Big Swings
From 80s to a Frost in One Week?

So you're telling me I can rake leaves in my shorts on Sunday? Yep. 80s while you take out the dock or drag the lawn furniture into cold storage. Sunday's record high is 84, set in 1930. We'll come close.

At a recent Edina Rotary talk someone asked if climate change might be a good thing for Minnesota. "Longer growing season, less severe winters, what's not to like?" Good point. You may be surprised to hear me admit that a slow motion warming trend may, in fact, be a net positive for Minnesota into 2040 or 2050.

Agriculture will face pressure from big swings in rainfall - more whiplash, going from drought to flood - but most models predict ample moisture here. And we'll have something in short supply across the western USA. Water. Neighbors who fled to California or Arizona may think about moving back.

But for most of the planet more weather volatility and warming (rising) seas will be a net negative.

This weekend will feel more like late August. Soak it up, because October returns Monday. The first metro frost is possible in one week, coming 10 days later than average.



September: 6F Warmer Than Average, Statewide. It was the warmest September on record for Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan; 3rd warmest ever recorded for the Midwest. Source: Midwest Regional Climate Center.


Balmy September For Most of USA. Parts of the Deep South and Pacific Northwest saw September temperatures close to average, no cooler than average weather in the Lower 48. The most pronounced warmth was observed from the Rockies and Upper Midwest into parts of New England. Source: NOAA.


Some Autumn Dryness Showing Up. Here's a clip from the latest installment of Dr. Mark Seeley's Minnesota WeatherTalk: "September was the warmest in history on a statewide basis, surpassing September of 1931. The MN-State Climatology Office offers a summary of the month o their web site. But the second half of the month also brought drier than normal weather to many parts of the state and this has been further amplified by a dry start to October.  Some areas of west-central, northwestern, and southeastern Minnesota have reported less than a quarter of an inch of rain over the past 15 days.  As a result the DNR reports a moderate fire danger in some areas.  On the other hand weather has generally been good for harvesting the corn crop which is expected to be a record across the state.  Good field drying conditions have been a benefit in reducing drying costs before storage..."


Colors Peaking Up North. This will be the weekend to head north and check out the colors from Bemidji to Duluth; great splashes of color in the Brainerd and Alexandria Lakes area, but only 25-50% of the trees have turned in the metro area, still 1-2 weeks away from peak color. Source: Minnesota DNR.


Windy Today - Even Windier on Monday. The model wind plot shows sustained winds close to 20 mph by midday and afternoon, easing a bit on Sunday before a frontal passage and sharp temperature drop turns on even stronger winds Monday: sustained at 20-25 with gusts to 35. Source: Aeris Enterprise.


Sunday: Perfectly Average...for Late July. The model plot shows tight alignment (meaning high confidence level) with highs in the low to mid 80s on Sunday, very close to the 1930 record of 84F in the Twin Cities.


Weekend Warm Spike - October Reality Check Next Week. NOAA's 12KM NAM model shows the surge of warmth this weekend, peaking Sunday afternoon, followed by a cold frontal passage Sunday night and Monday. The more rapid the change in temperature the faster winds have to blow to keep the atmosphere in a state of equilibrium. Monday will be a bad hair day.


80s in October? AerisWeather meteorologist D.J. Kayser pulled up some stats on how unusual 80F highs are in October and the results are displayed above. Not as warm as 2011, but considering we could be scraping frost off our windshields a welcome reprieve for many of us.


Sunday's Record Highs. If the sun stays out all day (likely) we should at least see low 80s Sunday; a 1 in 3 chance of breaking records at MSP and St. Cloud dating back to 1930. Considering the sun is as high in the sky as it was in early March that's pretty impressive. Source: AerisWeather.


Already Poor Infrastructure Devastated by Historic Carolina Floods. The need for revitalized, reimagined, resilient infrastructure has never been greater. U.S. News takes a look at what the federal government will and won't cover; here's an excerpt: "...Long before the historic floods of the past week, crumbling roads, bridges and dams and aging drinking water systems plagued South Carolina — a poor state that didn't spend much on them in the first place and has been loath to raise taxes for upkeep. Now the state faces hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars' worth of additional bills to fix or replace key pieces of its devastated infrastructure. As the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and other disasters shows, the federal government will cover much of the costs, but isn't going to pay for all of it..."

