Benefits of Brrr

This may prove the perils of cold weather brain-shrinkage, but consider: 1) Living in Minnesota gives you cold weather boasting rights for the USA! Anchorage? Not even close. Alaska's biggest city didn't see ONE subzero low in 2014. 2) A low of -30 to -40F is required to kill off most invasive pests, including hungry Pine Beetles. A cleansing cold wave is very good news for our North Woods. 3) There's anecdotal evidence that the crime rate drops during extended cold waves. It turns out thugs, creeps and criminals don't much care for extreme wind chills either.

Feeling better? Me neither.

The next surge of polar exhaust arrives today. Temperatures tumble, bottoming out tomorrow morning around -15F in the suburbs with a wind chill of -35 to -40F. Pioneer cold, but a rebound is likely by the weekend with highs luxuriating in the teens. Yes, teens above! will feel amazingly good.

I still don't see anything that qualifies as a storm, just slow moderation next week as winds begin to blow from the Pacific instead of the Arctic Circle. That should mean a thaw by the end of next week.

Is this the worst of winter? Probably. Then again I'm a naive optimist with debilitating brain-freeze.

Blistering Cold. Although not as cold as last winter, it will be cold enough for mere mortals, the lowest temperature and wind chill of the week coming Wednesday morning. The map above shows 10 AM predicted wind chill values tomorrow morning, dipping as low as -37F in the Twin Cities, -45F at Duluth.

An Arctic Intrusion. Invasion sounds too strong, but there's little doubt that most of America east of the Rockies will experience a serious smack; the coldest subzero readings from the Upper Midwest to the Great Lakes and New England by Thursday. This surge of bitter air turns on the lake-effect snow machine over the next 72 hours as chilly air pushes as far south as Florida.

Coldest Week of Winter. I feel a little more confident making that claim, the same irresponsible forecast I've been making for a few days now, after looking at latest guidance. Subzero lows are likely into next Tuesday morning; probably 8-9 subzero lows in the row. We'll see subzero lows into late February, but I doubt we'll see the duration and intensity of cold we will into early next week.

Canada: Temporarily Running Out Of Cold Air In 1-2 Weeks. Don't worry, they'll make more, and export it south of the border. 500 mb steering winds aloft look a bit more zonal, blowing west to east by Monday evening, January 19, which should be good for 20s, maybe a few days in the 30s. Source: GrADS:COLA/IGES.

Liability Concerns Prompt Some Cities To Limit Sledding. Yes, this Grinch-like move is an apparent step to try and avoid dealing with injuries and inevitable lawyers. Here are two excerpts from an eye-opening story at AP: "...A study by Columbus, Ohio-based Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital found that between 1997 and 2007, more than 20,000 children each year were treated at emergency rooms for sledding-related injuries....Some cities have opted for less drastic measures in the last several years rather than an all-out ban, including Des Moines, Iowa; Montville, New Jersey; Lincoln, Nebraska; and Columbia City, Indiana. By banning sledding on certain slopes or posting signs warning people to sled at their own risk, cities lessen their liability if someone is seriously hurt, but they're still more vulnerable to lawsuits than if they had adopted an outright ban..."

Photo credit above: "In this Dec. 11, 2013 file photo Zoe Reisen,10, of Dubuque, Iowa, sleds down a hill at Allison-Henderson Park on in Dubuque, Iowa. Faced with the potential bills from people who are injured sledding, Dubuque is one of the cities across the country the is opting to close hills rather than face the risk of large liability claims." (AP Photo/The Telegraph Herald, Jessica Reilly, File)

Mild Bias into March. NOAA CPC (Climate Prediction Center) publishes output from multiple longer-range climate models going out many months. I wouldn't bet the farm on any of these, but it is interesting looking at the trends from month to month. A majority of these longer-range models continue to show a warm bias for much of North American into late March; symptoms of a brewing El Nino.

2014: Warmest Year On Record. This according to JMA, Japan Meteorological Agency, which adds: "The annual anomaly of the global average surface temperature in 2014 (i.e. the average of the near-surface air temperature over land and the SST) was +0.27°C above the 1981-2010 average (+0.63°C above the 20th century average), and was the warmest since 1891. On a longer time scale, global average surface temperatures have risen at a rate of about 0.70°C per century."

2014 Temperature Departure From Average: January thru November. Here is why it's probably a bad idea looking out your window and making global assumptions. "Uh, the planet can't be warming up Paul because it's cold outside!" No, that never gets old. 2014 will almost certainly be the warmest year on record according to NOAA data, with a 60-70% probability it will be the warmest year on record according to NASA GISS numbers. The chilliest weather last year? Directly above our heads, Upper Midwest and Great Lakes. Otherwise the vast majority of the world's land masses and oceans experienced record warmth. Source: NOAA NCDC.

