Looks Like November: Slushy Coating Today
"No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease, no comfortable feel in any member. No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees, no fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds - November!" wrote Thomas Hood in the most depressingly uplifting poem I've ever read.
Another cosmetic snowfall is brewing for the metro area today; a quick inch or two of slush possible on lawns and procrastinating robins, but most freeways should be wet after 10 AM or so. That said, watch the bridges for ice, and know that travel will get progressively worse the farther north/east you drive away from Minneapolis - St. Paul today.
A Winter Storm Watch is posted for the Minnesota Arrowhead. The farther north you drive on I-35 or 371 the heavier the amounts - maybe some 4-6" snowfall tallies from Duluth and Hibbing to Grand Marais.
A light mix changing to rain is possible again Friday, but we salvage a dry Saturday before the next cold front shoves rain showers back into town on Sunday.
NOAA predicts a 55 to 65 percent chance of a La Nina cooling phase for the Pacific Ocean. There's a correlation between cooler water and cooler winters here in the Upper Midwest. A chilly bias is possible into the winter months, but models hint at a few more 50s by mid-November. Woo hoo!
Advisories Northern and Western Suburbs of MSP - Warnings North Shore. NOAA has issued an advisory for much of eastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin for a potentially plowable slush event. The farther north/east you travel away from the immediate metro area the greater the snowfall potential. Map: AerisWeather.
Wednesday Slush. Models suggest about 1" of snow on lawns and fields around the metro area tomorrow before snow changes over to rain or a mix during the afternoon. Amounts increase north of the Twin Cities with a better chance of 2" toward St. Cloud and the far north metro. Roads (and bridges) may be slushy/icy in the morning, then mostly wet after about 9 or 10 am.
Records Tied or Broken During 1991 Halloween Blizzard. Ah, the memories:
Halloween 1991 Snowfall Totals. The map above shows 4-day snowfall totals, from October 31 to November 3, 1991; as much as 32"+ for Duluth and the North Shore. Map: Minnesota DNR.
1. The total population within the FEMA 100-year floodplain
2. The total population within the FEMA 100-year floodplain as augmented by sea level rise projections for the year 2050
3. The total high social vulnerability population within the same areas as group #2
Each analysis examined coastal cities with overall populations greater than 20,000. For the first one, we tabulated “at risk” population by overlaying 2010 Census block population counts against FEMA’s 100-year coastal floodplains (Crowell et al 2013) using methods adapted from Strauss et al (2012). FEMA 100-year coastal floodplains factor in storm surge, tides, and waves, and include all areas determined to have an at least one percent annual chance of flooding. Based on locations meeting these criteria and population density, New York City ranked first, with over 245,000 people at risk, followed by Miami and then Pembroke Pines, also in South Florida..."
Analysis Finds Severe Weather Cost U.S. $675 Billion Since 2011; Greatest Impact on Those With Lowest Incomes. eNews Park Forest has details: "As the five-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy approaches, a new analysis from the Center for American Progress (CAP) finds that the most destructive hurricanes, storms, and other severe weather in the United States have caused about $675 billion in total damages since 2011. That massive figure works out to about $2,000 for every American. Overall, there have been 84 extreme weather events during the last seven years that have caused a minimum of $1 billion in damage each and killed nearly 2,000 Americans in total. U.S. counties have issued more than 13,000 major disaster declarations in response to these events. These numbers are another sign of the impact of climate change, which causes these extreme weather events to be more severe and occur more frequently, the report says. The report also notes that extreme storm events—including hurricanes, winter storms, and floods that have led to disaster declarations—on average tend to affect counties where the median income is below the national median..."
Image credit: Climate Nexus.
