We May Still (Enjoy) a White Thanksgiving

Winter has been described as a snowy near-death experience. The agony and the ecstasy. Minnesotans love it and dread it, simultaneously.

A story at Fast Company questioned why Norwegians don't suffer the levels of winter depression found here. Researcher Kari Leibowitz discovered that it all comes down to changing our mindset about winter. Or as the article concludes: "Simply refuse to participate in the Misery Olympics."

Point taken.

Will we be enjoying a winter wonderland next week? Models hint at a long fetch of Gulf moisture, with heavy snow or rain developing Tuesday and spilling into Wednesday morning. Snow amounts will depend on the track of the storm and the temperature profile overhead, but we may could up with Thanksgiving slush.

In the short term, more rain arrives tonight, ending as a little slush Thursday morning. Temperatures top 40F this weekend before cooling off next week.

According to The Minnesota DNR The last snowy Thanksgiving was 2015; 1.3 inches at MSP. Turkey Day 1983 boasted 10 inches of mashed potato drifts! 

The Secret to Enjoying a Long Winter. Maybe watch it on a webcam from a long beach? Kidding! Here's an excerpt of a post at KOTTKE.ORG: "...When she asked people “Why don’t you have seasonal depression?” the answer was “Why would we?” It turns out that in northern Norway, “people view winter as something to be enjoyed, not something to be endured,” says Leibowitz, and that makes all the difference. The people in the Norwegian communities Leibowitz studied, they got outside as much as they could — “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing” — spent their time indoors being cozy, came together in groups, and marveled at winter’s beauty. I’d tried all that stuff my previous two winters but what seems to have moved the needle for me this year is a shift in mindset...."

The Norwegian Secret to Enjoying a Long Winter. Here is an excerpt of the Fast Company post referenced above: "...First, Norwegians celebrate the things one can only do in winter. “People couldn’t wait for the ski season to start,” says Leibowitz. Getting outside is a known mood booster, and so Norwegians keep going outside, whatever is happening out there. Notes Leibowitz: “There’s a saying that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” Norwegians also have a word, koselig, that means a sense of coziness. It’s like the best parts of Christmas, without all the stress. People light candles, light fires, drink warm beverages, and sit under fuzzy blankets. There’s a community aspect to it too; it’s not just an excuse to sit on the couch watching Netflix. Leibowitz reports that Tromsø had plenty of festivals and community activities creating the sense that everyone was in it together..."
File photo: Lake Minnetonka in December, Doug Kruhoeffer.

Near-Historical Cold During First 2 Weeks of November. Dr. Mark Seeley has interesting context in Minnesota WeatherTalk: "...As a result of the unusual cold, agricultural soils are beginning to freeze up for the winter season with frost depths in some areas already down to 6-12 inches. Lake ice cover has begun to form as well. But is still quite unsafe for human traffic. You can keep track of lake ice-in dates at the DNR Climate Office web site. One further note: the compilation of seven colder than normal months across Minnesota during 2019 (Jan-May, as well as Oct, Nov) has produced a mean statewide temperature for the year that ranks among the 15 coldest in history, a real aberration in the context of our multi-decade long warming trend in the state..."

"Dreariest Place in America?" Amazingly, it's not Minnesota! The Pacific Northwest gets top honors but parts of Appalachia come in a close second. Here's an excerpt from CityLab: "...Using a formula that takes into account annual precipitation, number of days with precipitation, and cloudiness, Brettschneider has determined that the "dreariest" place in the United States to live is ... Seattle. At least it has company. Seattle shares the dishonor of Nation's Gloomiest Suck-Pit with Buffalo, according to this index, with each city logging high dreary scores of 27. Coming in second are Pittsburgh and Portland, Oregon, followed by Cleveland, Cincinnati, Lexington, and Boston—ensuring Brettschneider will now be hated on both coasts..."

