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. TBO.com, 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 phys.org: "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: http://phys.org/news/2014-12-global-similar-today-size-duration.html#jCp
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: http://phys.org/news/2014-12-global-similar-today-size-duration.html#jCp

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).

Rapid Thaw by Monday (pre-Thanksgiving travel headaches east coast - 106 tornado reports last Sunday)

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: November 23, 2013 - 11:11 PM

Supernaturally Quiet

"Nothing between Minnesota and the North Pole but a barbed wire fence." Not hard to believe this morning, but a quick thaw is likely by tomorrow. High temperatures reach the 30s much of this week, close to average for late November. Nothing even remotely resembling a "storm" is brewing; heavy rain & snow detours well south & east of home into next weekend.

Dallas will pick up some ice tonight; that same storm will spread flooding rains and mountain snows into the east by Tuesday & Wednesday. If you're flying east before Thanksgiving may I suggest deep breathing exercises & Ambien. Expect delays.

SPC has updated the "filtered" number of tornado reports from last Sunday's historic, late-season tornado outbreak to 106. Hard to wrap my brain around that number. Following the outbreak I wrote about the benefits of a safe room. For the price of a family vacation to Disney World you can reinforce a closet with steel & concrete.

A 2008 tornado threw Tom Cook's family hundreds of feet from their home. After installing a steel shelter they walked away from a big 2011 twister.

He told me "The difference between a shelter and no shelter is $100,000 in hospital bills and a funeral."


Jaw-Dropping Numbers. The latest (filtered) SPC count for tornado reports a week ago (November 17) is now 106 in 6 states, as far north as northern Michigan.


Fewest Minnesota Tornadoes Since 1990. We caught a break last summer, as reported by Dr. Mark Seeley in this week's installment of his WeatherTalk Newsletter; here's an excerpt: "...Todd Krause, Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the NOAA-National Weather Service in Chanhassen reported this week that Minnesota saw just 15 tornadoes this year, the fewest since 1990 when there were only 12. The tornado reports by month were: 2 in May; 4 in June; 2 in July; 5 in August; 1 in September; and 1 in October. The strongest tornado was rated at EF-2 (winds 111-135 mph) and occurred from 1:50 am to 2:30 am across Mahnomen and Clearwater Counties, near the town of Zerkel. It was on the ground for over 21 miles and did some tree damage, but there were no deaths or injuries. In fact on a statewide basis there were no deaths or injuries reported due to tornadoes this year..."


Misery Loves Company. What's the word. Shadenfreude? Taking delight in other's misfortunes, meteorological and otherwise. Look how far the freezing line is forecast to be at high noon today, a deep chill east of the Rockies, downright numbing from the Great Lakes into New England. Map: NOAA and Ham Weather.


Slight Moderation - Storm Free. The Upper Midwest will catch a break this time around, no major storms passing nearby over the next 7-8 days, a slightly more moderate wind flow from the Pacific keeping highs mostly in the 30s this week. Hardly a warm front, but I'm always amazed (and a little horrified) how could 35F feels after a spell of single digits. Everything is relative, right? Graphic: Weatherspark.


Old Man Winter Shows His Teeth. The bad news is that this wintry fling is coming from north Texas into Oklahoma and Arkansas, where you can count the number of plows on two hands. The same storm that will spark a period of sleet and freezing rain around Dallas later today will push heavy rain across the Gulf Coast and right up the East Coast by Tuesday and Wednesday. 4km NAM Future Radar product courtesy of NOAA and Ham Weather.


A Volatile Pattern Southern and Eastern USA. The timing stinks, but we're just messengers, right? The GFS model solution above keeps the brunt of the rain offshore early next week, hinting at high winds and possible coastal flooding for the Outer Banks by Tuesday and Wednesday. The European model shows a shield of heavy rain spreading right up the east coast late Tuesday into midday Wednesday. If your travels take you east, especially Tuesday night or early Wednesday, you'll want to stay up on the latest forecast and possible delays at the airport. Loop: NOAA and Ham Weather.


Colder Than Average Northern States - Storm Track Shifts South. Winds aloft (500 mb, about 18,000 feet above the ground) show a very slight shift to a more west/northwest flow for the northern states, a split flow guiding the biggest storms across the far south. New England and the Great Lakes will remain very cold, but the rest of the USA should see some slight moderation into early December. Map: NOAA.


Latest Watches and Warnings. Click here to see latest watches, warnings and advisories on an interactive U.S. map from Ham Weather. You can plug in any zip code and get hour-by-hour weather, a local 7-Day Outlook with localized graphics and videos here:

Alerts Broadcaster Briefing: Issued midday Saturday, November 23, 2013.

* Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex under a Winter Storm Warning for a mix of wintry precipitation. I still expect a period of sleet and freezing rain (glaze ice) Sunday night into Monday morning. Monday may be a commuting mess in Dallas, and across much of northern, central and western Texas. Power outages due to ice build-up on trees and power lines is most likely from the northern/western suburbs of Fort Worth to Abilene, San Angelo and Wichita Falls.

* Winter Storm Watches issued as far east as Shreveport, Louisiana and Hot Springs, Arkansas

* Potential for flooding rains across much of East Coast Tuesday and Wednesday with a growing risk of urban flooding. ECMWF (European) guidance is hinting at heavy snowfall amounts for the Appalachians and Shenandoah Valley, with a slushy coating possible into Washington D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York's western/northern suburbs, generally west of I-95. I still believe we're looking at a mostly (heavy) rain event for major eastern urban centers Tuesday and Wednesday - drying out in time for Thanksgiving Day, with no post-Thanksgiving weather complications.


Lingering Ice Potential Dallas to Abilene. Lubbock, Midland and Wichita Falls will see heavy snow, mixed with ice at times. The atmosphere should be just warm enough aloft for rain, sleet (ice pellets) and a period of freezing rain (glaze ice) for Dallas, with the worst travel conditions coming north and west of Fort Worth. Winter Storm Warnings are now posted for the Dallas-Fort Worth area, with the greatest potential for icing and sporadic power outages Sunday night into Monday morning. Map above: WSI.


Significant Ice Accumulations. This is a special ice product, showing the greatest probability of a dangerous build-up of ice on surfaces, including highways and power lines. Central Texas will see the worst icing, but metro Dallas will experience a 6-12 hour mix of rain, sleet and glaze ice, with the northern/western suburbs seeing the most ice-related problems. Map: NOAA.


Latest Warnings. NOAA has expanded the region covered by Winter Storm Warnings, now extending from Del Rio and San Angelo to Abiline and metro Dallas. This means that treacherous, potentially dangerous wintry weather is imminent. Map: Ham Weather.


East Coast Soaker. NOAA's 5-Day Rainfall QPF prints out a swath of 1-3" of (liquid) precipitation the first half of next week; most of that falling as a soaking rain east of the Appalachians Tuesday into Wednesday. I could see some issues with urban flooding and serious travel delays late Tuesday into Wednesday from Charlotte to Washington D.C. Philadelphia, New York, Hartford and Boston. I know, lousy timing. Confidence level for heavy rain is fairly high: a 7 out of 10.


Storm Peaks Tuesday Night into Wednesday Morning. All the guidance suggests that the heaviest rains (and inland snows), along with strongest winds will come Tuesday night into early Wednesday. The computer model above is valid midnight Tuesday night, when heavy rain (and a few T-storms) may push from Raleigh into D.C. and Philadelphia. The worst commute and greatest impact on facilities will probably come Wednesday morning. ECMWF guidance valid midnight Tuesday courtesy of WSI.


