Full-Blown Blizzard Likely West of MSP

Don’t push the weather. That’s good advice from a long time ago, when I was learning to fly. The people that get into trouble are often the ones who schedule events, then push their luck to reach these events, even when weather is miserable or dangerous. Heated seats and navigation systems are slick, but if the visibility is close to zero in blowing snow, you’re taking an unnecessary risk on the highways.

The heaviest snowfall amounts never materialized. The first surge of moderate to heavy snow moved faster than expected, and more importantly, a surge of dry air (the dreaded “dry tongue”) wrapped into the storm’s circulation, cutting off the heavy snow sooner, changing it over to freezing drizzle – which ultimately cut down on snowfall totals. Totals should wind up in the 4-6″ range, a few higher amounts across central Minnesota.

Blizzard conditions are likely today over western and central Minnesota, as winds gust to 40 mph. Drive in a white-out? No thanks. I’ll be napping and exploring the refrigerator for long-lost treats.

Winds ease up a bit Sunday as travel conditions improve, and after a numbing Monday, Pacific winds return for much of next week.

In fact models hint at 5-6 days in a row above 32F. Not bad for what is often one of the coldest weeks of the year.

Oh, average temperatures are rising, for the first time since July. And we’re seeing 2 additional minutes of daylight every day. This is the midpoint of winter!

Roller Coaster Temperatures with a Big Snowstorm. Mark Seeley reports for Minnesota WeatherTalk; here’s an excerpt: “The temperature roller coaster pattern continued this week, with many climate stations reporting daily temperatures that ranged from 7 to 13 degrees F warmer than normal (some daytime highs were above the freezing mark), then plummeting to temperatures that were 10 to 20 degrees F colder than normal by Thursday, January 16th. In fact, the reading of -35°F at Fosston (Polk County) on January 16th was the nations lowest temperature reading, the 4th time this month that Minnesota has reported the nation’s lowest temperature. Several places reported minimum temperatures of -20°F or colder on that date, including -26°F at Park Rapids and Staples...”

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Friday, January 17th, 2020:

  • A January winter storm is bringing snow and ice to portions of the central United States this morning, causing travel issues. Already the Kansas City airport has had to close this morning due to ice and a plane sliding off the taxiway.
  • Precipitation will continue to spread north and east today into the weekend. The heaviest snow will be in the upper Midwest and Great Lakes, where totals of 6-12” are expected. Additional icing is also possible across the region.
  • Wind will also be a major concern in the upper Midwest, especially behind the snow on Saturday where blizzard conditions are possible from Sioux City to Fargo and Grand Forks. Wind gusts to 50 mph will cause those whiteout conditions.

Snow And Ice This Morning. Snow and ice are working their way north and east across the central United States this morning. Already there have been reports of quarter-inch or more of ice reported in portions of Kansas including 0.25” in Great Bend and 0.33” near Lucas. This ice has caused issues, including at the Kansas City airport which is closed due to ice through at least 9 AM. An airplane slid off the taxiway this morning there due to the ice. Meanwhile, 1” of snow has already been reported in Columbus, NE.

This snow and ice is causing issues on the roadways. Here are links to view road conditions:

Blizzard And Winter Storm Alerts. As snow and ice continues to spread north and east over the next couple of days, numerous winter weather concerns are in place, including Blizzard Warnings in the upper Midwest. Here are some of the alerts in place. Note that areas under Blizzard Warnings are also under additional alerts as well (either a Winter Storm Warning or Winter Weather Advisory) so some locations will show up twice in the listing of alerts below:

Blizzard Warnings:

  • Sioux Falls, SD: From Midnight tonight – 6 AM Saturday for an additional inch of snow during this timeframe and wind gusts to 50 mph.
  • Aberdeen, SD: From 9 PM tonight – 6 PM Saturday for wind gusts to 50 mph.
  • Willmar, MN: From 6 AM – 6 PM Saturday for wind gusts to 50 mph.
  • Fargo & Grand Forks, ND: From 2 AM – 6 PM Saturday for wind gusts to 50 mph.

