Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Drying Out For Trick-or-Treaters (climate change may threaten 1/3rd of global GDP)

49 F. high Wednesday in the Twin Cities.
51 F. average high on October 30.
50 F. high on October 30, 2012.

.09" rain fell at MSP International as of 7pm yesterday.

Saturday night: don't forget to "fall back" 1 hour as we go back to standard time.

No accumulating snow for MSP and suburbs for at least the next 8-9 days.

"Each year Alaska is losing about 50 cubic kilometers of ice....That's (the equivalent of) about three full Great Salt Lakes draining out of these mountains ever single year." - Evan Burgess, glaciology expert. Links to the full report at below. Image above: NOAA News.

September 2013 tied with September 2005 for warmest on record, worldwide (land and ocean). Source: NASA.

Halloween Horrors

What keeps me up at night? The specter of another historic & humbling storm, similar to the 1991 Halloween Superstorm: 28.4 inches of snow over 3 days & hip-deep drifts, followed by the earliest subzero low ever recorded at MSP.

There was so much snow that I couldn't get my Saab out of the garage. The Chief Engineer at KARE-11 had to bring his Suburban (with a plow on the front) to rescue me. Not good when the weatherguy can't get to the station to talk about the weather.

What happened? A massive storm stalled off the coast of New England, forcing Minnesota's storm to stall out over Lake Superior, prolonging the snow. The models didn't catch this. Yes, when weather stalls bad things can happen.

My take-away? The forecast is close much of the time, but there will be events that stop us in our tracks. Expect more "I've never seen THAT before!" moments.

The bulk of the rain stayed south/east of Minnesota; we dry out today with 40s for Trick or Treating.
A cool & quiet weekend gives way to more rain Monday & Tuesday. The risk of wet snow has diminished, in fact I see 40s & 50s into mid-November.

Whoa. Look at the time. Excuse me while I change into my Miley Cyrus costume.

* image above courtesy of The Star Tribune.

How Likely Are Severe T-storm Outbreaks On Halloween? We asked the experts at NOAA's SPC, the Storm Prediction Center. Here was their response: "Greg Carbin forwarded your request to me regarding Halloween severe events. The short answer is that, while some severe thunderstorm activity is not uncommon on Halloween, there have not been any major outbreaks in the record since 1950. From 1950-2012 (63 years), there has been at least 1 severe report (tornado, wind gusts > 50 knots, or severe hail) in 27 of those years, though only one year (1992) has seen 100 or more total reports on Halloween. Over the same period, there has been at least one tornado report in 14 of those years, though only one year (2000) with 10 or more tornadoes. There have been 2 killer tornadoes on Halloween since 1950 (each resulting in 1 fatality): one in Florida (Lee County) in 1960, and one in Kansas (Osage County) in 1984. Hopefully this answers your question. Let us know if you have any questions or need anything else."

Andy Dean, Techniques Development Meteorologist
NOAA/NWS/Storm Prediction Center, Norman, OK.

Halloween Severe Risk. Unusual, but hardly unprecedented, an outbreak of severe storms is possible later today from the Ohio Valley into Mississippi River Valley; large hail and straight-line winds the greatest risk, but a few isolated tornadoes can't be ruled out. Source: NOAA SPC and Ham Weather.

54 Confirmed U.S. Tornadoes On Halloween Day Since 1950. Here's a good recap of tornadoes on October 31, between 1950 and 2012, courtesy of
Graphic credit above: "Halloween tornado data via the Storm Prediction Center." (Map by Kathryn Prociv).

