Tuesday, September 9, 2014

An Early October - Greenhouse Gas Emissions Rising At Fastest Rate since 1984

75 F. high in the Twin Cities Tuesday.

75 F. average high on September 9.

94 F. high on September 9, 2013.

Minnesota Weather History on September 9. Source: MPX National Weather Service:
2002: A late-season tornado strikes Albertville just after midnight .According to a damage survey conducted by NWS personnel, it touched down on the eastern edge of Cedar Creek Golf Course, then it moved straight east and dissipated in a city park just west of the railroad tracks. It completely tore the roof off of one home. Roofs were partially off a number of other homes, many attached garages collapsed, and a couple of houses were rotated on their foundation. About 20 homes were damaged, nine of which sustained significant damage.
1986: 3 inch hail fell in Watonwan County.
1947: Downpour across the Iron Range. Hibbing got 8.6 inches in three hours.
1931: St Cloud's high was 106 degrees, while it reached 104 degrees in Minneapolis.
1910: Duluth had the shortest growing season ever with frost free days from June 14 to September 10 (87days). Normally the frost-free season is 143 days.

Supernaturally Green

"Look at how green it is!" the San Diego passenger sitting next to me gasped as we pulled up to the MSP terminal. I can confirm that San Diego, like much of California, is an oasis of sickly-green, surrounded by dying vegetation, nearly-empty reservoirs and dry creek beds.

All of which tempers my temptation to complain about this morning's gulley gusher. An inch or two of rain falls early this morning, adding to the 31.3 inches of precipitation so far in 2014; 8 inches wetter than normal, to date.

Today's storm is more reminiscent of late October, drawing on huge north-south temperature contrasts and a jet stream still dipping unusually far south. Steering winds aloft have been stuck overhead since June, cutting down on extreme heat, and keeping us wetter than average, overall.

Today redefines the meaning of foul with a slow, rainy AM commute. A cold north wind kicks in behind the storm, gusting to 30 mph as temperatures sink thru the 50s. A second shot of moisture arrives Friday; the atmosphere aloft ALMOST chilly enough for a rain-snow mix Friday night. Frost outside the metro early Saturday gives way to 60s and 70s next week.

This front? A mere shot across the bow.

* photo credit above: Trista Dunsmoor.

October-ish. Maybe this cold front will tamp down the mosquitoes (and pollen). Maybe that's wishful thinking until the first widespread frost. Expect 50s the next few days, a few showers possible late Friday, and if skies clear and winds drop off a light frost can't be ruled out Saturday morning outside the metro. I wouldn't pack away the shorts anytime soon: 60s and a few 70s return next week.

An Autumnal Storm. Widespread smears of moderate to heavy rain are commonplace with October storms, but still a bit rare on the 10th day of September. A large contrast in temperature coupled with a stormy wrinkle in the steering winds aloft will squeeze out heavy rain early this morning, but we dry out by midday with some anemic sun possible by afternoon as north winds howl at 15-30 mph. 60-hour accumulated rainfall prediction: NOAA and HAMweather.

A Sign of the Times. Forget the calendar, as far as the atmosphere is concerned "meteorological autumn" really kicked off around September 1, and it will certainly feel like fall into Saturday morning; temperatures as much as 20F cooler than average. 4 KM NAM 2-meter temperature outlook: NOAA and HAMweather.

Hope For A Strong El Nino Fade in Parched California. Because it's the intense El Nino warming events in the Pacific that often divert wet storms into central and southern California. More details in this clip from a New York Times story: "...Long-term weather forecasters say it is now unlikely that a strong El Niño will develop this fall, dimming hopes in California for heavy rains that might bring relief from a severe drought. In its latest monthly forecast, the federal Climate Prediction Center in College Park, Md., said that while there was still about a two in three chance that El Niño would develop, perhaps in the next two months, it would most likely be weak..."

Photo credit above: "Volunteers appeal to community members for donation Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014 at the Porterville Water Challenge on Olive Street in Porterville, Calif. Several locals started their own water challenges to help East Porterville area residents whose well went dry for months." (AP Photo/The Porterville Recorder, Chieko Hara).

El Nino Watch: 6 Months and Still Counting. Worried about the polar vortex reappearing next winter? ENSO-neutral winters (no La Nina or El Nino) tend to be unusually harsh. If the Pacific Ocean does warm significantly into a moderate El Nino event the odds of bitter, sustained cold diminish a bit. Here's a clip from Climate Central: "...The latest update, issued Thursday, notes that some aspects of the tropical Pacific’s behavior look more promising than they did at the time of the last update in early August, but keeps the likelihood of an El Niño developing at 60 to 65 percent. “We still believe that the event will occur,” CPC forecaster Michelle L’Heureux told Climate Central. When might this happen? Sometime in the September to November time frame, the CPC forecast said. Once the El Niño does form, it is expected to continue into the early part of 2015. The event, though, is only expected to be a weak or moderate one, L’Heureux said..."

