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.

Winter Solstice: 72 Hour Thaw - Christmas Coating?

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: December 20, 2014 - 10:36 PM

Dark Daze

I'm taking a break from the Bob Dylan-Spam-Tidy Bowl on ESPN 7 to ponder the Winter Solstice, the start of the sun's inevitable comeback. Today brings the shortest daylight of the year: 8 hours and 46 minutes of meager sunlight. That compares with 15 hours, 37 minutes of daylight on June 21.

I have a hunch my distant ancestors hibernated from November thru March. And pioneers hunkering down at Fort Snelling endured a parade of blizzards, disease, filth and boredom, but somehow they managed. No electronic distractions, just books, games, cards & whiskey. Not necessarily in that order.

Last year 9 inches of snow was on the ground on Christmas Day. This year we'll be lucky to wind up with an inch of slush, after an extended thaw from today into Wednesday morning. The atmosphere should be mild enough aloft for rain tomorrow; a coating to an inch or two of slush Tuesday before flurries taper Christmas Eve. The sun peeks out Christmas Day with highs in the 20s; Friday's snow chance has diminished. Sorry for the false alarm.

That's the thing about El Nino winters: they tend to be milder, cloudier and foggier, with fewer storms overall.

Not as much polar-vortex-babble in the media, either.


Thaw Into Christmas Eve - Snowy Coating for Santa? No, we will not see any major snowfalls between now and Thursday. The atmosphere will be warm enough aloft for very light rain and drizzle today and Monday, changing to wet snow Monday night and Tuesday, when a coating to an inch of slush could accumulate, maybe a couple inches north metro. But that's pretty much it before we dry out Christmas Eve with a few glimmers of sun Christmas Day. It cools off late in the week but the really cold weather doesn't arrive until the last few days of the month.


A Few Waves of Colder Air. Although I don't see anything to rival last winter (yet) there's no question we'll end 2014 on a colder note; highs in single digits and low teens the last few days of December. GFS guidance above courtesy of NOAA.


Roller Coaster Temperatures in December. Here's an excerpt of this week's WeatherTalk Newsletter with Dr. Mark Seeley: "...After starting the month with many sub-zero F temperature readings around the state during the first week, including a national low of -12 F at Embarrass on the 6th, many Minnesota observers reported 11-12 consecutive days with above normal temperatures and several new daily record warm minimum values and record daily warm maximum values were set over the 13th to the 15th.  In addition MSP set a new all-time record high dewpoint for so late in the month with a reading of 49 F on the 15th, that corresponds to the average dewpoint for early June or mid-September..."


Nature's Own Tornado Detector Saves Migrating Birds, Study Finds. Is it possible (some) birds can detect the faint vibrations of a distant tornado, one that's hundreds of miles away? I wouldn't rule anything out after reading this story at tucson.com: "...The data showed that five of his recently returned golden-winged warblers fled their Appalachian Mountain breeding ground and winged back to the Gulf of Mexico a day or two ahead of a massive thunderstorm cell that would later spawn 84 tornadoes and kill at least 35 people. Streby, a National Science Foundation visiting research scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, thinks the birds may have been reacting to very low-frequency sound waves produced by the distant, approaching storm, according to a study published online Thursday in the journal Current Biology..."


Tipping Point Nears For "Emerging Flooding Crisis". Sea levels are rising, that's not a computer model, that's reality, with is increasing the frequency of tide and storm-related coastal flooding, as reported at Climate Central - here's an excerpt: "...Flooding has already become 10 times more likely in Baltimore and Honolulu and five times more likely in Philadelphia, Norfolk, Va., and Charleston, S.C., since 1930. That’s in large part because since the start of the 20th century, sea levels have risen by about 8 inches globally due to human greenhouse gas emissions that have caused oceans to warm and land ice to melt, swelling the seas. “It’s an emerging flooding crisis,” William Sweet, an oceanographer with NOAA who led the new report, said..."

