Remembering Real Winters - Tame Thanksgiving 2017

"Oh Paul, these winters are killing me!" As I dart from my heated car to the heated Skyway to my nice, heated office. We love to gripe and groan, but most of us have no recollection of what it was like before creature comforts like Thinsulate, heated car seats and remote starters.

Elaine Hendrickson told me stories of her childhood in Mahnoman , Minnesota in the late 1940s. "I remember my dad sliding a tray of burning coal embers under our car's engine, to get it to start up" she explained. "We would take the battery out of the car and keep in the farmhouse, to keep it warm." The arrival of electricity and indoor plumbing was a big deal, post WWII, she added. Note to self: stop whining.

A colder wind kicks in behind a blustery burst of Canadian air today; the best chance of flurries tomorrow north of the MSP metro.

Statistically, 1 in 3 Thanksgivings has an inch or more of snow on the ground. This will not be one of those years. Expect low 40s Thursday, maybe 50F on Saturday - more 40s early next week.

November got off to a numbing start, now a milder than average finish.

Blustery Tuesday. The map above, courtesy of Praedictix, shows peak wind gusts expected on Tuesday; over 40 mph just west of the Twin Cities metro. Winds ease by Wednesday morning.

Snowfall Potential by Friday. A light coating of snow is possible up north, mainly Wednesday PM hours,  again late Friday. No big storms brewing on the horizon just yet. NAM guidance: NOAA and

Tuesday Weather Map. Aa fairly quiet day is on tap; gusty winds for Minnesota and the Upper Midwest as an Alberta Clipper surges south of the border. Rain is likely for the Pacific Northwest, some snow for the northern Rockies. Map: NOAA.

Trending Milder Than Average. At least through the end of November, then all bets are off, although NOAA climate models insist December will be milder than average for much of North America. ECMWF guidance hints at 50F on "Black Friday", again next Wednesday. Twin Cities data: WeatherBell.

Thanksgiving Heat. Check out predicted highs across the western USA on Thursday, vs. the old record highs. 60s as far north as Wyoming and Montana on Thanksgiving.

Earliest Date of First Snow? Curious about when the first snowy coating shows up across the USA? NOAA's site has an interactive site that's worth taking for a quick test drive: "By the calendar, winter is still a month away. For many of us, though, winter starts with the first snow of the season. By that definition, this map shows the earliest first day of winter recorded at thousands of U.S. stations during their period of operation. Zoom in and click on a dot to find out the earliest date snow has fallen in your neighborhood based on these station histories. As we've published about before in the Beyond the Data blog, snow observations are among the most hit and miss in terms of the completeness of daily histories. These locations are a subset of the complete Global Historical Climatology Network that met various quality controls for reasonableness and completeness of snow cover.  Most stations have at least 20 years of data. A few have a shorter history, but are otherwise of good quality (e.g., little to no missing data)..."

This New Satellite Could Produce the Most Accurate Weather Predictions Yet. The Los Angeles Times has more information on the new JPSS-1 polar orbiting satellite: "...Once JPSS-1 makes it into orbit, its suite of five state-of-the-art instruments will collect the most high-resolution observations yet of our planet’s atmosphere, land and oceans, NOAA officials said. “These instruments are so precise that they can measure temperatures to better than one-tenth of a degree in the entire atmosphere, from the Earth’s surface up to the edge of space,” said Greg Mandt, director of the JPSS program for NOAA. The data these sensors collect will be fed into weather prediction models in almost real time. Ultimately, it will inform the seven-day forecasts you see when you hit the weather app on your phone, or turn on the morning news to decide whether or not to grab an umbrella. JPSS-1’s observations will also help forecasters predict and study major weather events and allow them to better advise communities about when they need to evacuate because of a hurricane or whether a school or workplace should call a snow day..."

Image credit: "The Joint Polar Satellite System-1, or JPSS-1, is designed to provide forecasters with crucial environmental science data to provide a better understanding of changes in the Earth's weather, oceans and climate." (Ball Aerospace).

Disaster Claims Soar in Year of Calamities. 15 separate billion-dollar disasters, nationwide, so far in 2017, tying the all-time record set in 2011. Here's an excerpt of a Washington Post story at "The number of Americans registered for federal disaster aid jumped tenfold this year, costing billions of dollars in additional emergency funding as the nation nears the end of a historically calamitous year. More than 4.7 million Americans — or about 1.4 percent of the population — have registered so far this year for disaster aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In 2016, 480,000 sought aid, and fewer than 180,000 people registered for disaster assistance in each of the three previous years. Three hurricanes — Harvey, Irma and Maria — collectively affected an area with about 8 percent of the U.S. population. The hurricanes were followed by wildfires that killed 43 people and destroyed more than 7,000 homes here in wine country..."

File Image of Hurricane Maria taken September 24, courtesy of NOAA and AerisWeather.

