Paul Douglas is a nationally respected meteorologist with 33 years of television and radio experience. A serial entrepreneur, Douglas is Senior Meteorologist for WeatherNation TV, a new, national 24/7 weather channel with studios in Denver and Minneapolis. Founder of Media Logic Group, Douglas and a team of meteorologists provide weather services for media at Broadcast Weather, and high-tech alerting and briefing services for companies via Alerts Broadcaster. His speaking engagements take him around the Midwest with a message of continuous experimentation and reinvention, no matter what business you’re in. He is the public face of “SAVE”, Suicide Awareness, Voices of Education, based in Bloomington. | Send Paul a question.

From 50F Sunday to Teens Thanksgiving Day - Tracking a few Nuisance Snowfalls

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: November 23, 2014 - 10:26 PM

Cold Comfort

There are few other places on the planet where locals "thank" a meteorologist for 50 degrees. It's been too cold, too early. "Paul, if it's like this in November, what will January be like?" Cold, with some snow. Just a gut feeling.

If it was a sticky 85 degrees year-round I'd have motion sickness from swaying in a hammock, lost in a Corona-coma. I'd get nothing done.

Bracing slaps of wind chill focus our ingenuity, forcing us to engineer new ways to keep out the pain. We survive. We thrive. And no Minnesotan I've ever met takes a warm front for granted.

Here's what I know: the next 2 weeks won't be as cold as the previous 2 weeks. A coating of snow is possible today as winds blow from Canada; another inch or two of slush Wednesday. The pattern isn't ripe for headline-grabbing snow storms thru the second week of December.

I see a subtle shift in the pattern, possibly a symptom of a brewing El Nino. Rain is finally reaching California, and a slightly milder, zonal, Pacific wind flow will thaw us out from time to time, as early as next weekend.

Climate volatility is real; the swings are getting more severe. Buffalo's suburbs go from 8 feet of snow to 60F and flooding today.


An Early Nap? Thanksgiving is Thursday (as if you could possibly forget that fact) and after gazing at the maps I'm already getting a little sleepy. No major storms are brewing this week, maybe a coating to an inch today (more over Wisconsin), another inch or two Wednesday, possibly some accumulation by Tuesday of next week. Thursday appears to be the coldest day in sight with highs holding in the teens, but European data is hinting at another thaw next weekend.


60-Hour Snowfall Potential. NOAA NAM data shows some 8-15" amounts just downwind of Lake Superior into early Wednesday, but plowable amounts of snow are possible from near Rhinelander and Green Bay to Oshkosh. If your travels take you east snow amounts will gradually increase as you approach Lake Michigan. Source: HAMweather.


Close Call. A storm winding up over the Great Lakes will inhale enough Canadian air to change rain over to snow across Wisconsin and the U.P. of Michigan. More snow accumulates from near Denver to Boise; a series of Pacific storm delivering some badly needed rain to drought-stricken California this week. It looks like the El Nino signal is finally kicking in, pushing the storm track farther south over the western USA.


December Temperature Spike? I'm not buying it, not yet, but the GEFS model is hinting at 50F in the Twin Cities on December 3. It's still a long way out; 40s seem more plausible in early December as Pacific air pushes east of the Rockies. Not sure about 50F, but we are due for the weather pendulum to swing in the other direction. Chart: Aeris Enterprise from HAMweather.


Winter Weather Weirdness May Be Just Beginning. The Buffalo News, where they know a thing or two about odd weather, has the story - here's an excerpt: "...Meteorologists and geographers say that lake-effect snows have increased as temperatures have warmed in recent decades. That means more bizarre early-season storms, though not necessarily as bad as last week’s, are likely in the future as the warming trend continues. “The general notion is that, as the climate warms and the lakes hold their warmth longer into the fall, you’re going to see a lot more lake-effect snow until it’s too warm to have much snow,” said Mark Monmonier, distinguished professor of geography at Syracuse University and the author of the 2012 book “Lake Effect: Tales of Large Lakes, Arctic Winds, and Recurrent Snows...”

Photo credit above: "Mark Petrik and Dennis Smith dig out their south Buffalo driveway on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014, in Buffalo, N.Y. Western New York continues to dig out from the heavy snow dropped by this week by lake-effect snowstorms." (AP Photo/Mike Groll).


Snowed Under and Frozen Over: U.S. Weather Is Off The Rails, But Why? The jet stream is "drunk" once again - memories of last winter have emerged much sooner than anyone wanted or expected. Will it continue, and how is a rapidly warming Arctic impacting prevailing steering winds? Here's an excerpt of an explanation at Capital Weather Gang: "...Last summer we saw the 6th lowest sea-ice minimum extent, and the extremely warm temperatures now over the Arctic are from all the extra heat absorbed by the Arctic Ocean where ice was lost,” Francis said. “When the Arctic is so warm, the west winds of the jet stream weaken, and this favors the highly wavy pattern to the jet stream responsible for this early winter chill in the eastern U.S as well as the continued drought and heat in California....”


The Real Roots of Midlife Crisis. I challenge anyone in their 40s or 50s to (honestly) admit that they haven't had a similar experience. The U-Curve is real, it turns out, and no, you're not alone.  The Atlantic has a very worthy read - here's a snippet: "...Long ago, when I was 30 and he was 66, the late Donald Richie, the greatest writer I have known, told me: “Midlife crisis begins sometime in your 40s, when you look at your life and think, Is this all? And it ends about 10 years later, when you look at your life again and think, Actually, this is pretty good.” In my 50s, thinking back, his words strike me as exactly right..." (Photo credit: Chris Buck).



51 F. high in the Twin Cities Sunday.

55 F. record high for November 23 (1905).

37 F. average high on November 23.

19 F. high on November 23, 2013.

Trace of snow left on the ground at MSP International Airport.

November 23 in Minnesota Weather History. Source: Twin Cities National Weather Service:

1993: The Thanksgiving Day Blizzard of 1993. Central and Western to South Central Minnesota were affected by a slow moving storm system that traveled across the upper Midwest during the Thanksgiving holiday causing heavy snow across most of Minnesota. Travel became extremely difficult if not impossible over west central Minnesota where over a foot of snow accumulated. A number of car accidents were reported and several community events were canceled. Snowfall in excess of six inches or greater occurred north of a line from Bricelyn (Faribault County) to the Twin Cities. Counties affected by this storm include Anoka, Benton, Blue Earth, Brown, Chippewa, Chisago, Douglas, Faribault, Hennepin, Isanti, Kanabec, Kandiyohi, Lac Qui Parle, Martin, Mcleod, Meeker, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Nicollet, Pine, Pope, Ramsey, Redwood, Renville, Rock, Sherburne, Sibley, Stearns, Stevens, Swift, Todd, Washington, Watonwan, Wright, and Yellow Medicine.

1983: Snowstorm dumps almost two feet at Babbitt and about 20 inches at Duluth.

1825: Warm spell begins over Ft. Snelling, Temperature rises up to 70 degrees over the week.


TODAY: Gusty winds, turning colder. Coating of light snow. Winds: NW 15-30. High: 25

MONDAY NIGHT: Flurries taper, partial clearing. Low: 14

TUESDAY: Sun returns, doesn't help much. High: 28

WEDNESDAY: Inch or 2 of slush? Slick spots. Wake-up: 23. High: 28

THANKSGIVING: Cold sun. Food coma likely. Wake-up: 6. High: 17

BLACK FRIDAY: Chance of a snowy coating. Wake-up: 15. High: 29

SATURDAY: Mostly cloudy, thawing out a bit. Wake-up: 21. High: 33

SUNDAY: Mostly cloudy, no travel headaches. Wake-up: 26. High: 32


Climate Stories...

