Ah, Christmas memories circa 2013. Wearing the stockings that should be hanging in front of the fireplace. Using a credit card to chip away the ice on the INSIDE of my windshield. Shooing the polar bears out of my yard. Belting out Christmas carols through gritted teeth. Every nerve ending clenching as I crunch through icy snow to pick up the mail.
No brown, lukewarm tidings of joy this year. Welcome to a Pioneer Christmas: Fort Snelling with flush toilets and Netflix. A subtle (yet blunt) reminder that we all live in a distant suburb of Winnipeg.
The approach of slightly milder air sets off another burst of powder today; 2-4 inches of fluff likely this afternoon & tonight. Get your last-last minute shopping done early.
This is as cold as it gets looking out 1-2 weeks; 20s will feel absurdly good Christmas Day - luxurious 30s Saturday before chilling down again early next week. There's every indication we'll be flirting with zero into the first week of 2014.
I see hints of a thaw mid-January, but a cold bias lingers as far ahead as I care to look.<p>I'm grateful for an amazing family, great friends and thoughtful readers.
A very merry Christmas is predicted for you & yours.
Severe Chilly. Here are the actual low temperatures reported Tuesday morning across the great state of Minnesota. Yes, it's cold enough. Map: WeatherNation TV.
Misery Loves Company. -2F at Chicago and Kansas City, a record -34F up at International Falls? It helps to know much of the northern tier of the USA is shivering right along with us.
Next Snow Burst. When it's this cold the flakes are small, air puffing up snowfall like the feathers in a down comforter. I expect fairly rapid accumulation of snow this afternoon and evening, slowly tapering late tonight. By then, 1-3" for much of Minnesota and Wisconsin, pushing across the Great Lakes into northern New England. 84-hour NAM Future Radar courtesy of NOAA and Ham Weather.
Probably Plowable. With a rain:snow ration closer to 1:20 and .20" liquid expected I could easily see some 4" amounts of Minnesota powder by tonight. Roads will get icier as the day goes on. Map: Ham Weather.
Waterfall Of Hurt. Those blue/aqua temperatures pushing into the Upper Mississippi Valley show subzero chill pushing south of the border via Canadian Air Mail, brushing the Great Lakes before retreating north. Temperatures moderate by the end of the week. 84-hour 2-meter temperature outlook: NOAA and Ham Weather.
No Major Break In The Pattern. Temperatures continue to trend well below average through at least the first week of 2014, the only short-term shot at freezing coming Saturday. January came early - maybe February will too. Temperature meteogram: Weatherspark.
Toronto Hit By Ice Storm, Hundreds Of Thousands Without Power. Treehugger has an update on an extreme ice event; here's the intro: "The second climate disaster of the year hit Toronto, Canada (here was the first) yesterday as an ice storm took down thousands of trees and power lines, leaving roads blocked and 300,000 customers and up to a million people without power in freezing weather. The head of the local power utility says that it is the worst they have ever seen..."
Photo credit above: CC BY 2.0 Lloyd Alter.
No Cable? No Problem. More Residents Cut The Cord, Opt For Streaming TV. I have DirecTV, Mediacom cable, as well as Apple TV and Roku, and I find I too am watching more streaming television via WiFi. How did I ever get by without Netflix? Here's a clip from The St. Cloud Times: "...Wall Street media analysts Craig Moffett and Michael Nathanson recently released a report that shows cable operators lost 687,000 subscribers nationally during the third quarter of this year — a much steeper decline than in 2011-12. The cable industry still controls about 55 percent of the pay-TV market in the United States, according to an SNL Kagan report, down from 65 percent in 2006. Like many of the contingent known as cord cutters, the Jonaks’ entertainment now comes online..."
Photo credit above: "Joe and Susie Jonak and their children Lily, 3, and Aidan, 5, use tablets, computers, and their BluRay player to stream video in their home Dec. 11. The family, like many others, got rid of cable or satellite television to stream content on the internet and Netflix." / Jason Wachter, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 100 Most Astonishing Images Of 2013. Gizmodo has an eye-popping, mind-boggling collection of photos from 2013; definitely worth a look: "We post tons of great images on Gizmodo, from space to science to art to design. Here's a treasure trove of our very favorites that proves that 2013 was, if nothing else, eye-catching."
Image credit above: massive hurricane on Saturday, via NASA.
