemoths of physical equations covering glaciers, ocean pH and vegetation, as they are today — and 2007. The study, published Wednesday in Geophysical Research Letters, finds that most of the models examined were uncannily accurate in projecting how much the world would warm in response to increasing amounts of planet-warming greenhouse gases. Such gases, chiefly the main long-lived greenhouse gas pollutant carbon dioxide, hit record highs this year, according to a new U.N. report out Tuesday...”

Image credit: “Global average surface temperature change from 1970 through 2019 (so far).” (Berkeley Earth)


Climate Models Have Accurately Predicted Global Heating, Study Finds. The Guardian has a summary of a recent paper confirming the fact that, overall, climate models have done a very good job predicting the (observed) level of warming, worldwide: “…The rate of warming we are experiencing today is pretty much exactly what past climate models projected it would be,” said Hausfather. Those who oppose policies to limit the impacts of global heating have long sought to undermine the credibility of climate models. If the model projections are considered unreliable, they argue, then we do not know how urgent slowing global warming is. As a result, “climate models are unreliable” has become a popular myth propagated by climate deniers. The latest study adds to the body of evidence supporting the accuracy of climate models, and will be welcomed by those arguing that more aggressive climate policies are needed to avoid dangerous levels of global warming. The UN climate summit in Glasgow in 2020 will be crucial, as countries will be expected to commit to scaling up the emission reductions that were pledged in the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change…”


Climate Change is Causing Birds to Shrink, Study Suggests. Say what? BBC News has details: “As the climate warms, birds are shrinking and their wingspans are growing, according to a new study. Researchers analysed 70,716 specimens from 52 North American migratory bird species collected over 40 years. The birds had died after colliding with buildings in Chicago, Illinois. The authors say the study is the largest of its kind and that the findings are important to understanding how animals will adapt to climate change. “We found almost all of the species were getting smaller,” said lead author Brian Weeks, an assistant professor at the school for environment and sustainability at the University of Michigan...”

Photo credit: “The researchers analysed 52 different species of migratory birds.” The Field Museum.


Climate Change is Accelerating: “Things Are Getting Worse”. Here’s the intro to a story at The New York Times (paywall): “More devastating fires in California. Persistent drought in the Southwest. Record flooding in Europe and Africa. A heat wave, of all things, in Greenland. Climate change and its effects are accelerating, with climate related disasters piling up, season after season. “Things are getting worse,” said Petteri Taalas, Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization, which on Tuesday issued its annual state of the global climate report, concluding a decade of what it called exceptional global heat. “It’s more urgent than ever to proceed with mitigation.” But reducing greenhouse gas emissions to fight climate change will require drastic measures, Dr. Taalas said. “The only solution is to get rid of fossil fuels in power production, industry and transportation,” he said…”

Photo credit: “A whirlwind of hot ash and embers tore through the Cave Fire in Santa Barbara, Calif., last month.” Credit: David Mcnew/Reuters.


Decades of Warming in U.S. Cities. Climate Central has a good overview of the trends; here’s an excerpt: “…National and global trends are even stronger—as much as 0.5°F per decade. If this trend continues, it won’t take long to blow past the Paris Agreement’s limits of 1.5-2°C (2.9-3.8°F) above preindustrial levels. Global warming is already more than halfway there.  The warming has widespread impacts, affecting this decade like never before. Billion-dollar weather and climate disasters have cost the U.S. more than $700 billion (inflation-adjusted) in the 2010s, far eclipsing previous decades. Arctic sea ice seasons have been melting to record-low extents, most recently in October. Coral reefs suffered severe bleaching, which is now five times more common than 40 years ago. And as of last fall, five of eight hurricane basins had recorded their strongest storms in the 2010s. Behind these statistics are devastating consequences for humans and all life on Earth, as documented by the newest decade of reports from the IPCC, National Climate Assessment, and many others…”




Climate Change is Finally Having a Political Moment. That’s No Accident. Here’s a clip from a post at Mother Jones: “…This revitalized climate movement isn’t a fluke. Sunrise leaders say their secret sauce is a relatively new organizing strategy called Momentum, which teaches activists how to keep a movement growing instead of fizzling out after a few splashy protests. The Momentum approach has also influenced the Black Lives Matter movement and the immigration rights group Cosecha, as well as new climate groups like Extinction Rebellion, and some older ones like 350.org. For Sunrise, which claims 15,000 members in 200 hubs across the country, the strategy seems to be particularly effective. Varshini Prakash, the 26-year-old executive director of Sunrise, thinks the Capitol Hill sit-in would have unfolded very differently without Momentum’s forward-thinking strategy. “When these big moments happen, like you sit in Nancy Pelosi’s office and there are 5,000 articles written about climate change in the next two days, what do you do with that moment?” she said…”