42 F. maximum temperature yesterday at MSP International Airport.
25 F. average Twin Cities high on January 30.
43 F. high on January 30, 2016.

January 31, 1893: The temperature drops 40 degrees in five hours during a blizzard at Park Rapids.

Minor Clipping – Models Hint at Mild February

Why do Minnesotans stay put, in spite of challenging winters? A happy marriage of factors, but our lakes are a huge reason.

The ‘Land of 10,000 Lakes’ really has 11,842 lakes of 10 acres or larger, according to Minnesota’s DNR. We have 90,000 miles of shoreline, more than California, Florida and Hawaii combined. Minnesota has one recreational boat for every six people, more than any other state.

You can drive on them in the winter, swim in them in the summer, and admire them year-round.
Minnesota winters have warmed 5.4 F since 1970, according to Climate Central. Will our lakes be able to adapt to continued warming? Stay tuned.

A coating to an inch of snow falls today as a departing clipper whips up colder winds. Temperatures run a few degrees below average as we sail into February, but I don’t see any subzero nights for the immediate metro thru mid-February. In fact models are hinting at a mild bias next month. Nothing new there.

Driving back from Brainerd Sunday I was struck by a lack of snow cover. No jolts of southern moisture brewing – the pattern just isn’t ripe for significant snows anytime soon. But an inch or 2 may fall next Saturday.
Arctic Still Abnormally Mild. Based on GFS guidance the arctic region is forecast to be as much as 9 F. warmer than average today, temperatures trending above average across much of North America. There are cold fronts lurking (to be sure) but looking at long-term averages these cold blasts aren’t quite as cold as they used to be. Temperature anomaly source: Climate Reanalyzer.
Feeling Above Average. True, the average temperatures are rising now, as a higher sun angle begins to compensate for long nights and snow cover to our north and west, but even so temperatures are forecast to trend above average into mid-February. ECMWF numbers above for the Twin Cities: WeatherBell.

10-Day Snowfall Potential. The time series of accumulated snow (GFS) for the next 10 days shows a fair amount of lake effect snows, as much as 12-24″ of new snow from near Boise to Yellowstone National Park. The Sierra and Cascade ranges pick up more snow as another Pacific storm pushes inland. Animation: Tropicaltidbits.com.
An Early March? Canadian air is forecast to brush the northern USA, but no Mother Lodes of bitter air are imminent for the lower 48 states – the flow still predominately zonal, or west-to-east, meaning a mild, dry bias for much of the USA.
February Preview: Mild Bias Continues. Updated map. Every run of NOAA’s Climate Forecast System (CFSv2) model has been trending milder over time in recent weeks – looking ahead to February. Confidence levels are still low, but I’d wager a stale bagel February will feel more like a typical March across much of America. Map: WeatherBell.
Positive Phase of NAO. NOAA models predict a positive North Atlantic Oscillation into mid-February, which implies jet stream winds blowing strong enough to confine the coldest air over Canada. We’ll see.

Winter Warming Trends in the U.S. A 5.4 F. warming during meteorologist winter since 1970 in the Twin Cities? That’s not a climate model; that’s based on observations from climate stations positioned well away from the “Urban Heat Island” effect. Climate Central has more details: “…Warmer winters may seem nice at first, but they have major ecological and economic consequences. While warmer weather extends the growing season, it also changes the growing zones while also allowing for the survival of agricultural pests and weeds that normally cannot endure the cold, putting crops more at risk for damage. Warmer winters could also cause some plants to flower earlier, so by the time bees and other pollinators emerge in the spring, their food sources may have already disappeared, causing both bee and plant species to suffer. Winter snowpack, already on the decline, insulates soils for trees, provides water for reservoirs later in the year, and reduces wildfire risk, could disappear if winters continue warming…”

73 Confirmed Tornadoes For January 21-23 Outbreak. U.S. Tornadoes does a good job of breaking down one of the most violent winter outbreaks on record: “…This classic high-end severe weather pattern set up the deadliest few days of tornadoes in over a year. It was also among the largest tornado outbreaks on record during the winter. More people were killed in this series of tornado volleys than all of 2016. We also saw the first “High Risk” from the Storm Prediction Center since 2014, although it ended up not being the biggest tornado day of the bunch...”

Map credit: “January 21-23, 2017 | 73 confirmed tornadoes, 90 reports, 198 warnings, 14 watches.”
Jan. 20 SPC event page | Jan. 21 SPC event page | Jan. 22 SPC event page

NOAA SPC tracks violent EF-4 and EF-5 tornadoes since 1875 here.

