Honoring our Veterans - Thawing Out Next Week

"It is easy to take liberty for granted, when you have never had it taken from you." My father fled East Germany, having survived Hitler and Stalin. "I will never take my freedom for granted" he told me. A salute to veterans today. We honor your service and sacrifice.

The last 15 days have been the coldest since the second week of March. Climate guru Mark Seeley counted 35 Minnesota climate stations reporting subzero lows this week; a brisk -17F reported at Togo early Friday, just north of Hibbing. Big Ouch. Statewide the first 10 days of November have been the coldest since 1995.

With few exceptions the maps look unnecessarily cold into early December, although a break from this cold run is shaping up next week with a streak of 40s; even low 50s Tuesday. Plan that long, last dip in the lake for Tuesday.

Some of us are waking up to a coating, but slush should melt as temperatures nudge 40F later today. A little rain is possible Tuesday, again next Friday - possibly ending as a brief period of snow late next week.

Waiting for Indian Summer? Take a number. No sign just yet.

* Image above: International Space Station, NASA.

Coldest Temperatures Since March. An omen of what's to come this winter? Not necessarily. Here's an excerpt from Mark Seeley at Minnesota WeatherTalk: "At least 35 Minnesota climate stations reported subzero low temperatures this week, the first time that has happened since the second week of last March. Celina (St Louis County) reported a low temperature of -17°F on November 10th, a new all-time state record low for this date. In addition a number of northern Minnesota communities reported new record lows on November 10th as well, including -16°F at Orr (St Louis County), -15°F at Bigfork (Itasca County County), -14°F at Embarrass, and -13°F Cotton, and Brimson. So far average November temperatures around the state are running 6 to 12 degrees F colder than normal, with several new record low temperatures reported on both November 8th and November 10th. On a statewide basis the first ten days of November have been the coldest since 1995..."

Map credit: Praedictix.

Slight Temperature Reprieve Next Week. Granted, 40s are no holiday, but after a couple of weeks in a row below average it will feel surprisingly good by early next week. 52F on Tuesday? I may have to take off my shirt and annoy the neighbors. Twin Cities ECMWF numbers: WeatherBell.

Moderately Cold Thanksgiving Week - Big Storm Out East? GFS guidance is hinting at a powerful coastal storm the Friday after Thanksgiving somewhere between the Carolinas and New England. If you're heading east you may want to keep an eye on this. Expect 30s in Minnesota Thanksgiving week. That's 30s (above) zero.

Year to Date Numbers. NOAA has perspective on January through October of 2017: "The year to date (January–October 2017) average temperature for the contiguous U.S. was the third warmest on record at 57.5 degrees F, 2.5 degrees above average,. Every state across the contiguous U.S. had an above-average temperature for the first 10 months of the year.  The year-to-date precipitation was the second wettest on record for this period at 28.93 inches, 3.57 inches above average..."

Confidence Growing in Winter La Nina. Nearly all the long-range climate models show a cool phase for the Pacific Ocean, which often (but not always) correlates with colder weather for Minnesota and the Upper Midwest. Keep in mind every La Nina is different.

La Nina Winters. NOAA data shows that La Nina winters tend to be colder across Canada and the northern tier of the USA; wetter for the Pacific Northwest and Ohio Valley/Great Lakes - warmer for the southern tier states. Place your bets.

That Isn't Rain - It's Migrating Birds. NWS Doppler radar picked up bird migrations Tuesday evening. Keep in mind the new Doppler is so sensitive it can pick up not only birds, but insects, even dust in clear-air mode. GoMN.com has more detail: "...The NWS noted that these birds were mostly geese and ducks, with Minnesota's migration season shortly drawing to a close. According to Birdwatcher's Digest, the last of the ducks move out of the state during November, as lakes begin to freeze over. The Minnesota DNR's waterfowl report for Nov. 2 said there are still a lot of ducks, which in turn is making for good hunting. Canadian goose numbers have been rising as well, though the DNR notes that "large numbers still remain in Southern Canada." Tundra swans are also heading south at this time of year, typically mid-to-late November, as they gather along the Mississippi River before heading to wintering grounds in North Carolina and Virginia..."

14 Days Below Average. How unusual is this? The Minnesota DNR puts this latest cold spell into perspective. "A two week below-normal streak ushers in a taste of winter. As of November 9, 2017, temperatures have stayed below normal for fourteen days straight in the Twin Cities. The normal maximum and minimum temperature for November 9 is 45 degrees F and 30 degrees F. This cold streak began on October 27. When was the last time there was this long of a below normal stretch? From February 11 to March 6, 2015 was a streak of 24 days below normal. Above normal streaks have been more common in recent years. Despite the cold, no daily records have been broken so far in the Twin Cities."