Expect More Giant Snowstorms As Climate Warms. A warmer atmosphere contains more water vapor, loading the dice in favor of not only heavier summer rains, but more extreme winter snows - until temperatures become too warm for snow. LiveScience has the story; here's an excerpt of the article, including a quote from Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann: "...Part of what gave us the record lake-effect snowfall in Buffalo was warm, late-fall lake-surface temperatures that combined with something highly unusual: a 5 sigma event. That is, a very unlikely event on the order of 1-in-a-million — a remarkably persistent, anomalous configuration of the jet stream, which brought frigid Arctic air down into the United States so early in the season," said Michael Mann, professor and director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. "The cold winds traveling over the warm moisture-laden lake created a perfect storm of conditions for record lake-effect snow..."


Global Warming: Extreme Weather Will Be The "New Climate Normal", World Bank Warns. International Business Times has the article - here are a few clips that got my attention: "The World Bank Sunday warned extreme weather will become the "new climate normal," increasing the risk of world instability. The report, "Turn Down the Heat: Confronting the New Climate Normal," analyzes the impact of warming of 2 to 4 degrees Celsius (3.6 and 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels on crops and coastlines....Extreme heat is the biggest problem, the report found, because it can reduce crop yields, negatively impacting food security and future economic growth as well as economic development, social stability and well-being..."

* the 320 page PDF "Turn Down The Heat: Confronting the New Climate Normal" from The World Bank is here.


New Study: Major Investors Worried About Companies' Readiness for Climate Change. Wall Street, increasingly, is paying attention. Liability is growing - companies realize they have risk. The smart ones will ignore science deniers and take steps to lower long term threats to their business models (and share price). Here's the intro to a story at Forbes: "new study from a significant source shows that a majority of large investors are worried about companies’ readiness for climate change.  The source is significant in that this information isn’t just the data, say, of a fringe environmental group – it’s asset managers and pension fund managers responsible for a total of more than $11 trillion..."

Image credit: National Science Foundation.


Climate Change Threatens To Strip The Identity Of Glacier National Park. What will they call it when the glaciers are gone? Glaciers, along with sea level rise, are a good proxy for long-term climate trends. Here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "...A century ago, this sweep of mountains on the Canadian border boasted some 150 ice sheets, many of them scores of feet thick, plastered across summits and tucked into rocky fissures high above parabolic valleys. Today, perhaps 25 survive. In 30 years, there may be none. A warming climate is melting Glacier’s glaciers, an icy retreat that promises to change not just tourists’ vistas, but also the mountains and everything around them..."


Half of Americans Think Climate Change is a Sign Of The Apocalypse. The Atlantic has the article - here's an excerpt: "Snowmageddon, snowpocalypse, snowzilla, just snow. Superstorm Sandy, receding shorelines, and more. Hurricanes Isaac, Ivan, and Irene, with cousins Rammasun, Bopha, and Haiyan. The parade of geological changes and extreme weather events around the world since 2011 has been stunning. Perhaps that's part of why, as the Public Religion Research Institute reported on Friday, "The number of Americans who believe that natural disasters are evidence of the apocalypse has increased somewhat over the past couple years..."

Nuisance Travel Concerns - Chilling Thanksgiving Outlook

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: November 22, 2014 - 10:57 PM

No Sweat

Positive spin: no bugs, humidity, severe storms or road construction. No raking, weeding or picking milfoil out of your teeth. What's not to like about late November? OK, it's been a little chilly;

I'm just grateful there aren't any large lakes lurking upwind. Could a Buffalo-like 8 FEET of snow fall on Duluth? Possibly, but Lake Superior is consistently colder than Lake Erie. You don't have the 40-50 degree temperature differential that sparked a 48-hour firehose of thunder, lightning and snow, falling at the rate of 3-7 inches/hour at times.

By the way, the forecast for Buffalo at the beginning of last week was 1-2 feet of lake effect snow. No one in their right mind predicts 6-8 feet of snow from a single event.

Soak up 40s early today; a welcome respite from nearly continuous Canadian exhaust since November 10. Significant rain tracks east of town today; a coating of slush possible Monday as cold northwest winds kick in on the backside of this storm. Another couple of inches of snow may fall Wednesday ahead of the next clipper; "highs" holding in the teens Thanksgiving. Another thaw is brewing a week from today; longer-range guidance hinting at a few Pacific warm fronts the first half of December.

A very white Christmas? Bet on it.


Most Consecutive November Days Below 32F Since 1996. Officially we came in at 11 days in a row < 32F, second only to 1880. Details from the Minnesota DNR: "Twin Cities began a streak of "at or below 32 degrees" for a maximum temperature on Monday, November 10 with a high temperature of 31 degrees. The mercury reached 34 degrees just before midnight on November 21, ending the streak at 11 days. The longest stretch of 32 degrees or colder is a cold spell that began on November 16, 1880 and lasted for the rest of November for a streak of 15 days. 11 days has also been reached in 1911, 1985 and 1996."

Consecutive days of "at or below 32 degrees"
in the Twin Cities (1871-2014)

Streak Began    Streak Ended  Total in Nov.
-------------------------------------------
1880-11-16  to	1880-12-03	15 Days
1911-11-11  to	1911-11-21	11 Days
1985-11-20  to	1985-12-21	11 Days
1996-11-18  to	1996-11-28	11 Days
2014-11-10  to  2014-11-20      11 Days

An Exception To Every Rule. 2014 may very well wind up being the warmest year on record, worldwide - even warmer than 2010 and 1998. What makes this especially noteworthy: a lack of El Nino, Pacific warming which often turbocharges atmospheric warming. 2014 will offically be an ENSO-neutral year. NOAA NCDC data above shows global temperature anomalies from January 1 through the end of October; trending warmer for much of the planet. The coolest spot in the Northern Hemisphere? The eastern half of the USA. The perception is that 2014 was a chilly year. True for much of America east of the Mississippi but for the planet? Not so much.


Most Traveled Week of the Year. What can possibly go wrong? Not much close to home, although Wednesday's clipper may drop a couple inches of slushy snow. Travel shouldn't be an issue Tuesday; again Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The coldest day in sight is Thanksgiving, with highs in the teens and a subzero windchill. Temperatures recover over the weekend; another thaw possible one week from today.


Rainy Start - Slushy Finish. A surge of rain pushing into Wisconsin and the Great Lakes ends as wet snow late tonight, with a potential for a few inches of slush from Des Moines and the Quad Cities to Madison and Green Bay. Map and snowfall potential: HAMweather.


Wednesday - Thursday Nor'Easter. If  your travels take you to Philadelphia, New York, Hartford or Boston keep an eye on weather late Wednesday into early Thanksgiving Day. The ECMWF is consistently printing out a formidable coastal storm capable of inland snow and heavy coastal rains, especially Wednesday night. I could see some Wednesday PM travel delays due to rapidly deteriorating weather from PHL and JFK/LGA to BOS.. Map valid 1 am Thursday courtesy of WSI Corporation.


Thanksgiving Day Weather Map. Here is the European model, valid midday Thursday, showing New England slowly drying out, lake effect snows returning to the Great Lakes (including Buffalo) and more cold air drilling into the Upper Midwest. Dry weather prevails over the southern and western states, more rain pushing into Seattle with moderate snow over Montana. Map: WSI.


Coldest Minnesota November Since 1996. Surprised? Me neither. Here's a link to Mark Seeley's WeatherTalk: "...Following the winter storm of November 10th, cold air has dominated the state.  Through November 20th average monthly temperatures are running from 6 to 9 degrees F colder than normal, marking the coldest November since 1996.  A streak of 12 consecutive days with no temperature reading of 32 degrees F or higher at MSP is the 2nd longest for the month of November, topped only by 15 consecutive days back in 1880.  Pete Boulay of the Minnesota State Climatology Office has a nice feature on this..."