Photo credit above: "Flooding on San Francisco's Embarcadero during the 2012 King Tide." Credit: Sergio Ruiz/Flickr.


Heart-Pounding Video Documents American Airlines Flight Turbulence. The home video is troubling, a vivid reminder of why you always want to have your seat belt fastened when you're in a metallic tube traveling at 500+ mph. Here's a clip from The Washington Post: "Video of the American Airlines flight that was rocked by severe turbulence on Tuesday will make your heart skip a beat, and might even convince you to keep your seat belt fastened snug on your next plane trip. American Airlines flight 280, which was on its way from South Korea to Dallas, Texas, was diverted to Tokyo on Tuesday after plane-jarring turbulence injured several people, some of whom were later hospitalized for injuries that were not life-threatening.."


The Sony Hackers Are Terrorists. Sony's corporate security was thought to be average, and if it can happen to them, it can happen to pretty much any company out there today. Here's an excerpt from a story at Slate: "...This is the real story. Sony Pictures’ systems were not just compromised but obliterated, with the company now sent back to what’s comparably the technological Stone Age. Because of the centrality of IT infrastructure to every aspect of a company’s functions, it’s not even clear whether Sony has the ability to pay people accurately at the moment, as its payroll system has been reportedly destroyed..."

Photo credit above: AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File.



The Lesson of the Sony Hack: We Should All Jump to the "Erasable Internet". Are we moving toward the Snapchat Internet? At this point nothing would surprise me; here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "...Because here’s the thing about the digital world that we must remember. Nothing you say in any form mediated through digital technology — absolutely nothing at all — is guaranteed to stay private. Before you type anything, just think: How will this look when it gets out? What will Angelina Jolie think if she finds out about this? If Angelina won’t like it, don’t send it. Because Angelina will find out. So will the rest of the world..."


The 33 Craziest Fast Foods of 2014. As Buzzfeed rightfully points out, "pray for humanity".


32 F. high in the Twin Cities Saturday.

26 F. average high on December 20.

20 F. high on December 20, 2013.

1" snow on the ground.

December 20, 1993: Strong northwest winds gusted to 35 miles an hour and caused near whiteout conditions over a wide area of southwest Minnesota during the late afternoon on the 21st into the early morning of the 22nd. Several car accidents occurred. A 30 year old man was killed when he lost control of his truck and slid into a ditch in the near blizzard like conditions. Counties affected include: Blue Earth, Brown, Chippewa, Faribault, Lac Qui Parle, Redwood, Renville, Watonwan, and Yellow Medicine.

December 20, 1939: Latest date for Lake Minnewaska to freeze over at Glenwood.


TODAY: Fog and drizzle. Very gray. Winds: South 10. High: 36

SUNDAY NIGHT: Foggy and damp, light mix or drizzle. Low: 33

MONDAY: Periods of rain. Wet roads. High: 38

TUESDAY: A chance of wet snow, coating of slush? Wake-up: 32. High: 34

CHRISTMAS EVE: Flurries taper. Santa sightings late. Wake-up: 30. High: 32

CHRISTMAS DAY: Some Assembly Required. Some sunshine too. Wake-up: 22. High: 29

FRIDAY: Chance of snow far south. Wake-up: 19. High: 26

SATURDAY: Mostly cloudy, chilly. Good travel. Wake-up: 8. High: 22


Climate Stories....

NASA Reveals What Carbon Dioxide Looks Like From Space. Meteorologist Andrew Freedman has the article for Mashable; here's the intro: "NASA revealed the first-ever images of the global atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, the key long-lived global warming gas. The imagery, taken over the course of three months, reveals details about springtime biomass being burned in the Southern Hemisphere, as well as photosynthesis from plants worldwide. The data comes from a new NASA satellite known as the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) that was launched on July 2 of this year..."

Image credit above: "Global atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations from Oct. 1 through Nov. 11, as recorded by NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2. Brighter colors show high CO2 concentrations." Image: NASA JPL.