Dark Days of November. Yes, in many respects this is the bleakest month of the year, at least if you need a ration of sunlight to get through the day. Here's an excerpt from Minnesota WeatherTalk, courtesy of Dr. Mark Seeley: "If we examine historical climate statistics, November is traditionally the cloudiest month of the year, averaging nearly 6 tenths cloud cover of the sky on a daily basis. This is fully 25 to 35 percent more cloud cover than any other month. In terms of actual solar radiation (both direct and diffuse) the amount reaching the Minnesota landscape during November is approximately half of what it is in the month of July, and when compared with to the month with the next least amount of solar radiation (December) it is still about 8 percent less (a result of the low sun angle and shorter day length). It is no wonder that November traditionally marks the annual onset of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), sometimes called winter depression, winter blues, or seasonal depression..."

Photo credit: Joan Kruhoeffer.

The U.S. Flooded One of Houston's Richest Neighborhoods to Save Everyone Else. Bloomberg BusinessWeek has a remarkable story about what really happened during Hurricane Harvey; here's the intro: "The Army Corps of Engineers sent water cascading into West Houston’s Energy Corridor to avoid a catastrophic reservoir failure during Hurricane Harvey. Now a web of lawsuits could change how the government handles extreme weather...."
Image credit: "Featured in Bloomberg Businessweek, Nov. 20, 2017." Photographer: Philip Montgomery for Bloomberg Businessweek.

These $2 Million Floating Homes Can Withstand Category 4 Hurricanes. Oh really? Maybe on paper, but testing it in a real Category 4 storm would be the ultimate beta test. Big Think has more information: "Hurricanes and tropical storms ravaged the eastern coast of the U.S. and surrounding islands in 2017, leaving many to question the long-term habitability of the areas and those similar across the globe. But there will be soon one solution that would allow people to live safely and in style right off the coast of regions likely to be affected by the effects of climate change – at least for those with a spare $2 million. Dutch architect Koen Olthuis, along with his studio Waterstudio, is designing "livable yachts" that would be able to withstand Category 4 hurricanes..."
Image credit:

Norwegian Bank Considers Dropping Oil & Gas in 'Shot Heard Round The World': Here are links to stories about Norway's decision, courtesy of Climate Nexus: "Norway's $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund is considering divesting from its oil and gas holdings in a move that could have serious implications for the global industry. The Norwegian Central Bank made the divestment recommendation on Thursday, saying that pulling investments from oil and gas would protect the world's largest sovereign wealth fund from a possible permanent drop in prices in the future. "This is an enormous change," Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, told Bloomberg. "It’s a shot heard around the world." Fossil fuels are top of mind in Norway this week: trials began in Oslo Tuesday for Greenpeace's suit against the Norwegian government's recent oil and gas lease sales in the Barents Sea, while the country's largest pension fund also announced Thursday that it had dropped 10 major coal companies from its investment portfolio." (Divestment: New York Times $, WSJ $, BBCThe GuardianBloomberg, Reuters. Coal: AP, Reuters).

World's Biggest Wealth Fund Wants Out of Oil and Gas. Bloomberg reports: "The $1 trillion fund that Norway has amassed pumping oil and gas over the past two decades wants out of petroleum stocks. Norway, which relies on oil and gas for about a fifth of economic output, would be less vulnerable to declining crude prices without its fund investing in the industry, the central bank said Thursday. The divestment would mark the second major step in scrubbing the world’s biggest wealth fund of climate risk, after it sold most of its coal stocks. “Our perspective here is to spread the risks for the state’s wealth,” Egil Matsen, the deputy central bank governor overseeing the fund, said in an interview in Oslo. “We can do that better by not adding oil-price risk...”

Elon Musk: The Architect of Tomorrow. Check out the story at Rolling Stone: "...And that's just one of Musk's ambitions. Others include converting automobiles, households and as much industry as possible from fossil fuels to sustainable energy; implementing a new form of high-speed city-to-city transportation via vacuum tube; relieving traffic congestion with a honeycomb of underground tunnels fitted with electric skates for cars and commuters; creating a mind-computer interface to enhance human health and brainpower; and saving humanity from the future threat of an artificial intelligence that may one day run amok and decide, quite rationally, to eliminate the irrational human species..."

Photo credit: "Musk at SpaceX in Hawthorne, California, this fall." Mark Seliger for Rolling Stone.

