January 6

Splitting Polar Vortex Has Subzero Implications Northern USA

The American model projection showing the polar vortex shifting southward and elongating across the northeast Atlantic and Northern Europe, extending toward Asia on Jan. 7.

The Polar Vortex is Splitting in Two, Which May Lead to Weeks of Wild Winter Weather. Especially on the East Coast and New England, I might add. Capital Weather Gang has a good explainer: “A dramatic spike in temperatures is occurring at high altitudes above the North Pole, where the air is thin and typically frigid. Known as a sudden stratospheric warming event, experts say it’s likely to have potentially significant repercussions for winter weather across the Northern Hemisphere for weeks to possibly months. This unusually strong event may have profound influences on the weather in the United States and Europe, possibly increasing the potential for paralyzing snowstorms and punishing blasts of Arctic air, with the odds of the most severe cold outbreaks highest in Northern Europe...”

Coldest Air of a Not-So-Cold Winter. In spite of a few arctic slaps from the latter half of January into February I would still wager a stale bagel that overall winter temperatures will trend milder than average, with a persistent Pacific signal into March or April. Confidence levels are (always) low trying to look that far out, but I’m still leaning in a (milder than average) direction.

Paul Douglas

2020: Warmer and Drier for Minnesota. Here’s an excerpt of a good climate summary from Dr. Mark Seeley at Minnesota WeatherTalk: “…As we wrap up the year, basically a warmer than normal one and slightly drier than normal one as well, we can look back at the statewide pattern month by month. Overall, 2020 ended up among the top 15 warmest in state history (back to 1895) and was drier than normal ranking about 43rd driest out of 126 years…”

Number One for 2020: Record November Warmth.
The Minnesota DNR State Climatology Office

Top 5 Weather Events of 2020 in Minnesota. The Minnesota DNR State Climatology Office has a good summary of last year’s atmospheric craziness: “Here are the results of voting for the top five weather events of 2020 from the Minnesota State Climatology Office. Votes were cast from various weather enthusiasts including the National Weather Service, the University of Minnesota, State agencies and Facebook followers. Please visit us on Facebook (link is external) and post your own top five weather events for Minnesota.

#5 Easter Sunday Winter Storm: April 12, 2020

For the third year in a row, mid-April brought a major winter weather event to southern Minnesota. Although not as potent as the storms in 2018 and 2019, this one did produce accumulations of up to 10 inches, including 6.6 inches In the Twin Cities…”

Brian Brettschneider
Brian Brettschneider

2020 USA Temperature Anomalies. Climate guru Brian Brettschneider has a good summary of of temperature departures last year; daytime highs were 2-4F warmer for much of the west and New England while nighttime lows were significantly warmer than average across much of the eastern U.S.

The remnants of a business in Sulphur, La., destroyed by Hurricane Laura in August
Matthew Cappucci, Capital Weather Gang

From Ferocious Fires to an Historic Wildfire Season, 2020 Took Weather to New Extremes. Capital Weather Gang has a good summary: “As most of us are breathing a sigh of relief that 2020 is just about over, many meteorologists are doing the same thing. The year featured devastating wildfires and hurricanes, tornadoes, derechos and flooding, and just about everything else the atmosphere has to offer. Wildfires and hurricanes were relentless and especially punishing, setting records for the amount of real estate they affected in the Lower 48, while killing dozens. Supercharged by human-caused climate change, they signaled trouble for the future as the climate warms further. A year filled with extreme weather meant a hefty price tag: Insurance firm Aon estimates that at least 25 separate billion-dollar weather disasters unfolded across the United States this year...”

Paul Douglas

Snow and Ice Pose a Vexing Obstacle for Self-Driving Cars. No kidding. It’s hard to follow the road if you can’t see the road. A story at WIRED.com (paywall) caught my eye: “…The vehicle worked well enough to begin with, recognizing Canadian cars and pedestrians just as well as German ones. But then Czarnecki took the autonomous car for a spin in heavy Ontarian snow. It quickly became a calamity on wheels, with the safety driver forced to grab the wheel repeatedly to avert disaster. The incident highlights a gap in the development of self-driving cars: maneuvering in bad weather. To address the problem, Czarnecki and Steven Waslander, a professor at the University of Toronto, compiled a data set of images from snowy and rainy Canadian roads. It includes footage of foggy camera views, blizzard conditions, and cars sliding around, captured over two winters...”

Fires and Smoke Engulf Southeastern Australia on January 4, 2020.
NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens, using MODIS data from NASA EOSDIS/LANCE and GIBS/Worldview

Amazing Earth: Satellite Images from 2020. NASA has a link to some pretty incredible imagery; here’s an excerpt of their post: “In the vastness of the universe, the life-bringing beauty of our home planet shines bright. During this tumultuous year, our satellites captured some pockets of peace, while documenting data and striking visuals of unprecedented natural disasters. As 2020 comes to a close, we’re diving into some of the devastation, wonders, and anomalies this year had to offer. NASA’s fleet of Earth-observing satellites and instruments on the International Space Station unravel the complexities of the blue marble from a cosmic vantage point. These robotic scientists orbit our globe constantly, monitoring and notating changes, providing crucial information to researchers here on the ground. Take a glance at 2020 through the lens of NASA satellites…”

“I won’t Do That Again…”
Reddit and Wellthatsucks

When You Live in Svalbard, Norway and Forget to Close the Window to the Home Office. Image courtesy of Wellthatsucks and Reddit. Wow

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