Map credit: Brian Brettschneider

Combining Satellites, Radar Provides Path for Better Forecasts. Data assimilation can pay off, especially with short-fuse severe storm events. Here's a clip from ScienceDaily: "...Doppler radar observations provide 3D scans of the storms, leading to more accurate information about the storm's structure and potentially cutting down on false alarms, according to the researchers. The scientists found they could increase warning times by up to 40 minutes, which supports the findings of their previous work. According to the researchers, current warning times for tornadoes average about 14 minutes. "Say you have severe weather heading toward a football game or a large event," Zhang said. "If you can have a longer forecast lead time of 20 to 40 minutes, you have more time to evacuate. I believe that more human lives can be saved by increasing forecast times."

Image credit: Weather Matrix, YouTube.

When the U.S. Tried to Control Hurricanes. The Wall Street Journal (paywall) had a fascinating article over the weekend that caught my eye; here's an excerpt: "...It was decided to attempt to modify hurricanes only in a safe zone far enough from coastal regions that inadvertent landfall would be avoided. In 1963, the Stormfury team decided to carry out two modification attempts on Hurricane Beulah, even though the storm was relatively weak and had an indistinct eye. On the first attempt, the seeding material missed the giant clouds, and the storm remained unchanged. On the second, the seeding was on target and maximum winds declined by 20%. A lack of suitable hurricanes for seeding frustrated further attempts to refine or ratify the hypothesis until 1969, by which time researchers had revised their understanding of the storms. Rather than trying to cause instability in the inner eyewall, they focused on injecting a massive amount of silver iodide to stimulate the formation of a second, outer rainwall that would weaken the original eyewall by cutting off its supply of heat and moisture..."

Amazon Declining at Alarming Rate Under Bolsonaro: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: "Deforestation in the Amazon is at its highest rate in over a decade under right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro, new data shows. The data, released by the Brazilian government Monday, shows that 3,769 square miles of rainforest--around 12 times the size of New York City, or two football fields per minute--was destroyed in the period between July 2018 and 2019, representing a 30 percent increase from the previous 12-month period and the highest rate since 2008. The New York Times reported in July that that enforcement actions, like fines and warnings against loggers, ranchers and miners illegally operating in the Amazon, have dropped by 20 percent since the Bolsonaro administration took power seven months ago. Major international donors like Norway have also suspended donations to Brazil this year in protest of the Bolsonaro administration's pro-industry policies and lack of action on deforestation." (CNN, The Guardian, NPR, Vox, BBC, WSJ $)

Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory.

Wind Speeds Are Increasing Worldwide in Boost for Renewables. In an odd twist a rapidly changing climate may increase the efficiency of clean, renewable energy sources like wind. Bloomberg reports: "The world is getting windier at the same time that developers are installing more turbines to generate electricity from breezes. Average wind speeds rose about 7% since 2010 in northern mid-latitude regions, reversing a trend of slowing winds in the decades prior, according to a group of researchers from institutions including Princeton University. The findings, published Monday in Nature Climate Change, forecast that wind farms will produce significantly more energy than anticipated as a result of the shift in the coming years..."

Photo credit: "Turbines at a wind farm line the sky as the sun sets." Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg.

Renewable Energy: Climate Crisis "May Have Triggered Faster Wind Speeds". A post at MSN.com has more details on new research: "...Dr Zhenzhong Zeng, a professor at Princeton University and the lead author of the report, said the research team was surprised by the findings after setting out to study the slowdown in global wind speeds. The faster than expected wind speeds could help increase the amount of renewable electricity generated by windfarms by more than a third to 3.3m kilowatt hours (kWh) by 2024. Zeng said the unexpected acceleration is likely to have played a bigger role in improving the efficiency of windfarms in the US than technological innovations. The research paper, published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Climate Change, suggests that faster global speeds may continue for at least another decade in what would be a major boost for windfarm owners..."

File photo: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune.

Scientists Want to Use Mountains Like Batteries to Store Electricity. Things we can't even imagine today are coming, new, cleaner, sustainable ways to keep the lights on and the economy powered up. Here's an excerpt from Big Think: "Can we use mountains as gigantic batteries for long-term energy storage? Such is the premise of new research published in the journal Energy. The particular focus of the study by Julian Hunt of IIASA (Austria-based International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis) and his colleagues is how to store energy in locations that have less energy demand and variable weather conditions that affect renewable energy sources. The team looked at places like small islands and remote places that would need less than 20 megawatts of capacity for energy storage and proposed a way to use mountains to accomplish the task..."