Halloween Blizzard Of 1991. The Minnesota Climatology Working Group has a good summary of the storm that humbled meteorologists between October 31 and November 3, 1991, leaving behind 20-30+" of snow across much of eastern Minnesota with 4-5 foot drifts reported. Here's a clip: "...As Halloween dawned back in 1991, some wintery weather was anticipated but no one was expecting a blizzard. The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Watch at 4:00 am on the 31st with a potential of a foot of snow. The first inkling that the forecast underprojected snowfall totals came when precipitation started falling as snow at about 11:30am in the Twin Cities, much earlier than anticipated. With the realization that the precipitation would be snow, not rain, a Winter Storm Warning was issued during the day by the National Weather Service in the Twin Cities and forecasters realized there was a potential for a lot of snow. As the afternoon faded into evening a surreal scene unfolded with kids attempting to trick or treat wearing coats and boots and pumpkins becoming covered with a snowy blanket. 8.2 inches of snow fell by midnight on the 31st at the Twin Cities International Airport, the most for the entire month of October on record for the Twin Cities..."

A Record-Smashing Storm. Here is a list of the records that were shattered with this historic snowfall in 1991. 28.4" of snow buried the Twin Cities, followed by the earliest subzero low on record at MSP (-3F on November 4, 1991). I still get chills thinking about this storm. Source: Minnesota Climatology Working Group.

Nice Hat Paul. OK. I look like I'm 17 in this clip from 1991, but Tom Oszman at has done a superb job of editing together all the local TV weathercasts and newscasts from the Halloween Superstorm into one video. If nothing else it's worth seeing how young we all looked back then. That, and the waist-deep drifts and horizontal snow in KARE-11's Backyard too.

Don't Hold Your Breath. OK. This is a test. This is only a test, an experiment. I'm genuinely interested to see if NOAA NCEP's CFS (Climate Forecast System) model has any skill going out 45 days, perhaps to capture the trends, if not specifics. Yes, I'm the same guy who told you that any weather forecast beyond 10 days is more of a horoscope. My expectations are (very) low, but our ace model-guru whipped this up yesterday, I did a double-take, and thought, in the spirit of full disclosure, I should share it with you. The model seems highly erratic after watching a few runs, so my confidence level is EXCEPTIONALLY low. It shows a mostly snow-free November for MSP, but a potentially plowable snow the first few days of December. The best chance of cold blasts: November 19-24, again December 4-9. Circle your calendars. Will we have 6" on the ground around December 3? I seriously doubt it, but just in case, I want to cover Source: Ham Weather.

Mostly Snow-Free Start To November. Here is the 12km NAM solution showing total snow accumulation into Saturday night, enough to shovel and plow over the Rockies, maybe an inch for upstate New York, but virtually snow-free east of the Mississippi. Source: NOAA and Ham Weather.

Insert Yawn Here. For the record I'm just fine with quiet weather spilling over into the first 2 weeks of November. It just means I may be busier the latter half of November and December. ECMWF data shows highs mostly in the 40s into late next week, maybe a 50-degree high or two early next week. Another southern storm pushes rain back into Minnesota Monday and Tuesday. Source: Weatherspark.

A Thunderous Halloween. 4km NAM model data shows a significant storm sloshing across the Midwest into the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley, enough instability and warm, moist Gulf air for strong to severe T-storms from Indianapolis and Louisville to Memphis and New Orleans. Source: NOAA and Ham Weather.

The Myriad Impacts Of Sandy Along The East Coast. Climate Central has a very effective interactive display that allows you to see the level of destruction at various points along the Eastern Seaboard: "Sandy hit the Northeast the hardest, but the storm's impacts stretched from North Carolina to the Great Lakes. Roll over the markers above to see the diverse weather the storm brought to the region."

One Year After Sandy, Many Coastlines Are Still Vulnerable To Storm Surges (Infographic). Huffington Post has an effective explainer and infographic focused on storm surge risk. Intensity (and diameter) of the storm, coupled with bathymetric data, the slope of the land just offshore, is a better predictor of storm surge height than hurricane wind speed (or category). Here's an excerpt: "Are Baltimore and Biloxi the next New York City and Jersey Shore? Maybe. A new report from Risk Management Solutions outlines the threats faced by low-lying coastal cities in an age where superstorms may become the new normal. The group analyzed 100-year surge loss for 12 different coastal cities and found that Baltimore, Md. and Biloxi, Miss. were among the most vulnerable cities should another Sandy-like storm strike the U.S., while Miami, Fla. and North Carolina's Outer Banks were actually in a low-risk region, contrary to popular belief..."