12 Sexiest Ideas For Wasting Crazy Amounts Of Energy At Christmastime. With tongue implanted firmly in cheek, the Energy Blog at seattlepi.com has a few ideas; here's an excerpt: "..There are so many easy and amazing ways to enhance energy waste around the house during the holidays. How many can you find? Get the whole family to search together and make a game of it! Here are twelve ideas to get you started:
1. String all your old lights on the house and in the yard, then leave them on 24/7.
Untangling that wad of fading, failing incandescent light strands is part of the joy of the holidays. Why change? LED light strands would use 70 percent less energy than traditional bulbs, and they’re brighter so you would use fewer of them.
2. Leave the fireplace flue open.
Santa needs unimpeded access through your chimney..."
One-Off Fat Trike Attempts World Record Antarctic Trip. You think THIS is cold? This is Club Med compared to Antarctica, and one very ambitous biker. Good grief, I have nightmares that start out like this. Gizmag has more details: "Last winter, polar explorer Eric Larsen attempted to become the first person to cycle to the South Pole. Continually stymied by deep, unrideable snow, Larsen fell behind schedule and was forced to abandon the attempt. This year, several others are taking up the challenge. Thirty-five year-old British adventurer Maria Leijerstam is hoping the ticket to success is a fat-tired recumbent trike built to task..."
5 F. high in the Twin Cities Monday.
25 F. average high on December 23.
19 F. high on December 23, 2012.
7" snow on the ground at KMSP.
Weather History on December 23 - courtesy of the Twin Cities National Weather Service:
1996: Strong winds of 20 to 30 mph, combined with over a foot of new snowfall, resulted in restricted visibilities from blowing snow. As a result, several highways closed, including highway 19 west of Redwood Falls, highways 7 and 40 at Madison, and highways 67 and 23 out of Granite Falls.
1982: Heavy rain over the state with slushy snow over southwest Minnesota. Twin Cities gets 2.61 inches of precipitation through Christmas. Some lightning and thunder with the heavy rain on Christmas Eve.
CHRISTMAS EVE: Windchill Advisory. Feels like -25F early. Nanook with fading sun this morning. More snow this afternoon and evening, 1-3" expected by tonight. Icy PM hours. High: 13
TONIGHT: Snow tapers to flurries - slippery travel. Santa sightings. Low: 12
CHRISTMAS DAY: Mostly cloudy, better travel conditions. High: 24
THURSDAY: Mostly cloudy, few flurries. Wake-up: 8. high: 17
FRIDAY: Partly sunny, not as harsh. Wake-up: 5. High: 27
SATURDAY: A welcome thaw. Grilling weather. Wake-up: 18. High: 32
SUNDAY: Windy and colder with more clouds than sun. Wake-up: 2. High: 7
MONDAY: Flurries. Eye-watering winds. Wake-up: -5. High: 4
"...Despite new discoveries and increasing reliance on unconventional oil and gas, 37 countries are already post-peak, and global oil production is declining at about 4.1% per year, or 3.5 million barrels a day (b/d) per year:
"We need new production equal to a new Saudi Arabia every 3 to 4 years to maintain and grow supply... New discoveries have not matched consumption since 1986. We are drawing down on our reserves, even though reserves are apparently climbing every year. Reserves are growing due to better technology in old fields, raising the amount we can recover – but production is still falling at 4.1% p.a. [per annum]."
- from a post at The Guardian, details below. Image above: Clean Technica.
Solar Activity Is Not A Key Contributor To Climate Change: Study. International Business Times has the story - here's an excerpt: "Variations in heat from the sun have not strongly influenced climate change, according to a new study conducted by scientists at the University of Edinburgh, which instead points the finger at volcanic activity and greenhouse gases for the planet's ever-changing climate patterns. The findings of the study, published in Nature GeoScience on Sunday, have overturned a widely-held scientific concept that long-lasting periods of warm and cold weather in the past might have been caused by periodic fluctuations in solar activity. The researchers examined causes of climate change in Earth’s northern hemisphere over the past 1,000 years and found that until the year 1800, the key driver of periodic changes in climate was volcanic activity..."
Photo credit above: " NASA/SDO/AIA.
