Supernaturally Green for Mid-November
60F on Sunday?

So THIS is what November feels like, without the shorts, monsoon rains and strobe-flashes of lightning. A few days ago my wife told me the lawn needed mowing. I've never heard that in November. 2.1 inches of rain fell at MSP International Airport on Wednesday; more than a November's worth of rain in 24 hours.

Had temperatures been 8-10F colder we'd be digging out from 18-22 inches of snow. Then again - if I was 6 foot, 10 inches, athletic and coordinated I'd be playing for the NBA, but no matter. There was simply too much mild air around for a classic November snowstorm.

Today offers cool sunshine and seasonable temperatures. A stiff south wind lures the mercury into the 50s Saturday; 60F not out of the question Sunday afternoon in the metro area.

Pretty impressive, considering the winter solstice will be only be 5 weeks away.

A firehose of southern moisture streams north early next week; the atmosphere warm enough for rain Monday into Wednesday. A beefier cold front arrives late next week, maybe preceded by a little slushy snow a week from Friday.

You remember snow, right?

Des Moines Airport Records a Tornado and Snow Six Hours Apart on Wednesday. I can't remember ever seeing this before, documented at Capital Weather Gang; here's an excerpt: "...Iowa was in the crosshairs for severe thunderstorms on Wednesday afternoon. The temperature was warm, humidity was high and the jet stream was screaming overhead. Strong storms began to ignite in the early afternoon, and by 3 p.m. there were multiple storms lined up across the Des Moines region with likely tornadoes. One of these storms crossed over the Des Moines International airport and was recorded in the airport’s meteorological observation at 3:36 p.m..." (Image credit above: Weather Underground).

One More Weather-Honeymoon? I'm sure I said this back in late September, but there's at least "one more" mild spell ahead. Models show upper 50s on Sunday with an outside shot at 60 degrees. Source: NOAA and Aeris Enterprise.

Significant Rain Next Week? It's still early for specifics, but GFS guidance shows a potential for another inch or two of rain next Tuesday into Wednesday - other models keep the bulk of the moisture just east of Minnesota.

One More Southern Surge? GFS guidance looking out 10 days shows another potentially major storm pushing across the Plains and Mississippi River Valley the first half of next week; the lowest mile of the atmosphere still mild enough for all rain. Source: NOAA and AerisWeather.

84-Hour Snowfall Accumulation. Here is NAM guidance showing a little lake effect snow (possibly plowable from the Minnesota Arrowhead into the lake effect snow belts of northern Wisconsin). Otherwise snow will be in short supply between now and Sunday.

Limping Into Winter. Here is European guidance, showing upper 50s Saturday and Sunday, and then a slow slide into colder weather by the end of next week. I'm not convinced we're going to see (heavy) rain by the middle of next week, but the atmosphere probably won't be cold enough for snow until next Friday, one week from today. Models are hinting at a period of wet snow or possibly a mix. At some point it will snow. Right? Source: WeatherSpark.

Cold Turkey. Lately models have been trying to pull cold air southward, but with each subsequent run the cold looks less and less forbidding or significant. I suspect this time around it will (really) cool down by the end of next week; long-range GFS guidance hinting at highs in the 30s for Thanksgiving Day 2015.

The End is Near - To Our Mild Weather Honeymoon. Although I still wouldn't exactly call this "polar" air, the 2 week 500 mb GFS forecast shows a surge of colder-than-average air pouring into the northern Plains around Thanksgiving; suggesting a few days with highs in the 30s, nights possibly dipping into the teens. But will there be snow on the ground or travel disruptions for Turkey Day? Stay tuned.

Saturday After Thanksgiving - First Look. OK. We're looking out more than 2 weeks, so buyer beware. My confidence level is lower than low, but I'm sharing this (now) for laughs and giggles. NOAA's GFS model spins up an impressive storm, hinting that MSP will be on the warm side of the storm track with (mostly) rain. This far out it's more of a curiosity than a prediction - let's see how future runs handle this system. Map valid midday Saturday, November 28, courtesy of WSI.

