El Nino Warming Signal Showing Up On The Maps

I have a sneaky suspicion January will wind up milder than average across Minnesota and the Upper Midwest. An El Nino warming pattern is evolving in the Pacific Ocean, one that tends to keep our steering winds aloft howling from Seattle vs. the Yukon for much of the winter. Canada won’t run out of cold fronts anytime soon, but Minnesota may experience glancing blows of numbing air; a better chance of bitter winds for New England in the coming weeks.

That may be more prayer than prediction, but my meteorological spidey sense is telling me January will wind up milder and drier close to home.

Exhibit A: I see roughly 9 days in a row with daytime highs ranging from 35-40F in the metro; some 10-15F warmer than average. Considering the next 2 weeks are, historically, the coldest of the year in Minnesota, 40F (above zero) is a big deal.

With a predominately west to east flow aloft moisture from the Gulf of Mexico won’t fuel any big storms close to home anytime soon.

A word to the wise: if you like snow get out this weekend and roll around in it sooner vs. later. Just saying.

240-Hour Snowfall Outlook. The map above is predicted ECMWF (European) snowfall amounts between now and next Friday morning, January 11. A couple inches near the Canadian border, otherwise it’s looking like a short-term snowfall drought out there. Map: WeatherBell.

2018 Total Precipitation. Over 40″ of precipitation fell over far southern Minnesota last year, with a new state rainfall record likely (Harmony or Caledonia) with over 57″ reported.

Precipitation Departure from Normal. The greatest anomalies were southern Minnesota, northern Iowa and southern Wisconsin, where amounts were 20-25″ above average in some counties. Map: Praedictix.

Relatively Mild Into Mid-January. We’ll have cold relapses from time to time, but model guidance consistently shows a west to southwest flow aloft the next 2 weeks, limiting just how much numbing air can sail south of the border. I expect temperatures to run 10-20F above average into mid-January.

Milder Than Average January? So says NOAA’s CFSv2 climate model for the month of January, with temperature anomalies forecast to be 5-10F warmer than average from western andsouthern Canada into the northern tier states of the USA.

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Tuesday, January 1st, 2019:

  • A system moving through the Four Corners region today will bring the threat of wintry weather to parts of the Southern Plains Wednesday and Thursday, including accumulating ice and snow.
  • 4-6” of snow could fall across parts of northern Texas into Oklahoma (including Oklahoma City) along with up to two-tenths of an inch across the region. This will lead to rough travel conditions.

Winter Storm Watches. The threat of wintry weather will increase later this week across parts of the southern United States as a system currently in the Four Corners region moves through. Winter Storm Watches are in place across parts of Oklahoma and northern Texas (including Oklahoma City) with Winter Weather Advisories just west of Dallas (including Abilene). Up to two tenths of an inch of ice would be possible across the entire region under Watches and Advisories along with 4-6” of snow across the Winter Storm Watch area. These winter weather concerns are in place for Wednesday into Thursday.

Probability of 4”+ Of Snow. The greatest potential of at least four inches of snow through Friday morning will be from northern Texas into parts of Oklahoma, including the Wichita Falls, Oklahoma City, and Tulsa areas. The best snow potential for Wichita Falls and Oklahoma City will be Wednesday Night into Thursday, with Thursday and Thursday Night the main time frame for Tulsa. This snow will cause travel issues across the region.

Ice Potential. This system will also bring the potential of ice along with it from Texas into parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas through Thursday evening. The highest ice totals are expected across parts of Texas and Oklahoma, where up to two-tenths of an inch will be possible. This ice will lead to slick roads.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix

2018 Minnesota Climate Highlights. Dr. Mark Seeley has details on another warmer, wetter than average year for most of Minnesota in this week’s edition of Minnesota WeatherTalk: “Among the climate highlights of 2018 it is significant that Minnesota reported yet another warmer and wetter than normal year. It is unclear which location will set a new statewide record for most annual precipitation, but it will either be Harmony (Fillmore County) or Caledonia (Houston County) as both have received over 57 inches so far this year (old statewide record is 56.24 inches at Waseca in 2016). Many Minnesota citizens will remember 2018 for the long, snowy winter, especially the months of February through April. During those three months alone, blizzards and heavy snowfall plagued the state, closing many roads and schools several times. Portions of Faribault, Lyon, and Yellow Medicine Counties reported over 70 inches of snowfall during February through April, capped off by the blizzard and thunder-snow of April 13-16…”

$155 Billion in U.S. Weather Damage in 2018. Star Tribune has details: “Natural disasters cost $155 billion this year, and several of them struck the U.S. particularly hard. Hurricanes Michael and Florence, California wildfires and Hawaii’s volcano eruption are all on the list of the most expensive global disasters of 2018, according to the Zurich-based reinsurance company Swiss Re. “Like last year, the losses from the 2018 series of events highlight the increasing vulnerability of the ever-growing concentration of humans and property values on coastlines and in the urban-wildlife interface,” Swiss Re said of its report. “The very presence of human and property assets in areas such as these means extreme weather conditions can quickly turn into catastrophe events in terms of losses inflicted…”

October 10 file image of Hurricane Michael: NOAA and weather API and graphics provider, AerisWeather.

