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Light 'nuisance' snow possible tonight

  • Blog Post by: Paul Douglas
  • November 21, 2013 - 9:00 AM

Nuisance Snow

"Americans are preoccupied with inches" my favorite college professor complained. "It gives the impression we can predict snowfall down to the inch, which is a pipe dream." Amen brother. We usually offer up a range of possible snowfall totals, but if I say 3 to 6 inches people remember 6. I guess we all tend to round up.

Final snowfall tallies depend on the precise storm track, the amount of moisture available, and temperatures throughout the lowest mile of the atmosphere. In 1976 there was one weather model from NOAA, the LFM. Now there are dozens. So much data, so little wisdom.

Some light snow is possible tonight; maybe a quick coating - more nuisance than "plowable". This quick burst of white comes along the leading edge of much colder air for the weekend. A lack of deep snow cover will limit just how cold it can get, but highs only reach the teens & 20s on Saturday.

Lake effect snows will kick in downwind of Lakes Superior and Michigan; a soaking rain event shaping up for the east coast before Thanksgiving. No big, controversial storms are brewing close to home into next week. Highs approach 30F Thanksgiving Day, within a few degrees of average.

Could be worse.


Teaser Snow Upper Midwest - Heavier Snow Texas Panhandle & Oklahoma? Check out the 00z run of the NAM model, hinting at significant snow and ice from Amarillo to Oklahoma City; just a candy coating of white for the Upper Midwest as much colder air approaches. Loop: Ham Weather.


Numb And Number. Some very cold air is brewing to our north, from Canada into Alaska, with low temperatures as cold as -55 F (air temperature) and Rabbit Kettle, NT Canada. Question: can you feel colder than numb? Not sure. A piece of this brittle airmass will break off and have most of the nation reaching for coats in the coming days, whipping up lake effect snows, and a potentially significant (rain) event for the southeast and Mid Atlantic region by the middle of next week. We take a look at the building chill and an early peek at Thanksgiving Week Weather in today's Climate Matters: "WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas goes over the forecast of an Arctic chill that will drop temperatures for parts of the United States 50 degrees in just a few hours! It's not just people north of the Mason Dixon line feeling the chill either. Florida and even places along the Gulf Coast can expect to see temps well below average."


Nuisance Snow. 4km NAM model data from NOAA shows a couple inches of snow over southeastern Minnesota, maybe more over central Wisconsin, but closer to a coating to 1/2" for the metro (best chance southern suburbs) later today and tonight, just enough to grease up a few roads. Map: Ham Weather.


A Fleeting Wintry Swipe. A lack of snow on the ground will limit just how cold it can get, but temperatures may struggle to reach 20F Saturday, again Wednesday of next week. We will see a few 30-degree highs next week; best chance Monday, again Friday of next week. Not exactly Indian Summer, but no major storms are brewing either.


Canadian Infiltration. Here we go - not exactly the Mother Lode of arctic chill, but probably cold enough for most mortals. The red solid line is the 32F isotherm, the bright green line shows predicted temperatures below 0F over time. 12km NAM 2 meter temperatures into Saturday night courtesy of NOAA and Ham Weather.


BPI. Our Blizzard Potential Index calculates the odds of blizzard and near-blizzard conditions, with especially heavy snow, high winds and low visibility, capable of disrupting travel by land and air. Note the wintry conditions spreading across New Mexico into northern Texas and Oklahoma, low visibility in heavy snow squalls downwind of the Great Lakes as lake effect snows kick in. Map: Ham Weather.


Thanksgiving Day Weather. The ECMWF forecast guidance for midday Thursday of next week, courtesy of WSI, shows dry weather across most of the USA, a rush of bitter air pushing into New England, while temperatures thaw from St. Louis into the Plains. Chilly weather will extend as far south as the Gulf Coast and Florida, a balmy Thanksgiving for the Southwest, rain spreading into coastal California.


Judah Cohen's Winter Outlook: A Downer For East Coast Winter Weather Lovers. Cohen specializes in long range forecasting, and his recent track record is impressive. He has perfected the art of linking snowcover in Sibera with weather downwind over North America, but this year he sees conflicting signals. Here's a clip from an interview conducted with The Capital Weather Gang: "...I have to admit that I am struggling with how to interpret the conflicting predictions based on Siberian snow cover. . . . Based on what I have seen so far the hemispheric circulation of the atmosphere has evolved more consistently as if the Siberian snow cover was below normal or closer to the prediction derived from the SAI. Therefore, this favors an overall positive winter AO. However I do see signs, based on the large-scale energy propagation of the atmosphere, that favor building of high pressure in the mid-high latitudes in the near term and that should help to support colder temperatures and even a negative AO right at the start of winter. Eventually I would expect atmospheric conditions to favor a more positive AO but that is no guarantee..."

