Welcome Winter Solstice! A Rainy Christmas Day
It isn't the cold, or even the snow and ice that depresses so many people this time of year. It's a dire lack of daylight, sunshine, all-natural vitamin D, that makes so many of us want to curl up into a fetal position.
According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) include depression, hopelessness, low energy, irritability, oversleeping, craving carbohydrates and weight gain.
Sitting in front of a "light box" that mimics the sun for 30 minutes can help. So can melatonin. You don't have to suffer - see a doctor to find the right solution for you.
It turns out decorating evergreen trees, yule logs and mistletoe are vestiges of ancient pagan celebrations of the Winter Solstice.
Relatively mild weather lingers all week with a light mix Friday. No travel problems on Christmas Eve, but a big storm taking a western track will pull enough mild air into Minnesota for mostly-rain Christmas Day, after a very icy start.
Today at 4:44 AM the sun's rays hit the Tropic of Capricorn, in the southern hemisphere. Daylight tomorrow will be 3 seconds longer!
Image credit above: NASA JPL.
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Here's an excerpt from The Mayo Clinic focused on symptoms of "SAD", which can result in both physical and mental: "Symptoms specific to winter-onset SAD, sometimes called winter depression, may include:
- Tiredness or low energy
- Problems getting along with other people
- Hypersensitivity to rejection
- Heavy, "leaden" feeling in the arms or legs
- Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
- Weight gain
...It's normal to have some days when you feel down. But if you feel down for days at a time and you can't get motivated to do activities you normally enjoy, see your doctor. This is especially important if your sleep patterns and appetite have changed or if you feel hopeless, think about suicide, or turn to alcohol for comfort or relaxation."
It's A Good Thing Santa Has Rain-Deer. I know, I know, the typo is intentional - just trying to make a point. GFS Future Radar (above) is color-colded; areas of rain in green, snow in blue. A major storm spins up over the Plains and tracks toward the Upper Midwest Christmas Day, pulling enough warm air into its circulation for a cold rain for much of the Midwest. Get out and play in the snow - by Monday it may be slushy, mushy and icy. Animation credit: Tropicaltidbits.com
10-Day Snowfall Potential. Sunday's storm may dump 1-2 feet of snow on eastern North Dakota and the Red River Valley of northwestern Minnesota. Otherwise it will be too warm for heavy snow Christmas Day. Minor accumulations are possible downwind of the Great Lakes after Christmas.
Early January: Cold and Stormy East, Relatively Mild Western USA. Looking out roughly 2 weeks GFS guidance shows a longwave trough over the Great Lakes and New England, increasing the potential for significant snows, even a few Nor'easters? Meanwhile relatively dry, mild weather prevails over the western half of the USA.
January 2017 Preview: Milder for Much of USA? This is a low-confidence outlook, but recent runs on NOAA's CFSv2 climate model have been trending milder for the USA and Canada as Polar Vortex winds are forecast to strengthen, keeping the coldest air bottled up over northern Canada. This is more of a curiousity than an actual forecast, but we'll keep peering over the horizon to see if long-range forecasts are consistent (or just plain flakey). Map: WeatherBell.
37 Minnesota Tornadoes in 2016. That's higher than average, and it appears at least four of those tornadoes were rated EF-2. More details from The Minnesota State Climatology Office.
Location of Touchdowns. All those red dots are tornado reports (preliminary) courtesy of SPC, which counted up 44 tornadoes. The final number will probably be lower, but still more than average.
Top U.S. Tornado Videos of 2016. Here's a good overview with some amazing videos, courtesy of U.S. Tornadoes: "While 2016 was another in a string of quiet tornado years, it might be the best of the past few when it comes to tornado videos. Interestingly enough, the two biggest tornado days of the year both fail to show up in the videos below. Both of those days came outside peak season, during times where tornadoes like to hang out in the trees of the Southeast, often at night and sometimes without even being noticed. As tornado watchers, we are constantly reminded that even in a tame year there are days that will be thought of for decades. This year, we saw one of those on May 24. In many ways we can be thankful — 2016 brought plenty of the best mother nature has to offer, and with minimal consequences..."
