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Mark Seeley, University of Minnesota meteorologist and climatologist, answers listener questions about the weather. Topics include El Nino, and the warm winter. Program contains pledge drive segments.

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Things to go to whatever you can afford if you want the El Nino package the full wardrobe 240 for a full year $20 per month, whatever whatever works out for your budget. The important thing is that you do what you can and give us a call again to to 72811 Twin City area number to to 72811 outside the Twin Cities one 800-227-2811. Now my question for Mark Seeley, whatever happened to our old friend El Nino laughter are near record-setting winter warm, March is come in like a lion here in Minnesota. It hasn't been this cold since the first part of January and down and Iowa. They just got hit with one of the worst March storms in a long long time. So where is our old buddy? El Nino University Minnesota meteorologist extension climatologist, Mark Seeley, who course is featured each Friday on our Morning Edition program is here with the answer to that question and all your weather related.Questions. So we invite you give us a call. And of course we'll be using our normal call in line for our conversation with Mark Seeley. And that number is 227-6020 area to 276 thousand. If you have a question for Marcus Ela and you're calling from outside the Twin Cities 1-800. 242-282-8227. 6001. 800-242-2828 Mark. Thanks for coming in this morning. Yes, it's a little raw out there this morning. You're quite right get snippy with took the dogs out and they wanted to go back here. So where is El Nino? When we need him here her it will. You know, there's an old Axiom that which wax is also Wayans and actually it's been shown in historical studies Gary that El Nino has its most significant effect on our winter, but as we get into late winter and spring its impact dies off Sony.This is a sign that indeed it's not going to be affecting us much for the rest of the of the spring season. So we've had pretty much all the El Nino we can get it could be the although. I see the climate Prediction Center favors that it's going to slowly die off maybe not till may be entirely gone. This was the second warmest winter in Twin City history. Is that right or the loremaster? What I see conflicting information of right? We did some summaries recently Gary of both February and then the winter season for December January and February. So to go back a little bit for Twin City in the month of February was the second warmest of all-time February alone. It trailed only nineteen Thirty-One while the winter is a whole the December January and February.Statewide considering all observations was the second warmest winter in history. It seemed I guess I'm especially February was just an amazingly warm. It's like February and March got confused here in flip flop. You don't exactly know the two most striking characteristics of February. We didn't have a day not a single day with a below normal temperature and secondly is most of our positive deviation in temperature was due to very warm overnight minimums. We had a lot of near record-setting overnight warm minimums, but very few record-setting daytime maximums. So in essence, we just didn't cool down at night. Like we normally do what a shame this is causing some major problems, especially elsewhere around the around the world and around the country any any sign that the the coaster going to get any kind of a let up so that we can get some fruits and vegetables in here. Well, I guess a couple of points on that. I think slowly things may let up for California and the Gulf States in terms of their excess precipitation. I guess what I'm most concerned about like any consumer and of course, especially an agricultural meteorologist is what this Arctic outbreak is going to do to a plants in the landscape and I don't just mean for Minnesota where we may have had a few plants break dormancy with that warm February such as blueberry bushes and Alfalfa, maybe some bulbs coming up prematurely and things like this, but I'm also concerned for our neighbors further south, you know, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida Northern Florida, they're going to feel the brunt of this outbreak to a bit later in the week and get quite cold. And what is that? What what what does that mean for them? Well, I think they may have some vegetation that's far enough Advanced along this spring that maybe setback. I may have a few buds kill. The flowers killed the things of this nature it remains to be seen but this cold snap coming at a bad time for those of us that don't have the protection of snow cover and in the landscape actually if we had snow on the ground it would be colder but it would be the ground and the and the vegetation would at least be better insulated Mark Seeley as our guests this our climatologist meteorologist at the University of Minnesota. If you'd like to join our conversation, we're talking at this hour about the weather in about the climate give us a call to 276 thousand is our Twin City area number to 276 thousand. If you're calling from outside the Twin Cities, you can reach us toll-free at 1 800 to +422-828-227-6004. 