Sunday, December 22, 2013

Two Snow Events Before Christmas (odds of 345 months/row of warmer than average temperatures, worldwide?)

23 F. high in the Twin Cities Saturday.
25 F. average high on December 21.
21 F. high on December 21, 2012.

6" snow on the ground.

0 F. high on December 21, 2000, after waking up to -14 F. in the Twin Cities.

4-6"+ additional snow by Christmas Day.

345 months/row with global temperatures warmer than the 20th century average.
Odds of flipping 345 "heads" in a row? 1 in 1.395 (to the 104th power).

A Global Perspective

In an age of hackers, scams and endless marketing spin it's good to be skeptical. 2013 is running about 1F colder than average in the Twin Cities, and this recent cold spell? Cathy Wurzer posed the question on TPT's "Almanac" Friday "How does this square with global warming Paul?"

Research shows our collective concern about climate change is influenced by the weather. In winter interest wanes. "How can the atmosphere possibly be warming up?" Perception becomes reality.
It's the equivalent of mistaking CNN Headline News for The History Channel. We can't look out our windows and make global assumptions.

November was the warmest ever recorded, worldwide. 345 months/row of temperatures warmer than the 20th century average. The odds of flipping 345 heads in a row? 1 in 1.395 (followed by 104 zeros). Even the Lotto has (much) better odds. Healthy skepticism is an effective coping mechanism these days, but I still respond to logic, reason...and math.

The next surge of chilling air squeezes out a couple inches of snow today; another potentially plowable snow on Christmas Eve. Latest model data suggests another 4-6" or more of snow between today and Christmas Day. Subzero fun Tuesday & Friday morning gives way to a brief thaw by Saturday.

2014 will start out Nanook but NOAA's CFS climate model still suggests that January could wind up being a little milder than December. Place your bets.

A Very White Christmas This Year. The map above shows NAM model guidance for total snowfall between now and 6 am Christmas Day. With cold temperatures and a rain:snow ratio close to 1:20 we could easily wind up with 4-7" of additional snow, coming in two separate bursts: 2-4" today and tonight, another 2-3" Christmas Eve. Good timing. Map: Ham Weather.

Plowable. A couple of snowfalls, suitable for plowing and shoveling, are shaping up. One arrives today, as much as 2-4" of new snow by Monday morning. A second surge of light snow arrives later in the day Christmas Eve, with another 2-3" by Christmas morning. I suspect we'll have at least 11" snow on the ground Christmas Day in the Twin Cities. Graph: Iowa State.

More Canadian Leakage. New, exotic colors showing up on the 2-meter temperature forecast; subzero air pushing south Monday, another surge of negative numbers late Thursday into Friday morning. Hard to believe it was a record 70F in Washington D.C. on Saturday where locals were playing golf and throwing Frisbees. Loop: Ham Weather.

A Volatile Temperature Outlook. Prepare for an unpleasant temperature roller coaster ride (into April), subzero temperatures likely Tuesday, Thursday and next Monday mornings. We see some moderation in time for Christmas Day, a fleeting shot at freezing by Saturday.

45-Day NOAA CFS Model. Don't bet the farm based on a 45-day "trend", but we're looking for consistency and continuity from run to run, and I've noticed some skill with NOAA's Climate Forecast System model. It hints at a very cold start to 2014, followed by significant moderation the second and third week of the month. A January Thaw? That would be nice. We'll see. Graphic: Ham Weather.

Status Quo. No major shift in the pattern is likely looking out 2 weeks, dominated by a series of Alberta Clippers swept up in a harsh, northwest wind flow aloft. That will mean occasional bursts of snow (couple inches of fluff) and temperatures averaging well below normal into at least the first few days of 2014. Graphic above: Twin Cities National Weather Service.

"Blizzard-Busting" Equipment To The Rescue. Check out what they're doing in the Madison, Wisconsin area to make vehicles more storm-worthy - pretty cool. Here's a clip from "Dane County trucks will be making tracks to stranded motorists or residents this winter, thanks to new "blizzard-busting" equipment. The new equipment, which is a track system attached to the tires of a standard off-road pickup truck, was rolled out Friday by highway officials. "With extreme winter weather becoming the norm, we are upgrading our technology to help keep residents safe," said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi in a prepared statement..."

