November Boating - Our Jumbo Autumn Hangs On

According to NOAA, so far 2016 is the second warmest since 1895, nationwide. It was also the second wettest January through October on record for both Minnesota and Wisconsin. A treadmill of storms squeezed out copious rains, especially southern counties.

We get a dry weather break into much of next week, but both GFS and ECWMF models hint at a full-latitude storm pulling moisture out of the Gulf of Mexico by late next week. The result: heavier rain a week from Friday, possibly ending as a little slushy snow up north. Until then: dry, drama-free.

Dust off your golf clubs, maybe take one last cruise on your favorite lake in the coming days. Models hint at 60s today, Thursday, again on Sunday. Remarkable considering the sun is as high in the sky as it was back on February 2. A glancing blow of cooler air arrives Friday with a 1 in 3 chance of the first 32-degree temperature of fall early Saturday at MSP International, where the official readings are taken.

If we avoid a frost the growing season may linger another 2 weeks. Any flowers blooming in your yard? I need to mow my lawn.

Consistently Longer Frost-Free Season in Minnesota. Details via Climate Central: "In the fall, we often expect to wake up to frost-covered windows, but a warming world is altering the average time when we first see those mornings occur. The frost-free season, defined as the stretch between the last 32°F reading in the spring and the first 32°F reading in the fall, has increased in length over the past 30 years, with both an earlier last frost in the spring and a later first frost in the fall..."

Trending Warmer Than Average Into Next Week. The best chance of 60-degree warmth comes today, Thursday and Sunday, before a slight cooling trend next week. If your yard avoids a frost or freeze Saturday morning you may be frost-free into next week. Source: WeatherBell.

Colder By Late November. Big surprise - the GFS model is flip-flopping back and forth. Yesterday the 2-week outlook for 500mb winds looked very cold by Thanksgiving; a touch of December-like air pouring south of the border. The latest forecast calls for more of a zonal flow, hinting at average or slightly milder than average. At some point the other shoe will drop but the timing of when is still uncertain.

Pockets of Exceptional Drought for Southeastern USA. California remains in a serious, long-term drought, but new data from NOAA's Drought Monitor show extreme to exceptional drought for much of Alabama and Georgia - more drought showing up across New England.

What To Expect This Winter: NOAA's 2016-2017 Winter Outlook. La Nina is one of several factors capable of nudging our weather in a specific direction this winter. Odds are it won't be as mild as last winter; beyond that the crystal ball gets murky in a hurry. Here's an excerpt of a good explainer from Mike Halpert at NOAA's "...So while the southern (and especially southeastern) part of the U. S. is often wetter and colder than average during El Niño winters, La Niña generally favors below-average precipitation and above-average temperatures in those same regions. We also often see opposite patterns across the northern part of the nation, with warmer and drier conditions during El Niño winters and colder and wetter conditions during La Niña years. Before discussing the actual winter outlook, I want to remind readers that these are probabilities (% chance) for below, near, or above average seasonal climate outcomes with the maps showing only the most likely temperature or precipitation outcome (footnote 1). Because the probabilities shown are less than 100%, it means there is no guarantee you will see temperature or precipitation departures that match the color on the map..."

Map credit: "Typical impacts of La Niña on U.S. winter temperature and precipitation. Such impacts have been associated with past episodes, but all impacts aren't seen with every episode." NOAA drawing by Fiona Martin.

Hurricane Intensity Is Not Exaggerated To Scare People, And Here's How We Know. When data and evidence gets in the way some resort to conspiracy theories. Besides, it makes for good click-bait. Hurricane expert Brian McNoldy responds to Matt Drudge at Capital Weather Gang: "Hurricane Matthew brushed the East Coast as a Category 4 in early October. It scoured the Florida coast with a storm surge that washed out roads and flooded homes and businesses. It dumped over a foot of rain on the Carolinas and triggered deadly flooding. And before all of this, Matthew devastated Haiti and killed at least 600 people — it’s possible we’ll never know the final death toll. But the hurricane’s deadly encounter with Haiti and multibillion-dollar brush with the East Coast wasn’t bad enough for some people — mainly, Matt Drudge, a political commentator and news aggregator, who tweeted skepticism about Matthew’s actual intensity as it barreled toward Florida. Perhaps, he suggested, the National Hurricane Center was overhyping the storm’s maximum winds..." (Hurricane Matthew file photo: NOAA).

