22" in 9 Days - Already 4th Snowiest February On Record - Old Man Winter Takes a Breath

 startribune.com  02/13/2019 05:30:17 

Most Snow On The Ground in Nearly 5 Years

Don't like the weather? No problem. Wait a moment - it'll change. Less than 2 weeks ago I told you that winter snowfall was half of normal in the Twin Cities. It was a snow drought, with brown lawns and disappointed kids. Commuters were ebullient, snow lovers not so much.

Polar air retreated north, setting up a perfect mix of southern moisture and northern chill. The result has been a parade of snow events: 21.6 inches over thelast 9 days in the metro area. 4th snowiest February on record. Snowiest February since 1967. Another 5 inches of snow this month and we break the all-time record. At this point let's go for records. Boasting rights.

Peg from Stillwater sent me a message during my WCCO Radio show. "Paul, we need this moisture. Gardens and fields will be in better shape come spring when all this snow melts." But will it (melt?) Some days I wonder.

No more snowy dumpings in sight, just a colder pop by Friday and highs in the teens and 20s into next week.

14 inches of snow on the ground at MSP? That's the most since March 10, 2014. Wow.

Praedictix Briefing: Issued Tuesday, February 12th, 2019:

  • A winter storm is impacting areas from Minnesota into the Northeast this morning, bringing a wide area of snow and ice along with it. Some areas have already received over a half a foot of snow in the upper Midwest, and the Chicagoland region has received up to a half an inch of ice.
  • Wintry weather will continue to work north and east into the middle of the week, with some areas of the Great Lakes into New England seeing at least 6-12” of snow. Mainly south of that heavy snow area will see the potential of freezing rain, with up to a quarter inch of ice in spots.
  • We will also be tracking heavy rain across southern California during the second half of the week. The potential will exist for flash flooding, especially on Thursday, across the region and in burn scar areas.

Tuesday Morning Radar. Snow and ice is falling this morning from Minnesota across the Great Lakes region into parts of the Northeast, with precipitation approaching the New York City area. The top snow totals so far have come out of the upper Midwest where 10" of snow has fallen in Lansing (IA), with 9" near Two Harbors (MN) and 8.2" near Silver Bay (MN). In addition, 2-5" of snow has been reported across the Twin Cities area, with 5-7" around Milwaukee.

Chicagoland Ice Totals. Ice accumulation of up to a half an inch has been reported across the Chicagoland region this morning, including 0.44” of ice at O’Hare airport and 0.46” at Midway airport. A quarter inch of ice was reported in Peotone, with 0.44” in Burbank. You can find the latest Illinois road conditions at: https://www.gettingaroundillinois.com/winterconditions/. The snow and ice across the region has led to some power outages, with ~29,400 without power in Indiana, ~13,500 in Michigan, ~12,700 in Ohio, and ~12,100 in Illinois (data courtesy of poweroutage.us.)

Wintry Weather Spreads Into The Northeast. Wintry weather – including snow and ice – will continue to spread into the Northeast throughout the day, lasting into Wednesday across parts of New England. In the Boston area, precipitation is expected to begin around 2 PM today.

Active Weather Alerts. With this system there are numerous alerts in place, including Ice Storm Warnings, Winter Storm Warnings, and Winter Weather Advisories. Some of the cities under alerts include:

  • Minneapolis, MN: Winter Weather Advisory through 6 PM for additional snow accumulations of 2-4”, with overall totals of 4-6”. Wind gusts as high as 35 mph this afternoon.
  • Des Moines, IA: Winter Storm Warning through 9 PM. Light snow ends early today with up to an additional inch of accumulation. Blowing snow expected late in the morning into the evening hours, with wind gusts up to 40 mph.
  • Chicago, IL: Ice Storm Warning through 9 AM for up to a half an inch of ice as freezing rain will taper off this morning. A Wind Advisory is also in place from 2 PM today to 3 AM Wednesday for wind gusts of 45-50 mph, which could result in downed tree limbs and power lines due to added stress from the accumulated ice.
  • Madison and Milwaukee, WI: Winter Storm Warning until Midnight tonight for an additional 2-5” of snow and a glaze of ice. Storm total snow of 4-7” expected. Wind gusts as high as 35 mph.
  • Marquette, MI: Winter Storm Warning from 9 AM today to 7 AM Wednesday for 7-11” of snow.
  • Traverse City, MI: Winter Storm Warning until 9 AM Wednesday for 6-9” of snow.
  • Detroit, MI: Winter Weather Advisory through 3 PM Wednesday for 2-4” of snow and up to two-tenths of an inch of ice.
  • Roanoke, VA: Winter Weather Advisory through 10 AM for additional ice accumulations of less than a tenth of an inch.
  • Philadelphia, PA: Winter Weather Advisory through 6 PM for an additional 1-3” of snow and ice up to a tenth of an inch.
  • Scranton, PA: Winter Storm Warning through 7 AM Wednesday for 3-7” of snow and ice up to a tenth of an inch.
  • Buffalo, NY: Winter Weather Advisory through 10 PM for 2-4” of snow and ice up to a tenth of an inch.
  • Albany, NY: Winter Storm Warning from 10 AM today to Noon Wednesday for 5-11” of snow and ice up to a quarter of an inch.
  • New York City: Winter Weather Advisory through Midnight tonight for 2-4” of snow and ice accumulations mainly under a tenth of an inch.
  • Boston, MA: Winter Weather Advisory from 1 PM today to 1 AM Wednesday for 3-5” of snow and sleet with ice up to a tenth of an inch.
  • Portland, ME: Winter Storm Warning from 7 PM tonight to 10 AM Wednesday for 6-10” of snow and a light glaze of ice.
  • Caribou, ME: Winter Storm Warning from 1 AM Wednesday to 1 AM Thursday for 10-14” of snow.

Additional North Central Snow/Ice. The heaviest additional snow in the upper Midwest and Great Lakes will fall across parts of Wisconsin into northern Michigan and the upper peninsula of Michigan, where snow totals could top a half a foot. In parts of central/north-central Wisconsin and the U.P. snow totals of over a foot are possible. While freezing rain will be ending this morning in the Chicago region, potentially heavy ice accumulation will continue across parts of northern Indiana and Ohio as well as southern Michigan, where totals between a quarter and a third of an inch are possible. Snow and ice across this region will cause travel issues throughout the day and into Wednesday in some spots, and the heavy ice could cause power outages.

Expected Northeast Snow/Ice. The heaviest snow will fall across parts of northern New England and upstate New York, where snow totals could top a foot. However, snow of at least 6” will be possible as far south as northeastern Pennsylvania to northern and western Massachusetts. Meanwhile, south of the heavy snow area is likely to be an expansive area of freezing rain, which could total up to a quarter inch in spots. This snow and ice is likely to lead to travel issues in the region through Wednesday.

Heavy Southern California Rain. As we head into the second half of the week, heavy rain will be possible across parts of southern California. The potential exists for at least 1-2" of rain starting Wednesday and lasting through Thursday in Los Angeles, with some of the heaviest rain expected Thursday. In parts of southern California, rainfall totals of at least 2-3" will be possible in higher terrain areas on Thursday alone, which will bring a flood threat along with it - especially across burn scar areas. Due to this threat a Moderate Risk of excessive rain leading to flash flooding is in place across southern California Thursday (see the graphic below).

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, Praedictix

Hurricane Sandy, Explained. A post at National Geographic includes a few new nuggets of information; here's a snippet: "...Though the storm itself wasn't as strong as other infamous hurricanes, a combination of weather factors and the fact that much of the region was unprepared for it contributed to high levels of damage. Sandy is considered the fourth most expensive storm in U.S. history, and more than 600,000 housing units were destroyed in New Jersey and New York. The government of New York City estimates that $19 billion in damage was inflicted on the city alone. Five years after Sandy, more than a thousand New Jersey residents reported still being unable to return home. A report published by the city of New York outlines where the region was vulnerable to a storm the size of Sandy..."

