Sunday, October 14, 2012

70+ Tuesday, Wet Snow By Thursday Night? (and a winter survival tip)

53 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities.
60 F. average high for October 13.
60 F. high on October 13, 2011.
.04" rain fell at Twin Cities International Airport Saturday.
70s likely Tuesday; the warmest day in sight

Snow Thursday night? Temperatures aloft may be just cold enough for a rain/snow mix. Right now I don't see any accumulation in or near the Twin Cities. Yet.

Warmer than average temperatures predicted thru December for Minnesota and much of the USA east of the Rockies. Source: NOAA CPC. Details below.

Close Call. Saturday's storm took a hard right turn, dumping some .5 to 1"+ rainfall amounts on Wisconsin, just brushing far southeastern Minnesota with .1 to .2" of rain. Our drought continues to get worse. Map: NOAA.

17 named storms in the Atlantic so far in 2012. The latest on "Rafael" below.

3rd warmest summer on record for the USA. Source: NOAA NCDC.

"...Around the world, "the incidence of drought is consistent with what the climate models are predicting," said John Seinfeld, an atmospheric researcher at Caltech. "It certainly doesn't appear to be out of line to conclude that this last summer could be statistically attributed to global warming." - from a Los Angeles Times story, full details below.

"...One of the problems with climate change has always been that it was distant and remote, “but this year weather made it immediate.”  As extreme weather ravaged the majority of the United States this summer, people who once doubted global warming are now seeing first hand the wrath climate change can impose on their daily lives and their wallets..." - from a story at Climate Science Watch, links below.

Indian Summer, Then A Cold Slap. Temperatures hold in the 50s today, surge into the 60s tomorrow before peaking in the 70s Tuesday, the warmest day in sight. Rain arrives Wednesday with a colder surge, Canadian air that may spark a few wet flakes by Thursday night or Friday morning. Graph above: Iowa State.

Some Rain In The Outlook. After Saturday's rainfall bust I'm a little gun-shy and skeptical, but the ECMWF prints out rain Wednesday into Friday, followed by a clearing trend next weekend.

84-Hour Outlook. A wave of low pressure ripples northeastward across the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes today, a significant warming trend over the nation's midsection early this week, before cold air pushes south the latter half of the week. NAM model courtesy of NOAA.

Cold Pool. The ECMWF solution shows a storm "cutting off" from the main westerlies Thursday night - an unusually cold whirlpool of air directly above Minnesota. Who cares? With the freezing level close to the ground a little wet snow could survive the trip to the ground. Air temperatures should stay above 32 F, so even if we see a few hours of wet snow odds are it won't stick, at least not on the metro area. Map above: WSI Corporation.

Saturday Severe Storm Reports. The outbreak wasn't as bad as previously feared: 3 confirmed tornadoes east of San Antonio, with hail and damaging winds into Missouri and Kansas. Details from SPC.
We Just Can't Buy A Storm. NOAA HPC is predicting some 2-3"+ rainfall amounts from the Quad Cities, Chicago and Milwaukee into Lower Michigan. Over 4" of rain may soak the Seattle - Tacoma area over the next 5 days, while dry weather persists over the southwest.

Very Extended Outlook. Based on a weak El Nino, NOAA CPC is predicting a wetter October thru December for the far southern USA, drier than average weather expected for the Pacific Northwest. Much of the USA east of the Rockies is forecast to experience a warm bias thru the end of 2012. Place your bets. Maps above: Ham Weather.