Why Do So Many People Die Shoveling Snow? Because they're out of shape, have an undiagnosed coronary condition, and because shoveling is even more strenuous and taxing than running on a treadmill. Here's an excerpt of a post at BBC that caught my eye: "...His team found that when healthy young men shoveled snow, their heart rate and blood pressure increased more than when they exercised on a treadmill. "Combine this with cold air, which causes arteries to constrict and decrease blood supply, you have a perfect storm for a heart attack," he says. Snow shoveling is particularly strenuous because it uses arm work, which is more taxing than leg work. Straining to move wet and heavy snow is particularly likely to cause a surge in heart rate and blood pressure, Franklin says..." (Photo credit: Associated Press).

Snow Shoveling 101: How Not To Kill Yourself. Yahoo Health has some good advice.


Snowed Under and Frozen Over: U.S. Weather Is Off The Rails, But Why? The jet stream is "drunk" once again - memories of last winter have emerged much sooner than anyone wanted or expected. Will it continue, and how is a rapidly warming Arctic impacting prevailing steering winds? Here's an excerpt of an explanation at Capital Weather Gang: "...Last summer we saw the 6th lowest sea-ice minimum extent, and the extremely warm temperatures now over the Arctic are from all the extra heat absorbed by the Arctic Ocean where ice was lost,” Francis said. “When the Arctic is so warm, the west winds of the jet stream weaken, and this favors the highly wavy pattern to the jet stream responsible for this early winter chill in the eastern U.S as well as the continued drought and heat in California....”


Winter Equivalent of Training Thunderstorm Echoes. The great irony is that there was enough instability with the severe snow event in Buffalo for thunder and lightning. It was ultimately a combination of factors: water temperatures in the eastern end of Lake Erie in the low to mid 50s, unseasonably cold air at the surface, and even colder temperatures aloft resulting in extreme instability. Mean wind vectors kept the most explosive snow band virtually stationary for the better part of 48 hours, resulting in some 70-90" amounts. Tuesday radar loop above courtesy of the University of Wisconsin CIMSS.


More Evidence of Weather & Climate Volatility: Heavy Rain and 60F for Buffalo by Monday? ECMWF data suggests a high near 60F Monday afternoon, in spite of small mountains of snow, especially on the south side of Buffalo. The Los Angeles Times has a story recapping the flash flood risk that could materialize early next week. I'm especially worried about rain falling on snow-covered rooftops, adding additional weight with more cave-ins likely. Graphic: Weatherspark.

Flash Flood Watch for western New York, including metro Buffalo. The concern is heavy rain and 50s by Monday, adding additional weight to the snowpack on area rooftops, resulting in more collapses into next week. Details from The Buffalo News.


Tracking Buffalo's Snow Blitz With Drones? TVSpy has the story and video. Here's an excerpt: "Buffalo stations were able to give viewers the softer side of the aftermath of Lake Effect snow with video shot by Jim Grimaldi’s drone. The local drone pilot didn’t go far enough or high enough to trigger any action from the FAA, but he did give WIVB and WGRZ some nice bump video showing how a snowstorm can change a neighborhood. WKBW featured the video on its website. Check it out..."


The U.S. Government Thinks China Could Take Down The U.S. Power Grid. Let's change the subject and turn over the sports scores. Quickly, while the power is still on. CNN has the story and video; here's a clip: "...China and "probably one or two other" countries have the capacity to shut down the nation's power grid and other critical infrastructure through a cyber attack, the head of the National Security Agency told a Congressional panel Thursday. Admiral Michael Rogers, who also serves the dual role as head of U.S. Cyber Command, said the United States has detected malware from China and elsewhere on U.S. computers systems that affect the daily lives of every American..." (File photo: AP).


The Real Roots of Midlife Crisis. I challenge anyone in their 40s or 50s to (honestly) admit that they haven't had a similar experience. The U-Curve is real, it turns out, and no, you're not alone.  The Atlantic has a very worthy read - here's a snippet: "...Long ago, when I was 30 and he was 66, the late Donald Richie, the greatest writer I have known, told me: “Midlife crisis begins sometime in your 40s, when you look at your life and think, Is this all? And it ends about 10 years later, when you look at your life again and think, Actually, this is pretty good.” In my 50s, thinking back, his words strike me as exactly right..." (Photo credit: Chris Buck).


36 F. high in the Twin Cities Saturday.

37 F. average high on November 22.

33 F. high on November 22, 2013.

3" snow on the ground at KMSP.

November 22, 2003: New London and Little Falls both recorded 9 inches of new snow.

November 22, 1983: Heavy snowfall accumulated over most of central Minnesota with snowfall totals from 4 inches to almost 1 foot. Minneapolis received 11.4 inches of snow, while Farmington had 11 inches.

November 22, 1954: 1954 Gale over Minnesota. Considerable damage in downtown Wadena.


TODAY: Thick fog. A little rain and drizzle. Winds: West 10. High: 43, then falling

SUNDAY NIGHT: Mostly cloudy - wet roads become icy. Low: 24

MONDAY: Colder wind with falling temperatures, coating to 1" of snow. High: 28

TUESDAY: Partly sunny, good travel day. Wake-up: 16. High: 25

WEDNESDAY: Couple inches of snow possible. Wake-up: 20. High: near 30

THANKSGIVING: Intervals of sun, feels like -10. Wake-up: 10. High: 16

BLACK FRIDAY: Good shopping weather. Cold sun. Wake-up: 4. High: 15

SATURDAY: Patchy clouds, light winds. Wake-up: 6. High: 20


Climate Stories...

New Study: Major Investors Worried About Companies' Readiness for Climate Change. Wall Street, increasingly, is paying attention. Liability is growing - companies realize they have risk. The smart ones will ignore science deniers and take steps to lower long term threats to their business models (and share price). Here's the intro to a story at Forbes: "new study from a significant source shows that a majority of large investors are worried about companies’ readiness for climate change.  The source is significant in that this information isn’t just the data, say, of a fringe environmental group – it’s asset managers and pension fund managers responsible for a total of more than $11 trillion..."

Image credit: National Science Foundation.


Climate Change Threatens To Strip The Identity Of Glacier National Park. What will they call it when the glaciers are gone? Glaciers, along with sea level rise, are a good proxy for long-term climate trends. Here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "...A century ago, this sweep of mountains on the Canadian border boasted some 150 ice sheets, many of them scores of feet thick, plastered across summits and tucked into rocky fissures high above parabolic valleys. Today, perhaps 25 survive. In 30 years, there may be none. A warming climate is melting Glacier’s glaciers, an icy retreat that promises to change not just tourists’ vistas, but also the mountains and everything around them..."


Half of Americans Think Climate Change is a Sign Of The Apocalypse. The Atlantic has the article - here's an excerpt: "Snowmageddon, snowpocalypse, snowzilla, just snow. Superstorm Sandy, receding shorelines, and more. Hurricanes Isaac, Ivan, and Irene, with cousins Rammasun, Bopha, and Haiyan. The parade of geological changes and extreme weather events around the world since 2011 has been stunning. Perhaps that's part of why, as the Public Religion Research Institute reported on Friday, "The number of Americans who believe that natural disasters are evidence of the apocalypse has increased somewhat over the past couple years..."


