24 F. high on Sunday in the Twin Cities.
24 F. average high on December 28.
47 F. high on December 28, 2013.

4″ snow on the ground in Minneapolis – St. Paul.

5.6″ snow so far in December.
10.8″ average December snowfall as of the 28th.
15″ snowfall so far this winter season at KMSP.
20.7″ average snowfall as of December 28.

Glancing Blow?

“Let’s get some sushi!” meteorologist and Penn State classmate Mike Seidel texted Sunday. When Mike’s in town it’s a signal that our weather is about to turn toxic. He’s the roving correspondent for the Weather Channel, in town covering the upcoming onslaught of bitter air.

Except the latest models suggest more of a glancing blow of polar air early next week – the core of subzero air aimed at New England, not Minnesota. We’ll see.

We get a taste of the Great White North into Wednesday; two nights below zero before a rebound later this week. One bright shining silver lining from these rude Canadian fronts: our coldest days tend to be sunny. Yes, your teeth may be chattering as you hunt for your shades.

No thaws are brewing, but 20s will feel surprisingly good later this week, before the next big scoop of Arctic Chunk brushes Minnesota early next week.

Previous runs of the ECMWF (European) brought this gusher of bitter air into Minnesota, hinting at 3-5 days in a row below zero. Latest model runs nudge the cold wave farther east, with less polar pain close to home.

We won’t run out of cold fronts here anytime soon. But this winter they’ll be alternating with a mild Pacific breeze.

Temperature anomalies valid Sunday morning, January 4 obtained using Climate Reanalyzer (http://cci-reanalyzer.org), Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, USA.

Light on the Snow. Estimated snow cover shows 2-4″ across most of the metro area, but only 1″ at St. Cloud, and close to a trace at Brainerd. Even the Duluth area has little more than 2-4″ on the ground right now, with 8″ for parts of the Minnesota Arrowhead. Bare ground from Morris and Alexandria to Wadena and Bemidji? Yes, that’s odd for the 28th day of December. Source: NOAA NOHRSC.

Current USA Snow Cover. According to NOAA 40.5% of the lower 48 has snow on the ground, up from 29.9% on November 28. The amount of snow on the ground is fairly light, although the approach of much colder air will probably spin up more significant snow events over the next 2 weeks.

48 Hour Outlook. NOAA WPC shows the leading edge of Arctic air pushing into the Plains and Upper Midwest, sparking a period of snow from the Rockies southward to the Texas Panhandle by Tuesday evening. A little lake effect is likely downwind of the Great Lakes, a sloppy east coast front pushes out to sea late Tuesday.

Cold Enough. Not exactly polar cold, but the next 72 hours will be a poignant reminder that the coldest weather of winter usually comes at the very end of December and the first 3 weeks of January. Lows dip below zero tonight, again Tuesday night, before recovering into the 20s later this week. The next, even stronger push of Arctic air arrives early next week, European guidance hinting at -12F in the metro next Tuesday morning, but the thrust of the coldest air aimed at the Great Lakes and New England. We’ll see.

One Week From Today. ECMWF (European) guidance valid next Monday evening, January 6, 2015, shows polar air drilling into the Great Lakes, a glancing blow of frigid for Minnesota and the Upper Midwest, but not as persistently numbing as earlier model runs. It’s still early to predict with any confidence, but there’s little doubt that we’ll experience a cold bias into the second week of January. Map credit: WSI Corp.

2014: An Above Average Year for Iowa Tornadoes. Minnesota experienced only 23 tornadoes this year, about 2/3rds the normal number, but just to our south it was a different story, according to a story at wcfcourier.com; here’s an excerpt that caught my eye: “…The year will also be remembered for severe weather. “In fact, the 55 tornadoes recorded in 2014 is more than 2012 (16) and 2013 (28) combined and above the 46 tornadoes that Iowa sees in a typical tornado season,” according to meteorologist Craig Cogil…” (Image above: NOAA SPC).

Malaysia, Thailand Hit With Epic Flooding; Landslide Danger Looms. Here’s an excerpt from CNN: “Even by Malaysian standards, this flooding is epic. Neighborhoods turned into islands surrounded by a sea of murky brown water. Streets doubled as rivers. Cars were swept away and toppled over. The flooding has forced more than 132,000 people to evacuate, Malaysia’s official Bernama news agency said. Strong currents and interrupted power supply are adding to the chaos, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak told reporters…”

Photo credit above: “In this Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2014 photo, numbers of houses and buildings along a flooded river stand in muddy water in Malaysia National Park in Kuala Tahan, Pahang state, Malaysia. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Friday, Dec. 26 he was cutting short his U.S. vacation to deal with the worst floods in the country in decades that have killed five people and displaced more than 100,000.” (AP Photo).

* The BBC has more on Malaysia’s flooding, which has been described as the worst in 30 years. Social media covers the extreme flooding here.

