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.
Dog Day Siesta
I really enjoy our Minnesota summers. Both weeks. "Have you ever seen it this chilly in July?" my oldest son asked me yesterday. No, but El Nino destroyed my long-term memory, so I can't be sure of anything.
I was helping him move all his...stuff. Oh, to be 25 and living in Uptown. And a perfect day for a move, more late September than late July. At least we salvaged one nice day.
And no, this early (or late?) outbreak of sweatshirts doesn't mean an early winter, or a particularly pernicious winter is ordained. It may be my imagination but weather patterns & jet stream configurations are very odd for mid-summer. A few notable scientists suspect a link to rapid warming at far northern latitudes. The maps I'm staring at aren't even close to being "normal" - for any season.
Our weather trends cooler, drier & sunnier than average the next 10 days as Canadian air leaks south in dribs and drabs. T-storms arrive Wednesday, then a couple of cooler puffs: Wednesday, again next weekend.
Today will be much too nice to work hard. Leave early to enjoy 50-degree dew points & a few decorative cumulus clouds. September is a spectacular month.
Maybe we'll see 3 Septembers in a row in 2013?
Sunday Records. Both St. Cloud and Rochester set record lows Sunday morning. 43 F. in St. Cloud? I can't recall seeing temperatures this cool over central Minnesota in July. It's still July right? Map: WeatherNation TV.
Saved By Stratus. Low clouds lingered much of Saturday night, diminishing radiative cooling, preventing a rash of record lows. Officially the Twin Cities missed a record by 2 degrees Sunday morning (52 F). There were plenty of 40s, well away from the urban heat island. Map: MesoWest.
Monday Departures From Average. Most people I've talked to don't miss the sauna-like heat or humidity, but a real cool front in late July was a bit jarring for many of us. Highs today run 5-10 F. cooler than average from the Twin Cities and Des Moines to Buffalo and Pittsburgh.
Cool Bias. 250 mb. winds midday Friday show northwest winds over Minnesota and the Upper Midwest, Great Lakes and New England, swamp-like heat confined to the Central and Southern Plains. Northwesterly winds aloft may spill over into the first, even the second week of August, limiting just how hot it can get looking out 10-14 days. Map: Weather Bell.
A Fine Week Of Weather. Today will be that day you were daydreaming about back in early May (or Saturday for that matter). A few showers and T-storms arrive late Tuesday into Wednesday, followed by a series of cooler fronts: one arriving Friday, another over the weekend. An isolated T-shower can't be ruled out Sunday. Temperatures run about 2-4 degrees F. cooler than average into early next week.
Soggy Central Plains To Outer Banks. NOAA HPC's 5-day rainfall forecast calls for some 3-4" amounts near Wichita and Kansas City; potentially heavy showers and T-storms from the Mid Atlantic region to Florida.
Alerts Broadcaster Briefing: Issued Sunday night, July 28, 2013.
Here's what we're monitoring:
* Flossie is forecast to strike the Hawaiian Island Chain late Monday into Tuesday as a tropical storm, capable of flooding rains, 7-12 foot seas, a 2-4 foot storm surge for Honolulu and Waikiki, and sporadic power outages.
* Dorian has weakened into a tropical wave, but many of the computer models show a moderate potential for strengthening; there is a 50% probability that Dorian will become a tropical storm (again), taking a westward path which will push the storm into Cuba, possibly the Gulf of Mexico within a week.
Tropical Storm Flossie. Packing 60 mph sustained winds late Sunday, Flossie is heading due west, on a course that will take the center of the storm over the Big Island and south of Oahu by Monday night and Tuesday. Some slight weakening is expected, but Flossie will hit Hawaii has a moderate tropical storm. The greatest potential for minor wind damage, flooding and power outages will come on the northern (windward) side of the Big Island Monday night. A storm surge of 2-4 feet may trigger lowland inundation and urban flooding in Honolulu and Waikiki late Monday into Tuesday morning. Details from NOAA NHC:
Tropical storm conditions are expected to reach the Big Island late tonight, Maui county Monday morning and Oahu Monday night. Tropical storm conditions are possible on Kauai and Niihau Monday night, lasting into Tuesday.
Heavy rainfall is expected to begin as early as Monday morning over Hawaii county and Monday afternoon over Maui county, with heavy rain spreading to Oahu by Monday night. Flossie is expected to produce total rainfall amounts of 6 to 10 inches over the Big Island and Maui county, with isolated maximum amounts of 15 inches possible, mainly windward. Rainfall amounts of 4 to 8 inches are possible over Oahu, with isolated maximum amounts of 12 inches possible, mainly windward. This rainfall could cause life- threatening flash floods and mud slides, especially in the mountains.
Dangerously large surf will begin to impact east facing shores of the islands as early as tonight with the largest surf expected on Monday into Tuesday. Be aware that large surf can cause coastal road closures, even before the storm arrives. Please consult the latest hurricane local statement for information specific to your area.
Timing Flossie. Winds and surf will gradually build during the day today, peaking Monday night and Tuesday as the center of a slowly weakening Tropical Storm Flossie passes over Hawaii. The most pervasive problem from Flossie will be torrential 4-8"+ rains, capable of significant flash flooding, especially windward side of the islands and higher terrain. Map: NHC.
Tropical Storm Warning - Flash Flood Watch. Most of the Hawaiian Islands are under a Tropical Storm Warning, meaning 39-60 mph winds are imminent. Even higher gusts are possible over mountainous and volcanic terrain. Travel will become increasingly difficult by the PM hours Monday; the height of the storm comes Tuesday morning and midday. More details from Honolulu's National Weather Service office here.
Down, But Not Out. Dorian has faded from public view for the last 36 hours, downgraded to a tropical wave as it encountered drier air and increased wind shear, literally shredding the storm's circulation. But as it moves over warmer water with (less) shear aloft conditions may favor additional intensification. Most models take the storm north of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, impacting Cuba with potential flooding by late week or next weekend. There is a small (but not insignificant) risk that a strengthened Dorian may push into the eastern Gulf of Mexico by early next week. We have to continue to monitor the storm. Map: UCAR.
Why We Continue To Monitor Dorian. NHC places the odds of Dorian strengthening into a tropical storm again at 50% - which sounds vague, but it's a fairly strong indicator that conditions may once again favor intensification. Sure enough many of the models we study show Dorian regaining tropical storm strength within 36 hours, a few strengthen Dorian to Category 1 hurricane status within 4-5 days.
Summary: Hawaii will receive a direct strike from a moderate tropical storm later Monday into Tuesday. Facilities should be on full alert for lowland inundation from storm surge flooding. In addition 4-10" rains may trigger considerable flash flooding; winds gusting from 40-65 mph from Hilo to Honolulu by Tuesday morning. Meanwhile Dorian shows signs of regenerating into a tropical storm, with at least a 10-20% risk of reaching hurricane intensity by late week or next weekend, posing a small risk to Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. We'll continue to monitor both storms and provide additional briefings, as warranted.
High Amplitude Pattern - 3 Sigma Deviation From Normal. The north-south sweeps of the jet stream are highly unusual for late July, over North America and Europe. According to Steve Scolnik at CapitalClimate: "What is unusual for this time year is the huge amplitude of the upper-level flow; over 3 sigma deviation from normal over North America."
European Heat Wave. Highs are forecast to soar to record levels again toda from Italy and Austria into Germany and Poland, some mid to upper 90s possible as a huge ridge of high pressure expands northward. The same high-amplitude pattern affecting the USA and Canada is also showing up on the other side of the pond. Map: meteocentre.com.
Weather Service Models Running On New, Vastly More Powerful Supercomputers. Meteorologist Jason Samenow at the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang has more information on the supercomputer upgrade; here's an excerpt: "The nation’s major weather forecasting models are now working their magic on a new supercomputing powerhouse. On Thursday, the National Weather Service (NWS) shifted its operational models onto a supercomputer more than double the power of its predecessor, capable of performing 213 trillion calculations per second....The NWS has entered into a bit of an arms race with the European Center for Medium-range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF), which currently runs the more powerful and, overall, more accurate global forecasting model. Following news of NWS’ planned computing upgrades in May, the ECMWF entered into a contract with supercomputer builder Cray to buy two new machines..."
Autumn Outlook. The map above shows predicted temperature anomalies for the globe between August and October, courtesy of EarthNow and the University of Wisconsin: "The data for the global temperature and precipitation outlooks are provided by the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI). The IRI was established as a cooperative agreement between NOAA’s Climate Program Office and Columbia University. It is part of The Earth Institute, Columbia University. The data for these maps are constructed primarily from several climate models, with some minor tweaks by climatologists."
