"It's All In Your Mind" - Embracing a Minnesota Winter

How do you not only survive, but thrive during a Minnesota winter? The Norwegians may have the right idea. A story at Fast Company got my attention, highlighting new research into why more people living near the Arctic Circle aren't perpetually depressed.

Celebrate the things you can only do in the winter. Force yourself to go outside: skate, ski, snowmobile, shovel, snowball battles. Get up off the couch; turn off the laptop and put the electronic toys away for a few hours - you'll feel better. Another take-away: "Simply refuse to participate in the Misery Olympics". If you tell yourself you're miserable - you will be. Mind over matter.

I'm thoroughly enjoying this morning's wind-whipped rain and my trendy Mohawk hair experiment. It's the soaking we needed to recharge soil moisture before the ground freezes up solid.

A coating of flurries is possible up north by tonight, but no significant accumulation is brewing looking out a week or so. Skies clear Friday; 50s from Saturday into next Wednesday. Models hint at a big storm (mix?) the weekend before Thanksgiving.

Great news!


* had temperatures late yesterday and last night been 8-12F colder we would be digging out from under 1-2 feet of snow this morning in the Twin Cities. That's a little like saying if I was 6 foot 11 inches tall and highly coordinated I'd be playing for the NBA. Oh well. Next time around.


24 Hour Rainfall Totals. 2.1" of rain was reported at MSP International over the last 24 hours, 1.73" of that fell on Wednesday. Source: NOAA and AerisWeather.


Yesterday: 4th Wettest Day of 2015. Yes, it's odd seeing torrential rain, thunder and lightning in mid-November.


Doppler-Estimated Rainfall Amounts. This is as of 11 PM, before I wandered off to bed (it was still raining hard, so final amounts will exceed what you see on the map above). As much as 3-4.5" of rain fell west of Mankato, generally 1-2" amounts for the Twin Cities metro, but 2-3" across west central Wisconsin.


* At least 8 tornadoes reported across Iowa with severe wind damage into Illinois. Details via Weather Underground.


Tropical Storm Bubba. The NWS Doppler mosaic from 10:30 PM last night looked a little like the soggy remains of a hurricane about 1-2 days after landfall. Of course it was nothing of the sort, but rather a full-latitude storm, deriving energy not from warm ocean water, but a (huge) north-south temperature differential. Tornadoes were reported across Iowa, in spite of T-storms and heavy squalls of rain we got the better end of this storm.


60-Hour Accumulated Snowfall. Another sign of the seasons, running late this year, but winter hasn't been canceled. Not yet. NOAA's 4 KM NAM (WRF) shows a couple inches of lake effect snow from the Minnesota Arrowhead into northern Wisconsin by Friday evening, maybe a coating of slush for the Brainerd Lakes. Loop: AerisWeather.


A Taste of Winter. More of an appetizer than an entree, but some lake effect snow is likely as cold exhaust whips up on the backside of last night's windblown storm. No heavy accumulations predicted just yet, but conditions may be more favorable for snow by the end of next week.


Almost November. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, and there's little doubt we'll cool off the latter half of next week. But first another run of 50s, with an outside shot at 60F again on Sunday. The best chance of showery rains will come Monday and Tuesday; by Friday of next week the lowest mile of the atmosphere may be just cold enough for a slushy mix. Stay tuned. Source: WeatherSpark.


95% Probability of El Nino Continuing Through the Winter. The latest model ensemble (above) shows Pacific Ocean water temperatures peaking in a December-January timeframe, then slowly cooling as we head into spring. Check out more than you ever wanted to know about the current El Nino, courtesy of NOAA NCEP.


Mother of All El Ninos? Bottom line: the models appear to be consistently underestimating the warming underway in the Pacific. The forecast called for peak temperatures around 2C above long-term averages. We're already closing in on 3C. Thanks to Hunter Cutting for passing this tweet along.


How The NWS Issues a Flash Flood Emergency Alert. Just like a Tornado Emergency (which implies a confirmed tornado moving into a heavily populated urban or suburban area) a Flood Emergency is only issued for the most extreme, life-threatening situation. KXAN.com has a good explanation; here's an excerpt: "...This is the definition for a severe weather emergency from the NWS: “AN EMERGENCY means that significant, widespread damage with a high likelihood of numerous fatalities is expected to continue. An emergency is not a new warning product, but a new, visible and high impact call-to-action.