A 384 Forecast? There, I just spit up in my mouth a little. I know - some days we can't get the Tomorrow Forecast right, why are you showing me questionable data this far out. Because it's Thanksgiving Weekend, and storms - given a choice - are attracted to major travel/shopping weekends. And right now the GFS is printing out 1-2" of rain for MSP, maybe a mix or snow for far western Minnesota. I'm sharing this in the spirit of full disclosure, but this forecast will change as newer (better) data initializes the models.

The Element of Surprise in Managing Flood Risk. "I didn't think it could be the bad." As meteorologists we hear that a lot, especially now with rain falling harder during the warm season. Here's an excerpt at Earth & Space Science News: "Flooding events cost lives and cause damage to infrastructure, agriculture, and homes across the world. When floods occur in vulnerable regions lacking preparedness, the results can be disastrous. In a new study, Merz et al. approach the problem by integrating a social sciences perspective with natural and engineering sciences, focusing on the element of surprise in flood risk assessment and management. The researchers identify two distinct sources of surprise: the complexity and unpredictability of the flood risk and biases in human perception and thinking. They advocate for wider evaluation of both potential sources of surprise in order to better mitigate flood risk..." (Photo: EPA).

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. 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)

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:

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.

The Best and Worst Places to Grow Up. We know how amazing Minnesota is - no argument there, but how does the metro area compare when it comes to upward mobility for children? Here's an excerpt of an interesting story at The New York Times: "...Hennepin County is about average for income mobility for children in poor families. It is better than about 49 percent of counties. Location matters – enormously. If you’re poor and live in the Minneapolis area, it’s better to be in Carver County than in Ramsey County or Hennepin County. Not only that, the younger you are when you move to Carver, the better you will do on average. Children who move at earlier ages are less likely to become single parents, more likely to go to college and more likely to earn more..."

Energy Hasn't Been This Hot Since They Invented Fire. Bloomberg Business has the story - here's the introduction: "Nothing in the energy business can compete with oil for volatility, geopolitical drama, or sheer utility. Its low price per barrel, currently under $50, won't last forever. But it may last through the year ahead. What will be changing at a historic pace in 2016? Everything else. Gas. Coal. Solar. Wind. Batteries. Cars. This is every energy source for itself, one clawing its way over another for markets, financing, subsidies, and friendly policies..."

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..."

Moving to Renewable Energy Would Create Millions of Jobs, Study Finds. Here's a clip from a story at ThinkProgress and Grist: "...According to a new study, moving toward renewable energy would actually be a boon to the economy — and it would create jobs. A lot of them. ThinkProgress reports: The report, from NextGen Climate America, showed that investment in efficiency, renewable sources of electricity, and fuel switching — such as moving from fossil fuel-powered cars to electric vehicles — would add a million jobs by 2030, and roughly 2 million jobs by 2050, while increasing GDP by $290 billion and improving household income. The researchers looked at scenarios that would reduce emissions by 80 percent below 1990 levels..."

Photo credit above: Amit Dave, Reuters.

The Push to Employ Veterans in the Solar Industry. True energy freedom, and a lifeline for returning veterans? Here's an excerpt from Grist: "...Thankfully, many other veterans — ranging from privates to general officers — are returning from war with a commitment to securing our nation’s energy future and combating the impacts of climate change. The Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) has recognized the tremendous value and skills that veterans bring to the solar industry. As such, SEIA and member companies like Canadian Solar (my employer), Recurrent Energy, and Clean Power Finance have made a commitment to employing 50,000 veterans in the solar industry by 2020. According to a 2014 report from the Solar Foundation and Operation Free, as of 2013, the U.S. solar industry employed 13,192 veterans of the armed forces. This number represents 9.2 percent of all solar workers in the nation, greater than the percentage of veteran employment in the economy overall..." (Photo credit: U.S. Marine Corp).

Dubai Firefighters to Tackle High-Rise Fires with Jetpacks. No, you can't make this stuff up. How cool is this? Details via Gizmag: "Fires in high-rise buildings can be very problematic. It can be difficult to move around the building, to quickly get equipment to where it needs to be and even to communicate with people inside. Dubai, a place with lots of towering constructions, plans to tackle this by giving Jetpacks to its firefighters..."

Image credit above: "Martin Aircraft Company will provide up to 20 Jetpacks, two training simulators, initial training services and operational support."

