Winter Beauty
I had a chance to spend some time up north over the weekend and wow what a beauty it was after two separate storms dumped nearly a foot of fresh February snow! Here’s an image from Gooseberry Falls along the Minnesota North Shore north of Two Harbors, MN. What an amazing hike! We even got to watch ice climbers that were climbing the frozen falls.
Near Average Snowfall For the Season?


 Seasonal Snowfall

Here’s a look at how much snow has fallen so far this season (since July 1st, 2017). With the exception of Fargo, ND, most reporting locations in the state of Minnesota have now gotten back to near average or at least within a few inches of average. Prior to the 2 snow events late last week and the weekend, many locations were running fairly decent snowfall deficits for the season. We will see how the rest of the season stacks up, but keep in mind that March is the 3rd snowiest month on record for the Twin Cities averaging 10.3″.


11th Snowiest January & February on Record at MSP Airport
The 2 images below show how much snow fell during the months of January and February at the MSP Airport and note that both months were considered to be the 11th snowiest January and February on record! January finished at 20.4″ (+8.2″ above average), while February has seen 15.9″ (+8.2″ above average).
8th Snowiest January Through February on Record!
According to the MN State Climatology Office, the 36.3″ of snow that the MSP Airport has seen from January to February is the 8th snowiest on record! This has also helped to push the Twin Cities up to a seasonal snowfall SURPLUS for the first time in a long time. While it’s not much (+2.3″), it is still a surplus for the season.


Snow Depth As of Sunday, February 26th
As of Monday, February 25th, there was officially 9″ of snow on the ground the Twin Cities Airport, while nearly 2ft of snow was on the ground near Duluth and MN’s North Shore. If you like snow, you better get out there and enjoy it soon because high temps in the 30s & 40s will keep that melting process going and the snowpack will continue to rapidly diminish over the next several days.


Weather Outlook Ahead
The weather outlook from midday Wednesday to Thursday night shows our next storm system moving through the Midwest with another round of rain and snow. At this point, it looks like snow will clip the southeastern corner of Minnesota, while areas of heavy rain and thunder will once again impact parts of the Ohio Valley. The heaviest snow with this system looks like it will fall over the Great Lakes.
Snowfall Potential
Here’s the NWS NDFD snowfall potential through 6pm Thursday, which suggests 1″ to 2″ of snow possible across the southeastern corner of the state. According to this model, the Twin cities could even see a light coating by Thursday.
Another Late Weekend Snow Event?
It’s a bit early right now, but extended models are suggesting a potential storm system for late weekend/early next week. It definitely looks like it has some oomph to it as areas of heavy snow could fall somewhere across the Upper Midwest along with showers and thunderstorm on the warmer side. If you have travel plans late weekend/early next week, stay tuned for more…
Warmer Temp Outlook Into Early March
Here’s the temperature outlook through the middle part of March, which shows milder temps in the 30s and 40s staying with us through the first weekend of March. However, it appears there may be a slight dip to slightly below average temperatures again into the first full week of the month, but the good news is that no sub-zero temps are forecast during this time.
Snow Depth 2018
The snow depth map across the country for February 27th suggests that 36.4% of the country is covered in snow, mainly across the northern half of the nation. At this time last year, 35.7% of the nation was covered in snow. As of February 27th, the Twin Cities officially had 8″ of snow on the ground at the MSP Airport, but at this time last year, there was NO snow on the ground. Note also that last year at this time, the Sierra Nevada Range in California had a significantly greater snow pack than what is there now.
Snow Depth 2017
At this time last year, 34.7% of the nation was covered in snow. 


