Taste of spring; NWS taking heat on forecast decision

Eighteen straight warmer than average months in the Twin Cities. The wettest year on record in 2016. The earliest tornadoes in Minnesota history on March 6.

We’ve lived through some pretty crazy weather extremes in Minnesota the past few months. Don’t look now, but the weather maps look almost normal for late March the next two weeks. A typical early spring season in Minnesota?

Somebody pinch me.

Warming trend kicks in

Southerly winds blow in milder air starting Thursday. Temps peak Sunday, as thermometers push into the 50s once again. Temperature maps change from blue to green the yellow and red over the next four days.

Note the surge in warmth in Nebraska and Kansas Sunday where temps will push into the 70s to 80 degrees once again.

Canadian GEM model 2-meter temps, via tropical tidbits

The air upstream has been incredibly warm this month. If we are able to get a sustained southwest flow, it’s going to get very warm here in a hurry. I just don’t see that pattern unfolding yet. But when it happens, it could happen fast.

September sun intensity

You’ll notice the warming effect of a higher mid-March sun as we head toward the weekend. The sun is now as high in the sky as Sept. 26. That extra solar energy melts snow faster, and is able to warm the atmosphere more quickly on sunny days on increasingly snow-free ground.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Couple showers

A couple of minor low-pressure systems bring a few wintry mix (snow/sleet to rain) showers overnight tonight and Thursday night into Friday. Canada’s GEM model captures the essence.

Canadian GEM model, via tropical tidbits

The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts model is most aggressive on the coming warmup. The “Euro” cranks out 50s to the Twin Cities Friday and Sunday, with a Saturday speed bump in between. Next week is trending a bit cooler.

Norwegian Met Institute

NYC NWS taking heat for blizzard 2017 forecasts

Many of Monday’s forecast models dialed back on expected snowfall totals for New York City Tuesday. Still, the city’s National Weather Service office made a decision not to lower snowfall totals from over a foot, to single digits.

Now they are catching some (well deserved?) heat for not updating the public about the possible changes as the storm jogged ever so slightly to the west, and the rain-sleet-snow line edged over NYC.

Frequent Climate Cast contributor Capital Weather Gang’s Jason Samenow has this excellent piece on why that was a bad forecast decision.

The afternoon before the blizzard predicted for New York City fizzled out, the National Weather Service knew the storm might not produce the epic snow amounts it had forecast. But because it didn’t want to “confuse” the public, it decided to continue emphasizing the worst-case scenario.

This was a well-intentioned but flawed decision that has the potential to damage public trust in weather forecasts.

The Weather Service has a responsibility to put out the best possible forecast. If forecasts are changing and it knows there is substantial risk they could be wrong, it needs to revise them and communicate the changes immediately.

On Monday afternoon, many computer-model forecasts had presented a clear trend toward less snow in the big cities from Washington to New York.

Climate change concern hits 3-decade high in U.S.

It appears a growing number of Americans understand the growing impacts of climate change.

California to D.C. climate scientists: Go west

The dynamics unfolding with federal climate scientists and the future employment is highly uncertain. A coming wave of climate science refugees? States advancing climate science as the federal government rejects the science? I never thought I’d see what looks like the Dark Ages on climate science.

Spring trending earlier

The Great Barrier Reef is dying

Are we killing off one of the seven natural wonders of the world?

Here’s a stunning (and sad) way to visualize the damage from climate change to the Great Barrier Reef.

Climate Cast: CO2 levels rising at record rates

This week on Climate Cast I talk with University of St. Thomas professor John Abraham about why the record rise in CO2 levels has scientists concerned. We’ll also explore how much the Trump administration can really affect climate in four years.

Join me at 3:20 p.m. and again at 6: 20 p.m. Thursday for Climate Cast on MPR News stations and 91.1 FM in the Twin Cities region.