  • Intended Purpose: To motivate and provide a sense of urgency to persons in the path of this storm. To communicate to state, local, and county officials and emergency responders that they should prepare for immediate search and rescue operations. To communicate the need to prepare for immediate medical emergencies, evacuation measures, and emergency sheltering..."

Photo credit above: "Texas Parks and Wildlife aerials of flooding on Oct. 30, 2015." (Courtesy: TPWD)


Yemen Sees Unprecedented Tropical Cyclone Double-Whammy. WXshift has a post focused on unusual meteorological events in the Arabian Sea; here's an excerpt: "This year’s hurricane season in the Arabian Sea was already one for the books, thanks to just one storm, Cyclone Chapala, which last week became one of the strongest ever recorded there and the first hurricane-strength storm known to hit Yemen. Now the arid country has had an unprecedented back-to-back strike, as Cyclone Megh made landfall near the major port city of Aden early Tuesday morning. This marked the first time storms in such quick succession have been recorded in the Arabian Sea at this time of year..."


The Final Days of Sub-400 PPM Carbon Dioxide. Here's an excerpt from a post at AGU Blogosphere: "...Lockwood DeWitt called my attention today to the fact that this week is probably the last time you or me or anyone now alive on planet Earth will ever see concentrations of CO2 lower than 400 ppm. Ralph Keeling published a short piece about it, here. Unless something fundamentally changes in our relationship with the atmosphere (such as developing and deploying effective artificial carbon sequestration), the gas’s long-term accumulation will keep rising, and the planet will keep hanging on to a little more heat than it used to the year before..."


The Norwegian Secret to Enjoying a Long Winter. It's all in your mind. If you tell yourself you're miserable - you will be. Here's an excerpt of a (helpful) article at Fast Company: "...This is easy enough to change; simply refuse to participate in the Misery Olympics. Talk about how the cold gives you a chance to drink tea or hot chocolate all day. Talk about ice skating, or building snowmen. Bundle up and go for a walk outside, knowing that you’ll likely feel warmer and happier after a few minutes. Better yet, go with a friend. Social plans are a great reason to haul yourself out from under the covers. But overall, mindset research is increasingly finding that it doesn’t take much to shift one’s thinking. "It doesn’t have to be this huge complicated thing," says Leibowitz. "You can just consciously try to have a positive wintertime mindset and that might be enough to induce it."


Complicated Tangle of Factors Raising Temperatures in Pacific Ocean. The Columbus Dispatch has an interesting article that outlines the myriad of factors leading to record warmth for portions of the Pacific Ocean; here's an excerpt: "...At the moment, the world’s largest ocean is a troublesome place, creating storms and causing problems for people and marine life across the Pacific Rim and beyond. A partial list includes the strong El Nino system that has formed along the equator, and another unusually persistent zone of warm water that has been sitting off the North American coast, wryly called “the Blob.” And a longer-term cycle of heating and cooling known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation may be switching from a cooling phase to a warming phase. On top of all that is the grinding progress of climate change, caused by accumulation of greenhouse gases generated by human activity..."

Image credit: earth.nullschool.net.


Greenhouse Gases Hit New Milestone, Fueling Worries About Climate Change. Here's a clip from The Washington Post: "...The World Meteorological Organization, in an annual accounting of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, reported that average levels of carbon dioxide exceeded 400 parts per million in the early months of 2015, a rise of 43 percent over pre-industrial levels. And, in a separate report hours later, the Met Office and Climatic Research Unit at Britain’s University of East Anglia reported that the Earth’s average temperature has crossed the symbolically important 1-degree C (1.8 F) mark, with temperatures over the first nine months of the year exceeding historic norms by exactly 1.02 degrees C..."

Image credit: University of North Carolina, Charlotte.


