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Spring Still On Hold Northern USA (mental health implications of a delayed spring)

13 Apr 2013, 6:06 am
Mental Health Alert



If this keeps up much longer the 7-Day Outlook may come with a warning label. According to Pete Boulay, at the State Climate Office, the record for latest 60F high in the Twin Cities is April 26, 1904.



Looking at how our weather is stuck in an unseasonably cold rut, we may just break that record.



According to Dr. Abraham Verjovsky at Premiere Psychiatric Medicine in Edina all of us are being impacted by our sickly spring, to one degree or another. “Low energy and motivation, anxiety, problems with sleep, irritability, unexplained aches and pains, we are so familiar with these” he told me via e-mail. “Patients describe how horrible they feel, how sick of snow they are, how they don’t want to get out of bed, how depressing, nay, life-draining this weather is”. Verjovsky believes that huge variations from “average weather” afflict most of us with a mild case of SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder.



We may see a few 50s the last week of April, but Mother Nature tests our resolve again next week. A cold rain Sunday gives way to a rain-snow mix Wednesday night, but the brunt of the storm stays east of Minnesota. Keep a heavy jacket handy.



This too shall pass – but not soon enough.

Cold Rain. Models show potentially significant rain late tonight into Sunday, possibly more than .60″, mixing with wet snow over northern Minnesota. Graph: Iowa State.

A Wet Pattern. The 84-hour NAM model shows the next system pushing in from the west late tonight and Sunday, moving too quickly to tap much moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. The core of the jet stream is still 200-400 miles farther south than it should be in mid-April.

5-Day Rainfall Outlook. The heaviest rains from next week’s storm should pass well south/east of Minnesota, but some .5 to 1″ rainfall amounts are expected across Minnesota Sunday; well over 1″ in the Red River Valley (which will not help the flood potential). Map above: NOAA.



A Backwards Spring. Snowcover was observed over 16% of the USA (lower 48) as of April 1. As of yesterday snowcover had increased to 22% What’s wrong with that picture? Images: NOAA.

Snowfall And Precipitation Totals Mounting Up. Here’s an excerpt from Dr. Mark Seeley’s latest edition of WeatherTalk: “…This week’s snowfall totals coupled with significant snowfalls over April 6-7 combined to produce some large monthly totals for several climate stations in the state. In northern areas many have reported over a foot of snow for the month so far, including Cass Lake, Tower, Embarrass, Two Harbors, and Babbitt. In many of these areas yet more snow is expected over the weekend and into early next week. Monthly total precipitation amounts range over 2 inches already in some southern communities including New Ulm, Faribault, Blue Earth, Redwood Falls, Windom, Worthington, Grand Meadow, and Zumbrota. Still others reported over 3 inches for the month (already a very wet April) including Waseca, Wells, Amboy, Springfield, Lanesboro, Caledonia, La Crescent, and Winnebago. The moisture surplus will help to recharge soils, lakes, and streams, though over two-thirds of the state remains in long term drought…”

Environment Canada Shrugs Off Winter Weather Riling Canadians. And Minnesotans. Here’s an excerpt from The Windsor Star: “Canadians may not agree on much, but today they’re coming together with hatred for two people – old man winter and mother nature. Social media is abuzz with laments about frigid temperatures, high winds, freezing rain and even heavy snowfalls that lashed Ontario before moving east. Many of the western provinces are still buried under several centimetres of snow. But Environment Canada senior climatologist David Phillips says Canadians shouldn’t be so surprised. He says April is the most unpredictable stretch of the year, adding most cities report snowfall at some point during the month. Phillips says Canadians may have been lulled into a false sense of security based on last year’s unusually warm spring…”

Photo credit above: “A pedestrian makes their way through downtown Ottawa on Friday, April 12, 2013., as a major winter storm blows through the National Capital region.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Time Warp. April 12 or February 12? I can’t quite decide. Yesterday’s snowy time machine dropped 20″+ from central Wyoming into western South Dakota, with some 12-15″ amounts over southwestern Minnesota. Map: NOAA.

Before And After. Guess which photo was taken yesterday. The picture in the upper left was taken April 11, 2012. Thanks to Tricia Frostad in Chanhassen, MN for reminding us what a difference a year makes.

“40 Years Of Forecasting – I’ve Never Seen A Week Like This”. From 20-30 foot swells on Lake Superior and a “Civil Emergency” for Duluth to shoveling out Target Field, to 20″+ snows in South Dakota and Wyoming, to wedge tornadoes in Mississippi and record 90-degree heat in Washington D.C. the weather is reaching a new level of extreme. Here’s my latest YouTube Climate Matters update, courtesy of WeatherNation TV: “Incredible video of a wedge tornado Thursday in Mississippi, A civil emergency in Duluth, MN thanks to the snow and extreme heat in the Mid-Atlantic. What kind of weather have you experienced this week?