Photo credit above: "In this Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015 file photo, pedestrians walk down Dorchester Road at Sawmill Branch Canal as it begins to wash away due to floodwaters near Summerville, S.C. Residents are concerned that the Ashley river will continue to rise as floodwaters come down from Columbia. South Carolina had problems with crumbling roads and bridges and old drinking water systems and dams long before the historic floods of the past week." (AP Photo/Mic Smith, File).


* Over $1 billion in damage from the Carolina flooding? Details via GreenvilleOnline.


South Carolina Floods a Wake-Up Call for the Future. Here's a clip from a story at NRDC, The National Resources Defense Council: "...We've heard many times this week how these floods are the result of a one thousand year storm (a storm with a 0.1% chance of occurring in any given year). But the so-called "one thousand" or "one hundred" year storm of the past is likely to happen more frequently in the future. Flooding from Superstorm Sandy was considered a 500-year flood event, but scientists think similar levels of flooding could occur every two to twenty years due to climate impacts. Climate change slowly tilts the odds in favor of these kinds of extreme events. And the last time South Carolina experienced damages on this scale was not one thousand years ago. It was 26 years ago, when Hurricane Hugo made landfall in September 1989..."

Photo credit above: "The aftermath of the flooding in North Charleston, South Carolina caused by over 15 inches of rainfall resulting from Hurricane Joaquin." Photo by Ryan Johnson and used under Creative Commons license. http://bit.ly/1N1rAES


People May Risk Living in Disaster Zone if They Think Threat is Once-In-A-Lifetime Event. Australia's ABC Network has a curious article focused on new research results; here's an excerpt: "Humans may be willing to put daily pleasure ahead of the threat of long-term disaster when selecting where to live, a new international study suggests. Study co-author Professor Ben Newell, of the University of NSW, said the research examined how people would react to being told of a predicted increase in the risk of natural disasters with climate change. Professor Newell, from the School of Psychology, said it was surprising how little weight participants in the study gave to disaster threat..." (Image: Conan Whitehouse).


NOAA Awards $5.7 Million to Improve Hazardous Weather Forecasts. Here's a clip from NOAA: "NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan announced today $5.7 million in cooperative research agreements and grants to improve the forecasting of hazardous and extreme weather including tornadoes, hurricanes, heavy rainfall, floods and snowstorms. “These research investments are designed to accelerate the development and use of advanced observing systems, forecast models, and other decision-support tools that will improve our nation’s resilience to hazardous weather,” said Sullivan during remarks at the Society of Environmental Journalists conference in Norman, Oklahoma..."


NASA and ESA Are Forming a Super Space Team to Prevent Armageddon. Quartz has another interesting story - here's a snippet: "The American and European space agencies are teaming up to save the world, and they’re doing it all without cheesy Aerosmith songs (video) or bad Ben Affleck haircuts. Back in 2012, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) announced that they were joining forces to study potentially hazardous near-Earth asteroids, and how best to deflect them. The project, called Asteroid Impact & Deflection Assessment (AIDA), kicked into high gear earlier this year, when ESA revealed the unlucky test subject: 65803 Didymos, a binary asteroid system in which a small asteroid orbits a larger one..."

Image credit above: "Initiate deflection sequence." (ESA/ScienceOffice.org).


Using Tweets to Detect Earthquakes? It's all about the data, preferably vetted data. Here's an excerpt from Quartz: "...It only took one minute and 20 seconds—from just 14 tweets—to be alerted of an earthquake aftershock in Chile. In 2014, the USGS was alerted to the earthquake in Napa, California in 29 seconds using Twitter data, the company said on its blog post. This data also allows the USGS to improve their own detection system and acts as a secondary check, so if a sensor detects an earthquake in a densely populated area but no-one is tweeting about it, then the USGS knows it’s a false alarm..."


This Lake in India is Straight Out of a Horror Movie. This takes pollution to a whole new level; details via news.com.au: "This is actually an incredibly rare and very unnatural phenomenon. It’s a lake in India that’s so toxic that it froths over and even bursts into flames. It’s a scene straight out of a horror movie. Located in the bustling hi-tech hub of Bangalore, the 36 kilometre Bellandur Lake is the largest — and most polluted — one in the city. The foam is a result of the toxic water which contains a high content of ammonia and phosphate and very low dissolved oxygen..."

