Thursday, October 4, 2012

Hard Metro Freeze Sunday Morning (45% of Minnesota now in severe drought)

51 F. (daytime) high in the Twin Cities Thursday. The mercury started out at 64 F. shortly after midnight, falling during the day. 51 F. is the average high for October 31.
64 F. average high for October 4.
85 F. high temperature on October 4, 2011.

14" snow near Badger, Minnesota (Roseau County) Thursday. Details below.

37 mph. Peak wind gust at KMSP yesterday (noon).

"There is no correlation between early season snowfalls and overall winter precipitation. In fact, several of the winter seasons with early accumulating snows ended up with below normal seasonal snowfall totals." - Grand Forks NWS.

Marathon Weather Update. Dig out the jackets (which you may abandon by mile 20 as the mercury reaches the upper 40s). Bright sun, temperatures around 33 for the start of the marathon, temperatures near 50 by noon, peaking in the mid 50s by mid afternoon. Better than Saturday, with a west/southwest breeze at 10 mph.

55% chance of El Nino forming in the Pacific, down from 70%. Don't count on another record warm winter for Minnesota. Image above: NOAA's El Nino page.

Snowfall Subtotals as of Thursday evening:

14"  10 miles north/northwest of Badger, MN (Roseau County)
8"  Middle River (Marshall County)
7"  Roseau, Minnesota
4"  Thief River Falls, Minnesota
3.5" Grand Forks, North Dakota
1-2"  Fargo/Moorhead

* Grand Forks photo above courtesy of Jeff Murphy. Source of snowfall totals here.

"...these snowfall amounts appear to be record amounts for this early in the season for many areas. The previous record snowfall for October 4 or earlier at the NWS in Grand Forks was 2" on October 2, 1950. The NWS at Grand Forks reported 3.5" of snow with this storm on October 4, 2012. While records from around the area indicate that the October 2, 1950 storm produced about 2-5" around the region with localized heavier amounts, with Leeds, ND receiving 7" on October 2, 1950, and Hallock 4.5"." Source: Grand Forks NWS.

Early Snows Not Unheard Of. Dates of earliest measurable snow above. Here's a clip from the Grand Forks NWS office that caught my eye: "...looking at the above table it is apparent that the first inch of snow in the Northern Plains can occur quite early. Trace snow amounts have been noted earlier than the dates listed above. Also, there is no correlation between early season snowfalls and overall winter precipitation. In fact, several of the winter seasons with early accumulating snows ended up with below normal seasonal snowfall totals."

First Freeze. The close-in suburbs and downtowns have yet to see the first frost/freeze of the season. That will change over the weekend, with the coldest temperatures Sunday morning as skies clear and winds subside. The mercury rebounds to or above 60 by Monday, according to the ECMWF above.
Like A Christmas Postcard. Thanks to Terri Smith from Warren, Minnesota for sending this photo in.

"A 4-inch rain occurs about once in 25 years at any given point in Minnesota but a 6-inch rain only occurs about once in 100 years..." - Minnesota Climatology Working Group. Photo courtesy of Mike Hall.

Minnesota's Drought Worsens. Yes, I'm just perpetually paranoid. What's the next shoe to drop? The entire state of Minnesota is now "abnormally dry", up from 41% just 3 months ago. 45% of the state is in a severe drought, including the north metro and St. Cloud, up from 0% in early July. Extreme drought is expanding across south central and southwestern Minnesota, and much of the Red River Valley - nearly 20% of Minnesota experiencing extreme dry conditions. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor for Minnesota is here.

Extended Outlook: Indian Summer. After holding in the mid 40s today and Saturday, temperatures rebound next week, a run of 50s and even a few low 60s. Shocking news: no significant precipitation is in sight.

A Preview Of Coming Attractions. Check out the wintry panorama at Glacier National Park.

Postcard-Worthy. Another pic from Glacier National Park. Wild Goose Mountain, Montana, to be exact. Stunning.

Autumn Blaze. A setting sun illuminated a smear of mid and high level clouds adrift over Columbia, South Carolina yesterday. Photo credit: Hunter Coleman.