1 800-242-2828. Are you talking about some plants in the rest that may have shot up a little early just going to mess up the farmers plans in our area. At all. Well, I don't think so. I think in fact, they're still shines. We're going to have an earlier than normal spring. I mean this this late in the winter this Arctic blast is going to be rather short-lived. It's not going to hang around with us for weeks by any means. So I think once we re warm soil should actually thought out Gary so soils were not only thought out they were drying out before this came in a course now, they're starting to refreeze but it won't take a lot of energy to thaw them out once again, and then once we see a little bit of drainage occur, then those soil should be workable. So I I guess from a farming perspective. I'm looking for Farmers to be able to get out in the field and start to do some work earlier than normal this spring which is a real asset for them cuz I have enough moisture to work with this year. Yes, in fact or storage soil-moisture. I just looked that up and it's it's adequate to Surplus in most parts around the state. I think in the top five feet of soil. We've got several inches their stored as an insurance policy for this year's crop another words by insurance policy. I mean should we encounter any dry spells during the 1998 growing season? They're certainly ample moisture in the root Zone to carry the crops through those is that leftover from last year when we we had so much snow and it's primarily left over from this last summer and fall. Yes, that's when they soils in Minnesota typical typically recharge. Most efficiently is in the fall just before the soil begins to freeze up for the winter. Mark why was it so cloudy this winter? That's another one that most Keen observers in Minnesota have noticed persistent low-level cloudiness. And I think what happened was again this may or may not be tied back to El Nino Gary but early on this winter, we got air masses move across us that had a high water vapor content and that water vapor kind of stayed trap near the surface in the lower few thousand feet and just sit here all winter. So we had extraordinaire Lehigh do points. For example, what you indicated the presence of water vapour and that water vapor was always around for clouds to form from so I think we had you might want to call it almost a stagnant air mass that just persisted persisted persisted and gave us the water content to form clouds rather rather readily, So I think it was 35 years of keeping solar radiation data here at the University Saint Paul campus. This was by far the cloudiest lowest level of sunlight in the last 35 winners. This is going to song goofy. But do you suppose we will ever be in a position where we would be able to order up weather like that? Let's say that somebody decided that for this nice warm weather. This past winter was really really the cat's pajamas. And so that's the kind of winter we want and can we could we ever going to get to a point where we can manipulate? The climate enough to be able to induce that. I don't think so. At least certainly not in our lifetimes, but that's a fairly short. I'm a fairly short time right fielders lifetimes. No, I don't think we're ever going to be able to control it what we may get to though with the deployment of of better and better technology we and and we may get to the point in the future where we could forecast these things, you know, say come over like October November we could based on Trends observations and a lot of satellite information and maybe even some El Nino or characteristics, who knows but by deploying all these studies and Technology we might be able to say Hey, you know, we've got an 80% chance that we're going to have another really cloudy winter. We might get to that point but as far as controlling it, I don't see that we will no sign of that. No, El Nino you say is expected to kind of Peter out here in the next little while. When is he going to be back? Good question one of the big troubling things about El nino-southern oscillation and its characteristics Gary is the fact that it occurs with a frequency that varies from 2 years to 10 years apart. There have been back-to-back years on the other hand. There's been a lot of years in between events and no one knows why we don't yet know why what triggers these things to form and that's a big mystery the other feature. That's a big mystery about El Nino is how long its life cycle is sometimes they last just four months other times they last up to two years. Well the life cycle of an El Nino can have important climate impacts globally as well and we can't pin that down. It's still very very hard to know how long one is going to last. It's tough. I know to make a judgment like this and even here in Minnesota, although I think a lot of people enjoying the warmer than usual weather. There were a lot of people who are pretty upset because we didn't get much snow and it has been quite a bit warmer than usual people like to get out in the cold weather and showing on balance. Is El Nino a good does it bring positive benefits for most people around the globe or is it generally so disruptive that it's it causes a lot of problems for piscine so I could cause more problems and it's that's worth. You're quite right. I think the the worst from the standpoint of economic impact globally was the only new episode of 82 83. I think that's documented to have contributed to about 13 billion dollars in infrastructure damage insurance claims lost crop excetera worldwide this year. I don't know if we're approaching that figure. But if you added up all of the disaster situations that FEMA is now negotiating in California and the Gulf States Florida of the southeast. This is probably going to be a a rather a hefty bill. So I guess The bottom line on that even though we benefited with lower heating costs and and our livestock producers a saw some realization and overwinter weight gains and things like that, even though there were certainly some positives in our region. I think they were countered by some rather severe negative Economic Consequences