An Atmospheric Version of Beauty and the Beast

It's quite remarkable: people waving at me - with all their fingers! Some have stopped me on the street and thanked me for our jumbo, super-sized autumn. No, it's not at all unusual to be mowing your lawn in Minnesota in mid-November. No need to be concerned, please move along!

Considering we could be butt-deep in snow I don't take 60F and sunshine for granted. Mild weather lingers into early Friday, and then temperatures go over a small cliff. Models suggest a big storm tracking from Wichita to Des Moines to Eau Claire on Friday, sucking enough cold air into Minnesota for a changeover to heavy wet snow. Ground temperatures are still mild, so some of that snow will melt on contact in the metro area, but an inch or two of slush can't be ruled out on lawns and fields by Friday night.

As much as 5-12 inches of wet snow may fall from Alexandria to the Brainerd Lakes and Minnesota Arrowhead during the PM hours Friday. Like turning on a light switch: instant winter.

Travel improves over the weekend and Thanksgiving week brings highs in the 40s; a cold rain next Wednesday.

Could be worse.


Meteograms above showing high winds and rapidly falling temperatures on Friday courtesy of NOAA and AerisWeather.



Snowy Smear. NOAA's 12km NAM model suggests over a foot of snow for parts of central and northern Minnesota and portions of the Dakotas by Friday evening. Some of that snow will melt on contact with a relatively mild ground, but even so this could be plowable from Pierre to Wadena, Brainerd, Bemidji and the Minnesota Arrowhead. Source: WeatherBell.


GFS Snowfall Potential. This is accumulated snow by Saturday morning, showing the heaviest amounts piling up north and west of a line from Willmar to Lake Mille Lacs to Duluth. This axis of heaviest snow potential will shift back and forth with each new model run so don't get too excited yet.


European Solution. ECMWF guiddance pulls the heavy snow band farther south into Montevideo, Redwood Falls and Kenyan, where over 10" of snow is predicted to fall. Again, I'm a bit skeptical (because somehow snow lovers always find a new and creative way to get hosed) but if you're traveling north and west of the Twin Cities Friday you'll want to be prepared for a jolt of snow and ice.


5.8" Predicted for Nisswa. Not 5". Not 6". But 5.8". Take it to the bank. Or not. Our internal models sent out notifications of a plowable snow for the Brainerd Lakes area. Travel conditions on Friday will go steadily downhill over central and northern counties of Minnesota.


Wave Goodbye to October. It sure has been fun; the warmest start to November on record for much of Minnesota. For anyone who thinks winter has been cancelled, think again. Temperatures may nudge 60F on Thursday, only to fall 30 degrees Friday, holding in the 30s over the weekend with a whiff of wind chill. We should recover into the 40s Thanksgiving week. That's average for this time of year. ECMWF numbers: WeatherBell.


Thanksgiving Day: GFS Solution. NOAA's GFS model pulls a surge of moderate to heavy rain into New England next Thursday, with wrap-around showers of rain and snow for Pennsylvania and Ohio. Showers are forecast to push into northern California; otherwise the rest of the USA looks relatively quiet and fairly mild from the Great Plains into the southwestern states. Source: WSI.


Thanksgiving Day: ECMWF Solution. I look at all the models but if push comes to shove I still assign more weight to the European. It's far from perfect or foolproof, but it often does a better job, especially beyond 5 days. The ECMWF suggests (rain) showers Thanksgiving Day from the Ohio Valley to the Gulf Coast; showery, unsettled weather for the Pacific Northwest - otherwise most of America gets a break this year.


Peering Over The Horizon. The 2-week 500mb (18,000 foot) wind forecast hints at a cut-off low over the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes, but no bitter air nearby as we sail into December. When will the other shoe (boot) fall? Place your bets.


Smoke From a Siege of Wildfires Spreading Across the Southeastern USA Is Easily Seen From Orbit. Details via Discover Magazine: "Spurred on by intensifying drought, wildfires continue to spread across portions of the southern United States, sending up palls of smoke that are easily visible from orbit. In the image above, acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite on November 12, the thickest plumes are rising from fires in the southern Appalachians within North Carolina and Georgia. But smoke from fires in Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and South Carolina is also visible..."

