14.9" snowfall season to date at MSP Airport
35.5" average winter snowfall to date in the metro
42% of average snowfall so far this winter
60.9" snowfall last winter by this date!
.25" total GFS model output precip total next 16 days
(Would be 2.5" of snow at a 10:1 ratio)
15 USA cities reporting above average snowfall so far this winter
155 USA cities reporting below average snowfall so far this winter!
"Expect the unprecedented" Wunderground's Jeff Masters on climate trends
"The new "Blue Marble" image of Earth on January 4, 2012, as seen by the VIIRS instrument on the new Suomi NPP satellite. The U.S. and Canada are virtually snow-free and cloud-free, which is extremely rare for a January day. The lack of snow in the mountains of the Western U.S. is particularly unusual. I doubt one could find a January day this cloud-free with so little snow on the ground throughout the entire satellite record, going back to the early 1960s. NOAA's Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service shows that only one state--Washington--had areas where precipitation accumulated more than 0.25" on January 4, 2012, which is an extraordinary occurrence for a January day." From Wunderground. Image credit: NASA.
Well at least it feels like winter in Minnesota and the Midwest today. Our lawns and fields may look brown, but the February-like chill in the air is real today.
A respectably chilly air mass has settled in, and the overall pattern looks more like winter the next two weeks.
Arctic front ahead:
Temps will moderate again by Thursday, but a reinforcing shot of cold air is just 36-48 hours away. The next front is arctic in origin, and will push south through Minnesota Thursday night into early Friday.
This stronger brand of cold will get you attention Friday & Saturday. Overnight lows will dip to near 0 in the metro, with temps well below zero in northern Minnesota.
Daytime highs will struggle to make the teens Friday & Saturday.
Another warm up in sight?
Looking down the road there are now signs of another warm up in about 2 weeks. The GFS is hinting at 40s again around Feb 23rd-24th. The AO, which has controlled our weather so far this winter, has recently gone negative. There are signs of a shift back to a positive AO, and that could mean milder air again in about 2 weeks.
There are also some signs we may turn wetter about then...
Stay tuned on that one.
Growing snow drought.
Our 14.9" season snowfall so far in the metro is just 42% of average so far this season. Last winter's "Domebuster" storm dumped 17.1" on the metro...more than all of our snow combined this season in a single storm!
Here are some other season to date snowfall totals around the region.
Sioux Falls 8.7"
Grand Forks 13.7"
St. Cloud 16.2"
International Falls 32.1"
The snow drought includes much of the northern USA. You can see how little snow has fallen compared to last winter through mid-January on the graph below.
The "snow drought" is good news for cash strapped city snow plow budgets after last winter's snow blitz.
With little snow in the forecast the next 2 weeks, it looks like Minnesota's snow drought will continue to grow. Right now (with plenty of snow potential ahead thorugh March) this is the 2nd lowest snowfall total on record for the Twin Cities.
If we manage to get theough the season with less than an additional 7.6" this will be one of the 10 least snowy winters on record.
We'll see about that.
Changing weather patterns: Are the "weather dice" loaded in favor of warmth?
As I posted yesterday, weather patterns in the last 2 years look so out of place form what I've seen since I started looking at daily weather maps about 25 years ago.
Apparently I am not alone in this observation.
One of the nation's top tropical weather experts and climate observers is Jeff Masters with Wundergound. In a recent interview, Jeff gives the best description of why the dice are loaded in favor of warmer weather that I have ever heard.
I don't normally quote so extensively from weather other blogs, but this is just too good not to share with MPR listeners and Updraft readers.
Here are some of Jeff's extremely lucid and insightful comments.
Christine Shearer: How do you think about the relationship between climate, climate change, and daily weather?