Graphic credit above: "The correlation between the Snow Advance Index (SOI) and Arctic Oscillation (AO) over time." (Judah Cohen).


Sunday's Tornado Outbreak Could Be The Costliest November Weather Event In U.S. On Record. Meteorologist Jason Samenow runs the numbers at The Capital Weather Gang; here's the intro: "Falling at the end of hurricane season and prior to major winter storms, November has historically eluded billion dollar weather disasters in the U.S.  But economic damages from Sunday’s tornado outbreak could exceed $1 billion says a leading risk modeling firm, making it the most expensive weather disaster to occur in November in 25 years of records. “Given evidence we’ve seen, it’s likely it will exceed $1 billion,” says Matt Nielsen, a meteorologist at RMS, a firm that projects and assesses disaster losses. “If we compare it to some of the other analog [similar] events for this year, the billion dollar number seems to be consistent...”

Photo credit above: "Aerials of the tornado damage in Gifford, Il. can be seen Tuesday Nov. 19, 2013. The tornado was Sunday Nov. 17, 2013. Meteorologists with the National Weather Service say preliminary surveys show at least 11 tornadoes touched down in Illinois during Sunday's storms." (AP Photo/The News-Gazette, Vanda Bidwell)

"Climate Change and Midwest Tornadoes". Here's a PDF from Climate Nexus.


Losses From Extreme Weather Rise To $200 Billion A Year Over Past Decade. Reuters has the story; here's an excerpt: "Global economic losses caused by extreme weather events have risen to nearly $200 billion a year over the last decade and look set to increase further as climate change worsens, a report by the World Bank showed on Monday. A United Nations' panel of scientists has warned that floods, droughts and storms are likely to become more severe over the next century as greenhouse gas emissions warm the world's climate. "Economic losses are rising - from $50 billion each year in the 1980s to just under $200 billion each year in the last decade and about three quarters of those losses are a result of extreme weather," said Rachel Kyte, World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development...


Which Countries Are Most At Risk From Super Storms And Extreme Weather? AlterNet has the story - here's an excerpt: "...All ten of the countries most at risk from extreme events in the 1993 to 2012 period were developing countries, emphasizing the message in Warsaw that poor countries cannot cope with the increasing number of catastrophes by themselves. The major issue at the conference in the wake of the current Philippine disaster is how to finance “loss and damage” caused by an increasingly unstable climate. The index, compiled by a think tank called Germanwatch from figures supplied by the giant re-insurance company Munich Re, lists ten countries most affected in 2012 and the long-term climate risk from loss of life and damage from 1993 to 2012..." (Image: NASA).


Quiet Hurricane Season Is First Since 1994 Without A Major Storm. Details from The Baltimore Sun; here's the intro: "A relatively quiet hurricane season is nearing its end, likely to be the first since 1994 without a major hurricane forming in the Atlantic, according to researchers at Colorado State University. The season saw 13 named storms, which is about average. But storms rarely strengthened much, with just two reaching hurricane status despite predictions of a more active season..."

Image credit above: "Superstorm Sandy as it strikes the East Coast in late October 2012." (Space Science and Engineering Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison / November 21, 2012).

Scientists Brave Old Man Winter To Dig Out Secrets Of Lake Effect Snows. The NSF (National Science Foundation) has the story - here's a clip: "'Tis the season...for snow. Thundersnow. Rare anywhere, thundersnow is sometimes heard during the lake-effect snowstorms of the Great Lakes. The interaction of clouds and ice pellets inside these storms generates a charge, with lightning and thunder the result. How to catch thundersnow in action? This winter, stalwart veterans of tornadoes, hurricanes and other severe storms will be watching. One is known as the Doppler-on-Wheels (DOW), a National Science Foundation (NSF) national facility used by NSF-supported and other researchers. Joining it is a University of Wyoming instrumented aircraft, the King Air, also an NSF-funded national facility..."

Photo credit above: "During the OWLeS project, scientists will dash through the snow in the Doppler-on-Wheels." Credit: CSWR.


Residents Of Most Polluted Cities - New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles And Miami - Have Increased Risk Of Dry Eye Syndrome. This one made me do a double-take; here's an excerpt from Red Orbit: "Residents of major cities with high levels of air pollution have an increased risk of dry eye syndrome, according to a study presented at the world’s largest ophthalmic conference, the 117th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, in New Orleans. Study subjects in and around Chicago and New York City were found to be three to four times more likely to be diagnosed with dry eye syndrome compared to less urban areas with relatively little air pollution. As a result of this study, researchers suggest that environmental manipulations should be considered as part of the overall control and management of patients with dry eye syndrome..."


