Quick Shot of December Air - Milder Next Week

Gordon Lightfoot wrote a song about the gales of November, a fierce storm with hurricane-force winds that sank the Edmund Fitzgerald on November 10, 1975.

The National Weather Service got started as a way to issue storm warnings for the Great Lakes, after a series of maritime tragedies. On February 2, 1870 a Joint Congressional Resolution required the Secretary of War "To provide for taking meteorological observations at the military stations in the interior of the continent....and for giving notice on the northern (Great) lakes and on the seacoast by magnetic telegraph and marine signal of the approach and force of storms."

We've come a long way from telegraphs, but on this date in 1870 the first official storm warning was issued for the Great Lakes.

A swipe of arctic air brushes Minnesota on Thursday with a breakfast-time wind chill near 10F. The approach of milder air sets off a sloppy mix of rain/snow Saturday - a little slush can't be ruled out.

Temperatures rebound next week with a streak of 40s; even a shot at 50F. And only a month ago 50F was considered a cold front.

Temperature Rebound Next Week. Thursday will be a preview of January, but this week's cold spell gives rise to a shift in the pattern next week as temperatures recover into the 40s, even some low 50s. Twin Cities ECMWF data: WeatherBell.

Snowfall Into Saturday Morning. NAM guidance shows lake effect kicking in, with heaviest amounts forecast for the U.P. of Michigan. A couple inches may fall over the northern third of Minnesota later today and tonight as the first authentic cold front approaches. By tomorrow there will be no doubt in your mind that winter is imminent. Check that, it's pretty much here. Map: Tropicaltidbits.com.

Relatively Mild Into Thanksgiving Week. GFS guidance shows cold, stormy weather for the Pacific Northwest looking out 2 weeks, with a relatively mild ridge of high pressure east of the Rockies. It looks like 1-2 weeks of attempted Indian Summer over the central and southern USA leading up to Thanksgiving.

Why Does the Season Before Winter Have 2 Names? Another fascinating article at Atlas Obscura; here's a clip: "There is indecision about the season that comes before winter. The plants all die, or seem to, but at the same time are at their most magnificent: they produce more fruit, turn vibrant colors. We are relieved at the end of a hot summer, and terrified of the long winter ahead. (At least those of us with seasonal affective disorder.) We cram in holidays to both celebrate these brief few weeks and also mourn the green times behind us. And we don’t even know what to call this weird time: is it autumn or fall? Why does this season have two names? The understanding of seasons varies dramatically based on where you’re located geographically, coupled with, if applicable, which country colonized your country. In the temperate zones, the seasons are generally split up into four; in tropical zones, usually two; in South Asia, usually six. Older calendars may have five or ten or more or fewer. Countries like the US, which span multiple zones, run the gamut. The United States sticks to four seasons, even in parts of the country like South Florida and most of the Southwest, which really only have a wet season and a dry season..."

Photo credit: "Usage of the word “fall” first appeared in England in the mid-16th century; “autumn” pre-dates it to sometime in the late 14th century." Autumn Mott/ Public Domain

Winter Hazard Awareness Week in Minnesota. Wait, winter is coming? The local National Weather Service office has some helpful reminders and links to prepare us for what comes next:

Winter Weather Preparations

  • Keep ahead of the winter storm by listening for the latest weather statements, watches and warnings.
  • Your vehicle should also be ready. Get it winterized, before the onset of winter weather.
  • Be equipped for the worst. Carry a winter survival kit in your car, especially when traveling in rural or open areas. Try to travel with others.

When Driving

  • Yield to snowplows, and give them plenty of room to operate.
  • If your vehicle becomes stranded, stay with it until help arrives.
  • Do not try to walk for help during a blizzard, you could easily become lost in the whiteout conditions.

Outdoor Activities

  • If you will be outside during storms or extreme cold, dress in layered clothing and avoid overexertion.
  • Do not kill yourself shoveling snow. Shoveling is very hard work and may induce a heart attack.
  • If you will be snowmobiling, avoid alcohol. Most snowmobile deaths are alcohol related. Take a snowmobile course offered by the DNR or check with your snowmobile dealer.
  • Every year, there are fatalities in Minnesota when people fall through thin ice.

Snowfall Last Winter. Yes, last winter was fairly bleak for snow lovers, with 25-35" of snow across much of the metro area (30-year average is 54" if anyone asks). Map credit: NOAA.

