Weekend Snowfall: Plowable to Crippling

Thanks to my sister’s genuine concern for my well-being here in The Land of 10,000 Winter Storm Warnings, I’m self-medicating with humor from Jeff Foxworthy. “If you have more miles on your snow blower than your car, you may live in Minnesota.” Yep.

And by Sunday I’ll be tempted to rake the roof and shovel off the deck. The weight of all that snow is a force to be reckoned with.

No travel problems today, but we are still on track for a plowable to potentially crippling snowfall tomorrow into Sunday morning; 12 to 15 hours of snow, falling at the rate of 1-2 inches an hour at times PM hours Saturday. Don’t be surprised if you hear thunder-snow at the height of the storm Saturday evening. One saving grace: this magnificent burst of heavy, cement-like slush will come on a weekend. I’d think twice
before venturing out late tomorrow.

Models bring a rain-snow mix into Minnesota the middle of next week. Our thaw may be late and fairly sudden, increasing the potential of major spring river flooding, according to the National Weather Service.

Image credit: Associated Press.

Uh Oh. The record for the most snow on the ground during the merry month of March is 31″ in 1917. Yes, we may come close.

Pick a Model. Any Model. The 12z Thursday European model was predicting about 8-10″ for much of the metro, with over a foot along the Minnesota River Valley. Map: WeatherBell.

3 KM NAM (WRF) Solution. The high-resolution NAM model from NOAA prints out less snow, closerto 5-8″ for the immediate Twin Cities metro. With temperatures in the low 30s this will be a wetter, slushier snowfall with a rain/snow ration closer to 8/1. Map: pivotalweather.com.

12KM NAM Solution. This is a more recent 00z run, only printing out 6-8″ for most ofthe metro with a little more over parts of central and western Minnesota. Pass the bottle of Tylenol Migraine, please.

GFS Model. NOAA’s Global Forecast System model displays about 8″ of snow by Sunday morning, in line with a majority of other model solutions from NOAA.

GFS-FV3. The rather controversial upgrade to the GFS shows a bullseye of 12-16″ over southwestern Minnesota, about 10″ for the immediate metro area – something of an outlier, compared with other, more reserved solutions. Now you know why meteorologists tend to hang out at the nearest isobar.

Minnesota Dairy Farmers Dump Milk Because of Snow Buildup. A story at AgWeb.com caught my eye; here’s an excerpt: “…Some Minnesota dairy farmers are being forced to dump their milk after heavy snowfall obstructed roads and damaged farms. The Twin Cities saw the snowiest February on record with 39 inches of snow, and more than 27 inches fell in St. Cloud. The buildup of snowfall in the Upper Midwest last month is causing some farm structures to buckle, adding to the problems dairies already face after years of low milk prices. “There are tons and tons of dairies around the state that had to dump milk in recent days,” said Lucas Sjostrom, executive director of the Minnesota Milk Producers Association. “I know it’s in the hundreds. It may be over 1,000 dairies.” Accumulated snow is preventing many tanker trucks from getting down rural roads to pick up milk, Sjostrom said. Snow has also caved in the roofs of at least 20 dairy barns in Minnesota, in some cases killing and injuring cattle, he said...”

U.S. Just Sloshed Through the Wettest Winter on Record. No kidding. AP has details: “Federal meteorologists say this winter was America’s wettest on record. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that from December to February, what it calls winter, the Lower 48 states got 9.01 inches of rain and snow, which is 2.22 inches more than the 20th century normal. It surpassed the 1997-1998 winter by 0.02 inches. Record or almost record rain and snow fell in the West, Tennessee Valley and parts of the Great Lakes. Last month was the second wettest February on record...”

File photo credit: “In this Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019 file photo, a man uses a paddle board to make his way through the flooded Barlow Market District in Sebastopol, Calif. On Wednesday, March 6, 2019, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that from December 2018 to February 2019 the Lower 48 states got 9.01 inches (22.89 centimeters) of rain and snow, which is 2.22 inches more than the 20th century normal.” (AP Photo/Eric Risberg).

