Sunday, September 16, 2012

Soggy Jackets (40 degree temperature drop by Tuesday morning)

80 F. high in the Twin Cities Sunday.

72 F. average high for September 16.

60 F. high on September 16, 2011.

.25" rain predicted today (NAM model)

30+ mph wind gusts possible today as colder air arrives.

40 Degree Temperature Drop in 36 Hours. From 80 Sunday afternoon to 40 Tuesday morning, some upper 30s in the outlying suburbs. Most of the metro area, even the outlying suburbs, will probably avoid a killing frost late tonight. Graph: Iowa State.

First 32? According to the Minnesota State Climate Office the average (median) date of the first 32 F. low at MSP International is October 7, but outlying suburbs usually see the first 32-degree temperature the last few days of September. The first killing freeze (28 F. for several hours) is October 20, on average. At the rate we're going we may still see an early frost this season, although I think most suburbs will avoid a frost this week.

Greenland Block. Technically it's a negative phase of the AO (Arctic Oscillation). Translation: the jet stream winds are buckling, plunging Canadian air southward in a pattern that may become temporarily "stuck", at least for the next 1-2 weeks, sending a series of 3-4 separate surges of Canadian air south of the border. Arctic Oscillation trend since June 1 (and prediction for the next week) courtesy of NOAA CPC.

ECMWF: Not Quite As Chilly As Previous Runs. With the latest European model run Mother Nature pulls her cold punch just a bit. Highs may hold in 50s to near 60 Tuesday, a second push of 50s by Friday and Saturday before warming up a bit Sunday, probably the nicer day of next weekend. A third surge of cool air arrives early next week; more 50s by Monday and Tuesday of next week.

One Silver Lining To Today's Cold Front. Rain will bring some of that nasty ragweed pollen to the ground today, resulting in a (rare) Pollen Count in the low range. Graph above courtesy of

"So in the latest 15 year period there were almost twice as many billion dollar plus extreme weather events as in the 15 year period preceding it..." - from a story at The San Diego Free Press; details below. AP photo: Peter Morgan.

"The first eight months of 2012 have gone into the books as the warmest January-August period on record for the continental US, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. The 12-month span ending in August 2012 was the warmest 12 months on record. The summer itself ranks third among the warmest summers on record." - from a Christian Science Monitor article; details below.

"Only the USA has been experiencing extreme heat this year - the rest of the planet has been unusually cool." Sorry, that statement doesn't hold up. Check out global 2012 temperature trends from NASA below.

Typhoon "Sanba". As of Sunday evening Sanba was still a Category 2 typhoon (same thing as hurricane) with sustained winds close to 100 mph. Seoul will be brushed with 30-50 mph wind gusts and 3-6" of rain, the core of strongest winds and heaviest rains passing south/east of South Korea's capital city. Image: Digital Typhoon.

Sanba's Track. The center of the red circle marks the location as of Sunday evening. Sanba will hit the southern/eastern coast of Korea with winds gusting to 80-95 mph before accelerating out to sea Monday night and Tuesday. Forecast map: Japan Meteorological Agency.

A Big Canadian Leak. The 84-hour NAM model shows a chilly blast of air pushing east today and Tuesday, sparking a band of heavy showers and T-storms from the Great Lakes to the east coast, followed by a risk of frost for Michigan and northern Wisconsin Tuesday morning. Model data: NOAA.
2012: Global Warming. I run into a fair number of people who tell me "Paul, yes, the USA had a very hot summer. So what? The rest of the world has been unusually chilly so it all cancels out." Really? The global data set doesn't support that statement. NASA data (above) shows global temperatures anomalies since December, 2011. The upper left graphic shows December - February temperature trends, showing intense warming over North America and far northern latitudes, but a cool bias for portions of Asia. Spring anomalies (upper right) show a fairly uniform warming over most of the planet, the same with summer anomalies (bottom map) - average summer temperatures 3-5 F. warmer than the long-term average for Canada, North Africa and a big chunk of Asia. The data is the data, and the maps above reflect trends seen not just since December of 2011, but since the mid-80s.