Natural Disasters Set Records Around the World in 2018. These Were Some of the Worst. Business Insider takes a look at some of the most extreme extremes: “Natural disasters devastated communities around the world in 2018, killing thousands of people and inflicting billions of dollars in damage. In September, at least 1,900 people died in Indonesia after a magnitude 7.5 earthquake and a subsequent tsunami with waves as high as 20 feet. The following month, Hurricane Michael, the strongest storm to hit the United States in 50 years, devastated North and South Carolina and killed dozens of people. Some of the worst fires in US history hit California shortly afterward, melting cars, reducing bodies to bone, and wiping out an entire town. Much of the record-breaking devastation was caused by elevated temperatures on land and at sea…”

Image credit: “Debris scatters an area in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Florida, on October 11, 2018.” Gerald Herbert/AP.

Nearly 75% of Coastal States Aren’t Prepared for Sea Level Rise. Here are a couple of excerpts from a post at Forbes: “…Each year, $500 million worth of coastal structures are lost as coastlines disappear. The federal government spends nearly $150 million each year to manage the loss of beaches and coastal real estate. Two-thirds of the U.S. population lives and works in coastal counties…The Report Card shows that only eight out of the 31 states and territories evaluated are taking appropriate measures to protect shorelines from further erosion (Grades ‘A’-‘B’). These states provide support for flood management while prohibiting coastal armoring and development projects in risky areas...”

Map credit: “Surfrider’s Beach Grades for 2018.” Surfrider.

2018 Will Be the First Year with No Violent Tornadoes in the U.S. Ian Livingston reports the numbers at Capital Weather Gang: “In the whirlwind that is 2018, there has been a notable lack of high-end twisters. We’re now days away from this becoming the first year in the modern record with no violent tornadoes touching down in the United States. Violent tornadoes are the strongest on a 0 to 5 scale, or those ranked EF4 or EF5. It was a quiet year for tornadoes overall, with below normal numbers most months. Unless you’re a storm chaser, this is not bad news. The low tornado count is undoubtedly a big part of the reason the 10 tornado deaths in 2018 are also vying to be a record low….”

Graphic credit: “Annual violent tornado numbers in modern history. The purple dashed line is a linear trend. The blue line is a 15-year average. Data from the Storm Prediction Center.” (Ian Livingston/The Washington Post).

No Food, No FEMA: Hurricane Michael’s Survivors are Furious. Daily Beast has an update: “…The destruction is everywhere, at every corner, as far as the eye can see. Mexico Beach, where the hurricane’s eyewall slammed into Florida with 140 mph winds, is flattened. Panama City, gem of the Emerald Coast, looks like a bomb has been dropped on it. It is now a desolate landscape of toppled power poles, transformers, electrical lines, severed trees, and metal roofings, twisted and tangled into a sea of debris. Nearly all homes, businesses, stores, banks, schools are severely damaged or destroyed, skeletal remains with blown out windows or crushed facades. To residents, it is unrecognizable…”

File image: NOAA NGS.

What If the National Weather Servive Really Shut Down? What do you think fuels all those nifty weather apps on your phone? A much-needed reality check from Dr. Marshall Shepherd at Forbes; here’s an excerpt: “…Over time, the federal sector and the emerging private sector have begun working closely together. The private sector is often more nimble and can provide value-added services,  but it is important for the American public to understand that federal data, models, and warnings are still the solid backbone. A landmark weather bill signed into law in recent years does mandate more private-sector data contributions to the “U.S. weather mix” going forward. I hope that you have a better idea of how weather information gets to your “eyes.” I also hope this puts to bed comments about why a National Weather Service is needed…”

Map credit: National Centers for Environmental Prediction/NOAA.