Winter Storm Warnings:

  • Des Moines, IA: From 9 AM today – 6 PM Saturday for 2-4” of snow, ice up to 0.10”, and wind gusts to 45 mph.
  • Sioux Falls, SD: Through Midnight tonight for 4-6” of snow, a glaze of ice, and wind gusts to 45 mph.
  • Willmar, MN: Through 6 AM Saturday for 4-7” of snow, a glaze of ice, and wind gusts to 40 mph.
  • Minneapolis, MN: From Noon today – 6 PM Saturday for 6-9” of snow. Wind gusts today 20-30 mph, Saturday up to 35 mph.
  • Duluth, MN: From 3 PM today – 9 PM Saturday for 5-9” of snow. Wind gusts today up to 35 mph, Saturday up to 40 mph.
  • Detroit, MI: From 10 PM tonight – Noon Saturday for 5-8” of snow and wind gusts to 30 mph.

Winter Weather Advisories:

  • Kansas City, MO: Through 6 PM for 1-3” of snow/sleet and 0.10-0.25” of ice.
  • St. Louis, MO: From 9 AM today – Midnight tonight for 1-2” of snow/sleet, up to 0.20” of ice, and wind gusts to 30 mph.
  • Omaha, NE: Through 6 AM Saturday for 3-5” of snow, up to 0.20” of ice, and wind gusts to 55 mph.
  • Aberdeen, SD: Through 9 PM tonight for up to 3” of snow and wind gusts to 45 mph.
  • Fargo & Grand Forks, ND: Until 2 AM Saturday for 2-4” of snow, a glaze of ice, and wind gusts to 50 mph.
  • Chicago, IL: From 5 PM today – 6 AM Saturday for 2-4” of snow and up to 0.10” of ice.
  • Milwaukee, WI: From 5 PM today – 6 PM Saturday for 4-7” of snow, up to 0.10” of ice, and wind gusts to 35 mph.
  • Indianapolis, IN: From 7 PM tonight – 4 PM Saturday for up to 1” of snow, less than 0.10” of ice, and wind gusts to 35 mph.
  • New York City: From 10 AM Saturday – 1 AM Sunday for 2-4” of snow.

Winter Storm Watches:

  • Hartford, CT: From Saturday afternoon – Sunday morning for 4-8” of snow.
  • Worcester, MA: From Saturday afternoon – Sunday morning for 4-7” of snow.

Potential Snow Totals Through Sunday Evening. The heaviest snow is expected to fall across portions of the upper Midwest into the Great Lakes, where snowfall tallies of at least 6-12” are possible. This snow will lead to hazardous travel conditions and could impact the Friday evening commute across the region. The heaviest snow in the Northeast will be across portions of upstate New York, where over a foot could fall.

Potential Ice Totals Through Sunday Evening. This system will continue to bring an icing threat as well over the next few days in the central United States and portions of the Northeast. Additional ice amounts will generally be under 0.20”.

High Wind Gusts Expected. Strong wind gusts are also expected across the central United States with this system. The strongest winds will move across the Dakotas as we head through Friday Night into Saturday, with the strongest winds in Minnesota and Iowa expected Saturday. Numerous wind gusts of at least 40 mph can be expected, with peak wind gusts of 50+ possible in some locations, especially in the Dakotas. These winds will lead to blowing snow and reduced visibility where snow does fall. The potential of blizzard conditions exists across portions of the eastern Dakotas and western Minnesota, especially from Friday Night into Saturday. However, these strong winds won’t be limited to areas that see snow, as even the Front Range will see strong wind gusts today into tonight.

High Wind Concerns. High Wind Warnings are in place from New Mexico into the Northern Plains due to the strong winds expected. Denver is under that High Wind Warning from 1 PM today – 2 AM Saturday for wind gusts up to 60 mph.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix

More Seattle Than Siberia. Winds aloft 2 weeks out may be blowing from the Pacific, according to NOAA’s GFS model, which is fairly consistent with this (zonal) solution, keeping the coldest air bottled up north of the USA.

