All Weather News

Coldest Air In At Least 4 Years Pushing Into USA (ice storm potential Dallas to Memphis)

5 Dec 2013, 7:19 am

Less “Riff Raff”

I vividly remember my first Minnesota winter, 30 years ago, a record 98.6 inches of snow submerging the Twin Cities, waist-deep in snow, thinking “what have I done?” A friend at KARE-11 (WTCN) took me aside. “Paul, at least the cold and snow keeps the riff raff out” he whispered. Really? Then how did I get in? His other exhortation: the crime rate drops – and your garbage doesn’t stink.

So much to look forward to.

One of the coldest blobs of Yukon chill in a decade is about to drain out of the frozen wastelands of western Canada.

This will be one of the coldest outbreaks of the winter – and no, it doesn’t necessarily mean the entire winter will be Nanook.

If you’re dressed properly & active you can reduce the risk of frostbite. The “no-exposed-skin” rule comes into play for kids at the bus stop.

This too shall pass, but short term? Cash in those frequent flier miles. Or just grin and bear it.

* photo above: Clint Austin, Duluth News Tribune.



Probability Of Subzero Windchills: December 12-18. Here’s a new NOAA product showing the risk of wind chills dipping below 0F: 90% for the Red River Valley, with a high probability extending into New England.


Canadian Invasion. Here is the 12km NAM model showing predicted temperatures into Saturday night; the green solid line is the 0F isotherm, pushing as far south as Chicago and Kansas City by late week. How quickly can you get to Florida? Loop: NOAA and Ham Weather.



Alerts Broadcaster Briefing: Issued Wednesday, December 4, 2013.

* Push of arctic air sparks a period of ice and singificant snow from the Texas Panhandle into Oklahoma, Arkansas, the Middle Mississippi Valley into the Ohio Valley late Thursday into Saturday morning.
* Potential for 1/4″ glaze ice amounts from near Little Rock to Memphis and Bowling Green Thursday night into early Saturday – capable of significant travel challenges and downed trees, powerlines. Power outages are possible as this storm ripples across the Mid South into the Ohio Valley.
* No major snow/ice problems for major east coast cities into Saturday. A cold rain is likely New York to D.C. Friday into Saturday.


A Stripe of Snow & Ice. Our in-house Alerts Broadcaster models show the greatest potential for plowable snows and ice Thursday into Saturday from Oklahoma City into northern Arkansas and the Mid South, with significant snow into Ohio, western Pennsylvania and upstate New York.


Snowfall Potential. Here are a few select city amounts, the latest snowfall predictions, showing the most concern from the Texas Panhandle into western Kentucky and Ohio. Friday may be the most problematic day for travel (land and air).


Thursday Ice Risk. The red-shaded area shows a high risk of .25″ of glaze ice or more, capable of disrupting travel and triggering power outages – the greatest concern over southeast Oklahoma and western/northwestern Arkansas.


Friday Ice Potential. By Friday surface temperatures dip below 32F in the Memphis area, possibly Nashville, creating freezing rain (glaze ice) problems. Moderate to heavy snow is likely just north and west of the regions of heaviest ice, brushing Louisville, Cincinnati and Columbus.

Summary: One of the coldest outbreaks in a decade will push into the USA later this week, preceded by a band of snow and ice pushing unusually far south. Facilities and staff from Little Rock and Hot Springs to Memphis, Nashville, Louisville and Columbus should monitor forecasts – watches and warnings are inevitable, and the risk of winter-related impacts to operations will be high late Thursday into Saturday morning.

Paul Douglas – Senior Meteorologist – Alerts Broadcaster


Bitter Outbreaks In A Warming World. How on Earth can we get arctic “invasions” if the atmosphere is warming? It’s a good question. Nature rarely moves in a perfectly straight line, and that certainly applies to the atmosphere. As one climate scientist told me recently “if we ever get to the point where we don’t see cold fronts or snow we’ll be too far gone to do anything about climate change.” The reality: in spite of a warmer atmosphere (globally) and rapidly warming oceans, bitter air will still find its way into the USA when prevailing jet stream wind patterns are favorable. As they will be over the next week or so. We focus on the coming cold wave and cold vs. warm weather records for the USA in today’s edition of Climate Matters: “WeatherNation Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas looks at the coming cold snap for the United States and shows the bigger picture of the overall warming trends. This is the first time in 20 years that there were more cold weather records than warm weather records, and how does it play into the overall climate picture?