20 Gripping Photos Of Extreme Weather. Mashable has the story (and remarkable photos). Here's the intro: "Although her forces are still unmatched be even the most intelligent of man, we've at least been able to document her mood swings. And, perhaps, we even learn a thing or two about how to better understand her next time. We pored over thousands of extreme weather images to find out what Mother Nature had to say..."
Photo credit above: "Aurora Over Alaska: The digitally enhanced photograph taken in January 2005 shows a spectacular aurora borealis above the frozen landscape of Bear Lake, Alaska. The image was voted Wikipedia Commons Picture of the Year for 2006." Image: Joshua Strang, USAF, Wikipedia, caption via NASA.
The Nicest City In America. That was the pronouncement in the WSJ over the weekend. Yes, Minneapolis was featured in the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal, a suggested 4-day itinerary, hitting some of the most unique restaurants, bars, culture and entertainment options. Not sure why they didn't spend any time in St. Paul, but the story in the "Off Duty" section of the WSJ was very complimentary. But we knew that already, right? Here's an excerpt (subscription may be necessary to read the full text): "This Midwestern city may bring to mind parkas before parks, and Vikings before biking, but Minneapolis is as sweet in summer as it is frigid in winter. The town is bisected by the Mississippi River and studded with lakes, ponds and parks. If basking in the outdoors isn't your thing, there is more than enough culture to fill a long weekend to overflowing: daring architecture, a vital art scene anchored by the contemporary-focused Walker Art Center and restaurants that deftly combine modern technique with heartland comfort. (Here even the chicest boîte is still sure to dish up some "Minnesota nice.") So whatever your sensibility—Prince or prints, lamb tartare or lutefisk—a packed few days in Minneapolis is bound to satisfy, you betcha..."
Photo credit above: Ackerman + Gruber for The Wall Street Journal "WATER VIEW // Explore Lake Harriet at sunset."
53 F. low Sunday morning in the Twin Cities.
75 F. afternoon high at MSP.
83 F. average high on July 28.
83 F. high on July 28, 2012.
TODAY: Plenty of sun, very pleasant. Dew point: 55. Winds: S 10. High: 77
MONDAY NIGHT: Clear to partly cloudy. Low: 61
TUESDAY: More clouds & humidity. Dew point: 60. High: 81
WEDNESDAY: Showers & T-storms likely. Wake-up: 65. High: 79
THURSDAY: Sunny, less humid. Dew point: 57. Wake-up: 60. High: 81
FRIDAY: Partly sunny, probably dry. Wake-up: 63. High: 80
SATURDAY: Blue sky, comfortable. Dew point: 53. Wake-up: 61. High: 79
SUNDAY: More clouds than sun, lukewarm. Wake-up: 60. High: near 80
June 2013 Is Best Month Yet For Electric Car Sales. Details from EVWORLD.com: "Almost 9,000 plug-in electric vehicles have been sold in the U.S. during June of this year, bringing the total in the last 30 months to 110,000 plug-in electric cars. If you think you've been seeing more Teslas and Nissan Leafs on the streets, it's not your imagination -- there really are more of them on our roads. Just in the month of June of this year, almost 9,000 plug-in electric vehicles have been sold in the U.S. This adds to more than 110,000 plug-in electric vehicles that have been sold in this country in the last two and a half years, the Electrification Coalition reports. The Electrification Coalition is a nonprofit group composed of business leaders and industries, from battery manufacturers to automakers, and promotes the use of electric vehicles on a mass scale..."
Carbon Dioxide Power Plants: Could The Greenhouse Gas Be Used To Generate Electricity? Mother Nature Network and Huffington Post have the story; here's an excerpt: "Here's an interesting idea: What if the carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by power plants while they generate electricity could be converted into a source of additional electricity? That's the idea behind a new paper published this week in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters. Written by a team of researchers in the Netherlands, the paper describes how CO2 could be mixed with a fluid electrolyte, generating electrical energy in the process. A press release from the American Chemical Society, which publishes the journal, calls this a "trash-to-treasure" story, saying it could help produce billions of kilowatts of energy every year while reducing the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere..."
Internal EPA Report Highlights Disputes Over Fracking And Well Water. The Los Angeles Times reports on internal conflicts and disagreements at the EPA over the fracking (hydraulic fracturing) and water safety; here's the intro: "One year ago, the Environmental Protection Agency finished testing drinking water in Dimock, Pa., after years of complaints by residents who suspected that nearby natural gas production had fouled their wells. The EPA said that for nearly all the 64 homes whose wells it sampled, the water was safe to drink. Yet as the regulator moved to close its investigation, the staff at the mid-Atlantic EPA office in Philadelphia, which had been sampling the Dimock water, argued for continuing the assessment. In an internal EPA PowerPoint presentation obtained by the Tribune/Los Angeles Times Washington Bureau, staff members warned their superiors that several wells had been contaminated with methane and substances such as manganese and arsenic, most likely because of local natural gas production..."
Photo credit above: "A natural gas fracking operation on leased farmland near Dimock, Pa. The EPA says water from most wells in the area is still safe to drink, but critics and an internal EPA report suggest that the drilling method is causing methane contamination." (Caroline Cole / Los Angeles Tiems / December 27, 2011).
Potential Well Water Contaminents Highest Near Natural Gas Drilling, UT Arlington Study Says. Esciencenews.com has the story; here's the intro: "A new study of 100 private water wells in and near the Barnett Shale showed elevated levels of potential contaminants such as arsenic and selenium closest to natural gas extraction sites, according to a team of researchers that was led by UT Arlington associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry Kevin Schug. The results of the North Texas well study were published online by the journal Environmental Science & Technology Thursday. The peer-reviewed paper focuses on the presence of metals such as arsenic, barium, selenium and strontium in water samples. Many of these heavy metals occur naturally at low levels in groundwater, but disturbances from natural gas extraction activities could cause them to occur at elevated levels..."
Gangplank To A Warm Future. Here's a snippet from a New York Times Op-Ed: "As a longtime oil and gas engineer who helped develop shale fracking techniques for the Energy Department, I can assure you that this gas is not “clean.” Because of leaks of methane, the main component of natural gas, the gas extracted from shale deposits is not a “bridge” to a renewable energy future — it’s a gangplank to more warming and away from clean energy investments. Methane is a far more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, though it doesn’t last nearly as long in the atmosphere. Still, over a 20-year period, one pound of it traps as much heat as at least 72 pounds of carbon dioxide. Its potency declines, but even after a century, it is at least 25 times as powerful as carbon dioxide. When burned, natural gas emits half the carbon dioxide of coal, but methane leakage eviscerates this advantage because of its heat-trapping power..."
North Pole Lake Found By Environmental Observatory, May Be Evidence Of Global Warming (Photo). International Business Times has the story; here's the intro: "The freezing tundra that was the North Pole is now home to a lake. A picture, obtained by the North Pole Environmental Observatory this week, shows a shocking wide-angled photograph of the location’s newest lake, possible evidence of global warming. According to experts, this isn’t the first or the most severe water mass to appear in the northern hemisphere. “I have seen much more extensive ponding,” principal investigator for the North Pole Environmental Observatory, James Morison, told The Atlantic Wednesday, who said the image is misleading. “Because we use wide-angle lenses, the melt pond looks much bigger than it is,” he said. The lake, which was photographed by the observatory’s weather buoy-attached camera Monday, is reportedly a result of the longtime decline of sea ice in the region due to global warming and the more recent increase in land temperature..."
Photo credit above: "
The Truth Behind That $60 Trillion Climate Change Price Tag. A staggering number indeed - alarmist hype, or within the realm of scientific possibilty? Here's a clip from takepart.com: "This week, news broke that if all the methane off the East Siberian seafloor was released, the fallout would cost $60 trillion—a huge, staggering number. For comparison’s sake, the world’s GDP is $70 trillion. The findings assume that 50 gigatons of methane would be released over the course of 10-to-20 years in a warming pulse....Very large numbers make us sit up and take notice, but they’re also hard to grasp. What is climate change currently costing even without that warming pulse? A NRDC report estimates that American taxpayers, through the federal government, paid $100 billion in 2012—more than the cost of education or transportation. (And that doesn’t include what state and local governments, insurers, or private citizens paid.) Mann estimates the global cost at $1.4 trillion per year in coastal damage, droughts, fires, floods and hurricanes..."
Photo credit above: "An iceberg carved from a glacier floats in the Jacobshavn fjord in south-west Greenland." (Photo: Konrad Steffen / Reuters).
