Paul Douglas is a nationally respected meteorologist with 35 years of television and radio experience. A serial entrepreneur, Douglas is Senior Meteorologist and Founder of Media Logic Group. Douglas and a team of meteorologists, engineers and developers provide weather services for various media at Broadcast Weather, high-tech alerting and briefing services for companies via Alerts Broadcaster and weather data, apps and API’s from Aeris Weather. 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.
“...With that kind of an increase, there is about 2 percent increase in the moisture in the atmosphere, which feeds into all the weather systems that occur, and it gets concentrated and magnified by all of the storms, so you can get double or quadruple the effects,” Trenberth says. - from a PRI article focused on El Nino.
Perspective. It can always be worse, right? Rodney and Esther Turnquist sent me this photo taken on St. Patty's Day, 1965. I'm happy to see the red MG wasn't impacted by the 4-6 foot drifts that buried greater Minnesota on March 17, 1965. The sign says "St. Patty's Day 1965". It puts the meager snow piles in my yard into perspective.
One Step Back
Considering most of Minnesota is in a moderate drought I'm happy to see any water, in any state - liquid or frozen - falling from the sky. If you've lived here more than 10 minutes you know that spring is more theory than reality; often two steps forward, one step back.
This week is a poignant, downright blunt reminder that March is Minnesota's third snowiest month of the year, just behind January and December. Considering the sun is as high in the sky as it was in mid-September snow can't stay on the ground for long.
Keep telling yourself that Wednesday morning, when we could wake up to a light slushy coating (of sweet frozen custard!) In spite of a pleading sun temperatures may not climb out of the 30s Thursday and Friday. No worries. Hints of spring return this weekend; ECMWF guidance shows a few days in the 60s next week - maybe a heavier rain event the middle of next week. Bring it on.
Tuesday night's clipper may spark a light coating, but winter snowfall to date (30.8 inches) is 20 inches below average here in the Twin Cities. Perspective: New York City has picked up 23 more inches than the metro area. Boston is up to 110.3 inches and counting.
Make it stop!
* I snapped the photo above at Maynards in Excelsior Monday afternoon. Yes, that's open water in Excelsior Bay. Note to self, and to anyone else intent on testing Darwin's Law: stay off the ice.
Tuesday Night Slush? Right now I don't see a rerun of Sunday night's snow blitz, maybe a coating to an inch of additional slush for portions of Minnesota as rain ends as a few hours of wet snow tonight. 60-hour NAM snowfall prediction: NOAA and HAM WEATHER.
Spring On Temporary Hold. Thursday and Friday will be chilly with temperatures struggling to climb out of the 30s, but a high sun angle will make mid to upper 30s feel considerably better than in January. We warm up over the weekend, European guidance hinting at 60s by Tuesday with a potential for a more significant rain event the middle of next week.
High Amplitude Pattern. Northern and southern branches of the jet stream are forecast to merge and amplify by April 6, with a possible rain/snow mix pushing across the Plains into the Ohio Valley and Northeast, short-circuiting any warming during the first week of April. Map: GrADS:COLA/IGES.
March: Third Snowiest Month of the Year, On Average. I stand corrected. The other day I mentioned that March was the second snowiest month (behind January) but in reality the latest 30-year NOAA averages show March as third snowiest, with an average of 10.3", behiind January and December. Graph above: Twin Cities National Weather Service.
Welcome To The "Double El Nino" - And More Extreme Weather. Although El Nino tends to often tamp down tornadoes and hurricanes for the USA it can spike extreme weather (and temperatures) worldwide. Here's the intro to a story at PRI, Public Radio International: "We’re about to experience a “double El Niño” — a rare weather phenomenon that climatologists had warned about several months ago. That means two consecutive years of the concentration of warm water in the Pacific Ocean that brings West Coast storms, quiet hurricane seasons in the Atlantic and busy ones in the Pacific. The danger is that this could mean more than a few months of odd weather, but instead usher in a new phase of climate change. Last year was the warmest year on record; 2015 looks set to be even warmer..."
Image credit: "El Niño Makes Atlantic hurricanes less likely." Credit: NOAA/ National Climatic Data Center.
A More Significant (Longer Duration) El Nino Event in 2015? The Pacific continues to warm and factors may be converging to prolong some of this warmth into the end of 2015. Expect more warm weather records to be broken. Chart above: NOAA.
Step Into a 3-D Tornado And See An Epic Storm Up Close. Here's a quick story and video focused on recreating the May, 2013 EF-5 tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma, killing 23 people. Scientists are modeling the storm in high-resolution and then visualizing the supercell to try to learn more about what makes some supercells spin up monster tornadoes. Here's a clip from New Scientist: "...Using radar data collected as the event unfolded, Bill Carstensen from Virginia Tech and colleagues built a 3D model of the developing storm, stacked on top of a digital version of the Oklahoma landscape. The tornado is displayed in a unique, four-story-high virtual theatre at the university where it can be viewed with an Oculus Rift headset. The set-up allows a person to walk into the tornado as though they were a towering giant, viewing it from the perspective of someone 2.1 metres tall..."
Why Spring Gets About 30 Seconds Shorter Every Year. Minnesota springs are already short enough, some might add. Here's an excerpt from Live Science: "...The Earth's seasons are caused by the tilt of the Earth on its axis (not by how close the planet is to the sun). This tilt of 23.5-degrees from the straight-up-and-down position means that for six months of the year, the Earth's Northern Hemisphere is leaning slightly toward the sun, whereas during the other six months, the Southern Hemisphere leans toward the sun. The main reason spring is getting shorter is that the Earth's axis itself moves, much like a wobbling top, in a type of motion called precession..." (Image credit above: NASA).
U.N. Report Warns of Serious Water Shortages Within 15 Years. TIME has the story; here's the introduction: "If we continue on our current trajectory, warns the report, we'll only have 60% of the water we need in 2030 The world will only have 60% of the water it needs by 2030 without significant global policy change, according to a new report from the U.N. While countries like India are rapidly depleting their groundwater, rainfall patterns around the world are becoming more unpredictable due to global warming, meaning there will be less water in reserves..."
Costa Rica Has Powered Itself Using Only Renewable Energy for 75 Days Straight. Granted, the country is a fraction of the size of the USA, but this is still an impressive feat. Here's an excerpt from Metro: "Thanks to heavy rainfall powering four hydroelectric plants, no fossil fuels have been burnt to generate electricity since December 2014. According to the state-run Costa Rican Electricity Institute, 80 percent of the country’s energy came from hydropower and 10 percent came from geothermal energy in 2014..."
Tesla's Elon Musk: "A Future Time When Human Driving is Illegal?" A bold statement, and it seems ludicrous today, but 20 years from now? Who knows - but check out gizmag.com for the story; here's a clip: "...He's also bullish on self-driving cars, and this week Musk went so far as to declare that they may completely replace the cars we drive today."In the distant future, [legislators] may outlaw driven cars because they’re too dangerous," Musk said on stage at Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference, following the introduction of Nvidia’s Drive PX self-driving car computer. "We’ll take autonomous cars for granted in quite a short time..."
The War Over Who Steve Jobs Was. Backchannel at medium.com has an interesting look at the movement to clean up the iGenius's image and ongoing legacy. Frankly I don't even care if he was an a-hole. He pushed people to do things they didn't even know they could accomplish and put a sizable dent in the (digital) universe. That's quite enough for one life. Here's an excerpt from the article: "...Isaacson’s eponymous biography of Jobs became a publishing phenomenon, selling over a million copies and making Isaacson himself somewhat of a celebrity. But privately, those closest to Jobs complained that Isaacson’s portrait focused too heavily on the Apple CEO’s worst behavior, and failed to present a 360-degree view of the person they knew. Though the book Steve Jobs gave copious evidence of its subject’s talent and achievements, millions of readers finished the book believing that he could be described with a word that rhymes with “gas hole...”
What Comes After Wave Runners? Well, if you have a need for serious speed on the water consider a Jet Capsule Reptile; details via Gizmag: "Following the success of the Lazzarini-designed Jet Capsule mini yacht, a lighter and faster version called the Reptile has been launched. It's 500 kg (1,102 lb) lighter than its predecessor and is equipped with a 570 hp Ilmor MV8 high performance marine engine that powers the compact vessel to maximum speeds of 50 knots – that's over 90 km/h (57.5 mph)..."