“This is Our Reality Now”. A push toward environmental deregulation is impacting the lives and health of more Americans. The New York Times reports: “In just two years, President Trump has unleashed a regulatory rollback, lobbied for and cheered on by industry, with little parallel in the past half-century. Mr. Trump enthusiastically promotes the changes as creating jobs, freeing business from the shackles of government and helping the economy grow. The trade-offs, while often out of public view, are real — frighteningly so, for some people — imperiling progress in cleaning up the air we breathe and the water we drink, and in some cases upending the very relationship with the environment around us…”

GM’s Decline Began with a Quest to Turn People Into Machines. Here’s food for thought from Quartz: “…In the late winter of 1972, Lordstown workers rebelled against GM’s experiment with a bold new management style that put a premium on automation while treating assemblers as though they were little whirring parts of one giant machine. Their uprising became a national symbol of blue-collar disaffection. “Lordstown syndrome,” as the media dubbed it, was fueled by the idea that, for American society to thrive, people needed work, yes, but more specifically, meaningful work—a purpose that went beyond the simple act of fastening a spring to a 1,100 Chevrolet’s left rear axle. In the national debate that ensued, America pondered how a society that neglected to treat work holistically would hurt the competitiveness of its workers, and, ultimately, the health of its communities. That 1972 strike—or, more precisely, GM’s response to it—marked the beginning of the company’s long but uneven descent, which would be characterized by a repeated impulse to bet on fancy, futuristic but unproven technologies while undervaluing its workers…”

Photo credit: “A Cadillac Eldorado circa 1958.” AP file photo.

What Are You Grateful For? Nancy Gibbs points out what went right in 2018 at TIME.com: “…I’m grateful for the Census Bureau report that for the third straight year, the U.S. poverty rate declined. Johns Hopkins reported this year that since 2000, 1.45 million children’s lives have been saved thanks to vaccines that target the main bacterial causes of meningitis and pneumonia. The Gates Foundation reports that since 1990, the number of children who die before they reach the age of 5 has been cut in half…For all the ugliness, congress did pass bipartisan Opioid legislation, and the first stage in criminal justice reform. Any signs of progress on any front is to be celebrated— and these are issues that cut across ideologies, regions, parties, perils...”

Our World in Data – Things Are Getting Better. Food for thought; we hear about all the bad things and bad actors, but take a step or two back and you can make a pretty compelling argument that things are getting better. Here’s an excerpt from Our World in Data: “The visualization (above) shows the dramatic increase in life expectancy over the last few centuries. For the UK – the country for which we have the longest time-series – we see that before the 19th century there was no trend for life expectancy: life expectancy fluctuated between 30 and 40 years. Over the last 200 years people in all countries in the world achieved impressive progress in health that lead to increases in life expectancy. In the UK, life expectancy doubled and is now higher than 80 years. In Japan health started to improve later, but the country caught up quickly with the UK and surpassed it in the late 1960s. In South Korea health started to improve later still and the country achieved even faster progress than the UK and Japan; by now life expectancy in South Korea has surpassed life expectancy in the UK…”

The Miracle of Minneapolis. Derek Thompson shares some of the secrets we’re already well aware of at The Atlantic; here’s a clip: “…Only three large metros where at least half the homes are within reach for young middle-class families also finish in the top 10 in the Harvard-Berkeley mobility study: Salt Lake City, Pittsburgh, and Minneapolis–St. Paul. The last is particularly remarkable. The Minneapolis–St. Paul metro area is richer by median household income than Pittsburgh or Salt Lake City (or New York, or Chicago, or Los Angeles). Among residents under 35, the Twin Cities place in the top 10 for highest college-graduation rate, highest median earnings, and lowest poverty rate, according to the most recent census figures. And yet, according to the Center for Housing Policy, low-income families can rent a home and commute to work more affordably in Minneapolis–St. Paul than in all but one other major metro area (Washington, D.C.)...”

Image credit: Matt Chase.

0 F. wake-up temperature New Year’s Day at MSP.

11 F. maximum temperature yesterday in the Twin Cities.

24 F. average high on January 1.

1 F. metro high on January 1, 2018.

January 2, 1941: Grand Portage gets over 4.5 inches of precipitation in 24 hours. That’s roughly how much normally falls there during the ‘winter’ months from November to February.

WEDNESDAY: Sunny and brisk. Winds: SW 10-15. High: near 20

THURSDAY: Sunny and milder. Winds: SW 7-12. High: 36

FRIDAY: Intervals of sun, balmy for January. Winds: SW 7-12. Wake-up: 26. High: 39

SATURDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, slushy. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 29. High: near 40

SUNDAY: Increasing clouds, still dry. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 22. High: 36

MONDAY: Patchy clouds, mild for early January. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 28. High: 39

TUESDAY: Still quiet with a Pacific breeze. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 26. High: 41

Climate Stories…

Extreme Weather in 2018 was a Raging, Howling Signal of Climate Change. The Washington Post takes a look at how a warmer, wetter climate lead amplifed weather disruption last year: “...Just off the top of his head, climate scientist Kevin Trenberth can recount many of the weather disasters that hit the planet in 2018. Record rainfall and flooding in Japan, followed by a heat wave that sent tens of thousands of people to the hospital. Astonishing temperature records set across the planet, including sweltering weather above the Arctic Circle. Historic, lethal wildfires in Greece, Sweden and California, terrible flooding in India, a super typhoon with 165-mph winds in the Philippines, and two record-setting hurricanes that slammed the Southeast United States. “Climate change is adding to what’s going on naturally, and it’s that extra stress that causes things to break,” said Trenberth, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo…”

Photo credit: “The Trump administration released on Nov. 23 a long-awaited report outlining that climate change impacts “are intensifying across the country.”