Adapt, Move Or Die: The Pressures Of Global Warming. Here's the intro to a story at Australia's The Conversation: "We all know that weather is not the same as climate, but it is surprising how our perceptions of global warming vary according to what we see outside our window. In the UK for example, last year’s washed-out summer took the focus off global climate warming in many people’s minds – maybe the current heatwave will change that. But regardless of what may be happening in our back yards, the long term trend is one of warming – which it has done globally by an average of 0.74C˚ over the past century. As the climate warms up, animals and plants have three main alternatives: they can either move to track the temperature, stay put and adapt to the warming, or die. Responding to variation in climate is not a new phenomenon for species – after all, many species responded to climate warming after the last ice ages..."
Photo credit above: "Don’t want to move home?" MissTessmacher.
Global Warming And The Future Of Storms. The Guardian has the story, co-authored by St. Thomas climate scientist John Abraham. Here's an excerpt: "...I asked Dr. Emanuel to summarize the present understanding of hurricanes, and he responded with the following insights:
• The incidence of high-intensity tropical cyclones (Safir-Simpson categories 3-5) should increase, and the amount of rainfall in these storms should increase, upping the potential for freshwater flooding. These changes will not necessarily occur where tropical cyclones develop and thrive today. "Indeed," wrote Emanuel, "it is likely that there will be decreasing activity in some places, and increasing activity in others; models do not agree on such regional changes."
• Though experts disagree on this point, Emanuel's work suggests that weak events (tropical storms and Cat 1-2 storms) will become more frequent.
• "Very little work has been done on the problem of storm size," wrote Emanuel, "what little research has been done suggests that storm diameters may increase with global temperature. This can have a profound influence on storm surges, which are the biggest killers in tropical cyclone disasters..."
The Cruelest Month
No, January in Minnesota is not for the timid. But we're enjoying half a winter: plenty of cold, but legitimate snow storms have become as rare as a Congressional compromise.
Remember when it would snow, fairly reliably, every 2-4 days? Back when weather was leading the local news every other day? 3 inches on the ground; 16.8 inches for the winter - almost 7 inches below average, to date.
Commutes have been easier, with 3 days of an inch or more of snow (including that big dump of 10.5 inches on December 9). By now we should have picked up 6 days with an inch or more of snowy goodness.
Droughts are stubborn things. We may be days away from barge traffic grinding to a halt on the Mississippi. I keep waiting for the pattern to change; for southern moisture to reach our lofty latitude. I'll send up a flare when that glorious day arrives.
In the meantime Sunday shivers give way to a symphony of gurgling drain spouts and drippy icicles this week; 3 or 4 days near 32 F.
A sloppy southern storm brushes us with a little rain and drizzle late Thursday - a push of cold air next week sweeping any moisture into the Great Lakes; a few subzero nights expected the third week of January.
Good sleeping weather.
Midwinter Drizzle. NOAA data shows a high of 34 F. on Thursday, temperatures in the lowest mile of the atmosphere above freezing, meaning light rain or drizzle.
January Thaw. The models are in good agreement - you will regain some feeling in your fingers and toes next week, with as many as 4-5 days at or just above freezing. As we lose what little snow we have on the ground temperatures stand a better chance of reaching mid-30s by Wednesday and Thursday.
European Guidance. ECMWF data shows highs near freezing by tomorrow afternoon, possibly mid 30s Wednesday and Thursday. Most of the moisture stays east (again) on Thursday, a chance of a little light rain and drizzle. Colder air arrives next weekend, shoving the storm track farther east, away from Minnesota.
More Data On The January Thaw. Dr. Mark Seeley has some insight into the (almost) annual upward blip in temperatures in his weekly WeatherTalk Newsletter: "...Most residents of the Twin Cities area consider the January thaw to be a given each year. They know it will come, just not precisely when. This time around it looks like next Monday through Thursday (Jan 7-10) may bring a thaw period. Indeed for many central and southern Minnesota locations a January thaw is quite common. The definition of a January thaw is variable. Some consider it to be any single day with a temperature above 32 degrees F. But consequences associated with a January thaw, like loss of snow cover, melting and drying of street surfaces and sidewalks, softening of lake ice, etc are generally not realized unless temperatures rise above the freezing mark for two or more days. Using this as a sorting criteria we can look at the historical frequency of such temperatures for various locations in Minnesota. These frequencies of January thaws (listed below) indeed show great reliability in most of southern Minnesota, and even parts of central Minnesota, but more like a 50/50 probability in the northern sections of the state..."
Thursday: Warm Enough For Rain/Drizzle. European model guidance valid Thursday evening shows a little light rain and drizzle into southeastern and east central Minnesota, heavier rain from St. Louis it Chicago. Yes, it should be warm enough for rain on January 10. Map courtesy of WSI.
Another Close Encounter Early Next Week? The push of cold air behind Thursday's light rain/drizzle event may be strong enough to set up a storm track late Sunday and Monday - one that's just 100-200 miles too far east for significant snow in the Twin Cities. So close, and yet so far...
An Icy Landscape. NASA's 250 meter resolution MODIS imagery shows the dark gray smudge of the Twin Cities metro. Flat, undeveloped farmland shows up as bright white, as does Lake Minnetonka and the Inner Lakes south of Minneapolis.
"Surreal Warmth" in 2012. Here's another 2:30 minute video recap on YouTube, looking back at the extraordinary warmth of 2012, courtesy of WeatherNation TV.
Warm Year: 2012. Here's an excerpt of a great overview of record warmth across the great state of Minnesota last year - courtesy of the Minnesota Climatology Working Group: "2012 will finish in a tie with 1931 as the warmest year on record in the Twin Cities and will range from the warmest to third warmest on record depending on the location around the region. For so long, it appeared like 2012 would be the warmest year on record for the Twin Cities, but then winter decided to arrive as if on cue on December 21 and since then temperatures have been mostly below normal. As a result, the average temperature for the Twin Cities for 2012 will wind up to be 50.8 degrees, the same as the 50.8 degrees recorded in 1931. The 1981-2010 average temperature for the year is 46.3 degrees so 2012 will finish 4.5 degrees above normal. Every month of 2012 was above normal except October which finished 1.4 degrees below normal. March 2012 was 15.5 degrees above normal and greatly assisted in lifting the average temperature for 2012. The hottest day of 2012 in the Twin Cities was 102 degrees on July 6 and the coldest temperature of the year was -11 on January 19."
Twin Cities (1873-2012) Rank Year Average ----------------- 1. 1931 50.8 2012 50.8 3. 1987 49.7 4. 2006 49.3 5. 1998 48.8
How Long Will Minnesota's Drought Linger? State Climatologist Greg Spoden adds some personal thoughts to his monthly HydroClim summary: "It is reasonable to assume that the present drought status will remain relatively unchanged for the remainder of the winter. The historical average precipitation over the next two months is less than two inches and the topsoil is sealed by frost. Therefore, Minnesota will be highly dependent on spring rains to ease the situation. Without abundant spring rains, a number of critical drought issues involving public water supply, agriculture, horticulture, tourism, and others will rapidly surface early in the growing season." (the latest Minnesota Drought Monitor information is here).
Preliminary Data. NOAA NCDC data shows that January - November was the warmest on record for a big chunk of the USA. Every region in bright red experienced the warmest year in 118 years of record-keeping.
Region Chops Sandy Debris Down To Size. Here's an eye-opening clip from an article at The Wall Street Journal: "The immense task of leveling the mountains of debris left behind by Sandy is coming into focus two months after the historic superstorm ravaged the East Coast. In the end, the federal government estimates that 16 million cubic yards of debris piled up around New York and New Jersey—enough to fill the Empire State Building 16 times over—though more than half has yet to arrive at landfills..."
Photo credit above: "A aerial view of the damage in Mantoloking, N.J., caused by Hurricane Sandy, Oct. 31, 2012. President Barack Obama toured New Jersey's ravaged coastline with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in a display of big-government muscle and bipartisan harmony." (Doug Mills/The New York Times)
Earth At Night. National Geographic has a very nice view showing the proliferation of light pollution across the planet. Getting a clear look at astronomical targets has never been more challenging: "Luminous patches glow on a map of nighttime Earth created from satellite and ground data on scattered light as of 1996-97. The situation is even worse today. Based on calculations, two-thirds of humanity lives under skies polluted with light, and one-fifth can no longer see the Milky Way. Least affected? The Central African Republic."
Sun Pillar. Laura Everly Daugherty snapped this photo at Beaver Dam, Kentucky Saturday morning, ice crystals sparking a faintly visible column of light above the rising sun. Photo courtesy of WeatherNation TV.
