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Best Week of 2012? (no rain in sight - Minnesota's drought deepens)

  • Blog Post by: Paul Douglas
  • September 23, 2012 - 10:46 PM

36 F. low temperature at MSP International Airport Sunday morning.

61 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities.

69 F. average high for September 23.

60 F. high on September 23, 2011.

0" predicted rainfall thru Sunday morning in the Twin Cities.

 

First Freeze. Andrew Jopp snapped this photo up in Fergus Falls, where Sunday morning temperatures dipped into the low and mid 20s for a couple of hours. So long ragweed....

 

Sunday Morning: Mostly Frost-Free MSP Metro. As expected, temperatures stayed above freezing within the 494/694 Loop; Lake Elmo residents woke up to 27, 28 at Lakeville and Cambridge and 29 Northfield. A frost/freeze over most of greater Minnesota probably killed off a fair amount of ragweed (among other plants) overnight - maybe allergy sufferers will notice some improvement in the coming days.

 

 

 

Close Call. WeatherNation TV Meteorologist Todd Nelson snapped this shot up at his place in St. Michael, where frost was observed Sunday morning.

 

+2.9 F. The first 21 days of September are running nearly 3 F. warmer than average.

 

 "...According to a poll conducted by researchers at Yale University’s Project on Climate Change Communication, four out of five Americans reported personally experiencing one or more types of extreme weather or a natural disaster in 2011, while more than a third were personally harmed either a great deal or a moderate amount by one or more of these events." - from an article at Health News Digest; story and links below.

 

"...While there is virtually no mention of climate change in the local news, reporters have turned the weather into a national pastime. Perhaps this is because storms, hurricanes and tornadoes ignite a primal reaction, whereas climate change requires an intellectual one....

....sharks claim about 12 lives per year, while car crash fatalities average around 93 per day. In the case of climate change, fear over problems that will affect us 50 years from now cannot compare with fear of challenges we face today. What people don't understand is that climate change is, in fact, already affecting our economy."

 - excerpts from a Guardian story on U.S. media misinformation on climate change; details below. Image: Clean Technica.

 

"Medical mistakes kill enough people each week to fill four jumbo jets." - from a jaw-dropping story at the Wall Street Journal; links below.

 

"Serial Mastery". A life of continuing education, new skills, perpetual training and reinvention? Sounds like the 21st century to me. The New York Times captures the challenge (for all of us) to stay current and employable in an article below. Photo credit here.

 

Arctic Melt-Down. This animation, from NOAA's Environmental Visualization Laboratory, shows the historic melting at the top of the world; ice volume and aerial extent roughly 18% lower than the previous record low, set in 2007.

 

Spectacular Aurora. Check out this YouTube clip of a stunning display of the Northern Lights over Wick, Scotland, courtesy of "spider72wtf".

 

Indian Summer. It's generally accepted that "Indian Summer" is a period of unusual warmth coming after the first frost of the season. So residents of greater Minnesota can rightfully refer to this as Indian Summer, residents of the metro can accurately call today's mid-70s a warm front. Semantics. Graph: Iowa State.

 

Textbook September. This week sums up how spectacular (and dry) September can be. A series of clippers keep the Great Lakes and New England air conditioned, a few showers and T-storms over the Ohio Valley and South Florida, otherwise it's a dry, quiet weather map for much of the USA. 84-hour NAM model animation: NOAA.

 

Not A Drop. Every single model keeps us dry into at least Saturday; a couple of (light) showers may push across northern Minnesota by Sunday - but the pattern won't favor significant rain anytime soon. Highs range from the low 60s to the low 70s, arguably one of the best weeks of 2012...?

 

Down To A Trickle. This is, or was, the Raccoon River at Booneville, Iowa - just southwest of Des Moines. There used to be a river there. Thanks to Sandi Smith for sending this to WeatherNation TV meteorologist Bryan Karrick.

Drought Timeline. NOAA's U.S. Drought Monitor shows the gradual progression and intensification of the drought covering much of the USA in this animation. The statistics are interesting: 70% of the lower 48 states are now described as "abnormall dry", moderate drought impacting 54% of the USA (up from 24% at the start of the water year). Severe drought is impacting over a third of America, up from 15.8% at the start of 2012.

