Revolutionary GOES-R Satellite Launches Soon

It's true that the European (ECMWF) model often performs better than NOAA's weather simulations, but there's no question America is blessed with the best weather service in the world today.

122 forecast offices, 13 river forecast centers, 160 high-resolution Doppler radars providing nearly continuous coverage from coast to coast - and 5,000 employees keeping us safe.

On November 16 GOES-R launches, the first of 4 state-of-the-art weather satellites positioned 22,300 miles above the equator. Imagery can be captured every 30 seconds, an onboard lightning tracker will help meteorologists pinpoint life-threatening weather.

To predict weather we need an accurate global snapshot of what's happening right now. 95 percent of all data that goes into weather models comes from satellites. GOES-R (soon to be GOES-16) should be a big step forward.

Our November weather honeymoon continues with a shot at 60F over the weekend. Models hint at a soaking rain a week from today, maybe ending as the first flurries of fall.

Amazing but true: MSP still hasn't seen it's first official frost.

Photo credit above: Lockheed Martin. More details on GOES-R from The San Francisco Chronicle.

GOES-R Mission. Here's a good explainer of what the next generation of U.S. weather satellites will be able to achieve, courtesy of NOAA NESDIS: "The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R Series (GOES-R) is NOAA’s next generation of geostationary weather satellites. The first satellite in the series, GOES-R, is scheduled for launch on November 16, 2016 at approximately 4:42pm Eastern. Once the satellite reaches geostationary orbit, it will be known as GOES-16. There will be four satellites in the series: GOES-R, GOES-S, GOES-T and GOES-U. GOES-R will provide continuous imagery and atmospheric measurements of Earth’s Western Hemisphere, total lightning data, and space weather monitoring to provide critical atmospheric, hydrologic, oceanic, climatic, solar and space data..."

First (official) Frost Saturday Morning? Many suburbs have already seen the first frost of fall, but not MSP International, the close-in suburbs and downtowns, where the urban heat island has prolonged the frost-free season. Models show a wide spread for temperatures Saturday morning (meaning lower confidence) but it's possible the mercury will drop to 32F early Saturday at MSP International Airport.

Honeymoon Lingers One More Week. ECMWF (European) data shows highs mostly in the 50s into late next week, followed by a potentially major shift in the pattern. Graphic: WeatherBell.

Pattern Flip In 7-8 Days? GFS guidance shows the other shoe dropping a week from Saturday, with nearly 40-45F temperature tumble behind a major storm late next week. Yes, we are long overdue for a real cold front.  Temperature trends: Aeris Enterprise.

Colder, But Not Nanook. The forecast for Thanksgiving Day at 500mb continues to suggest a west-to-east zonal flow, hinting at average or slightly colder than average temperatures for the northern tier of the USA, with toasty warmth for much of the southern USA. No prolonged bitter invasions are brewing just yet.

3rd Warmest October for U.S. - On Track For Second Warmest Year To Date. Here are a few highlights from October, courtesy of NOAA: "...Other notable climate events in October: 

  • Drought: The total area of drought increased from 19.4 percent to 26.8 percent of the Lower 48, mainly from expansion in the South and Southeast.
  • Hurricane Matthew, a Category 1 hurricane with winds of 75 mph, made landfall in South Carolina on October 8, causing widespread flooding in the region.
  • New Mexico experienced record warmth in October, with an average temperature increase of 5.8 degrees.  
  • Alaska had its driest October on record.  
  • Pacific Northwest: Idaho, Montana and Washington each had their wettest October on record, while Oregon experienced its second wettest..." 

Toasty October Keeps U.S. On Track for 2nd-Hottest Year. Climate Central reports: "The U.S. is still cruising toward its second-hottest year on record going back more than 120 years, with every state in the Lower 48, as well as Alaska, recording well above-average temperatures through October. This October was the third warmest on record, and 37 states had one of their five warmest January-October periods in the books, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced on Tuesday. Those elevated temperatures have exacerbated the drought that has taken hold in several areas, particularly in the Southeast. The near-record U.S. heat comes amid a year that will easily be the hottest on record for the planet as a whole, surpassing 2015. The excess heat trapped by ever-rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is tipping the scales in favor of more record heat..."

