Tsunami Debris: Accuweather’s shaky excuse for a busted winter forecast?

7 days and counting at or above 70 degrees this March in the metro

(a new record)

5 days – the previous record for 70 degree days in March in 1910

80 degrees on March 17th – earliest on record for metro

80 degrees finally in Las Vegas on Thursday March 22nd

1st time the Twin Cities have ever reached 80 degrees before Vegas!

70s again Saturday, cooler breezes Sunday – generally sunny weekend

T-Storms return Monday night & Tuesday

Slight chance of a severe storm Tuesday?

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Chinese lilcas budding in March under a May looking sky

Photo by Paul Huttner-MPR News

Accuweather offers excuse for busted winter forecast:

It’s one thing to try and be out front of (possible) developing weather trends. It’s quite another to issue apocalyptic forecasts that say “people may want to move” because of bad weather ahead.

But that’s exactly what Accuweather said last fall to Chicago residents in blaring apocalyptic headlines forecasting a brutal winter.

Instead Chicagoan’s enjoyed the 9th warmest winter on record, and unprecedented record warmth in March.

Now, Accuweather offers up a seemingly flimsy excuse that pacific Tsunami debris has somehow tricked the atmosphere into one of the USA’s warmest winters on record.

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Source: NOAA

Here’s the almost funny story from the Chicago Tribune. Sense of humor required…

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Source: Chicago Tribune

AccuWeather offers explanation for wildly inaccurate winter forecast

Japanese tsunami debris may be causing mild temperatures, meteorologist says

March 22, 2012

By Rob Manker, Chicago Tribune reporter

“A meteorologist for AccuWeather — the forecasting company that predicted a winter so bad, “people in Chicago are going to want to move” — has a theory for the recent Midwest heat wave: Japanese tsunami debris.

AccuWeather.com made headlines last fall, you may recall, with breathlessly apocalyptic predictions for the season ahead.

Five months later, winter 2011-12 is in the books as the ninth warmest on record, punctuated by a stretch of historically high temperatures over the last week, and the Chicago area remains remarkably populous.

“We’re wrong sometimes; we can admit it,” meteorologist and AccuWeather.com news director Henry Margusity said. “It was not exactly the best forecast.”

Specifically, AccuWeather said we were in for a fifth consecutive winter with more than 50 inches of snow. In reality, just 19.8 inches of the white stuff has fallen, according to WGN chief meteorologist Tom Skilling, not only well below AccuWeather’s prediction, but also 14.3 inches below the yearly average.

Margusity was a good sport about AccuWeather’s swing and miss, even offering up a retroactive long-shot theory for the warm winter and recent heat wave — the drifting debris field from last year’s devastating Japanese tsunami seems to be sending warm air aloft above the Pacific Ocean, which could be contributing to warmer temperatures here, Margusity said.

“If you match up where that debris field is right now with where the warmer-than-normal water temperatures are, they match up perfectly,” he said, also citing what proved to be a weakening La Nina pattern last fall and the lack of expected so-called Greenland blocking.

To be fair, not Skilling, the National Weather Service or even the Farmer’s Almanac predicted the unusually warm, low-snowfall winter, but nobody was further off than AccuWeather.

What did Skilling think when he heard the prediction of a looming Chicago exodus?

“I was horrified,” Skilling said. “I shook my head when I saw that forecast, and I worried what the impression would be for the public. We just don’t have skill at producing seasonal forecasts with that degree of specificity.”

As for the months ahead? Skilling and Margusity agree, indicators seem to point toward a warmer than normal summer.

“I don’t think you should run to the Arctic Circle to cool off,” Margusity said, repeating the theme of fleeing Chicago, “but you might want to run to get an air conditioner.”

Minnesota records: The warm weather hits just keep on comin’!

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Source: Duluth NWS

We continue to smash records this month in Minnesota. The latest?

Friday marked the 7th day this March with temps at or above 70 in the metro. Saturday will be number 8.

More from the Twin Cities NWS and my MPR colleague Dr. Mark Seeley.

Record Setting Weather For Temps and Moisture…Updated March 23rd

“How unusual has the weather been across our area during mid-March? Here is a breakdown of the record conditions that have been noted from March 10th to present.

