Monday, October 18, 2010

Evangelical Christians Have "Call To Action" on Climate Change (and 24 dry days/row at MSP)

Tame October. So far the coldest temperature in the Twin Cities (at MSP, the International Airport in Richfield) is 38. We have yet to see our first official frost/freeze of the season, although much of the north metro has already dipped below 32 F. St. Cloud has seen only 2 nights colder than 32 F. so far in October. Duluth has yet to see any flurries this month. Duluth! And International Falls has seen 3 days with flurries so far in October, but no measurable snow has fallen. A lack of accumulating snow anywhere in the state of Minnesota is highly unusual for the third week of October.

"Virga". If you were out and about Sunday you saw some striking examples of virga, which is simply precipitation that evaporates before reaching the ground. Against a bright background (close to sunrise or sunset) these darker wisps of falling rain or snow can resemble twisters - they are often mistaken for tornadoes, but a lack of rotation (or lightning/hail) is a tip-off that there is nothing severe to worry about. Officially MSP had a "trace" of rain on Sunday, keeping our streak alive. Today will be the 24th day in a row without measurable rain in the Twin Cities metro area.

Super Typhoon Megi.Thousands of residents of the Philippines have been forced to evacuate their homes in the wake of Super Typhoon Megi, which struck the northernmost island of Luzon with sustained winds of 165 mph, but there are unconfirmed reports of SUSTAINED WINDS CLOSE TO 200 mph at ground level along the coast - roughly equivalent to a 40 mile wide EF-4 tornado! Megi hit the Philippines as a very strong category 5 hurricane (called typhoons in the western Pacific). The Weather Underground estimates that Megi may be the 16th strongest hurricane/typhoon ever recorded, with a central pressure of 918 millibars. Now the storm is regaining some of its strength lost crossing the mountanous terrain of Luzon. It's heading toward China, where more than 100,000 coastal residents have already been evacuated. More on the monster storm here.

Eye. The University of Wisconsin CIMSS Blog has more details on Megi, including a radar lapse of the Super Typhoon traversing the northern island of Luzon. The storm is perfectly symmetrical - a hint of the fury 200+ miles below.

Aftermath. The BBC has some amazing photos of the aftermath of Super Typhoon Megi here.

Floods Kill 30 In Vietnam. It has been a terrible couple of months across Vietnam, where a series of flash floods has killed scores of people. Recent flooding swept an entire bus off the highway, resulting in at least 20 fatalities. USA Today has more on the flooding woes here.

For Many People, The Stars Don't Come Out Anymore. Light pollution is an obvious problem for astronomers and "poses a serious threat to wildlife, having negative impacts on plant and animal physiology. Light pollution can confuse animal navigation, alter competitive interactions, change predator-prey relations, and cause physiological harm," according to Wikipedia. But it is also an incredible waste of energy and producer of CO2. Every photon reaching into space is wasted energy. The complete article is here.

Father And Son Launch iPhone Into Space. I've wanted to do this on more than one occasion (mainly because of AT&T's signal problem), but a father & son team beat me to the punch. They tied an iPhone to a big weather balloon, which proceeded to rise 19 miles into the atmosphere before the balloon burst and the iPhone (still rolling) dropped back to the Earth, landing in a tree some 30 miles away from the launch site in upstate New York. The resulting footage is nothing short of stunning - check it out!

2010 October Rainfall in the Twin Cities: Trace. Driest Octobers on record: 1842 and 1857 (no rain fell during those 2 Octobers in the mid 1800s).

October Extremes. The Minnesota State Climatology Office has some helpful links, reminding us how wild and crazy the month of September can be. At the rate we're going October 2010 may wind up in the "Top 10 Driest Month". That snow column has me a little shook. We picked up 2.8" of snow last October (remember?) Of course the 8.2" that fell on Halloween, 1991 was just the opening shot of the Halloween Superstorm that wound up dumping 27-30" on the metro over a 3 day period, breaking records left and right. Nope, don't see that happening again anytime soon.