Image credit above: "The climate impacts typically associated with an El Niño during the months of December, January, and February." Courtesy of NOAA.

Peak of Hurricane Season Comes Quietly This Year. Brian McNoldy has a good summary of what drives peak hurricane season and why it's been so quiet so far in 2014; here's an excerpt from his blog: "Although the Atlantic is fairly calm today, if you average activity over the whole 163 years of records, September 9 is actually the climatological peak! There are numerous ways to define "activity" of course, and there are numerous time periods one could use to create the average.  But for this claim, I'm using a standard metric called Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE), and the full 1851-2013 period..."

Remembering The San Diego Hurricane of 1858. The Weather Channel has a fascinating story about the rare hurricane that battered the small town of San Diego in 1858. I don't want to imagine what would happen if a similar storm struck today. Here's a clip: "The year was 1858. Abraham Lincoln was running for a seat in the U.S. Senate. The start of the Civil War was still three years away. A stage coach trip from Missouri to the young state of California took nearly a month. And in Southern California, the town of San Diego had grown to a little more than four thousand people. In the final days of September, 1858, those four thousand people experienced a storm like no other before it. A hurricane in the eastern Pacific moved northward from the warm waters of the tropics toward the California coast. This one took a different path from the usual. Instead of moving away from land, it headed north-northeast toward the California coast..."

Image credit above: "In September 1997, powerful Hurricane Linda, shown in this NASA rendering created with data from the NOAA GOES-9 satellite, was briefly forecast to strike Southern California, most likely as a tropical storm, as shown in the inset forecast track from the Naval Research Laboratory’s Marine Meteorology Division. The storm eventually turned westward away from land, but still brought rainfall to parts of Southern California and high surf." Main image credit: NASA/NOAA Inset image credit: NRL/NCEP.

September 8, 1900: When a Hurricane Changed History. There still hasn't been anything as horrific as the Galveston Hurricane of 1900; here's an excerpt of a review at click2houston.com: "...On September 8 - 114 years ago today - Galveston’s path through history was radically changed. What is known as the 1900 Storm made landfall on the island as a category 4 hurricane. Much like the Bolivar during Ike, the storm surge eviscerated the city, which to some extent, is still dealing with the ramifications today. An estimated 8000 people died, mostly in Galveston. The 1900 Storm remains the record holder for the largest loss of life from a natural disaster in the USA..."

Water's Edge. Reuters has a thorough, comprehensive and rather remarkable series focused on rising sea levels. As water warms it expands, and that has implications for homeowners and businesses along America's coastline. Here's an excerpt of Part 1: "...All along the ragged shore of Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic coast of the Delmarva Peninsula, north into New England and south into Florida, along the Gulf Coast and parts of the West Coast, people, businesses and governments are confronting rising seas not as a future possibility. For them, the ocean’s rise is a troubling everyday reality. This is the first in a series of articles examining the phenomenon of rising seas, its effects on the United States, and the country’s response to an increasingly watery world. Other stories will show how other nations are coping..."

Fields of Green a Desert for Bees. The Star Tribune takes a look at whether a new class of insecticides applied on seeds to reduce the impact of pests may be crippling bee populations in the process; here's an excerpt: "...Bayer CropScience, Monsanto and others in agribusiness say there is no evidence that neonicotinoids are to blame. Years of research went into their development, including studies that concluded the low doses bees encounter as they forage for pollen and nectar are insufficient to kill them, company officials say. Yet beekeepers, environmentalists and many scientists are raising a growing chorus of disagreement. Dozens of studies have now found that low doses of neonicotinoids may not kill bees outright, but can cripple their highly sophisticated navigational and communication skills, and hamper a queen’s reproduction..."

Airlines Take The Bump out of Turbulence. Here's an excerpt of an interesting article at The New York Times: "...Turbulence poses a particular challenge because it cannot be seen by satellite or radar. But meteorologists use complex weather models as well as reports from pilots to predict areas of heavy turbulence. Sensors on some planes operated by Alaska Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines can automatically relay turbulence information to dispatchers to look for alternative routing for later flights. An average of 36 people have been injured as a result of turbulence each year since 2002, according to the F.A.A., which records only the most severe cases..."

Photo credit above: "Amanda Terborg, an Aviation Weather Center meteorologist in Kansas City, Mo." Credit Dan Gill for The New York Times.