Hungry Pandas and Smiling Sea Lions. I just got back from San Diego, where I had a chance to check out the zoo and a couple of very cute panda bears from China. Lounging on the rocks in La Jolla were sea lions and I swear I saw a few of them grinning under a lukewarm sun. Hey, I'd be grinning too...
32 F. high in the Twin Cities Monday.
45 F. average high on March 23.
26 F. high on March 23, 2014.
2" snow on the ground at MSP International Airport.
March 24, 1851: Heat wave across Minnesota with 60's and 70's common.
TODAY: Clouds increase. PM showers develop. Winds: SE 15. High: 39
TUESDAY NIGHT: Rain ends as a little wet snow. A light coating of slush is possible. Low: 32
WEDNESDAY: Mostly cloudy, drying out. High: 42
THURSDAY: Peeks of sun, cold breeze. Wake-up: 28. High: 37
FRIDAY: Cold start with a bright blue sky, light winds. Nippy. Wake-up: 19. High: 35
SATURDAY: Intervals of sun, milder breeze. Wake-up: 23. High: 49
SUNDAY: Mild start, then cooling off. Dry. Wake-up: 41. High: 53
MONDAY: Plenty of sun. Springy again! Wake-up: 31. High: 57
Cyclone Pam Is Just The Start. Newsweek puts the super-cyclone (same thing as a typhoon and hurricane) into perspective; here's an excerpt: "In the wake of island nation Vanuatu’s devastation by Cyclone Pam, in which 320 mile-per-hour winds killed dozens of people and destroyed 90 percent of the buildings in the capital city of Port Vila, public health experts fear that the country's ruined infrastructure will result in mass starvation and epidemics of disease. As the rate of global climate change continues to increase, such tragedies will become more and more common around the world. Vanuatu is not alone..."
Image credit above: "Edgar Su/Reuters.
A Slow-Down In The North Atlantic Conveyer Belt? There was always concern among scientists that melting of (fresh) water, mainly from a rapidly melting Greenland, might impact the broad Atlantic Ocean circulation pattern. Chris Mooney has details of new research at The Washington Post; here's an excerpt: "...According to a new study just out in Nature Climate Change by Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and a group of co-authors, we’re now seeing a slowdown of the great ocean circulation that, among other planetary roles, helps to partly drive the Gulf Stream off the U.S. east coast. The consequences could be dire – including significant extra sea level rise for coastal cities like New York and Boston..."
Amazon Forest Becoming Less of a Climate Change Safety Net. Justin Gillis has the story for The New York Times; here's an excerpt: "The ability of the Amazon forest to soak up excess carbon dioxide is weakening over time, researchers reported last week. That finding suggests that limiting climate change could be more difficult than expected. For decades, Earth’s forests and seas have been soaking up roughly half of the carbon pollution that people are pumping into the atmosphere. That has limited the planetary warming that would otherwise result from those emissions..."
File photo credit: "Rivers meander like brown snakes through the world's largest tropical rain forest, the Amazon basin, home to an estimated 50,000 Asheninka Indians." (Photo by Tyrone Turner).
Journalists Have To Decide What To Do About Candidates Who Are Climate Change Denialists. Jay Rosen has an interesting post at PressThink; here's an excerpt: "...Persistence: Call what it is — a rejection of the science — and keep calling it that. “The Senator doubts that climate change is real, a position at stark odds with an overwhelming scientific consensus.” Here, you take responsibility for pointing out to voters that, while the candidate has his views, the evidence does not support them. And you do this not once, but every time the issue comes up. This is the fact-checking solution. Advantage: puts the campaign press back on the side of truthtelling. A major plus! Problem: likely to result in charges of bias from the candidates so described, likely to trigger the backfire effect among some voters (“in which corrections actually increase misperceptions among the group in question.”)..."
"...In the climate debate the consequences of doubt are likely global and enduring. In the U.S., climate change skeptics have achieved their fundamental goal of halting legislative action to combat global warming. They haven’t had to win the debate on the merits; they’ve merely had to fog the room enough to keep laws governing greenhouse gas emissions from being enacted...." - from a National Geographic article below.
Farmers are the original entrepreneurs, risking their capital and know-how for an uncertain return. Weather is obviously a huge factor, the prevalence of drought; extreme heat can devastate yields. Nothing is guaranteed. And farmers tend to take nothing for granted in their quest to a). feed the world, and b). stay in business.
Wednesday Winfield (Land O'Lakes) invited me to Mankato and Brookings, South Dakota to talk about the data and the trends. Ignore either and you're out of business. Reasonable people can debate the cause, but there's little doubt weather patterns are changing and morphing: intensity of summer rain, length of the growing season, higher dew points, challenges with soil moisture and nitrogen run-off, and "weather whiplash", going from drought to flood back to drought at a rapid rate that would have been unthinkable a generation ago.
The farmers I talked with acknowledged that it's not their grandfather's weather anymore. They promised to keep an open mind, which is as much as anyone can ask for.
Minnesota is drying out; moisture from the Gulf of Mexico unable to able to push this far north, leaving us with gently-used clippers, which whip up more wind than snow.
This weekend's clipper passes well north, pulling mild 30s back into Minnesota - another welcome thaw is imminent.
NOAA predicts a 50-60 percent chance of El Nino setting up by late winter and spring. The Pacific Ocean can't seem to make up it's mind. Just like the fickle ocean of air floating above our heads.
A Deepening Dry Rut. Here are a few of the highlights from this month's HydroClim Update from the Minnesota DNR:
Snowy Stripe. The brightest white, corresponding with the deepest snow, runs from Nebraska and Iowa to Chicago, Detroit and Boston. Yesterday's midday visible satellite image courtesy of NOAA and Simuawips.
One Hefty Clipper. Although the GFS pushes snow farther south into Minnesota than NAM or ECMWF the overall trend seems to be on track, with the greatest potential for heavy snow from the Minnesota Arrowhead into New England by Monday and Tuesday. Just what Boston needs, more snow.
Another Near-Miss. Last week it was an historic snowfall from Des Moines to Chicago, Detroit and Boston. The next system pushes a swath of heavy snow across Manitoba and Ontario, just brushing the Minnesota Arrowhead with plowable amounts over the weekend. Source: NOAA and Aeris Weather.
West Coast Soaking. 4 km NAM guidance prints out some 6-10" precipitation amounts for northern California and the coastal ranges of the Pacific Northwest; some valuable precipitation on the way from a powerful Pacific storm. Mudslides and flash flooding may result from this system as well in the coming days. Source: Aeris Weather.
Trending Close To Average. In spite of another noticeable temperature dip next Wednesday into Thursday nothing too forbidding is shaping up looking out 7-10 days, based on European model guidance. Highs brush freezing today and Saturday, possibly rebounding into the 30s again a week from Saturday. You'll be shocked to hear this: no significant storms in sight. When in a drought don't predict rain...or snow.
New England Bears The Brunt of Bitter Air. 500 mb predicted winds, valid Thursday evening, February 19 shows the thrust of numbing Canadian air surging into the northeastern USA, with gradual moderation from Minnesota south and west by the final third of February. GFS forecast data: GrADS:COLA/IGES.
50-60% Probability Of El Nino. We're still in a holding pattern, but the ingredients have not converged for a full-blown (declared) El Nino in the Pacific. That said, an El Nino Watch is still in effect for late winter and spring in the northern hemisphere. All the details courtesy of NOAA CPC.
Cold Facts of Air Pollution. I thought this story from UCAR in Boulder was interesting; here's an excerpt: "...This month, a major air quality project known as WINTER (Wintertime Investigation of Transport, Emissions, and Reactivity) takes to the air to examine pollutants across the Northeast urban corridor, Ohio River Valley, and Southeast Mid-Atlantic. Scientists will home in on wintertime emissions from urban areas, power plants, and farmland, and seek to better understand the chemical processes that take place as pollutants move through an atmosphere that is not only colder but also darker than in summer..."
Study: Heart Attacks, Strokes Spiked In Hurricane Sandy Ravaged Areas. NewsWorks has the results of an interesting study, showing how extreme stress brought on by a major storm can have physical implications for survivors; here's an excerpt: "In Hurricane Sandy's wake, life became chaotic, with thousands displaced, neighborhoods flooded and without electricity for days, and a palatable sense of fear and uncertainty. There were also serious health consequences, a Rutgers University research study found. Hurricane Sandy had a "significant effect" on cardiovascular events in the high-impact areas of New Jersey during the two weeks after the Oct. 2012 storm..."
