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.
Some days the weather column just writes itself. Like today. Until further notice I will refrain from using the word "bitter", after the note I received from Steve Hepokoksi in Maple Grove.
"Bitter is a state of mind, and if you keep using the word, soon we all will be. I challenge you to not use the word through the entire month of January. Feel free to start now. Fortifying, challenging, piercing, tear-inducing, bracing, stinging, OMGing, cryogenic, invigorating - it doesn’t have to be a happy word. Just not “bitter”. Please?" Steve implored.
O.K. Good point, Steve. I've banned the word from my lexicon, for the rest of December and all of January. It's the least I can do to help out. We're already in a fragile state, mentally. I don't want to pile on.
December is on life-support; the maps looks like late January, and no real improvement in our ("severe chilly") conditions are likely until late next week. The thaw keeps getting pushed back, but it's coming.
I may head to Deadhorse, Alaska to warm up. According to Christopher Burt at Weather Underground a recent high of 39F (with rain) was the warmest December temperature ever observed on Alaska's arctic shoreline. Good for them.
No big storms are brewing, just a machine-gun volley of clippers, each one dragging reinforcing jolts of cryogenic chill into Minnesota.
Hey, just don't call it bitter, OK?
* photo above courtesy of Steve Burns.
1996. The first 10 days of December have been the coldest since 1996, according to NOAA data.
A Light At The End Of Our Siberian Tunnel? The first 10 days of December are running more than 9F colder than average - the last time we saw freezing in the metro was December 4 (high of 32F). We're due. A few more puffs of fresh, Yukon air arrive: today, again Sunday and early Monday, one more dip early Wednesday, and then maybe a shot at 32 by Thursday of next week, according to ECMWF guidance. I know - it keeps getting pushed back. Don't hold your breath. Graph: Weatherspark.
Like Something Out Of Late January. The weather maps don't look like mid-December, but rather something out of the latter half of January, when temperatures nationwide usually bottom out. Will December wind up being the coldest month of the winter? Possible, but statistically January is the coldest month. NOAA's 12km NAM shows the freezing line dipping as far south as the Florida Panhandle, subzero air pinwheeling across the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes over the next 84 hours. Loop: Ham Weather.
Santa Better Bring The Antifreeze. Now sure what the rating is on his sleigh, but he may be in for a numbing ride across Minnesota and the Upper Midwest, if NOAA's GFS extended outlook pans out - hinting at a strong subzero burst after December 23.
Winter Driving Tips - How Can Alaska Be Warmer Than Oklahoma? In today's Climate Matters we take a look at Sunday's 30-car pile-up in southeastern Wisconsin. All it takes is one aggressive driver, moving too fast for conditions. It was a reminder that the temperature of a snowstorm is critical - the colder the storm, the greater the potential for snow compaction and glaze ice. Nothing short of a tank will provide reliable traction when there's freezing rain on the highways: "WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas goes over the recent cold snap and the conditions that went into a major 30 car pileup in Milwaukee. Where are the warm spots in the US? How is Alaska warmer than the Panhandle of Texas?"
Last Week: Colder Than Any Week Last Winter? Here's a post from NOAA that caught my eye: "This last week the spatially averaged temperature for the United States was lower than at any time last year. Low temperatures like these are a rare occurrence and have only occurred 29 out of 1054 December Days since 1979, (NCEP Reanalysis). Needless to say it's COLD!"
Snowfall Amounts From Tuesday's Burst. A ripple of low pressure riding up along the leading edge of very cold air squeeed out more accumulating snow yesterday. D.C. missed out on the fun (this time), but there was a narrow band of 2-6" from western Maryland and southern Pennsylvania into the suburbs of New York City. Source: NOAA.
A Celestial Wonder. I can count on Steve Burns to provide me with (incredible) imagery of both weather and astronomical events - he has a great eye, and passed along these photos taken over the weekend. One advantage of arctic air: skies are often crystal clear, making it easier to take in an aurora. He writes: "Went up around Pine City (Chengwatana SF) to take some aurora pics last night. The thermometer in my car read -22 but I got some good shots! I’m working on a time-lapse and if it’s worthwhile I’ll send your way. Enjoy!"
Severe 2012 Solar Storm Narrowly Missed Earth. Hey, I didn't bury the good news! If you doubt that (everything) is hanging by a slender, delicate thread, check out this press release and article from The University of Colorado, Boulder; here's a clip: "A massive ejection of material from the sun initially traveling at over 7 million miles per hour that narrowly missed Earth last year is an event solar scientists hope will open the eyes of policymakers regarding the impacts and mitigation of severe space weather, says a University of Colorado Boulder professor. The coronal mass ejection, or CME, event was likely more powerful than the famous Carrington storm of 1859, whent he sun blasted Earth's atmosphere hard enough twice to light up the sky from the North Pole to Central America and allowed New Englanders to read their newspapers at night by aurora light, said CU-Boulder Professor Daniel Baker. had it hit Earth, the July 2012 event likely would have created a technological disaster by short-circuiting satellites, power grids, ground communication equipment and even threatening the health of astronomers and aircraft crews, he said...."
Image credit: Natural Sciences Institutes - Discovery & Innovation.