Facebook Is The New AOL. Back to the 90s, whether you like it or not. Here's an excerpt of an intriguing article at The Verge: "...Just think about it for a minute. Of course Facebook is the new AOL. Facebook is the beginning and the end of the internet for a huge number of normal people, a combination of primary service provider (user profiles, messaging, photo sharing) and '90s-style portal to the wider web. Facebook has its own IM platform, Messenger, just like AOL had AOL Instant Messenger. Then it went and bought WhatsApp, the messaging platform more popular internationally, just like AOL bought ICQ. Facebook groups are just AOL chat rooms..."

Think Twice Before Griping About Your Job. TVSpy has a video clip focused on a guy who replaces the blinking red light at the top of radio towers - I wonder if he can get life insurance; here's an excerpt: "...KDLT, the NBC affiliate in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, needed a light changed on its inactive analog broadcast tower so planes and other flying vehicles don’t run into it. According to All Things Aero, a guy named Kevin Schmidt climbed up and did the deed. He even took a selfie 1500 feet above the South Dakota prairie while being watched by the drone that shot the video..."

Client Feedback On The Creation Of The Earth. If Silicon Valley created Creation; this is the unlikely memo that would go out well ahead of beta Earth 1.0, courtesy of; here's the intro:

"Hi God,

Thanks so much for the latest round of work. Really coming together. Few points of feedback:

1 – Really liking the whole light thing but not totally sure about the naming system. “Day” and “night” are OK but we feel like there’s more we can do here. Thoughts? Definitely need to nail this down ASAP.

2 – Re: the “sky”… not really feeling the color here. Would like something that pops more. Please send additional options...."

Man Reenacts Movie "Up" With 90 Colored Balloons and a Sun Lounger. No, you can't make this stuff up. Here's a clip from a story at Gizmag: "Have you ever wondered how many helium-filled balloons it would take to lift you up and let you fly among the clouds? Extreme sports enthusiast Erik Roner recently found out. Roner attached 90 helium-filled balloons to a sun lounger and rose to 8,000 ft (2,438 m)...."

-11 F. wake-up temperature Monday morning.

-1 F. maximum temperature yesterday at 5:59 PM.

24 F. average high on January 5.

-2 F. high on January 5, 2014.

January 5, 1942: Temperature rose from 32 below zero to 41 above in 24 hours in Pipestone.

TODAY: Some sun, colder wind. Winds: NW 20. Wind chill: -20. High: 5, then falling

TUESDAY NIGHT: Clearing and bitter. Low: -13

WEDNESDAY: Coldest day. Feels like -35. Ouch. Bright, ineffective sunshine. High: -2

THURSDAY: Next clipper, coating of flurries. Wake-up: -11. High: 13

FRIDAY: Intervals of sun. Feels like -30F. Wake-up: -8. High: 2

SATURDAY: More clouds than sun, less wind. Wake-up: -9. High: 11

SUNDAY: Partly sunny, still can't feel my toes. Wake-up: -6. High: 8

MONDAY: Last shot of brittle air - for now. Wake-up: -6. High: 5

Climate Stories...

Perspective. Thanks to Elijah Zarlin and Twitter for clarifying why climate scientists are concerned.

Climate Change's Calling Card in 2014: Heat. Here's a clip from a 2014 recap at Climate Central that got my attention: "...This year is virtually guaranteed to go down as the world’s hottest on record. But it’s not just one hot year we’re talking about. It’s a staggering list. Consider that the 15 hottest years on record have all come since 1997. Or that this will be the third straight decade to break the mark for global temps. And that it’s been 358 months since the planet had a cooler-than-average month, and more than 100 years since we last had a record-cold month...."

2014 Brought Lasting Action on Climate Change Policy. Scott Horsley has the story at NPR; here's an excerpt: "...Critics complain that while the U.S. is already cutting its carbon pollution, China's emissions are allowed to keep growing until 2030. China is already making big investments in clean energy, though. And the Chinese government has announced plans to cap the use of coal within five years. Doniger of the NRDC says China's choking smog problem gives it a big incentive to clean up its power plants. What's more, he says, the Chinese government is genuinely worried by increasingly dry weather in the northern part of the country and rising sea levels in the east. "They understand climate change is real. And when their scientists tell them it's real, they don't have a bunch of ideologues who tell them it's a hoax," Doniger says..."

Tropical Forests May Inhale Third of Fossil Fuel Emissions. This is why deforestation is so critical; if we remove carbon "sinks" the amount of CO2 that winds up in the atmosphere and oceans increases dramatically; here's an excerpt from Climate Central: "...Tropical forests are so critical to fighting climate change that they may absorb up to one-third of all of humans’ fossil fuel emissions and may become more effective at doing so as atmospheric CO2 concentrations increase, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “While forests cannot solve the CO2 and climate change problem, without them the problem would be even harder,” said the study’s lead author David Schimel, a research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology..."