Implications of Brewing La Nina for 2018 Hurricane Season? Pure speculation at this point, but if (a big if) a cooling phase lingers in the Pacific into next summer and fall, 2018 could - in theory - be another busy year for Atlantic/Caribbean hurricanes. Details from New Scientist: "...La Niña conditions typically last about 9 to 12 months, and some cycles can persist for up to two years. That means Florida, Texas and the Caribbean may be staring down the barrel of another severe hurricane season. However, this is not a certainty. “Two La Niñas are never alike, and they don’t happen in a vacuum,” says Tom Di Liberto at the NOAA Climate Prediction Center in Washington DC. He says other factors such as the Arctic Oscillation, a southward shift in arctic air masses, could also impact on Atlantic hurricanes. The Climate Prediction Center does consider ENSO forecasts when it issues its outlooks, says Di Liberto. But when it comes to hurricanes, he says it’s better to wait and look at what the ocean conditions will be during the summer than in winter..."
The Unexpected Ways Extreme Weather Can Harm Your Health. Here are a couple of excerpts from an interesting post at cheatsheet.com: "...Disasters like hurricanes can leave entire communities and their environments in despair — and not just physically. According to Mental Health America, it’s completely normal to have difficulty managing your emotions following a life-altering tragedy. However, if you feel your emotions are too intense, or your inability to control them doesn’t go away with time, it’s important to seek out professional help...If you have a history of heart trouble, beware. The American Heart Association says the air pollution that results from wildfires has been linked to heart problems. Don’t let your guard down just because the fire’s out, though. TIME Health also warns that exposure to smoke from nearby wildfires is just as dangerous after a wildfire has died down as it is while it’s still actively burning..."
Sacramento Vulnerable to Severe Flooding. A story at The Washington Post underscores the risk: "...Models show a levee failure could submerge parts of this inland metropolis under as much as 20 feet of water. As Northern Californians are recovering from wildfires and sifting through homes reduced to ash, officials in the state’s capital are struggling to prevent another type of natural disaster. Sacramento is more vulnerable to catastrophic flooding than any other major city in the United States except New Orleans, according to federal officials, a threat created by the city’s sunken geography. Levees and other flood defenses here and in the surrounding Central Valley have amassed up to $21 billion in needed repairs and upgrades, while Sacramento’s population has continued to grow. Just days before Hurricane Harvey slammed into Texas and flooded Houston, a report from the California Department of Water Resources warned that “many flood facilities” in the Central Valley “face an unacceptably high chance of failure...”
Photo credit: "
Superstorm Sandy and a series of lesser coastal storms since that 2012 disaster compelled some coastal communities to defend themselves by elevating homes and critical infrastructure, building sand dunes, widening beaches and erecting or raising sea walls. But as sea levels continue to rise around the world, that’s not an option in large cities, where skyscrapers can’t be elevated and subway and train tunnels act as turbocharged flumes when millions of gallons of stormwater rush through them. The answer, some cities have decided, is a mixture of hard and soft barriers; green infrastructure to capture rain and absorb storm water; temporary storage space for runoff; and drastically increased pumping measures. Here’s a look at some steps being taken by cities around the world to address the issue..."
File photo credit: "
By any measure, the fires that tore through Northern California were a major disaster. Forty-two people are dead, and 100,000 are displaced. More than 8,400 homes and other buildings were destroyed, more than 160,000 acres burned—and the fires aren’t all out yet. That devastation leaves behind another potential disaster: ash. No one knows how much. It’ll be full of heavy metals and toxins—no one knows exactly how much, and it depends on what burned and at what temperature. The ash will infiltrate soils, but no one’s really sure how or whether that’ll be a problem. And eventually some of it—maybe a lot—will flow into the regional aquatic ecosystem and ultimately the San Francisco Bay..."
Best Buy's New Goal: Reduce Its Carbon Footprint 60% by 2020. Details via GoMN: "Best Buy isn't shy when it comes to talking about climate change. In 2015, the retailer was one of four major Minnesota companies to join a White House initiative to combat climate change, and pledged to reduce its carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2020. Last year, Best Buy exceeded that goal – four years ahead of schedule. So now the company announced a new goal: to reduce its carbon emissions by 60 percent by 2020. That's the equivalent of removing 32,000 cars from the road for an entire year. “After hearing from employees and customers impacted by the recent devastating weather events, we are more motivated than ever to move the needle on climate change,” Best Buy’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Laura Bishop in a news release..."
