No, spring is NOT right around the corner. Cold fronts are as inevitable as mosquito swarms, internet snark and cheap media hype. But you could make a strong case that, historically, temperatures bottom out this week. Today marks the midpoint of meteorological winter, which doesn't have the good sense to follow the calendar.
On average the coldest 90 days of the year come from December 1 to February 28, give or take. Looking at 1981-2010 January temperature averages (here, courtesy of the Minnesota Climatology Working Group) the midpoint of the coldest "mean" temperature - 15F - is today.
Although more gasps of numbing air are inevitable I don't see it getting colder than last week's almost surreal Mars-like chill.
And we've picked up nearly half an hour of daylight since the Winter Solstice; almost an hour by the end of January. Woo hoo!
After a cold start the next clipper draws milder air into Minnesota; 32F by midnight before another temperature relapse. A surge of 30s return by Sunday & Monday. Another slap of colder air arrives next week - but a pale imitation of last week's Polar Express.
Prepare for a family of nuisance clippers - the pattern just isn't ripe for any big, snowy dumpings anytime soon.
.A BLIZZARD WATCH IS IN EFFECT FROM THURSDAY MORNING THROUGH THURSDAY EVENING FOR MUCH OF WEST CENTRAL THROUGH SOUTH CENTRAL MINNESOTA. THE BLIZZARD WATCH IS ALONG AND WEST OF A LINE FROM ALEXANDRIA THROUGH WILLMAR TO BLUE EARTH. AN ARCTIC COLD FRONT WILL MOVE SOUTHEAST ACROSS THE MINNESOTA RIVER VALLEY THURSDAY MORNING ACCOMPANIED BY A PERIOD OF SNOW. STRONG NORTHWEST WINDS NEAR 35 MPH... WITH GUSTS TO 55 MPH... ARE LIKELY IN THE WAKE OF THE FRONT. THE COMBINATION OF THE SNOW AND STRONG WINDS MAY RESULT IN BLIZZARD CONDITIONS... WITH NEAR ZERO VISIBILITIES... DURING THE DAY AND EVENING. IN ADDITION... TEMPERATURES WILL PLUMMET INTO THE SINGLE DIGITS ABOVE ZERO THURSDAY AFTERNOON WITH WIND CHILL READINGS APPROACHING 30 BELOW ZERO.
Image credit above: "Visible satellite image from 9:15 am this morning." (NASA).
Image credit above: "This is an early version of the storm surge inundation map that will be tested by the National Hurricane Center during the 2014 hurricane season. The wording of the key shown in this map of the Fort Myers, Fla., area is likely to change in the test versions." (National Hurricane Center).
Weather graphic above: WeatherWest.com.
Image credit above: "A map showing the highest temperatures recorded in Australia between Dec. 29, 2013-Jan. 4, 2014." Source: Bureau of Meteorology.
Image credit above: "Dust storms in the West stir up microscopic spores of the toxic soil-dwelling fungus Coccidioides immitis. The Centers for Disease Control reports a tenfold increase in infections, some of them fatal."
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..."
U.S. Cold Snap Fuels Climate Debate. Is rapid melting of arctic ice having an impact on jet stream winds over the Northern Hemisphere? Here's an excerpt of an article at Nature: "...Arctic warming is leading to declines in sea ice and increased snowmelt on land. Because ice and snow are bright, they reflect sunlight back into space. When they melt, more solar energy can be absorbed by the Arctic. One theory is that a warmer Arctic will reduce the temperature differences between the Arctic and warmer latitudes, leading to a weaker jet stream that would be more likely to wander off course from time to time. “Of course, we can’t say that this particular pattern is due to warming, but it’s very consistent with what we expect to see happen,” says Jennifer Francis, an atmospheric scientist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, who published a study on this effect in Geophysical Research Letters in 2012..."
Image above: NOAA/NASA GOES Project.
Image credit: EIA, Washington Post.
Graphic credit: "Denial is a thin wedge indeed". Graphic: James Powell.
Graphic credit: Mike Fernwood, Flickr.