Photo credit above: "This Dane County Parks Division off-road pickup has been had a track system attached to its tires to help reach snowed-in destinations during winter storms."

Move Over Wind? Solar Energy Market "Exploding" In Iowa. Midwest Energy News and GreenTech Media has the story - here's an excerpt: "Iowa is well established as a national leader in wind energy and biofuels. Now the state is poised for serious growth in solar as well. “The market is exploding in Iowa,” says Tim Dwight, a former Iowa Hawkeye and NFL star who has become one of his home state’s most visible solar energy advocates. Homeowners, farmers, businesses and at least one school district in Iowa are going solar. Also, over the past year, several municipal utilities and rural electric co-ops have put up solar arrays, inviting customers to buy a share of the power generated...."

How To Find Fulfilling Work. Do what you love and the money will come! Easier said than done. Maria Popova has an interesting perspective in Brain Pickings; here's a clip: "“If one wanted to crush and destroy a man entirely, to mete out to him the most terrible punishment,” wrote Dostoevsky, “all one would have to do would be to make him do work that was completely and utterly devoid of usefulness and meaning.” Indeed, the quest to avoid work and make a living of doing what you love is a constant conundrum of modern life..."

TODAY: Light snow, 2-4" by tonight. Winds: NW 10-20. High: 18
SUNDAY NIGHT: Light snow tapers to flurries late, turning much colder. Low: -5
MONDAY: Mostly cloudy, feels like -20F. High: 3
CHRISTMAS EVE: Bitter start, 2-3 more inches late. Wake-up: -9. High: 12
CHRISTMAS DAY: A very white Christmas. Cloudy. Wake-up: 11. High: 23
THURSDAY: Some sun, tumbling temperatures again. Wake-up: 13. High: 15
FRIDAY: Numbing start. Fading sun. Wake-up: -5. High: 13
SATURDAY: Mostly cloudy, risk of a thaw. Wake-up: 10. High: 32

Climate Stories...

Conservative Groups Spend Up To $1 Billion A Year To Fight Action On Climate Change. The Guardian has the details; here's an excerpt: "Conservative groups may have spent up to $1bn a year on the effort to deny science and oppose action on climate change, according to the first extensive study into the anatomy of the anti-climate effort. The anti-climate effort has been largely underwritten by conservative billionaires, often working through secretive funding networks. They have displaced corporations as the prime supporters of 91 think tanks, advocacy groups and industry associations which have worked to block action on climate change. Such financial support has hardened conservative opposition to climate policy, ultimately dooming any chances of action from Congress to cut greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet, the study found..."

Photo credit above: "A coal fired plant." Photograph: John Giles/AP.

Billion Dollar Climate Denial Network Exposed. More details from Wired UK.

On Climate Change, Florida's Been Warned. One word comes to mind. Rent. Here's an excerpt of a story at the Tampa Bay Times that caught my eye: "In just seven words, Jane Long summed up three days of intense discussion last week about energy and climate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A senior scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund and a retired Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researcher, she turned to look at me after I told her I was from the Tampa Bay area. And without hesitation, yet with a smile, she issued me an apocalyptic warning: "Oh, you're going to be under water..."

The Not-Quite-Perfect Storm: Miami Dodged The Bullet Last Time, But Can Its Luck Hold Out? Here's the first part of a series on cities most likely to be impacted by climate change, and in this specific case, rising sea level. Miami is at the top of the list, as reported by Grist - here's an excerpt: "...More than 5.5 million people now live in metro Miami, and the seas have steadily risen. According to a report released in May by the real estate data company CoreLogic, 132,000 homes in Miami, worth $48 billion, are vulnerable to hurricane-driven storm-surge damage. With a one-foot rise in sea level, those numbers jump to 340,000 homes and $94 billion. The World Bank ranks Miami as the most climate vulnerable city in the world. Hurricane Andrew spurred a major overhaul of building codes in Florida and other coastal areas, but no one doubts that a direct hit from a category 5 storm could wreak massive havoc here. The last time a major hurricane hit Miami directly was in 1926. It’s only a matter of time, forecasters say, before the next one arrives...." (Image from 1992 Hurricane Andrew: NOAA).

