Ah, March in Minnesota: knee-deep in dirty snow with a slight risk of a tornado. This is a manic month of meteorology - blizzards, floods, ice, even twisters by the end of the month. Did I leave anything out?
Huge north-south temperature contrasts leading up to the Spring Equinox can whip up intense storms capable of jaw-dropping temperature extremes.
Exhibit A: St. Louis went from 83F and shorts Tuesday to flurries & 40F yesterday. Like turning off a light switch. One minute it's spring, blink a few times, and it's winter again.
While Chicago digs out from 3-6 inches of snow (now the third snowiest winter on record) we enjoy another well-timed puff of Pacific air; 40s likely today and tomorrow before cooling off over the weekend.
No headline-generating weather drama in sight, just a slight cooling trend by next week as big storms torment the southern and eastern USA. No sign of The Big One here anytime soon.
People ask me to put this winter into perspective. According to the MN Climate Office's "Winter Misery Index" (snow and cold) this winter was severe - the first since 2011, and only the 4th since 1985.
Yes, I'm Master of The Obvious, but now we have confirmation.
Brutal Winter, And Painful Rises In Heat Costs. Propane costs have skyrocketed this winter. Supply and demand, superimposed upon a pioneer winter from the Upper Midwest to the Great Lakes. Here's an excerpt of a New York Times story: "Opening up heating and electricity bills has been a bit of a shocker in recent weeks. Exactly how shocking became clear on Wednesday when the Energy Department released a report showing just how expensive it was to keep warm and cook dinner this winter. Those living in mostly rural and Midwestern areas who depend on propane are expected to spend 54 percent more this winter than last. Those who rely on heating oil, largely in the Northeast, will be paying 7 percent more. Natural gas consumers will pay 10 percent more and electricity consumers will pay 5 percent more..."
Photo credit above: "James P. McCoy/Buffalo News.
Photo credit above: NOAA "A TAO buoy seen next to a NOAA research ship, which was used for maintaining the buoy array across the Pacific Ocean."
Image credit above: "A sprite glows red (inset) in this image captured by astronauts on the International Space Station on April 30, 2012." Credit: Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center.
Photo credit: Pedro Moura Pinheiro/Flickr
Photo credit above: "The Atlas robot created by Boston Dynamics." Photo by Boston Dynamics.
Photo credit above: "A compound commonly found in fruit and vegetables, including apples, grapes and strawberries, has been found to prevent Alzheimer's disease in mice." (Photo: Shutterstock).
Photo credit: Okea/Thinkstock.
Photo credit above: "In Louri village in the Mao region of Chad, climate change has meant that the normally once-a-decade droughts are now coming every few years. November 2, 2012." (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell).
Photo credit above: "The Arctic sea ice season is shortening by five days per decade, with the appearance of sea ice becoming delayed by warmer weather, according to new research." (Photo : NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center).
* Tweet above courtesy of Simon Donner.