Jeff Masters: "Climate is what you expect; weather is what you get. I like to think of the weather as a game of dice. Mother Nature rolls the dice each day to determine the weather, and the rolls fall within the boundaries of what the climate will allow. The extreme events that happen at the boundaries of what are possible are what people tend to notice the most. When the climate changes, those boundaries change. Thus, the main way people will tend to notice climate change is through a change in the extreme events that occur at the boundaries of what is possible. If you want a longer explanation, think of the weather as a game of dice like craps or backgammon, where Mother Nature rolls two six-sided dice to decide the day's weather. There are 36 possible combinations of the two dice, and rolls can range from two to twelve. Most often, an ordinary roll like six, seven, or eight comes up; seven is the most common, with a 6 in 36 probability. Rolls of six and eight are only slightly less common, coming up with a 5 in 36 probability. These rolls of the "weather dice" correspond to typical summer weather-high temperatures in the mid- to upper 70s on a nice summer day in New York City, for instance. It is much harder to roll an extreme event-snake eyes (corresponding to a record cold day, with a high near 65), or double sixes (a record warm day, with a high near 100.) These rolls only have a 1 in 36 chance of occurring-about 3%.
Now think about what happens if we take one of the six-sided "weather dice" and paint an extra spot on each side. The old die still rolls a one through six, but the new die now rolls a two through seven. The most likely roll increases to an eight, so we've shifted to a warmer climate, getting a typical summertime high of 78 degrees instead of 76. However, the increase in 78 degree days isn't that noticeable, since we've only increased the likelihood of getting an eight on our "weather dice" from 5 in 36 to 6 in 36. But now look at what has happened to extreme events as a result of loading our "weather dice" in favor of higher rolls. Whereas before we had only a 3% chance of rolling an twelve on our "weather dice"-an extreme heat day of 100 degrees in New York City-we've now tripled these chances to almost 9%, since there are three possible combinations of the dice that total twelve or higher. Moreover, it is no longer possible to roll snake eyes, corresponding to a record cold day, but it is now possible to roll a 13-a previously unprecedented weather event. Temperatures higher than 106, New York City's previous all-time high temperature, can now occur."
Pretty remarkable stuff.
Janaury continues the warm trend in USA:
A follow up on my post from yesterday on the 4th warmst Janaury in the USA. Check out the image from NOAA below and you can see how warmth focused on the Midwest in Janaury.
Again, some insight from Wunderground.
"It wasn't the warmest January in U.S. history, but it sure didn't seem like winter last month--the contiguous U.S. experienced its fourth warmest January on record, and the winter period December 2011 - January 2012 was also the fourth warmest in the 117-year record, reported NOAA's National Climatic Data Center yesterday. The percent area of the U.S. experiencing extremes in warm maximum temperatures was 56 percent--the second highest value on record. Thirteen of the 550 major U.S. cities with automated airport weather stations broke or tied all-time records for their hottest January temperature:
Craig, CO 82°F
Bakersfield, CA 82°F
Alexandria, LA 83°F
Duluth, MN 48°F
Minot, ND 61°F
Mitchell, SD 68°F
Fargo, ND 55°F
Jamestown, ND 56°F
Huron, SD 65°F
Aberdeen, SD 63°F
Iron Mountain, MI 52°F
Alma, GA 83°F
Omaha, NE 69°F
However, extremely cold air settled in over Alaska in January, and several cities in Alaska had their coldest average January temperatures on record: Nome (-16.6 degrees F), Bethel (-17.3 degrees F), McGrath (-28.5 degrees F), and Bettles (-35.6 degrees F)."
3rd least-snowy January
We're not the only ones looking at brown grass this winter. More from Wunderground.
"According to the Rutgers Global Snow Lab, the average U.S. snow extent during January was the 3rd smallest January snow cover extent in the 46-year period of record. The National Weather Service sends out a daily "Weather and Almanac" product for several hundred major U.S. cities that we make available on underground. The February 6 statistics for those cities that reported measurable snow this winter show that only fifteen cities in the lower 48 states reported above-average snowfall as of February 6, and 155 had received below-average snowfall."
Stay tuned & be warm!
"...the overall pattern looks more like winter the next two weeks."
I can't tell you how relieved I am to heart that :|