Graphic credit: "The MGES system." IIASA.

Introducing the Mustang Mach-E. A story at Fortune has details: "...Enter the Mustang Mach-E, a gamble so great for the world’s sixth-largest automaker that the galloping horse on the vehicle’s grille is one of the few things in common with its predecessor. The Mustang’s slinky silhouette—long hood, short rear deck—has been altered to accommodate the bulbous curves of a four-door, albeit still rear-wheel-drive, utility vehicle. Its signature snarl, courtesy of the internal combustion engine, has been replaced by the subtle whine of a battery-powered electric motor. (Ford will add an artificial sound for the benefit of unwary pedestrians and U.S. regulators.) It’s expected to retail in the $40,000 range with a $7,500 federal rebate, a substantial premium over the $27,000 gasoline-­powered base Mustang but competitive with electric-auto maker Tesla’s popular Model 3 sedan. Its range is approximately 300 miles, also on par with the Model 3..."

Photo credit: "The lines shaping the nose of Ford’s new Mustang Mach‑E reserve the family likeness but drop the usual honeycomb grille—after all, there’s no internal combustion engine to cool." Photograph by Marvin Shaouni.

Wired.com (paywall) has more information on the Mustang Mach-E.

"Range Anxiety". As Electric Vehicle Use Grows, Charging Areas Lag Outside Metro. A story at Star Tribune resonated (with my own personal experience driving an electric vehicle). Here's an excerpt: "...Encouraging electric vehicle use and build­ing the ancillary char­ging in­fra­struc­ture is one way, they say, to com­bat cli­mate change. The num­ber of e­lec­tric vehi­cles reg­is­tered in Min­ne­so­ta was 9,401 last year, more than double the number in 2017. Some 10,495 have been reg­is­tered this year, although the overall number registered statewide is still under 2% of all vehicles, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. To sup­port them, more than 300 charg­ing stations of vary­ing ca­pac­i­ty are lo­cat­ed through­out the state, ac­cord­ing to the National Re­new­a­ble Energy Laboratory. Most places to plug in are clus­tered in the Twin Cities met­ro area. Drivers outside the cities just have to try a little harder to find their electrical boost..."

Photo credit: Alex Kormann – Star Tribune. "George Host charged his Tesla at the ChargePoint e-vehicle station near Canal Park Lodge in Duluth."

In 2029, the Internet Will Make Us Act Like Peasants. Oh really? Intelligencer has an eye-opening prediction: "...The structure of the internet is headed toward an arrangement the cybersecurity expert Bruce Schneier calls “digital feudalism,” through which the great landlords, platforms like Google and Facebook, “are becoming our feudal lords, and we are becoming their vassals.” We will provide them with the data-fruits of our browsing, in a nominal exchange for vague assurances of their protection from data-breach marauders. The sense of powerlessness you might already feel in the face of a megaplatform’s opaque algorithmic justice — and the sense of mystery such workings might engender — would not have seemed so strange to a medieval peasant. (Once you explained, you know, what an algorithm is.)..."

One Way to Protest a Losing Season. A story at The Washington Post (paywall) caught my eye - I guess we can all feel this guy's pain. Here are a few excerpts: "...After watching the Pittsburgh Steelers dominate the Cincinnati Bengals for the umpteenth time, all Bengals season ticket holder Jeff Lanham wanted was a little attention from his wife. Instead of grabbing her attention through conventional means, Lanham winked at a friend, who had joined him at his sports bar in Milan, Ind., about 40 miles from Cincinnati. Then he jokingly proclaimed he would live on the roof of the restaurant if the Bengals lost to the Arizona Cardinals the following week… Since Oct. 7, the day after Cincinnati’s loss to the Cardinals, the 42-year-old father of two adult children has only taken half a day off, to honor a previously arranged cooking agreement to help a family friend’s sick child..."

Photo credit: "Jeff Lanham and Dennis Walker, who previously waited out Bengals misery." (Lanham family).

