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Freak May Snowstorm Brewing for the Twin Cities? (more soaking rains Mississippi Valley)

1.24″ precipitation predicted for Wednesday and Wednesday night in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Much of that will probably fall as sleet and snow.

2-6″ sleet and snow possible by Wednesday night. Bufkit predicts 6.1″ for MSP by Thursday morning.

3″ old record for most snow from a single May storm (May 11-12, 1946).

Strike. I’m going on strike. I can’t take it anymore.

Record May Snowfall?
One of the 15 meteorologists on my staff has parents who returned from winter hibernation in Scottsdale back in early April, thinking they’d be “out of the woods”.
I shouldn’t laugh, but I can’t help myself.
Three plowable snows and 18″ later they are reportedly thinking of moving to Arizona for good. Come to think of it, our freakish un-spring may turn the rest of us us into snowbirds.
The most snow from a single May storm in the Twin Cities? 3″ in 1946. Hey, if the weather is crummy let’s at least go for a record. More boasting rights!
Here is what I know: Minnesotans lose their stoic sense of humor when it snows on their green lawns. A cold front arrives today; a cold rain likely on Wednesday. Amazingly, by Wednesday night the lowest mile of the atmosphere will be cold enough for snow – rain changes to wet snow Wednesday with a potential for a plowable snowfall of 2-6″ for parts of the Twin Cities metro, significantly more over southeastern Minnesota. Good grief.
The same extreme pattern pumping moisture into Minnesota, easing our drought, is also funneling harsh outbreaks of winter chill southward. You can’t have one without the other.
If it’s any consolation long-range models show 60s, even 70s for the 2013 Fishing Opener.
I mean..what can possibly go wrong?
Historic May Snow Events In The Twin Cities. I was really hoping not to have to share this information with you, but with a nagging slush potential later this week I’m going to cover my (Doppler) and include this excerpt from The Minnesota Climatology Working Group: “Snow that falls in May is typically a novelty. The ground is usually too warm by May to allow much of an accumulation. Looking at past records for the Twin Cities, a trace of snow falls during the month of May fairly frequently, with the last windswept flurries reported on May 1-2, 2005. If the snow manages to accumulate it is generally under an inch and mostly on grassy surfaces. The most recent measureable Twin Cities snow event was 0.3 inches on May 5, 1991. About once every 30 years or so, there is a snow event that is enough to cover newly greened lawns and coat budding leaves. The last time there was a snow event in May greater than an inch in the Twin Cities was on May 2, 1976 with 1.2 inches. The most that it has snowed in May in a single event for the Twin Cities is three inches. This has happened on three occasions: May 20, 1892, May 1, 1935 and May 11-12, 1946.”

Top 10 May Snow Events At MSP. I know, this is one Top 10 List you were hoping to never be subjected to. Will we make the list later this week? Probably. Information courtesy of the Twin Cities National Weather Service.
Almost Censored. Wednesday looks like the problem day, temperatures aloft probably cold enough aloft for (mostly) snow. Some of that snow will melt on contact with relatively mild lawns, fields and roads, but wet, sloppy, gloppy snow may eventually accumulate by Wednesday evening and night, and it may be enough to shovel and plow, especially south/east of the Twin Cities. If it’s 3″ or more we’ll set a May snowfall record dating back to 1946. May I be excused?
NAM Solution. I’m not buying it (yet), because it would smash old May snowfall records for the Twin Cities, and temperatures aloft will be close to critical by Wednesday night and Thursday; a degree or two warmer than predicted aloft and we wind up with (mostly) rain. Will we see a slushy coating of an inch or two? Probably. But 3-6″? Not convinced, not yet.
A Very Wet Week. The ECMWF often gets a jump on trends, and then the U.S. models eventually catch up. We’ll see if that’s the case this week – the European model predicting over 3″ liquid by Sunday, with a period of potentially significant snow Thursday and Friday. Spring stages a modest comeback by early next week.
U.S. Models – Not As Wet. The local NWS office is predicting about .80″ liquid by Thursday night, but amounts may go higher by the weekend as Gulf moisture surges north, pulled along by a temporarily stationary storm over the Central Plains.
A Fishing Opener Warm Front? I’m hesitant even showing a 1-2 week extended outlook, because the pattern is still so erratic (and extreme), and the cold bias we’ve witnessed since early February is slow to fade. But GFS numbers shows 60s and 70s returning in time for the opener, The Race For The Cure, and Mother’s Day. For the sake of mental health statewide, I hope the models are right.
Rapidly Fading Drought. At least that’s the case over most of the Midwest and Mississippi River Valley, where precipitation since April 1 has been 1.5 to 3 times more than normal. Meanwhile drought is deepening over the Southwest.
Backwards Spring. Check out some of these monthly snowfall totals from Colorado – in many cases April has seen more snow than February and March combined! Remarkable. Thanks to Earth Network’s Chad Merrill for passing this along.