Warp Drive Looks More Promising Than Ever In Recent NASA Studies. I'm always amazed when what passes for science fiction becomes scientific reality. Here's an excerpt of a fascinating article at "The first steps towards interstellar travel have been taken, but the stars are very far away. Voyager 1 is about 17 light-hours distant from Earth and is traveling with a velocity of 0.006 percent of light speed, meaning it will take about 17,000 years to travel one light-year. Fortunately, the elusive "warp drive" now appears to be evolving past difficulties with new theoretical advances and a NASA test rig under development to measure artificially generated warping of space-time. The warp drive broke away from being a wholly fictional concept in 1994, when physicist Miguel Alcubierre suggested that faster-than-light (FTL) travel was possible if you remained still on a flat piece of spacetime inside a warp bubble that was made to move at superluminal velocity. Rather like a magic carpet..." Photo credit: Shutterstock.

Apple Turning To Select Retail Employees To Help Improve Maps For iOS6. Details from; here's an excerpt: "MacRumors has learned that Apple is piloting a program to tap into its vast number of retail store employees to help improve the company's new Maps app for iOS 6. Details on the initiative remain unclear, but multiple sources have indicated that participating stores will dedicate 40 hours of staff time per week, distributed among a number of employees, to manually examine Apple's mapping data in their areas and submit corrections and improvements. ifoAppleStore posted a Tweet a short time ago indicating that it too has received information on the effort..."

An $11,000 Cup Of Coffee? Designed for the fraction of the "1%" that has more money than common sense; details from "The Blossom One Limited coffee machine by Blossom Coffee promises to provide connoisseurs of the black stuff an exceptional cup of coffee with every pour, and is designed by former NASA, Apple and Tesla employees as a bespoke product which would add some flair to any kitchen counter. The catch? A cool US$11,111 price tag, barista not included..."

Windblown. Winds came close to tropical storm force yesterday in the metro area (39 mph). Under a mostly gray sky daytime temperatures held in the 40s and low 50s, with a wind chill (ugh) dipping into the 20s at times. That's the first time I've said "wind chill" in over 6 months. That's a new world record for me, I think.

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

TODAY: Mix of clouds & sun, windy. Winds: NW 20-30. High: 49

FRIDAY NIGHT: Partial clearing - frosty. Low: 32.

SATURDAY: Patchy clouds, stray sprinkle or flurry? Winds: NW 15. High: 45

SATURDAY NIGHT: Clearing - hard freeze expected. Low: 28

SUNDAY: Brisk but dry for Twin Cities Marathon. Sunny, less wind. Winds: SW 10. High: 55

MONDAY: Fading sun, turning milder. Low: 38. High: 61

TUESDAY: A few clouds, cooling off again. Low: 44. High: 56

WEDNESDAY: Bright sun, chilly (less wind). Low: 32. High: 53

THURSDAY: A dry-blue sky, cool breeze. Low: 38. High: 57

* Photo above: Jeff Murphy.

Fresh Air!

"Uh oh. This early blast portends a tough winter. An I-can't-feel-my-fingers, Call-Out-The-National-Guard! ordeal, one notch above a summer internship in Antarctica." I'm hearing a lot of this. Let me put on my therapist hat and assure you that it's human nature to make knee-jerk forecasts based on what you see outside your window. Resist the urge.

45 percent of Minnesota is stuck in severe drought (including the north metro). 3 months ago there was no severe drought reported, statewide.

The first rule of weather: don't buck the trends. Our dry spell will probably linger into December, taking the edge off rain and snow amounts. Late winter? I'd bet my snowmobile we'll still see more snow than last winter.

It'll probably be colder than last winter, based on NOAA guidance. Why? The odds of a full-blown El Nino have dropped from 70 to 55 percent.

Winds gust to 30 mph today. A few stray flakes may delight Twin Cities residents Saturday, followed by the first hard freeze Sunday morning. No heat exhaustion for this year's (chilly) Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.

A few 60s return next week.

My advice: keep your winter expectations low. That way you'll never be disappointed.

Climate Stories...

PBS NewsHour's Lehrer Ignores The Environment In First Presidential Debate. Media Matters has the story and follow-up to Debate #1; here's an excerpt: "Despite hundreds of thousands of petitions asking for a question on climate change, former PBS NewsHour host Jim Lehrer did not ask the candidates what they would do to address manmade global warming as moderator of the first presidential debate. Even more stunning, Lehrer did not ask a single question about the environment or energy issues.Lehrer, who currently serves as NewsHour's executive editor, said at the outset of the debate that he wanted to focus on "specifics." Yet while both President Obama and Mitt Romney brought up energy issues frequently, the moderator never pressed them on distortionsmade on these issues. And neither Lehrer nor the candidates raised climate change, which was discussed in each of the last three sets of presidential debates. In both 2000 and in2008, the debates featured specific questions on climate change, and Republican and Democratic candidates each acknowledged the issue."