On Weather Satellites, Congressional Outlook Should Not be Clouded. Yes, keeping a fleet of operational weather satellites is optimal - if they begin to blink out we'll be flying blind. Here's an excerpt from TheHill: "...Congress' reluctance to fund these programs could have catastrophic consequences. For instance, the JPSS and Polar Follow-On satellites promise to shrink a storm's "cone of uncertainty" -- in other words, where and when a storm will strike -- by up to 75 percent when compared to weather forecasting systems without this technology. If the JPSS/PFO system had been online during 2005's Hurricane Rita, projections about the storm's path could have been narrowed by roughly 875 miles. This, in turn, would have made the evacuation effort far more effective and less costly, and non-impact areas could have maintained normal operations..." (Image credit: NOAA).


The Asteroid Hunters. It's usually the stuff you're not thinking about, or worrying about, that comes around to bite you. Here's an excerpt of a particularly good assessment of the risk of asteroid-related extinction events at Popular Mechanics: "...Finding the civilization killers means that the space community has already significantly lowered the threat of global catastrophe. It doesn't mean that one of those huge asteroids won't intersect with Earth's orbit hundreds or thousands of years down the road, but it means we'll probably see it coming far enough in advance to do something. Unfortunately, that's hardly the only threat. "It's a huge step from saying there are none out there that are going to impact in the next century and cause a global catastrophe to saying there are hundreds of thousands big enough to wipe out a city," Morrison says. And too many of those remain undetected, to say nothing of even smaller but still dangerous rocks, like the one that blew up over Chelyabinsk..."

Video credit above: "February 15, 2013: A 17-meter asteroid explodes over Russia releasing the energy equivalent of 500 kilotons of TNT." NASA.


Low Prices Deepen U.S. Dependence on Mideast Oil. US News has an update - here's the introduction: "Just like old times. This 17th straight month of low oil prices has remained a boon for drivers, manufacturers and refineries, but the International Energy Agency warned Tuesday that it will also likely force importers like the U.S., European Union, China and India to rely ever more on a smaller group of low-cost producers in the Middle East at a scale not seen since the 1970s..."


Netflix Boss Blasts The Evening News. Will our kids and grandkids be watching news at a fixed schedule? I hope so, but others have their doubts. Here's an excerpt from The New York Post: "...No, the outspoken Hastings replied, adding: “The 6 p.m. newscast: that thing’s going away.” Well, that might have been news to any of the networks. The big three evening news broadcasts — on ABC, CBS and NBC — actually grew their audience in 2014, growing 5 percent, to 24 million viewers, from 2013, according to Pew Research Center. It’s unclear if Hastings was referring to the national broadcast news programs which typically air at 6:30 p.m., or the local evening news which usually airs in the preceding half hour. A spokesman for Netflix later clarified that Hastings was referring to any news broadcast at a fixed hour..."

Graphic credit above: Pew Research Center, journalism.org. "November-to-November average rating per night for all three networks (NBC, CBS, ABC)". Nielson Media Research.


Remarkable "Fall-Streak Hole" Appears in Skies Over Australia. Check this out, courtesy of The Australian: "...In the right conditions, a trigger can cause some of those supercooled droplets to freeze, and set off a similar chain reaction. The result is a “fallstreak hole”, pictured in a shot from the Bureau of Meteorology’s 2016 calendar (on sale now). And the trigger? It’s an aircraft. As the plane punches through the cloud, it seeds the first ice crystals and sets the whole thing in motion. As the crystals grow they literally drop out of the cloud (falling crystals are causing the rainbow effect in this shot). Circulating air currents around the edge of the hole feed into the chain reaction. Within an hour a fallstreak hole can grow to 50km across..."

Image credit above: "Weird: the fallstreak hole over Korumburra, Victoria." Picture: David Barton Source: News Corp Australia.


There's Nothing Christian About Fretting Over Starbucks Cups. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at Quartz: "...These types of fake controversies distract from the meaning of Christmas and distract from the incredible things Christians do every day. The Joshua Feuersteins and Pat Robertsons of the world need to stop pretending they speak for me (and the millions like me) who aren’t spending our days yelling at bemused agnostics and “sticking it” to Howard Schultz. There is no conspiracy to get rid of Christmas. Political correctness is not threatening to overpower Christianity. Jesus doesn’t care about coffee cups."

