Minnesota: Toughest Winters in the USA?

Wear it like a badge of honor. A Marvel super power. We should all be wearing capes. According to Thrillist, Minnesota has the worst winters of any state in the union: “All of your good high school hockey players end up starring for NHL teams in other cities. Ice fishing can’t be that cool, really. And so we think that – despite all appearances – Minnesota does, in fact, have the most miserable winter in the United States.”


But hey, we beat out Michigan, Alaska and North Dakota!

Consider today’s biting wind chill of 30 below ‘overpopulation insurance’. Thanks to a nearly endless supply of ‘fresh air’ Minnesota will never become L.A. with lakes.

Ground blizzards south/west of MSP slowly subside today as winds ease up; the mercury reluctant to rise above 0F. Teens and low 20s return next week – flurries late Sunday; maybe a couple inches early Tuesday. No polar air next week, but temperatures average 5-15F below average into the third week of February.

An early spring this year? No sir. Punxetawney Phil may have some explaining to do.

Arctic Slap, Not a Stranglehold. I hesitate calling this another “polar vortex”, but rather a more traditional Canadian cold front – one that is fairly typical for early February. You’ll feel the sting of wind chill today, with double-digit negative numbers Saturday morning before temperatures recover. Maps above: Praedictix and AerisWeather.

Minnesota: Most Miserable Winters in the USA? Yeah, so what? At least we don’t have earthquakes, volcanoes, sandstorms, hurricanes or rising sea levels. We’ll take our chances with occasional blasts of polar air. Just slap on another layer or two. Thrillist explains: “…Parts of northern Minnesota see up to 170in of snow in a winter. One hundred seventy inches! That’s like two and a half times the height of Kent Hrbek!! It can get down to -60 degrees, a temperature at which frostbite can occur in fewer than five minutes. There are no chinook winds or moderating oceans to temper things outside of a small area by Lake Superior. Your sports teams never win championships. All of your good high school hockey players end up starring for NHL teams in other cities. Ice fishing can’t be that cool, really. And so we think that — despite all appearances — Minnesota does in fact have the most miserable winter in the United States...”

Early Spring? I Doubt It. GFS guidance looking out 2 weeks (at 500mb) shows a gyre of cold air over central and northern Canada; pieces breaking off and hurtling south of the border into the third week of February. We’ll see blips of relative warmth (a few 30s from time to time) but no, spring is not right around the corner.

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Thursday, February 7th, 2019:

  • Snow and ice are impacting parts of the central United States this morning. Several areas of this region will see greater impacts with this system, which could include ice of up to a third of an inch or blizzard conditions. Ice Storm Warnings have been issued from Kansas into southeastern Iowa, and Blizzard Warnings are in place from the Red River Valley into northern Iowa, as well as across parts of the upper peninsula of Michigan.
  • Winter Storm Watches have been issued from Friday into Saturday for Seattle, with 8-12” of snow possible.

Road Conditions. Due to heavy snow and blowing snow, no travel is being advised across parts of eastern North Dakota, north-central South Dakota, and northwestern Minnesota. Meanwhile, parts of I-94 from Fargo westward is closed due to near zero visibility caused by heavy snow and blowing snow. Here are links to local DOT agencies for the latest road information:

Snow And Ice Continues. Snow and ice will continue to impact parts of the upper Midwest and Great Lakes today, pushing more into the Great Lakes as we head through the overnight hours tonight into Friday. This snow and ice will impact the next few rush hour periods across the region.

Blizzard And Ice Storm Warnings. Numerous winter weather alerts are in place from the central Plains into the Great Lakes this morning, including Ice Storm Warnings from Kansas into southeastern Iowa, and Blizzard Warnings from the Red River Valley into northern Iowa, as well as across parts of the upper peninsula of Michigan. Breaking down some areas under alerts this morning:

  • Wichita, KS: Winter Weather Advisory through 9 AM for up to an additional tenth of an inch of ice this morning and snow up to a few tenths of an inch.
  • Joplin, MO: Ice Storm Warning until Noon for total ice accumulations of two-tenths to four-tenths of an inch and sleet up to a half an inch.
  • Kansas City, MO: Ice Storm Warning until Noon for total ice accumulations of two-tenths to four-tenths of an inch and snow up to a half an inch.
  • Ottumwa, IA: Ice Storm Warning until Noon for total ice accumulations of one-tenth to two-tenths of an inch and up to an inch of snow.
  • Des Moines, IA: Winter Weather Advisory through 6 PM for 1-3” of snow and ice up to a tenth of an inch.
  • Omaha, NE: Winter Weather Advisory through Noon for up to an additional half an inch of snow. Blowing snow is possible.
  • Mason City, IA: Winter Weather Advisory through Noon with a Blizzard Warning from Noon to Midnight today for total snow of 1-2”, a light glaze of ice, and blizzard conditions. Wind gusts up to 45 mph.
  • Sioux Falls, SD: Winter Weather Advisory through 9 AM with a Blizzard Warning from 9 AM to Midnight today for up to an additional inch of snow and blizzard conditions. Wind gusts up to 45 mph.
  • Grand Forks, ND: Blizzard Warning through 9 PM for an additional 1-3” of snow and blizzard conditions. Wind gusts up to 40 mph.
  • Fargo, ND: Blizzard Warning through 9 PM for a total of 3-5” of snow and blizzard conditions. Wind gusts up to 40 mph.
  • Minneapolis, MN: Winter Weather Advisory through Midnight tonight for 3-5” of snow with blowing snow.
  • Duluth, MN: Winter Storm Warning through Midnight tonight for 4-9” of snow.
  • Marquette, MI: Winter Storm Warning from 10 AM today to 7 AM Friday for 9-12” of snow as well as blowing snow.
  • Sault Ste. Marie, MI: Winter Storm Warning from 10 AM to 10 PM today with a Blizzard Warning from 10 PM tonight to 7 AM Friday for total snow accumulations of 1-3” of snow with localized amounts of up to 6”. Ice accumulations of a tenth to two-tenths of an inch. Blizzard conditions expected tonight with winds gusting to 35 mph.
  • Madison, WI: Winter Storm Warning until 6 PM tonight for up to 3” of snow and a quarter to a third of an inch of ice.
  • Milwaukee, WI: Winter Weather Advisory through 9 AM for up to an additional tenth of an inch of ice.
  • Traverse City, MI: Winter Storm Warning through 7 PM Friday for up to 2” of snow (isolated 4” amounts) as well as one-tenth to three-tenths of an inch of ice.
  • Grand Rapids, MI: Winter Weather Advisory until 7 PM Friday for periods of freezing rain this morning with up to a tenth of an inch of ice, and then snow tonight into Friday with 1-3” of snow expected.

Forecast Ice Potential. Ice accumulation of at least a tenth of an inch through Friday will be possible from central Missouri northeastward into northern Michigan. The heaviest overall additional ice totals of at least a quarter inch will be possible from southern Wisconsin into northern Michigan. This ice will cause slick and dangerous road conditions, as well as the potential of power outages and tree damage.

Forecast Snow Potential. The heaviest snow is expected from western Wisconsin into the upper peninsula of Michigan, where snow totals of at least a half a foot will be possible. This will greatly impact the evening commute tonight across the region.

Peak Wind Gusts Today And Tonight. Strong winds gusting up to 45 mph today and tonight across parts of the upper Midwest are likely to cause whiteout conditions across the region, especially in areas under Blizzard Warnings.

Winter Storm Watch For Seattle. Meanwhile, as another system moves into the west coast, snow is expected to start late tonight into Friday across the Pacific Northwest, including in the Seattle metro. Due to the expected snow, Winter Storm Watches have been issued from Friday into Saturday afternoon across the region.

Graphic: NWS Seattle

Expected Snow Scenario. Right now from Friday into Saturday snowfall totals are expected to be about 8-12” in Seattle. The heaviest snow is likely across the region Friday night into Saturday morning. This snow, just like the snow that hit the region earlier this week, will cause travel headaches Friday into the weekend.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix.

14 Billion-Dollar Weather/Climate Disasters in 2018. Details via Climate Central: “Hurricanes hit the U.S. especially hard, leading 2018’s near-record list of 14 billion-dollar weather and climate disasters. Hurricanes Michael and Florence combined for at least $49 billion in damages — over half of the total from the year’s included events (cost estimates will be updated over time). In addition, the Western wildfire season was the most expensive ever, with total damages of at least $24 billion. Even the sheer number of billion-dollar events is telling — only 2011, 2016, and 2017 have had more. Unless we rapidly reduce our climate-warming emissions, these costly climate disasters will only get worse.”

NOAA NCEI has more details here.

January Was Warm – Yes Warm! – Despite That Cold Snap. Rain in late December, more rain in early February, with a brief polar vortex sandwiched in-between. Here’s an excerpt from a story by Eric Holthaus at WIRED.com: “This January should be remembered for its unusual warmth, not its cold. Yes, it’s so cold right now that even hardy Minneapolis is shutting down schools, but even with these few days of extreme cold, Minnesota should end up with a near “normal” month thanks to weeks of unusual warmth. It was in the 70s and 80s as far north as Maryland on New Year’s Day. Alaska has been so warm that they’re canceling sled dog races. So far this month, there have been 651 record daily highs across the United States, compared to 321 record daily lows—a roughly 2-to-1 ratio. And that’s just in the U.S. Globally, the ratio of record highs to lows was about 20-to-1, with new all-time records in Namibia, Chile, and Reunion Island...”