Wind Project in Southern Minnesota Gets Pushback. Star Tribune reports: "...Wind farms commonly generate some local antipathy as they grow both in number and economic importance to the energy industry, but the Freeborn project has sparked a higher level of opposition. It has been intense enough to prompt Freeborn Wind’s developer, Invenergy, to move more than half the project — 58 turbines — across the border to Iowa. “Iowa loves it,” said Dan Litchfield, senior manager for Chicago-based Invenergy, which is developing Freeborn Wind for Xcel Energy. As far as state permitting, “the Iowa portion of the project is done,” Litchfield said. In Minnesota, Freeborn Wind has sparked a fight before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC)..."
Photo credit: Anthony Souffle, Star Tribune. "Windmills dot the landscape as a farmer harvested corn near Alden, Minn. Scenes like this have caused residents south of the area such as Dorenne Hansen to become more vocal in their opposition to the proposed project."

Warren Buffet: The Three Things I Look For In a Person. Farnam Street has a good read: "...You’re looking for three things, generally, in a person,” says Buffett. “Intelligence, energy, and integrity. And if they don’t have the last one, don’t even bother with the first two. I tell them, ‘Everyone here has the intelligence and energy—you wouldn’t be here otherwise. But the integrity is up to you. You weren’t born with it, you can’t learn it in school.” Buffett and Munger were fortunate. They were both smart and worked hard to improve that advantage. The integrity, however, they chose. “You decide to be dishonest, stingy, uncharitable, egotistical, all the things people don’t like in other people,” argues Warren..."

Shadow of the Future. The author of this post at The Gym argues there are two kinds of businesses: "...This theory, if true, would also explain some counterintuitive findings in customer behaviour. It has long baffled people that, if a customer has a problem and a brand resolves it in a satisfactory manner, the customer becomes a more loyal customer than if the fault had not occurred in the first place. Odd, until you realise that solving a problem for a customer at your own expense is a good way of signalling your commitment to a future relationship. The theory of “continuation probability” would also predict that when a business focuses more narrowly on short-term profit maximisation, it will appear less and less trustworthy to its customers. I suspect that, to anyone who has been awake for the last thirty years, this possibility seems all too plausible..."

Amazon's Jeff Bezos and the Secrets to Success. Check out the interview transcript, courtesy of Summit: "In this first-of-its-kind conversation, the Bezos brothers discuss their early influences, habits for success, and predictions for the future..."

Inside Google's Struggle to Filter Lies from Breaking News. Bloomberg Technology has a very interesting read.

The Generalized Specialist: How Shakespeare, Da Vinci and Kepler Excelled. I found an article at Farnam Street fascinating: "...Some skills — like the ability to focus, to read critically, or to make rational decisions — are of universal value. Others are a little more specialized but can be used in many different careers. Examples of these skills would be design, project management, and fluency in a foreign language. The distinction between generalization and specialization comes from biology. Species are referred to as either generalists or specialists, as with the hedgehog and the fox. A generalist species can live in a range of environments, utilizing whatever resources are available. Often, these critters eat an omnivorous diet. Raccoons, mice, and cockroaches are generalists. They live all over the world and can eat almost anything. If a city is built in their habitat, then no problem; they can adapt..."

Want to Live Longer? Get a Dog. But we knew that already, right? CNN reports: "The benefits that come with owning a dog are clear-- physical activity, support, companionship -- but owning a dog could literally be saving your life Dog ownership is associated with a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease and death, finds a new Swedish study published Friday in the journal Scientific Reports. For people living alone, owning a dog can decrease their risk of death by 33% and their risk of cardiovascular related death by 36%, when compared to single individuals without a pet, according to the study. Chances of a heart attack were also found to be 11% lower. Multi-person household owners also saw benefits, though to a lesser extent. Risk of death among these dog owners fell by 11% and their chances of cardiovascular death were 15% lower. But their risk of a heart attack was not reduced by owning a dog..."

A Visit to Paisley Park. Yes, I've done the  tour, and I'm glad I did. Here's an excerpt from Atlas Obscura highlighting Minnesota's version of Graceland: "...Prince envisioned Paisley Park, built in 1987, as a place that wouldn’t just enable him to produce his musical work, but be a creative space for film and commercial productions, performance, and clothing production. So what should fans of the late performer making the trek to the Minneapolis suburb expect? Well, for starters, as you enter you’ll hear the sounds of Majesty and Divinity, Prince’s pet doves. You’ll see an urn, shaped like Paisley Park and decorated with white doves, crystals, and a replica of his purple piano. And yes, that urn contains the singer’s ashes. Depending on the level of access you choose on the tour, you can also enjoy a vegetarian meal at the end..."

Photo credit: "The Atrium where you can hear the sounds of Majesty and Divinity, Prince's doves." Paisely Park/NPG Records.

48 F. maximum temperature yesterday in the Twin Cities.

38 F. average high on November 20.

30 F. high on November 20, 2016.

November 21, 2001: Record highs are set in west and north central Minnesota, ranging from the upper fifties to lower sixties. Redwood Falls set their high with 68 degrees Fahrenheit and Little Falls had a high of 65 degrees.

November 21, 1980: On this date, around 28 thousand Canadian geese spent their nights on Silver Lake in Rochester.