Photo credit above: "Seeing red". (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson).


Sony Is Finally Putting Betamax Out Of It's Misery. Am I the only one who spent over 1k for one of these beasts? The sad reality: Betamax quality was superior to VHS, but it could only record 1 hour of TV; you couldn't record an entire movie. That was the ultimate death-knell. Here's an excerpt from Quartz: "Forty years after it was first released, Betamax is finally going to be discontinued. Sony, who developed the technology back in the 1970s, announced today (Nov. 10) that it plans to stop manufacturing the cassette format in March 2016. So stock up now. Many would have assumed that Betamax was dead already, seeing as it is about 30 years since it lost the format wars to VHS tapes, which themselves haven’t been in wide use in a couple of decades..."

Photo credit here.


53 F. high on Wednesday in the Twin Cities.

44 F. average high on November 11.

26 F. high on November 11, 2014.

November 12, 2000: A winter storm system produces a narrow band of heavy snow across extreme western Minnesota. Winds toward the end of the event were clocked between 15 and 25 mph, resulting in blowing snow leading to visibilities of 1 to 1.5 miles. Some snow totals included: Canby (Yellow Medicine County) with 6.5 inches, Madison (Lac Qui Parle County) with 6.0 inches.

November 12, 1940: Record low highs are set in west central Minnesota. Alexandria records a high of 8 degrees Fahrenheit, Springfield and Willmar have highs of 10 degrees, and St. Cloud and Minneapolis have highs of 11 degrees.

November 12, 1933: A dust storm hits southwest Minnesota, while a blizzard rages in the northwest part of the state.


TODAY: Rainy start, a cold wind - pretty foul. Winds: NW 20-40+ High: 45

THURSDAY NIGHT: Mostly cloudy, few flurries in the air. Low: 32

FRIDAY: Clearing skies, winds subside a bit. Winds: NW 10-20. High: 45

SATURDAY: Plenty of sun, breezy and milder. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 31. High: 54

SUNDAY: What November? Mild sunshine. Winds: S 15-25. Wake-up: 41. High: 59

MONDAY: More clouds, chance of showers. Wake-up: 43. High: 55

TUESDAY: Periods of light rain possible. Wake-up: 47. High: 51

WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny, seasonably cool. Wake-up: 41. High: 46


Climate Stories...

Climate Generation Presentation This Evening in Hopkins. If your schedule permits come out and say hi. I'll be giving a presentation at Eisenhower Auditorium in Hopkins this evening, along with Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. Here's a link to more information, courtesy of Climate Generation (formerly the Will Steger Foundation).

What do you value most about your community?

How is climate change impacting what you value most?

How can you join with neighbors to implement community solutions?

Join us for a free public convening of experts, community members and storytellers to learn about local climate change impacts and commit to real solutions. All ages welcome; food is provided...."


Why Are Oil and Gas Companies Calling for More Action on Climate Change? This Op-Ed at Reuters from the Chief Executive of BP is nothing short of extraordinary; here's an excerpt that got my attention: "...So why do companies that produce oil and gas want to see more done to tackle climate change? The first reason is simply that we want the planet to be sustainable in the future. We have the same hopes and fears for our children and grandchildren as anyone else. The second reason for our stance is that, being close to the issue, we have views on the realistic and affordable ways to make the transition to a lower carbon economy. And we can see that oil and gas are part of that transition. With the UN-led conference on climate change in Paris approaching, it's important that we explain our view..."

File photo: The Guardian.


Investors Urge Exxon to Take Moral Responsibility for Global Warming. As tempting as it is to demonize Exxon Mobil (and based on what I've seen I believe their position in the 1990s under a previous CEO was indefensible) we are all complicit. All of us have benefited from fossil fuels. They got us to this point. That isn't in question. The issue is where do we go from here? We didn't leave the Stone Age because we ran out of stones. We left the Stone Age because we found a better way forward. Will we repeat history? I'm actually more optimistic now than I have been in nearly 20 years tracking climate volatility. We'll figure this out. Here's an excerpt from InsideClimate News: "ExxonMobil stockholders are turning up the heat on management over the oil giant's history of resisting action to confront climate change with a first-ever request asking the company to accept moral responsibility for global warming. The proposal by the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment calls on Exxon to take urgent climate action on moral grounds by agreeing to limit temperature rise to the globally accepted 2 degrees Celsius target. Tri-State represents nearly 40 Roman Catholic shareholder organizations with pension funds invested in the oil giant..."