Germany to Close All 84 Coal-Fired Power Plants, Will Rely Primarily on Renewable Energy. The L.A. Times reports: "Germany, one of the world’s biggest consumers of coal, will shut down all 84 of its coal-fired power plants over the next 19 years to meet its international commitments in the fight against climate change, a government commission said Saturday. The announcement marked a significant shift for Europe’s largest country — a nation that had long been a leader on cutting CO2 emissions before turning into a laggard in recent years and badly missing its reduction targets. Coal plants account for 40% of Germany’s electricity, itself a reduction from recent years when coal dominated power production..."

Photo credit: "In this Jan.6, 2019, file photo water vapor rises from the cooling towers of the Joenschwalde lignite-fired power plant of Lausitz Energie Bergbau AG in Brandenburg, Germany." (Patrick Pleul / AP).

Massive Insect Decline Could Have "Catastrophic" Consequences, Study Warns. CNN.com has the details: "...Insect populations are declining precipitously worldwide due to pesticide use and other factors, with a potentially "catastrophic" effect on the planet, a study has warned. More than 40% of insect species could become extinct in the next few decades, according to the "Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers" report, published in the journal Biological Conservation. Insect biomass is declining by a staggering 2.5% a year, a rate that indicates widespread extinctions within a century, the report found. In addition to the 40% at risk of dying out, a third of species are endangered -- numbers that could cause the collapse of the planet's ecosystems with a devastating impact on life on Earth..."

Graphic: Yale E360.

Stop Killing Bugs In Your House--Now: Headlines and links courtesy of Climate Nexus: "An overwhelming number of insect populations worldwide are declining at a rapid rate and 40 percent of species are at risk for extinction within the century, new research shows. A literature review published this week in the journal Biological Conservation finds that the pace of insect extinction is around eight times higher than vertebrate extinction due to factors including climate change, habitat loss, and pesticide use. The study concludes the world is "witnessing the largest [insect] extinction event on Earth since the late Permian and Cretaceous periods"--two of the largest mass extinction periods in the planet's history." (BBC, Vox, Motherboard, Huffington Post, CNN. Commentary: The Guardian editorial, The Guardian, Molly Scott Cato op-ed)

18 Million Trees Died in California in 2018. Between drought, beetle infestations and wildfires it was not a good year for the Golden State's forests. CNN.com explains: "A total of 18 million trees died in California last year, the US Department of Agriculture said Monday. "Years of drought and a bark beetle epidemic have caused one of the largest tree die-offs in state history," said Wade Crowfoot, California Natural Resources secretary. California's drought began in 2010 and bark beetles are insects that reproduce under the bark of trees, the USDA said in a news release. Despite the large number, the rate of tree mortality actually slowed in 2018, according to Thom Porter, director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection..."

Bob Costas, Unplugged. From NBC and Broadcast Icon to Dropped from the Super Bowl. If you haven't read this story at ESPN's Outside the Lines, it's time well spent. Here's an excerpt: "...More and more is being learned about the now-undeniable link between concussions especially repeat concussions -- and subsequent problems with dementia, depression, early onset Alzheimer's, an entire array of serious medical problems stemming from an injury that is more common in football than in most other sports." "Here's the truth," Costas said. "America's most popular sport is a fundamentally dangerous game where the risk of catastrophic injury is not incidental, it is significant." It was a decisive moment in the history of football in America. Here was the preeminent voice of televised sports, looking straight into the camera, telling millions of fans who tuned in that he, they -- all of us -- were essentially complicit in the human destruction caused by a gladiator sport..."