November 2016 La Nina Update: Hello, Lady! Yes, it's official - a (mild) La Nina cooling of equatorial Pacific Ocean water. Here's an excerpt of a post at NOAA's that explains the conditions that need to be present before it can be (officially) called La Nina: "...Is the sea surface temperature in the Niño3.4 region more than half a degree cooler than average? Yes! (It was about -0.7°C below average during October.) Do forecasters think it will stay cooler than that threshold for several overlapping three-month periods? Yes! (But just barely.) Finally, are there signs that the atmospheric circulation above the tropical Pacific is stronger than average? Yes! This all means that La Niña has officially arrived..."

Mild La Nina? Odds Favor Colder and Snowier for Minnesota. I know, I'll believe it when I see it too. I'm still a bit skeptical but maybe snow-lovers will be pleasantly surprised this winter.

Meteorology Behind the Sinking of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald. The University of Wisconsin (CIMSS) folks put together a good explainer recapping the weather that brought down the ship on November 10, 1975; here's an excerpt: "...What caused the ship to sink? There are a couple of theories cited in the "Marine Casualty Report" by the US. Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation Report. Since there were no survivors nor witnesses, their report is based on testimonies and an underwater survey of the wreck. This report suggests that the Fitzgerald was taking on water due to earlier damage from the storm and that around 7:15 p.m. it plunged headfirst into a large wave and sank abruptly. When a ship is filled with cargo, there is a level at which the ship rests in the water. This level is referred to as the load line. The height load line is set as a function of season and determines the weight of the cargo the ship can transport. Between the time of her launch and its sinking, the SS Edmund Fitzgerald load line was raised 3 feet 3 1/4 inches, making her sit lower in the water. This increased the frequency and quantity of water that could flood the deck during a rough storm..."

Weather-Related Car Accidents Far More Deadly Than Tornadoes, Hurricanes, Floods. Perspective is important, according to a story at The Weather Channel: "...The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) says that more than 5,748,000 vehicle crashes occur each year based on statistics from the 10 years spanning 2005-2014. About 22 percent of those, or close to 1,259,000, involved hazardous weather.  Those U.S. weather-related automobile crashes have killed an average of nearly 5,900 people annually, accounting for about 16 percent of all vehicular deaths, the DOT says. Another 445,000+ were injured each year during that same period of time. For comparison, the 10-year average combined number of deaths each year from flooding, lightning, tornadoes, hurricanes, and heat is 375..."

Image credit: "Annual average vehicle crash statistics." Data from U.S. DOT.

How To Survive Being Caught Up In a Flash Flood. Most flash flood deaths occur in vehicles, at night, when estimating water depth is nearly impossible. Here are a few suggestions of what to do in the unlikely event you ever find your car or truck being transformed into a boat, courtesy of Times LIVE: "...If your car is swept into the water and submerged‚ DON'T PANIC! Stay calm and wait for the vehicle to fill with water. Once the vehicle is full‚ the doors will be able to open. Hold your breath and swim to the surface. If you are swept into fast moving floodwater outside of your car‚ point your feet downstream. Always go over obstacles‚ never try to go under..." (Image credit: Virginia Department of Transportation).

"Atmospheric Rivers" Soak Pacific Northwest and Western Canada. Discover Magazine has a good explanation of the meteorology powering persistent streams of deep moisture impacting the northwestern USA; here's a clip: "During this past weekend and into Monday of this week, parts of British Columbia were hosed with copious, flood-inducing precipitation, thanks to at least two so-called ‘atmospheric rivers’ originating far to the south and west. You can see them in the animation above, which shows the amount of precipitable water in the atmosphere. Watch for long, thin plumes depicted in green, yellow and orange, stretching from near Hawaii and hitting the Pacific Northwest. Atmospheric rivers contain an almost unimaginable amount of moisture. A strong one can move water vapor “roughly equivalent to 7.5–15 times the average flow of liquid water at the mouth of the Mississippi River, according to NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory..."

Animation credit: "The amount of precipitable water in the atmosphere over the northern Pacific is seen in this animation created using data from microwave observations by polar orbiting satellites. The animation covers the period between Nov. 5th and 7th, 2016." (Source: Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies.)

