First Plowable Snow for MSP Metro
We have a segment on our WCCO Radio show called “weather therapy”, which seems appropriate today. I am a meteorologist and also a part time pseudo- psychologist.
“It’s ‘gonna be fine!” “It’s just frozen water!” “It’ll melt!”
The first snowstorm of the season conjures up feelings of euphoria and dread. I’m pro-snow, but not when I’m stuck in traffic. I get it.
Snow intensity increases this afternoon and the drive home may be a white-knuckle affair. The axis of heaviest snow keeps shifting north and south, but it appears the south metro and far southern Minnesota will see the heaviest amounts; maybe 10” or more for some lucky towns. The immediate metro may pick up 4-8” by late tonight, with 10”+ for some southern suburbs, and only a lousy inch for St. Cloud. Not exactly the end of the world, but I suspect traffic later today and tonight will be a mess, especially heading south of the downtowns.
The sun shines this weekend with a thaw Sunday, and a few 40s next week. A surge of southern warmth may spark 50s on Wednesday. If you like snow I would make it a point to play in it this weekend because things may get sloppy with next week’s Pacific warm front.
As for the snow – we’re still in moderate drought. My take: let it snow.
(Very) Plowable. Some southern suburbs could see 8-12” of snow by late tonight, but most of the immediate Twin Cities metro (within the 494/694 freeway loop) will see closer to 4-8”; 3-5” north metro but closer to 5-8” south metro and some 10”+ amounts south of the Minnesota River. Expect a sharp northern gradient to the snow shield with only a couple inches far northern suburbs.
Moderate to Major Impacts. The greatest impacts from heavy wet snow are forecast to come south/east of the Twin Cities, from Mankato and Rochester to Red Wing, Ellsworth and Eau Claire. Map courtesy of NOAA’s WSSI.
Fun In The Snow Today – Big Thaw Next Week. Any snow that falls will chill the air from below, acting as a “brake” on how mild it can get next week. Even so, I expect a few days in the 40s next week with a shot at low 50s by Wednesday before the next inevitable cold front arrives next Thursday.
To Be Specific – Pacific. Relatively brief spasms of cold and snow, with longer spells of milder, Pacific-moderated air. That’s been the story in recent months (a dry flow for Minnesota overall) and GFS suggests a (mostly) zonal pattern will linger into Christmas.
Warm Bias Strongest South of Minnesota. The mild signal is forecast to linger into most of December, especially south of Minnesota as a west-to-east, Pacific wind flow aloft continues to dominate. Spasms on snow and cold with longer stretches of temperatures above average.
Winter Climate Ensembles. NOAA’s suite of models suggest a warm bias for much of the USA January into March, which may spill over into Minnesota and Wisconsin (where the warm signal isn’t quite as prevalent). I’d be shocked if we had a frozen February identical to February of 2021.
Signals Of Climate Change Across US: A warmer climate is flavoring all weather now. Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “The Lower 48 states are set to see temperatures far above average for the next two weeks, low snowpack levels in the Mountain West augur poorly for the region already experiencing widespread drought. Even farther west, however, Hawaii is under a state of emergency as a winter storm dumped snow at higher elevations and more than a foot of rain at lower elevations, setting off flash flood warnings. While impacts vary by region, warmer temperatures, more frequent and severe droughts, and more extreme precipitation events are all signals of climate change, which is primarily caused by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels.” (Temperatures: Washington Post $; Snowpack: Washington Post $; Hawaii: NPR, E&E News, CBS, NBC, ABC, Gizmodo; Climate Signals background: Extreme heat and heatwaves, 2020-’21 Western drought, Extreme precipitation increase, Flooding)
Climate Modeling Confirms Historical Records Showing Rise in Hurricane Activity. Here’s an excerpt of a summary at Phys.org: “…However, scientists have questioned whether this upward trend is a reflection of reality, or simply an artifact of lopsided record-keeping. If 19th-century storm trackers had access to 21st-century technology, would they have recorded more storms? This inherent uncertainty has kept scientists from relying on storm records, and the patterns within them, for clues to how climate influences storms. A new MIT study published today in Nature Communications has used climate modeling, rather than storm records, to reconstruct the history of hurricanes and tropical cyclones around the world. The study finds that North Atlantic hurricanes have indeed increased in frequency over the last 150 years, similar to what historical records have shown...”
