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Major Storm Brewing (heavy rain, severe storms, heavy wet snow western High Plains)

7 Apr 2013, 6:03 am
Melt Baby Melt

 

“I wish I could be right half the time and still get paid!” No need to get defensive, Paul. Just smile, shake his hand – tell him still you’re right more often than politicians, stock brokers and economists. It’s a pretty good gig – just not this year.

 

 

A year ago lawns were green, flowers were in bloom, boats were in the water, on our way to a 7 month boating season. In Minnesota? How do you top that?

 

 

You don’t.

 

 

Our Slow Motion Spring is aggravating; Mother Nature toying with our mental health. Yesterday I stood by the window, muttering “melt, baby melt.”. That’s just kind of sad, but I sense I’m not alone.

 

There’s still 15-20 inches of snow on the ground up north. One benefit of our March-like April: slower snow melt, which may help to reduce the flood risk in the Red River Valley a bit. That, and it’s too chilly for severe storms & tornadoes. Hey, that’s something.

 

 

 

Yes, the drought is easing, but summer warm fronts are nowhere in sight.

 

 

QPF. I think the latest Quantitative Precipitation Forecast (talk about a mouthful) has the right idea, keeping the heaviest rainfall plume south of Minnesota and Wisconsin; as much as 2-4″ from northern Missouri to Illinois and Indiana, closer to 1″ over the southern half of Minnesota by Friday.

 

On The Other Hand. The latest NAM model prints out about 1″ of rain for the Twin Cities by Wednesday morning, with a smear of heavier precipitation over northern Minnesota, some 2-3″ liquid amounts for the western Dakotas, falling as mostly snow. It’s the March That Wouldn’t End.

 

Good News For Therapists. Your billable hours just went up, especially if you live in the Red River Valley or the Dakotas, where some 10-20″ snowfall amounts are predicted by Wednesday by the latest NAM model. No snow for the Twin Cities into at least midweek.

 

A Real Storm? The GFS pulls an intense storm northeastward across the Plains, spreading potentially significant rain into Minnesota Tuesday and Wednesday; a clearing trend by late week (with cooler than average temperatures). Again, a significant north-south temperature gradient across the USA is setting the stage for potentially significant rain in the weeks to come.

 

 

Impact Based Warnings. Minnesota is one of 14 states that will see new, enhanced wording of tornado warnings, to try to better reflect and communicate the risks to consumers in the potential path. Details from NOAA’s Central Region: “An experimental National Weather Service warning enhancement will be used across much of the central U.S. this thunderstorm season (beginning April 1). This is an expansion of a smaller NWS experiment that began in Kansas and Missour in 2012. The Impact Based Warning (IBW) experimental product is an effort to better communicate severe weather threats within National Weather Service warnings. While the basic function of Severe Thunderstorm and Tornado warnings will remain the same, additional enhanced information will be provided within the warning to provide additional expected “impact” information. The goals are to provide more information through the warnings in order to facilitate improved public response and decision making, and to better meet societal needs in the most life-threatening weather events. This effort is in response to key findings from recent service assessments of devastating tornadoes in 2011, particularly the EF-5 tornado in Joplin, MO…”

Scary Numbers. Data from the Minnesota Climate Office reminds us just how harsh 1983 was in the Twin Cities. That “spring” we picked up a whopping 21.8″ of snow during April. I had just arrived in Minnesota the previous month to work at WTCN-TV (now KARE-11), and I remember wondering what I had gotten myself into. Yes, it can always be worse.

HydroClim Update. Here are a few bullet points from the latest update, courtesy of the Minnesota State Climate Office and the Minnesota office of the DNR:

  • Snow depths range from zero in the southern one-third of Minnesota to over 20 inches west central Minnesota, north central Minnesota, and in the Lake Superior highlands.
    [see: NWS Snow Depth Estimation Map  |  Snow Depth Maps]
  • The amount of water content in the snow pack is estimated to be in excess of five inches in some west central and north central Minnesota counties. The large amount of water on the landscape, lying upon an impervious frozen surface, has led to a high risk for major flooding in the Red River basin.
    [see: NWS Snow Water Equivalent Estimation Map]
  • The U.S. Geological Survey and Minnesota DNR report that stream discharge values vary widely across the state. After the initial flush of snow melt runoff recedes, stream discharge values will quickly fall below historical medians unless there is a very wet spring.
    [see: USGS Stream Flow Conditions  |  MNDNR Weekly Stream Flow Maps and Tables]
  • Water levels on most Minnesota lakes are low due to the dry summer and autumn of 2012. Lake Superior’s water level is approximately one foot lower than its historical average for this time of year.

* latest modeled snow depth from NOAA is here.

Weather, Disaster Agencies Turn To Twitter, Facebook, YouTube. Bill McAuliffe at The Star Tribune takea look at The Star Tribune takes a look at social media’s impact on weather coverage, specifically severe storm tracking and communication. As I say in the article, I suspect it’s a mixed blessing: nice to have more information, but be sure you’re following “trusted sources” to get reliable, actionable information. Here’s an excerpt: “With the season for quick-hitting storms about to barge into Minnesota, social media are about to become a key news tool. Indeed, public agencies concerned with natural disasters are glomming onto social media like so many teenagers, attracted to its instant, two-way connectivity. “It’s fast. It’s direct. It enhances our ability to deliver the message,” said Bruce Gordon, director of communications for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, whose 12 public information officers post breaking news, safety tips and even human interest stories on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube…”

Climate Stories….