Photo credit: "Costas attended a 2015 screening of "Concussion" and was moved by the film's portrayal of Dr. Bennet Omalu, the neuropathologist who first posited that former NFL players had died with a brain disease caused by football." Andrew Toth/FilmMagic

The Fundamental Problem with Silicon Valley's Favorite Growth Strategy. A story at Quartz caught my eye; here's an excerpt: "...Blitzscaling promises to teach techniques that are “the lightning fast path to building massively valuable companies.” Hoffman and Yeh argue that in today’s world, it’s essential to “achieve massive scale at incredible speed” in order to seize the ground before competitors do. By their definition, blitzscaling (derived from the blitzkrieg or “lightning war” strategy of Nazi general Heinz Guderian) “prioritizes speed over efficiency,” and risks “potentially disastrous defeat in order to maximize speed and surprise.” Many of these businesses depend on network effects, which means that the company that gets to scale first is likely to stay on top..."

Image credit: "Explosive growth can bring disastrous consequences." REUTERS/Pierre Ducharme.

Having Sex Makes You Better At Your Job. I love science. Thank you Popular Science: "This might shock you, but research shows that having sex generally improves your mood through the next day. And when you feel happier, you tend to be more productive at work and thus more successful. Now there's even more evidence that funny business can be good for business: Researchers asked 159 married people to take twice-daily surveys about their moods for two weeks and published their findings in the Journal of Management. They found that the positive boost from sexy times lasted about 24 hours, and resulted in employees reporting more satisfaction and engagement at work. The effect even lasted after controlling for overall marital satisfaction, so it wasn’t just that happy married couples were likely to have more sex and, being blissfully wed and all, just happened to also do better at work. And men and women saw the same effect..."

Polar Bear Invasion. CNN.com has the story: "Parents in a remote Russian archipelago are scared to send their children to school after a "mass invasion" of polar bears into residential areas, state news agency TASS reported. Novaya Zemlya, located off Russia's northeastern arctic coast, has been swarmed by dozens of polar bears since December. The region's largest settlement, Belushya Guba, with a population of about 2,500 people, has reported more than 50 sightings. Local administrator Alexander Minayev said bears had attacked people and entered buildings. A state of emergency was announced on Saturday, with up to 10 polar bears reportedly on the settlement's territory at any given time..."

Astronomer Warns Against SETI. “Maybe They Will Come and Eat Us.” Remember the Twilight Zone episode "To Serve Man"? Oh boy, at least one astronomer believes beaming signals into space looking for a friendly ET may be a bad move. Here's an excerpt from Futurism: "For decades, scientists have used radio telescopes to listen for cosmic signals that could originate with an extraterrestrial civilization. Increasingly, they’re also broadcasting messages to the stars in hopes that someone is listening. But in a new interview with The Times, University of St. Andrews astronomer Martin Dominik cautioned against sending messages into the unknown of deep space. “Maybe,” he told the paper, provocatively, “they will come and eat us...”

5.5" snow fell at MSP International Airport on Tuesday, a new daily record.

14" snow on the ground (most in nearly 5 years at MSP).

39.7" snowfall so far this winter in the Twin Cities.

37.2" average snowfall, to date, at MSP.

24 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities.

28 F. average high on February 12.

13 F. high on February 12, 2018.

February 13, 1872: A snowstorm buries Sibley County with 12 foot drifts. Many people perished in the storm.

February 13, 1866: What may be Minnesota's 'Greatest Blizzard.' It lasted for three days and buried barns in drifts. Luckily, it began at night when many people were at home.

February 13, 1838: In the days before Tower…at 2:00 am the mercury thermometer at Ft. Snelling freezes at 40 below. The actual temperature is unknown.

WEDNESDAY: Patchy clouds, quiet. Winds: S 5-10. High: 21 THURSDAY: Windy with a few flurries. Winds: NW 15-25. Wake-up: 14. High: 24 FRIDAY: Plenty of sunshine, chilly. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 1. High: 13

SATURDAY: Mostly cloudy, fairly good travel. Winds: NE 7-12. Wake-up: -3. High: 19

SUNDAY: Clouds linger, snow stays south. Winds: N 10-15. Wake-up: 3. High: 21

MONDAY: Mix of clouds and sun. No drama. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 6. High: 20.