Weathering The Irony Of The Sequester “Fix” To Air Travel Delays. The head of the AMS, The American Meteorological Society, Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd, talks about the recent flap over The Sequester and air traffic delays in the larger scope of 24/7 access to reliable, accurate weather information. Here’s an excerpt from his post atFacebook: “…The U.S. Department of Transportation finds that weather can be attributed to 40% of all flight delays. If you want this in economic numbers, ExecutiveTravelMagazine cites an FAA study that “calculated that delays and cancellations from all causes cost passengers $16.7 billion a year. That puts the price tag on weather-related schedule disruptions at around $6.7 billion. “Further, it is clear that weather contributes to a large percentage of aviation accidents and fatalities. Weather risks to flight include thunderstorms, fog, clearn-air turbulence, snow/ice, crosswinds, and wind shear. Many of these processes are not well-understood, which means sequester pressures on research, travel to scientific meetings, and journal access further complicate the safety of our nation’s air travelers in the long run. In summary, I find that many people see the impact of the sequester on FAA furloughs and related travel. However, many don’t seem to stop and think about how critical the national weather infrastructure and agencies are to air travel, yet the continue to suffer under the weight of an ill-conceived sequester. More alarming, weather information is vital to many facets of our daily lives. Our weather enterprise is vital to life, property and commerce in this country and piece-meal fixes are dangerous on many “fronts”. Pun intented…

Weather information that supports air travel does not come from the “weather fairy”…

Weather Service Faces Furloughs During Hurricane Season
. The first time there’s a weather disaster and subsequent loss of life that can be linked to a shortfall in staffing levels, God help us – there will be screams of protest. Here’s an excerpt from Florida’sSunSentinel: “…“This could have a detrimental effect on everybody’s public safety,” said Bob Ebaugh, the steward in Miami for the National Weather Service Employees Organization. “Once you start limiting staffing, you start raising the potential for disaster.” He said furloughs could hamper the NWS’ ability to predict wildfire and tornado conditions during the spring and to pinpoint where storms might hit land during the summer. Citing 250 vacancies throughout the Weather Service, Ebaugh said the agency “saves money from not filling those positions, which just caused more stress on the rest of the employees.” This mix of warnings and assurances comes on the heels of an extraordinary year of storms, flooding, blizzards and droughts — 11 separate billion-dollar disasters in 2012, capped by superstorm Sandy. Weather-conscious Florida, where a tourism economy depends on the great outdoors, has the most at stake from any gaps in forecasting…” (Hurricane Floyd image courtesy of NASA).

Of Course You’re Stressed – Just Look At You. Wait, stress is bad for you? I have a t-shirt that reads “high on stress”. Launching a business in 2008, at the height of a recession, will do that to you. Here’s an excerpt from a story at The L.A. Times: “We all know the face of stress: the clenched jaw, the furrowed brow, the intense stare. And, really, it’s not a bad look. We all do some of our best work under pressure. Adrenaline and other stress hormones give us the kick start we need to meet deadlines and generally get ahead in life. But when stress runs too hot for too long, the look changes. People who are stressed for years don’t merely appear driven or focused. They look beaten down. In large doses, stress can wear the body and speed up the clock on aging. The wear and tear of stress can show up in every part of the body: individual cells, bones, skin. You can even see it in photographs…”

Slaves To The Algorithm. The joys of data mining, turning noise into something approximating intelligence, even when it comes to which plot lines or actors to put in your upcoming film. Here’s a snippet of a fascinating story at “There are many reasons to believe that film stars earn too much. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie once hired an entire train to travel from London to Glasgow. Tom Cruise’s daughter Suri is reputed to have a wardrobe worth $400,000. Nicolas Cage once paid $276,000 for a dinosaur head. He would have got it for less, but he was bidding against Leonardo DiCaprio. Nick Meaney has a better reason for believing that the stars are overpaid: his algorithm tells him so. In fact, he says, with all but one of the above actors, the studios are almost certainly wasting their money. Because, according to his movie-analysis software, there are only three actors who make money for a film. And there is at least one A-list actress who is worth paying not to star in your next picture…”

