Plowable Possibilities: Looks Like December!

It’s Minnesota. It’s December. Let it snow.

In fact, the weather system impacting Minnesota into Sunday morning may be The Perfect Storm: coming on a weekend, with fewer people commuting, enough snow to get winter lovers amped, but not a pile that paralyzes us into wintry submission.

Consumers are already overloaded with information, and the 7-Day is hard to remember as it is. But in truth, meteorologists should issue a “Confidence Level” on a day like today. Are weather models in general agreement? If so, confidence levels may increase.

All caveats and disclaimers aside, my confidence level is moderate to high that the MSP metro WILL pick up a few slushy inches of snow from this afternoon into Sunday morning. More south, less north of MSP. I suspect most of us will fall into a 2-5 inch range by midday Sunday.

Far southern Minnesota, closer to I-90, could pick up 4 to 8 inches of free flakes. Winds will gust to 25 mph, creating some blowing and drifting. Take it easy out there later today.

Next week looks dry; highs in the 20s ensuring that all this new snow sticks around for a while. Imagine that.

File photo: MnDOT.

3 KM NAM-WRF Model Forecast. NOAA’s high-resolution NAM guidance prints out 2-6″ across the metro, with a sharp gradient from north to south across the Twin Cities. Some northern suburbs may only see an inch or two, with as much as 6″ predicted for southern suburbs and some 10″+ amounts for far southern counties. Map: WeatherBell.

Model Spread. There is (some) model consensus in the 3-5″ range for MSP, with a few late runs predicting as much as 6-7″. I wouldn’t entirely rule out that upper-end scenario, but I’ve discovered (the hard way) that it pays to be a little more conservative when predicting snow. Try to ignore the outliers, as hard as that can be.

Icy Mix Saturday Morning Far Southern Minnesota. The temperature profile aloft may support a period of sleet (ice pellets) or even freezing rain before a changeover to all snow.

Blowing and Drifting Potential. Check out the predicted peak wind gusts during the day tomorrow; over 30 mph over far southern Minnesota. Even though this will be a fairly wet snow, with winds that strong we can expect drifting, especially secondary roads south/west of MSP. Maps above: AerisWeather and Praedictix.

Future Radar. Snow is possible by midday in the metro, likely by afternoon and evening, when heavier snow band push into the Twin Cities. Maps: AerisWeather and Praedictix.

Minnesota Snowcover. This map, showing a few inches over far northern Minnesota, may have to be updated shortly.

Some Model Consensus: Moderating Trend by mid-December. NOAA’s GFS model has been fairly consistent hinting at more of a Pacific vs. Arctic flow within 2 weeks, which may mean a streak of 30s. Get out and play in any new snow while you can.

“Wheel-Track Glazing”. On a cold highway surface friction from tires on pavement can melt snow, which can refreeze into glaze ice. Is that what happened Wednesday afternoon and evening?

Deep Climate Thoughts. Here are a few clips from this week’s Minnesota WeatherTalk from Dr. Mark Seeley: “Cold and dry are the words for November. It was the coldest November since 2014 with average monthly temperatures around the state ranging from 5 to 7 degrees F below normal. Approximately two-thirds of the days brought cooler than normal temperatures…A quick assessment of the first 11 months of 2018 in Minnesota shows that mean temperatures around the state are slightly warmer than normal (significantly cooler thought than the last three years). Seventeen of the last 20 years have been warmer than normal. Also the first 11 months of 2018 rank among the wettest 15 in state history. Fourteen of the past 20 years have been wetter than normal in Minnesota…”

2018 Minnesota Weather Recap (thanks to Kenny Blumenfeld and Pete Boulay at the Minnesota DNR for helping me with the biggest weather stories of this year).

Third Warmest Growing Season on Record. Data from the Minnesota DNR and State Climate Office.

Insane Extremes. Going from nearly 16″ of snow in mid-April to 100F air temperature 6 weeks later? I haven’t seen that before.

September 20 Tornado Swarm. 25 tornadoes on the 20th day of September, 2018 makes it the 3rd highest daily tornado count on record in Minnesota.