3-7 Day Hazard Forecast

1.) Heavy rain across portions of the Lower Mississippi Valley, the Southern Appalachians, and the Tennessee Valley, Thu, Mar 1.
2.) Heavy precipitation across portions of the Northeast, the Central Appalachians, the Middle Mississippi Valley, the Mid-Atlantic, the Upper Mississippi Valley, the Great Lakes, and the Ohio Valley, Thu-Fri, Mar 1-Mar 2.
3.) High winds across coastal parts of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, Fri-Sat, Mar 2-Mar 3.
4.) Heavy snow across portions of northern California, Sierras, and Cascades, Thu-Sat, Mar 1-Mar 3.
5.) Heavy snow across portions of the Northern Rockies and the Northern Great Basin, Thu, Mar 1.
6.) High winds across portions of the Central Plains, Northern Plains, and Northern Rockies, Sat, Mar 3.
7.) High winds across portions of the Central Great Basin, the Southwest, and Central and Southern Rockies, Fri-Sat, Mar 2-Mar 3.
8.) Much below normal temperatures across portions of California, the Central Great Basin, the Pacific Northwest, the Northern Great Basin, and the Southwest, Sat-Mon, Mar 3-Mar 5.
9.) Flooding possible across portions of the Ohio Valley.
10.) Flooding occurring or imminent across portions of the Lower Mississippi Valley, the Tennessee Valley, the Great Lakes, the Middle Mississippi Valley, the Upper Mississippi Valley, the Southern Plains, and the Ohio Valley.
11.) Flooding likely across portions of the Middle Mississippi Valley, the Lower Mississippi Valley, the Southern Plains, and the Ohio Valley.
12.) High significant wave heights for coastal portions of the Aleutians, Sat-Sun, Mar 3-Mar 4.
13.) Much above normal temps across portions of the North Slope of Alaska, Fri-Mon, Mar 2-Mar 5.
14.) Slight risk of much below normal temperatures for portions of the northwestern quarter of the CONUS, Tue-Thu, Mar 6-Mar 8.
15.) Moderate risk of much below normal temperatures for portions of the Northern Plains and the Northern Rockies, Tue-Thu, Mar 6-Mar 8.
16.) Slight risk of much below normal temperatures for parts of mainland Alaska, Tue-Thu, Mar 6-Mar 8.
17.) Slight risk of heavy precipitation for portions of the Central Great Basin, and California, Thu-Sat, Mar 8-Mar 10.
18.) Severe Drought across the Central Plains, the Central Rockies, the Lower Mississippi Valley, the Central Great Basin, the Northern Plains, the Southern Rockies, the Middle Mississippi Valley, California, the Southern Plains, and the Southwest.


2018 Tornadoes So Far…

According to NOAA’s SPC, there have been 56 preliminary tornaoes so far this year (February 26th), which is more than what we had at this time in the last couple of years. Interestingly, there were 366 tornadoes at this time in 2008; that year ended with 2,194 tornadoes, which is nearly 800 more than the short-term 2005-2015 average.

______________________________________________________________________________Major River Flooding

There has been some major river flooding ongoing across the Ohio Valley thanks to extreme rainfall over the past 5 to 7 days. Thanks to @NWSLouisville for the flooding picture out of Louisville, KY, where the Ohio River reached moderate flood stage last week and may not fall below that mark until this Friday! Interestingly, the Ohio River in Louisville (McAlpine Upper reached a crest of 35.64ft, on Monday afternoon, which is the 10th highest crest this river gauge has ever reached!


Major River Flooding

According to NOAA, there were 242 river gauges in flood stage as of Tuesday morning, 13 of which where at Major flood statge!



February Rainfall

WOW! How about those numbers! A corridor of heavy precipitation this month helped push February precipitation numbers into Double digits for a number of locations! In fact, there was so much precipitation that Louisville, KY and Evansville, IN have seen their wettest February on record!!


_____________________________________________________________________________“Minnesota Sees Deadliest Winter In Years”

“Minnesota has already had five ice-related deaths this winter. The state typically averages three during the whole season. Minnesota is on track to have one of its deadliest winters in years. Five people have died this season after falling through ice. The state typically averages three ice-related deaths over the course of the entire winter. The 2015-2016 winter had zero ice-related deaths, while the 2016-2017 winter had two. The last time Minnesota saw ice-related deaths in the double digits was in the 2002-2003 winter, when the state had 10 fatalities. The most recent death this year happened in northern Minnesota where a women drowned after riding an ATV on Rice Lake. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officer Hannah Mishler has already responded to multiple ice rescue calls. “Ice, especially snow covered ice, is extremely deceptive. You can’t see dangerous cracks or the thickness of the ice under the snow,” Mishler said in a statement.”