Image credit: "Plumes of smoke from wildfires burning in the southern Appalachians are seen in this broad view of nearly half of the United States acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite on November 12, 2016. The smoke plumes are roughly dead center in the image, almost straight north from Florida. Click on the image and then click again for extreme closeup views." (Source: NASA Worldview).



Southern Wildfires Burn 80,000 Acres Across Six States. CNN provides more details and perspective: "Crippling drought conditions are sparking blaze after blaze across six states in the South. More than 30 large wildfires have left a trail of destruction through 80,000 acres in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky, according to the US Forest Service. "Dry weather, high winds and the continuing drought is driving the large growth of fires," said Dave Martin, Deputy Director of Operations for Fire and Aviation Management for the US Forest Service's Southern Region..."


Unhealthy Air For Much of South Carolina. The result of smoke from hundreds of wildfires still burning.


Second Hottest October on Record. Here's a clip from a post at Hot Whopper: "According to GISS NASA, the average global surface temperature anomaly for October was 0.89 °C, which is the second hottest October on record, and 0.18 °C lower than the hottest October in 2015. This is despite the fact that NOAA has announced a La Nina advisory. The average for the nine months to the end of October is 1.02 °C, which is 0.19 °C higher than the previous hottest January to October period in 2015, which with the latest data had an anomaly of 0.83 °C..."


2016 Likely To Top 2015 As Hottest Year On Record, Scientists Say. Here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "...The meteorological organization found that global temperatures from January to September were about 0.88 degrees Celsius (1.58 degrees Fahrenheit) above the average for the years from 1961 to 1990, a period the organization uses as a baseline. Temperatures spiked early this year because of the weather phenomenon known as El Niño, which exacerbated coral reef bleaching, which is caused by water that is too warm, and a rise in sea levels. “Preliminary data for October indicate that they are at a sufficiently high level for 2016 to remain on track for the title of hottest year on record,” the organization said. That would mean that 16 of the 17 hottest years on record have been in the 21st century. The other one was 1998..."

Interactive data for 2015 courtesy of The New York Times.


Will Rising Sea Levels Sink Property Values? Here's an excerpt from Yahoo! Finance: "...But many people don’t realize that investing in waterfront property now may lose them money, in much the same way as splurging on an expensive car would: depreciation. The reason? Rising sea levels are eroding the long-term value of such properties. “Once impacts become noticeable, they’re going to be upon you quickly,” William V. Sweet, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Silver Spring, Maryland, told The New York Times. “It’s not a hundred years off — it’s now.” Sea levels are rising, according to scientists, due to global warming, as rising atmospheric and ocean temperatures melt polar ice caps and glaciers. Even skeptics of the phenomenon may find it difficult to argue with the “sharp jump in this nuisance flooding,” currently impacting the East Coast and Gulf Coast. Expect more flooding in those areas and the West Coast, too, according to The Times report..."


Stories From The World's Hottest Year - "Fine Finnish Wine"  2016 will be the warmest year ever recorded, worldwide. The Guardian has a country-by-country list of some of the impacts; here's a clip: "...French winemakers joke about harvesting grapes on skis. But Fredrik Slotte, 36, who has 850 vines on his farm in Finland, has the last laugh. Last autumn at a festival in the US his sparkling wines won a gold medal, beating competition from 2,000 wines from 12 countries, including French champagne. “It is great to see that Finland can compete in blind tastings with France,” Slotte said. This summer has been a particularly good one for grapes on the Baltic island of Åland, where Slotte has his vineyard..."


    Natural Disasters Push 26 Million Into Poverty Each Year, Says World Bank. The Guardian reports: "Floods, earthquakes, tsunamis and other extreme natural disasters push 26 million people into poverty each year and cost the global economy more than half a trillion dollars in lost consumption, the World Bank has said. A bank study of 117 countries concluded that the full cost of natural disasters was $520bn (£416bn) a year – 60% higher than any previous estimate – once the impact on poor people was taken into account..."


    The History of Weather Satellites. AccuWeather has an interesting post - yes, we've come a long way, and GOES-R marks the next big evolutionary leap: "The science of weather forecasting has come a long way over the past 100 years, but one of the biggest leaps forward occurred once information from weather satellites was readily available. Weather satellites have had such a huge impact on weather forecasting that some divide the history of meteorology into two categories: pre-satellite era and post-satellite era. Weather satellites provide invaluable data to meteorologists all around the world, not only by sending forecasters images of weather systems but also by supplying weather models with remote observations in places where observations cannot be taken at the Earth's surface..."