World Temps Climb as Syria Joins Paris, Leaving US Alone: From Climate Nexus Hot News: "2017 is on track to become one of the top three hottest years on record, according to the UN's weather and climate agency. The World Meteorological Organization reported Monday that 2017 could become the hottest year on record not affected by El Ninos, which includes the current first and second placeholders 2016 and 2015. The WMO's announcement coincided with the first full day of COP23 talks in Bonn, where senior US negotiator Trigg Talley confirmed that the United States will continue to participate in this year's negotiations as climate advocates hope for a "quiet" COP for the US delegation. At a plenary meeting this morning, a delegate from Syria reportedly announced the country would join the Paris Agreement, leaving the United States as the only country in the world not part of the deal." (Hottest year: AP, Reuters, The Guardian, Deutsche Welle. US: APClimate HomePolitico Pro $, ReutersTime, ThinkProgress)

A Swarm of Shoebox Satellites in the Sky Will Predict the Next Natural Disaster. The Daily Beast highlights a revolution in remote weather sensing: "It’s been rough for Earth. The only known planet to support life has gotten climatologically volatile as population grows in marginal land and climate change boosts the intensity of storms, floods, fires, and droughts. Understanding how the world is changing is the task of a fleet of tiny satellites constantly monitoring our lonely outpost in space.But Planet Labs, Inc., a startup based in San Francisco, thinks there’s hope. Its satellites—“shoebox satellites” that carry compact cameras tracking every passing cloud—orbit just above the Earth’s atmosphere, snapping shots of the land below and goings ons, whether they be environmental or human caused..."

The Story of 26 Sudden Deaths in 1948 is a Bleak Reminder of Why America Needs Clean Air Laws. A story at Quartz caught my eye: "On Halloween weekend in 1948, two dozen people in a small American town suddenly died. The killer came in on the air—or rather, it was the air. The week prior began like any other; the 14,000 residents of Donora, Pennsylvania woke up to hazy skies, but they were used to that. It was two decades before the passage of the Clean Air Act, which would become one of the most influential environmental laws in the country, and for years, the town had been riding high on the economic boom of the steel plant and zinc works in their town (zinc is used to galvanize steel). US Steel operated the zinc plant 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The once-grassy hillside nearest the plant was completely denuded..."

Photo credit: "Donora, Pennsylvania—with its zinc manufacturing plant in the background." (Donora Historical Society).

Republicans Move Ahead on Flood Insurance Reform. The Houston Chronicle explains: "A years-long effort to shore up the finances of the federal government's flood insurance program is nearing a vote in the House. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La. and Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Dallas, the powerful chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, are pushing members to vote for flood insurance legislation after striking a deal Friday to move ahead on reform efforts that have long divided Democrats and Republicans alike. "The bill we support will begin to make the flood insurance program more stable and sustainable for the people who count on it. We look forward to bringing this legislation to the House soon and urge our colleagues to support it," Scalise and Hensarling said in a joint statement Monday. "Being from Louisiana and Texas, we are all-too familiar with the devastating effects of floods and the havoc they wreak on communities..."

Photo credit: Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle.

2 Reasons Solar is Booming in Trump Country: Price and Energy Independence. InsideClimate News takes a look: "...What is resonating with utility companies like Mississippi Power and communities like Hattiesburg is the economic argument for cheaper solar power. Despite the lack of renewable-energy-friendly policies and the reluctance from Republican-led state legislatures to address climate change, states across the South and Appalachia―regions that voted heavily for Donald Trump―are rapidly expanding their solar markets. Most of that growth has come from utilities investing in large-scale solar projects, which have dropped in price by nearly 80 percent since 2010 to 6 cents per kilowatt-hour, making them more cost-competitive with coal and natural gas. There's also a grassroots rooftop solar movement in coal-friendly communities, encouraged by cheap technology and a push for energy independence..."

Photo credit: "Georgia ranked third in the nation for photovoltaic solar installations in 2016. More than 600 kilowatts of solar panels can be found on the roofs at Georgia Tech." Credit: Georgia Institute of Technology

Tesla Just Bought a Small Minnesota Company. Here are a couple excerpts from GoMN: "Electric car maker Tesla has bought a company based in Minnesota that makes automated parts. Perbix, which has its facility in Brooklyn Park, has been supplying Tesla with automated machines that are used in the manufacturing process for the past three years...Perbix employs around 150 people in Brooklyn Park, with the Star Tribune reporting that Tesla is keen on adding more people to that number. Perbix has been in business for 41 years and describes itself as a major supplier to Fortune 500 companies. Reuters reports Tesla's acquisition will allow it to bring more of the production process in house..."

The Real Story of Automation with One Simple Chart. Automated drilling? Medium focuses on automation, and how companies across all sectors are doing more, with fewer people: "There’s a chart I came across earlier this year, and not only does it tell an extremely important story about automation, but it also tells a story about the state of the automation discussion itself. It even reveals how we can expect both automation and the discussion around automation to continue unfolding in the years ahead. The chart is a plot of oil rigs in the United States compared to the number of workers the oil industry employs, and it’s an important part of a puzzle that needs to be pieced together before it’s too late. What should be immediately apparent is that as the number of oil rigs declined due to falling oil prices, so did the number of workers the oil industry employed. But when the number of oil rigs began to rebound, the number of workers employed didn’t. That observation itself should be extremely interesting to anyone debating whether technological unemployment exists or not, but there’s even more to glean from this chart..."