The Benefits Of Being Cold. Want to lose some holiday weight? Turn down the thermostat 10-20 degrees. You may be able to shiver away some of those extra pounds, according to a fascinating tale at The Atlantic; here’s a snippet: “…Fascinated, Cronise began a regimen of cold showers and shirtless walks in winter, and he lost 26.7 pounds in six weeks. He began measuring his metabolism during and after cold exposure, and found that his body was burning a tremendous amount of energy. Rather than storing energy as fat, his body was using it to sustain his core temperature…”

6 Things Warren Buffet Says You Should Do With Your Money in 2015. GoBankingRates has the story; here’s an excerpt: “…In his 2014 letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, Buffett revealed his estate plan, reminding readers to keep their investments safe, low-cost and long-term. Turns out, he’s planning on leaving all of the cash for his wife in a product that’s as old, stodgy and lucrative as himself.

“My advice to the trustee could not be more simple: Put 10% of the cash in short-term government bonds and 90% in a very low-cost S&P 500 index fund. (I suggest Vanguard’s.) I believe the trust’s long-term results from this policy will be superior to those attained by most investors — whether pension funds, institutions or individuals — who employ high-fee managers…”

The Retraction War. The ‘net is changing how scientific findings are communicated, and increasingly, retracted. Is the scientific method under fire? Here’s an excerpt of a very interesting tale at Aeon: “…Despite this kind of snafu, a relentless storm is reshaping the way science is conveyed and received today. Fraud and error are harder to hide, because of the democratising influence of technology and the world wide web. Plagiarism-detecting software, which can scan a paper and give a report within minutes, is widely available. Replication or manipulation of images is easier to sleuth out, because most papers are now widely available in digital versions viewable from any computer. The rise of online post-publication peer review is also reshaping the scientific endeavour before our very eyes…”

A Haunting Look Inside Some of America’s Abandoned Shopping Malls. Slate has an interesting story about what happens when malls die; here’s a clip: “Photographer Seph Lawless had been traveling the country photographing a variety of “abandoned and broken” buildings for his book, Autopsy of America, when he came across two buildings from his past: Rolling Acres Mall in Akron, Ohio and Randall Park Mall in North Randall, Ohio. Growing up in nearby Cleveland, Lawless spent lots of time in both of the malls during their heyday with friends and family. “The malls were great. They were thriving and vibrant—much like the economy at the time. That was a happy time for most Americans. The malls were filled with shoppers and tenants,” he said…”

Photo credit: Rolling Acres Mall, courtesy of Seph Lawless.

TODAY: Peeks of sun, a bit chilly. Feels like -5. WInds: North 10. High: 10
MONDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear, second subzero night of winter so far. Low: -4
TUESDAY: Bright sun. Feels like -15. High: 8
NEW YEAR’S EVE: Increasing clouds, still windy. Wake-up: -7. High: 14
NEW YEAR’S DAY: Clouds, period of flurries. Wake-up: 9. High: 25
FRIDAY: Mostly cloudy, average temps. Wake-up: 15. High: 26
SATURDAY: Patchy clouds, more flurries. Wake-up: 17. High: 26
SUNDAY: Cloudy, seasonably cold. Wake-up: 20. High: 24

Climate Stories…

In 83 Speeches, Senator Pushes For Climate Change. When it comes to a D.C. politician who understands the implications of climate change, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse is in a league of his own. Here’s an excerpt from ABC News: “…Whitehouse, now in his second term, is a former federal prosecutor and Rhode Island attorney general. His wife, Sandra Thornton Whitehouse, is a marine scientist who helped him see the importance of the oceans in everyone’s lives, he said. “On a personal level, I have a deep fear of being ashamed,” he said. “I don’t want, 20 years from now, when this is way past our current discussion, to be ashamed that I didn’t do my best when we still had a chance to fix this problem…”
Photo credit above: “In this Oct. 9, 2014 file photo, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). left, talks about rising sea levels with Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) in a bayfront neighborhood of Miami Beach, Fla., that in recent years frequently was flooded by seasonal high tides. The Rhode Island Democrat’s ever-changing, ever-present floor speeches make him the Senate’s loudest, most persistent voice on the dangers of climate change.” (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

Pope Francis’s Edict On Climate Change Will Anger Deniers and U.S. Churches. I like this guy – he’s not afraid to speak his mind, even when he’s swimming upstream. Is sustainable capitalism even possible? Here’s an excerpt from The Guardian that caught my eye: “…An economic system centred on the god of money needs to plunder nature to sustain the frenetic rhythm of consumption that is inherent to it. “The system continues unchanged, since what dominates are the dynamics of an economy and a finance that are lacking in ethics. It is no longer man who commands, but money. Cash commands. “The monopolising of lands, deforestation, the appropriation of water, inadequate agro-toxics are some of the evils that tear man from the land of his birth. Climate change, the loss of biodiversity and deforestation are already showing their devastating effects in the great cataclysms we witness,” he said…”

File photo: AP Photo/L’Osservatore Romano.

The Dystopian Craze May Be Society’s Way of Coping With Real Doom.  From The Hunger Games to Divergent to Snow Piercer, are we channeling our inner gloom and doom into popular culture and film? BostInno has a story worth reading – here’s an excerpt: “…In other words, the framework for our favorite genre of blockbusters and novels isn’t that far off. The difference between the storyline of our reality and the fantasy is — we still have time to fix it. However, Klein emphasized that the wave of dystopian fiction, in both film and book form, may actually be a worrying sign that we believe doom is the only possible outcome. And with so many arguments clouding the climate debate, Klein is concerned that we’ll never realize the severity of the circumstances…”