Riding The Rails. Mike Hall captured this pic at Lewistown, Kentucky yesterday. Very nice.
Funnels Over Miami. @ComplexJesse snapped this photo of a developing funnel cloud over Miami International Airport Friday afternoon; courtesy of WeatherNation TV.
26 F. high in the Twin Cities Saturday.
24 F. average high on January 5.
45 F. high on January 5, 2011.
Fresh Air. Highs were a couple degrees above average for early January, mostly 20s. St. Cloud, with 6" snow on the ground, woke up to -1, with a high of 20. Afternoon maximum temperatures ranged from 17 at Alexandria to 27 at St. Paul.
Paul's Star Tribune Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:
TODAY: Bright sun, still brisk. Winds: W 5-10. High: near 20
SUNDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear. Low: 14
MONDAY: Fading sun. January Thaw! High: 32
TUESDAY: Mix of clouds & sun, quiet. Low: 19. High: near 30
WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny, relatively mild. Low: 20. High: 34
THURSDAY: Light rain. Icy patches up north? Low: 24. High: 33
FRIDAY: Mild start, then cooling off. Late flurries. Low: 27. High: 32
SATURDAY: Partly sunny with a cold wind. Low: 11. High: 19
Climate Change Won't Wait. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed from Bill McKibbon in the Los Angeles Times: "...If he were serious, Obama would be doing more than just the obvious and easy. God knows he had his chances in 2012: the hottest year in the history of the continental United States, the deepest drought of his lifetime, and a melt of the Arctic so severe that the federal government's premier climate scientist declared it a "planetary emergency." In fact, he didn't even appear to notice those phenomena, even as people in the crowds greeting him along the campaign trail were fainting from the heat. Throughout campaign 2012, he kept declaring his love for an "all of the above" energy policy where, apparently, oil and natural gas were exactly as virtuous as sun and wind. Only at the very end of the campaign, when Superstorm Sandy seemed to present a political opening, did he even hint at seizing it. His people let reporters know on background that climate change would now be one of his three priorities for a second term (or maybe, post-Newtown, four). That's a start, I suppose, but it's a long way from concrete action..."
Full Page Ad To Appear in Hawaiian Newspaper Pressuring Obama On Climate Change. USnews.com has the story; here's the introduction: "As President Barack Obama wraps up his vacation to Hawaii, he'll be greeted with a full-page ad Saturday urging him to take action on climate change. The ad, appearing in Hawaii's main paper, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, appeals to Obama's origins and legacy. "The 'aina is part of our legacy, Mr. President, and yours," the ad reads, using the Hawaiian word for "earth." "If we fail to act, rising sea levels, super storms, and droughts will forever change these islands, our nation and the world."
Ending The Silence On Climate Change. Check out the video at billmoyers.com: "Climate change communication expert Anthony Leiserowitz explains why climate change gets the silent treatment, and what we should do about it."
Facebook And The Rest Of Silicon Valley Could Be Wiped Out In 40 Years. Hype, or a real concern with rising sea levels? Here's an excerpt from a story at Business Insider: "While much of California's coastline is at risk of rising sea levels, things look particularly bad for the Bay Area. Silicon Valley is already 3-10 feet below sea level, and scientists say that seawater will rise 16 inches by 2050. By 2100, that number is supposed to jump to 65 inches, and the entire area will experience more frequent, hard-hitting storms. If the levees in place are destroyed or overwhelmed by a storm surge, one hard blow could put the 3 million people who live in Silicon Valley in a grisly Waterworld. "It's imminent," Mruz says. "There's no question in my mind; we're going to have to do something, at every spot around the Bay." Also at risk: Google, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Intel, Cisco, and Oracle. "Silicon Valley basically backs right up to the bay," Mruz told CW. "You have all of them, Yahoo, Google, all right there. Without some type of flood protection potentially in front of that, you could flood that whole area. You're talking billions of dollars..."
Scientists Link Global Warming To England's Rainiest Year On Record. This article at euractiv.com caught my eye; here's an excerpt: "Senior climate scientists are linking global warming to the UK Met Office's announcement yesterday (3 January) that 2012 was England’s rainiest year since records began. The weather service's numbers showed that due to slightly more seasonal figures in Wales and Scotland, the UK as a whole experienced its second wettest summer recorded. But four of the UK’s Top Five wettest years have now occurred since 2000, a statistic in line with the expectations of climatologists who model the effects of a warming world. “It is not just Britain but many other parts of northern Europe and north America that are getting wetter and there is a climate change component to it,” Kevin Trenberth told EurActiv over a phone line from the US National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado..."
Climate Change: What's Faith Got To Do With It? Here is an excerpt of an article that resonated with me, from California's Whittier Daily News: "Throughout all of California and the rest of the country, the faith community has been working for many years to preach the gospel of good stewardship of our shared environment. Amid theological differences, we have fostered a shared sense of purpose and urgency that unites us in solidarity with our local and global communities, especially those most vulnerable to climate change. The action that results from this shared sense of purpose goes far beyond a congregation's four walls. People of faith bring shared principles - such as working for the common good, caring for our neighbors, and working for economic justice - into the public policy arena..."
Global Warming And Drought In The Midwest: Expect More Of The Same? Here's a snippet of a story at chicagomag.com: "The Midwest drought of 2012 has been one of the most expensive natural disasters of recent decades, with Mississippi River barge traffic on the verge of shutting down, and the Army Corps of Engineers blowing up underwater limestone to keep traffic moving:
‘If we were in the same conditions now, 30 years ago, we`d be running into problems much, much, sooner,’ Col. Hall said. The rock removal does stop traffic for 16 hours every day. But the Coast Guard, the river`s `traffic cop`, unclogs the jam overnight. ‘During the time that the Army Corps contractors are removing rock, which is roughly 6:00am – 10:00pm at night, we gather up all the vessels that are waiting north and south,’ Capt. Teschenford said. ‘They actually do a quick survey of the area where rocks were removed and we open it up. ‘
Cold Weather Tax
"Winter is not a season, it's an occupation" wrote Sinclair Lewis.
Perhaps, although I consider winter a well-disguised Godsend. Think about it. If it didn't get cold every now and then, a couple of battery-draining nights, our population would spike. Those wide-eyed CNN meteorologists pointing to Minnesota unwittingly keep our commutes less horrific; nice cabins on our lakes, instead of high rise condos.
Then again I may be rationalizing the lack of feeling in my toes.
We're picking up 1-2 minutes of additional daylight every day now. Within 3-4 weeks average temperatures start to rise again. I have a hunch our current cold spell will be one of the 2 or 3 coldest of winter. Models show highs near 32F by Friday; a few days in the 30s next week.
Snow? A dusting or coating of flurries today; by the end of next week it may be mild enough aloft for a little rain. The drought that developed in late summer continues to flavor our weather; El Nino nudging the storm track south/east of Minnesota.
On the blog below: 2012 tied with 1931 for the warmest year in Twin Cities history. Our 5 warmest years have all occurred since 1987.
My gut? Another abbreviated, drive-by winter is shaping up.
A Numbing New Year. Tuesday morning saw the coldest readings of the winter, so far, subzero statewide, as cold as -21F (air temperature) at Paynesville. Details from the Midwestern Regional Climate Center, via the Twin Cities NWS.
A "Warming Trend". Few other spots on Earth (outside of interior Alaska, portions of Finland and Siberia) would call 0 to +3 C a "warm front", but after negative numbers I can assure you that 30s will feel good, as early as Friday. Significant snow? You 'gotta be kidding me. No.
Temperature Trends. This Ham Weather graphic makes it easy to see the average high and low for the period, and predicted temperatures looking out into mid-January. After warming into the 30s much of next week readings take another dive by the second weekend of January.
Predicted Snowfall Thru Friday Night. The latest NAM numbers look pretty bleak (for snow lovers). Lake effect snow squalls may drop up to 8" near Syracuse, but - note to self - we don't live in Syracuse. Can I interest you in a snowy coating today? Bleak.
2012: Ties With 1931 For Warmest Year On record. You have to go back to the beginning of the Dust Bowl years to find a year as warm as 2012, according to Twin Cities NWS data. I think we can all agree that, in spite of a cold finish, last year was unseasonably warm. According to the NWS the average temperature last year was 50.4 F, or 4.6 F. warmer than average. Note the warming trend since the mid-80s above (solid black line).
2012: "Off The Scale". The dark red line shows St. Paul temperature trends in 2012, well above 4 of the 5 warmest years in modern-day records (1987, 1998, 2006 and 2010). 4 of the 5 warmest years have been observed since 1987; the other warm year was 1931. For a better look at this graph from NOAA NCDC click here.
