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.

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Record 51F High Monday - Much of Minnesota Suddenly Snow-Free

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: December 15, 2014 - 9:29 PM

Wacko Weather

So let me get this straight. After a cold, white Thanksgiving, and a 3-day stretch of Easter-like 50s and rain in mid-December, odds now favor a cold (brownish) Christmas? No wonder we're all so confused.

And yes, just about any other December yesterday's precipitation would have translated into a cool half foot of snow. Not this year. Slushy exhaust at the tail-end of Monday's storm creates a few icy patches this morning with highs stuck in the mid-20s, close to average for December 16. A dry, seasonably chilly sky lingers into Sunday. Good news for Christmas travel across the Upper Midwest.

“A day without sunshine is like, you know, night" Steve Martin said. He was onto something. The recent canopy of crud, fog and mist - coupled with the usual holiday insanity and stress - has left many of us in a deep, dark funk. The sun may peek out by Wednesday & Thursday as drier Canadian air finally breaks up a very persistent inversion.

The Winter Solstice arrives Sunday at 5:03 PM CST, the least daylight of the year - and the worst day to get a tan in the northern hemisphere.

We thaw out again early next week before a cold front swoops in Christmas Day, with highs in the teens & single digits. Ouch.

Slightly Warmer Than Average Next 9 Days. Although we won't be flirting with 50 again anytime soon I do see another thaw Sunday into Tuesday of next week, followed by a potential temperature tumble by Christmas Day. I'm not convinced the high on December 25 will be 7F in the Twin Cities, but there's little doubt it will cool off around Christmas. Right now I don't see this cold surge spinning up any significant snowstorms, but a light mix is possible by Monday and Tuesday of next week.

Extended Outlook: Colder, But Not Exactly Frigid. Temperatures above 0F in late December? After last winter that seems almost reasonable. The first surge of colder air arrives around Christmas Day, a second reinforcing shot of chilly air around New Year's Eve. The pattern looks very dry for the next 2 weeks; I see no evidence of significant snow accumulation through the end of 2014. NOAA GFS guidance.

Prevailing Jet Stream Winds December 21-25. I still don't see any evidence of the supernaturally strong ridge of high pressure returning for western North America, which would, in turn, increase the risk of a Conga-line of cold fronts hurtling southward direct from the Arctic Circle. Whether it's a symptom of a brewing El Nino or just natural atmospheric variability there is a tendency toward troughiness and more major Pacific storms pushing into California, with a more persistent west-northwest pattern than we saw last winter.

Have a Numbing New Year! Cold, but probably not subzero. Hey, it's a start! Based on NOAA GFS guidance the wind flow aloft takes a northwest turn the last couple days of December, allowing cold air to flow south. At this point I see little risk of a persistent block similar to last year, where polar air remained stalled over the eastern two third's of America for the better part of 90 days. Source: GrADS:COLA/IGES.

Shrinking Snow Pack. Winter is in reverse, at least for the next week to 10 days. Here's the latest USA snowcover map from NOAA - which reports that the percentage of the USA (lower 48) with snow on the ground fell from 28.5% on November 15 to 27.6% yesterday. Blame (or thank) a developing El Nino warm phase in the Pacific for hijacking jet stream winds aloft and keeping them blowing more from the west than northwest in recent weeks.

Where'd The Snow Go? Snowmobilers are not happy. Neither are area ski resorts and cross-country skiers. Hockey players looking for ideal conditions on area rinks and ponds aren't thrilled either. We obviously added to snow cover over parts of western and central Minnesota overnight, but yesterday's snowcover map looks more like late October than mid-December. Source: NOAA.

Negative Phase Of AO and NAO = Colder Fronts. The last couple of weeks the AO (Arctic Oscillation) and NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) have been strongly positive, correlating with strong west to east (zonal) winds pushing relatively mild, Pacific air into much of the USA. NOAA forecasts both AO and NAO to become strongly negative again by the end of December, meaning a higher amplitude pattern capable of pulling in much colder air. Not polar-vortex cold, but cold enough to get your attention.

Climate Model Consensus: Mild Bias First Quarter of 2015. We'll see, and no, I wouldn't bet the farm on a 90 day extended outlook, but most of the climate models run by NOAA CPC (Climate Prediction Center) show a mild bias for much of North America January, February and March of 2015. Only the GFDL FLOR and NASA's GEOS5 climate models show a chilly bias east of the Rockies. Either way, El Nino should reduce the odds of an extended blocking pattern capable of creating the polar pain we enjoyed last winter.

Earth Had 7th Warmest November on Record; Still On Track For Warmest Year. Meteorologist Jason Samenow at The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang has an update; here's an excerpt: "...After achieving its warmest August, September and October on record, the Earth’s temperature stepped back from record-setting levels in November, NOAA reports.  It was the 7th warmest November on record (dating back to 1880), but the planet remains on track to have its warmest year – though just barely. The average temperature of the oceans remained at record-setting levels in November, extending the streak of record warm seas to six straight months (May-November).  But land areas only ranked 13th warmest..."

Map credit above: "November 2014 temperatures difference from 20th century average." (NOAA)

NOAA Looks To Build The Next Generation Of Hurricane Planes., The Tampa Tribune, has news of an RFP from NOAA for a (sturdy) new plane capable of sending back even more data; here's an excerpt: "...But Kermit and its sister Orion, Miss Piggy, are getting long in the tooth. Each plane, which came on line in the mid-70s, has flown more than 10,000 hours and into more than 80 hurricanes. With the pounding they’ve taken, the planes are undergoing a $35 million refurbishing job to extend their service lives for another 15 to 20 years. Given that there will still be hurricanes to hunt past the year 2030, NOAA is looking to develop the next generation of Kermits and Miss Piggys. To that end, it has put out a solicitation looking for companies that can help figure out what kinds of sensors and other data-gathering equipment will be needed in the future..." (WC130 "Hurricane Hunter" aircraft photo: NOAA).

Trillions and Quadrillions: Numbers Tell U.S. Energy Story. 10 years ago who would have predicted that North Dakota would become the rough equivalent of an energy superpower? Here's an excerpt from Climate Central: "...Just as the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that the crude oil production in the U.S. is expected to continue booming even as oil prices decline, the federal government put out an interactive map showing just how production of energy of all kinds has increased over the past 20 years or so, and where those production hotspots are. For example, in 2012, the U.S. produced a total of about 79,000 trillion Btu or about 79 quadrillion btu of energy, up from about 68 quadrillion Btu in 1993. By comparison, the average U.S. household burns about 89.6 million Btu of energy each year..."

Map credit above: "The largest energy producing hotspots in the U.S. as of 2012, part of a new U.S. Department of Energy interactive map showing the growth in energy production across the U.S." Credit: DOE.

"Sunn Light: An Artificial Sun In Your Family Room?" I am tempted to run out and buy one of these to help with my SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), but it's a Kickstarter project - those of us who are sun-deprived will just have to be patient. Here's an excerpt from Gizmag: "...There are two sizes of Sunn Light: the smallest measures 48.6 cm (19 in), contains a total of 240 LEDs, and outputs a maximum of 3,300 lumens, while the larger measures 60 cm (24 in), features 330 LEDs, and outputs up to 5,500 lumens. Both can be hung on a wall like a picture frame or professionally fitted, and you can install essentially as many Sunn Light units as you'd want (at least 100). Once paired with an iOS or Android device via Bluetooth, a Sunn Light detects its latitude and longitude, and mimics the natural rhythm of the sun in that area..."

15 Fun Facts About Fruitcake. Yes, how bored are you right now? For more than you EVER wanted to know about fruitcake check out this link from mental_floss; here's a clip: "Loved or hated, but very rarely anything in between, fruitcake has long been the holiday season’s favorite neon-dotted loaf, joke, and re-gift. But in addition to being the baked good that never dies (literally—there are a couple century-old fruitcakes in existence), it has also traveled to space, become some towns’ claims to fame (“Fruitcake Capital of the World,” Home of the “Great Fruitcake Toss”), and, somewhat recently, suddenly gave an 89-year-old woman a brand new career..."

The 4 Stages of Life. No explanation required.

51R. Monday's high of 51F broke the old record of 49F set in 1923.

27 F. average high on December 15.

4 F. high on December 15, 2013.

.15" rain fell yesterday at KMSP. St. Cloud picked up .38" of rain.

0" of snow on the ground at MSP International Airport. First time 0" reported since November 9.

Trace of snow on the ground at Duluth, where .51" of rain fell yesterday.

December 15 in Minnesota Weather History. Source: Twin Cities National Weather Service:

2000: A surface low pressure system tracked east-northeast through Iowa on the 18th and then into western Illinois during the early evening hours. Extreme south central and southeast Minnesota received 6 to 10 inches of snow, including Albert Lea with 10.5 inches, Kiester and Bixby with 6.0 inches.

1972: Fairmont had its fifteenth consecutive day with lows at or below zero degrees Fahrenheit.

1940: Snowstorm hits state. Water equivalent of the snow was 1.27 inches at Winona.

TODAY: AM slushy roads - slick spots, clouds linger with a cold wind. Feels like 10F. Winds: NW 10-20. High: 25

TUESDAY NIGHT: Partial clearing, colder. Low: 15

WEDNESDAY: Rare sunshine sighting? Less wind. High: 23

THURSDAY: Peeks of sun, chilly and dry. Wake-up: 14. High: 26

FRIDAY: Mostly cloudy, good travel weather. Wake-up: 17. High: near 30

SATURDAY: More clouds than sun, no drama. Wake-up: 20. High: 32

SUNDAY: Still gray, with a welcome PM thaw. Wake-up: 22. High: 33

MONDAY: Cloudy, breezy and milder. Wake-up: 29. High: 38

Climate Stories....

Warmer Pacific Ocean Could Release Millions of Tons of Seafloor Methane. We are conducting an experiment on Earth's cryosphere, atmosphere and oceans, and we're not exactly sure how this will all turn out. The University of Washington has an article focused on warming seas, and the implications of warmer ocean water; here's a clip: "...Off the West Coast of the United States, methane gas is trapped in frozen layers below the seafloor. New research from the University of Washington shows that water at intermediate depths is warming enough to cause these carbon deposits to melt, releasing methane into the sediments and surrounding water. Researchers found that water off the coast of Washington is gradually warming at a depth of 500 meters, about a third of a mile down. That is the same depth where methane transforms from a solid to a gas. The research suggests that ocean warming could be triggering the release of a powerful greenhouse gas..."

Graphic credit above: "Sonar image of bubbles rising from the seafloor off the Washington coast. The base of the column is 1/3 of a mile (515 meters) deep and the top of the plume is at 1/10 of a mile (180 meters) deep." Brendan Philip / UW.

Past Global Warming Similar To Today's: Size, Duration Were Like Modern Climate Shift, But In Two Pulses. Here's an excerpt from a very interesting story at "The rate at which carbon emissions warmed Earth's climate almost 56 million years ago resembles modern, human-caused global warming much more than previously believed, but involved two pulses of carbon to the atmosphere, University of Utah researchers and their colleagues found. The findings mean the so-called Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum, or PETM, can provide clues to the future of modern climate change. The good news: Earth and most species survived. The bad news: it took millenia to recover from the episode, when temperatures rose by 5 to 8 degrees Celsius (9 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit)...."

The rate at which carbon emissions warmed Earth's climate almost 56 million years ago resembles modern, human-caused global warming much more than previously believed, but involved two pulses of carbon to the atmosphere, University of Utah researchers and their colleagues found.

Read more at:
The rate at which carbon emissions warmed Earth's climate almost 56 million years ago resembles modern, human-caused global warming much more than previously believed, but involved two pulses of carbon to the atmosphere, University of Utah researchers and their colleagues found.

Read more at:

A Single Word In The Peru Climate Negotiations Undermines The Entire Thing. Here's a clip from a story by Eric Holthaus at Slate: "...In the final version of the text, developing countries largely got their way—including language referencing a temperature rise of just 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, a target so ambitious that it would likely require a single-minded global focus—but one key word related to international oversight of the emissions reductions plans was changed from "shall" to "may" at the request of China. Had the re-write not occurred, a leaked strategy document showed a coalition of some influential developing countries, including India, were prepared to scrap the entire agreement..."

* The final U.N. statement from Lima, Peru is here.

We Could See More And More "Hot Droughts" Like California's. Here's an excerpt from an interesting read at FiveThirtyEight: "...But it’s not merely low precipitation levels that make the current drought extraordinary, Griffin said. It’s also exceptionally hot temperatures. California’s dry spell qualifies as a “hot drought,” where high temperatures evaporate whatever moisture is trying to make its way into the soil. The researchers calculated that record-high temperatures may have exacerbated drought conditions by about 36 percent. (The chart [above] is based on California temperature data from NOAA.)..."

"Climate Change" or "Global Warming?" Two New Polls Suggest Language Matters. Here's an excerpt from a blog post at Scientific American: "...Several academic studies have attempted to measure whether there is a difference in how we perceive or respond to “climate change” and “global warming” with mixed results. Poll responses can also be influenced by where a question appears in a survey and several other factors. Still, we do know Democrats and Republicans certainly use these terms differently...."

China's Glaciers Shrink By 18 Percent In Half Century. China's media outlet, Xinhua, has the story - here's the introduction: "China's glaciers have retreated by about 7,600 square km, an 18 percent retreat since the 1950s, Chinese scientists have found. A survey using remote sensing data between 2006 and 2010 showed China had 48,571 glaciers covering 51,840 square km in the west region, according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), which released its second catalog of the country's glaciers on Saturday. An average of 243.7 square km of glacial ice had disappeared every year over the past half century, according to the survey by the CAS Cold and Arid Regions Research Institute..."

How The "War on Coal" Went Global. Politico has the story - here's a snippet: "...Just a few years ago, domestic producers had high hopes for selling coal to energy-hungry Asia, but prices in those markets are plummeting now amid slowing demand and oversupply, ceding much of the market space to cheaper coal from nations like Indonesia and Australia. Meanwhile, a lot of U.S. coal can’t even get out of the country, thanks to greens’ success in blocking proposed export terminals in Washington state and Oregon. And China, the world’s most voracious coal customer, just pledged to cap its use of the fuel and is promising to curb its greenhouse gas pollution..."

Whaaat? 20 Percent of Americans Still Don't Believe in Global Warming. I'm not a fan of the word "believe", as if there's something subjective to talk about here. It's more acknowledging the mountains of scientific evidence, and avoiding conspiracy theories. Here's a clip from Fusion which provides a little perspective: "...Some experts suggest that most global warming or climate change deniers cannot or will not accept scientific findings because of closely held ideological or religious beliefs. It’s also worth pointing out that 36 percent of Americans believe in UFOs, and that 15 percent of U.S. voters say the government or the media adds mind-controlling technology to TV broadcast signals..."

Climate Change Takes a Village. Huffington Post has the article; here's an excerpt: "...The remote village of 563 people is located 30 miles south of the Arctic Circle, flanked by the Chukchi Sea to the north and an inlet to the south, and it sits atop rapidly melting permafrost. In the last decades, the island's shores have been eroding into the sea, falling off in giant chunks whenever a big storm hits. The residents of Shishmaref, most of whom are Alaska Native Inupiaq people, have tried to counter these problems, moving houses away from the cliffs and constructing barriers along the northern shore to try to turn back the waves. But in July 2002, looking at the long-term reality facing the island, they voted to pack up and move the town elsewhere..." (File image of Shishmaref: NOAA).

Fog, Smog and Melting Snow: 40s Likely This Weekend

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: December 11, 2014 - 11:42 PM

The Dark Side

"The sun that brief December day, rose cheerless over hills of gray..." Those are John Greenleaf Whittier's opening lines to "Snowbound" and they pretty well nail the meteorological malaise that descends on Minnesota during December.

Most of us can handle brittle wind chills, even the endless snow cones of grit. It's the darkness that throws many into a dark funk. December is the cloudiest month of the year, on average.

My friend and consulting meteorologist Dean DeHarpporte just cheered me up with this nugget: December 10 is the day the sun sets earliest (4:32 PM) of any day of the year. "The 23.4 degree tilt of the earth's axis and the varying speed of the earth in its orbit around the sun combine to make the earliest sunset before the 21st in December" he wrote. December 21 is the shortest day, but we've already had our earliest sunset. It's all uphill from here!

Yep, it's a big hill.

Unseasonably mild air chilled from below sparks lazy clouds (fog) into the weekend. 40s are expected; 30F warmer than mid-December 2013. It should feel like a bad Club Med vacation.

Rain ends as wet snow Monday but I still don't see any major snowfalls between now and Santa's grand entrance.

Mild Spell. I'm not convinced we'll see 50s in the Twin Cities with the sharp inversion hovering overhead, temperatures 20-30 degrees warmer some 3,000 to 4,000 feet above the ground, putting a lid on clouds, fog and pollutants. But we'll see 40s, which will feel like a minor miracle, and the arrival of colder air sets off a period of wet snow. A slushy accumulation is possible by Monday night - too early for details. We cool off next week, but nothing frigid is brewing, and I still don't see big storms between now and Christmas.

Prevailing Jet Stream Winds: December 17-21. NOAA guidance continues to show a modified zonal flow, winds aloft still blowing from the Pacific, which will limit just how cold it can get between now and roughly Christmas. Most of the big California storms will track well south of Minnesota, dumping heavy rain on Dallas and Atlanta.

Cooling Trend After Christmas. Long-range GFS guidance from GrADS COLA/IGES shows a more amplified pattern returning the last week of December, capable of cooling us down into the teens and 20s for highs. As long as it stays above zero any complaints will probably be muted. Nothing frigid or subzero is on the horizon, not yet.

Air Quality Advisory In Effect. This nagging inversion (warm air aloft, colder air near the ground, with little mixing of the atmosphere) is trapping particulant pollution within a few hundred feet of ground-level, increasing the risk to specific groups: athletes exercising outside, the elderly and people with heart and respiratory issues are most likely to be impacted. Here's more information from AirNow: "An Air Quality Advisory is in effect for Minneapolis-St. Paul for Friday and Saturday. Today, moisture associated with fog and mist is enhancing particle formation in eastern Minnesota. Furthermore, light southerly winds will transport additional pollutants into the Twin Cities, resulting in mid-Moderate AQI levels. Tomorrow and Saturday, high relative humidity associated with fog and mist will continue to support particle formation, and an upper-level ridge of high pressure building over Minnesota will reduce vertical mixing, trapping pollutants near the ground. In addition, light to moderate southerly winds ahead of an approaching cold front will bring additional pollutants into Minneapolis-St. Paul. Therefore, AQI levels will be upper Moderate on both days, with hourly AQI levels reaching Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups at times. Sunday, as the cold front moves through Minnesota late in the day, enhanced atmospheric mixing and moderate west-northwesterly winds behind the front will help to disperse pollutants in the Twin Cities..."

* Fine particles may exacerbate pre-existing health conditions and may cause individuals to experience chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing of fatigue. If you experience these symptoms, contact your physician. Source: EPA's AirNow.

An Aversion to Inversions. Temperatures in the atmosphere usually cool with height; the higher up you go the colder it gets, until you get to the stratosphere, but that's a different story. This weekend temperatures a few thousand feet above the ground will be in the 50s, but most of that warmth won't be able to mix down to the surface, due to lingering snow cover and cold ground chilling the air from below. That said, 40s should feel pretty good. More details from the Twin Cities National Weather Service.

Crazy Temperature Anomalies. Meteorologist Stu Ostro at The Weather Channel posted this tweet, showing 850 mb temperature anomalies this evening - keep in mind these anomalies are in Celsius.

Another Hyper-Rare 5 Sigma Weather Event? Some of the online chatter from climate scientists I know and trust point to the strength of the high pressure ridge centered over central Canada; nearly 5 standard deviations from the mean, which is quite extraordinary. The same storm that steam-rolled into California with flooding and high winds helped to carve out this massive warm weather bubble, and a weather map that, temporarily at least, looks more like late March than mid-December.

Equation of Time. Light reading this is not. Here's a snippet of a long, math-filled explanation of why December 10 had the earliest sunset, not the 21st (among other oddities related to the Earth's elliptical orbit and changes in forward speed around the sun, courtesy of Wikipedia: "...The Earth revolves around the Sun. As seen from Earth, the Sun appears to revolve once around the Earth through the background stars in one year. If the Earth orbited the Sun with a constant speed, in a circular orbit in a plane perpendicular to the Earth's axis, then the Sun would culminate every day at exactly the same time, and be a perfect time keeper (except for the very small effect of the slowing rotation of the Earth). But the orbit of the Earth is an ellipse not centered on the Sun, and its speed varies between 30.287 and 29.291 km/s, according to Kepler's laws of planetary motion, and its angular speed also varies, and thus the Sun appears to move faster (relative to the background stars) at perihelion (currently around 3 January) and slower at aphelion a half year later..."

2014: One Of The Least Active Tornado Years On Record For The USA. Here's an excerpt of a story at The Washington Post: "...At least 400 fewer tornadoes than average have touched down in the U.S. this year, making it one of the quietest years on record for twisters, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). Whereas an average of 1,260 tornadoes form each year in records dating to the early 1950s, only 823 have occurred in 2014 through November, says Greg Carbin, warning coordination meteorologist at the NWS Storm Prediction Center, in Norman, Okla..."

Warm Ocean Waters Boosting Typhoons, Record Heat. The Atlantic was relatively quiet (again), but the Pacific was anything but, as highlighted in this excerpt from Climate Central: "... 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. The five storms this season have still been noteworthy, and one reason there have been so many are the warm waters that have been in place across the Pacific. The waters that allowed Hagupit to rapidly strengthen last week were about 2°F warmer now than this time last year, Bowen said..."

Map credit above: "Graphic showing the total amount of heat energy available for Super Typhoon Haiyan to absorb, not just on the surface, but integrated through the water column. Deeper, warmer pools of water are colored purple, though any region colored from pink to purple has sufficient energy to fuel storm intensification. The dotted line represents the best-track and forecast data as of 16:00 UTC on Nov. 7." Courtesy of NOAA.

Photographer's Awe-Inspiring Video Shows Severe Weather In A New Light. I've seen a lot of spectacular storm video, but this is still some of the best HD time-lapse footage I've ever seen. Check out details and a link to the clip at Yahoo News: "A photographer and storm chaser who produced a mesmerizing time-lapse video of thunderstorms and supercells swirling in the northern Great Plains last year is back with another awe-inspiring film. Nicolaus Wegner, a 34-year-old from Casper, Wyoming, spent May through September shooting all sorts of severe weather in Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Colorado. The resulting 7-minute film, "Stormscapes 2," captures tornadoes, double rainbows, mesocyclones, lightning, and rare cloud formations in stunning HD clarity — all perfectly set to sweeping, dramatic electronic music..."

Study Shows That 270,000 Tons of Plastic Float In The Oceans. Here's the intro to a troubling story from AP and Huffington Post: "A new study estimates nearly 270,000 tons of plastic is floating in the world's oceans. That's enough to fill more than 38,500 garbage trucks. The plastic is broken up into more than 5 trillion pieces, said the study published Wednesday in the scientific journal PLOS ONE..."

File photo credit above: "This file 2008 photo provided by NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center shows debris in Hanauma Bay, Hawaii. A new study estimates nearly 270,000 tons of plastic is floating in the world's oceans. That's enough to fill more than 38,500 garbage trucks if each truck carries 7 tons of plastic. The figure appears in a study published, Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014, in the scientific journal PLOS ONE. Researchers say the plastic is broken up into more than 5 trillion pieces." (AP Photo/NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, File).

New Poll Shows Widespread, Bipartisan Support for Stronger Methane Standards, More Clean Air Protections. Here's an excerpt of some intriguing poll results from The American Lung Association: "...Key poll findings include:

  • The majority of voters, 63 percent, support standards for methane emissions. After hearing a balanced debate on both sides, support increases overall to 66 percent. In particular, Republicans moved from 45 percent supporting to 53 percent supporting.
  • EPA remains much more popular than Congress.
    • The EPA continues to earn positive favorability ratings, at 42 percent favorable compared to 31 percent unfavorable.
    • Voters' feeling toward Congress remains strongly negative with 60 percent giving it an unfavorable rating, a trend that crosses party lines..."

The Era Of Our Discontent. Do you (do we) suffer from "Weltschmerz"? Check out an article at Pacific Standard; here's a snippet: "...But American Weltschmerz has extended far beyond millennials. It has become the dominant zeitgeist. The country is currently experiencing social, economic, and technological “disruption” similar to what sparked the 19th-century Romantic backlash—and its later incarnations. The Romantic era emerged out of disillusionment of the initial wave of the Industrial Revolution..."

U.S. Navy Successfully Deploys Laser Weapon. Cue Buck Rogers - this reads like something out of a Star Wars episode. Here's an excerpt from Gizmag: "The laser goes from the weapon of tomorrow to the weapon of today as the US Navy announces the completion of its successful deployment of the Office of Naval Research's (ONR) Laser Weapon System (LaWS). The deployment is the first on a US Naval vessel and took place on the USS Ponce (LPD-15) in the Arabian Gulf from September to November of this year..."

Craft Beers on Select Delta Flights? Another sign of the pending Apocalypse. HuffPo has details.

30 F. high in the Twin Cities Thursday.

28 F. average high on December 11.

5 F. high on December 11, 2013.

2004: A strong cold front pushed through Minnesota during the early morning hours. By dawn, winds turned to the northwest and increased to 25 to 40 MPH with gusts as high as 70 MPH. The windiest part of the day was from mid morning through mid afternoon when many locations suffered sustained winds in the 30 to 45 MPH range. The highest wind gusts recorded in southern Minnesota during this time included 71 MPH in Welch and 62 MPH near Albert Lea, St. James, Winthrop and Owatonna. Other notable wind gusts included 59 MPH at New Ulm, 58 MPH in Mankato, 55 MPH in St. Cloud and Morris, 54 MPH at Redwood Falls, and 52 MPH at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport. Scattered trees were downed and a few buildings received minor roof damage across the region.

1939: December gale at north shore; winds clocked at 48 mph at Duluth. Source: MPX National Weather Service.

TODAY: Cloudy, foggy and milder. Winds: South 10. High: 39

FRIDAY NIGHT: More fog, quite dense in some areas. Low: 38

SATURDAY: Still gray. Thick fog, March-like temperatures. High: 46

SUNDAY: Fog and drizzle, still mild. Wake-up: 37. High: 48

MONDAY: Cold rain ends as wet snow. Late PM slush? Wake-up: 32. High: 36

TUESDAY: Flurries taper. Mostly cloudy skies. Wake-up: 25. High: 29

WEDNESDAY: More sun, chilly and dry. Wake-up: 19. High: 26

THURSDAY: Patchy clouds, light winds. Wake-up: 16. High: 28

Climate Stories....

Global Warming Continues, Despite Continuous Denial. St. Thomas climate scientist Dr. John Abraham has the story at The Guardian; here's a clip: "...First, there has been no pause or even slowdown in the warming of the planet. We provide updated information from NOAA which clearly shows a continued heating of the world’s oceans – the reservoir where most heat ends up. We compare energy contained in different layers and discuss the transfer of energy from the surface regions to the lower regions. When you look at the oceans, the so-called pause is simply a redistribution, a burying of heat to deeper waters..."

Graphic credit above: "Ocean heating data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration."

The Great Climate Change Denial Industry. Why? Because trillions of dollars are on the line. This is an existential threat for the fossil fuel industry. When in doubt - follow the money. Here's an excerpt from a story at The Hartford Courant: "...With respect to "it's real," geologists have shown that climate change, rather than stability, is the long-term default condition. Knowing that "it's us" requires understanding how the earth carbon budget works as a coherent system. Knowing that "it's bad" requires looking back in time to former conditions reconstructed from the rock record. Knowing that "there's hope" requires nothing more than learning that Earth is not the fragile planet we've been led to imagine. Rather, it's tough and resistant to anything climate change can throw at it. It's humanity that is vulnerable..."

Climate Change Isn't Just Impacting Crops; It's Taking a Physical and Psychological Toll on Farmers. Is a more volatile climate, with more extreme swings in day to day weather really increasing anxiety levels in the ag community or has it always been like this? Here's an excerpt of a story at Medical Daily that's worth a read: "...Like Finnerty, all types of farmers are affected by climate change. For example, produce farmers are constantly rearranging their planting schedules, while livestock and dairy farmers worry about the quality of feed available to their animals. Matthew Russell, a fifth generation Iowa farmer says the past 10 years has made farm life a more anxious environment, as he is constantly concerned over the little time he has to address the changing conditions and its impact on the timing and quality of growing and harvesting seasons. “Psychologically, in the last fews years, there’s a lot of anxiety that I don’t remember having 10 years ago,” Russell told Medical Daily..."

Photo credit: Tim McCabe, USDA.

Why Free Marketeers Don't Buy Climate Science. The cure is worse than the disease! Really? Why not let markets come up with solutions, but for that to work there needs to be a legitimate signal in the marketplace, a price for carbon pollution, and then the markets will come up with the innovations and solutions required to mitigate this problem. Cass Sunstein has an interesting Op-Ed at Bloomberg View; here are two brief clips: "...It is often said that people who don't want to solve the problem of climate change reject the underlying science, and hence don't think there's any problem to solve. But consider a different possibility: Because they reject the proposed solution, they dismiss the science. If this is right, our whole picture of the politics of climate change is off...Troy Campbell and Aaron Kay of Duke University's business school call this phenomenon “solution aversion.” And they have found compelling evidence for it in the context of climate change..."

James Inhofe Is Not a "Climate Skeptic". Here's a clip from a story at National Journal: "How should reporters write about lawmakers and others who dispute the scientific consensus that climate change is largely driven by humans? A group of 48 scientists, science writers, and other experts—including popular educator Bill Nye—have some strong views on the subject. The group issued a statement last week taking the media to task for using the phrase "climate skeptic," saying that the word "denier" is more accurate. In the statement, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry disapprovingly cites a November New York Times piece that described GOP Sen. James Inhofe, who calls global warming a "hoax," as a "prominent skeptic of climate change..."

Top Scientists To Media: Stop Using "Skeptic" To Describe Climate Science Deniers. Following up on the story above here's a clip of Joe Romm's take at ThinkProgress: "...Proper skepticism promotes scientific inquiry, critical investigation, and the use of reason in examining controversial and extraordinary claims,” the letter reads. “It is foundational to the scientific method. Denial, on the other hand, is the a priori rejection of ideas without objective consideration...” (Image above: Shutterstock).

Slushy Mix Sunday - 50 Degrees One Week From Today?

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: December 5, 2014 - 10:38 PM

Zigs and Zags

Nature (nor science for that matter) ever moves in a perfectly straight line. Minnesota's weather is the meteorological equivalent of a runaway roller coaster at Valley Fair. The sky overhead is rarely "average". We go from one extreme to the next. November was worth forgetting: coldest since 1995 statewide; 3rd longest stretch of consecutive sub-freezing days since 1871 (total of 11).

But the atmosphere often tries to regain equilibrium, even things out a little. Unusually cold outbreaks are often (but not always) followed by big warm swings in the opposite direction. Such is the case late next week.

An extended thaw seems likely as a bubble of Pacific warmth pushes east of the Rockies. A warm ridge of high pressure should result in 40s late next week; I still think we may top 50F one week from today. You'll be amazed how good that will feel.

Long-range models show a mild bias into Christmas week, possibly longer. At some point the Pacific party will be crashed by the Arctic Express, but I don't see any truly bitter air into late December.

El Nino isn't official, not yet, but I'm seeing early symptoms: drought-easing rains for California; a warming trend close to home. Consider it a fleeting mid-winter siesta.

Hints of March One Week Away? The models are fairly consistent bringing a welcome surge of milder, Pacific air across the Plains into Minnesota late next week. That should mean 40s by Friday, maybe 50F next weekend. The extent of warmth depends on how quickly we melt snow, and whether mild air passing over cold ground will spark thick fog, which would keep temperatures a few degrees cooler. Either way it looks like a fleeting taste of March. An inch or so of slush may fall late Sunday; the atmosphere mild enough for rain showers next weekend. Graph: Weatherspark.

NAEFS Extended Temperature Trends. Both NOAA CPC (upper left) and Environment Canada (upper right) predict temperatures well above average between December 13 and December 20. The atmosphere will be warm enough for rain from the 10th to the 18th. Coupled with highs in the 30s and 40s (with a high topping 50F one week from today) there may be precious little left of the 2" of snow on the ground at MSP International. If we do see a white Christmas it'll be by the skin of our teeth, a couple days before the 25th.

Waiting To Exhale. No mega-snows are brewing over the next few days, a couple inches for interior New England, maybe 4-8" for the Cascade Range of the Pacific Northwest, and an inch of slush for parts of central and northern Minnesota Sunday. Next week looks more interesting for both coasts, with mild Pacific air pushing into the central USA by late week. 60-hour NAM acccumulated snow product: NOAA and

Alerts Broadcaster Briefing. Issued Friday afternoon, December 5, 2014.

* Super Typhoon Hagupit approaching Philippines, weakening slightly, but still expected to strike as a severe typhoon/hurricane Saturday. Minor to moderate flood/wind damage possible in Manila by Sunday as Hagupit tracks due west. Bicol Peninsula expected to bear the brunt of Hagupit's fury and storm surge.

* Flooding rains expected northern California into Pacific Northwest as a series of storms push inland. Mudslides and power outages can't be ruled out with this next series of storms.

* Potential nor'easter brewing for Mid Atlantic and New England next Tuesday and Wednesday, December 9-10.

Dangerous Super Typhoon. At one point on Wednesday Typhoon Hagupit was packing 180 mph sustained winds, making it one of the 3 strongest typhoons of 2014. The storm has weakened, but only slightly, producing sustained winds of 130-145 mph. Further weakening is likely over the next 24 hours as the core of the storm passes over slightly cooler water. The worst of the damage with Hagupit should avoid Tacloban City, hit so hard by Super Typhoon Haiyan in early November, 2013. Image: NOAA RAMMB.

Hagupit's Track Crystallizing. Computer models show a fair amount of consensus tracking the slowly weakening typhoon (same thing as hurricane) to the west-northwest. The storm may still be at marginal hurricane strength as it passes close to downtown Manila Saturday night and early Sunday, local Philippine time. Moderate wind and flash flood damage is possible across metro Manila with sustained winds in the 60-85 mph range. Sporadic power outages are possible over the weekend, especially south and southeast of Manila. Map: Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

Close Call for Manila. Called "Ruby" in the Philippines but "Hagupit" elsewhere, this typhoon tracks from the island of Samar in the Visayas into Cebu and the Bicol Peninsula, southeast of metro Manila. Although Manila Harbor may avoid a severe storm surge some flood and wind-related damage is possible, especially late Saturday into midday Sunday, local Manila time. Tacloban, virtually leveled by Haiyan, should be spared a direct strike. Map credit: PAGASA.

Predicted Damage Swath. Severe to catastrophic wind and flash flood damage is possible over the Bicol Peninsula, especially Naga and Legaspi. Manila will be on the northern edge of a moderate to widespread damage; a greater potential of power outages and minor to moderate wind damage over the southern suburbs, near San Pablo and Santa Cruz.

Storm Surge. Our internal models are predicting a storm surge of 12-15 above mean sea level for portions of the Bicol Peninsula, from Sorogoson to Naga and Daet, where extreme flooding can't be ruled out within 12 hours of landfall Saturday, local time.

60-Hour Rainfall Potential. Alerts Broadcaster models print out some excessive rains from near Memphis and Cairo to Louisville, Cincinnati and Columbus, where 1-3" of rain (a few isolated 4" amounts possible) falling on frozen ground may result in flash flooding. The next wave of heavy rain and mountain snows pushing into the West Coast, a recurring theme predicted for the coming weeks. Image:

Significant Flood Risk West Coast - Nor'easter Next Week. The map above shows predicted rainfall for the next week, as much as 5-9" for northern California and 10-12" closer to Seattle, Tacoma and Vancouver. The window where flooding potential is greatest comes next week, from Monday into Thursday, as a slow-moving front pushes down the coast. Map: NOAA.

Another New England Slop-Storm. ECMWF (European) model guidance shows another significant storm spinning up from the Mid Atlantic Region into New England from late Tuesday into Wednesday. I expect mostly rain from New York to Providence and Boston - once again minor flooding is possible. Rain ends as snow, and plowable amounts are possible for much of interior New England with this coastal storm. Image above: WSI Corporation.

Summary: We're watching Typhoon Hagupit pushing toward the Philippines, on a track north of "Haiyan" in late 2013. I don't expect the same level of damage as we saw with Haiyan, but Hagupit (also called "Ruby" in The Philippines) is a very dangerous storm - there will be widespread damage and loss of life south/east of Manila, across the Bicol Peninsula. Moderate damage, street flooding and sporadic power outages may impact metro Manila over the weekend, especially Sunday morning, local time.

Meanwhile more flooding rains are likely early next week from Seattle into the Bay Area; while a potentially disruptive nor'easter changes a cold, windswept rain to snow from the suburbs of New York City to Boston next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Paul Douglas - Senior Meteorologist - Alerts Broadcaster

A Forgettable November. Yes, it was cold. Dr. Mark Seeley includes a few nuggets about November in this week's installment of WeatherTalk: "On a statewide basis November of 2014 was the coldest since 1995 with over two-thirds of the days showing temperature values that were colder than normal. Since 1895 it ranked as 9th coldest November statewide. For the Twin Cities the 11 consecutive days with below freezing temperatures (Nov 10-20), tied as the third longest November stretch below freezing in history back to 1871..."

November Recap - Much of Minnesota Abnormally Dry Again. Here's an excerpt of a good November summary for the state from the Minnesota DNR, and a look at moisture conditions - once again Minnesota is trending drier than average:

  • Average monthly temperatures for November in Minnesota were well below historical averages, ranging from six to ten degrees below normal. Numerous records for all-time minimum high daily temperatures were set during the month. Extremes for November ranged from a high of 60 degrees F at a number of locales on the 2nd, to a low of -25 degrees F at Camp Norris (Lake of the Woods County) on the 27th.
    [see: November 2014 Climate Summary Table]
  • Snow depths across Minnesota vary from zero to eight inches. Little or no snow cover is on the ground in southwest Minnesota. Whereas, some areas of south central, west central, and northeast Minnesota report six to eight inches of snow depth in early December.
    [see: NWS Snow Depth Estimation Map]
  • The U. S. Drought Monitor, released on December 4, indicated that Abnormally Dry conditions exist over large sections of Minnesota, the result of a dry late summer and autumn. A small area of west central Minnesota is placed in the Moderate Drought category. The Drought Monitor index is a blend of science and subjectivity where drought categories (Moderate, Severe, etc.) are based on several indicators.

December's ENSO Update: Close, But No Cigar. We are close to an official El Nino, but according to NOAA's, not quite there just yet. Here's an excerpt: "...Recently, the observed increase in SST anomalies has generally matched up well with forecasts from most climate models. The August, September, and October forecasts from the NMME predicted a November Niño3.4 SST anomaly between +0.7°C and +0.9°C. Due to the recent warming and our expectation that ocean temperatures will continue to be above-average, forecasters this month have again increased the odds of El Niño this winter to an approximately 2-in-3 chance."

Graphic credit: "Summary of decision process in determining El Niño conditions." Figure by Glen Becker and Fiona Martin.

Fishing In Pink Waters. Here is one of the better explanations I've seen on El Nino and ENSO in general, and how this periodic warming of Pacific ocean water can impact global weather, courtesy of Road to Paris: "...Here’s the basic idea of El Niño. Every few years, a relatively warm patch of water—the pink on Pierce’s map—forms beneath the Pacific. The difference is just a few degrees, but in a global context, the extra heat can transform the seasonal climate. Some years, the warm region spreads outward and eventually upward, where it meets with easterly trade winds. This creates a feedback loop. Warm water undermines easterly winds that normally enable an upwelling of cool water, which amplifies warming and in turn further slows the winds. It’s this moment of atmospheric-oceanic coupling that helps scientists define the start of El Niño. Wind and water exist in delicate balance with the rest of the climate—so El Niño sets off a cascade of effects..." (Graphic credit: NOAA CPC, NCEP).

The Golden Quarter. Aeon has a terrific article focusing on the golden age of innovation and technological breakthroughs (1945-1971). We have fancy phones, but where are the flying cars? Here's an excerpt that caught my eye: "...In the energy sector, civilian nuclear technology was hobbled by a series of mega-profile ‘disasters’, including Three Mile Island (which killed no one) and Chernobyl (which killed only dozens). These incidents caused a global hiatus into research that could, by now, have given us safe, cheap and low-carbon energy. The climate change crisis, which might kill millions, is one of the prices we are paying for 40 years of risk-aversion. Apollo almost certainly couldn’t happen today. That’s not because people aren’t interested in going to the Moon any more, but because the risk – calculated at a couple-of-per-cent chance of astronauts dying – would be unacceptable..." (Photo credit: NASA).

32 F. high in the Twin Cities Friday.

30 F. average high on December 5.

14 F. high on December 5, 2013.

1" snow on the ground at MSP International Airport.

December 5, 1950: A snowstorm hits Duluth with 23.2 inches of snow in 24 hours, and a storm total of 35.2 inches.

December 5, 1939: December heat wave. High temperature hits 62 at New London.

TODAY: Partly sunny and brisk. Winds: NE 5-10. High: 28

SATURDAY NIGHT: Clouds increase, not as cold. Low: 20

SUNDAY: Wet PM snow. Inch or two of slush possible late. High: 33

MONDAY: Slick spots early. Slow clearing. Wake-up: 26. High: 32

TUESDAY: Blue sky, cooler with less wind. Wake-up: 14. High: 26

WEDNESDAY: Some sun, milder breeze. Wake-up: 21. High: 34

THURSDAY: Mostly cloudy. Go ahead and exhale. Wake-up: 30. High: 42

FRIDAY: Gray & mild, vague hints of March. Wake-up: 32. High: 45

Photo credit: Tom Purdy.

Climate Stories...

West Antarctic Melt Rate Has Tripled. Here's a clip from a press release by AGU, The American Geophysical Union: "A comprehensive, 21-year analysis of the fastest-melting region of Antarctica has found that the melt rate of glaciers there has tripled during the last decade. The glaciers in the Amundsen Sea Embayment in West Antarctica are hemorrhaging ice faster than any other part of Antarctica and are the most significant Antarctic contributors to sea level rise. This study by scientists at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), and NASA is the first to evaluate and reconcile observations from four different measurement techniques to produce an authoritative estimate of the amount and the rate of loss over the last two decades. “The mass loss of these glaciers is increasing at an amazing rate,” said scientist Isabella Velicogna, jointly of UCI and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California..."

Photo credit above: "Glaciers seen during NASA’s Operation IceBridge research flight to West Antarctica on Oct. 29, 2014. A new analysis of the fastest-melting region of Antarctica has found that the melt rate of glaciers there has tripled during the last decade." Credit: NASA/Michael Studinger.

Research Casts Alarming Light on Decline of West Antarctic Glaciers. The Washington Post has the video and article; here's the introduction: "For two decades, scientists have kept a close watch on a vast, icebound corner of West Antarctica that is undergoing a historic thaw. Climate experts have predicted that, centuries from now, the region’s mile-thick ice sheet could collapse and raise sea levels as much as 11 feet. Now, new evidence is causing concern that the collapse could happen faster than anyone thought. New scientific studies this week have shed light on the speed and the mechanics of West Antarctic melting, documenting an acceleration that, if it continues, could have major effects on coastal cities worldwide..."

Antarctic Ice Sheets Threatened By Warm Water Rising From Below. Here's a slightly different perspective on the new research findings, an excerpt courtesy of Bloomberg: "A layer of warmer water under Antarctica’s ice sheet has been increasing for at least three decades, possibly due to changed wind patterns linked to climate change, and may make it melt faster. That would prompt the oceans to rise faster than expected, according to an article today in the journal Science. “We likely are underestimating the sea-level rise that comes from Antarctica,” said Sunke Schmidtko, one of the paper’s authors and a researcher at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel..."

Planet Reboot: Fighting Climate Change With Geoengineering. Having engineers fix our overheated planet by spraying chemicals into the stratosphere? What can possibly go wrong. Here's a clip from Newsweek's cover story: "...In the meantime, the world’s climate scientists have begun to turn their attention to generating workable geoengineering projects that can either bypass governmental red tape or reverse the change so quickly and with such great efficacy that it might not matter if the world never manages to get its act together. Today there are a slew of ideas for geoengineering the planet. They range from the very simple to the very sci-fi. But they’re all based in science, and they could one day be the last chance to save the human race..."

Deniers Are Not Skeptics. Here's a clip from a post by CSI, The Committee For Skeptical Inquiry: "...Real skepticism is summed up by a quote popularized by Carl Sagan, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Inhofe’s belief that global warming is “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people” is an extraordinary claim indeed. He has never been able to provide evidence for this vast alleged conspiracy. That alone should disqualify him from using the title “skeptic.” As scientific skeptics, we are well aware of political efforts to undermine climate science by those who deny reality but do not engage in scientific research or consider evidence that their deeply held opinions are wrong..."

Church of England Challenges BP and Shell Over Global Warming. The Guardian has the article; here's the introduction: "The Church of England has challenged BP and Shell, two of the world’s biggest oil companies, to take responsibility for their carbon footprints and limit their contribution to global warming. The church will submit a shareholder resolution calling on the energy companies, which are two of the top five investments in its £9bn investment fund, to take action to “adapt their businesses over the long term for a low carbon economy”...

Minneapolis Gets White House Attention for Climate Change Work. The Star Tribune has the story - here's the introduction: "Minneapolis' efforts to combat climate change have helped put it on a White House list of national leaders on the issue. The White House said Wednesday that Minneapolis is one of 16 "Climate Action Champions" selected in a competitive process. Each of the communities will receive help from a coordinator, who will help provide information and guidance on funding, among other support. The designation does not come with direct funding..." (Photo credit: Steve Burns Photography).

"No Warming Since 1998 - Wrong." You've probably heard this meme, temperatures have flattened out or even cooled since 1998, the last extreme El Nino event. The reality is that the data just doesn't support this statement. Here's an excerpt from RealClimate: "...You see a warming trend (blue line) of 0.116 C per decade, so the claim that there has been no warming is wrong. But is the warming significant? The confidence intervals on the trend (+/- 0.137) suggest not - they seem to suggest that the temperature trend might have been as much as +0.25 C, or zero, or even slightly negative. So are we not sure whether there even was a warming trend? That conclusion would be wrong - it would simply be a misunderstanding of the meaning of the confidence intervals. They are not confidence intervals on whether a warming has taken place - it certainly has. These confidence intervals have nothing to do with measurement uncertainties, which are far smaller..."

You see a warming trend (blue line) of 0.116 °C per decade, so the claim that there has been no warming is wrong. But is the warming significant? The confidence intervals on the trend (± 0.137) suggest not – they seem to suggest that the temperature trend might have been as much as +0.25 °C, or zero, or even slightly negative. So are we not sure whether there even was a warming trend?

That conclusion would be wrong – it would simply be a misunderstanding of the meaning of the confidence intervals. They are not confidence intervals on whether a warming has taken place – it certainly has. These confidence intervals have nothing to do with measurement uncertainties, which are far smaller.

- See more at:

CO2 Takes Just 10 Years To Reach Planet's Peak Heat. Stated another way, industry and political leaders can take steps (today) that can effectively lower carbon dioxide levels in their lifetime. Here's a clip from Climate Central: "In a study that could have important ramifications on estimating the impacts, costs and benefits of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, new research shows that CO2 brings peak heat within a decade of being emitted, with the effects then lingering 100 years or more into the future. The research, published Wednesday in Environmental Research Letters, provides policymakers and economists with a new perspective on how fast human carbon emissions heat the planet..."

Animation credit: "Spring atmospheric CO2 concentrations, when they're usually at their peak." Credit: NASA

Climate Skeptics Feeling The Heat. Paul Hudson is a weather and climate presenter at The BBC; here's an excerpt of a recent post: "...And according to new research from the Met Office, the current elevated level of global temperatures is highly unlikely in a world without man-made carbon dioxide. Moreover, the research shows that human influence has made breaking the current UK temperature record around 10 times more likely. In the years since I joined the BBC from the Met Office in 2007 I have spoken to several prominent climate sceptics who always insisted to me, quite vocally, that global temperatures would soon begin to fall. The latest temperature data will make uncomfortable reading for them."

Cartoon credit: Tom Toles, Washington Post.

Couple Inches of Snow Today - Thanksgiving Wind Chill - Saturday Thaw

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: November 25, 2014 - 10:17 PM

Could Be Worse

"Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some" wrote Charles Dickens.

Add weather to a list of things to be grateful for in 2014.

Today's clipper may drop a quick inch or two, just enough to grease up a few roads for commuting and Thanksgiving travel. It'll be a puny pile compared to the Nor'easter slushing up New England with as much as a foot of snow later today and tonight. Great timing!

Hang onto your lunch because big temperature swings are brewing over the next 1-2 weeks, as a scuffle between Arctic air and Pacific air plays out directly overhead. 30-45 degree gyrations in temperature will result in strong winds and very rapid changes. Exhibit A: we go from teens Thanksgiving Day to near 40F Saturday; back into the teens Monday, before a fleeting warm front direct from Vancouver thaws us to near 50F next Tuesday.

The pattern favors frequent invasions of Canadian air for the Great Lakes and New England, spinning up a parade of coastal storms out east. But I see an increasingly milder bias as Pacific warmth pushes farther inland during December.

Symptoms of a developing El Nino? I'm starting to think so.

Winter Weather Advisory. The Twin Cities National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for nuisance to plowable amounts of snow over southern Minnesota, as much as 3-5" south/west of MSP. Details:


Potentially Plowable. A fast-moving clipper pushes a shield of light snow across the state today, the best chance of accumulating snow south of I-94. A few inches may pile up, as much as 2-3" for parts of the Twin Cities metro. Roads will be slick out there, but hopefully MnDOT will keep freeways wet/slushy with temperatures in the 20s.

60-Hour Snowfall Potential. NOAA's 4 km NAM product shows the streak of heavy snow spreading up the Appalachians into the Delaware Valley, the Hudson Valley and much of New England later today, brushing Philadelphia, New York City and Boston with plowable amounts of snow in the suburbs. A clipper spreads ligher snow into Minnesota; significant amounts from Yellowstone into Montana and Idaho as Pacific moisture sweeps inland. Graphic: HAMweather.

Alerts Broadcaster Briefing. Issued Tuesday morning, November 25, 2014.

* Conditions deteriorate as the day goes on Wednesday as a classic Nor'easter pushes up the coast, dropping a band of very heavy wet snow.

* Washington D.C. and Baltimore may avoid the heaviest amounts, but a plowable snowfall is expected from the suburbs of Philadelphia to New York and Boston Wednesday night, tapering off Thursday morning.

* Travel will be impacted for a 24-36 hour period from midday tomorrow into Thanksgiving morning; some power outages are expected, especially from the Hudson Valley of New York into the Berkshires of Massachusetts, even the western suburbs of Boston.

A Troublesome Front. Tropical moisture is lurking just offshore, the latest surge of Canadian air spinning up a coastal storm tomorrow, pushing right up the front with heavy rain and some icing along the coast, heavy wet snow just inland.

Current Watches and Warnings. NOAA has issued a Winter Storm Watch for Philadelphia, New York and Boston. Winter Storm Warnings, meaning treacherous conditions are imminent, have been posted from Reading and Allentown, PA into northern New Jersey and much of interior New England, including Poughkeepsie, Albany and Worcester, Mass, where some 10-12"+ amounts are possible. This will be a heavy, wet snow, capable of power outages at the height of the storm Wednesday night. Note: Flood Warnings remain posted for the Buffalo area until late afternoon today; many rivers and streams are still out of their banks, although it appears a worst-case scenario will be avoided.

Snowfall Overview. Alerts Broadcaster internal models show a significant stripe of plowable snow from the hills of Virginia into southern and eastern PA, much of northern New Jersey and southeastern New York State, and interior New England. Map: HAMweather.

High-Resolution Detail. Metro Philadelphia may see a mix of snow, ice and some rain, keeping overall amounts in the 1-3" range, but much more significant snowfall totals are likely in the Lehigh Valley, from Allentown and Bethlehem into northern New Jersey Wednesday afternoon and night. Image: NOAA.

New York City Slush-Fest. A cold rain in New York will quickly change over to sleet and wet snow midday Wednesday; all snow Wednesday afternoon and night, with a potential for some 6-8" amounts, maybe 10" north and west of Westchester county, New York. Flights should get in before noon Wednesday but after noon tomorrow all bets are off. I could see sporadic power outages in the northern/western suburbs of New York Wednesday afternoon and night.

Boston On Edge. The heaviest snowfall amounts are likely west of Boston, closer to Worcester, where some 10-15" totals are possible by Thursday morning. But the western suburbs of Boston, west of I-95, may pick up 6-8" of snow, most of that coming Wednesday afternoon and night. Conditions rapidly improve Thanksgiving Day as the storm accelerates toward the Canadian Maritimes.

Overview: Mother Nature has a wicked sense of humor. Today is the second most-traveled day of the year, and (right on schedule) here comes the first significant Nor'easter of the season from New York to Boston. This storm will impact facilities from midday tomorrow into Thursday morning; the heavy, wet nature of the snowfall may bring down trees and powerlines - I could see sporadic power outages, especially from the Hudson Valley into the suburbs of Boston and Portland, Maine.

Paul Douglas - Senior Meteorologist - Alerts Broadcaster

Thanksgiving Day Climatology. Here's an excerpt of a post from the Minnesota Climatology Working Group: "... Looking at the past 141 years, it is a little more likely to have a minimum at or below zero on Thanksgiving Day, as it is to have a maximum of 50 or above. Below-zero lows have occurred nine times in the past 141 years. The coldest Thanksgiving Day minimum temperature was 18 degrees below zero on November 25, 1880. The coldest high temperature was one below zero on November 28, 1872. The last time it was below zero on the morning of Thanksgiving was in 1985, with eight below zero..."

Photo credit: 1955 Turkey Race courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.

Distribution of Thanksgiving Day Highs Since 1882. Media Logic meteorologist D.J. Kayser put together a graphic putting Turkey Day highs into perspective. It looks like this will be the 20th Thanksgiving since 1882 with a high in the teens. For more good historical information on Thanksgiving Day climatology in the Twin Cities click over to his blog here.

Thanksgiving Lows In The Twin Cities. There have been only 9 Thanksgivings with subzero wake-up temperatures since 1882; statistically we're much more likely to wake up to 20s at KMSP.

No, It Won't Be This Cold. We'll wake up to single digits Thursday morning, colder than average, but not the crazy-cold of 1880 (or 1985 for that matter).

Atlantic Hurricane Season Stays Quiet As Predicted. Here's a wrap-up of yet another fairly tame, benign Atlantic hurricane season, courtesy of NOAA. The Pacific was another matter altogether: "...A combination of atmospheric conditions acted to suppress the Atlantic hurricane season, including very strong vertical wind shear, combined with increased atmospheric stability, stronger sinking motion and drier air across the tropical Atlantic,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “Also, the West African monsoon was near- to below average, making it more difficult for African easterly waves to develop.” Meanwhile, the eastern North Pacific hurricane season met or exceeded expectations with 20 named storms – the busiest since 1992..."

Potential for El Nino Continues To Rise. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has gone from alert to watch, placing the odds at an El Nino warm phase in the Pacific at 70% Who cares? Well, if El Nino does kick in this winter there's a higher probability of more of a zonal, west to east flow, alternating with the Canadian smacks, meaning a somewhat lower risk of the jet stream getting stuck in a polar holding pattern similar to last winter. Source: NOAA CPC.

Record Drought Reveals Stunning Changes Along Colorado River. National Geographic has a story worth your time; here's an excerpt: "...According to modern tree-ring data (unavailable during the dam-building epoch), the previous millennium experienced droughts much more severe than those in the first 14 years of the 21st century. Many climate scientists think the Southwest is again due for a megadrought. The Bureau of Reclamation's analysis of over a hundred climate projections suggests the Colorado River Basin will be much drier by the end of this century than it was in the past one, with the median projection showing 45 percent less runoff into the river..."

Map credit above: Virginia W. Mason, NG Staff Source: Bureau of Reclamation, National Park Service.

Social Media Rescues Snow-Bound Stations. Local television stations in Buffalo were at a distinct disadvantage trying to cover last week's 5-8 foot lake effect snowfall; reporters and live trucks unable to get into the most impacted neighborhoods on the south side of the city. TVNewsCheck has an article focused on social media, how trapped, marooned residents provided much of the content stations relied on to tell the story; here's an excerpt: "...As the snow piled up, the stations went wall-to-wall with their coverage, but were short-staffed (like many viewers, reporters and producers were trapped in their homes) and unable to put ENG vehicles on snow-clogged streets. “The old style of newsgathering was not going to happen. We knew that from the start,” Woodard says, who gave up getting into work after six hours that day..."

Politicians, Please Stop Blaming Meteorologists For Inept Storm Responses. Because crap flows downhill and it's easier to kick the local National Weather Service or TV meteorologists for not forecasting an apocalyptic 7-8 feet of snow. The forecast called for 1-3 feet, as meteorologist Eric Holthaus points out in Slate: "...Cuomo said that “no one had an idea” that Buffalo was in for such a wallop and that the National Weather Service “was off” on its forecasts. Well, Mr. Governor, the National Weather Service wasn’t off. In fact, if you look back at official forecasts in the days and hours leading up to the first flakes, it was pretty much spot-on—nailing the 5-inch-an-hour superstorm of snow the city received in the initial stages of a double-whammy snowstorm that produced up to 88 inches. Instead, highways were left open and commuters traveled to work—only to be frozen in place for most of the rest of the day..."

Why Do We Force Weather Forecasters To Lie To Us? Lie is such a strong word; we phrase the forecast, especially for summer weekends, knowing how weather forecasts are consumed at home, and it's better to err on the side of caution (and slight pessimism). Here's an excerpt from "...Nate Silver examined this in his books, The Signal and the Noise, and found that weather channels to this because, "People don't mind when a forecaster predicts rain and it turns out to be a nice day. But if it rains when it isn't supposed to, they curse the weatherman for ruining their picnic." Yes, we're wrong to act out at forecasters, but is a little bias so bad? There's a reason people will assume that the worst-case scenario will always happen. Not only are they prepared if things go south, they get a little bump of happiness if things work out better than expected..."

Why There Should Be A Pen On Your Thanksgiving Table. It's easy to miss the forest through the trees - part of the human condition, I guess. Here's an excerpt from Huffington Post: "...Just this small stunt -- the physical action of jotting down a couple of things you're happy to have in your life -- has been shown to reinforce happy thoughts. Our brains have a tendency to focus on the negative, so this action helps to stop our thoughts from going down a dark path and bring them back on a happy trail...."

Our Bodies Need 8 Glasses of Water Every Day, Even In Winter. This was a good reminder of the need to stay well hydrated, yearround. Here's an excerpt from The Houston Chronicle: "...In summer, when it’s hot out, people perspire and become thirsty. In winter, people rarely perspire and rarely feel thirsty. As a result, less urgency is felt in winter to drink the eight glasses of fresh water a day recommended for health and hydration. Don’t be fooled, warns fresh water advocate Sharon Kleyne. Winter weather is often more dehydrating than summer weather and maintaining daily hydration is just as important..."

24 F. high in the Twin Cities Tuesday.

36 F. average high on November 25.

40 F. high on November 25, 2013.

November 25 in Minnesota Weather History. Source: MPX National Weather Service:

2001: A strong low pressure system developed in Colorado on the 25th, reached eastern Iowa during the evening of the 26th, then moved into eastern Wisconsin late on the 27th. It produced a wide swath of heavy snow across much of central Minnesota into West Central Wisconsin. Storm total snowfall of 8 inches or more was common, with a large area exceeding 20 inches. Specifically, Willmar picked up 30.4 inches, New London saw 28.5 inches, Collegeville had 23.4 inches, Litchfield and Granite Falls received 22 inches, 14 inches at Canby, 10.7 inches at Springfield, 11 inches at Long Prairie, 12.5 inches at New Hope, 15 inches at Milaca, 11 inches at Wild River State Park, and Milan had 20 inches. A convective snow band set up across this area on the 27th and remained nearly stationary for over 12 hours, resulting in the extreme storm totals. From 8 am on the 26th to 8 am on the 27th, Willmar received 21 of its 30.4 inches, setting a record for most snowfall in Willmar in a 24 hour period. Visibilities were frequently below 1/4 mile during the storm, and winds remained in the 15 to 30 mph category. The heavy wet snow downed numerous power lines, and at one point, at least 20,000 customers were without power in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. Over one thousand traffic accidents were noted across the entire area. Most were minor, but one accident claimed two lives when a car spun out and collided with a semi near Mora.

1995: A narrow band of five to eight inches of snow fell from west central Minnesota around Canby and Granite Falls to east central Minnesota. This included much of the Twin Cities metro area.

1965: Snowstorm across northern Minnesota. 14.7 inches of snow fell at Duluth, and 13.6 inches at Grand Rapids.

1896: Severe Thanksgiving day ice storm over southwest and central Minnesota. 1.42 inches of rain at Bird Island and 1.20 inches of rain at Montevideo. The ice caused a great deal of damage to trees and shrubs.

TODAY: Periods of light snow; 1-3" possible. Slower commutes. Winds: N 10. High: 28

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Flurries taper, turning colder again. Low: 6

THANKSGIVING: Thank your furnace. Sunny and extra-brisk. Feels like -5F. High: 17

BLACK FRIDAY: Coating of snow, then a bit milder. Wake-up: 12. High: 29

SATURDAY: Mostly cloudy, almost tolerable. Wake-up: 25. High: near 40

SUNDAY: Windy and colder. Feels like -10F. Wake-up: 18. High: 20 (falling)

MONDAY: Sunny, comfortably numb. Wake-up: 5. High: 19

TUESDAY: Windy and milder again. Hang on. Wake-up: 16. High: 48

Climate Stories...

Americans Would Rather Adapt To Extreme Weather Than Curb Climate Change. Yes, the pragmatist in me tells me that it may come to this - easier adapt than mitigate. But adapting to rising sea level, more frequent and severe drought, diminishing water supplies and frequent extreme floods will require a level of innovation that simply doesn't exist today. Here's a clip from The Christian Science Monitor: "Americans generally may be more ready to adapt to extreme weather and climate events, which are projected to become more frequent with global warming, than to curb greenhouse-gas emissions driving the long-term warming trend. That is the implication of a new study exploring the relative influence that extreme events, a person's spot on the political and ideological spectrum, as well as gender, age, education, and perceptions about the existence and causes of global warming have on their views on the subject..." (File photo: AP).

The Impacts of Temperature Anomalies and Political Orientation on Perceived Winter Warming. A link to the paper from Nature Climate Change is here.

Both Beautiful and Disturbing: New NASA Visualization Shows Carbon Dioxide Emissions Swirling Around The World. Discover Magazine has the story and animation; here's a snippet: "...Courtesy of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, the visualization — produced by an ultra-high-resolution computer model and spanning May 2005 to June 2007 — shows weather patterns sweeping plumes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In the Northern Hemisphere, major sources of human-caused emissions are concentrated in North America and Asia, especially China, as well as Europe..."

Obama's Climate Change Envoy: Fossil Fuels Will Have To Stay In The Ground. Good luck with that. And if you want to know why there's so much manufactured doubt and controversy follow the money. Trillions of dollars of carbon still in the ground, and the biggest, richest companies that have ever existed have every intention of harvesting that coal, gas and oil. Their share price (and long term viability) depends on it. Here's a clip from an article at The Guardian: "The world’s fossil fuels will “obviously” have to stay in the ground in order to solve global warming, Barack Obama’s climate change envoy said on Monday. In the clearest sign to date the administration sees no long-range future for fossil fuel, the state department climate change envoy, Todd Stern, said the world would have no choice but to forgo developing reserves of oil, coal and gas..." (Image above: Clean Technica).

What People Think About Climate Change Around The World, In One Map. The Washington Post has the map and story - here's an excerpt: "This map, from Sophie Yeo at Responding to Climate Change, rounds up surveys and polls from around the world since 2009 that look at views on climate change from abroad. For example, some 84 percent of people in Argentina think climate change is caused by humans, according to a poll from marketing research firm Ipsos MORI..."

Nebraska Farmers Union President Says Climate Change Must Be Taken Seriously. Here's a snippet from a story at The Nebraska Radio Network: "...Hansen says there’s no doubt those impacts are still being felt. “We’ve already seen very substantial changes in property and casualty losses, especially in the Midwest,” Hansen says. “As you study loss ratios and loss experiences and go through the actuarial tables, we’re already seeing an impact.” Hansen says agriculture is in a good position to help battle the negative effects of climate change by storing and utilizing carbon credits..."

Photo credit above: John Hansen, president, Neb. Farmers Union.

Climate Change Is An Obvious Myth. How Much More Evidence Do You Need. The aliens living on the dark side of the moon told me so. Here's an excerpt from a bit of satire, courtesy of The Guardian: "...Then there’s this “extreme weather” nonsense. I’ve not noticed any changes in the weather outside of the norm. Clueless clime change believers keep telling me it’s a global change so that doesn’t mean anything, but I LIVE ON THE GLOBE, so I’d notice any changes wouldn’t I? Duh! But there haven’t been any changes, obviously. There are no more storms now than there was when I was a kid. I barely get struck by lightning more than once a month, maybe every three weeks at most, and it’s never done me any harm and I’ll kill anyone who says otherwise!..."

This Is The Dystopian World We Are Leaving For Today's Teenagers. Here's a clip from a story at Think Progress: "...In Latin America and the Caribbean, these heat extremes and changing rain patterns could lead to a 70 percent fall in soybean crop yields and up to 50 percent for wheat by 2050 without further adaption efforts. In the Caribbean, tropical storms and sea level rise will impact everything from tourism to security. Across the Middle East and North Africa, scarce water resources will be further stressed, which could increase the outbreak of conflicts in the already fraught region. Similar challenges with water availability and food production are expected in Eastern Europe and Central Asia..."

How To Talk About Climate Change at Thanksgiving: Recipes For Good Conversations. Aaron Huertas has some good advice in The Equation, at The Union of Concerned Scientists; here's an excerpt: "...Instead of having an argument, ask them where they read or heard a given point. Tell them you heard something different somewhere else. Don’t be defensive or aggressive about it. This isn’t about proving you’re right. It’s about sharing perspectives. Keep asking questions. You’ll probably find that someone’s skepticism toward climate science stems from a negative attitude about climate policy and politics rather than substantive objections to the science. Similarly, a lot of people who accept the science are depressed about our prospects for dealing with climate change..."

Image credit above: "Some people love it; others dread it, but make no mistake: Thanksgiving is as American as apple pie and it’s one of the few chances we have to come together as families." (Norman Rockwell’s Freedom from Want, via Wikipedia.)

In Metro Houston, An Uphill Fight To Build a Texas-Size Defense Against The Next Big Storm. Here is the latest installment in an impressive series from Reuters on how America is more vulnerable than ever to sea level rise; here's a clip: "...As previous articles in this series showed, the threat of rising seas is not an alarmist prediction. It is already a reality, resulting in increased tidal flooding and worsening storm damage along much of the U.S. coast. And even as the water has risen, subsidies for flood insurance, utilities and disaster bailouts are encouraging development along some the nation’s most at-risk shores. For places like the Texas Gulf coast, which on average gets slammed with a major hurricane every 15 years, higher waters mean a storm today will tend to be much more dangerous than one of equivalent strength several decades ago..."

Even Better than Buffalo: Weekend Thaw - Cold Rain - Accumulating Snow for Thanksgiving?

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: November 19, 2014 - 11:05 PM

5 Sigma

Minnesota is freckled with lakes - with the exception of Superior none of them large enough, with a long enough "fetch", to spark lake-effect snows.

Yes, it could be worse. You could be stuck in Buffalo. As much as 70 inches of snow has piled up on the south side of the city. Roads are impassable, the National Guard has been called out - this is one of the biggest dumpings on record, coming unusually early.

What's going on? We're seeing more instability and volatility in the weather than ever before. On Saturday I witnessed a "5.5-Sigma event" over Alaska; a bubble of amazing warmth for mid-November. According to local science writer Greg Laden the odds of a 5.5 Sigma event, more than 5 standard deviations from the mean, is about 1 in 26 million. Incomprehensibly small. Extremes are becoming more extreme.

The odds of El Nino have risen to 70 percent; I'm still not convinced this winter will be a carbon copy of last winter. More details below.

A weekend thaw is still likely; a cold rain Sunday ending as a couple inches of snow Monday. I expect good travel weather Tuesday & Wednesday, but latest ECMWF guidance hints at more accumulating snow for Thanksgiving Day.

I picked a bad winter to sell my snowmobiles.

The Squishiness Of The Phrase "Polar Vortex". What's the difference between a severe cold front and the much-maligned (and overused) "polar vortex" terminology? Meteorologist Eric Holthaus does a good job explaining the differences and complexities for Slate; here's an excerpt: "...To say there’s been a bit of discussion for the last 10 months or so about the polar vortex would be an understatement the size of the Arctic. The phrase is now a permanent part of our wintertime vocabulary. But the term is also somewhat nebulous. That’s led some journalists and meteorologists to get pretty bent out of shape about its resonance in popular media, even coining an unwieldy hashtag: #StopPolarVortexAbuse..."

* Map above courtesy of

Definition of Lake Effect. Temperatures in the teens passing over open lake water (no ice yet) with temperatures in the 40s continues to create white-out conditions downwind of the Great Lakes; closing in on 7 feet of snow for some communities south of Buffalo. Lake effect continues today before finally winding down on Friday. 60-hour NAM snowfall prediction: NOAA and HAMweather.

Thaw - Rain - Snow - Repeat? European model data confirms a welcome weekend thaw; temperatures may top 40F by Sunday (grilling weather!) before cooling down again next week. The lowest mile of the atmosphere should be warm enough for rain Sunday, ending as a period of wet snow Monday. Travel conditions improve Tuesday and Wednesday before the next storm sliding south of Minnesota pushes a shield of accumulating snow into town Thanksgiving Day. Great timing! Monday and Tuesday appear to be the windiest days right now. Source: Weatherspark.

Tropical Pacific Ocean Moves Closer to El Nino. The odds of an El Nino have risen to 70% according to Australia's Bureau of Meteorology; here's an excerpt of a recent release: "The Pacific Ocean has shown some renewed signs of El Niño development in recent weeks. Above-average temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean have warmed further in the past fortnight, while the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) has generally been in excess of El Niño thresholds for the past three months. Climate models suggest current conditions will either persist or strengthen. These factors mean the Bureau's ENSO Tracker Status has been upgraded from WATCH to ALERT level, indicating at least a 70% chance of El Niño occurring..."

Buffalo Area Braces For Even More Snow. The heaviest amounts, anywhere from 5 to 7 FEET, have fallen on the south side of the city, moist, unstable air rising up and over hilly terrain adding to the totals; snow falling at the rate of 5-7" an hour at times with thunder and lightning. Snowmageddon? Yep. Here's an excerpt from Democrat & Chronicle: "...Unofficially, though, 70 inches of snow would about equal another mega-event — a weeklong burst of snow in December 1958 in the same southern reaches of the city, and approach an even more jaw-dropping multiday storm in December 2001 that reportedly left 80 to 90 inches in places. Additional snowfall later this week could challenge that highly unofficial record..."

Snowvember in Buffalo. Monster Storm Dumps Historic Amount of Snow. Here's a clip from a story at The Buffalo News: "...Dave Zaff of the National Weather Service in Buffalo said there’s no meteorological term for the phenomenon that created that strikingly pronounced wall of clouds and churned out the unbelievable amount of snow. “Whiteout to blue sky in a very, very short distance,” he said. It’s not unheard of when it comes to lake-effect storms. But the snow totals? They may be for the history books. “This will be a historic event,” Zaff said. “Absolutely. It is a historic event...”

* The Washington Post has some amazing time-lapse footage of snow squalls setting up over the southern suburbs of Buffalo. I can't recall ever seeing such a sharp cut-off to the heaviest snow bands.

Lake Effect Snow Band. The bright white band is the thickest cloud cover, dropping the most intense snow. Prevailing winds in the lowest 5,000 feet of the atmosphere have kept the heaviest snows just south of Buffalo, but this Modis Aqua high-resolution image shows just how close downtown Buffalo came to getting smacked. Image: National Weather Service.

Greatest 24-Hour Snowfall on Record For The U.S.? Christopher C. Burt has the story at Weather Underground; here's the introduction: "This past week some exceptional snowfall amounts were reported in northern Wisconsin (50.1” at Gile) and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (42.5” at Ishpeming 7 NNW) largely the result of some intense lake-effect snow squalls coming off Lake Superior. The accumulations occurred over approximately a 96-hour period from November 11-14. Amazing as these totals were they couldn’t compare to the official U.S. record of 75.8” at Silver Lake, Colorado in 24 hours on April 14-15, 1921, or another contender for such: the 78” at Mile 47 Camp in Alaska on February 7, 1963..."

Ice Safety. With our extended spell below freezing lakes are freezing us rapidly; there's a temptation to get out and ice fish or skate sooner rather than later. But the Minnesota DNR reminds you that the guidelines above are minimums, assuming new, clear ice. Be careful out there.

How To Protect Your Phone In Cold Weather. Here's an excerpt of a CNN story that made me do a double-take: "...Some smartphones list the optimum range of temperatures in their technical specs. For example, when it's turned off, the iPhone 5S can withstand temperatures between -4° and 113° Fahrenheit. When it's turned on, the range is much more narrow. Apple suggests 32° Fahrenheit as the lowest operating ambient temperature. Other phones are rated for much lower temperatures, and some can go as low as -4° Fahrenheit while in operation..."

A Road Test of Alternative Fuel Visions. Will some of us be driving hydrogen-powered cars in the very near future? Here's an excerpt of a story at The New York Times: "...After many years and billions of dollars of research and development, hydrogen cars are headed to the showrooms. Hyundai has been leasing the hydrogen-powered Tucson sport utility, which it describes as the world’s first mass-produced fuel cell car, since June, for a $2,999 down payment, and $499 a month. (That includes the hydrogen. A lease on a gas-powered Tucson is about half as much.) This week, Toyota is introducing a sedan called Mirai, which means “future” in Japanese..."

* CNET has more on the Toyota Mirai here. has more details here.

The Fall of Facebook. Can the social media giant remain on top, or will privacy concerns nudge us all in a different direction - is the platform sustainable over the long term? Here's an excerpt from The Atlantic: "...And yet, significantly, people haven’t let go of their unease about Facebook’s core idea. “In three years of research and talking to hundreds of people and everyday users, I  don’t think I heard anyone say once, ‘I love Facebook,’ ” says Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology Is Changing Our Minds for the Better. Like a New Urbanist dream neighborhood where every lamppost and shrub seems unnervingly designed to please you, there’s a soullessness about the place. The software’s primary attributes—its omniscience, its solicitousness—all too easily provoke claustrophobia..."

Lake Effect Surf's Up. There's crazy, and then there's Buffalo-crazy. Check out this jaw-dropping video at Digg: "It's about 26 degrees outside. Winds are at 35 MPH. With the windchill, it says it feels about 13. We're gonna go check out the waves."

A Tiny Hamster Thanksgiving. If you're bored beyond recognition and want a good chuckle check out this YouTube clip. A group of polite hamsters enjoying a Thanksgiving feast. It's dawning on me that too many people have way too much free time on their hands.

23 F. high in the Twin Cities Wednesday.

39 F. average high on November 19

47 F. high on November 19, 2013.

1/2" snow fell yesterday at KMSP.

4" snow on the ground.

November 19 in Minnesota Weather History. Source: MPX National Weather Service:

2006: Lake effect snow occurred on the larger lakes in Minnesota. Northwest winds from 8 to 12 mph accompanied an air mass in the single digits. This moved over lakes with water temperatures near 40 degrees. A cloud plume from Mille Lacs stretched all the way Siren Wisconsin. Snow from Ottertail and Lake Lida reduced visibilities at Alexandia to a few miles. Even some low clouds formed from Lake Minnetonka and were observed at Flying Cloud Airport.

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

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

TODAY: Partly sunny, a brittle breeze. Winds: NW 10-15. Wind chill: -8. High: 17

THURSDAY NIGHT: Clear to partly cloudy and chilly. Low: 1

FRIDAY: Cold start. Milder finish with intervals of sunshine. High: 31

SATURDAY: Peeks of sun, long overdue thaw! Better travel day. Wake-up: 21. High: 38

SUNDAY: Rain developing. Some icing possible, especially outside the metro area. Wake-up: 32. High: 42

MONDAY: Rain changes over to snow. Couple inches? Wake-up: 31. High: 33

TUESDAY: Flurries taper. Better travel conditions. Wake-up: 18. High: 23

WEDNESDAY: Clouds increase, still dry. Wake-up: 14. High: 27

THANKSGIVING DAY: Period of accumulating snow possible. Wake-up: 25. High: 28

Climate Stories...

Dear Snow Trolls: Winter Weather Does Not Refute Global Warming. The Washington Post hosts an obligatory story about the difference between weather and climate; here's an excerpt: "...Indeed, much evidence suggests that we may be experiencing this stark cold while en route to the warmest year in recorded history. Just recently we learned that at least according to data from the Japan Meteorological Agency (which may soon be confirmed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), October 2014 on a global level was the hottest October on record. And even before we knew what October's temperatures looked like, NOAA had shown that there was a very good chance of 2014 setting an overall temperature record...."

Northern Hemisphere temperature anomalies for November 19 obtained using Climate Reanalyzer (, Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, USA

More Frequent Wave Resonance in the Atmosphere. The number of planetary wave resonance events (which lead to exceptional weather extremes) is shown as grey bars for each 4-year intervals. For comparison the red curve shows the change in Arctic temperature relative to that in the remainder of the Northern Hemisphere. Rapid Arctic warming since 2000 could explain the increasing number of weather extremes. Source: Coumou et all, PNAS 2014.

The Moral Issue of Climate Change. Climate change is a moral and even a spiritual issue, as much as a scientific and economic issue. Here's an excerpt of a David Ignatius Op-Ed at The Washington Post that caught my eye: "...They reject or minimize the arguments of leading scientists that such emissions are directly linked to global warming and climate change and could have catastrophic long-term consequences. The doubters question the data, to be sure. But their basic argument is political: Action to protect the environment will hurt “my state.” But what if the climate change problem were instead treated as a moral issue — a matter like civil rights where the usual horse-trading logic of politics has been replaced by a debate about what’s right and wrong?..."

China To Cap Coal Use by 2020 To Meet Game-Changing Climate, Air Pollution Targets. Think Progress has an update on the historic changes taking place in China - here's an excerpt: "The Chinese government announced Wednesday it would cap coal use by 2020. The Chinese State Council, or cabinet, said the peak would be 4.2 billion tonnes, a one-sixth increase over current consumption. This is a staggering reversal of Chinese energy policy, which for two decades has been centered around building a coal plant or more a week. Now they’ll be building the equivalent in carbon-free power every week for decades, while the construction rate of new coal plants decelerates like a crash-test dummy..."

11 Year Old Takes Vow of Silence Demanding Climate Action. Will it take a mass, grassroots effort and civil disobedience to get the attention of politicians worldwide? Some days I wonder. Here's an excerpt from Ecowatch: "Eleven-year-old Itzcuauhtli Roske-Martinez is proving to the world that sometimes the most powerful thing you can say is absolutely nothing. Today marks Day 22 of the indigenous eco-rapper’s silent strike demanding science-based climate action. His T-shirt explains, “I am taking a vow of silence until world leaders take action on climate change.” After classmates suggested that one sixth grader in Colorado couldn’t influence leaders, Itzcuauhtli added, “When I say world leaders, I’m talking about us...”

Here's How The U.S. Can Adapt To Climate Change. Climate Central has an interesting story - here's a clip: "...Climate change poses heat- and flood-based risks to roads, power plants, harbors, water delivery systems, rail lines, water treatment facilities and bridges. The group urged the federal government to reduce those risks by building in low-risk areas, where possible, and by retrofitting vulnerable infrastructure that can’t be relocated. The group also called for a boost in spending on green and natural infrastructure, such as the replanting of wetlands to buffer against flood surges and sea level rise..."

7 Solutions to Climate Change Happening Now. Here's an excerpt from an article at Scientific American: "...More than 20 percent of new, large power plants built in the U.S. in 2013 employ sunlight to generate electricity. And that does not include solar panels on people's rooftops, which alone added nearly two gigawatts of capacity last year. In addition, natural gas replaced coal as the largest source of new electricity generation. The shale revolution enabled the U.S. to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions “while maintaining economic growth by switching from coal to gas," notes Nobuo Tanaka, former head of the International Energy Agency (IEA) and a now a visiting fellow at Columbia University..."


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