The Next Best Thing to a Yukon Fling

Note to self: the glass is ALWAYS half-full. For example, take today's weather. You can torture yourself into believing this cold is a long, slow near-death experience. Or you can realize the truth: Minnesotans are well-preserved. The bug count is low. No humidity to complain about. Earthquake-free. And there's always that one guy who is part of the Weather Resistance; who wears shorts when the mercury dips below zero.

A silent protest.

He's right, of course. Daylight is already increasing; within 3 weeks average temperatures trend upward again.

Every winter I'm amazed how good 30s feel, after a run of negative numbers. Winds ease up today as the mercury stays below 0F across much of the state. An inch or two of snow is possible Thursday into Friday - before the next jolt of fresh, Canadian air. Next Saturday may bring another subzero daytime "high" - a coating of flurries possible New Year's Eve.

Weather models show a Pacific flow by the second week of January. I'd bet a bag of deicer we'll see 20s and even a few 30s in about 2 weeks. Neighbors may sigh in relief. This too shall pass.


Minimum Wind Chill. Lowest wind chill values come around the breakfast hour this morning - frost bite possible within 10-15 minutes on unprotected skin. Source: Twin Cities National Weather Service.


Snowfall Potential Wednesday Night Into Thursday. A couple of inches of snow could make Thursday's commute extra-special. Stay tuned as we refine that forecast over time. 12km NAM guidance: NOAA and Tropicaltidbits.com.


Model Spread. There's still a fair amount of uncertainty about snowfall accumulation Wednesday night; solutions vary from .5" to 2.5".


Slow Moderation In January. You'll be amazed and impressed (or depressed) how good 20s feel by the first weekend of 2018. Twin Cities ECMWF guidance: WeatherBell.


January Thaw? If the 2-week GFS 500mb forecast verifies (a big if) temperatures should reach the 20s, possibly the 30s as winds aloft blow from Portland, instead of the Yukon.


Milder Than Average January. NOAA's Climate Forecast System (CFSv2) model suggests a slight mild bias for much of the USA next month. I'm skeptical with a La Nina cool phase in the Pacific, but at this point nothing would surprise me. Map: WeatherBell.


Steam Devils. A friend who lives in Atlanta, Dan Lilledahl, noticed unusual formations on the Two Harbors webcam on Christmas Day. These are "steam devils" on Lake Superior, triggered by subzero air passing over relatively warm lake water, creating extreme instability and vortices of rapidly rising air.



Natural Disasters Set Records Around the World in 2017 - These Were the Worst. Business Insider has a good recap; here's a clip: "...At least 82 people died when Harvey hit land. Most of them perished while trying to escape the floodwaters.  The watery problem was only made worse when a chemical plant lost power, and the warming combustibles went up in flames in multiple explosions. Thick black smoke wafted up from the chemical fires that broke out at the Arkema SA plant in Crosby, Texas. Police officers, fire fighters, and emergency workers maintained a 1.5-mile evacuation perimeter around the plant, and are now suing the French chemical giant for $1 million. Several had to be taken to the hospital and treated for smoke inhalation..."

Photo credit: Adrees Latif/Reuters.


2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Check out an excerpt of Wikipedia's entry: "The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was a hyperactive, deadly, and extremely destructive season, featuring 17 named storms, ranking alongside 1936 as the fifth-most active season since records began in 1851. The season also featured both the highest total accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) and the highest number of major hurricanes since 2005. All ten of the season's hurricanes occurred in a row, the greatest number of consecutive hurricanes in the satellite era. In addition, it was by far the costliest season on record, with a preliminary total of over $369.86 billion (USD) in damages, which is nearly three times the cost of 2005’s total, and essentially all of which was due to three of the season's major hurricanes — Harvey, Irma, and Maria. This season is also one of only six years on record to feature multiple Category 5 hurricanes, and only the second after 2007 to feature two hurricanes making landfall at that intensity. This season is the only season on record in which three hurricanes each had an ACE of over 40: Irma, Jose, and Maria..."


Thirty Years of Atlantic Hurricanes. Here's an excerpt from Axios: "...Each line represents the life of a storm as recorded by NOAA. The higher the line within each year, the higher the recorded wind speed. Storms that reached Category 5, the strongest of the strong, are highlighted in red. Mouse over each storm to see the name, dates, and highest recorded windspeed of each storm."