Image credit: Nicholas Eckhart, Flickr
St. Louis Commits to 100% Renewable Energy by 2035. HuffPost has the story: "Lawmakers in St. Louis have approved a measure aimed at powering the city entirely on renewable energy sources, including wind and solar, by 2035. The resolution, introduced last month by St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed and unanimously approved by the legislative body on Friday, tasks the city with developing a plan by December 2018 to wean itself off fossil fuels. “Congratulations, everybody!” Reed said following the motion, drawing a round of applause from his colleagues. “I’m excited for us as a city...”
File photo: Shutterstock.
Why We Need a 21st Century Martin Luther to Challenge the Church of Tech. Really? Food for thought from The Guardian: "A new power is loose in the world. It is nowhere and yet it’s everywhere. It knows everything about us – our movements, our thoughts, our desires, our fears, our secrets, who our friends are, our financial status, even how well we sleep at night. We tell it things that we would not whisper to another human being. It shapes our politics, stokes our appetites, loosens our tongues, heightens our moral panics, keeps us entertained (and therefore passive). We engage with it 150 times or more every day, and with every moment of contact we add to the unfathomable wealth of its priesthood. And we worship it because we are, somehow, mesmerised by it. In other words, we are all members of the Church of Technopoly, and what we worship is digital technology. Most of us are so happy in our obeisance to this new power that we spend an average of 50 minutes on our daily devotion to Facebook alone without a flicker of concern. It makes us feel modern, connected, empowered, sophisticated and informed..."
Image credit: "Left to right: Sergey Brin of Google, Sheryl Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Steve Jobs of Apple and Jeff Bezos of Amazon." Composite: Joe Wilkes
The Cure for Deadly Peanut Allergy is....Peanuts? The Daily Beast reports: "It now appears that the solution to avoiding peanut allergies, ironically, is eating peanuts. Every year, about 15 million Americans suffer from food allergies. For those with severe allergies, symptoms include generalized hives, itching, flushing, swollen lips and tongue, difficulty breathing, wheezing, fainting, vomiting, abdominal pain, low blood pressure, and a critical decrease in the flow of oxygen to the brain and other vital organs. The foods that are most likely to cause these severe allergic symptoms are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish. One of these eight foods, however, stands above the rest, affecting about 3 million Americans, and occasionally causing fatal or near-fatal allergic reactions. Peanuts. Every year between 75 and 100 people die from peanut allergies. Although children often outgrow allergies to milk or eggs by the time they go to school, peanut allergies are usually life-long..."
Photo Illustration: The Daily Beast.
Marketers Need to Stop Looking at Mobile as a Channel. It's a Lifestyle. A story at Adweek caught my eye; here's a clip: "Mobile is how we communicate, how we spend time and, more and more, how we transact. Some see it as a medium, just another advertising and distribution channel, no different strategically than TV, print, outdoor or desktop—like a portable version of the web. Others view it as a technology, or as a self-contained experiential platform. Some brands create a mobile-first element, but then push customers to outdated or mismatched experiences, or force them to go cross-channel or multi-screen. None of these are right. Mobile is not a channel. It is a fundamental part of our lifestyle. It’s how we communicate, how we spend time and, more and more, how we transact..." (Image: LinkedIn).