World's Shortest Tornado "Chase"? You just can't make this stuff up. A weather enthusiast in Russia pulls out of his garage with the dashcam going, gets onto the road and sees a tornado coming, pulls back into his garage, which is no longer in one piece. The video clip at LiveLeak is worth a look: "Russian guy pulls out of his garage just as a tornado arrives. tries to go back inside but alas, the garage is no more. Note, Dashcam date is incorrect. This happened only a few days ago (29/08/2014 in Bashkiria, Russia)..."

Credit: Рябоконь А.Н.

"Tornado Shield" Helps Protect Against Storm-Flung Debris. Let's hope it's an EF-0 or EF-1 tornado, but any chance you have to protect yourself against flying debris is a good thing. Details on this new contraption via Gizmag: "...After zipping yourself into the Tornado Shield, you then lie down on the floor in the safest place you can find (such as a bathtub). While it won't keep you from being crushed, its ballistic nylon construction is intended to protect against lacerations caused by flying bits of debris – such injuries are the most common type suffered by tornado victims. Steve has tested the material against various glass, metal and wooden objects, of the type that might be whizzing through the air in a building being demolished by a tornado..."

Baseball Caught Looking As Fouls Injure 1,750 A Year. I had no idea. Here's a snippet from a story at Bloomberg: "...About 1,750 spectators get hurt each year by batted balls, mostly fouls, at major-league games, or at least twice every three games, a first-of-its-kind analysis by Bloomberg News has found. That’s more often than a batter is hit by a pitch, which happened 1,536 times last season, according to Elias Sports Bureau Inc. The 8-year-old boy was one of four fans injured at the May 20 game, according to a “foul-ball log” and other first-aid records at the Braves’ Turner Field..."

Photo credit above: Rodger Mallison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram via AP. "An usher, upper center, gives first aid to a fan after he was hit in the face by a foul ball during a baseball game between the Texas Rangers and the Oakland Athletics in Arlington in July 2011."

TODAY: Heavy rain tapers early. Mostly cloudy, gusty and much cooler. Winds: N 15-30. High: 59
WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Partly to mostly cloudy, chilly. Low: 42
THURSDAY: More clouds than sun, brisk - feels like late October. High: 58
FRIDAY: Clouds increase, showers late. Wake-up: 41. High: 55
SATURDAY: Frost risk outside metro. Cool sun. Wake-up: 37. High: 59
SUNDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, still dry. Wake-up: 47. High: 64
MONDAY: Mostly cloudy, showers south. Wake-up: 51. High: 62
TUESDAY: Sunnier, quite pleasant. Wake-up: 46. High: 67

Climate Stories....

Greenhouse Gas Leves Rising At Fastest Rate Since 1984. Here's an excerpt from an update by The BBC: "...About half of all emissions are taken up by the seas, trees and living things. According to the bulletin, the globally averaged amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached 396 parts per million (ppm) in 2013, an increase of almost 3ppm over the previous year. "The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin shows that, far from falling, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere actually increased last year at the fastest rate for nearly 30 years," said Michel Jarraud, secretary general of the WMO..."

Photo credit above: "Concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere rose rapidly in 2013." Source: SPL.

Climate Change Will Disrupt Half of North America's Bird Species, Study Says. Here's an excerpt from a sobering article at The New York Times: "...Those are some of the grim prospects outlined in a report released on Monday by the National Audubon Society, which found that climate change is likely to so alter the bird population of North America that about half of the approximately 650 species will be driven to smaller spaces or forced to find new places to live, feed and breed over the next 65 years. If they do not — and for several dozen it will be very difficult — they could become extinct..."

Photo credit above: "Trumpeter swans are among the species that, by 2050, are not expected to be able to live in most of their current territory, according to a report." Credit Elaine Thompson/Associated Press.

Extreme 24-Hour Precipitation Trends 1910 - 2012. I'm no rocket scientist, as my wife reminds me daily, but I detect a trend. Data above (NOAA NCDC) is for the Lower 48 states; trends over the Southwest USA are flat; Monday's historic rains in the Phoenix area (3-5+" of rain) were the heaviest one-day totals ever recorded, but some of this moisture was leftover from Norbert, a fizzling hurricane off the coast of Baja Mexico.

Extreme Snowfall Events Will Continue Even in Global Warming, Says Study. New research highlighted at Capital Weather Gang caught eye; here's a clip: "...Paul O’Gorman, a professor at MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, used model simulations to investigate the impact of global warming on both average, day to day snowfall amounts as well as the extreme snowfall events. He found that while average daily snowfalls could decrease by 65 percent by the late 21st century, the extreme snowfall events only decreased by eight percent in the model simulations. In fact, in some high-latitude cases, the models suggested that extreme snowstorms could deposit 10 percent more snow..."