Poll: Obama Or Romney Climate Change Stance Can Win Undecided Votes. Here's a clip from a story at U.S. News and World Report: "For an hour and a half Wednesday, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama talked about jobs, the economy, and more jobs—but they didn't touch on the environment or climate change. A new study suggests maybe they should have: Undecided voters seem to care about global warming as much as Democrats do. With polls showing a dead heat in the race to woo independent voters and neither candidate doing a great job on climate change (a prominent climatologist told the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this week that "the silence of Gov. Romney and President Obama on climate change is deafening"), could the issue break the tie?"

Photo credit above: "An El NiƱo-powered storm pounds the pilings of ocean front homes on Pacific Coast Highway in 1997 in Malibu, Calif."

Pentagon Study Cites Climate Change As National Security Threat. Here's a snippet from a story at The Huffington Post: "Even before recent predictions that Arctic sea ice would melt by the summer of 2016 in a "final collapse," setting off a "global disaster," the Pentagon and the Center for Naval Analyses's (CNA) Military Advisory Board had already gone on record warning about the impacts of climate change as a threat to national security. To better understand the impact of global water challenges on U.S. national security interests, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton requested the intelligence community to produce a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) which resulted in an unclassified Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) prepared by the National Intelligence Council (NIC). Even after the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released its ICA on Global Water Security in February, 2012 and the ICA and the CNA released its National Security and the Threat of Climate Change in 2007, the current incarnation of the Republican party continues to deny the relationship of CO2 emissions to extreme weather patterns -- with presidential candidate and former Governor Mitt Romney stating that "there remains a lack of scientific consensus on the extent of warming... and the severity of the risk." Photo: Wikipedia.

Climate Change Denial Getting Harder To Defend. Here's an excerpt of a story at The Los Angeles Times: "...This was the 36th consecutive July and 329th consecutive month in which global temperatures have been above the 20th century average. In addition, seven of the 10 hottest summers recorded in the United States have occurred since 2000. Such rising temperatures and climate anomalies have been documented around the world. But there's also one bit of good news: The increasingly powerful evidence of a long-term warming trend is making climate-change denial more difficult to defend. Take "Climategate" — the argument that scientists have based their evidence for global warming on fraudulent science. The Koch Foundation provided funding to physicist Richard Muller of UC Berkeley, a longtime climate-change skeptic, to disprove the widespread consensus on global warming. Instead, his re-analysis showed the exact same warming trend found by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and other scientists..."

Photo credit above: "Drought-damaged corn plants stand in a field during harvest in Le Roy, Ill." (Daniel Acker / Bloomberg / September 11, 2012)

Climate Change Skepticism Highest In U.S. And Britain. Here are a few sentences from a story at "Awareness of climate change is high in many countries, especially the tropics, but in Britain, Japan and the United States many are doubtful about the cause, a poll published on Thursday said. A survey of 13,492 adults in 13 countries who were questioned by Internet found that 88 percent believed the climate had changed over the past 20 years....On the question whether climate change had been scientifically proven, agreement was highest in Indonesia, Hong Kong and Turkey (95, 89 and 86 percent respectively). It was lowest in Japan (58 percent), preceded by Britain (63 percent) and the United States (65 percent)."

Another View: Climate Change Is About Jobs And The Economy. Here is an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Des Moines Register that caught my eye: "...But isn’t what matters the economy and jobs? OK, forget science; this is about business. Assume climate change is a hoax. Don’t go to Las Vegas on the odds of that being true, but it turns out that it doesn’t matter. If all you are is a profit-maximizing capitalist, you’ll do exactly what you’d do if you were scared to death of climate change, because we know how to solve it at a profit. My recent book, “The Way Out: Kickstarting Capitalism To Save Our Economic Ass,” details how hundreds of entrepreneurs, companies and communities are prospering from energy efficiency, renewable energy and sustainable agriculture that are more profitable than business as usual, and which, if implemented across the country, will end the recession..."

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