Another Year of Record Floods. Southern Minnesota was hit hardest with numerous flood events. With 55.55″ of precipitation, Caledonia, Minnesota is closing in on a state record (56.24″ in Waseca during 2016).

Northern Calfornia, Reeling From Camp Fire Devastation, Evacuates From Flash Floods. Talk about crazy extremes; USA TODAY has an update: “As if the devastation from the recent wildfires wasn’t enough, Northern California had another battle brewing with Mother Nature on Thursday: flash flooding. Three weeks after the devastating Camp Fire began, flooding closed part of California Route 99 in Butte County, stranding some motorists and spurring evacuation orders along multiple roads, according to the National Weather Service and the Butte County Sheriff. Rainfall over the burn scar also forced debris flow in and near the burn area. Residents in the Camp Fire burn area should be on alert for life-threatening flooding of creeks, roads and hillsides, the weather service said. Heavy rain may also likely trigger rockslides, mudslides and debris flows in steep terrain…”

This Town Is Like Thousands Vulnerable to Contaminated Water, With No Fix in Sight. A story at caught my eye: “…The EPA told CNN that more than 300 million Americans depend on 50,000 community water systems across the country for safe, reliable water every day. Over 92% of the population supplied by community water systems receives drinking water that meets all health-based standards all of the time. “The United States has world-class drinking water standards for more than 90 contaminants, including microorganisms, disinfectants, disinfection byproducts, inorganic and organic chemicals, and radionuclides-providing Americans safe and healthy water to drink,” the EPA said. But, a 2018 EPA report found that nationwide, nearly one-third of the nation’s public water systems had at least one violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Those systems serve more than 87 million Americans….”

Image credit: NOAA.

Global Food System is Broken, Say World’s Science Academies. A story at The Guardian caught my eye: “The global food system is broken, leaving billions of people either underfed or overweight and driving the planet towards climate catastrophe, according to 130 national academies of science and medicine across the world. Providing a healthy, affordable, and environmentally friendly diet for all people will require a radical transformation of the system, says the report by the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP). This will depend on better farming methods, wealthy nations consuming less meat and countries valuing food which is nutritious rather than cheap. The report, which was peer reviewed and took three years to compile, sets out the scale of the problems as well as evidence-driven solutions…”

File Image credit: Colorado State.

“If Bobbie Talks, I’m Finished”. How Les Moonves Tried to Silence an Accuser. I didn’t realize there was a Minnesota connection; here’s an excerpt from The New York Times: “…Mr. Dauer grew up in Minnesota, in a small town that was home to the company that manufactured Spam. He got a job in Los Angeles selling computer terminals to stockbrokers. But he craved proximity to Hollywood’s celebrities and beautiful women. In 1984, he enrolled in a class to learn how to be a talent manager. Soon he was prowling Hollywood parties for aspiring actresses whose careers he might manage. Mr. Dauer had “nothing but young girls around him,” Mr. McNall recalled…”

Image credit: “Leslie Moonves in 2007.” Credit: Bruce Gilden/Magnum Photos.

Why Aren’t Millenials Spending? They’re Poorer Than Previous Generations, Fed Says. NPR has an eye-opening post; here’s a clip: “…A study published this month by Christopher Kurz, Geng Li and Daniel J. Vine found millennials are less financially well-off than members of earlier generations when they were the same ages, with “lower earnings, fewer assets and less wealth.” Their finances were compared with Generation X, baby boomers, the silent generation and the greatest generation. The researchers examined spending, income, debt, net worth and demographic factors among the generations to determine “it primarily is the differences in average age and then differences in average income that explain a large and important portion of the consumption wedge between millennials and other cohorts…”

Photo credit: “Shoppers walk past a Saks Fifth Avenue outlet store in Miami on Black Friday. Millennials have lower earnings, fewer assets and less wealth, a new Federal Reserve study says. “Lynne Sladky/AP.

