Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving Travel Weather Details (fossil fuel divestment efforts ramp up on college campuses)

23 F. high in the Twin Cities Tuesday (afternoon maximum).
35 F. average high on November 26.
23 F. high on November 26, 2012.
Trace of snow fell at MSP International yesterday.

Minnesota Weather History on November 26 (courtesy of MPX National Weather Service):

2005: In the early morning a home in Mower County was hit by lightning and burned to the ground, but no one was injured.
1994: A low pressure system had developed into the first Winter storm for Minnesota. By the early morning hours of the 28th, a swath of snow in excess of 6 inches had blanketed much of southwest through central into northeast Minnesota. Snowfalls of 6 inches or more occurred south of a line from Gunflint Lake in Cook county to near Ortonville in Big Stone county and along and north of a line from near Blue Earth in Faribault county to Red Wing in Goodhue county. The snow closed the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for a short time on the 27th, and contributed to hundreds of accidents and at least three fatalities. In addition, the build-up of ice and snow in combination with strong winds resulted in numerous downed power lines in southeast Minnesota.
1985: Cold hits northern Minnesota. 30 below zero at Crookston.
1971: Heavy snows in the Southwest. Redwood Falls gets a foot.


Half a November

It's a little odd shivering through the chill without any snow on the ground. Perpetually-frustrated snow lovers are starting to feel cheated again.

A paltry inch of wet snow has dribbled on the Twin Cities this month. We should have picked up over 7 inches by now. Adding insult to injury much of north Texas and the hills of Georgia have picked up more snow than MSP this month.

Another upside-down weather map.

If you listen carefully you can almost hear the gnashing of teeth and shrieks of frustration from travelers out east. A coastal storm soaks D.C., New York & Boston with 2-3 inches of rain; heavy snow cakes the Appalachians on the busiest travel day of the year. Proving that Old Man Winter has a wicked sense of humor.

A scrawny clipper brushes the Arrowhead with 1 inch of snow today; otherwise plan on dry skies (and roads) into the weekend with slowly moderating temperatures. Mid 30s return the first half of next week with a little snow or mixed precipitation.

I still don't see The Big One.

Temperature may fall off a cliff in 8 days: single digits & low teens with subzero lows after December 4? But major storms detour well south and east of Minnesota into mid-December.

Easy Traveling Into Sunday. ECMWF guidance shows a slow warming trend into the weekend. Low to mid 30s is not atmospheric bargain, but compared to Tuesday's sting it should feel pretty good out there by Saturday and Sunday. The approach of a much colder front may set off wet snow, or a wintry mix Monday and Tuesday. Temperatures may plummet by the middle of next week, early guidance showing a "high" of 5 a week from tomorrow. Graph: Weatherspark.

Thanksgiving Highs. With a low sun angle and short duration of daylight maximum temperatures take place early in the afternoon. The map above shows 3 PM temperatures on Thursday, courtesy of NOAA's 12km NAM and Ham Weather.

Thanksgiving Weather Details. We lucked out here in the Upper Midwest, but folks out east are not taking quiet weather for granted, not today. The most traveled day of the year is a rainy, windy, icy, snowy mess. A surge of cold air on the backside of this powerful coastal storm will push the freezing line to the Gulf Coast and Florida Panhandle - highs in the 50s over south Florida Thanksgiving Day. Brrr. Hey, we grill at that temperature here in Minnesota, but everything is relative. More travel weather details, and late November tornado climatology in today's edition of Climate Matters.

Snowfall Totals. The heaviest snow bands are forecast to set up from northwestern Pennsylvania into upstate New York and northern New England. Lake Effect snows will drop some 5-10"+ amounts over the U.P. of Michigan and northern Indiana. NAM 84-hour snowfall courtesy of NOAA and Ham Weather.

Exit Stage Right. Today will test your patience if you're traveling anywhere from the Great Lakes and New England to the Mid Atlantic states; heavy rain pushing up the east coast, changing to heavy snow over the Appalachians. The good news: this storm will be well out to sea by Thanksgiving Day. 4km NAM Future Radar courtesy of NOAA and Ham Weather.

Everything You Know About Getting Warm Is Wrong. Huffington Post has a timely article about methods for staying warm in the coming months; what works, and what just makes the situation even worse. Here's an excerpt: "...Drinking alcohol lowers your core body temperature, increases your risk for hypothermia and prevents your body from naturally shivering to keep warm. The reason why you feel warm while drinking alcohol is that your blood vessels dilate and send warm blood away from your core and towards your skin. This effect is only temporary and in the end significantly decreases your body's ability to fight the cold..."

Growing Signs Of El Nino In 2014. The graphic above is from NOAA's latest ENSO update; after years of a perpetual La Nina cooling phase of the equatorial Pacific there are growing signs of a possible El Nino warming phase developing by early 2014; which may, in turn, favor milder than normal temperatures, and a southern storm track across the USA into the latter half of winter. It won't be declared an official El Nino event until and unless we go at least 3 consecutive months with sea surface temperatures .5C warmer than average.

45-Day Wish-Cast. My confidence level is low (a -1 on a scale from 1 to 10), but I find these long range CFS (Climate Forecast System) forecasts from NOAA CPC interesting. I'm trying to determine if there is ANY skill here. The latest forecast calls for an arctic snap between December 8-20, with a slight warming trend in time for Christmas. The model shows 2" of snow on the ground by December 5, about 5"+ on the ground in time for Christmas Eve. Place your bets.

Alerts Broadcaster Briefing: Excerpt of a summary issued Tuesday, November 26, 2013.

* The most ill-timed storm of 2013 is pushing heavy rain and snow up east coast; heavy rain still likely for eastern seaboard - plowable snows for the Appalachians, Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah Valley. Heaviest snows expected over western Pennsylvania and upstate New York.
* 2-4" rains along and east of I-95 later today, tonight and Wednesday morning will trigger sporadic urban flooding.
* Travel by land and air will continue to be disrupted; the worst of the storm along the I-95 corridor from Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning.
* Storm pushes into the Atlantic by Thanksgiving Day - no problems on Thursday.
* Typhoon Lehar forecast to strike the eastern coastline of India (Andhra Pradesh region) as a strong tropical storm or weak hurricane Thursday.

Snowfall Potential. Snowfall amounts will be tied to elevation; higher terrain of the Appalachians will nudge precipitation from rain over to snow, with enough to shovel, plow and snarl traffic from near Asheville, North Carolina into eastern Kentucky, eastern Ohio and much of central and western Pennsylvania and New York state - enough snow to cause problems generally west of I-81. NAM model: Ham Weather.

Another Solution. The RPM model isn't nearly as impressive in terms of snowfall totals, but I'm a little skeptical about this solution. It shows the axis of heaviest snow from near Youngstown, Erie and Buffalo to Rochester and Syracuse, which is realistic. Little or no snow is expected east of I-95. Map: WSI.

A Burst of Torrential Rain. Most eastern cities will experience a 6-10 hour period of moderate to heavy rain - as much as 2-4" from near Charlotte to Washington D.C., New York, Hartford and Boston, triggering urban and small stream flooding (and excruciatingly slow commutes and travel times) later today into Wednesday morning. Map: NOAA.

More Warnings. The heaviest swath of snow comes from south and east of Columbus to Pittsburgh, Erie, Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, where Winter Storm Warnings are in effect. Winds along the Atlantic coastline will gust into the 25-40 mph range tonight and early Wednesday. The latest warnings from NOAA and Ham Weather are here.

Typhoon Lehar. Just when you thought typhoon season might be finally drawing to a close, along comes "Lehar". A moderate typhoon with sustained winds of 95, gusts over 110 mph, Lehar may strengthen slightly before weakening as it approaches Vijayawada, India by Thursday as a strong tropical storm or Category 1 hurricane/typhoon.

Significant Storm Surge Potential. Our models show a risk of a 5-15 foot storm surge east of Vijayawada, near Machilipatnum as the center of the storm pushes ashore Thursday, which seems high for a (predicted) Category 1 typhoon at landfall. We'll keep an eye on storm surge predictions, which proved to be the biggest killer from Typhoon Haiyan (death toll in the Philippines is now over 5,000). One lesson from Haiyan: locals react to the word "tsunami" - they can grasp the potential for destruction. The term "storm surge" was not well understood or appreciated in the Philippines, leading to confusion and a higher death toll as people remained in their homes, close to sea level.

Summary: A major storm is now pushing out of the Gulf of Mexico, tracking right up the East Coast Wednesday. This will be a (heavy) rain event for most of the east coast, with heavy, wet snow over the Appalachians, some accumulating snow as far west as Lexington, Kentucky and Columbus, Ohio. The arc of heaviest snow tracks from western Pennsylvania into upstate New York, with some 10-18" amounts possible near Syracuse and Rochester. For the major east coast city centers this will be a heavy rain event, and travel plans/commutes will be disrupted over the next 36 hours. Lousy timing, but I'm reminded of this uncanny fact: storms (given a choice) prefer to come right before major holidays.

Paul Douglas - Senior Meteorologist - Alerts Broadcaster

Ski Texas. Tuesday's visible satellite image clearly showed freshly fallen snow over the Texas Panhandle, extending into southwestern Oklahoma. Image courtesy of the Lubbock office of the National Weather Service.

Least Active Atlantic Hurricane Season In 30 Years. Meteorologist Andrew Freedman has a good summary of a head-scratcher of a hurricane season at Climate Central; here's an excerpt: "Defying dire outlooks issued in the spring, the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season, which officially ends Nov. 30, was the least active since 1982, and the sixth-least-active season since 1950, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Monday. There were no landfalling hurricanes in the U.S. in 2013. In fact, it has been more than 8 years since the last major hurricane of Category 3 intensity or greater struck the U.S., a record stretch. The last major hurricane strike occurred in 2005, when Hurricane Wilma hit Florida. When the start of the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season rolls around on June 1, 2014, it will have been 3,142 days since that storm made landfall, a record timespan..."

Graphic credit above: "Map of 2013 tropical storm and hurricane tracks." Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

The Pioneers Of Seasonal Hurricane Forecasting Might Stop Doing It. They insist it has nothing to do with this year's poor track record, as reported by SFGate.com; here's a clip: "...Many seasonal forecasters predicted that overall activity — measured in terms of the number of storms, their intensity and their duration, would be as much as twice as high as average levels. Instead activity was only about 30 percent of typical levels, or one of the five quietest years in the last half century of Atlantic hurricane seasons. Now comes word that the dean of seasonal forecasting, William Gray and his co-author Phil Klotzbach, of Colorado State University, may be ending their forecasts. It has nothing to do with their poor forecast this year, they say..." (Image credit: NASA).

Before And After The Tornadoes In Illinois. ESRI has an interactive URL that shows the severity of damage in Washington Illinois, after an EF-4 tornado bull-dozed its way across the center of town on November 17.

The Silent Triumph: Weather Warnings Saved Hundreds Of Lives In Midwest Tornado Outbreak. 106 tornado reports on November 17, some as far north as Michigan - unprecedented in their violence and how late in the season they formed this far north. Here's a clip from Capital Weather Gang, a quote from meteorologist Mike Smith that resonated: "...
The lower death toll from this week’s storms was not inevitable; it is the result of a half-century of scientific discovery and technological development: Doppler radar, weather satellites, lightning detection networks and smartphone apps. It is a result of volunteer storm chasers instantly reporting the most violent tornado (the Washington, Ill., storm) when it first touched down near Pekin.
No other nation enjoys the quality and breadth of meteorological services available in the United States. It is an area in which federal dollars are put to valuable use and leveraged through the efforts of private-sector weather companies such as AccuWeather, and by meteorologists and emergency managers.
File photo above: AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast.

Special Report: Storming The Field. Fans sitting in a stadium are sitting ducks when it comes to weather, especially extreme weather. New technologies, apps and alerts can help, but it pays to be continually weather-aware. Don't depend on anyone else for your safety, or the safety of your family. Here's an excerpt of a story at WTVM.com in Columbus, Georgia: "...It could be dangerous, but where are you supposed to go?" asked former Auburn kicker Al Del Greco. Tornadoes can happen anywhere, even at football stadiums. The good news is that tornado safety has changed since 1983. Just this season, the South Carolina/North Carolina game was delayed and the stadium was evacuated after a severe storm with lightning moved in during the second half. Colleges and universities now have rules in place, and it starts with the suspension of play. "If we left the game playing, nobody's going to leave. They're not going to take it serious. They're going to sit there and keep watching as long as it's playing," explains Chance Corbett, the Auburn director of public safety..."

Stock Returns Affected By Weather, Says Study. Say what? Valuewalk.com has a story that made me do a triple-take; here's an excerpt: "The Quant Research Team at www.empiritrage.com has drawn attention to a recent study by William Goetzmann, Dasol Kim, Alok Kumar and Qin Wang which shows that weather-based indicators of mood impact perceptions of mispricing and trading decisions of institutional investors. According to Empiritrage analyst William N. Goetzmann, “It is interesting because it points out that weather may affect highly educated investors, and that it would be interesting to see how the temperature (as opposed to cloudiness) affects stock returns...”

Researchers Track Outdoor Air Temperatures By Measuring The Battery Temperatures Of Smartphones. Here's an innovative way to track hyper-local changes in air temperature, as described in this clip from Inside Science: "...On the other hand, Georgescu's ASU colleague David Hondula, who was not involved in this study, wants to use smartphones to track the heat exposure of individuals. "If your phone is tracking your weather conditions, you might have a personalized alert that you have experienced excessive heat as you've moved through your daily life," said Hondula. When informed of their heat exposure, people can take steps to protect their health, and thus reduce heat-related mortality. In Hondula's words, "There's certainly the potential for many important questions to be answered, if everyone's walking around with a potential environmental monitor in their pocket."

Which Side Of The Barricade Are You On? Is the American Dream still achievable, or is the game rigged, gamed, only to favor a small percentage of the elite? Here's an excerpt of an interesting read at Politico: "...At the core of Americans’ anger and alienation is the belief that the American Dream is no longer attainable. Previous generations held fast to the promise that anyone who worked hard and played by the rules could get ahead, regardless of their circumstances. But increasingly, Americans have concluded that the rules aren’t fair and that the system has been rigged to concentrate power and wealth in the hands of a privileged few at the expense of the many. And now the government is simply not working for anyone. Americans’ long-brewing discontent shows clear signs of reaching a boiling point. And when it happens, the country will judge its politicians through a new filter—one that asks, “Which side of the barricade are you on?..."

Only 25% Of Yahoo's Employees Use Yahoo Mail? Yes, there's a little disconnect here, as described by Kara Swisher at All Things Digital: "As most know, I love a good internal memo from inside Yahoo and here’s a doozy related to a rather controversial topic of late: How badly the new version of Yahoo Mail has been received by consumers. As has been widely reported, a relentless and vocal group of Yahoo Mail users have been complaining vociferously after the Silicon Valley Internet giant drastically revamped its popular Mail service in October. The ire includes a lot of distress over the removal of its tabs function and the addition of a multi-tasking feature in its place..."

TODAY: Sunny start - clouds increase PM hours. Light snow north of Duluth. Winds: S 3-8. High: 24
WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Patchy clouds, dry roads. Low: 18
THANKSGIVING: Some sun. Eat until you drop. High: 28
FRIDAY: Intervals of sun. Good weather for power-shopping. Wake-up: 16. High: 31
SATURDAY: Plenty of sun, welcome thaw. Wake-up: 25. High: 35
SUNDAY: Fading sun. No travel headaches getting home. Wake-up: 23. High: 33
MONDAY: Chance of wet snow PM hours. Wake-up: 28. High: 32
TUESDAY: Light wintry mix, much colder late? Wake-up: 30. High: 36

* Highs may hold in single digits or teens the latter half of next week.

Climate Stories...

Research Suggests Future Global Warming Has Been Underestimated. UPI has the article - here's a clip: "Global warming could go on for centuries even with a complete stop of CO2 emissions and then stabilize at an even higher temperature, a Swiss scientist says. Researcher Thomas Frolicher says computer models contradict the assumption by many scientists that global warming would come to an end if, some day, humans succeed in ending the release of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. Frolicher and U.S. colleagues report they've used a model that represents physical and biogeochemical processes -- such as the exchange of greenhouse gases and heat with the oceans -- at a far more detailed level than many previous models..."

What 11 Billion People Mean For Water Scarcity. Yahoo News has the story - here's the introduction: "The water woes plaguing the Southwest foreshadow a worldwide problem to come. Already, 2.7 billion people globally face at least some water scarcity, according to a 2012 study detailed in the journal PLOS ONE. Fights over water rights are causing political conflicts and instability in such places as the Nile valley and the Indian subcontinent. As population sizes rise, those conflicts will get more intense, according to a report by the National Intelligence Council, which advises the director of national intelligence for the United States about national security issues. And the latest population models predict that 11 billion people will live on Earth by 2100, according to a United Nations report released last summer..."

On Campuses, A Fossil Fuels Divestment Movement. The Washington Post has the story - here's the introduction: "A divestment movement is marching across U.S. college campuses, borrowing tactics from the 1980s anti-apartheid campaign and using them against oil, gas and coal companies to fight climate change. Students are teaming with investment advisers to convince universities, pension funds and institutional investors that they can take a stand against fossil-fuel companies without hurting their returns. “We have a government that has been taken over by the fossil-fuel industry, so we’re going to pressure the fossil-fuel industry itself,” said Chloe Maxmin, a junior leading Divest Harvard..." (Image: Clean Technica).

Global Warming Threatens Pacific Economies, Report Says. Here's an excerpt from Real Time Economics at The Wall Street Journal: "...Rising temperatures might sound nice for people planning a beach vacation. But for Pacific Island nations, global warming poses a big threat to their ability to capture tourist dollars, according to the Asian Development Bank. In a report Tuesday, the Manila-based lender says sun-baked tropical nations from Samoa to the Cook Islands that rely on tourism income could become less attractive destinations as global temperatures rise..."

Photo credit above: Reuter. "A wall built to protect people from rising tides in the Pacific island nation of Kiribati."

U.S. Methane Study Says Emissions 50% Higher Than EPA Estimates. Here's an excerpt from a story by the AP and Huffington Post: "The United States is spewing 50 percent more methane — a potent heat-trapping gas — than the federal government estimates, a new comprehensive scientific study says. Much of it is coming from just three states: Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. That means methane may be a bigger global warming issue than thought, scientists say. Methane is 21 times more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, the most abundant global warming gas, although it doesn't stay in the air as long. Much of that extra methane, also called natural gas, seems to be coming from livestock, including manure, belches, and flatulence, as well as leaks from refining and drilling for oil and gas, the study says. It was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science..."