Friday, October 5, 2012

First Hard Freeze Tonight (are warmer lakes worldwide a barometer of climate change?)

48 F. high on Friday in the Twin Cities.
63 F. average high for October 5.
88 F. A year ago the Twin Cities metro was 40 degrees warmer.

28 F. predicted low Sunday morning; first widespread freeze for the Twin Cities suburbs. A freeze is defined as 2-4 hours below 28-30 F, cold enough to kill off most plant life.
65-70 F. highs predicted for Monday, the mildest day in sight.

Cold fronts "trigger" colds and flu bugs? Not directly, but indirectly? You can make a case, yes. Details below.

Marathon Weather. The hour-by-hour forecast from the Twin Cities NWS shows temperatures starting out around 27-28 at 8 am Sunday morning, recovering to 37 by 10 am, 47 F. by 11 am. Expect a southwest breeze at 7-12 mph, low humidity and bright sunshine. Good luck!
Marathon Details: Cheer on this year's marathon runners. More details on the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon can be found here.
Hints Of A Stormier Pattern? TV news directors and (bored) meteorologists over the eastern half of the USA are secretly praying for a negative phase of the NAO, the North American Oscillation. Such a blocking pattern tends to favor significant storms, rain and snow, especially over the eastern USA. NOAA's NAO prediction page shows a potentially strong negative shift to the NAO by mid-October. We're due for a shift in the pattern.

So Long Ragweed? It's been a miserable allergy season, the result of super-sized ragweed plants, drought and gusty winds kicking up dust, pollen and assorted junk into the air. Although no rain is expected until a week from today, tonight's frost/freeze may kill off most of the ragweed, helping allergy sufferers in the days and weeks to come. After bottoming out in the upper 20s late tonight, the mercury bounces back into the 60s to near 70 by Monday afternoon.

Friday Snow Totals, courtesy of NOAA and Chad Merrill at Earth Networks:

Harrison, NE – 6 inches
Custer, S.D.  – 4 inches
Lusk, WY – 3.5 inches
Ardmore, S.D. – 2 inches

* photo from Damar, Kansas above courtesy of Becky Wells and the Hastings office of the NWS.

95% of the world's lakes are warming, in some cases twice as fast as air temperatures. National Geographic has details and links below. Sunrise photo over Duluth courtesy of Alison Gimpel.

"...Rather than debate the science of climate change, Byck explores common ground on energy issues. For example, he claims that Americans agree on issues like solar and wind energy. According to Byck, 70 percent of Americans claim to love solar energy and 90 percent of Americans like wind energy. Most US citizens also claimed to like geothermal and energy efficiency." - excerpt from a story on engaging climate deniers at; details below.

Frost Advisory. Tonight is the appetizer, the main event, the Hard Freeze, comes Saturday night, pretty much statewide. Details from the Twin Cities NWS office:



What A Difference A Year Makes. Trite, cliche? Absolutely, but I'm not above that. Nearly 45% of Minnesota is experiencing severe drought (including the northern suburbs). A year ago only 4.58% of Minnesota was in a severe drought. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor 100% of the state is now "abnormally dry". The concern: if we don't get significant rain in the coming weeks, before the ground freezes up solid, we may run a soil moisture deficit into 2013, putting Minnesota's farmers behind the curve. Pray for rain.

A Rare Rain Event. The ECMWF (European) model is hinting at a sloppy southern storm next weekend, with the heaviest, steadiest rains passing just south and east of MSP; a better chance of significant rain for Iowa and Wisconsin. But it's a start. Map above valid 7 am Sunday morning, courtes of WSI.

Low Lake Water Levels. You've seen the (remarkable) photos from White Bear Lake, but lake water levels are down statewide. Lake Minnesota is down at least 15" from normal, but closer to 2 to 2.5 feet from the high water mark in 2011, according to the LMCD, the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District.

Major October Snowstorms & Blizzards. O.K. After reading this I'm feeling (a little) better about Thursday's heavy snowfall over northwestern Minnesota. Dr. Mark Seeley includes a look at some of Minnesota's most notable October storms in this week's WeatherTalk blog entry; here's an excerpt: "Though uncommon, significant October snowfalls and blizzards have occurred in Minnesota's past.
Other significant October snowfalls and blizzards include:

October 11-14, 1820 up to 11 inches at Old Fort Snelling.
October 21-22, 1835 brought the first 6 inch snowfall of the season to Ft Snelling and was a precursor to a harsh winter for the Great Lakes Region.
October 16-18, 1880 paralyzing blizzard (drifts up to 20 feet) in southwestern Minnesota, written about by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
October 18-20, 1916 a blizzard struck northwestern Minnesota with 5 to 16 inches of snow and zero visibility.
October 23-24, 1933 brought a heavy snow to northeastern Minnesota, with amounts ranging from 7 to 11.5 inches.
October 1-2, 1950 brought 1-5 inches of snow across northwestern Minnesota counties.
October 7-11, 1970 brought some heavy snowfall to northern counties, record setting amounts of 6-14 inches for some, producing some road closures.
October 4-6, 2000 brought snow to many northern Minnesota communities. Thief River Falls, Roseau, and Littlefork reported over 2 inches, while Baudette and Thorhult reported over 3 inches.
October 24-25, 2001 a blizzard with 55 mph hit northwestern Minnesota bringing snowfall of 10-14 inches, and huge drifts.
October 12-13, 2006 brought snowfall to northeastern Minnesota, including 4-5 inches at Cook and Babbitt.

Winter Whispers. This terrific photo came from Brady Buttars at Grand Teton National Park.

So Nice You're Seeing It Twice. With no wind and a lake as smooth as glass, the scenery in Oregon, Illinois was like something out of a postcard, courtesy of John Bullock.

Muffled Sunlight. Ham Weather founder and developer Lee Huffman captured this photo of a corona thru high, thin cirrus clouds floating 25,000 feet above San Diego Friday.

Where This Naming Business Runs Off The Rails. Nate Johnson, meteorologist and Executive Producer at WRAL-TV in Raleigh, NC makes some very good points in his latest installment of Digital Meteorologist about "Hurricane-Name-Gate", The Weather Channel's decision to preemptively name major winter storms and blizzards this upcoming winter season. Here's an excerpt: "...Whether he’s been successful in convincing the public of that or not aside, The Weather Channel’s unilateral plan to name winter storms, without coordination with the National Weather Service, threatens to set him – and us – all back a good bit.  Take, for example, TWC’s stance on the winter storm moving into the northern Plains right now.  Because it didn’t meet their “geographic” and “population” criteria, this storm will not get one of the names they’ve laid out for the season.  Their winter weather expert Tom Niziol, former Meteorologist-in-Charge at the Buffalo NWS office, and Jim Cantore even had to spend time yesterday afternoon explaining why this “overachiever” of an early winter storm won’t get a name."

"I'm Not Going To Be Ashamed" KSTP Meteorologist Reveals Battle With Bipolar Disorder. Kudos to Ken Barlow for having the courage to come forward - and it the process help a lot of Minnesotans struggling with the same disease. Here's an excerpt from "...Barlow told the Pioneer Press he first spoke about his condition while emceeing a walk for the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
“When I was standing up there, I was thinking, these people came here to end the stigma of mental illness, and I’m up here living one — I’m afraid of this stigma.  I thought as I was on that stage two weeks ago, I’m not going to do this anymore, I’m not going to be ashamed. Two million people have this in the country and millions of others deal with depression and other forms of mental illness. I’m not alone.”
In the article, Barlow talks about being diagnosed with the illness in 2007 while he was working for WBZ in Boston."

Why You Need a "HotTug". Will this take off? No idea, but I wanted to share this combination boat-hot tub that may come to a lake near you in 2013. Details via theCHIVE: "The new “HotTug” is a bizarre tug boat that doubles as a hot tub and is able to seat up to seven people. It is heated with an onboard, stainless steel stove, and the tub is completely seaworthy and offers an interesting ride never before experienced..."
A Free Press. I snapped a photo of this wall-sized map at the "Newseum" in Washington D.C. Monday. I was dumbfounded to see how many countries around the world do not have a free press (all those nations in red). As much as we like to criticize the mainstream media, at least we're free to say what we want, when we want. Most of the world is not so fortunate.

Take Nothing For Granted. I have a son in the Navy, and his safety is the first thing I think about when I wake up, and the last thing I worry about when I turn out the lights. I follow developments in Iran, Iraq and the South China Sea with new eyes. A friend sent me this photo Thursday, asking me to keep our troops, worldwide, in our prayers.... and to pass it on.

Brrr-isk! At least the sun was peeking thru, but those hair-curling winds were annoying, gusting into the 20-30 mph range. Highs ranged from 39 at Alexandria to 43 St. Cloud, 48 Twin Cities and 49 Redwood Falls and Eau Claire.

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

TODAY: Clouds and sun, brisk. A stray spinkle or flurry can't be ruled out. Winds: NW 10-20. High: 47

SATURDAY NIGHT: Clearing with a frost/freeze likely late. Low: 29

SUNDAY: Early freeze. Bright sun. Good running weather. Winds: SW 10-15. High: 55

MONDAY: Sunny start. Clouds increase, milder. Low: 42. High: 66

TUESDAY: Clearing, windy and cooler. Low: 44. High: 56

WEDNESDAY: Blue sky, less wind. Low: 33. High: 54

THURSDAY: Stronger clipper. Getting colder with a stiff wind. Low: 38. High: 51

FRIDAY: Bright sun, light winds - chilly. Low: 31. High: 49

Too Early to Panic

The (coveted) Golden Snow Shovel Award goes to Badger, Minnesota (Roseau Co.)- where 14" snow fell Thursday.

October blizzards in Minnesota are rare, but not unprecedented. According to Dr. Mark Seeley a paralyzing blizzard struck on October 16-18, 1880, with 20 foot drifts over southwestern Minnesota. Author Laura Ingalls Wilder even wrote about this epic storm.

In an era of Doppler radar, supercomputers and cell phone alerts could we be surprised by an Armistic Day-like blizzard? I want to believe the answer is no, but pinpointing snow amounts will always be more art than science.

"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 snow totals" wrote the Grand Forks National Weather Service. Make no (snowy) assumptions, at least not yet.

A stiff breeze finally eases, setting the stage for a hard freeze tonight. Marathon temps. rise thru the 40s Sunday under a blue sky.

We need rain before the ground freezes solid, to avoid soil moisture deficits into 2013. There's a chance of some rain next weekend.

A shift in the pattern? I want to get my hopes up, but (first) I want to see a few more computer runs to see if there's any continuity. We're due for a surge of southern moisture - I hope this is real. Stay tuned.

* "Snow Baby" photo above taken by Heidi Whiting in Crookston, Minnesota.

Climate Stories...

Cartoon courtesy of Environmental Science Techniques.

Warming Lakes: Barometers Of Climate Change? Here's an excerpt of an article at National Geographic: "In 2010, National Geographic News reported on the results of the first comprehensive global study of lake temperature trends. The study — conducted by researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California using satellite data — found that in the last 25 years, the world’s largest lakes have been steadily warming, some by as much as 4°F (2.2°C). In some cases, the trend is twice as fast as the air temperature trend over the same period."

Map credit above: "Global trends in seasonal nighttime lake surface temperatures, 1985-2009." Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Experts Say Acceleration Of Global Warming Is "Frighteningly Quick". Here's the introduction to a story at "A high-level conference was told that the acceleration of climate change in the arctic is moving at a "frighteningly quick" pace. Konrad Steffen, director of the Swiss Federal Research Institute, said that 2012 had been an "extreme" year for global warming in the arctic. Steffen, a renowned expert on arctic issues, told the conference organised by the International Polar Foundation, "The acceleration of it has exceeded all expectations. It is quite scary." Steffen, whose research has been studied by international scientists and experts, also warned that the economic malaise in the eurozone had "pushed" the climate issue further down the political agenda...."

Newspapers In U.K. and U.S. Give Climate Skeptics Most Column Inches. Here's a snippet of a fascinating and troubling story from the U.K. Guardian: "Climate sceptics feature more prominently in newspapers in the US and UK than other countries, and their views are more likely to go unchallenged in right-leaning papers, an academic study has shown. Friday's report, which was published in the Environmental Research Letters journal, delved deeper into data that was first published last year. For the study, 2,064 newspaper articles from the US, UK, France, China, Brazil and India over two three-month periods in 2007 and 2009-10 were scrutinised for the quantity and type of climate sceptic voices featured on both news and opinion pages..."

Photo credit above: "British climate sceptic Lord Christopher Monckton." Photograph: Alan Porritt/EPA.

3 Approaches To Engaging U.S. Climate Deniers. Here's the introduction to a story at "How do we reach the large minority of Americans that continue to resist the facts about climate change? One way to encourage behavior change may be to work within the belief system of climate deniers. We may even need to employ a communications strategy that ignores climate change altogether. There are a significant number of Americans who are not acting to address climate change and many of these people are not swayed by science.  The most recent polls show that only 55 percent of Americans are worried about climate change. That means that there are 45 percent of Americans who do not believe that climate change is a global priority."

Glut Of Solar Panels Is A New Test For China. The New York Times has the details; here's an excerpt: "BEIJING — China in recent years established global dominance in renewable energy, its solar panel and wind turbine factories forcing many foreign rivals out of business and its policy makers hailed by environmentalists around the world as visionaries. But now China’s strategy is in disarray. Though worldwide demand for solar panels and wind turbines has grown rapidly over the last five years, China’s manufacturing capacity has soared even faster, creating enormous oversupply and a ferocious price war..." Photo credit: Wikipedia.

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