Op-Ed: Flood, Drought Risks Must Be Managed, With Or Without Climate Change. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Los Angeles Times: "...Climate change is increasing the risks of future droughts and floods. The sea will continue to rise, increasing flood risk along the East Coast, perhaps made worse by intensifying hurricanes. And the best science indicates that California's wet season will become shorter and sharper. Spring drying will be exacerbated as more water is lost to evaporation into a warmer atmosphere and less is stored as winter snow..."


EPA Chief: Extreme Weather Boosting Climate Change Plan. Some Americans may still be skeptical of a man-made component to climate change, but there's little doubt that the frequency and intensity of the extremes is increasing over time. Here's an excerpt from USA TODAY: "Extreme weather events from typhoons to heat waves are helping make the case to Americans on the need to address climate change, the head of the EPA says, although opposition from congressional Republicans to the Obama administration's ambitious plan remains unrelenting. "You have fires; you have droughts," Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said in an interview with Capital Download. "People may not call it climate change," but they feel the consequences from changing weather patterns, including on the economy. "This is about their own jobs, their own health, their own kids..."

Graphic above: Union of Concerned Scientists.

Weekend Thaw - A Nearly White Christmas - Plowable Snow Next Friday?

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: December 19, 2014 - 11:04 PM

Beautifully Boring

I guess it's human nature to assume the grass is greener elsewhere, to want what you don't have. My youngest son is a Naval Academy grad. He flies helicopters for the Navy, training with the 5th Fleet in San Diego. Yeah, that San Diego, the city with the best climate in the USA.

He's coming home for Christmas and he can't wait to see snow again. "Dad, it's boring out here. Every day is the same. I miss the seasons, the lakes, the people."

Really?

I'd like to be bored for a year or two, just to sample that sensation.

The approach of colder air will set off a series of storms in the coming weeks. An inch or two of slush is possible Tuesday; just enough to (possibly) qualify as a white Christmas. A major Christmas Eve storm out east dumps out mostly rain, but heavy snow pinwheels into the Great Lakes and New England Christmas Day. I expect dry weather and 20s here on December 25, but latest ECMWF guidance spins up a major storm late next week. I could see a plowable snowfall next Friday into early Saturday, followed by a few subzero lows as we welcome a numbing New Year.

All I want for Christmas is El Nino. That, and a 3-day weekend in San Diego might cure what ails me.


Pre-Christmas Thaw. A Real Storm Next Friday? Temperatures stay at or above 32F from this afternoon into much of Wednesday before tumbling late next week. European guidance is hinting at subzero lows by the end of next week, maybe a few days with highs in single digits by the end of December. Drizzle Sunday gives way to a cold rain Monday, possibly ending as an inch or two of snow Tuesday. I don't see any travel problems close to home Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, but next Friday may be a subtle (yet blunt) reminder that winter is still very much alive and well. Graph: Weatherspark.


Christmas Eve Coastal Storm. ECMWF (European) guidance shows an impressive storm wrapping up near Detroit by midday next Wednesday, Christmas Eve, with a trailing front pushing impressive volumes of Atlantic moisture into the east coast and New England. The atmosphere will be warm enough for rain from Boston and New York southward to Raleigh, but winds will be strong and I could see delays at many airports out east. Snowy headaches are possible from the eastern suburbs of Chicago to Detroit, Indianapolis, Columbs and Louisville on the cold, backside of this powerful storm. Map: WSI Corporation.


Hold The Presses - A Real Storm Next Friday? It's too early to get too excited, but the latest run of the ECMWF takes a storm south of Minnesota, pushing from near Des Moines to the Quad Cities and Milwaukee, a potential storm track that favors significant snow for the Twin Cities. What can go wrong between now and then? Plenty. But make an entry in your diary: it may actually snow enough to shovel and plow next Friday. Map: WSI.