Ice Safety!!

Before you go testing the ice on area lakes and ponds, remember that “ICE IS NEVER 100% SAFE!” So when is ice safe? Here is an excerpt from the MN DNR regarding ice safety:
“There really is no sure answer. You can’t judge the strength of ice just by its appearance, age, thickness, temperature, or whether or not the ice is covered with snow. Strength is based on all these factors — plus the depth of water under the ice, size of the water body, water chemistry and currents, the distribution of the load on the ice, and local climatic conditions.”


General Ice Thickness Guidelines

Here are some general ice thickness guidelines from the MN DNR:
For new, clear ice ONLY:

Under 4″ – STAY OFF
4″ – Ice fishing or other activities on foot
5″ – 7″ – Snowmobile or ATV
8″ – 12″ – Car or small pickup
12″ – 15″ – Medium truck

Many factors other than thickness can cause ice to be unsafe.
White ice or “snow ice” is only about half as strong as new clear ice. Double the above thickness guidelines when traveling on white ice.

See more from the MN DNR HERE:



Temperature Anomaly on Tuesday
The image below shows the temperature anomaly across North America from Tuesday which showed well above average temperatures across much of the Eastern US & Eastern Canada, but cooler than average temps were found across much of the Western US and Western Canada. Also note how much warmer than average temperatures were near the North Pole! There is a link to a story regarding the much warmer than average temps in the North Pole region near the bottom of the blog.



Temperature Trend
Here’s the 850mb temperature anomaly from Wednesday to Friday, which shows continued warmer than average temps across the Eastern half of the nation, while colder than average temps continue across much of the Western US..


High Temps Wednesday

High temps across the country on Wednesday will be quite warm for much of the eastern half of the country. In fact, some across the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley will be nearly +15F above average. However, folks in the Western half of the country will still be nearly -10F to -20F below average


Weather Outlook Ahead
Weather conditions into Thursday morning will remain quite active across the nation as another storm system rolls out of the Western US into the Plains and Eastern US. High elevation snow along with lower elevations thundershowers in the Western US will eventually turn into severe storms, more heavy rain and wintry precipitation in the Central US Wednesday & Thursday. By the end of the week, areas of heavy rain and wintry weather will move into the eastern third of the nation, which will cause some travel impacts! Meanwhile, another storm system will move into the Western US with another round of heavy rain, thunderstorms and high elevation snow.
7 Day Precipitation Outlook

According to NOAA’s WPC, the 7-day precipitation outlook suggests areas of heavy precipitation continuing in the Southcentral part of the county, where river flooding is still ongoing. Unfortunately, this addtional heavy rain could leave to more river flood, which could actually worsen! The Northeast will remains active with some 1″ to 2″+ liquid tallies into the first part of March. The most significant moisture could be found along the West Coast and into the high elevations of the Sierra Nevada Range, which would be wonderful news since the snowpack there is running below normal for late February.

