Paul Douglas is a nationally respected meteorologist with 33 years of television and radio experience. A serial entrepreneur, Douglas is Senior Meteorologist for WeatherNation TV, a new, national 24/7 weather channel with studios in Denver and Minneapolis. Founder of Media Logic Group, Douglas and a team of meteorologists provide weather services for media at Broadcast Weather, and high-tech alerting and briefing services for companies via Alerts Broadcaster. His speaking engagements take him around the Midwest with a message of continuous experimentation and reinvention, no matter what business you’re in. He is the public face of “SAVE”, Suicide Awareness, Voices of Education, based in Bloomington. | Send Paul a question.

Posts about AFC

Weekend Thaw - Beige Christmas - Numbing New Year?

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: December 18, 2014 - 9:20 AM

Tough Sledding

Abe Lincoln was right - it's impossible pleasing all the people all the time. Don't even bother trying. Good news for commuters is a tough sell for skiers and anyone trying to fire up a snowmobile.

At a recent Christmas party a friend pulled me aside. "Paul, what are the local TV meteorologists thinking? They're calling green lawns, fog and 50 degrees in December good news. This is NOT what Minnesota is supposed to look like in late December. Where's the snow? Stop the insanity!"

I feel your pain, Jim.

El Nino tends to detour the biggest Pacific storms south and east of Minnesota. El Nino winters are usually stormier than average from Los Angeles, Dallas, and Atlanta to New York and Boston - but drier/milder/quieter for much of the Upper Midwest. El Nino is still kicking in, and I'm seeing early symptoms on the weather maps.

The whopping inch of snow in your yard will probably melt over the weekend with highs in the 30s; a rain/snow mix on Monday - but no major storms in sight here, just a much colder surge in about 8 days.

St. Thomas climate scientist John Abraham predicts 2014 will be the warmest year, worldwide, on record; even warmer than 1998, 2005 and 2010.

* Photo above: Mike Hall.


Weekend Thaw. Temperatures climb into the mid 20s today to near freezing tomorrow, but we should see 3-4 days with temperatures (mostly) above 32F from Saturday into Tuesday of next week. A light mix Monday gives way to light snow and flurries Tuesday into Christmas Eve. White Christmas? We'll be lucky to have an inch of snow on the ground by next Thursday.


60-Hour Accumulated Precipitation. A streak of light snow pushes across Kansas into Missouri today, while the next sloppy front pushes onto the west coast, sparking more (minor) flooding problems across California. Animation: NOAA and HAMweather.


A Numbing New Year? Our westerly wind flow aloft takes a turn to the northwest by the end of 2014, setting the stage for a spell of days in the teens and single digits, nights dipping below zero. Historically January is the coldest month of the year, and 2015 will probably be no exception. Graphic: GrADS:COLA/IGES.


Reality Check. GFS numbers show highs in the teens and single digits the last few days of December, spilling over into the first week of January. Not exactly polar-vortex-cold, but it should get our attention.


2014 Will Be The Hottest Year On Record. This news comes from Dr. John Abraham, a climate scientist at St. Thomas, via a story at The Guardian. Here's the intro: "For those of us fixated on whether 2014 will be the hottest year on record, the results are in. At least, we know enough that we can make the call. According the global data from NOAA, 2014 will be the hottest year ever recorded. I can make this pronouncement even before the end of the year because each month, I collect daily global average temperatures. So far, December is running about 0.5°C above the average..."


The Scientific Way To Stay Warm This Winter. Mashable has an interesting article with some good tips; here's a clip that made me realize how little I know about staying warm: "...Being well-fed — meaning consuming more calories than you're burning — will help your body handle the cold better, according to Greenway. "It always helps to be well-fed in the backcountry when it's cold," he said. "This is all-important, to keep your blood sugar up enough to provide the energy you need to keep warm in a cold situation." Staying hydrated is also key, Greenway said. "Your body will tolerate the cold much better if food and water balance are maintained..."


Hotter Ocean Waters Give Typhoons A Boost. Scientific American has the story - here's an excerpt: "Also rare for the Atlantic would be the five Category 5-strength storms that have spun up in the West Pacific this year, the most in that basin since the 10 seen in 1997, according to Steven Bowen, an associate director and meteorologist with the reinsurance group Aon Benfield. The record for Category 5 storms in a single season in the Atlantic is only four, which has only happened once, during the blockbuster 2005 season. The West Pacific, on the other hand, has averaged about three Category 5 storms a season since 2000, Bowen said..."


National Hurricane Center to Issue New Storm Surge Watches and Warnings in 2015. Here's a clip from a story at The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang: "...A hurricane’s surge — or ocean water inundation onto land — is the product of a number of variables, including the storm’s wind speed and direction, minimum central pressure, and the shape of the shoreline and ocean floor right off the coast. All of these factors come together to create a unique storm surge in every hurricane landfall. And historically, storm surge has been the biggest tropical cyclone killer around the world..."

Map credit above: "A prototype of the new hurricane storm surge watch and warning graphic to be issued by the National Hurricane Center beginning in 2015. Red indicates areas under a storm surge warning, and orange indicates areas under a storm surge watch." (NOAA/NHC).


Hurricane-Forecast Satellites Will Keep Close Eye on Tropics. A new constellation of microwave-oven-size satellites in low-Earth orbit will look for signs of rapid intensification with tropical systems and help meteorologists get a jump on storms that are strengthening rapidly. Here's an excerpt from The University of Michigan: "...Conventional weather satellites only cross over the same point once or twice a day. Meteorologists can use ground-based Doppler radar to help them make predictions about storms near land, but hurricanes, which form over the open ocean, present a tougher problem. "The rapid refresh CYGNSS will offer is a key element of how we'll be able to improve hurricane forecasts," said CYGNSS lead investigator Christopher Ruf, director of the U-M Space Physics Research Lab and professor of atmospheric, oceanic and space sciences. "CYGNSS gets us the ability to measure things that change fast, like extreme weather..."

Graphic credit above: "A set of eight satellites - each abou tthe size of a microwave oven - will launch in 2016 and provide scientists unprecedented information about the formation and evolution of hurricanes." Image credit: Aaron Ridley.


Inside Beijing's "Airpocalypse" - A City Made "Almost Uninhabitable" By Pollution. This is what happens when there's no EPA-like entity to keep polluters in check, something  you might see in a dystopian science fiction movie, as documented by The Guardian: "...Beijing’s air quality has long been a cause of concern, but the effects of its extreme levels of pollution on daily life can now be seen in physical changes to the architecture of the city. Buildings and spaces are being reconfigured and daily routines modified to allow normal life to go on beneath the toxic shroud. Paper face masks have been common here for a long time, but now the heavy-duty kind with purifying canister filters – of the sort you might wear for a day of asbestos removal – are frequently seen on the streets..."

Photo credit above: "A man wearing mask visits Jingshan Park in the haze on February 24, 2014, in Beijing, China. Altogether 1.43 million sq km of China's land territory, nearly 15 percent of the total, have been covered by persistent smog in recent days, according to news report." (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images).


Brazil Olympics: Super-Bacteria Found In Rio Sea Waters. BBC has the not-so-savory details; here's an excerpt: "Researchers in Brazil have discovered drug-resistant bacteria in the sea waters where sailing and windsurfing events will be held during the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The "super-bacteria" are usually found in hospital waste and produce an enzyme, KPC, resistant to antibiotics. Researchers found the bacteria in samples taken from Flamengo beach. Nearly 70% of sewage in Rio - a city of some 10 million people - is spilled raw into the waters of Guanabara Bay..."

File photo above: "In this Nov. 19, 2013 file photo, small boats sit on the polluted shore of Guanabara Bay in the suburb of Sao Goncalo, across the bay from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A drug-resistant “super bacteria” that’s normally found in hospitals and is notoriously difficult to treat has been discovered in the waters where Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic sailing events will be held, scientists with Brazil's most respected health research institute said Monday, Dec. 15, 2014." (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File).


Denmark Claims The North Pole? Not to hold Santa hostage, it seems, but for all the oily wealth under the (shrinking) ice cap. Here's an excerpt from Quartz: "...The race for ownership of the North Pole is hotting up. After 12 years and $50 million of research, Denmark has surveyed the 2,000-kilometer-long underwater mountain range that runs north of Siberia and concluded that it is geologically attached to Greenland, the huge autonomous territory that, along with the Faroe Islands, is controlled by Denmark. (Denmark’s broader strategy on the Arctic can be found here. (pdf))..."


