50 F. high Thursday in the cities.

57 F. average high on October 18.

47 F. high on October 18, 2011.

.01" rain in the Twin Cities yesterday.

Lakes and rivers across much of Minnesota at historic low levels.

30% of Minnesota experiencing extreme drought; severe drought now across most of the metro area.


70+ highs possible Sunday, again next Tuesday. Photo: Kayla Rose.

70+ mph wind gusts across the Dakotas yesterday. Details from NOAA.


Indian Summer Alert. Another cool day is on tap today with a few showers and highs topping 50. Skies clear Saturday, by Sunday a south wind tugs the mercury to or above 70 F in the metro. Sunday is your leaf-raking day. Highs most of next week should reach or top 60 F, a few degrees above average. Graphic above: Iowa State.


Today's Weather Map. 4 pm today, according to the WRF model, brings showery rains from Minnesota into the Great Lakes, a steadier, heavier rain for much of New England. Skies clear across the East Coast, with lingering T-storms over Florida. Most of the west stays warm and dry, showers for the Pacific Northwest. Map above: NOAA.


12. 4 days. Midwestern corn planting dates more than 12 days earlier than 1981? "According to an Iowa State University Study from 1981 to 2005, The Midwest has seen its average corn planting date advance by 0.40 days per year and the average soybean planting date advance by 0.49 days per year." - from a story at the Marshall Democrat-News below. Photo: madison.com.


Extreme North America: continent experiencing the greatest uptick in severe weather, worldwide, according to a new report from reinsurance giant Munich Re. Details and video links below.


"Americans’ belief in the reality of global warming has increased by 13 percentage points over the past two and a half years, from 57 percent in January 2010 to 70 percent in September 2012. At the same time, the number of Americans who say global warming is not happening has declined nearly by half, from 20 percent in January 2010 to only 12 percent today." - excerpt from a new report from The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. Details below.


No Winter Blasts...Yet. We're safe, looking out at least a week. Yes, we're taking this a week at a time. O.K. One day at a time. The ECMWF model keeps us sunny and pleasant this weekend, the best chance of light rain Monday, heavier rain Tuesday night into Wednesday, followed by a cooling trend late next week. 70 Sunday, again Tuesday? There's a good shot.

A Mild Bias Into Much Of Next Week. Canada is pulling it's punch, at least for the next week or so. The core of the jet lifts farther north, allowing 60s, even a few 70s to push as far north as Minnesota. The best chance of showers should come over the northern third of the USA. 192 forecast above courtesy of NOAA.


North America Most Affected By Increase In Weather-Related Natural Catastrophes. Global reinsurance giant Munich Re has produced a comprehensive video connecting the dots. Within insurance (and military) circles, there is little ongoing "debate" about the science: "A new study by Munich Re shows that North America has been most affected by weather-related extreme events in recent decades. The publication "Severe weather in North America" analyzes all kinds of weather perils and their trends. It reports and shows that the continent has experienced the largest increases in weather-related loss events."


24-Hour Rainfall. Doppler radar estimates from the National Weather Service show some .5 to 1.5" amounts over the Red River Valley and eastern Dakotas, a whopping .01" in the Twin Cities - in the "eye" of Thursday's storm.


Extreme Drought. Nearly a third of Minnesota is now in extreme drought, the second most severe category from NOAA's U.S. Drought Monitor, up from 19% last week. 99.95% of The Gopher State is in a moderate drought, or worse, with severe drought expanding across the Twin Cities metro. The map above does not reflect rain that fell yesterday and today.


DNR Urges Water Conservation Due To Severe Drought. KARE-11 has the story (and video); here's an excerpt: "The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources warns Minnesotans to conserve water, with severe drought now affecting almost half our state and straining water supply. The entire state is considered to be in moderate drought. The agency is asking people to stop watering their lawns and trees or washing their cars. Farmers are asked to stop outdoor irrigation and businesses should reduce their water use, state officials say...."

Morphing Drought of 2012. The animation above is a 6-week time lapse of expanding and deepening drought, from Minnesota southward to Texas, westward to Nevada. Exceptional drought conditions linger from South Dakota southward to Oklahoma - much of Georgia is also suffering thru historic drought.


"Eye Of The Storm". Thursday's strong cyclone had an almost hurricane-like appearance with spiral bands wrapping around a calm "eye" or center of low pressure close to the Twin Cities. Future radar (4 km NAM) shows this counterclockwise swirl of moisture pinwheeling into the Great Lakes; showers and T-storms pushing off the east coast, a few lingering puddles over Florida. Model data: NOAA and Ham Weather.


8-14 Day Temperature Trends. According to NOAA CPC (Climate Prediction Center) there should be a warm bias over much of the eastern and southern states thru October 23, only the Pacific Northwest showing cooler than average trends. I expect mild weather from the weekend into the first half of next week, followed by a return to chilly weather the end of next week. Map: NOAA and Ham Weather.


Forecast Calls For Blowing Dust. Drought + dry topsoil + 50+ mph winds = blowing dust, a mini-Dustbowl effect for the central Plains on Thursday, a plume of dust showing up on the midday visible satellite image from NOAA.