Coldest Temperature Ever Recorded On Earth In Antarctica: -94.7C (-135.8F). The Guardian has details; here's an excerpt: "Newly analysed NASA satellite data from east Antarctica shows Earth has set a new record for coldest temperature ever recorded: -94.7C (-135.8F). It happened in August 2010 when it hit -94.7C (-135.8F). Then on 31 July of this year, it came close again: -92.9C (-135.3F). The old record had been -89.2C (-128.6F). Ice scientist Ted Scambos at the National Snow and Ice Data Centre announced the cold facts at the American Geophysical Union scientific meeting in San Francisco on Monday..."
Photo credit above: "NASA satellite data revealed that Earth set a new record for coldest temperature recorded in east Antarctica." Photograph: Atsuhiro Muto/AP.
Israel Gears Up For Five-Day Winter Storm. Much of the Northern Hemisphere is getting smacked, including The Holy Land. Here's an excerpt from The Times of Israel: "...“Rough seas” and low-lying flood warnings are predicted for Wednesday, which is to see continued winds and snow in the Golan Heights and high Galilee areas, including Safed. Snowfall in those areas is expected to continue Thursday and is likely to spread to central high-altitude locations, including Jerusalem, as well as the northern Negev mountains. The central and southern areas could see snow throughout Friday as well..."
Photo credit above: "Snow at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, on January 9, 2013." (photo credit: Louis Fisher/Flash90).
Smog Hits Half Of China, 104 Cities Severely Polluted. Here's what happens when you don't have the equivalent of an EPA, when economic growth trumps (everything else). Epoch Times has the story; here's an excerpt: "The China Meteorological Administration sent out an orange alert for smog on Dec. 8, which is the third day of continuous, high-level air pollution alerts. Orange is the second most severe alert issued. Data from the Ministry of Environmental Protection shows that air quality in 104 cities in 20 provinces are suffering from heavy pollution, according to the regime mouthpiece Xinhua news agency. Nearly half of China has been hit by smog, with the southeastern regions of China having the most severe smog conditions. All the 23 air-quality monitoring stations in southern China’s Hunan Province show “heavy pollution” on the afternoon on Dec. 8..."
Decoding A Tsunami's Source. Here's a clip from a remarkable story talking about the trigger for Japan's devastating 2011 earthquake and resulting tsunami, courtesy of The New York Times: "In the powerful earthquake off Japan in 2011, the size of the destructive tsunami it spawned caught scientists by surprise. But they soon learned why the waves were so large: measurements showed that part of the seafloor along the fault moved as much as 50 meters, or 55 yards, to the east, displacing an enormous amount of water. That degree of movement, the largest ever measured for an earthquake, surprised scientists, too. The quake occurred in a subduction zone, where one of the planet’s tectonic plates dives beneath another. It was thought that the largest slip would occur at greater depths, and that shallower parts of the fault, nearer the seafloor, would move less..."
Now We Can Predict Where And When Extreme Weather Is Likely To Hit Up To Two Months In Advance. I'm skeptical, but - if true - this would be an important breakthrough. Here's an excerpt from Reuters, Business Insider and Yahoo Finance: "A vehicle sits on a pile of debris from the destruction caused by a tornado that touched down in Washington, Illinois, November 17, 2013. Extreme weather, like the insane Colorado flooding in September and the tornadoes that ripped through Illinois in November, is rocking the Midwest. Normally we don't have much advanced warning for storms like these, but a new tool from researchers at Utah State University could help predict when this kind of destructive extreme weather is more likely. Their research was published in the Journal of Geophysical Research on Oct. 15. This weather-predicting index was created by monitoring a specific weather pattern — a low-level jet stream that interacts with another circumglobal stream — that makes strong storms and tornadoes form in the Midwest..."
Researcher Looks To Improve Predictions Of Decades-Long Weather Cycles. Hey, we have enough trouble with the 7-Day Outlook, but I'm keeping an open mind. Here's an excerpt of a story at Ravalli Republic: "What if decade-long cycles of wet and dry weather could be reliably predicted several years in advance? The economic benefit could be in the billions, said Vikram Mehta, president and executive director of The Center for Research on the Changing Earth System of Maryland. “Economic impacts are so large that people better take interest in what’s going on,” Mehta said. The forecast for accurately predicting “decadal climate variability” – 10- to 20-year wet and dry weather cycles caused by interactions between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and the atmosphere – looks promising to Mehta..."
Bakersfield Weathercaster Gets "Time Out" After False Snow Forecast. You can't make this stuff up; here's a video clip and excerpt from TVSpy: "KBAK-KBFX weathercaster Aaron Perlman was put in a “temporary time-out” this morning after wrongly predicting snow in Bakersfield over the weekend. “There are windows in that corner. You can look out the windows,” anchor Rob Finnerty said. “Be sure sure to take note there is no snow out there.”
Rocking 7 Continents. Metallica just played in Antarctica, making it the only band to play in all 7 continents. Rolling Stone has the details.
