Sunday, September 25, 2011

Indian Summer by Midweek (why Americans are in denial about global warming)

67 F. high in the Twin Cities Sunday (trace of rain).
90 days until Christmas...
Indian Summer: unusually warm weather following first frost of the season.

Driest year on record for Houston, Texas.

241 consecutive days since the last 1"+ rainfall in Houston (January 24). Longest streak in Houston history.

100 days above 100 F. this summer at Wichita Falls, Texas.

The temperature dropped below 32 F. on Saturday in Barrow, AK for the first time since June 29th. 85-day streak below 32 F. is longest on record! Previous record 68 days. The average temperature over the streak was 41.9°. The September average temp has been 5.2 degrees above normal.

Average first freeze is September 7th in Fairbanks - they have not had a freeze yet. This is the 6th year in a row this has taken place after September 20th.

"...I feel like we need to take a stand on this and the stand need not be political -- it needs to be scientific," he said. Panelists said there's no question among scientists that climate change is real, but there are those who deny it because they profit from fossil fuels." - article on climate change in Maine's Morning Sentinel below.

"Cut Off Low". A cold swirl in the upper atmosphere has stalled out over the Great Lakes - cut off from the main jet stream, the main belt of westerly winds. This renegade storm aloft will keep clouds and a few instability showers in the forecast today and tomorrow, mainly south/east of the Twin Cities - skies getting sunnier/drier the farther north/west you go, away from the Twin Cities.

Next Weekend: More Like Labor Day? The 500 mb wind forecast (18,000 feet) valid next Sunday at 1 pm shows a massive ridge of high pressure over the Plains, pushing the core of the jet stream into central and northern Canada, allowing 70 degree air to stream north. I wouldn't be surprised to see highs near 80 by Sunday or Monday of next week.

* A cooler front arrives Thursday of this week, but a northward bias to the storm track over the next 1-2 weeks should result in a milder, drier than average pattern into the first, possibly even the second week of October. The weather is all about give and take. That early frost/freeze on September 15 (flurries in Duluth!) was one extreme - increasing the likelihood of a few unusual warm spells into October. No, winter is not right around the corner. Not yet.
Ripening Leaves. Here's the latest DNR map of fall foliage, showing that 25-50% of the leaves have riped just north of the Twin Cities metro, as much as 50-75% of the trees are close to peak color over the Minnesota Arrowhead. Click here to see all the details.

Sunday Record Highs:

Spokane, WA 89
Austin Camp Mabry, TX 99    Houston, TX 95    Abilene, TX 99
Miami, FL 92
Reno, NV 93          Elko, NV 89      Winnemucca, NV 93
Douglas, AZ 97
Sheridan, WY 90      Lander, WY 84
Meacham, OR 88       Redmond, OR 93

RECORD RAIN from September 24:

Baltimore, MD 3.19″
Montgomery, AL 2.17″
Danville, VA 2.62″
Mt. Pocono, NJ  3.06″
Islip, NY 1.24″

Texas Town Reports 100 Days At 100 Degrees. Be glad you don't have to spend much time in Wichita Falls, Texas. has the sizzling details: "Texas has experienced the worst drought in its history. The impact of the drought has been felt in expected and unexpected ways. From sweeping wildfires to water main breaks and livestock starvation, this year has been brutal. The whole state has been praying for the rain that never came. And one Texas town of 107,000 has felt the unwavering intensity of 100 days at 100 degrees, according to LiveScience. It's the story of one quiet Texas town and how they endured this epic drought. Wichita Falls, Texas has spent a record 100 days with temperatures at upwards of 100 degrees this year. This mid-sized Texas town, located close to the Oklahoma border, is the first Texas town to be subjected to such temperatures for so many days. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the previous record, which had been the benchmark for all previous heat waves, was 79 days. "It's just a very arid region," said Forrest Mitchell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oklahoma City, which covers Wichita Falls. "And of course the ongoing drought has been a contributing factor."