2013 On Track To Be 7th Warmest Year Since 1850. Although the USA will wind up with more record lows than highs for 2013, worldwide it was another unusually warm year for air and ocean temperatures. Here’s an excerpt from Climate Central: “The world is on track to have its 7th warmest year on record in 2013, which is up from 2012, which was the globe’s 9th warmest year, according to a new report released on Wednesday. The report from the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva found that the January to September period tied with 2003 for the 7th warmest such period on record, with an average global surface temperature that was 0.86°F above the 1961-1990 average. In addition, global average sea level reached a record high this year, with an average rate of increase of 0.13 inches per year, which is double the observed 20th century rate. Sea level is rising because of melting polar ice caps and warming ocean temperatures that cause the water to expand over time…”

Graphic credit above: “Global average surface temperature departures from average from different global datasets.” Credit: WMO.


National Standards Urged For U.S. Tornado Protection. Better warning detection and warning systems only go so far. If no basement or underground shelter (or “safe room”) is available and an EF4+ tornado is approaching, the odds of survival are small. Lives can be saved by enacting stronger building codes, but that will ultimately result in more expensive construction techniques, costs that will inevitably be passed on to consumers. Here’s a clip from Reuters: “National standards should be set for building construction, storm shelters and emergency communications to reduce death and damage from tornados, a federal agency that studied the deadly 2011 tornado in Joplin, Missouri, recommended on Thursday. The National Institute of Standards and Technology said 135 of the 161 deaths from the May 22, 2011 tornado resulted from building failure. The EF-5 tornado was the deadliest single tornado in the United States since official records were first kept in 1950, the agency said

Photo credit above: “A funnel cloud is spotted moving east over Highway 5 near Rosebud, Arkansas April 10, 2013.” Credit: Reuters/Gene Blevins.



Federal Agency Releases Joplin Tornado Study. No building will ever be tornado-proof, but how can we strengthen national building codes to make commercial and residential buildings more tornado-resistant? Here’s a clip from The Washington Post: “…The overarching conclusion of our two-year study is that death and destruction from tornadoes can be reduced,” said Eric Letvin, the institute’s director of disaster and failure studies. “Our scientific understanding of tornadoes and their effects has matured substantially,” he added. “It’s time to begin developing and implementing nationally accepted standards and codes that directly address tornado hazards.” The May 2011 Joplin tornado killed 161 people and destroyed thousands of buildings, including homes, churches, businesses big and small, and one of the city’s two hospitals. The study found that all but 26 of the deaths came from building collapses…” (Images above: NOAA).


America’s Southern States, From Sunbelt To Stormbelt. Here’s a clip from a photo essay at The Guardian: “When Robert Leslie first visited the US as a child in the late 1960s, it was the world’s most productive country, driven by the sunbelt stretching across the south from Florida to California. Stormbelt is a collection of photographs taken between 2009 and 2012, when Leslie returned to the region. What he found was an area battling not just the economic recession, but also natural disasters such as hurricanes, forest fires and drought. Caption text by Edward Burtynsky.”


In A Tornado, What Would You Run To Save? The most likely answer: the things that can’t be replaced: photo albums, family heirlooms, your children (!) –  the list goes on. This is one (of many) good reasons to back up your photos in the cloud, just in case. Here’s an excerpt of a press release at Digital Journal that got me thinking (it hurt my brain so I stopped): “We’ve all asked ourselves the question: Should we ever be confronted with a natural disaster – a tornado, a hurricane, a flood – what is the one thing we’d go for that would give us solace, were we to lose everything? Most often, the answer would be: The photographs. It’s a universal sentiment that has found its way into “Running for Photographs,” a heartrending music video featuring family photos and keepsakes that were scattered hundreds of miles across the states and discovered in the aftermath of the recent tornadoes that pounded the Midwest. Dedicated to storm victims everywhere and to all those who help, the music video is posted on YouTube at”


Planet Money Makes A T-Shirt. If you haven’t checked out the 5 chapters in this multimedia NPR production, it’s definitely worth a look. It will make you think twice about what goes into your next shirt.