Can You Get PTSD From Watching Media Coverage Of An Event? Maybe. From the 9/11 attacks to mass shootings to the bombing of the Boston Marathon, it seems some of us can be physically and mentally impacted by the images we're witnessing. Here's a clip from a story at The Los Angeles Times: "Post-traumatic stress disorder has been on psychiatry's books for just 23 years, and before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, no one ever entertained the possibility that watching disturbing images of trauma on TV could give rise to the disorder. The notion remains controversial, but new research suggests that PTSD might indeed be transmitted over the airwaves. The study finds that those who spent more than six hours a day watching media coverage of the April 15 Boston Marathon bombing and its aftermath suffered more powerful stress reactions than did people who were directly involved but watched less news coverage of the events..."
Image credit above: National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence.
Snacking Your Way To Better Health. Go nuts! Literally. Nuts may have the ability to extend/prolong your life, as crazy as that sounds. Here's a clip from a New York Times article: "...The more often nuts were consumed, the less likely participants were to die of cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease, and not because nut eaters succumbed to other diseases. Their death rate from any cause was lower during the years they were followed. (The nuts in question were pistachios, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, peanuts and walnuts.) Those who ate nuts seven or more times a week were 20 percent less likely to die from 1980 to 2010; even among those who consumed nuts less often than once a week, the death rate was 11 percent lower than for those who did not eat them..."
Image credit: Lou Beach.
Materialism: A System That Eats Us From The Inside Out. Can you buy your way to happiness? Probably not. All that stuff your mom taught you, that "money can't buy happiness" may be true after all. And a system based on consumption, an endless treadmill of consumerism, requires more energy, most of it carbon-based, and almost incomprehensible amounts of waste. According to George Monbiot "Buying more stuff is associated with depression, anxiety and broken relationships. It is socially destructive and self-destructive". Here's a clip from his essay at The Guardian: "...It suggests that materialism, a trait that can afflict both rich and poor, and which the researchers define as "a value system that is preoccupied with possessions and the social image they project", is both socially destructive and self-destructive. It smashes the happiness and peace of mind of those who succumb to it. It's associated with anxiety, depression and broken relationships. There has long been a correlation observed between materialism, a lack of empathy and engagement with others, and unhappiness. But research conducted over the past few years seems to show causation. For example, a series of studies published in the journal Motivation and Emotion in July showed that as people become more materialistic, their wellbeing (good relationships, autonomy, sense of purpose and the rest) diminishes. As they become less materialistic, it rises..."
Photo credit above: "Owning more doesn't bring happiness: 'the material pursuit of self-esteem reduces self-esteem.' Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA.
The Disruptive Power Of Choice: Are Too Many Options Eroding Credibility, Relevance Of News? Here's another article that caught my eye, this one courtesy of Bubble & Blender; here's a clip: "In his compelling book The Paradox of Choice, psychologist Barry Schwartz describes our modern culture in which the freedom of choice gives way to too much choice which in turn leads to deepening dissatisfaction. While some choice is good and leads to a sense of independence and satisfaction, Schwartz argues effectively that when faced with too many choices we are more likely to regret both the choice we make and those we didn’t..."
"Smart Bra" Concept Aims To Modify Emotional Eating Behavior. And wouldn't this look good under the tree in a couple of weeks? Gizmag has the curious details: "Microsoft is throwing its hat (or rather, bra) into the ring, combining with engineers from the University of Rochester and the University of Southampton to develop a mobile platform which can infer your current emotional state and provide just-in-time feedback on when eating is a bad idea. Where do they hide the apparatus? In a bra..."
12 F. high on Tuesday in the Twin Cities.
29 F. average high on December 10.
20 F. high on December 10, 2012.
1.8" snow fell yesterday morning.
5" snow on the ground at KMSP.
TODAY: Windchill Advisory. Arctic sun - fresh air! Feels like -25F. High: near 0
WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Clouds increase, not a cold. Low: -3
THURSDAY: Partly sunny, even milder. High: 17
FRIDAY: Patchy clouds, still a bit brisk. Wake-up: 10. High: 16
SATURDAY: Very light snow or flurries. Wake-up: 12. High: 18
SUNDAY: More subzero fun! Sunny & numb. Wake-up: 0. High: 4
MONDAY: Light snow. Light accumulation? Wake-up: -3. High: 13
TUESDAY: Some sun, not as nippy. Wake-up: 7. High: near 20
* photo above: Mike Hall Photography.
Earth's Sensitivity To Climate Change Could Be "Double" Previous Estimates, Say Geologists. Here's an excerpt from a press release by The Geological Society: "The sensitivity of the Earth’s climate to CO2 could be double what has been previously estimated, according to a statement issued by the Geological Society of London. In an addendum to 2010’s ‘Climate change: Evidence from the Geological Record’, the statement notes that many climate models typically look at short term, rapid factors when calculating the Earth’s climate sensitivity – defined as the mean global temperature increase brought about by a doubling of atmospheric CO2. It is well known that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 levels could result in temperature increases of between 1.5 and 4.5°C, due to fast changes such as snow and ice melt, and the behaviour of clouds and water vapour..." (Image: World Meteorological Organization).