Storms Preview Sea-Rise Damage to California Roads, Cities. The Washington Post reports: ” Ocean rise already is worsening the floods and high tides sweeping California this stormy winter, climate experts say, and this month’s damage and deaths highlight that even a state known as a global leader in fighting climate change has yet to tackle some of the hardest work of dealing with it. The critical steps yet to come include starting to decide which low-lying cities, airports and highways, along with threatened landmarks like San Francisco’s Embarcadero, to hoist above the rising water and which to abandon — and where to start getting the many billions of dollars for those climate rescues. “People always tell us we’re ahead of the curve” on climate change, said Larry Goldzband, head of a regional San Francisco Bay commission that late last year stepped up regional efforts to identify and prioritize communities and infrastructure at risk from rising sea level. As proud as Californians are of their climate-change efforts, “I always think, ‘Man, if we are ahead of the curve, I feel sorry for the rest of the country,’” Goldzband said…”

Photo credit: “This Jan. 14, 2017 photo provided by Fraser Shilling shows flooding along Highway 37 near Vallejo, Calif. Ocean rise already is worsening the floods and high tides sweeping California this stormy winter, climate experts say, and this month’s damage and deaths highlight that even a state known as a global leader in fighting climate change has yet to tackle some of the hardest work of dealing with it.” (Fraser Shilling via AP) (Associated Press)
London Just Set a Modern Pollution Record. Bloomberg has details: “London isn’t called the “Big Smoke” for nothing. The city’s poor air quality set a modern record during this week’s spate of pollution that occurred when cold, windless weather trapped emissions over the capital. More than 20 sites recorded levels that hit the limit 10 on an index maintained by King’s College London from Jan. 17 to Jan. 24, the most since the index was introduced in 2012, said Andrew Grieve, an analyst at the college. The college uses sensors placed around the city to measure various types of pollution, such as particulate matter and gasses...” (File photo: BBC).

Extreme Weather is Becoming More Frequent – and Expensive – in Europe. Here’s an excerpt from Pacific Standard: ” This week, the European Environment Agency released its latest report, which clearly spells out the threat of rising sea levels and more extreme weather, such as more frequent and more intense heatwaves, flooding, droughts, and storms due to climate change. The report — updated every four years — says more flexible adaptation strategies are crucial to mitigating these effects. Climate-related extreme events in EEA member countries have accounted for more than 400 billion euros in economic losses since 1980, according to the report. One of the important new findings in the report is that there was no global warming pause between 1998 and 2012, as had been suggested by some temperature record evaluations later shown to be flawed….”

Flooding More Than Doubled Across Europe in 35 Years. Climate Central has more details: “The number of devastating floods that trigger insurance payouts has more than doubled in Europe since 1980, according to new research by Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurance company. The firm’s latest data shows there were 30 flood events requiring insurance payouts in Europe last year – up from just 12 in 1980 – and the trend is set to accelerate as warming temperatures drive up atmospheric moisture levels. Globally, 2016 saw 384 flood disasters, compared with 58 in 1980, although the greater proportional increase probably reflects poorer flood protections and lower building standards in the developing world. Ernst Rauch, the head of Munich Re’s corporate climate centre, said: “Flood events together with wind storm events are the two perils where we have the biggest increase in frequency worldwide…”

Photo credit: “A high tide combined with a storm surge floods the Menai Straits.” Credit: Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/flickr

Tesla Gives the California Power Grid a Battery Boost. Here’s a clip from The New York Times: “Just off a freeway in Southern California, 396 refrigerator-size stacks of Tesla batteries, encased in white metal, have been hastily erected with a new mission: to suck up electricity from the grid during the day and feed it back into the system as needed, especially in the evening. The installation, capable of powering roughly 15,000 homes over four hours, is part of an emergency response to projected energy shortages stemming from a huge leak at a natural gas storage facility. The project, which officially comes online on Monday, is an important and surprising demonstration of how utilities can use enormous collections of batteries in place of conventional power plants…”

Photo credit: “Tesla battery packs at Southern California Edison’s Mira Loma substation.” Credit Tesla.
Gates and Buffet Still “Hopeful”. Here’s an excerpt from a story at Reuters: “…Both told students it is important to invest and focus on doing good works over the long term, despite the impulse or perceived need for shorter-term thinking. Gates said this was particularly true in areas such as climate change and vaccinations, calling it just as important to be sure people can get vaccines as it is to develop them. Buffett said: “It’s very hard to have politicians think of something that’s wonderful for the country 20 years from now” if the short-term impact might cost them reelection, with their decisions often tainted by too much money, which he called “bad news...”