Weather and Climate Disasters on the Rise. Here's an excerpt from a 9News.com story in Denver: "This year has been the most disastrous weather and climate year on record - and it’s not even over yet. The California Department of Insurance just announced that losses incurred from the October wildfires exceeds 3 billion dollars, and is expected to rise even further. That has now become the sixteenth billion-dollar disaster in the United States this year, tying the 16 from 2011. The National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) says that these billion-dollar disasters are on the rise. Mother Nature has cost Americans more than a trillion dollars since 1980 according to the NCEI database, that lists all the country's billion-dollar disasters since 1980, including tropical cyclones, severe weather, floods, droughts, freezes, wildfires, and winter storms.

Map credit: NOAA NCDC.

New NOAA Satellite Will Assist Long-Range Forecasting.  A few interesting nuggets in a story at KSHB.com: "Friday, November 10, officials from NOAA and with the help of NASA will be sending a new type of weather satellite into space. The Joint Polar Satellite System-1, or JPSS-1 for short, is the first of four highly advanced polar satellites that will help improve the accuracy of weather forecasts out to seven days. While NASA will be assisting with the launch, all of the data will be collected and distributed by NOAA. JPSS-1 will orbit the earth in a "polar orbit" meaning that it will circle the earth from North Pole to South Pole over and over as it spins. The satellite will be traveling so fast in a 24 hour period that it will cross the equator 14 times a day and will give us a glimpse of the weather around the entire globe twice a day..." (File image: NASA).

Scientists in Houston Tell as Story of Concrete, Rain and Destruction. Here's an excerpt of a story at NPR worth your time: "...Sam Brody, a flood scientist at Texas A&M University, says Houston has grown to a size where it can't handle these kinds of record rainfalls. "We're piling in people with roads and rooftops and parking lots into these low-lying coastal areas and exacerbating these problems," he says. "And that is an urban, human development, built-environment problem." You can't move Houston. So what's to be done? Officials are now talking about building that third reservoir and demolishing houses that repeatedly flood. Brody's team is advising those officials. He says the city needs more radical changes, like requiring new homes to be built 3 feet above flood level. He says yes, preparing for future floods will be expensive — but cheaper than paying up after the next one.

Breathing Delhi’s air is the same as smoking 45 cigarettes a day. Quartz reports: "In what has become a chronic condition for the city of 22 million, New Delhi is once again choking on extremely high levels of air pollution. In parts of the city, air quality index (AQI) readings have hit 999—the equivalent of smoking 45 cigarettes a day. But 999 is the maximum reading on air monitors, which means actual levels are likely higher. The dense smog is being blamed for car crashes, including a 24-car motorway pileup just outside the city, according to the Telegraph. PM2.5 air pollution hits babies and the elderly hardest, and exposure in the womb has long been associated with an array of adverse birth outcomes like preterm birth and low birth weight..."

Photo credit: "Can't see or breathe." (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

Pollution in India Is So Bad It's Causing Car Crashes. More perspective at National Geographic.

Delhi a "Gas Chamber" as Region Chokes on Smog: More perspective from Climate Nexus: "Emergency measures are in place citywide in Delhi this week, following soaring air toxicity levels nearly 40 times over the safety limit set by the World Health Organization. The continuing smog crisis has caused the city government to shut down schools, suspend construction projects and ban trucks from entering the city. Elsewhere in the region, The New York Times reports that air toxicity levels in Lahore, Pakistan have reached nearly 30 times the legal limit over the past two weeks. A study published last month in the Lancet found that one in six premature deaths in 2015 were caused by air pollution, with 2.5 million of these deaths occurring in India alone." (Delhi: CNN, CNBC, BBC, USA Today, Fast Company, NPR, AP. Lahore: New York Times $)

What It's Like to Live in the World's Most Polluted City. NatGeo has details: "From the skies above to the ground below, Delhi is polluted. This Indian territory, which includes the capital city of New Delhi, is half the size of Rhode Island, and is home to twice the population of New York City. Beijing, China, often makes headlines for its polluted air, but a global study of air pollution in 2014 by the World Health Organization found that Delhi’s air contained several times more fine particulate pollution than Beijing’s. By most measurements, it’s the most polluted area in the world..."