Christmas Lights Can Be Seen From Space By NASA Satellites. Good news for Santa. Here's an excerpt from Huffington Post: "It's not just your neighbors who can see your Christmas lights. The combined effect of holiday lights in cities and suburbs is so powerful that the difference from normal lighting conditions can be detected from space. NASA reports that satellite images show certain cities shine between 20 percent and 30 percent brighter during the holiday season. And out in the suburbs, some areas shine as much as 50 percent brighter..."


The Top 10 Things You Can't Have for Christmas 2014. Check out Gizmag's list of decadent options, including a hurricane-proof tent that will make you the envy of your peers during the next BWCA camping trip: "...While it may amount to spare change compared to many of the other items on this list, €4,999.00 (US$6,730) still seems like quite an outlay for a tent. Designed specifically for the Red Bull Storm Chase windsurfing competition, Heimplanet's 10-person Mavericks geodesic inflatable expedition tent can cop winds of up to 112 mph (180 km/h) while campers dance about (read huddle with fear) in its spacious 142 sq ft (13 sq m) interior..."


20 F. high in the Twin Cities Wednesday.

26 F. average high on December 17.

33 F. high on December 17, 2013.

December 18, 1922: Heat wave across southern Minnesota. Temperatures rose into the 60's at New Ulm and St. Peter.

December 18, 1917: Milaca had its fifty-ninth consecutive day with no precipitation.


TODAY: Intervals of sun, light winds. Winds: S 5. High: 25

THURSDAY NIGHT: Patchy clouds, not as cold. Low: 21

FRIDAY: Mostly cloudy and milder. High: 31

SATURDAY: More clouds and fog. PM thaw. Wake-up: 25. High: 34

SUNDAY: Winter solstice. Shortest daylight. Clouds, fog and mist lingers. Wake-up: 30. High: 37

MONDAY: Light mix, mainly wet roads. Wake-up: 32. High: 36

TUESDAY: Light snow, coating to 1 inch? Wake-up: 29. High: 33

CHRISTMAS EVE: Windy with flurries, wind chills dipping into the teens. Wake-up: 27. High: 29


Climate Stories....

Climate Change Driving Fish North, Rutgers Research Shows. Here's a clip from a story at NJ.com: "...Last week, the Rutgers team released data and charts to the public showing more than 60 species and how they migrated over the last 40 years. The average drift northward is 0.7 of a degree latitude, and 15 meters deeper in the water, Pinsky's work found. "We’re seeing a trend of many species shifting northward and shifting deeper," said Malin Pinsky, a marine biologist leading the Rutgers team. “It is a sea change – and it affects fisheries quite a bit...”


Research Eyes Global Warming - Extreme Weather Links. Here's a clip from a story at Summit County Citizens Voice: "...But decision makers need to appreciate the influence of global warming on extreme climate and weather events. “If we look over the last decade in the United States, there have been more than 70 events that have each caused at least $1 billion in damage, and a number of those have been considerably more costly,” said Diffenbaugh. “Understanding whether the probability of those high-impact events has changed can help us to plan for future extreme events, and to value the costs and benefits of avoiding future global warming.”


These Cities Might Be Seeing More Power Outages, Thanks To Climate Change. Warm up the air, warm up the oceans and you wind up with more intense storms with stronger winds capable of bringing down portions of the power grid. Here's a recap of recent research published at Climate Change, highlighted in an article at Huffington Post: "How likely is it that climate change will leave your city in the dark? Researchers at Johns Hopkins University asked just this question, analyzing which cities will be more likely to suffer from hurricane-related power outages in the future. Using historical data and a range of potential future storm scenarios, researchers created a computer model to predict which cities will likely see the greatest increases in power outage risk. Seth Guikema, associate professor at Johns Hopkins and co-author of the report, said in a press release that the information will be able to help cities make plans now to reinforce their systems..." (File photo: AP).


Most Americans Are Clueless About How Climate Change Will Affect Their Health. Here's a snippet from a Grist article that made me do a double-take: "...Even many respondents who recognized that climate change poses health threats didn’t understand which threats were likely to affect American communities in the next 10 years. For example:

  • Allergies? Correct answer: yes. Percent who said yes: 38%
  • Asthma? Correct answer: yes. Percent who said yes: 37%
  • Heat stroke? Correct answer: yes. Percent who said yes: 36%
  • The flu? Correct answer: no. Percent who said yes: 29%
  • Depression? Correct answer: yes. Percent who said yes: 26%
  • Ebola? Correct answer: no. Percent who said yes: 22%..."

Europe's Record Heat Directly Tied To Climate Change. We're still on track for 2014 being the warmest year, worldwide (land and ocean) on record, in spite of a chiller year for Minnesota and much of the eastern USA. Europe had an historically warm, wet year, as documented in this article at Climate Central; here's an excerpt: "As 2014 comes to a close, Europe is virtually certain to lock in its hottest year in more than 500 years, and according to research by three independent teams of climate scientists, the record can be closely attributed to climate change. The three groups, from the UK, the Netherlands and Australia, each using a different method, found that Europe should best its previous heat record set in 2007, and that setting that record has been made at least 35 to 80 times more likely by the manmade rise of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere..."

Graphic credit: "Temperature anomalies across Europe for the year from January-November, as compared to the 1981-2010 average."


Climate Change Plays Major Role In Record European Heat. Here's more background on research demonstrating how climate change loaded the dice in favor of 2014's record warmth across Europe, courtesy of Climate Central.


If You Don't Accept That Climate Change Is Real, You're Not a Skeptic. You're A Denier. Here's an excerpt from a story at Slate: "...Skepticism is all about critical examination, evidence-based scientific inquiry, and the use of reason in examining controversial claims. Those who flatly deny the results of climate science do not partake in any of the above. They base their conclusions on a priori convictions. Theirs is an ideological conviction—the opposite of skepticism..."


Earth's Future? Ancient Warming Gives Ominous Peek at Climate Change. Again, it's the rate of carbon release into the atmosphere that is historic and problematic. Here's an excerpt from a story at NBC News: "...The rate at which carbon was being released leading up to the PETM was pretty close to the rate being released now, which is 20.9 trillion pounds (9.5 petagrams) per year, the researchers found. "We are doing some crazy things with the carbon cycle," Bowen says. "Carbon naturally moves back and forth between rocks and the atmosphere at a steady slow rate. What we are doing by burning fossil fuels is accelerating the pace by about 30 times over the natural rate..."


The Lima Climate Deal Is Largely Voluntary. That May Be Its Biggest Strength. Here's a clip from a story at Vox: "...Victor has long argued that UN negotiators would never be able to impose a climate plan on reluctant countries from on high. Instead, any climate deal should work from the bottom up — start with what countries are actually willing to do and slowly build from there. And that's essentially taken in these latest climate talks. It's not enough to avoid drastic global warming — not yet, at least. But it may be a step forward from past gridlock..."


The New Climate Denialism: More Carbon Dioxide Is A Good Thing. Yes, and while you're at it I'd like an extra serving of mercury and carcinogins, topped off with a tasty sample of plutonium! Never let reality get int he way of a good argument. Here's an excerpt from The Washington Post: "...And though Bezdek is an economist, not a scientist, he played one on Monday — showing a PowerPoint presentation that documented a tree growing faster when exposed to more carbon dioxide. “CO2 increases over the past several decades have increased global greening by about 11 percent,” the consultant said. Higher carbon levels in the atmosphere will boost worldwide agricultural productivity by $10 trillion over the next 35 years, he added..."

Polar Whispers: Taste of January Next Week

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: November 7, 2014 - 8:09 AM

Blame Nuri

It wouldn't be so bad if I got thanked for the good days as often as I get blamed for the bad ones. When in doubt blame the weather guy. People love to remind me when the weather is inconvenient.

Weather modification? Any company dumb enough to try to engineer the weather (or climate) would be composed of one mad scientist and 50 lawyers. Because you can't keep all the people happy all the time.

Forget the calendar, January makes an early appearance next week with highs in the 20s, single digit lows, a wind chill in the oh-zone. And ex-Typhoon Nuri may be responsible.

Scientists at UCAR in Boulder confirm that re-curving typhoons in the Pacific can energize the jet stream, resulting in a higher amplitude pattern and a spike in weather extremes downwind, over the USA. The soggy, windy remains of Nuri spinning off the coast of Alaska will pull bitter air southward into America.

In my experience: air that's 20-30F colder than average is usually preceded by accumulating snow.

No problems today; the atmosphere mild enough for rain showers. No travel problems are expected over the weekend but a storm tracking south of Minnesota may drop a few inches of slushy snow on Monday.

* ECMWF guidance above courtesy of WSI.