New Jersey Shore Likely Faces Unprecedented Flooding By Mid-Century. Rutgers University has the press release and links to new research; here's an excerpt: "Geoscientists at Rutgers and Tufts universities estimate that the New Jersey shore will likely experience a sea-level rise of about 1.5 feet by 2050 and of about 3.5 feet by 2100 – 11 to 15 inches higher than the average for sea-level rise globally over the century. That would mean, the scientists say, that by the middle of the century, the one-in-10 year flood level at Atlantic City would exceed any flood known there from the observational record, including Superstorm Sandy..."
Photo credit above: Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen, New Jersey Air National Guard. "The amusement pier at Seaside Heights, N.J., under attack by Hurricane Sandy."
Satellites Reveal Browning Mountain Forests. I've noticed this traveling to the Rockies in recent years, and it appears to be a global trend. Here's an excerpt from mongabay.com: "In a dramatic response to global warming, tropical forests in the high elevation areas of five continents have been "browning" since the 1990s. They have been steadily losing foliage, and showing less photosynthetic activity. Scientists analyzed the forest cover by using satellites to measure sunlight bouncing off the surface of the earth, then determining the different surface types via reflection patterns..."
Photo credit above: "Rainforest valley in the upper Amazon, Peru." Photo by Rhett Butler, mongabay.com.
Climate Change Capitalism. Can the markets "self-correct" in time? We have to rethink growth, consumption, and figure out ways toward sustainable capitalism. A big challenge indeed. Here's an excerpt of a story at U.S. News and World Report: "Several leading energy companies and public utilities have quietly accepted the reality of climate change. They acknowledge that carbon will be taxed or a price added to it to discourage fossil fuel use and encourage renewable energy sources. In their long-term strategies, they now assume that the cost of carbon will rise significantly. Last week, a non-profit research organization called CDP, (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project ), reported the carbon pricing outlook of 29 major U.S. corporations. These companies include many leaders in the energy and utility industry. Many of them have denied the existence of climate change and actively opposed all efforts to address it..."
An Apparent Hiatus In Global Warming? It turns out the oceans, especially deep oceans, may be absorbing some of the "missing heat". Here's an excerpt of an abstract of a new paper from climate scientists Kevin Trenberth and John Fasullo: "...More than 90% of the heat goes into the oceans and, with melting land ice, causes sea level to rise. For the past decade, more than 30% of the heat has apparently penetrated below 700 m depth that is traceable to changes in surface winds mainly over the Pacific in association with a switch to a negative phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) in 1999. Surface warming was much more in evidence during the 1976–1998 positive phase of the PDO, suggesting that natural decadal variability modulates the rate of change of global surface temperatures while sea-level rise is more relentless. Global warming has not stopped; it is merely manifested in different ways."
Canada is spamming us with more arctic air, and it's getting harder to mock the snowbirds who flee south every winter. I get regular calls & e-mails from Florida friends, sharing the predicted high temperature for the day. Very thoughtful. I return the favor by sharing coordinates of major hurricanes during the summer months.
With a son in the Navy near Pensacola we've had a chance to explore the Sunshine State, and I'm going to let you in on a secret. If you're tired of the congestion & traffic gridlock consider 30-A, South Walton County, on the Panhandle. Not as warm in January. Not as crazed either.
Sometimes the thought of a sunny, southern vacation is almost as good as the getaway itself. Right now I'd settle for Dubuque.
A family of clippers drags more bitter air south of the border into midweek; 20 (above) feels like sweet relief by late week.
Models show a subzero swipe early next week, followed by a Pacific reprieve next week as steering winds turn more westerly. That should mean 30s within 8-9 days. NOAA's 45-day CFS model hints at a mild bias returning much of January.
Perhaps that's wishful thinking. At least we'll have a (very) white Christmas this year.
66.9% of USA Has Snow On The Ground. That compares to 26% of the USA last year at this time. Yes, a fast-forward winter this year - maybe it won't extend into May, like it did this year. Map: NOAA.
A December To Remember - Or Forget. Arctic chill lingers into midweek, with some slight temperature recovery by late week. Sad when 20F constitutes "recovery". Another arctic relapse is expected early next week, followed by more of a Pacific influence in a little over a week; maybe a few 30s by the middle of next week? Wouldn't that be nice. Graph: Weatherspark.
The Big Leak. Harsh air of Siberian origin continues to lap south of the border in waves, skirting the northern USA in the coming days. The solid green line shows the 0F isotherm; unusually chilly weather impacting the entire USA (even Florida) by midweek. Hard Freeze Warnings are posted as far south and west as Las Vegas and Phoenix. NAM 2 meter temperature guidance courtesy of NOAA and Ham Weather.
Ill-Timed Snow Burst Out East. Today's clipper sparks a stripe of accumulating snow from Iowa into Illinois, and a second, stronger wave of low pressure rippling along the leading edge of bitter air drops 3-6" of snow from Washington D.C. to Philadelphia and Wilmington. Not a good day to be traveling out east. 4 km. NAM Future Radar product courtesy of NOAA and Ham Weather.
45 Day Wish-Cast. I'm keeping an eye on NOAA's 45 day (CFS, for Climate Forecast System) model trend, which has actually been showing more skill than I thought it would. It shows a slight warming trend thru December 20, then much colder weather returning for Christmas, a potential for a mild bias by the middle of January. Don't hold your breath. Data: NOAA and Ham Weather.
