You can only imagine the earful I've gotten this hyper-winter. I feel like an economist, standing in the wreckage of 1929's Great Depression. "It WILL get better!" Because it can't get any worse.
I looked at the weather maps this morning and couldn't decide whether to wake the neighbors or weep for joy. New colors are showing up: less blues and purples, more yellow and orange. We're limping into spring, and your faith in March may be partially restored in the week ahead as steering winds aloft become zonal; blowing west to east. The Polar Vortex gives way to a Pacific breeze.
Expect a thaw today - the drive home will be a sloppy slush-fest, but who cares? The short-term outlook calls for occasional showers of blue windshield washer fluid, but I still don't see any Tournament Storms looking out at least a week.
Nearly 20 inches of snow on the ground will limit just how mild it can get in the short term; ECMWF guidance hints at a few 40s early next week. Above average? Unheard of. Nothing subzero looking out a week, just an Ice Dam Advisory.
In today's weather blog: a rough winter for Minnesota's white-tail deer & Lake Superior ice cover is approaching 95 percent, the all-time record set in 1979.
Yes, we've seen worse, but not lately.
* GFS forecast temperatures midday Monday courtesy of Climate Reanalyzer at the University of Maine.
Lake Superior Approaching The Record Of 95% Ice-Covered. At last report, NOAA showed ice cover of 94.7% - very close to the all-time record set in 1979. NBC News has the story; here's an excerpt: "..The ice cover may even eclipse the 1979 record of 95 percent with temperatures expected to dip in the coming days after “one polar vortex after another,” Jia Wang, a research ice climatologist for the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, told NBC News. “In the next week or two, the forecast is that the temperatures will be under freezing.The lake still has about 10 days to grow in ice cover — 5 percent is no problem,” he said..."
* Time Magazine has a time-lapse of Lake Superior freezing up here.
Winter Severity Index For White-Tailed Deer. We aren't the only ones feeling the effects of a pioneer winter. The persistent cold is impacting Minnesota's white-tailed deer population, as tracked by the Minnesota DNR: "The Winter Severity Index (WSI) is a general measure of winter conditions based on the premise that prolonged cold temperatures and deep snow can reduce overwinter survial of white-tailed deer. In Minnesota the WSI is calculated by accumulating a point for each day with an ambient temperature of 0F and an additional point for each day with a snow depth greater than 15". End of season values less than 100 indicate a mild winter. Values greater than 180 indicate a severe winter."
Image credit above: "NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image of a powerful storm swirling off the coast of New Zealand on March 4. The storm has caused what has been reported as a 100-year flood in the city of Christchurch." (Source: NASA).
Why Snowstorms Are More Devastating Now To American Cities. An inch of snow in the 60s? No big deal. Our parents called this "flurries". Today an inch of snow falling at the wrong time and wrong temperature can bring a city's transporation grid to a halt. What has changed? Here's an excerpt of an interesting story at NBC Philadelphia: "Snowstorms have become devastating to American cities -- thanks to a commonplace technology: the private automobile. "The evil snow is upon us.” So wrote New York lawyer and diarist George Templeton Strong in December 1879, describing a storm that had paralyzed the city. Teams of horses pulled ploughs through the snow, piled high along the sidewalks; downed electrical lines pitched the streets into darkness. In the future, Strong imagined, things would be better. “A century hence cities will be put under glass,” he predicted, “and New York will be enclosed in a huge crystal palace...”
Image credit above: "One of the three Joint Polar Satellite Systems satellites." (Credit: NOAA/NASA).
Image credit above: "Superstorm Sandy as it slams the Northeast in October 2012." Credit: NOAA/NASA.
* graphic above courtesy of buzzle.com.
British Floods Could Be A Harbinger. Britain just experienced its wettest winter since accurate records were started in the 1800s, and a sentence in this article at The New York Times did a good job (in my humble opinion) of explaining the implications of climate change and climate volatility. No, it doesn't mean we'll all be warmer (all the time), but it increases the potential for unusual events that manifest themselves via freakish weather. We're already seeing that, worldwide. Here's an excerpt: "...Yet Somerset may be a microcosm for the dilemmas that Britain and other countries are likely to face in the future as sea levels rise and climate change accentuates unusual weather. As in other places around the world, people in Britain have chosen to live near water, where damaging floods may occur and are likely to become more frequent. “You often hear people saying, ‘You shouldn’t build on flood plains,’ but many cities are on flood plains,” said Roger A. Falconer, a professor of water management at Cardiff University in Wales, not far from the Levels. “Where do you draw the line?...”
Photo credit above: " Flood waters inundate the area as one house stands alone and dry near the flooded village of Moorland in Somerset, southwest England, Thursday Feb. 13, 2014. The house is owned by Sam Notaro, who has built his own levee to hold back the flood waters, as the local communities face further misery in the coming days with heavy rain, wind and snow predicted to sweep across Britain." (AP Photo/Steve Parsons, PA).
Photo credit above: "BHP Billiton CEO Andrew Mackenzie speaks at the IHS CERAWeek energy conference in Houston on March 4, 2014." (Mayra Beltran/Houston Chronicle).
* more details on the implications of rising seas and increased climate volatility on the military at The Center for Climate & Security.
Photo credit: "Icebergs and sea ice floating atop near-freezing surface waters of the Weddell Sea." Courtesy of Eric Galbraith.
Cartoon credit above: "The climate contrarian guide to managing risk." Created by John Cook.