 

Fire Danger. According to the Minnesota DNR the fire risk has been upgraded to "very high" over the Red River Valley. A high risk exists for most of central and southern Minnesota.

 

3 Month Guess (Outlook). CPC, NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, is forecasting a milder-than-average October thru December for a huge chunk of the USA, drier than average for the Pacific Northwest, wetter across the Gulf coast and southeastern USA (which correlates with an El Nino warming over the central Pacific). Again, buyer beware. Odds favor a mild bias into at least the first half of winter, based on the trends of recent winters, but I sure wouldn't bet the farm on this. Call me perpetually paranoid, but what's happening in the Arctic (record melting) may have some blow-back across the lower 48. Hope I'm wrong.

 

Looking Ahead. Everyone wants to know what the winter will be like. Me too. Can you tell me where the NASDAQ will be in mid-February? Interest rates in early March? Looking at recent trends this winter should be milder than average, especially factoring in a mild to moderate El Nino warming, but that warming is taking place in the central Pacific, and in previous El Nino's like this the biggest impacts were over the Pacific Northwest and the southeastern USA, with little impact (cold or warm) on Minnesota and the Midwest. As I've been mentioning ad nauseum for days now, the Arctic is a huge wildcard. Record warming has created a semi-permanent bubble of warm high pressure at the top of the world, which may displace the cold "polar vortex" farther south, meaning more bitter swipes extending southward into the USA. The truth: models have some skill out to 15-20 days. Beyond that, forget about it. We can use ocean temperatures as cues, but there is still no reliable way to connect the dots and make a winter prediction with high confidence. Here is Mark Seeley's take in the latest installment of WeatherTalk: "On Thursday of this week the NOAA Climate Prediction Center issued new seasonal climate outlooks. The temperature outlook for Minnesota favors above normal values over the October-December period. Actually this trend is seen for about 75 percent of the USA based on dynamical models and past trends. Little emphasis is placed on El Nino at the moment because it remains in a neutral state. The precipitation outlooks shows equal chances for above or below normal values over the October-December period across most of the USA except the southeastern and mid-Atlantic states which are expected to see above normal values."

 

Floods Bring Evacuations In Alaska Town. The New York Times has the story; here's an excerpt: "ANCHORAGE (AP) — Residents of the Alaska tourist town of Talkeetna have been asked to leave because of the threat of flooding from the rain-swollen Talkeetna River....Gov. Sean Parnell toured the area around Talkeetna by helicopter on Friday and landed to talk to some of the residents who fled their homes. The governor declared a state disaster for the areas hit by the flooding. Talkeetna, about 75 miles north of Anchorage, is the last stop for climbers heading to Mount McKinley. It also has an eclectic population and has long been purported to be the inspiration for the Alaska town in the 1990s television series “Northern Exposure.”

Video credit above: Here's an excerpt from a YouTube clip of significant flooding in Alaska: "View Aerials of a few flood damaged areas as the Assistant Borough Manager talks about what he saw while surveying the flood damaged areas from helicopter."

 

With Extreme Weather Will Insurers Come To The Rescue? Here's an excerpt of a timely story from meteorologist Andrew Freedman at Climate Central: "Following a damaging episode of extreme weather, communities turn to insurance companies to help them rebuild, but with costly extreme weather and climate events on the rise as the climate continues to warm, insurers may stop coming to the rescue, a new report warns. The report from Ceres, a nonprofit group that advocates for sustainable business practices, calls attention to the threat that extreme weather events pose to the sustainability of the insurance industry, which has been hit hard by record-breaking extreme weather in recent years, on top of lower profits due to other reasons."

 

"Ask Paul". Weather-related questions and comments:

Hi-

"When the highs/lows are listed for a certain day of the week - what hours does that include? I always thought it was the 24-hour period from midnight to midnight, so when you wake up, say, on Sunday and read the paper, the low from Sunday could have already been reached during the midnight to 7 am time of the 24 hour clock of Sunday. Is that correct?

Thanks!