Extra-Tropical Typhoon Nuri May Challenge All-Time Pressure Record. Although the storm has lost it's warm-core tropical characteristics it's still a monster, and forecast to intensify further. Here's an excerpt from WGCU: "...The National Weather Service in Anchorage says that during that so-called "bombogenesis" the storm's central pressure — an important measure of intensity — will deepen from 970 MB late Thursday to between 918 to 922 MB late Friday. "That would create a significant event, as the current record lowest pressure observed in the Bering Sea is 925 MB, measured at Dutch Harbor on October 25, 1977," the NWS writes in its advisory..."

* more details on this potentially record-setting storm from Mashable.


How Typhoon Nuri Is Changing The Weather Forecast in North America. Ex-typhoons in the Pacific that recurve to the northeast can have a profound impact on North American weather 3-5 days later, according to recent research. Here's an excerpt of a good summary at Mashable: "...She told Mashable in an interview that Typhoon Nuri (as of Tuesday morning it's no longer a super typhoon) is a classic case in which a recurving storm in the Northwest Pacific energizes the jet stream and results in a faster and wavier upper air flow, and hence stormier conditions, thousands of miles downstream. Recurving refers to a directional change in the path of the storm, in this case from an original bearing of west/northwest, to its current past of northeast. Archambault says that recurving typhoons like Nuri “increase the chance of having extreme weather across North America” about three to five days later, because the air flowing out of the typhoon gets funneled into the North Pacific jet stream. This adds energy to the jet, which “perturbs” it, she says..."

Image credit above: "Super Typhoon Nuri seen at night via the VIIRS imager on board the Suomi NPP satellite." Image: University of Wisconsin/CIMSS.


About 16 Days With An Inch or More of Snow Every Winter. That's during an "average winter", which of course is a made-up statistic that never quite materializes as we swing from one extreme to the next. Data above based on the 30-year averages; more information here, courtesy of NOAA in the Twin Cities.


2014 Will Go Down As Hottest in California's History. Here's a clip from a story at Climate Central: "Book it: This year will go down as the hottest in California’s history. With just two months left in the year, there’s a better than 99 percent chance that 2014 will be the warmest year on record for California, according to National Weather Service meteorologists. The state has been baking in above-average temperatures all year — setting a record for the warmest first six months of any year this June — thanks to a persistent atmospheric pattern that has also mired California in a major drought..."


National Hurricane Center Highlights Storm Surge Risk. Here's an excerpt from a story at fox10tv.com: "...Approximately 22 million people in the U.S. are vulnerable to storm surge. It’s responsible for about half the deaths in the United States due to tropical cyclones, and many evacuation routes become inundated in a variety of scenarios. This map makes it clear that storm surge is not just a beachfront problem, with the risk of storm surge extending several miles from the immediate coastline in some areas. Florida has a particularly large vulnerable population, with about 40 percent of its residents at risk to storm surge flooding..."


The Break-Off Effect. What happens to the human brain at the upper reaches of the troposphere, where all "weather" takes place? Some handle it better than others. And for some it's a nothing short of a religious experience. Here's an excerpt of a fascinating story at Fast Company: "...Higher than that, at roughly 70,000 feet, some pilots and engineers say you can grasp the curvature of the earth. Strange things have happened to the human mind at those heights. A year after the commander reported his symptoms, a Navy medical officer and a psychologist published a study on a dissociative anomaly pilots experienced while flying at high altitudes. Brant Clark and Captain Ashton Graybiel interviewed 137 Navy and Marine pilots who had come up with a term for it themselves. The “break-off" phenomenon, they called it..." (Image: NASA).


A Photo That Left Me Speechless. This has to be one of the most remarkable examples of a supercell thunderstorm I've ever seen, courtesy of Bob Larson Photography. Bob writes via Facebook: "I'm the photographer that took this picture and just to clear some things up. This is a series of 16 shots taken with a wide angle lens in order to fit in the entire storm. The shots were taken on Oct 9, 2014 at 6:42 pm. The location is Willow Lake in Prescott, Arizona, not Watson Lake as many people seem to have assumed.  They were taken from the top of a Granite cliff. The storm was very real and there are about a bajillion other photos of this storm from many other photographers posted on the internet and in our local newspaper. I have many other shots from that evening on my website and facebook page if you're interested."


The War of the Words. Amazon is in a perpetual fight with established, legacy publishers. How did we get here and what does this mean for the future of the printed (or digital) word? Vanity Fair takes a look; here's the introduction: "Amazon’s war with publishing giant Hachette over e-book pricing has earned it a black eye in the media, with the likes of Philip Roth, James Patterson, and Stephen Colbert demanding that the online mega-store stand down. How did Amazon—which was once seen as the book industry’s savior—end up as Literary Enemy Number One? And how much of this fight is even about money? Keith Gessen reports..."


Robotic Bartenders? The robots are coming, and not even bartending is immune, especially if you're on the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship. Here's an excerpt from Gizmag: "...With its RFID passenger bracelets, virtual concierge, and "virtual balcony" staterooms where flat screens take the place of portholes, the Quantum is already a high-tech vessel with an emphasis on connectivity that extends to the ship's Bionic Bar and Two70 multimedia theater. In the former, instead of a human cocktail jockey, there are a pair of robotic arms capable of mixing two drinks per minute or 1,000 per day, while the latter is host to a troupe of robotic performers..."


44 F. high in the Twin Cities Thursday.

47 F. average high on November 6.

40 F. high on November 6, 2013.

November 6, 1844: A large prairie fire at Fort Snelling occurs, followed by more fires later on in the week.


TODAY: Clouds increase, few PM showers. Winds: S 15. High: 49

FRIDAY NIGHT: Cloudy with light rain. Low: 35

SATURDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, windy and chilly. High: near 40

SUNDAY: Fading sun, good travel day. Wake-up: 31. High: 39

MONDAY: Potential for accumulating snow. Wake-up: 29. High: 35

TUESDAY: Light snow tapers, bitter winds. Wake-up: 23. High: 29

WEDNESDAY: Some sun, wind chill near zero. Wake-up: 13. High: 26

THURSDAY: Some sun, still feels like January. Wake-up: 8. High: 24


Climate Stories...

Long Range Outlook: 200% Increase in Pollen? Here's a snippet of some new research available online at PLOS, the Public Library of Science: "...Using quantitative estimates of increased pollen production and number of flowering plants per treatment, we estimated that airborne grass pollen concentrations will increase in the future up to ~200%. Due to the widespread existence of grasses and the particular importance of P. pratense in eliciting allergic responses, our findings provide evidence for significant impacts on human health worldwide as a result of future climate change..."



The Biggest Loser In This Election is the Climate. Vox takes a look; here's an excerpt: "...In the short term, the election's impact might seem negligible. After all, the action in Washington over the next few years will center on the Environmental Protection Agency, which is crafting rules to cut carbon-dioxide emissions from US power plants. These rules don't need congressional approval (they're being done under the existing Clean Air Act), and President Obama is expected to veto any attempts by Congress to block them. But congressional indifference is a huge problem for future climate policy. The most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that global greenhouse-gas emissions need to fall 42 to 71 percent below 2010 levels by mid-century if we wanted to fend off the worst impacts of global warming and prevent average temperatures rising more than 2°C (or 3.6°F)..." (Image: USGS/Flickr).


Ever More Cities Divesting From Fossil Fuels. Here's a clip from Deutsche Welle: "...Since it began on US university campuses in 2011, Fossil Free has spread to New Zealand, Australia and - last year - to Europe, with cities, towns, religious institutions, universities, and recently the heirs to Rockefeller oil fortune all pledging to divest from fossil fuels. The group behind the movement, 350.org, says its aim in encouraging and supporting local divestment campaigns is to raise awareness about the role of coal and oil in fueling climate change, and make investment in fossil fuels socially unacceptable..."

Polar Whispers: Taste of January Next Week

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: November 6, 2014 - 10:18 PM

Blame Nuri

It wouldn't be so bad if I got thanked for the good days as often as I get blamed for the bad ones. When in doubt blame the weather guy. People love to remind me when the weather is inconvenient.

Weather modification? Any company dumb enough to try to engineer the weather (or climate) would be composed of one mad scientist and 50 lawyers. Because you can't keep all the people happy all the time.

Forget the calendar, January makes an early appearance next week with highs in the 20s, single digit lows, a wind chill in the oh-zone. And ex-Typhoon Nuri may be responsible.

Scientists at UCAR in Boulder confirm that re-curving typhoons in the Pacific can energize the jet stream, resulting in a higher amplitude pattern and a spike in weather extremes downwind, over the USA. The soggy, windy remains of Nuri spinning off the coast of Alaska will pull bitter air southward into America.