Perfectionism Is Causing “Real Suffering” for Young Adults. The Star Tribune reports: “…I would argue that millennials, more than any other generation in American society, are receiving very strong explicit messages around achieving,” said Jessica Rohlfing Pryor, a Family Institute staff psychologist. “There’s an absence of messaging that trying your hardest is still OK.” This January, the American Psychological Association reported that recent generations of college students have reported higher levels of perfectionism than earlier generations. This “irrational desire to achieve along with being overly critical of oneself and others” is taking a toll on young people’s mental health, according to the association’s research, which analyzed data from more than 40,000 American, Canadian and British college students…”

The “Loneliness Epidemic”. A post at Quartz provides some sobering perspective: “One of the great ironies of our age of hyper-connectedness is that loneliness is spreading like a virus. It’s blamed for contributing to the opioid epidemic and rising rates of suicide. Social isolation is similar to physical indicators like obesity in being a risk factor for disease and early death. By some accounts, it plagues young people even more than the elderly. (On a somewhat lighter note, it has also been theorized to explain the trend of watching people eat on YouTube.) As a result, governments from Australia to Denmark to Japan are starting to take loneliness seriously. This year, the UK government announced a government-wide strategy to tackle the issue after naming a minister for loneliness. In the US, the Senate Committee on Aging held a hearing on the subject at the same time in 2017 that a senator launched the social capital project, a multi-year study of the web of social relationships. And the World Health Organization now lists “social support networks” as a determinant of health…”

This Self-Driving Hotel Room Could Revolutionize Travel. The possibilities are endless. CNN Travel explains: “…So when can travelers hope to try out the mobile hotel experience?  It is predicted that in the US, carmakers will be capable of producing fully self-driving vehicles by 2021, but the built infrastructure necessary to deploy them on the public road system will not be in place for at least a decadeLee says that his creation is likely to first hit the roads in East and West coast cities in the US, where the infrastructure will be completed soonest, and points to a cluster of cities including New York, Pittsburgh, Boston and Washington DC which “all fall into the six-to-ten-hour driving range,” as possible candidates for early adoption…”

Image credit: “Autonomous Travel Suite: A hybrid design which combines a hotel room with a self-driving vehicle, the Autonomous Travel Suite (ATS) comes in a range of sizes designed to accommodate solo travelers, couples or families. You can even bring your cat.” Aprilli Design Studio.

Measuring Christmas Creep Through “All I Want For Christmas is You”. Soon they’ll be playing it on the 4th of July. Here’s an excerpt from Quartz: “…Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” is one of the most popular songs of all time. According to the Economist, the song has already netted Carey more than $60 million in royalties. It seems to be only getting bigger. Come holiday times, Carey’s Christmas anthem shoots up the Billboard Hot 100—the American music industry’s standard for ranking the most popular songs in a given week. Since 2012, when Billboard changed their rules to allow older songs to appear on the charts, it has arrived a little sooner each year. In 2018, the song charted earlier than ever, appearing at number 29 on the rankings for Nov. 16–22…”

33 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities.

33 F. average high on November 30.

48 F. high on November 30, 2017.

December 1, 1998: The warmest December day ever in the Twin Cities is recorded, with a high of 68 degrees. St. Cloud rose to 61.

December 1, 1985: Parts of central Minnesota receive up to a foot of snow. Snowfall totals include 12 inches at Waseca and Milaca, 11.3 at Alexandria, and 11 inches at Fairmont and Long Prairie.

SATURDAY: Snow Advisory. Snow arrives, PM blowing and drifting. Winds: NW 15-30. High: 34

SATURDAY NIGHT: Snow continues, very poor travel conditions. Low: 30

SUNDAY: 2-5″ MSP metro before snow tapers to flurries. 6-12″ possible far southern Minnesota. Winds: NE 15-25. High: 31

MONDAY: Peeks of sun, better travel weather. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 18. High: 28

TUESDAY: Mostly cloudy skies. Winds: W 8-13. Wake-up: 11. High: 29

WEDNESDAY: Patchy clouds, a notch “milder”. Winds: SW 8-13. Wake-up: 17. High: 31

THURSDAY: Ragged, a cooler wind kicks in. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 19. High: 26

FRIDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, quite chilly. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 9. High: 22

