Friday, October 10, 2014

A Memorable October - Outbreak of Indian Summer Next Week

53 F. high in the Twin Cities Friday.
61 F. average high on October 10.
78 F. high on October 10, 2013.

Airport Weather

Did you wake up to frost Friday morning? I did, and many others in the immediate metro area awoke to a carpet of white. Yet the official low at MSP International Airport was 35F.

Keep in mind the temperature sensor is 5-6 feet above the ground, and on a clear, calm night temperatures at lawn-level can easily be 2-5F colder.

Which brings up a forecasting quandary for meteorologists. All the local "Almanac" information (high, low, precipitation) is based on what happens at the airport. Technically nobody lives at the airport, at least not intentionally, but what happens there becomes the official record for MSP. So do you predict weather for the airport, or the downtowns, or the suburbs? Giving one number (temperature, snowfall, etc) is a short-cut.

As the saying goes your results may vary.

Fall color is peaking just outside the metro and a fine weekend is shaping up. Early frost gives way to upper 50s today; a shot at 60F Sunday as clouds increase. Any showers should hold off until after the Vikings game. Monday looks like the wettest day of the week, followed by a slow warming trend.
Expect a run of 60s next week, with a mild bias into late October.

I can live with that.

Not Bad For Mid-October. Next week the sun will be as high in the sky as it was in late February. A lack of snowcover and relatively warm lakes will result in temperatures far milder than anything we've seen in late February; a streak of 60s late next week into next weekend. Today will be the sunnier day of this weekend; winds increase tomorrow, along with a chance of showers late Sunday into Monday.

60-Hour Rainfall. An atmospheric tug-of-war sets off a smear of heavy rain from near Denver to Kansas City, Louisiville and Philadelphia as an area of low pressure ripples eastward along a sharp temperature boundary. California remains bone-dry, but showers spread into the Pacific Northwest by Sunday. 4 km accumulated rainfall product: NOAA and HAMweather.

Peaking Fall Color. This will be the weekend to check out ripening leaves from Alexandria Lakes to the Brainerd Lakes area, much of northern Minnesota and the Red River Valley already past peak. My hunch is that metro trees will peak in the next 7-8 days, peak color along the Mississippi River is still 1-2 weeks away. Source: Minnesota DNR.

Changing Day Length Effects on Daily Temperature. Here's a clip from the latest installment of Minnesota WeatherTalk, courtesy of Dr. Mark Seeley: "...As we continue to lose daylight hours this month, you may notice an increase in the daily temperature range. Though the sun will heat the dry landscape substantially during the day (as we have seen this week), the longer nights allow for more cooling to occur, dropping the overnight lows to a greater degree than just a month ago. This produces a larger daily temperature range in the absence of significant cloud cover (note many observers reported a 30-35 degrees F temperature rise on Monday, October 6th)..."

First Freeze. The map above shows the median date of the first 32F freeze, based on 30 year averages since 1981. The growing season typically ends by mid-September up north, closer to October 5-10 near Rochester, Winona and La Crosse. Source: Midwestern Regional Climate Center.

66% Probability of Mild El Nino. NOAA CPC is now predicting a mild El Nino warming phase of the Pacific setting in by November or December and lasting into spring of 2015. Statistically, this would tend to favor a somewhat milder winter for much of the Lower 48 states than what we endured last year. Here's an excerpt from NOAA: "...The consensus of forecasters indicates a 2-in-3 chance of El Nino during the November 2014 - January 2015 season. This El Nino will likely remain weak (3-month values of the Nino-3.4 index between .5C and .9C). throughout its duration. In summary, El Nino is favored to begin in the next 1-2 mmonths and last into the Northern Hemisphere spring 2015..."

Study Says Gulf and East Coasts May See Tripling of Flood Events By 2030. Rising seas are compounding coastal flood potential; here's an excerpt from VICE News: "...Over the next 30 years, King Tide-like conditions might become the "new normal" as "more tidal flooding is virtually guaranteed," according to a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). UCS analyzed flooding in 52 coastal communities, from Maine to Texas, and found that many of these areas now experience dozens of tidal floods per year, up to four times the number of tidal flooding days as occurred in 1970. By 2030, two-thirds of these communities are likely to see at least triple the number of high tide floods annually, says UCS..."