Dust Storm Shuts Down Interstate In Oklahoma. More details in this YouTube clip: "A massive dust storm swirling reddish-brown clouds over northern Oklahoma triggered a multi-vehicle accident along a major interstate Thursday, forcing police to shut down the heavily traveled roadway amid near blackout conditions."


"Mamma". Cumulonimbus mammatus, to be precise - courtesy of the St. Louis office of the National Weather Service; a tip-off of possible lightning (and hail) nearby.


Autumn Twilight. Rose Moore snapped this fine photo in northeastern Ohio yesterday; she probably had to get out of the house to escape a blizzard of negative attack-ads on television in one of America's (unlucky?) swing states.


Weather Therapy. This was the scene in Del Mar, California Thursday - photo courtesy of @peterdohoney.


Blazing Cirrus. Michael Trofimov sent us this photo from Battle Ground, Washington, the setting sun illuminating a smear of cirrus, ice crystals 25,000 feet above the ground.


Cloud Classification. The NWS in Louisville, Kentucky has a great explanation of cloud types (classified primarily based on altitude above the ground). Late October and November tends to bring more nimbostratus and stratocumulus clouds as the cold winds of winter swirl into the USA.


U.S. Air Force Goes "Vortex Surfing" To Reduce Fuel Consumption. Yes, we have much to learn from nature. Here's a clip of a fascinating article from gizmag.com: "The United States Air Force (USAF) is taking flying lessons from geese and spiny lobsters. This may seem like the mother of all bureaucratic errors, but there’s actually some pretty solid science behind it. In exploiting a phenomenon known as “vortex surfing,” the USAF has found that by having C-17 cargo planes flying in formation, it can reduce fuel consumption by up to ten percent...."


One More Reason to Watch Almanac on TPT. Yes, I love Almanac, and not because they invite me on to talk about the weather once a month. It's an hour of news, discussion, laughter, poignant stories, politics, perspective and analysis every Friday at 7 pm on TPT 2, KTCA-TV. There's nothing like it on television, an award-winning show that assumes its audience has some modicum of intelligence. Tonight I talk about the growing drought, and the in-studio musical group is The Lost Wheels, an up and coming Twin Cities band that has a unique sound, a fusion of rock, blues and funk, with a dash of country. Their lead guitarist looks vaguely familiar...where have I seen him? Hmm. Hope you can tune in at 7 pm and see for yourself.


A Case For Adult Diapers. I should have my head examined. Last night I toured "The Haunted Basement" at The Soap Factory at St. Anthony Main in Minneapolis with friends and colleagues. You're seen haunted houses before, but you've never seen anything quite like The Soap Factory. Here's how good it is - 10,000 tickets sold out in 4 hours. Justin Bieber should be so lucky. Plan ahead for 2013. It's a great way to get into the Halloween spirit. Then again, if I want to get scared I can just call up my 401K. More like a 101K these days...


Risk of Jackets. Thursday temperatures were a good 10 degrees cooler than average, the heaviest, steadiest rains over far western Minnesota. Highs ranged from 47 at Alexandria to 50 in the Twin Cities, 51 at St. Cloud.



Paul's Star Tribune Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:

TODAY: Showers taper - peeks of sun, cool and damp. Winds: NW 10-20. High: 50


FRIDAY NIGHT: Lingering clouds, a cool wind. Low: 39


SATURDAY: A mix of clouds and sun, a better day. High: 57


SATURDAY NIGHT: Clear to partly cloudy. Low: 44


SUNDAY: Blue sky, taste of Indian Summer! High: 68-70


MONDAY: Mostly cloudy, chance of light rain. Low: 50. High: 64


TUESDAY: Wet start, mild PM sun. Low: 51. High: near 70


WEDNESDAY: Humid. Heavier, steadier rain possible, especially north/east of MSP. Low: 53. High: 65


THURSDAY: Clearing, turning cooler. Low: 47. High: 53


* photo above courtesy of Mike Hall.



A Promising Weekend

Every other week I look at the maps and think "this is it for Indian Summer; time to dig out the heavy stuff!"

Step away from the Doppler Paul.

Now we get super-sized autumns in Minnesota; the last 10 Novembers warm enough to play golf in the metro area. Last winter we saw 50s into Thanksgiving week.

Ask any farmer; they'll tell you the growing season is longer than it was 40 years ago. Today's weather blog includes a story, highlighting evidence that Midwestern corn planting comes 12.4 days earlier than it did in 1981.

Considering the sun will be as high in the sky today as it was back on February 23 it's a bit reasurring to see 60s for Sunday - the ECMWF is hinting at 70 next Tuesday!

Fleeting warmth is nice. So is rain.

Over 30 percent of Minnesota is now in extreme drought - most of the MSP metro in a severe drought. A tenth of an inch is possible today, a potential for heavier rain by the middle of next week as Gulf moisture streams north, fueling an impressive storm.

We're sliding into a wetter pattern, but even a naive optimist like me finds it doubtful we'll pick up 4 to 11 inches of rain in the next month, enough moisture to kill the drought.

Then again.. we all know how quickly our weather can turn on a dime.