Photo credit: “Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, speaks while Bill Gates looks on at Columbia University in New York, U.S., January 27, 2017.” REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton.
Tech That Will Change Your Life in 2017. The Wall Street Journal has an impressive list: “…The list below has become an annual tradition, where we talk to industry insiders, track the trends and otherwise gaze into our crystal ball to identify the tech that’s going to make an impact in the near term—for better and worse. One thing that struck us this year is the growing importance of software. You won’t necessarily need to buy a new phone, TV, watch or speaker to bring the advances of AI into your home. They’ll come in updates and apps, as well as in shiny new gadgets. This also has its downside: If you haven’t been hacked yet, the chances are even greater in 2017. And a handful of big companies will continue to consolidate their power over what you read and watch…”

Illustration credit: “We talked to industry insiders and tracked the trends to identify the tech that will make the biggest impact in 2017.” Illustration: Jason Schneider.

21 Best Beaches in the World. Thanks to National Geographic for the mental health break: “…A swim through an opening nearly invisible from the sea reveals what locals call the “hidden beach,” encircled by an impressive rock ring forming a natural oculus for the sun and sky. Only six visitors at a time can visit “Love Beach” via approved tour operators such as Punta Mita Adventures….”

Photo credit: “Sun peers through onto Playa del Amor in Marieta Islands, Mexico.” Photograph by Miguel Naranjo.

Power of a Meaningful Life. Chase meaning rather than happiness, and you may wind up being happier (and more content) in the process, argues the author of a new study at Scientific American: “…I don’t think there’s anything wrong with feeling happy, but I think that setting happiness as your goal and relentlessly chasing it can lead to problems. Research shows that being fixated on happiness can actually make people feel lonely and unhappy—and that the happy life is associated with being a “taker,” to use the language of Wharton’s Adam Grant. But it’s different with meaning. Leading a meaningful life leads to a deeper sense of contentment and peace, and it’s linked to being a “giver” rather than a “taker.” The happiness frenzy distracts people from what really matters, which is leading a meaningful life…”
History of the Super Bowl Gatorade Shower. Here’s a shower you can predict with rare 100% accuracy. RollingStone has the story: “…But the Gatorade shower was not always a ubiquitous symbol of sports success. In fact, it was over three decades ago that the New York Giants originated the prank at the expense of then-coach Bill Parcells. And it was 30 years ago this year that Parcells received the most memorable Gatorade shower of his incredibly noteworthy career at Super Bowl XXI in Pasadena, California. It was the very first time the biggest football game of the season had seen a Gatorade dump. Someone else received their first Super Bowl Gatorade shower that day, too: Bill Belichick, who was then the defensive coordinator of the Giants, and is now head coach of the New England Patriots. If the Pats overtake the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI on Sunday, he’ll likely receive another cooler bath, exactly 30 years from his first...”

Photo credit: “Bill Parcells gets a Gatorade shower after a victory.” AP.

TODAY: Coating – 1″ of flurries. Winds: NW 10-15. High: 34

TUESDAY NIGHT: Flurries taper. Low: 18

WEDNESDAY: More clouds than sun, brisk. Winds: NW 10-15. High: 21

THURSDAY: Chilly, at least the sun is out. Winds: W 10-15. Wake-up: 7. High: 19

FRIDAY: Partly sunny, no travel hassles. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 4. High: 21

SATURDAY: Couple inches of snow possible. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 10. High: 28

SUNDAY: Sun returns, a better travel day. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 17. High: 27

MONDAY: Intervals of sun, relatively mild. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 18. High: 32
Climate Stories…

A Volcanic Eruption in 1815 Proved Even Small Changes in Climate Have Disastrous Global Results. A couple of degrees can make a huge difference, as a story at Quartz confirms: “…A difference of just a few degrees in average global temperatures is associated with a number of far-reaching effects, such as food shortages, political unrest, mass migration, and a more rapid spread of diseases. How do we know? Well, that’s what happened last time. In 1815, an Indonesian volcano called Tambora erupted, sending an astronomically sized ash cloud into the air. What followed was a dizzying series of catastrophes—from worldwide famine to the spread of cholera, the world’s first pandemic—that paint an all-too-graphic picture of what we can expect in future if we don’t slow the progress of climate change today. When Tambora erupted in April of 1815, the blast was so loud it could be heard 1,200 miles away…”

Photo credit: “The 7-mile-wide crater left on top of Mount Tambora in Indonesia after its volcanic eruption in 1815.” (Iwan Setiyawan/AP Photo/KOMPAS)
Bill Gates Warns Against Denying Climate Change. Here’s an excerpt from USA TODAY: “Bill Gates warned against denying climate change and pushed for more innovation in clean energy, during an event Friday at Columbia University in New York. The billionaire philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder joined friend and fellow billionaire Warren Buffett for a question-and-answer session with students. “Certain topics are so complicated like climate change that to really get a broad understanding is a bit difficult and particularly when  people take that complexity and create uncertainty about it,” Gates said. The planet needs to find reliable, cheap and clean energy, “the innovations there will be profound,” Gates said...”