Outraged All the Time; How Social Media Addicts Us to Anger. Welcome to the attention economy, where multiple "platforms" are competing for our time (to serve up personalized ads). One way of hijacking our time: making us angry. Perpetually angry. Here's a link to a video at Big Think: "Social media has been, without a doubt, one of the biggest explosions in connectivity in human history. That's the good part. The bad part is that the minds of the people within these companies have manipulated users into an addictive cycle. You're already familiar with it: post content, receive rewards (likes, comments, etc). But the staggering of the rewards is the habit-forming part, and the reason most moderately heavy social media users check their apps or newsfeeds some 10-to-50 times a day. And to add to the problem — these algorithms have been strengthend to show you more and more outrageous content. It genuinely depletes your ability to be outraged by things in real life (for instance, a sexual predator for a President). Molly Crockett posits that we should all be aware of the dangers of these algorithms... and that we might have to start using them a lot less if we want to have a normal society back."
There's Precedent for Amazon Competing With So Many Companies. It Doesn't End Well. A story at Quartz caught my eye; here's an excerpt: "...The company so far has escaped serious antitrust scrutiny by US regulators in part because it can point to so many commercial adversaries with a piece of the market. Even in its primary business—e-commerce—Amazon only took in 23% of the $395 billion Americans spent online last year, and far less when that spending is broken down into individual markets. The one exception is books, where it controls about 65% of the e-book market. But Amazon’s unprecedented logistics and delivery infrastructure, paired with access to personal data about Americans’ purchasing habits, means it is unique in the history of global commerce. No company has ever wielded this combination of consumer insight and infrastructure, say historians and legal analysts, which means the company grows stronger and less assailable with every purchase..."
First Impression of the iPhone X? WIRED.com takes a look: "...There's plenty to admire in the iPhone X straight from the unboxing. The biggest change stares you in the face: that screen, that screen. I love the larger displays of the iPhone Plus line and Android units like Google’s Pixel 2 XL, but the phones are too frickin’ big. They are bulky in my pocket, and making calls is like holding a frying pan to your cheek. The iPhone X is a big screen in a compact form factor—Cinerama in a phone booth. Though the device itself is only slightly bigger than the standard iPhone 8, its screen is roughly the same size as that of the iPhone 8 Plus. When you take into account its “Super Retina” capabilities (another Barnum-esque name concocted by Apple’s marketers), that screen will persistently reassure buyers that emptying their wallets for an iPhone X wasn’t folly. I found the display a noticeable, and greatly pleasurable, advance over my “old” iPhone 7, whether watching The Big Sick, streaming a live football game, or simply swiping through Instagram..."
The New York Times has more perspective on the "X" here.
What Makes Screams So Bone-Chilling? Another story at WIRED.com is worth a quick read: "...At first, Poeppel, too, suspected that volume and pitch were what made a scream a scream. But when he and his researchers analyzed the auditory properties of the sounds in their database, they found what they actually shared was an acoustic quality called roughness, a measure of the rate at which a sound fluctuates in volume. Normal human speech, for instance (which the researchers also analyzed), varies in loudness four to five times per second; screams, however, waver between 30 and 150 times per second. That means they occupy a unique place in the soundscape of human vocalizations, which may be why they're so attention-grabbing..."
While You're Hiding From the Cold, Duluthians Are Out Surfing. Talk about hard core, GoMN has the chilling details: "With the record-breaking amount of snow they got over the weekend, you'd think the people of Duluth would be staying warm on the couch with Netflix and hot cocoa. Instead, a bunch of brave souls were out enjoying the water. One of the founders of Bent Paddle Brewing Co. caught some Duluthians surfing the icy-cold waves of Lake Superior on Saturday and posted the video to Facebook. Watch it here. Apparently this is the norm for North Shore surfers, who often gather at Stoney Point for the swells. Surfers told the Duluth News Tribune that's where you find the biggest waves..."