In my experience: air that's 20-30F colder than average is usually preceded by accumulating snow.

No problems today; the atmosphere mild enough for rain showers. No travel problems are expected over the weekend but a storm tracking south of Minnesota may drop a few inches of slushy snow on Monday.


Extra-Tropical Typhoon Nuri May Challenge All-Time Pressure Record. Although the storm has lost it's warm-core tropical characteristics it's still a monster, and forecast to intensify further. Here's an excerpt from WGCU: "...The National Weather Service in Anchorage says that during that so-called "bombogenesis" the storm's central pressure — an important measure of intensity — will deepen from 970 MB late Thursday to between 918 to 922 MB late Friday. "That would create a significant event, as the current record lowest pressure observed in the Bering Sea is 925 MB, measured at Dutch Harbor on October 25, 1977," the NWS writes in its advisory..."

* more details on this potentially record-setting storm from Mashable.


How Typhoon Nuri Is Changing The Weather Forecast in North America. Ex-typhoons in the Pacific that recurve to the northeast can have a profound impact on North American weather 3-5 days later, according to recent research. Here's an excerpt of a good summary at Mashable: "...She told Mashable in an interview that Typhoon Nuri (as of Tuesday morning it's no longer a super typhoon) is a classic case in which a recurving storm in the Northwest Pacific energizes the jet stream and results in a faster and wavier upper air flow, and hence stormier conditions, thousands of miles downstream. Recurving refers to a directional change in the path of the storm, in this case from an original bearing of west/northwest, to its current past of northeast. Archambault says that recurving typhoons like Nuri “increase the chance of having extreme weather across North America” about three to five days later, because the air flowing out of the typhoon gets funneled into the North Pacific jet stream. This adds energy to the jet, which “perturbs” it, she says..."

Image credit above: "Super Typhoon Nuri seen at night via the VIIRS imager on board the Suomi NPP satellite." Image: University of Wisconsin/CIMSS.


About 16 Days With An Inch or More of Snow Every Winter. That's during an "average winter", which of course is a made-up statistic that never quite materializes as we swing from one extreme to the next. Data above based on the 30-year averages; more information here, courtesy of NOAA in the Twin Cities.


2014 Will Go Down As Hottest in California's History. Here's a clip from a story at Climate Central: "Book it: This year will go down as the hottest in California’s history. With just two months left in the year, there’s a better than 99 percent chance that 2014 will be the warmest year on record for California, according to National Weather Service meteorologists. The state has been baking in above-average temperatures all year — setting a record for the warmest first six months of any year this June — thanks to a persistent atmospheric pattern that has also mired California in a major drought..."


National Hurricane Center Highlights Storm Surge Risk. Here's an excerpt from a story at fox10tv.com: "...Approximately 22 million people in the U.S. are vulnerable to storm surge. It’s responsible for about half the deaths in the United States due to tropical cyclones, and many evacuation routes become inundated in a variety of scenarios. This map makes it clear that storm surge is not just a beachfront problem, with the risk of storm surge extending several miles from the immediate coastline in some areas. Florida has a particularly large vulnerable population, with about 40 percent of its residents at risk to storm surge flooding..."


The Break-Off Effect. What happens to the human brain at the upper reaches of the troposphere, where all "weather" takes place? Some handle it better than others. And for some it's a nothing short of a religious experience. Here's an excerpt of a fascinating story at Fast Company: "...Higher than that, at roughly 70,000 feet, some pilots and engineers say you can grasp the curvature of the earth. Strange things have happened to the human mind at those heights. A year after the commander reported his symptoms, a Navy medical officer and a psychologist published a study on a dissociative anomaly pilots experienced while flying at high altitudes. Brant Clark and Captain Ashton Graybiel interviewed 137 Navy and Marine pilots who had come up with a term for it themselves. The “break-off" phenomenon, they called it..." (Image: NASA).


A Photo That Left Me Speechless. This has to be one of the most remarkable examples of a supercell thunderstorm I've ever seen, courtesy of Bob Larson Photography. Bob writes via Facebook: "I'm the photographer that took this picture and just to clear some things up. This is a series of 16 shots taken with a wide angle lens in order to fit in the entire storm. The shots were taken on Oct 9, 2014 at 6:42 pm. The location is Willow Lake in Prescott, Arizona, not Watson Lake as many people seem to have assumed.  They were taken from the top of a Granite cliff. The storm was very real and there are about a bajillion other photos of this storm from many other photographers posted on the internet and in our local newspaper. I have many other shots from that evening on my website and facebook page if you're interested."


The War of the Words. Amazon is in a perpetual fight with established, legacy publishers. How did we get here and what does this mean for the future of the printed (or digital) word? Vanity Fair takes a look; here's the introduction: "Amazon’s war with publishing giant Hachette over e-book pricing has earned it a black eye in the media, with the likes of Philip Roth, James Patterson, and Stephen Colbert demanding that the online mega-store stand down. How did Amazon—which was once seen as the book industry’s savior—end up as Literary Enemy Number One? And how much of this fight is even about money? Keith Gessen reports..."


Robotic Bartenders? The robots are coming, and not even bartending is immune, especially if you're on the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship. Here's an excerpt from Gizmag: "...With its RFID passenger bracelets, virtual concierge, and "virtual balcony" staterooms where flat screens take the place of portholes, the Quantum is already a high-tech vessel with an emphasis on connectivity that extends to the ship's Bionic Bar and Two70 multimedia theater. In the former, instead of a human cocktail jockey, there are a pair of robotic arms capable of mixing two drinks per minute or 1,000 per day, while the latter is host to a troupe of robotic performers..."


44 F. high in the Twin Cities Thursday.

47 F. average high on November 6.

40 F. high on November 6, 2013.

November 6, 1844: A large prairie fire at Fort Snelling occurs, followed by more fires later on in the week.


TODAY: Clouds increase, few PM showers. Winds: S 15. High: 49

FRIDAY NIGHT: Cloudy with light rain. Low: 35

SATURDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, windy and chilly. High: near 40

SUNDAY: Fading sun, good travel day. Wake-up: 31. High: 39

MONDAY: Potential for accumulating snow. Wake-up: 29. High: 35

TUESDAY: Light snow tapers, bitter winds. Wake-up: 23. High: 29

WEDNESDAY: Some sun, wind chill near zero. Wake-up: 13. High: 26

THURSDAY: Some sun, still feels like January. Wake-up: 8. High: 24


Climate Stories...

Long Range Outlook: 200% Increase in Pollen? Here's a snippet of some new research available online at PLOS, the Public Library of Science: "...Using quantitative estimates of increased pollen production and number of flowering plants per treatment, we estimated that airborne grass pollen concentrations will increase in the future up to ~200%. Due to the widespread existence of grasses and the particular importance of P. pratense in eliciting allergic responses, our findings provide evidence for significant impacts on human health worldwide as a result of future climate change..."



The Biggest Loser In This Election is the Climate. Vox takes a look; here's an excerpt: "...In the short term, the election's impact might seem negligible. After all, the action in Washington over the next few years will center on the Environmental Protection Agency, which is crafting rules to cut carbon-dioxide emissions from US power plants. These rules don't need congressional approval (they're being done under the existing Clean Air Act), and President Obama is expected to veto any attempts by Congress to block them. But congressional indifference is a huge problem for future climate policy. The most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that global greenhouse-gas emissions need to fall 42 to 71 percent below 2010 levels by mid-century if we wanted to fend off the worst impacts of global warming and prevent average temperatures rising more than 2°C (or 3.6°F)..." (Image: USGS/Flickr).


Ever More Cities Divesting From Fossil Fuels. Here's a clip from Deutsche Welle: "...Since it began on US university campuses in 2011, Fossil Free has spread to New Zealand, Australia and - last year - to Europe, with cities, towns, religious institutions, universities, and recently the heirs to Rockefeller oil fortune all pledging to divest from fossil fuels. The group behind the movement, 350.org, says its aim in encouraging and supporting local divestment campaigns is to raise awareness about the role of coal and oil in fueling climate change, and make investment in fossil fuels socially unacceptable..."

Stumbling into Winter (first frost and flurries in sight)

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: October 15, 2013 - 11:37 PM

IOU

Many government scientists are furloughed because of the government shut-down. Many FEMA employees and meteorologists at the National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center are working for a "promise of pay" down the road. If only grocery stores and banks took IOU's.

Stating the obvious: meteorologists on TV and in the private sector rely on the raw data, models, satellite imagery and Doppler radar information provided by NOAA. It's the foundation upon which we interpret weather patterns and make our forecasts. Although data is still being transmitted, all maintenance has stopped, ongoing research on indefinite hold.