Image credit: "A canal which once carried water from Bellandur Lake to Varthur Lake."


"Steve Jobs" Doesn't Understand Steve Jobs. Slate takes a look at the movie, what they got right, and what they may have gotten wrong; here's an excerpt: "...The Big Brother of Jobs’ “1984” commercial was IBM, the big blue machine that built big black boxes that powered big bad bureaucracies. His dead-eyed drones stared dully at a single, monolithic video screen that enforced their uniformity. Jobs thought he was fighting that machine by putting the same power into friendlier, smaller, brightly colored boxes that would fit on our desks and ultimately in our pockets and on our wrists. And, in some ways, he was right. Personal computing transformed society, ushered in the information age, and democratized the tools of mass communication. Jobs’ vision, combined with his extraordinary design sense and marketing acumen, helped to make all of that happen...."


When Amazon Dies. Hopefully no time soon, mind you. But what happens to all your digital content (movies, books, music) if and when the big tech giants get disrupted? Here's an excerpt of an interesting story at The Atlantic: "...In order to keep a film in your collection watchable, there’s a constellation of pieces that must be in place: The software that streams the video has to work, the devices you want to use to run that software have to remain compatible with it, and the film itself has to be accessible on that software. None of these things is guaranteed. The films you buy could already, at any time, automatically disappear from your Instant collection. (Again, that's right there in the Amazon service terms.) All this signals a larger cultural shift in the way people think about ownership of media in the 21st century, or how they ought to be thinking of it..."


"Carmageddon". And you thought your commute was bad, how 'bout 50 lanes of gridlock? CityLab has the gruesome details; here's a clip: "Traffic after the holidays tend to be pretty awful. But China may have just turned every driver’s worst nightmare into reality as hundreds of millions of people headed home at the end of a Golden Week, a week-long national holiday. Thousands of motorists found themselves stranded on Tuesday in what looks from above like a 50-lane parking lot on the G4 Beijing-Hong Kong-Macau Expressway, one of the country’s busiest roads..." (Photo: Reuters/China Daily).


Meet The Guy Who Bought the google.com Domain for $12. I know - amazing. So is the man who found the bug and donated a reward (from Google) to charity. Yahoo Finance has the story - here's a clip: "...In a stroke of luck, Ved had been searching Google Domains, Google's website-buying service, when he noticed that Google.com was available for purchase on September 29. Ved bought the domain for $12 and, he says, momentarily gained access to its webmaster tools before Google canceled the sale. An ex-Googler himself (Ved loves Google so much that he has set it as his Facebook profile photo), Ved said it was never about the money. Google does routinely reward people who discover hiccups in Google's system as part of it security-vulnerabilities program..."


56 F. high in the Twin Cities Friday (clouds lingered longer, keeping us cooler than predicted).

61 F. average high on October 9.

54 F. high on October 9, 2014.

October 10, 1977: A few locations received early snow, including Minneapolis with 2.5 inches, Gaylord with 2 inches, and Jordan with 2 inches of snow. Source: NOAA.

October 10, 1970: Early snowfall was recorded in west central Minnesota. Snow totals ranged from a trace to 4.2 inches in Benson. Other areas included Montevideo with 4 inches, Canby with 3.2 inches, Morris with 2.6 inches, Willmar with 2.5 inches. New London, New Ulm, and Buffalo all recorded 2 inches of snowfall.

October 10, 1949: Bizzare storm brings Hurricane force winds across Minnesota. This was possibly the strongest non-thunderstorm winds seen in Minnesota. Top winds were clocked at 100 mph at Rochester, with a gust of 89 mph at the Twin Cities International Airport. 4 deaths and 81 injuries were reported. Numerous store windows were broken, and large chimneys toppled. The top 10 floors of the Foshay building were evacuated with the tenants feeling seasick from the swaying building.

October 10, 1928: Record high temperatures were set across central Minnesota with high in the upper 80s to lower 90s.