45-Day Snow Cover. Odds still favor a white Christmas this year - we may lose a little of our snowcover by December 24 (down to 2-3" according to the CFS model), which predicts 5" around New Year's Eve and a whopping 12" by the middle of January. A good winter to invest in cross country skis or a sturdy snowmobile. Graph: Ham Weather.
Alerts Broadcaster Briefing: Issued Monday evening, December 9, 2013.
* Another significant burst of snow is likely Tuesday for major urban centers from Washington D.C. and Baltimore to Philadelphia and New York, slightly lesser amounts across southern New England and metro Boston.
* Band of 3-6" likely D.C. to Philadelphia with locally heavier 6"+ amounts possible; best chance of snow morning and midday hours. I expect 2-4" in metro New York City. Expect significant air delays and cancellations from Dulles and Reagan National in D.C. to La Guardia, Newark and JFK in New York City Tuesday.
* Impacts to air/land travel likely - I envision extremely slow commutes - and facilities within 100 miles of the I-95 corridor will see snowy impacts from this system. Little or no ice expected; the atmosphere should be cold enough for all-snow.
Brewing Tuesday Travel Headaches. Major interstates are in fairly good shape this evening, but this will change, dramatically, within 12-15 hours as another surge of snow pushes across the Mid Atlantic Region into southern New England. Click here for real-time traffic reports, courtesy of Google.
Narrow Band Of Significant Snow. Our internal models show as much as 6-8" for the wester and southwestern suburbs of Washington D.C., a band of plowable snow from Charlottesville and D.C. to Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia, much of New Jersey and metro New York City. Map: Ham Weather.
Heaviest Snow Band. Other models show similar solutions, the axis of heaviest snow from near Washington D.C. to Harrisburg and Philadelphia, but a broad area of the Mid Atlantic and Northeast picking up at least 2-3". With temperatures in the upper 20s and low 30s even interstates will become snow-covered and slippery. Map: WSI.
Blizzard Potential Index. Alerts Broadcaster's internal BPI model shows a 6-8 hour burst of near-blizzard conditions spreading northeastward Tuesday from D.C. to south Jersey and Long Island; visibilities may drop below 1/2 mile in moderate snow, winds of 20-25 mph. It won't be the classic definition of a blizzard, but travel conditions will range from poor to treacherous by morning and midday from D.C. to Philadelphia, pushing into New York City during the midday and afternoon hours. Map: Ham Weather.
Select City Amounts. Models print out as much as 6" for Washington D.C., 5" for Baltimore and 4-5" for Philadelphia, with 3-4" possible for New York City and suburbs during the day Tuesday.
Advisories and Warnings. NOAA has issued Winter Storm Warnings for the Delaware Valley, which may have to be extended into Baltimore and Washington D.C. Winter Weather Advisories are in effect from the Virginia and Maryland into eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York City. Map: Ham Weather.
A Nagging Frontal Zone. Winter Weather Advisories extend from southeast Arkansas and northern Mississippi into eastern Kentucky and the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, calling for a couple of inches of additional snow and ice.
Summary: A few weeks ago we warned of an active and wintry pattern for much of the East Coast, and that forecast seems to be verifying as a series of storms ripple along the leading edge of Arctic air. One such ripple of low pressure will squeeze out plowable amounts of snow from northern Virginia to New York City, with lesser amounts for Providence, Hartford and Boston. I'm especially concerned about Washington D.C. and suburbs, where mere flurries can wreak havoc. Tuesday will be a very forgettable travel day in the nation's capital, with considerable impacts into Philadelphia and even metro New York City.
Paul Douglas - Senior Meteorologist - Alerts Broadcaster
Federal Flood Maps Left New York Unprepared For Sandy - And FEMA Knew It. Here's a remarkably damning story from ProPublica - it turns out budget cuts can have a significant impact, even on something as mundane (yet critically important) as FEMA flood maps. Here's a clip: "...But the maps drawn up by the Federal Emergency Management Agency were wrong. And government officials knew it. According to documents and interviews, state, local and federal officials had been aware for years that the crucial maps of flood risks were inaccurate; some feared they understated the dangers in New York City’s low-lying areas. The flaws in the maps had significant impact. Developers relied on FEMA’s assessment of risks when they built new homes near the water. And homeowners and businesses made crucial decisions about where to buy or lease property on the assurance that they were outside of the high-risk zones..."
Critical Weather Forecasting Bill Moves One Step Closer. Some encouraging news from Climate Central; here's an excerpt: "...The bill, known as the “Weather Forecasting Improvement Act,” now heads to the full House for consideration. If it passes, and there are no guarantees given the small window left in the legislative calendar, it would be the first broadly focused weather bill to be enacted by Congress since the mid-1990s. The bill would establish a research program within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to extend the lead time for tornado warnings beyond 1 hour, and contains provisions aimed at closing the performance gaps between the agency’s weather forecasting computer models and those of other nations..."