Roller Coaster Temperatures in December. Here's an excerpt of this week's WeatherTalk Newsletter with Dr. Mark Seeley: "...After starting the month with many sub-zero F temperature readings around the state during the first week, including a national low of -12 F at Embarrass on the 6th, many Minnesota observers reported 11-12 consecutive days with above normal temperatures and several new daily record warm minimum values and record daily warm maximum values were set over the 13th to the 15th.  In addition MSP set a new all-time record high dewpoint for so late in the month with a reading of 49 F on the 15th, that corresponds to the average dewpoint for early June or mid-September..."


Nature's Own Tornado Detector Saves Migrating Birds, Study Finds. Is it possible (some) birds can detect the faint vibrations of a distant tornado, one that's hundreds of miles away? I wouldn't rule anything out after reading this story at tucson.com: "...The data showed that five of his recently returned golden-winged warblers fled their Appalachian Mountain breeding ground and winged back to the Gulf of Mexico a day or two ahead of a massive thunderstorm cell that would later spawn 84 tornadoes and kill at least 35 people. Streby, a National Science Foundation visiting research scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, thinks the birds may have been reacting to very low-frequency sound waves produced by the distant, approaching storm, according to a study published online Thursday in the journal Current Biology..."


Tipping Point Nears For "Emerging Flooding Crisis". Sea levels are rising, that's not a computer model, that's reality, with is increasing the frequency of tide and storm-related coastal flooding, as reported at Climate Central - here's an excerpt: "...Flooding has already become 10 times more likely in Baltimore and Honolulu and five times more likely in Philadelphia, Norfolk, Va., and Charleston, S.C., since 1930. That’s in large part because since the start of the 20th century, sea levels have risen by about 8 inches globally due to human greenhouse gas emissions that have caused oceans to warm and land ice to melt, swelling the seas. “It’s an emerging flooding crisis,” William Sweet, an oceanographer with NOAA who led the new report, said..."

Photo credit above: "Flooding on San Francisco's Embarcadero during the 2012 King Tide." Credit: Sergio Ruiz/Flickr.


From The Extreme To The Mean: Acceleration and Tipping Points of Coastal Inundation from Sea Level Rise. A link to the research referenced above is here.


Heart-Pounding Video Documents American Airlines Flight Turbulence. The home video is troubling, a vivid reminder of why you always want to have your seat belt fastened when you're in a metallic tube traveling at 500+ mph. Here's a clip from The Washington Post: "Video of the American Airlines flight that was rocked by severe turbulence on Tuesday will make your heart skip a beat, and might even convince you to keep your seat belt fastened snug on your next plane trip. American Airlines flight 280, which was on its way from South Korea to Dallas, Texas, was diverted to Tokyo on Tuesday after plane-jarring turbulence injured several people, some of whom were later hospitalized for injuries that were not life-threatening.."


The Sony Hackers Are Terrorists. Sony's corporate security was thought to be average, and if it can happen to them, it can happen to pretty much any company out there today. Here's an excerpt from a story at Slate: "...This is the real story. Sony Pictures’ systems were not just compromised but obliterated, with the company now sent back to what’s comparably the technological Stone Age. Because of the centrality of IT infrastructure to every aspect of a company’s functions, it’s not even clear whether Sony has the ability to pay people accurately at the moment, as its payroll system has been reportedly destroyed..."

Photo credit above: AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File.


The Lesson of the Sony Hack: We Should All Jump to the "Erasable Internet". Are we moving toward the Snapchat Internet? At this point nothing would surprise me; here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "...Because here’s the thing about the digital world that we must remember. Nothing you say in any form mediated through digital technology — absolutely nothing at all — is guaranteed to stay private. Before you type anything, just think: How will this look when it gets out? What will Angelina Jolie think if she finds out about this? If Angelina won’t like it, don’t send it. Because Angelina will find out. So will the rest of the world..."