Volatile Weather May Force Cities to Seek Additional Weather Insights. There is a role for the private sector; here’s a clip from Forbes: “Cities of all sizes work in concert with public and private weather entities to support transportation departments, emergency management agencies, public works, event planners and city leaders as they make strategic decisions for infrastructure maintenance and improvements, as well as critical public safety decisions. But in the wake of an increasing number of extreme weather events, there’s a growing trend of collaboration between city governments and private weather companies for more cooperation regarding public safety. Collectively the weather insights and risk communication before, during and after a weather event helps officials make critical decisions to keep citizens and structures safe, as well as learn from each event to improve on emergency preparedness...”
Renewable Energy is Great – But the Grid Can Slow It Down. WIRED.com (paywall) has sobering perspective; here’s an excerpt: “…Since 1889, when the US got its first long-distance power line (it traversed a whopping 14 miles), the grid largely has been set up for energy that’s consumed relatively close to where it is produced. There are exceptions—like hydropower that reaches cities from far-flung dams—but for the most part, it has been a century of linking coal and gas plants with people living nearby. But now, with wind farms dotting mountain ridges and solar plants sprawling in the desert, distance is more common. The wires aren’t ready for it. Researchers at Princeton University estimate that the country’s high-voltage transmission capacity needs to grow by 60 percent in the next decade to meet its clean energy goals. “The grid that we have wasn’t designed for what we do with it now, let alone what we want to do with it, with all sorts of renewables,” says Seth Blumsack, an economist who studies the grid at Penn State University…”
The Clean Energy Revolution Will Be Weather-Optimized. I wrote this post for AerisWeather (full disclosure: I am a co-founder and investor). Here’s an excerpt: “…Growing concerns about climate change and weather extremes aside, altruism is not the primary driver of these changes. The increase in renewable energy usage is largely tied to falling costs when compared to fossil fuel sources. In addition, many renewable technologies used by farmers for centuries have seen exponential improvements. For example, wind turbines have long been used for irrigation, while solar energy and photosynthesis are paramount to growing crops in fields and greenhouses to feed the world’s growing population. Renewable energy from the sun and wind is variable by nature. We have calm days, cloudy days, and, inevitably, nights. However, energy storage — specifically, increasingly sophisticated batteries — allows excess clean energy to be saved for use on those overcast or stagnant days. Energy storage exists alongside other short- and long-term storage technologies, distributed energy resources (DERs) like Demand Response, microgrids, and utility grid-scale transmission and generation improvements — all working together to ensure the balanced grid of the future...”
Escaping Light Pollution. Whether it’s seeing the Northern Lights, the Milky Way or just trying to find a dark sky to ponder the heavens, DarkSiteFinder is a handy tool for more than astronomers: “If you have never seen a clear, starry sky from a place devoid of light pollution then you don’t know what you’re missing. With the naked eye alone from a dark site you’ll see thousands of stars, meteors, the zodiacal light, airglow, satellites, the milky way, nebulas, and occasionally auroras and comets. Check out the Photography page to get an idea. If you bring a telescope or even binoculars you’ll see more detail than you could ever expect to see from a city. I created this website for those who are interested in finding a dark place to observe the night sky or capture the heavens. In the past finding a dark sky was easy: just drive a few miles outside of town. But with increasing light pollution, even driving 50 miles away from a major city isn’t enough to clearly see the stars…”
6 Ways Christmases Past Used to be Terrible. Remind me not to complain, after reading a post at Mental Floss – here’s an excerpt about “coercive caroling”: “…As detailed in Stephen Nissenbaum’s excellent book The Battle for Christmas (which is the source of much of the demented material in this article), 18th-century Boston was plagued by blackmail, insults, vandalism, and home invasion under the guise of Christmas cheer. The practice of aggressive caroling went by several names—most typically, it was called mumming—but the idea was the same: Inebriated singers and/or actors would show up to your house and refuse to leave until they had been paid off with money or booze. If refused, the carolers would toss rocks, throw fists, or just steal stuff. In 1793, one Massachusetts resident penned a letter to a Boston newspaper pleading for the police to stop this Christmas custom…”
40 F. Twin Cities high on Thursday.
31 F. average high on December 9.
52 F. MSP high on December 9, 2020.
December 10, 1992: By this time there is partial ice cover in the Duluth harbor.