Uber for Breakups. Because breaking up is hard. Here's an excerpt of a truly head-shaking story at The Atlantic: "The prices, it should be said, are quite reasonable. For $10, you can buy a text sent to your significant other informing him or her of the cessation of your affection. For the same amount, you can buy an email version of that note. For slightly more—$20—you can buy, if you are feeling traditional or especially official about it, an actual letter announcing the breakup. Custom missives will run you a little more: $30 for a letter that features names, explanations, and other details that will help to drive home the facts that 1) this is over, and 2) this is not a joke..." (Image credit: homepage of

45 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities Thursday.

43 F. average high on November 12.

23 F. high on November 12, 2014.

November 13, 1986: Lakes are frozen over throughout much of the state, reaching as far south as Winona.

November 13, 1938: A snowstorm develops across northern Minnesota. The barometer falls to 29.31 inches in Duluth.

November 13, 1933: The first Great Dust Bowl Storm occurs. The sky darkened from Minnesota and Wisconsin to New York State. (Source: Twin Cities National Weather Service).

TODAY: Partly sunny. Fresh air! Seasonable temperatures. Winds: NW 10-20. High: 46

FRIDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear and chilly. Low: 33

SATURDAY: Blue sky, turning milder. Winds: S 10-15. High: 57

SUNDAY: Sunny, windy, October-like again. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 41. High: near 60

MONDAY: More clouds, chance of showers. Wake-up: 47. High: 56

TUESDAY: Damp & dreary, periods of rain. Wake-up: 48. High: 51

WEDNESDAY: Another surge of steady rain possible. Wake-up: 39. High: 44

THURSDAY: Mostly cloudy, a colder wind kicks in. Wake-up: 31. High: near 40

* Image credit above: Steve Burns Photography.

Climate Stories...

In Greenland, Another Major Glacier Comes Undone. An unsettling headline for an unsettling trend; here's an excerpt from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory: "It's big. It's cold. And it's melting into the world's ocean. It's Zachariae Isstrom, the latest in a string of Greenland glaciers to undergo rapid change in our warming world. A new NASA-funded study published today in the journal Science finds that Zachariae Isstrom broke loose from a glaciologically stable position in 2012 and entered a phase of accelerated retreat. The consequences will be felt for decades to come. The reason? Zachariae Isstrom is big. It drains ice from an area of 35,440 square miles (91,780 square kilometers). That's about 5 percent of the Greenland Ice Sheet. All by itself, it holds enough water to raise global sea level by more than 18 inches (46 centimeters) if it were to melt completely. And now it's on a crash diet, losing 5 billion tons of mass every year. All that ice is crumbling into the North Atlantic Ocean..."

Image credit above: "Landsat-8 image of Greenland's Zachariae Isstrom and Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden glaciers, acquired on Aug. 30, 2014." Credit: NASA/USGS.

The Secrets in Greenland's Ice Sheets. Here's an excerpt from an important story at The New York Times Magazine: "...The ice sheets covering Greenland and large areas of Antarctica are now losing more ice every year than they gain from snowfall. The loss is evident in the rushing meltwater rivers, blue gashes that crisscross the ice surface in warmer months and drain the sheets’ mass by billions of tons annually. Another sign of imbalance is the number of immense icebergs that, with increasing regularity, cleave from the sheets and drop into the seas. In late August, for instance, a highly active glacier in Greenland named Jakobshavn calved one of the largest icebergs in its history, a chunk of ice about 4,600 feet thick and about five square miles in area. If the ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica were to collapse and melt entirely, the result would be a sea-­level rise of 200 feet or so. This number, though fearsome, is not especially helpful to anyone but Hollywood screenwriters: No scientist believes that all that ice will slide into the oceans soon..."

Photo credit above: "The Jakobshavn Glacier as seen from a research flight that was part of NASA’s Operation IceBridge." Credit Olaf Otto Becker for The New York Times.