Summer Of 2012: Just Hot Or Did We Do It? WJLA-TV meteorologist Bob Ryan does a good job of sorting out the (global) trends from land-use issues and "normal" variations in temperature in this important post; here's an excerpt: "...The long term trend is clear, but the year to year variability is also clear.  I deal with probabilities so I'll go out on a limb and say I think it is unlikely next summer in Washington will be our 4th really hot summer in a row.  Then to answer the question in my title.  Did "we" make the past summer as hot as it was?   I think the answer is no . . . but we sure helped make it hotter than average and our footprints of a warmer world, probably a warmer DC area in the coming decades are clearer and clearer all the time.  Some of my colleagues don't agree.  I look forward to their blogs on climate and if there is a human "footprint" on our environment, climate and weather patterns."

Drought of 2012: Status Quo. Not much change in the U.S. Drought Monitor - the driest conditions from the Midwest into the Central and Southern Plains, a pocket of extreme/exceptional drought over eastern Alabama and Georgia.

Blocking Patterns: How Global Warming May Have Worsened U.S. Drought. Extreme warming over the Arctic is affecting the jet stream patterns, with a greater tendency toward "blocks", holding patterns aloft that can make heat, drought (and flooding) worse. The Christian Science Monitor explains; here's an excerpt: "As the summer of 2012 winds down, with drought and searing temperatures its hallmark for much of the continental United States, researchers are trying to get a better handle on the factors that contribute to the persistence of weather patterns responsible for the extremes.  The immediate culprit: patterns of atmospheric flow that steer storms along a given path for weeks, heating and depriving some areas of needed rain while drenching others. Such blocking patterns are a global phenomena, a normal component of Earth's weather systems. But some researchers suggest that global warming's influence on the Arctic and on the tropics can change circulation patterns in ways that keep blocking patterns in place longer than they otherwise might."

Photo credit above: "Drought-damaged corn is seen in a field near Nickerson, Neb., on Aug. 16." Nati Harnik/AP/File

Getting The Drop On Storms. Hurricane Hunter aircraft drop highly-sensitive weather instruments into hurricanes; these "dropsondes" send back a real-time stream of information that bolsters the high-resolution computer models hurricane forecasters rely on to get a handle on these massive, Texas-size storms. Here's a great explanation of how these instruments work in a post at NCAR's AtmosNews: "Whenever NOAA’s National Hurricane Center (NHC) warns millions of coastal residents about a potential storm, one of the tools backing up the decision is a small and highly sophisticated instrument package developed at NCAR. Dozens of these packages, known as dropsondes, are released at high altitudes by “hurricane hunter” aircraft to transmit data on temperature, pressure, humidity, and wind while descending by parachute through tropical storms and hurricanes. Equipped with GPS technology to pinpoint atmospheric conditions by location, the dropsondes have led to an average 10–20% improvement in track forecasts for the critical 48-hour window in which hurricane watches and warnings are issued, according to the NHC. Those warnings are estimated to save an average of about 200 lives yearly."

Hurricane Climatology. The Tampa office of the National Weather Service has an interesting post, reminding us of a the tragic Hurricane of 1928 (before storms had names) that claimed nearly 2,000 lives across Florida. Other charts include the return frequency of all hurricanes (middle) and major, Category 3+ hurricanes (bottom). Details: "Florida's deadliest hurricane struck on this date back in 1928. The "Okeechobee" hurricane of 1928 made landfall near Palm Beach as a category 4 storm. Over 1800 people lost their lives, mostly from a 6 to 9 foot storm surge on Lake Okeechobee. The bottom two images show the average return date for hurricanes and major hurricanes. On average, Tampa Bay would see a hurricane pass within 50 nautical miles every ten years. Tampa Bay would see a major (category 3 or higher) hurricane pass within 50 nautical miles every 33 years. The last major hurricane to make landfall within 50 miles of Tampa Bay was in 1921!"