December 10, 1979: A ‘heat wave’ develops across Minnesota. Highs of 54 at Twin Cities and 57 at Winona are recorded.
December 10, 1978: Alexandria ends its fourteen day stretch of low temperatures at or below zero degrees Fahrenheit.
December 10, 1889: A late season thunderstorm is observed at Maple Plain.
FRIDAY: Winter Storm Warning. Snow gets heavier by afternoon. Winds: NE 10-20. High: 30
FRIDAY NIGHT: Snow tapers late, metro totals 4-8” with a few 10-12” amounts possible far southern suburbs. Low: 23
SATURDAY: Partly sunny, improving travel. Winds: W 8-13. High: 31
SUNDAY: Plenty of sun, getting slushy. Winds: SW 10-15. Wake-up: 20. High: 35
MONDAY: Blue sky, a little fog. Winds: S 3-8. Wake-up: 21. High: 38
TUESDAY: Clouds increase, milder breeze. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 26. High: 41
WEDNESDAY: Cloudy and mild. A little drizzle. Winds: S 10-20+. Wake-up: 33. High: 52
THURSDAY: Clearing, gusty and colder. Winds: W 20-40. Wake-up: 29. High: 33
Billions for Climate Protection Fuel New Debate: Who Deserves it Most. The New York Times (paywall) has the story; here’s the intro: “The new infrastructure law signed by President Biden includes almost $50 billion to protect communities against climate change, the largest such investment in United States history and a recognition that the effects of warming are outpacing America’s ability to cope. Mr. Biden has insisted that at least 40 percent of the benefits of federal climate spending will reach underserved places, which tend to be low income, rural, communities of color, or some combination of the three. But historically, it is wealthier, white communities — with both high property values and the resources to apply to competitive programs — that receive the bulk of federal grants. And policy experts say it’s unclear whether, and how quickly, federal bureaucracy can level the playing field…”
Climate Change May Make Hurricanes Hit Sooner and Last Longer. Here’s an excerpt from a research summary at WIRED.com (paywall): “…In a study published in November in the journal Earth’s Future, a team from three universities examined storm tracking data from the past 100 years and used it in a global climate model that takes into account changes in environmental conditions caused by heat-trapping greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane. The researchers focused on the Northeast US, which has the largest population centers living along the coast. “We found that storms are forming a little more north and west in the Atlantic, moving faster toward the Southeast coast and traveling their slowest along the East Coast,” says lead author Andra Garner, an assistant professor of environmental science at Rowan University in New Jersey. “It was a surprising finding.” The study finds that Norfolk, Virginia and Boston will be more at risk from tropical storms by the end of this century, while New York City residents will face slightly less risk…”
Flood Insurance Rates Rise With Risk Levels: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “More than a million American homeowners are set to see higher flood insurance rates as inland flooding becomes more common, the AP reports. The rate hikes are part of a FEMA effort to revamp insurance policies and rates to more accurately reflect increased flood risks, which have strained the National Flood Insurance Program, especially in areas where flood insurance is not required. “We’ve learned that the old way of looking at risk had lots of gaps, which understated a property’s flood risk and communicated a false sense of security,” David Maurstad, a senior NFIP executive, told the AP. Climate change, primarily caused by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels, is increasing flooding risks across the country by increasing the strength of hurricanes and the intensity of rainstorms.” (AP; Climate Signals background: Flooding, Extreme precipitation increase, Hurricanes)
2021’s Weather Disasters Brought Home the Reality of Climate Change. National Geographic has a good summary of the more noteworthy examples of weather disruption: “From punishing heat in North America to record-breaking floods in Europe and Asia, this year’s weather showed us what it looks like to live in a world that has warmed by 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) over the past century. “Dangerous climate change is already here. That’s a harsh reality we need to recognize,” says Michael Wehner, an extreme weather researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Extreme weather is already taking homes, businesses, and lives. Canada’s recent floods may be the most expensive in the country’s history, potentially costing an estimated $7.5 billion. The 18 weather disasters that hit the United States in 2021 together cost more than $100 billion, according to the most recent estimates...”