Deloitte's Amsterdam HQ Becomes World's Most Sustainable Office Building. Gizmag has the details; here's a clip: "...The building's south façade is covered with solar panels on all surfaces that aren't windows. In order to generate enough electricity to meet its level of consumption, though, developers OVG partnered with the University of Amsterdam and the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences to install a further 4,100 sq m (44,100 sq ft) of solar panels on the rooftops of the schools. The heating and cooling of the building is catered for in part by orienting it to benefit passively from the path of the sun and also by using an aquifer thermal energy storage system..."


The 33 Craziest Fast Foods of 2014. As Buzzfeed rightfully points out, "pray for humanity".


30 F. high in the Twin Cities Friday.

26 F. average high on December 19.

28 F. high on December 19, 2013.

December 19, 1989: Hard pressed to find snow cover in Minnesota. Only good places to cross country ski are at Grand Marais and along the Gunflint Trail.


TODAY: Cloudy with patchy fog. Winds: South 5-10. High: 33

SATURDAY NIGHT: Clouds and fog. Low: 30

SUNDAY: Fog and drizzle. Another thaw. High: 37

MONDAY: Mostly rain - wet roads. Light mix by Monday night. Wake-up: 33. High: 38

TUESDAY: Inch or two of snow? Cooling off. Wake-up: 31. High: 33

CHRISTMAS EVE: Cold wind, flurries. Risk of Santa late. Wake-up: 23. High: 29

CHRISTMAS DAY: Dry & quiet. Few peeks of sun. Wake-up: 18. High: 27

FRIDAY: Potentially plowable snow event? Wake-up: 22. High: 23 (falling)


Climate Stories....

NASA Reveals What Carbon Dioxide Looks Like From Space. Meteorologist Andrew Freedman has the article for Mashable; here's the intro: "NASA revealed the first-ever images of the global atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, the key long-lived global warming gas. The imagery, taken over the course of three months, reveals details about springtime biomass being burned in the Southern Hemisphere, as well as photosynthesis from plants worldwide. The data comes from a new NASA satellite known as the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) that was launched on July 2 of this year..."

Image credit above: "Global atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations from Oct. 1 through Nov. 11, as recorded by NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2. Brighter colors show high CO2 concentrations." Image: NASA JPL.


Op-Ed: Flood, Drought Risks Must Be Managed, With Or Without Climate Change. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Los Angeles Times: "...Climate change is increasing the risks of future droughts and floods. The sea will continue to rise, increasing flood risk along the East Coast, perhaps made worse by intensifying hurricanes. And the best science indicates that California's wet season will become shorter and sharper. Spring drying will be exacerbated as more water is lost to evaporation into a warmer atmosphere and less is stored as winter snow..."


EPA Chief: Extreme Weather Boosting Climate Change Plan. Some Americans may still be skeptical of a man-made component to climate change, but there's little doubt that the frequency and intensity of the extremes is increasing over time. Here's an excerpt from USA TODAY: "Extreme weather events from typhoons to heat waves are helping make the case to Americans on the need to address climate change, the head of the EPA says, although opposition from congressional Republicans to the Obama administration's ambitious plan remains unrelenting. "You have fires; you have droughts," Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said in an interview with Capital Download. "People may not call it climate change," but they feel the consequences from changing weather patterns, including on the economy. "This is about their own jobs, their own health, their own kids..."

Graphic above: Union of Concerned Scientists.


The People Have Spoken: This Is The Most Brazen Lie of 2014. ThinkProgress has the post; here's the introduction: "Earlier this year, readers of the Tampa Bay Times’ fact-checking project PolitiFact were asked to vote on what they believe was the year’s biggest lie. And as of Wednesday, the results are in: “Climate change is a hoax” was the overwhelming choice. Over nine other options, almost 32 percent of the PolitiFact’s 14,467 poll voters chose the “hoax” claim, which was the title of a video released this summer by failed congressional candidate Lenar Whitney..."

Photo credit above: "Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), one of Congress’ most outspoken climate deniers, has often claimed that global warming is a hoax." CREDIT: Office of Senator Jim Inhofe.

