Perspective. It's hard to come by when you're hip-deep in snow. 47" snow so far; the 43rd snowiest winter on record, to date. 44 subzero nights, the most since 1981-82.
Looking at a Misery Index that measures snow & cold this isn't even close to rough Minnesota winters of the late 70s. But much harsher than most winters since 1998.
My lead programmer reminded me of the "Grumble Factor", the number of days between measurable snow events during the warm weather season. During the record warm year of 2012 we went from March 8 to November 12 without slush. Last year? May 3 to November 3, almost 2 1/2 months less snow-free weather.
Many Minnesotans were already grouchy about last year's abbreviated summer, now this.
Here, let me cheer you up. A Blizzard Watch is posted south and east of the Twin Cities Thursday. A plowable snowfall is expected, maybe as much as 3-8", but an even bigger concern is 25-40 mph winds, capable of blowing/drifting, especially from Mankato and La Crosse to Eau Claire. If you plan on driving south/east of MSP Thursday into early Friday expect treacherous travel.
A thaw lingers into Thursday but colder weather returns next week. 3-4 more subzero nights? Yes, but no school-closing cold.
* thanks to Steve Burns, who snapped the photo above along the North Shore on Sunday.
* First significant severe thunderstorm risk Thursday from the Ohio Valley into the Mid South and Tennessee River Valley. Slight risk from SPC, meaning probable squall line with damaging straight-line winds, 1-2" diameter hail, and a few (isolated) tornadoes.
* Blizzard potential late Thursday into early Friday from Iowa into eastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin as a powerful storm winds up, producing blowing and drifting problems from near Des Moines and Waterloo, Iowa to Rochester, the Twin Cities, Duluth, La Crosse andEau Claire, Wisconsin.
Summary: Tornadoes are possible, climatologically, much of the winter along the Gulf Coast. By late February the risk shifts northward as temperatures warm and 60-degree dew points begin to surge north. We'll have many of the ingredients for severe storms Thursday; more linear (squall line) than supercellular, but a few isolated tornadoes are possible with this outbreak. The greater risk is straight-line wind damage and large hail.
Farther north, deeper in the cold air, a rapidly intensifying storm will drop heavy snow over the Upper Midwest with blizzard potential by Thursday night from near Des Moines to Rochester, the Twin Cities and Duluth, along with much of western Wisconsin. We'll keep you posted.
Photo credit above: "A Georgia Department of Transportation sign warns drivers of winter weather as they travel a bleak section of Highway 141 on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Norcross, Ga." (John Amis/AP).
Image credit above: "The jet stream that circles Earth's north pole travels west to east. But when the jet stream interacts with a Rossby wave, as shown here, the winds can wander far north and south, bringing frigid air to normally mild southern states." NASA/GSFC.
Photo credit above: "Rain drops hang on a railing at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. After days of warm weather at the Sochi Olympics, fog up in the mountains is causing an even bigger disturbance.Thick fog rolled in over the mountains in Krasnaya Polyana on Sunday night and was still lingering on Monday, and the limited visibility forced organizers to delay a biathlon race and cancel the seeding runs in a snowboard event." (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth).
Photo credit above: "A referee throws salt on the track prior to the men's biathlon 20k individual race, at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia." (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man).
Photo credit above: "A chemical plant sits along a branch of the Kanawha River in South Charleston, West Virginia, site of a recent coal slurry spill." Photograph by Steve Helber, AP.
Photo credit above: "Flood devastation to County Road in Berthoud, Colo. in September 2013." Photo courtesy of Lornay Hansen.
(Photo: Courtesy of Lornay Hansen)- See more at: http://www.cpr.org/news/story/climate-change-causing-extreme-weather-experts-disagree#sthash.azWX2xgV.dpuf
Are all these events just Mother Nature cycling through her natural mood swings? Or is it, as some scientists suggest, that the human influence on our climate is causing these weather catastrophes?
Kevin Trenberth, a distinguished senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and environmental scientist Roger Pielke Jr., director of the Center for Science and Technology in Boulder, disagree on the answer.- See more at: http://www.cpr.org/news/story/climate-change-causing-extreme-weather-experts-disagree#sthash.azWX2xgV.dpuf
Image credit above: "This pristine photo of Arctic sea ice was taken by scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in German. In the summer of 2012, the researchers journeyed to the high Arctic to investigate the physics and biology of Arctic sea ice. The scientists also monitored reactions of the deep sea ecosystem to changes in sea ice cover."Credit: Stefan Hendricks, Alfred Wegener Institute.
Photo credit above: "Flood water surrounds homes in Shepperton, Surrey, England, as Royal Engineers are now being tasked to carry out a high-speed assessment of damage to the UK's flood defense infrastructure, Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014. The military could have been brought in earlier to help deal with the winter storms that have been wracking Britain, a Cabinet minister has admitted. As the weather finally gave the country a respite, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond defended the Government's handling of the crisis." (AP Photo/PA, Steve Parsons).
Graphic credit above: "Change in energy content of different components of the climate system." (IPCC, 2013).
Viewpoints: Fracking During The Drought Is Destructive and Irresponsible. The Sacramento Bee has an Op-Ed that caught my eye; here's a clip: "...Fracking is a triple threat to California’s water. Not only does it exacerbate the climate crisis, it requires mixing vast amounts of water with harmful chemicals, and it puts our vital aquifers at risk of contamination for generations. Last week, the green investment group Ceres released a report that found that 96 percent of fracking wells in California were drilled in regions under high or extremely high water stress..."
Photo credit above: "This Feb. 14, 2014 photo shows a freeway sign in Los Angeles advising motorists to save water because of the state's severe drought. This week the California Department of Transportation launched an education campaign with 700 electronic highway boards displaying the message: "Serious Drought. Help Save Water."