Below Normal? What's going on here? For the first time since October 3 the Twin Cities experienced a "cooler than average day" on Monday with a high of 56 (average high is 58). Two weeks in a row of warmer than normal weather is nothing to sneeze at, especially in October. Highs statewide were in the 50s under a partly sky. Yesterday will probably wind up being the coolest day of the next week.

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

Today: Bright sun, a bit milder. Winds: W 10-15. High: 62

Tuesday night: Clear and seasonably cool. Low: 42

Wednesday: Blue sky, even nicer! High: 64

Thursday: Plenty of sun, a bit cooler (light jackets return). High: 55

Friday: Patchy frost in the suburbs early - then lot's of sunshine. High: 59

Saturday: Nicer day of the weekend? Still sunny, still spectacular, still feels like September. High: 60

Sunday: Sun fades behind high clouds - still dry, a few degrees milder. High: 63

Monday: Getting cloudier with a growing chance of rain. High: near 60

Dazed and amazed

I'm bleeding from both ears - all those nasty political attack-ads on TV have me lunging for the mute button. November 3 can't come soon enough. At least the weather is a dry, sunny afterthought. The "longest September in Minnesota history" is going on & on & on - like the Energizer Bunny on steroids. Today is the 24th day/row without measurable rain in the Twin Cities; over 3 weeks with just a "trace" of rain. Many towns will go 4-5 weeks before big puddles return (around Halloween, inconveniently enough.) Our unprecedented autumn sunny streak will hang on through this weekend; we may see 5 more days between now and Monday at or above 60 F!

The weather pattern still looks like mid September, a fast-moving "zonal flow", jet stream winds howling from west to east, a relatively mild, dry weather regime for Minnesota. A cooler front arrives next Tuesday, a more significant storm brewing around Halloween weekend (probably warm enough aloft for rain). That said, this could be one of the driest Octobers on record.

Not as dusty as October 1842 & 1857, when NO rain fell. I'm waiting for the other shoe (or boot) to drop, but I still don't see an end to our weather honeymoon.

* Long-range (GFS) models are hinting at potentially heavy rain on Saturday, Oct. 30, giving way to slightly drier, cooler weather for Halloween. Right now I'm predicting highs in the 40s for October 31. No heavy snow or ice, but a definite hint of wind chill is possible for Trick or Treating this year. No, odds are it will NOT be in the 60s. Then again, with a little luck we won't have 27" of snow for Halloween either. Still haunted by 1991. I want to believe that the Halloween Superstorm was truly a once in a lifetime event!

Climate Change: An Evangelical Call To Action. Many religious organizations are recognizing the need to act on climate change - they are no longer standing on the sidelines, or "waiting for more conclusive evidence." There is ample research and science on which to act, and Evangelical Christians are leading the way.
"Over the last several years many of us have engaged in study, reflection, and prayer related to the issue of climate change (often called “global warming”). For most of us, until recently this has not been treated as a pressing issue or major priority. Indeed, many of us have required considerable convincing before becoming persuaded that climate change is a real problem and that it ought to matter to us as Christians. But now we have seen and heard enough to offer the following moral argument related to the matter of human-induced climate change. We commend the four simple but urgent claims offered in this document to all who will listen, beginning with our brothers and sisters in the Christian community, and urge all to take the appropriate actions that follow from them." The complete document, an "Evangelical Call To Action" is here.

Why Climate Change Isn't Much Of A Campaign Issue. Now that the House of Representatives has effectively killed any short-term prospects for a climate & energy bill, the entire issue of climate change has become something of a non-issue on the campaign trail this year. More on climate change & politics here.

Spectacular Ice Canyon In Greenland. National Geographic has published some amazing photos of an "ice canyon", 150 feet deep, triggered by rapidly melting water - like something you'd see on a different planet.

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