Photo credit: "No big deal, just a guy surfing on Lake Superior in February." Stoney Point Surf Spot, Facebook
TODAY: Period of wet snow mixing with rain PM hours. 1-2" slush on lawns? Winds: S 10-15. High: 36
WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Soggy, but precipitation tapers. Low: 33
THURSDAY: Mostly cloudy, a drier day. Winds: NW 8-13 High: 42
FRIDAY: Light rain or mix arrives PM hours. Winds: E 8-13. Wake-up: 31. High: 41
SATURDAY: Cloudy, drier day of the weekend. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 34. High: 44
SUNDAY: Damp, periods of light rain. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 39. High: near 50
MONDAY: Partial clearing, cooler breeze. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 33. High: 43
TUESDAY: Rare and wondrous dose of sunshine. Winds: W 7-12. Wake-up: 29. High: 39
Photo credit: NOAA.
Climate Change Fueling Disasters, Disease in "Potentially Irreversible" Ways, Report Warns. Here's a clip from a Washington Post article: "Climate change significantly imperils public health globally, according to a new report that chronicles the many hazards and symptoms already being seen. The authors describe its manifestations as “unequivocal and potentially irreversible.” Heat waves are striking more people, disease-carrying mosquitoes are spreading and weather disasters are becoming more common, the authors note in the report published Monday by the British medical journal the Lancet. Climate change is a “threat multiplier,” they write, and its blows hit hardest in the most vulnerable communities, where people are suffering from poverty, water scarcity, inadequate housing or other crises. “We’ve been quite shocked and surprised by some of the results,” said Nick Watts, a fellow at University College London’s Institute for Global Health and executive director of the Lancet Countdown, a project aimed at examining the links between climate change and public health..."
Air pollution is one of the leading causes of premature mortality globally," said Paul Wilkinson, professor of environmental epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who co-authored the report. More than 803,000 deaths across 21 Asian countries in 2015 were attributable to pollution from coal power, transport and the use of fossil fuels at home, the report states. But there are "some glimmers of hope," he said, such as the fact that coal power peaked in 2013 and is now showing evidence of a decline. Investment in coal also declined from 2013, Wilkinson said, but this "will take a couple of generations to realize." Wilkinson urges governments to prioritize moving away from fossil fuels, as their harms to the environment and human health have long been known. But 71% of 2,971 cities in the WHO's air pollution database exceed the organization's annual exposure guideline for particulate matter..."
Climate Change Already Damaging Health of Millions Globally, Report Finds. The Guardian explains: "...Most of the increase in exposed people resulted from rising temperatures, but the number of older people is also rising, creating a “perfect storm”, Cox said. The report also found that hotter and more humid weather was increasingly creating conditions in which it is impossible to work outside. In 2016, this caused work equivalent to almost a million people to be lost, half in India alone. The report also found that climate change has increased the ability of dengue fever to spread, because the mosquitoes and the virus they carry breed more quickly. Dengue is also known as “breakbone fever” due to the pain it causes and infections have doubled in each decade since 1990, now reaching up to 100m infections a year now. Dengue was used as an example in the report and the researchers suggest global warming will also increase the spread of other diseases such as schistosomiasis..."
Photo credit: "Nearly 700,000 persons have been internally displaced in Somalia as a result of the drought and food crisis, reports say." Photograph: Peter Caton/Mercy Corps.
Floods Are Bad, But Droughts May Be Even Worse. Here's a clip from a CBS News story: "It is by now a familiar story: The storm hits, the , dramatic rescues ensue to save people from the rising waters, followed by the arduous and expensive cleanup. But chances are you've thought less about the deadly and economically destructive consequences of a slower-moving culprit: drought. Repeated droughts around the world are destroying enough farm produce to feed 81 million people for a year and are four times more costly for economies than , the World Bank found in a new study. Beyond hindering food production, erratic rainfall patterns and as the climate changes are causing a host of problems for cities, including businesses..."
File photo: Star Tribune.