Freakish Warmth Continues In The Arctic - 50F Warmer Than Average by Thursday. Have we reached a tipping point? Here's an excerpt from Jason Samenow at Capital Weather Gang: "It’s not normal, and it’s happening again. For the second year in a row in late December and for the second time in as many months, temperatures in the high Arctic will be freakishly high compared to normal. Computer models project that on Thursday, three days before Christmas, the temperature near the North Pole will be an astronomical 40-50 degrees warmer-than-normal and approaching 32 degrees, the melting point..." (Map: Climate Reanalyzer).
Arctic Ice Melt "Already Affecting Weather Patterns Where You Live Right Now". A meteorological domino effect with uncertain results - the experiment continues. A weaker jet stream may already be creating more blocking patterns, more holding patterns capable of amplifying floods and drought. Here's an excerpt from The Guardian: "...The northern ice cap has been shrinking since the 1970s, with global warming driving the loss of about three-quarters of its volume so far. But the recent heat in the Arctic has shocked scientists, with temperatures 33C above average in parts of the Russian Arctic and 20C higher in some other places. In November, ice levels hit a record low, and we are now in “uncharted territory”, said Prof Jennifer Francis, an Arctic climate expert at Rutgers University in the US, who first became interested in the region when she sailed through it on a round-the-world trip in the 1980s. “These rapid changes in the Arctic are affecting weather patterns where you live right now,” she said. “In the past you have had natural variations like El Niño, but they have never happened before in combination with this very warm Arctic, so it is a whole new ball game. “It is inconceivable that this ridiculously warm Arctic would not have an impact on weather patterns in the middle latitudes further south, where so many people live..." (Jet stream simulation: NASA).
Record-Breaking Wave Thunders Through North Atlantic. It took nearly 3 years to verify the size of this monster-wave, according to CNN.com: "...Four times the size of a double-decker bus, the WMO said the huge swell followed the passage of a "very strong cold front" which produced powerful winds of up to 50 mph (80 kph). The organization said the delay in confirming the new record was due to the time it took to analyze, cross-check and verify the data. "This is the first time we have ever measured a wave of 19 meters. It is a remarkable record," said Wenjian Zhang, WMO Assistant Secretary-General, in a statement..."
How Soil Moisture Can Help Predict Power Outages Caused by Hurricanes. ScienceDaily has a summary of new research that shows a convincing link: "...The project aims to curtail outages by helping power companies allocate equipment and crews in advance of storms, said Steven Quiring, professor of atmospheric sciences at The Ohio State University. Healthy trees that receive just the right amount of moisture are less prone to storm damage, he explained, so soil moisture is a good indicator of where outage crews will be needed. "We see increased numbers of outages at both ends of the spectrum -- wherever soils are too wet or too dry," Quiring said. "Drought makes tree branches more likely to snap off, and over-saturation makes trees more likely to be uprooted..."
Map credit "Researchers at The Ohio State University, University of Michigan and Texas A&M have developed a computer model to forecast power outages caused by hurricanes. The model uses NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite to pinpoint where trees are more likely to contact power lines during severe weather." Credit: Courtesy of The Ohio State University.
Video: Time-Lapse Google Maps Show How The World is Changing. Here's a snippet from a story at NPR: "Google Earth's time lapse videos of earth's landscape could make you think about the great baseball player Yogi Berra. "I thought about one of the quotes attributed to Yogi Berra," says Marc Levy, a political scientist at Columbia University's Earth Institute who specializes in issues of global health and development. "He said, 'You can observe a lot just by watching.'" To show just how much the Earth's landscape has changed over the past three decades, Google sifted through 5 million satellite images containing three quadrillion pixels. The result is a series of high-resolution, zoomable time-lapse videos that capture, in unprecedented detail, the human impact on this planet..."