Aurora Potential? There has been a significant solar flare – a CME, and if skies clear the Northern Lights may be very prominent this weekend. The best chance of partly cloudy skies: Saturday night, especially east, over Wisconsin. Here are details from “The magnetic field of sunspot AR1719 erupted on April 11th at 0716 UT, producing an M6-class solar flare. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the explosion’s extreme ultraviolet flash. Coronagraph images from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) show a CME emerging from the blast site. The expanding cloud should hit Earth’s magnetic field during the early hours of April 13th, possibly sparking geomagnetic storms and auroras…”

“Sandy” Retired From List Of Hurricane Names By World Meteorological Organization. You could certainly see this coming. Any storm that claims considerable lives is automatically “retired”; details from Reuters and Huffington Post: “The World Meteorological Organization has retired “Sandy” from its rotating list of hurricane names because of the devastation last year’s storm by that name caused in Jamaica, Cuba and the northeastern United States, forecasters said on Thursday. Atlantic and Pacific storm names are reused every six years but are retired “if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of the name would be insensitive or confusing,” forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said. Sandy is the 77th name to be retired from the Atlantic list since 1954. It will be replaced with “Sara” beginning in 2018, when last year’s list is repeated…”

Ask Paul. Weather-related Q&A:

Hi Paul,

Good call on the snow totals! Since you are my weather guru, I’m wondering if you could take a guess at how long this 3-6″ in the Twin Cities will stick around? I’ve seen competing reports about it being gone by the weekend or sticking around into the middle of next week. I am a lacrosse coach, and would like to plan if we will have to be indoors still by Monday!


Kate Gliske



Karen – most of the snow in the east metro will be gone by Saturday afternoon; it may take a little longer over the west metro, where there is 4-7″ on the ground. Rain will accelerate snow melt Sunday, but most lawns in the western suburbs probably won’t be snow-free until Monday afternoon. The sun angle is too high for snow to linger for long.



Dear Paul-


Just wanted to let you know that there are many children who are seriously disappointed they didn’t cancel school. They were all betting on a snow day.


Keep up the good work.


Rod Meyer



Thanks Rod – I’m surprised that more schools didn’t cancel or postpone classes Thursday. Roads were terrible, temperatures just below freezing combined with sleet, freezing rain to put down a layer of rutted ice beneath the snow. When is the last time we had a snow day in April? Probably not since 1983, when 21.8″ fell.



High-Speed Camera System Catches Close-Ups of Snowflakes In Mid-Air. Gizmag has the details, and some amazing photos: “Falling snow can play havoc with radar systems, so the more that we know about the manner in which snow falls, the better that those systems can be equipped to compensate for it. That’s why for the past three years, researchers from the University of Utah have been developing a device known as the Multi-Angle Snowflake Camera – or MASC. Using three cameras and two motion sensors, it captures 3D photos of snowflakes in free-fall…”

Photo credit above: “The Multi-Angle Snowflake Camera, or MASC, is able to capture 3D photos of individual snowflakes in free-fall.”



* family of snowmen above courtesy of Susan Marmot.

Climate Stories…

Climate Change Seen Leaving Arctic Ice-Free By 2050. Bloomberg has the story – here’s a snippet: “The Earth’s northern polar region will be almost ice-free in the warmest months by 2050, sooner than previously estimated, according to a study by two federal government scientists who work on climate change. The researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration used three separate methods to predict the sea- ice trends in the Arctic Ocean, and their estimates for 2020 to 2060 forecast elimination of most ice during the Northern Hemisphere’s warmest months, according to a statement. The results show “very likely timing for future sea ice loss to the first half of the 21st century, with a possibility of major loss within a decade or two,” according to the paper by James Overland and Muyin Wang, who both study climate change and the Arctic. The paper was reviewed by other scientists and accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters…”

Has Obama Already Given Up On Climate Change? Here’s an excerpt from an article at The New Yorker: “Like the 2009 document, the new budget is more or less the prose version of Obama’s campaign poetry. But the second Big Bang also represents a major dodge on climate change. Over the last two years, Obama has consistently talked about his second term as the time when he would forcefully confront the challenges of a warming planet. As I reported last year, in private conversations he has told people that dealing with climate change is one of the few ways that he believes he could fundamentally improve the world decades after he’s gone from office. In his three most important speeches of the last year, he promised to confront this threat. In his convention speech in Charlotte, North Carolina, last September, he vowed, “my plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet, because climate change is not a hoax. More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke. They are a threat to our children’s future,,.”

Drought Study Misses Underlying Climate Connections. The story from Climate Nexus and Climate Science Watch: “In a new report, Martin Hoerling and his team of NOAA researchers investigated the underlying causes of the devastating (and still ongoing) drought of 2012 using computer modeling. The report provides a valuable contribution to understanding the immediate factors driving the occurrence of droughts but misses the underlying ways in which global warming makes drought conditions more likely and more severe. It also ignores two key science developments: the link between climate change and new jet stream patterns that affect drought in the U.S. and elsewhere and new research indicating that climate-drought links will show up sooner in regions of the U.S. outside the focus of Hoerling’s team….”