Tired Of The Cold Weather Already? Blame Global Warming. A mental disconnect, counterintuitive? Absolutely, but changes in the rate of warming of the Northern Hemisphere, especially what's happening in the Arctic, may be impacting jet stream configurations, pulling more bitter air south in the process - frigid air that's passing over Great Lakes considerably warmer than they were 50 years ago. Here's an excerpt from BetaWired: "...In the case of this week’s massive snowfall in regions of upstate New York like Buffalo, the principal scientist for NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, Thomas C. Peterson, said that the Great Lakes were too warm when the Canadian air of the cold front hit it. The interaction with the warm water and the frigid air created a massive “lake effect” storm that positively inundated the region; while lake effect snow does impact the area every winter, Peterson said that if the Great Lakes would have been cooler the record snowfall wouldn’t have occurred. But where did the cold polar air come from in the first place? Scientists say that rising temperatures cause the jet stream to shift." (Photo: New York State Police)



There's Growing Evidence That Global Warming Is Driving Crazy Winters. Here's an excerpt of a story from Chris Mooney at The Washington Post: "...According to Francis, the extreme U.S. winter of last year and now, the extremes at the beginning of this season, fit her theory. "This winter looks a whole lot like last winter, it’s a very amplified jet stream pattern," she says. "We know that when we get these patterns, it tends to be very persistent. And it is definitely the type of pattern that we expect to see more often as the Arctic continues to warm so fast." To be sure, Francis acknowledges that our recent bout of extreme cold was kickstarted most directly by Typhoon Nuri, which swerved up into the mid-latitudes and exploded into an atmospheric bomb over the Bering Sea..."


In Step To Lower Carbon Emissions, China Will Place a Limit on Coal use in 2020. While we "debate the science" China is taking action to lower their carbon emissions, which have now surpassed the USA's. The New York Times has an article; here's the intro: "China plans to set a cap on coal consumption in 2020, an important step for the country in trying to achieve a recently announced goal of having carbon dioxide emissions peak by around 2030. The State Council, China’s cabinet, released details of an energy strategy late Wednesday that includes capping coal consumption at 4.2 billion tons in 2020 and having coal be no more than 62 percent of the primary energy mix by that year. Worldwide, coal burning for industrial use is the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions, which are the biggest catalyst of global climate change..."

Coldest November since 1996 - Numbing Thanksgiving Outlook

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: November 22, 2014 - 8:21 AM

Coldest Minnesota November Since '96

To receive my meteorology degree I had to pass 6 calculus courses. Which explains why I still can't balance my checkbook. I'm no math major - but by my calculations we just went 12 days in a row below 32F, the most consecutive sub-freezing November days since 1880.

Here in the Land of Feeble Weather Expectations FREEZING can feel like an epiphany. Pathetically poetic. I'll be firing up the grill as temperature surge into the upper 30s today and low 40s Sunday.

A sloppy southern storm tracks well east of Minnesota, brushing us with a little drizzle, maybe a coating of slushy snow Monday, but no meteorological travesties are brewing close to home between now and Thanksgiving. A reinforcing cold front arrives Wednesday with a quick burst of fluff; highs Thursday hold in the teens with a subzero wind chill.

I see more volatility in the pattern, more big swings in temperature. Models hint at 30s returning late next week for power-shopping; even a few 40s as we ease into December. According to Dr. Mark Seeley November has been the coldest since 1996.

California is finally seeing rain - El Nino is kicking in. Yes the cold came early, but I'm still not convinced another polar vortex winter is imminent.


Coldest Minnesota November Since 1996. Surprised? Me neither. Here's a link to Mark Seeley's WeatherTalk: "...Following the winter storm of November 10th, cold air has dominated the state.  Through November 20th average monthly temperatures are running from 6 to 9 degrees F colder than normal, marking the coldest November since 1996.  A streak of 12 consecutive days with no temperature reading of 32 degrees F or higher at MSP is the 2nd longest for the month of November, topped only by 15 consecutive days back in 1880.  Pete Boulay of the Minnesota State Climatology Office has a nice feature on this..."


Temperature Roller Coaster. Enjoy any hints of warmth over the weekend because another temperature tumble is shaping up next week; the arrival of another January-like punch setting off a couple inches of snow on Wednesday. Windchills on Thanksgiving Day may dip as low as -15F in the metro, colder across greater Minnesota. Temperatures recover slightly by the weekend; models still hinting at 30s, even a couple 40s the first week of December. Graphic: Weatherspark.


60-Hour Accumulated Precipitation. California finally sees some welcome rains, heavy at times north of the Bay area with a healthy soaking for much of the Pacific Northwest. Meanwhile a surge of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico pushes from Texas into the Great Lakes, ending as wet snow for parts of the Midwest. Buffalo will see rain and 50s into Monday before cooling back down later in the week with another slug of lake effect snow.


60-Hour Snowfall Potential. Ham Weather's proprietary "Aeris" computer models show a potential for plowable snow from near the Quad Cities to Quincy and Rockford, Illinois; more heavy snow from near Park City, Utah to the Great Falls, Montana. Map: HAMweather.


Why Do So Many People Die Shoveling Snow? Because they're out of shape, have an undiagnosed coronary condition, and because shoveling is even more strenuous and taxing than running on a treadmill. Here's an excerpt of a post at BBC that caught my eye: "...His team found that when healthy young men shoveled snow, their heart rate and blood pressure increased more than when they exercised on a treadmill. "Combine this with cold air, which causes arteries to constrict and decrease blood supply, you have a perfect storm for a heart attack," he says. Snow shoveling is particularly strenuous because it uses arm work, which is more taxing than leg work. Straining to move wet and heavy snow is particularly likely to cause a surge in heart rate and blood pressure, Franklin says..." (Photo credit: Associated Press).

Snow Shoveling 101: How Not To Kill Yourself. Yahoo Health has some good advice.


Snowed Under and Frozen Over: U.S. Weather Is Off The Rails, But Why? The jet stream is "drunk" once again - memories of last winter have emerged much sooner than anyone wanted or expected. Will it continue, and how is a rapidly warming Arctic impacting prevailing steering winds? Here's an excerpt of an explanation at Capital Weather Gang: "...Last summer we saw the 6th lowest sea-ice minimum extent, and the extremely warm temperatures now over the Arctic are from all the extra heat absorbed by the Arctic Ocean where ice was lost,” Francis said. “When the Arctic is so warm, the west winds of the jet stream weaken, and this favors the highly wavy pattern to the jet stream responsible for this early winter chill in the eastern U.S as well as the continued drought and heat in California....”


Winter Equivalent of Training Thunderstorm Echoes. The great irony is that there was enough instability with the severe snow event in Buffalo for thunder and lightning. It was ultimately a combination of factors: water temperatures in the eastern end of Lake Erie in the low to mid 50s, unseasonably cold air at the surface, and even colder temperatures aloft resulting in extreme instability. Mean wind vectors kept the most explosive snow band virtually stationary for the better part of 48 hours, resulting in some 70-90" amounts. Tuesday radar loop above courtesy of the University of Wisconsin CIMSS.


Unraveling The Mysteries of Deadly "Firehose" Lake Effect Snow Events. Every lake effect snow event is different, but what are the ingredients that go into historic snowfalls? Are lake effect snows downwind of Erie and Ontario some of the heaviest on earth? Andrew Freedman has a fascinating story at Mashable; here's an excerpt: "...Jim Steenburgh, a meteorology professor at the University of Utah, said the Buffalo storm's first round confirms some of what he and his colleagues observed in high-resolution last year. These storms can have a “structure that’s really incredible… a structure that you sometimes see with severe thunderstorms,” he told Mashable. From Tuesday through Wednesday, the narrow band of heavy snow that targeted towns such as West Seneca, New York, on Tuesday night, was barely 15 miles wide but more than 100 miles long. In chilling photographs, it resembled a wall of snow more closely akin to a broiling dust storm than a snow squall..."

Image credit above: "Radar imagery from the Doppler on Wheels (DOW) mobile radar, operated by the Center for Severe Weather Research, collected during the NSF-sponsored OWLeS project. Left panel is radar reflectivity (length scale is added); Right panel is Doppler velocity. Arrows show location of small vortices. X marks location of radar." Image: Karen Kosiba/CSWR.


More Evidence of Weather & Climate Volatility: Heavy Rain and 60F for Buffalo by Monday? ECMWF data suggests a high near 60F Monday afternoon, in spite of small mountains of snow, especially on the south side of Buffalo. The Los Angeles Times has a story recapping the flash flood risk that could materialize early next week. I'm especially worried about rain falling on snow-covered rooftops, adding additional weight with more cave-ins likely. Graphic: Weatherspark.