Hurricane Sandy Was a 260 Year Storm - Here's What That Means. For the record 2012's Superstorm Sandy wasn't even (technically) a warm-core hurricane when it struck New Jersey. But the storm was huge, it carved out an impressive storm surge that hit at astronomical high tide during a full moon. Here's an excerpt from Yahoo Finance: "... The total damage to New York City was worth $19 billion and to New Jersey $29 billion. Now, the big question is: How likely is it that a Sandy-level storm will happen again in our lifetimes? In the past, studies have pegged Sandy as anywhere from a 100-year storm to a 1,500 year storm. That means that in any given year there's a 1/100 to 1/1,500 chance of a storm causing Sandy-level flooding. A new paper accepted for publication in the Journal of Geophysical Research October 21 offers a more precise estimate: Sandy was a 260-year storm, based on current ocean conditions. That includes tropical cyclones like Sandy as well as winter storms like northeasters, lead author Philip Orton, who studies ocean physics at the Stevens Institute of Technology, told Business Insider..." (Superstorm Sandy file image: NASA).

Flood of Weather Warning Terms Fuels Confusion. Is there a smart way for NOAA to streamline watches, advisories and warnings? USA TODAY reports: "...One simple reason for the confusion is that both watch and warning start with the letters "wa," while another is that advisory "doesn't have any specific connotation," Jacks said. Not only are the three levels befuddling, there are also too many of them: In all, the weather service transmits a whopping 122 different watches, warnings and advisories, all the way from Air Quality Alert to Winter Weather Advisory. Some of the more obscure ones include Ashfall Warning, Freezing Spray Advisory and Lakeshore Flood Watch..."

Massive Wedge Tornado That Hit Rome November 6. This Kansas-size tornado left 2 people dead; the flashes high tension lines being brought down by winds that may have approached 150 mph. Click here to see the video from

Oklahoma Storm Shelter For School Said To Withstand EF-5 Tornado. I wonder if any man-made structure can be constructed to be "tornado-proof"? I found this story from WTVY-TV to be interesting; here's a clip: "...The superintendent hopes to build more of these, one for each elementary school. The building is said to be able to withstand an F-5 tornado. It has a monolithic dome, a round roof made of reinforced steel and layer after layer of concrete, making it one of the safest places to be during a natural disaster..."

Water Temperatures in Gulf Could Give Advance Warning of Summer Tornado Activity. A signal for the intensity of future outbreaks? Perhaps. Here's an excerpt from NOAA's "Using a combination of observations and models, NOAA-funded scientists have found a small but significant “advanced warning” signal for heightened summer tornado activity in the U.S.: warmer-than-average water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico. The knowledge has the potential to provide emergency response agencies, communities, and individuals with an early head’s up that an upcoming severe weather season may be unusually active. These maps show the tornado-Gulf of Mexico connection that researchers found when they divided 30 years of data (1981-2011) into two bins: summers when the Gulf of Mexico was cooler-than-average and summers when it was warmer-than-average..."

What Happened To Our Record Lows? Bob Henson takes a look at the trends at WunderBlog: "... In the 1970s, the U.S. saw roughly 5 daily record lows for every 4 daily record highs. That ratio flipped in the 1980s, which produced about 6 highs for every 5 lows. By the 2000s, we were getting nearly twice as many daily record highs as lows (350,181 to 187,323). For the 2010s thus far, the ratio has climbed even higher: we’ve had about 2.2 times as many record highs as record lows. This is especially remarkable given that the years 2013 and 2014 both managed to buck the trend, scoring more daily record lows than highs. This year through October 25, the ratio is more than 5 to 1. That’s higher than in any full year on record. Hiding in plain sight in the 2016 data is something even more astounding. Walton’s and NCEI’s numbers through October 25 show that this year has produced 20,847 U.S. daily record highs but a mere 3920 record lows..."

