Stop Me If You’ve Heard This Before: More Snow Coming – Blizzard Warnings South Metro

I got a friendly email at WCCO Radio the other day; a heartfelt reminder that my job is as much therapy as science. “With all this snow band cold can you offer a little encouragement about when the weather will start turning the corner, and no more talk about spring not being right around the corner?” I get it. Snow lovers are deliriously happy. The rest of us? Not so much. Snowy boasting rights only goes so far.

The next storm gums up travel with a little ice today (rain and drizzle freezing on contact with cold surfaces) before changing to wet snow tonight. A plowable 3-6 inch snowfall is possible in the metro area Saturday night, with some 8-12 inch amounts from southeast Minnesota into Wisconsin. Because, why not.

Blizzard warning are in effect from the southern suburbs of the Twin Cities into southwest and south central Minnesota later today into much of Sunday as 30-50 mph wind gusts on the backside of this next storm whip up the snow that does fall. Travel may be treacherous tonight and much of Sunday, especially in open terrain south/west of MSP.

Those strong Sunday winds usher colder air back into town, with a subzero start Monday. Expect teens and 20s next week, with a numbing start to March but a thaw by the second week of next month

MSP is at 31.7 inches this month. The last time we saw 40 inches in one month was November, 1991 (46.9 inches). Ah, what fond memories. 

Significant Swath of Snow. The 00z Saturday run of the 3 KM NAM model from NOAA suggests 3-5″ for the MSP metro, but a band of 10-14″ from near Albert Lea and Rochester to Winona and Eau Claire Saturday night into Sunday morning. Map:

Snow Water Equivalent. There’s an estimated 2-4″ of liquid water in the snow pack over much of central and southern MInnesota, but closer to 4-8″ for far western and northern Minnesota. How quickly the snow melts in March, and whether a rapid meltdown is accompanied by heavy rain, will determine the timing and severity of any river flooding. Map: NOAA.

Spring River Flooding Potential. Here’s an excerpt from a detailed examination of spring flood threat from The National Weather Service: “…As a result of the cold temperatures and general lack of deep snow early on in the winter, the frost has gone deeper than in a typical year. Without snow cover to insulate the ground, the cold air helped drive down frost depth to 2 to 3 feet across much of Minnesota and into Wisconsin. Some reports indicate depth as much as 4 feet. Several reports of frozen water lines, broken water mains and septics have been received across these areas. Further south, intermittent warm spells and then deeper snow cover has limited frost penetration to 6 to 12 inches from northern Missouri, southern Iowa and across much of Illinois. So overall, the flood potential for this area this spring is above to well above normal for the Upper Mississippi River drainage. We will have to closely monitor conditions as winter continues. Conditions over the next 4-6 weeks will be key in determining just how the flooding situation will evolve…”

Snowiest February Continues. Dr. Mark Seeley always has some good perspective and weather nuggets and once again he doesn’t disappoint in this week’s edition of Minnesota WeatherTalk: “…In addition to the 120 daily snowfall records set or tied this month in the Minnesota climate station network, Wednesday of this week (February 20th) brought yet another record-setting snowfall to at least 25 climate stations in Minnesota, including 11.3 inches at New Ulm. So far over a dozen climate stations in Minnesota have reported total February snowfall of 30 inches or more, with a station near Mankato reporting 40.2 inches so far this month. Only 7 Minnesota climate stations have ever reported over 40 inches of February snowfall. With nearly a week to go in the month, some climate stations may approach the all-time February snowfall record of 51 inches set at Pigeon River Bridge (Cook County) in 1939.…”

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Friday, February 22nd, 2019:

  • Heavy rain continues to fall across parts of Dixie Alley this morning, with a Flash Flood Emergency in place through the early afternoon hours for the Grenada and Holcomb areas of Mississippi. Additional heavy rain of 2-4”+ today into Saturday will lead to the potential of major, life-threatening flash flooding from Arkansas to Tennessee today. There is a High risk of flash flooding across this region today.
  • Meanwhile, an Enhanced Risk of severe weather exists Saturday across parts of Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee, including Memphis (TN) and Greenville (MS), for the potential of damaging winds and tornadoes.
  • The same system responsible for the severe weather risk will also produce a swath of heavy snow from Kansas to the Great Lakes this weekend, along with strong gusty winds that could cause blizzard conditions.