U.S. Nuclear Tests Killed Far More Civilians Than We Knew. Quartz has the story: "When the US entered the nuclear age, it did so recklessly. New research suggests that the hidden cost of developing nuclear weapons were far larger than previous estimates, with radioactive fallout responsible for 340,000 to 690,000 American deaths from 1951 to 1973. The study, performed by University of Arizona economist Keith Meyers, uses a novel method (pdf) to trace the deadly effects of this radiation, which was often consumed by Americans drinking milk far from the site of atomic tests. From 1951 to 1963, the US tested nuclear weapons above ground in Nevada. Weapons researchers, not understanding the risks—or simply ignoring them—exposed thousands of workers to radioactive fallout..."

Photo credit: "The first and only test of an atomic cannon at the Nevada Test Site. What could go wrong?"(Reuters).


What Makes Some Men Sexual Harassers? Science Tries To Explain the Creeps of the World. Here's a blurb from an interesting story at The Washington Post: "...In study after study, we’re seeing that power makes you more impulsive. It makes you less worried about social conventions and less concerned about the effect of your actions on others,” said Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor at the University of California at Berkley. One of Keltner’s experiments, for example, found that people who see themselves as wealthier were more likely to cut pedestrians off on a crosswalk. Another found that those who felt powerful were even more likely to take candy from childrenOther experiments have shown that powerful people become more focused on themselves, more likely to objectify others and more likely to overestimate how much others like them..."

Photo credit: "Time magazine has named the “Silence Breakers” of the #MeToo movement as its Person of the Year." (AFP photo/Time Inc./Billy & Hells).


Has Apple Lost Its Design Mojo? A story at Fortune weighs in: "...Highly respected developers and designers have weighed in with damning criticism. Tumblr cofounder Marco Arment admires most Apple design, but says, “Apple designs in the post-Steve era have been a little off-balance. The balance seems too much on the aesthetic, and too little on the functional.” Don Norman, a former member of the Apple design team (1993–1996) who now heads the Design Lab at the University of California, San Diego, beats the drum that Apple has abandoned user-centered design principles. “They have sacrificed understandability for aesthetic beauty,” he says. Not everyone agrees, of course. Says Steve Troughton-Smith, an Irish developer of sleek iOS apps, “I have enough historical context to understand that these things have no relation to [Steve Jobs’ departure], and are not a new aspect of being an Apple user. Things like USB cables and iTunes were bad for many years under Jobs too, and I have a collection of frayed Firewire-to-30-pin cables to remind me of that...”

Photo credit: "The new iMac Pro, which retails for $4,999." Courtesy of Apple.


The Ideal Workweek, According to Science. A story at How We Get To Next had me nodding my head in agreement. Being on call 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, takes a toll on creativity. Disconnecting from work and Internet is harder than ever: "...While researching his recent book, Peak: How All of Us Can Achieve Extraordinary, Ericsson studied how Nobel Prize-winning authors organize their schedules. “We found that they spend roughly around four hours a day writing, and the rest of the day recuperating and preparing for their next writing session the following day,” he tells me. This pattern, Ericsson says, is also reflected in the schedules of successful musicians and athletes. “These individuals are highly motivated to reach their highest level of performance and realize that they can only concentrate maximally for around four hours a day, often broken down to hour-long sessions with 15- to 20-minute breaks.” A huge collection of research by other scholars backs Ericsson’s conclusions. A five-day workweek packed with extended working hours is, few experts dispute, suboptimal...."


Christmas Turned the World Upside Down. An Op-Ed at The Washington Post resonated; here's the introduction: "When you ponder what Christmas celebrates, the holiday’s claim is staggering. N.T. Wright, the widely read biblical scholar and retired Anglican bishop, captures its import by noting that the Gospels do not cast Jesus as “parachuting down from a great height to dispense solutions to all problems nor zapping everything into shape like some kind of Superman.” Rather, Wright observes in his book “Simply Good News,” Christ is shown as “living in the mess and muddle of a very difficult part of the world at an especially difficult moment in its history and absorbing the pain and the shame of it all within his own life, within his own body...”


