What has happened to us? When I arrived back in 1983 a forecast of 6 inches of snow was "no big deal". Yes, there will be school tomorrow. I bragged out loud about Minnesota's state of the art snow removal. During the 90's three inches of snow was a lead story. Really? When did we become Atlanta? Now a lousy inch leads the news. "Uh oh, I smell a tough commute".
As old fashioned winters & big snows become the equivalent of an albino squirrel - each feeble burst of snow takes on new urgency. At this rate we'll become Washington D.C., where the mention of "flurries" causes a run on grocery stores.
Someone call MnDOT, FEMA and The National Guard: a coating of slush is possible tonight; a mix of rain and wet snow may drop 1-3" of oatmeal-like slush on our heads Saturday night. Looking out 2 weeks - any snow will come in dribs and drabs.
Bitter air is building over Alaska and the Yukon. Maybe we'll get smacked before Christmas. Yes, we are due.
No moisture is bad news. Minnesota Climate Chief Greg Spoden: "Without abundant spring rains a number of critical drought issues involving public water supply, agriculture, horticulture, and tourism will rapidly emerge in the spring".
There's your breaking news.
How much snow? Welcome to the world of dueling models. Which one to believe, and when? Great question. We look for continuity, some agreement from model to model, and run to run. Are they converging on one solution? If so our confidence level goes up. A quick half inch or inch of slushy snow is possible tonight, a better chance of a couple inches of slushy snow Saturday night and early Sunday; more north metro, less south metro.
- Across Minnesota, snow cover is sparse to nonexistent. At all locations, the present snow depth is below the historical median.
- Stream discharge values are very low at a number of Minnesota reporting locations. At many sites, stream flow ranks below the 10th percentile when compared with historical data for this time of year.
- Soil moisture measurements made during November at University of Minnesota Research and Outreach Centers indicate extraordinarily dry conditions in the soil profile. Ample early-spring rains are critically needed to replenish soil moisture reserves before the commencement of the 2013 growing season.
- It is reasonable to assume that the present drought status will remain relatively unchanged throughout the winter. The historical average precipitation over the next three months is a meager two and one-half inches and the topsoil will soon be sealed by frost. Without abundant spring rains, a number of critical drought issues involving public water supply, agriculture, horticulture, and tourism will rapidly emerge in the spring.* updated (December 4) U.S. Drought Monitor is here.
* photo above courtesy of Michael Busch.
Reality: We are currently on track for a rise of between 6.3° and 13.3°F, with a high probability of an increase of 9.4°F by 2100, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Other modelers are getting similar results, including a study published earlier this month by the Global Carbon Project consortium confirming the likelihood of a 9ºF rise.
* excerpt above from Scientific American. Details below.
Photo credit above: (Steve Griffin | The Salt Lake Tribune) "Skiers ride the lower lift at Park City Mountain Resort on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012. A new report warns that global warming will make low-snow years more prevalent and batter the ski industry."
Photo credit above: "Today, ice loss in Greenland and Antarctica is trending at least 100 years ahead of projections compared to IPCC's first three reports. Pictured: Rajenda Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)." Image: Flickr/kk+
Image credit above: "Departure from average of Arctic surface temperatures during the first decade of the 21st century, as compared to the 1971-2000 average. This map illustrates that no part of the Arctic experienced cooler than average conditions during this period." Credit: NOAA.
Photo credit above: "A technician stands on an iceberg in Columbia Bay, Alaska, during filming of "Chasing Ice," which follows a photographer recording the changing Arctic." Photo: James Balog, Associated Press / SF