Record High Temperatures

“These charts show the high and low temperatures for the Twin Cities (measured at Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport), St. Cloud, and Eau Claire, as well as the record temperatures. Several new temperature records have been set since March 10th, when the unprecidented warmup began.

Interesting statistics for the Twin Cities:

•As of March 23rd, the maximum temperature in the Twin Cities has reached or exceeded 70 degrees on 7 days, breaking the March record of 5 days set in 1910.

•The Twin Cities maximum temperature reached or exceeded 70 degrees for four consecutive days (March 16-19), breaking the previous record of three consecutive days which occurred on March 23-25, 1939 and March 22-24, 1945.

•When the Twin Cities temperature reached 80 degrees on March 17, it was the first 80 degree temperature since October 9, 2011. The span without 80 degree temperatures was 159 days, the fewest consecutive number of days without 80 degrees in the modern record.

•March 23 2011 through March 22 2012 was the warmest 365 day period on record, back to 1871, with an average temperature of 50.5 degrees.

•Temperatures in the Twin Cities haven’t dropped below the average high temperature since March 13th.”

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Source: Twin Cities NWS

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Source: Twin Cities NWS

Mark Seeley has more perspective from his excellent Weather Talk blog:

Topic: Records were made to be broken, but this is ridiculous!

“March of 2012 is delivering once in a lifetime temperature records. It has surpassed June of 1933, July of 1936, and February of 1981 in the total number of warmest maximum and minimum daily temperature records set. At last count, the Twin Cities have seen 16 new daily record temperature values (both max and min) so far this month. Rochester and International Falls have seen 15 new record temperatures so far this month, while St Cloud reports 13 new temperature records. Even Duluth, which has a climate that is highly regulated by Lake Superior, has reported 10 new temperature records so far this month. You can keep up to date with these records at…

http://www.climate.umn.edu/doc/journal/mild_march_2012.htm

Imbedded in these record-setting reports are some even more profound significant features: earliest ever 80 degrees F at MSP (80 F) and Rochester (81 F) on March 17th; highest March temperature ever reported from International Falls (79 F on March 18th); highest minimum temperatures ever reported in March from nearly all climate stations in the state (with overnight lows in the 50s and 60s F); and highest dewpoints ever measured in March (many in the 60s F). Concerning the high dewpoints for March, the National Weather Service also reported a record-setting value of precipitable water measured by the Chanhassen radiosonde on Monday evening this week with a value of 1.27 inches. This was just ahead of the significant rainfall event that night. More information can be found at……

http://www.crh.noaa.gov/news/display_cmsstory.php?wfo=mpx&storyid=80782&source=0

In addition at least 8 statewide high temperature records for March have been tied or broken this month. These include:

66 F at Amboy, MSP, and Milan on the 10th

68 F at Marshall on the 11th

74 F at Rochester on the 14th

82 F at Redwood Falls on the 16th

82 F at Madison on the 17th

84 F at Canby on the 18th (tied state record)

84 F at Madison on the 19th

80 F at Redwood Falls on the 20th

Many locations, including the Twin Cities are on a pace to set a new record for the warmest month of March in history, surpassing the record warm March of 1910. International Falls which had never seen 70 degrees F in March before has reported 5 days with 70 F or higher this month.

Topic: Early phenology and early tornado

Many of our weather observers have remarked about unusual spring phenology observations: insects (mosquitos, Asian beetles); butterflies; bud swelling, flowering, and leaf out; crops breaking dormancy (alfalfa fields); early spring wheat planting; and of course early ice-out dates on lakes. Green Lake in Kandiyohi County saw its earliest loss of ice on March 20, while White Bear Lake saw its earliest on March 19. Out west, Lake Minnewaska in Pope County saw its earliest ice-out date on March 21st.

The NOAA National Weather Service reported that an EF-0 (winds 65-85 mph) touched down in northern Waseca County on Monday evening, March 19th. It was on the ground for about 7 miles between 6:25 and 6:35 pm and damaged some buildings. This was the 2nd earliest tornado reported in Minnesota history, just a day later than the one that struck north of Fairmont (near Truman) on March 18, 1968. You can read more at

http://www.crh.noaa.gov/news/display_cmsstory.php?wfo=mpx&storyid=80895&source=0

BTW Severe Weather Awareness Week in Minnesota does not occur until the 3rd week of April this year.”

