Friday, November 16, 2012

Quiet & Mild Into "Black Friday" (7 month boating season this Minnesota?)

7 F. low at Hibbing Friday morning.
44 F. high in the Twin Cities Friday.
41 F. average high for November 15.
39 F. high on November 15, 2011.
 Weather History for November 16 (courtesy of the Twin Cities NWS):

1996: Six inches of snow fell in Douglas, Pope, and Stevens Counties.

1835: Strange night at Ft. Snelling. Northern lights seen over prairie fires
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.

An Extended (Weather) Honeymoon

Drought is still Minnesota's number one weather story, the Northern Lights have been visible just to our north in recent nights, and the latest Nor'easter will spare the east coast next week. But the top weather story: remarkably mild and dry weather will linger across much of the USA into next week. 

Mother Nature will NOT complicate your Thanksgiving travel plans this year.

Foul weather often comes in cycles and waves. After getting off to a violent start out east in early November, the core of the jet stream will lift north, keeping bitter air bottled up over Canada, leaving us with a streak of 50s. In fact model guidance is hinting at highs near 60 Sunday, again Wednesday of next week.

A fleeting shower Monday gives way a dry rest of the week. A more substantial storm is brewing the last few days of November, but it's too early for specifics.

After peaking near 50 Thanksgiving Day temperatures drop into the 30s and 40s for "Black Friday" power-shopping, but the sun should be out.

We just had a 7 month boating season in Minnesota, a symptom of what may be the warmest year in recorded history. I saw a boat on the lake yesterday. In mid November?

Welcome to the new normal.

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 Tonight. 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 tonight, as skies should be clear to partly cloudy.

And Then There Were Four. The local NWS office now counts 4 small (EF-0) tornadoes last Saturday, as a vigorous cold front plowed across the state. Doppler radar doesn't work nearly as well on small, brief tornadoes that spin up along a squall line - a very different scenario from classic (large) supercell thunderstorms, the isolated cells that spawn big tornadoes well in advance of the cold front during spring and summer. Here's more from the NWS: " There were two tornadoes in this region (map) that occurred Saturday night, November 10th. One was near Interstate 494 and Highway 13. The other tornado occurred near Lilydale, between Wachlter and Butler Ave, or paralleling Highway 13. Two areas of straight line wind damage occurred from near Dodd Road and Highway 110, northeast to Robert Street and Sidney Street; and along Highway 13, between Mendota and Lilydale.   Both of the tornadoes had a path length of approximately one-half mile."

Misplaced Priorities. Maybe it's just me, but the media's sudden obsession with "the Petreus affair" seems way off-base, considering the carnage, heartache and loss on the east coast in the wake of Sandy. This web site sums up the hypocrisy of leading with lurid tales of sex at high levels, when hundreds of thousands of Americans are trying to put their lives back together again. It's worth a look.

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..."

Surging Storms: Can The US Adapt In Time To Avert Coastal Damage. I would hazard a guess that the short answer is an emphatic no. We're allowing people to build homes in high-risk coastal areas, and rebuild after major storms like Sandy on a consistent basis. Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. Mandatory federal insurance is required for people living close to sea level, and taxpayers indirectly contribute to this ongoing treadmill of rebuilding. It's the third rail of politics - nobody wants to say it out loud, but too many people are building in areas prone to repeated storm surges from hurricanes and Nor'easters. Private insurance companies won't touch these policies - and for good reason. Here's an excerpt of an article at The Christian Science Monitor: "...Indeed, damage from tropical systems such as Sandy are projected to multiply by the end of the century as the population grows and people put more assets in harm's way. That's true whether or not global warming, which many researchers say is feeding extreme-weather events, is factored in. Tropical-cyclone damage now runs about $26 billion a year globally, according to a study published in January in the journal Nature Climate Change. By 2100, increases in population and wealth as economies grow could push that number to $56 billion a year, assuming little or no effort to adapt to the hazard..."

Photo credit above: "Houses in Bayhead, N.J., showed effects of Sandy Nov. 2. Rising populations and seas, and more severe weather, may mean $100 billion a year in global damage by 2100." Tim Larsen/New Jersey Governor’s Office/Reuters.

We Survived Hurricane Sandy. Now What? Here's a clip from a first-person account of Sandy at Huffington Post: "I live on the Texas Gulf Coast. I have lived through a lot of hurricanes and tropical storms. Yet last month, I flew into New York City for a hurricane. Why? Following my recent book launch, I had a lot of important media events, including a potentially game-changing TEDx talk, scheduled starting on October 30. This SQ work is my passion and mission. I didn't want to miss these events because of cancelled flights. So I left on the second-to-last flight out of Houston to Newark, and arrived at my hotel hoping that Sandy would be more hype than horror. As a storm veteran, I brought a flashlight, extra batteries, boxes of granola bars, and other food with me. I verified that the hotel had a backup generator just in case. I confirmed we were not in the Zone A evacuation area. I stocked up on some bottled water, filled the tub, and hunkered down. Over the next few days, the local news crew became my primary companions..."