"After You". I mean, what were these guys thinking?

iPhone 5: Everything You Need To Know. Did you hear, Apple just came out with a new smartphone? does a nice job of summarizing the iPhone 5; here's an excerpt: "The new iPhone 5 is here. It's thinner and faster than ever, with a new form factor that uses a gorgeous panoramic screen with more resolutions and less consumption. It also surfs the web much faster, thanks to its new LTE capabilities. And, just as we knew, it has a new smaller dock connector called Lightning. Overall, it seems they have incrementally improved every single aspect of the iPhone. It's not a revolutionary phone, but it is a very nice release."

"Fair, Balanced, And Not Especially Good at Geography." Hey, cut us a break, it was spot news and there was a new guy on Chyron who got a little confused. It's those crazy southern states anyway. Who cares where Missouri, Alabama and Mississippi are on a silly map anyway. We got Texas right!

Last 80 of 2012? Probably Not. I base that on the overall trends: this year is the warmest on record (to date) and long range guidance is hinting at 70s and 80s the last few days of September. But a definite correction is shaping up through at least the middle of next week. Sunday highs ranged from 80 in the Twin Cities to 81 St. Cloud and 83 Redwood Falls.

On This Date in Weather History (courtesy of the Twin Cities National Weather Service):

1955: A late-season tornado hits Koochiching County. Most damage was confined to trees.
1911: Pipestone is hit with baseball-sized hail that smashes numerous windows at the Calumet Hotel and high school. The local observer measured hail three inches deep. People got their photos taken in automobiles surrounded by the icy white ground.

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

TODAY: Gusty & cooler with showers. Winds: NW 15-25. High: 59

MONDAY NIGHT: Stil raw - much colder. Low: 39

TUESDAY: Chilly start. Bright sun, breezy. High: 59

WEDNESDAY: Next clipper. Milder, patchy clouds. Low: 46. High: near 70

THURSDAY: Partly sunny, cooler. Low: 49. High: 64

FRIDAY: Mix of clouds & sun, brisk. Low: 45. High: 62

SATURDAY: Sunny start, PM clouds, cool wind. Low: 39. High: 59

SUNDAY: Fading sun, brief warm-up. Low: 43. High: 69

Why Weather?

Why weather? I'm not smart enough to be a lawyer or doctor. I'm still mesmerized by storms; they remind me how small, insignificant and powerless I really am. 

On sunny, quiet days I can turn to my wife for that.

There's the intellectual challenge of predicting the future, and the communications challenge: choosing the right words to paint a picture in the mind of the reader. Great toys (um technology) too. That, and every day is different. Weather patterns may be similar, but never identical. Tough to get stuck in a boring rut.

Especially this year. No snow is in sight for the metro area through the end of the month. Where else does the weather guy have to put that down on paper in mid-September? A light frost can't be ruled out for far outlying suburbs Tuesday morning, but right now I don't see a widespread frost/freeze for most suburbs. It doesn't look quite as cold as it did 24 hours ago.

A blocking pattern over Greenland keeps a family of windblown clippers pumping chilly air into Minnesota thru early next week. The first reality check arrives today with showers; by tomorrow there will be NO doubt in your mind that it's meteorological autumn.

Don't write off warmth just yet: 70s, even a few 80s are possible the last few days of September.

Climate Stories...

Extreme Weather Watch: The Effects Of Global Warming Are Here Right Now. Here's an excerpt from a story at The San Diego Free Press: "Even those global warming deniers can’t escape the fact that the weather events causing a billion dollars or more of damage and destruction are piling up at an increasing rate. The National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) is the Nation’s Scorekeeper in terms of addressing severe weather/climate events. The NCDC tracks and evaluates climate events in the U.S. and globally that have great economic and societal impacts. The U.S. has sustained 133 weather/climate disasters since 1980 where overall damages/costs reached or exceeded $1 billion - assuming Consumer Price Index (CPI) adjustment to 2012. 46 of these events occurred between 1980 and 1995 and 87 occurred between 1996 and 2011."

