Friday, November 23, 2012

Risk of a Thaw (50s the first week of December?)

27 F. high in the Twin Cities Friday; coldest day of the winter season so far.

37 F. average high for November 23.

52 F. high on November 23, 2011.
.5" snow fell yesterday at Twin Cities International Airport.

Living With Risk

We all know that risk is part of life. Any time you grill, cross the street or board a plane you're living with manageable, acceptable levels of risk.

Living by a river, building a home in Tulsa with no basement, buying a condo on the beach within 10 feet of sea level? A whole new level of risk.

Consider: drinking and driving doesn't mean a DUI or fatal accident is guaranteed. But the risk of both go up exponentially.

A warmer ocean and rising sea level didn't spawn Sandy, but it did make the storm worse; the atmospheric equivalent of tossing an extra log on the fire.

And for all the grief we get for enduring Minnesota winters remind your Florida friends that those annoying cold fronts innoculate us from the worst storms on Earth.

Your odds of being in a billion dollar storm are 3-4 times higher from Texas to Florida to the Carolinas. Details below.

Winds ease up today - sunny, dry weather into early December. Just about the time I'm ready to throw in the towel on Indian Summer, model guidance makes me do a double-take. The ECMWF shows another warm bubble of high pressure expanding north next weekend.

We'll see more 50s, a 1 in 3 shot at 60.

In early December?

Relative Weather Risk. 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.

Record Warmth. According to NOAA there were 229 record events on Thursday, most of them record highs over the Plains, Upper Midwest and Great Lakes. Map: Ham Weather.

Record Highs on Thanksgiving Day

Pellston, MI                        68
Sault Ste Marie, MI         65
Traverse City, MI              65
Gaylord, MI                        63
Chicago, IL                       63 (third warmest Thanksgiving day on record)
Wausau, WI                        62(tie)
Alpena, MI                          61
Green Bay, WI                   61
Houghton Lake, MI         60
Minneapolis                       60
Rhinelander, WI               59
Marquette, MI                  58
Duluth, MN                        52(tie)

* my thanks to Julie Gaddy at Earth Networks for sharing this information. Interactive map above: Ham Weather.

** photo above courtesy of Greg Berman, from Lyons, Colorado.

Weekend Thaw, Chilly Monday, Then Slow Warming Trend. Friday was about as cold as it will get looking out the next 12 days or so, although Monday may come close. After recovering to near 32 today and low to mid 30s Sunday the next clipper pulls a reinforcing surge of chilly air into Minnesota Monday. Graphic: Iowa State.

More Hints Of Indian Summer (Lite). Not sure we'll see 60 again, but can I interest you in 50s? The ECMWF map above is valid next Saturday evening, showing another ridge of high pressure expanding northward across the Plains. In fact we'll probably see a few days above 50 the first week of December. Map above: WSI.

December...Rain? The GFS forecast for a week from Tuesday (December 4) shows the "540 line", the approximate rain/snow line, slicing across the Dakotas - the atmosphere potentially mild enough for rain. On December 4. The way this year is going nothing much surprises me anymore.

Thanksgiving Climatology. Here's an excerpt from the always-informative WeatherTalk blog from Dr. Mark Seeley: "...The mild temperatures of the recent holiday were a significant anomaly. Many locations saw afternoon highs in the 50s F. For the Twin Cities it was only the 11th time in past 141 years that Thanksgiving Day has brought a temperature of 50 degrees F or greater. It is interesting to note that 5 of those years have come since 1998. For southern Minnesota communities it was another dry Thanksgiving which is typical historically, as over 70 percent of the time the holiday brings a trace or no precipitation...."

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...."

Instant Winter. Was it really 60 on Thanksgiving Day (before the arctic front arrived?) Good grief. In spite of a little PM sunshine highs were stuck in the teens and 20s, ranging from 19 at Alexandria to 25 St. Cloud (where 1.4" snow fell) to 27 in the Twin Cities.

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

TODAY: Sun fades, less wind. Better. Winds: S 10. High: 33

SATURDAY NIGHT: Patchy clouds, not as cold as recent nights. Low: 25

SUNDAY: Cool sun, no travel headaches getting home. High: 35

MONDAY: Next clipper, turning cooler under a mostly-blue sky. Low: 15. High: 27

TUESDAY: Patchy clouds. Still quiet. Low: 14. High: 31

WEDNESDAY: Blue sky, too dry out there. Low: 18. High: 34

THURSDAY: Plenty of sun, a bit milder. Low: 24. High: 42

FRIDAY: Clouds increase. No weather-drama expected. Low: 27. High: 39

* upper 40s are possible a week from today; long range guidance hinting at a few 50-degree highs the first week of December.

Climate Stories....

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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