Sunday, November 25, 2012

Cool Clippers into Friday (December puddles, 50s?)

30 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities Saturday.

36 F. average high for November 24.

59 F. high temperature a year ago, on November 24, 2011.

No significant precipitation (rain or snow) looking out 5 days.

40s next weekend, 50s a week from Monday?

December Puddles

Are you receptive to new data. Do you have an open mind? Or are you tempted to cherry-pick nuggets that support your point of view? In my travels I find that younger people, as a rule, are trying to sort out the signal from the noise. Is the crazy weather we've been witnessing unusual, or part of a larger pattern?

I was skeptical of climate change in the 80s; by the mid-90s I was witnessing things on my weather maps that couldn't be explained away as normal weather. I was reacting to data - facts on the ground.
2012 is part of this crazy quiltwork of curious trends: flowers blooming in March & the warmest year on record, nationwide. Now I'm seeing more possible evidence of a shift in the pattern: weather models are printing out 50s & rain for the first week of December. Rain falling within 3 weeks of the Winter Solstice? OK.

Dr. Mark Seeley reports midwinter rain and ice has increased by 4X in Minnesota in a generation.
Where's the snow? Will this be another bleak winter for snow lovers? Between drought and warming I'm starting to think so.

Seasonably chilly weather holds into Friday, puffs of chilly air; no storms expected.
Next week? "Octember".

Another data point.

"Octember". The models are consistent - the next 5 days will be chilly, temperatures averaging a couple degrees below normal. But a massive Alaskan low pressure system is spinning off a series of Pacific storms, each one capable of pumping unseasonable warmth northward. The first surge of 50+ air arrives Sunday and Monday of next week; highs may reach the low to mid 50s, nearly 20 degrees above average. We start December with a significant thaw, but little rain is expected right now. 12z Monday forecast (December 3) from WSI.

Another Wintery Intermission. Temperatures begin to thaw by late week; 40s by Saturday, a shot at 50s a week from today. No, I do not see a steady treadmill of arctic fronts pushing south into the USA, one after another, at least not yet. All bets are off for mid-December, but we start the month on a mild note. Map: NOAA CPC and Ham Weather.


I am a longtime reader of your blog.  Thought you would be interested to see these pics I took while visiting my parents for Thanksgiving down in SW Minnesota outside of Fulda.  Where I am standing usually has 4 feet of water.  The drought down in that area is as bad as I have seen.  Anyway, keep up the blog!

Tom Braun

Plymouth, MN

Thanks Tom - your photo sums up the drought better than any map I could possibly dig up. All of southwestern Minnesota is in extreme drought right now, with little improvement in sight. Once the ground freezes up (next week's thaw may delay a hard freeze until mid-December) moisture can't sink into topsoil, where it's needed. That's a problem. Right now I don't see any potential for improvement in Minnesota's drought until early 2013.

Drought Outlook. NOAA's drought forecast thru the end of February shows "persistence" across southwestern Minnesota (meaning no improvement in the drought). Some improvement is predicted for the rest of Minnesota, but we may have to wait until late winter, early spring, for the shift in the pattern necessary to put a serious dent in the drought.

Relative Weather Risk. Don't let any relatives living in the southern USA give you a hard time about Minnesota cold fronts. There have been 3-4 times more billion dollar weather and climate disasters across the southern USA since 1980 than Minnesota or Wisconsin. Why? Hurricanes. From Texas to the Carolinas, floods and tornadoes are prevalent, but these states, close to the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic, are also in "Hurricane Alley" - compounding the relative risk and odds of weather-related disasters. Source NOAA.

2012: Off-The-Scale Warm. NOAA released the latest data for the lower 48 states, showing that it's pretty much a sure bet that this year will be the warmest ever observed in the USA, warmer than 1998, 1999 and 2006.

Those Bugs "Are Going To Outsmart Us". Yes, we have enough to worry about, but in case you missed this important story at The Star Tribune about how crops are becoming increasingly bug and pest-resistant, it's worth a read. Here's an excerpt: "...It is what scientists and environmentalists regard as one of nature's great ironies: Fifteen years ago, genetically engineered seeds promised to reduce the amount of poisons used on the land, but today they are forcing farmers to use more -- and sometimes more toxic -- chemicals to protect their crops. Why? Because pests have done what nature always does -- adapt. Just as some bacteria have become resistant to antibiotic drugs, a growing number of superweeds and superbugs in the nation's farm fields are proving invulnerable to the tons of pesticides that go hand in hand with genetically modified seeds..."

Photo credit above: "Danny Serfling tilled a field on his farm in Preston, Minn., in late October. He lost part of this field and a whole other one to rootworm. The solution? “We will have to use more insecticide,” he said."  Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune.

Mega-Flakes. I don't think I've ever seen anything like this - and frankly, I don't have a good explanation. Anyone out there have a clue what this is? Details via KARE-11: "Thank you Jody T. from Lonsdale for sharing this great picture! Jody says he saw these giant frost flakes in his yard this morning."

Where's The Snow? As of Friday, November 23rd, Milwaukee has gone 264 days since the last day with measurable snow, which is the 4th longest streak on record.  The last time Milwaukee had measurable snow was on March 4, 2012, when 0.9 inch was measured.  Only a trace of snow is expected today with no snow expected on Sunday.  Hence the current streak should climb to 3rd place this weekend. Source: NOAA.

* snowcover map above courtesy of NOAA's National Snow Analysis, showing 2" on the ground from St. Cloud to Brainerd, as much as 4" near International Falls. My friend in Herbster, Wisconsin reports 10-12" of new (lake effect) snow in his yard.

Too Early To Write Off Warm Fronts. Seasonably chilly weather lingers into Friday of next week as a family of weak clippers drag cooler air southward out of Canada (Monday the coldest day in sight). But the ECMWF forecast highs (red, in Celsius) show an upward blip in about a week; the latest run showing highs close to 60 on December 3.  Graphic: Iowa State.

A Lazy Sun. The sun just barely rose above the horizon Saturday in Delta Junction, Alaska, illuminating a smear of cirrus clouds floating overhead, resulting in a spectacular shot, courtesy of Facebook and Birch Leaf Photography.

The Economics Of Wasted Leftovers. The statistics are daunting, according to this story from American Public Media's "Marketplace"; here's an excerpt of an eye-opening story: "...The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that Americans trash 40 percent of our entire food supply. For a family of four, that works out to more than $2,000 a year. Dana Gunders is a food project scientist at NRDC. She puts the numbers in perspective. “Imagine going to the grocery store, buying three bags of groceries, dropping one in the parking lot, and not bothering to pick it up," she says. "That’s essentially what we’re doing in our food system today." Gunders is talking about all the food we waste. From veggies left to rot in the fields because they’re not exactly the right shapet to uneaten food on restaurant plates. And, of course, forgotten leftovers that morph into something monstrous in the refrigerator..."

A Hybrid Tank? Why not. Reducing dependence on traditional fuel sources only increases resiliency and lowers overall risk. has more details: "...The GCV carries three crew and nine squad members inside its steel-core hull and boasts an integrated electronic network capability and embedded intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment. However, the centerpiece of the vehicle is its simplified drive train. The GCV is propelled by an Hybrid Electric Drive (HED) developed by the partnership. It puts out 1,100 kW of electricity, has fewer components, and lower volume and weight than current power plants. Being an electric drive, it generates high torque at start, smoother low-speed operation and can run silently – an advantage in night operations...."

Brrrisk. I was at the Gopher's game Saturday, and yes, TCF Stadium was a tad on the chilly side. It's late November. We live in Minnesota. None of this should come as a shock. After a partly sunny start clouds increased, keeping temperatures a few degrees cooler than average, ranging from 24 at St. Cloud (2" snow on the ground) to 30 in the Twin Cities to 33 at Redwood Falls.

Major Weather Events on November 24 - courtesy of the Twin Cities National Weather Service:

1977: Record lows were set across central Minnesota with lows in the teens to single digits below zero. Montevideo had the coldest temperature of 18 degrees below zero along with Long Prairie at 16 degrees below zero.
1820: Ft. Snelling is in the middle of a three-day blizzard that would dump nine inches of snow.

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

TODAY: Getting sunnier, risk of a (very brief) thaw. Winds: NW 10-15. High: 33

SUNDAY NIGHT: Clear and cold. Low: 10

MONDAY: Chilliest day in sight. Blue sky. High: 22

TUESDAY: Partly sunny, breezy. Not as harsh. Low: 13. High: 33

WEDNESDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, quiet. Low: 17. High: near 30

THURSDAY: Another clipper. Patchy clouds. Low: 19. High: 32

FRIDAY: Periods of sun, seasonably cool. Low: 23. High: 35

SATURDAY: Mostly cloudy with a little light rain or drizzle. Low: 25. High: 43

* long range models are hinting at a few days above 50s a week from Monday, an unseasonably mild start to December.

Climate Stories....

"The amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a new record high in 2011, according to the World Meteorological Organization. Between 1990 and 2011 there was a 30% increase in radiative forcing – the warming effect on our climate – because of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other heat-trapping long-lived gases."  - WMO, the World Meteorological Organization. Source here.

Scientists Say Freakish Weather Could Become The Norm Due To Global Warming. Here's an excerpt from a story at The New York Daily News: "The U.S. was blasted by monster storms and scorched by record heat waves in 2012 - freakish weather that could become more commonplace because of global warming, scientists warn. But climate activists hope the destructive weather could have a side benefit of forcing President Obama off the bench when it comes to to the issue of climate change..."

Photo credit above: AP/Tony Rayle/Yuma Sun

Fight Against Climate Change Blocked By Luddites At Big Oil: McQuaig. Here's a clip from "...The news on the climate front is devastating. In a report earlier this month, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), one of the world’s largest accounting firms, states the world has “passed the critical threshold” and that current carbon reductions amount to “a fraction of what is required against the international commitment to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius.” In order to keep within that limit by 2050, the accounting firm says the world will have to dramatically accelerate its annual pace of carbon reduction — to a rate never before achieved, and then continue at that rate “for 39 consecutive years.” No problem! That’s if we want to keep warming to just 2 degrees Celsius — which may be too high. So far, we’ve warmed the planet by only 0.8 degrees Celsius — and yet that little bit of warming packs quite a punch, as the U.S. east coast learned last month..."

Photo credit: Bruce Chambers/AP "Oil companies currently have proven reserves of oil, gas and coal worth $27 trillion."

Global Warming And The Emotional Divide. No one wants to hear bad news. Believe me, I get that. Some days I feel like Dr. Doom. After a correct call on Sandy, 7 days before landfall, one of our corporate customers started referring to me as Nostradamus. Lovely. But here's the thing: once you acknowledge the trends, the science, you at least have a chance to adapt and mitigate, leveraging new technologies (the market!) to make the problem better. We'll eventually have to do just that, as a country (and planet), but some of us will be dragged kicking and screaming (and denying the data) for a few more years before we finally come to grips with a changing climate. And in the process we may just reinvent our energy economy and set America on the right course, competitively, for generations to come. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at Madison County Journal that resonated: "...So, when global warming is brought up, I feel that same emotional click inside. My first thought is, “shut up!” I want to put my fingers in my ears. I think society generally shares that feeling. We don’t want to hear it. But my gut is going hard the other way. And my gut doesn’t have a “liberal” agenda unless it’s in front of a hot pizza. No, in fact, I want the scientists who push global warming to be wrong. How could I want anything else? It’s an awful prospect. And I certainly don’t want future generations to face any such reality. But I get this sick feeling these days about the weather. Beyond what scientists tell us, it feels like it’s changing — and not for the better. And the “nothing-to-see-here” mantra of global warming skeptics isn’t meshing with that feeling I have watching these storms grow more and more fierce, whether it’s spring tornadoes or fall hurricanes...."

Chasing Ice: A New Documentary Melts a Climate Change Skeptic's Heart. I've heard reports that this is a remarkable movie - hoping it comes to Minnesota soon. Here is an excerpt from a Huffington Post story: "...Going to the world's most remote places and taking photographs was second nature to James Balog, who developed a career with assignments for National Geographic and others. But he was a climate change skeptic. "It was hard for me to believe that people could affect something so vast as the whole planet," he said. But he has a 24-year-old and an 11-year-old daughter and "I want to offer them, in my own way, a better future," he said. He worried that he wouldn't have a good answer for them if climate change turned out to be true and they asked him "what did you do to stop it?" He decided to couple his "privilege as an artist," with "his duty as a human being" by documenting the changes occurring to glaciers..."

* more on the documentary "Chasing Ice" here.

Grand Old Planet. Yes, you can be fiscally conservative and still have some modicum of respect for the scientific method. It is stll theoretically possible. Here's an excerpt from a Paul Krugman Op-Ed at The New York Times: "...The most obvious example other than evolution is man-made climate change. As the evidence for a warming planet becomes ever stronger — and ever scarier — the G.O.P. has buried deeper into denial, into assertions that the whole thing is a hoax concocted by a vast conspiracy of scientists. And this denial has been accompanied by frantic efforts to silence and punish anyone reporting the inconvenient facts...." Image above: NASA.

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