December Numbers. Statewide December was warmer, and a bit snowier than normal (most of the snow coming during the December 9 storm). The local National Weather Service has a good summary: "December of 2012 brought something the area hardly saw at all during the 2011-2012 winter and that is snowfall. The majority of snow seen during the month was observed with the December 8th and 9th snowstorm, though Eau Claire did get some snow from the December 20th blizzard that struuck Iowa into southern Wisconsin, helping give Eau Claire the most snowfall for the month between the 3 climate locations. Add into the mix a primarily rain event the following weekend and the entire area got to experience something for the first time since this summer: above normal precipitation for a month. Of course in a year when all three locations were at or within a degree of setting the record for the warmest year on record, it shold come as no surprise that yet again, temperatures for te month of December were above normal. In all, only October saw below normal temperatures for a month in 2012, with all other months seeing above normal temperatures at St. Cloud and MSP (Eau Claire snuck in a below normal month in September as well)."
Shocker: Another Warmer Than Average Month. The Midwestern Regional Climate Center shows temperature anomalies for December 2012 ranging from +2 to +5 F. across much of Minnesota, as much as 8-10 F. warmer than average from Chicago into much of the Ohio Valley.
Increasing Daylight. We're picking up 1-2 minutes of daylight every day from later this week into mid-January. Historically the coldest weather of the year comes during the second or third week of January, about 3 weeks after the Winter Solstice. Calendar source here.
Top 10 U.S. Weather Events Of 2012. The more I read about Superstorm Sandy, the more impressed I am by the size and intensity of this historic storm. Here's a post from Wunderground meteorologist Jeff Masters, via Think Progress: "It was another year of incredible weather extremes unparalleled in American history during 2012. Eleven billion-dollar weather disasters hit the U.S., a figure exceeded only by the fourteen such disasters during the equally insane weather year of 2011. I present for you now the top ten weather stories of 2012, chosen for their meteorological significance and human and economic impact....
1) Superstorm Sandy
Hurricane Sandy was truly astounding in its size and power. At its peak size, twenty hours before landfall, Sandy had tropical storm-force winds that covered an area nearly one-fifth the area of the contiguous United States. Sandy’s area of ocean with twelve-foot seas peaked at 1.4 million square miles–nearly one-half the area of the contiguous United States, or 1% of Earth’s total ocean area. Most incredibly, ten hours before landfall (9:30 am EDT October 29), the total energy of Sandy’s winds of tropical storm-force and higher peaked at 329 terajoules–the highest value for any Atlantic hurricane since at least 1969, and equivalent to five Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs. At landfall, Sandy’s tropical storm-force winds spanned 943 miles of the the U.S. coast. No hurricane on record has been large..."
Photo credit above: "Cabs lie flooded on October 30, 2012, in Hoboken, NJ, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy." AP photo: Charles Sykes.
2012 Tornado Count Could Be One Of The Lowest In History. The reason? Record heat (and drought) over much of the USA for much of the summer, none of the large temperature contrasts that whip up strong wind shear, capable of turning garden-variety thunderstorms into tornadic "supercells". Huffington Post has more details: "...Harold Brooks, research meteorologist at NOAA's National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla., said that the lack of wind shear is responsible for the lower number of tornadoes in 2012. "That's associated, in some ways, with the drought that was over the central part of the U.S. during the summertime," Brooks said. "The jet stream went far to the north, and when we have that kind of a pattern over the central U.S., you have very hot weather at the surface. When it is that hot and dry, you don't get very many storms. And the storms that do form, there is not enough wind shear to get them organized into the kind of storms that make significant tornadoes." With very quiet and dry weather patterns, the winds do not vary much in speed or direction with height. Thus, rotating thunderstorms capable of producing tornadoes are less likely..."
Graphic credit above: NOAA SPC. "This graph from the SPC shows the number of tornadoes in 2012 compared to the number of tornadoes in 2011 and the average number of tornadoes annually in the U.S."
Study: Home Air Conditioning Reduced Deaths. This probably doesn't come as a shock, but there is something of a paradox here: A/C requires electricity, which requires burning of fossil fuels, which warms the air, increasing the need for more air conditioning. Not sure how we (easily) break this cycle. Here's an excerpt of an article from courier-journal.com: "The installation of air conditioning in American homes reduced the chances of dying on an extremely hot day by 80 percent over the past half-century, according to an analysis by a team of American researchers.The findings, based on an analysis of U.S. mortality records dating back to 1900, suggest the spread of air conditioning in the developing world could play a major role in preventing future heat-related deaths linked to climate change. Very few U.S. homes had air conditioning before 1960; by 2004, that figure had climbed to 85 percent..." (Photo: NOAA).
Minnehaha Falls, Like You've Never Seen It Before. This is one of the few benefits (?) of a cold wave, one of the more remarkable photos I've seen recently. Thanks to Matt Sepeta, who snapped this photo of the frozen falls at Minnehaha Falls taken last winter (when we weren't in a drought).
1. Our phones are becoming our remote controls for life. If we have a need for it in our daily lives, there should and will be an icon and app for it on our phone. It’s as simple as that. Our phones are our emergency kit for first-world problems.
Whether it’s a taxi or a ride in the rain (Uber, Lyft), a mechanic (YourMechanic), a doctor’s appointment (ZocDoc), the literal remote control (AppleTV), a personal assistant (Exec), a cake-baker (Zaarly), groceries (Instacart), or you’re getting a little chilly and want the temperature in the house turned up (Nest), our phones are the concierge. I expect this phenomenon to continue in 2013 and as we run into times in our daily lives when we don’t have an icon for it just yet. Someone will be working hard to create it..."
Paul's Star Tribune Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota
TODAY: Coating to 1" of flurries, a few slick spots. Winds: SW 10. High: 22
WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Light snow tapers to flurries. Low: 10
THURSDAY: Sunny and colder again. High: 14
FRIDAY: Sunny. Grilling weather! Low: 8. High: 31
SATURDAY: More clouds, cooler breeze. Low: 14. High: 25
SUNDAY: Some sun, not quite as chilly. Low: 12. High: 28
MONDAY: Intervals of sun, risk of a thaw. Low: 18. High: 33
TUESDAY: Sunny peeks. Above average temperatures. Low: 20. High: 32
Top Climate Stories of 2012. Here's a look at a Greg Laden post at scienceblogs.com: "A group of us, all interested in climate science, put together a list of the most notable, often, most worrying, climate-related stories of the year, along with a few links that will allow you to explore the stories in more detail. We did not try to make this a “top ten” list, because it is rather silly to fit the news, or the science, or the stuff the Earth does in a given year into an arbitrary number of events...."
"Super Storm Sandy, a hybrid of Hurricane Sandy (and very much a true hurricane up to and beyond its landfall in the Greater New York/New Jersey area) was an important event for several reasons. First, the size and strength of the storm bore the hallmarks of global warming enhancement. Second, its very unusual trajectory was caused by a climatic configuration that was almost certainly the result of global warming. The storm would likely not have been as big and powerful as it was, nor would it have likely struck land where it did were it not for the extra greenhouse gasses released by humans over the last century and a half or so...."
Top 10 Warmest Global Temperatures. Here are more details from Global Warming: Man or Myth?: "20 of the warmest years on record have occurred in the past 25 years. The warmest years globally are 2005 with the years 2009, 2007, 2006, 2003, 2002, and 1998 all tied for 2nd within statistical certainty. (Hansen et al., 2010) The warmest decade has been the 2000s, and each of the past three decades has been warmer than the decade before and each set records at their end. The odds of this being a natural occurrence are estimated to be one in a billion! (Schmidt and Wolfe, 2009)."
Will The West Survive? Just looking at the trends - it's going to become even more challenging living in water-challenged western cities from Denver to Las Vegas and Phoenix, even Los Angeles. Here's an excerpt of an eye-opening article at Men's Journal: "This year, summer came on like a grudge, with record-breaking heat, inescapable drought, and the sense that the effects of climate change had arrived – and that life in America's mythic frontier might never be the same. Something looked off when I landed at Denver International Airport this past August. It had been about four years since my last visit, and I couldn't immediately put my finger on what was up. I bought a coffee, glanced at the 'Denver Post,' and wandered out into the main terminal, with its silly bedouin design, the domed white ceiling looking as flimsy and tarplike as ever. It wasn't until I was outside, riding in the shuttle bus to my rental car, that it struck me what had changed: The Rocky Mountains had vanished..."