It's a happy coincidence that we haven't seen a major hurricane in the Atlantic or eastern Pacific in 2013, the first time since 1968.

Tuesday's soaking rain was a welcome sight, putting a big dent in our drought. A parade of increasingly chilly fronts in the next week will leave no doubt that it's October. Highs reach the 50s, a risk of frost Saturday morning with a better chance of a more widespread frost or freeze by the middle of next week.

You don't have to put in the driveway stakes yet, but ECMWF guidance shows a few flurries next Monday; our first real glimpse of winter.

Image credit: MPX Doppler site in Chanhasssen courtesy of Reid Wolcott.


The Shutdown Will Slowly Reduce Our Weather Preparedness. Here's an excerpt of a sobering analysis at GovExec.com: "...In a special blog post, Shepherd unfolds how the shutdown is damaging American meteorology. It’s easy to think, he writes, that “well, we are still getting our weather forecasts and warnings, and I still have the information from TV.” But this, he says, is deeply naïve.

"Private sector companies and broadcast stations," he says:

are essential partners in the weather enterprise. However, most of the satellite, Doppler radar, and observational data are from federal sources. The major forecast models are run at NOAA facilities. Federal predictions centers and Forecast Offices issue warnings. I can’t imagine a major potato chip maker saying that it could survive without potato farms. The point herein is that there is a vibrant public-private-academic partnership and each component is essential.

(Emphasis mine.)

Those resources are still working, but all maintenance on them has halted. Many employees working at them have stopped being paid. American weather news depends on the American government..."


Texas Weather Whiplash: Drought To Flood Virtually Overnight. A month ago we were tracking historic flooding near Boulder. Now it's major flooding in Austin, Texas - the result of weather systems stalling once again, and a plume of tropical moisture streaming in from the Pacific. In today's Climate Matters we examine how "used" tropical systems spiked rain sparking severe flooding from Austin to Harrisburg: "WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas goes over the flooding in Texas and how weather patterns have increasingly become "stuck".


Nightmare Scenario; What Happens If We Actually, Truly Default? New York Magazine takes us through a blow by blow account of what could actually happen as early as Thursday; here's the intro: "Until recently, asking what would happen if the U.S. defaulted on its debt was like asking what unicorns like to eat for breakfast. It was simply an exercise in absurdity – a question whose answers lay outside the realm of possibility. But as it’s become increasingly clear that we could, in fact, default on our debt later this month, if the current attempts at striking a deal to extend the debt ceiling fall apart or simply take too long, it's worth trying to figure out what exactly would happen in a default scenario..."

* The Atlantic Wire has a good live blog of debt ceiling negotiations in Washington D.C.


How Your Knees Can Predict The Weather. It turns out that Grandma was right. Here's an excerpt of an interesting article at The Wall Street Journal: "...Still, other studies have linked changes in temperature, humidity or barometric pressure to worsening pain from rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, as well as headaches, tooth aches, jaw pain, scar pain, low-back pain, pelvic pain, fibromyalgia, trigeminal neuralgia (a searing pain in the face), gout and phantom-limb pain. Scientists don't understand all the mechanisms involved in weather-related pain, but one leading theory holds that the falling barometric pressure that frequently precedes a storm alters the pressure inside joints..."


Does Rainy Fall Weather Really Affect Your Brain, Mood? I found this article at AccuWeather interesting; weather has less to do with moods than the amount of daylight; shorter days can result in more fatigue. Here's a clip: "...What Denissen's research did show, however, was that the association between sunlight and tiredness was significant. The less sunlight people were exposed to, the more they exhibited depression-like symptoms. As the days get shorter, people may experience more feelings of fatigue during the day, difficulty rising in the morning when it is still dark outside and craving more carbohydrate-rich foods leading to weight gain, Kelly Rohan, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, University of Vermont said...."


Weather Forecasts, And Our Trust In Them, Need To Improve. Amen. There are financial and computational limits to how accurate the weather forecast will ever be, but this blog post from The Rand Corporation summarizes the source of ongoing uncertainty and confusion: "Accurate forecasts of extreme weather events such as hurricanes are critical in helping communities to prepare and respond as effectively as possible. So when scientists predict extreme weather that never materializes, lay people tend to wonder what went wrong. This is a natural tendency that is not tied to a failure of the science, but rather to differences in the way scientists and lay people view predictions about extreme events, such as Hurricane Sandy a year ago. While forecasters are, by definition, married to their science, they also need to be mindful of the human factors that help determine how useful their work is in protecting people. Early this summer, meteorologists made dire predictions for the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season: 18 named storms, including nine hurricanes. By contrast, the average season, which runs June 1 to Nov. 30, usually has 12 storms, including six hurricanes. Even just prior to the midpoint of the season, the same meteorologists were forecasting “an above-average probability of United States and Caribbean major hurricane landfall...”


A Record-Setting Blizzard Killed 75,000 Cows And You Might Not Have Heard About It. Details from theblaze.com: "Ranchers are still digging out thousands of their cattle that became buried in a record-setting snowstorm in South Dakota late last week and over the weekend. One would think the death of 75,000 cows by upwards of five feet of snow might get some national attention, but as one blogger observed, it has taken some time for the news of the precipitation massacre to reach outside of local media..."

Image above courtesy of Farm and Ranch Guide, which has more good information on the Black Hills blizzard's impact on the cattle industry.


Tropics Extremely Quiet In Atlantic; Record Drought In Major U.S. Hurricane Landfalls. No major hurricanes in the eastern Pacific or Atlantic for the first time since 1968? Here's an excerpt of a good overview of what's going on - or not going on, from Brian McNoldy at The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang: "...And this suppressed activity isn’t limited to just the Atlantic either.  The East Pacific has now had 14 tropical storms, but like the Atlantic, no major hurricanes.  This is extraordinary, since the two basins are typically out of phase; that is, one is active while the other is inactive.  The only other year in recorded history in which no major hurricanes occurred in the Atlantic or the East Pacific is 1968..."

Image credit above: "Enhanced water vapor image from early this morning of the tropical Atlantic showing big pockets of dry air and strong wind shear." (NASA)


Atlantic Still Hurricane-Free, But Pacific Getting Pummeled By Typhoons. Check out the enhanced IR satellite image above, showing Phailin, Nari and Wipha - 3 major typhoons (same thing as a hurricane) pushing toward India, Vietnam and Japan, respectively. Phailin and Nari have already come ashore; Wipha will impact Tokyo as a category 1 storm early Wednesday, local time. Details from Quartz: "While Cyclone Phailin—at one point, the strongest storm ever recorded in the Indian Ocean—makes landfall in India, two other tropical storms are also menacing Asia. The images above show the cyclone and two typhoons now. The first is from Weather Underground; the second, from Quartz meteorologist Eric HolthausTyphoon Nari tore through the Philippines with wind gusts up to 116 mph, killing at least 13 people and leaving 2.1 million people without electricity. The storm largely spared Manila, the capital city, which is prone to flooding..."


What 50 Years Of Hurricane Data Still Hasn't Told Us. Here's an excerpt of an interesting article at mashable.com: "In case you haven't noticed, the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season has been pretty tame, thank goodness. Given that roughly 60% of Atlantic tropical cyclones since 1950 have occurred in August and September, and that we're coming off of three seasons with twelve, seven and ten hurricanes, respectively, this year's measly two hurricanes is puzzling..."


Mapping Our World. Here's a great interactive web site showing the many ways NASA maps the Earth, and the essential information this mapping provides: "NASA satellites have been mapping Earth for over 40 years. These global observations of the atmosphere, biosphere, land surface, solid Earth, and ocean enable an improved understanding of the Earth as an integrated system. The images above feature data from over a dozen Earth observation missions."


An American Shut-Down Reaches The Earth's End. The ongoing government shut-down is having a large, negative impact on research and science, worldwide, as reported by The New York Times; here's a clip: "...The shutdown in Washington is being felt acutely at the ends of the earth. Some 3,000 Americans work through the Antarctic summer, including scientists and support staff from the private sector and from federal agencies like the Defense and Energy Departments, NASA and the United States Geological Survey. Amid the battle over the country’s spending and debt limit, the National Science Foundation, which coordinates the Antarctic program, has ordered it into “caretaker status,” which means skeleton staffing. “All field and research activities not essential to human safety and preservation of property will be suspended,” the agency said in a statement last week..."

Photo credit above: University of Texas Institute for Geophysics. "Buried ice sheets in Antarctica, left over from the last ice age, are melting, and scientists may not be able to reach them this year."