Snowfall Potential. Don't take the gasp-worthy map above at face value, at least not yet. I'm not convinced the hills of West Virginia and Shenandoah Valley of Virgina will pick up 10-20" snowfall amounts. There will be a changeover to wet snow from west to east on Wednesday, and much of the Appalachians may indeed pick up a plowable snowfall. Right now I expect mainly rain for major cities along and east of the I-95 corridor. My confidence level for the snowfall amounts out east actually verifying is quite low: a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10. Map: NOAA and Ham Weather.


Wildfire Risk Seen As High or Extreme At 4.5 Million U.S. Homes. Bloomberg and The Chicago Tribune have the article; here's the introduction: "More than 4.5 million U.S. homes are at high or extreme risk from wildfires, led by properties in California, according to Verisk Analytics, the supplier of actuarial data to insurers and banks. California has 2 million properties meeting those risk designations, followed by Texas with 1.3 million and Colorado with almost 374,000, Verisk Insurance Solutions said today in a report. Higher temperatures and increased development near forested areas have increased costs from U.S. wildfires. This year 19 firefighters known as the Granite Mountain Hotshots died battling a blaze in Arizona. Colorado wildfires have cost insurers more than $1 billion since 2010, including the Black Forest fire this year, Verisk said..." (File image: U.S. Forestry Service).


Why The Philippines Shouldn't Rebuild Storm-Ravaged Tacloban. I fear we'll be having similar discussions for other coastal communities in the years ahead, as rising sea levels combine with increasingly severe typhoons, hurricanes and nor'easters. When do you just throw up your hands and admit that it doesn't make dollars and sense to keep rebuilding in the same vulnerable areas? Here's an excerpt from Quartz: "...Rebuilding “needs to be done urgently and differently for the Philippines,” Vinod Thomas, director general for independent evaluation at the Asian Development Bank, told Quartz. “There is clearly a big lesson to be learned in not relocating in a highly vulnerable area,” he said. “Tacloban is like a poster child. You can’t imagine a more vulnerable area than Tacloban.”  All of the Philippines is vulnerable to rising seas and intense storms caused by climate change, but Tacloban—situated at the mouth of a bay and with major portions of the city well below sea level—is in a uniquely precarious position..."

Photo credit above: "Locals clean up debris on a street in Tacloban, Philippines, Nov. 22, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, which cut a destructive path across the Philippines, is believed by some climatologists to be the strongest storm to make landfall in recorded history, with some 13 million people affected by the storm." (Jes Aznar/The New York Times).


Why Americans And Europeans May Soon Start Dying Of Infections Like It's 1905 Again. Antibiotics aren't keeping up with the new "super-bugs" out there. As long as you don't get an infection or have to spend time in a hospital you should be just fine. Quartz has the story - here's an excerpt: "Antibiotics aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do anymore. You know, kill infections. Since Alexander Fleming invented penicillin 75 years ago, nearly all bacteria have mutated into strains impervious to antibiotics. Those souped up bacteria now kill hundreds of thousands of people, at a minimum, each year. And according to a new issue of medical journal The Lancet focused on antibiotic-resistant bacteria, things could soon get a whole lot scarier. “Rarely has modern medicine faced such a grave threat. Without antibiotics, treatments for minor surgery to major transplants could become impossible"

Photo credit above: "Slippery little suckers." Reuters/Ints Kalnins


Michael Jordan's North Shore Mansion Goes Under The Auction. The auction took place yesterday, but I thought some of you might want to see the details of Air Jordan's pad, which is pretty amazing, in a wretched-excess sort of way. Here's an excerpt from The Chicago Tribune: "Michael Jordan’s 56,000-square-foot mansion in Highland Park — complete with an NBA regulation-size basketball court — will be put up for sale during a live auction Friday. No minimum bid has been set for the basketball superstar’s 7.4-acre estate at 2700 Point Lane, but prospective buyers are required to put down a $250,000 deposit just to participate in the bidding, said Laura Brady, president of New York-based Concierge Auctions..."

Photo credit above: "The living room inside Michael Jordan's 56,000-square foot Highland Park estate." (John S. Eckert Photography, John S. Eckert).


Local TV Anchor Leaves Small Screen For Second Screen. This shows some true initiative and creativity; here's a clip from Lost Remote: "Jenni Hogan was a local TV anchor in Seattle, Portland, and Idaho for 10 years, but she recently left the small screen for the second screen, developing an app that curates viewer tweets and puts them on-air live during broadcasts. TVinteract is Hogan’s creation for iPad’s that allows TV personalities the ability to pick their favorite fan tweets, and air them live on TV. How it works is a TV personality can look at their @mentions on the left side of the app screen, and drag the tweets they like over to the right and hit live. This automatically flags the tweet to the show’s director, who can then bring the tweet live to air through airplay or HDMI cable..."


The Lowest Moment In This Dog's Life. Cruel and unusual? Possibly. This dog earned his treat. It's one of 31 animated GIF's - I'd wager a stale bagel at least one of these clips at Buzzfeed will make you laugh.


19 F. maximum temperature in the Twin Cities Saturday.

37 F. average high on November 23.

27 F. high on November 23, 2012.

Minnesota Weather History on November 23 - courtesy of MPX National Weather Service office:

1993: The Thanksgiving Day Blizzard of 1993. Central and Western to South Central Minnesota were affected by a slow moving storm system that traveled across the upper midwest during the Thanksgiving holiday causing heavy snow across most of Minnesota. Travel became extremely difficult if not impossible over west central Minnesota where over a foot of snow accumulated. A number of car accidents were reported and several community events were canceled. Snowfall in excess of six inches or greater occurred north of a line from Bricelyn (Faribault County) to the Twin Cities. Counties affected by this storm include Anoka, Benton, Blue Earth, Brown, Chippewa, Chisago, Douglas, Faribault, Hennepin, Isanti, Kanabec, Kandiyohi, Lac Qui Parle, Martin, Mcleod, Meeker, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Nicollet, Pine, Pope, Ramsey, Redwood, Renville, Rock, Sherburne, Sibley, Stearns, Stevens, Swift, Todd, Washington, Watonwan, Wright, and Yellow Medicine.

1983: Snowstorm dumps almost two feet at Babbitt and about 20 inches at Duluth.

1825: Warm spell begins over Ft. Snelling, Temperature rises up to 70 degrees over the week.


TODAY: Some sun, stiff wind, not quite as cold. Winds: S 15+ High: near 30

SUNDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy. Low: 27

MONDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, thawing out. High: 37

TUESDAY: More clouds, a stinging wind. Wake-up: 18. High: 28

WEDNESDAY: Bright sun, less wind. Wake-up: 10. High: 25

THANKSGIVING: Intervals of sun. Food coma. Wake-up: 19. High: 31

FRIDAY: Some sun, no travel headaches. Wake-up: 20. High: 32

SATURDAY: Partly sunny, still quiet. Wake-up: 22. High: 33

* photo above courtesy of Steve Burns.


Climate Stories....

Americans Are Convinced Climate Change Is Connected To Stronger Storms, Poll Says. Here's an excerpt from a story at Huffington Post: "Most Americans think climate change, and more frequent and severe natural disasters are linked, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll that also finds most think human activity is at least partially responsible for the changing climate. According to the new poll, conducted after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines earlier this month, 55 percent of Americans think climate change is related to more frequent and severe natural disasters, while only 23 percent do not..."


Sea Level Experts Concerned About "High-End" Scenarios. Andrew Freedman has the story at Climate Central; here's the introduction: "A survey of nearly 100 experts on sea level rise reveals that scientists think there is a good chance the global average sea level rise can be limited to less than 3.3 feet by 2100 if stringent reductions in planet-warming greenhouse gases are rapidly instituted. However, the survey, which is the largest such study of the views of the most active sea level researchers ever conducted, found that if manmade global warming were to be on the high end of the scale — 8°F by 2100 — the global average sea level is likely to jump by between 2.3 and 3.9 feet by the end of this century..."