How Exxon Mobil "Bends" Science to Cast Doubt on Climate Change. New Republic takes a look at some of the tactics used; here's a snippet that caught my eye: "...Numerous authors have documented the ways that companies and other parties “bend” science to advance their goals. For example, investigative accounts reveal how companies hire researchers to conduct research with a specific end in mind to bolster their own self-serving positions. These actors can also hire skeptic scientists (“merchants of doubt”) to poke holes in unwelcome research—“manufacturing doubt,” as David Michaels put it in his book on this corporate technique. Some companies even attack individual researchers professionally for producing research that is unwelcome, using a range of legally sanctioned techniques such as launching “scientific misconduct” allegations, inundating the researcher with subpoenas seeking all records of ongoing and past research, harassing researchers with open records requestsor a mix of the above...."

As CO2 Passes 400 PPM, What Goes Up May Not Come Down. At least anytime soon. Here's an excerpt from InsideClimate News: "...While not a tipping point that signals climate catastrophe, the 400 ppm mark is an important symbolic threshold in the fight against climate change. It represents a 43 percent jump in greenhouse gases since pre-industrial times and underscores governments' inaction and worsening global warming impacts.  Scientists at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, the world's longest-running CO2 monitoring station, predicted in October that because of extra warming from El Nino, 2015 could be the last year CO2 concentrations in the Northern Hemisphere stay in the 300 ppm range. They strengthened that prediction on Monday after a routine calibration of data raised measurements taken since April by 0.4 ppm. "The adjustment increases the likelihood that [CO2] concentrations will remain above 400 ppm permanently after 2015," they wrote..."

Idea of Slow Climate Change in the Past is Flawed, Researchers Say. UPI has the story; here's an excerpt: "...Though the scarcity of proper geologic records inhibits the study of climate changes over short periods of prehistoric time, it's a mistake to assume the absence of rapid change. Accelerated climate change in the past, scientists from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg argue, may be invisible, but it's not absent. As explained in new paper on the subject, published in the journal Nature Communications, the issue is perspective..."

Photo credit above: "New research suggests climate change happened fast in the past too." File photo by UPI/Shutterstock/Marco Varro.

The Link Between Europe's Migrant Crisis and the Climate Change Debate. Here's an excerpt of an interesting analysis at Fortune: "...What can the refugee crisis learn from climate change? In both cases, citizens are so preoccupied with the immediate costs that they may fail to appropriately recognize the long-term benefits. A smarter strategy should therefore make the payoff from investments in refugee integration feel more immediate and tangible, similar to the efforts of companies like Hive, which provides immediate feedback to consumers on energy-saving behavior. Rather than framing the influx of refugees as a problem to be solved, policymakers should advertise its potential economic advantages by highlighting stories of successful refugees to make the benefits more tangible..."

Photo credit above: "Slovenian solders erect razor wire fence in Rakovec, Slovenia, Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015. European leaders scrambled Thursday to keep their passport-free travel zone from collapsing, after Germany, Sweden and Slovenia acted on their own to tighten borders or erect fences to slow the relentless influx of people marching into Europe". (AP Photo/Darko Bandic).

Stop Willful Ignorance of Climate Change Science. TheHill has an Op-Ed worth reading; here's a clip: "...McGrady is convinced that the scientific community is fabricating claims of global climate change due to funding conflicts. Authoritative climate change reports are issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC), an intergovernmental panel that researches, analyzes, and reports on climate change. To get the 2,000+ member scientists from 195 countries to conspire to fabricate weather data and analysis for over 30 years would be the greatest corruptive event ever to grace human history, let alone escaping unscathed from a rigorous peer review process. Russian or Iranian scientists are not going to be operating as the political arm of Al Gore or any other liberal politician..."

"Science Guy" Bill Nye Gets Heated Up Over Climate Change. The Associated Press has the interview; here's a clip: "...College kids are very concerned about this. Recently, I visited Alabama, Tennessee and Texas. What you find on these college campuses (is that) everybody is, if I can use my term, enlightened. And the state has politicians who have been in office for years and years, and the two groups are at odds on climate change. Millennial voters are very concerned about climate change and will vote for candidates who are planning to address it. But the systems that are in place - people talk about gerrymandering and the money that's in politics, this is a real thing, a real effect - and it's hard for climate change-denying legislators to get voted out. But I predict it will happen..."

Photo credit above: "This photo provided by courtesy of St. Martin's Press shows the cover of the book, "Unstoppable," by Bill Nye". (Courtesy of St. Martin's Press via AP).

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.

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