POV Video Of A Space Jump. This is pretty amazing - check out the video courtesy of kottke.org: "A year ago yesterday, Felix Baumgartner rode in a balloon up to a height of almost 128,000 feet and jumped out. Red Bull, who sponsored the jump, has finally released the full-length footage of the jump from Baumgartner's point-of-view..."


A Junk News Diet. Democracy depends on an informed electorate, right? Uh oh. Here's a clip from an Op-Ed at U.S. News: "When balancing what you need to know vs. what you want to know in a news-infused media diet, news consumers most often choose dessert over vegetables, or sports, weather, entertainment and crime over national, international and business topics. Journalists at leading news organizations, however, choose to deliver more "vegetable" news stories over "sugary" offerings. This crucial news gap between news provider and news consumer threatens the viability of the public service mission of news organizations, and their contributions to the healthy functioning of the democratic process. What results is a potential crisis of news choices..."

It's Not Just Political Districts, Our News Is Gerrymandered Too. Cue the news media echo chamber ("tune in and we'll tell you want you want to hear") Dave Carr takes a look at how the segregation of news is contributing to dysfunction in Washington D.C. at The New York Times.


Peering Into The Future Of Media. I'm trying to pay attention to the trends and business models that have a prayer of surviving digital disruption; here's a clip from The New York Times: "...The convergence of digital media and technology, under way since the dawn of the Internet, will accelerate. Distinctions between old and new media will fade; most media will be digital. Mobile devices, already the preferred media and Internet platform for many people, will continue to proliferate. We may wear them on our bodies or weave them into our clothing. Globalization of the media business will advance, creating new markets. The old centers of media creation and consumption, the United States and Europe, will feel new competition from faster-growing regions: Asia, of course, but also Latin America, Africa and others. When that happens, media content, still dominated by Western notions of what constitutes news and entertainment, will have to adapt, too..." (image above: Huffington Post).


To Help Dring Shutdown, Man Mows Lawn Around Lincoln Memorial. In case you missed this - here's another head-shaking story from Washington D.C. courtesy of NPR: "Because of the partial government shutdown, most of the monumental core in Washington, D.C. is not being maintained. That means that icons like the Lincoln Memorial and its Reflecting Pool look a little less majestic. But, today, a South Carolina man, took matters into his own hands and made news by doing what the government won't do..."

Photo credit above: "Chris Cox of Mount Pleasant, S.C., pushes a cart near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, on Wednesday." Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP.


These Are Some Of The Most Amazing Lego Projects Ever Built. Wired has an amazing pictorial spread here.


The Latest Chinese Beach Craze: "Face-Kini". Just when you thought you had seen everything, along comes this story from Amusing Planet: "A new kind of swimwear trend is sweeping the Chinese beaches in Qingdao in eastern China's Shandong province. As the weather get hotter, both men and women are seen appearing on the beaches wearing full body suits that cover from head to toe. The upper part of the swimsuit has a ski-mask with holes cut out at appropriate places to leave the eyes, nose and mouth exposed, giving the wearer an odd Lucha libre look. The Netizens are calling the swimwear "face-kinis”...


Meet "Dave", A 19-Year Old Craft Beer With A $2,000 Price Tag. Wow. Forget the government shutdown, fiscal cliffs and debt ceilings - I want to know how a single bottle of beer can fetch a $2,000 price tag? A dozen bottles of Dave sold out within hours, for 2k/pop. Impressive. Details from NPR: "Hair of the Dog Brewery in Portland, Ore., makes a beer so rare, and so sought after, that it can fetch $2,000 a bottle. It's called Dave. And no, it's not something out of a sketch. Dave is a — a strong, dark beer with 29 percent alcohol content. It's been aged for 19 years, first in oak barrels and then glass bottles. According to the beer's creator, Alan Sprints, Dave was designed to get people to think about beer differently..."


55 F. high in the Twin Cities Tuesday.

59 F. average high on October 15.

61 F. high on October 15, 2012.

.61" rain fell yesterday.

2.49" rain so far in October.


TODAY: More clouds than sun, drier. Winds: NW 10. High: 53

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy. Low: 39

THURSDAY: Next cold front approaches. Rain showers late. High: 54

FRIDAY: Mostly cloudy, windy & chilly. Wake-up: 40. High: near 50

SATURDAY: Frost risk. Still mostly gray. Wake-up: 34. High: 52

SUNDAY: Sunny start, late showers. Wake-up: 41. High: 55

MONDAY: Raw, sprinkles & flurries. Wake-up: 42. High: 46

TUESDAY: Some sun, still chilly. Wake-up: 38. High: 48

* Frost or freeze likely Wednesday morning of next week.


Climate Stories...

Foliage Season Under Fire From Climate Change. Climate Central has the story - here's an excerpt: "...The U.S. Forest Service estimates that fiery foliage in the Berkshires and Green and White Mountains generates $8 billion in tourism revenue annually for New England alone. Foliage season is so important to Vermont that the state employs a leaf forecaster. States in other parts of the country also depend on foliage season to bring in tourism dollars, though specific numbers are harder to come by. Warmer weather is contributing to a later ending to the growing season in the U.S. according to research from Seoul National University. The end of the season is marked by the point when satellites see the overall greenness of foliage start to decline, was over two weeks later in 2008 compared to 1982..."

Image credit above: "The end of the growing season in the continental U.S. has become roughly two weeks later from 1982-2008."


The Second Biggest Clean Technology Investor Is An Oil Giant. Here's an excerpt of a story at Quartz that caught my eye: "We’ve written before about how big corporations have become increasingly important to financing green technology startups—on Oct. 10 for example, Google announced it was investing $103 million in a big solar power plant in California. But the second-most active corporate dealmaker isn’t a “don’t be evil” Silicon Valley tech giant. Rather it’s a company from the Dr. No sector—oil multinational ConocoPhillips, according to a new report from research and advisory firm Cleantech Group. Between the third quarter of 2011 and the second quarter of 2013, ConocoPhillips invested in 18 deals, putting cash into startups such as Cool Planet, biofuels developer, and Skyonic, which has invented a technology to capture carbon dioxide from industrial emissions..."


The Race To Understand A Changing Planet. A guest lecture from the standpoint of former astronaut Dr. Piers Sellers. Details from the Minnesota Climatology Working Group here.


Moose Die-Off Alarms Scientists. One of the focuses of this New York Times story is Minnesota, where the moose population has dropped off significantly in recent years; here's an excerpt: "...Twenty years ago, Minnesota had two geographically separate moose populations. One of them has virtually disappeared since the 1990s, declining to fewer than 100 from 4,000. The other population, in northeastern Minnesota, is dropping 25 percent a year and is now fewer than 3,000, down from 8,000. (The moose mortality rate used to be 8 percent to 12 percent a year.) As a result, wildlife officials have suspended all moose hunting...“Something’s changed,” said Nicholas DeCesare, a biologist with the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks who is counting moose in this part of the state — one of numerous efforts across the continent to measure and explain the decline. “There’s fewer moose out there, and hunters are working harder to find them...”

Photo credit above: Brian Peterson/Minneapolis Star Tribune. "Mark Keech, right, a research biologist, and Tiffany Wolf, a veterinarian, fitted a moose with a radio collar and took samples as part of a Minnesota study of why the animals die."


95% Certainty That Human Activity Is Dominating Climate Disruption. Here's a clip from a story at Scholars and Rogues: "...According to the SPM, there is no longer any question about whether the Earth has warmed. Not only that, but the SPM also declares that many of the observed changes are “unprecedented” over periods ranging from decades to millennia. First, the SPM says that “solar irradiance changes and stratospheric volcanic aerosols made only a small contribution to the net radiative forcing throughout the last century, except for brief periods after large volcanic eruptions.” Radiative forcing is a term used in part to describe how much energy is retained in the Earth’s climate system (oceans, atmosphere, and ecosystems) due to a particular effect. In this case, the SPM is saying that science has ruled out changes in the intensity of sunlight and volcanic gasses as significant contributors to the “unequivocal” warming..."


Politics Is Poorly Suited To Address Global Warming. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Washington Post: "...However the IPCC report is used or abused, it represents a consensus and not a conspiracy. “Each of the last three decades,” it concludes, “has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850.” The oceans have warmed and grown more acidic. Ice sheets are losing mass. Sea ice and snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere are shrinking. Ocean levels are rising. (Compared to its report six years ago, the IPCC has raised its projection of sea-level rise during this century by about 40 percent.) All these things are plausibly related to increased atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases produced in vast amounts by humans. And these trends involve serious public risks..."


