Global Warming! Is There Anything It Can’t Do?

The Minneapolis Star Tribune is currently featuring a “climate change” story on the problems Minnesotans are experiencing with frozen pipes in their septic systems. What causes this epidemic of frozen pipes? Global warming, of course: “Climate change in Minnesota creates septic tank headaches.”

Frozen septic systems are emerging as an unexpected consequence of climate change in Minnesota — one that is bedeviling homeowners across the state and could soon cost taxpayers more for the repair and maintenance of fragile rural roads.

The cause is a dramatic long-term decline in insulating snow early in November and December. Combined with still-freezing conditions, that drives the frost line deep underground — well below septic pipes and drain fields.

That dastardly “climate change” threads the needle–too warm for snow to accumulate on the ground, but still cold enough to freeze pipes. Frozen septic systems create a dilemma for residents of northern Minnesota:

As a result, thousands of the half-million Minnesotans whose homes, cabins or businesses rely on underground septic tanks are facing a costly solution: pump their tanks more often and use their showers, washing machines, dishwashers and toilets less.

The Star Tribune quotes this explanation from the state’s climatologist:

[A]ccording to Kenny Blumenfeld, Minnesota’s state climatologist, rising average winter temperatures have led to a dramatic change in snow cover. The average annual snow depth in Minnesota between Nov. 1 and March 31 has dropped by 20 to 30 percent, comparing the past 18 years against the period 1970 to 1999. And the total number of days without snow cover has increased even more — 30 to 50 percent, and even higher in some places.

Historically, snowfall is highly variable. The climatologist chooses to compare the period 2000-2017 with the prior 18 years, 1970 to 1999. But this chart shows the broader sweep of Minnesota’s climate history from 1884 through 2015.

The period being used as a baseline for the Strib’s comparison is the snowiest in the state’s recorded history. Snowfall has indeed returned to more normal levels after 1999, but it is still much higher than, for example, the period 1920 through 1949.

And as this chart shows, Minnesota’s snow cover (this chart, like the prior chart, shows Twin Cities data) is extremely variable over the past 115 years. Sometimes we have no snow on the ground, while in other years on the same date we have two feet. Click to enlarge:

Ironically, today’s Star Tribune also features this story: “No April showers: 7 inches of snow forecast.”

Last April 1, Twin Cities residents played golf as thermometers flirted with the 60-degree mark.
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But early April won’t be balmy this year. A storm is expected to dump a double dose of wet, heavy snow on the metro area, with 2 to 3 inches expected Monday and another 4 inches coming Tuesday, meteorologists said Sunday night.

Global warming: is there anything it can’t do?

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