Wisconsin Leads on Climate Research, Even As Agencies Cut Science from Websites. Here’s an excerpt from Midwest Energy News: “…With an economy heavily dependent on agriculture, outdoors tourism and forestry, climate change could have a range of severe impacts, as WICCI has documented.  The trout fisheries that bring anglers from around the country could be seriously affected by warming waters and changing stream flows. Increased heavy rains could cause soil erosion devastating to farms and dairies. Warmer weather could affect wildlife and the spread of tick-born Lyme disease, a serious problem in a state famed for hunting and camping.  Groundwater crucial for agriculture and streams in the Central Sands area could be reduced, and political tension between different groundwater-using interests could grow. Increasing heavy storms could wreak havoc on towns and fishing operators on the coast of Lake Michigan…”

Wisconsin DNR Blatantly Ignores Climate Change Science. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at USA TODAY: “…Currently, a few federal, and more state and municipal governments, as well as a great many businesses in the private sector are planning strategies for dealing with the impacts of climate change. Those impacts — which include rising sea levels, increased prolonged periods of excessively high temperatures, more wildfires, more severe droughts, more severe storms, permafrost thawing, and ocean acidification — are already significantly affecting our communities, ecosystems, economies and public health in negative ways. We should be outraged when an agency that works for and is paid for by the people of Wisconsin blatantly chooses to ignore information that clearly establishes human activity as the primary cause of climate change, a fact that must be addressed if our children and grandchildren are to have an environment that is even close to that which we have enjoyed. We expect our doctors to use the very best in scientific knowledge to help us when we get sick — not just in treating our symptoms, but in addressing the underlying causes...”


In America’s Heartland, Discussing Climate Change Without Saying “Climate Change”. I have talked to farmers from Michigan to Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota, and to a person they come up after my presentation to privately tell me about the changes they’ve witnessed on their farms. They may not call it climate change, but they know the climate has changed – they are on the front lines. Here’s an excerpt of an excellent piece at The New York Times: “…No-till farming addresses a dire problem facing American farmers: Almost 1.7 billion tons of topsoil are blown or washed off croplands a year, according to the Department of Agriculture, resulting in billions of dollars in losses for farmers. Keeping the soil healthy and covered also reduces evaporation by 80 percent, helping farmers conserve water, the department estimates. Farmers like Mr. Palen also happen to be protecting a vast and valuable carbon sink, making him an ally to climate-change campaigners. The soil traps far more carbon in its depths than all plant and animal life on the earth’s surface, scientists estimate. A 2013 study estimated that no-till and other restorative farming methods could achieve up to 15 percent of the total carbon reduction needed to stabilize the climate...”

Photo credit: Omar Bustamante, FUSION.

2016 Was 20th Consecutive Warmer-Than-Average Year for USA. Here’s an excerpt from Climate Central: “…The temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 2.9°F above the 20th century average for 2016, displacing 2015 and ranking only behind 2012, when searing heat waves hit the middle of the country. More notable than the back-to-back second place years, Arndt said, was that 2016 was the 20th consecutive warmer-than-normal year for the U.S. and that the five hottest years for the country have all happened since 1998. Those streaks mirror global trends, with 15 of the 16 hottest years on record occurring in the 21st century and no record cold year globally since 1911...”
Sea Level Rise Estimate Grows Alarmingly Higher in Latest Federal Report. InsideClimate News has details: “…Sea level rise will likely be worse in some regions of the U.S. because of ocean currents, wind patterns and settling sediments. The authors examined six scenarios with a range of probabilities in an effort to help state and local governments plan for sea level rise. Under all of them, the Northeast should expect higher waters than much of the rest of the globe. The Pacific Northwest and Alaska would likely experience lower-than-average increases under the best-case scenarios. “The ocean’s not flat,” said William V. Sweet, one of the authors and a scientist at NOAA. “It’s not going to rise like water in a bathtub...”
Researchers Report New Understanding of Global Warming. In this case a “more efficient” Earth heat engine may not be such a good thing. Here’s an excerpt of a press release at Eureka Alert: “…While the researchers reported that the total mechanical energy of the global atmosphere remains constant over time, there has been a significant increase in what they describe as “eddy energies,” or the energies associated with storms, eddies and turbulence. Li said the positive trends for eddy energies were especially pronounced in the southern hemisphere and over parts of Asia, and the researchers point out that intensifying storm activity over the southern oceans and increasing drought in Central Asia contribute to the positive trends. “This is a new perspective to explain global warming from an energy standpoint,” he said…”

Image credit: “The background image of Earth was obtained by NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera aboard NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory. (Credit: NASA. http://epic.gsfc.nasa.gov). The curves are the time series of the dissipation of the total kinetic energy, which is used to measure the efficiency of the global atmosphere as a heat engine during the modern satellite era (1979-2013).” University of Houston.