The Windowless Room Of The Current Event. One problem many people have with MSM (mainstream media) is a collective amnesia, an inability to connect the dots and look at the big picture. Not what it is, but what it MEANS. Bill Moyer's web site takes a look at the media's inability to see the bigger picture with climate change in this post; here's an excerpt: "...Or take quite a different subject: climate change. These days — despite the 2012 presidential campaign’s silence on the subject until Frankenstorm Sandy hit — “extreme weather,” as the TV news generally likes to call it, is regularly headlined. Increasingly often, there is at least passing mention of, or even discussion of, climate change in some of these stories. Again, though, what’s generally striking in mainstream reportage is the way the dots aren’t connected. The issue is less what isn’t reported, than what isn’t included. After all, this year in American weather has been extraordinary. A partial list of the most salient events would include: the parching of the Southwest, as well as record wildfires, sometimes of staggering proportions in New Mexico, Texas, Colorado and across the West; the heat records that made 2012 an “endless summer” and is just about sure to make it the hottest year in the continental U.S. since records began being kept; the devastating drought across the Midwestern bread (or corn) basket and parts of the South, which for many months had 60-65 percent of the country in its grip (and shows no sign of going away this winter) — with damage running into the many tens of billions of dollars; and, of course, the way Sandy, that gigantic storm passing over the heated waters of the Atlantic, surged into New York City and ravaged the New Jersey coast, causing widespread devastation and tens of billions of dollars in damage (while putting climate change back onto the political map)...."
Global Warming Research Eyes "Runaway" Ice Melt. Here's an excerpt from The Summit County Citizens Voice: "Most climate models are probably underestimating the rate of sea level rise expected during the next few decades, according to some of the latest research that tries to quantify how much ice may melt off the Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets. A Dec. 26 update by James Hansen and Makiko Sato warns that melting of those ice sheets could increase sea level rise exponentially higher than most existing forecasts, potentially inundating coastal cities around the world with several feet of water by the end of the century. The short paper discusses the linearity assumptions in most existing climate models and suggests that, if greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked, “the climate forcing will be so large that non-linear ice sheet disintegration should be expected and multi- meter sea level rise not only possible but likely.”..."
Photo credit above: "Will there be runaway ice sheet melting?" Bob Berwyn photo.
No December For You
By Todd Nelson
Are you as weirded out by this weather as I am? I mean, come on... 50s in December, what gives?
A nearly stationary and powerful Pacific storm is responsible for our late October/early November like weather as of late. The record high for today's date is 62F and we should fall short of that mark, but looking back through past Decembers, since 2000, I could only count a +50F high only 3 times; 2011, 2006 and 2004.
Upper level winds have been consistently blowing in from the west. This mild Pacific or zonal flow will get a little nudge north today as an approaching storm system rides along the international border. Even after the cold front passes later today, Tuesday's 'colder' temperatures will still be warmer than normal average high. In fact, I don't see us going below average until maybe the end of the week.
I, probably like many other, have the shovels at the ready and the snow blower all gased up. Though I still don't see whopper storm system brewing, models are hinting at a little more substantial shot at something by the end of the week/weekend ahead. Until then, enjoy winter-lite. Minnesota weather will likely return soon! -Todd Nelson
Todd's Star Tribune Outlook for the Twin CIties and all of Minnesota:
MONDAY: Brief shower?Turning colder later. High: 54 (by midday, then falling) Winds: S, then WNW 10-20
MONDAY: Breezy and cooler. Low: 32
TUESDAY: Cool breezy, more PM sun. High: 41
WEDNESDAY: Jacket weather. Clouds increase, light wintry mix late? Low: 21. High: 36
THURSDAY: AM wintry mix, more PM sun. Low: 31. High: 43
FRIDAY: Fading PM sun, PM flurries?. Low: 26. High: 33
SATURDAY: Cloudy with light snow late. Low: 18. High: 31.
SUNDAY: Sun/cloud mix with light snow. Low: 24. High: 30.
Somewhat Soggy and Foggy Sunday
I had to work the early shift on Sunday, so the drive into work at 4am wasn't the greatest... in fact, it was a bit nerve wracking. I wasn't a big fan of driving on the highway with extremely low visibility. It was almost hypnotic, staring into the abyss, watching the white lines whizz past. I snapped this shot earlier Sunday... the low fog layer opened up enough to get a quick glimpse of the near full moon.
Sunday Sunshine or No Sunshine
Look at how close the clearing line was to the Twin Cities Sunday afternoon... If you were northeast of the yellow through the day Sunday, you more than likely had a pretty gloomy day. Southwest of that line, the sun popped out and temperatures warmed close to 60F... remind me what month it is again.
Sunday Afternoon Temperatures
It's hard to see in the map below, but temperatures across southwest Minnesota on Sunday afternoon warmed into the low 60s. Marshall, MN reported a 61F temp by 2pm, while temperatures in the Twin Cities were only in the 30s.
64 F. high in the Twin Cities yesterday.
62 F. average high for October 8.
83 F. high on October 8, 2011.
Trace of rain reported Monday in the Twin Cities.
Freeze possible Wednesday morning, likely Friday morning.
Saturday: the most rain since mid-August? It's the first chance of steady/heavy rain in many weeks.
Cool Week - Significant Rain Saturday? It's too early to celebrate, but the ECMWF (European) model is fairly consistent bringing a surge of steady, potentially heavy rain into Minnesota and Wisconsin Saturday. 37 mm equals about 1.4" of rain, which may be overly generous, but at least there's a chance of significant rain. A series of clippers keep highs in the upper 40s to low 50s this week, but Indian Summer returns next week with 60s by Monday, maybe 70+ Tuesday.
Shift In The Pattern? The 12z ECMWF brings an area of low pressure northward across the Great Plains, pulling Gulf moisture into the Upper Midwest by Saturday. The map above is valid 1 pm Saturday, hinting at steady rain. Sunday should be the drier, brighter day of the weekend.
Fearless Felix Supersonic Free-Fall. Have you been keeping up with Felix Baumgartner's record-breaking free-fall attempt? It's this morning, weather permitting, and you can see it live on the Red Bull Stratos web site. A swan dive from 120,000 feet? We wish him well and God speed. Supersonic God speed. Wow.
* the Vancouver Sun has more details on the highest, fastest free-fall in history here.
Aurora Watch. Things are heating up on the sun (sorry), with more CME's bombarding Earth's magnetic field. That could and should translate into a higher probability of seeing the Northern Lights in the coming days and weeks - one of the benefits of living at this lofty latitude. The photo above was taken in Bayfield, Wisconsin by Migizi Gichigumi: "Northern Lights turned on!..even with the clouds and moonlight it was an awesome display of Auroras:) Bayfield,Wisconsin (Lake Superior) 10/8/12."
* NASA has more on the enhanced aurora potential here.
Awe-Inspiring. Check out this remarkable photo from Norway, courtesy of spaceweather.com: "On Oct 7th, Frank Olsen went to the beach outside Sortland, Norway to photograph the colors of aurora borealis in the sky. He also found some strange colors at his feet. The beach was aglow with bioluminescent dinoflagellates..."I was photographing the auroras when the Noctilucales washed up on the beach," says Olsen. "The moonlight was a nice bonus."
"Ask Paul". Weather-related Q&A:
"Here is a question that I have, that you may or may not want to share with the public.
It seems to me that EL Nino is struggling to gain a foot hold , so it looks like that signal may turn out to be a very weak to neutral ENSO for this winter season. What has gotten my attention is the signal that we are seeing in the north central Pacific ocean.. The waters were warming in that area causing a cold pool of water to set up near the coast of North America.. Now it looks like the Sea surface temps in the central northern Pacific are starting to cool, could that bing in warmer waters just of the coast of the NW USA.? In other words I am talking about the PDO.....I think it could be the major driver for our winter forecast."
* heavily retouched photo (what WAS that roadkill on my head?) courtesy of KARE-11 and tcmedianow.com.
Temperature Roller Coaster. The maps above (NOAA NCEP) are an ensemble of computer models, hinting at mild weather next week, but a potentially chilly end to October and a cold start to November. I passed your question along to Larry Cosgrove, who specializes in long-range weather prediction for utilities and other companies that want a jump on the 2-5 month outlook. He publishes a newsletter (WEATHERAmerica) - you can see his latest thoughts on the implications of a weak El Nino here. Here is what Larry has to say about Minnesota's upcoming winter:
Larry: "I will have the finished winter forecast out around October 18th. Looking for a tepid Modoki El Nino, trending back to a neutral ENSO in February. Deep cold pool near and below Aleutians, warm SST intrusion along immediate West Coast and just below Greenland are pushing me toward a warm West, cold Central, changeable to mild East alignment. Should be a good winter for the (Twin) Cities."