“Above Normal” Risk of Spring River Flooding. Those words courtesy of NOAA’s North Central River Forecast Center. More details: “There continues to be an above to much above normal chance of widespread flooding in the Upper Mississippi River basin including its headwater tributaries. Overall, the chance of flood risk throughout the remainder of the basins within the NCRFC area is normal to above normal. Above normal precipitation and below normal temperatures have continued since our initial Spring Flood Outlook. Precipitation in February was 200 to 400 percent of normal with northcentral Wisconsin over 400 percent of normal. Soil moisture ranking from the Climate Prediction Center continues to show mostly above normal conditions across the NCRFC area. These very wet soil conditions have continued to produce normal to above normal streamflows across much of the region this early spring. As we have continued to receive above normal precipitation throughout late winter and early spring, the U.S. Drought Monitor continues to show no drought conditions in our region. Deep frost continues throughout the area as a result of the continuation of well below normal cold temperatures. With above normal snowfall in February and the beginning of March, combined with the forecast of continued cold temperatures and additional precipitation, at least in the next couple weeks, the elevated flood risk trend continues. Again, depending on Spring precipitation and temperatures in the coming months, we may see a rapid melt of the snowpack, leading to widespread flooding…”

Map above courtesy of NOAA.

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Thursday, March 7th, 2019:

  • As a new storm system gets ready to move out into the central United States, a band of heavy snow is expected with it from the Northern Plains into the upper Midwest from late Friday into the weekend.
  • A band of at least 6”+ of snow is possible from eastern Montana into western Wisconsin by Sunday morning, and some areas (especially across southern Minnesota) could see over a foot of snow due to 1-2” per hour snowfall rates.
  • Strong winds will also be possible with this system, which will lead to blowing and drifting snow as well as low visibilities. The snow and wind will make travel difficult across the region.
  • Due to the snow threat, places like Bismarck, Pierre, Fargo, and the Twin Cities are under Winter Storm Watches.

Weekend Snowstorm. As an area of low pressure moves into the central United States this weekend, snow is expected to spread across the Northern Plains Friday Night and into the upper Midwest Saturday. This is expected to be the next snowstorm to impact the region, with snowfall totals of 6”+ from Montana into the western Great Lakes.

Winter Storm Watches. Ahead of this next snowstorm, Winter Storm Watches have been posted from Montana and Wyoming into Wisconsin, including the following locations:

  • Sheridan, WY: From Friday afternoon to Saturday evening for 6-10” of snow.
  • Bismarck, ND: From Friday night to Saturday morning for 5-10” of snow and wind gusts as high as 35 mph.
  • Fargo, ND: From Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon for 6”+ of snow and wind gusts as high as 45 mph.
  • Pierre, SD: From late Friday night to Sunday morning for 7-10” of snow and wind gusts as high as 45 mph.
  • Sioux Falls, SD: From Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon for 6”+ of snow, a light glaze of ice, and wind gusts as high as 40 mph.
  • Minneapolis, MN: From Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon for 8-13” of snow and wind gusts as high as 35 mph.
  • Duluth, MN: From Saturday afternoon through Sunday afternoon for 6-9” of snow.

Timing The Snow. Snow associated with this system will start across parts of Montana, Wyoming, and the western Dakotas Friday evening into the overnight hours, spreading eastward to the Sioux Falls by the morning hours. This snow will continue to spread northeast Saturday, reaching the Twin Cities by the midday hours. During the height of the snow in locations, snowfall rates of 1-2” per hour will be possible, which road crews will have difficulty keeping up with. This means that travel conditions are likely to become difficult quickly as this snow falls. Snow will start to taper off across the upper Midwest into Sunday as the area of low pressure continues to move northeast. By late Saturday, winds will also be picking up across the region, leading to low visibility due to blowing and drifting snow.

Potential Snow Totals. A band of at least 6-12” of snow is expected to fall through Sunday morning from southwestern Montana across parts of the Dakotas into central and southern Minnesota as well as western Wisconsin. Right now the heaviest snow looks to fall across parts of Minnesota, where some 12”+ are possible.

Saturday Wind Gusts. Strong wind gusts are expected along with and behind the snow across the upper Midwest as well, with wind gusts above 40 mph possible in parts of the Dakotas into western Minnesota. This wind would be able to cause blowing and drifting snow across the region.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix

Warming Trend by Late March. With a much higher sun angle it HAS to start warming up – and it will by late March with consistent 30s and 40s. With any luck we won’t jump into the 50s with (heavy) rain anytime soon, which would pretty much seal our fate with serious river flooding in April.

Jet Stream Trivia. Quartz has a few terrific nuggets about the jet stream (how it was “discovered”, etc) I was not aware of – worth a read. Here’s an excerpt:

1883: The massive eruption of Krakatoa sends high-altitude dust clouds swirling around the Earth. Astute weather-watchers note that an “equatorial smoke stream” seems to circulate debris around the globe.

1925: Japanese meteorologist Wasaburo Ooishi completes 1,228 observations of weather balloons moving through the jet stream, but no one notices because he publishes his results in the little-spoken artificial language of Esperanto. (He was also president of the Japanese Esperanto Institute.)

1934: American test pilot Willie Post sets an unofficial altitude record flying at 50,000 feet, stumbling upon the jet stream in the process.