Vegas late to the 80 degree lottery this year:

Vegas finally hit 80 this week!

Details from the Vegas NWS:

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE LAS VEGAS NV

354 PM PDT THU MAR 22 2012

…LAS VEGAS FINALLY REACHES INTO THE 80S FOR A HIGH…

THE HIGH TEMPERATURE AT MCCARRAN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT FINALLY REACHED INTO THE 80S THIS AFTERNOON. WHILE THIS IS SLIGHTLY LATER THAN THE AVERAGE FIRST DATE FOR A HIGH OF 80 DEGREES OR BETTER BASED ON THE PERIOD OF 1981-2010…WHAT IS UNUSUAL ARE THE AREAS OF THE

UNITED STATES THIS YEAR THAT DID REACH 80 DEGREES OR BETTER BEFORE

LAS VEGAS. A LARGE AREA OF HIGH PRESSURE HAS RESULTED IN RECORD

WARMTH FOR MUCH OF THE PAST WEEK ACROSS THE MIDWEST AND AT TIMES IN

THE NORTHEAST.

HERE IS THE AVERAGE DATE OF THE FIRST 80 DEGREE OR BETTER HIGH

TEMPERATURE BASED ON THE PERIOD FROM 1981 TO 2010 FOR A FEW SELECT

CITIES.

LAS VEGAS NV MARCH 16TH

CHICAGO IL APRIL 21ST

DETROIT MI APRIL 27TH

MINNEAPOLIS MN MAY 1ST

BURLINGTON VT MAY 4TH

BANGOR ME MAY 19TH

HAS IT EVER REACHED 80 DEGREES OR BETTER IN ANY OF THESE CITIES

BEFORE IT HAS IN LAS VEGAS?

RECORDS FOR THE OFFICIAL CLIMATE STATION IN LAS VEGAS GO BACK TO

1937. RECORDS FOR EACH OF THESE CITIES GO BACK BEFORE 1937. SO ONLY

THE DATA FROM 1937 TO THE PRESENT WAS USED TO COMPILE THE

INFORMATION BELOW. LOOKING AT THE RECORDS FOR THE OFFICIAL CLIMATE

STATION IN SEVERAL CITIES BACK TO 1937 THE FOLLOWING WAS FOUND:

IN CHICAGO…THIS HAS HAPPENED 3 TIMES – IN 1941…1974 AND IN 2012.

1974 WAS THE EARLIEST THIS EVER HAPPENED – IT REACHED INTO THE 80S

FOR THE FIRST TIME THAT YEAR IN CHICAGO ON MARCH 3RD AND LAS VEGAS

ON MARCH 14TH.

IN DETROIT…THIS HAS HAPPENED 5 TIMES – IN 1938…1941…1945…

2000 AND IN 2012. 2000 WAS THE EARLIEST THIS EVER HAPPENED – IT

REACHED INTO THE 80S FOR THE FIRST TIME THAT YEAR IN DETROIT ON

MARCH 8TH AND IN LAS VEGAS ON MARCH 20TH.

IN MINNEAPOLIS…THIS HAS ONLY HAPPENED ONCE – WITH THIS YEAR BEING

IT.

IN BURLINGTON VERMONT…THIS HAS HAPPENED 3 TIMES – IN 1941…1945

AND IN 2012. 2012 WAS THE EARLIEST THIS EVER HAPPENED WITH

BURLINGTON REACHING INTO THE 80S ON MARCH 20TH FOR THE FIRST TIME.

IN BANGOR…THIS HAS ONLY HAPPENED ONCE – WITH THIS YEAR BEING IT.

THE EARLIEST LAS VEGAS HAS EVER REACHED INTO THE 80S WAS ON FEBRUARY

1ST 2003. THE LATEST FIRST OCCURRENCE OF A READING OF 80 DEGREES OR

BETTER IN LAS VEGAS WAS IN 1941 WHEN IT TOOK UNTIL APRIL 23RD.

Enjoy the weekend!

PH