New Study Shows Once Again How “Climategate” E-mails Were Distorted. Media Matters has the story – here’s the intro: “At the height of the manufactured “Climategate” controversy, distortions of an email from a top climate scientist made it all the way to one of the leading Sunday shows. But a recent study re-confirms what that scientist was actually saying — that much of recent heat has been trapped deep in the ocean. In 2009, a batch of emails was stolen from the University of East Anglia. In one of the emails, which skeptics quickly took out of context, Kevin Trenberth, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, lamented the “travesty” that “we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment.” Trenberth was actuallyreferring to gaps in our “observing system” that make it difficult to say where short-term energy — or heat — is going, not copping to a lack of long-term climate change, as some claimed. In the email, Trenberth alluded to research suggesting that the “missing” heat might be sequestered deep in the ocean. ..”

Martin Luther King And The Call To Direct Action On Climate. Here’s an excerpt from The Miami Herald: “…We think there has been far too little direct action, given the staggering scale of the threat. As the International Energy Agency has explained, we must leave the vast majority of fossil fuels in the ground if we are to preserve a livable climate and avoid levels of warming that “even school children know” will be catastrophic for us all. The tar sands would be near the top of any list of the largest, dirtiest pools of carbon that must be forsaken for the sake of humanity. King explained in his letter, “In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action.” Has there ever been a problem where more facts from more unimpeachable sources have been collected and ignored than climate change? Every major scientific body and international group has taken to begging and pleading for action…”

Read more here:


Climate Change Brings Stormier Weather To The U.S. No kidding. There’s mounting evidence that this is not just our imagination; here’s an excerpt from a story at Nature: “…At the EGU meeting, Eberhard Faust, head of climate risk and natural hazards research at the reinsurance company Munich Re in Germany, presented a study showing in the US, the annual economic losses from sizable thunderstorms — those that cause more than $250 million in damages — have doubled since 1970. His team also found that storms have become more unpredictable. From 1990 to 2009, years with exceptionally large storm activity and high losses alternated frequently with relatively calm years. Year-to-year variation and average losses were significantly higher than they were between 1970 and 1989…”

Think The Planet Isn’t Warming? Check The Ocean. Climate scientists estimate that 90-93% of all warming is going into the world’s oceans – the rest is heating up the air and melting ice. Here’s an excerpt from Discovery News: “A recent article in The Economist stated that “over the past 15 years air temperatures at the Earth’s surface have been flat while greenhouse-gas emissions have continued to soar.” The Economist went to great lengths to point out that “the mismatch between rising greenhouse-gas emissions and not-rising temperatures … does not mean global warming is a delusion.” But the piece was predictably lauded by climate skeptics as “further evidence” of the case against climate change. Except that … it wasn’t. As The Economist piece itself pointed out, this wasn’t an argument that “global warming has ‘stopped.‘” The past two decades have been the hottest in recorded history; of the nine hottest years on record, eight have come since 2000. The question, though, is why the year-on-year/decade-on-decade increase appears to have been somewhat less in the past 10 to 15 years, given the ongoing increase in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations…”

What Is Climate Sensitivity, Why Does It Matter And Who’s Got What Wrong and Why? Perpetual climate deniers like to point out that Earth’s climate isn’t nearly as sensitive to man-made greenhouse gases as all those “alarmist/warmist” scientists claim. Here is a good explanation of climate sensitivity from climate scientist and Minnesota native Greg Laden at “Climate sensitivity is the number of degrees C that the earth’s average temperature (of the atmosphere air and water on top of the “earth” per se) will increase with a doubling of “pre-industrial CO2″ in the environment. This is an important number … and it is a number, and to save you the suspense, the number is about 3 … because it tells us what the direct effects of the release of fossil Carbon (mainly in the form of CO2) from the burning of fossil fuels would be. Here’s the thing. Climate change denialists would like the number to be 1, or some other number lower than 3. Well, we would ALL like the number to be low, but those of us interesting in actual science and truth and such things mainly want to have a good estimate of this important value. Climate change denialists want to pretend that the number is lower than it is, regardless of what that number may be…”

Companies Unite In Call For U.S. Climate Change Policy. Huffington Post has the article; here’s an excerpt: “Leaders from the business community made one thing clear when they came together on Wednesday to announce a 100-day corporate campaign in support of climate change policy: This is not a right or left issue. It is not about appealing to a base of liberals or conservatives. According to signers of the campaign, it is about tackling one of the greatest economic challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. “The longer we wait, the higher the risks will be to our business, to our consumers and to society as a whole,” said Betsy Blaisdell, Senior Manager of Environmental Stewardship at Timberland. “We’re motivated to see progress made on the issue of climate change, and it will take everyone to get it done...”

White House Budget Funds Gore Climate Change Satellite. Details from The Hill; here’s the intro: “President Obama’s fiscal 2014 budget calls for using a satellite designed to track climate change that was originally pushed by former Vice President Gore. Gore proposed the satellite in 1998 as a way to take continuous photographs of the Earth, giving scientists measurements of climate change. Former President George W. Bush never pursued the plan….” From AP: “Acting NOAA chief Kathryn Sullivan said its main mission will to give Earth warning when solar storms — which can zap power systems on the ground and fry satellite electronics — are on the way. That job is now being done by a NASA satellite that has surpassed its scheduled lifetime, she said…”



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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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