Around The Corner
You’ll rarely hear the expression “spring is right around the corner!” in Minnesota. It’s less of a corner – more of an isosceles triangle or hexagon. We limp from slush to mud to hope. But it’s almost always two steps forward, one step back.
March 2012 was an aberration, a fluke. Flowers in full bloom, after a freakish run of 60s, 70s & 80s. Almost 14,000 warm USA weather records. Exactly what climate scientists were predicting for Minnesota…in the year 2090.
In 2013 there’s more snow on the ground, a negative phase of the NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) spinning up big storms, keeping mild Pacific winds from sweeping inland. I suspect a late spring this year, which may, ironically, bode well for easing our drought by May.
The same storm that dumped 1-2 FEET of snow on the Texas Panhandle clips Chicago with 6-8″ today, but no storms are brewing for Minnesota thru next week, just a run of low to mid 30s.
Don’t pack away the coats just yet; models are hinting at a numbing front the second week of March.
Higher Sun Angle. We’ve picked up 2 hours and 15 minutes of additional daylight since December 21 in the Twin Cities.
Snowfall By Midnight Thursday. Kansas City is getting smacked (again), as much as 12-15″ in the suburbs. The storm may dump 6-10″ on the Chicago area, as much as 6″ in the Detroit area. As much as 6-12″ of snow may fall from Pennsylvania into interior New England.
Negative Phase Of NAO. The North Atlantic Oscillation has been negative for roughly 1 week, meaning a greater potential for Canadian air to surge south into the USA. Strong positive phases correlate with a strong zonal flow from the Pacific (what we experienced last March when the USA saw record-shattering heat). A negative phase of the NAO correlates with stormier, colder weather, especially east of the Rockies. A negative phase of the NAO is expected to linger into mid-March. No early spring this year, at least not for Minnesota, the Upper Midwest, and most northern cities of the USA.
NAO: Negative Phase. This graphic from NCEP/NCAR shows average temperatures anomalies of a negative phase of the NAO, Canadian air making a straight shot at the USA; more waves (dips and bulges) in the jet stream, capable of pulling polar air south, spinning up major storms in the process.
2012 and 2013: Meteorological Apples and Oranges. Last year at this time snow was on the ground over only 23% of the USA, with a powerful west to east wind flow, zonal winds from the Pacific, which warmed us up into the 70s and 80s in March. Nearly 14,000 heat records in March 2012, a taste of early summer in late winter! Don’t expect a rerun this year. A negative phase of the NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) is keeping mild, Pacific air from sweeping across North America – I expect a parade of cold fronts well into March. But this may be a good thing (in terms of the drought). A more vigorous north-south temperature contrast may set the stage for more vigorous storms, capable of pulling moisture out of the Gulf of Mexico, helping to ease the drought, especially over the Midwest. Details on today’s climate overview: “Meteorological spring starts Friday, March 1st, but for most of the nation it will still look and feel like winter. Have you seen Amarillo, TX today? This is a sharp contrast from a year ago. Meteorologist Paul Douglas looks back at the record busting heatwaves last March and explains why he’s not expecting a repeat this year.”
“Sun Pillar“. From Steve Burns, who writes: “My girlfriend snapped this photo with my camera as we were driving back from Madison last evening. Brilliant sunset with this sun pillar shooting up and lighting up the clouds for quite a while! This was on I-94W near Eau Claire. Photo credit goes to Keeley Kaziukewicz!”
Long Term Climate Change Trends Worry Experts. Here’s a clip from a story at Indiana Public Media: “…Indiana University Professor of Atmospheric Science Sara Pryor is a lead author of the section that looks at how climate change could affect the Midwest, specifically. She says farmers could see future crops hurt by droughts similar to the ones the region saw last summer. “Both corn and soybean yields are decreased if we have warm summers, and if we have dry summers,” she says “So, given that our climate change projections are that the Midwest will become warmer and dryer in the summer, we certainly have expectations that crop yields will decrease.” She says if current trends continue, the growing region for crops will move gradually north. “Because our region is relatively flat, for one degree of warming, a crop has to move; all plants have to move, about 100 kilometers to keep at that same temperature.” However, she says, the farther north in the Midwest you go, the worst the soil quality gets…”
Can NASA Stop Global Warming? I’m skeptical that any technology can stop the warming altogether, although we may be able to launch solutions that slow the rate of warming. Here’s an excerpt from Project-Syndicate: “…Obama should challenge NASA to address one of today’s most important issues, global warming, by developing safe, cost-effective technologies to remove carbon dioxide from the planet’s atmosphere and oceans. This mission could be accomplished in two phases.During the first phase, which could be completed by 2020, researchers would identify roughly 10-20 candidate geo-engineering technologies and test them in small-scale experiments. The second phase would include large-scale test demonstrations to evaluate the most promising technologies by 2025. Developing these technologies is crucial, given that, over the last half-century, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased from roughly 320 parts per million to almost 400 parts per million, heating up the planet and increasing the acidity of the world’s oceans. At this rate, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere will exceed 450 parts per million in roughly 25 years…”
Climate Change Is Cutting Humans’ Work Capacity. Climate Central has the story; here’s an excerpt: “It’s not just the heat, it’s the humidity that gets you. That’s the conclusion of a new study that finds climate change has reduced humanity’s ability to work by making the planet hotter and muggier. That one-two punch has already cut the world’s working capacity by 10 percent since humans began burning large amounts of oil, gas, coal and other fossil fuels at the start of the Industrial Revolution, found the analysis, which was published Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change. Researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predict that dive will continue, reshaping daily life in the most populated areas of the planet as climate change intensifies. By 2050, a combination of rising heat and humidity is likely to cut the world’s labor capacity to 80 percent during summer months — twice the effect observed today…”
Heat Stress From Global Warming Reduces Labor Efficiency: Study. Here’s a clip from Raw Story: “…The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, uses a computer model that simulates warming and a rise in humidity and their impact on strenuous outdoor activity. The most vulnerable regions are the Arabian peninsula, the Indian sub-continent, Southeast Asia, northern Australia and the greater Caribbean region, including the lower Mississippi Valley, according to John Dunne of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory...”
Welcome to the WeatherNation blog. Every day I sift through hundreds of stories, maps, graphics and meteorological web sites, trying to capture some of the most interesting weather nuggets, the stories behind the forecast. I’ll link to stories and share some of the web sites I use. I’m still passionate about the weather, have been ever since Tropical Storm Agnes flooded my home in Lancaster, PA in 1972. I’ve started 5 weather-related companies. “EarthWatch” created the world’s first 3-D weather graphics for TV stations – Steven Spielberg used our software in “Jurassic Park” and “Twister”. My last company, “Digital Cyclone”, personalized weather for cell phones. “My-Cast” was launched in 2001 and is still going strong on iPhone, Android and Blackberry. I sold DCI to Garmin in 2007 so I could focus on my latest venture: WeatherNation. I also write a daily weather column for The Star Tribune startribune.