Use Technology To Shape Your Company's Future. LinkedIn has the article - here's the intro: "Between smart phones, smart pads, apps, cloud computing, and the myriad of other technological advances and transformations occurring today, many company leaders are wondering how to navigate it all. Historically, CEOs and other C-suite executives are used to having control over everything within the company’s walls. As such, they are not happy with the increased focus on such things as cloud computing, yet that’s precisely what their company’s staff is using when they use their personal computers to search Google or access other cloud-based applications..."


The IPO Of You And Me: How Normal People Are Becoming Corporations. Would you be willing to take some up-front cash now for a percentage of future earnings? Some people are doing just that, as reported at New York Magazine; here's an excerpt: "What do Twitter, Berkshire Hathaway, and your best friend Dave have in common? Pretty soon, you might be able to buy stock in all three. We've heard a lot about corporate personhood – the idea that, as one former Massachusetts governor put it, "Corporations are people." But there's a new hot concept in the land of personal finance: personal corporatehood, the notion that people can act like corporations. Increasingly, amid record-high stock markets that have rewarded anything with a ticker symbol, normal people are finding new ways to sell stock, lash themselves to investors, and throw themselves at the market's mercy..."


Everyone In The World Hates Their Jobs - But Americans Hate Theirs The Most. Fast Company has results of a recent survey - here is a clip from an interesting story: "We suppose this survey of 8,000 workers across the United States, Canada, India, and Europe makes it somewhat official: America is number one! Number one in the percentage of employees who hate their jobs, that is. Monster.com and market research company GfK conducted the study, which revealed that only 53% of Americans actively enjoy their jobs, and 15% actively dislike them. Canadians, meanwhile, took top prize for having the cheeriest workforce: 64% of Canadians like their jobs, while only 7% hate what they do..."


The Best Compact Cameras Of 2013. One of many weaknesses is digital cameras, and I find myself on an endless treadmill of more megapixels, better zoom lenses and bigger sensors. Just in case you're in the market for a camera this holiday season check out a good review of cameras (small enough to fit in a pocket) at Gizmag; here's a clip: "...All of the cameras in our line-up have an optical zoom – something missing on all but the most Frankenphone of smartphones – and the majority also offer wireless connectivity for convenient image sharing. They also each boast a much larger sensor than you're likely to find on most smartphones (with the Nokia 1020 and 808 being the exceptions) and, as such, should produce better-quality images.

The cameras we'll be looking at are:


45 F. high in the Twin Cities Wednesday.

38 F. average high on November 20.

54 F. high on November 20, 2012.

63 F. record high on November 20, 1925.

-3 F. record low on November 20, 1921.

November 20 in Minnesota Weather History (from the MPX National Weather Service office):

2001: Record highs were set in west and north central Minnesota with highs in the upper fifties to lower sixties. Redwood Falls set their high with 68 degrees Fahrenheit and Little Falls had a high of 65 degrees.

1980: On this date, around 28 thousand Canadian geese spent their nights on Silver Lake in Rochester.


TODAY: Cloudy and cold. Light PM snow or flurries developing. Winds: N 10-20. High: 33

THURSDAY NIGHT: Light snow, a coating may ice up some roads. Low: 23

FRIDAY: More clouds than sun, chilly. High: near 30 (wind chill in the teens).

SATURDAY: Hello January! Bright sunshine. Wake-up: 19. High: 23 (feels like single digits)

SUNDAY: Breezy, temperature rebound a bit. Wake-up: 14. High: 29

MONDAY: Clouds increase, colder late. Wake-up: 23. high: 34

TUESDAY: Partly sunny, chilly but storm-free. Wake-up: 16. High: 28

WEDNESDAY: Intervals of sun, still dry. Wake-up: 14. High: 25

THANKSGIVING: Mix of clouds and sun, still dry. High: 28


Climate Stories...

Globe's Unbroken Warm Streak Approaches 29 Years. Details from Climate Central; here's the introduction to the article: "The globe’s unbroken hot streak is inching closer to 29 years, with new data showing that October was the 344th consecutive month with global average surface temperatures above the 20th century average.  According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released on Monday, the global average surface temperature for the month of October was 1.13°F above the 20th century average (1961-1990) for the month. That’s enough to make this the seventh-warmest October on record in what is also likely to be the seventh-warmest year on record, according to a recent report from the World Meteorological Organization. The last time the globe had a cooler-than-average month was February 1985, and the last cooler-than-average October occurred in 1976, shortly before Jimmy Carter beat Gerald Ford in that year's presidential election..."