What If Sandy's Surge Swamped Washington D.C.? Climate Central takes a look at what the combination of rising sea level, land subsidence and a major storm pushing a surge into the Chesapeake Bay could mean for our nation's capital. Here's an excerpt: "... Sea level rise driven by global warming was a factor in Sandy’s ability to inundate New York. Water levels near New York City have risen by 1.5 feet since the mid-19th century, in part because of the expansion of warming ocean waters and ice melt. So any storm surge entering the area now is acting on top of those already higher waters, which will keep climbing as the planet’s temperature keeps rising. The same is true of D.C., which is in an area that has seen 6 to 8 inches of sea level rise since 1960, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Global sea level rise by 2100 is estimated to be between 10 inches and a several feet, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the Chesapeake Bay area has been rising faster than the global average..."
Photo credit above: "Washington Harbor encroaches on the shore in September 2003 as storm surge from Hurricane Isabel raises water levels." Credit: FEMA/Liz Roll.
Why Do Many Reasonable People Doubt Science? National Geographic has a thoughtful look, from faked moon landings to vaccines and climate change, there is manufactured doubt everywhere you look; here's a clip: "...We live in an age when all manner of scientific knowledge—from the safety of fluoride and vaccines to the reality of climate change—faces organized and often furious opposition. Empowered by their own sources of information and their own interpretations of research, doubters have declared war on the consensus of experts. There are so many of these controversies these days, you’d think a diabolical agency had put something in the water to make people argumentative..." (Image: Kennedy Space Center).
Life Will Never Be Fair. Get Over It. Here's an excerpt from a story at The Guardian: "...The world, obviously, is a manifestly unjust place: people are always meeting fates they didn’t deserve, or not receiving rewards they did deserve for hard work or virtuous behaviour. Yet several decades of research have established that our need to believe otherwise runs deep. Faced with evidence of injustice, we’ll certainly try to alleviate it if we can – but, if we feel powerless to make things right, we’ll do the next best thing, psychologically speaking: we’ll convince ourselves that the world isn’t so unjust after all..."
73 minutes of additional daylight since December 21.
19 F. high in the Twin Cities Thursday.
26 F. average high on February 5.
4 F. high on February 5, 2014, after waking up to -5 F.
2" snow on the ground at MSP International Airport.
February 5, 1994: The national low was at Tower with -41.
TODAY: Gray, a little freezing drizzle. Winds: SE 10. High: near 30
FRIDAY NIGHT: Cloudy, a touch of ice possible. Low: 20
SATURDAY: Cloudy, relatively mild. Plowable snow Minnesota Arrowhead. High: 33
SUNDAY: Mostly cloudy, close to average. Wake-up: 24. High: 29
MONDAY: More clouds than sun. Wake-up: 20. High: 30
TUESDAY: Another clipper? Chance of slushy snow. Wake-up: 25. High: 32
WEDNESDAY: Windy, turning colder again. Wake-up: 21. High: 23
THURSDAY: Blue sky, touch of January. Wind chills dipping to -20. Wake-up: -3. High: 13
Winter Loses Its Cool. Climate Central looks at the temperature trends, and where we may be heading if attempts to lower greenhouse gas emissions fail; here's a clip: "...Climate models project that freezing temperatures will become even less frequent as greenhouse gas emissions further increase global temperatures. What will these warming winters feel like? For our Winter Loses Its Cool interactive we have projected the number of nights below freezing for the end of this century for 697 cities, and then showed which U.S. city currently experiences that number of freezing nights. Several striking examples are highlighted above, but explore the interactive to find out how the cold season will be affected in your city..."
No, Climate Models Aren't Exaggerating Global Warming. The Washington Post has an interesting analysis of the so-called "temperature plateau"; here's an excerpt: "...While many models didn’t predict the relatively modest surface-warming “hiatus,” it’s not because they’re biased in favor of greenhouse-gas emissions’ warming effects. Rather, researchers report in Nature, these computer simulations just struggle to predict “chaotic” (or random) short-term changes in the climate system that can temporarily add or subtract from CO2 emissions’ warming effects..."
Image credit above: ".
The End And The Beginning Of The Arctic. Here's a clip from a story documenting the widespread changes taking place in the Arctic, courtesy of The Arctic Journal: "...What happens in the Arctic matters. The ecological, cultural and economic shifts that are currently underway will not only alter the lives of the Inuit, Gwich’in, Nenets and other aboriginal people who live there, they are likely to affect mid-latitude weather patterns, the migrating birds we see, the air we breathe, the fuel we burn and the way in which we transport goods from one continent to another. The question then becomes, how do we understand and manage the end of the Arctic as we know it so we are prepared to deal with the new Arctic that is unfolding?..."
Farming Is Now Worse For The Climate Than Deforestation. A story at Quartz made me do a double-take; here's an excerpt: "...Efforts such as these to slow deforestation have delivered some of humanity’s few gains in its otherwise lackadaisical battle so far against global warming. A gradual slowdown in chainsawing and bulldozing, particularly in Brazil, helped reduce deforestation’s annual toll on the climate by nearly a quarter between the 1990s and 2010. A new study describes how this trend has seen agriculture overtake deforestation as the leading source of land-based greenhouse gas pollution during the past decade..."
Temperatures Rise As Climate Critics Take Aim At U.S. Classrooms. Bloomberg Business has the article; here's a snippet: "...If the coalition had its way, any reference to “global warming,” melting polar ice caps or rising sea levels would be excised from textbooks, or paired with dissenting views. Phrases such as “consensus science” and “settled science” should be avoided, the group warned in letters to publishers last year, as they suggest a “political agenda.” So far, the campaign has had only limited results. One publisher deleted a reference to global warming and others ignored White’s appeals. The group isn’t done, however..." (File image: Shutterstock).
A Progressive Pattern
If the Earth was flat I'd be out of a job. Wait, a few friends nursing conspiracy theories are convinced NASA faked the "round Earth thing" but I tend to believe the scientists. A spherical planet means the tropics receive direct sunlight; the poles only get a glancing blow of warmth. This is the primary engine that drives the weather machine; eddies and swirls of cold air breaking off, making a mad dash toward the equator. Most of our "weather" occurs along this atmospheric battle zone.
Last winter polar air become perpetually stuck over North America, odd jet stream gyrations stalling a dome of subzero air overhead week after week, month after month. This winter I see no sign of a similar blocking pattern. It gets cold for a few days, then it warms as steering wind blow from the west, pumping temperate Pacific air back into Minnesota.
The sun peeks out today; temperatures still a few degrees above average. We should top 30F every day from Friday thru the middle of next week, before an inevitable temperature tumble.
February kicks off with single-digit highs, a few subzero lows, but not persistently polar for days on end. Sunday's clipper may be a bust, too.
Serious Snow. A plowable accumulation of 3-6" is possible from near Albuquerque and Santa Fe into the Texas Panhandle, with a couple inches predicted by the 4 KM NAM just north and west of Fort Worth. Models are hinting at a mix farther east near Little Rock. Lovely. Source: Aeris Enterprise.
An Inevitable Temperature Dip. Models are in good agreement looking out 10 days, showing temperatures trending above average through the end of next week, followed by a significant cold front as we end January and sail into February. GFS guidance suggests that daytime highs on February 2 (Groundhog Day, our newest national holiday) may hold near zero. Source: Aeris Enterprise.
Hanging On To Relative Warmth. Average highs now are in the low and mid 20s, so readings continue to trend above average into the middle of next week before taking a tumble. Models are in disagreement about the strength of the next clipper coming in Saturday night into Sunday, but there's still a potential for a couple inches. By the end of next week there will be no doubt in your mind that it's still mid-winter. Source: Weatherspark.
Why The Entire U.S. Weather Satellite System Is At Risk. Here's the introduction to an article at Popular Mechanics: "Members of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology are worried about the future of U.S. weather satellites, which may include a gap in coverage that could leave the U.S. without crucial satellite data for over a year. NOAA (the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration) maintains two types of satellites: Geostationary (or GOES series), which provide continuous images of the earth from a fixed point about 22,000 miles up, and Polar-orbiting (or JPSS series), which circle 500 miles above the planet and provide the images used in long-range forecasting. A legacy of mismanagement, budget overruns, and slipping deadlines means that satellites in both programs may well fail before their replacements are launched and become fully functional.."