Five Things Hurricane Sandy Changed For Good. Here's an excerpt of a good summary from LiveScience:

2. Barrier islands shift
Barrier islands are the long, thin offshore islands that help protect the mainland from a powerful beating by storms. Superstorm Sandy pummeled barrier islands in New York and New Jersey. New York's Fire Island lost more than half of its beach and dune sand. In Mantoloking, N.J. (a borough of Ocean County, N.J.), almost the entire dune vanished from the borough's barrier island. Waves also breached, or cut through, islands in both states. 

3. Flood evacuation zones
Drowning poses the highest risk of death during hurricanes. New evacuation zones in New York City and new storm-surge maps for the Atlantic and Gulf coasts will help save lives in the next storm..."
Photo credit above: "This image shows Hurricane Sandy degris and parts of destroyed houses in Breezy Point on Nov. 12, 2012 in Queens, N.Y." Credit: MISHELLA,

Hurricane Sandy's Toll On Health. Beyond the damage and dislocation, residents of the East Coast in the path of Sandy are still dealing with some of the emotional tolls of this unprecedented storm. Here's an excerpt from CBS News: "...Although some 70 million people, across eight nations, were in the path of the storm, their experiences were very different depending on where they lived, said James Shultz, director of the Center for Disaster & Extreme Event Preparedness (DEEP Center) at the University of Miami School of Medicine. "It wasn't a one-size-fits-all storm; it was a very, very complex set of exposures," Shultz said. However, a Gallup-Healthways poll conducted in January this year provides some idea of the storm's mental-health impact. The poll found that among adults living in the most affected ZIP codes in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, there was a 25 percent increase in diagnoses of depression in the six weeks following the storm. That translates to about 540,000 new diagnoses of depression..."

File photo credit: Alex Brandon, Associated Press.

Over A Trillions Dollars Of U.S. Property At Risk From Storm Surge Flooding? CoreLogic has an exhaustive look at the risk of storm surge flooding from tropical systems. Here's an excerpt of that 44 page (PDF) report: "Based on the 2013 storm surge analysis, the total value of all residential structures in the U.S. that are exposed to damage from hurricane-driven storm surge has reached more than $1.1 trillion. It's important to note that the methadology used for this year's report features enhanced valuation data, which provides greater accuracy. The damage estimation, which takes into consideration worst-case scenario conditions, represents the total value of all homes susceptible to a maximum surge event, and is not meant to suggest that all properties would be affected as a result of one single storm or that the full value of all properties would be lost to storm-surge destruction. There is no likelihood that a single storm, or even a single storm season, would damage or destroy every home in the U.S. located in a designated risk zone..."

Rising Sea Level And Coastal Risk. Of all the potential impacts of a slowly warming atmosphere (and ocean) the one that may ultimately impact the most Americans is rising sea level. As water warms it expands and rises, and storms superimposed on those rising seas will trigger more coastal flooding in the years to come. Sandy was just a shot across the bow. In today's 2:30 Climate Matters segment I take a look at the CoreLogic findings and talk about natural ways to combat rising seas: "In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, WeatherNation Chief Meteorologist looks at projected sea level rise over the next century and who is most at risk for storm surge."

China's Clean Air Drive Likely To Take A Long Time. The New York Times has the story - here's a clip: "...But China’s pollution, while extremely severe, is not unique, and efforts by other countries, like Britain and the United States, to conquer dirty air may hold lessons for China’s future. The Chinese government is working on the problem and recently announced new limits on pollutants along with a promise of increased monitoring. Public awareness has spiked, a necessary step toward ending the crisis. But the overriding message from other nations is a discouraging one: Serious change can take decades, especially when pollution is a byproduct of economic growth. The classic example is London. Persistent pollution problems caused by industrialization culminated in a 1952 disaster known as the Great Smog..."