elsewhere. Mark's Daily is with us this hour course you hear Mark every Friday on our Morning Edition program. He is a meteorologist extension climatologist at University of Minnesota, and he's been good enough to come by today to talk about the weather about the climate and take your questions. So if you'd like to join our conversation, give us a call or Twin City area number is 227-6002 276 thousand. Side the Twin Cities. You can reach us toll-free at one eight hundred to +422-828-227-6000 or one 800-242-2828 Mark Seeley our guests. He knows all about the weather. Intel's most Kirkland place if anybody is looking at the ocean floor for the source of this heat if that's possible that could be coming from within their Earth. A good question Kirk and indeed. There's no conclusions been drawn, but there is a group looking at seismic activity on the floor of the Pacific Ocean for specific. El Nino episodes of which there's been 23 this century. researchers have found that there is some association between increased seismic activity along the floor of the Pacific and the occurrence of an El Nino episode 1 mystery that remains that I I I don't pretend to be absolutely informed on this but I've I've read a allusions to this in the literature is some people wonder if it is simply a a repartitioning of the heat energy at the Equator so that a large balance of it gets concentrated in the surface waters in the Central and Eastern Pacific. Some people have speculated that it Camp it cannot simply be a redistribution of the heat energy at the equator that there's some additional energy being added to the system and indeed maybe if there was seismic activity on the floor of the Pacific Gary for example and volcanic eruptions that would add additional energy to the system the ocean system near the equator. Is there any weather phenomena meteorological or climatological phenomena? That is as powerful as El Nino has turned out to be no. I don't think so in terms of the aerial extent the dimensions of the planet that this occupies its enormous. It's up to nine and a half million square miles of ocean. Surface area that is abnormally warm extending roughly up to 1/4 of the circumference around the diameter around the earth and soul with some of quarter 1/4 of the way around the earth. So this is enormous and spatial extent. It's there's nothing like it. We don't have to deal with you. No occasionally we deal with the volcanic eruption like a Pina to board or a Krakatoa or something like that the disrupt Global atmospheric circulation and has effect on the climate of Earth in different ways. This one especially is by far the most Enormous in terms of of size. Wow, really? Sure question for Mark's Daily you mentioned this was a Cloudy with winter and sometime and I was wondering just what the exact number of sunny days we've had since October is it seems like it's about 4. You know, I didn't bring that with me Bruce. I think you're in the right ballpark though. I don't have the exact figure. We have two measurements that relate to cloudiness that are routinely made. We have the percent possible Sunshine which is typically recorded at Weather Service offices. And then we also have daily solar radiation measurements, which is kind of an inference about sunshine. I guess. All I can say is I can't answer give you a specific answer. I didn't bring that material along but I think you're in the right ballpark in terms of about. Oh, maybe four to six days something like that. Is there any carry over now to our spring and summer from what we've what we've experienced that is to say can we expect the spring and summer now to be cloudy or than normal or sunny or the normal so all things going to get back into equilibrium at any carry over at all. Well, that's another good question Gerry the the State climatology office has been looking at that and I've been looking at that a little bit too. If we if we look at the 25 warmest Winters in the history of Minnesota. This goes back over well over a hundred years and then we look at the distribution of what the climate was like in the following summer. We don't find any skewed distribution. That is to say we don't find stack probabilities that are favoring. Oh it's going to be wetter or it's going to be dryer. It's going to be hot or it's going to be colder. We don't see that however in recent weeks what the State climatology Office is done is they've looked at the 10 most extreme winners in the history of Minnesota just the top 10 warmest of which this winter clearly Falls. And they found very unstable summer conditions and by that, I mean, they haven't found necessarily a tendency towards one extreme or another but they found a lot of unstable occurrences, like excessively hot July's or very cold July sore or very wet summer months or things of this nature what they haven't found is drought but they found a lot of unstable Behavior with respect to how temperature varies and and to some degree some wetness. So we may have to fire up that AC this year and carry an umbrella around a lot and we may have to put up with this quite unstable environment for the summer, right Jim your question from our chili place. Okay, thank you. I have two questions one is that I'm an astronomer. Will I ever get to see the stars again? And this is the second one is? Will the last freeze be moved forward because of El Nino for starting plants? You know, that's a tough one. I'll try to I'll try to take both those as far as the cloudiness goes gym. We may start to move in I think now is we're realizing a longer day length. And a higher Sun angle as we move into spring and it seems like more energy is Shifting away from the subtropical jet stream, which