Welcome to the worst day of the year to get a suntan. Or power the new solar panels up on the roof. Even though Earth is closer to the sun in winter than in summer a 23 1/2 degree tilt on its axis means the northern hemisphere will see the least daylight of the year today: 8 hours and 46 minutes of daylight at MSP.
Yes, it seems the sun sets shortly after lunch. Cheer up, we pick up nearly 4 minutes of daylight by New Year's Eve, almost an hour of daylight by the end of January.
Our coldest weather historically comes the third week of January. It takes a few weeks for a higher sun angle to compensate for long nights and cold air brewing over Canada.
For me December 21 is a psychological turning point. The Nadir. The Depths of Darkness. It's all uphill from here.
At least Old Man Winter won't complicate your shopping & travel plans too much. A major storm spawns tornadoes over the deep south today; heavy snow spreading into the Quad Cities, Madison & Milwaukee by Sunday. A reinforcing jab of Yukon Delight may spark a plowable, 2-3 inch snowfall here late Sunday, most of the snow coming after stores close.
We'll be lucky to climb above zero Monday; 20s Christmas Day before another relapse.
Looks like a real winter huh?
Graphic credit: Tampa office of the National Weather Service.
- Blizzard: Blowing and/or falling snow with winds of 35 mph or greater, reducing visibilities to a quarter of a mile or less for at least three hours. Winds lofting the current snow pack and reducing visibilities without any falling snow is called a ground blizzard.
- Freezing Rain: Caused by rain falling on surfaces with a temperature below freezing. The rain freezes upon contact with the ground. Large build-ups of ice can down trees and power lines and coat roads.
- Sleet: Rain/melted snow that has begun refreezing when it reaches the ground. Sleet tends to be softer than hail and is easily compacted. Sleet can make roads slippery very quickly.
- Wind Chill: The apparent temperature the body feels when wind is factored into the equation. See the Wind Chill page for more information.
What Is The Sperry-Piltz Ice Accumulation Index? Thanks to Des Moines uber-meteorologist Jason Parkin for passing this along, a scale that measure impacts from glaze ice on a scale from 1 to 5, much like hurricanes. Here's more information: "The Sperry–Piltz Ice Accumulation Index, or SPIA Index, is a forward-looking, ice accumulation and ice damage prediction index that uses an algorithm of researched parameters that, when combined with National Weather Service forecast data, predicts the projected footprint, total ice accumulation, and resulting potential damage from approaching ice storms. It is a tool to be used for risk management and/or winter weather preparedness. The SPIA Index is to ice storms what the Enhanced Fujita Scale is to tornadoes, and what the Saffir–Simpson Scale is to hurricanes. Previous to this hazard scale development, no such ‘forward-looking’ ice accumulation and ice damage index had ever been utilized to predict – days in advance – the potential damage to overhead utility systems, along with outage duration possibilities, from freezing rain and/or ice storm events."
* Risk grows of a major tornado outbreak Saturday; best chance PM hours - possibly well after dark in Mississippi.
* Ice Storm Warnings posted for much of Oklahoma for a significant accumulation of glaze ice capable of paralyzing travel and power outages.
* Chicago may pick up a couple inches of slushy snow, but the heaviest snow bands are forecast to stay north and west of KORD.
Summary: The risk of a major severe storm outbreak, including a few large, violent tornadoes, has increased since Friday morning. It's impossible to determine, this far in advance, whether major metropolitan areas of the Lower Mississippi Valley will be impacted, but we can't rule out that possibility. Facilities from Lake Charles and New Orleans to Jackson and Memphis should monitor weather conditions very closely over the next 24 hours and be prepared to take steps to enhance safety. Severe icing is likely from Oklahoma into central Missouri, a stripe of plowable snow from Kansas City to Madison and Milwaukee, flooding rains over much of the Midwest and Ohio Valley. Meanwhile record highs are possible out ahead of the storm, readings in the mid to upper 60s in Washington D.C., 70s across the Carolinas. It's one crazy weather map.
Paul Douglas - Senior Meteorologist - Alerts Broadcaster
Graphic credit above: "A map showing winter temperature trends in the U.S. from 1970-2012."
Graphic credit above: Arctic ice volume through 2013 from the Polar Science Center
Photo credit above: Reuters. "The sun is seen behind smoke billowing from a chimney of a heating plant in Taiyuan, Shanxi province December 9, 2013."
Photo credit: Shutterstock.
Photo credit above: "Can this guy get the White House to get tough on climate change?" (AP Photo/Eric Jamison).
Why Environmentalists Should Hope Nuclear Power Sticks Around. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Washington Post: "...Some environmentalists cheer the closing of nuclear plants, even though it makes the anti-carbon effort tougher, and they argue that the country should put all of the planet’s eggs into the renewables basket. The pro-nuclear crowd predicts that a new wave of innovative technologies will make constructing new nuclear plants much more attractive, technically and economically. The country — and particularly environmentalists — should hope the pro-nuclear side is right; a renaissance in nuclear technology could offer the country a source of reliable, carbon-free electricity with safer designs than those of decades ago, all of which would be particularly helpful if renewables never burst out of their niche end of the market..." (File photo: CNN).
Climate And Economic Models - Birds Of A Different Feather. University of St. Thomas climate scientist John Abraham describes the differences in this story at The Guardian; here's an excerpt: "...We can see the two big weaknesses with business models. First, they do not follow any universal conservation equations. There is no analogy for mass, momentum, and energy in a business model. Second, behavior of economies in the past may not be a proper indicator of the future. Should we expect the U.S. economic recovery from the great recession be anything like the recovery from the Great Depression? Can stimulus or austerity success or failure be predicted by past stimulus or austerity cases? The answer is, we just don't know...."