Music Lessons Boost Emotional, Intellectual Development. Yes, try to get your kids or grandkids to play an instrument – any instrument will due! Here’s a clip from Pacific Standard Magazine: “There is no longer any doubt that student musicians perform better than their peers on a variety of measures, including getting better grades. But the chicken-and-egg question lingers: Is this effect due to their musical training? Or are sharper, more motivated kids more likely to take up an instrument? While it doesn’t provide a definitive answer, new research from Germany presents evidence that improved academic performance truly is a result of musical training…”


How (Hypothetical) Zombie Infections Might Mimic A Major Influenza Outbreak. has the vaguely terrifying story; here’s an excerpt: “When it comes to the zombie movies, it’s easy to imagine that the way the living dead spread through the population has little or nothing to do with real infectious diseases. Not so! Today, Caitlyn Witkowski at Bryant University in Smithfield and Brian Blais at Brown University in Providence, both in Rhode Island, show how the way people turn into zombies in horror flicks, is remarkably similar to real epidemics. In fact, the links are so similar that it is possible to use the same mathematical models to describe both types of epidemic...”


The “Sweariest” States In The USA? Wait, Wisconsin is one of the least courteous states in the USA? Really? Here’s an excerpt from a story at The Atlantic: “…A new map, though, takes a more complicated approach. Instead of using text, it uses data gathered from … phone calls. You know how, when you call a customer service rep for your ISP or your bank or what have you, you’re informed that your call will be recorded? Marchex Institute, the data and research arm of the ad firm Marchex, got ahold of the data that resulted from some recordings, examining more than 600,000 phone calls from the past 12 months—calls placed by consumers to businesses across 30 different industries. It then used call mining technology to isolate the curses therein, cross-referencing them against the state the calls were placed from…”

Map credit: Marchex.


Ron Burgundy Interviews Payton Manning For SportsCenter. If you haven’t seen this it’s worth a look, courtesy of Athlete Swag.



Climate Stories….

When Global Warming Kicks Into Overdrive How Will We Know? What many scientists are calling the biggest environmental threat we’ve ever faced as a species may require a new network of sensors trained on potential tipping points. Here’s an excerpt from The Christian Science Monitor: “…The panel, convened by the National Research Council, recommends the establishment of an early-warning system for abrupt change, noting that even slow warming trends can reach levels that threaten to drive plant and animal species extinct, disrupt agriculture, and trigger political instability in the space of a few years to a few decades – well within the span of a human lifetime. Such a monitoring system, whose specific definition the panel acknowledges it has left to others, is crucial to help decisionmakers anticipate abrupt changes as much as possible and begin to adapt ahead of time…”

Photo credit above: “Two Adelie penguins stand atop a block of melting ice on a rocky shoreline at Cape Denison, Commonwealth Bay, in East Antarctica, in 2010.” Pauline Askin/Reuters/File



Climate Change Is Happening. Will L.A. Have Enough Water? The short answer appears to be no. KCET has the story; here’s an excerpt: “…More than just disappearing polar ice caps, climate change has far-reaching consequences, such as increased rates of allergies, diseases, and even death, as Los Angeles writer Linda Marsa explains in her new book, “Fevered: Why a Hotter Planet Will Hurt Our Health — and how we can save ourselves.” It also means there will be water shortages in Los Angeles, unless we become more efficient with our supply. Right now only 11 percent of the Los Angeles’s water comes from local sources, and 1 percent is recycled. Fifty two percent comes from the Colorado River through the Metropolitan Water District. Thirty six percent comes from the Eastern Sierra Nevadas through the Los Angeles Aqueduct. Unfortunately, the Colorado River is currently the country’s most endangered river from being so overused, and all but one of the Sierra’s 24 major watersheds are impaired…” (Image: ThinkStock).