42 F. Twin Cities high temperature on Tuesday.

39 F. average high on November 19.

30 F. high on November 19, 2018.

November 20, 1996: Heavy snowfall accumulations of four to eight inches blanket much of Central Minnesota. Some of the heavier amounts included 8 inches at Montevideo and Gaylord, along with 7 inches at St. James, Mankato, Madison and Stewart. Six inches was reported in the Twin Cities and Glenwood.

November 20, 1953: Freezing rain hits parts of Minnesota. 3 inches of ice accumulates on wires at telephone wires at Lake Benton.

WEDNESDAY: Milder with leftover clouds. Winds: SE 10-15. High: 45

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Rain likely. Low: 35

THURSDAY: Rain ends as a few flurries, windy. Winds: NW 10-15. High: 38

FRIDAY: Blue sky, a quiet day. Wake-up: 21. High: 39

SATURDAY: Mix of clouds and sunshine. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 26. High: 43

SUNDAY: Peeks of sun, milder than average. Winds: W 7-12. Wake-up: 29. High: 45

MONDAY: Clouds increase during the day. Winds: W 5-10. Wake-up: 31. High: 42

TUESDAY: Heavy rain or wet snow. Slushy? Winds: NE 10-20. Wake-up: 33. High: 37

Climate Stories....

Regional Weather Patterns Are Viewed Through Partisan Lenses, Poll Finds. SFGate.com has results of new polling: "People from North Carolina to Texas's Gulf Coast agree that their areas have been hard hit by extreme storms and hurricanes in recent years. But they disagree with one another on whether climate change is a major factor - and political allegiances make up the dividing line. Across the United States, different regions have felt the effects of extreme weather in the past few years, whether horrific wildfires in California and other Western states, historic flooding in parts of the Midwest, or extraordinary heat in New England, the Mid-Atlantic and the Southeast. But those common experiences have not produced a political consensus on the causes. Democrats are likely to cite global warming and climate change as the force behind some of the new weather patterns. Republicans are likely to discount climate change as the culprit..."

Why a TV Station Recruited Climate Skeptics to Go on a Fact-Finding Road Trip. A novel concept, highlighted in a post at Poynter: "...After weeks of listening to experts and traveling all the way from Texas to Alaska, Fain said that he is now convinced, “that something is happening at an alarming rate.” “My opinion was changed. What we have seen in Alaska, like how quickly things are melting, there is something going on with the climate. But how much is caused by man? I would say we humans are probably doing something, but how much, who knows?” As the WFAA segment ends, Fain stands against the retreating ice of Alaska. He’s asked on a scale of zero to 10 how big a problem climate change is. He says that when he started this discovery process, he’s rank it at about a 2. Now, he would “probably be up to a 6 or 7 at least now,” he said..."

Photo credit: "The Road Trip project included two photojournalists on each shoot. WFAA photojournalists Chance Horner and Bradley Blackburn were the photographers in Alaska while Martin Doporto (not pictured) was the second photographer with Horner on location in Texas." (Courtesy WFAA).

The Last of the Climate Deniers Hold On, Despite Your Protests. VICE.com has the story; here's an excerpt: "...While people around this warming earth protest inaction—locking legs and locking arms, blocking roads and blocking bridges, wielding signs that say there is no planet b and i’m sure the dinosaurs thought they had time too—the United States, which is the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide, actively represses climate science throughout federal agencies and slashes environmental regulations to the glee of the network that bolsters these contrarian celebrities. The Trump administration, infamous for alternative facts, has vigorously renewed demand for an alternative science that was losing salience. Many of the alternative scientists and nonscientists have died, retired, or gone quiet since Christy discovered the earth wasn’t warming. But I found eight other professors who linger—call them the holdouts..."

File image: Matt Brown.

Climate Talk Isn't on the Thanksgiving Menu for Most People. Morningconsult.com has an interesting post: "...While only about 1 in 5 adults expect to have a climate change discussion this holiday, 42 percent said in a new Morning Consult poll that they are now more likely to start a conversation with friends or family compared to a year ago. And almost half of adults (48 percent) said they have started a conversation about the issue with friends or family in the past year, according to the Nov. 6-8 poll of 2,187 U.S. adults, which had a margin of error of 2 percentage points. But the proportion of Americans that reports ever having initiated a climate conversation with various people in their lives is significantly lower than the share of Americans concerned about climate change, according to Morning Consult polling. A June survey found 71 percent of adults were very or somewhat concerned about climate change and its impact on the U.S. environment..."