Flash Flood Watch for western New York, including metro Buffalo. The concern is heavy rain and 50s adding additional weight to the snowpack on area rooftops, resulting in more collapses into next week. Details from The Buffalo News.


Tracking Buffalo's Snow Blitz With Drones? TVSpy has the story and video. Here's an excerpt: "Buffalo stations were able to give viewers the softer side of the aftermath of Lake Effect snow with video shot by Jim Grimaldi’s drone. The local drone pilot didn’t go far enough or high enough to trigger any action from the FAA, but he did give WIVB and WGRZ some nice bump video showing how a snowstorm can change a neighborhood. WKBW featured the video on its website. Check it out..."


Global Warming Is Probably Boosting Lake Effect Snows. Here's an excerpt of an excellent article from meteorologist Eric Holthaus at Slate, showing how a gradual warming trend (and less ice cover) is creating conditions more favorable for more lake effect snows: "...Another massive early-season lake-effect event occurred in Buffalo back in October 2006, when Lake Erie water temperatures were even warmer than they were this week. Almost a million people lost power. Lake Erie is warming (along with the rest of the planet) by a steady but measurable amount. Since 1960 that trend has been about a half of a degree Fahrenheit per decade. More important than this, though, Lake Erie has been losing its ability to freeze over in the winter, with a decline of about one sub-freezing day per year in recent decades..."

* graphic above from a 2003 paper by Burnett, et all available via PDF here.


Tropical Pacific Ocean Moves Closer to El Nino. The odds of an El Nino have risen to 70% according to Australia's Bureau of Meteorology; here's an excerpt of a recent release: "The Pacific Ocean has shown some renewed signs of El Niño development in recent weeks. Above-average temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean have warmed further in the past fortnight, while the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) has generally been in excess of El Niño thresholds for the past three months. Climate models suggest current conditions will either persist or strengthen. These factors mean the Bureau's ENSO Tracker Status has been upgraded from WATCH to ALERT level, indicating at least a 70% chance of El Niño occurring..."


NOAA: Globe Sets 5th Hottest-Month Record of 2014. Some temperature "pause". The eastern USA has had a chilly year, but that's more than compensated for by the rest of the planet, on it's way toward what may be the warmest year on record. The 6 warmest months on record for global ocean water temperatures have been in the last 6 months. Here's an excerpt from the AP and wsbtv.com: "Despite a bitter U.S. cold snap, the globe is rushing hell-bent toward its warmest year on record with last month setting the fifth monthly heat record of year. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday that last month was the hottest October on record worldwide. The 58.43 degrees Fahrenheit (14.74 Celsius) beat out October 2003. "It is becoming pretty clear that 2014 will end up as the warmest year on record," said Deke Arndt, climate monitoring chief for NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina. "The remaining question is: How much?..."


2014: On Track For The Warmest Year, Worldwide, On Record? It may be close, but what makes this even more unusual is that 2013 and 2014 weren't El Nino years, no Pacific warmth turbocharging the atmosphere. Here's an excerpt from NOAA NCDC: "The years 2013 and 2014 are the only years on this list not to begin during a mature El Niño event. The years 1998 and 2010, each of which became the warmest year on record at the time, ended the year in a strong La Niña event, as evidenced by the relative fading of global average temperature later in the year. The anomalies themselves represent departures from the 20th century average temperature. The graph zooms into the warmest part of the entire history. For a broader perspective on how these five years relate to the long-term record, click here..."


Winter Outlook from Columbia University. This is from The International Research Institute for Climate and Society, at Columbia Unversity's Earth Institute. Of course all long-range seasonal outlooks should be taken with a big grain of salt, but I couldn't get over how much red (warmer than average) is predicted for the planet from December into February.


Average Winter Temperatures for Minnesota? It's too early to celebrate, but at least one longer-range climate model from Columbia University is forecasting a notable lack of polar air for much of North American from December into February; warmer for much of the western USA (consistent with a developing El Nino), warmer for much of Canada, the Arctic and Greenland, colder than average for the southern USA.


The U.S. Government Thinks China Could Take Down The U.S. Power Grid. Let's change the subject and turn over the sports scores. Quickly, while the power is still on. CNN has the story and video; here's a clip: "...China and "probably one or two other" countries have the capacity to shut down the nation's power grid and other critical infrastructure through a cyber attack, the head of the National Security Agency told a Congressional panel Thursday. Admiral Michael Rogers, who also serves the dual role as head of U.S. Cyber Command, said the United States has detected malware from China and elsewhere on U.S. computers systems that affect the daily lives of every American..." (File photo: AP).


Solar Energy Could Power America 100 Times Over. Ecowatch has the article - here's the introduction: "America could meet its energy needs by capturing just a sliver of the virtually limitless and pollution-free energy that strikes the nation every day in the form of sunlight.” That’s the assertion of a new report Star Power: The Growing Role of Solar Energy in America, released today by Environment America. Enough sunlight strikes the U.S. every year to power the country 100 times over, say the report’s authors, and 35 million homes and businesses could potentially host solar panels..."


Dear Santa: All I Want For Christmas Is My Own (Video-Enabled) Quadcopter. A friend of mine, Cleveland TV meteorologist Andre Bernier, sent me this video clip taken with his DJI Phantom 2 RTF Quadcopter, outfitted with GoPro 4k camera. The quadcopter retails for $679, but by the time you set it up for high-resolution video the costs can top 2k. It can fly as high as 5,000 feet before it loses its signal, but a 400 foot ceiling is mandated by the FAA outside class B and C airspace. Andre writes: "The Phantom 2 is the "industry drone standard" so-to-speak.  You can configure it any way you like. I have mine with a Genmuse gyro-stablized gimball that holds a GoPro Hero 4 Black camera (can shoot 4K @30fps OR 1080HD @120fps!). I later added a video transmitter so I could see what the camera was seeing with an HD monitor attached to the radio controller. The DJI Phantom 2 is way under $700 nowadays (without gimball and camera) They used to be $3,000 (bare) a few years ago. By the time you add a camera, gimball, FPV transmitter and monitor, you're looking at right around $2,200 ready-to-fly." Sweet.


A Real Buffalo Beer Lover. Well, this is one way of coping with a snowy emergency. If you can't get out the door, and you still want to keep the beer cold - improvise. Thanks to Dr. Roy Spencer for passing this one along.


34 F. high in the Twin Cities Friday.

38 F. average high on November 21.

39 F. high on November 21, 2013.

November 21, 1996: Heavy snowfall accumulated over the same areas that were hit two days earlier. Four to seven inches of snowfall were reported across the area. Heavier snowfall occurred during the daylight hours of the 23rd. Snowfall totals of six inches were reported in the Twin Cities, Chanhassen, Stewart, St. James and Redwood Falls.

November 21, 1970: Gale driven snow across Minnesota. 45 mph winds over Rochester and Duluth.


TODAY: Mostly cloudy, thawing out. A little drizzle possible. Winds: SW 10. High: near 40

SATURDAY NIGHT: Cloudy, chance of drizzle. Low: 38

SUNDAY: A little light rain or drizzle - better chance of rain across Wisconsin. High: 42

MONDAY: Colder, coating - 1 inch of slush? Wake-up: 28. High: 30

TUESDAY: Some sun. Good travel weather. Wake-up: 12. High: 23

WEDNESDAY: Light snow, turning even colder. Couple inches of accumulation? Wake-up: 17. High: 26

THURSDAY: Cold turkey. Hot gravy. A bit numb. Wake-up: 7. High: 16

FRIDAY: Breezy & milder for power shopping. Wake-up: 5. High: 22

* photo above: New York State Police.


Climate Stories...