* The Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact article at Tampa Bay Times is here.


How Germany Banishes Climate Myths. CNN has the video and story - here's an excerpt that caught my eye: "...Of course, doubts remain. Yet 15 years after we launched our "Energiewende" -- the move away from an energy supply based on fossil and nuclear fuels -- the economic impact has been broadly extremely positive: Renewable energy sources now account for nearly 30% of our electricity demands, and by 2050, our energy supply will be based almost completely on renewable sources. Indeed, the boom in environmental technologies is one of the reasons Germany made it through the economic crisis relatively unscathed..."

Icy Paranoia - Weekend Thaw - Christmas Coating - Numb New Year

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: December 19, 2014 - 7:56 AM

Icy Paranoia

When I talk to older Minnesotans it's not the snow or biting wind chill that makes them nervous. It's ice. Falling on ice can spark debilitating injuries for young and old alike; hitting your head on icy ground can trigger concussion, even death.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention an older American is treated in a hospital emergency room for injuries related to a fall every 15 seconds. Falls are the leading cause of injury for adults older than 65, accounting for 95 percent of hip fractures. Every winter 1 in 3 Americans over the age of 65 will fall down.

Why do some Minnesotans become snowbirds and flee south for the winter? It probably has more to do with fear of ice than fear of the cold. Adequate footwear, exercises to maintain balance, and monitoring any medications that might spark dizziness can help lower the overall risk.

A weekend thaw melts much of the ice out there right now. A coating of snow is possible before Christmas, but this year Santa may show up in a red SUV.

A touch of arctic air is on tap for late December and early January, but the pattern appears "progressive".

Translation: no sign of subzero air stalling for weeks on end.

* Photo credit: Steve Burns.


Falls Common Cause of Serious Injury, Death Among Elderly. Some of the CDC stats referenced in today's column were from a recent article at Bangor Daily News; here's an excerpt: "...CDC statistics show that each year, one in every three adults age 65 and older falls. Falls can cause moderate to severe injuries, including hip fractures and head injuries, and can increase the risk of early death. In 2010, 2.3 million nonfatal fall injuries among older adults were treated in emergency departments and more than 662,000 of those treated required hospitalization. Public health statistics show that 20,400 older adults died in 2009 nationwide from fall injuries, with deaths among men 34 percent higher than deaths among women..."


Nagging Snow Drought. Snow lovers aren't terribly pleased with the state of our winter. After a promisingly cold and snowy start in November the mid-December thaw, 3 days in a row at or above 50F, has put a major dent in snowcover amounts. Thursday morning estimated snow reports courtesy of NOAA.


Sluggish Warming Trend into Monday - Slushy Possibilities Pre-Christmas. I can't promise a knock-down, drag-out snowstorm before Christmas, but a light mix is forecast to change over to light snow and flurries Tuesday and Wednesday; I suspect the ground will be white for Christmas Eve/Day, just don't expect a lot of inches in your back yard. We cool off back to average by the end of next week.


I'll Be Home For Christmas - Maybe. ECMWF (European) guidance shows a major east coast storm, another nor'easter spreading soaking rains into the Mid Atlantic and New England next Wednesday, changing over to snow over central Pennsylvania and New York State. Midday Christmas Eve map courtesy of WSI.


A Much Colder Front. Although it may not bring back memories of last January, there's a very good chance we'll be shivering in unison come late December and early January, 2015 with a few daytime highs in single digits and lows dipping below, according to GFS guidance. Enjoy the 30s - changes are coming in time for the New Year.



CryoSat Records Small Decrease in Arctic Ice Volume. Here's an excerpt from an update at Gizmag: "...Long-term satellite records show that Arctic ice volume fluctuates from season to season, but details a consistent downward trend throughout the year. The new CryoSat measurements, which were recorded in October and November 2014, show a 6.4 percent decrease in the volume of arctic sea ice, with 10,200 cubic km (6,338 cubic miles) now remaining..."