TODAY: Sunny, gusty winds. Winds: SW 15-30+ High: 75

SATURDAY NIGHT: Clear and mild. Low: 57

SUNDAY: Sunny. Near-record warmth. Winds: S 10-15. High: 83

MONDAY: Mostly cloudy, windy and cooler. Winds: NW 15-30. Wake-up: 59. High: 65

TUESDAY: Partly sunny, less wind. Wake-up: 43. High: 62

WEDNESDAY: Lot's of sun, breezy. Wake-up: 50. High: 64

THURSDAY: Showers, turning sharply colder. Wake-up: 41. High: 57 (falling)

FRIDAY: Some sun, frost at night? Wake-up: 41. High: near 50


Climate Stories...

What Exxon Knew About the Earth's Melting Arctic. More details below from InsideClimate News, but The Los Angeles Times takes a look at Exxon's own internal scientific research focused on warming and melting ice and how it would impact their operations in the Arctic; here's an excerpt: "...In addition, the company should expect more flooding along its riverside facilities, an earlier spring breakup of the ice pack, and more-severe summer storms. But it was the increased variability and unpredictability of the weather that was going to be the company’s biggest challenge, he said. Record-breaking droughts, floods and extreme heat — the worst-case scenarios — were now events that not only were likely to happen, but could occur at any time, making planning for such scenarios difficult, Lonergan warned the company in his report. Extreme temperatures and precipitation “should be of greatest concern,” he wrote, “both in terms of future design and … expected impacts....”


Politicians Should Be Scientifically Literate. A recent poll shows 87% of Americans believe that candidates for office should have a basic understanding of science informing public policy. The "I'm not a scientist" line just doesn't cut it anymore. View the poll from ScienceDebate: "An overwhelming majority of Americans (87%) say it is important that candidates for President and Congress have a basic understanding of the science informing public policy issues, including majorities across the political spectrum (92% of Democrats, 90% of Republicans and 79% of Independents). Americans also say the presidential candidates should participate in a debate to discuss key science-based challenges facing the United States, such as healthcare, climate change, energy, education, innovation and the economy, with  91% of Democrats, 88% of Republicans and 78% of Independents agreeing..."


Snatching CO2 Back from the Air. Will we see new technologies capable of removing CO2 from the air? Count on it - the question is how quickly these new technologies can scale, and how quickly prices can drop to the point where they can be deployed (everywhere). Here's an excerpt of a promising example from The Toronto Star: "Residents of Squamish, B.C., will witness history this week when a small company from Alberta flicks the switch on an industrial facility that chemically grabs carbon dioxide out of thin air. The facility, designed and built with support from billionaires Bill Gates and oilsands financier Murray Edwards, isn’t just a first for Canada. It may be the largest demonstration of its kind in the world, and takes us closer to a day when humans can suck more CO2 from the atmosphere than they dump in..."

Image credit above: Carbon Engineering. "A rendering of a commercial-scale CO2 air capture system being designed by Calgary-based Carbon Engineering. The company hopes to one day make it economical to pull CO2 from the air."


Climate Change: Facts vs. Opinions. No, the science is never settled (it never is), and climate models have conflicting predictions for the future. But some things are now beyond dispute. Here's an excerpt from a Scientific American blog post that provides a much-needed reality check:

FACT: Carbon dioxide, a byproduct of fossil-fuel combustion, is a greenhouse gas, which traps solar radiation in the atmosphere. (Sources for my first seven “facts” include NASA and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.)

FACT: Increased human fossil-fuel consumption over the past two centuries has increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Atmospheric CO2 recently surpassed 400 parts per million, the highest level in more than 800,000 years.

FACT: As a result of increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide, global surface temperatures have increased by about one degree centigrade since 1880. The 10 warmest years ever recorded—with the exception of 1998—have occurred since 2000. 2014 was the warmest year ever recorded.

Image credit above: "It is a fact, not an opinion, that human consumption of fossil fuels has boosted global temperatures over the last century." Source: NASA, http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/


A CarbonTax in Waiting: We're Not Adapting As Fast As Climate is Changing. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at Australia's The Conversation, from my friend, Penn State alum and retired Navy Admiral David Titley: "...Our challenge is that the science tells us the weather and oceans are only beginning to change. If the world does not soon enact meaningful cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, the cost of adapting to the changing climate will become staggering. The president’s trips already showcased tens of billions of federal dollars in the rebuilding of New Orleans and its levees and the implied commitment of billions more to Alaska. This is just the beginning of a carbon tax we are paying now: a tax that no one got to vote on..."