Image credit: "Google Earth's time-lapse videos show see how the planet's surface has changed over time — like the evaporation of the Aral Sea (above)." YouTube/Screenshot by NPR
Republicans and Democrats Alike Want More Clean Energy. Dr. John Abraham at The University of St. Thomas reports for The Guardian: "...A fascinating study was just released by Yale and George Mason Universities that involved a national survey of American opinions. What this survey found was astonishing. Almost 70% of registered voters in the U.S. believe that their country should participate in international agreements to limit global warming. Only 1 in 8 registered voters believe the U.S. should not participate in such agreements. Similarly, 70% of respondents support limits on carbon dioxide, the most important human-emitted heat trapping gas. Moreover, they agree to limits even if that means electricity costs will increase (although they won’t). What this means is that 7 in 10 registered voters agree with President Obama’s signature climate accomplishment, the Clean Power Plan..." (File photo: MN.gov).
Las Vegas's City Government Is Now Powered by 100% Renewable Energy, And More Cities Will Follow. Quartz has the story: "Ten years of effort finally paid off for Las Vegas this week when officials announced the city government will now be powered entirely by renewable energy. After a large solar array, Boulder Solar 1, came online on Dec. 12, the city was able to buy enough carbon-free electricity to power its 140 buildings, streetlights and other facilities. The power flows from a mix of solar panels and hydroelectric turbines including the Hoover Dam. The renewables, plus energy efficiency savings, are estimated to save the city roughly $5 million per year, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Las Vegas is one of many cities pushing ahead with aggressive efforts to leave fossil fuels behind..."
Photo credit: "How Las Vegas wants to power its neon." (Jason Reed / Reuters).
ISU Study Finds Wind Turbines Have Some Impact on Crop Fields. Radio Iowa has the story; here's an excerpt: "...One result of the changes could be less dew forming on the plants. “Which would be generally a good thing because dew promotes growth of fungus and mold and some pathogens that crops are generally affected by,” Takle says. He says they found the turbines slowed the wind over the fields. “And this in meteorological terms that leads to a surface convergence. And that means that by laws of physics that there must be an upward motion over the windfarm,” Takle says. “..and it could have significance in that it could affect fog and cloudiness or rainfall if it is on a large enough scale.” The research was done behind a couple of rows of turbines. “We have not gone to look at the regional scale say of 150 or 200 turbines, the impact that might have,” Takle says. “But that is an very interesting question and one that we are pursuing, because it could have some significance...” (File photo: AP).
A $2,000 Pizza? Of course it's near the Financial District in New York City. I smell a bubble. Here's an excerpt from Esquire: "...Now, Industry Kitchen, in New York's South Street Seaport, has a new offering suitable for the deluxe edition of Eat the Rich. For $2,000, the wood-fired pie is sprinkled luxurously with 24-karat gold leaves. Do the math: cut this into eight pieces, and thats $250 a slice - or around $50 per bite...."
The Totally Jinxed Map of Global Superstitions. Some strange ones in here, but who am I to judge? Here's an excerpt from Atlas Obscura: "...Leaving slippers upside down is bad luck in Syria, Egypt, Nepal and Brazil, while breaking mirrors is bad luck in most of the Western world. Keeping disembodied rabbit feet and avoiding black cats—which has been traced back to Egypt in the year 3,000 BC—are both observed practices in countries across every inhabited continent on Earth. If your palms itch in Ghana, the U.S., Brazil, and much of Europe, something money-related is about to happen. Meanwhile, people in almost every single country in the world are constantly avoiding the “evil eye” (wishes of ill will by one person upon another) by wearing various amulets or ash, crossing their fingers to make a “figas” hand shape, or, as in the Netherlands, painting their farmhouses with a protective black stripe..."
37 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities yesterday.
26 F. average high on December 20.
41 F. high on December 20, 2015.
December 21, 1993: Strong northwest winds gust to 35 miles an hour, causing near whiteout conditions over a wide area of southwest Minnesota from the late afternoon on the 21st into the early morning of the 22nd. Several car accidents occurred. A 30 year old man was killed when he lost control of his truck and slid into a ditch in the near blizzard like conditions. Counties affected include: Blue Earth, Brown, Chippewa, Faribault, Lac Qui Parle, Redwood, Renville, Watonwan, and Yellow Medicine.
December 21, 1939: This is the latest date on record for Lake Minnewaska to freeze over at Glenwood.