Climate Change Fight Needs Game Attitude. Here's a clip from a very interesting perspective (and podcast) from Scientific American: "It's obvious. Global efforts to combat climate change have failed. International summits are full of hot air and greenhouse gas pollution continues to rise. If a country bails on a climate commitment, they pay a price of, well, zero. Turns out that's okay, at least according to game theory analyses by researchers at the University of Lisbon. Their models suggest that punishment by global institutions has no effect. They also say that global summits actually impede cooperation..."


Global Warming - What's The Big Deal? Here is a clip of a reader Op-Ed at the Santa Fe New Mexican that caught my eye: "Global warming? What’s the problem? Personally, I don’t like cold weather and wouldn’t mind average temperatures being a few degrees higher than they are now. Unfortunately, global warming isn’t just about average global temperatures rising a few degrees by the end of this century. In fact, “global warming” misses the mark entirely when it comes to conveying the seriousness and urgency regarding what we’re collectively doing to the stability, and therefore livability, of our planet’s climate. “Climate chaos” may be more accurate..."

Last Hours. Alarmist hype? I sure hope so. But the truth, we don't know what we don't know. Check out the video here.

Breaking News: No Significant Snow In Sight (thaw by Friday?)

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: January 24, 2011 - 11:06 PM

55.4" for the winter so far in the Twin Cities

Trace of snow reported Monday in the metro area.

27 F. High on Monday, 5 degrees above average for January 24. Record: 57 (1981)

8.2" average February snowfall in the Twin Cities.

10.4" average March snowfall in the Twin Cities. (March is now the second snowiest month, second to January, when an average of 13.5" falls.

3.1" average April snowfall in the Twin Cities.

22 F. average high on February 1 in the metro area.

34 F. average high on February 28 in the metro area.

49 F. average high on March 31 at MSP.

 

 

Garage Your Snowblower. No significant snowfalls are in sight through next week. In fact I don't see enough snow to shovel or plow looking out the next 2 weeks.

 

 

Snowcover Up North. John Dee has created a great site with updated snowfall totals across the Upper Midwest. Click snowcover, then click on Minnesota to see the latest numbers. 17" at Brainerd, 21" Walker, 19" Duluth and 32" up on the Gunflint Trail.

 

8"+ for New York City? Predicted Snowfall Through Midday Saturday. The GFS may be overestimating the snowfall amounts for northern Minnesota, where models are hinting at some 5-8" amounts later this week, but I suspect amounts will be less. The coastal storm for the east is looking more impressive, now forecast to track closer to the coast. Philadelphia may pick up 3-6" snow, with as much as 5-8" for New York City, maybe a foot or more for Connecticut and interior Massachusetts. The peak of the storm comes Wednesday night (New York) into Thursday (Boston area). There will be weather-related delays/cancellations later this week - if you're flying east you'll want to stay up on the latest forecast. A good place to start is NOAA's watch/warning map for the USA. Click on any city to get an updated forecast.

 

Another Shot? Let's enjoy this weeks 20s (and possible low 30s) before getting too worked up about the long-range outlook. But in the spirit of full disclosure the (GFS) model is pulling another Arctic airmass south of the border after February 5 or so. The good news - it should be relatively brief, maybe 2-3 nights below zero. We're gaining over 2 minutes of daylight every day now - subzero weather will become more rare as we sail through February. But looking out the next 2-3 weeks I don't see any major shift or breakdown in the pattern (the negative phase of the NAO, the North American Oscillation), that would pull consistent warmth into Minnesota from the Pacific. We're in a cold run, and with a few exceptions (this week, the end of next week) will see colder than average temperatures into at least mid February. A correction down the road? Possibly - I just don't see it yet.

 

 

Midwinter Smog? Relatively light winds, coupled with frequent inversions during the winter months (warmer air aloft trapping polluted air near the ground) can create high levels of particle pollution and ozone, even in January. The latest AQI, Air Quality Index for Minnesota and Wisconsin is here. A few highlights from the EPA's airnow.gov site: "Today, light to moderate southwesterly winds ahead of an approaching weak cold front will transport pollutants and moisture into the Twin Cities, increasing particle production and resulting in Moderate AQI levels. Wednesday, winds will shift to north-northwesterly behind the departing weak cold front, dispersing pollutants and lowering AQI levels to Good."

 

Scientists Perplexed By Weird Weather Pattnerns. New York City had the hottest summer on record in 2010. Two of New York City's largest snowstorms on record struck the city last year, including the 2 foot storm that disrupted travel after Christmas. While much of America, Europe and Asia shivers, parts of Canada and Greenland are experiencing record warmth, temperatures as much as 15-20 F. warmer than average. From an article at the New York Times: "Judging by the weather, the world seems to have flipped upside down. For two winters running, an arctic chill has descended on Europe, burying that continent in snow and ice. Historic blizzards last year afflicted the United States' mid-Atlantic region. The Deep South has endured unusual snowstorms and severe cold this winter, and a frigid Northeast is bracing for what could shape into another major snowstorm at midweek. Yet, while people in Atlanta learn to shovel snow, the weather 2,000 miles to the north has been freakishly warm the past two winters. Temperatures in northeastern Canada and Greenland ran as much as 15 or 20 degrees above normal in December. Bays and lakes have been slow to freeze. Iqaluit, capital of the remote Canadian territory of Nunavut, had to cancel its New Year's snowmobile parade. Deputy Mayor David Ell said people in the region had been looking with envy at snowbound American and European cities. "People are saying, 'That's where all our snow is going!' " he said. The immediate cause of the topsy-turvy weather is clear enough. A pattern of atmospheric circulation that tends to keep frigid air penned in the Arctic has weakened during the past two winters, allowing big tongues of cold air to descend far to the south, while masses of warmer air have moved north. The deeper issue is whether this pattern is linked to the rapid changes that global warming is causing in the Arctic, particularly the drastic loss of sea ice. At least two prominent climate scientists have offered theories suggesting it is. But many others are doubtful, saying the recent events are unexceptional, or that more evidence over a longer period would be needed to establish a link."

 

 

Definition Of "Normal" Weather About To Change. These 2 maps really tell the story. I'm not a rocket scientist, but I detect a temperature shift, a distinct warming from the 70s to the 2000-2010 decade (what are we calling this decade again? Still haven't heard a good description). The National Weather Service relies on a rolling 30 year average to define what "normal" weather is, the averages you hear quoted on radio, TV and the Internet all the time. The 70s were fairly close to long-term averages, but the last century has been significantly warmer, worldwide - so all the "normals" are about to be inflated, reflecting the last 30 years, since 1980. From a recent article: "While you've been freezing your tail off for the past few weeks, the National Climatic Data Center has been gearing up to announce new definitions of "normal" weather conditions for 10,000 regions across the country. And these new "normals" are going to be a lot warmer than the current definitions.  Here's why: The NCDC uses temperature and precipitation data from the previous three decades to calculate what's "normal" for a region. Currently, that includes the relatively cold 1970s. New figures will replace the chilly 1970s with the 2000s, which was the warmest decade ever recorded. Check out the difference in these maps, showing the "temperature anomaly" (defined by NOAA here) for each decade."

 

 

Yellowstone Has Bulged As Magma Pocket Swells. A recent article from nationalgeographic.com suggests increasing concern on the part of volcanologists about what's going on beneath this majestic national park, site of one of the world's largest super-volcanoes: "Yellowstone National Park's supervolcano just took a deep "breath," causing miles of ground to rise dramatically, scientists report.  The simmering volcano has produced major eruptions—each a thousand times more powerful than Mount St. Helens's 1980 eruption—three times in the past 2.1 million years. Yellowstone's caldera, which covers a 25- by 37-mile (40- by 60-kilometer) swath of Wyoming, is an ancient crater formed after the last big blast, some 640,000 years ago. Since then, about 30 smaller eruptions—including one as recent as 70,000 years ago—have filled the caldera with lava and ash, producing the relatively flat landscape we see today. But beginning in 2004, scientists saw the ground above the caldera rise upward at rates as high as 2.8 inches (7 centimeters) a year. (Related: "Yellowstone Is Rising on Swollen 'Supervolcano.'") The rate slowed between 2007 and 2010 to a centimeter a year or less. Still, since the start of the swelling, ground levels over the volcano have been raised by as much as 10 inches (25 centimeters) in places. "It's an extraordinary uplift, because it covers such a large area and the rates are so high," said the University of Utah's Bob Smith, a longtime expert in Yellowstone's volcanism."