1" snow on the ground Christmas morning (it qualified as a "white Christmas).

4 F. maximum temperature yesterday in the Twin Cities.

25 F. average high on December 25.

37 F. high on December 25, 2016.

December 26, 1990: Much of central Minnesota sets record low temperatures near 30 degrees below zero, while others had lows in the teens below zero. Cambridge had the coldest temperature with 31 below. Mora was close behind, with a low of 30 below. Other notably cold lows were at St. Cloud, with 29 below, and Melrose and Menomonie, WI with 27 below.


TODAY: Sunny, feels like -20F Winds: NW 7-12. High: near 0

MONDAY NIGHT: Clear and extra-chilly.  Low: -12

WEDNESDAY: Can't feel my extremities. Fading sun. Winds: SE 3-8. High: 6

THURSDAY: Inch or two of snow possible. Slick? Winds: SE 5-10. High: 11

FRIDAY: Flurries linger, roads still icy. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 2. High: 10

SATURDAY: Touch of the Yukon. Feels like -25F. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: -13. High: -2

NEW YEAR'S EVE: Coating of flurries possible. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: -8. High: 4

NEW YEAR'S DAY: Sunny, still can't feel my toes. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: -10. High: 2


Climate Stories....

Meet the Lawyer Trying to Make Big Oil to Pay for Climate Change. VICE has the story; here's an excerpt: "...The reason not to dismiss Berman is that he has a history of proving doubters wrong. When he entered the legal fight against tobacco companies in the 1990s, mainstream opinion was that he would be unsuccessful. The owners of brands like Marlboro and Camel had crushed hundreds of lawsuits attempting to link cigarettes to cancer and emphysema. “No one had ever won a tobacco case,” Berman said. His own law partner was wary of getting involved. But in late 1998, the industry surrendered and agreed to pay out hundreds of billions of dollars. The People Vs. Big Tobacco, a book about the case, described Berman as one of the “crucial players.” The stakes are even higher in his big oil lawsuit. Berman is not just trying to get oil companies to pay for seawalls in the Bay Area. In a broader sense he’s attempting to hold them responsible for endangering all human life on earth..."


Trump Resort in Ireland Will Build Seawalls to Protect Against Climate Change. Here's a clip from US News: "...The 38,000-thousand ton barrier would protect holes one, nine and 18, the Independent reported. Joe Russell, the general manager of Trump Doonbeg, is happy with the decision and said the resort is excited to expand. In the first application, Trump cited "global warming and its effects," including rising sea levels and water erosion, as reasons for the wall, Politico reported, despite his statements calling global warming and climate change "a total hoax." Global warming was not listed as a reason in this application..."


Going Full Doomsday: Reporters Must Convey the Perils of Climate Change Without Paralyzing Their Audience. Here's an excerpt of an article at Columbia Journalism Review: "...Generating worry can lead to behavioral change, according to the research on risk communication. “However, if you generate absolute terror, you can have the opposite effect,” says Sharon Dunwoody, a journalism professor emerita at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who studies public understanding of science and the environment. The scarier the threat, says Dunwoody, the more likely people are to tune out. In “The Uninhabitable Earth,” Wallace-Wells is making a concerted effort to scare the bejesus out of us.” Journalists can play a crucial role in helping the public understand how to think about climate change and what can be done to reduce the impacts. But the strategies required to reach six (or seven) different climate-change audiences are far from obvious. Doomsday scenarios might work for some people, but not for others..."

File image of 2013 Calgary flooding: Andy Clark, Reuters.


Climate Refugees Set to Increase: From Climate Nexus Hot News: "Climate change may vastly increase the number of refugees pouring into Europe, new research has found. A study published Thursday in the journal Science examines asylum applications in the EU between 2000 and 2014 in relation to extreme weather events in origin countries, finding that applications tended to increase when temperatures deviated from ideal crop-growing conditions of around 20 degrees C. The authors conclude that applications could grow by a quarter by the end of the century if emissions are curbed--and could increase by 188 percent if emissions are left unchecked." (Washington Post $, New York Times $, AP, The Guardian, Time, Reuters, Grist, Newsweek, The Atlantic, Earther)

File photo: U.S. Army.

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Enough snow to plow and shovel on Thursday?