* I nudged Larry (gently) about what he meant by a "good winter" for the cities:
Larry: "If I am reading the pattern evolution correctly (and after last winter, who knows LOL), the basic storm track would be from the western Gulf of Mexico up along the western slopes of the Appalachian Mountains into Quebec. That isn't a great snow path for the Cities, but with a closed 500 mb low nearby you might pull off one or two synoptic scale blizzards and plenty of frontogenetic stuff spoking around the upper level cyclones. So at this point I would go with 80-90" in MSP...with most occurring late November through January, and a mild February as the +ENSO wanes."
Paul: Holy Batman! 80-90"? Larry does a great job, and part of me hopes he's right. I'd be thrilled with 100" snow and 20-30 F all winter. If only. At this point I wouldn't rule anything out, but I'll wash and wax Dave Dahl's car if we get 90" of snow. Based on a (weak) El Nino nudging the storm track over the southern USA and a pervasive drought that doesn't show any immediate signs of letting go, I'm leaning toward 40-45" for the winter. Better than last winter, but not as snowy as 2010-2011. Stay tuned. I'll stock up on some high-quality automotive wax, just in case.
"I thought Paul would like a copy of the photo below for his column. Later."
Beam Me Up Scotty. One of the (many) great things about weather is that I'm continually a). humbled, and b). amazed. I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like the photo that Terry passed on. What is a "sky punch"? Here's an explanation from Dr. David Whitehouse at The BBC, at aviationweathercv.com:
"Strictly speaking there is no scientific term for the apparition, and what exactly it is has been the subject of much meteorological speculation. One hypothesis is that the hole is made by falling ice-crystals that could have come from the exhaust of a passing aircraft. It is possible the air was at just the right temperature and with just the right moisture content so that the falling crystals could absorb water from the air and grow. The moisture removed from the air could have increased the evaporation of the cloud's water droplets, which then disappeared to produce the dramatic hole. The wispy clouds seen below the hole may be heavier ice-crystals that have fallen from the hole, evaporating (the correct term is subliming) before they reach the ground. It's called a fallstreak hole."
"Attached are a couple of pictures from my Jet demo flight this past weekend. The Eclipse Jet is part of a new line of small jet aircraft called Very Light Jets (V.L.J's). The Eclipse Jet has a cruise speed of just over 400 mph, but can take off and land at under 100 mph. The relatively slow take off and landing speed makes it possible for someone like me (with very little flying experience) to actually fly a jet. It also makes it possible to takeoff and land at smaller regional airports like the one in Blaine (where these photos were taken) or even smaller. This jet also uses the latest in airframe, engine, and avionics technology to make it the most efficient, easy to fly, and safest jet available. The Eclipse has a max seating capacity of 6 people (including the pilot). Most other VLJ's that I am aware of only have 4 seats."
Jay Gustafson - Director of IT
Media Logic Group
Jay - I'm slobbering all of my laptop, and for good reason. That's one beautiful aircraft. At close to $2.5 million I wouldn't exactly call it affordable, but the capabilities seem to rival jets 2-5 times more expensive. Very impressive, and made in America! More information on the Eclipse 550 here. Corporate jet? Keep dreaming...
How Big Data Can Make Us Happier And Healthier. Here's a story that caught my eye, a snippet from an article at Mashable Tech: "Big data is getting personal. People around the globe are monitoring everything from their health, sleep patterns, sex and even toilet habits with articulate detail, aided by mobile technology. Whether users track behavior actively by entering data or passively via sensors and apps, the quantified self (QS) movement has grown to become a global phenomenon, where impassioned users seek context from their big data identities. Moreover, with services like Saga and Open Sen.se, users can combine multiple streams of data to create insights that inspire broader behavior change than by analyzing a single trait. This reflects a mixed approach design (MAD) research methodology that purposely blends quantitative and qualitative factors in a framework where numbers are driven by nuance. The science of happiness, for example, is now a serious study for business, as organizations combine insights of the head and heart to create environments where workers feel their efforts foster meaningful change..."
Steve Jobs' Most Disruptive Trait: His Obsession With The Customer's Experience. Yes, he could be a jerk at times, but I think this gizmag.com story nails what made Steve Jobs singularly unique, and truly visionary: his total focus on streamlining and simplifying how we deal with tech. Here's an excerpt: "You have to wonder whether all of the tech bloggers who gush sentimental tributes to Steve Jobs would have actually liked the man. Numerous accounts paint a picture of a person who – in addition to his obvious charm, wicked intelligence, and inspired creativity – could be extremely rude, manipulative, and hot-tempered. It's easy to laugh these traits off when you're reading about them in a biography, but if these sappy fanboys had actually spent time with Jobs, would they still offer such moving words?"
"Stress Paul" - Rubber Stress Reliever. Yes, that's a very nice likeness. In fact I often curl up into the fetal position, watching the Vikings every Sunday (in my purple Spandex outfit). "Don't get stressed - take it out on Paul!" Amen brother. Details from GeekAlerts.com: "Need some stress relief? Look no further than the Stress Paul - Rubber Stress Reliever. Paul will help you get rid of that stress. He's only to happy to take some squeezing and abuse for your state of mind. This squeezy stress reliever is made of soft rubber and measures 2.4 b 1.4 by 3.2 inches. It will give you something to do that will relieve your stress. Whenever you need him grab him and squeeze. Don't worry, he can take it. He just curls up into a ball so you can do your thing. Only $11.44 from Amazon.com."
The Warm Side of the Clipper. Counterclockwise winds pumped milder air northward yesterday, boosting temperaturs into the 60s, ranging from 61 at St. Cloud to 64 Twin Cities and 68 Redwood Falls and Rochester. .19" rain fell at International Falls with a high of onl 42.
Paul's Star Tribune Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota (and western Wisconsin):
TODAY: Showers are over now. More clouds than sun, cool breeze. Winds: NW 15-25. High: 52
TUESDAY NIGHT: Gradual clearing, frost/freeze expected late. Low: 30
WEDNESDAY: Frosty start. Bright sunshine, still cooler than average. High: 53
THURSDAY: Next clipper, clouds & sun. Brisk. Low: 39. High: 51
FRIDAY: Sunny, turning breezy. Low: 30. High: 53
SATURDAY: Steady, soaking rain. Cool & raw. Low: 39. High: 48
SUNDAY: Drier day. Soggy start, skies brighten PM hours. Low: 44. High: 55
MONDAY: Sunshine, milder breeze. Low: 42. High: near 60
* photo above courtesy of Shad Van Matre.
Winter Hassle Factor
I've been babbling about the Hassle Factor since the 80s, when I loitered in KARE-11's backyard. It's an attempt to predict rush hour conditions, based on snow, ice, wind chill, etc.
The question keeps bubbling to the surface: "what's the Winter Hassle Factor"? Colder with some snow. I know it's vague, but I stand by that prediction. Snow lovers may be happy to hear from Larry Cosgrove, an old college buddy, who now specializes in long-range weather for utilities. He's predicting the main storm track from the western Gulf to the Appalachians, but overall a "good winter" for snow lovers. How good?
"At this point I would go with 80 to 90 inches in MSP, with most occurring late November through January and a mild February as the +ENSO wanes" Cosgrove e-mailed me yesterday.
Yikes! Average is 55 inches. I'll be amazed (and greatful) if we pick up 45 inches this winter, based on our ongoing drought. Time will tell. Details of Larry's prediction above in the "Ask Paul" section.
The maps are looking a little more encouraging for moisture. Sprinkles (even a few flurries tonight) give way to dry weather into Friday. Significant rain is expected Saturday, the most since mid-August.
Heavy jackets this week; 60s return next week.
No "sticking snow" shaping up the next 2 weeks.
* photo above courtesy of funnychill.com.
"Many laws protecting environmental quality have promoted liberty by securing property against the destructive trespass of pollution." - Ronald Reagan
Don't Forget The "Global" In Global Climate Change. Here's a snippet of a timely story at Scientific American: "...This approach allows for flexibility in letting each country craft a solution tailored to their individual economies and politics. Imposing limits on greenhouse gas emissions for each country on a strict timeframe might make us sleep better at night, but it as the high likelihood of gridlock and failure. And also, because it is flexible, goals can be updated as countries emerge from developing status, or other unforeseen circumstances. It’s keeping the rest of the global community, where each country has its own funky domestic policies and politics and development goals, in mind with our goals for prosperity and development. Mitt Romney essentially articulated this point when he answered the ScienceDebate.org question on climate change."