1939: German meteorologist Heinrich Seilkopf coins the term “Strahlströmung” (literally “jet streaming”) to describe the phenomenon.

1944: American meteorologists realize the jet stream exists after headwinds frustrate bombers on their way to Japan.

Graphic credit above: NASA.

A Privacy-Focused Vision For Social Networking. Here’s an excerpt of a long post from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg: “…But now, with all the ways people also want to interact privately, there’s also an opportunity to build a simpler platform that’s focused on privacy first. I understand that many people don’t think Facebook can or would even want to build this kind of privacy-focused platform — because frankly we don’t currently have a strong reputation for building privacy protective services, and we’ve historically focused on tools for more open sharing. But we’ve repeatedly shown that we can evolve to build the services that people really want, including in private messaging and stories. I believe the future of communication will increasingly shift to private, encrypted services where people can be confident what they say to each other stays secure and their messages and content won’t stick around forever. This is the future I hope we will help bring about…”

Give This Pilot a Raise! CNN Travel has the story: “Stranded for hours on a snowy tarmac, passengers on an Air Canada flight were beginning to feel the stress, but their pilot knew the answer: 23 pizzas delivered to the airplane’s door. Air Canada Flight 608 left Toronto bound for Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Monday night, but bad weather forced the aircraft to be diverted to Fredericton, New Brunswick. After several hours stuck in the plane, the pilot decided to order food.  Jofee Larivée, the manager at Minglers Restaurant and Pub in Oromocto, received the pilot’s call and took down his order for 23 pizzas topped with cheese and pepperoni. “We told him we could have them made in an hour or hour and a half,” Larivée said.  She said they have never delivered pizza to an airplane, and they were “laughing all night” about the unusual order…”

18″ snow on the ground in the Twin Cities.

21 F. high yesterday at MSP.

37 F. average high on March 7.

29 F. high on March 7, 2018.

March 8, 2004: A vigorous Alberta Clipper brings an intense snow burst across the Twin Cities from 9:30 am to noon. 2.5 inches fell, with most of it accumulating in an hour at the State Climatology Office on the University of Minnesota St. Paul Campus. Numerous crashes were reported across the metro area with I-94 closed at Highway 280 and also at White Bear Avenue. In a rare scene, television programming was interrupted to report on the snow situation. By early afternoon most of the snow had moved into Wisconsin and road conditions rapidly improved.

March 8, 1892: A blizzard hits Minnesota, with 70 mph winds recorded at Easton. Duluth was hit especially hard with 60 mph winds causing large drifts. Residents were able to walk out of their second story windows.

FRIDAY: Cloudy, travel still OK. Winds: SE 5-10. High: 31

SATURDAY: Winter Storm Watch. Heavy wet snow. Treacherous PM travel. Winds: E 15-30. Wake-up: 27. High: 33

SUNDAY: 6-10″ or more. Snow tapers to flurries. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 29. High: 33

MONDAY: Partly sunny, digging out. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 14. High: 30

TUESDAY: Potential for a light mix. Winds: SE 10-20. Wake-up: 18. High: 33

WEDNESDAY: Heavier rain, ice and snow. Winds: E 10-20. Wake-up: 30. High: 37

THURSDAY: Changeover back to snow. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 32. High: 35

Climate Stories….

How Climate Change is Fueling Extremism. A post at CNN.com caught my eye: “Climate change is already triggering devastating weather events across the planet, including prolonged droughts, flash floods and wildfires. Parts of Africa and the Middle East are experiencing erratic harvests, heavy storms and the worst drought in the past 900 years. Experts say that people here who are struggling to provide for their families are vulnerable to the influence of extremist recruits who offer them work and food…The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is the world’s most water scarce region. MENA is home to six percent of the world’s population, but only one percent of the world’s freshwater resources, according to the World Bank. 17 countries in the region fall below the water poverty line set by the United Nations, and some experts believe that drought played a part in sparking Syria’s civil war…”Photo credit: “An Iraqi boy walks through a dried up irrigation dyke in the village of Sayyed Dakhil, some 300 kilometres (180 miles) south of Baghdad, on March 20, 2018. Drought is threatening agriculture and livelihoods in the area.”