No Debate In The Scientific Community. Graph above courtesy of Greg Laden at scienceblogs.com.

How U.S. Energy Policy Fails To Address Climate Change. The Christian Science Monitor reports; here’s an excerpt: “What never gets asked and answered definitively in the policy debate is this: What should our ultimate goal be and when should we aim to achieve it? The first part of the question has elicited so many answers from so many constituencies that I may not be able to represent them all here. But here is an attempt to categorize the main lines of thinking concerning the country’s energy goals:

  1. Seek the cheapest price for energy with the implication that environmental consequences should not be tallied as part of the cost.
  2. Complete a transition to renewable energy as quickly as possible while drastically reducing the burning of fossil fuels.
  3. Replace all fossil fuel energy with nuclear power…”

Photo credit above: “Wind turbines of the Smoky Hill Wind Farm dot the countryside near Ellsworth, Kan. Perhaps the simplest way to manage the energy transition we must undergo would be to impose a high and ever rising tax on carbon, Cobb writes.” Orlin Wagner/AP/File

Global Warming: 1,600 Years Of Ice In Andes Melted In 25 Years. Here’s an excerpt from frenchtribune.com :  “Providing one of the signs of global warming, glacial ice in the Peruvian Andes has started melting. A structure that took 1,600 years to build has fallen into the grip of high temperatures and melted within 25 years. The research has been conducted by Lonnie G. Thompson, the Ohio State University glaciologist. According to him, his team has worked from time to time on the Quelccaya ice cap for decades. Findings have been published in a paper that has been released online. Global warming is one of the results of man-made activities. This recent report has highlighted that the problem of global warming has reached its peak. This time the proof has been provided by margins of the Quelccaya ice cap in Peru…”

Even Doubter Wants To Prepare For Global Warming. Mother Nature News has the article; here’s the intro: “Some still insist that climate change is a hoax, but the vast majority of Americans believe the globe is warming, a new survey finds — and they want to prepare for the worst. In fact, even 60 percent of climate-change doubters favored preparations, the survey found. Researchers collected opinions between March 3 and March 18 via an online questionnaire, using a nationally representative sample of 1,174 American adults, both English and Spanish speaking. The survey asked about climate-change beliefs and support for adaptation strategies to help coastal areas cope with the rising sea levels and frequent, intense storms that a warmer world could bring. The results showed that 82 percent of Americans are in favor of preparation…”

Photo credit above: “Sea level rise is swamping coasts. Rodanthe in the Outer Banks of North Carolina is pictured.”(Photo: Andrew Kemp, Yale University)

Federal Study: Global Warming Means More “Extreme” Rains. Basic physics: warm up the atmosphere, even by a few degrees, and you increase the capacity of the sky overhead to hold more water vapor (which is itself another greenhouse gas). The result? More fuel for extreme rains (and snows). The Hill has the story; here’s the intro: “Global warming will make cases of “extreme” rainfall even more intense and worsen flood risks, federal researchers say in the latest warning that climate change will likely worsen violent weather. A new federally led study explores how growing amounts of atmospheric water vapor due to global warming will affect what is called probable maximum precipitation. The report, released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, forecasts an “accelerated water cycle with heavier extreme rains.” The study shows “a 20-30 percent expected increase in the maximum precipitation possible over large portions of the Northern Hemisphere by the end of the 21st century if greenhouse gases continue to rise at a high emissions rate,” NOAA said…”

Photo credit above: “The flooded Red River surrounds houses near Fargo, N.D., in 2010. Scientists say climate change will produce more intense storms, increasing the risk of damaging floods.” (M. Spencer Green / Assoicated Press / March 21, 2010)

* The Los Angeles Times has another perspective on the potential for more extreme rains here.

Rising Seas Swallow 8 Cities In These Climate Change GIFS. Mashable has the story; here’s an excerpt: “Climate change and global warming may cause sea levels to rise and flood coastal cities across the world. Over the past century, the Global Mean Sea Level has risen by 4 to 8 inches. And according to estimates by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (PDF), it will keep rising between 8 inches and 6.6 feet by 2100. How will the world look if that happens? In November of 2012, The New York Times published interactive maps displaying the effects of the sea level rising, in a series titled “What Could Disappear?” The maps show how much land the sea will claim in the future, if it rises by 5, 12, and 25 feet. Nickolay Lamm, a 24-year-old researcher and artist saw the interactive maps and wondered: “What would this actually look like in real life?” Lamm told Mashable in an email interview that “the only imagery I had of sea level rise came from Hollywood.” So he decided to put his skills to work…”

Spring Leaf-Out Comes 6 Days Earlier Than It Did In 1982. Here’s an excerpt of some new research from Climate Central that caught my eye: “…The map shows that leaves are coming earlier in some parts of the country, like the Rocky Mountains and Appalachians, but that spring leaf-out has been delayed over time in parts of the Southeast, Northeast and Midwest. This is consistent with climate research that shows that many types of plants have not been blooming uniformly earlier over time. We looked at the difference between when this time arrived during the first five years and the last five years of the study. In the Minneapolis area, this date is coming about six days earlier on average since 1982. Rising temperatures may actually be behind the way this date shifts in both directions. New research suggests that the response of spring leaves to warming temperatures may not be linear, due to the effects of reduced winter chilling, and increased vulnerability to late-winter freezes. A continuing trend of warming winters may lead to further changes in the familiar timing of the seasons…”

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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 startribune.com/weather And if you’re on Twitter, you’ll find me @pdouglasweather

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