Graphic credit above: "Global temperature departures from average for October 2013, which was the seventh-warmest October on record." Credit: NOAA.


Coal Seen As New Tobacco Sparking Investor Backlash: Commodities. Bloomberg has the story; here's an excerpt: "About $8 trillion of known coal reserves lie beneath the earth’s surface. The companies planning to mine and burn them are being targeted by a growing group of investors concerned with the greenhouse gases that will be made. Storebrand ASA (STB), which manages $74 billion of assets from Norway, sold out of 24 coal and oil-sands companies since July including Peabody Energy Corp. (BTU), the largest U.S. coal producer, citing a desire to cut fossil-fuel industry holdings. This month Norway’s opposition Labour Party proposed banning the country’s $800 billion sovereign wealth fund from coal investments..."

Photo credit above: "Coal, whose burning spews about twice the greenhouse gases as natural gas, is not in retreat. In 2011, coal was used to generate 30.3 percent of the world’s primary energy, the highest level since 1969, according to the World Coal Association, an industry trade group. That share slipped only to 29.9 percent last year." Photographer: Dadang Tri/Bloomberg.


Oxygen Nation: Whatever Your Politics, Embrace Your Inner Tree Hugger. It turns out we're all tree huggers, according to Minnesota native Craig Bowron. Here's an excerpt of a his recent essay at Huffington Post: "...This kind of branding trivializes the battle over climate change as an alarmist ploy from the "greenies," who care more about spotted owls and rare Amazonian frogs than they do their fellow humans. It gives the appearance that the struggle isn't about the science or its implications, but only about a way of life. It's the Audubon Society against the NFL. You stare at your birds, I'll stare at my flat-screen TV. Rather conveniently, this cognitive severing of the intimate link between ourselves and the rest of the Earth allows us to take what we think we need, whatever the cost, the way condemning natives as godless savages greased the wheels of Colonialism..." (photo credit: Wikipedia Commons).


The 10 Dumbest Things Climate Deniers Say. MarketWatch has the Op-Ed; here's an excerpt: "...Here’s a paraphrased summary of Diamond’s classic rhetorical one-liners with links to some of our relevant commentaries:

1. Climate costs must be balanced against jobs and the economy

This is Big Oil’s favorite argument. In fact, the only “jobs and economy” the oil industry cares about are their own hundreds of thousands of jobs, over $100 billion in annual profits and trillions in revenues the last decade. Diamond warns: environmental solutions are not a “luxury” with just a cash outflow. “This one-liner puts the truth exactly backwards. ... Environmental messes cost us huge sums of money both in the short run and in the long run” and “cleaning up or preventing those messes saves us huge sums in the long run, and often in the short run as well...”


David Suzuki: Energy Choices Risk Climate Chaos For Atlantic Canada. Here's a clip from a story at Vancouver's straight.com: "...For his captivating documentary, Climate Change in Atlantic Canada, Ian Mauro, an environmental and social scientist at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, interviewed farmers, fishers, local residents, First Nations community members, scientists and business people from all around the Atlantic provinces. All say climate change is affecting their communities and livelihoods. They also agree something must be done and that the “business as usual” scenario is no longer an option. The heart of the problem is our seemingly unquenchable thirst for mainly fossil-fuel based energy resources. As our desire for comfort and efficiency grows, so does our energy consumption, prompting the search for sources increasingly difficult to extract..."


The Actual Probability Of Earth Going To Hell In The Next Few Decades. Gizmodo takes a look, with the aid of cutting-edge model visualizations, in this story - here's an excerpt: "...We wanted to find a way of communicating climate risks in a way that showed exactly what climate scientists meant when they say likely or unlikely," co-producer Owen Gaffney told Sploid, "while the terminology can sound a little vague, it is more precise than most people realize." The visualization—funded by the UN Foundation for the launch of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and made by our friend Felix Pharand Deschenes—is based on 2013 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change data. It ties the IPCC findings with the effects of the Anthropocene, the new geological era that refers to the effect of humans on Earth ecosystems, including the transformation of terrain and life all around us..."


Africa's Green Shoots. Africa is bearing a disproportional amount of the impact of a warming climate, as reported in this article at BusinessDay; here's a snippet: "...If a sign of things to come were needed, one would do well to look at Africa, which is already highly vulnerable to climate variability. Further volatility could be ruinous. Two-thirds of the continent is desert or drylands, and three-quarters of its agricultural drylands are significantly degraded. The Sahara Desert is expanding: Lake Chad, for example, is now one-tenth of its size a half-century ago. The worst conditions are in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel, where drought and famine have left more than one million children at risk of severe malnutrition. Africa emits a mere 4 percent of the world’s CO2, but it suffers most from its ill effects. That said, Africans bear some of the blame, too: for example, four million hectares of African forest disappear annually – twice the global rate of deforestation..."