New Weather Satellite Set to "Revolutionize" The U.S. Weather Forecast. That may be a bit strong, but there's little doubt that GOES-R is another big step forward, giving us a much more powerful, high-resolution eye in the sky. Details via Yahoo Finance: "...NASA is currently preparing the launch pad at Cape Canaveral to send the first satellite, known as GOES-R, into orbit on November 16 at 4:42 p.m. ET. According to NOAA, the new weather station will contribute to more accurate weather forecasts and better predictions of severe storms. "Without a doubt, GOES-R will revolutionize weather forecasting as we know it," Stephen Volz, assistant administrator for NOAA's Satellite and Information Service, told reporters earlier this month. "For weather forecasters, GOES-R is like going from black and white television to super-high-definition TV, and for the American public GOES-R will mean faster, more accurate weather forecasting and warning..." (Artist sketch of GOES-R: Lockheed Martin).

Lockheed Satellite System Aids Tornado, Sun Storm Warnings. More perspective courtesy of The San Francisco Chronicle: "...The launch is scheduled for Nov. 19 from Cape Canaveral. The total cost of the program, including four satellites and associated ground systems, is $10.83 billion, including 30 years of operations. Lockheed Martin will receive a portion of this total for its building and testing the satellites plus three instruments on each spacecraft. The satellites represent an important advance in forecasting tornadoes and severe weather, said Steve Goodman, the ocean and atmospheric agency’s chief scientist for the satellites. “This is the first major upgrade in 22 years,” Goodman said..."

Photo credit: "Technician Clinton Maldoon checks on the Geostationary Lightning Mapper at Lockheed’s Advanced Technology Center." Santiago Mejia, The Chronicle.

Sunshine Matters A Lot to Mental Health; Temperature, Pollution, Rain Not So Much. Almost time to put your therapist on speed-dial. Here's a fascinating nugget, courtesy of EurekAlert! Science News: "...That's one of the surprising pieces of our research," said Mark Beecher, clinical professor and licensed psychologist in BYU Counseling and Psychological Services. "On a rainy day, or a more polluted day, people assume that they'd have more distress. But we didn't see that. We looked at solar irradiance, or the amount of sunlight that actually hits the ground. We tried to take into account cloudy days, rainy days, pollution . . . but they washed out. The one thing that was really significant was the amount of time between sunrise and sunset."Therapists should be aware that winter months will be a time of high demand for their services. With fewer sun time hours, clients will be particularly vulnerable to emotional distress. Preventative measures should be implemented on a case-by-case basis...."

Does The Switch to Daylight Saving Time Increase Risk of Depression? Here's an excerpt of an interesting article focusing on new studies, courtesy of The Washington Post: "...One possible explanation is that the sudden advancement of sunset from 6 p.m. to 5 p.m . . . which in Denmark marks the coming of a long period of very short days, has a negative psychological impact on individuals prone to depression, and pushes them over the threshold to develop manifest depression,” the authors write. We know, for instance, that long days and ample sunshine are protective against depressive symptoms. The shift to standard time essentially steals an hour of daylight from the evening, when most of us are awake, and tacks it on to the early morning hours, when many of us are not. The net effect is that many of us lose an hour of daylight..."

Top Weather Phobias Explored: Millions of Americans Experience These Weather Fears. "Antlophobia" is fear of floods. A tropical storm that flooded my boyhood home in Pennsylvania in 1972 got me interested in meteorology. What are you scared of? I stumbled upon this curious story at "...According to a 2014 study published in the American Meteorological Society Journal, approximately one in 10 Americans may suffer from some degree of severe weather fear. Researchers from Ball State University and the University of Kansas said study participants reported feelings of anxiety and helplessness, increased heart pounding and the need to change their schedules when faced with a severe weather event. The most common behavior surrounding these weather events was constant monitoring of television, radio, internet or weather applications, according to researchers. They interviewed almost 300 people in 43 states. The study reported: "...When not debilitating, some fear can be a substantial motivator to encourage individuals to take action against the threat, such as seeking shelter..."

Incoming! How NASA and FEMA Would Respond to an Asteroid Threat. That's right - don't sweat the thundershowers! Fox News has an interesting, vaguely terrifying story - here's an excerpt that left me wanting to check my fantasy football stats: "...NASA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) came together Oct. 25 to plan a response to such a hypothetical event. In a "tabletop exercise," a kind of ongoing simulation, the two agencies tested how they would work together to evaluate the threat, prevent panic and protect as many people as possible from the deadly collision. "It's not a matter of if, but when, we will deal with such a situation," Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's Science Mission Directorate's new associate administrator, said in a statement..."