We only have so many major physical features on the planet, four or five, and you don’t really want to just start breaking them. That’s why we can’t have nice things.” - enviromentalist Bill McKibbon, appearing on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher". Check out one of the more important video clips you'll watch this year, a 12 minute interview from Image: NOAA/PMEL

Expected Rain A Drop In Bucket. Amen to that. Bill McAuliffe at The Star Tribune summarizes the state of our drought, and (growing) impact on lake and river water levels statewide; here's an excerpt: "...Across Minnesota, meanwhile, rivers and lakes are gasping. The St. Louis River near Scanlon, which rose to a record height in June and tore apart Jay Cooke State Park, was at what appeared to be its second-lowest height in more than 60 years Wednesday. The Minnesota River at Jordan was down to one-seventh of its historical average for the date. State rivers are contributing so little to the Mississippi that three-fourths of the water in the river downstream from La Crosse is now from the Wisconsin and Chippewa rivers, according to Steve Buan, hydrologist with the North Central River Forecast Center, an NOAA agency based in Chanhassen. And Lake Minnetonka has dropped 1.5 feet since late June. The low rivers could mean problems later, Buan said. Lack of flow allows logs and other debris to pile up, and can create obstructions when the water rises..."

Photo credit above: "Eden Valley farmer Tom Haag emptied corn into a holding wagon used to shuttle the grain to a nearby semi-trailer for transport back to the farmstead and a storage container." Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune.

A Warm, Dry Bias. Here is an excerpt of this week's WeatherTalk blog from Mark Seeley: "This week NOAA also released a summary of national climate conditions during September. Nationally it was the 23rd warmest September on record, and the 16th consecutive month with above normal temperatures. It was also a dry month, with near record setting low statewide values for monthly precipitation in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota. For the 2012 year so far the period from January to September has been the warmest first nine months in the USA climate records nationally. You can read more at

Photo credit above: "In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012, farmer Bob Schaefers walks from the exit of a trail through his corn maze near Lollie, Ark. Devastating spring freezes and this year's historic drought have taken some of the charm out of rustic fall destinations, leaving some corn mazes too short for labyrinth duty, orchards virtually devoid of U-pick apples and fall colors muted." (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

Tropical Storm Rafael Forms In Atlantic. has the details: "After forming Friday night, Tropical Storm Rafael was dumping rain across the Less Antilles in the eastern Caribbean on Saturday. Up to 5 inches of rain was expected, with a few spots potentially at 10 inches, making for flood and mudslide conditions, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. Rafael, the 17th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, will pass near or over the Virgin Islands Saturday night and eventually accelerate northward..."

Rafael's Track. Right now it looks like Tropical Storm Rafael will not pose any risk to the USA, based on GFDL hurricane model guidance from NOAA. Once again the Canadian Maritimes may see the soggy, windblown dregs of a somewhat weakened storm by the end of next week.

U.S. Runs Out Of Funds To Battle Wildfires. Details from The Washington Post; here's an excerpt: "In the worst wildfire season on record, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service ran out of money to pay for firefighters, fire trucks and aircraft that dump retardant on monstrous flames. So officials did about the only thing they could: take money from other forest management programs. But many of the programs were aimed at preventing giant fires in the first place, and raiding their budgets meant putting off the removal of dried brush and dead wood over vast stretches of land — the things that fuel eye-popping blazes, threatening property and lives..."

Photo credit above: "Flames roar down the hill toward Paschal Sherman Indian School shortly after 51 live-in students were evacuated from the campus six miles from Omak, Wash., on Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012." (AP Photo/The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle, Cary Rosenbaum)

Taking In The Duluth Skyline. Walt Kruhoeffer sent in this photo of the lakefront. The skyline is there...somewhere. 45 F with drizzle in Duluth yesterday. In Duluth they call this a "warm front."

Savoring A Rainy Saturday. The Twin Cities just got brushed by some very light rain - heavier amounts fell south and east. Brad Birkholz snapped this photo near Neenah, Wisconsin yesterday.

"Lenticularis". These massive wave clouds are formed when air is forced up and over mountain ranges in a stable environment, where temperatures warm with altitude. The result: smooth, lens-shaped clouds, which are sometimes mistaken for UFO's! This fine specimen is from Rocky Mountain National Park: "Lenticular clouds, although beautiful, indicate that strong winds are present over the Fern Lake Fire today."

Muddy Rapids. Here's another terrific shot, this time of The Lower Park Avenue Falls at Arches National Park.