Photo credit above: "Global warming is being seen by many groups as a moral issue." Credit: Susan Melkisethian via Flickr



Fresh Data Confirms 2015 Is Unlike Any Other Year in Human History. Here's an excerpt of an overview from Eric Holthaus at Slate: "...This year’s global heat wave—about two-tenths of a degree warmer than 2014, a massive leap when averaged over the entire planet—can be blamed most immediately on an exceptionally strong El Niño, but wouldn’t exist without decades of heat-trapping emissions from fossil fuel burning. Separate data released on Monday by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed the current El Niño, a periodic warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean, has now tied 1997 for the strongest event ever measured, at least on a weekly basis. "We've had similar natural events in the past, yet this is the first time we are set to reach the 1 degree marker and it's clear that it is human influence driving our modern climate into uncharted territory," said Stephen Belcher, director of the Met Office’s Hadley Centre in a statement..."


Pope's Call For Action on Climate Change Has Shifted U.S. Views. Pope Francis has moved the needle on awareness, the plight of the poorest on the planet, and the moral imperative of addressing this issue. Here's a snippet from New Scientist: "When the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics issued his call to action on climate change in June, observers wondered whether this would move the needle in the public debate. A survey of people in the US released late last week suggests that it has. Some 17 per cent of overall respondents and 35 per cent of Catholic respondents said they were influenced by Francis’s message that climate change is a crucial moral issue. The percentage of Catholics who said they were “very worried” about global warming more than doubled over the numbers this spring. And those who denied the scientific consensus that human-caused climate change is happening declined 10 percentage points for Catholics and 6 points for the US population in general..."

File photo credit above: Pete Marovich/Corbis.


Everything You Need To Know About the Exxon Climate Change Probe. Here's an excerpt from Bloomberg Business: "...The big issue for Exxon here is what’s material," said James C. Spindler, a business school and law school professor at the University of Texas-Austin. "Assuming they did have some research they didn’t disclose, that would be an omission," although it might not be material if "the information is already out there" and available to investors. A question Schneiderman needs to answer, Spindler said, "is whether Exxon or other similarly situated energy companies are in a special position to have information that the rest of the world doesn’t..." (Photo: Simon Dawson, Bloomberg).


ExxonMobil's War Against Climate Scientists. Bob Ward has the story at TheHill; here's an excerpt: "...Over the following decade, Exxon led a campaign of misinformation about global warming, using both its own lobbying and marketing activities and also funding a network of groups to try to undermine climate scientists and their work. In 2000, it attacked the first National Climate Assessment that documented the way in which the United States was already suffering the impacts of climate change. Exxon placed advertisements in newspapers alleging that the assessment was based on "unreliable models" and had been written in a way that made it "easy for key scientific uncertainties to be missed." The campaign reached its peak when President George W. Bush entered the White House in 2001, just as the world's leading climate scientists prepared to deliver a devastating assessment of how human activities were altering the climate..."


Obama Should Let Fossil Fuels Lie. Keep oil, gas and coal in the ground, at least on public lands? Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The New York Times: "...About half of all potential future global warming emissions from United States fossil fuels lie in oil, gas and coal buried beneath our public lands, controlled by the federal government and owned by the American people — and not yet leased to private industry for fuel extraction. This amount — about 450 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent — represents one-quarter of the total amount of carbon emissions that can be released in the coming decades if the world is to even have a chance of keeping global warming down to 2 degrees Celsius — a temperature increase that will itself result in extreme, dire consequences for people and natural systems worldwide..."

Image credit above: Andrew Holder.


Kerry Says Climate Change Impacts Armies As Much As Polar Bears. Here's a clip from a story at The Washington Post: "...Kerry called climate change more than a threat to the habitats of butterflies and polar bears. He said it has a direct impact on military readiness. “If our military vehicles can’t go anywhere because they’re up to their axles in water and all the roads leading into and out of base are flooded, it affects our military readiness,” he said. “Similarly, if the high risk of wildfires prevents our troops from training with live ammunition, it affects our military readiness...”