Debby Swinney

 

Debby - appreciate the question. It's always challenging trying to come up with the best way to display expected high/low temperatures for a given day. The paper is printed between midnight and 3 am, in plenty of time for it to show up on your doorstep or in your mailbox by 6 or 7 am. So we don't have an "actual" low temperature; it's still a predicted low. Realizing there is no "perfect" way to display these predictions that everyone will like, we agreed that the high/low in the 7-Day is for that specific day, not a midnight to midnight prediction. In other words: the 38 F. low for Monday morning was the predicted wake-up low temperature for this morning, followed by a predicted high of 75 this afternoon. Wednesday morning's low of 43 gives way to a predicted high of 63. I hope this helps.


 

Like An Explosion At A Crayola Crayon Factory. Check out the scenery up at Lutsen: "The view from Moose Mountain. It's a great time to ride the Mountain Tram and enjoy the spectacular foliage!"

 

"Inliers": Why Non-Experts Are Better At Disruptive Innovation. Is it possible to be "too close" to your subject matter, too engrossed in your area of expertise, to see (disruptive/revolutionary) solutions? Here's an excerpt of an interesting article at Huffington Post: "I believe that people who will come up with creative solutions to solve the world's biggest problems -- ecological devastation, global warming, the global debt crisis and distribution of dwindling natural resources, to name a few -- will not be experts in their fields. The real disruptors will be those individuals who are not steeped in one industry of choice with those coveted 10,000 hours of experience, but instead, individuals who approach challenges with a clean lens, bringing together diverse experiences, knowledge and opportunities. And while experts will have a part to play in solving today's looming crises where incremental evolution is needed, I believe that non-expert individuals will drive disruptive innovation. Here's why."

 

To Stay Relevant In A Career, Workers Train Non-Stop. I keep telling my boys that things have changed. When I graduated from college in 1980 a degree was a passport for a better life. It still is, but the rate of technological innovation has increased dramatically with smaller business cycles. The only predictable thing: change. That means life-long learning, continuing education and reinvention is critical to stay current and employable. I thought The New York Times did a good job capturing this technological treadmill in this article; here's an excerpt: "...But exhaustion may be a luxury that Mr. Hallock can never afford. The need to constantly adapt is the new reality for many workers, well beyond the information technology business. Car mechanics, librarians, doctors, Hollywood special effects designers — virtually everyone whose job is touched by computing — are being forced to find new, more efficient ways to learn as retooling becomes increasingly important not just to change careers, but simply to stay competitive on their chosen path.....Lynda Gratton, a professor of management practice at the London Business School, has coined a term for this necessity: “serial mastery.”

 

$20,000 Give To Girl For By AT&T For Creating Anti-Texting While Driving App. Coming to an smartphone near you soon; iPhone Informer has more details: "$20,000 has been given to a young girl by AT&T for creating an anti-texting while driving app. An 11-year old was awarded the prize money as part of a hackathon last month. She created a concept mobile app that aims to raise awareness for the “It Can Wait” campaign (via iDB) The app is entitled Rode Dog and allows users to be placed into “packs,” “with members of the pack able to check whether others are texting whilst driving. If they are, remote users can set off an alarm – a dog barking, oddly enough – in order to tell the offending texter to stop.”

 

 

How To Stop Hospitals From Killing Us. If you read one article today make it this one. I know I'll be asking tougher questions the next time I check into a hospital for a procedure. The statistics are harrowing. Here's an excerpt from a Wall Street Journal story (subscription may be required for online access): "When there is a plane crash in the U.S., even a minor one, it makes headlines. There is a thorough federal investigation, and the tragedy often yields important lessons for the aviation industry. Pilots and airlines thus learn how to do their jobs more safely. The world of American medicine is far deadlier: Medical mistakes kill enough people each week to fill four jumbo jets. But these mistakes go largely unnoticed by the world at large, and the medical community rarely learns from them. The same preventable mistakes are made over and over again, and patients are left in the dark about which hospitals have significantly better (or worse) safety records than their peers."

 

Flat Earth Society. Hey, I'm keeping an open mind. All those (millions) of images from satellites could have been faked, along with the moon landings, for that matter. Here's an excerpt of an FAQ from theflatearthsociety.org: "


"Q: "Why do you believe the earth is flat?"

A: It looks that way up close. In our local reference frame, it appears to take a flat shape, ignoring obvious hills and valleys. In addition, Samuel Rowbotham et al. performed a variety of experiments over a period of several years that show it must be flat. They are all explained in his book, which is linked at the top of this article."