Global Carbon Emissions Rise To New Record In 2013 - Report. Reuters has the story; here's the introduction: "Global carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels will rise to a record 36 billion tonnes this year, a report by 49 researchers from 10 countries said, showing the failure of governments to rein in the main greenhouse gas blamed for global warming. The report by the Global Carbon Project, which compiles data from research institutes worldwide each year, was published in the journal Earth Systems Data Discussions on Tuesday. Its 2013 estimate represents a 2.1 percent gain versus 2012 and a 61 percent increase since 1990, the baseline year for the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol, the only global agreement that places binding limits on national CO2 emission levels..."

Photo credit above: "A man rides his bicycle past the cooling tower and chimneys from a coal-burning power station in Beijing June 1, 2012." Credit: Reuters/David Gray/Files.


Haiyan Is An Example Of Climate Change Making Things Worse. Here's a clip from climate scientist Greg Laden at scienceblogs.com: "...The exact nature of future storms is uncertain, but there are four lines of scientific evidence that hurricanes will be more of a problem in the future than they were in the past. First, sea levels continue to rise, so the same storm ten years from now vs. ten years ago will have significantly greater impact.  Sea level rise was a significant factor with Superstorm Sandy and Katrina, and was likely a factor in the high death toll and extensive damage caused by Haiyan. Second, large storms are likely to produce more rain over a broader area because a warmer atmosphere contains more moisture; large storms will bring increased inland flooding, a major cause of damage, injury, and death in tropical storms and cyclones. Third, increased sea temperatures may generate more intense storms..."


The New Normal? Is a warmer atmosphere, with more water vapor (especially over and near the world's oceans) flavoring all weather, and making weather extremes more numerous and severe? Here's a clip from a story at The Economist: "...In theory, a warmer world should indeed produce more potent cyclones. Such storms are fuelled by evaporation from the ocean. Warmer water means faster evaporation, which means more energy to power the storm. A warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture, which means more rain. But other factors complicate things. Tropical cyclones cannot form when wind speeds in the upper and lower atmosphere differ too much. Climate models suggest, in the North Atlantic at least, that such divergent winds may be more common in a warmer world. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reckons that the frequency of cyclones will stay the same or decrease while their average intensity goes up..."


Why Disasters Like The Typhoon In The Philippines Will Keep Getting Worse. According to this article at Pacific Standard, climate change is only part of the story; here's an excerpt: "Basically, as the world's population continues to grow, more and more people are heading for the most economically attractive places, which tend to be cities, which tend to be along coastlines. That's why the number of people living in Tacloban has tripled in recent decades, from 76,000 in 1970 to more than 220,000 when the storm hit. Obviously, that puts three times as many people at risk of being killed when disaster strikes. But population growth compounds risk in other ways. All those people drawing water from underground aquifers can cause the already low-lying land to sink further. That's probably part of the reason so much of Tacloban sits below sea level, a fact which makes the city even more vulnerable to flooding. Shoddily-constructed buildings thrown up in a hurry to house all those newcomers also tend to fall down when the going gets rough..."

Photo credit above: "Debris littering the streets of Tacloban on November 14, nearly a week after the storm struck." (PHOTO: TROCAIRE/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS).


Rotterdam: Designing A Flood-Proof City To Withstand Climate Change. Here's a snippet of a story dealing with adaptation from The Guardian: "...Surrounded by water on four sides, this delta city of some 600,000 people can't flush the sudden stormwater away. Instead, it has embarked on a climate change adaptation strategy that turns every conceivable area into water storage. "We have squares that are set lower than the surrounding streets and pavements that will function as water plazas and fill themselves up with water", explains van Huffelen. "We've also built water storage facilities, for example an underground parking garage with a basin the size of four Olympic swimming pools. And we've introduced more green areas, including green roofs and green facades, that will be able to absorb water as well..."


Colorado To Tighten Drilling Rules. In addition to ongoing concerns about contamination of ground water supplies, there is growing apprehension about methane leakage around these hydraulic fracture (fracking) wells. Here's a clip from The Wall Street Journal: "...The state's proposed rules include first-in-the-nation regulations to force energy companies to reduce the emission of methane, a potent greenhouse gas linked to global warming that is the major ingredient in natural gas. The rules also attempt to cut emissions of volatile organic compounds, which some scientists say raise ozone levels and contain cancer-causing pollutants..."

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