Photo credit above: "Obama called for spending money on icebreakers to take advantage of opening shipping lanes as the Arctic region melts." US Coast Guard, CC BY


Pumpkin Lovers Face Slim Pickings, Thanks to Climate Change. No, not the pumpkins? As if coffee and chocolate wasn't bad enough, Scientific American warns that prime pumpkin-growing locations are seeing the impact of climate change and greater weather volatility: "...Weather data appear to support Bakus. Over the past century, Illinois has seen a 10 percent increase in precipitation, along with increases in heavier rain events. Within the past decade, from 2005 to 2012, the state has experienced either very wet conditions or drought, according to Jim Angel, a state climatologist for the Illinois State Water Survey, part of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. “We’re fairly certain that’s tied to climate change. The hard part is figuring out the impact of these weather events..."

File photo: FANCY (MARS).


10 Billion Tons of CO2 Emissions Saved Thanks to Energy Efficiency Over The Last 25 Years, Says IEA. Details via BusinessGreen; here's an excerpt: "A collective 870 million tonnes of CO2 emissions were saved in 29 developed countries last year thanks to ongoing improvements in energy efficiency, according to a new report by the International Energy Agency (IEA). The report, released yesterday, also shows a cumulative ten billion tonnes have been saved over the last quarter century - roughly equivalent to the current annual emissions of all 29 IEA members..." (File photo: EPA).


Catching Up With China. Can India experience China-levels of economic growth without the staggering levels of pollution? Here's an excerpt from The Economist: "...If there is reason to be optimistic, it is that the environment matters to Indians themselves. Thirteen of the world’s 20 most-polluted cities are in the subcontinent. Smoke from cooking with wood or dung in Indian homes may be responsible for 500,000 early deaths a year, mostly of women and children. Climate change could do grave harm to India. Some two-thirds of its agriculture depends on the monsoon, which may become less reliable as a result of global warming. Some Himalayan glaciers are retreating, sending less water to rivers that feed hundreds of millions of people downstream. A quarter of Indians live near coasts that are vulnerable to sea-level rises. Many countries suffer one or more of these problems. Few have all of them. So while Indians need growth, they cannot ignore the consequences of it..."


Exxon: The Road Not Taken, Part 4. In Part 4 of the ongoing series InsideClimate News looks at how Exxon tried to address growing climate concerns centered around one of the biggest gas fields in the world. Here's an excerpt: "In 1980, as Exxon Corp. set out to develop one of the world's largest deposits of natural gas, it found itself facing an unfamiliar risk: the project would emit immense amounts of carbon dioxide, adding to the looming threat of climate change. The problem cropped up shortly after Exxon signed a contract with the Indonesian state oil company to exploit the Natuna gas field in the South China Sea—big enough to supply the blossoming markets of Japan, Taiwan and Korea with liquefied natural gas into the 21st century..."


Exxon, The Road Not Taken, Part 5. Pulitzer Prize-winning InsideClimate News continues the series with a look at how, in the 1980s, Exxon lobbied to replace scarce oil with synthetic fossil fuels, but it glossed over the high carbon footprint associated with synfuels. Here's an excerpt: "Early in the 1980s, the lingering fear of oil scarcity and the emerging threat of climate change were beginning to intersect. And at that junction stood Exxon Corp., working out its strategy for survival in the uncertain 21st century. At the time, Exxon believed oil supplies could not keep up with demand, so it put its weight behind a crusade to develop synthetic fossil fuels as a costly and carbon intensive, but potentially profitable alternative..."

Image credit above: "In 1980, Exxon acquired the Colony Shale Oil Project in Colorado to support the production of synfuels. Two years later, Exxon announced the termination of the project, in part due to low oil prices." (Credit: U.S. National Archives via Wikimedia Commons).

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Small Cooler Advisory Sunday: 80s, Shorts - Disorientation Likely

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Near-Record Warmth Today - 40 MPH Wind Gusts Monday as October Returns