CENTRAL PARK - 1869 to Present

Wettest Years   Driest Years

80.56   1983       26.09   1965
67.03   1972       32.99   1964
65.11   1989       33.72   1910
61.70   2007       33.85   1935
61.21   1975       34.28   1963
60.92   1990       35.29   1970
59.90   2006       35.37   1895
58.56   2003       35.37   1885
                       ->58.44   2011<-
58.32   1903       35.58   1954
58.00   1913       35.60   1892

When Storms Rush In, A Waiting Game Begins. Have you noticed more baseball and football games being cancelled or postponed lately? There's a good reason for that, as the New York Times explains in this article: "In the old days, nothing delayed or postponed a college football game. Athletes played through blizzards, 60-mile-per-hour winds and pounding rain......Notre Dame Stadium was evacuated twice during the team’s season opener, the first evacuations in the building’s 80-year history. Games in Michigan, Iowa, Tennessee, New Mexico, West Virginia and elsewhere have been delayed or shortened, often with stadium evacuations. Hampton and Bethune Cookman were delayed in Daytona Beach, Fla., on Thursday night, and with rain in the forecast Saturday for much of the country, there could be more disruptions to come. The 2011 season has become the Year of the Weather Delay, but the root causes are easy to understand. The N.C.A.A. and its member universities have become more cognizant of the dangers posed by severe storms. Weather forecasting technology has improved. And a post-Sept. 11 emphasis on emergency planning and evacuation procedures has made clearing a stadium a safer, easier choice for event organizers."

Stop "Schweddy Balls" Effort Begins. Yes, sometimes life is far more bizarre than art. You just can't make this stuff up. Thanks to SNL for the latest Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavor. Personally, I think I'll pass. NPR has the remarkable details: "Saying that "the vulgar new flavor has turned something as innocent as ice cream into something repulsive," the conservative group One Million Moms is calling on Ben & Jerry's to stop making "Schweddy Balls." One Million Moms wants its members to e-mail Ben & Jerry's "requesting that no additional Schweddy Balls ice cream be distributed." And it wants members to threaten a boycott if the company doesn't do what they want. As Eyder wrote earlier this month, Schweddy Balls (the ice cream) was inspired by a Saturday Night Live skit in which actor Alec Baldwin "plays Pete Schweddy, a guest on a fake NPR show called Delicious Dish. Pete makes holiday treats like cheese balls, popcorn balls, rum balls and his famous Schweddy balls. The skit is an exercise in double entendres."

Fail. Not the best location for a swimming pool. Thanks to

Too Little - Too Late. Right idea, but a day late and a dollar short.

An Unsettled Sunday. It started out promising enough with cool sunshine, but a nagging storm in the upper atmosphere (centered over the Great Lakes) took a jog to the west, enough cold air aloft to leave our sky unstable and irritable by afternoon. A few sprinkles and showers popped up - mainly over Wisconsin (.15" rain at Eau Claire), only a trace of showers in the Twin Cities. Highs ranged from 62 at Eau Claire (more clouds) to 64 in St. Cloud, 67 in the Twin Cities and 69 at Redwood Falls, where the sun was out most of the day.

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

TODAY: Unsettled and cool, few showers (best chance south/east of St. Paul into western Wisconsin). Winds N 10-20. High: 65

MONDAY NIGHT: Lingering clouds, a stray shower. Low: 53

TUESDAY: Patchy clouds - isolated shower east, sun west. High: 68

WEDNESDAY: Upper low finally pushes east. Mild sun, MUCH nicer! Low: 54. High: 74

THURSDAY: Partly sunny, Windy and slightly cooler. Low: 53. High: 66

FRIDAY: Bright sun, light winds. Low: 46. High: 64

SATURDAY: Plenty of sun, mild breeze. Low: 49. High: 71

SUNDAY: Lukewarm sun, Indian Summer. Low: 54. High: 74 (80 not out of the question over southern/western MN)

Westward Wobble
It isn't often our weather moves in from the east, from Wisconsin. "Prevailing winds" blow weather from west to east more than 98% of the time. On rare occasions storms not only stall, but meander westward; what meteorologists call a "retrograding" storm. Cut off from the main belt of westerly winds, these cold, fizzling storms torment forecasters. Like the proverbial "bear in the woods", these "closed lows" go where they want to go; computer models are often ineffective predicting when these cold storms in the upper atmosphere will get "kicked out".