Photo credit: Anthony Souffle/AP.

The Meteorological Culprits Behind Strange and Deadly Floods. I found a story at Eos interesting; here’s a clip: “…The researchers examined extreme floods across  several decades in the conterminous United States, using annual flood peak observations from more than 8,000 U.S. Geological Survey stream gauging stations. They developed a statistical framework they call the “upper tail ratio,” in reference to the upper tail of a statistical distribution, where rare events reside. The upper tail ratio is defined as the peak discharge for a flood of record, divided by the stream’s 10-year flood magnitude. The 1903 Heppner Flood registered an upper tail ratio of 200, topped only by the 1976 flood caused by the bursting of the Teton Dam. The team discovered that record floods share many traits…”

Photo credit: “A new study categorizes the 1903 Heppner Flood in eastern Oregon, shown here, as a “strange flood,” which stems from uncommon flood agents or extreme conditions.” Credit: National Weather Service.

Apple, the iPhone, and the Innovator’s Dilemma. Can Apple pull another rabbit out of their hat? That remains to be seen, according to WIRED.com: “…The Innovator’s Dilemma, of course, is about the trap that successful companies fall into time and time again. They’re well managed, they’re responsive to their customers, and they’re market leaders. And yet, despite doing everything right, they fail to see the next wave of innovation coming, they get disrupted, and they ultimately fail. In the case of Apple, the company is trapped by its success, and that success is spelled “iPhone.” Take, for example, Christensen’s description of the principles of good management that inevitably lead to the downfall of successful companies: “that you should always listen to and respond to the needs of your best customers, and that you should focus investments on those innovations that promise the highest returns...”

Image credit: Apple.

Hawaii May Ban Cigarettes to Anyone Under the Age of 100. CNN.com has the story: “The legislature finds that the cigarette is considered the deadliest artifact in human history.” So begins the text of a new bill introduced in Hawaii’s State House, calling for a phased ban on cigarette sales in the state by 2024. Hawaii has some of the most restrictive cigarette laws in the nation. In 2016, it became the first state to raise the age to buy cigarettes to 21. Now, its new bill calls for raising the cigarette-buying age to 30 by next year, up to 40, 50 and 60 in each subsequent year, and up to 100 by 2024.  That would effectively clear Hawaii’s store shelves of cigarettes, although tourists could still bring them in…”

Have You Ever Had a Plane Crush? USA TODAY reports: “Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola have apologized for in-flight napkins that urged passengers to write down their phone numbers and pass them onto their “plane crush.” The instructions on the front of the napkin read: “Because you’re on a plane with interesting people and hey… you never know.” The back has a spot for a name and phone number, with small print saying: “Be a little old school. Write down your number and give it to your plane crush.” The airlines confirmed the offending Diet Coke napkins were being removed, telling USA Today: “We rotate Coke products regularly as part of our brand partnership, but missed the mark with this one… We are sorry for that and began removing the napkins from our aircraft in January...”

FRIDAY: Windy and numb. Feels like -30F. Winds: NW 10-20. High: near 0

SATURDAY: Cold start. Fading sunlight. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: -13. High: 8

SUNDAY: Clouding up. PM flurries possible. Winds: NE 7-12. Wake-up: 3. High: 16

MONDAY: Mostly cloudy, light snow late. Winds: E 10-15. Wake-up: 7. High: 23

TUESDAY: Couple inches of snow may fall. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 19. High: 22

WEDNESDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, colder. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 7. High: 13

THURSDAY: Sunny start, more wet snow late? Winds: SE 10-20. Wake-up: 2. High: 21

Climate Stories…

2018: 4th Warmest on Record. Climate Central has the details: “At long last, the government is open and the year-end climate reports from NOAA and NASA are out. As expected, 2018 was the fourth-hottest year on record globally, and another near-record year for U.S. weather and climate disasters. All of the years on record that were hotter or more disaster-filled came in the past decade. To bring context to the global goal of limiting warming to 2°C, we compare the global temperatures to an earlier, pre-industrial 1880-1910 baseline. 2018’s global temperatures were 1.90°F (1.06°C) above that baseline — more than halfway there. This made 2018 the second-warmest year on record without an El Niño event, behind only 2017…”