In U.S. Winters Warming But Precipitation More Nuanced. Theory is giving way to reality - 30 to 40 years ago scientists speculated that warming would be greater at northern latitudes and that's what the data is showing. Here's an excerpt from a story at Climate Central: "...Climate change due to greenhouse gas emissions have in large part caused temperatures to increase by 1.5°F since 1895 in the U.S. Much of that increase has come since 1970, and different seasons are warming faster than others. Winters, which begin in the meteorological sense on December 1 and run through February, have warmed 0.61°F percade in the contiguous U.S. from 1970-2012. That's faster than the rate of 0.435°F of warming per decade experienced over the same period. Winter warming isn’t uniform, though. California and Nevada have only warmed at a rate of 0.17°F per decade over that time — the slowest winter warming region in the country — and the Southeast has gone up just 0.29°F per decade..."

Graphic credit above: "A map showing winter temperature trends in the U.S. from 1970-2012."

Santa Claus And Climate Change, A Letter To My Grandkids. Peter Gleick from the Pacific Institute shares a letter he hopes not to have to write in the year 2020. Here's an excerpt from Huffington Post: "...It's not that you've been bad. Rather the world's governments (sometimes run by bad boys and girls now grown up) have failed to address the long-worsening problem of climate change. Santa is the latest climate victim. As the last of the summer ice at the North Pole finally disappeared, Santa's workshop sank to the bottom of the Arctic Ocean. When the insurance companies cancelled most flood insurance policies, and Canada claimed the North Pole, Santa lost everything and became the latest climate refugee. This disaster has long been coming. Back in the early 2000s, Arctic sea ice extent and volume started to drop rapidly -- even more rapidly than scientists anticipated -- due to the rapid warming of the planet caused by the burning of fossil fuels, especially coal..."

Graphic credit above: Arctic ice volume through 2013 from the Polar Science Center

Climate Change Affecting Water Resources. Voice of America has the story - here's the introduction: "Scientists say climate change will not affect all regions of the world equally – especially when it comes to fresh water. The latest computer models indicate some places will get a lot less, while others get a lot more. Dr. Jacob Schewe and his colleagues say that “water scarcity is a major threat for human development” if greenhouse gas emissions remain unchecked. They’ve published their findings in a special issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “The reason we’re concerned is that it’s a very important issue for a lot of people. We all depend on water for so many different purposes. And water scarcity, where it exists, really impairs many things that people do and that people live on,” he said..."

Photo credit above: Reuters. "The sun is seen behind smoke billowing from a chimney of a heating plant in Taiyuan, Shanxi province December 9, 2013."

96% Of Network Nightly News' Coverage Of Extreme Weather Doesn't Mention Climate Change. ThinkProgress has the details in a story - here's an excerpt: "...But arguably the most visible and persistent climate event was the increase in ferocity of our weather. 2013 was marked by extremes in temperature and precipitation, conditions that fueled deadly wildfires, flooding, and storm surges. Despite those facts, America’s major television news stations mostly failed to mention climate change when reporting on events like deadly flooding in Colorado, the string of major wildfires across the American West, and bouts of unseasonable temperatures across the country. Those are the findings of a new survey released by Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), a progressive media criticism group..."

Photo credit: Shutterstock.

2013's Christmas Grinches - Stealing Christmas Warmth And Putting It Into The Atmosphere. Which companies and individuals get the Grinch Award. Check out the details at ThinkProgress: "Climate change is the most pressing challenge of our time, yet meaningful action to address this global threat seems increasingly elusive. What’s standing in the way? There are numerous individuals, organizations, and corporations that actively work to obstruct attempts to cut our carbon emissions, advance clean energy, and prepare communities for the devastating impacts of climate change. Here is a list of just a few of these thwarters who stood out in 2013...."

John Podesta's Plan To Bypass Congress On Climate Change. The Washington Post has the story - here's a clip: "President Obama's newest adviser, John Podesta, will reportedly push the White House to focus more heavily on climate change in the coming year. Podesta is coming from the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank that put a heavy focus on climate policy. That's according to my colleague Greg Sargent, who cites a Politico report on Podesta's new role: "With chances of major legislation on climate change all but dead given congressional opposition, Podesta will push for aggressive executive action, in addition to backstopping new Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy on controversial new emissions guidelines for power plants..." (Image above: NASA).

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