Quick Shot of Arctic Air – January Thaw Coming

“Cold! If the thermometer had been an inch longer we’d have frozen to death” Mark Twain quipped. Someone once explained that most of man’s inventions were focused on a singular mission: to keep the weather out. On a morning like this I almost believe it.

The same hearty clipper that dropped heavy snow up north, whipping up blizzard conditions and treacherous travel, is yanking a big, frosty, tasteless scoop of Canadian “I-Scream” into town. Early morning wind chills dip to -25F at Brainerd and -15F in the Twin Cities. Good incentive to sleep in ’til the crack of noon.

If it’s any consolation, this Alberta Drive-By will be be quick. Pacific air returns within 36 hours, with daytime highs well above 32F from Thursday into the first half of next week.

The next chance of a snowy burst comes Monday; again Thursday of next week – but the pattern won’t favor any more big, sloppy southern storms anytime soon.

NOAA’s CFSv2 climate model is predicting a much warmer than normal January for Canada and the northern USA. I have my doubts, but with an El Nino signal nothing would surprise me.

ECMWF Snowfall Prediction by Next Thursday. Looking out 240 hours the “Euro” prints out a few inches for much of Minnesota late Sunday into Monday of next week; much heavier amounts forecast for northern Wisconsin and the U.P. of Michigan. Map: WeatherBell.

Third Week of January: Swipes of Cold Air But Zonal Component to Overall Pattern. The pattern may continue to favor temperatures above average into the third week of January with steering winds aloft forecast to blow in from the Pacific Northwest and southwestern Canada, which may cut down on the frequency and duration of Canadian flings.

January Wish-Cast. Confidence levels are low (no kidding) but just for laughs and giggles check out the CFSv2 (Climate Forecast System) climate model for January temperature anomalies. 20-25F warmer than average for parts of central Canada; as much as 5-15F warmer for Minnesota? Nothing would surprise me, but I wouldn’t take this to the bank just yet.

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 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 Went Right in 2018? Quartz provides a little perspective: “…Probably the biggest invisible improvements the world sees year to year are essential indicators of overall global public health, like rates of infant mortality, maternal mortality, childhood stunting, and teen pregnancy. These are important, because they represent access the average person alive has to health care professionals, facilities, medicine, and more. All of these rates have been falling in the past few decades, in some cases dramatically…”

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...”

What Will 2019 Bring? A post at Back Office Betties has a few interesting nuggets: “It’s that time of year again to start planning your New Year’s resolutions – what will 2019 bring? Whether it be to eat healthier, become more active, save money, or read more; we all have things we wish to improve upon. If you participate or not, setting resolutions is a fascinating part of American culture that has been a tradition traced all the way back to the ancient Babylonians over 4,000 years ago. That’s not the only fun fact about new year’s traditions!  The worldwide celebration of the new year is jam packed with some of the funniest, silliest, and downright craziest facts, traditions, and superstitions…”

.2″ snow fell at MSP yesterday.

32 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities.

24 F. average high on December 31.

-5 F. high on December 31, 2017.

January 1, 2003: On this date there is an inch or less of snow on the ground from Duluth to the Iowa border. In the Twin Cities there isn’t even a dirty snowbank to be found.

January 1, 1997: Freezing rain causes numerous accidents along the North Shore. In Lake County, vehicles could not get up hills and were blocking roads. Highway 61 was closed for several hours from Two Harbors to Silver Bay.

January 1, 1864: Extremely cold air moves into Minnesota. The Twin Cities have a high of 25 degrees below zero.

TUESDAY: Numbing cold. Slow clearing, -10F WC early. Winds: NW 7-12. High: 8

WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny, not as harsh. Winds: SW 10-15. High: 23

THURSDAY: Sunny spurts, hello January Thaw. Wake-up: 16. High: 34

FRIDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, almost balmy. Winds: SW 7-12. Wake-up: 27. High: 37

SATURDAY: Intervals of sun, touch of March? Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 28. High: near 40

SUNDAY: Mostly cloudy, a bit cooler. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 26. High: 34

MONDAY: Burst of wet snow possible. Winds: NE 10-20. Wake-up: 28. High: near 30

Climate Stories…

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…”