    Image credit: "The first photo of Earth from a weather satellite, taken by TIROS-1." (Photo/NASA)


    NASA and FEMA Rehearse For The Unthinkable: An Asteroid Strike on Los Angeles. No, don't sweat La Nina, in light of the (theoretical) 330 foot wide asteroid heading toward LAX. It's not real, not yet, but federal agenices are war-gaming what would happen if it was the real deal. The New York Times reports: "Imagine if scientists discovered that an asteroid was hurtling toward Los Angeles. The possibility has existed on the pages of Hollywood scripts. But in what may be a case of life imitating art, NASA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other government agencies engaged last month in a planetary protection exercise to consider the potentially devastating consequences of a 330-foot asteroid hitting the Earth. The simulation projected a worst-case blast wave by an asteroid strike in 2020 that could level structures across 30 miles, require a mass evacuation of the Los Angeles area and cause tens of thousands of casualties..."

    Image credit: "An artist’s concept of a near-Earth object." Credit JPL-Caltech/NASA.


    Biofuel From Logging Scraps Powers Alaska Airlines Jet on Cross-Country Flight. I haven't seen this before. Here's the intro to a story at The Seattle Times: "An Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to Washington, D.C., on Monday morning was powered with a jet-fuel blend containing 20 percent renewable biofuel made from Pacific Northwest forest residuals — the limbs and branches that remain after the harvesting of managed forests. Billed as the first commercial flight running partly on wood, the alternative jet fuel was produced through the research efforts of the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA). Led by Washington State University, the group aims to build a sustainable supply chain for aviation biofuel using the leavings from logging operations..."

    Photo credit: "Fueling manager Jarid Svraka looks on as he fuels an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-800 jet with a new, blended alternative jet fuel Monday at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The fuel contains 20 percent biofuel made from forest residuals." (Elaine Thompson/AP)


    The One Energy Policy Republicans and Democrats Can Agree On. Here's an excerpt of an interesting and timely article at The Wall Street Journal: "...This sort of energy innovation will be key to solving the climate challenge. While clean-energy technologies like solar and wind are becoming increasingly cost competitive with fossil fuels and can scale up quickly, more is needed if we are to limit the average global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius. We will still need government support to invest in developing new technologies. Many potential technologies are on the horizon. Solar paint on windows and buildings could soak up the energy of the sun. And new grid-scale energy-storage technologies could enable intermittent renewable energy sources like wind and solar to take a greater share in the power generation mix by delivering their electricity to the grid even when the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing..."


    St. Olaf Embraces Wind Power - 100% Star Tribune has the details: "St. Olaf College's many dozens of buildings on its Northfield campus are now being powered entirely by wind energy, the liberal arts school and Xcel Energy announced Monday. By choosing Xcel's Windsource program for its electrical service starting at the beginning of this semester, St. Olaf becomes the utility's largest Windsource customer in the state..."

    Photo credit: "Part of the Buffalo Ridge complex of wind turbines in Ruthton, Minn." Star Tribune.



    55 F. maximum temperature yesterday in the Twin Cities.

    41 F. average high on November 15.

    62 F. high in the MSP metro on November 15, 2015.

    November 16, 1933: Record lows are set in a few locations including Farmington with a low of 11 degrees below zero, Little Falls at 10 degrees below zero, Chaska at 9 below and Milaca at 8 degrees below.

    November 16, 1931: A tornado touches down near Maple Plain in Hennepin County. The tornado damage path was five miles long.