Tired Of The Cold Weather Already? Blame Global Warming. A mental disconnect, counterintuitive? Absolutely, but changes in the rate of warming of the Northern Hemisphere, especially what's happening in the Arctic, may be impacting jet stream configurations, pulling more bitter air south in the process - frigid air that's passing over Great Lakes considerably warmer than they were 50 years ago. Here's an excerpt from BetaWired: "...In the case of this week’s massive snowfall in regions of upstate New York like Buffalo, the principal scientist for NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, Thomas C. Peterson, said that the Great Lakes were too warm when the Canadian air of the cold front hit it. The interaction with the warm water and the frigid air created a massive “lake effect” storm that positively inundated the region; while lake effect snow does impact the area every winter, Peterson said that if the Great Lakes would have been cooler the record snowfall wouldn’t have occurred. But where did the cold polar air come from in the first place? Scientists say that rising temperatures cause the jet stream to shift." (Photo: New York State Police)



There's Growing Evidence That Global Warming Is Driving Crazy Winters. Here's an excerpt of a story from Chris Mooney at The Washington Post: "...According to Francis, the extreme U.S. winter of last year and now, the extremes at the beginning of this season, fit her theory. "This winter looks a whole lot like last winter, it’s a very amplified jet stream pattern," she says. "We know that when we get these patterns, it tends to be very persistent. And it is definitely the type of pattern that we expect to see more often as the Arctic continues to warm so fast." To be sure, Francis acknowledges that our recent bout of extreme cold was kickstarted most directly by Typhoon Nuri, which swerved up into the mid-latitudes and exploded into an atmospheric bomb over the Bering Sea..."


In Step To Lower Carbon Emissions, China Will Place a Limit on Coal use in 2020. While we "debate the science" China is taking action to lower their carbon emissions, which have now surpassed the USA's. The New York Times has an article; here's the intro: "China plans to set a cap on coal consumption in 2020, an important step for the country in trying to achieve a recently announced goal of having carbon dioxide emissions peak by around 2030. The State Council, China’s cabinet, released details of an energy strategy late Wednesday that includes capping coal consumption at 4.2 billion tons in 2020 and having coal be no more than 62 percent of the primary energy mix by that year. Worldwide, coal burning for industrial use is the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions, which are the biggest catalyst of global climate change..."


Will You Own Waterfront Property? Climate Change Website Has Answers. You may want to pass this on to friends living on or near the water in Naples, Fort Myers or Sarasota. Note to self: rent, don't own. Here's a clip from palmbeachpost.com: "The White House has released a Climate Resilience Toolkit, a web-based, interactive suite of maps, videos and data that allow communities and businesses to confront their climate vulnerabilities and build resilience. Among the tools is a mapping program that allows users to see how coastal communities will be affected by coastal erosion, storm surge and sea level rise..."


Acid Maps Reveal Worst of Climate Change. The rapid warming and acidification of the world's oceans may be the most underreported story out there right now - here's an excerpt of some new research at Scientific American: "...The maps are an attempt to bring to visual life a problem that is just as invisible as the excess CO2 piling up in the atmosphere for the past couple of centuries. People cannot see, taste or feel the subtle shift in the seawater and it has taken years of measurement around the world to gather enough data for this new global picture. Calls for such measurements had been made since at least 1956..."

Image credit above: Courtesy of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.


Within 2 Years a Quarter of The World's Carbon Emissions Are Likely To Be Priced. It's happening, slowly and piecemeal, but smart companies are already finding ways to price carbon. Here's a clip from Grist: "...It often surprises people to hear that big companies like Exxon use a “shadow carbon price” when assessing future investment opportunities (in other words, they assume a price on carbon even where/when there isn’t one). After all, if you only pay attention to the headlines, it sounds like the big story on climate change is that nobody’s doing anything and we’re all doomed. Why would Exxon think carbon will be priced any time soon? Well, it turns out that carbon is getting priced, not in the big, dramatic, simple way climate hawks would prefer, but incrementally, piecemeal, country-by-country, region-by-region, still inadequately but in a way that’s starting to add up..."

Animation credit: Sightline Institute


Faith Groups Divided Over God's Role in Climate Change, Natural Disasters. The Washington Post has the story - here's a clip: "...Americans largely concur that God created the Earth. But when it comes to how he wants its environment treated, and how much he’s willing to intercede — the agreement ends. A new poll released Friday shows major differences between faith groups on topics including concern over climate change, whether natural disasters are a sign of biblical end times and how deeply connected they feel to nature..." (Image credit above: NASA).

* How Nike is building climate change and weather extremes into marketing for it's new base-layer apparel.


House Republicans Just Passed a Bill Forbidding Scientists From Advising the EPA On Their Own Research. No, you just can't make this stuff up - here's the intro to a story at Salon: "Congressional climate wars were dominated Tuesday by the U.S. Senate, which spent the day debating, and ultimately failing to pass, a bill approving the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. While all that was happening, and largely unnoticed, the House was busy doing what it does best: attacking science. H.R. 1422, which passed 229-191, would shake up the EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board, placing restrictions on those pesky scientists and creating room for experts with overt financial ties to the industries affected by EPA regulations..."


Did Climate Change "Juice" The Buffalo Snow Amounts? Water temperatures in Lake Erie were in the low to mid 50s earlier this week, almost 50F warmer than the air passing overhead. There's considerable evidence that warmer water in the Great Lakes is resulting in more extreme lake effect snow events earlier in the season than 30-50 years ago. What influence did climate volatility play in the (incredible) snowfall amounts and snowfall rates since Tuesday. I had a chance to chat with Ed Schultz at MSNBC Thursday; the clip is here.



There's Growing Evidence That Global Warming Is Driving Crazy Winters. Here's an excerpt of a story from Chris Mooney at The Washington Post: "...According to Francis, the extreme U.S. winter of last year and now, the extremes at the beginning of this season, fit her theory. "This winter looks a whole lot like last winter, it’s a very amplified jet stream pattern," she says. "We know that when we get these patterns, it tends to be very persistent. And it is definitely the type of pattern that we expect to see more often as the Arctic continues to warm so fast." To be sure, Francis acknowledges that our recent bout of extreme cold was kickstarted most directly by Typhoon Nuri, which swerved up into the mid-latitudes and exploded into an atmospheric bomb over the Bering Sea..."

Historic Buffalo Lake Effect - Weekend Thaw - Cold Turkey

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: November 20, 2014 - 10:20 PM

Cold Turkey

Think of the 7-Day as good incentive to bulk up to your winter weight. Go for that extra slice of pumpkin pie! What I lack in warmth & sunlight I plan to make up for in sugar and cool calories.

Welcome to the 11th day in a row below freezing; typical for January - a bit unusual for November. No match for 1874-75, when the Twin Cities enjoyed 83 days in a row colder than 32F. Ouch.

A few friends are freaking out, huddled in their weather bunkers, expecting another winter identical to last year. It may be more prayer than prediction but I still think we'll see more variability, more swings in temperature.

El Nino appears to be strengthening in the Pacific, increasing the odds of milder air pushing into the western half of the USA from time to time, reducing the odds of another perpetual polar vortex blocking pattern similar to last winter.

Place your bets.

We finally thaw out Saturday. Rain stays to our east on Sunday - a snowy coating Monday. The risk of snow on Thanksgiving has dropped off a bit; there may be too much cold air pushing the storm track well south of Minnesota. A cold smack late next week gives way to 30s, even a few 40s the first week of December.

Get ready for some BIG ups and downs over the next 3+ months.


Serious Lake Effect. This brief time lapse of the snow squalls rolling across the south side of Buffalo is pretty amazing. I can't recall ever seeing such a sharp cut-off, almost resembling the edge of a line of severe summer T-storms. Details via Facebook: "This may be the coolest thing you see all week. Video from downtown Buffalo looking south toward the monster lake effect snow band over Lake Erie." (Courtesy: Joseph De Benedictis and Jason Holler).