Where's The Cold Air? This has to change in the coming weeks as long nights spark an eventual cool-down, but I'm struck by how pervasive the warmth is across North America - a huge area with temperature anomalies well above average. The Arctic region is averaging 5-6F warmer than normal for this date. Graphic: Climate Reanalyzer.

November's Supermoon Will Be Bigger Than It Has Been Since 1948. The Washington Post has more details on the upcoming "spotlight moon"; here's the intro: "November’s full moon is special. Not only is it a supermoon — which appears larger than a “regular” full moon — it will be the closest such moon to Earth since January 1948. We won’t see the full moon this close again until Nov. 25, 2034, according to NASA. In the middle of November, we savor the splendor of a full moon. With any luck, this awe-inspiring moon will lure people outside to breathe the crisp air of the autumnal night sky, spark people to hold hands and spur interest in relishing the heavens..."

Photo credit: "The moon will be larger in the sky than it has been in decades — but not quite this big." (Charlie Riedel/AP).

Solar Power Proponents Hopeful Trump Sees Benefit of Growing Industry. Here's an excerpt from the Los Angeles Times: "...As part of his larger economic agenda, Trump has proposed lifting environmental regulations, tapping coal and nuclear power, and opening federal lands to oil and natural gas production. But despite his campaign rhetoric, experts and industry players say, Trump’s energy policies as president will bump into market realities. The challenge Trump faces is that increasingly the economics in the energy sector favor renewable technologies such as solar and wind, which are reducing costs quickly. Increased fracking has produced natural gas at prices that are cheaper than coal. And a worldwide oil glut has reduced petroleum profits to the point where reducing regulation and opening federal lands to drilling is unlikely to bring a drilling boom..."

Photo credit: "A large-scale solar panel project sits atop warehouses No. 9 and 10 at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, which have been converted into retail space for shops and a microbrewery." (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Sunny Disposition: Falling Prices Fuel Solar Boom. With costs dropping rapidly why wouldn't you want to take advantage of the free energy falling on your yard? Here's an excerpt from Milwaukee's Journal-Sentinel:

  • A new forecast by the U.S. Energy Department says the amount of solar energy produced nationwide is poised to triple between 2014 and 2019.
  • Nationally, solar installations jumped 45% in the first half of this year compared with the same period in 2015.
  • Cutting-edge technology could give solar power an even bigger "wow" factor. Elon Musk, known for developing electric-powered Tesla cars and pushing for commercial space travel, sees the potential for solar-powered roof tiles, such as those made by his company SolarCity, that resemble conventional shingles.

"I really think it's going to get to the point where if you get a normal roof it's sort of odd," Musk, founder/CEO of Tesla, said during an interview last week on CNBC..."

Photo credit: Apple.

Learning In The Age of Digital Distraction. We've never been more distracted, trying to convince ourselves that we can do 5 things, simultaneously, and do them well. NPR reports: "...Maybe the smart phone's hegemony makes perfect evolutionary sense: Humans are tapping a deep urge to seek out information. Our ancient food-foraging survival instinct has evolved into an info-foraging obsession; one that prompts many of us today to constantly check our phones and multitask. Monkey see. Click. Swipe. Reward. A new book The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High Tech World explores the implications of, and brain science behind, this evolution (some might say devolution)..."

Image credit: LA Johnson/NPR.

68 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities. That's the average high on September 24.

45 F. average high on November 10.

61 F. high on November 10, 2015.

November 11, 1940: The Great Armistice Day Blizzard kills 49 people in Minnesota. Food dropped by Pilot Max Conrad saved stranded hunters. The barometer fell to 28.66 inches at Duluth. Some roads were so badly blocked with snow they weren't opened until Nov. 22.