has had most of the energy for storm generation. This winter is movie now North perhaps going to affect the polar jet more. So I think what we might see is a system of stronger fronts going across the Upper Midwest and in so doing the back side or the high pressure that moves in after those systems may give us a higher incidence of clear days and presumably clear nights. So you're viewing prospects May improve here as we advance into spring question number two, though about the frost that one I'm really leery to answer. I think climate prediction at least the party's back East that are involved in this are continuing the favor warmer-than-normal spring conditions for us, but they're being rather careful and not not saying anything about spring Frost. A single episode of an Arctic air mass such as we're experiencing now moving down on us in April or early may I could bring a could bring us a frost at any time. So those are really hard to pin down even though it looks like we are tending towards a warmer than normal spring warmer than normal. What about snow earlier than normal know? There's no there's no tenancy at least in the official the official outlooks from the climate Prediction Center suggest no tendency to be wetter or drier than normal for the spring so we could look for our traditional tournament blizzard coming up. Yes, we may see some in fact, we're going to rebound this weekend this coming weekend. We've got the State girls basketball as you know, well under way now this week and it looks like long about Friday just as we start to warm up this week Gary. We're also going to increase our chances for a storm or two in terms of Patient no good, Eric your question from our silly place. I would say I better get you on there. First of all, there we go. Sorry. All right, go ahead. Now. I've got this in front of me. Are you there and make a statement about the record-breaking statistics are generally consistent with both a strong. El Nino and climate model projections of a continuing Trend towards warmer and wetter world as greenhouse gases continue to increase so I'm wondering if in all this complicated the business of weather patterns how global warming may affect these patterns. Yeah, they may be having some effect Eric. Although I think it's premature. I try to read the article in the paper this morning, which was partially drive from a press release by the National Weather Service yesterday and the preliminary data suggests warm and wet for the winter season approaching record for breaking record in many places. I'm not sure that this is attributable to a global warming. I think this is all going to be done after the fact I think meteorologists and climatologists will sit down after this winter and be able to go back and Trace specific patterns that were attributable to El Nino from those that were background or attributable to something else. So I think that's going to be sorted out and we may hear more about that question later. I'm not sure with all all five current research models in the research coming. That are studying global climate change. There are currently five major ones. I'm not sure which of these the quote from the paper is referring to but it doesn't surprise me that the pattern would be consistent with one or more of them. One thing. I had that struck me about that. Same article was that on the one hand there is a kind of unspoken assumption that somehow global warming is playing into our our weather phenomena yet yet the the year that we failed the brakes when we really set the record that we didn't break yet was way back in 1878 or something. Well right winner winner of 1877 78 now course some people will counter and say well we didn't have as many observations for that winter. So, how can we trust that but geographically although we had fewer observations to analyze that winter they were geographically spaced. Well, I'm told all the way from St. Peter in southern Minnesota where there was a daily. Kept back then all the way North to Pembina in North Dakota all the way up to Duluth in Northeast Minnesota and out to the West so there's good geographic distribution. But again what it's rather a sparse population of data nevertheless the magnitude of that winter is enormous. It's it's I can't remember the exact number but it's not even close to the winter that we just experienced. It's it's dramatically warmer yet. Yeah, I think it if I remember the chart, right? It was like this year was like 21.9 or something I reach temperature and that was like 26 or 27 degrees warmer and I think that speaks to the fact that we may have Trends or cycles and climate beyond the scope of our measurement record that that lead us to deviations that we can't even conceive of you know, because they're beyond our experience in terms of both the cold side and the warm side the wet side and the dry side presumably that's when the big in migration here in Minnesota lot of people moved here thinking it was nice and Milds and then of course, they got the right if they found out the truth Joyce go ahead place. Yes. I'm wondering about the effect of the El Nino on the Atlantic Ocean is the Gulf Stream and and what its effect has been if any European countries in Africa Joyce I have not read anything so far in the scientific literature documenting any effect on the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic or any effect that now it's strictly El Nino effect tied to Western Europe's whether I have read that are there have been some patterns in South Africa and central Africa that have been associated with the El Nino event. Both are Warmness and dryness going on in that country, but I haven't read anything whatsoever that's been