Graphic credit above: "High-resolution radar imagery from the OU RaxPol mobile research radar showing different aspects of the El Reno, Okla., tornado. In the top-left image the main vortex is located in the center of the larger donut hole. Advanced technologies such as this radar may help forecasters extent tornado warning lead times." Credit: Twitter via @WunderAngela.
October: 7th Warmest On Record Worldwide. Data courtesy of NOAA NCDC.
Smog? It Bolsters Military Defense, Says Chinese Nationalist Newspaper. This is one of the greatest samples of spin and rationalization I've ever encountered. Smog is GOOD for you! Uh huh. Here's an excerpt from The South China Morning Post: "A nationalist newspaper has tried to put a positive spin on China’s smog, claiming it is conducive to the country's military defence strategy. Smog, it argued, could thwart missile attacks and hamper hostile reconnaissance. “Smog may affect people’s health and daily lives … but on the battlefield, it can serve as a defensive advantage in military operations,” said an article on the website of Global Times, a nationalist newspaper affiliated to the Communist Party’s mouthpiece the People’s Daily. Missile guidance that relies on human sight, infrared rays and lasers could be affected by smog in varing degrees, the article said. It explained that tiny particles in the air contributing to air pollution could hinder missile guidance systems..."
Photo credit above: "The skyline of the Lujiazui Financial District with the high-rise buildings is covered with heavy smog in Pudong in Shanghai." Photo: AP.
Top 10 Predictions For Technology In 2014. Here's a snippet of a thought-provoking article at The Daily Beast: "Microsoft may get its mojo back, smartphones will get cheap, and we’re about to enter the Year of Encryption. A look at what to expect in telecom and computing for the coming year. How might 2014 play out in tech? Silicon Valley may again need to watch out for Microsoft, cheap smartphones will hit markets, and the Edward Snowden revelations will launch the Year of Encryption. Those are a few predictions from Mark Anderson, founder and publisher of the Strategic News Service newsletter, long a must-read for industry leaders and venture capitalists, and host of Future in Review, an annual gathering for tech leaders, investors, and policymakers The Economist called “the best technology conference in the world...”
Photo credit above: Noor Khamis / Reuters.
The 45 Most Powerful Photos Of 2013. Some of these are truly amazing, courtesy of Buzzfeed. Here's the caption for the photo above: "A couple pauses between salvaging through the remains of a family member’s home one day after a tornado devastated the town of Moore, Oklahoma." ADREES LATIF / Reuters.
Disgusting Christmas "Tinner" Offers A Time-Saving Alternative To Gamers. This sets a new bar for a whole new level of pathetic. Apparently it's a new product offering, for gamers who can't be bothered with the prospect of a "real meal". Check out the details from Yahoo Games; here's a clip: "For gamers who want to enjoy all the traditional components of a Christmas dinner and don't mind doing so in the most disgusting, least appetizing way possible, we present...Christmas Tinner, the Christmas dinner in a can. Those with sensitive tummies should stop reading now, because this one will haunt your nightmares. There's just no other way to describe a tin can that comes with nine layers of food, one on top of the other. Pop open the can, and you're greeted with a top layer of scrambled eggs and bacon. But wait, there's more! Below that resides some fruity mincemeat. Still with us? Good, because it's time for the main course: turkey and potatoes, plus carrots and other side dishes, including gravy, cranberry sauce, and Brussels sprouts or broccoli, depending on your preference..."
Photo credit: "Christmas in a can". Courtesy of GAME.
Ron Burgandy And Dodge Laugh All The Way To The Bank. Advertising Age has the details; here's an excerpt: "Chrysler's risky move to turn over creative control of its Dodge Durango campaign to fictional anchorman Ron Burgundy is paying off–in real-world SUV sales. Comedian Will Ferrell's campaign co-promoting the 2014 Durango and "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" drove a 36% boost in November sales over the previous year, according to Olivier Francois, chief marketing officer of Chrysler Group. Automotive News figures show that follows a 59% jump in October..."
Football - Winter Rules. Did you see any of the Eagles-Lions NFL game on Sunday? The Vikings game in Baltimore was bad enough, but conditions were even worse in Philadelphia. Watching these guys trying to play with white-out conditions and 5" of snow on the field was one of the funniest things I've ever seen. At one point they brought a snowblower onto the field to be able to see the goal line. Never seen THAT before. they don't make football cleats that offer any level of traction in these conditions. I saved the frame grabs above on my smart phone, courtesy of FOX and (sorry Oprah), one of PD's favorite things, DirecTV's Sunday Ticket.
12 F. high in the Twin Cities Monday.
29 F. average high on December 9.
32 F. high on December 9, 2012.
1/10th of an inch of snow fell yesterday at MSP International Airport.
6.3" snow in the Twin Cities during the first 9 days of December.
3.7" average snowfall from December 1-9.
11.3" snow last December as of the 9th.
Minnesota Weather History on December 9. Data courtesy of the Twin Cities National Weather Service:
1992: By this time there is partial ice cover in the Duluth harbor.
1979: Heat wave across Minnesota. High of 54 at Twin Cities and 57 at Winona.
1978: Alexandria ends it fourteen day stretch of low temperatures at or below zero degrees Fahrenheit.