Climate Change Data Deluge Has Scientists Scrambling for Solutions. It’s all about the data, according to a recent post at The Wall Street Journal (paywall): “A deluge of climate data from a world in flux has scientists scrambling to find ways to store, analyze and preserve vast and unprecedented amounts of information about the effects of rising global temperatures. Earth’s future may depend in part on whether their efforts measure up. For decades, scientists working to predict changes in the climate relied mostly on calculations involving simple laws of physics and chemistry but little data from the real world. But with temperatures world-wide continuing to rise—and with data-collection techniques and technologies continuing to advance—scientists now rely on meticulous measurements of temperatures, ocean currents, soil moisture, air quality, cloud cover and hundreds of other phenomena on Earth and in its atmosphere...”
3 Questions About Climate Change That Need to Disappear in 2022. Dr. Marshall Shepherd has an essay for Forbes.com: “Yes. Yes. Yes. I will even go further. As I recently told reporter, we don’t have to refer to it as a “new normal.” It is the normal. One of my climate communication goals from is to kill the narrative of future tense and climate change impacts. For too long, we have discussed what is going to happen in future years, decades or centuries. Here’s the news flash, y’all. It is here. Attribution studies are improving and continue to affirm that the DNA of climate change is firmly a part of contemporary extreme weather events. Honesty, I am beyond rehashing the list of record-breaking storms or $1 billion dollar climate disasters in a given year. That’s the world we are now living in…”
Inaction On Climate Change Contributing To Youth Mental Health Crisis: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “Climate change is contributing to the ongoing youth mental health crisis, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy warned Tuesday. The pandemic has worsened the crisis, while “progress on legitimate, and distressing, issues like climate change, income inequality, racial injustice, the opioid epidemic and gun violence feels too slow,” he wrote in the report.” (New York Times $, NPR, Axios, LAist)
Climate Change Crisis: Golf Courses on Borrowed Time as Earth’s Weather Patterns Become More Wild. A post at CNN.com caught my eye; here’s an excerpt: “…The president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA), Jason Straka, told CNN Sport how the climate crisis has been affecting golf in flood-threatened Florida, and in Ohio and Utah, which have been hit by warmer-than-usual weather and even drought. “Clubs never used to have to close after two-inch rain, now they do. They also experience sunny day flooding,” said Straka. In Miami, authorities are raising public drains to a minimum of 3.4 feet, but more than 50% of courses in the city are under this minimum, which rings alarm bells for Straka. “If they don’t go out and literally lift their footprint up in the air, they’re going to be in a perpetually deeper and deeper bathtub,” he said. “If they think they have problems now, in 10 years, they’re going to be a swamp.” But change will equate to cost, which is where golf’s critics find their voice once more: courses are just not sustainable anymore...”
Earth is Getting a Black Box to Record Our Climate Actions, and It’s Already Started Listening. ABC News in Australia has details: “…When an aeroplane crashes, it’s left to investigators to sift through the wreckage to recover the black box. It’s hoped the recorded contents can be used to help others avoid the same fate. And so it is with Earth’s Black Box: a 10-metre-by-4-metre-by-3-metre steel monolith that’s about to be built on a remote outcrop on Tasmania’s west coast. Chosen for its geopolitical and geological stability, ahead of other candidates like Malta, Norway and Qatar, the idea is that the Tasmanian site can cradle the black box for the benefit of a future civilisation, should catastrophic climate change cause the downfall of ours. If that sounds unhinged, it’s worth remembering that we’re currently on track for as much as 2.7C of warming this century...”