Markets Aren’t Buying Denial on Climate Change. Bloomberg explains: “…This agreement between markets and models is important, because it means that investors either believe what the models say, or rely on other data to draw the same conclusion. By refusing to bet that recent warm years were an anomaly that will revert to the mean, market participants are basically ignoring conservative claims that climate scientists have misled the public to exaggerate the threat of warming. When forced to bet, investors bet on warming. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that markets believe that the impact of climate change will be as severe as many predict…”

School Lessens Targeted by Climate Change Doubters. Here’s the intro to a story from The Associated Press: “A Connecticut lawmaker wants to strike climate change from state science standards. A Virginia legislator worries teachers are indoctrinating students with their personal views on global warming. And an Oklahoma state senator wants educators to be able to introduce alternative viewpoints without fear of losing their jobs.As climate change becomes a hotter topic in American classrooms, politicians around the country are pushing back against the near-universal scientific consensus that global warming is real, dire and man-made. Of the more than a dozen such measures proposed so far this year, some already have failed…”

File image credit: “In this June, 3, 2017, file photo, the sun sets behind Georgia Power’s coal-fired Plant Scherer, one of the nation’s top carbon dioxide emitters, in Juliette, Ga. As climate change becomes a hotter topic in American classrooms in 2019, some politicians are pushing back against the scientific consensus that global warming is real and man-made.” (AP Photo/Branden Camp, File)

Senate Showdown Over Green New Deal: Links and headlines courtesy of Climate Nexus: “Senate Democrats sparred with Republicans on the floor Wednesday over the Green New Deal, interrogating GOP lawmakers bashing the proposal over their plans to combat climate change. “Maybe a lot of members think they can get away without having to answer the question [about what to do about climate change],” Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told collected lawmakers. “They won’t.” Majority Leader McConnell said earlier this week that he plans to bring a vote on the Green New Deal over the next few weeks, and some leading Democrats told Politico that they plan to vote “present” on the politically tricky legislation while taking Republicans to task on their climate denial. “This is the first time Democrats have decided to go on offense on climate change,” Schumer told the New York Times in an interview earlier this week, but added that “it’s going to take us a little while to come up with a consensus that works.” (Politico, ABC, BloombergNew York Times $. Commentary: NYT The Daily, Vox, Dave Roberts column).

Graphic: Greentech Media.

Who Would Have Guessed That a Global Existential Crisis Bothers Prospective Parents. Intelligencer has the post: “Many young adults think prospective parents should consider the effects of climate change as they decide whether or not to have children, Business Insider reported on Tuesday. Thirty-eight percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 said climate change “should be a factor in a couple’s decision about whether to have children.” Overall, 30 percent of Americans said that they “either strongly agree, agree, or somewhat agree” that climate change should be a consideration for couples. The news site commissioned the poll after Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, said on her popular Instagram account that young adults “have a legitimate question: Is it OK to still have children?” because of climate change…”

Far-Right Climate Denial is Scary. Far-Right Climate Acceptance Might Be Scarier. Here’s a clip from a story at Intelligencer: “After all, if you accept the climate science, then this migration problem is only going to get worse — which means that only unsentimental nationalists can be trusted to protect our people from the huddled masses to come. Beyond the issue of immigration, there is a significant amount of political science research positing a correlation between material abundance and liberal pluralism. Such research suggests that in circumstances of scarcity, people might naturally gravitate toward more conformist and authoritarian attitudes and social structures. A nasty, brutish, and hot world — routinely upended by massive storms and agricultural failures — may be one in which mass publics are less tolerant of social difference, and more eager to submit to a political leviathan...”

Ex-Official: Don’t Let National Security Conform to Politics’: Headlines and links via Climate Nexus: “Second-guessing” established climate science will “erode national security,” nearly 60 former military and national security officials said in a letter to President Trump Tuesday. The letter’s signers, who include former Obama administration secretary of defense Chuck Hagel and former secretary of state John Kerry, are responding to recent reports that the administration is planning to form a denier-stocked panel under the National Security Council to question federal climate science. “Imposing a political test on reports issued by the science agencies, and forcing a blind spot onto the national security assessments that depend on them, will erode our national security,” the letter states. “It is dangerous to have national security analysis conform to politics.” (Washington Post $, NPRThe Verge, Boston Globe $)

File image: AP.

Is Climate Change Making Tornadoes Worse? There’s no hard evidence of that, at least not yet, but traditional Tornado Alley appears to be shifting. PBS News Hour explains: “…While this weekend’s storms took the Southeast by surprise, the events fit into a growing trend for a region meteorologists now call Dixie Alley. Since the turn of the millennium, the Dixie Alley has witnessed an ever-increasing onslaught of tornadoes.  “Whether this is climate change or not, what all the studies have shown is that this particular part of the U.S. has been having more tornado activity and more tornado outbreaks than it has had in decades before,” said Mike Tippett, a Columbia University applied mathematician who studies the climate. Tippett is among a group of scientists trying to dissect why the South has become a hotbed for tornadoes and severe thunderstorms…”