Flash Flooding Ongoing This Morning. Numerous Flash Flood Warnings have already been issued this morning due to heavy rain that is falling from southeastern Arkansas to southern Tennessee. The Grenada and Holcomb areas of Mississippi are under a Flash Flood Emergency through the early afternoon hours due to recent rainfall of 10”+ as well as reports of water rescues and flooded homes. Here’s the Flash Flood Emergency statement from the National Weather Service:

Heavy Rain Continues Today Into Saturday. An additional 2-4″+ of rain is expected to fall from Mississippi into parts of the lower Ohio Valley over the next couple days. This will continue to pose a major flash flood threat, especially in areas that have seen numerous rounds of rain the past several days. There is the potential that Nashville will see their wettest February on record by the time rain comes to a complete end Saturday night.

High Flooding Potential Today. Due to the continued rain expected from eastern Arkansas into central Tennessee – areas that have already received heavy rain the past several days – the Weather Prediction Center now has a High Risk of excessive rain that could lead to flash flooding. The heaviest rain periods will be during the morning hours today as well as overnight tonight with at least 2-4″ of rain expected by Saturday morning and some localized 6″ amounts possible. This heavy rain will result in a significant and potentially life-threatening flood situation across this region.

Flood Watches. Numerous Flood and Flash Flood Watches remain in effect from Arkansas to Virginia for the potential of heavy rain over the next few days.

Enhanced Severe Threat Saturday. As the next system moves into the central United States this weekend, storms will spark ahead of an advancing cold front across the southern states. By Saturday afternoon, strong to severe storms are likely across the lower Mississippi Valley, capable of damaging winds and a few tornadoes. Due to the severe weather threat, an Enhanced Risk of severe weather is in place Saturday across parts of Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee, including Memphis (TN) and Greenville (MS).

Potential Upper Midwest Blizzard. The same system responsible for severe weather in parts of the Deep South will also cause heavy snow and the potential of blizzard conditions this weekend across parts of the central Plains into the Great Lakes. Winter Storm Watches have been issued from eastern Colorado into Michigan due to this system, and these watches include the following cities:

  • Goodland, KS: From this evening through Saturday evening for 4-6″ of snow, ice up to a tenth of an inch, and wind gusts as high as 55 mph.
  • Dodge City, KS: From Saturday morning through Saturday evening for 4-8″ of snow and wind gusts as high as 50-60 mph.
  • Omaha, NE: From Saturday afternoon through Sunday afternoon for blizzard conditions due to 3-7″ of snow and wind gusts as high as 50 mph. A glaze of ice is also possible.
  • Des Moines, IA: From Saturday evening through Sunday afternoon for blizzard conditions due to 2-4″ of snow and wind gusts as high as 45 mph.
  • Rochester, MN: From Saturday evening through Sunday afternoon for 4-8″ of snow, ice up to a tenth of an inch, and wind gusts as high as 45 mph.
  • Eau Claire, WI: From Saturday evening through Sunday afternoon for 4-8″ of snow and wind gusts as high as 45 mph.
  • Two Harbors, MN: From Saturday evening through Sunday afternoon for 6-9″ of snow and wind gusts as high as 40 mph.
  • Marquette, MI: From Saturday evening through late Sunday night for 10″+ of snow, a glaze of ice, and wind gusts as high as 50 mph.
  • Grand Rapids, MI: From Sunday morning through late Sunday night for up to 3″ of snow and wind gusts potentially over 60 mph.

Expected Snow. While some of the snow across the upper Midwest is expected with a separate batch of precipitation moving through today into Saturday, a band of at least 6″ of snow is expected to fall with the potential blizzard from Kansas into the Great Lakes, with the potential of over a foot in parts of northern Wisconsin and upper peninsula of Michigan. This snow will itself make travel difficult across the region before you factor in the strong winds.