Red Sky At Night. Thanks to Jim Campbell and the Brownsville office of the National Weather Service for sharing this one.

Touch of Disney. Thanks to one very prolific photographer by the name of Mike Hall for sending in this fabulous photo from Lewisport, Kentucky Friday. Very nice.

Frosty Start. Just staring at a photo like this one (snapped at Delta Junction Alaska) has a way of lowering my blood pressure. Thanks to Birch Leaf Photography and WeatherNation TV for sharing this one.

A Rainy Tease. The ECMWF was right after all - all week it was predicting highs in the low 50s, while U.S. models were hinting at 60s. With the drizzle, the (light) rain and fog temperatures never shot up, at least not in the metro. Highs ranged from 45 at Duluth to 53 Twin Cities, 54 St. Cloud and 68 at Rochester, where over a quarter inch of rain fell.

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

TODAY: Partly sunny, breezy. Winds: NW 10-20. High: 58

SUNDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear skies. Low: 38

MONDAY: Sunny and milder. Very nice. High: 66

TUESDAY: Mix of clouds & warm sun. Soak it up. Low: 46. High: 73

WEDNESDAY: Much-needed rain arrives. Low: 48. High: 61

THURSDAY: Gusty and raw. A cold rain lingers. Low: 41. High: 49

FRIDAY: Light showers, few flakes? Low: 37. High: 45

SATURDAY: Partly sunny, not as harsh. Low: 34. High: 53

One Antidote to Winter

I remember poking fun at snowbirds when we moved to Minnesota in '83. Why would anyone do that? Today, at the ripe age of 54, I see the wisdom of having a southern destination, especially for the most unnecessary month of the year: February.

My advice? Try Home ownership sounds great, but renting is so much easier. A week, a month, the winter - you'd be amazed. Trust me on this. When you book a hotel you're a tourist. When you rent a house you're treated as a local. Big difference. If you want Florida sand without the traffic consider Seaside or Boca Grande.

Even an average winter will feel like a slap across the face, after last year's Memphis-like 22 inches of slush and 70s in March.

This winter? Probably warmer than normal, based on the trends, but not as easy as last winter.
Headlines include a deepening drought and a Jekyll & Hyde pattern. The sun reappears today; highs near 60. 70 isn't out of the question Monday & Tuesday.

A deepening storm pulls cold air into Minnesota late week; Wednesday rain mixes with a few flurries by Thursday night. 60s return the last week of October.

Anxious about the winter to come? Consider renting a warm front or two!

Climate Stories...

Northeastern Minnesota Experiment To Study Effects Of Climate Change. The details in a story at Northland's NewsCenter; here's an excerpt: "...Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, the project is a collaborative effort between the USDA Forest Service and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which is located in Tennessee. Once up and running, the experiment will slowly heat 12 to 16 transparent chambers, which will be about 30 feet tall and 40 feet in diameter. The scientists will slowly heat the chambers to various temperatures, measuring how the entire ecosystem, from soil to treetops, responds to elevated temperatures and carbon dioxide levels. "This tower resides in the center of those chambers and represents the means by which we can document how warm our little plot of ecosystem has become," said Oak Ridge National Laboratory researcher, Paul Hanson, of a large tower, waiting to be placed in the area where the chambers will eventually be..."

Some Climate Scientists, In A Shift, Link Weather To Global Warming. Details from the L.A. Times; here's a clip from the main story: "...Extreme events like drought, heat waves, intense rainfall, flooding and fires have prompted many people to reconsider the connection between the weather and the changing climate. Now, a handful of scientists are among them. In a break with the mainstream scientific consensus, a few prominent climate scientists now argue that there have been enough episodes of drought and intense heat in the last 10 years to establish a statistical pattern of extreme weather due to global warming..."