Record Snowfalls in the United States. House Method calculated the biggest snow events for every county in the USA – check it out: “Snowfall can vary depending on which state you live in. Parts of the country could see multiple feet while others could see less than an inch. However, no matter where you live in the United States, snow has reached your home state. As the snow comes down across the country, we at House Method decided to find out just how much (or how little) each state has received. We gathered data on the biggest total snowfall (in inches) of each county in every state of the U.S. The map below shows what we found...”

Buzzers, Burner Accounts and Conspiracies – Inside Baseball’s Day of Epic Chaos. Read this story at ESPN.com: “…This is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen,” one general manager said midafternoon, when — and this is a real thing — he called to ask whether the fired New York Mets manager actually had a niece who was tweeting about the 2019 Houston Astros wearing buzzers under their uniforms that let them know which pitch was coming. “I want to take this day and freeze it in time so I can keep living it.” By the end of Thursday, Major League Baseball and a target of the accusations both had chimed in, players across the sport had offered their feelings on the matter — a matter that still, it is important to note, has zero factual backing — and the 12-hour fire hose of raw, uncut content had satiated the masses with plenty of leftovers for the next day…”

Spotify Launches Playlist for Dogs Left Home Alone. Because, why not. Fox Business has the story: “Spotify has made playlists and a podcast for dogs to listen to in their owners’ absence, after finding that nearly 74 percent of UK pet-owners play music for their animals. The Swedish audio-streaming business company said it has launched a podcast featuring soothing music, “dog-directed praise”, stories, and messages of affirmation and reassurance narrated by actors to alleviate stress for dogs who are home alone. Meanwhile, playlists aimed at pets offer tracks selected by algorithms to match pets’ characteristics such as energetic or slow.bSpotify said it found in a survey that one in four pet-owners play music for their pets to listen to for company when they are away from home, with 42 percent of owners saying their pets have a favorite type of music...”

Lego Sets Its Sights on Stressed Out Adults. The Washington Post (paywall) reports: “Lego, the world’s largest and most profitable toymaker, is zeroing in on a growing demographic: stressed-out adults. The 87-year-old Danish company increasingly bills its brightly colored bricks as a way to drown out the noise of the day and perhaps achieve a measure of mindfulness. The company’s newest kits — which include the Central Perk cafe from the sitcom “Friends” and a vintage 1989 Batmobile — tap into Gen X nostalgia, while its Ideas and Forma lines are being targeted to adults who want to occupy their hands but keep their minds loosely engaged…”

20 F. high in the Twin Cities on Friday.

23 F. average high on January 17.

24 F. maximum temperature on January 17, 2019.

January 18, 1996: A blizzard begins across the upper midwest. The Twin Cities Airport was spared the heavy snow, but received nearly one inch of rain. Heavy ice coating in the northwest metro area caused thousands of power outages. Wind chills were as low as -88 (on the old windchill scale) at Crookston. Snow totals were 18 inches at Ely and 12 inches at St. Cloud. Mail delivery was stopped for the day in Duluth and I-94 was closed all day from Rothsay and Moorhead. Flooding problems were caused in the Twin Cities due to backed up water.

January 18, 1994: Governor Arne Carlson orders all Minnesota public schools closed due to the extreme cold and severe winter weather. Morning readings were in the 30-below-zero range. The biggest problem was from high winds that came with the cold.

SATURDAY. Storm Warning. Snow tapers, 4-7″ totals. Blowing/drifting. Winds: NW 20-40. High: 23 (falling)

SUNDAY: Mostly cloudy, not as windy. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: -2. High: 6

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY: A little sunshine. Comfortably numb. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: -8. High: 9

TUESDAY: Some sun, back up to “average”. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 6. High: 24