One such stubborn storm will whip up a few green blobs on Doppler today - the best chance of light/moderate showers south/east of St. Paul. An isolated shower Tuesday gives way to Wednesday sunshine as temperatures poke into the 70s, a welcome rerun of early September.

Next weekend may just restore your faith in a Minnesota autumn: low 70s under a mostly-blue sky. No major storms are brewing the next 7-10 days, as jet stream winds lift north into Canada.

The maps look unusually mild and dry through the first half of October. Lukewarm payback for an unusually early frost/freeze across much of Minnesota? Yep, it looks that way.

Home Runs And Climate Change: A Sports Analogy. What does Barry Bonds have to do with climate change? Think weather (on steroids), as described by the Huffington Post: "Meehl used a sports analogy to explain the linkage between climate change and extreme weather. His example was as follows: climate change is to extreme weather what steroids were to Barry Bonds' home runs. Bonds was able to hit home runs before steroids, but after the steroids he was hitting more of them. You could not say that any particular home run was specifically due to the steroids because he was hitting home runs before the steroids. But his home run numbers sure went up. The same thing with extreme weather and climate change: no single event can be specifically linked to climate change, but the frequency of extreme weather events is sure going up. " (graphic credit above here).

Global Warming: Why Americans Are in Denial. A story at Huffington Post: "The desire to disbelieve deepens as the scale of the threat grows," concludes economist-ethicist Clive Hamilton. He and others who track what they call "denialism" find that its nature is changing in America, last redoubt of climate naysayers. It has taken on a more partisan, ideological tone. Polls find a widening Republican-Democratic gap on climate. Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry even accuses climate scientists of lying for money. Global warming looms as a debatable question in yet another U.S. election campaign. From his big-windowed office overlooking the wooded campus of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, N.Y., Broecker has observed this deepening of the desire to disbelieve. "The opposition by the Republicans has gotten stronger and stronger," the 79-year-old "grandfather of climate science" said in an interview. "But, of course, the push by the Democrats has become stronger and stronger, and as it has become a more important issue, it has become more polarized." The solution: "Eventually it'll become damned clear that the Earth is warming and the warming is beyond anything we have experienced in millions of years, and people will have to admit..."

Melting Ice Is Earth's Warning Signal - And We Cannot Ignore It. Details from The Guardian: "Ice is the white flag being waved by our planet, under fire from the atmospheric attack being mounted by humanity. From the frosted plains of the Arctic ice pack to the cool blue caverns of the mountain glaciers, the dripping away of frozen water is the most crystal clear of all the Earth's warning signals. It relies on neither the painstaking compiling of temperature records back through history nor the devilish complexity of predicting the future with supercomputers. Ice on Earth is simply and unambiguously disappearing. Last week saw the annual summer minimum of the Arctic ice cap, which has now shrunk to the lowest level satellites have ever recorded. The ice at the roof of the human world is faring little better: mountain glaciers are diminishing at accelerating and historic rates. The lower glaciers are doomed. Kilimanjaro may be bare within a decade, with the Pyrenees set to be ice-free by mid-century and three-quarters of the glaciers in the Alps gone by the same date. As you climb higher, and temperatures drop, global warming will take longer to erode the ice into extinction. But at the "third pole", in the Himalayas, the ice is melting as evidenced by dozens of swelling milky blue lakes that threaten to burst down on to villages when their ice dams melt."

Global Warming Silver Lining? Arctic Could Get Cleaner. Details from The National Geographic: "There may be a bright side to global warming, at least in the Arctic—the changing climate could improve air quality in the polar region, a new study shows. The find is rare good news for the Arctic, which most studies find is warming much more rapidly than the rest of the planet. Currently, air pollutants generally travel from industrially developed regions in the south northward to the Arctic, where pollution contributes to heating up the polar climate. The reason for the potential boost in air quality is increased global rainfall, which many climate models predict will be a widespread result of global warming, said study leader Timothy Garrett, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Utah. (See an interactive map of global warming's effects.) "Precipitation is the atmosphere's single most efficient way of removing particulate pollution," Garrett said. That's because raindrops simply take the pollutants with them as they fall from the atmosphere—the mechanism behind acid rain. Thus, pollution may be already scrubbed from the air in other regions before it even reaches the Arctic."