Annual Audubon Bird Count Is A Barometer For Climate Change. The Journal News has an interesting article and video; here's an excerpt: "...A 2009 report showed more than half the bird species seen during the first weeks of the winter season in North America had moved northward between 1966 and 2005. Not all that movement was a response to climate change, Audubon acknowledged, but the correlation between shifting ranges and increasing winter temperatures can’t be ignored. The new report, due out early next year, will be “powerful,” Audubon New York’s executive director Erin Crotty told The Journal News. “We’ll know which birds are threatened by climate change. It’s going to add urgency and clarity to our work,” Crotty said..."
Image credit above: "Counting birds at Christmas: Volunteers this holiday season are tallying birds as part of Audubon's 114th annual Christmas Bird Count, which helps scientists understand how birds are responding to various pressures, including climate change." (Michael Risinint/The Journal News).
Global Warming Will Intensify Drought, Says New Study. Not "trigger" drought, but when natural droughts do set in, make them more intense - faster; amplifying and potentially prolong their effects. Here's a summary of an interesting story at The Guardian: "...Overall, the study concludes,
"Increased heating from global warming may not cause droughts but it is expected that when droughts occur they are likely to set in quicker and be more intense."
In the end, climate change is important because it affects our lives, our societies, and our economies; impacts that are occurring because of extreme weather. It is critical to be able to accurately assess the trends in observed extreme weather so we can better plan our mitigation and adaptation strategies. The old adage of "you don't know where you are going unless you know where you've been" seems to apply pretty well here..."
Photo credit above: "A new study finds that global warming will probably cause droughts to set in quicker and be more intense." Photograph: David Gray/REUTERS.
Faux Pause: Climate Contrarians Lose Favorite Talking Point. Here's a clip from climate scientist Greg Laden at scienceblogs.com: "...To any objective observer, the Earth is now a world warmed. The decade 2001–2010 was the hottest decade on record, and every single month since March 1985 has been warmer than the 20th century average. The present year promises to be the sixth warmest year on record. Already this year, our fellow Americans out West have been confronted by record breaking wildfire, extreme drought, and devastating floods. All this in addition to the ongoing pine beetle epidemic ravaging our forests. All of these “natural” disasters are exactly what climate scientists expect from a world warmed by human emissions. Despite all these facts, the contrarians have been heavily (and somewhat successfully) asserting that the world isn’t warming, that global warming has paused..."
Climate Reality Project. Check out the video that links tobacco denial in the 70s with a new round of denial (on a much larger scale), designed to keep confusion alive and delay any kind of meaningful action: "For most people facing the impacts of climate change, including the majority of Americans, this reality is not controversial. But special interests, with exorbitant funding and support from Dirty Energy companies, have spent decades on well-coordinated campaigns to mislead and deceive us. They carefully planted the seeds of doubt and cynicism into the conversation … so they could slow down or stop the actions we need to solve this problem. Climate deniers are following the exact same playbook as the tobacco companies that once denied that smoking causes cancer. They’re doing all they can to make this confusing for us. But 97 percent of climate scientists understand that climate change is a reality. The scientists are not confused. And we shouldn’t be either."
Global Warming Fact Of The Day. For current headlines and research findings click here.
Are Utilities Wilting From Heat Of Solar Competition? National Journal has the story - here's a snippet: "...What we need to be talking about is what's the best way to allocate costs and how can we do this equitably and continue to enhance the grid," Owens said. "What we've seen this year is a recognition in various states that current rate-design structures are not working and they need to be revisited." For the solar industry, Miller took a somewhat similar line. "There are rate cases going on all over the country and right now what I think we're seeing is that regulators realize that you have to address these issues in the context of rate design," he said. "The main thing is that when we look at rate design as a whole, solar shouldn't be made a target."
Former BP Geologist: Peak Oil Is Here And It Will "Break Economies". The Guardian has the article - here's a clip: "A former British Petroleum (BP) geologist has warned that the age of cheap oil is long gone, bringing with it the danger of "continuous recession" and increased risk of conflict and hunger. At a lecture on 'Geohazards' earlier this month as part of the postgraduate Natural Hazards for Insurers course at University College London (UCL), Dr. Richard G. Miller, who worked for BP from 1985 before retiring in 2008, said that official data from the International Energy Agency (IEA), US Energy Information Administration (EIA), International Monetary Fund (IMF), among other sources, showed that conventional oil had most likely peaked around 2008..."