Photo credit: "A near-Earth object on course to hit the planet would require nationwide or global coordination to minimize threat." (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Key Navy Base At Risk From Rising Seas: Mabus. With a son in the Navy I can assure you that these professionals take rising seas seriously; operations are already being impacted. Here's the intro to a story at "Navy Secretary Ray Mabus told an audience Monday that Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, the largest naval base in the world and a key East Coast center of operations for the service, could be endangered in coming decades by rising seas due to climate change if steps are not taken to reverse current trends. Mabus, who has frequently spoken about his concerns regarding climate change and associated threats to national security during his seven-year tenure as secretary of the Navy, said other bases also might be at risk from projected rising seas..."

Why Scientists Are So Worried About Sea Level Rise in the Second Half of This Century. The water is rising - that's no a climate model, but based on observations, worldwide. Here's an excerpt at The Washington Post: "...But the new research just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences notes that if we stay on a current, high-emissions pathway and do not achieve the cuts that the Paris agreement seeks to institutionalize, then we could hit 2 degrees Celsius by 2040 or so. For the planet’s sea level, this would mean over a half-foot rise averaged around the globe, in comparison with average sea levels from 1986 to 2005. The sea-level increase, however, would be far worse in certain places, such as the U.S. East Coast, where it could be over a foot..."

Photo credit: Andrew Demp, Yale.

Air Pollution Emergency for New Delhi, India. Here are harrowing details from Yale Environment 360: "Indian officials declared an emergency in New Delhi over the weekend as the capital city entered its second week with air pollution levels as high as 30 times above World Health Organization guidelines, several news outlets reported. Construction sites have been closed, operations at a coal-fired power station halted, diesel generators stopped, and officials are preparing to reinstate traffic restrictions, all to reduce smog levels across the city, which have reached their highest levels in 20 years. Officials say field burning on nearby farmland and fireworks from the recent Diwali festival helped worsen the smog conditions. Arvind Kejriwal, chief minister of Delhi, advised people to “stay home as much as they can [and] work from home,” The Guardian reported. Indian business groups said 5 to 10 percent of the workforce in the city and surrounding areas had called in sick over the past week..."

Photo credit: REUTERS/Adnan Abid.

At Least 74,000 Americans Live Near Oil and Gas Wells on Public Lands. Check out the state-level maps to assess your level of risk in this article at Yale Environment 360: "A new online tool mapping active oil and gas wells on U.S. public lands shows that at least 74,000 people in six states live within a half-mile of drilling sites. That close proximity puts these people at increased risk of cancer, heart disease, and respiratory problems from natural gas leaking from the wells, said the Wilderness Society, which together with Earthworks helped create the tool. In Wyoming, for example, 15,869 oil and gas facilities operate on public land, and some 4,000 people live within a half-mile of them — the range that airborne pollutants from wells, such as benzene, can easily travel. The mapping tool is being released at a time when scientists, environmental groups, and policymakers are ramping up calls to reduce and regulate natural gas leaks from drilling and storage sites..."

Red Lake Band of Minnesota Plans For All-Solar Electric Generation. Why? Because it'll help clean up the air AND save them money over the long haul - there's a significant ROI. Here's more information from The Star Tribune: "The Red Lake Band of Chippewa in northern Minnesota intends to build enough solar energy capability on tribal lands over the next several years to free itself from electricity generated from fossil fuels. And, thanks to outside investors who can tap a variety of tax credits, depreciation and deductions, it should cost the tribe very little to eventually become owners of the solar arrays, power-storage units and related equipment..." (File photo: Utility Dive).

Oil Industry's New Threat? The Global Growth of Electric Cars. Odds are our kids and grandkids won't think twice about driving an electric vehicle. Here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "...Could the world’s transportation system be on the verge of a disruption, one that could slow the growth of oil demand and eventually reverse it? That question is not just profound, it is urgent. Nations have pledged to fight global warming, which means sharply paring emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by midcentury, just over three decades away. If that is to be achieved, some studies suggest, there will be no place for cars burning gasoline or diesel. They will have to run on electricity, or possibly another alternative fuel, and the electric system itself will have to become much cleaner..."

59 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities.

46 F. average high on November 8.

59 F. high on November 8, 2015.

November 9, 2003: Parts of west central and north central Minnesota receive anywhere from 2 to 6 inches of new snow. Canby had the most at 6 inches and Benson measured 5 inches.