Snowstorm Again Pounds Western New York. Here's an excerpt of an update from The New York Times: "...The snow fell so fast that it quickly packed into a solid mass, making plowing impossible. The only option is to use heavy machinery to pick up snow and haul it away, a slow, grinding effort. But unlike a typical winter storm, the snow caused by the “lake effect” — in which cold, dry winds sweep across bodies of warmer lake water — was not felt equally across the region. The divide was so stark that someone on a tall building in downtown Buffalo had clear skies overheard but could see a menacing gray wall of moisture and snow swept up off the lake and driven south..."


Unraveling The Mysteries of Deadly "Firehose" Lake Effect Snow Events. Every lake effect snow event is different, but what are the ingredients that go into historic snowfalls? Are lake effect snows downwind of Erie and Ontario some of the heaviest on earth? Andrew Freedman has a fascinating story at Mashable; here's an excerpt: "...Jim Steenburgh, a meteorology professor at the University of Utah, said the Buffalo storm's first round confirms some of what he and his colleagues observed in high-resolution last year. These storms can have a “structure that’s really incredible… a structure that you sometimes see with severe thunderstorms,” he told Mashable. From Tuesday through Wednesday, the narrow band of heavy snow that targeted towns such as West Seneca, New York, on Tuesday night, was barely 15 miles wide but more than 100 miles long. In chilling photographs, it resembled a wall of snow more closely akin to a broiling dust storm than a snow squall..."

Image credit above: "Radar imagery from the Doppler on Wheels (DOW) mobile radar, operated by the Center for Severe Weather Research, collected during the NSF-sponsored OWLeS project. Left panel is radar reflectivity (length scale is added); Right panel is Doppler velocity. Arrows show location of small vortices. X marks location of radar." Image: Karen Kosiba/CSWR.



Global Warming Is Probably Boosting Lake Effect Snows. Here's an excerpt of an excellent article from meteorologist Eric Holthaus at Slate, showing how a gradual warming trend (and less ice cover) is creating conditions more favorable for more lake effect snows: "...Another massive early-season lake-effect event occurred in Buffalo back in October 2006, when Lake Erie water temperatures were even warmer than they were this week. Almost a million people lost power. Lake Erie is warming (along with the rest of the planet) by a steady but measurable amount. Since 1960 that trend has been about a half of a degree Fahrenheit per decade. More important than this, though, Lake Erie has been losing its ability to freeze over in the winter, with a decline of about one sub-freezing day per year in recent decades..."

* graphic above from a 2003 paper by Burnett, et all available via PDF here.


Weekend Thaw, Then (Very) Cold Turkey. Although not as cold as January or February, temperatures dip into the teens again late next week with a chance of subzero lows Friday morning. Make the most of 40F warmth Sunday (the best chance of rain stays east of Minnesota, but a little drizzle or very light rain is possible). A coating of snow is possible Monday, maybe an inch or two of powder Wednesday as a reinforcing clipper arrives. Behind that next swirl of low pressure temperatures tumble in time for a brisk shopping experience on Black Friday.


Lake Effect Fire-Hose Shuts Off, For Now. Residents of Buffalo are pleading for mercy, and icy winds begin to ease a bit today and Friday; in fact temperatures rise into the 50s by Monday across western New York, sparking flooding concerns. A Pacific storm spreads heavy snow into the higher terrain of Washington state, Idaho, Montana and Utah's Wasatch Range within 36-48 hours. Source: NOAA and HAMweather.


Southern Surge. Soaking rains push across northern California and much of the Pacific Northwest, another developing storm sending a streak of heavy rain from Texas right up the Mississippi River Valley toward Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan over the weekend. 4 km NAM guidance: NOAA and HAMweather.


Freezing On East Coast? Blame a Super Typhoon and Maybe Global Warming. Ex-Typhoon Nuri helped to energize the jet stream as it curved to the north last week, speeding up and amplifying jet stream steering winds, building a massive, record-setting (5.5 sigma) ridge of warm high pressure over Alaska and the Arctic; this buckling of the jet stream plunging polar air southward into the USA. Here's a clip from a story at NBC News: "...The cold front this month, however, appears to have a different birth. The events "started with exceptionally warm sea temperatures in the Pacific that led to the super Typhoon Nuri," says Kevin Trenberth, an atmospheric scientist at NCAR. On Nov. 8, the typhoon became "incredibly intense … advanced to the north and brought very warm air up into Alaska and into the Arctic." "The cold air had to go somewhere else and it did: down across the U.S.," says Trenberth. "By Nov. 12 the very cold air over North America was matched by very warm air over Alaska and the Arctic..."

Temperature anomalies (departure from average) for November 20 obtained using Climate Reanalyzer (http://cci-reanalyzer.org), Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, USA.


Tropical Pacific Ocean Moves Closer to El Nino. The odds of an El Nino have risen to 70% according to Australia's Bureau of Meteorology; here's an excerpt of a recent release: "The Pacific Ocean has shown some renewed signs of El Niño development in recent weeks. Above-average temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean have warmed further in the past fortnight, while the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) has generally been in excess of El Niño thresholds for the past three months. Climate models suggest current conditions will either persist or strengthen. These factors mean the Bureau's ENSO Tracker Status has been upgraded from WATCH to ALERT level, indicating at least a 70% chance of El Niño occurring..."


2014: On Track For The Warmest Year, Worldwide, On Record? It may be close, but what makes this even more unusual is that 2013 and 2014 weren't El Nino years, no Pacific warmth turbocharging the atmosphere. Here's an excerpt from NOAA NCDC: "The years 2013 and 2014 are the only years on this list not to begin during a mature El Niño event. The years 1998 and 2010, each of which became the warmest year on record at the time, ended the year in a strong La Niña event, as evidenced by the relative fading of global average temperature later in the year. The anomalies themselves represent departures from the 20th century average temperature. The graph zooms into the warmest part of the entire history. For a broader perspective on how these five years relate to the long-term record, click here..."


Winter Outlook from Columbia University. This is from The International Research Institute for Climate and Society, at Columbia Unversity's Earth Institute. Of course all long-range seasonal outlooks should be taken with a big grain of salt, but I couldn't get over how much red (warmer than average) is predicted for the planet from December into February.


Average Winter Temperatures for Minnesota? It's too early to celebrate, but at least one longer-range climate model from Columbia University is forecasting a notable lack of polar air for much of North American from December into February; warmer for much of the western USA (consistent with a developing El Nino), warmer for much of Canada, the Arctic and Greenland, colder than average for the southern USA.


NOAA: Globe Sets 5th Hottest-Month Record of 2014. Some temperature "pause". The eastern USA has had a chilly year, but that's more than compensated for by the rest of the planet, on it's way toward what may be the warmest year on record. The 6 warmest months on record for global ocean water temperatures have been in the last 6 months. Here's an excerpt from the AP and wsbtv.com: "Despite a bitter U.S. cold snap, the globe is rushing hell-bent toward its warmest year on record with last month setting the fifth monthly heat record of year. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday that last month was the hottest October on record worldwide. The 58.43 degrees Fahrenheit (14.74 Celsius) beat out October 2003. "It is becoming pretty clear that 2014 will end up as the warmest year on record," said Deke Arndt, climate monitoring chief for NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina. "The remaining question is: How much?..."


How To Protect Your Phone In Cold Weather. Here's an excerpt of a CNN story that made me do a double-take: "...Some smartphones list the optimum range of temperatures in their technical specs. For example, when it's turned off, the iPhone 5S can withstand temperatures between -4° and 113° Fahrenheit. When it's turned on, the range is much more narrow. Apple suggests 32° Fahrenheit as the lowest operating ambient temperature. Other phones are rated for much lower temperatures, and some can go as low as -4° Fahrenheit while in operation..."