 

Art In The Era Of The Internet. I found this clip at Brain Pickings interesting: "Over the past few months, the fine folks at PBS Arts have been exploring various facets of creative culture — including typography, product design, generative art, papercraft, and more — and their evolution in the digital age as part of the ongoing Off Book series. The latest installment explores art in the era of the Internet, and features Kickstarter founder Yancey Strickler, Creative Commons mastermind Lawrence Lessig, and my dear friend Julia Kaganskiy, editor of Creators Project, along with her colleague and creative director Ciel Hunter."

 

Dog Given Up During Hurricane Katrina Turns Up In North Carolina. Here's an excerpt of a fascinating story of survival and true (animal) grit, courtesy of The Today Show's Animal Tracks: "A dog given up in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina seven years ago has been found wandering along a road in North Carolina, and its original owners in Louisiana say they want him back. The 15-year-old white poodle named Shorty has a microchip and staff at the Cabarrus Animal Hospital in Kannapolis, N.C., were able to trace it to its family in New Orleans."

 

Good Enough For Me. Maybe if you're watching TV you won't notice the price of gas. I snapped this photo in St. Cloud yesterday. Nice pumps.

 

On This Date In Weather History (for September 23). Information courtesy of the local Twin Cities NWS:

1985: 0.4 inches of snow fell in the Minneapolis area.

1982: Tropical air over the state. The Twin Cities has a low of 71.

1869: Heavy rain dumps nearly 10 inches on the White Earth Reservation.

 
 
Brisk, But Better. At least the wild winds died down a bit, a frosty start across much of Minnesota giving way to blue sky and highs near 60.

 

             

Paul's Star Tribune Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:

 

TODAY: Warm sun, breezy. Winds: SW 10-20+ High: 75

 

MONDAY NIGHT: Clear skies. Low: 49

 

TUESDAY: Blue sky, cooling down to "average". High: 66

 

WEDNESDAY: Sunny, light winds as high pressure drifts overhead. Low: 44. High: 64

 

THURSDAY: Dry and dusty. Lukewarm sun. Low: 47. High: 68

 

FRIDAY: Still quiet. Sunny and mild. Low: 50. High: near 70

 

SATURDAY: Fading sun, probably dry. Low: 52. High: 71

 

SUNDAY: Partly sunny, isolated shower north? Low: 50. High: 69

 

* photo above courtesy of Migizi Gichigumi, who snapped this sunset photo in Bayfield, Wisconsin.

 

 

Brown and Beautiful

Looking for a nice, stable 8 to 5 gig? If so, step away from the Doppler. 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep? Weekend plans? A vacation coming up? If there's a big storm brewing you'll be stuck on a (bad) date with Mother Nature.

Why bring this up? Because September and early October brings the lowest odds of life-threatening weather in Minnesota.

The facts: blizzards and wind chill strike from November into March. A week later it's tornado season. Summers bring flash floods, lightning and extreme heat.

No kidding.

I'd feel better about this amazing, blue-sky weather-vacation if we could negotiate 2 days, back-to-back, of soaking, 4-inch-plus rain.

Returning from our cabin Sunday I noticed knee-deep water in the Mississippi River at St. Cloud; new islands popping up that weren't there a month ago.

NOAA is leaning toward a worsening drought over Minnesota, and I have to agree, at least thru December. We may not pull out of this dusty rut until spring of 2013.

The same towns that saw a freeze early Sunday will soar into the 70s today; a full week of sunny 60s on tap. Big storms detour south of Minnesota into next week; no cold smacks brewing either.

The outlook: brown & beautiful!

 

* photo credit above: Nick Klenchik, who snapped this photo near Binghampton, New York.

 

Climate Stories...

 

America's Miasma Of Misinformation On Climate Change. No kidding. Here's an excerpt of an important article at the U.K. Guardian: "...While there is virtually no mention of climate change in the local news, reporters have turned the weather into a national pastime. Perhaps this is because storms, hurricanes and tornadoes ignite a primal reaction, whereas climate change requires an intellectual one. There is also a perception of trust that grows from constant visibility on television – although we poke fun at the weatherman, we still hide in our closets during tornado warnings. On the other hand, we regard PhD-level climate scientists with suspicion, even though their work must hold up to rigorous peer review. The weather versus climate conflict illustrates what behavioral economists have said for years:

"We base our decisions on emotion far more than reason."