Underestimating The Dangers Of Peak Oil And Climate Change. It's been a long time since I've heard news of "peak oil", with all the euphoria surrounding "fracking" and at least a century's supply of (American) natural gas. So this story at The Christian Science Monitor caught my eye; here's an excerpt: "Many people dismiss the risks associated with oil depletion and climate change--even many who accept the two issues as problems. They judge those risks to be small or at least manageable. Since no one can know the future, we cannot be sure whether they are right or wrong. But even if they are right, should we be so sanguine? As we examine this question, keep in mind that we are talking about probabilities and the level of risk, not absolute knowledge which none of us can have about the future....In a nutshell, we believe that because a certain event has reliably repeated itself in the past or because certain conditions have prevailed for a long time, we can always expect more of the same in the future. If that were true, there would come a point in our lives when we would never be surprised. But as it turns out, humans are continually surprised, which shows you that the problem of induction lives on." Photo above: Clean Technica.
What Kind Of Energy Journalism Do We Need? Here's an excerpt of a story at Climate Progress: "What I'd like to see in all these varieties of energy journalism is a little bit more systems thinking, a greater sense of context. Humanity's relationship with energy is changing in fundamental ways and lots of the familiar frames for energy coverage no longer make much sense, or at least are woefully inadequate. Here are the three great energy challenges of the 21st century:
1). Maintain safe and reliable energy supply to developed countries, where demand is leveling off and infrastructure is aging."
Climate Science Seminar. St. Paul's Science Museum hosted a Climate Science Seminar Friday evening and Saturday, hosting local TV and radio meteorologists from around the Upper Midwest. It's impossible for me to adequately summarize everything I heard and learned, but here are a few highlights, based on the notes I took at the event. I don't purport to be recapping the seminar, word for word (I'm too easily distracted), but here is what I remember and put to paper:
Dr. Ben Santer (Lawrence Livermore Laboratory)
Most of the observed warming during the latter half of the 20th century is very likely (greater than 90% probability) to be attributed to human activities. - 2007 IPCC conclusion
Natural causes alone cannot explain the observed changes.
"The science is real - we can't embrace ignorance."
"Many Americans are rightfully concerned about the fiscal debt we're handing down to tour kids, which proves we can still focus on future problems and issues. Buut when it comes to environmental debt, triggered by a steady build-up of greenhouse gases, many of these same people are silent. There is a serious disconnect."
"What do people want to be remembered for? The money they accumulated during their careers? How much stuff they have? Or the world they left behind?"
* no such thing as "settled science" or "perfect science". The science is continually evolving as new data comes in and new hypotheses are formed, tested, validated or discarded.
* based on the evidence at hand scientists try to reach consensus.
" media "balance" on climate policy is appropriate - but on climate science?
Anthony Brocoli, Rutgers University
How do we know that greenhouse gases trigger warming?
* Basic physics.
According to NCDC: 2012 is the warmest year since 1895 for most states from the Upper Midwest to the east coast.
* map above courtesy of NOAA NCDC (118 means hottest on record).
"Human-caused warming (AGW) will increase the probability of warmer weather, but internal variability will always be a powerful factor from year to year."
97% Why do (only) 97% of published, climate scientists agree that humans are largely responsible for most of the warming since the latter half of the 20th century? "Scientists do not all have identical thresholds for accepting hypotheses."
Climate Policy: "Your opinion counts just as much as mine."
Mark Seeley, University of Minnesota
Important Drivers With Climate Change:
1). Natural variability.
2). Land use/landscape changes.
3). AGW (human-caused warming linked to the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation)
"The persistence and amplitude of the warming signal during winter is stronger in Minnesota."
Brainerd: new 30-year rolling weather averages show a 3.8 F. warming for January low temperatures.
Implications for Minnesota:
* increased freeze/thaw cycle (more damaged roads)
* longer growing and construction season.
* changes in animal migration, hibernation and foraging.
* longer exposure times to mold and allergens
* later nitrogen applications (soil temperatures too high)
* more rapid breakdown of crop residues.
* change in the depth/duration of soil and lake freezing.
* fewer adverse-weather days.
Temperature signal during the summer is modest in Minnesota.
Based on cooling degree days: 2012 is the 3rd warmest on record.
Slight increase in 70-degree dew point days.
* first 80-degree dew point reported at Voyageur's State Park. Historically this is unprecedented.
"Most of our heat waves since the 1980s have been driven not by air temperature, but by excessive dew points."
Minnesota Impacts & Vulnerabilities:
* new insects/pathogens.
* efficacy of herbicides.
* warm water issues (algae blooms).
* heat-related health care implications (MS, COPD, obesity.
* increased livestock stress.
* shorline management.
* storm sewer runoff.
* influence on fisheries.
There are 1,500 volunteer weather observers in the state of Minnesota (I did not know that).
Trends: springs and falls are trending wetter. Eastern Minnesota is trending wetter with time.
10-30% increase in "normal precipitation".
Bipolar Weather Regime:
Severe drought has been reported somewhere in Minnesota every summer since 2005.
Greg Zandlo report: three separate 1-in-1,000 year flood events in southern Minnesota since September, 2004.
"I'll accept the notion of climate change when pigs and rabbits fly..."
Peter Snyder, University of Minnesota Department of Soil, Water and Climate:
Minnesota: 3rd fastest-warming state in the USA (Climate Central)
CMIP5 Model Ensemble Predictions (image above courtesy of nature.com):
* 4-6 F. warming by 2100
* minimum winter temperatures (nighttime lows) forecast to warm the most.
* increase in winter cloudcover over time.
* 20% reduction in snowfall by 2100 (more rain and mixed precipitation during winter months).
* current average winter snowfall at MSP: 55" forecast to be one foot less by 2100.
* Overall increase in precipitation forecast for eastern Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Jeff Masters, Founder, Weather Underground:
Consensus on sea level rise by 2100: around 1 meter, or 3 feet.
Hurricane damage is doubling every 20 years.
Models suggest fewer hurricanes in a warmer world, but more extreme (Category 3+) storms.
Florida/Bahamas may be most at risk.
Warming oceans: odds of a San Diego/Los Angeles hurricane are increasing. Mediterranean Sea forecast to become warm enough to support hurricane activity.
2012: ten separate billion-dollar weather disasters, second only to 2011.
$20 billion in severe storm damage so far in 2012, much of it from the massive derecho that swept across the Ohio Valley into the Mid Atlantic region - the most damaging/deadly on record
Flood control systems: designed for 20th century storms.
Top 10 Most expensive disasters since 1980: 6 out of the top 10 were hurricanes, 3 were droughts.
1988 heat wave and drought: 7,500 Americans died (!) with a damage estimate of $78 billion.
Drought: key driver of climate change (more heat = more intense drought). Link to extreme storms more tenuous.
Wunderground.com has a new section focused on local impacts of climate change, state by state.
"During the last 7 years we've broken pretty much every kind of weather record there is, from heat to tornadoes to floods..."
John Abraham. University of St. Thomas:
"All the volcanoes of the world produuce less greenhouse gas emissions than the state of Florida".
Greenhouse gas levels higher now than they've been in 800,000 years.
Evidence of changing climate not dependent on one data source: numerous threads of evidence.
10 of the 11 warmest years on record, worldwide, observed since 1998.
No atmospheric blanket of gases to trap warmth: Earth's temperature would be closer to 0 F, not 59 F.
CO2 increasing at the rate of 2 ppm/year, or about .5% every year.
Paul Douglas. Co-Founder, Senior Meteorologist at Media Logic Group.
Twin Cities: 16 months/row of warmer than average temperatures. Odds of flipping 20 consecutive "heads" is roughly 1 in 1 million.
331 months/row of global temperatures warmer than the 20th century average.
2012 Anomalies. Yes, London was cooler and (much) wetter for much of the summer, but the idea that record heat over the USA was somehow "balanced" by the same magnitude of cooling elsewhere doesn't hold up under scrutiny. The map above shows 2012 temperature anomalies from January thru August. Everything in yellow/red is warmer than average. Map: NASA GISS.
Minnesota Temperature Trends. Southern Minnesota temperatures since 1980 rising at the rate of 5.5 F/century. Over northern Minnesota temperatures are rising at the rate of 7.2 F/century.
"Mitigating climate change will require a level of sustained innovation and American reinvention that will propel the USA into a new competitive paradigm. This is our Energy Moonshot Moment. To remain competitive on a global stage we have to develop new ways to grow our energy infrastructure, jobs and GDP that aren't totally reliant on fossil fuels."