November 9, 1977: A foot of snow falls in Western Minnesota. I-94 is tied up.

November 9. 1850: The sky darkens at Ft. Snelling due to smoke from prairie fires.

TODAY: Good and sunny. Hints of September. Winds: SW 7-12. High: 62

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy and mild for November. Low: 43

THURSDAY: Balmy start, then cooler PM wind. Winds: SW/NW 10-15. High: 65

FRIDAY: Blue sky, a bit cooler. Winds: N 8-13. Wake-up: 40. High: 52

SATURDAY: First frost at MSP this fall? Sunny and pleasant. Winds: SW 10-20. Wake-up: 33. High: 59

SUNDAY: Pinch me. Is it really November 13? Partly sunny skies. Winds: W 8-13. Wake-up: 41. High: 61

MONDAY: Partly sunny and cooler, still above average. Winds: W 5-10. Wake-up: 40. high: 55

TUESDAY: More clouds, risk of a (rain) shower. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 46. High: 54

Climate Stories. Because weather and climate are flip-sides of the same coin.

Caring for Creation: Community Conversation and Book Release November 15 at Minnehaha Academy. If you're interested in this topic (and most everyone should be) I hope you'll consider coming out next Tuesday evening, November 15, to Minnehaha Academy to hear co-author of "Caring for Creation" Mitch Hescox and me discuss why climate awareness and a push toward clean energy are essential, and why people of faith should pay attention: "Minnehaha Academy Welcomes Meteorologist Paul Douglas and Evangelical Environmental Network Director Mitch Hescox for a Compelling Climate Change Conversation and Book Release Event. Join us for this not-to-be-missed community conversation and book release event about climate change and the Biblical call for Christians to care about the earth. 

In this free evening conversation, you’ll learn:

- Why Christians should lead the charge for caring for God’s creation.
- How climate change goes beyond politics and affects the health, economy, and stability of future generations.
- Tips to help your family and those around you care for the earth.

How Global Warming Could Actually Make Winters Colder For Some People. There is some (early) scientific evidence that a rapidly warming arctic may be impacting jet stream wind speeds, making for a "wavier" pattern capable of pulling arctic air south for extended periods of time. Counterintuitive? Absolutely. Here's an excerpt from Christan Science Monitor: "...Current research suggests that a “wavier” jet stream may correlate to severe climates south of the Arctic, which may linger for several weeks at a time. When the jet stream’s route is more direct from west to east, typical winter weather seems to follow. “We’ve always had years with wavy and not so wavy jet stream winds, but in the last one to two decades the warming Arctic could well have been amplifying the effects of the wavy patterns,” co-author Edward Hanna, a professor of climate change at the University of Sheffield, said in a press release. Over the past few decades, different regions around the world have warmed at different rates. In the Arctic region, temperatures are rising faster than they are at mid-latitudes. As the temperature contrast between those two regions becomes smaller, the jet stream becomes weaker..." (High-amplitude jet stream image: NASA)

(Un)Natural Disasters: Communicating Linkages Between Extreme Events and Climate Change. Here's an article (PDF) that drills down into "attribution"; which specific weather events bear thumbprints of a more volatile climate: "...While scientists have known for decades that changes in some classes of extreme weather would result from climate change, the science of attributing individual extreme eventns to global warming has only advanced significantly in recent years to cover a greater number of extremes and achieve a greater speed of scientific analysis. Unfortunately, the communication of this science outside the extreme event research community has, with a few notable exceptions, not fully reflected these advances. The media, politicians and some scientists outside this area of research still often claim that "we can't attribute any individual event to climate change." This may have been true in the 1990s, but it is no longer the case..."

Pentagon Report: U.S. Military Considers Climate Change a "Threat Multiplier" That Could Exacerbate Terrorism. Here's an excerpt from Newsweek: "A report released Monday indicates the Department of Defense has dramatically shifted its views towards climate change, and has already begun to treat the phenomenon as a significant threat to national security. Climate change, the Pentagon writes, requires immediate action on the part of the U.S. Military. The report is a “roadmap” of the Department’s future needs and actions to effectively respond to climate change, including anticipating that climate change may require more frequent military intervention within the country to respond to natural disasters, as well as internationally to respond to “extremist ideologies” that may arise in regions where governments are destabilized due to climate-related stressors..."

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