Flawed climate risk perception may also explain why meteorologists have an advantage over climate scientists in making immediate weather more urgent than climate change. Although hard data do influence thinking, the psychology of risk perception is complicated."

Photo credit above: "Sixty-one per cent of Americans consider themselves 'cautious', 'disengaged', 'doubtful' and 'dismissive' on climate change." Photograph: www.memphisflyer.com

 

Welcome To A New World Of "Dirty Weather". It's the first time I've heard this expression - and it makes a certain amount of sense, at least to me. Man's fingerprints may be showing up on some (not all) extreme weather events; there's a growing body of evidence greenhouse gases, a warmer atmosphere and 4-5% more water vapor floating overhead are all contributing to spike some weather events, making heat waves hotter, droughts drier, and turbo-charged rainfall amounts. Here's an excerpt from The Hill: "Al Gore hopes to show links between climate change and the effects of extreme weather worldwide with an online and social media-fueled event built around the idea of “dirty weather.” Gore’s advocacy group, the Climate Reality Project, announced Sunday that its second multi-media “24 Hours of Reality” event will occur Nov. 14-15 and bear the title “The Dirty Weather Report.” “We are in a new era where the . . . extreme weather that is occurring is not fully caused by the natural cycles of time and natural events, but by dirty energy, so it is really important to articulate that and name it more precisely,” said Maggie Fox, the CEO of the Climate Reality Project, in an interview Saturday."

 

Climate Central Reveals Telling Study Of Climate Change And Wildfires. Here's an excerpt of an article at SummitDaily.com: "...The study provided a sobering outlook on the new average burn season, which are now two and a half times longer than 40 years ago, adding approximately 75 days to the fire season each year. Across the West, spring snowmelt has come one to four weeks earlier than averages in the 1970s. Since then, years with the most acres burned have been during years with above-average temperatures. “America's western forests now see seven times more very large fires over 10,000 acres in an average year,” Kenward said. “Over that time, temperatures have increased dramatically.” “In the not-too-distant future, as temperatures continue to rise across the West, we're likely to see years like this a lot more often,” Kenward said. The report cites wildfire drivers not related to climate change, but say the warmer, earlier springs and longer summers “make conditions ripe for larger and more numerous fires,” according to the study."

Graphic credit above: "A recent study by Climate Central found a higher risk for wildfires on Forest Service land from warming average temperatures and longer fire seasons." Special to the Daily / Climate Center

 

Climate Change And Extreme Weather. Here's an excerpt of an article at HealthNewsDigest.com that caught my eye: "...While most scientists don’t dispute the link between global warming and extreme weather, the once skeptical public is now starting to come around—especially following 2011, when floods, droughts, heat waves and tornadoes took a heavy toll on the U.S. According to a poll conducted by researchers at Yale University’s Project on Climate Change Communication, four out of five Americans reported personally experiencing one or more types of extreme weather or a natural disaster in 2011, while more than a third were personally harmed either a great deal or a moderate amount by one or more of these events. And a large majority of Americans believe that global warming made several high profile extreme weather events worse, including record high summer temperatures nationwide, droughts in Texas and Oklahoma, catastrophic Mississippi River flooding, Hurricane Irene and an unusually warm winter."

 

Time For The GOP To Get Serious About Climate Change, The New National Security Issue. Here's a snippet from an interesting read at The Atlantic: "....This is not a "soft" issue that should be of concern only to environmentalists. Climate change can be destabilizing in international affairs, a fact that the Department of Defense is now trumpeting. As the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review Report notes, climate change contributes to food and water scarcity, provoking or exacerbating mass migrations, and amping up conflicts over resources. The report states, "While climate change alone does not cause conflict, it may act as an accelerant of instability or conflict, placing a burden to respond on civilian institutions and militaries around the world."