linking it to Europe weather. One other one last question here for Mark Seeley and Curtis your up next to it. But he's sending out from Nashville and Christ knows where I wonder what that have any effect with the turbulence, you know what this voice that they go through the air with with that have any thing to do with our current weather when we first started to descend them up we started at 20 years and we were started to have this kind of weather with a variety of different wedding. Everybody was kind of concerned that wasn't what you with your man have said about that the question there might be some local impact, but the discharge for example on those launches. May release materials into the atmosphere that are going to be readily dispersed and May and obviously at anybody that's watch the launch. The the plume is quite visible for the length of time as to the overall frequency and the and the accumulation of those kinds of things. I'm not aware that that indeed has any large-scale effect may just have some some very local effect with respect to the atmosphere in the vicinity of those launches, but I'm not aware of anything else. Do we have any real handle on how human activity affects the weather? We're getting we're getting better at it. That's boy. That's a huge question. We could spend a long time or not. I guess the best documentation we have over the decades is the urban heat island. I mean that's been well documented in the literature that as we build bigger and bigger cities more and more traffic more and more structures excetera excetera that we do alter the climate of the city. I I suppose that's the one leading example. There's probably several other examples that are maybe just as relevant. So the answer is yes in various landscape settings. We have definitely had an impact on the on the weather and climate you can come back over the new now, right right Mark Seeley University of Minnesota climatologist meteorologist talking weather with us today weather and climate and and the rest and indeed Mark will be back over the noon hour or two would take some more questions from listeners. Get your questions ready to go and we we hope you'll be able to give us a call over the noon hour. Meanwhile, a Sasha slaney in the house. So I joined us once again here in the studio and Sasha looks like as we head toward the end of our first hour of midday today. We still have a fairly Hefty goal to go hear about $3,700 to go yet this hour and I only 15 minutes to do it a good thing is we've got a lot of room on the phone lines for people to call 227-2811. If you've been enjoying this discussion with my sillies out by the way, Mark, Seeley is sort of a crowd favorite. We are pandering here bringing out Mark seelig Morning Edition for about 5 years and you know, we know that he can call listeners to action because after all then he read a marriage proposal and Morning Edition. So listeners act when I Mark Seeley talks and we're expecting the same kind of results. Midday little marriage made in heaven hair between midday listeners and Minnesota Public Radio 22728 11227 2811 Casey or we have raised all about $2,300 so far so we got about I'm sorry about $1,300 is what we've raised. We've got about $3,700 left to go and to make our golden shower. We're going to have to send out a a special plea hear those of you who've been listening for a while. Perhaps planning to call. Maybe you haven't gotten to it yet. If your regular listener to Minnesota Public Radio specially if you listen during the midday our give us a call here to 27208 11 take out that first time membership there have been a lot of people who have been paying the freight over the years. 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We hope you'll do that because we really do need a good round of support here to stay on track to do 7:20 at 11 or 1 800-227-2811 3 callers on the line waiting to hear from you. Get to my hands right now the weather book The USA Today guide to weather incredible pictures here of everything from raindrops to snow crystals to know what what makes rain how many of us can answer that question, huh? That's yours. If you call in right now become a member during mid-day this this offer is going to dry up and go away after midday is over and this weather but can be yours at the $150 level which is 1250 a month to 72811 or one eight hundred two two seven. 2011. Mark has left the studio for a couple of minutes. But before he left Sasha Left Behind the forecast for Orlando pretty nice around here. It's gotten pretty nippy. The last couple of days out of these is for sound for high temperatures 70 7778 8178 temperature high is coming up in Orlando. 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You just haven't ever gotten around becoming a member and because we don't have commercials instead we ask those of you who do listen to become a member. We take your $66 plaid your $84 pledged $120 pledged whatever it is, and that's what pays for the programs here. There are about 90,000 people believe it or not. You are already paid members some of those people aren't going to be able to renew. That's why I were urging those of you who aren't members to take their place in line, and if you're already a member and can renew we want you to do that. The important thing is that you do something here at 2 to 7:20 at 11 to to 72811 outside the Twin Cities one 800-227-2811 But you call 227-2811. I thought it was just a thank a few other people have called in Sue Brown under has called in at brand new member from St.Paul. Kevin Lund has called in a renewing member from Chaska keeps Kim Jones from Grand Forks of brand new member. 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