Persistent Warming Driving Big Arctic Changes. The Arctic is warming twice as fast as mid latitudes, and this is impacting not only the rate of ice loss but the configuration and speed of jet stream winds blowing high overhead. Here's an excerpt from an update at Climate Central: "...One of those areas of importance is understanding if the drop in sea ice and rising temperatures are also steering extreme weather toward the continental U.S. and other parts of the lower latitudes. Some research has tied the rapid changes in the Arctic, known as Arctic amplification, to creating a wavier jet stream that can stall weather patterns. Jim Overland, a scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said a wavy jet stream has been in place at times for each of the past five winters and the potential for an Arctic connection is there, but the jury is still out on directly attributing it to warming in the Arctic..."


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


Denmark Has Its Hottest Year On Record. The Local has the story - here's a clip: "Although it is not quite over yet, 2014 has secured itself a place in the record books as both the hottest year in recorded Danish history and the first year ever to end with an average temperature in the double digits. According to meteorology institute DMI, 2014’s average temperature will end at 10.0C. The record heat is “unthinkable without climate change", DMI spokeswoman Katrine Krogh Andersen said..."


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


Drones Might Help Explain How Tornadoes Form. If, that is, you can prevent the drones from being battered by large hail, there may be something here to further the science of tornadogenesis. Here's an excerpt from CBS Denver: "...Scientists have no other way to get instruments deep inside a storm. Drones can take measurements at any altitude up to about 2,500 feet — higher than measurements by ground stations and storm-chasing vehicles, said Adam Houston of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, co-director of the research group. They can also measure wind below 300 feet, lower than radar can reach. Drones can cover more territory than a ground-based storm chaser, and they don’t need an airport to take off or land. A drone can fly into the strong winds, downdrafts, rain and hail of a powerful storm without putting a human pilot in danger..."


NASA Analysis: 11 Trillion Gallons To Replenish California Drought Losses. NASA has the story; here's an excerpt: "It will take about 11 trillion gallons of water (42 cubic kilometers) -- around 1.5 times the maximum volume of the largest U.S. reservoir -- to recover from California's continuing drought, according to a new analysis of NASA satellite data. The finding was part of a sobering update on the state's drought made possible by space and airborne measurements and presented by NASA scientists Dec. 16 at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco..."

Graphic credit above: "NASA GRACE satellite data reveal the severity of California’s drought on water resources across the state. This map shows the trend in water storage between September 2011 and September 2014." Image Credit: NASA JPL.


Cuomo To Ban Fracking As Health Officials Call It Unsafe. Here's the introduction to a story at Bloomberg: "The New York state Health Department said fracking for natural gas can’t be done safely, dooming prospects that Governor Andrew Cuomo will end a six-year moratorium. Acting Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said at a cabinet meeting in Albany today that studies on the extraction technique’s effects on water, air and soil are inconsistent, incomplete and raise too many “red flags” to allow..."


Why Media Shouldn't Glorify Pennsylvania's Fracking Industry. Media Matters takes a fair and balanced look at the pros and cons of fracking; here's an excerpt: "...But Pennsylvania may actually be more of a testament to why New York's health concerns surrounding fracking are warranted. Oil and gas operations have damaged Pennsylvania's water supply over 200 times since 2007, according to an investigation by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and a recent report from the Government Accountability Office found that the state's drinking water is at risk from poor wastewater disposal practices. One Pennsylvania town, Dimock, has been dubbed "Ground Zero" in the battle over fracking's safety by NPR. The town has seen particularly high rates of water contamination, with a methane leak causing a resident's backyard water well to explode, tossing aside a concrete slab weighing several thousand pounds in one instance..."