Photo credit above: "Spray paint indicates trees that had just been measured at Cuatro Rios as part of research carried out at La Selva Biological Station, near La Virgen, Costa Rica, Oct. 15, 2014. The return of new-growth tropical forest parcels like this one is remarkable both ecologically and economically as a sign of the growing push to halt and eventually reverse deforestation." (Adriana Zehbrauskas/The New York Times).

A Polar Bear Capital Fears A Bearless Future. You can read (or listen) to the story at Marketplace; here's the intro: "...Hundreds of bears gather every winter in the town of Churchill, Manitoba, waiting for Hudson Bay to freeze so they can return to hunting seals. This annual migration attracts thousands of tourists, and it's an economic boon for local businesses.  The problem? Polar bear season only lasts seven weeks. And when you’re hundreds of miles from the next major city, with no roads connecting you to the outside world, and there are only a few months of the year when the ground’s not covered in snow, there aren’t many options for work. Here in Churchill, Manitoba, population 800, there are three..."

Time Is Running Out On Climate Denial. Here's a clip from a story at The Guardian: "...In fact, there are few groups that don’t support significant action to curb carbon pollution. The US military views climate change as a serious threat. The Pope is rumored to be planning a major effort to encourage an international agreement on climate policy targets in 2015. A growing number of faith groups support climate action, viewing it as an issue of stewardship. Even a majority of non-Tea Party Republicans agree that the planet is warming and support an international treaty that requires the United States to cut its emissions of carbon dioxide 90% by the year 2050..."

Can A Christian Make Conservatives Care About Climate Change? RollingStone has the article; here's a snippet: "...Last year, Joyner was featured in Showtime's documentary series Years of Living Dangerously, where she debated climate change with her father in a gripping segment. "What I found was that his resistance had very little to do with theology and much more to do with his entrenched political ideology," she says. "Conservative talking heads and think tanks don't have to prove the science, they just have to introduce an element of doubt..."

Photo credit above: The Years Project/Courtesy of SHOWTIME. "Anna Jane Joyner is trying to convince evangelicals that climate change is a problem worth solving."

Nuclear Power Is The Greenest Option, Say Top Scientists. Because in the near term renewables won't be able to produce enough energy at scale; is natural gas the bridge fuel we need to get to a much cleaner energy mix, or is it nuclear - and can nuclear energy ever be generated safely with full consideration to radioactive waste that results? Here's an excerpt from the U.K. Independent: "...Nuclear power is one of the least damaging sources of energy for the environment, and the green movement must accept its expansion if the world is to avoid dangerous climate change, some of the world's leading conservation biologists have warned. Rising demand for energy will place ever greater burdens on the natural world, threatening its rich biodiversity, unless societies accept nuclear power as a key part of the "energy mix", they said. And so the environmental movement and pressure groups such as Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace should drop their opposition to the building of nuclear power stations..."

GOP's New Refrain: "Not A Scientist". Here's an excerpt from The Hill: "...But O’Connell said “I’m not a scientist” plays an important, albeit temporary, role in the broader GOP debate. “The fact is, the party’s not come to a consensus on how they want to deal with the issue of climate change,” he said. “What they do agree on is that they do not want to pass what they see as middle-class job-killing regulations and taxes. But they want to maintain flexibility until they come to a consensus on the best way to handle it down the line...”

Editorial: The Politics of Climate Change. Is our government really capable of orchestrating a conspiracy among all the world's leading climate scientists, NOAA, NASA and nearly every scientific organization to "push their warmist agenda?" Maybe. But then again they can't even launch a successful web site, so forgive me for being dubious of conspiracy theories. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Farmington Daily Times that caught my eye: "...But there is a process in place to untangle these messes. It's called peer review. Yes, we know some believe there is a massive conspiracy among government bureaucrats to fund scientists who manipulate data to provide a basis for regulatory overreach. And the scientists who participate in peer review — the vast majority who invite criticism that helps them fine-tune their methods — are part of the conspiracy. What's curious is that many of the people who hold that belief will tell you that, in nearly every other circumstance, government is incapable of coordinated activity that achieves its stated goal..."

Back Off Baby Boomers: The Millenials Own The Fight Against Climate Change. The author of this Op-Ed at Huffington Post is a 16 year old high school sophomore in New York City; here's an excerpt: "...Only time will tell if millennials will change the ways governments look at climate change. If the present is any reflection of the future, then yes, they will bring change. But if the American people know one thing it is that those we elect to represent us so often fall into other ways of thinking that put corporations before constituents. As the old saying goes, power corrupts. Unless the grassroots campaigns gather a vast new following, policy changes related to climate change will most likely have to wait until one of the Koch brothers' beach houses is ruined by a superstorm." (File photo: Reuters).

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