Photo credit above: "A Chinese man covers his nose and mouth as he walks on the street during a day of heavy pollution in Harbin in northeast China's Heilongjiang province Monday Oct. 21, 2013. Visibility shrank to less than half a football field and small-particle pollution soared to a record 40 times higher than an international safety standard in the northern Chinese city as the region entered its high-smog season." (AP Photo).

Let There Be Light! Thanks To Large Mirrors, Winter Sun Finally Shines On Norwegian Town. And I thought I was sun-starved. The solution: giant mirrors? Huh. Here's an excerpt of a story from AP and The Star Tribune: "Residents of the small Norwegian town of Rjukan have finally seen the light. Tucked in between steep mountains, the town is normally shrouded in shadow for almost six months a year, with residents having to catch a cable car to the top of a nearby precipice to get a fix of midday vitamin D. But on Wednesday faint rays from the winter sun for the first time reached the town's market square, thanks to three 183-square-foot (17-square-meter) mirrors placed on a mountain. Cheering families, some on sun loungers, drinking cocktails and waving Norwegian flags, donned shades as the sun crept from behind a cloud to hit the mirrors and reflect down onto the faces of delighted children below..."

StarChase Tech Lets Police Shoot Fugitive Cars With GPS Tags. Now here's an interesting idea - I'd love to have this for the aggressive drivers who cut me off on 494. has the details: "Police car chases are extremely dangerous, not only for the officers involved, but also for any innocent passers-by whom the feeing car crashes into. The StarChase system, however, is designed to make those chases safer. Instead of pursuing fugitive vehicles, police can just shoot them with GPS tags. At the heart of the system is a compressed-air cannon and a laser sighting system, installed in the front grille of a police car..."

For A Longer Life You Might Try Mowing The Lawn. No time soon, mind you, or your neighbors will stare. Here's a clip from NPR: "We all know we're supposed to exercise daily, but precious few of us do. And it only seems to get harder with age. There's a reason to try harder, though. Tacking more years of good health on to your life may be as simple as mowing the lawn more often and engaging in other everyday physical activities. Researchers in Sweden measured the health of almost 4,000 60-year-olds in the late 1990s. A dozen years later, they checked back in. The people who had been active but not "exercising" at age 60 had a 27 percent lower risk of heart attack and stroke over that time, and a 30 percent lower risk of death..."

Drones Delivering Pizza? Venture Capitalists Wager On It. The military (accidently) brought us everything from GPS to the Internet, why not have a Fed Ex drone drop a package on your front doorstep? Here's a clip from Bloomberg: "Commercial drones will soon be populating U.S. airspace, and venture capitalists like Tim Draper are placing their bets. Draper, an early investor in Hotmail, Skype and Baidu Inc., is now backing DroneDeploy, a startup that’s building software to direct unmanned aircraft on land mapping and the surveillance of agricultural fields. Draper even expects drones to one day bring him dinner. “Drones hold the promise of companies anticipating our every need and delivering without human involvement,” Draper, 55, wrote in an e-mail. “Everything from pizza delivery to personal shopping can be handled by drones...” (Image credit above: CNN).

Now, A Kiss Isn't Just A Kiss. It's waaay too early in the day for this, but here goes, a clip from The New York Times: "...That may be because for these individuals, kissing turns out to be a quick, easy way to sample a partner’s suitability — a subconscious stop-go light. For them, “The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss)” might not be far off the mark. After that first kiss, these types are much more likely than other subjects to change their minds about a potential partner, researchers found. If it’s not in his kiss, forget about him..."

There's Not An App For That: CAC Issues Warning About Avalanche Apps. Wait, you're telling me all those avalanche apps I downloaded don't work properly? Uh oh. Here's a clip from Gizmag: "...The Canadian Avalanche Centre says that avalanche rescue apps can not effectively replace dedicated avalanche beacons. Some people may be tempted to save a couple hundred dollars on an avalanche beacon and opt for one of several apps on the market. The Canadian Avalanche Centre does not recommend using these apps for actual avalanche incidents, however. It assessed three European apps – iSis Intelligent (Mountain) Rescue System, Sn√łg Avalanche Buddy and SnoWhere – before coming to the conclusion that they are unreliable and promote a false sense of security..."

HALLOWEEN: Early shower, then cloudy & dry. Winds: NW 10. High: 49. Trick or Treat temperatures from 45-47F.
THURSDAY NIGHT: Patchy clouds, Zombie Alert still in effect. Low: 40
FRIDAY: Mostly cloudy and cooler. High: 45
SATURDAY: Partly sunny and quiet. Wake-up: 35. High: 46
SUNDAY: Plenty of sun, windy and milder. Wake-up: 32. High: 51
MONDAY: Rain developing PM hours. Wake-up: 46. High: near 50
TUESDAY: Cold rain likely. Wake-up: 41. High: 48
WEDNESDAY: Rain tapers to showers. Wake-up: 38. High: 43

Climate Stories....
Climate Change May Curb Profits From Fossil Fuels, Study Says. Here's an excerpt of a story at Bloomberg: "Fossil-fuel assets such as coal mines and gas wells may lose value if climate change prompts tougher regulations, according to a report from Al Gore and David Blood’s Generation Investment Management. About two-thirds of the fossil fuels still underground must remain there if the planet is to meet a United Nations target of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). That means assets such as coal mines and gas wells may have to reduce production, cutting profits, according to the paper. “It is no longer prudent for investors and asset owners to treat climate change as a peripheral issue,” Blood, co-founder of Generation Investment, said in the statement. “Investors and asset owners should capitalize on the opportunities emerging from the transition to a low-carbon economy. The competitive landscape for fossil fuel-intensive companies is losing its attractiveness at an accelerated rate...”

Climate Change Risk To One-Third Of Global GDP. CNBC has the article; here's the introduction: "Around one-third of the world's economy by 2025 will be based in countries at "high" or "extreme" risk from the economic impact of climate change, according to risk consultancy Maplecroft.

(Read more: The climate change wake-up call for business?)

Thirty-one percent or $44 trillion of output will be based in countries classified as most at risk from climate change in Maplecroft's Climate Change Vulnerability Index, which considered a nation's exposure to extreme weather events over the next 30 years alongside its capacity to cope with the impact..."

Image above: Clean Technica.

Report: Climate Change May Pose Threat To Economic Growth. The key drivers will be not only sea level rise threatening coastal regions, but warmer temperatures + more evaporation stressing existing water supplies, impacting agriculture - along with more extreme storms impacting infrastructure. CNN has the story; here's the intro: "Nearly a third of the world's economic output will come from countries facing "high" to "extreme" risks from the impacts of climate change within 12 years, according to a new report. The Climate Change Vulnerability Index, an annual report produced by UK-based risk analysis firm Maplecroft, found that climate change "may pose a serious obstacle to sustainable economic growth in the world's most commercially important cities." The index ranked the vulnerability of the world's countries, and the 50 cities deemed most economically important, to the impacts of climate change, by evaluating their risk of exposure to extreme climate events, the sensitivity of their populations to that exposure and the adaptive capacity of governments to respond to the challenge..."

Photo credit above: "Most at risk: Bangladesh: Bangladeshis attempt to stay dry above flood waters in the capital, Dhaka. Bangladesh was ranked the country most vulnerable to climate change, and Dhaka the world's most vulnerable city, due to its exposure to threats such as flooding, storm surge, cyclones and landslides, its susceptible population and weak institutional capacity to address the problem."

How You Pay Farmers To Watch Their Crop Shrivel Up And Die. Mother Jones takes a look at the increasingly difficult task of coaxing a bumper crop out of the Earth, as heat and moisture becomes even more unpredictable: "...Interviews with more than a dozen climatologists, agronomists, agro-economists, and agricultural statisticians have generally echoed the USDA's prognosis: after about 30 years, greenhouse gas concentrations will reach critical enough levels to significantly disrupt agriculture. But even the next ten years will probably prove challenging for American farmers, because the weather will be more variable. As Columbia University associate professor of international and public affairs Wolfram Schlenker put it, "there's more certainty that there will be less certainty." In any case, taxpapyers are on the hook for climate-related disruption of US food production—mainly in annual outlays for crop insurance..."