TODAY: Sunny, chilly breeze. Winds: NE 5-10. High: 49

FRIDAY NIGHT: Clear and cold. Low: 33

SATURDAY: Early frost? Sunny, breezy, milder PM. Winds: S 10-15. High: 58

SUNDAY: Plenty of sun, weather honeymoon continues. Winds: W 10-15. Wake-up: 43. High: near 60

MONDAY: Blue sky, a bit cooler. Winds: N 8-13. Wake-up: 44. High: 54

TUESDAY: Clouds, showers likely. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 41. High: 55

WEDNESDAY: Sunny, still quiet for mid-November. Winds: SE 5-10. Wake-up: 39. High: 53

THURSDAY: Clouds and wind increase, still mild. Winds: SE 15-25. Wake-up: 44. High: near 60

Climate Stories

Caring for Creation: Community Conversation and Book Release November 15 at Minnehaha Academy. If you're interested in this topic (and most everyone should be) I hope you'll consider coming out next Tuesday evening, November 15, to Minnehaha Academy to hear co-author of "Caring for Creation" Mitch Hescox and me discuss why climate awareness and a push toward clean energy are essential, and why people of faith should pay attention: "Minnehaha Academy Welcomes Meteorologist Paul Douglas and Evangelical Environmental Network Director Mitch Hescox for a Compelling Climate Change Conversation and Book Release Event. Join us for this not-to-be-missed community conversation and book release event about climate change and the Biblical call for Christians to care about the earth. 

In this free evening conversation, you’ll learn:

- Why Christians should lead the charge for caring for God’s creation.
- How climate change goes beyond politics and affects the health, economy, and stability of future generations.
- Tips to help your family and those around you care for the earth.

Growing Link Between Global Warming & Extreme Weather, Finds World Meteorological Organization. A warmer, wetter atmosphere is turning up the volume on extreme weather, especially record heat and flooding rains. Clean Technica connects the dots related to attribution: "...The new report, The Global Climate 2011-2015, investigated the warmest five-year period on record, 2011 to 2015, which was also the warmest on record for every single continent except Africa. These record temperatures were accompanied by rising sea levels, as well as major declines in Arctic sea-ice extent, continental glaciers, and northern hemisphere snow cover. As the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) notes, “All these climate change indicators confirmed the long-term warming trend caused by greenhouse gases.” The WMO also points to the awkwardly historic milestone, which we reported back in June, that carbon dioxide levels surpassed 400 parts per million for the first time in 4 million years..."

Map credit: "Results of studies on attribution of extreme events to anthropogenic climate change." (Sources: Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society and various other publications)

How To Tell When The Arctic Ocean Will Be Ice Free. Here's a clip from a story at Pacific Standard: "...The estimates also suggests, based on current sea-ice coverage, that it will take another trillion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions before Arctic summer sea ice more or less vanishes. Given global greenhouse gas emissions of around 35 trillion metric tons per year, that suggests there won’t be any Arctic sea ice in September by mid-century."

Global "Greening" Has Slowed Rise of CO2 in the Atmosphere, Study Finds. Here's an excerpt from a story at The Guardian: "A global “greening” of the planet has significantly slowed the rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere since the start of the century, according to new research. More plants have been growing due to higher CO2 levels in the air and warming temperatures that cut the CO2 emitted by plants via respiration. The effects led the proportion of annual carbon emissions remaining in the air to fall from about 50% to 40% in the last decade. However, this greening is only offsetting a small amount of the billions of tonnes of CO2 emitted from fossil fuel burning and other human activities and will not halt dangerous global warming..."

The Arctic: A Bellwether of Climate Change. Maryland's Point News has a story that made me do a double-take; here's a clip: "...The Arctic is a bellwether of climate change,” explained Dr. Walsh. He said that scientists can use observations from the Arctic to identify trends and indicate the future of climate change for the rest of the world. “What happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic,” a playful phrase that Dr. Walsh coined to describe the importance of studying this region, was substantiated by data correlating temperature changes in the Arctic to rising sea levels, feedback to greenhouse warming, and extreme weather around the midlatitude regions on the globe. However, Dr. Walsh explained, the cause for concern is not based solely on the global impact, but on the impact local to the Arctic as well. According to Walsh, 50% of all ice in the Arctic has melted in the past thirty years due to rising temperatures..."

File photo: Huffington Post.

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Sunshine Is Still The Best Medicine - Flirting With 60F Into Sunday

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Warmest Start to November on Record - Wintry Smack Arrives in 1 Week