Rising Temps. Won't Halt Blizzard Hazard. At higher latitudes the frequency of blizzards may actually increase, which I found interesting, which made me ponder whether that's better than rising sea levels in Florida or perpetual drought in California and Arizona. The Daily Climate has more details on the new winter research referenced above: "...The study found that, under high warming scenarios, those low-lying regions with average winter temperatures normally just below freezing would see a 65 percent reduction in average winter snowfall. But in these places, the heaviest snowstorms on average became only 8 percent less intense. In the higher latitudes, extreme snowfall became more intense, with 10 percent more snow, even under scenarios of relatively high average warming. There is a relatively narrow temperature range − just below freezing point − at which the heaviest snowfalls seem to occur..."

Time To Tax Carbon. Harvard Magazine has an Op-Ed; here's an excerpt that caught my eye: "...As a means of limiting greenhouse gases, a tax on the carbon content of fossil fuels competes with proposals for outright regulations (such as those advanced by the Obama administration) that would limit electric power-plant emissions, and with cap-and-trade systems that let such big polluters trade permits among themselves, always seeking the most efficient means of reducing emissions. No solution to this massive problem will make everyone happy, so the best outcome will involve striking an optimal balance. A carbon tax may do that because it raises revenue, and thus the additional possibility of redeploying those funds in ways that stimulate economic growth..."

Why A Tax on Carbon Can Help Climate Change - And The Economy. We put a price on every pollutant and let the market sort out the rest, why not carbon, methane and other greenhouse gases? Here's an Op-Ed from Forbes that caught my eye: "...As he says in the Harvard Magazine interview, “No solution to this massive problem will make everyone happy, so the best outcome will involve striking an optimal balance. A carbon tax may do that because it raises revenue, and thus the additional possibility of redeploying those funds in ways that stimulate economic growth.” Jorgenson describes what he calls the “double dividend” (also the title of his book on this topic). “So in order to achieve the double dividend – curbing emissions while simultaneously achieving economic growth – you have to collect the tax and recycle the revenue..."

Cities Taking Action to Offset Effects of Global Warming, But They Can't Call It That. Yes, forget about science, it's all about semantics. Here's a snippet of an AP story at cjonline.com: "...Big cities and small towns are shoring up dams and dikes, using roof gardens to absorb rainwater or upgrading sewage treatment plans to prevent overflows. Others are planting urban forests, providing more shady relief from extreme heat. Extension agents are helping farmers deal with an onslaught of newly arrived crop pests. But in many places, especially strongholds of conservative politics, they’re planning for the volatile weather linked to rising temperatures by speaking of “sustainability” or “resilience,” while avoiding no-win arguments with skeptics over whether the planet is warming or that human activity is responsible..."

The Unbelievably Cheap $10 Billion Plan To Stop Climate Change With Airplanes. First, I'm not sure you can entirely stop warming, perhaps mitigate and slow the rate. Second, injecting chemicals into the upper atmosphere to artificially cool the Earth's surface - what can possibly go wrong? Here's a clip from a story at The Motley Fool: "...There are some obvious flaws with geoengineering projects of any kind, which Caldeira and others are quick to promote. For instance, there are social, financial, and ethical costs and consequences that would have to be evaluated or dealt with. If it's acceptable to dump carbon dioxide into the Earth's atmosphere, then is it also acceptable for a single nation or company to dump sunlight-blocking particles there? After all, no one country owns the atmosphere -- how would complaints and legal action be handled?..."

Image credit above: "Is this all we need to stop climate change?" Source: Sergey Kustov/ Wikimedia Commons.

Guest Opinion: Global Warming Makes Firefighting More Dangerous. The Billings Gazette has an Op-Ed that caught my eye; here's the intro: "As former Montana smokejumpers we are increasingly alarmed by the severity, size, and expense of wildfires. The weather this year in Montana might give false hope to those who think weather and climate are the same. But climate is about trends and scientists say that those trends are proving what our guts have told us for a long time: Climate change is an increasing problem for firefighters who are facing increasing risks as a result. Since the 1980s, Montana’s wildfire season increased by two months while average global temperatures have steadily trended upward. Climate researcher Steve Running has summarized the data this way: “Since 1986, longer, warmer summers have resulted in a fourfold increase of major wildfires and a sixfold increase in the area of forest burned, compared to the period from 1970 to 1986...” (File photo above: AP).

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