Netflix CEO: “Over The Coming Decades…Internet TV Will Replace Linear TV”. In a world of infinite choice, where traditional TV is becoming Internet-enabled – will viewers still watch linear TV? I hope so. Here’s an excerpt from TVSpy: “…In a letter to shareholders this week, Hastings lays out the 10 reasons why Internet TV will continue to gain popularity, concluding that “over the coming decades and across the world, Internet TV will replace linear TV. Apps will replace channels, remote controls will disappear, and screens will proliferate”: 

People love TV content, and we watch over a billion hours a day of linear TV. But people don’t love the linear TV experience where channels present programs at particular times on non-portable screens with complicated remote controls. Consumers click through a grid to choose something to watch. DVRs and VOD add an on-demand layer, at the cost of storage and increased complexity. Finding good things to watch isn’t easy or enjoyable. While hugely popular, the linear TV channel model is ripe for replacement…”

Nepal Officials Vow To Ensure Security On Everest After Fight. Because nothing gets the heart pounding faster than a rumble at 25,000 feet. Here’s an excerpt from Reuters and Yahoo News: KATHMANDU (Reuters) – “Nepal officials vowed on Monday to ensure the safety of climbers seeking to scale Mount Everest after three European climbers were involved in a fight with sherpa guides on their way to the peak of the world’s highest mountain. Three experienced climbers from Britain, Italy and Switzerland were on route to camp three at 7,000 meters (22,965 feet) on the 8,850 meters (29,035 feet) Everest summit when a brawl broke out on Saturday with sherpas fixing their ropes. Witnesses said the sherpas pelted the Europeans’ tents with stones and punches were thrown…”Photo credit: “In this Tuesday, May 6, 2003 file photo, Mount Everest, at 8,850-meter (29,035-foot), the world’s tallest mountain situated in the Nepal-Tibet border as seen froman airplane. Days after four people died amid a “traffic jam” of climbers scrambling to conquer Mount Everest, Nepal officials said a similar rush up the world’s tallest peak will begin soon, and there’s little they can do to control it.” (AP Photo/Binod Joshi, File)

Climate Stories….

Greenhouse Gas Levels Highest In 3 Million Years. 400 ppm. The steady upward climb in greenhouse gases continues, with CO2 levels closing in on 400 parts per million. Here’s an excerpt from The Sydney Morning Herald: “Carbon dioxide concentrations in the Earth’s atmosphere are on the cusp of reaching 400 parts per million for the first time in 3 million years. The daily CO2 level, measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, was 399.72 parts per million last Thursday, and a few hourly readings had risen to more than 400 parts per million. ”I wish it weren’t true but it looks like the world is going to blow through the 400 ppm level without losing a beat,” said Ralph Keeling, a geologist with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in the US, which operates the Hawaiian observatory. ”At this pace we’ll hit 450 ppm within a few decades…” (Image above courtesy of Scripps Institute of Oceanography).

British Winemakers Credit Climate Change For Boom In Bubbly Sales.The warming is showing up in unusual areas – good wine in England? That’s a fairly recent development, as reported in The Washington Post: “Blessed with soil similar to France’s Champagne region, vineyards in England nevertheless produced decades of low-grade goop that caused nary a Frenchman to tremble. But a Great British fizz boom is underway, with winemakers crediting climate change for the warmer weather that has seemed to improve their bubbly. Increasingly hospitable temperatures have helped transplanted champagne grapes such as chardonnay and pinot noir thrive in the microclimates of southern England, touching off a wine rush by investors banking on climate change. Once considered an oxymoron, fine English sparkling wine is now retailing for champagne prices of $45 to $70 a pop. In recent years, dozens of vineyards have sprouted in Britain’s burgeoning wine country, with at least one traditional French champagne maker doing the once-unthinkable — scooping up land to make sparkling wine in England...”
Photo credit above: GRAHAM BARCLAY/BLOOMBERG NEWS. “Sparkling wine undergoes an early fermentation process at the Ridgeview Wine Estate in East Sussex, England. Warmer summers are producing wines competitive with some from France.”

What’s Climate Scientist James Hansen’s Legacy? Some answers in this story at The Guardian; here’s an excerpt: “Just a few weeks ago, one of the biggest names in climate science made one of the biggest announcements possible. Dr. James (Jim) Hansen said that he will “retire” from his duties at NASA to focus his energies elsewhere. This is a “retirement” that is anything but. Dr. Hansen has made clear that he will become more engaged in communicating climate science to the general public and he will continue to carry out the high-quality work which he is known for. What does this mean for climate science and the future of the Earth? It is impossible to know now but instead of looking forward, I want to shine a light on what Jim has done for climate science, what he signifies to the larger public, and how he is viewed by current and upcoming scientists…”

Image credit above: “Climate scientist James Hansen is retiring from the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.” Photograph: Murdo Macleod.



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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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