Behind The Scenes Of Climate Change Denial. Nothing like a flow-chart on a Monday, but try to follow along, courtesy of "Wondering how the United States happens to be the only country on Earth with a major political party in denial about climate change while others are bracing themselves for the possibility of not even having a country due to climate change? Josh Harkinson from Mother Jones has broken down the denial posse into this handy flowchart for future reference."

Climate Change May Turn Mt. Everest Climb Ice-Free. I did a triple-take after reading this post from the U.K. Guardian and "Growing evidence from climbers and local people suggests that climate change is making a strong impact even well above the 8,000-metre line, with signs of melting ice on the southern approach to Everest.  “When I climbed Mount Everest last year I climbed the majority of ice without crampons because there was so much bare rock,” the Guardian quoted John All, an expert on Nepal glaciers as saying. “In the past that would have been suicide because there was so much ice,” he stated.  All said that the terrain he crossed was very different from the landscapes described by earlier generations of climbers and that historic photographs of the Everest region also showed a longer and deeper covering of ice. " (photo above courtesy of The Guardian).

George Mitchell: Climate Change Skepticism Will Not Last. The story in the Bangor Daily News: "PORTLAND, Maine — Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader and world diplomat George Mitchell called upon President Barack Obama — and everyone else who backs stiff environmental protection laws and the science behind climate change — to be bold and persistent in the face of opponents Friday. Mitchell touched upon a wide range of topics, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in his keynote address and subsequent press conference during the Natural Resources Council of Maine’s annual membership meeting, held Friday afternoon at the University of Southern Maine’s Abromson Center. Mitchell told those in attendance Friday that politics and scientific sentiment are cyclical throughout human history, and said he’s confident “reason and logic” will ultimately “prevail.” As the latest sign of the political controversy surrounding the issue of global warming, Republican presidential hopefuls Michele Bachmann, a U.S. Congresswoman from Minnesota, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry have disparaged the prevailing scientific belief that humans have contributed to climate change as false. “We’ve all seen environmental protection used as a scapegoat for whatever society’s problems are, but it will not last,” he said during his keynote address. “I believe this anti-science movement will fade away over time. Remember, it took a long time for people to realize the world is not flat.”

Perry's Climate Views Take Heat. A post from "Gov. Rick Perry wasn't anywhere near Texas on Saturday, but that didn't stop climate scientists and politicians from poking a bit of fun at his position on global warming during an event on the subject at the Pearl Brewery. Perry, who's seeking the GOP presidential nomination, said on the campaign trail last month that he questions whether humans have caused global warming. The basis of Moving Planet, the Saturday event that was one of 2,000 across the world, is to push beyond fossil fuels because the atmosphere contains too much carbon dioxide, the product of all combustion, which has caused the temperature on Earth to increase. One of the first laughs of the day came at Perry's expense when Dr. Gerald North, Texas A&M University's distinguished professor of atmospheric sciences and oceanography, projected on the wall a recent cartoon from the New Yorker magazine. The drawing depicts a mother polar bear and her cub floating on a tiny chunk of ice, completely surrounded by ocean. The caption reads, “Momma? Is Rick Perry real?” Gerald North, Texas A&M University's distinguished professor of atmospheric sciences and oceanography, and A&M colleague Gunnar Schade said the scientific evidence is overwhelmingly clear that global warming is occurring. “The impulse of everyone out there is to kill the messenger,” Schade said. “We have to face the truth.”

Common Ground Panel: It's Time To Act On Climate Change. Here's a post from Maine's Morning Sentinel: "Climate change is real, it's serious and it must be addressed now. That was the message from a panel of experts Saturday at a public policy teach-in at the Common Ground Country Fair. "It's really important to understand the science, I think," said Unity College President Stephen Mulkey. "I think the science is often minimalized or lost in translation." Mulkey was one of five panelists who urged people to take a stand on climate change. He said he never has seen a topic so well-understood by scientists but so poorly understood by the public. "The divide is enormous," he said. Mulkey challenged every college president to speak out about climate change. "We're out of time -- we need to act now," he said. Unity College is building sustainability as part of its curriculum. "I feel like we need to take a stand on this and the stand need not be political -- it needs to be scientific," he said. Panelists said there's no question among scientists that climate change is real, but there are those who deny it because they profit from fossil fuels."

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