Forecast Wind Gusts. Very strong wind gusts will accompany this system, with the potential of wind gusts of 40+ mph by Saturday night in Des Moines and across parts of the Great Lakes Sunday. This wind will have the potential to cause blizzard and whiteout conditions, making travel nearly impossible.

Strong Winds In The Eastern Great Lakes As Well. This system will also produce strong winds across the eastern Great Lakes Sunday, with High Wind Warnings already in place for Buffalo and High Wind Watches for Pittsburgh and Cleveland.

Forecast Sunday Wind Gusts. On Sunday, wind gusts over 50 mph will be possible in Pittsburgh, with over 70 mph wind gusts in Buffalo. These strong winds would be capable of blowing down tree limbs, trees, and power lines as well as causing power outages.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix

Rare L.A. Mega-Storm Could Overwhelm Dam and Flood Dozens of Cities, Experts Say. A story at The Los Angeles Times caught my eye: “Scientists call it California’s “other big one,” and they say it could cause three times as much damage as a major earthquake ripping along the San Andreas Fault. Although it might sound absurd to those who still recall five years of withering drought and mandatory water restrictions, researchers and engineers warn that California may be due for rain of biblical proportions — or what experts call an ARkStorm. This rare mega-storm — which some say is rendered all the more inevitable due to climate change — would last for weeks and send more than 1.5 million people fleeing as floodwaters inundated cities and formed lakes in the Central Valley and Mojave Desert, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Officials estimate the structural and economic damage from an ARkStorm (for Atmospheric River 1,000) would amount to more than $725 billion statewide...”

Image credit: “Lead engineer Douglas Chitwood at the Whittier Narrows Dam. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the aging structure could fail in heavy rains.” (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times).

A Water Crisis is Brewing in a Place You’d Least Expect It. NPR reports: “…The crisis is especially acute where you would least expect it – the Great Lakes, the region of the country with the most abundant fresh water. A nine-month investigation by APM Reports examined the cost of water in six large cities near the Great Lakes – Chicago, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Detroit, Buffalo and Duluth – over the past 10 years and found that rates have risen alarmingly fast. In Chicago, the cost of water for the average family of four nearly tripled between 2007 and 2018. Cleveland’s rates more than doubled – to $1,317 per year for an average family of four. And families in Detroit paid an astounding $1,151 annually. By contrast, that same average family living in Phoenix, which pipes in much of its water from 300 miles away and has been called the least-sustainable city in the country, paid about two-thirds less...”

Graphic credit: “APM Reports and Great Lakes Today sent records requests to six large cities that sit directly on the Great Lakes, asking for water and sewer rates going back to 2007. APM Reports was able to gather rates for all but one city — Milwaukee — from at least 2010 to 2018, though some cities provided data back to 2007. Phoenix is included as a point of comparison. This analysis compares the cost for a family of four using 50 gallons per person per day. APM Reports chose this number based on the recommendations of academics that study water cost.” Source: Analysis by Will Craft/APM Reports. Credit: Alyson Hurt/NPR.

They Really Don’t Make Music Like They Used To. The New York Times has a fascinating article that reaffirms my faith that music did in fact peak in the 70s. And get off my lawn. Here’s an excerpt: “…During the 1990s, as digital technology infiltrated the recording process, some mastering engineers wielded compression like a cudgel, competing to produce the loudest recordings. This recording industry “loudness war” was driven by linked aesthetic and economic imperatives. A louder record grabs your attention — and will often be perceived, at least at first, to have better sound quality than a less compressed album — and musicians didn’t want their product to sound weak by comparison. Maximum loudness, it was thought, was a prerequisite for commercial success. The war became so heated that by the latter part of the decade some mastering engineers took it a step further...”

Graphic credit: “Note: Charts depict each song’s peak and root mean square loudness every half second over a twenty second sample.” By Sahil Chinoy/The New York Times.