 

 

Your Lying Eyes - Can This Be Happening. Nothing like great optical illusions on a Tuesday! Seeing is believing - ot not. From an article at NPR: "You have two eyes. Each eye sees a slightly different world. (Put a finger in front of your face, switch from one eye open to the other and that finger will shift, just a little bit.) But rather than walk around all day seeing in double vision, your brain pulls the world back into one-ness. Brains decide what we see. Kokichi Sugihara knows this better than anyone. He makes videos that trick your brain into seeing things that you know, you absolutely know, can't happen. And yet — "

 

What The Heck Caused This? These are called "snow-rollers", usually found in fields. This is the first time I saw this phenomenon on a building (in this case a school). Strange, but pretty cool.

 

 

Audi "Icicle". Not what you want to see when you walk out of an NFL playoff game. The story from WPIX-TV in New York: "The owner of the car, who gave only his first name -- Pete -- said he parked his car Friday evening and that at some point during the weekend the leak began. As car after car splashed through the standing lake, layer upon layer of ice formed on Pete's car. After watching his beloved Jets lose lose the AFC Championship game Sunday, Pete got up and left his house Monday -- only to find his car turned into an ice sculpture. And it got worse after Pete used a hammer and screwdriver to free up enough ice to open one door. "I ran the heat in the car, then just the pressure alone and the cold temperature difference made it really brittle and it broke like it was a piece of ice and just splattered everywhere," Pete said."

 

Jesse Ventura Sues TSA Over Body Scans, Pat Downs. Our former gov has had quite enough of the polite groping down at MSP International. According to an article at Huffington Post: "Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura sued the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration on Monday, alleging full-body scans and pat-downs at airport checkpoints violate his right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Ventura is asking a federal judge in Minnesota to issue an injunction ordering officials to stop subjecting him to "warrantless and suspicionless" scans and body searches. The lawsuit, which also names Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and TSA Administrator John Pistole as defendants, argues the searches are "unwarranted and unreasonable intrusions on Governor Ventura's personal privacy and dignity . and are a justifiable cause for him to be concerned for his personal health and well-being."

 

Upward Trend. Some good news in the weather blog - temperatures being to (finally) trend upward in late January (although the actual temperatures in 2011 have been running colder than average in recent weeks). For more information (and to check weather for any specific day in the Twin Cities dating back to 1995), click here, data courtesy of the National Weather Service.

 

 

 

Climate Data For Monday. yes, 27 felt almost tolerable - admit it. Nice to be "above average" again. The mercury hit 30 in Eden Prairie, a balmy 32 at Redwood Falls.

 

 

 

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

 

 

TODAY: Flurries taper, peeks of sun. Winds: SW 8-13. High: 20

 

TUESDAY NIGHT: Mostly cloudy - not quite as cold as recent nights. Low: 11

 

WEDNESDAY: More clouds than sun, quiet. Temperatures close to "average". High: 21

 

THURSDAY: Some sun, noticeably "milder". High: 31

 

FRIDAY: Dripping icicle early? Early thaw, then gusty and colder. High: 33

 

SATURDAY: Numbing wind returns, few flakes. Low: 11. High: 14

 

SUNDAY: Subzero start, blue sky. Low: -4. High: 6

 

MONDAY: Clouds increase, not quite as cold. Low: -5. High: 13

 

 

 

 

Nice To Be "Average"

 

To err is human. If you're a meteorologist - it's expected. A few days ago I (incorrectly) stated that "winter is running 4% warmer than average, based on heating degree data." What I MEANT to say is that the "heating season" (going back to autumn) is running 4% warmer than average. December was 2.3 F colder, so far January is 3.5 F colder. So, without question, winter is most definitely colder than average, whether you start from the beginning of "meteorological winter" (December 1), or the Winter Solstice on Dec. 21.

Meteorological winter HAS been colder, and the 55"+ of snow makes it seem even more forbidding. It's already the snowiest winter in 7 years, and you'll be happy to hear that we are now past the halfway point of winter. No mega-storms in sight. We catch a break this week, a string of 20s, freezing possible by Thursday and Friday as Pacific air (temporarily) dislodges the Arctic blocking pattern swirling over the eastern 2/3rds of America.

Parts of northeastern Canada and Greenland are running 20 degrees warmer than average; a milder Arctic has pushed the "polar vortex" thousands of miles south, spinning up bitter fronts & big storms here. We're seeing strange new air & water circulations at northern latitudes.

Prediction: Mega-Potholes. I swear they're testing tanks on Highway 7. The freeze-thaw cycle sparks more craters this week. Beware.

 

 

Sunlight Map. Great news: daylight in the Twin Cities today will be exactly 2 minutes and 17 seconds longer than it was yesterday. Within 1 week the average temperatures begin to trend upward again, for the first time since late July. Click here to see where daylight and darkness is - right now - across planet Earth.

 

Himalayan Glaciers Shrinking, With One Exception. From a post at wired.com: "An important portion of the Himalaya’s glacier cover is currently stable and, thanks to an insulating layer of debris, may be even growing, a new study finds. The study’s conclusion contradicts a portion of the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that had to be retracted last year because it could not be substantiated.  

Though the IPCC report stated that the risk of the region’s glaciers “disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high,” the new study finds that ice cover is stable in the Karakoram mountains, a northern range that holds about half of the Himalaya’s store of frozen water. That’s not to imply that water reservoirs on what’s often called the roof of the world aren’t under stress. Throughout most Himalayan ranges, roughly 65 percent of the studied glaciers were shrinking, Dirk Scherler of the University of Potsdam, Germany, and his colleagues report in the January 23 Nature Geoscience. But in Karakoram, 58 percent of studied glaciers were stable or slowly expanding up to 12 meters per year."

 

 

What Impact Would "Solar Dimming" Have On Earth's Weather? Call me crazy, but I believe nothing good can come out of tinkering with the atmosphere - more than we already have (inadvertently). From an article at R&D Magazine: "Solar radiation management projects, also known as sun dimming, seek to reduce the amount of sunlight hitting the Earth to counteract the effects of climate change. Global dimming can occur as a side-effect of fossil fuels or as a result of volcanic eruptions, but the consequences of deliberate sun dimming as a geoengineering tool are unknown. A new study by Dr Peter Braesicke, from the Centre for Atmospheric Science at Cambridge University, seeks to answer this question by focusing on the possible impacts of a dimming sun on atmospheric teleconnections. Teleconnections, important for the predictability of weather regimes, are the phenomenon of distant climate anomalies being related to each other at large distances, such as the link between sea-level pressure at Tahiti and Darwin, Australia, which defines the Southern Oscillation. "It is important that we look for unintended consequences of any sun dimming schemes," said Braesicke. "We have to test our models continuously against observations to make sure that they are 'fit-for-purpose', and it's important that we should not only look at highly averaged 'global' quantities." Dr Braesicke's team believes that the link between tropical temperatures and extra-tropical circulation are well captured for the recent past and that the link changes when the sun is dimmed."

 

 

The Economics Of Global Warming. Here is an excerpt of a recent Newsweek article: "The real global challenge facing us will be organizing to reduce carbon emissions and provide help to poor countries coping with climate change. The worst, but not the most likely, consequences of climate change could be rising sea levels: there is grounded ice in Antarctica that, if loosed from its moorings, is worth five or six meters of sea level, enough to sink Stockholm, Manhattan, or London, or to oblige them to build levees to escape inundation, and to oblige millions of Bangladeshis and others to abandon their homes and workplaces and to migrate. (Levees cannot save Bangladesh; they leave no escape for the freshwater floods that need to reach the ocean.) The most likely consequences of climate change will be severe impacts on food production in the developing world. We can worry about urban heat waves, polar bears, and forest fires, but the worst effects are almost certainly going to be on food production in the poor countries, where half or more of the population depends on growing its own food."

 

 

Less Is More For Cost-Efficient Wind Farms. Placing wind turbines too close together can have a big impact on the amount of wind power a farm can harvest on any given day, research shows. An article from gizmag.com: "While there are increasing numbers of large wind farms being built around the world, many of these projects are underperforming and not producing as much power as expected. New research suggests the reason could be that the wind turbines are being placed too close together. The researchers say that spreading the turbines out will result in a more cost-efficient wind farms and they’ve come up with a formula through which the optimal spacing for a large array of turbines can be obtained. The newest wind farms, be they on or offshore, typically use turbines with rotor diameters of around 300 feet (91 m), which are typically spaced about seven rotor diameters apart. Charles Meneveau, a fluid mechanics and turbulence expert at Johns Hopkins University, working with Johan Meyers, an assistant professor at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, conducted research that indicates placing the wind turbines more than twice as far apart as current layouts – 15 rotor diameters apart – results in more cost-efficient power generation."