TUESDAY: Clouds increase, snow late? WInds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 5. High: 18

Climate Stories...

Are Global Warming, Recent Midwest Cold Snap Related? Here's an excerpt from the Illinois News Bureau: "...With the Arctic warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world, the temperature difference is declining between the Arctic and mid-latitudes, which leads to a weaker jet stream. The jet stream generally used to have a small s-shaped oscillation around the planet, but now we are getting a much wavier pattern than before. This can lead to situations where warm air can penetrate much further northward than previously, and where cold air can penetrate much further southward – like this past January. This can also lead to slower-moving weather systems. The combination of increased waviness in the jet stream and slower-moving fronts can worsen severe weather at a given location...."

Climate and Economic Risks Threaten 2008-Style Systematic Collapse. It's the unknown unknowns that keep me up at night; here's a clip from a story at The Guardian: "The gathering storm of human-caused threats to climate, nature and economy pose a danger of systemic collapse comparable to the 2008 financial crisis, according to a new report that calls for urgent and radical reform to protect political and social systems. The study says the combination of global warming, soil infertility, pollinator loss, chemical leaching and ocean acidification is creating a “new domain of risk”, which is hugely underestimated by policymakers even though it may pose the greatest threat in human history..."

Photo credit: "Hurricane Florence in North Carolina in 2018. The report fears relentless floods and fires in the US could threaten financial institutions." Photograph: Jason Miczek/Reuters

Not Even Hawaii Can Escape Climate Change, Experts Say. A story at USA TODAY caught my eye: "When it gets cold every winter, Hawaii becomes an increasingly popular retreat. But climate experts in the Aloha State told USA TODAY on Monday that tourists cannot escape climate change – not even on the islands, where 60-foot waves and wind gusts up to 191 mph were part of a fierce weekend storm that downed power lines and felled trees. "There's no place on the planet where (people) can expect to see conditions as they have been in the past," said Chip Fletcher, an earth sciences professor at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa and vice chair of the Honolulu Climate Change Commission..."

Image credit: NASA Visible Earth.

Heading North? Climate Changes is Affecting More Than Most States. The changes are happening faster in northern tier states than in the southern USA. Here's the intro to a story at West Central Tribune: "The loon could retreat into Canada, leaving Minnesota for good by 2080, if climate change continues to deteriorate the bird’s habitat in the state. Tamarac wildlife biologist Wayne Brininger says climate change has happened gradually for millions of years, and plants and animals have been able to adapt to the slow changes. The problem is, habitats are beginning to change faster as climate change happens faster, and the flora and fauna can’t keep up. Minnesota’s climate is changing faster than most, studies are showing. Rather than gradually easing into a winter freeze and easing back out into a spring thaw, like it used to, Minnesota is losing its normal winters and beginning to experience more extreme weather events, which could spell trouble for the state bird and other area wildlife..."

Photo credit: "White tail deer are expected to multiply fast as Minnesota's climate alters. Warmer winters means less snow, which means they will be able to forage for food more easily." Forum News Service file photo.

CITIES & STATES: Climate Nexus has links and headlines: "At the water’s edge, seaports are slowly bracing for rising ocean levels (Wall Street Journal $), storms trigger a surge in Boston infrastructure plans (Wall Street Journal $), how will Tampa's next mayor tackle climate change? (Tampa Bay Times), 2 big payouts may endanger New Jersey’s post-Sandy dune work (AP), storms help replenish Montana snowpack levels (AP), Oregon cities sue over stormwater rules (AP), Wisconsin board reverses ban on addressing climate change (WPR), climate change could devastate Superfund cleanup (Montana Standard), officials seek more protections for city wetlands to counter effects of climate change (Boston Globe $), despite fierce weather, Nebraska avoids climate change plan (AP), obscure Wisconsin board reverses climate change ban (AP), Whitmer, GOP lawmakers clash over environmental order (AP), Virginia wants more action on climate change--here's where residents stand on policies." (The Virginian-Pilot).

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