Sleep Deprivation is Killing You and Your Career. A story at LinkedIn is a worthy reminder that quality REM sleep isn’t optional, much as we’d like it to be: “…Sleep deprivation is linked to a variety of serious health problems, including heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. It stresses you out because your body overproduces the stress hormone cortisol when it’s sleep deprived. While excess cortisol has a host of negative health effects that come from the havoc it wreaks on your immune system, it also makes you look older, because cortisol breaks down skin collagen, the protein that keeps skin smooth and elastic. In men specifically, not sleeping enough reduces testosterone levels and lowers sperm count. Too many studies to list have shown that people who get enough sleep live longer, healthier lives, but I understand that sometimes this isn’t motivation enough. So consider this—not sleeping enough makes you fat...”

A “Smart Wall” Could Spark a New Kind of Border Crisis. Be careful what you wish for, argues a post at “…Drones used in aerial surveillance, along with tools like license plate readers used by CBP in the broader border zone, create the potential for large-scale surveillance dragnets that could record vast amounts of data over time. CBP also has been known to share this data—and even use of its drones—with other law enforcement agencies at both the federal and state levels, expanding the impact of these tools beyond the border. “Technology deployment and investment at the border is not new. This is something that Congress has invested in repeatedly,” says Mana Azarmi, policy counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology. “Some technologies are more invasive than others. Some tools allow CBP to identify, track, and monitor individuals. And people, particularly people living at the border, shouldn’t have to have the government monitor when they go to the doctor or to their place of worship…”

Photo credit: Defense One. “A drone view of the US-Mexico border fence outside Nogales, Arizona, Saturday, April 1, 2017.” AP Photo – Brian Skoloff.

Cooking Sunday Roast Causes Indoor Pollution Worse Than New Delhi. A “Roast Watch/Warning?” The Guardian explains: “Cooking a Sunday roast can drive indoor air pollution far above the levels found in the most polluted cities on Earth, scientists have said. Researchers found that roasting meat and vegetables, and using a gas hob, released a surge of fine particles that could make household air dirtier than that in Delhi. Fine soot and tiny organic particles from gas flames, vegetables, oils and fat combined to send harmful PM2.5 particulates in the house to levels 13 times higher than those measured in the air in central London. Peak indoor pollution lasted for about an hour…Instruments around and inside the test home in Austin, Texas, found that when no one was cooking, the house kept outdoor air pollution out. But during a full day of cooking, the levels of particles indoors rose to about 30 times that outside…”

Photo credit: “Tests during cooking showed PM2.5 levels rose to 200 micrograms per cubic metre for one hour, more than the 143 micrograms averaged in Delhi.” Photograph: Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters.

15″ snow on the ground in the Twin Cities.

27 F. high yesterday at MSP.

31 F. average high on February 22.

30 F. high on February 22, 2018.

February 23, 1981: Warmth returns to Minnesota with a high of 55 at Pipestone and a high of 52 at Luverne.

SATURDAY: A little freezing drizzle will ice up some roads. High: 33

SATURDAY NIGHT: Blizzard Warning south metro. Snow likely, potential for 3-6″. Tracherous. Low: 20

SUNDAY: Blizzard Warning south metro. Blustery, with blowing/drifting snow. Winds: NW 20-35. High: 23

MONDAY: January relapse. Sunny peeks. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: -5. High: 6

TUESDAY: Sunny start, flurries late. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: -4. High: 10

WEDNESDAY: Early coating, then clearing. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 3. High: 18

THURSDAY: Partly sunny, more tolerable. Winds: W 8-13. Wake-up: 5. High: 23

FRIDAY: Cloudy with flurries possible. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 13. High: 25

Climate Stories…

A Tipping Point on Climate Change? Here’s an excerpt from Axios: “…Public polling shows evidence that these reports, plus extreme weather events such as the deadly, record-shattering California wildfires, are changing some minds.

  • A December poll by the Yale Program on Climate Change and George Mason University found that the “alarmed” segment of the American public is at an all-time high of 29% —double the size in a 2013 survey.
  • The poll also showed a decline in Americans who are classified as in the “dismissive” or “doubtful” camps.
  • The percentage of conservative Republicans who are worried about climate change has also reached an all-time high, according to Yale’s Anthony Leiserowitz, who studies public opinion on climate change.
  • “More Americans think that climate change is here and now, affecting them here and now, and poses a risk to them personally than ever before,” he tells Axios…”

Illustration credit: Rebecca Zisser/Axios.