Photo credit above: "A badly under-watered Kansas cornfield awaits rain this past August. An end-of-summer wet spell helped nurture soybeans, but came too late for the corn crop -- a development that could raise food prices around the world." (Reuters)

 

Despite Little Mention Of Climate Change From Candidates, Faith Groups Pledge To Make It A Campaign Issue. Here's an excerpt of a post from Think Progress: "This week, the National Climate Summit 2013 Coalition released a petition calling on both Presidential candidates to address rapidly accelerating climate change. The statement, written and endorsed by over 1300 faith leaders, elected officials, civil rights groups, environmental activists, business representatives, and others, calls on both Presidential candidates to “act in the best interests of this and all future generations of American’s now by publicly acknowledging the climate emergency”; and committing to host a climate summit to craft actions for national solutions within their first 100 days in office."

 

What Is The True Social Cost Of Carbon? Here's a clip from an interesting article at Living Green Magazine: "...Potential greenhouse gas policy, post-November, remains a murky picture. While candidate Mitt Romney has said he opposes a carbon tax, some of his economic advisers embrace the idea (subscription) as a means to tackle greenhouse gas emissions, especially in tight fiscal times. The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein frames the carbon pricing debate as a bargain between Democrats and Republicans, and a Slate piece offers that carbon taxes are good not only for the environment, but also for the treasury. Meanwhile, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross argues in The Atlantic that, given the national-security challenges the issue poses for the U.S., Romney and the Republican party are “ceding important ground by tolerating and encouraging denialism” of climate change. Ralph Nader says Obama and the Democrats are “running away from the issue” of climate change."

 

Got Science? Not At News Corporation. Here's an excerpt of a story at The Union of Concerned Scientists: " In 2007, News Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch claimed coverage of climate change in his media outlets — which include Fox News Channel and the Wall Street Journal opinion pages — would improve over time. Such improvement has not been achieved. A 2012 snapshot analysis shows that recent coverage of climate science in both outlets has been overwhelmingly misleading. The analysis finds that the misleading citations include broad dismissals of human-caused climate change, rejections of climate science as a body of knowledge, and disparaging comments about individual scientists. Furthermore, much of this coverage denigrated climate science by either promoting distrust in scientists and scientific institutions or placing acceptance of climate change in an ideological, rather than fact-based, context."

 

PBS Ombud: NewsHour Climate Change Report Worth Criticizing. Here's a clip from Media Matters for America: "A PBS NewsHour global warming report that allowed a climate change contrarian to "counterbalance" mainstream scientific opinion is worth criticizing, according to PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler, who said he received hundreds of emails and calls about the program. Getler said he is penning a column on the issue that is likely to be posted late today or Monday, and hinted it will be critical. "There's just a lot of...hundreds of emails about it," Getler said when asked why he is writing about the issue. "Commentary about it all over and it's interesting." Getler declined to offer specific views on the NewsHour report, which aired last Monday. But when asked if he has found elements to criticize, he said: "Oh yeah, of course there's material to be critical about."

 

Climate Change Could Awaken Canadian Forests: Study. The Toronto Sun has the story; here's a clip: "Ancient forests in Canada's North could one day bloom again, thanks to climate change, a new study has found. Bylot Island in Nunavut is home to a fossilized forest that scientists estimate is between two and three million years old. Once upon a time, the North's cold and barren landscape featured a lush forest of oak, pine, spruce and hickory. If temperatures in the North continue their upward climb, that forest could return within a century, Alexandre Guertin-Pasquier of the University of Montreal says. "According to the data model, climate conditions on Bylot Island will be able to support the kinds of trees we find in the fossilized forest that currently exist there, such as willow, pine and spruce. I've also found evidence of a possible growth of oak and hickory near the study site during this period," Guertin-Pasquier said in a press release."

Photo credit above: "The University of Montreal's Alexandre Guertin-Pasquier at his study site in Nunavut in June 2010." (HANDOUT)

 

How Green Was My Lawn. What happened to environmentalism? The idealism of the 1960s and 1970s has worn thin. Here is an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The New York Times that caught my eye: "....Today, however, climate change, perhaps the most important environmental issue of our time, rarely polls among voters’ top five concerns. One reason may be that its patently global character has enervated support at environmentalism’s suburban grass roots. But it doesn’t help that blanket condemnation of suburbs as hopelessly dependent on fossil fuels comes all too easily."

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