How Netflix Works: The (Hugely Simplified) Complex Stuff That Happens Every Time You Hit Play. Take a peek under the hood at Medium: "...What isn’t as simple is what goes into running Netflix, a service that streams around 250 million hours of video per day to around 98 million paying subscribers in 190 countries. At this scale, providing quality entertainment in a matter of a few seconds to every user is no joke. And as much as it means building top-notch infrastructure at a scale no other Internet service has done before, it also means that a lot of participants in the experience have to be negotiated with and kept satiated — from production companies supplying the content, to internet providers dealing with the network traffic Netflix brings upon them. This is, in short and in the most layman terms, how Netflix works..."

Something is Wrong on the Internet. After reading this I'm glad I don't have young kids watching YouTube. James Bridle authors a (very) troubling tale at Medium: "...I see kids engrossed in screens all the time, in pushchairs and in restaurants, and there’s always a bit of a Luddite twinge there, but I am not a parent, and I’m not making parental judgments for or on anyone else. I’ve seen family members and friend’s children plugged into Peppa Pig and nursery rhyme videos, and it makes them happy and gives everyone a break, so OK. But I don’t even have kids and right now I just want to burn the whole thing down. Someone or something or some combination of people and things is using YouTube to systematically frighten, traumatise, and abuse children, automatically and at scale, and it forces me to question my own beliefs about the internet, at every level. Much of what I am going to describe next has been covered elsewhere, although none of the mainstream coverage I’ve seen has really grasped the implications of what seems to be occurring..."

8 Strategies for Saving Local Newsrooms. A story at Columbia Journalism Review has some good food for thought: "...Based on our research, we have identified key strategies local newsrooms should be considering to reinvigorate themselves.

  1. Focus on original reporting.

Local newspapers publish work that is seldom replicated elsewhere. This is what local newspapers should focus on; if they provide content readers can’t find anywhere else, local newspapers will be better able to find paying audiences. As Al Cross, director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, told us, “The kinds of things people get from a local newspaper are the kinds of things that people will continue to want one hundred years from now.” He continued, “What’s going on within my locality? What’s happening with my school system? What’s happening with my taxes? What’s happening with planning and zoning? What kind of businesses or jobs might we get? It’s only the local newspaper that is likely to be the consistently reliable source of that information...”

Why Can't Christians Get Along, 500 Years After the Reformation? The Atlantic talks about wounds slow to heal: "...While relations among Christians are far more peaceful today than they were 500 years ago, the tension between theological particularity and yearning for universal fellowship is still just as complicated. As global Christianity evolves, the tension is likely to increase. Especially over the last century or so, Christian groups have made significant attempts to repair the conflicts among them. In the mid-19th century, the Evangelical Alliance sought to unite Protestant groups to oppose child labor and poor factory working conditions, a unity they described as “a new thing in church history.” In 1910, a missionary conference in Edinburgh laid the groundwork for what later became the World Council of Churches, which united many Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and mainline Protestant churches for the first time. But until recently, the rifts of the Reformation were insurmountable..."

How I Left the Liberal Bubble and Learned to Love the Right. Daily Beast has a fascinating read: "Washington, DC, resident and lifelong Democrat Ken Stern took a year or so to search out and confront his purported Red State enemies. He was utterly changed by what he discovered. In 2015, Ken Stern, the former CEO of NPR and a lifelong Democrat, left his liberal Washington, D.C., neighborhood, and over the course of more than a year, sought out Republicans across the country: in churches, on pig hunts, at Trump rallies, NASCAR races, and even on Steve Bannon’s radio show. Stern believed, as Atticus Finch said in To Kill a Mockingbird, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.”  And when he did, he found fellow Americans whose values didn’t differ all that much from his own and, even where there was real disagreement, on things like guns, abortion, religion, and healthcare, the divide isn’t nearly as deep as we are led to believe.

Graphic: Yale Climate Connections.

Joining a Fraternity May Hurt Your GPA, But Can Boost Future Income by 36%, Study Says. Big Think connects the dots: "Fraternity culture has been under attack for incidents of hazing and excessive drinking but there are some unexpected benefits that come from joining a frat. That’s the conclusion of a new study by economists from Union College in Schenectady, New York. They found that being in a fraternity may lower the GPA of its members by an average of 0.25 points, but may raise their future income by as much as 36%. How is that possible? The paper titled “Social Animal House: The Economic and Academic Consequences of Fraternity Membership” suggests that while frats may have a deserved reputation for partying and binge-drinking, being in one can boost your social capital, "which more than outweigh(s) its negative effects on human capital for potential members...”

