Every Thursday MPR meteorologist Paul Huttner joins Kerri Miller on The Daily Circuit for "Climate Cast" on MPR News Stations to talk about the latest research on our changing climate and the consequences that we're seeing here in Minnesota and worldwide.
These days it seems like we are witnessing climate changes unfold right before our very eyes.
It's not our imagination.
The nature of our seasons is changing. Spring blooms come earlier. Summer is more humid with a documented increase in extreme localized flash flood events...and more frequent droughts. Fall lingers longer. Lakes freeze up later. Winters are trending shorter and noticeably, measurably milder. New plants are able to thrive in Minnesota's milder climate.
We're all living witnesses to rapid climate changes in our lifetime. This is no longer your grandparents "Minnesota."
In 2013 at MPR we're devoting more coverage to the science behind and the growing effects of our changing climate in Minnesota and around the globe.
Climate Cast for February 28th, 2013:
On this week's Climate Cast with MPR News' Chief Meteorologist Paul Huttner, we discuss why Minnesota is #1 on the list of the fastest warming states since 1970.
Warmer Winters: We're #1
Minnesota is happy to be #1 in many things.
Being the fastest warming state in winter? That may be a mixed blessing.
A new study from Climate Central shows that Minnesota winters have warmed more than 4 degrees Fahrenheit since 1970. Winter nights in Minnesota have warmed the most, on average over 5 degrees Fahrenheit.
Here's an excerpt from the story:
Warming Winters: U.S. Temperature Trends
While the U.S. as a whole has seen a warming trend that has raised annual average temperatures by 1.3°F over the past 100 years, warming varies seasonally, and it's winter that has seen the fastest warming.
Since 1970, winters in the top 5 fastest-warming states -- Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Vermont and South Dakota -- heated up four-and-a-half times faster than winters in the 5 slowest-warming states: Nevada, California, Oregon, Colorado, and Washington. The five fastest-warming states have seen at least 4F warming in winters since 1970.
Winter nights have warmed in all but one of the lower 48 states since 1970. Across the continent, winter nighttime temperatures have warmed about 30 percent faster than nighttime temperatures over the entire year. Since 1970, overnight winter temperatures in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Vermont have warmed faster than 1.29°F per decade, or more than 5°F in just 43 years.
The plus side of warmer winters?
-Lower heating bills and potentially fewer winter traffic fatalities.
-A distinct trend toward less snowfall for our winter recreation and Minnesota's resort economy, and increased stress and more disease and subsequent fires in Minnesota's prized forests.
As our climate changes before our eyes, we're still adding up the consequences (benefits and costs) of a warmer climate in Minnesota, and of warmer winters in particular.
Drought 2013: Threading the needle for easing the worst drought since the 1950s
As we enter the spring of 2013, the worst drought since the 1950s still grips a large part of the Central Plains and reaches north into Minnesota.
A parade of winter storms has eased drought from eastern Texas through Arkansas and Missouri to eastern Iowa and Wisconsin.
Recent heavy snows and spring runoff will increase stream flow and river levels in the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers in the coming weeks.
But the window for easing agricultural or "soils" drought will be narrow as the ground thaws from south to north this spring. Timely, heavy spring rains will be needed to recharge parched soils in much of the "Midwest Grain Belt."
Climate Central's Lauren Morello and Andrew Freedman lay out the scenario for dought as we move into Spring 2013.
Time Is Running Out to Avert a Third Summer of Drought
Time is running out to avert a third summer of drought in much of the High Plains, West and Southwest, federal officials warned Thursday.
Without repeated, significant bouts of heavy snow and rain in the remaining days of winter, a large part of the country will face serious water supply shortages this spring and summer, when temperatures are hotter and average precipitation is normally low.
The drought already ranks as the worst, in terms of severity and geographic extent, since the 1950s. Though it's not over yet, its economic impact appears to be severe, said Brad Rippey, a meteorologist at the Agriculture Department's Office of the Chief Economist.
It "will probably end up being a top-five disaster event" on the government's ranking of the costliest weather events of the past three decades, he said at a Capitol Hill briefing Thursday.
"The next couple of months will kind of determine how the spring and summer plays out in that part of the country," said Jake Crouch, a climate scientist at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. Crouch said that continued drought conditions could threaten water supplies in many areas, particularly in the Southwest.
Climate Cast resources:
Want to know more about climate change? Here are few quick links to credible climate change sources.
-NOAA NCDC's "State of the Climate" report
-Great summary of Modern Day Climate Change from SUNY-Suffolk
-Minnesota Climate Working Group climate change resources
-Mark Seeley's Weather Talk
-Common climate change myths
-Climate change in the news from Climate Central
-More coverage from The Yale Forum on Climate Change and Media
Posted at 2:38 PM on March 1, 2013
by Paul Huttner
Our 1st March weekend opens lamb like in Minnesota.
Is there really any science behind that old saying "In like a lamb...out like a lion?"
Dr. Mark Seeley ran the numbers and came up with a verification of about 14%. Weather folklore often has a grain of truth. In this case...just a few grains.
Our quiet weekend gives way to watching the next snowmaker drop south from Canada. The Alberta Clipper looks potent, but the track is still in question.
At this point, most of the reliable models steer the system toward southwest Minnesota with the metro on the edge. We'll have to watch the weekend forecast models to see how the track may change this weekend. If it comes east...the Twin Cities could be shoveling Monday.
Bill Endersen will have updates on the system later Sunday & Monday AM.
Watching for snow:
Somebody is going to get a pile of snow with our next weather system Monday.
Right now, the Euro and GFS tracks seems to favor a good 3" to 6"+ centered on Sioux Falls, with a rapid cut off in snow totals as you move toward the Twin Cities.
Twin Cities riding the edge of another system? Why should this one be easy?
I'm still tracking a thaw late next week.
Southerly winds will kick in by Thursday and temps should respond into the upper 30s and lower 40s in southern Minnesota.
Overall March still looks seasonable...and potentially wet.
The models do indicate that enough mild air will surge north from time to time to produce some rain...and enough lingering cold air to mix with some snow.
In other words, a good old fashioned Minnesota March?