Are Our Buildings Prepared For Natural Disasters Bigger Than Hurricane Sandy? Technically Sandy wasn't even a hurricane when it hit coastal New Jersey on October 29, 2012, rather a massive mash-up of nor'easter and ex-hurricane. Is New York City better prepared? Here's an excerpt of a story at The Guardian: "...What if you have Sandy, but it’s an actual hurricane, with hurricane-level winds? The first generation of skyscrapers was not designed for windloads. So would we see facades being pulled off in Midtown Manhattan? That’s something we don’t understand yet. We recommended the city study this, and legislation passed – the results of their study is due on October 2, 2015. Also, in a modern city, everyone’s reliant on power – and all the more so in a vertical city. We’ve facilitated a change that makes it easier to install backup generators, but what happens if we get two weeks without power next time instead of a week?..." (Image above: NOAA).


America's Toughest Commutes, Charted. I love Quartz's information-dense maps - here's an excerpt of a story focused on commute times across the USA: "...But it turns out that of the 20 counties with the longest commutes, nine are among the 100 wealthiest counties in the US. And where are all the well-off commuters going? Washington, DC. When we only look at the 100 wealthiest US counties, 13 of the 20 longest median commutes are in the Washington area. The remainder of the list is comprised of counties in the New York, Chicago, Denver, and San Francisco areas..."

Map credit above: Quartz. Data: 2013 American Community Survey.


18 F. high in the Twin Cities Thursday.

38 F. average high on November 20.

45 F. high on November 20, 2013.

November 20, 2001: Record highs were set in west and north central Minnesota with highs in the upper fifties to lower sixties. Redwood Falls set their high with 68 degrees Fahrenheit and Little Falls had a high of 65 degrees.

November 20, 1980: On this date, around 28 thousand Canadian geese spent their nights on Silver Lake in Rochester.


TODAY: Clouds increase, not as cold. Winds: S 15. High: near 30

FRIDAY NIGHT: Mostly cloudy, not as chilly as recent nights. Low: 28

SATURDAY: First thaw in 12 days. Gray skies - not as numb. High: 38

SUNDAY: Cloudy, chance of drizzle. Wake-up: 32. High: near 40

MONDAY: Coating of flurries, light snow. Wake-up: 29. High: 33 (falling)

TUESDAY: Clearing skies, chilly again. Wake-up: 16. High: 22

WEDNESDAY: Inch or so of snow showers? Wake-up: 13. High: 26

THANKSGIVING: Feels like January again. Mostly cloudy. Wake-up: 5. High: 18


Climate Stories...

Did Climate Change "Juice" The Buffalo Snow Amounts? Water temperatures in Lake Erie were in the low to mid 50s earlier this week, almost 50F warmer than the air passing overhead. There's considerable evidence that warmer water in the Great Lakes is resulting in more extreme lake effect snow events earlier in the season than 30-50 years ago. What influence did climate volatility play in the (incredible) snowfall amounts and snowfall rates since Tuesday. I had a chance to chat with Ed Schultz at MSNBC Thursday; the clip is here.



There's Growing Evidence That Global Warming Is Driving Crazy Winters. Here's an excerpt of a story from Chris Mooney at The Washington Post: "...According to Francis, the extreme U.S. winter of last year and now, the extremes at the beginning of this season, fit her theory. "This winter looks a whole lot like last winter, it’s a very amplified jet stream pattern," she says. "We know that when we get these patterns, it tends to be very persistent. And it is definitely the type of pattern that we expect to see more often as the Arctic continues to warm so fast." To be sure, Francis acknowledges that our recent bout of extreme cold was kickstarted most directly by Typhoon Nuri, which swerved up into the mid-latitudes and exploded into an atmospheric bomb over the Bering Sea..."


Significant Global Climate Anomalies and Events in October. NOAA NCDC has the high-resolution graphic with more details here.


Climate Change To Increase Flood, Crop Insurance Losses. USA TODAY has the story - here's an excerpt: "...For agriculture, the report cites research that predicts changes in temperature and precipitation can be offset over the next 25 years by technological advancements, expansion of irrigation and shifts in crop production. But by mid-century, weather and precipitation extremes could intensify and cause yields and farm profits to decline, despite these adjustments..."


States Can Bring Clean Energy to 21st Century. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Hill that resonated. Many of the new, disruptive energy alternatives are also zero-carbon, and they're scaling up faster than predicted: "...The U.S. electric power system is facing serious challenges today, with innovations disrupting old ways of doing business, infrastructure showing its age and customers looking for new forms of service. Fortunately, we have the tools to address these challenges: demand response to maintain reliability at times of peak load; combined cycle natural gas to provide flexible electricity generation; solar power and wind power for zero emission generation with no fuel cost; more efficient lighting, appliances and industrial motors that use less energy and reduce demand; and smart meters to provide better data and more control for consumers. In short, we have more ways to make, manage and use electricity than ever before — and many of these technologies also reduce carbon emissions..."


"Merchants of Doubt" Film Exposes Slick U.S. Industry Behind Climate Denial. The Guardian has details; here's an excerpt: "...With the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center occupying attention, Americans For Prosperity, a powerful, fossil-fuel lobby group founded by the billionaire Koch Brothers, launched a decade-long, multi-pronged campaign to sow doubt about the reality of climate change. By equating the findings of climate scientists as an attack on personal freedoms, they cleverly shifted the focus away from science to political opinion. “Creating a focus point away from what is actually going on is how magicians pull off their tricks,” said Kenner who directed the Oscar-nominated documentary Food Inc. The deception has worked well. Few Americans know 97% of scientists agree climate change is caused by human activity and is happening now..."

Photo credit above: "Robert Kenner’s documentary Merchants of Doubt looks at professionals working for the fossil fuel industry to sow doubt in the US climate change debate." Photograph: Sony Pictures Classics.


A GOP Generation Gap on Climate Change, Similar to Gay Marriage? Chris Mooney takes a look at a growing gap between younger and older Republicans and their expectations about curtailing greenhouse gases at The Washington Post; here's the intro: "Congressional Republicans want to make fighting the Environmental Protection Agency's climate regulations and President Obama's greenhouse gas reduction targets a centerpiece of their agenda over next two years -- now that they have wrested control of the Senate as well as House. But how will the politics of that look 10 years from now? Several commentators have suggested that climate change could become the gay marriage issue of the future for the GOP..."

Graphic credit above: Washington Post-ABC News poll - Click for details


Dear Snow Trolls: Winter Weather Does Not Refute Global Warming. The Washington Post hosts an obligatory story about the difference between weather and climate; here's an excerpt: "...Indeed, much evidence suggests that we may be experiencing this stark cold while en route to the warmest year in recorded history. Just recently we learned that at least according to data from the Japan Meteorological Agency (which may soon be confirmed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), October 2014 on a global level was the hottest October on record. And even before we knew what October's temperatures looked like, NOAA had shown that there was a very good chance of 2014 setting an overall temperature record...."


More Frequent Wave Resonance in the Atmosphere. The number of planetary wave resonance events (which lead to exceptional weather extremes) is shown as grey bars for each 4-year intervals. For comparison the red curve shows the change in Arctic temperature relative to that in the remainder of the Northern Hemisphere. Rapid Arctic warming since 2000 could explain the increasing number of weather extremes. Source: Coumou et all, PNAS 2014.


The Moral Issue of Climate Change. Climate change is a moral and even a spiritual issue, as much as a scientific and economic issue. Here's an excerpt of a David Ignatius Op-Ed at The Washington Post that caught my eye: "...They reject or minimize the arguments of leading scientists that such emissions are directly linked to global warming and climate change and could have catastrophic long-term consequences. The doubters question the data, to be sure. But their basic argument is political: Action to protect the environment will hurt “my state.” But what if the climate change problem were instead treated as a moral issue — a matter like civil rights where the usual horse-trading logic of politics has been replaced by a debate about what’s right and wrong?..."

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