Snowfall Potential Ahead

The GFS snowfall potential through the early weekend suggests a little snow across parts of the Midwest/Great Lakes and Northeast over the course of the week, but look at what could happen in the high elevations out west! If this model holds true, parts of the Sierra Nevada Range could get pounded with feet of snow as we head into the first few days of March! In fact, winter storm watches have been posted there, which calls for widespread 2ft. to 4ft. with locally 5ft tallies possible!
Too Early To Predict Spring River Flooding Risk
By Paul Douglas
Minnesotans earn their springs, and this year will be no exception. Before we get to hot, steamy days up at the lake we have to muddle through a parade of slushy storms and a nagging risk of spring flooding.
Data shows about 2-4 inches of liquid water trapped in the snow cover from the Twin Cities to Mankato, but less due west of the metro area. The potential for river flooding depends on a myriad of factors: how much additional snow falls, will we see heavy rain in March, and how quickly will it warm up? Considering we can only look out 1-2 weeks with any real skill it’s premature to be making firm flood predictions. Stay tuned – and hope for a slow motion thaw.
The risk of slush has diminished for tonight; the next system passing too far south. Models show a warming trend, with highs in the mid-40s by the weekend. The atmosphere may be warm enough aloft for a cold rain Sunday night into much of Monday, ending as a coating of slush by Tuesday.
Colder air slips south of the border next week, but I don’t see any more subzero fun. Time to pack away the heavy parkas!

Extended Forecast

WEDNESDAY: Fog. Slushy coating late. Winds: NE 5-10. High: 40.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: A little light snow coating. Winds: N 5. Low: 27.

THURSDAY: More clouds than sun. Cooler breeze. Winds: NE 5-10. High: 38.

FRIDAY: Plenty of sunshine and pleasant. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 21. High: 40

SATURDAY: Clouds and winds increase. Winds: SE 10-20. Wake-up: 28. High: 44.

SUNDAY: Feels like March. Late rain showers. Winds: SE 10-20. Wake-up: 32. High: 46.

MONDAY: Rain may end as a period of wet snow. Winds: SW 10-15. Wake-up: 36. High: 40

TUESDAY: Light snow likely. Slushy coating. Winds: NW 10-15.  Wake-up: 27. High: 33.

This Day in Weather History
February 28th

1981: Ice is out on Lake Minnetonka. Boats are enjoying the early thaw.

Average High/Low for Minneapolis
February 28th

Average High: 34F (Record: 57F set in 1932)
Average Low: 18F (Record: -26F set in 1962)

Record Rainfall: 0.70″ set in 2012
Record Snowfall: 8.0″ set in 1907

Sunrise/Sunset Times for Minneapolis
February 28th

Sunrise: 6:52am
Sunset: 5:59pm

Hours of Daylight: ~11 hours & 7 minutes

Daylight GAINED since yesterday: ~ 3 minutes & 6 seconds
Daylight GAINED since winter solstice (December 21st): 2 Hour 21 Minutes

Moon Phase for February 28th at Midnight
0.7 Days Until Full  “Worm” Moon

“In March, the ground softens, and the earthworm casts reappear, inviting the return of the robins. The Northern tribes knew this as the Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signals the end of winter, or the Full Crust Moon because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night. Fullness occurs at 7:51 p.m. EST(0051 GMT on March 2).”

By the way, did you know that there was NO full moon in Februray? It turn out that it is a little rare! Read more from HERE: “This occurrence happens once every 19 years. The last time February didn’t have a full moon was in 1999, and the time before that was 1980; the next time there will be no full moon in February will be 2037. (Once again, this is true for most locations on Earth, but in some places, including eastern Asia and eastern Australia, the moment of peak fullness will occur on the morning of Feb. 1.) The timing of the full moon is related to the Metonic Cycle, which is named for the Greek astronomer Meton, who discovered this phenomenon around 500 B.C. He noted that a given phase of the moon usually falls on the same date at intervals of 19 years. There doesn’t seem to be a name for a month that lacks a full moon, but February is the only month in which this can happen. Recall what we noted above: The lunar (“synodic”) cycle is roughly 29.5 days on average, but even during leap years, February cannot have more than 29 days. So if a full moon takes place on the final day of January, the next full moon will jump over February and occur at the beginning of March. And this will result in a second month with two full moons; the second full moon makes up for the lack of a full moon in February.”


 Temp Outlook For Wednesday

Temps on Wednesday will be fairly warm across much of the state with highs in the 30s to near 40F, wich will be nearly +5F or so above average. Note that reading will be nearly +15F above average as you get closer to the Great Lakes, while readings will be -5F to -10F below average in the western Dakotas.