Panel Says Global Warming Carries Risk Of Deep Changes. It’s the unknown unknowns that keep scientists up at night. Here’s an excerpt from a Justin Gillis article at The New York Times: “…It cited the outbreak of mountain pine beetles in the American West and in Canada. The disappearance of bitterly cold winter nights that used to kill off the beetles has allowed them to ravage tens of millions of acres of forests, damage so severe it can be seen from space. Likewise, a drastic decline of summer sea ice in the Arctic has occurred much faster than scientists expected. The panel warned that Arctic sea ice could disappear in the summer within several decades, with severe impacts on wildlife and human communities in the region, and unknown effects on the world’s weather patterns. Among the greatest risks in coming years, the panel said, is that climate change could greatly increase the extinction rate of plants and animals, essentially provoking the sixth mass extinction in the earth’s history...”


The Climate Bomb Redux. It’s hard to wrap your head around how much additional heat energy Earth’s atmosphere and oceans are retaining due to a sharp spike in greenhouse gases. This story at Discover Magazine tries to provide some perspective; here’s an excerpt: “Imagine four atomic bombs like the one that incinerated Hiroshima, Japan on Aug. 6, 1945 exploding in the atmosphere every single second of every day of every week and every month, year after year, ad infinitum. That, says John Cook and colleagues at the web site Skeptical Science, is a good way to understand the excess heat that is building up in the atmosphere as a result of humankind’s emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Four atomic bombs’ worth of extra energy, every second…”

Photo credit above: “Mushroom clouds blossom over Hiroshima (left) and Nagasaki (right) from atom bombs dropped by the United States on August 6 and 9, 1945.” (Source: Wikimedia Commons).


Bloomberg LP Launches First Tool That Measures Risk Of “Unburnable Carbon” Assets. InsideClimate News has the story – here’s the introduction: “In a move that underscores Wall Street’s growing unease over the business-as-usual strategy of the world’s fossil fuel companies, Bloomberg L.P. unveiled a tool last week that helps investors quantify for the first time how climate policies and related risks might batter the earnings and stock prices of individual oil, coal and natural gas companies. The company’s new Carbon Risk Valuation Tool is available to more than 300,000 high-end traders, analysts and others who regularly pore over the stream of information that’s available through Bloomberg’s financial data and analysis service. The move significantly broadens and elevates the discussion of “stranded” or “unburnable” carbon reserves—expanding it beyond climate groups and sustainability investors to the desks of the world’s most active and influential investors and traders…”

Photo credit above: “Bloomberg LP is now offering a Carbon Risk Valuation Tool through its terminal subscription service (seen here), which is available to more than 300,000 high-end traders, analysts and others.” Credit: CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.


Subarctic Lakes Are Drying Up At A Rate Not Seen In 200 Years. Here’s a clip from Science Daily: “…The drying of some lakes, which first became visible to the naked eye in 2010, was even more pronounced in summer 2013. “With this type of lake, precipitation in the form of snow represents 30% to 50% of the annual water supply,” explained the study’s lead author, Frédéric Bouchard, a postdoctoral fellow at Université Laval’s Department of Geography and the Centre for Northern Studies. The kind of desiccation seen by the researchers is without precedent in 200 years. Isotopic analyses conducted on the remains of phytoplankton accumulated in lakebed sediment show that the lakes have maintained water balance for 200 years. This stability was abruptly disrupted a few years ago…”

Photo credit above: “Desiccated lakes in Wapusk National Park near Churchill, Manitoba (Canada) are shown. Desiccation of shallow lakes has occurred recently in response to lower-than-average snowmelt runoff. This phenomenon appears unprecedented over the last 200 years.” (Credit: Hilary White).



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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 And if you’re on Twitter, you’ll find me @pdouglasweather.

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