Trump Does Not Have a Right To His Own Facts on Climate Change, Bloomberg Says. Here’s a clip from MarketWatch: “… Insurers have warned that any greater warming would make the world uninsurable. “We’re halfway there already, and there’s seven years left to go,” he said. That’s mostly thanks to efforts made by the private sector, individuals and companies. “It would be a lot more helpful if we had a climate champion rather than a climate denier in the White House,” Bloomberg said, but the U.S. can and must meet the goals of Paris if it is to continue to succeed economically, and any credible presidential candidate needs to have a plan to mitigate the effects…”

File image: Jeff Williams, NASA.

Climate Change: Democrats See Opportunity for 2020 Elections. Here’s a clip from USA TODAY: “…So for Democrats and their environmental allies, the next two years in Washington are likely to be more about making a case to voters than actually scoring significant victories on climate change, said Bob Shrum, a longtime Democratic strategist who teaches political science at the University of Southern California. “I don’t think Trump’s going to give an inch on this,” he said. “I think we’ll be at a stalemate (for the next two years). But I think Democrats can prepare the ground, can win the argument and can go into 2020 on these issues in a pretty strong position.” Studies suggest there isn’t much time for politicking on the issue…”

File image: Yale Climate Connections.

The Story of 2018 was Climate Change. Here’s a clip from a New York Times Op-Ed: “…The story of climate change in 2018 was complicated — overwhelmingly bad, yet with two reasons for hope. The bad and the good were connected, too: Thanks to the changing weather, more Americans seem to be waking up to the problem. I’ll start with the alarming parts of the story. The past year is on pace to be the earth’s fourth warmest on record, and the five warmest years have all occurred since 2010. This warming is now starting to cause a lot of damage. In 2018, heat waves killed people in Montreal, Karachi, Tokyo and elsewhere. Extreme rain battered North Carolina and the Indian state of Kerala. The Horn of Africa suffered from drought. Large swaths of the American West burned…”

Image credit: “By The New York Times | Source: National Hurricane Center; data on hurricanes is considered most reliable since geostationary satellites began tracking them in the 1970s.”

Northern Hemisphere Heat Waves Covering More Area Than Before. A post at GeoSpace/AGU Blogosphere caught my eye: “Heat waves in the Northern Hemisphere have gotten more expansive in recent decades, covering 25 percent more area now than they did in the 1980s, according to new research. A team of researchers from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, University of Delaware and Stanford analyzed 38 years of NASA climate and weather data and found the average size of a heat wave has grown by 50 percent over the entire Northern Hemisphere and 25 percent over Northern Hemisphere land-cover. It’s the first study to examine how heat wave extent has increased over time on a global scale…”

Graphic credit: “The heat wave in the United States in July 2011 broke temperature records in many locations, killed dozens and put nearly half of all Americans under heat advisories at its peak.” Credit: NASA/JPL AIRS Project.

“Green New Deal” Divides Democrats Intent on Addressing Climate Change. The Washington Post reports; here’s a clip: “…The goal of trying to reduce fossil fuels and get to a carbon-neutral economy is important and something that I agree with. The question is how long it takes to do that,” he said recently, according to the Asbury Park Press. “The Green New Deal says you can do it in 10 years. I don’t know if that’s technologically feasible . . . Beyond that, it’s probably not politically feasible.” Critics of standing committees argue that they can be easily distracted from ambitious work and may be more susceptible to influence from lobbyists. Howie Klein, the founder of Blue America PAC — one of few PACs that donated to Ocasio-Cortez before her primary win — warned that Democrats who run the committees know how to silo off the left…”

Image credit: “Supporters of incoming Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal” rally in the office of House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.). The rally was organized by Sunrise Movement, whose goal is “to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process.” Dozens of activists were arrested during the demonstration.” (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Climate Change Denial is Killing the GOP’s Future. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at TheHill: “…At the heart of our partisan divide on the environment lies a generational disconnect: Less than 46 percent of millennial Republicans favor the expansion of coal mining, nuclear energy or offshore oil and gas drilling.  And yet, because the GOP continues to cater to a narrowing base of aging voters to win elections, young Republicans stand to inherit a political party crippled by unpalatable positions on the seminal issue of our time: climate change. Republicans have stepped away from the table when we should be leading the conversation on the climate solutions and energy policies that will define the 21st century…”