1889: Late season thunderstorm observed at Maple Plain.
TODAY: Windchill Advisory. Cold sun, temperatures drop again. Windchill: -15 to -20. High: 9
TUESDAY NIGHT: Clear and Nanook. Low: -10
WEDNESDAY: Bright sun, still numb. High: 1
THURSDAY: Patchy clouds, not quite as harsh. Wake-up: -12. High: 17
FRIDAY: Intervals of sun, still dry. Wake-up: 12. High: 23
SATURDAY: Flurries or very light snow. Wake-up: 15. High: 18
SUNDAY: Mostly cloudy, turning colder again. Wake-up: 3. High: 9
MONDAY: Light PM snow, coating possible. Wake-up: -5. High: 12
* 30s are possible by the middle of next week.
Extreme Summer Weather In Northern Mid-Latitudes Linked To A Vanishing Cryosphere. It turns out all that melting ice in the arctic may, in fact, be having a domino effect at our latitude. Here's an excerpt of a technical, but fascinating paper at Nature: "The past decade has seen an exceptional number of unprecedented summer extreme weather events in northern mid-latitudes, along with record declines in both summer Arctic sea ice and snow cover on high-latitude land. The underlying mechanisms that link the shrinking cryosphere with summer extreme weather, however, remain unclear. Here, we combine satellite observations of early summer snow cover and summer sea-ice extent with atmospheric reanalysis data to demonstrate associations between summer weather patterns in mid-latitudes and losses of snow and sea ice. Results suggest that the atmospheric circulation responds differently to changes in the ice and snow extents, with a stronger response to sea-ice loss, even though its reduction is half as large as that for the snow cover..."
Arctic Ice Melt Tied To Heat Waves And Downpours In U.S., Europe And Elsewhere, Study Suggests. Following up on the new research findings above here's an excerpt of a good summary at Reuters: "A thaw of Arctic ice and snow is linked to worsening summer heatwaves and downpours thousands of miles south in Europe, the United States and other areas, underlying the scale of the threat posed by global warming, scientists said on Sunday. Their report, which was dismissed as inconclusive by some other experts, warned of increasingly extreme weather across "much of North America and Eurasia where billions of people will be affected". The study is part of a drive to work out how climate change affects the frequency of extreme weather, from droughts to floods. Governments want to know the trends to plan everything from water supplies to what crops to plant. But the science of a warming Arctic is far from settled..."
Solar Would Be Cheaper: U.S. Pentagon Has Spent $8 Trillion To Guard Gulf Oil. Here's an eye-popping number. Trillions of dollars and the lives of too many members of our armed services. Here's an excerpt from Informed Consent: "...It has cost the United States $8 trillion to provide military security in the Gulf since 1976. According to Roger Stern, a Princeton economist, the US has spent as much on Gulf security as it spent on the entire Cold War with the Soviet Union! In recent years through 2010 it has been $400 billion a year, though the US withdrawal from Iraq at the end of 2011 and the gradual withdrawal from Afghanistan this year and next presumably means that the figure is substantially reduced. Still, we have bases in Kuwait, Qatar and elsewhere, and a Naval HQ in Bahrain, none of which is cheap. If it were $200 billion a year, that is a fair chunk of the budget deficit the Republican Party keeps complaining about. And if we could get that $8 trillion back, it would pay down half of the national debt..." (Photo: Wikipedia).
Solar Panels Could Destroy U.S. Utilities, According To U.S. Utilities. Here's an excerpt of an April post from Grist, which is just as relevant as ever: "Solar power and other distributed renewable energy technologies could lay waste to U.S. power utilities and burn the utility business model, which has remained virtually unchanged for a century, to the ground. That is not wild-eyed hippie talk. It is the assessment of the utilities themselves. Back in January, the Edison Electric Institute — the (typically stodgy and backward-looking) trade group of U.S. investor-owned utilities — released a report [PDF] that, as far as I can tell, went almost entirely without notice in the press..." (Image; clickgreen.org).
What We Owe Our Kids On Climate. NASA climate scientist James Hansen has the Op-Ed at CNN; here's an excerpt: "...Carbon emissions will decline only if the price of fossil fuels begins to include their costs to society: their effects on human health and climate. Economic analysis shows that a rising carbon fee collected from fossil fuel companies would swiftly drive market innovations and investments in clean energy. (Indeed, many companies are preparing for such a fee.) Courts cannot tell the government how to reduce emissions. But they can require that the government provide a plan: How will emissions be reduced to assure that the rights of young people are protected?..."
Early December has been the Arctic equivalent of flushing the commode. All that bitter Canadian air spiraling southward into the USA in waves. At some point you run out of cold air. Weather models show welcome moderation the latter half of December; a spell of 30s which may hang on into Christmas Day.
Only in Minnesota can 30s feel like a bad Club Med vacation, a death sentence reprieve. No, it's not going to stay this Nanook for the rest of the winter, in fact I'm betting a small wager on a relatively mild start to 2014. A very small wager.
A reinforcing jab of numbing air arrives via Canadian Airmail today; a quick inch of fluff Tuesday night precedes another relapse Wednesday. At least three more subzero nights, and then a faint hint of moderation with a Pacific breeze early next week.