    TODAY: Partly sunny, mild. Winds: SE 10-15. High: 57

    WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Patchy clouds, abnormally warm night for mid-November. Low: 49

    THURSDAY: Clouds increase and thicken, no travel headaches yet. Winds: E 7-12. High: 61

    FRIDAY: Falling temps, blustery. Rain changes to snow. Slushy potential PM hours. Winds: NW 20-40. High: 52 (falling into the 30s by late afternoon)

    SATURDAY: Sun peeks out, winds ease. Winds: NW 10-20. Chilly. Wake-up: 32. High: 37

    SUNDAY: First hard freeze for MSP. Bright sunshine. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 26. High: 36

    MONDAY: Clouds slowly increase. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 28. High: near 40

    TUESDAY: Mostly cloudy, feels like November. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 30. High: 42


    Climate Stories

    40 Years of Measuring the World's Cleanest Air Reveals Human Fingerprints on the Atmosphere. Here's an excerpt from The Conversation: "...Cape Grim data are freely available and have been widely used in all five international climate change assessments (1990-2013), all ten international ozone depletion assessments (1985-2014), in four State of the Climate Reports 2010-2016 and in lower-atmosphere ozone assessments. Measurements at Cape Grim have demonstrated the impact of human activity on the atmosphere. For example, CO₂ has increased from about 330 parts per million (ppm) in 1976 to more than 400 ppm today, an average increase of 1.9 ppm per year since 1976. Since 2010 the rate has been 2.3 ppm per year. The isotopic ratios of CO₂ measured at Cape Grim have changed in a way that is consistent with fossil fuels being the source of higher concentrations..."

    Graphic credit: "Cape Grim has documented the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations." CSIRO/Bureau of Meteorology, Author provided.


    Why Arctic Waters Are Reluctant to Freeze. The Guardian explains: "...Much of the reason for these warm temperatures and the sluggish rate of sea-ice formation is the exceptional summer sea-ice melt that occurred this year. By 10 September the National Snow and Ice Data Center reported that Arctic sea-ice had shrunk to an area of just 4.14m square kilometres – tying with 2007 for second lowest sea-ice extent on record, and some 740,000 square kilometres short of the record set in 2012..."


    These People Are Literally Having Climate Change Nightmares. The woman quoted is Greta Van Sustern's sister; here's a clip from Fusion: "...Psychiatrists say the nightmares are unsurprising, given that climate change is causing widespread anxiety. “The reality is that we’re talking about anxiety disorders…but this is not a disorder,” said Lise Van Susteren, a psychiatrist based in Washington, DC. “Civilization is on the tracks and you can see the train coming. That’s not a disorder, that’s responding to reality,” Van Susteren said. Current warming puts the Earth on track for “several meters” (around 10 feet) of sea level rise in the coming century, former NASA scientist James Hansen has said..."

    Image credit: Elena Scotti/FUSION.


    Military, Security Leaders Deliver Climate Change Briefing Book to President-Elect. Here's the intro to an update from The Center for Climate and Security: "In the wake of last week’s election, the Center for Climate and Security is delivering a Briefing Book for a New Administration to the President-elect. The book of recommendations was developed by the Climate and Security Advisory Group (CSAG), a voluntary, non-partisan group of 43 U.S.-based senior military, national security, homeland security, and intelligence experts, including the former Commanders of U.S. Pacific and Central Command, and former Special Assistant to President Reagan for National Security Affairs. Climate change presents risks that must be managed, no matter one’s political perspective..."


    As Trump Heads to Washington, Global Warming Nears Tipping Point. Bloomberg reports: "Global temperatures continue to shatter records this year, rising to within less than one degree of the level that scientists say would be catastrophic, according to the United Nations. During the first nine months of the year, temperatures were 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.16 degrees Fahrenheit) above those recorded at the end of the 1800s, the UN’s World Meteorological Organization said in a report Monday. If the Earth warms more than 2 degrees beyond those pre-industrial levels, scientists have warned that climate change could hit an irreversible tipping point, unleashing a torrent of floods, droughts and storms..."


    Religious Environmentalists Gird Themselves for a Trump Presidency. Here's the intro to a story at Religion News Service: "For environmentalists who ground their work in faith, Donald Trump in the White House presents an unexpected and direct challenge to what they consider their God-given responsibility to care for Creation. And they fear that of all the changes a Trump presidency will bring, his dismissal of climate change could be the most far-reaching and damaging. Trump has deemed climate change a “hoax.” He said he wants to ignore the Paris climate accords. And he has indicated that he would roll back President Obama’s efforts to reduce methane, carbon and other pollutants..." (Image credit: NASA).

    Older Post

    First Slushy Slap of Winter Brewing for Friday - Plowable Snowfall for Parts of Minnesota?

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    Only in Minnesota: From 60s to blizzard conditions in 36 hours