Saturday, October 2, 2010

1-2 Warm, Dry Weeks/Row (and why preparing for climate change may be smart business)

First F-F-F-Frost. Many towns are waking up to the first frost of the season, the result of clear skies, light winds (under the center of a fair weather high pressure system), and a chilly airmass of Canadian heritage. A "Freeze" is defined as 3 hours or more of temperatures below 28 F, cold enough to kill off most plant life for the season. The "urban heat island" kept the downtowns and close-in suburbs as much as 5-10 degrees warmer than the outlying suburbs last night - if you somehow avoided a frost you'll probably be ok through at least mid October, the way the weather maps are looking right now.

Median Data of the First 32 F. Reading. Based on data from 1948-2005 the average (ok, "median") date of the first 32 degree low is October 7 at MSP International (and Stillwater), but as early as September 21 at Mora (far north metro) and Brainerd. See for yourself here, data courtesy of the Minnesota State Climatology Office.

Torrential Rains. The tropical rains that soaked much of the east coast late last week were impressive - Doppler radar estimates showed a band of 5-12" from eastern North Carolina into the D.C. area, the equivalent of a hurricane's worth of rain in less than 2 days.

East Coast Is Soaked By A Gusty Storm. The New York Times has a good overview of the stubborn storm that drenched the east coast late last week. Central Park picked up over 2", with 2-5" rain for much of New Jersey, coming after the worst summer drought since 1966. Parts of eastern PA and Maryland were soaked with over 10" of rain, stranding motorists, downing trees and powerlines. It will take weeks for some of these east coast towns to get back to normal.

Brisk Saturday. Saturday was the coolest day since May 13, a hint of things to come. Highs ranged from 52 at Rochester to 56 in the Twin Cities and 57 in St. Cloud. That's the normal high for October 22.

Paul's Conservation MN Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:

Today: Bright sun, breezy, a few degrees milder. Winds: S 10-15. High: 60

Sunday night: Clear and cool. Low: 39

Monday: Blue sky - warming up. High: 66

Tuesday: Hard to concentrate - sunny & beautiful. High: 71

Wednesday: Somehow even nicer - sunny and spectacular. High: 73

Thursday: Indian Summer in full force. Sunny and lukewarm. High: 75

Friday: Still sunny, still memorable. High: 77

Saturday: The best week of autumn winds down - still amazingly sunny and nice. High: 76

* Temperatures trend warmer than average with 60s and a few 70s through October 14.

* Models hinting at a colder front after October 14 - 40s and 50s the 3rd week of October.

* First chance of significant rain: October 14-15. Until then the weather remains dry (and quiet).

Get ready for what will probably be the nicest stretch of weather of Autumn. That's a mouthful, I realize, but Minnesota's weather will be remarkably quiet, dry (and mild) through October 14, give or take a day. Highs will reach well into the 70s the latter half of this week - more than 10 degrees above average, with sunshine and assorted atmospheric oohs and aahs spilling over into the weekend. The first chance of any rain? The end of NEXT week, around October 14-15, when a vigorous cool frontal passage may kick up some rain, followed by a reality-smack the third week of October (highs sinking into the 40s and 50s).

If you somehow missed out on a frost overnight you're probably in the clear for the next 1-2 weeks, your plants are not in grave peril. And if you're waking up to a frosting of white in your yard you can (officially) refer to this upcoming spell of sunshine and warmth as "Indian Summer."

Call it want you want - the next 1-2 weeks will be off-the-scale fine, as good as it ever gets in October. More like September in October.

When Rogue Waves Attack. Check out an amazing article about the voyage of the RRS Discovery, off the coast of Scotland in 2000. Its mission to measure oceanic conditions went horribly awry when the ship was caught amidst the largest waves ever recorded. Waves that shouldn't exist. 100 FOOT WAVES! Image and article courtesy of Gizmodo.

Antarctic Ozone Hole Was Better Than Average in 2010. Since the mid 80s NOAA's low-orbiting "POES" weather satellites have been monitoring stratospheric ozone levels. In 1989 the Montreal Protocol banned the use of man-made chemicals proven to be harmful to ozone (which shields the Earth's surface from harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun). In recent years the seasonal ozone "hole" has been smaller than observed in the 80s and 90s, the trends are moving in the right direction - but during the Antarctic winter (our summer) - when the ozone hole typically reaches its largest size - it still covered an area of roughly 20 million square kilometers. That's an area twice as large as the lower 48 states of the USA. More on the status of the ozone hole from NOAA's Environmental Visualization Laboratory here.

Why Preparing Now For Climate Change Now Is Smart Business. Climate change is a threat, and an opportunity, perhaps the Mother Of All Business Opportunities, as America sets out on a path to become more energy-independent in the coming years. Solar, wind, geothermal, a new generation of (safer) nuclear power options - all in an attempt to wean ourselves off fossil fuels, and make our nation more secure and energy-independent. Click here to read an article that highlights the investment opportunities ahead.

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