Climate Stories…

We Broke Down What Climate Change Will Do, Region by Region. Grist interprets the 4th National Climate Assessment: “…What’s in store for the Midwest? Oh hello there, crop diseases and pests! Hold onto your corn husks, because maize yields will be down 5 to 25 percent across the region by midcentury, mostly due to hot temps. And soybean hauls will decline more than 25 percent in the southern Midwest. Beyond wilting crops, extreme heat puts lives at risk. The Midwest may see the biggest increase in temperature-related deaths compared to other regions, putting everyone from farmworkers to city-dwellers at risk. In one particularly bad climate change scenario, late-21st-century Chicago could end up seeing 60 days per year above 100 degrees F — similar to present-day Las Vegas or Phoenix…”

Farmers, Don’t Count on Technology to Protect Agriculture from Climate Change. Will the climate evolve faster than our technological ability to keep up with the changes? Here’s an excerpt from InsideClimate News: “…Of all the U.S. industries threatened by climate change, agriculture—and the broader food system it supports—is especially vulnerable to unchecked global warming, the new National Climate Assessment released by 13 federal agencies warns. Amid the report’s grim projections for agriculture, the authors make an especially notable prediction: Advances in science and technology, like precision irrigation, drought-resistant crops and targeted fertilizer treatments, will only go so far toward helping farmers and ranchers cope with increasingly erratic weather. The effects of climate change on American farms and ranches will likely outpace technological fixes within decades, even with the present pace of agricultural innovation, the report says...”

Photo credit: meteorologist Rob Koch.

Climate Change and Air Pollution Damaging Health and Causing Millions of Premature Deaths. A summary of new research at ScienceDaily caught my eye: “…The 2018 Report of the research coalition The Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change shows that rising temperatures as a result of climate change are already exposing us to an unacceptably high health risk and warns, for the first time, that older people in Europe and the East Mediterranean are particularly vulnerable to extremes of heat, markedly higher than in Africa and SE Asia. The risk in Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean stems from aging populations living in cities, with 42% and 43% of over-65s respectively vulnerable to heat. In Africa, 38% are thought to be vulnerable, while in Asia it is 34%. The report also states that ambient air pollution resulted in several million premature deaths from ambient fine particulate matter globally in 2015, a conclusion from IIASA researchers confirming earlier assessments. Since air pollution and greenhouse gases often share common sources, mitigating climate change constitutes a major opportunity for direct human health benefits…”

File photo: Reuters.

Republicans Waking Up to Climate: Links and headlines courtesy of Climate Nexus: “Nearly 8 in 10 Americans acknowledge climate change is occurring, and an increasing number of Republicans are also getting on board, new polling shows. A poll released Thursday from Monmouth University shows that 64 percent of Republicans think climate change is happening, up from 49 percent three years ago–trends that align with poll results released earlier this year from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, which found a growing number of Republicans are beginning to think climate change is a reality under Trump’s presidency. While 82 percent of Democrats and half of independents polled ranked climate change as a “very serious” problem, only a quarter of Republicans said the same–up from just 18 percent three years ago.” (The Guardian, The Hill, Quartz, Washington Examiner)

A Religious Opening for Stopping Climate Change. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at Religion News Service: “…Climate change denial is a species of faith—the non-evidence of things seen, as the author of Hebrews might have said. The GOP has made it a doctrine, and the party faithful have increasingly embraced it. In the first year of the Trump presidency, the proportion of Republicans who believe that global warming is caused by human activity, and that it has already begun, dropped from 40 percent to one-third. At the same time, the Democrats’ contrary faith in the evidence of things seen has gotten stronger. In the first year of the Trump presidency, the percentage of them who believe that global warming is caused by human activity grew from 87 percent to 89 percent; of those who believe it has already begun, from 73 to 82 percent…”

Photo credit: “Attendees line the streets with signs during the Rise L.A. For Climate, Jobs and Justice Rally in the University Park neighborhood of Los Angeles on Sept. 8, 2018.” RNS photo by Heather Adams.