8 to 14 Day Temperature Outlook

Here’s the temperature outlook into the 2nd weekend of March, which suggests that colder than average temps will continue across much of the High Plains and Upper Midwest, while reading will be a little closer to average as you get into the Great Lakes Region.

8 to 14 Day Temperature Outlook

As we head into the 2nd weekend of March, colder than average temperatures will still be fairly widespread across much of the nation and especially in the High Plains and the Mid-Atlantic States. However, the Northern New England States and the far Southwest will be above average.

“North Pole surges above freezing in the dead of winter, stunning scientists”
“The sun won’t rise at the North Pole until March 20, and it’s normally close to the coldest time of year, but an extraordinary and possibly historic thaw swelled over the tip of the planet this weekend. Analyses show that the temperature warmed to the melting point as an enormous storm pumped an intense pulse of heat through the Greenland Sea. Temperatures may have soared as high as 35 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) at the pole, according to the U.S. Global Forecast System model. While there are no direct measurements of temperature there, Zack Labe, a climate scientist working on his PhD at the University of California at Irvine, confirmed that several independent analyses showed “it was very close to freezing,” which is more than 50 degrees (30 degrees Celsius) above normal.”


“It will be warmer at the North Pole next week than in much of Europe”
“In what seems to be becoming an annual occurrence, temperatures at the North Pole are about to reach or possibly exceed the freezing point this week as the North Atlantic and the North Pacific Oceans inject unusually mild air into the Arctic. Not coincidentally, Arctic sea ice is at record low levels, with a freak disappearance of ice off the western coast of Alaska, between Alaska and Russia. This vanishing of sea ice in the Bering Sea is exposing coastal communities in Alaska to storm surge flooding from typically fierce winter storms, particularly Little Diomede Island. Videos from the island, which straddles the border with Russia show high waves slamming into the coastline, when normally there would be a sheet of ice protecting the island from high waves during the winter.”


“‘Unprecedented’: Bering Sea loses half its sea ice over two weeks”
“The Bering Sea has lost roughly half its sea ice over the past two weeks and has more open water than ever measured at this time of year. “This is unprecedented,” said Brain Brettschneider, a climate researcher at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. “The amount of ice is less than it’s ever been during the satellite era on any date between mid-January and early May.” This comes as much of western Alaska, including places like Saint Paul Island and Utqiaġvik, formerly known as Barrow, is in the midst of its warmest winter in recorded history. The community of Umiat measured unofficial temperatures 45 degrees Fahrenheit above normal on Tuesday, according to Rick Thoman, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Alaska.”


“Move or die: Global warming threatens Antarctica’s King penguins”
“Will our favorite flightless bird waddle off to the sunset? Some 70% percent of all the king penguins on Earth — around 1.1 million breeding pairs — will be forced to relocate or die trying by the end of the century if global warming continues at its present rate, according to a new study published online Monday “The species may disappear,” study co-author Celine Le Bohec, a scientist at the University of Strasbourg, told Agence France Presse. The king penguin is one of several threatened species of penguins in Antarctica. Previous studies have found that other species — such as the emperor, Adelie and chinstrap — are also in danger of extinction or severe population loss due to climate change.”


“Hurricane Harvey Destroyed More Vehicles Than Any Single Event in America. This Is the Aftermath”
“Disasters are always fascinating. From fender benders to war, humans will stop and stare at the tragic, the grotesque, the hideous. In early December, I watched a massive plume of malevolent brown smoke moving over Ventura, California, threatening my hometown of Santa Barbara. I was mesmerized by the Thomas Fire, like everyone else. But it wasn’t just the physical proximity of the flames that captivated me. I had just returned from Houston, which was still picking up after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. Last year, as August came to a close, Houston was hit with nearly 52 inches of rain. At least 88 people were killed, and thousands lost their homes. Reports also estimate that up to a million cars were destroyed in the widespread flooding, as many as half of which were in Houston, America’s fourth-most-populous city. That’s a huge number, but it would make sense. The city of Houston has 2.3 million residents and spreads out over 627.5 square miles. Throw in the suburbs, and the metro region expands to 6.3 million residents and almost 1300 square miles. There are some buses and light rail running in the city’s urban core, but both get scant in the vast sprawl beyond. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles had more than 3.5 million cars registered in Houston’s Harris County during 2016—and seven other counties border Harris. Few places are more car-dependent than rapidly growing, economically vital, multicultural but wholly Texan Houston.”