Lake Effect Snow From Space. The high-resolution ("MODIS") satellite from NASA boasts resolutions as good as 250 meters. Here's an excerpt from a recent NOAA post describing favorable conditions for lake effect snow bands: "Snowfall reports from Cooperative Observers, Spotters, and Social Media indicated anywhere from 2-6 inches of snow fell over Northwest Upper Michigan as of the morning of 11/13. In addition, locations east of Munising near Lake Superior received up to 3 inches of snow (seen through the clouds from Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore to Newberry). The widespread area of Lake Effect Snow highlights the areas that are favored by West to Northwest winds, as the snow quickly diminished after passing over the Huron Mountains (produced just a light dusting in Marquette). This was due to the combination of downslope wind off the higher terrain and the snow showers being removed from the influence of Lake Superior.  This lack of snow continued to the east of Marquette until the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, where the West-Northwest winds allowed a long enough residence time over Lake Superior to produce lake effect snow. To see a listing of snowfall reports from this lake effect snow, click here."

Thanksgiving Preview. ECMWF model data (courtesy of WSI) shows unusually mild, dry weather across most of the USA next Thursday; cold air temporarily locked to the north over Canada. A few showers are possible from northern California to Boise, Idaho - otherwise dry weather should be the rule. Thursday's weather map looks like something out of early or mid October. Map above: WSI.

"Quiet Black Friday". Good news for power-shoppers. We expect dry weather over the Upper Midwest, the only chance of a few (rain) showers near Cleveland, Detroit and Buffalo. Heavy, windswept rain lashes the Pacific Northwest, foul weather likely from Seattle to Portland. Otherwise pretty quiet for late November. Model data: WSI.

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..."

San Diego Dream. What a photo - thanks to Jim Grant and WeatherNation TV for sharing this beach pic from San Diego - the city with the best yearround climate in the USA. Today that wasn't hard to believe.

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 …"

A Cooler Front. Friday was about as cool as it's going to get looking out beyond a week; under blue sky with a whiff of Canada in the air highs ranged from 38 at Duluth and Hibbing to 42 St. Cloud, 44 Twin Cities and 47 at Rochester.

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

TODAY: Partly sunny, breezy. Winds: S 10-20. High: 55

SATURDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy, not as chilly. Low: 40

SUNDAY: More clouds than sun, milder. High: 58

MONDAY: Patchy clouds, fleeting shower? Low: 40. High: 57

TUESDAY: Lot's of sun, still pleasant. Low: 36. High: near 50

WEDNESDAY: Blue sky, touch of Indian Summer. Low: 42. High: 61

THANKSGIVING DAY: Cooler, clouds slowly increase. Low: 38. High: 50 

"BLACK FRIDAY": Sunny and brisk. Risk of shopping. Low: 30. High: 42

* enjoy the mild, quiet weather. Long-range guidance (ECMWF) suggests a return of 20s and 30s after Monday, November 26.

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.

Obama Says He Will Elevate National Climate Change "Conversation". Here's an excerpt from a story at Climate Science Watch: "A New York Times reporter asked President Obama at his White House news conference today: "What specifically do you plan to do in a second term to tackle the issue of climate change?" The President's reply included this: "What I'm going to be doing over the next several weeks, next several months, is having a conversation, a wide-ranging conversation with scientists, engineers, and elected officials to find out what can -- what more can we do to make a short-term progress in reducing carbons, and then working through an education process that I think is necessary -- a discussion, a conversation across the country about what realistically can we do long term to make sure that this is not something we're passing on to future generations that's going to be very expensive and very painful to deal with."

"Time To Do Something About The Weather". Here's an excerpt of a timely Op-Ed at Milwaukee's Journal Sentinel: "There was precious little discussion of climate change during the presidential campaign and most other political races this year. That may strike some as a little surprising, given the weather that's been plaguing much of the nation over the past couple of years, which has cost billions of dollars of damage and taken hundreds of lives. Maybe politicians think that climate change has become the new third rail of politics (it used to be Social Security, but these days everyone's talking about Social Security), but on this issue they're way behind everyone else. They need to catch up and start making some real proposals on how to mitigate both the trend and the effects - and they need to start doing so as soon as new members are seated in Congress and President Barack Obama renews his oath in January. The people are paying attention. According to a national survey released Tuesday, a large majority of Americans (77%) say global warming should be a "very high," "high" or "medium" priority for the president and Congress..."

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