I expect easier travel next week as highs top 32F, allowing some of that ice to melt and no big storms are brewing looking out 10 days or so.
Remember, the atmosphere tends to "even things out." Unusually cold spells are usually balanced by milder spells. I see no evidence it'll stay this Nanook into all of January. Yes, winters are trending milder over time but it still gets cold here.
SUNDAY NIGHT: Light snow tapers. Additional light dusting possible. Low: 1. Winds: West 5-10.
MONDAY: Bitter breeze returns with blowing snow. Sunshine early, then increasing clouds late. High: 2. Winds: WSW 10-20. Wind Chill: Down to -20.
Monday Night: More clouds with light coating of snow possible. Low: -4. Winds: SSW 10-20. Wind Chill: Down to -20.
TUESDAY: Numbing wind. A few flakes. High: 9 Winds: W 10-15
WEDNESDAY: More cold sunshine. Wake-up: -8. High: 1
THURSDAY: Patchy clouds, more tolerable. Light snow possible up north. Wake-up: -8. High: 16
FRIDAY: Mix of sun and clouds. Still chilly. Wake-up: 9. High: 23.
SATURDAY: Cloudy with light snow. Wake-up: 10. High: 20.
SUNDAY: Warmer! Nothing rough. Wake-up: 14. High: 30
Thanks to my good friend, John Thain for these AMAZING pictures from Barrow, AK! He's an incredibly talented photographer... What do you think?
This is what John had to say about the event this weekend:
"This was one of the most incredible experiences since moving to Alaska - standing on the shore of the Arctic Ocean in Barrow. The weather was warm, the sky was clear, and the aurora was... best described in pictures, not words."
Planetary K Index
Here's a good product to keep an eye on when you know a northern lights event may be possible. The Planetary K Index shows when things become 'more active' - here's what it looked like this weekend!
Relationship Between K Index and the Aurora
Here's a brief article from Spaceweather.com on how K Index and the aurora are related.
"The aurora is understood to be caused by the interaction of high energy particles (usually electrons) with neutral atoms in the earth's upper atmosphere. These high energy particles can ‘excite’ (by collisions) valence electrons that are bound to the neutral atom. The ‘excited’ electron can then ‘de-excite’ and return back to its initial, lower energy state, but in the process it releases a photon (a light particle). The combined effect of many photons being released from many atoms results in the aurora display that you see."
Sunday was kind of a nasty for for folks in the eastern part of the country as a secondary storm system pushed through some of the same areas that got hit just a few days ago. Here are some pictures from the event.
Thanks to my good friend Amy Betwy for this snowy Maryland pic.
Here's a good one from BleacherReport.com from the Detroit Lions vs. Philadelphia Eagles football game, which was held in Philadelphia... YIKES
"In case you hadn't heard, it's crazy snowy across the NFL landscape, and stadium workers are hard at work trying to keep playing conditions acceptable. Naturally, there is lots of entertainment to be had."
or how about this one from the Miami Dolphins vs. Pittsburgh Steelers game in Pittsburgh!
The crash comes amid snow falling in the area. While the highway was completely shut down, the eastbound side has re-opened at Racine County, the Milwaukee Sheriff Office told the Milwaukee Journal-Star."
(Photo courtesy: WI DOT)
U.S. Snow Cover
This is an impressive map for early December! As of Sunday, 58.5% of the nation was covered in snow! In fact, I don't recal seeing this much snow cover across the nation this early in the season in quite a while!
U.S. Snow Cover Last Year: 2012
As of last year, only 18.3% of the nation was covered in snow.
Weather Outlook Thru Early Week
Our wild winter weather scenarios will begin to wind down across the nation thru early week. Monday will still harbor some lingering effects along the eastern part of the country as the low tracks north along the East Coast. By Tuesday, most of the wild weather in the eastern part of the country will be fading, but a weak clipper system will flirt with the international border Monday/Tuesday and kick out a little snow.
Plowable snows will still be ongoing across parts of the northern New England States, but the wintry mess that most encountered on Sunday will turn to a cold rain farther south. Note the thin band of snow potential from New Mexico to the Ohio Valley thru AM Tuesday...
According to NOAA, the precipitation forecast from PM Sunday to PM Wednesday looks like this. Again, our fading winter storm in the eastern part of the country will still have some lingering effects into early Monday in the eastern third of the country along heavier rain beginning to fade in the Southeast. The next weak clipper system only brings a little bit of precipitation along the northern tier of the nation, which will be in the form of light snow.
I thought it was only a figure of speech too. Huh.
We haven't quite kicked the cold yet. It still feels a lot like mid January with temperatures running well below the norm. Here's a look at expected highs for Monday across the nation. Note that some near in the Upper Mississippi Valley may note even get out of the subzero range on Monday!
Highs From Normal Monday
Much of the nation on Monday will still be well below average and most in the double digits below average!
Light at the End of the Tunnel?
According to NOAA, the mid December temperature outlook looks pretty good. Some of us may actually get a chance to thaw out just before Christmas!
Thanks for checking in, have a great week ahead!
Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @TNelsonWNTV