Image credit above: "JPSS-1 is the second spacecraft within NOAA's next generation of polar-orbiting environmental satellites- scheduled to launch in early 2017." (Photo Credit: Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.)
Go Figure. Figuring The Odds of Earth's Global Hot Streak. I'm all for coincidence and serendipity, but at some point you detect a trend in the numbers. This article from AP provides some badly needed perspective on the recent run of warm years worldwide: "...Thirteen of the 15 the hottest years on record have occurred in the last 15 years. The odds of that being random are more than 41 trillion to 1, the statisticians said. All 15 years from 2000 on have been among the top 20 warmest years on record. They said the odds of that are 1.5 quadrillion to 1. A quadrillion is a million billion. And then there's the fact that the last 358 months in a row have been warmer than the 20th-century average, according to NOAA. The odds of that being random are so high — a number with more than 100 zeros behind it — that there is no name for that figure, Grego said."
Map: The Fracking Boom, State By State. Thank God there are no (economically feasible) reserves of natural gas lurking underneath Minnesota's constellation of clean lakes and rivers. Here's an excerpt of a story at InsideClimate News that caught my eye: "As debate intensifies over oil and gas drilling, most states with frackable reserves are already fracking—or making moves to do so in the near future. That translates to 22 states, from California to Texas, Michigan to West Virginia, currently employing this high-intensity form of energy extraction, and five others may soon follow..."
Solar Is Cheaper Than Electricity From The Grid in 42 of 50 Largest U.S. Cities. We are #27! EcoWatch has the article; here's an excerpt that caught my eye: "...Now a new report called Going Solar in America, prepared by the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center with the support of the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, shows how the plummeting costs of going solar could already make it the more economical choice for energy consumers in 42 of the U.S.’s 50 largest cities. It found that in those cities, a fully financed solar system would cost average residential consumers less than they would pay for electricity from their current local utility. New York and Boston topped the list, in large part because the cost of electricity from the grid is very expensive there..."
"Going Solar in America". The pdf report is here.
Technology Disrupting The American Dream. Think your job can't be displaced by automation, AI or next-generation robotics? Think again. Here's a clip from The Washington Post: "...It’s clear by now that the fruits of automation, computerization and outsourcing are being reaped by the top 1 percent — in this case, shipping companies and not drivers. The old bell curve with the middle class bloating comfy in the middle is being replaced by what’s called the power curve, in which something called the 80/20 rule applies: 20 percent of the participants in an online venture get 80 percent of the rewards. Think Uber. It’s not the drivers who are getting rich. Something new and possibly awful is happening..."
Google Is Now A More Trusted Source Of News Than The Websites It Aggregates. Quartz has the sobering news (for traditional/legacy media); here's an excerpt: "...Online search engines have overtaken traditional media as the most trusted source for general news and information, according to a global survey of 27,000 people by Edelman, a public relations firm. The data will be presented to delegates at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week. The trust gap between traditional media and search engines is even more pronounced among millennials..."
A Treatment For Alzheimer's Might Lie In The Brains of Hibernating Bears. VICE News has a fascinating story; here's an excerpt: "...Chances are that if you've been somewhere cold during the winter months you've had to fight off the urge to curl up under the covers, imitating the tranquil state of a hibernating bear. Well, it turns out, according to scientists, hibernation might provide some lessons for treating the five million Americans that suffer from Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative brain disorders..."
See How Much The "Perfect" Female Body Has Changed in 100 Years (It's Crazy!) Thank you Madison Avenue; here's a clip from a story at greatist.com: "...That silhouette of the “ideal woman” has been put through a series of fun house mirrors (fashion, movies, pop music, politics). It also changes year over year, so the physical qualities we embrace today are often at odds with those from previous generations. To prove our point, we’re taking a closer look at body ideals over the last 100 years—which shows that, as they say on Project Runway, “In fashion, one day you’re in, and the next day you’re out...”
29 F. high in the Twin Cities yesterday.
24 F. average high on January 21.
6 F. high on January 21, 2014, after waking up to -13 at KMSP.
2" snow on the ground at MSP International Airport.
January 21, 1982: The Twin Cities got 21.1 inches of snow, with a total of nearly 40 inches on the ground.
January 21, 1936: Perhaps the coldest windchill the Twin Cities has ever seen was -67 on this day with the new windchill formula (-87 with the old formula). The temperature was -34 with a wind speed of 20mph. All traffic in the Twin Cities was severely hampered and a number of fatalities were caused by the cold. (source: Twin Cities National Weather Service)
TODAY: Partly sunny. No problems. Winds: SW 10. High: 28
THURSDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy, milder than average for late January. Low: 23
FRIDAY: Milder with clouds, few flurries. High: 37
SATURDAY: Better travel day. Sun fades, late night snow. Wake-up: 27. High: 36
SUNDAY: Early coating to a couple inches possible with slick highways. Snow tapers. Wake-up: 29. High: 31
MONDAY: Peeks of sun, light winds. Wake-up: 23. High: near 30
TUESDAY: Next clipper. Quick shot of snow. Wake-up: 24. High: 32
WEDNESDAY: Sunny start, PM flurries possible. Wake-up: 21. High: 31
* Turning substantially colder by the end of next week: single-digit highs possible by Friday and Saturday.
** Photo credit: Donna Wick Paul.
Climate Scientists Rebuff Skeptics' Arguments Against 2014 "Warmest Year" Claim. Well, this was predictable. Push-back from contrarians, flat-Earthers and professional climate deniers impervious to facts, data and reason - and for some reason don't like it when they're proven wrong, again and again. Here's an excerpt from Andrew Freedman at Mashable: "...NASA and NOAA scientists say they have not changed their tune about 2014, since the data clearly shows that it was most likely the warmest year to date since instrument records began in 1880. Furthermore, they argue that climate skeptics are twisting the meaning of uncertainty ranges and making it seem like there is far less confidence in temperature data than there actually is. Climate science debates occur every day in the blogosphere and on cable news shows, but this particular fight about a major temperature record (and therefore, major news story) highlights the extent to which many boil down to mere contradiction and rejections of facts, rather than arguments based on competing lines of evidence..."
Climate Action Protects The Middle Class. Here's an excerpt from a post by Gina McCarthy, Administrator of the EPA at Huffington Post: "...And when climate disasters strike -- like more frequent droughts, storms, fires, and floods -- low-income neighborhoods and communities of color are the hardest hit. Climate action is crucial to helping reduce barriers to opportunity that keep people out of the middle class. That's why EPA is taking action, delivering on a key part of President Obama's Climate Action Plan with the first-ever carbon pollution standards for our nation's largest source -- power plants. When we act, we deliver the certainty companies need to drive innovation and create new jobs..." (Image: NASA).
Image credit: NASA, NOAA.
Study Says Trees Species Will Change With Climate. It's already happening, a slow-motion transformation as climate zones creep northward in a warming world. Minnesota's long range forecast calls for more oaks and maple trees. Here's the intro to a story at Duluth News Tribune: "Minnesota’s northern forests will look much different in coming decades as a warming climate encourages tree species like oaks and maples and pushes others, including spruce and fir, out of the region. That was the finding of a University of Minnesota study published this week in the journal Nature Climate Change that used growing plots near Cloquet and Ely and added the amount of warmth expected later this century..."
Romney Says He's Still Mulling 2016 Presidential Run. And it appears that Mr. Romney has shifted his stance on climate change, as reported by The Des Moines Register; here's an excerpt: "...Romney, though, kept his focus on the issues. He said that while he hopes the skeptics about global climate change are right, he believes it's real and a major problem. He said it's not enough for Americans to keep their own carbon emissions in check when much of the rise in greenhouse gases globally is coming from countries such as China and India..."
Obama Toughens Up On Climate. President Obama is making action on climate change one of the centerpieces of his second term, as reported at The Hill: "...In November, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) moved on a long-awaited update to ozone pollution standards, which cut the allowable threshold for the ground-level smog to between 60 parts per million and 75 parts per million. And over the last six weeks the administration has floated guidelines for federal agencies to weigh climate change impacts when reviewing energy and infrastructure projects, and released first-ever regulations on methane emissions from industrial sources..."
2014 Record Breaking Heat Is Bad For Business. Here's a clip from an Op-Ed at Forbes that caught my eye: "...The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks report shows that leaders increasingly see these phenomena as a major drag on their bottom lines, ranking severe weather events and water crises among the top 10 likeliest global risks, and the risks expected to have the most impact in 2015. Neeraj Sahai, president of Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, put it this way in Fortune magazine: “The investment community – along with regulators – has woken up to this threat..."
Pope Has U.S. Climate Naysayers In An Uproar. Here's an excerpt from an AP story at The Star Tribune: "...He said global warming was “mostly” man-made. And he said he wanted his encyclical out in plenty of time to be absorbed before the next round of U.N. climate change talks in Paris in November. “I don’t know if it [human activity] is the only cause, but mostly, in great part, it is man who has slapped nature in the face,” Francis said. “We have in a sense taken over nature...”
Photo credit: AP Photo/Giuseppe Cacace, pool.
Why Do Religious People of Color Care So Much About Climate Change? Climate change will become one of the most pressing civil rights issues of the 21st century. Because those with the least will be the first to be impacted. Deseret News has the story - here's a clip: "...Contrary to the prevailing perception that climate change is primarily a cause for upper-middle-class, highly educated white liberals, a 2014 survey from the Public Religion Research Institute shows the highest levels of concern for the issue can be found among black Protestants like the Rev. Keys, as well as Hispanic Catholics. Compared with 50 percent of all Americans, 73 percent of Hispanic Catholics and 58 percent of black Protestants said they were "very concerned" or "somewhat concerned" about climate change..."
"It Is Profitable To Let The World Go To Hell". Can capitalism, free-market forces, eventually deal with climate change and increasing weather (and water) volatility? Once we find a way to put a price on carbon I want to believe that this is possible. There's little doubt in my mind that our grandkids will be dealing with something closer to "sustainable capitalism". How do we grow economies, consume energy and keep the lights on with minimal impact on the environment? Here's a clip from The Guardian: "...The professor of climate strategy at the Norwegian Business School has been pretty close to giving up his struggle to wake us up to our unsustainable ways, and in 2004 published a pessimistic update of his 1972 report showing the predictions made at the time are turning out to be largely accurate. What he cannot bear is how politicians of all persuasions have failed to act even as the scientific evidence of climate change mounts up, and as a result he has largely lost faith in the democratic process to handle complex issues..."
Is The Climate Movement At A Tipping Point? EcoWatch has the story; here's the intro: "Is the climate movement at a political tipping point? Could right now, 2015, be that moment in history, be something akin to the 1964-1965 period for the civil rights movement? Those were the years that two major pieces of legislation, the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, ended legal segregation in the South and opened the way for a whole series of positive social, cultural and political changes in the U.S. in the years since..."
Benefits of Brrr
This may prove the perils of cold weather brain-shrinkage, but consider: 1) Living in Minnesota gives you cold weather boasting rights for the USA! Anchorage? Not even close. Alaska's biggest city didn't see ONE subzero low in 2014. 2) A low of -30 to -40F is required to kill off most invasive pests, including hungry Pine Beetles. A cleansing cold wave is very good news for our North Woods. 3) There's anecdotal evidence that the crime rate drops during extended cold waves. It turns out thugs, creeps and criminals don't much care for extreme wind chills either.
Feeling better? Me neither.
The next surge of polar exhaust arrives today. Temperatures tumble, bottoming out tomorrow morning around -15F in the suburbs with a wind chill of -35 to -40F. Pioneer cold, but a rebound is likely by the weekend with highs luxuriating in the teens. Yes, teens above! will feel amazingly good.
I still don't see anything that qualifies as a storm, just slow moderation next week as winds begin to blow from the Pacific instead of the Arctic Circle. That should mean a thaw by the end of next week.
Is this the worst of winter? Probably. Then again I'm a naive optimist with debilitating brain-freeze.
Blistering Cold. Although not as cold as last winter, it will be cold enough for mere mortals, the lowest temperature and wind chill of the week coming Wednesday morning. The map above shows 10 AM predicted wind chill values tomorrow morning, dipping as low as -37F in the Twin Cities, -45F at Duluth.
An Arctic Intrusion. Invasion sounds too strong, but there's little doubt that most of America east of the Rockies will experience a serious smack; the coldest subzero readings from the Upper Midwest to the Great Lakes and New England by Thursday. This surge of bitter air turns on the lake-effect snow machine over the next 72 hours as chilly air pushes as far south as Florida.
Coldest Week of Winter. I feel a little more confident making that claim, the same irresponsible forecast I've been making for a few days now, after looking at latest guidance. Subzero lows are likely into next Tuesday morning; probably 8-9 subzero lows in the row. We'll see subzero lows into late February, but I doubt we'll see the duration and intensity of cold we will into early next week.
Canada: Temporarily Running Out Of Cold Air In 1-2 Weeks. Don't worry, they'll make more, and export it south of the border. 500 mb steering winds aloft look a bit more zonal, blowing west to east by Monday evening, January 19, which should be good for 20s, maybe a few days in the 30s. Source: GrADS:COLA/IGES.
Liability Concerns Prompt Some Cities To Limit Sledding. Yes, this Grinch-like move is an apparent step to try and avoid dealing with injuries and inevitable lawyers. Here are two excerpts from an eye-opening story at AP: "...A study by Columbus, Ohio-based Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital found that between 1997 and 2007, more than 20,000 children each year were treated at emergency rooms for sledding-related injuries....Some cities have opted for less drastic measures in the last several years rather than an all-out ban, including Des Moines, Iowa; Montville, New Jersey; Lincoln, Nebraska; and Columbia City, Indiana. By banning sledding on certain slopes or posting signs warning people to sled at their own risk, cities lessen their liability if someone is seriously hurt, but they're still more vulnerable to lawsuits than if they had adopted an outright ban..."
Photo credit above: "In this Dec. 11, 2013 file photo Zoe Reisen,10, of Dubuque, Iowa, sleds down a hill at Allison-Henderson Park on in Dubuque, Iowa. Faced with the potential bills from people who are injured sledding, Dubuque is one of the cities across the country the is opting to close hills rather than face the risk of large liability claims." (AP Photo/The Telegraph Herald, Jessica Reilly, File)
Mild Bias into March. NOAA CPC (Climate Prediction Center) publishes output from multiple longer-range climate models going out many months. I wouldn't bet the farm on any of these, but it is interesting looking at the trends from month to month. A majority of these longer-range models continue to show a warm bias for much of North American into late March; symptoms of a brewing El Nino.
2014: Warmest Year On Record. This according to JMA, Japan Meteorological Agency, which adds: "The annual anomaly of the global average surface temperature in 2014 (i.e. the average of the near-surface air temperature over land and the SST) was +0.27°C above the 1981-2010 average (+0.63°C above the 20th century average), and was the warmest since 1891. On a longer time scale, global average surface temperatures have risen at a rate of about 0.70°C per century."
2014 Temperature Departure From Average: January thru November. Here is why it's probably a bad idea looking out your window and making global assumptions. "Uh, the planet can't be warming up Paul because it's cold outside!" No, that never gets old. 2014 will almost certainly be the warmest year on record according to NOAA data, with a 60-70% probability it will be the warmest year on record according to NASA GISS numbers. The chilliest weather last year? Directly above our heads, Upper Midwest and Great Lakes. Otherwise the vast majority of the world's land masses and oceans experienced record warmth. Source: NOAA NCDC.
Facebook Is The New AOL. Back to the 90s, whether you like it or not. Here's an excerpt of an intriguing article at The Verge: "...Just think about it for a minute. Of course Facebook is the new AOL. Facebook is the beginning and the end of the internet for a huge number of normal people, a combination of primary service provider (user profiles, messaging, photo sharing) and '90s-style portal to the wider web. Facebook has its own IM platform, Messenger, just like AOL had AOL Instant Messenger. Then it went and bought WhatsApp, the messaging platform more popular internationally, just like AOL bought ICQ. Facebook groups are just AOL chat rooms..."
Think Twice Before Griping About Your Job. TVSpy has a video clip focused on a guy who replaces the blinking red light at the top of radio towers - I wonder if he can get life insurance; here's an excerpt: "...KDLT, the NBC affiliate in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, needed a light changed on its inactive analog broadcast tower so planes and other flying vehicles don’t run into it. According to All Things Aero, a guy named Kevin Schmidt climbed up and did the deed. He even took a selfie 1500 feet above the South Dakota prairie while being watched by the drone that shot the video..."
Client Feedback On The Creation Of The Earth. If Silicon Valley created Creation; this is the unlikely memo that would go out well ahead of beta Earth 1.0, courtesy of McSweeneys.net; here's the intro:
Thanks so much for the latest round of work. Really coming together. Few points of feedback:
1 – Really liking the whole light thing but not totally sure about the naming system. “Day” and “night” are OK but we feel like there’s more we can do here. Thoughts? Definitely need to nail this down ASAP.
2 – Re: the “sky”… not really feeling the color here. Would like something that pops more. Please send additional options...."
Man Reenacts Movie "Up" With 90 Colored Balloons and a Sun Lounger. No, you can't make this stuff up. Here's a clip from a story at Gizmag: "Have you ever wondered how many helium-filled balloons it would take to lift you up and let you fly among the clouds? Extreme sports enthusiast Erik Roner recently found out. Roner attached 90 helium-filled balloons to a sun lounger and rose to 8,000 ft (2,438 m)...."
-11 F. wake-up temperature Monday morning.
-1 F. maximum temperature yesterday at 5:59 PM.
24 F. average high on January 5.
-2 F. high on January 5, 2014.
January 5, 1942: Temperature rose from 32 below zero to 41 above in 24 hours in Pipestone.
TODAY: Some sun, colder wind. Winds: NW 20. Wind chill: -20. High: 5, then falling
TUESDAY NIGHT: Clearing and bitter. Low: -13
WEDNESDAY: Coldest day. Feels like -35. Ouch. Bright, ineffective sunshine. High: -2
THURSDAY: Next clipper, coating of flurries. Wake-up: -11. High: 13
FRIDAY: Intervals of sun. Feels like -30F. Wake-up: -8. High: 2
SATURDAY: More clouds than sun, less wind. Wake-up: -9. High: 11
SUNDAY: Partly sunny, still can't feel my toes. Wake-up: -6. High: 8
MONDAY: Last shot of brittle air - for now. Wake-up: -6. High: 5
Perspective. Thanks to Elijah Zarlin and Twitter for clarifying why climate scientists are concerned.
Climate Change's Calling Card in 2014: Heat. Here's a clip from a 2014 recap at Climate Central that got my attention: "...This year is virtually guaranteed to go down as the world’s hottest on record. But it’s not just one hot year we’re talking about. It’s a staggering list. Consider that the 15 hottest years on record have all come since 1997. Or that this will be the third straight decade to break the mark for global temps. And that it’s been 358 months since the planet had a cooler-than-average month, and more than 100 years since we last had a record-cold month...."
2014 Brought Lasting Action on Climate Change Policy. Scott Horsley has the story at NPR; here's an excerpt: "...Critics complain that while the U.S. is already cutting its carbon pollution, China's emissions are allowed to keep growing until 2030. China is already making big investments in clean energy, though. And the Chinese government has announced plans to cap the use of coal within five years. Doniger of the NRDC says China's choking smog problem gives it a big incentive to clean up its power plants. What's more, he says, the Chinese government is genuinely worried by increasingly dry weather in the northern part of the country and rising sea levels in the east. "They understand climate change is real. And when their scientists tell them it's real, they don't have a bunch of ideologues who tell them it's a hoax," Doniger says..."
Tropical Forests May Inhale Third of Fossil Fuel Emissions. This is why deforestation is so critical; if we remove carbon "sinks" the amount of CO2 that winds up in the atmosphere and oceans increases dramatically; here's an excerpt from Climate Central: "...Tropical forests are so critical to fighting climate change that they may absorb up to one-third of all of humans’ fossil fuel emissions and may become more effective at doing so as atmospheric CO2 concentrations increase, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “While forests cannot solve the CO2 and climate change problem, without them the problem would be even harder,” said the study’s lead author David Schimel, a research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology..."
Photo credit above: "Spray paint indicates trees that had just been measured at Cuatro Rios as part of research carried out at La Selva Biological Station, near La Virgen, Costa Rica, Oct. 15, 2014. The return of new-growth tropical forest parcels like this one is remarkable both ecologically and economically as a sign of the growing push to halt and eventually reverse deforestation." (Adriana Zehbrauskas/The New York Times).
A Polar Bear Capital Fears A Bearless Future. You can read (or listen) to the story at Marketplace; here's the intro: "...Hundreds of bears gather every winter in the town of Churchill, Manitoba, waiting for Hudson Bay to freeze so they can return to hunting seals. This annual migration attracts thousands of tourists, and it's an economic boon for local businesses. The problem? Polar bear season only lasts seven weeks. And when you’re hundreds of miles from the next major city, with no roads connecting you to the outside world, and there are only a few months of the year when the ground’s not covered in snow, there aren’t many options for work. Here in Churchill, Manitoba, population 800, there are three..."
Time Is Running Out On Climate Denial. Here's a clip from a story at The Guardian: "...In fact, there are few groups that don’t support significant action to curb carbon pollution. The US military views climate change as a serious threat. The Pope is rumored to be planning a major effort to encourage an international agreement on climate policy targets in 2015. A growing number of faith groups support climate action, viewing it as an issue of stewardship. Even a majority of non-Tea Party Republicans agree that the planet is warming and support an international treaty that requires the United States to cut its emissions of carbon dioxide 90% by the year 2050..."
Can A Christian Make Conservatives Care About Climate Change? RollingStone has the article; here's a snippet: "...Last year, Joyner was featured in Showtime's documentary series Years of Living Dangerously, where she debated climate change with her father in a gripping segment. "What I found was that his resistance had very little to do with theology and much more to do with his entrenched political ideology," she says. "Conservative talking heads and think tanks don't have to prove the science, they just have to introduce an element of doubt..."
Photo credit above: The Years Project/Courtesy of SHOWTIME. "Anna Jane Joyner is trying to convince evangelicals that climate change is a problem worth solving."
Nuclear Power Is The Greenest Option, Say Top Scientists. Because in the near term renewables won't be able to produce enough energy at scale; is natural gas the bridge fuel we need to get to a much cleaner energy mix, or is it nuclear - and can nuclear energy ever be generated safely with full consideration to radioactive waste that results? Here's an excerpt from the U.K. Independent: "...Nuclear power is one of the least damaging sources of energy for the environment, and the green movement must accept its expansion if the world is to avoid dangerous climate change, some of the world's leading conservation biologists have warned. Rising demand for energy will place ever greater burdens on the natural world, threatening its rich biodiversity, unless societies accept nuclear power as a key part of the "energy mix", they said. And so the environmental movement and pressure groups such as Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace should drop their opposition to the building of nuclear power stations..."
GOP's New Refrain: "Not A Scientist". Here's an excerpt from The Hill: "...But O’Connell said “I’m not a scientist” plays an important, albeit temporary, role in the broader GOP debate. “The fact is, the party’s not come to a consensus on how they want to deal with the issue of climate change,” he said. “What they do agree on is that they do not want to pass what they see as middle-class job-killing regulations and taxes. But they want to maintain flexibility until they come to a consensus on the best way to handle it down the line...”
Editorial: The Politics of Climate Change. Is our government really capable of orchestrating a conspiracy among all the world's leading climate scientists, NOAA, NASA and nearly every scientific organization to "push their warmist agenda?" Maybe. But then again they can't even launch a successful web site, so forgive me for being dubious of conspiracy theories. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Farmington Daily Times that caught my eye: "...But there is a process in place to untangle these messes. It's called peer review. Yes, we know some believe there is a massive conspiracy among government bureaucrats to fund scientists who manipulate data to provide a basis for regulatory overreach. And the scientists who participate in peer review — the vast majority who invite criticism that helps them fine-tune their methods — are part of the conspiracy. What's curious is that many of the people who hold that belief will tell you that, in nearly every other circumstance, government is incapable of coordinated activity that achieves its stated goal..."
Back Off Baby Boomers: The Millenials Own The Fight Against Climate Change. The author of this Op-Ed at Huffington Post is a 16 year old high school sophomore in New York City; here's an excerpt: "...Only time will tell if millennials will change the ways governments look at climate change. If the present is any reflection of the future, then yes, they will bring change. But if the American people know one thing it is that those we elect to represent us so often fall into other ways of thinking that put corporations before constituents. As the old saying goes, power corrupts. Unless the grassroots campaigns gather a vast new following, policy changes related to climate change will most likely have to wait until one of the Koch brothers' beach houses is ruined by a superstorm." (File photo: Reuters).
Since 1899 there have been a total of 32 Christmases in the Twin Cities with no snow or a trace of snow, qualifying as a "brown Christmas". The last time this happened was 2011. Unless the pattern shifts dramatically and unexpectedly, I'm expecting a snow-optional Christmas this year.
Blame (or thank) El Nino, a mild stain of water in the Pacific. Yesterday the Japan Meteorological Agency called it the first official El Nino in 5 years.
Historically, El Nino has a domino effect worldwide, impacting not only ocean currents but how jet stream steering winds set up. Big storms tend to slam into California, track across the far southern USA before turning up the East Coast - a pattern we're already seeing manifested on the weather maps. We'll still see cold fronts, but during an El Nino winter winds aloft blow from the Pacific with greater frequency, meaning milder and (usually) drier for Minnesota.
Exhibit A: we should hit 40F tomorrow; 50s possible over the weekend - 20 to 25F warmer than average. Moist, Pacific air passing over cold ground will spark clouds and thick fog at times, even a little rain Sunday.
I don't see any accumulating snow between now and Christmas Eve.
* One year ago today the Twin Cities woke up to -8F with an afternoon high of 5F. Source: NOAA.
Shot at 50F. 40s are likely, and if everything goes just right we may hit 50F Saturday, low to mid 50s possible Sunday before temperatures cool back down closer to average early next week. No big storms of any flavor are brewing, but ECMWF guidance hints at a little rain or drizzle during the PM hours Sunday.
Wet West Coast Smack. It may be one of the biggest storms to push into California since the last El Nino 5 years ago. Models hint at 3" of rain in the Bay Area today, 1-2" near Los Angeles and San Diego tomorrow - snow tapering off over New England. 60-hour accumulated precipitation: NOAA and HAMweather.
Mild Bias Next 2 Weeks. Although temperatures peak this weekend a mild, Pacific wind aloft blows much of the next 2 weeks, keeping temperatures above average for the next 10-12 days. There are some signs of a colder front right around Christmas Eve or Christmas Day; not bitter, but closer to average. Accumulating snow? I don't see any looking out the next 2 weeks. If we do see a white Christmas it'll be by the skin of our teeth. Map: NOAA.
Historical Chances of a White Christmas? On average 72 out of 100 December 25ths have an inch or more of snow on the ground at MSP International, for those of you who live at the Twin Cities airport this is helpful information. Some days I feel like I live there, come to think of it. Just waiting for MSP to go condo. Here's a clip from the Minnesota DNR: "...In 115 years of snow depth measurements in Twin Cities, a white Christmas happens about 72% of the time. From 1899 to 2013 there have been 32 years with either a "zero" or a "trace." The last time the Twin Cities has seen a brown Christmas was 2011. The deepest snow cover on December 25th was in 1983 with a hefty 20 inches. It was also a very cold Christmas in 1983, with the high temperature of one (1) degree F. It was not the coldest Christmas Day in the Twin Cities. That dubious award goes to 1996 with a "high" temperature of 9 below zero F. The warmest Christmas Day in the Twin Cities was 51 degrees in 1922. There was not a white Christmas that year. In fact, the Minneapolis Weather Bureau log book for that day states that the day felt "spring like..."
First El Nino In Five Years Declared By Japan's Weather Bureau. This call isn't universally shared by other weather services, like NOAA or Environment Canada, or even Australia's Bureau of Meteorology, but it's an acknowledgment that the Pacific is warming up. Here's an excerpt from The Guardian: "Japan’s weather bureau said on Wednesday that an El Niño weather pattern, which can trigger drought in some parts of the world while causing flooding in others, had emerged during the summer for the first time in five years and was likely to continue into winter. That marks the first declaration by a major meteorological bureau of the much-feared El Niño phenomenon, which had been widely expected to emerge this year..."
Map credit above: "Global temperatures sea surface levels in June. Weather agencies have been predicting an El Niño all year but Japan’s is the first to declare it." Photograph: NOAA.
El Nino Lingers into Mid 2015. NOAA says a 65% chance of El Nino this winter, lasting into the middle of 2015. Details here. This is one of many reasons why I suspect the core of the upcoming winter season won't be as harsh as last winter.
Why Hasn't A Major Hurricane Hit The U.S. In 9 Years? Andrea Thompson has a good summary focused on what meteorologists know and don't know about the recent Atlantic hurricane drought. Meanwhile the Pacific experienced 7 Category 5 typhoons this year. All or nothing. Chalk it up to luck? Here's an excerpt from Climate Central: "...The drought of major hurricane hits is unmatched according to records stretching back to the 1950s. And its reason is a mystery. Experts chalk it up to chance, rather than any identifiable climate pattern or the effect of global warming. After all, major hurricanes have raked Mexico and many Caribbean countries in that nine-year interval. Even Sandy was a major hurricane when it hit Cuba. “Other people have been bearing the brunt,” Gerry Bell, the lead seasonal hurricane forecaster for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), said. “We’ve just been fortunate...”
Map credit above: "The tracks of all hurricanes that reached major hurricane status (Category 3 or higher) in the Atlantic Ocean basin from the 2006 through 2013 hurricane seasons." Credit: NOAA.
Which City Has The Most Unpredictable Weather? Oh to be a meteorologist in Rapid City, South Dakota. The greatest weather extremes in general come near the center of large continents, well away from the moderating influence of warmer ocean water. Here's an excerpt from a long but excellent story at Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight: "...But Rapid City isn’t alone; other cities in the Great Plains and Upper Midwest dominate the most-unpredictable list. After Rapid City, those with the most unpredictable weather are Great Falls, Montana; Houghton, Michigan; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Fargo, North Dakota; Duluth, Minnesota; Bismarck, North Dakota; Aberdeen, South Dakota; Grand Island, Nebraska; and Glasgow, Montana. For the most part, these cities are landlocked. The presence of lakes or oceans can contribute to weather problems — for instance, the huge amounts of lake-effect snow in Houghton, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (about twice as much as in notoriously snowy Buffalo, New York). But water usually does more to regulate temperatures and severe weather..."
The Story Behind The Winter Misery Index. Meteorologist Andrew Freedman had a good story about the origin of the WMI at Mashable back in February that's worth a read; here's an excerpt: "...The index attempts to put the “badness” or “goodness” of winter into historical context, Bousted said. The index is based on daily temperature and precipitation data, including snowfall and snow depth. It uses thresholds of temperature and snowfall to assign a score to each day, which gets tallied up throughout a season, with a running tally and a final score at the end of the year to gauge a winter’s severity. The scores correspond to a category, with a one-through-five system — with five being the worst — similar to those used for other severe weather phenomena..." (Graphic credit above: Minnesota DNR).
The Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index. Yes, WMI roles off the tongue, but the original index is the AWSSI. Here's an excerpt of a good explanation of how this running winter index is calculated and updated from the Midwest Regional Climate Center: "...Daily scores are calculated based on scores assigned to temperature, snowfall, and snow depth thresholds. The daily scores are accumulated through the winter season, allowing a running total of winter severity in the midst of a season as well as a final, cumulative value characterizing the full season. Accumulations of the temperature and snow components of the index are computed separately and then added together for the total index. This allows comparison of the relative contribution of each to the total score..."
* More information on Barbara Boustead's new winter rating scale from the AMS, the American Meteorological Society.
Scientists Find Early Warning Signs of Changing Ocean Circulation. Rapid melting of polar regions is flushing more fresh water into the North Atlantic, which may (over time) impact a global conveyor belt of moving water around the planet. Here's a clip from UPI: "The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, or AMOC for short, is the large-scale flow of water -- driven by temperature and salinity gradients -- specific to the Atlantic Ocean. Researchers say they've located signs that it and other portions of Earth's oceanic conveyor belt are slowing. The global conveyor belt doesn't just move water, it moves heat too -- delivering it (in the case of the AMOC) from the tropics and the Southern Hemisphere to the North Atlantic. It is a vital component of climate as we know it. Should it continue to slow and become disrupted, it could spell drastic and abrupt climate change..." (Graphic credit: NASA).
Cruise Ships Dump 1 Billion Gallons of Sewage Into The Ocean Every Year. So please don't play in the ocean anytime soon. Quartz has the horrific details; here's an excerpt: "Some 20 million people board cruise ships every year. And while they might return to land with fond memories of umbrella drinks and shuffleboard, they leave a lot at sea. About a billion gallons (3.8 billion liters) of sewage (pdf), in fact. That’s according to Friends of the Earth, a non-governmental environmental group, which used US Environmental Protection Agency data to calculate arrive at that gross figure..."
Photo credit above: "These city-sized behemoths generate a lot of waste." (Reuters/Keith Bedford).
Half of Americans Don't Want Their Sons Playing Football, Poll Shows. Here's the intro to a story at Bloomberg Politics: "Television ratings are up and merchandise sales are booming, but longer-term trends don’t look as rosy for football. According to a new Bloomberg Politics poll, 50 percent of Americans say they wouldn't want their son to play the sport and only 17 percent believe it’ll grow in popularity in the next 20 years..."
File photo credit: AP Photo/Bradley Leeb.
How Your Heatbeat Will Make Passwords Obsolete. But what happens when my high blood pressure acts up? Here's a clip from CNN: "Thought your fingerprint was secure? Think again. The unique pattern on the tip of your fingers can easily be copied and used to access your most personal information. As PIN numbers and passwords prove redundant in protecting data, tech companies are looking to convert bodily features into secure identity authenticators. Bionym, the Toronto-based biometrics technology company, have introduced The Nymi -- a wristband that measures heartbeats to authenticate identity. Its embedded sensor reads the electrical pulses produced by your heartbeat, which is unique to each of us..."
Wine-Flavored Ice Cream? And here I thought pizza was the perfect food. Chocolate Cabernet anyone?
28 F. high in the Twin Cities Wednesday.
29 F. average high on December 10.
13 F. high on December 10, 2013.
December 10, 1983: Nine cars fell through the ice at the same time on Buffalo Lake in central Minnesota. There was only 5 to 6 inches of ice on the lake.
December 10, 1979: The temperature dropped in Roseville from 48 degrees at 2 pm to zero by dawn.
December 10, 1916: Montevideo had its fifty-second consecutive day with no precipitation.
TODAY: Mostly cloudy. PM thaw. Winds: South 5-10. High: 34
THURSDAY NIGHT: More clouds, fog possible. Low: 29
FRIDAY: Clouds & fog, turning milder. High: 41
SATURDAY: Foggy & gray. Touch of March. Wake-up: 33. High: 49
SUNDAY: Mild and murky. A little PM rain. Wake-up: 45. High: 51
MONDAY: Unsettled, turning colder. Light mix southern MN? Wake-up: 31. High: 35
TUESDAY: Mostly cloudy, closer to average. Wake-up: 24. High: 31
WEDNESDAY: Peeks of sun. Still quiet. Wake-up: 20. High: near 30
Global Weirding Is Here. Here is a terrific visualization of future emission scenarios and impacts on weather volatility.
Editorial: Human Nature vs. Global Warming. Humans Are Winning, And That's Bad News. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "You’d almost think the world has no intention of fixing this problem. In which assumption you would be at least partially correct. If the world could fix its greenhouse gas problems painlessly, it would have been done long ago. But this is a problem that — if you address it seriously — would require significant lifestyle changes on the part of every human being living in even modestly developed nations. No politician who wants to keep his or her job is going to do that by preaching sacrifice..."
The Secret Deal To Save The Planet. Here's an excerpt of the historic agreement between China and the USA to lower greenhouse gas emissions at RollingStone: "...The agreement comes at a time when awareness of the risks of climate change has never been higher, thanks to the sobering accretion of extreme weather events around the world. But the prospects for significant action to reduce carbon pollution have never been lower. Which is why virtually everyone in the climate world was stunned when the agreement was announced on November 12th..." (File photo above: NASA).
Can America's Desert Cities Adapt Before They Dry Out And Die? Water will become a stark manifestation of the climate volatility we're already witnessing. You may not care about a few degrees and more heat waves in the summer. Odds are you will care if the water supply runs out. Here's an excerpt from Fast Company: "...With some scientists saying California could be in the midst of a 35-year megadrought, and other parts of the southwest feeling the same strain, desert cities in America will have to cope with more water scarcity, projected climate-change-induced temperature increases of up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit and a continuing growth in population. Some estimates put the population of the Greater Phoenix area at around 28 million by the year 2050, from its current population of about 4 million. That's a lot of extra water. There are several ways to combat these problems and change the ways desert cities exist..."
Water Terrorism: How Militant Groups Are Taking Advantage of Climate Change Impacts. As a general rule dry areas are getting drier, wet areas are becoming wetter over time. Here's an excerpt of a story at Breaking Energy that caught my eye: "...One of the more salient concerns to emerge from the impact of a warming planet is water scarcity, as scientists have inextricably correlated these two concepts for decades. However, what we are seeing now are terrorist groups taking advantage of areas with water shortages and manipulating water resources as a coercive tactic. The militant group, the Islamic State (ISIS or ISL) has put the issue in focus as a significant security concern and humanitarian crisis. For many geographically-disadvantaged nations in the world that are already dealing with water concerns, the impact of climate change isn’t going to be felt 20, 30, or 40 years from now. The impacts are being felt today and will only worsen as time goes on..."
How MoMA, How "Tactical Urbanism" Can Preserve The Future of Cities. CityLab takes a look at how mega-cities may be able to factor rising sea level into future growth plans; here's an excerpt: "...The teams working in Lagos (NLÉ, Lagos and Amsterdam, and Zoohaus/Inteligencias Colectivas, Madrid) and Hong Kong (MAP Office, Hong Kong, and Network Architecture Lab, Columbia University, New York), however, smartly address the looming issue of sea-level rise affecting the world’s most vulnerable populations. The basis for some of their floating, Venice-like schemes is appropriately vernacular, drawing on decades of local knowledge about how to live with water..."
Graphic credit above: "A rendering of Future Lagos, with city design that works with rising sea levels." Courtesy NLÉ and Zoohaus/Inteligencias Colectivas.
Once-In-1200-Year-California Drought Bears Signature of Climate Change. Here's an excerpt from Joe Romm at ThinkProgress: "...It is the combination of reduced precipitation and record temperatures that make this a 1-in-1200-year drought. This was the same point made to me by California-based climatologist Dr. Peter Gleick, one of the world’s leading water experts. He pointed out that in fact “the last 36 months are the hottest AND driest 36 months in the instrumental record. for California,” and sent me these NOAA charts..."
Global Warming Isn't Causing California Drought? Report Triggers Storm. Many climate scientists are pointing out that the recent NOAA report focused on California was a precipitation study, not a drought study. Here's an excerpt of a summary of some new research at NBC News: "Natural conditions, not human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases, are the driving force behind California's three-year dry spell, scientists on a federal task force concluded Monday. But the report came under fire from some experts who said it downplayed other factors that have humanity's fingerprints on them. The evidence suggests a naturally induced "warm patch" of water in the western Pacific helped to create a high-pressure ridge that blocked precipitation from entering California, the experts said at a news conference to release the report..."
Photo credit above: Noah Berger, Reuters.
Asking What "Caused" California's Drought Misses The Point. Meteorologist Eric Holthaus addresses the impact of extreme heat and soil moisture depletion on the historic California drought in Slate; here's a clip that caught my eye: "...One of Gleick’s main criticisms of the NOAA study was that “they completely ignored the temperature question, which is by far the clearest signal.” He continued, “There’s just no dispute that temperatures globally are going up. There’s no dispute that temperatures regionally in California are going up. There’s no dispute that the last three years have been the hottest in the instrumental record [in California]. And, there’s no dispute that hotter temperatures increase water demand in California. The exact same drought with normal temperatures is not as bad...”
File Photo credit above: "In this Oct. 6, 2014 file photo, a dock sits high and dry at the end of a boat ramp yards away from the edge of Folsom Lake near Folsom, Calif. Don’t blame man-made global warming for the devastating California drought, a new federal report says. A report issued Monday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said natural variations _ mostly a La Nina weather oscillation _ were the primary drivers behind the drought that has now stretched to three years." (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
Dramatically Increasing Chance of Extremely Hot Summers Since The 2004 European Heatwave. The abstract and paper are available at nature.com.