As Governments Bicker, CEO's Could Be Our Best Hope for Fighting Climate Change and Income Inequality. A post at Fortune caught my eye: "...Polman left Unilever a year ago and is now co-founder of Imagine, which rallies business leaders to make social change a core part of their business imperative. These CEOs, many of whom are business rivals—what Imagine calls “the courageous collective”—have begun to tackle inefficiencies in their business models and supply chains with an eye to using the power of big business to address climate change and income inequality. “Our theory of change is very simple: when it’s difficult for governments to function, which is what we see right now… we focus on the CEOs,” he said. “What many CEOs discover is that many of the issues that really need to be addressed simply cannot be done alone...”

Conversations, Opinions are Core to Curbing Climate Change. Check out this post at The Minnesota Daily: "...I think society has had this assumption that if you are trying to convince people of something, all you need are facts,” Blumenfeld said. “It’s much harder than just standing at a lecture and yelling facts to an audience, then hoping that ... everyone goes home and changes their lightbulb.” Scientists and educators at the University of Minnesota are finding ways to connect Minnesotans to the global conversation about climate change. This is part of an effort to explain its local impacts. University Extension, whose mission is to share research knowledge across the state, is trying to make climate change data more relatable. According to a 2019 Yale University study on climate opinion across the United States, 66 percent of adults in Minnesota think global warming is happening. At the same time, 64 percent say they rarely or never discuss it as a topic..."

Image credit: Hailee Schievelbein.

What's Driving Antarctica's Meltdown? InsideClimate News highlights sobering new research: "...Now, new research is highlighting another threat: Since 2000, moist and warm tendrils of air known as atmospheric rivers have been swirling toward the coast more frequently, bringing more rain and surface melting. Antarctica has been losing about 250 billion tons of ice annually in recent years, and research shows the rate has increased sixfold since 1979. At this pace, researchers have suggested, West Antarctica's ice shelves may reach climate tipping points and crumble, sending sea level rise surging well beyond current projections. The floating ice shelves, partly frozen to the sea floor or to fjord walls, hold back vast quantities of land-based ice that could raise sea level more than currently projected if the ice's flow to the sea speeds up, said Penn State climate researcher Richard Alley..."

Arctic Outbreak May Have Toppled 400 Records, But Over the Long Term Warm Records Rule. Long-term global perspective is required, according to Capital Weather Gang: "...In Chicago, the period from 2010 to Nov. 14 of this year also shows way more record daily highs compared with record lows, when viewed as raw numbers or as a percentage basis. Percentage-wise, the disparity is 74 percent for record daily highs and 26 percent for record lows. Interestingly, the 1990 to 2000 period in Chicago had more daily record lows compared with record highs. In Minneapolis, which is often significantly affected by Arctic outbreaks, record highs are beating out record lows by 92 percent to 8 percent since 2010, the NOAA/Climate Central data shows. And in Houston, which was also affected by the current cold snap, the current decade has a 89 percent to 11 percent split between daily record highs and record lows, through Thursday..."

Climate Crisis Will Profoundly Affect Health of Every Child Alive Today, Report Says. Here's an excerpt from CNN.com: "...A warmer world means more disease, famine, early death from natural disasters such as fire and heat waves, and more major mental health problems. Everyone will be affected, but the most vulnerable will be disproportionately threatened: children, the elderly, people with underlying health conditions and the poor. "The public doesn't fully see this as a human health crisis. Maybe polar bears were our early indicator -- the proverbial canary in the coal mine. But when you talk about this crisis, the bear images should be replaced with pictures of children," said Dr. Jonathan Patz, a professor and director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who was not involved with the new report. "Children are suffering from the climate crisis. They are suffering with asthma, diarrheal disease, dengue fever. It is so important for the public to understand the climate crisis is absolutely a human health crisis..."

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