Friday, October 8, 2010

Symptoms of Climate Change? (90 possible close to home again today)

* 87 F high on Friday in the Twin Cities, shattering the old record of 84 in 1966.

* More mid 80s likely today, 90 not out of the question in the metro area by mid afternoon.

* Near 80 again Sunday, slowly cooling off next week, but another amazing week of lukewarm sun is on tap.

Record Smashing. Some of the record highs set yesterday date back to 1943. And here I thought "80" was going out on a limb earlier this week. Turns out I should have taken it up to "90". Welcome to the "new normal".

What Month Is This? These temperatures would be typical for mid July, not the third week of October. Wow just doesn't do it justice. 84 in St. Cloud, 87 in the Twin Cities, a sizzling 90 in Redwood Falls - all records.

United States of Extremes! I stumbled upon this map yesterday, which shows the states that have the greatest extremes (between record highs and record low). The northern and western states have the distinction as "most extreme", which makes sense: closer to the coldest air (which originates over the Yukon and Arctic Circle). The air is also drier west of the Mississippi River, allowing nighttime temperatures to fall further. The most extreme state: Montana! In fact, at least on paper Utah is more extreme than Minnesota, where the difference between the all-time high and low is a relatively modest 174 degrees. Florida (surrounded by warm water, which has a modifying influence) get the honor for the smallest temperature range. True, but that hurricane thing gets in the way many years. Suddenly the cold fronts don't look quite so bad...

Tornado-Chasing In Arizona. While we bask in Arizona-like heat, folks living near Flagstaff (not that far from the Grand Canyon) are picking up the pieces after 5 devastating tornadoes swept through the region before breakfast last Wednesday. The local National Weather Service office has more information on the bizarre late-season outbreak here, my hunch (based on the damage) is that a few of these tornadoes may have been at least EF-2 in strength.

Window-Shattering Hail. Check out this YouTube clip showing the severe thunderstorms that swept through the Phoenix area around the dinner hour on October 5. Golf-ball size hail came through the windows, accumulating on the carpeting indoors (photo above).

Today's all-time record in the Twin Cities is 86, set back in 1938. We stand a VERY good chance of tying or breaking that record.

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

Today: Sunny much of the day, record-breaking warmth across much of the region. Winds: SE 10-15. High: 88 (record)

Saturday night: Clear and mild. Low: 61

Sunday: Partly sunny - still balmy for mid October! Winds: E 3-8. High: near 80

Monday: Partly sunny, still unusually mild. High: 78

Tuesday: Breezy, turning slightly cooler with a mix of clouds and sun. High: 71

Wednesday: Blue sky, still milder than average. High: 66

Thursday: Lot's of sun, the weather honeymoon continues. High: 69

Friday: More sun, more unusual warmth. High: near 70

October t-shirts

"We're going to pay for this." My son, Walt, looked at the temperature on my car's instrument panel and shook his head. "January is going to be a bear. Watch out." That may be, I answered. Forget about the winter to come, I told him. Celebrate the hear and now. Mid 80s to 90 in October? Shorts, sunglasses and boating during the second week of October? What planet are we on again? A year ago we were bracing for the first snowfall of the season. This year we may come close to setting a record (86 in 1938). We bask under a glorious (August-like) sun, while northern Arizona cleans up from a swarm of tornadoes and golf-ball size hail.

40s & 50s return between October 19-22, but I don't see any wintry smacks brewing through the third week of October. Fall arrives a week or two later than it did a generation ago; that will certainly be the case this year. Showers track south & west of Minnesota this weekend (Sunday will be puddle-free). I don't see any rain through next week, just a slightly cooler front by midweek, followed by another shot at 70 the end of next week. If this keeps up our grand-kids will hear about the "Year Without An October." Time to dig out the shorts, one last time?

Tornado-Chasing In Your Future? There is no greater rush (for an authentic weather geek - I prefer the word "enthusiast" than getting up as close to a tornado as safely possible). Nothing can compare. Nothing. I've seen 5 tornadoes in my lifetime, 2 in Minnesota, 3 in Oklahoma. You have to be patient, and it helps to go chasing with a pro, someone who can look at the maps, and hours later zero in on the most severe storms capable of spinning up nature's most extreme wind. Disclaimer: Andy Revering, who runs F5 Tours, is a friend. He's also an excellent meteorologist and storm tracking/chaser - he has a 6th sense about where these storms are going to fire. If you want to give the gift of tornado-chasing (and possibly chase with a few local and national weather celebs) click on his site to learn more. No, I'm not getting a kickback - I'm doing this because Andy is an entrepreneur, he does a great job, I want to help him get the word out about F5 Tours.

Record-Setting? Close to an all-time record? Click here to see the October climate information, with normals and records for every day, including temperature and precipitation data. Hours of fun!

The Global Warming Witch-Hunt Continues. From Discover Magazine:
"Virginia State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli really doesn’t like people thinking the Earth is warming up. He has used his position to continually attack scientist Michael Mann and his work done at the University of Virginia, claiming that Dr. Mann abused taxpayer money and knowingly used falsified data.

Cuccinelli was essentially riding on the coattails of the now totally-discredited Climategate fiasco. You may remember how lots of people got very upset that scientists were sending emails to each other that, when taken grossly out of context and misinterpreted, made it look like those scientists were engaged in cooking the data. Once people looked a little more carefully, it became clear that no shenanigans were going on. Interestingly, although it was hugely covered in the media and by the usual antiscience mob in politics, you hardly hear about Climategate anymore.

But Cuccinelli can’t let it go. Even though his subpoena for documents from UVa was dismissed by a judge, he retooled his claims and is now demanding that the University hand over some emails from Mann to colleagues. The entire article is here.

* Poor Prospects For New Climate Meeting. With memories of last December's (fairly disastrous) world climate summit in Copenhagen, there is growing concern about whether anything sustantive can get done in Cancun, Mexico next month as negotiators gather once again. More from the New York Times here.

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