Carbon Emissions Fall in 11 of the G20 Members, in Turning Point. Wait, you can have economic growth while dropping greenhouse gas emissions? Here's an excerpt from Reuters: "...The report said the trend in per capita carbon emissions over the five years to 2012 was down in Australia, the United States, Canada, Japan, Germany, Britain, the European Union, South Africa, Italy, France and Mexico. Per capita emissions were still rising in the most populous G20 nations, China and India. They were also up in Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Russia, Argentina, Turkey, Brazil and Indonesia. Still, that marked a shift in long-term trends. Over the past quarter century, G20 carbon dioxide emissions had risen by almost 50 percent while per capita emissions had gained by about 18 percent, reflecting population growth, it said..."


A Rising Tide. New Republic explains how Miami is sinking beneath the sea - but no without a fight. Here's an excerpt: "...And Miami Beach is just one small part of a region that’s in big trouble. If sea levels rise as projected, no major U.S. metropolitan area stands to rack up bigger losses than Miami-Dade County. Almost 60 percent of the county is less than six feet above sea level. Even before swelling of the seas is factored in, Miami has the greatest total value of assets exposed to flooding of any city in the world: more than $400 billion. Once you account for future sea-level rise and continued economic growth, Miami’s exposed property will far outstrip that of any other urban area, reaching almost $3.5 trillion by the 2070s..."


Can Miami Beach Survive Global Warming? Vanity Fair provides more perspective; here's an excerpt: "Compounding the city’s vulnerability to major weather events is the worldwide phenomenon of sea-level rise. Due to thermal expansion of the oceans and the melting of ice sheets and glaciers in the Earth’s far latitudes, the global mean sea level is rising. How fast and how much is a matter of debate, with such federal agencies as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, NASA, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration projecting, on the low end, eight inches of sea-level rise by the year 2100, and, on the high end, as much as six feet. But Miami Beach, a low-lying city to begin with, is already feeling the effects of sea-level rise. Every time there’s a heavy rain, the locals brace for flooding on Alton Road, the main north-south thoroughfare of the city’s west side, as well as on smaller roads in the area, such as Purdy Avenue, where Levine filmed his commercial..."


3 Lessons From That Antarctic Ice Study. Measuring Antarctic ice isn't easy, as this article at Christian Science Monitor highlights; here's an excerpt: "...Scientists agree that none of the data-gathering tools are perfect. What they don’t agree on is which measurement tool – GRACE or ICESat – provides the most accurate data. “You’re talking about a continental-size area and changes in centimeters and millimeters,” explains Thomas P. Wagner, a NASA climate scientist, in an interview with the Monitor. “It’s very, very difficult to do this from space with a satellite, but one of the only ways to do it is by satellite,” he explains. But scientists are constantly improving their tools and learning more about the ice sheets..."

Photo credit above: "In this Jan. 26, 2015 photo, pieces of thawing ice are scattered along the beachshore at Punta Hanna, Livingston Island, South Shetland Island archipelago, Antarctica. Water is eating away at the Antarctic ice, melting it where it hits the oceans. As the ice sheets slowly thaw, water pours into the sea, 130 billion tons of ice (118 billion metric tons) per year for the past decade, according to NASA satellite calculations." (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)


Why Can't Republicans Support a Carbon Tax? Here's an excerpt from The New Yorker that caught my eye: "...The E.U., New Zealand, Quebec, Tokyo, and parts of China (which plans to nationalize its carbon-pricing markets, in 2017), along with others, use a cap-and-trade system. British Columbia, Costa Rica, France, Japan, and the U.K., among other countries and regions, charge a fee or tax based on a unit of use, like that in the Whitehouse-Schatz pricing proposal. And a number of high-profile coalitions, including investment banks, oil companies, and heads of state, have formally requested that the international community price carbon. “In the context of international negotiations, there will be more and more pressure on the U.S. not to lead but just to catch up,” Aldy told me..."

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