Graphic credit above: "Projections of global mean sea level rise over the 21st century relative to 1986–2005 from the combination of the computer models with process-based models, for greenhouse gas concentration scenarios. The assessed likely range is shown as a shaded band." Credit: IPCC Working Group I.


A Warm Over Solar Power Is Raging Within The GOP. New Republic has the story of what's happening in Arizona, disruptive technology that has many homeowners enthused, but utilities nervous, and that's creating friction. Here's an excerpt: "... “Republicans who oppose solar in the next election, they are going to be wiped out across the board.” “Solar power is philosophically consistent with the Republican Party,” Rose added. “If you're going to be for healthcare choice and school choice, how can you not be for energy choice? Conservatives, overwhelmingly, get that. If the Republican Party stops standing for the empowerment of the individual, what does it stand for?”  (Image: Mike Baker, Creative Commons).


The Onion Nails It. This is in response to the recent "90 companies blamed for 2/3rd's of greenhouse gas emissions" story. These companies are just giving us what we want and need, right? Graphic: The Onion.


Pentagon Releases Strategy For Arctic. A rapidly melting arctic ice cap is pretty hard to ignore (or deny), yet many of the same professional climate deniers are happy to point out the advantages of less ice and more water - more economical shipping, and more exploration for oil and gas. Of course it's all that burning of oil and gas that's melting the polar ice cap in the first place. Oh, the irony. Here's a clip from The New York Times: "...While “climate change does not directly cause conflict,” Mr. Hagel said, it may “significantly add to the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty and conflict.” He cited “food and water shortages, pandemic disease, disputes over refugees and resources, and more severe natural disasters.” The Pentagon’s Arctic strategy places a priority on preparations to detect, deter, prevent and defeat threats to the United States even as the nation “will continue to exercise U.S. sovereignty in and around Alaska,” Mr. Hagel said..."


Climate Change Forces New Pentagon Plan. Picking up on Secretary of Defense Hagel's comments, here's an excerpt of a slightly different perspective from U.S. News and World Report: "The Arctic is covered with pure driven snow. The Department of Defense hopes to keep it that way with a new policy that for the first time addresses how the U.S. will respond to the effects of climate change, which have opened up a veritable treasure trove around the North Pole that until recently was inaccessible. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel unveiled the military's new Arctic Strategy Friday afternoon during his trip to Canada. The plan seeks to head off potential tensions in the crowded Arctic neighborhood among its residents -- most notably Russia, but all eager for access to massive oil reserves and newly thawed passages for shipping, fishing and tourism..." (Photo credit: NOAA).


U.N. Climate Talks Near End, With Money At Issue. Here's an excerpt from a summary at The New York Times: "The United Nations climate conference ambled toward a conclusion on Friday, with delegates saying that the meeting would produce no more than a modest set of measures toward a new international agreement two years from now. As usual, the biggest dispute was over money. The talks, the 19th annual meeting of parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, opened nearly two weeks ago in the shadow of a devastating typhoon in the Philippines. The disaster added momentum to a proposal by poorer nations for the creation of a new mechanism to compensate developing countries for damage from climate-related disasters..."


As U.N. Climate Change Talks Go Nowhere, Ontario Bans Coal. This made me do a double-take; here's a clip from a story at The Atlantic: "While delegates to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Warsaw continued fiddling while Rome burns, the government of Ontario, Canada, today moved to permanently ban coal-fired power plants. “Our work on eliminating coal and investing in renewables is the strongest action being taken in North America to fight climate change,” Kathleen Wynne, the premier of Ontario, said in a statement. Wynne’s government next week will introduce the Ending Coal for Cleaner Air Act in Parliament. Unlike most such legislation, the Act will ratify what the government has already done – close down the coal-fired power plants that once supplied a quarter of the province’s electricity..." (Image credit: Reuters).


Why America's Major Sports Leagues Are Talking About Climate Change. Ice hockey is already being impacted (shorter seasons on America's ponds and lakes). Here's a clip from a story at ThinkProgress: "...But those kids are starting to run into a major problem: the frozen ponds they play on are less and less likely to form each winter, as a changing climate makes winter warmer and open ice more scarce. That isn’t just bad news for kids who want to play the game. It’s also worrisome for the National Hockey League, a league already a distant fourth among America’s top four professional sports that depends on those pickup games and frozen ponds to help build new generations of fans and players. And the NHL isn’t alone. The NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, and WNBA are all worried about the effects of environmental changes on their sports and the people who play them, which is why representatives from those five leagues plus the U.S. Olympic Committee joined Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) on Capitol Hill today to discuss their efforts to reduce energy usage and address climate change — and the efforts the federal government could take to do the same..." (File photo credit: Star Tribune).


This Entire Country Is About To Be Wiped Out By Climate Change. It Won't Be The Last. Here's an excerpt from a sobering story at Bloomberg BusinessWeek: "...Kiribati is a flyspeck of a United Nations member state, a collection of 33 islands necklaced across the central Pacific. Thirty-two of the islands are low-lying atolls; the 33rd, called Banaba, is a raised coral island that long ago was strip-mined for its seabird-guano-derived phosphates. If scientists are correct, the ocean will swallow most of Kiribati before the end of the century, and perhaps much sooner than that. Water expands as it warms, and the oceans have lately received colossal quantities of melted ice. A recent study found that the oceans are absorbing heat 15 times faster than they have at any point during the past 10,000 years. Before the rising Pacific drowns these atolls, though, it will infiltrate, and irreversibly poison, their already inadequate supply of fresh water..."

Photograph by Claire Martin for Bloomberg Businessweek.


Achbishop Urges Steps To Address "Ethical Challenge" Of Climate Change. The Catholic Sentinel in Portland, Oregon has the story - here's the introduction: "Climate change represents an "ethical challenge to civilization," said the Vatican's lead representative to an international conference discussing the worldwide impact of climate change. Archbishop Celestino Migliore told attendees at a church-run conference that the Vatican would help "form consciences and ethical perspectives" on climate change in line with Catholic social teaching and encourage "fairness, impartiality and mutual responsibility" when it came to action to address the environmental threat..."

Photo credit above: Catholic News Service photo. "A view of a glacial lake is seen in Juascaran National Park in Peru in late September."

Numbing November Day (nothing foul about Thanksgiving weather this year)

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: November 23, 2013 - 12:15 AM

Fresh Air

I was in Las Vegas last weekend, celebrating the imminent 60th birthday of a dear friend. No, I didn't gamble. I gamble with the weather and business on a daily basis - I have no desire to do it "for fun".

We did stop at The Minus5 Ice Bar, where drinks are served in glasses made of ice, and everyone huddles around in heavy coats and boots, complaining about how cold it is. Wait... I could just fly home for the very same experience, which costs nothing to attend. It dawned on me that the temperature inside was -5 C, or about 23F.

Really?

By late January we call that a 'warm front'. If I want to enjoy 23F I can just go out and have a beer in my garage. There's no cover charge there.

As I tell new recruits ad nauseum: our coldest days are often sunny, which helps to remove some of the sting. Nothing worse that really cold AND really gray.

Under a blue sky the mercury fights its way into the teens today; outlying suburbs may flirt with 0F late tonight. A lack of snow on the ground will limit just how low the mercury can tumble.

This is as cold as it's going to get into early December; 30s return next week - close to average for Thanksgiving week, with no major storms close to home. Travelers catch a big break.

An ice storm is brewing for Dallas and a soaking rain storm sloshes up the east coast next Wednesday, complicating travel plans from Boston to D.C. to Atlanta. Travel weather updates on the weather blog.


Flirting With Zero? NOAA's NAM model shows lows dipping just below zero over the western and southern suburbs of the Twin Cities, as well as much of central and southwestern Minnesota. Note that temperatures are forecast to be a little milder near Lake Superior, the result of relatively warm lake water being blown downwind over Wisconsin and the U.P. of Michigan. Map: Ham Weather.


An Active Southern Branch. The jet stream is increasingly exhibiting a split personality, a cold, relatively dry northern branch, and a very wet and stormy southern branch. NOAA's 4km NAM shows a slow-moving storm capable of flooding rains in Phoenix, 6-10" of snow from Albuquerque to Amarillo and Lubbock, to glaze ice in Dallas. Note the 200-400 mile long plumes of lake effect snow extending from the U.P. of Michigan into West Virginia. Loop: Ham Weather.


Blizzard Potential Index. Our modeling expert has come up with a new parameter to measure the potential for blizzard conditions (35 mph+ winds and visibility under 1/4 mile with falling/blowing snow) over time. Lake effect snows will create near-blizzard conditions from the U.P. of Michigan into northern Indiana, the suburbs of Cleveland and Syracuse, while heavy, wind-whipped snow snarls traffic over the southern Rockies. Map: Ham Weather.


Seasonably Chilly - But Remarkably Quiet For A Major Holiday. We caught a break this year. No major travel headaches close to home thru next weekend, temperatures running a few degrees below average, but today will be as cold as it's going to get looking out 10 days. I don't see any accumulating snow, highs on Thanksgiving Day in the low 30s, according to the ECMWF. Graph: Weatherspark.


Talking Travel Turkey. Will Mother Nature cooperate next week, the biggest travel week of the year across the USA? No. It's just too tempting a target. Quiet, dry weather is likely over the Plains, Midwest and Great Lakes, but the same storm capable of generating a serious ice storm for Dallas and some 6-8" snows for northern and western Texas will track right up the East Coast, generating heavy, windswept rains, and possibly a period of slushy snow at the tail end of the storm Wednesday and Wednesday night. Details in today's edition of Climate Matters.


Fewest Minnesota Tornadoes Since 1990. We caught a break last summer, as reported by Dr. Mark Seeley in this week's installment of his WeatherTalk Newsletter; here's an excerpt: "...Todd Krause, Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the NOAA-National Weather Service in Chanhassen reported this week that Minnesota saw just 15 tornadoes this year, the fewest since 1990 when there were only 12. The tornado reports by month were: 2 in May; 4 in June; 2 in July; 5 in August; 1 in September; and 1 in October. The strongest tornado was rated at EF-2 (winds 111-135 mph) and occurred from 1:50 am to 2:30 am across Mahnomen and Clearwater Counties, near the town of Zerkel. It was on the ground for over 21 miles and did some tree damage, but there were no deaths or injuries. In fact on a statewide basis there were no deaths or injuries reported due to tornadoes this year..."


Alerts Broadcaster Briefing: Issued midday Friday, November 22, 2013.

* Coldest air of the season so far will spin up a major snow and ice storm for the Southern Plains, capable of plowable snowfall amounts over much of northern, western and central Texas, with a potential for severe icing Sunday into Monday in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

* Major coastal storm brewing for east coast and New England next Wednesday: mostly rain and high winds with minor coastal flooding possible at high tide. This system may impact Thanksgiving travel plans and retail operations.

* Significant storm to dump heavy snow on southern France, Switzerland and much of the Alps next 72+ hours.


Converging Ingredients. I get nervous when a major blast of arctic air is approaching the U.S. In today's scenario the thrust of that Canadian air is pushing south, across the Plains, where it will help to spin up a storm rich in moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. The result, heavy, wet snow for much of central Texas, including Lubbock, Midland, San Angelo and Wichita Falls, extending into southern Oklahoma. Norman and Oklahoma City may experience as much as 3-5" of snow this weekend, with hazardous travel conditions extending into Monday.


Ice Storm Potential. Snow is one thing, but glaze is an altogether larger overall risk to staff, customers and facilities. Our models print out over 1" of liquid precipitation in the Dallas area by Monday. Although a thin layer of warm air aloft may keep precipitation falling as rain, by Sunday that rain may be freezing on contact with cold surfaces: roads, sidewalks and powerlines, creating an icy coating capable of major impacts. Snow will mix in, especially the Fort Worth suburbs, but I'm more worried about extreme ice conditions capable of shutting down travel and impacting the local power grid. Map above: NOAA.


NAM Solution. NOAA's NAM model shows more snow than ice for much of northern and central Texas. I'm skeptical. Although the lowest mile of the atmosphere should be cold enough for mostly snow from Wichita Falls to Abilene, San Angelo and Lubbock, enough warm air may mix into the storm's circulation aloft for an icy mix from near Waco into Dallas - Fort Worth. A few spots in from the Texas Panhandle into northern Texas and southern Oklahoma could pick up in excess of 6-8" of snow, mixed with sleet (ice pellets) at times. For Dallas precipitation may fall as mostly freezing rain - capable of a severe glaze icing event.


Predicted Amounts. The same icy blast will spark lake effect snows from Green Bay to near Gary and South Bend, Indiana, and the snow belts around Cleveland, Syracuse and Rochester, New York may see enough snow to shovel and plow. Check out some of the snowfall tallies for Texas, as much as 9" for Amarillo, even 2-3" at El Paso, on the Mexican border. Pretty amazing for late November.


Current Watches and Warnings. An Ice Storm Warning is already posted around Lubbock - my hunch is that this may be extended east into the Dallas area as we head into the weekend. Right now Dallas is under a Winter Storm Watch from Sunday morning into midday Monday. Expect rain today and much of Saturday; the real concern is Sunday night into Monday morning, as temperatures fall below freezing and that rain begins to freeze on contact. I could see substantial power outages across north Texas and southern/western Oklahoma late in the weekend into Monday as tree branches freeze and topple, taking powerlines with them. Albuquerque, New Mexico may pick up as much as 4-7" of snow from this system as well. Map above: Ham Weather.


Thanksgiving Travel Grinch. Short term the concern is the Southern Plains with heavy snow and ice. Next week a fresh surge of Canadian air will whup up a major coastal storm. Temperatures aloft should we warm enough for (heavy) rain from Boston to New York, Philadelphia, D.C., Charlotte and Atlanta, with a period of wet snow inland at the tail end of the storm Wednesday night. The combination of heavy rain and embedded T-storms may hamper travel by land and air next Wednesday along much of the eastern seaboard. You've been warned. ECMWF map valid 6 AM EST Wednesday, November 27 via WSI.


On The Other Side Of The Pond. Our Alerts Broadcaster models print out some 5-8" snowfall amounts near Toulouse, France, with plowable amounts expected from Geneva to Zurich and much of the Alps. We'll continue to monitor this storm for our clients with operations across Europe.

Summary: the greatest short-term concern is heavy snow from New Mexico and northern/western Texas into western and southern Oklahoma. Traffic will be impacted - so will facilities. I'm even more concerned about a potential for a MAJOR ice storm impacting Dallas - Fort Worth and Waco, with some half inch accumulations of glaze ice on some roads, trees and powerlines. The greatest window of concern is Sunday afternoon into midday Monday.

A major east coast storm will push heavy rain and a few T-storms from the Carolinas into New England next Wednesday. This looks like primarily a rain storm (with some coastal flooding and beach erosion possible), a brief period of wet snow possible at the tail-end of the system, but probably no major accumulation from Boston to New York to Washington D.C. We'll be watching this system very carefull in the coming days. Stay tuned for more updates.

Paul Douglas - Senior Meteorologist - Alerts Broadcaster


Wildfire Risk Seen As High or Extreme At 4.5 Million U.S. Homes. Bloomberg and The Chicago Tribune have the article; here's the introduction: "More than 4.5 million U.S. homes are at high or extreme risk from wildfires, led by properties in California, according to Verisk Analytics, the supplier of actuarial data to insurers and banks. California has 2 million properties meeting those risk designations, followed by Texas with 1.3 million and Colorado with almost 374,000, Verisk Insurance Solutions said today in a report. Higher temperatures and increased development near forested areas have increased costs from U.S. wildfires. This year 19 firefighters known as the Granite Mountain Hotshots died battling a blaze in Arizona. Colorado wildfires have cost insurers more than $1 billion since 2010, including the Black Forest fire this year, Verisk said..." (File image: U.S. Forestry Service).


Forget Concrete - The Way To Block Tsunamis Is These Spindly Trees. Using (natural) buffers, like sand dunes or even trees can slow the advance of not only earthquake-generated tsunamis, but typhoon-related storm surges. Here's a clip and animation from Quartz: "...Some of Haiyan’s destruction could have been prevented. But not with seawalls or dykes—with mangrove trees. Areas near Tacloban where mangrove forests hadn’t been illegally cut fared better, as a Philippines development consultant told Bloomberg. That’s because mangroves provide a natural buffer that slows down inland tidal surges, absorbing 70-90% of a normal wave’s impact. Here’s an animated version of how mangrove forests dampen a tsunami’s force..."


Why The Philippines Shouldn't Rebuild Storm-Ravaged Tacloban. I fear we'll be having similar discussions for other coastal communities in the years ahead, as rising sea levels combine with increasingly severe typhoons, hurricanes and nor'easters. When do you just throw up your hands and admit that it doesn't make dollars and sense to keep rebuilding in the same vulnerable areas? Here's an excerpt from Quartz: "...Rebuilding “needs to be done urgently and differently for the Philippines,” Vinod Thomas, director general for independent evaluation at the Asian Development Bank, told Quartz. “There is clearly a big lesson to be learned in not relocating in a highly vulnerable area,” he said. “Tacloban is like a poster child. You can’t imagine a more vulnerable area than Tacloban.”  All of the Philippines is vulnerable to rising seas and intense storms caused by climate change, but Tacloban—situated at the mouth of a bay and with major portions of the city well below sea level—is in a uniquely precarious position..."

Photo credit above: "Locals clean up debris on a street in Tacloban, Philippines, Nov. 22, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, which cut a destructive path across the Philippines, is believed by some climatologists to be the strongest storm to make landfall in recorded history, with some 13 million people affected by the storm." (Jes Aznar/The New York Times).


Jimmy Breslin On JFK's Assassination: Two Classic Column. I think it's hard for most of us to wrap our brains around how traumatic it must have been in this nation 50 years ago. I was 5, and I vaguely remember sitting in my kid-size rocking chair, crying, because my parents were crying. But I couldn't really comprehend what had happened. Here's an excerpt from a couple of must-read columns at The Daily Beast: "In the days after President Kennedy’s assassination, the legendary columnist Jimmy Breslin set the standard for literary journalism written in the wake of tragedy. His columns for the New York Herald Tribune became instant classics, precisely because he chose to cover the unexpected human stories at the heart, but on the periphery, of the breaking news.  Published here with Breslin’s permission are two of his iconic columns from those tumultuous days. “A Death in Emergency Room One” chronicles Nov. 22, 1963, from the attending emergency-room surgeon in Dallas. “It’s an Honor” has become a staple of journalism schools because Breslin sidestepped the media circus and covered the president’s burial from the perspective of the gravedigger at Arlington National Cemetery. Taken together, these two columns are true short stories, history written in the present tense..."

Photo credit above: "Members of the U.S. Naval Academy Men's Glee Club sing at the "The 50th: Honoring the Memory of President John F. Kennedy" event in Dallas on the 50th anniversary of the president's assassination, Friday, Nov. 22, 2013." (Rodger Mallison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT)


How The Japanese Tsunami Changed The U.S. Auto Industry. Here's an excerpt from an interesting story (and twist) via CBS News MoneyWatch: "As we near the first anniversary of the tragic earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11, its effects linger not only in that country but also in the American auto industry. The disaster disrupted supplies of made-in-Japan models like the Toyota Prius and Honda Fit, as well as the flow of parts for some cars assembled in the U.S. As a result, shoppers who might have bought a Toyota or Honda last year bought Chevrolets and Fords, as General Motors and Ford gained market share..."

File Photo credit: AP Photo/Wally Santana


Michael Jordan's North Shore Mansion Goes Under The Auction. The auction took place yesterday, but I thought some of you might want to see the details of Air Jordan's pad, which is pretty amazing, in a wretched-excess sort of way. Here's an excerpt from The Chicago Tribune: "Michael Jordan’s 56,000-square-foot mansion in Highland Park — complete with an NBA regulation-size basketball court — will be put up for sale during a live auction Friday. No minimum bid has been set for the basketball superstar’s 7.4-acre estate at 2700 Point Lane, but prospective buyers are required to put down a $250,000 deposit just to participate in the bidding, said Laura Brady, president of New York-based Concierge Auctions..."

Photo credit above: "The living room inside Michael Jordan's 56,000-square foot Highland Park estate." (John S. Eckert Photography, John S. Eckert).


33 F. high in the Twin Cities Friday.

37 F. average high on November 22.

60 F. record high recorded on November 22, 2012.

1.1" snow so far in November.

6" average November snowfall from November 1-22.

Minnesota Weather History on November 22 (courtesy of Twin Cities National Weather Service):

2003: New London and Little Falls both recorded 9 inches of new snow.

1983: Heavy snowfall accumulated over most of central Minnesota with snowfall totals from 4 inches to almost 1 foot. Minneapolis received 11.4 inches of snow, while Farmington had 11 inches.

1954: 1954 Gale over Minnesota. Considerable damage in downtown Wadena.


TODAY: Chilled sunlight - coldest day yet. Feels like 0 at times. Winds: NW 15. High: 19

SATURDAY NIGHT: Clear and plenty cold. Low: 3

SUNDAY: Dim sun, breezy and not as nippy. Winds: S 10-15. High: near 30

MONDAY: Partly sunny, above average temperatures. Wake-up: 27. High: 36

TUESDAY: Blue sky, colder again. Wake-up: 18. High: 24

WEDNESDAY: Fading sun, good travel weather. Wake-up: 13. High: 26

THANKSGIVING DAY: Some sun. Risk of turkey. Wake-up: 19. High: 32

FRIDAY: Partly sunny and dry. Rabid Shopper Alert. Wake-up: 21. High: 33


Climate Stories....

The Onion Nails It. This is in response to the recent "90 companies blamed for 2/3rd's of greenhouse gas emissions" story. These companies are just giving us what we want and need, right? Graphic: The Onion.


Pentagon Releases Strategy For Arctic. A rapidly melting arctic ice cap is pretty hard to ignore (or deny), yet many of the same professional climate deniers are happy to point out the advantages of less ice and more water - more economical shipping, and more exploration for oil and gas. Of course it's all that burning of oil and gas that's melting the polar ice cap in the first place. Oh, the irony. Here's a clip from The New York Times: "...While “climate change does not directly cause conflict,” Mr. Hagel said, it may “significantly add to the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty and conflict.” He cited “food and water shortages, pandemic disease, disputes over refugees and resources, and more severe natural disasters.” The Pentagon’s Arctic strategy places a priority on preparations to detect, deter, prevent and defeat threats to the United States even as the nation “will continue to exercise U.S. sovereignty in and around Alaska,” Mr. Hagel said..."


Climate Change Forces New Pentagon Plan. Picking up on Secretary of Defense Hagel's comments, here's an excerpt of a slightly different perspective from U.S. News and World Report: "The Arctic is covered with pure driven snow. The Department of Defense hopes to keep it that way with a new policy that for the first time addresses how the U.S. will respond to the effects of climate change, which have opened up a veritable treasure trove around the North Pole that until recently was inaccessible. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel unveiled the military's new Arctic Strategy Friday afternoon during his trip to Canada. The plan seeks to head off potential tensions in the crowded Arctic neighborhood among its residents -- most notably Russia, but all eager for access to massive oil reserves and newly thawed passages for shipping, fishing and tourism..." (Photo credit: NOAA).


U.N. Climate Talks Near End, With Money At Issue. Here's an excerpt from a summary at The New York Times: "The United Nations climate conference ambled toward a conclusion on Friday, with delegates saying that the meeting would produce no more than a modest set of measures toward a new international agreement two years from now. As usual, the biggest dispute was over money. The talks, the 19th annual meeting of parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, opened nearly two weeks ago in the shadow of a devastating typhoon in the Philippines. The disaster added momentum to a proposal by poorer nations for the creation of a new mechanism to compensate developing countries for damage from climate-related disasters..."


As U.N. Climate Change Talks Go Nowhere, Ontario Bans Coal. This made me do a double-take; here's a clip from a story at The Atlantic: "While delegates to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Warsaw continued fiddling while Rome burns, the government of Ontario, Canada, today moved to permanently ban coal-fired power plants. “Our work on eliminating coal and investing in renewables is the strongest action being taken in North America to fight climate change,” Kathleen Wynne, the premier of Ontario, said in a statement. Wynne’s government next week will introduce the Ending Coal for Cleaner Air Act in Parliament. Unlike most such legislation, the Act will ratify what the government has already done – close down the coal-fired power plants that once supplied a quarter of the province’s electricity..." (Image credit: Reuters).


Why America's Major Sports Leagues Are Talking About Climate Change. Ice hockey is already being impacted (shorter seasons on America's ponds and lakes). Here's a clip from a story at ThinkProgress: "...But those kids are starting to run into a major problem: the frozen ponds they play on are less and less likely to form each winter, as a changing climate makes winter warmer and open ice more scarce. That isn’t just bad news for kids who want to play the game. It’s also worrisome for the National Hockey League, a league already a distant fourth among America’s top four professional sports that depends on those pickup games and frozen ponds to help build new generations of fans and players. And the NHL isn’t alone. The NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, and WNBA are all worried about the effects of environmental changes on their sports and the people who play them, which is why representatives from those five leagues plus the U.S. Olympic Committee joined Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) on Capitol Hill today to discuss their efforts to reduce energy usage and address climate change — and the efforts the federal government could take to do the same..." (File photo credit: Star Tribune).


This Entire Country Is About To Be Wiped Out By Climate Change. It Won't Be The Last. Here's an excerpt from a sobering story at Bloomberg BusinessWeek: "...Kiribati is a flyspeck of a United Nations member state, a collection of 33 islands necklaced across the central Pacific. Thirty-two of the islands are low-lying atolls; the 33rd, called Banaba, is a raised coral island that long ago was strip-mined for its seabird-guano-derived phosphates. If scientists are correct, the ocean will swallow most of Kiribati before the end of the century, and perhaps much sooner than that. Water expands as it warms, and the oceans have lately received colossal quantities of melted ice. A recent study found that the oceans are absorbing heat 15 times faster than they have at any point during the past 10,000 years. Before the rising Pacific drowns these atolls, though, it will infiltrate, and irreversibly poison, their already inadequate supply of fresh water..."

Photograph by Claire Martin for Bloomberg Businessweek.


Achbishop Urges Steps To Address "Ethical Challenge" Of Climate Change. The Catholic Sentinel in Portland, Oregon has the story - here's the introduction: "Climate change represents an "ethical challenge to civilization," said the Vatican's lead representative to an international conference discussing the worldwide impact of climate change. Archbishop Celestino Migliore told attendees at a church-run conference that the Vatican would help "form consciences and ethical perspectives" on climate change in line with Catholic social teaching and encourage "fairness, impartiality and mutual responsibility" when it came to action to address the environmental threat..."

Photo credit above: Catholic News Service photo. "A view of a glacial lake is seen in Juascaran National Park in Peru in late September."


Harvard Can Save Us From Global Warming Apocalypse. Divestment (of fossil fuel holdings) is one way to plant a flag in the ground and inspire other universities, companies and individuals, as argued in this collaboration between TomDispatch.com and Salon; here's a clip: "...Set against a landscape in which people have lost faith in the principle sectors of power, however, universities still have a certain legitimacy that grants them the potential for leverage. Divestment will make news precisely because such movements are unusual: universities biting the hands of the dogs that feed them, so to speak. We won’t know how much influence that legitimacy can bring about until the attempts are made.  What we do know, from historical precedent, is that such efforts, even when they start on a small scale, tend to inspire more of the same..."

Thanksgiving Weather Preview (more on Sunday's historic tornado outbreak)

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: November 18, 2013 - 11:04 PM

Tornado Take-aways

Sunday's surreal outbreak of tornadoes, some as strong as EF-4, may have been the most violent seen so far north, coming so late in the season. Tornadoes aren't exactly top-of-mind in Illinois in November.

Two thoughts: you can retrofit any ground-floor closet into a "safe room" for a few thousand dollars. If you don't have a basement this is a good option, for the price of a family vacation to Disneyworld. The slow, uncertain evacuation of Soldier Field during Sunday's Bears game was a reminder that you can't depend on anyone else for your family's safety. It all comes down to personal responsibility & being "weather-aware".

My best advice: load up a few radar and warning apps on your phone and be proactive. Head inside LONG before you get the official order. Stay ahead of the severe weather curve.

The pattern favors a series of glancing blows of arctic air for Minnesota, with the biggest storms spinning up over the southern and eastern USA. After peaking near 50F today temperatures cool off later this week. A period of light snow may brush the state late Friday; by Saturday it'll feel like January.

Thanksgiving weather? Highs in the 30s; no mega-storms brewing into late next week. Winter mayhem may well be postponed until December.

Photo credit above: "Aerial pictures of the tornado damage at Washington, Illinois, near Peoria is seen on Monday, Nov. 18, 2013." (Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/MCT).




Governor Quinn Declares 7 Counties State Disaster Areas. Illinois was hit hardest by Sunday's tornado outbreak; here's an excerpt of a press release from illinois.gov: "Governor Pat Quinn today declared seven counties state disaster areas after severe storms generating tornadoes and high winds ripped across Illinois. Hundreds of homes and businesses have been damaged or destroyed, hundreds of thousands of people are without power, and numerous roads throughout the state have been closed by fallen trees and downed power lines. At least six people are reported dead and dozens more injured. Later today, Governor Quinn will inspect damage on the ground in some of Illinois' hardest hit communities: Washington, Diamond, Gifford, Brookport and New Minden. Counties included in the Governor’s declaration are: Champaign, Grundy, LaSalle, Massac, Tazewell, Washington and Woodford counties...


Photo credit: "Linda Gonia sifts through debris left from her home after a tornado that swept through Washington, Ill, Nov. 18, 2013. Severe storms moved through the Midwest on Sunday, leveling towns, killing at least six people in Illinois and injuring dozens more, and causing thousands of power failures across the region." (Daniel Acker/The New York Times)

Hardest Hit Communities:

Washington, IL - 1 death, extreme damage (outside of Peoria)

Washington County, IL - 2 additional deaths near New Minden (southeast of St. Louis)

Brookport, IL - 2 trailer parks destroyed, at least 2 deaths

Massac County - 1 death, just outside Brookport

*these deaths confirmed by multiple news sources, see NY Times below*

6 deaths total so far (all in Illinois), 12 states reporting damage

150-200 reports of injuries in Illinois alone

Pekin, IL - one of the first large tornadoes of the day

Kokomo, IN - additional extensive damage

NWS Preliminary tornado ratings:

EF-4 : New Minden, IL

EF-4 : Washington, IL

EF-2 : Coal City, IL


Total Devastation. Ben Fiedler sent in this photo of what's left of an auto parts store in Washington, Illinois, one of the towns hardest hit by Sunday's historic tornado outbreak.


Filtered Tornado Count: 76. The raw number was 91 as of late Monday night. But after NOAA analyzed each tornado sighting it determined that some of these reports were the same tornado, seen from different vantagepoints. It may be the 3rd or 4th biggest November outbreak in U.S. history - possibly the most severe so far north, so late in the season. Map above: NOAA SPC.


Sunday's Historic Tornado Outbreak - Ways To Lower Overall Risk. Sunday's swarm of tornadoes was well predicted. There were no big surprises here - even though there was no way to know, in advance, which towns would be hit the hardest. For me it reinforced a few ideas: don't trust officials to protect you or your family - take steps to make sure you're in the weather loop wherever you go, 24/7, including Doppler radar and GPS-centric warnings. That, and if you don't have a basement consider a safe room. For the price of a family vacation you can reinforce a closet and lower the risk of becoming a tornado statistic. More details in today's edition of Climate Matters.



SPC Nailed Sunday's Tornado Outbreak. As early as 4 days before the event SPC was highlighting the Ohio Valley and talking about a major outbreak. On Saturday the risk was elevated to "moderate", then "high" early Sunday morning, meaning it was going to be a very active and violent day. You can see where the tornadoes actually touched down (red dots). That's about as good a severe weather forecast as you'll ever see.


Third November SPC "High Risk" Since 1998. This may have been the most violent tornado outbreak ever recorded so far north (central Illinois into central Indiana). Source: NOAA SPC.




Why Every Home Should Have A Basement (Or Safe Room). In light of more tornado-related tragedy I wanted to post a video from FEMA highlighting the merits of a safe room, which can be installed in nearly any home or apartment, costing a few thousand dollars to reinforce a closet: "In May 2008, Tom Cook and his teenage daughter Ryanne survived a catastrophic tornado in Racine, MO, that leveled their home. But Tom's wife of 19 years and Ryanne's mother did not survive. Following this tragic event, Tom vowed to be prepared for disasters in the future. Tom and Ryanne moved to nearby Joplin, Missouri, to rebuild--this time with a safe room in their garage. This decision proved fortuitous when an EF-5 tornado touched down just three years later on May 22, 2011. The storm leveled their home; however, Tom and Ryanne were safe and unharmed. "It was blown away completely - again," Tom said. "The only thing standing was that storm room." - Location: Joplin, MO.


Peoria Anchors Scramble For Shelter When Tornadic Storm Hits Station. Here's the video clip and an explanation from TVSpy: "A tornado tearing through East Peoria pushed two anchors for the local NBC station WEEK off the air after the twister hit part of the station’s property yesterday morning. Meteorologists Chuck Collins and Sandy Gallant were giving viewers on-air updates about the approaching tornado when they said they heard something. They scrambled for shelter at 11:00 a.m., leaving the anchor desk while the station went to a break. Seven minutes later, they were back on. “OK, guys. We just had a very scary situation to report. WEEK’s TV studios was hit by…it appears to be a tornado,” said Gallant. “We were on the air just a few minutes ago. You may have seen us go off the air rather quickly and that is because, obviously, we could hear the sound of a train right outside of our station...”


Indianapolis TV Station Trolled With Doctored Photo Of Tornado, A UFO, and Bigfoot. The joys and perils of the Internet/Photoshop Age; here's a cautionary tale from TVSpy: "WTHR appears to have been trolled during its coverage of the storms that rumbled across the state when an image of a fake tornado that included a UFO and bigfoot was uploaded to its viewer photo iwitness site. Jim Romenesko reported that Indianapolis Star reporter Eric Weddle found the mistake and tweeted about it..."


Pacific Air Next 36 Hours - Canadian Breeze Returns By Late Week. ECMWF guidance shows highs within a few degrees of 50F today and Wednesday, then a gradual temperature tumble by late week. Highs may not climb out of the mid 20s Saturday, moderating again next week. A storm spinning up along the leading edge of this glancing blow of arctic air may squeeze out a little light snow late Friday. Graph: Weatherspark.


Cold Air Building. Although not the "Mother Lode", not yet - cold air is forecast to push south of the border the latter half of this week. The dark red line marks the predicted 32F isotherm, the green line shows temperatures below 0F. 84 hour NAM model data courtesy of NOAA and Ham Weather.


Serious Late Week Lake Effect. Our modeling guru has created a new product called the BPI, or Blizzard Potential Index, which calculates the probability of low visibility and heavy snow. Although not a true blizzard, lake effect snows may produce local white-out conditions near the Great Lakes later this week into the weekend, another region of snow from north of Denver into Nebraska. Map: Ham Weather.


Negative Phase Of AO and NAO By Early December? A negative phase usually correlates with a jet stream configuration that favors much colder conditions east of the Rockies. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a numbing start to December, especially Upper Midwest and Great Lakes to New England. Graphs: NOAA.


Implications Of A Negative Arctic Oscillation. The GFS seems to confirm a turn to much colder weather after December 2 or so, maybe a few days of single-digit highs and subzero nights the first week of December? We'll see.


Pre-Thanksgiving Travel Headaches? Although I don't see any major snowstorms next week, ECMWF guidance shows a significant coastal storm next week for the eastern USA, a cold, windswept rain possible. This may cause some travel delays, by land and air. European solution valid midday Wednesday, via WSI.


Early Look At Thanksgiving Weather Map. Rain is forecast to taper over New England on Thanksgiving, some sun due to downslope (sinking air in the lee of the Appalachians) from D.C. to Charlotte. Dry weather is predicted for much of the southern and central USA on Thanksgiving Day, snow for the northern Rockies and a cold rain from Seattle to Portland. Map above valid 12z Thanksgiving morning, courtesy of WSI.


Incredible Footage Of Super Typhoon Haiyan's Storm Surge. I've never (ever) seen the water come up this rapidly - I can now see how many observers compared Haiyan's storm surge with a tsunami. The YouTube footage is here.


October Weather Highlights. From record blizzards in the Dakotas to historic flooding in the Austin, Texas area, to an EF-4 tornado near Wayne, Nebraska - October had something for everyone. Map: NOAA NCDC.


Starbucks Puts A Coffee Shop On Rails. Just when you thought they couldn't jam in another Starbucks on your block - let's put them on rails! Here's a clip from Gizmag: "Apparently not content with putting a coffee shop on every second street corner, Starbucks has teamed with Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) to expand into rail travel with the unveiling of the first railway carriage converted into a Starbucks. The double-decker car uses a design that combines design elements based on coffee with Swiss detailing in what Starbucks calls the smallest bar it has ever designed..."


Health-Care Apps That Doctors Use. I found this Wall Street Journal article interesting; here's an excerpt: "...Mobile apps for smartphones and tablets are changing the way doctors and patients approach health care. Many are designed for the doctors themselves, ranging from handy databases about drugs and diseases to sophisticated monitors that read a person's blood pressure, glucose levels or asthma symptoms. Others are for the patients - at their doctor's recommendation - to gather diagnostic data, for example, or simply to help coordinate care, giving patients an easy way to keep track of their conditions and treatments..." (screen shot above: iScrub and Wall Street Journal).


A Batmobile In Your Future? It would be fun to cruise down I-35 in one of these (might make it easier to merge too). Details via gizmag.com: "Historics auction house in Surrey, UK, is listing a fully road-legal Batmobile for sale. It’s not an original – the car is a replica of the vehicle used by Michael Keaton in Tim Burton’s 1989 and 1992 movies – but Historics lists the piece as an "extremely well conceived tribute." "BLACK, low mileage, excellent condition, bespoke chassis, automatic transmission, fuel injected Jaguar 3.2 liter engine, remote ignition, hydraulic suspension, smoke release mechanism, flame thrower. US$145,000."



36 F. high in the Twin Cities Monday.

40 F. average high on November 18.

56 F. high on November 18, 2012.

7.6" snow fell on the Twin Cities November 18, 1957.

1981: Heavy snow with near blizzard conditions resulted in over a foot of wet snow, which caused the inflated fabric of the Metrodome to collapse and rip.

1957: Snowstorm in Southeast Minnesota. A foot is dumped at Winona. Heavy crop losses.

* November 18 Minnesota weather history courtesy of the MPX office of the National Weather Service.


TODAY: Dim sun, breezy & milder. Winds: S 15+ High: 52

TUESDAY NIGHT: Patchy clouds, milder than average. Low: 40

WEDNESDAY: Clouds increase, risk of a sprinkle or two. High: 49

THURSDAY: Mostly cloudy, cooling off. Wake-up: 32. High: 34

FRIDAY: Light snow possible southern MN PM hours. Wake-up: 25. High: 31

SATURDAY: Mostly cloudy. Feels like 5-10F. Wake-up: 15. High: 23

SUNDAY: More sun, less wind. Not as cold. Wake-up: 18. High: 34

MONDAY: Partly sunny, above average. Wake-up: 22. High: 39


Climate Stories...

What Farmers Think About Climate Change In One Great Quote. Here's a clip from a story at Business Insider: "...Here is what Climate Corporation founder Dave Friedberg said about how most farmers view climate change (emphasis ours):   

"You don't need to talk about climate change per se ... Statistically, you are looking at a series of numbers. If it were a roulette wheel, you could say, 'It's coming up black more and more frequently.' Can I attribute that to black being overweighted by the croupier? Or to the pit boss, or the machine being broken? It doesn't matter. Some people will argue that ice ages have waxed and waned for tens of millennia and that this is part of a natural cycle. That doesn't change the fact that black is coming up more frequently and you will get less out of an acre of corn than you used to. The price for that land simply cannot be justified by the income it can generate." 

In other words, it doesn't matter what's causing it, but something's definitely not right, and investing in protection from that uncertainty now seems a must..."


Global Climate Events In October. Data courtesy of NOAA NCDC.


All Over The World, Hurricane Records Keep Breaking. A symptom of warmer seas or a statistical fluke? Chris Mooney takes a look at Mother Jones; here's an excerpt: "...But here's the thing: Haiyan isn't the globe's only record-breaking hurricane in recent years. Even as scientists continue to study and debate whether global warming is making hurricanes worse, hurricanes have continued to set new intensity records. Indeed, a Climate Desk analysis of official hurricane records finds that many of the globe's hurricane basins—including the Atlantic, the Northwest Pacific, the North Indian, the South Indian, and the South Pacific—have witnessed (or, in the case of Haiyan and the Northwest Pacific, arguably witnessed) some type of new hurricane intensity record since the year 2000. What's more, a few regions that aren't usually considered major hurricane basis have also seen mammoth storms of late..." (Image: NOAA).


Haiyan, Sandy And Climate Change. Jeff Nesbit has the story at U.S. News; here's the introduction: "Is climate change responsible for the devastation caused by Super Typhoon Haiyan – the strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall in recorded history? Was it responsible for Superstorm Sandy, which caused billions of dollars of damage to New York City and New Jersey? More broadly, is climate change starting to have an impact today on such extreme weather events? The answer to those questions is a complicated one, but it starts with the word "yes". Scientists have spent years researching climate change's role in specific, extreme events such as Haiyan and Sandy. But what climate scientists know today, with a high degree of certainty, is that all extreme weather events are now occurring in a world where the oceans are warmer, sea levels are higher and temperatures are rising. So the odds of more intense, devastating storms like Haiyan and Sandy are increasing every year..."

Photo credit above: "A resident bikes past the devastation in Tacloban, central Philippines."


Gaps In Data On Arctic Temperatures Account For The "Pause" In Global Warming. Here's more information on the recent discovery, courtesy of The Independent: "...That much-vaunted “pause” in global warming can be largely explained by a failure to record an unprecedented rise in Arctic temperatures over the past 15 years, a study has found. Two independent scientists have found that global temperatures over the past decade have almost certainly risen two-and-half times faster than Met Office scientists had conservatively assumed when they estimated Arctic warming because of a lack of surface temperature records in the remote region. Moreover, when the latest estimates of Arctic temperatures are included in the global temperatures, the so-called “pause” in global warming all but disappears and temperatures over the past 15 or so years continue to increase as they have done since the 1980s, the scientists said..."


Surviving Climate Change: Is A Green Energy Revolution On The Global Agenda? Here's a clip from a story at Huffington Post that made me do a double-take. Will it really come to this? I hope we come to our senses long before there are protests on the streets, but some days I wonder: "...Nobody can say that a green energy revolution is a sure thing, but who can deny that energy-oriented environmental protests in the U.S. and elsewhere have the potential to expand into something far greater?  Like China, the United States will experience genuine damage from climate change and its unwavering commitment to fossil fuels in the years ahead.  Americans are not, for the most part, passive people.  Expect them, like the Chinese, to respond to these perils with increased ire and a determination to alter government policy. So don’t be surprised if that green energy revolution erupts in your neighborhood as part of humanity’s response to the greatest danger we’ve ever faced.  If governments won’t take the lead on an imperiled planet, someone will..."


Global Warming And Business Reporting - Can Business News Organizations Achieve Less Than Zero? No, wait, there's a scientific disinformation campaign underway? Could it be because some (specific) businesses feel that their business models and future earnings are at risk? Here's an excerpt from The Guardian: "Some of the most popular business news outlets are complete failures when it comes to climate reporting. If they get basic climate science this wrong, how can they be trusted on any other topic? Recently, news outlets such as Forbes, the Wall Street Journal and CNBC have been in misinformation overdrive. It's not like it's difficult to get real scientists to speak to journalists. In spite of this, these news organizations have their so-called experts wax ineloquently on climate change, all the while displaying enormous ignorance of the actual science..."



Acid Oceans Could Cost The World Billions Of Dollars. The forecast calls for more jellyfish. Here's an excerpt from a story at Quartz: "Ocean scientists fear that climate change is dramatically shifting the chemical balance of the ocean in ways that will kill fish, molluscs and coral, harming 540 million people who depend on fisheries for their livelihoods—and anyone who likes a cheap oysters. Oceanographers gathered for a summit in Monterey, California, last month, producing a new report warning policymakers of the need to act. The world’s oceans are basically a giant carbon sink, absorbing about a quarter of carbon dioxide emissions. Since the industrial revolution, the ocean has become increasingly acidic due to increased carbon emissions—and at a faster pace than ever before—but that saturation is making the ocean less effective at taking carbon out of the air.."

Photo credit above: "Fishing communities aren't looking forward to a pH drop." Reuters/Lou Dematteis.


Top U.N. Official Warns Of Coal Risks. Here's the introduction to a New York Times article: "Most of the world’s coal needs to stay in the ground if greenhouse gas emissions are to be held in check, the United Nations’ top climate change official said Monday in a speech to coal industry executives here in Poland, one of the most coal-dependent nations on Earth. Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change, told industry officials here that they were putting the global climate and their shareholders at risk by failing to support the search for alternative methods of producing energy..."

Stumbling into Winter (first frost and flurries in sight)

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

IOU

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

(Emphasis mine.)

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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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

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


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


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

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


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


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


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


55 F. high in the Twin Cities Tuesday.

59 F. average high on October 15.

61 F. high on October 15, 2012.

.61" rain fell yesterday.

2.49" rain so far in October.


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

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy. Low: 39

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Frost or freeze likely Wednesday morning of next week.


Climate Stories...

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

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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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

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