Thursday, October 14, 2010

Indian Summer Hangs On (and a video "roast" of Don Shelby)

Swan Song

My good friend and former colleague Don Shelby is retiring next month, marking the end of an era. Father, grandfather, reporter, anchor, outdoor enthusiast, environmentalist, (bee-keeper!), he may be the last of the true Renaissance Men. Here's a guy who's won Emmy's, yet isn't afraid to get his hair wet in the 'CCO dunk tank at the MN State Fair. Channel 4 alum Dave Nimmer threw him a "roast" last week. I was out of town, so with the help of my oldest son (Walt), I created a goodbye video, which is on today's weather blog. Let me apologize up front for some of the inside jokes. Don is the definition of a class act; he will be missed in this market.

I feel like a weatherguy in San Diego (running out of things to talk about). "It's the same!" More blue sky, light winds and storm-freeweather stretching into next week, 60s today & Saturday, cooling back down to "normal" next week with a string of 50s. The first metro-wide frost of the season is possible next Wednesday morning,coming 2 weeks later than usual. Nothing wintry in sight: meanwhile an atmospheric "bomb" spinning up over New England will spark high winds, coastal flooding & mountain snows into the weekend.

"The Donald". Don Shelby is retiring from WCCO-TV next month, which is hard to comprehend. He has defined quality journalism in this market for over 3 decades - it's the end of an era. Last Friday his friends hosted a Don Shelby roast, to send him off in style (and smack him around a little, just for sport). I couldn't be there, so (with the help of my son, Walt) we produced a special video for Don, giving him a little taste of what life will be like post-TV. I hesitated posting this online, but Walt (and a few others) convinced me otherwise. God help me. Don is one-of-a-kind; we've been lucky to have him in this community for so long - and I count myself lucky to have been able to work with him for 10 years at 4. He's a friend, a mentor, a role model, one of the smartest guys I know (and he never lets me forget it). Don....forgive me for making this video smack-down available on the wild, wild web.....but....the public has a right to know. Click here to see our cheesy, tongue-in-cheek tribute video.

Minnesota's Largest On-Air Weather Team. It's been a little over 2 years since I got a pink slip from 'CCO. I was pretty devastated at the time, it stung and it threw me into a yearlong funk. But in (20/20) retrospect it was probably the best thing that could have happened to me. It allowed me to focus on new ways to create and deliver weather content, taking full advantage of the Internet, which is reinventing media habits worldwide. In June, 2008 I launched WeatherNation LLC, an Internet company outsourcing (white label) weather content to a variety of media clients: newspapers, over 1,000 web sites, TV stations, Home Depot, Polaris and other weather-sensitive companies - we're even providing all the programming for an all-weather cable channel in Kentucky (CN2). Last spring we launched a (short-lived) national weather channel for Dish, and more good things are pending. I'm proud that we've built up the largest on-air weather team in Minnesota, 8 on-air meteorologists operating out of 3 HD studios - using high-speed Internet to transmit taped and live content. I'm working with an amazing team of on-air meteorologists, from left to right: Bay Scroggins, Kristin Clark, Rob Koch, Gretchen Mishek, Susie Martin, Bryan Karrick and Todd Nelson. For a quick virtual tour of WeatherNation click here.

Chalk Up Another One. I haven't met one Minnesotan who has tired of our sunny streak. We haven't had any measurable rain for 20 days in a row now, and at the rate we're going we may go through next week without a drop of rain. Another good soaking would probably help to recharge soil moisture before the ground freezes up (by second or third week of November), insuring good spring planting conditions next year - but as of now I don't see any storms until late October (GFS model prints out nearly 2" of rain between Oct. 26-28). Thursday highs ranged from 62 at Hibbing to 67 in St. Cloud, 69 in the Twin Cities, and a balmy 70 at Rochester and Redwood Falls. I've run out of superlatives.

* Dry weather lingers into next week - models hinting at 1-2" of rain between October 26-28.

* A brief reality-slap is on the wayhighs in the 50s early next week, but 60s return (again) the end of next week, a shot at 70 by next Friday, October 22.

* First frost for the Twin Cities metro? If skies clear and winds subside next Tuesday night (likely) conditions may be ripe for the first widespread frost of the season next Wednesday morning - the first 32 degree low. That could mean widespread frost, even for the close-in suburbs the middle of next week. That would be roughly 2 weeks later than average for MSP.

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

Today: Plenty of sun, breezy and pleasant. Winds: SE 8-13. High: 64

Friday night: Clear and cool. Low: 45 (clear for evening football games, temperatures dropping through the 50s).

Saturday: Nicer, milder, sunnier day of the weekend. Amazing weather continues. Winds: NW 10-20. High: 66

Sunday: Cooler with sun fading behind increasing clouds. High: 58

Monday: A mix of clouds and sun. High: 57

Tuesday: Feels like October again - cool sunshine. High: 53

Wednesday: First frost for the immediate metro area? (coming 2 weeks later than usual). Bright sun. High: 55

Thursday: Blue sky, warming up again. High: near 60

* Low 60s possible next Friday, then slowly cooling down the weekend of October 23-24.

FEMA To Give Funds To 21 Flooded Minnesota Counties. The federal government has declared 21 counties in southern Minnesota to be disaster areas - initial damage estimates at $64 million. More from the Star Tribune here.

Hurricane Richard?  Granted - it's 10 days out, but the GFS forecast valid Sunday, Oct. 24 shows a full-fledged hurricane just south/west of Key West, Florida. Next on the list: "Richard". We'll see. It's late in the season for hurricanes (ocean water temperatures peak in mid September and start to cool down in October). That said, hurricanes have been observed every month of the year, and a full-blown hurricane in late October, although rare, isn't unprecedented.

La Nina Has Strengthened - Now Near 2008 Levels. Anthony Watts has an update on his excellent weather blog, focused on a growing La Nina event - a cooling of Pacific Ocean water in recent weeks. It's simplistic to say that all El Nino (warming) events result in warmer winters, and all La Nina's lead to colder, snowier winters. We're discovering (the hard way) that every warming/cooling cycle in the Pacific is unique. What's happening in the Pacific is a major signal, but not the only factor to consider. "Blocking patterns", like the NAO, the North American Oscillation, can also help set the tone for the winter season. Long range forecasting is still incredibly difficult. My advice: take any forecast beyond a week or two with a huge grain of salt & suspicion. It's a little like trying to predict where the stock market will be in January, 2011. Good luck!

Searching For Crumbs In Syria's Breadbasket. An extensive 4-year drought in Syria has pushed 2 to 3 million people into extreme poverty - hundreds of villages and farms abandoned due to a dire lack of water. A sign of climate change or a natural fluctuation in local climate? More from the New York Times here.

"Windstalk" Concept Is A Wind Farm Without The Turbines. Wind turbines give off low-frequency vibrations and some level of noise. Now there's a concept for a new, revolutionary way to harvest the wind, using "Wind Stalks" that use ceramic disks and electrodues to generate an electric current (instead of a spinning turbine blade). Science or science fiction. has the story here.

Earthworm Salad. My apologies if you're reading this while eating - my bad, but I couldn't resist. Apparently the Kremlin hosted a dinner for the German President Christian Wulff - and there was a special mystery ingredient in the salad that was served. Some guy took a photo - posted in on Twitter, and the result was something of an international uproar. The complete story (if you have the stomach) is here.

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