“The Mystery of the Fog Holes That Form Over Cities”
“IN THE WINTER MONTHS, THICK fog forms over the plains that stretch south of the Himalayas, through Pakistan, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. Visibility can be so limited that it’s impossible to see more than 10 or 20 feet ahead, which means planes stay on the ground and even rail travel slows to a crawl. Ritesh Gautam, a climate scientist who works for the Environmental Defense Fund, first started studying the formation of fog in order to understand the ways in which air pollution was making it worse. But during his research, he noticed another strange phenomenon: Holes, dramatic enough that they show up in satellite imagery, would form in the thick fog directly over cities. The cause of these fog holes was a mystery, but Gautam and other scientistssuspected that they could be caused by the heat trapped in urban landscapes, which makes city temperatures hotter than those in the surrounding area. In a new paper, published in Geophysical Research Letters, Gautam and a team of colleagues outline the relationship between cities and these mysterious fog holes. By looking at 17 years of satellite data, capturing fog holes in California, Europe, South Asia, and China, they found a clear connection between the size of cities and the size of these gaps in the fog.”


“Could More Snow in Antarctica Slow Sea Level Rise?”
“Some experts are heralding the news as a silver lining: Scientists have found snowfall recently escalated in East Antarctica, which could lessen the high amounts of melt seen in West Antarctica that are contributing to rising seas. That prospect is comforting because the vast frozen desert at the underbelly of our world contains about 200 feet of potential sea level rise. But other scientists argue the story line is not so simple. Scientists have long maintained rising temperatures would cause an increase in the amount of vapor the air can hold. And they have suspected this could lead to more snowfall in Antarctica, but observations were few and far apart. So Brooke Medley, a NASA research scientist, and her colleagues, analyzed a 500-foot-deep ice core extracted from the thick ice sheet in Queen Maud Land, an area in East Antarctica due south of Africa’s southern tip.”


“Montana Wildfires Provide A Wealth Of Data On Health Effects Of Smoke Exposure”
“Jean Loesch and her family live in Seeley Lake, Mont., which saw the longest and most intense smoke from Montana’s wildfires this summer. Loesch has 10 children, adopted or in her foster care, and they are learning what it’s like to have lingering respiratory problems. Last summer, Loesch says, the smoke was so thick outside, the family couldn’t see the trees across the street, so they stayed inside. It was still really hard to breathe. “These guys were miserable,” Loesch says. “I think each one of them ended up having to go to the doctor.” Everyone needed inhalers. The family is usually pretty healthy, but not this year. Loesch got pneumonia and the kids had bloody noses. And now, even with the smoke long gone, the children are still having trouble with their lungs. “They’ll wake up hacking,” Loesch says “They’ve all been sick. I’ve had to take them in for upper respiratory infections.”


“What’s the most distant human object from Earth?”
“The most distant human-made object is the spacecraft Voyager 1, which – in late February 2018 – is over 13 billion miles (21 billion km) from Earth. Voyager 1 and its twin, Voyager 2, were launched 16 days apart in 1977. Both spacecraft flew by Jupiter and Saturn. Voyager 2 also flew by Uranus and Neptune. Now both Voyagers are heading out of our solar system, into the space between the stars. Voyager 1 officially became the first earthly craft to leave the solar system, crossing the heliopause, in 2012. Both Voyager spacecraft were designed back in the early 1970s. They were built to take advantage of a rare grouping of planets on a single side of the sun in our solar system. This grouping, which happens only every 176 years, let the Voyagers slingshot from one planet to the next, via gravitational assists.”


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