Photo credit above: "Eric Herm, 36, unloads non-genetically-modified cotton seed into a storage barn on his 6,700 acre farm in West Texas."

Delaying action to mitigate climate change will not delay climate change itself. As such, investors can strand fossil-fuel energy assets today, or absorb the cost of inaction by causing a much larger stranding across industries and asset classes in the future. The case to incorporate carbon risk into both equity and debt valuations now is one of short- and long-term prudent risk management. There are four principal ways investors can do this: First, identify carbon asset risks across portfolios. At a minimum, investors should determine the extent to which carbon risk is embedded in current and future investments. This can be achieved by, for example, considering the key drivers of a company's current and future asset base in the context of carbon risks and developing tools that quantify risks for valuations. Note that passive, index tracking funds should also identify their exposure to carbon risks since they too are vulnerable to stranding as fossil fuel-dependent assets make up roughly 10%-30% of most major exchanges..."

Fossil Fuels Divestment Campaign Is Gathering Momentum. Bill McKibbon has an Op-Ed at The Guardian, here's the intro: "The world has a choice when dealing with climate change. One is to decide it's a problem like any other, which can be dealt with slowly and over time. The other is to recognise it as a crisis, perhaps the unique crisis in human history, which will take rapid, urgent action to overcome. Science is in the second, scared camp – that's the meaning of the IPCC report issued last month, which showed that our planet is already undergoing climatic shifts far greater than any experienced in human civilisation, with far worse to come. And those of us urging divestment from fossil fuel stocks are in the second camp too – we recognise that business as usual is quite simply impossible..."

Rapidly Melting Glaciers Give Utah Expert New View On Climate Change. Reading an article or research study is one thing; seeing the impacts with your own eyes is quite another, as reported by in Salt Lake City; here's the intro: "ANCHORAGE, Ala. — It's no secret that glaciers around the world are disappearing. But in Alaska, the pace of the meltdown is so rapid that a glacier expert who moved there from Utah says it changed his view of climate change.  "I didn't really believe that climate change was a big enough deal to be a problem," Evan Burgess said. "But coming up here has really changed my whole perspective on that."  Say what you will about the causes of climate change; according to Burgess, the meltdown is for real in Alaska. It's rapid and it's getting faster.  Burgess recently finished his Ph.D. in geography at the University of Utah, specializing in glaciology. He has also studied glaciers in Greenland; and earlier this year he moved to Alaska to work for the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Alaska Fairbanks..."

Meet The Pacific Rim's New Environmental Superpower. What's happening on the West Coast is interesting; it may prove to be a catalyst for the rest of the nation, as outlined at Quartz; here's an excerpt: "In Ernest Callenbach’s 1975 novel Ecotopia, northern California, Oregon and Washington secede from a US in financial collapse to form an ecological superpower fueled by renewable energy and electric cars. Yesterday, California, Oregon and Washington, along with British Columbia, signed a pact to form an environmental alliance powered by renewable energy and electric cars. The future is now. The Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy calls on the states and the Canadian province to set common mandates for cutting carbon emissions and link their programs for doing so. Among other things, the governments agreed to adopt low carbon fuel standards and ensure that 10% of all private and public vehicle purchases are zero-emission cars by 2016..."

New Poll: Is Attacking The EPA The Bright Idea Tea Partiers Think It Is? Here's an excerpt from Huffington Post: "...Attacks on the EPA are falling flat. Voters trust the EPA, not a Congress with single-digit approval ratings, to decide whether we need regulations that will reduce carbon pollution. In fact, the polling in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Virginia, showed that nearly three in every four voters in these swing Senate states support EPA regulations that would set limits on the amount of carbon pollution from power plants..."

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