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


How To Be A Survivor: Flu Season 2014-2015. An article at Huffington Post has some good reminders of steps you can take to lower the risk this winter; here's the intro: "Each year, many myths and misconceptions circulate about "flu shots." People tend to have a variety of opinions about whether they are worthwhile and whether they actually make a difference in terms of protection against the flu. One reason for this is that the effectiveness of the flu vaccine can vary from season to season. Additionally, there are a number of factors that contribute to the likelihood that the flu vaccine will protect from the flu..."


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


21 F. high in the Twin Cities Thursday.

26 F. average high on December 18.

37 F. high on December 18, 2013.

1" snow on the ground at KMSP.

December 18, 1983: Record lows were set across central Minnesota with temperatures ranging from fifty degrees below zero to the upper twenties below zero. Mora set their record with a low of 52 below, with 42 below at Little Falls, 41 below at Jordan, St. Cloud, and Cambridge, and 39 below at Long Prairie, Milaca, and Stillwater.

December 18, 1922: Heat wave across Minnesota. Temperatures climb into the 60's at New Ulm.


TODAY: Mostly cloudy, a bit milder. Winds: SE 5-10. High: 32

FRIDAY NIGHT: Cloudy, not as cold. Low: 29

SATURDAY: Thawing out. Clouds and fog linger. High: 34

SUNDAY: Clouds, fog, drizzle possible. Wake-up: 31. High: 36

MONDAY: Mix changes to wet snow. Slushy? Wake-up: 32. High: 37

TUESDAY: Light snow tapers. Coating possible. Wake-up: 31. High: 33

CHRISTMAS EVE: Colder wind, few flurries. Wake-up: 27. High: 29

CHRISTMAS DAY: Cloudy Christmas Day, chilly. Wake-up: 22. High: 27


Climate Stories....

Sea Change: The Pacific's Perilous Turn. In case you missed the award-winning series on ocean acidification at The Seattle Times; here's an excerpt of a sobering, in-depth look at what's happening to the world's oceans: "...Imagine every person on Earth tossing a hunk of CO2 as heavy as a bowling ball into the sea. That’s what we do to the oceans every day. Burning fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and natural gas, belches carbon dioxide into the air. But a quarter of that CO2 then gets absorbed by the seas — eight pounds per person per day, about 20 trillion pounds a year..."


The Snow Whisperer. What will winters in the Northeast be like 30 years from now - will there still be a viable ski industry? Here's an excerpt of an interview at Powder Magazine: "...Because of the inertia of the climate system and the long atmospheric residence time for carbon dioxide, we are committed to warmer winters across the U.S. Northeast over the next 30 years. Overall, average winter temperatures will warm by 2 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit, there will be fewer cold days and fewer days with snow on the ground, and reduced annual snowfall. And more winter precipitation will likely fall as rain..."


Opinion: GOP Senators: Climate Skeptics? Or Deniers? No, Big Oil Lobbyists. Rule #1: don't bite the hand that feeds, right? Flushing all that campaign cash into Washington D.C. has a way of changing how you feel, even about basic science, data and facts on the ground. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed from MarketWatch: "...Yes, Big Oil is big business in Big Jim’s Big Oklahoma. So no surprise Inhofe wrote the bible on the subject a couple years ago: “The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future.” Yes, that’s effectively the GOP election platform. So why even question Inhofe’s motivation? Old news. A ClimateProgress reviewer of “The Greatest Hoax” noted that over the years Inhofe’s received “$1,352,523 in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry, including $90,950 from Koch Industries.” And in the 2012 elections, 90% of the entire industry’s donations went to GOP candidates..."


The High Price of Cheap Oil. Great news for commuters short term, but the longer-term implications aren't necessarily so good, according to a story at The Christian Science Monitor; here's an excerpt: "...But, low oil prices will make it even harder to secure future oil supplies. The oil industry was already cutting back its exploration budgets before the price plunge. The industry said that there were not enough profitable prospects available even at $100 per barrel. What happens to industry exploration and development budgets with oil prices now around $60? Without exploration there can be no new production; and without new production, oil supply falls automatically..."


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


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


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


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

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