POLITICS: Headlines and links courtesy of Climate Nexus: “As public opinion shifts on climate, so does Republicans’ rhetoric (Politico Pro $), a tipping point on climate change (Axios), national clean-energy mandate gets another look in Congress (Bloomberg BNA), new climate PAC will back Inslee for president (The Hill), John Delaney’s 2020 agenda: National service for young people; prepare for artificial intelligence; carbon tax to reduce emissions.” (Washington Post $)

Carbon Capture Could Be Key to Decarbonizing U.S. Fossil Fuels. But will it work, cost-effectively, at scale? Here’s an excerpt from Axios: “Approximately 49 million tons of CO2 could be cut via carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) in the power sector — equivalent to removing 7 million cars from the roads — by 2030, according to a Clean Air Task Force (CATF) report published this week.

Why it matters: The oil and gas industry has experimented with CO2 removal technology since the 1930s to purify process streams from CO2. Now similar technology could be used to ease the transition from fossil fuels to more sustainable energy sources.

Background: CCUS is considered an important medium- and long-term means of reducing carbon emissions in fossil fuel–intensive industries…”

File image: Future Leadership Institute.

The $32 Trillion Pushing Fossil Fuel CEOs to Act on Climate Change. Bloomberg has an explanation: “Behind Glencore Plc’s decision to limit coal investment is a little-known, but powerful group of investors. Glencore made its decision after facing pressure from a shareholder network known as Climate Action 100+, which has the backing of more than 300 investors managing $32 trillion. The group was founded a little over a year ago, but has already extracted reforms from oil heavyweights, like BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc. While skeptics may regard Glencore’s changes as minimal (the company still stands to reap billions from its huge coal business), the announcement still shows the influence that investors hold at being able to push even the most reticent companies to respond to their demands...”

Arctic Bogs Hold Another Global Warming Risk That Could Spiral Out of Control. InsideClimate News explains: “Increasing spring rains in the Arctic could double the increase in methane emissions from the region by hastening the rate of thawing in permafrost, new research suggests. The findings are cause for concern because spring rains are anticipated to occur more frequently as the region warms. The release of methane, a short-lived climate pollutant more potent than carbon dioxide over the short term, could induce further warming in a vicious cycle that would be difficult if not impossible to stop. “Our results emphasize that these permafrost regions are sensitive to the thermal effects of rain, and because we’re anticipating that these environments are going to get wetter in the future, we could be seeing increases in methane emissions that we weren’t expecting,” said the study’s lead author, Rebecca Neumann, a civil and environmental engineering professor at the University of Washington…”

Photo credit: “A doubling of the rate of methane released in the Arctic could have consequences that climate change projections don’t currently take into account.” Credit: S Hillebrand/USFWS.

Hurricanes Create Natural Climate Change Labs in Puerto Rico. AP News explains: “The hurricanes that pounded Puerto Rico in 2017, blasting away most of its forest cover, may give scientists clues to how the world will respond to climate change and increasingly severe weather. Researchers at El Yunque, the only tropical rain forest overseen by the U.S. Forest Service, are running controlled studies on how plants respond to higher temperatures combined — since the cataclysmic blow from Hurricane Maria — with severe weather. Not far away, another group is looking at how hurricanes affect the forest environment. “It’s a once-in-a-century opportunity to look at these two aspects of climate change together,” said Tana Wood, a research ecologist with the Forest Service…”

Photo credit: “In this Feb. 13, 2019 photo, project technician Robert Tunison, who spends between 30 minutes to an hour per leaf, collects plant physiology data inside the El Yunque tropical rainforest, in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. In this corner of northeast Puerto Rico, U.S. scientists are trying to figure out how Earth might recover from extreme weather events amid increasingly warmer temperatures.” (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti).