Saturday, November 17, 2012

November Light Into Thanksgiving Day (October: 5th warmest on record, worldwide)

61 F. high at Appleton and Benson yesterday.

54 F. high in the Twin Cities Saturday.

40 F. average high for November 17.

32 F. high last year, on November 17, 2011.

9" snow fell on the Twin Cities on November 17, 1886.

Confidence Factor

Just what you need - one more number to remember. By the end of some weather reports I can't even remember my name, much less what the high will be a week from Tuesday. But in the spirit of honesty, transparency & setting expectations meteorologists should consider leveling with the public.

We consult with Fortune 100 companies in New York City. 8 days before Sandy hit I gave a Confidence Factor of 35 percent that Sandy would hook inland and hit the USA. 4 days later that number rose to 70 percent. It's not the value but the trend, and we should be honest with viewers & readers on the days when uncertainty is extra-high.

My Confidence Factor is 80 percent Thanksgiving Day will be cloudy but mild; highs near 50 with a sprinkle or two. A colder front sails into town "Black Friday", with highs stuck in the 30s and a numbing breeze. We thaw out next weekend, but a surge of cold air pushing into the west coast may twist upper air jet stream winds to the southwest by late November, which may finally pump enough moisture north for some significant rain or snow.

Below is a revised winter outlook from NOAA. They admit their Confidence Factor is low.

It's still anyone's guess.

Revised Winter Outlook (Don't Hold Your Breath). NOAA's Climate Prediction Center has tweaked the November thru January forecast for the USA, calling for milder than average over the Southwest and Southern Plains with a 30-40% risk of colder than normal conditions across the eastern Dakotas, Minnesota and northern Wisconsin. This is based on a fading El Nino signal in the Pacific, and a negative phase of the NAO, the North Atlantic Oscillation, which may keep prevailing jet stream winds howling from the northwest much of the winter. But CPC admits that this is a very difficult forecast, I get the sense that confidence levels are low. I'm not convinced we're going to wind up with a colder than normal winter, at least not yet. Maps above: CPC and Ham Weather.

Mild Into Thanksgiving. The latest ECWMF (European) model shows highs at or above 50 almost every day into Thursday, followed by a colder smack in time for "Black Friday" shopping. A good excuse to stay home? No, that won't work. Remarkably, no precipitation of any flavor is in sight. The drought drags on. High temperatures above (red) in Celsius.

Weather Story. If the sun stays out much of today (quite possible) we stand a good chance of seeing 60 F. in the Twin Cities, about 20 degrees warmer than average. Boating and golfing on the 18th day of November? Why not? We cool off a bit by Tuesday, but temperatures rebound midweek - Thanksgiving Day highs near 50 before colder air arrives in time for Friday power-shopping. Graphic above courtesy of the Twin Cities NWS.

Total Snowfall By Midday Sunday. Snowmobiles and cross country skis will collect dust for at least another week, probably longer, I fear. The GFS model keeps the most significant snow just north of the U.S. Canadian border thru next weekend; some 12-24" amounts for the Cascade Range of the Pacific Northwest - a litlte lake effect snow kicking in near Cleveland and Buffalo behind Friday's cold shot. But for the most part: winter takes the week off, nationwide.

October: 5th Warmest On Record. Details from NOAA's Environmental Visualization Laboratory: "Recently released analysis by NOAA scientists at the National Climatic Data Center reveals that October 2012 was the 5th warmest on record, dating back to 1880. This image, using data from NCDC’s Global Historical Climatology Network shows areas of warmer (red) and cooler (blue) than normal temperatures. While extreme warmth dominated the high latitudes, higher-than-average monthly temperatures were observed across much of Europe, western and far eastern Asia, northeastern and southwestern North America, central South America, northern Africa, and most of Australia. Meanwhile, much of northwestern and central North America, central Asia, parts of western and northern Europe, and southern Africa were notably below average...."

Time Warp. NOAA CPC's 6-10 day temperature outlook keeps most of America warmer than average thru the end of next week, much warmer for the Southwest, but cooler than average from Florida to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Map: Ham Weather.

A Stubborn Drought. 100% of Minnesota is now classified as "abnormally dry", over 43% of the state in a severe drought, including most of the Twin Cities metro. Extreme drought covers most of southwestern Minnesota, extending into St. Cloud. The drought signal is pervasive, and will probably spill over into the first half of winter. Details from NOAA's U.S. Drought Monitor.

Leonid Meteor Shower Peaks. NASA has more information on the Leonids, which peak late tonight: "This year's Leonids meteor shower peaks on Nov. 17 at 4:30 AM Eastern Time. If forecasters are correct, the shower should produce a mild but pretty sprinkling during the night of the 16th/morning of the 17th. The moon will be a waxing crescent setting before midnight, clearing the way for some unobstructed Leonid viewing. "We're predicting a normal year of 15 to 20 meteors per hour" says Bill Cooke of the Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. Leonids are bits of debris from Comet Tempel-Tuttle. Every 33 years the comet visits the inner solar system and leaves a stream of dusty debris in its wake. Many of these streams have drifted across the November portion of Earth's orbit. Whenever our planet hits one, meteors appear to be flying out of the constellation Leo. For best meteor viewing Cooke suggests going to a location away from city lights, dressing warmly, and lie flat on your back and look straight up. No special viewing equipment needed -- just your eyes. The Leonids occur each year in mid-November."

Aurora Watch. Thanks to Andrea Clarke in Saskatchewan for passing this along. The Northern Lights have been very visible (and vivid) in recent nights - worth a look in the coming nights.

Billions Spent On Flood Barriers Now Might Save New York City Later. I'm not sure they can build a flood barrier big enough to contain a surging Atlantic Ocean, but possibly Manhattan. It will cost tens (hundreds?) of billions of dollars to build walls around major coastal cities. Here's a clip from a Bloomberg News story at "Could a surge-protection barrier have saved New York City from much of the flood ravages of superstorm Sandy? Malcolm Bowman and other hydrologists are convinced it could have. Bowman, an oceanographer who has spent much of a 40-year career warily watching the tidal flows in and around New York Harbor, recalls being on the construction site of Manhattan's South Ferry subway station a few years ago. "It was just a concrete box underground then," said Bowman,, then an observer filming a documentary. He looked up a long stairway leading to blue sky and asked a construction official, "Would you mind telling us how far above sea level is the entrance there at street level?" Eleven feet, the official said — an elevation designed withstand possible floods from a storm that occurs once in 100 years. "I said, 'That sounds awfully low to me and, by the way, that storm could come next week,' " said Bowman, a professor at the Marine Sciences Research Center of State University of New York at Stony Brook, Long Island..."

Graphic credit above: "A rendering of a storm barrier with a drawbridge on Arthur Kill, intended to protect the Staten Island borough of New York in a Category 3 hurricane, in an undated handout photo. Because of the recent effects of Hurricane Sandy hitting the area, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said elected officials have a responsibility to consider new and innovative plans to prevent similar damage in the future." (CDM Smith, Inc. via The New York Times)

Contributions For Sandy Victims. Kudos to KARE-11 and any and all MInnesotans who contributed to a (big) shipment of supplies, heading from MSP to New Jersey, in the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy, which produced the lowest air pressure ever observed for portions of the northeast on October 29. It will take months, possibly years for coastal towns to return to some sense of normalcy.

Sandy Shook U.S. Like An Earthquake. How severe was Sandy? Powerful enough to physically shake the ground many hundreds of miles away. Here's an excerpt of an amazing article and animation at Our Amazing Planet: "Hurricane Sandy pummeled the United States from Florida to Wisconsin, and its fierce winds caused a vast swath of ground to shake, a new earthquake-monitoring animation shows. The visualization shows seismic stations lit up as the storm approached Florida on Oct. 26. The earthquake monitors detected rolling seismic waves caused by Sandy's fierce winds out at sea. The earthquake-monitoring network always "hears" a continuous hum of background noise generated in the ocean, called microseism, said Alex Hutko, a seismologist at the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) in Seattle, and creator of the Hurricane Sandy animation..."

New York Will Demolish Hundreds Of Storm-Hit Homes. The New York Times has the story; here's an excerpt: "New York City is moving to demolish hundreds of homes in the neighborhoods hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy, after a grim assessment of the storm-ravaged coast revealed that many structures were so damaged they pose a danger to public safety and other buildings nearby. About 200 homes will be bulldozed in the coming days, almost all of them one- and two-family houses on Staten Island, in Queens and Brooklyn. That is in addition to 200 houses that are already partially or completely burned down, washed away or otherwise damaged; those sites will also be cleared..."

Graphic Credit Above: Mapping Hurricane Sandy's Deadly Toll: From the NY Times: "At last count, officials were attributing more than 100 deaths to Hurricane Sandy. Some patterns emerged in mapping the deaths in the region. Elderly residents were hit especially hard, with close to half of the people who died age 65 or older. In New York City, the majority of deaths occurred in Queens and on Staten Island, and most people perished at the height of the storm, drowned by the surge."

An Economic Lesson From Hurricane Katrina. I found this story from Doug Short at Business Insider to be an insightful look at the impact of major hurricanes on the U.S. economy: "In studying the data for my latest Big Four Economic Indicators update, I wondered how much impact Hurricane Sandy might have had on the economy in October and what to expect in the months ahead. I thought it woudl be interesting to take a close look at the behavior of the Big Four in the months before and after Hurricane Katrina hit the coast in August 2005. Here is a chart and table similar to the one I maintain for the current Big Four Data...."
In studying the data for my latest Big Four Economic Indicators update, I wondered how much impact Hurricane Sandy might have had on the economy in October and what to expect in the months ahead. I thought it would be interesting to take a close look at the behavior of the Big Four in the months before and after Hurricane Katrina hit the coast in August 2005.
Here is a chart and table similar to the one I maintain for the current Big Four data. The chart illustrates the growth of the four indicators from January 2005 to June 2007. The table below shows the month-over-month percent change and the average of the four for the twelve months of 2005.

Read more:
Hurricane Sandy Brings Birds From Florida, Arctic To New England. What is most impressive about Sandy was the size of the storm, the thousand-mile-wide cone impacted by tropical storm force or stronger winds - winds that swept birds into its circulation. Here's an excerpt of a curious story from CBS Boston: "They’re not supposed to be here, birds from Europe, the arctic and the southern states, blown here by the heavy winds of Superstorm Sandy. There’s the Northern Lapwing from Europe, the Magnificent Frigate Bird from the south and the tiny arctic Dovekie, all pushed by monstrous forces, some trapped in the eye of a hurricane and deposited here in New England. “Any storm that extends from Europe to North America, that’s a huge event and accordingly birds that are anywhere in its path are going to be affected. I’m sure there are a lot of casualties we’ll never know about,” says Wayne Petersen, a bird expert for Mass Audubon..."

Thanksgiving Preview. ECMWF model data (courtesy of WSI) still shows a very good-looking Thursday across most of the USA, little or no rain on the Thanksgiving Day weather map (with the exception of a few light showers near Oklahoma City). After starting out near 50 temperatures will probably fall thru the 40s in the Twin Cities, a definite whiff of wind chill across the Dakotas by Thursday.

Cold "Black Friday" On Tap. The latest ECMWF run (courtesy of WSI) shows an accelerating cold front, a push of Canadian air enveloping the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes by Friday, with highs in the 30s and wind chills dipping into the 20s. If you plan on standing in line for that have-to-have holiday gift later this week, make sure you're ready for a shot of winter.

Barlow and Wellstone Create New Mental Health Initiative. I've been impressed with KSTP-TV meteorologist Ken Barlow's courage in coming forward with his bipolar condition - he's already helped countless Minnesotans and he's just getting started.  I want to support him any way I can going forward. Here's an excerpt of a story at  "Ken Barlow and David Wellstone are teaming up to create the Wellstone-Barlow Mental Health Initiative. The two met at the National Alliance on Mental Illness walk in September, where Barlow, a KSTP-TV meteorologist, revealed he had bipolar disorder. Wellstone -- a passionate advocate for mental health issues -- was at the event to speak about mental health parity. "I never met Ken until the NAMI walk where he told his story about bipolar," said Wellstone, who suffered from post traumatic stress disorder and depression following the plane crash 10 years ago that killed seven people including his father, Sen. Paul Wellstone, mother, Sheila, and sister Marcia. "I worked pretty hard on the mental health parity bill, so I wanted to launch an organization that continued to work to bring collaboration together for policy issues...."

"Indoor Clouds". Here's an excerpt of a fascinating post (and experiment) at "Dutch artist Berndnaut Smilde has developed a way to create clouds indoors by carefully regulating the space’s humidity, temperature and light. This intersection of science and art was recently named one of TIME magazine’s “Best Inventions of the Year 2012.” The fluffy white clouds are summoned up temporarily using a fog machine, creating a surreal experience in the middle of a room. Smilde has created his clouds inside different types of locations, ranging from corridors and hallways, to bedrooms and common spaces..."

The U.S Interior On Instagram. Check out some remarkable photos via, including the pic above from Arches National Park in Utah.

Analyst Predicts Apple TV Set Is "Imminent". Personally, I'm not so convinced, unless Apple has been able to pull off incredible secrecy and stealth with this long-rumored invention. has more details: "Apple's TV set just won't go away. For a couple of years, its rumored existence has been a favorite subject of analysts and tech blogs. Just as we thought iTV Fever had died down, another analyst has chimed in, predicting that the its release is "imminent." James Kisner, an investment analyst with Jefferies, thinks the time is now for the Apple television. He says that a cable company is investigating how much extra bandwidth it would need to handle the Apple TV set: "Our discussions with industry contacts suggest that at least one major N. American MSO (Multi system operator) is working to estimate how much additional capacity may be needed for a new Apple device on their broadband data network. We believe this potentially suggests an imminent launch of the Apple TV …"

The Future Of Selling. I'm involved in sales for my family of companies, and I found a recent article at interesting; here's an excerpt: "...Since the future of selling is fairly important aspect of the business world, I thought it might be useful to provide a quick summary of some of the ideas that Howard and I developed in the reports:

1. The Web will make salespeople MORE important.

Conventional wisdom says that the ability of customer to research products and buy them online should make salespeople less important. It turns out that the opposite is the case, and companies are hiring more salespeople than ever. However, customers expect much more of the salespeople who contact and work with them. Customers now expect salespeople to have a expert's view of the customer's business, act as a manager of some crucial part of the customer's business, and be effective at protecting the customer's interests within the vendor organization..."