CO2 Levels Skyrocket to Historic Levels: From Climate Nexus Hot News: "Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere grew at a record pace last year, hitting levels not seen in millions of years, according to a new report from the UN's World Meteorological Organization. CO2 levels hit 403.3 parts per million (ppm) in 2016, increasing from 2015's 400 ppm despite a global slowdown in emissions in part due to a strong El Niño, which may become more intense with increased climate change. 2016's growth was 50 percent larger than average CO2 growth rates over the past decade, and the report states that "such abrupt changes in the atmospheric levels of CO2 have never before been seen." According to the report, the last time CO2 levels were this high "the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets melted and even some of the East Antarctic ice was lost, leading to sea levels that were [33 to 66 feet] higher than those today." (The Guardian, Reuters, Mashable, Axios, CNBC, BBC, Washington Post $, ThinkProgress, The Hill)
File photo: Reuters.
Global Atmospheric CO2 Levels Hit Record High. The Guardian explains: "The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increased at record speed last year to hit a level not seen for more than three million years, the UN has warned. The new report has raised alarm among scientists and prompted calls for nations to consider more drastic emissions reductions at the upcoming climate negotiations in Bonn. “Globally averaged concentrations of CO2 reached 403.3 parts per million (ppm) in 2016, up from 400.00 ppm in 2015 because of a combination of human activities and a strong El Niño event,” according to The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, the UN weather agency’s annual flagship report. This acceleration occurred despite a slowdown – and perhaps even a plateauing – of emissions because El Niño intensified droughts and weakened the ability of vegetation to absorb carbon dioxide. As the planet warms, El Niños are expected to become more frequent..." (Image: Reuters).
Risky Business Project Fears U.S. Can't Weather the Storm of Climate Change. Here's an excerpt of a story at Star Tribune written by Neal St. Anthony: "...Q: The farm and food industry, however, are not entirely on board, right? A: In agricultural circles, there’s an aversion to [accepting] man-caused climate change. My experience is they fear overreach by the government. For us in the food system to be deniers is as arrogant as it is for the true believers who say they know exactly what will happen … that the sea will rise by this much by 2080. I get criticized for talking too much about adaptation. But we can’t presume mitigation will be enough to save the food system. We don’t know for sure that enough carbon-free electricity can be produced [to achieve an 80 percent reduction in the U.S. carbon footprint by 2050]. It’s engineering and technically feasible by electrifying our economy. It’s very rational. Cost-benefit analysis. Risk-reward. I’m just trying to get people to think about it..."
Technology that Sucks CO2 From the Air is Already Used Commercially in Switzerland and Iceland. Big Think has details: "As you’re reading this, a power plant in Iceland and a waste recovery facility in Switzerland are sucking CO2 from ambient air and selling it to other businesses. The plant in Iceland even claims to be the first in the world with negative emissions. Behind both projects is a technology developed by the Swiss company Climeworks. Climeworks, founded in 2010 by two mechanical engineers, has developed a CO2 collector with a novel CO2 filter, that has already been deployed commercially in several world firsts. Able to manufacture plants that are modular, scalable, and can be located independently of emission sources, Climeworks is ready to be one of, hopefully, many commercial and technological solutions that will help meet climate targets. In fact, the company's mission is “to capture 1% of global emissions by 2025...”
Photo credit: "Hellisheidi Power Plant." Photo by Arni Saeberg / Climeworks.
Oil and Gas Threat Map. Moms Clean Air Force explains the implications of the map above: "The Oil and Gas Threat Maps show health impacts from oil and gas air pollution in three different ways:
- On individual state maps, it plots the location of all active oil & gas wells in the United States (except North Carolina and Idaho), then counts the people, schools, and hospitals that live within ½ mile of these facilities.
- On national, state-by-state, and county-by-county levels it shows the contribution of oil and gas air pollution to elevated ozone smog levels, and consequent asthma and other respiratory impacts.
- Using EPA data & models, it shows which counties have health risks because of oil & gas toxic air pollution.
The Map reminds us that the threat, as well as the people at risk, are very real by:
- Within each individual state, allows you to search for your home or school to find out if you’re at elevated risk for exposure to this pollution..."