TODAY: Gusty, feels like teens out there. Winds: NW 15-35. High: near 30

TUESDAY NIGHT: Clearing skies, winds ease up a little. Low: 19

WEDNESDAY: Sunny start, few flurries up north PM. Winds: SW 7-12. High: 34

THANKSGIVING: Partly sunny, a quiet Thanksgiving. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 26. High: 41

BLACK FRIDAY: Mild start, few PM rain showers. Winds: W 10-20. Wake-up: 34. High: 48

SATURDAY: Cooler with a mix of clouds and sun, dry. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 28. High: 35

SUNDAY: Bright sun, no travel headaches. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 20. High: 33

MONDAY: Intervals of sun, milder again. Winds: SW 7-12. Wake-up: 24. High: 46

Climate Stories...

Battered by Extreme Weather, Americans Are More Worried About Climate Change. Here's a clip from The Guardian: "...Americans are nevertheless growing increasingly concerned about climate change. A record 22% are very worried about it (double the number in the March 2015 survey), and 63% of Americans are at least somewhat worried about climate change. That’s probably because they perceive direct climate impacts – 64% of survey participants think that global warming is affecting the weather, and 33% said it’s having a big influence. Americans also connecting the dots to specific extreme weather events. About 54% said that climate change worsened the extreme heat waves, wildfires, and hurricanes that pummeled the country in 2017..."

Photo credit: "A home is surrounded by floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey in Spring, Texas." Photograph: David J. Phillip/AP.

White House Disaster Aid Request Falls Short, Lawmakers Say: From Climate Nexus: "The White House requested Friday an additional $44 billion in disaster aid, in the Trump administration's third bid for additional relief from Congress since this summer's hurricanes. Several lawmakers criticized the package as being too small--Texas alone has requested $61 billion in disaster aid--while calling out proposed cuts to longer-term disaster aid and mitigation programs to help pay for immediate relief. The New York Times reports that one of the proposed cuts in the package would remove $520 million from the Army Corps of Engineers flood control and coastal emergencies program to pay for immediate hurricane relief. Some politicians also highlighted the $1.5 trillion in potential cuts in the separate GOP tax reform bill before Congress as Americans in Puerto Rico, Florida and Texas still struggle to recover." (Request: New York Times $, Politico, BloombergThe Hill, Deutsche Welle. Lawmaker responses: The Hill)

File image of Hurricane Harvey: ISS, NASA.

Added Arctic Data Shows Global Warming Didn't Pause. ScieceDaily has the story: "A University of Alaska Fairbanks professor and his colleagues in China built the first data set of surface temperatures from across the world that significantly improves representation of the Arctic during the "global warming hiatus." Xiangdong Zhang, an atmospheric scientist with UAF's International Arctic Research Center, said he collaborated with colleagues at Tsinghua University in Beijing and Chinese agencies studying Arctic warming to analyze temperature data collected from buoys drifting in the Arctic Ocean. "We recalculated the average global temperatures from 1998-2012 and found that the rate of global warming had continued to rise at 0.112C per decade instead of slowing down to 0.05C per decade as previously thought," said Zhang who is also a professor with UAF's College of Natural Science and Mathematics..."

Image credit: "These figures show the global warming rates with the incorporated Arctic data. Credit: Figures courtesy of Xiangdong Zhang.

The Thawing Arctic Threatens an Environmental Catastrophe. Here's an excerpt of a story at The Economist: "...The Snowhotel’s lengthening off-season is a small sign of an immense transformation in the Arctic, where the environment is changing more rapidly than in the rest of the world. Little can be done to keep its white wastes intact. A great thaw is inevitable as the climate responds to an accumulation of carbon emissions in the atmosphere. International efforts to limit global warming will at best slow the changes, perhaps making the consequences merely terrible rather than catastrophic. “The Paris agreement will not save the Arctic as it is today,” says Lars-Otto Reiersen, executive secretary of the group behind the latest edition of “Snow, Water, Ice, Permafrost in the Arctic” (SWIPA), a report produced under the auspices of the Arctic Council, a scientific-policy club for the eight countries with territory in the Arctic Circle), as well as observers including China and India..."

Scientists Are Skeptical Political Leaders Can Meet Climate Goal. Bloomberg has the story: "Climate negotiators inserted a dramatic charge in the 2015 Paris accord, asking world leaders to strive to keep global temperatures at just 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Now new studies have begun to sketch out what the tighter target -- compared to the longtime benchmark goal of 2 degrees (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) -- actually means. Their overall message to climate envoys meeting in Bonn, Germany this week: Better get cracking. “We would need an incredibly dramatic reduction in emissions in the very near future,” said Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist with Berkeley Earth. He called the 1.5 degree target “a little ridiculous and implausible...”

Image credit: NOAA.

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