WEDNESDAY: Cloudy and milder. Winds: W 5-10. Wake-up: 18. High: 34

THURSDAY: Light rain-snow mix possible. Winds: E 7-12. Wake-up: 28. High: 35

FRIDAY: Clouds, fog, a little drizzle. Winds: SE 5-10. Wake-up: 31. High: 34

Climate Stories…

For the Economy, Climate Risks Are No Longer Theoretical. The Wall Street Journal reports on the hangover setting in among business leaders who now see climate change and weather disruption as one of their biggest risk factors: “…Climate change can’t be directly blamed for any single extreme weather event, including Hurricane Maria, California’s wildfires or Australia’s bushfires. But it makes such events more likely. “They are starting to be more than tail events, they’re starting to affect economic outcomes,” Robert Kaplan, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, told an economic conference earlier this month. Climate crises in the next 30 years may resemble financial crises in recent decades: potentially quite destructive, largely unpredictable and, given the powerful underlying causes, inevitable. Climate has muscled to the top of business worries...”

Climate Change Fears Finally Spur Big Business to Act – in Defense of Their Bottom Line. Mic.com has the post: “The fossil fuel industry holds a significant share of the burden when it comes to climate change, but it isn’t alone. Big businesses, particularly international conglomerates that ship products all over the world and burn oil and coal along the way, have done their share of damage to the planet as well, all in the name of profit. Now, it’s that same motivation — the bottom line — that has those corporations trying to go green, as they are worried that the effects of climate change may end up costing them money in the long run. Over the last year or so, the realization that climate change will interfere with business-as-usual operations has started to hit home for corporations…”

YouTube Actively Promoting Videos That Promote Climate Denialism. TIME.com reports: “YouTube has been “actively promoting” videos containing misinformation about climate change, a report released Thursday by campaign group Avaaz claims, despite recent policy changes by the platform intended to drive users away from harmful content and conspiracy theories. Avaaz examined 5,537 videos retrieved by the search terms “climate change,” global warming” and “climate manipulation,” and then the videos most likely to be suggested next by YouTube’s “up next” sidebar. For each of those search terms respectively, 8%, 16% and 21% of the top 100 related videos included by YouTube in the “up-next” feature contained information that goes against the scientific consensus on climate change – such as denying climate change is taking place, or claiming that human activity is not a cause of climate change…”

HOT DECADE: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “NASA and NOAA announced yesterday that the last decade was the hottest on record, and that 2019 was the second-hottest year on record, only after 2016, making the last five years the hottest on record. Additionally, 19 of the hottest years have been in the last two decades. “No individual hot year — or hot day or hot season, for that matter — is by itself evidence for climate change. But this hot year is just one of many hot years in this decade,” said Kate Marvel, a research scientist at NASA and Columbia University. It has been 43 consecutive years since global temperatures were cooler than the 20th century average.” (New York Times, Washington Post $, The Guardian, Thomson Reuters Foundation, CBS, Wall Street Journal $, The Hill, NPR, HuffPost, Washington Examiner, AP, CNBC, Mother Jones, Axios, Gizmodo, The Atlantic, Mashable; Background and graphics: Climate Signals)

“Fire Clouds”: After Australia, Scientists Warn the Erratic Weather Phenomenon Could Become a New Reality. Here’s a clip from a story at NBC News: “…With these high-intensity fires, you can drop water or fire retardant on them, but it’s like spitting on a campfire,” Flannigan said. “There’s not much you can do. You basically have to get out of the way.” But scientists are also interested in studying the impact the voracious fire clouds can have on the climate. Fromm was a co-author of a 2018 study published in the journal Climate and Atmospheric Science that found that the amount of aerosols lofted into the stratosphere from pyroCbs is equivalent to the release of a moderate volcano eruption. As has been observed after volcanic eruptions, the plumes of ash and other fine particles can actually have a cooling effect because they absorb solar radiation, which decreases how much sunlight reaches Earth’s surface…”

This Is Your Life on Climate Change. The Atlantic takes a look at another unusually warm year – and decade: “The 2010s were the hottest decade ever measured on Earth, and 2019 was the second-hottest year ever measured, scientists at NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced today. After a year of flash droughts, rampant wildfires, and searing heat waves that set all-time records across Europe and turned parts of Greenland’s ice sheet into slush, the finding was not a surprise to researchers, or likely anyone else. But it capped an anxious decade that saw human-caused climate change transform from a far-off threat into an everyday fact of life…”