Everyone, it seems, is looking for cues - tip-offs of what the winter to come might hold. Old fashioned, like last winter's 68 inches of snow, or Kansas City-style, like 2011-2012? Check the wooly bear caterpillars, and see if the squirrels are stocking up on extra nuts, but don't go off the date of the first snowflakes to make your winter call.
Last winter we didn't see the first snow at MSP until October 25, but winter lingered into the following May. In 2011 the first flurries didn't float past your window until November 9. An omen of the 22.3 inches of snow later that winter and record warmth in March, 2012? Not necessarily. In 2004 the first flakes at MSP came early: October 17. Only 25.5 inches fell later that winter. The first snow is random; there's no evidence it's a premonition, a reliable indicator or tip-off of the winter to come.
Today will be typical, for November 19. A stray flake gives way to a hard freeze late tonight, stunted temperatures until the end of the week. We have a new definition of a "warm front": 50F, possible Saturday afternoon. A cold rain early next week gives way to 30s and flurries for Halloween.
A visual first on today's weather blog: a friend snow-blowing his dock. Huh?
* photo above taken in Crosby, Minnesota Sunday by WeatherNation TV meteorologist Todd Nelson.
Photo credit above: "Frozen cattle are seen on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, along Highway 34 east of Sturgis, S.D., another casualty of the early October blizzard. South Dakota Stockgrowers Association Director Silvia Christen says more than 5 percent of the cattle in western South Dakota might have been killed from the wind and snow of a weekend storm." (AP Photo/Rapid City Journal, Kristina Barker).
* another perspective on the historically early start to wildfire season Down Under from AP and Huffington Post.
Photo credit above: "The sun glows a deep orange color as the light is filtered through smoke haze from wildfires drift over Sydney, Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013. Authorities warned that high temperatures and winds were likely to maintain heightened fire danger for days." (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft).
Image credit: Katherine Streeter for NPR.
Photo credit above: "People hoist the body of an 18-foot oarfish that was discovered in Toyon Bay at Catalina Island off the California coast." Courtesty of Catalina Island Marine Institute.
* photo above from Breezy Point, Minnesota on Sunday courtesy of Heidi Rusch.
Photo credit above: Brian Peterson, Star Tribune. "Jack Rajala, a logger and white pine savior, planted over a million white pine seedlings on his company’s timber lands. Here, Rajala stands next to one of his giants near Grand Rapids — a 200 year old white pine 12 feet in circumference and 120 feet tall."
Image credit: "If Earth overheats, can it be artificially cooled? Should the effort begin now? Who would decide? The very idea of "geoengineering," and the unknown risks of tweaking our climate, leaves many scientists with more questions than answers." AP Photo/Courtesy of NASA.