Photo credit: "Cast of the film “Animal House”. 1978. Credit: Universal Pictures.

36 F. high in the Twin Cities Tuesday.

46 F. average high on November 7.

65 F. high on November 7, 2016.

November 8, 1999: A November 'heat wave' impacts much of the state. Temperatures in the 70's and 80's are recorded in Minnesota with records shattered in many places. The Twin Cities had 73 degrees, while Canby saw 82.

November 8, 1943: A severe ice storm hits the Twin Cities, and heavy snow falls over southwest Minnesota. One person died in St. Paul as a trolley car slid off the tracks and hit a pole. A Minneapolis man died shoveling snow. Many telephone poles were down due to the ice. Places like Worthington, Windom, and Marshall saw 14 to 16 inches of snow.

November 8, 1870: The first storm warning for the Great Lakes is issued by the U.S. Army.

TODAY: Partly sunny, "milder". Winds: SW 7-12. High: 40

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Clouds increase. Low: 20

THURSDAY: Faint whiff of January. Windy and cold. Feels like 10F early. Winds: NW 10-20. High: 26

FRIDAY: Sun gives way to increasing clouds. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 11. High: 32

SATURDAY: Slushy, sloppy mix arrives. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 29. High: 35

SUNDAY: Slow clearing, drier day of weekend. Winds: W 5-10. Wake-up: 29. High: near 40

MONDAY: More clouds than sun, milder. Winds: S 7-12. Wake-up: 30. High: 43

TUESDAY: Clouds increase, late rain showers? Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 33. High: 45

Climate Stories...

White House Releases Report Contradicting It's Own Position on Climate Change. Snopes explains the inherent contradiction: "On 3 November 2017, the White House released a document known as the Climate Science Special Report — a scientific study authored by scientists from academia and numerous federal agencies, peer-reviewed by the National Academy of Sciences, and required by law to be released every four years. That report’s findings are at direct odds with the Trump administration’s efforts to downplay or reject the scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change, as they instead suggest that recent warming is unambiguously the result of human activity and that observational data does not support an alternative explanation: This assessment concludes, based on extensive evidence, that it is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence..."

"How Often Do You Get 12 Inches of Rain?" Turns out the answer across much of the USA is...more often lately. Here's an excerpt of a story from Louisville Public Media and The Weather Channel: "...The federal government has 145 years of rainfall data for Louisville. In that time period, there have been only 11 years with two or more days of at least 3 inches of rainfall. At that rate, you’d expect one of those heavy rainfall years around every 13 years. But four of them have been since 1990. Of Louisville’s top 10 wettest years, half have occurred this century. Eight of the 10 have occurred since the 1990s. None of the top ten driest years have occurred since 1987. Weather.com meteorologist Jonathan Erdman said the increased frequency and intensity of rainfall in Louisville is directly linked to a warmer climate. “In a warming climate we expect weather systems to move more slowly,” he said. “And because the climate is warmer, we expect the atmosphere to be able to hold more water vapor. So, as a result, we expect weather systems to be able to produce a bit more rainfall and for there to be more heavy rain events than there would be if the climate was not warming...”

Graphic credit: Weather.gov

The Zombie Diseases of Climate Change. The Atlantic focuses on another unpleasant symptom of a warming, thawing planet: "...What biologists call the permafrost’s “active layer”—the part of the dirt where microbes and other forms of life can live—now reaches farther underground, and further north, than it has for tens of thousands of years. The newly active permafrost is packed with old stuff: dead plants, dead animals, mosses buried and reburied by dust and snow. This matter, long protected from decomposition by the cold, is finally rotting, and releasing gases into the atmosphere that could quicken the rate of global warming. This matter is also full of pathogens: bacteria and viruses long immobilized by the frost. Many of these pathogens may be able to survive a gentle thaw—and if they do, researchers warn, they could reinfect humanity..."

Illustration credit: Narciso Espiritu.

Climate Change: A Catalyst for Conflict. Deutsche Welle shows how a warmer, more volatile climate can aggravate challenges and increase the potential for conflict - one reason why the U.S. military is paying close attention: "...That said, one cannot draw a direct connection between climate change and violent conflict, as the causes that lead to bloody conflict are often too complex to allow such mapping. Therefore, it is perhaps more helpful to think of climate change as a threat amplifier. That is how Rob van Riet of the World Future Council describes the relationship between climate and conflict. Van Riet expanded on that thought when speaking with DW: "Existing threats – like resource shortages, poverty, famine, terrorism or extreme ideology – are only amplified by climate change..."

Photo credit: "Flooding in Karachi, Pakistan."

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