Photo credit: "In a dump in Bhalswa, Delhi, that seems to stretch for miles, a young girl searches for plastic." Photograph by Matthieu Paley, National Geographic.

Tesla's Dangerous Sprint Into the Future. The New York Times Magazine has a fascinating read.

Image credit: "Robots applying adhesive and welding seams on the Model X and Model S." Christopher Payne for The New York Times.

Are We Becoming Less Neighborly? Here are a couple excerpts from a Washington Post article: "Sen. Rand Paul sustained five broken ribs after an assault by a neighbor last weekend. The alleged assailant, Rene Boucher, released a statement through his lawyer calling the incident “a very regrettable dispute between two neighbors over a matter that most people would regard as trivial… In 2016, the share of Americans who say they “never” socialize with their neighbors hit an all-time high of 34 percent, according to the General Social Survey. That number's been rising steadily since 1974, when just 21 percent said they never hang out with their neighbors…"

“God Only Knows What Facebook is Doing To Our Kid’s Brains” The Daily Beast has the story: "Sean Parker, the founding president of Facebook, said the social-media platform functions by “exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.” At an event in Philadelphia on Wednesday night, the erstwhile 38-year-old Napster inventor told Axios, “It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.” Parker said he now understands that a site as popular as Facebook “literally changes your relationship with society, with each other... The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them... was all about: ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?..."

Axios has more onn Sean Parker trolling Facebook.

How to Hire Fake Friends and Family.  The Atlantic has the eye-opening story: "Money may not be able to buy love, but here in Japan, it can certainly buy the appearance of love—and appearance, as the dapper Ishii Yuichi insists, is everything. As a man whose business involves becoming other people, Yuichi would know. The handsome and charming 36-year-old is on call to be your best friend, your husband, your father, or even a mourner at your funeral. His 8-year-old company, Family Romance, provides professional actors to fill any role in the personal lives of clients. With a burgeoning staff of 800 or so actors, ranging from infants to the elderly, the organization prides itself on being able to provide a surrogate for almost any conceivable situation..."

24 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities, only 44F colder than last year. Good grief.

45 F. average high on November 10.

68 F. high on November 10, 2016.

November 11, 1940: The Great Armistice Day Blizzard kills 49 people in Minnesota. Food dropped by Pilot Max Conrad saved stranded hunters. The barometer fell to 28.66 inches at Duluth. Some roads were so badly blocked with snow they weren't opened until Nov. 22.

VETERANS DAY: Slushy start. Mostly cloudy skies. Not as cold. Winds: S 7-12. High: 42

SATURDAY NIGHT: Patchy clouds and fog. Low: 29

SUNDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, dry. Winds: NW 7-12. High: near 40

MONDAY: Overcast, temps. close to average. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 27. High: 44

TUESDAY: Gray but "mild". A little rain/drizzle later. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 40. High: near 50

WEDNESDAY: Mostly cloudy, a drying breeze. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 34. High: 42

THURSDAY: Overabundance of cloud cover. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 33. High: 44

FRIDAY: Rain may end as period of wet snow. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 36. High: 41

Climate Stories...

Asthma and Climate Change. A story at Yale Climate Connections points out that a warming climate is increasing smog and pollen and increasing risks of more asthma attacks: "Bad news for all of us who breathe. Climate change may contribute to more asthma attacks. Longer, hotter summers are increasing smog and pollen while decreasing air quality. Ozone and pollen can worsen existing allergies and trigger asthma attacks. “Climate change is going to make it more difficult for people who struggle with respiratory illness to stay healthy.” – Kim Knowlton, Asst. Clinical Prof. of Environmental Health Sciences, Columbia University. More than 24 million Americans suffer from asthma. Children are particularly vulnerable, especially black and Puerto Rican children.“As a pediatrician, I worry most about children, because their lungs are still growing and because they breathe faster than adults.” – Dr. Perry Sheffield, Mt. Sinai Doctors Faculty Practice.."

Final Defense Policy Bill Mandates Pentagon Climate Change Study. TheHill reports: "A compromise defense policy bill released by congressional negotiators on Thursday calls for the Defense Department to conduct a study into the impacts of climate change on American military operations. “Climate change is a direct threat to the national security of the United States and is impacting stability in areas of the world both where the United States Armed Forces are operating today, and where strategic implications for future conflict exist,” the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) says. The bill requires the secretary of Defense to submit to Congress “a report on the vulnerability to military installations and combatant commander requirements resulting from climate change over the next 20 years...”