Researchers Find Link Between Arctic Meltdown And Summer Floods And Fires. The story from Climatewire and Scientific American - here's an excerpt: "A new weather pattern that sends blasts of warm southern air into the Arctic each June has fueled the recent, dramatic decline of the region's sea ice, according to a new government-funded study. But that is not all it has done, the analysis suggests, linking the shifting summer winds to record thaws of the Greenland ice sheet, unusually wet European summers and Rocky Mountain wildfires. Researchers say the switch from light, variable east-west winds to stronger, warmer blasts of southern air appears to have strengthened a climate feedback loop they call "Arctic amplification."

Climate Change: Winning Issue Or Losing Battle? Notice how neither President Obama or Gov. Romney is talking much about climate change, and their plans to grow the economy without making the warming, and subsequent extreme weather, that much worse by increasing our dependence on fossil fuels. Climate Science Watch has the story; here's a clip: " Recent, fascinating, and underutilized national polls (also here and here) suggest climate change can be a winning issue in the 2012 elections.  A panel of experts, hosted by Climate Desk, discussed these key questions in Washington, DC, on October 10:  With this recent polling data, why are the President and other political leaders still not talking about climate change?  How can effective communication between political leaders and the public be stimulated? Betsy Taylor, President of Breakthrough Strategies & Solutions and well-known driving force in numerous public interest organizations, confirmed that climate change has been stifled from public discourse.   In the spring of 2009, after the financial crisis had hit, “there was a decision made,” Taylor says, “to not talk about climate change that was adopted by the majority of the environmental groups and the White House.  I was at that meeting.”  Reluctantly, the environmental organizations agreed, while some argued this decision would come back to “haunt” them.  They were right about climate change haunting us, though the public discourse remains dysfunctional."

Hottest Year So Far In Philadelphia. And a large chunk of the USA, for that matter. Here's an excerpt from a story at "2012 is on pace to be the warmest on record in more than 100 U.S. towns and cities, including Philadelphia, and for the continental United States as a whole, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Philadelphia has certainly seen some extremes in recent years. 2011 was Philadelphia's wettest year on record, with precipitation equalling 64.33 inches of water. The winter of 2009-10 had the most snow ever, 78.7 inches. For the first nine months of 2012, Philadelphia's average temperature was 62.2 degrees, 3.5 degrees above the average during the two decades from 1981 to 2010. The city's record covers the last 65 years..."

Graphic credit above: "The continental U.S. had its hottest average temperature in 118 years, according to federal researchers. Five of eight regions also set records (in red), while three others had their second or third highest average temperatures. The Pacific Northwest was also "above normal."

Yale Poll: Large And Growing Majority Of Americans Say "Global Warming Is Affecting Weather In The United States." Here's a snippet from a story at Think Progress: "Yet another survey finds that the public accurately understands global warming makes extreme weather events worse. This new poll from George Mason University and Yale’s Project on Climate Change Communication matches the finding of a February Brookings poll that found Americans’ understanding of climate change was increasing with more extreme weather and warmer temperatures. Heck, the weather has been so off the charts that even the major media have taken notice (see Every Network Gets Extreme Weather Story Right, ‘Now’s The Time We Start Limiting Manmade Greenhouse Gases’ — ABC). And the public’s understanding certainly matches the science (see “Has Global Warming Caused A Quantum Jump In Extreme Weather?” and links below)."

Forests To Feel Climate Change Effect - Damage Could Cost Billions. One of my fears, one of many, is that these problems with bark beetles and other pests begin to impact Minnesota's North Woods and the BWCA. I'm holding my breath, especially after reading this article at; here's an excerpt: "Researchers from Finland, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland believe that changes in both temperature and precipitation will affect the range of most tree species. Their estimates were calculated on a wide range of temperature increases, between 1.4 C and 5.8 C. The anticipate this will occur even if the climate change scenario is not extreme. Cold-adapted and mesic species, including Norway spruce, which is the biggest contributor to the economic value of European forests, will feel the biggest crunch..."

Image credit above: "A new pan-European study suggests that the economic value of forests will decline between 14% and 50% due to climate change. If measures are not taken to change this, the damage could reach several hundred billion euros, say researchers led by the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) in Switzerland. The study was presented in the journal Nature Climate Change."

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