TODAY: More clouds, flurries. Winds: SW 8-13. High: 35
WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Flurries taper. Low: 20
THURSDAY: Partly sunny - almost pleasant. Winds: SW 7-12. High: 34
FRIDAY: Chance of a light mix, wet roads. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 24. High: 36
CHRISTMAS EVE: Mostly cloudy, dry for Santa's arrival. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 23. High: 31
CHRISTMAS DAY: Icy start, then rain - heavy at times. Possible T-storms. Winds: SE 15-25. Wake-up: 26. High: 46
MONDAY: Blustery, colder - few flurries. Temperatures tumble. Winds: NW 20-40. Wake-up: 33. High: 34
TUESDAY: Partly sunny, seasonably chilly again. Winds: W 7-12. Wake-up: 20. High: 25
Image credit: NASA and UW - Madison CIMSS.
President Obama announced on Tuesday what he called a permanent ban on offshore oil and gas drilling along wide areas of the Arctic and the Atlantic Seaboard as he tried to nail down an environmental legacy that cannot quickly be reversed by Donald J. Trump. Mr. Obama invoked an obscure provision of a 1953 law, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, which he said gives him the authority to act unilaterally. While some presidents have used that law to temporarily protect smaller portions of federal waters, Mr. Obama’s declaration of a permanent drilling ban from Virginia to Maine on the Atlantic and along much of Alaska’s coast is breaking new ground. The declaration’s fate will almost certainly be decided by the federal courts..."
Photo credit: " Credit Elaine Thompson/Associated Press.
El Nino on a Warming Planet May Have Sparked the Zika Epidemic, Scientists Say. Alarmist hype or is there a causal connection? Here's a clip from The Washington Post: "In a world characterized by rising temperatures, deforestation and other human influences on the environment, the spread of infectious disease is a hot topic. Many recent studies suggest that environmental changes can affect the transmission of everything from malaria to the Zika virus — and it’s increasingly important to understand these links, scientists say. This week, a new study has provided new evidence that environmental changes can increase the threat of disease. It concludes that unusually warm temperatures caused by 2015’s severe El Niño event — probably compounded by ongoing climate change — may have aided in the rapid spread of the Zika virus in South America that year. And while there are many complex factors at play in the spread of mosquito-borne diseases, the study may help scientists better prepare for the kinds of future effects we might see in our warming world..."
Photo credit: "
Climate change could be the most important long-term trend for investors. It will produce winners and losers over the next decades, and all investors should consider how they will “weatherproof” their portfolios to mitigate the risks and take advantage of the opportunities created by a changing climate. Many investors think of green energy, energy conservation, or water as the primary investments for a climate change portfolio. The most sophisticated family offices – which measure portfolio performance over decades, not quarters or years – think more broadly about the risks and opportunities of a changing global climate such as physical, technological, regulatory, and societal risks..."
Image credit: "This natural-color image mosaic, provided by NASA, taken in Aug. 2015, based on data collected during two orbital passes of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) shows typhoons in the western North Pacific. A new scientific report finds man-made climate change played some kind of role in two dozen extreme weather events around the world in 2015." (NASA via AP)
translation provided by the Vatican..." (Photo: AP).Pope Francis this week implored world leaders not to postpone the implementation of global environmental pacts, an appeal that appeared aimed at President-elect Donald Trump’s vows to end the United States’ leading role in combating climate change. The pope’s remarks came during a gathering of scientists at the Vatican, at which he said there has “never been such a clear need for science” to guide human actions to safeguard the future of the planet. “It is worth noting that international politics has reacted weakly — albeit with some praiseworthy exceptions — regarding the concrete will to seek the common good and universal goods, and the ease with which well-founded scientific opinion about the state of our planet is disregarded,” the pontiff said, according to a
Two Broadcast Meteorologists Working to Separate the Real from the Fake. A tip of the hat to Paul Gross in Detroit and Mike Nelson in Denver, two TV meteorologists I have a tremendous amount of respect for. Here's an excerpt from AGU Blogosphere: "I’m often asked questions about climate science from colleagues who work in TV (and other media), and even they have a tough time separating the political propaganda surrounding climate change from the facts. Now if college grads, who are trained to sift fact from fiction are getting confused, imagine how it is for the public at large! This is where broadcast meteorologists have really stepped up. For many people, we are the only person connected to science they see on a daily basis, whether on TV or online, and I’ve found that most are very appreciative when I point out propaganda or conspiracy theories that are dressed up to look like science. Yes, nobody likes being told something they want to be true isn’t (confirmation bias), but it continues to surprise me how many people are glad that you removed the clutter. Some of my fellow meteorologist have had a hard time believing this, especially when it comes to something highly politicized like climate change, but I can tell you that it’s true..."