Mellow Front. With a November like this who needs October? I'm not complaining. Under a partly sunny highs Saturday highs ranged from 48 at Alexandria to 51 St. Cloud, and 53 in the Twin Cities (57 at Eden Prairie). The mercury brushed 60 over west central Minnesota, more than 20 F. warmer than average. Wow.

Just Horsing Around. Saturday was a fine day for a walk, or a bike ride, or taking your favorite horse out for a spin: "Lillia is a Friesen, ridden by Jan Anderson at Lebanon Hills Regional Park." Photo: Sharon Bertrand.

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

TODAY: Getting sunnier, hints of Indian Summer! Winds: S 15. High: near 60

SUNDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy, still milder than average. Low: 44

MONDAY: Patchy clouds, passing sprinkle? High: 60

TUESDAY: More sun, turning a bit cooler. Low: 38. High: near 50

WEDNESDAY: Take the day off. Weather more typical of late September! Low: 41. High: 55-60 F.

THANKSGIVING DAY: Clouds increase. Risk of turkey. Low: 45. High: 51 (falling thru the 40s by afternoon).

FRIDAY: Sunny and colder "Black Friday". Wind chill: 20. Low: 27. High: 36

SATURDAY: Bright sun, not as numb. Low: 25. High: near 40

Climate Stories....

Gas Industry Attacks Scientists After Research Finds Triple The Normal Levels of Methane At Australian Gas Fields. I'm just as pumped up as most people about the promise of natural gas extracted via "fracking" - it's much cleaner than burning coal. But if wells aren't plugged up properly they can leak methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than CO2. Here's an excerpt of an article at "LEVELS of the potent greenhouse gas methane have been recorded at more than three times their normal background levels at coal seam gas fields in Australia, raising questions about the true climate change impact of the booming industry. The findings, which have been submitted both for peer review and to the Federal Department of Climate Change, also raise doubts about how much the export-driven coal seam gas (CSG) industry should pay under the country's carbon price laws. Southern Cross University (SCU) researchers Dr Isaac Santos and Dr Damien Maher used a hi-tech measuring device attached to a vehicle to compare levels of methane in the air at different locations in southern Queensland and northern New South Wales. The gas industry was quick to attack their findings and the scientists themselves..."

Has Obama Turned A Corner On Climate Change? The story from The Christian Science Monitor; here's an excerpt: "...If the message is somehow we’re going to ignore jobs and growth simply to address climate change, I don’t think anybody’s going to go for that," Obama said. "I won’t go for that." Obama dismissed the inverse relationship some ascribe to environmentalism and job growth. The president instead endorsed an agenda that both advances economic growth while making "a serious dent in climate change." In what is likely an allusion to hurricane Sandy, Obama emphasized the importance of long-term, proactive investments in infrastructure as a means of reducing the reconstruction costs incurred by extreme weather events..."

Photo credit: "President Obama leaves the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, following his first news conference after his reelection. Mr. Obama addressed the subject of climate change at some length in response to a reporter's question." Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Be Persuasive. Be Brave. Be Arrested (if necessary). Think climate change can't effect your investment portfolio? Think again. Here's a clip of a thought-provoking paper and warning at "I have yet to meet a climate scientist who does not believe that global warming is a worse problem than they thought a few years ago. The seriousness of this change is not appreciated by politicians and the public. The scientific world carefully measures the speed with which we approach the cliff and will, no doubt, carefully measure our rate of fall. But it is not doing enough to stop it. I am a specialist in investment bubbles, not climate science. But the effects of climate change can only exacerbate the ecological trouble I see reflected in the financial markets — soaring commodity prices and impending shortages..."

America's Carbon Compromise. Here's an excerpt of a new paper at Nature: "This week, a reinvigorated Barack Obama returned to the White House knowing that he was poised on the edge of a fiscal cliff. Rather than relishing his victory last week, Obama must immediately set about crafting a compromise on deficit reduction with congressional leaders. The stakes could hardly be higher — for science, for US citizens and, indeed, for the world. In the event of failure, a budgetary time-bomb of tax increases and sweeping budget cuts will detonate on 2 January. As well as resulting in indiscriminate cuts to funds for scientific research and many other areas, it could knock the United States back into recession and deliver yet another blow to an already fragile global economy..." Image: Clean Technica.

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