The Dangerous Belief That Extreme Technology Will Fix Climate Change. Tinkering with the climate – what can possibly go wrong? HuffPost has the story; here’s a clip: “…I think it’s bad news how cheap this is,” Smith told a small group last month in a conference room at Harvard’s Center for the Environment. For that kind of money, Smith argued, it’s possible that any rogue nation, organization or individual could start experimenting with the climate. The impacts of geoengineering on the global scale are unknown, in part because no massive geoengineering project has been undertaken ― apart from human-induced climate change. But models are potentially troubling. Some suggest geoengineering will disrupt rainfall worldwide and damage the earth’s protective ozone layer. A Rutgers University study published in January suggested that suddenly stopping a large geoengineering project, once it has started, could lead to rapid warming, pushing species into extinction and accelerating climate change…”

Graphic credit: Maya Malachowski Bajak. “Geoengineering – large-scale efforts to manipulate the climate to counteract global warming – has yet to be undertaken, but experts say it’s only a matter of time.”

Climate Change: Last 4 Years Are “World’s Hottest”. BBC News has details: “The year 2018 is on course to be the fourth warmest on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization. It says that the global average temperature for the first 10 months of the year was nearly 1C above the levels between 1850-1900. The State of the Climate report says that the 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years, with the 2015-2018 making up the top four. If the trend continues, the WMO says temperatures may rise by 3-5C by 2100. The temperature rise for 2018 of 0.98C comes from five independently maintained global data sets. The WMO says that one of the factors that has slightly cooled 2018 compared to previous years was the La Niña weather phenomenon which is associated with lower than average sea surface temperatures…”

A Carbon Tax Wave? 7 States Considering Carbon Pricing to Fight Climate Change. Policy isn’t coming at a federal level, so states are stepping up. Here’s an excerpt of a story at InsideClimate News: “At least seven state governments are poised at the brink of putting a price on climate-warming carbon emissions within the next year. Some are considering new carbon taxes or fees. Others are making plans to join regional carbon markets. The situation runs counter to the instant analysis of the November election, which focused on a defeat for carbon pricing in Washington state and discounted incremental progress across the board. Overall, the midterm election results increased their odds for success, say activists and analysts who are watching for the next step in a policy realm where proposals have been many but commitments to act have been weak...”

Image credit: Paul Horn, InsideClimate News.

Farmer in Iowa City Notices Similar Changes Outlined in Federal Climate Change Report. Too much water, not enough water – I’m hearing similar stories from Minnesota farmers who are increasingly challenged by wild moisture extremes. Here’s a clip from “…Edwards just wrapped up her growing season at Wild Woods Farms. She started her own organic vegetable farm, just outside of Iowa City, about nine years ago. “I produce 80 acres of vegetables, and this is where I deal with it all before I get it to the customers,” Edwards said. While science has consensus on climate change, politicians obviously do not. But Edwards sees that something is happening, and the evidence was in this year’s onion crop. “I have never had to irrigate onions. This year I had to irrigate onions,” Edwards said. The National Climate Assessment report says dryer summers are in Iowa’s future because of temperature increases tied to the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere…”

How Climate Change is Impacting Health Now: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “Rising temperatures as a result of climate change are already exposing populations around the world to an unacceptably high health risk, new research published in The Lancet medical journal shows. The 2018 report of the Lancet Countdown on health and climate change, produced by 150 experts from 27 global institutions, documents how vulnerability to heat is rising in all regions of the world, with 157 million more vulnerable people subjected to a heatwave last year than in 2000, and 18 million more than in 2016. The dire and wide-ranging report also finds that 153 billion hours of work were lost in 2017 due to extreme heat as a result of climate change, that rising temperatures and unseasonable warmth are responsible for cholera and dengue fever spreading, and that aging populations—especially those living in cities in Europe and the East Mediterranean—are particularly at risk to heat exposure. “These are not things happening in 2050 but are things we are already seeing today,” Countdown executive director Nick Watt told the Guardian.” (New York Times $, The Guardian, USA TodayInsideClimate News, CNNThomson Reuters Foundation, Mother Jones)

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