It’s (Still) Getting Hot: More perspective from Climate Nexus: “Last year marked the fourth-hottest year on record as the world heads into what is likely to be the warmest decade since record-keeping began, scientists from NOAA and NASA confirmed on Wednesday. Data shows that the Earth’s temperature was more than 1 degree C above preindustrial levels on average in 2018, and 18 of the 19 hottest years have occurred since 2001. The UK’s Met Office predicted that 2018’s toasty temperatures are likely to be the norm over the next decade and and that annual temperatures until 2023 will average 1 degree C or more above 1850-1900 levels. “We’re no longer talking about a situation where global warming is something in the future,” NASA’s Gavin Schmidt told the New York Times. “It’s here. It’s now.” For more, scroll down to the Denier Roundup.” (APBBC, New York Times $, Axios, The GuardianReutersCNN, CBS, WSJ $, Vox)

Will “Everything Be OK”? The Jury Is Out. Dislocation and disruption will be the new normal, it seems. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Washington Post: “…Everything will be okay. We say it even when we don’t believe it. Maybe we should stop saying it. There is opportunity in this acceptance. Marvel thinks we need courage, not hope. We must know what’s coming, we must realize it will hurt, and we must be very strong together. Hold the problem in your mind. Freak out, but don’t put it down. Give it a quarter-turn. See it like a scientist, and as a poet. As a descendant. As an ancestor. “It is an immense privilege to be alive at this time,” Alice Major says from Edmonton. “We owe it to ourselves to try as hard as we can to understand what’s going on. And to give meaning to it. . . . Only by understanding our lives as meaningful can we hope to create meaningful change...”

Ways to Help Kids Cope With – and Help Combat – Climate Change. Here’s an excerpt of a helpful post at The Washington Post: “…But the tone has shifted. The feeling is more dire. I don’t know what kids are supposed to do with the sobering fact that their planet is changing for the worse. According to Laura Kastner, a clinical psychologist and professor in the psychology department and the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington, the way to teach kids about environmental issues is not by overwhelming them with data or presenting them with projected outcomes they can see no way of changing. It’s by being realistic with kids and also teaching them agency and action. It’s what Kastner describes as the “both-and.” The idea of first acknowledging that, yes, climate change is happening, and there are things we can do to help…”

Image credit: “As the tone surrounding climate change becomes more dire, our conversations about it with children grow more important.” (Jon Cannell/For The Washington Post)

The Cautious Case for Climate Optimism. David Wallace-Wells writes for Intelligencer: “…Every year the average American emits enough carbon to melt 10,000 tons of ice in the Antarctic ice sheets — enough to add 10,000 cubic meters of water to the ocean. Every minute, we each add five gallons. If the task of reversing all that seems incomprehensibly big, it is. The scale of the technological transformation required dwarfs every technological revolution ever engineered in human history, including electricity and telecommunications and even the invention of agriculture 10,000 years ago. By definition, it dwarfs them, because it contains all of them — every single sector needs to be rebuilt from the foundation, since every single one breathes on carbon like it’s a ventilator…”

U.S. Coastal Regions Prepare for Storms Due to Climate Change. Energy Journal at The Wall Street Journal has the story: “…Louisiana’s Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards pledged $55 million in state surplus and about $300 million in offshore oil revenue for coastal and levee improvements. The moves reflect a growing recognition by some lawmakers that communities aren’t sufficiently prepared for increasingly intense storms and weather events that scientists attribute to rising sea levels and other major weather events that many scientists attribute to carbon emissions from fossil fuels, which have been linked to rising global temperatures and more extreme weather patterns. About a third of the U.S. population lived in coastline counties along the Atlantic or Pacific oceans or the Gulf of Mexico in 2016, according to the Census Bureau…”

Image credit: Fourth National Climate Assessment and NOAA, 2018.

Study Shows Climate Change is Fueling Conflict and Mass Migration. NexusMedia has the story: “The United Nations’ chief climate scientist recently said that planetary warming threatens “a multitude of security impacts.” For years, U.S. military officials have called climate change a “threat multiplier,” warning that rising temperatures would fuel political instability, conflict and mass migration in the decades ahead. But, until now, experts had not established a firm link between climate change, political violence and displacement. New research has found strong evidence that climate change is spurring conflict, which is driving people to abandon their homelands and seek safety elsewhere. It should come as no surprise that rising temperatures are worsening droughts, heat waves and floods, leading to shortages of food, water and other resources, resulting in conflict in many regions of the world. In so doing, climate change is an indirect cause of migrant exodus, according to scientists…”

Photo credit: “UN peacekeeping troops march during a military parade in Paris, 2008.” Source: Marie-Lan Nguyen.