Climate Stories...


DVR Alert: "Climate of Doubt" on PBS Frontline Next Tuesday. Set your DVR or VCR; Frontline (possibly the best documentaries on television today) takes a look at orchestrated climate denial in the USA. Here's an overview from PBS: "Four years ago, climate change was a hot issue and politicians from both sides seemed poised to act. Today public opinion on the climate issue has cooled considerably. Politicians either ignore it or proclaim their skepticism. What’s behind this massive reversal? On Oct 23, FRONTLINE goes inside the organizations that fought the scientific establishment to shift the direction of the climate debate."


Climate Change: The Debate's Great Unmentionable. Let's just go crazy tapping all our fossil fuels, drill, mine and frack our way to everlasting prosperity and millions of jobs! There's only one small problem: if we tap all the available reserves of carbon, worldwide, the trends we're seeing with melting Arctic ice, sea level rise and extreme weather will only accelerate. It's already happening faster than climate scientists predicted 20 years ago. Here's an excerpt from The New Yorker: "...Obama deserves credit for at least mentioning the need to control energy demand—rather than just supply—something that Romney never even alluded to. The President should also be commended for stressing the need to develop alternative—which is to say carbon-free—energy sources, which he called key to “the jobs of the future.” But aside from the potential for job creation, the President could never quite bring himself to discuss why it might not be a good idea to burn every gallon—or cubic foot—of fossil fuels we could conceivably bring to the earth’s surface. In the midst of what will almost certainly be the warmest year on record, climate change has become to the Obama Administration the Great Unmentionable, or, as the blogger Joe Romm has put it, The-Threat-That-Must-Not-Be Named...." Photo above: ABC News.


Climate Change And It's Effect On Agriculture. Here's a clip from the Marshall Democrat-News: "...Earlier planting dates are one example of change. According to an Iowa State University Study from 1981 to 2005, The Midwest has seen its average corn planting date advance by 0.40 days per year and the average soybean planting date advance by 0.49 days per year. This is a result of changes in the climate, newer hybrids and varieties and new methods to manage early season insects and diseases. Further improvements in agronomic traits and management options will occur. This will be the result of an increased understanding of a plants biology and the use of genomic sequencing and bioinformatics to understand plant biology..."


Slightly Increased 2012 Antarctic Sea Ice Levels No Match For Arctic Declines. The story from The Yale Forum on Climate Change and The Media; here's an excerpt: " Arctic sea ice extent this past September reached the lowest point recorded since satellites first started measuring sea ice in 1978. Arctic sea ice blew past 2007′s record low, ending at 3.37 million square kilometers, roughly half the size of the summer minimum ice cap during the period from 1978 to 2000. At the same time, sea ice around Antarctica has been approaching a record high. The Antarctic situation has led some to dismiss the dramatic events in the Arctic as a simple fluke, pointing to the growth of sea ice around Antarctica as a counterpoint. What’s missing from that comparison is that the modest growth of sea ice around Antarctica in no way compares to the dramatic 2012 declines seen in the Arctic nor, even more importantly, over the past decade..."


Americans' Global Warming Beliefs & Attitudes (Sept. 2012). Here are a few highlights of a recent Yale Project on Climate Change report:

  • Americans’ belief in the reality of global warming has increased by 13 percentage points over the past two and a half years, from 57 percent in January 2010 to 70 percent in September 2012. At the same time, the number of Americans who say global warming is not happening has declined nearly by half, from 20 percent in January 2010 to only 12 percent today.
  • For the first time since 2008, more than half of Americans (54%) believe global warming is caused mostly by human activities, an increase of 8 points since March 2012. Americans who say it is caused mostly by natural changes in the environment have declined to 30 percent (from 37% in March).


Top 5 Threats To National Security In The Coming Decade. Here's an excerpt from National Defense Magazine: ..."Climate Change: The national security ramifications of climate change are severe, according to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. While the topic of climate change has been hugely politicized, Panetta casts the issue as a serious security crisis. “In the 21st century, we recognize that climate change can impact national security — ranging from rising sea levels, to severe droughts, to the melting of the polar caps, to more frequent and devastating natural disasters that raise demand for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” Panetta said. The administration projects that the change wrought by a warming planet will lead to new conflicts over refugees and resources and catastrophic natural disasters, all of which would require increased U.S. military support and resources. The scientific community, in this area, cannot agree on what it will take to reverse this trend. There is agreement, though, that there is no silver bullet..."


Climate Change = War? Here's the introduction to a troubling story at The Diplomat: "For all the heat generated by discussions of global warming in recent months, it is an often overlooked fact that climate change has the potential to create border disputes that in some cases could even provoke clashes between states. Throw into the mix three nuclear-armed nations with a history of disagreements, and the stakes of any conflict rise incalculably. Yet such a scenario is becoming increasingly likely as glaciers around the world melt, blurring international boundaries. The chastened United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, for example, still doesn’t dispute that glaciers are melting; the only question is how fast..."

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Paul Douglas: Rerun of jackets, showery into Friday

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Indian Summer Alert Sunday (highs approach 70; drought update - why Republicans may be praying for big storms on Election Day '12)