U.S. House Science Committee Just Had a Rational Hearing About Climate. Ars Technica has the highlights: "...The committee members questions for the expert witnesses were equally serious. Several Democrats did make a point of emphasizing that climate change is human-caused and that geoengineering cannot replace emissions cuts—a point the experts made clear, as well. But generally, the committee members asked questions because they genuinely wanted to learn the answers. The witnesses summarized several possible geoengineering techniques, including the seeding of low clouds over the ocean, injection of aerosol particles into the stratosphere to reflect a little sunlight back out to space, and actively removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Afterward, the committee wanted to learn about how the field has progressed. Many seemed quite surprised to learn that the topic had received almost no federal research funding and has only been studied by a handful of scientists. There was also concern about whether other countries were further along. (They aren’t.)..."

CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS: Climate Nexus Hot News has links to the following stories: "New Zealand's winter shorter by a month over 100 years (The Guardian), Haiti tops index of nations worst-hit by extreme weather in 2016 (Thomson Reuters Foundation), Chad grapples with climate damage (Thomson Reuters Foundation), how climate change is aggravating Pakistan's water crisis (Deutsche Welle), climate migration muddied by legal confusion in Pacific islands (Thomson Reuters Foundation), how responsible is each country when an extreme climate event strikes? (InsideClimate News), algae are making Greenland darker, and that's probably a bad thing (Earther)"

Why Acknowledge Climate Change When You Can Simply Deny It? Esquire takes a look at the non-scientists nominated to take on scientific roles in the current administration. Surreal.

Clouds' Warming Potential is Frightening Researchers. E&E News has the story: "When it comes to the dangers of climate change, it may be the behavior of clouds — the wispy creatures of water, air and tiny particles — that becomes the master of man's fate. Their role is fundamental: They shade the planet, reflecting much of the sun's heat back into space. Without them, scientists calculate, the Earth could be absorbing twice as much warmth. But after three decades of research, how and where clouds move the way they do and how that will change as the climate warms and as the atmosphere becomes either more or less polluted remain among the biggest unanswered questions. These are major concerns for scientists who have spent their careers studying clouds. They see time running out for solutions. While the world's nations are planning to mitigate enough carbon emissions to contain the rise in the world's warming to a global average of 2 degrees Celsius by midcentury, the risks of missing this target may be severe..."

Image credit: "A sheet of stratocumulous clouds covers parts of the Pacific Ocean." NASA.

The 7 Megatrends That Could Beat Global Warming: "There Is Reason for Hope". Most days I'm optimistic too, but we need to turn up the dial and move faster. Here's an excerpt from The Guardian: "...No one is saying the battle to avert catastrophic climate change – floods, droughts, famine, mass migrations – has been won. But these megatrends show the battle has not yet been lost, and that the tide is turning in the right direction. “The important thing is to reach a healthy balance where we recognise that we are seriously challenged, because we really have only three years left to reach the tipping point,” says Figueres. “But at the same time, the fact is we are already seeing many, many positive trends.” Michael Liebreich, the founder of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, agrees. “The good news is we are way better than we thought we could be. We are not going to get through this without damage. But we can avoid the worst. I am optimistic, but there is a long way to go.” Also cautiously hopeful is climate economist Nicholas Stern at the London School of Economics. “These trends are the start of something that might be enough – the two key words are ‘start’ and ‘might’..."

File image: TheHill.

Faith Leaders Must Stop Acting as if There's No Preventing Natural Disasters. Are we inadvertently making these (natural) disasters worse? Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at Religion News Service: "...We jump into action after destruction has hit with courageous self-sacrifice and awe-inspiring generosity, all the while pretending as if there was nothing we could do before the storm hit, before the fires started. As faith leaders, we believe it’s time we stopped pretending and summoned our great generosity of spirit and incalculable ingenuity to address the ongoing disaster that is causing so many of our other disasters: climate change. In the last several decades, natural disasters have been increasing in both frequency and intensity. And 40 percent of the world’s population, including our fellow New Yorkers, live on coastlines while sea levels are rising. Last weekend (Oct. 28) New Yorkers from across our city marched to mark five years since Superstorm Sandy pounded the Eastern Seaboard, causing billions of dollars in damage, and devastating coastal New Jersey and New York City in particular..."

Ratio of Record Highs to Record Lows. In a world that wasn't warming you would expect the ratio to be close to 50:50. It isn't, according to the just-released 4th National Climate Assessment.

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