Professor Adam Scaife, head of long-range prediction at the Met Office, said: “This forecast, which uses the new Met Office supercomputer, adds weight to our earlier prediction that 2017 will be very warm globally but is unlikely to exceed 2015 and 2016: the two warmest years on record since 1850...”The Met Office global temperature forecast suggests that 2017 will be another very warm year globally but is unlikely to be a new record due to the absence of additional warming from El Niño. The global average temperature for 2017 is expected to be between 0.63 °C and 0.87 °C above the long-term (1961-1990) average of 14.0 °C, with a central estimate of 0.75 °C. Using the 1981-2010 long-term average of 14.3 °C, the forecast range is between 0.32 °C and 0.56 °C, with a central estimate of 0.44 °C.
"The Arctic is Unraveling", Scientists Conclude After Latest Sobering Climate Report. Here's an excerpt from InsideClimate News: "...If the extreme warmth recorded in the Arctic this fall persists for the next few years, it may signal a completely new climate in the region, scientists said. Jeremy Mathis, director of NOAA's Arctic Research Program, said the report highlights the clear and pronounced global warming signal in the Arctic and its effects cascading throughout the environment, like the spread of parasitic diseases in Arctic animals. "We've seen a year in 2016 like we've never seen before ... with clear acceleration of many global warming signals. The Arctic was whispering change. Now it's not whispering. It's speaking, it's shouting change, and the changes are large," said co-author Donald Perovich, who studies Arctic climate at Dartmouth College..."
sea-level rise. As the Earth heats up and ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica melt, ocean levels will creep upward, flooding coastal cities and forcing large-scale relocations around the world. But there’s a troubling asterisk here: We still don’t know exactly how high oceans are likely to rise this century. Studies have suggested it could be anywhere from 2 to 6 feet, on average — with newer evidence leaning toward the higher end, depending on emissions and how quickly parts of West Antarctica’s massive ice sheet disintegrate. Worse, climate scientists probably won’t be able to pin down an exact number anytime soon, because getting a handle on ice-sheet dynamics is inherently tricky..." (Photo credit: EPA).By far one of the most important impacts of global warming in the decades ahead will be
Miami Faces $3.5 Trillion Loss: Highest Risk of Sea Level Rise Among All Coastal Cities. The Real Deal reports: "Miami stands to lose up to $3.5 trillion in assets by 2070 due to sea level rise, according to a new National Wildlife Federation report. Miami has the largest amount of exposed assets, beaches included, of any coastal city, the report shows. Guangzhou, China ranked second; and New York ranked third, according to the “Changing Tides: How Sea-Level Rise Harms Wildlife and Recreation Economies Along the U.S. Eastern Seaboard” report. In Florida, $69 billion worth of property is at risk of flooding in less than 15 years, and beachfront property in Miami-Dade alone is valued at more than $14.7 billion..."
Map credit: The Real Deal has a high-resolution version of the map showing condominiums at greatest risk in the Miami area.
Ready for Flooding: Boston Analyzes How to Tackle Climate Change. It will become increasingly impossible for skeptics and deniers to ignore rising seas. Boston is one of many coastal cities on the front line; here's an excerpt from Ars Technica: "The more you follow government down to the local level, the harder it is for decision-makers to pretend climate change isn’t real. Coastal cities in particular can see what’s coming, and their officials understand that people can’t just sit on their hands. When you’ve cleaned up after storm surge flooding before, the risk of more severe flooding feeds a concrete urgency. One of the first cities to get the ball rolling was Boston, which recently released a new report laying out a roadmap for a “Climate Ready Boston.” The report was prepared by a team of city officials, planning consultants, non-profits, utilities, and climate scientists. The scientists provided climate projections for the Boston area, and the others analyzed the city for vulnerabilities to those expected changes..." (Photo: Tim Sackton).