Global Warming: How Fast Will The Ice Melt? Here's a clip from a recent story at The Summit County Citizens Voice: "It’s pretty clear that glaciers and ice fields have been melting the past few decades under relentless global warming. But scientists aren’t sure exactly how fast the melting will proceed, whether it will speed up, or perhaps stabilize at some point. A new study looking back at historic changes in response to climate variations may help answer some of those questions. The research shows that glaciers on Canada’s Baffin Island expanded rapidly during a brief cold snap about 8,200 years ago, suggesting that changes can be sudden and drastic."
Photo credit above: "Research finds that ice sheets can be very sensitive to short-term temperature variations." Photo by Bob Berwyn.
In the Future Living In U.S. Will Be More Neighborly. I hope this extended outlook proves prescient; details from The Detroit Free Press; here's an excerpt: "In the next American metropolis, people will live in smaller homes, relax in smaller yards, park their smaller cars in smaller spots. They will be closer to work, to play and, above all, to one another. Global warming will be a fait accompli in 30 years, and so these urban Americans will raise their own food, in fields and on rooftops, and build structures to withstand everything from hurricane winds to Formosan termites. They will walk and ride more and drive less. And they will like it. This is the future envisioned by Andres Duany, architect, town planner, teacher and polemicist. And the future, he will tell you, is his business."

Saving The Ozone Layer: Lessons For Fighting Climate Change. Here's an excerpt of an article from NRDC and Huffington Post: "....Now that CFCs have been eliminated through the Montreal Protocol, the ozone layer has started to repair itself and to restore its capacity to shield us from disease. Just phasing out the U.S. portion of CFCs will prevent nearly 300 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer in America and many more worldwide by the year 2165. The effort to restore the ozone layer is a resounding public health and environmental success -- one in which I am proud to say NRDC played a central role. It is a testament to the human community's ability to solve global problems. And it is proof we can do it faster and cheaper than originally thought. Now it is time to apply the lessons learned in the ozone achievement to the fight against another planetary crisis: climate change."
Image above: NASA.

Fossil Fuel Industry Ads Dominate TV Campaign. Have you noticed any commercials for "clean coal" in recent weeks? Me too. Details on the geyser of fossil-fuel money involved in this year's presidential campaign from The New York Times; here's an excerpt: "When Barack Obama first ran for president, being green was so popular that oil companies like Chevron were boasting about their commitment to renewable energy, and his Republican opponent, John McCain, supported action on global warming. As Mr. Obama seeks re-election, that world is a distant memory. Some of the mightiest players in the oil, gas and coal industries are financing an aggressive effort to defeat him, or at least press him to adopt policies that are friendlier to fossil fuels. And the president’s former allies in promoting wind and solar power and caps on greenhouse gases? They are disenchanted and sitting on their wallets."

Forecast The Core Facts On Climate Change. Doug Craig has had enough, and he's not mincing words in his latest "Climate of Change" post at I'm not sure name-calling is the answer, although I'm amused when people call me a "warmist" or "alarmist". The trends are in fact, alarming. Just calling it like it is. Here's an excerpt from the post: "Calling the deniers by the name deniers is too kind. A better name would be saboteurs. A saboteur is someone who engages in sabotage. "Sabotage is a deliberate action aimed at weakening another entity through subversion, obstruction, disruption, or destruction." The saboteurs have one aim. Delay. They pretend to participate in this process in good faith but they cannot be trusted. Nothing they say can be believed. They offer us nothing. They come in the name of science but they deliberately deceive. They are the enemies of the Earth, our children, their own children, future generations, the poor and non-human life. They are essentially a destructive or negative force in the world. Some of them do this consciously. They know the truth and deliberately choose to lie. Others are simply misinformed, easily misled or closed to new information that conflicts with their core beliefs and values...."

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