Last Monday was the coldest day across the Lower 48 since 1997. Yes, it was dangerously cold, and closing school for 2 days was the right call. It was the 55th coldest day, nationwide, since 1900.
The irony? Arctic invasions are becoming more rare in a warming world. When we do get a taste of the polar vortex it feels like the End Of The World & climate skeptics spring into full-attack mode.
According to Greg Carbin at NOAA there have been 58 days since 1900 with U.S. average temperatures colder than 18F - 27 distinct cold snaps. There were 12 from 1970-1989, only 2 in the 1990s, then last Monday's swipe. Perspective: since 2000 two days across the USA in the "Top 100 Coldest" list, and 13 days in the "Top 100 Warmest".
It's counter-intuitive, but you can get a blizzard with blue sky overhead. Today's clipper will whip up 30-40 mph wind gusts; blowing snow creating white-out conditions in open areas, especially western Minnesota, where a Blizzard Warning is posted. Winds ease on Friday, a glancing blow of Saturday snow giving way to a Sunday thaw.
Enjoy 30s early next week; models show a series of cold fronts into early February, but not as freakishly cold as last week.
* photo above: Bryan Hansel Photography.
...BLIZZARD CONDITIONS DEVELOPING ACROSS WEST CENTRAL AND SOUTH CENTRAL MINNESOTA THURSDAY... A BLIZZARD WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR THURSDAY AND THURSDAY NIGHT IN WEST CENTRAL AND SOUTH CENTRAL MINNESOTA WHERE CONFIDENCE IS HIGH THAT WINDS OF 35 TO 40 MPH WITH GUSTS IN EXCESS OF 50 MPH WILL CAUSE SIGNIFICANT BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW AND WHITEOUT CONDITIONS. THE BLIZZARD WARNING IS GENERALLY WEST OF A LINE FROM ALEXANDRIA...TO PAYNESVILLE...TO HUTCHINSON AND OWATONNA. MEANWHILE A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR CENTRAL AND EAST CENTRAL MINNESOTA DUE TO REDUCED VISIBILITIES FROM BLOWING SNOW. A POWERFUL ARCTIC COLD FRONT WILL MOVE SOUTHEAST ACROSS THE MINNESOTA THURSDAY MORNING. INCREASING NORTHWEST WINDS OF 20 TO 40 MPH...WITH GUSTS IN EXCESS OF 50 MPH WILL CAUSE SIGNIFICANT BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW. ADDITIONAL LIGHT SNOW WILL OCCUR ALONG THIS ARCTIC FRONT...WHICH WILL ENHANCE THE BLIZZARD CONDITIONS IN WEST CENTRAL AND SOUTH CENTRAL MINNESOTA DURING THE DAY AND EVENING. ALTHOUGH THE SNOW PACK ACROSS FAR SOUTHERN MINNESOTA ALONG THE IOWA BORDER IS SHALLOW AND MOSTLY A THIN LAYER OF ICE...THE STRONG WINDS OF 40 MPH...COUPLED WITH OCCASIONAL LIGHT SNOW...WILL CREATE WHITEOUT CONDITIONS IN OPEN COUNTRY. LASTLY...TEMPERATURES WILL RAPIDLY FALL BELOW ZERO...WITH WIND CHILL READINGS APPROACHING 30 BELOW ZERO BY THURSDAY EVENING.
Far West Got Drier Last Year, Data Shows. Following up on the story above here's an excerpt from a New York Times story: "Drought conditions in California and elsewhere in the Far West intensified last year, government scientists said Wednesday, adding to concerns about water supplies in the region. Although on the whole 2013 was a wetter than average year for the contiguous 48 states, the scientists said, that statistic masked sharp regional differences. Many states east of the Rockies had much higher than average precipitation, helping to alleviate drought in the central United States and the Southeast..."
* latest U.S. Drought Monitor is here.
Weather graphic above: WeatherWest.com.
Photo credit above: "Lightning strikes an open field in Clearwater, Kansas." (Reuters).
Scientists: Americans Are Becoming Weather Wimps. The reality: we're seeing fewer of the polar invasions that swept across the USA last week, especially since 2000. So now when it does get brutally cold for a few days it seems like the end of the world. Back in the 70s? Business as usual. Here's a clip from Yahoo News: "...In the past 115 years, there have been 58 days when the national average temperature dropped below 18. Carbin said those occurrences often happen in periods that last several days so it makes more sense to talk about cold outbreaks instead of cold days. There have been 27 distinct cold snaps. Between 1970 and 1989, a dozen such events occurred, but there were only two in the 1990s and then none until Monday. "These types of events have actually become more infrequent than they were in the past," said Carbin, who works at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. "This is why there was such a big buzz because people have such short memories..."
Graphic credit: Mike Fernwood, Flickr.
Photo credit above: "The author, at "work". (Pete Souza/The White House)
Graphic credit above: "
World May Have To Suck Gases From Air To Meet Climate Goals - U.N. It almost sounds like a headline from The Onion, but this one comes from Reuters; here's an excerpt: "Governments may have to extract vast amounts of greenhouse gases from the air by 2100 to achieve a target for limiting global warming, backed by trillion-dollar shifts towards clean energy, a draft U.N. report showed on Wednesday. A 29-page summary for policymakers, seen by Reuters, says most scenarios show that rising world emissions will have to plunge by 40 to 70 percent between 2010 and 2050 to give a good chance of restricting warming to U.N. targets. The report, outlining solutions to climate change, is due to be published in Germany in April after editing by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It will be the third in a series by the IPCC, updating science from 2007..."
Graphic credit: "Denial is a thin wedge indeed". Graphic: James Powell.