Thursday, October 7, 2010

August In September

Autumn leaves inspire songs, paintings, and photography. Motorists tour specific parts of the country in search of striking fall colors. However, be aware that those falling leaves can be hazardous as well. Be on the alert for:
  • Leaves on the vehicle that should be cleared before driving to help maintain visibility and the ventilation system’s airflow
  • Piles and stacks of leaves that might cover potholes, curbs, and other obstacles that could damage a vehicle or cause an accident
  • Wet leaves on the pavement that might cause the vehicle to slide when braking (layers of wet leaves can be as slippery as ice!)

Recommended maintenance should help prepare your vehicle for the fall and winter seasons. Double-check to make sure these items have been maintained as scheduled and checked before the weather turns colder:
  • Regularly scheduled oil change
  • Coolant check
  • Battery performance check
  • Brakes and brake system check
  • Exhaust system check for leaks
  • Heater and defroster check
  • Tires – check for proper inflation and tread is sufficient for handling snow
  • Wiper blades – replace on a regular basis to maintain performance for visibility
  • Inspect all lights


More Tornadoes In Unusual Places. At least 4 late-season tornadoes swept across Arizona Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, and for the first time in history, SPC (the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma) issued a tornado watch for parts of Utah - in October! Very strange...

A Flood Of Toxic Waste. By now you've probably heard about the huge reservoir of alumina that burst Monday night in Hungary, sending a torrent of red, chemically-toxic chemicals surging downstream, leaving at least 4 dead, contaminating thousands of square miles - now polluted water is entering the Danube River. More from the AP here.

Another Day - Another Flood. This time it's Vietnam, where more than 34,000 residents have been forced from their homes, the result of up to 51" of rain! More from the BBC here.

A Cloudless Sky. I don't think I've ever seen this - not a cloud in the sky over the 5-State Region - not even a jet contrail or wisp of a cirrus cloud. Severe Clear. Thursday's 1 km "visible" satellite image was taken around noon.

* October, 2009: warmest Twin Cities temperature: 64 F. I wouldn't be surprised to see some low to mid 80s by Saturday afternoon.

* We've lost 4 hours and 11 minutes of daylight since June 21. Today the sun will be as high in the sky as it was back on March 4, which makes a high of 80 even more remarkable.

-NOAA: It's been the hottest first 9 months of the year on record in 7 states: ME, NH, VT, MA, RI, CT, NJ. Records date back to 1895.

-NOAA: 2nd wettest first 9 months of the year on record in Iowa and Wisconsin. 6th driest year-to-date in Louisiana.

-Satellite view of storms in Flagstaff, AZ area (they produced 2.5" hail):
Thursday Bliss. This may be the nicest week I've ever experienced in Minnesota. Ever. At least since I got here back in 1983. Every day is perfect, but somehow better than the previous day. Thursday was no exception: bright blue sky, light winds (NO humidity) - highs reached 74 in the Twin Cities, 75 in St. Cloud and 79 at Redwood Falls. And amazing, it's about to get even warmer!

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

Today: Warm sunshine, typical weather for late August. Winds: S 8-13. High: 81

Friday night: Mostly clear, unusually mild. Low: 58

Saturday: Nicer day of the weekend. Partly sunny, unseasonably warm. Winds: S 10-15. High: 83 (!)

Saturday night: Partly cloudy, still dry. Low: 57

Sunday: Clouds increase, slight chance of a PM shower or T-shower (best chance south/west of the metro area). High: 77

Monday: A mix of clouds and sun - isolated shower can't be ruled out. High: 75

Tuesday: Shower possible early, then clearing, windy and cooler. High: 65

Wednesday: Feels like October again. Morning sun giving way to PM clouds, a cool wind. high: 62

Thursday: Light jackets return. Bright sun, less wind. High: 59

I'm tired, mentally drained after sitting through Thursday evening's Twins game vs. the Yankees. What is the deal with the Yankees? I'm not going to let it spoil my week - today and Saturday will be off-the-chart amazing, 20-25 degrees warmer than average with blue sky both days. We may see some low to mid 80s Saturday afternoon. Our weather sours (a little) on Sunday as clouds increase, but most of the day should be dry, only a slight chance of a PM shower or T-shower (better chance south/west of the Minnesota River) - highs still well up into the 70s.

Remember, it snowed last year around this time (2.5" on the 12th of October), so I take NOTHING for granted. Mother Nature is in a kind-hearted mood, and will be through most of the weekend, although a series of cool frontal passages will tug the mercury back down to "average" by the end of next week. I still don't see any significant storms, nothing that would qualify as a genuine cold front, certainly no wintry precipitation of any flavor looking out 10-15 days. Beyond that the crystal ball gets very, very murky. Will we pay for this in late October and November? Possibly. Or is this sweet payback for a stormier, wetter and cooler than average September? I don't pretend to know. All I know is that the next 36-48 hours will redefine how fine a Minnesota October can be. I hope you get a chance to make the most of it....

Temperature Trend. A few of the models are hinting at MID 80s Friday and Saturday (that may be a little overly-optimistic), but we should be good for 80 today, some low 80s Saturday, well into the 70s again Sunday as clouds increase - typical for late August, not the second week of October. By the way, the normal high for October 7 is 63 F.

The World's Most Beautiful Lakes. Hey - I don't see any Minnesota lakes in this list. Must be bogus, but just for gins and giggles click here to read the "official" list. Yeah, right.

Alaska Volcano's Eruption Dashes Theoretical "Cure" For Global Warming. The 2008 eruption of Alaska's Kasatochi volcano created a massive phytoplankton bloom in the north Pacific. The hope (among climate scientists) was that "seeding" the oceans with plankton might absorb excess carbon in the atmosphere. But the aftermath of the volcanic eruption seemed to throw cold water on that theory - more in this story from the Anchorage Daily News.

Sun Throws New Light On Global Warming. It turns out the sun has been behaving "more curiously" in recent years than scientists had previously thought - an unusually low number of sunspots, the sun's activity in an extended lull. But rather than having a cooling effect, this lack of solar activity has had just the opposite effect, Somehow, during this quiet period, the amount of solar energy reaching the Earth has actually increased. Scientists at the Imperial College of London were baffled - more on their puzzling discoveries here.

Crop Failures Set To Increase Under Climate Change. "Large-scale crop failures like the one that caused the recent Russian wheat crisis are likely to become more common under climate change, a new study shows. However, the worst effects of these events on agriculture could be mitigated by improved farming and the development of new crops, according to the research by the University of Leeds, the Met Office Hadley Centre and University of Exeter." The complete article in is here. The unpredictability of the weather is one of the biggest challenges faced by farmers struggling to adapt to a changing climate. Some areas of the world are becoming hotter and drier, and more intense monsoon rains carry a risk of flooding and crop damage

Climate Models: Get Ready For More Uncertainty. There is always a level of uncertainty with science - sometimes we literally don't know what we don't know! Such is the case with climate science. With recent e-mail "scandals" and an overestimation of the amount of melting snow/ice in the Himalayas rocking the public's confidence, there is growing concern over the credibilty of the computer simulations climate forecasters use to project out into the future. An interesting story on the state of the art of climate science is here.

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