File photo: Virginia Department of Transportation.

Decade of Destruction: The Wrath of 15 Hurricanes In One Infographic. Here's an excerpt from an interesting story (and terrific infographic) from Capital Weather Gang: "...The Master of Public Administration program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill created the infographic below that summarizes the overwhelming toll of these storms which collectively claimed over 2,000 lives, destroyed millions of homes, and cost $310 billion. Incredibly, the last “major” hurricane – ranked category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson scale – to make landfall in this stretch was Wilma in 2005. The storms thereafter were “only” category 1 and 2s, yet still left damages in the billions of dollars..."

Six Super-Typhoons In The Western Pacific So Far in 2014. 19 named storms, 9 typhoons, and 6 of those have reached super-typhoon status, according to an update at Decoded Science; here's an excerpt: "The western Pacific Ocean has had an active typhoon season: 19 storms have been named, nine becoming typhoons, and six Super-Typhoons with winds over 150 miles per hour. The latest, Vongfong, became the strongest with winds of 180 miles per hour on Tuesday, and is on the same path as last week’s Typhoon Phanfone which raked the Japanese coast and passed directly over Tokyo..."

Wisconsin City Votes To Get Rid of Tornado Sirens. I know sirens are expensive to maintain, and a switchover to text alerts sure sounds like a good idea, assuming everyone is walking around Antigo, WI with a smart phone and everyone has the capacity to receive text alerts. Until that day comes I'm not sure about this one; here's an excerpt from "The Antigo City Countil voted Thursday night to do away with its two traditional tornado sirens and switch to a text alert system. The Langade County Emergency Management Director says the warning system needs at least $35,000 worth of upgrades to continue functioning, in addition to adding another one..."

The Suicide Crisis. Kudos to USA Today for running a series on America's silent epidemic, the second greatest cause of death for young people. Here's an excerpt from Part 1 of 4 painful, yet critically important chapters within the larger narrative. It's worth a read: "...Americans are far more likely to kill themselves than each other. Homicides have fallen by half since 1991, but the U.S. suicide rate keeps climbing. The nearly 40,000 American lives lost each year make suicide the nation's 10th-leading cause of death, and the second-leading killer for those ages 15-34. Each suicide costs society about $1 million in medical and lost-work expenses and emotionally victimizes an average of 10 other people. Yet a national effort to stem this raging river of self-destruction — 90% of which occurs among Americans suffering mental illness — is in disarray..."

TODAY: Early frost. Blue sky, fine fall day. Winds: S 5-10. High: 59
FRIDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear, probably frost-free. Low: 41
SUNDAY: Early sun, clouds increase, late PM showers. High: 61
MONDAY: Periods of rain, soggiest day of the week. Wake-up: 50. High: 55
TUESDAY: Getting sunnier, quite pleasant. Wake-up: 44. High: 63
WEDNESDAY: Sunny and spectacular. Wake-up: 41. High: 65
THURSDAY: Mix of clouds and sun. Wake-up: 47. High: 62
FRIDAY: Partly sunny, not bad at all. Wake-up: 48. High: 64

Climate Stories...

"The sceptic of the bogus variety cherry-picks evidence on the basis of a pre-existing belief, seizing on data, however tenuous, that supports his position, and yet declaring himself  "scepticalof any evidence, however compelling, that undermines it. Such an approach has become typical of those who deny the scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change and devolve quickly into conspiracies instead."

Our Planet Is Going to Blow Past The "Two Degrees" Climate Limit. Here's a clip from a story at New Republic: "...This call to nix the two-degrees metric has spurred a backlash from the climate-science establishment, and, more importantly, it raises big financial questions for companies and consumers worldwide. If the two-degrees goal changes, then so might the many climate policies framed around itpolicies that translate into costs for polluters and profitable markets for clean-energy providers. At stake in this fight over a couple of degrees is potentially billions of dollars..."

The $9.7 Trillion Problem: Cyclones and Climate Change. An estimated 35 percent of the world's 7 billion people live in the potential path of cyclones (hurricanes, typhoons, etc). Here's an excerpt from Climate Central: "You can do a lot with $9.7 trillion: buy all the real estate in Manhattan 12 times over, purchase 22 carbon copies of Apple, or an absurd quantity of apples. It’s also the amount of money that tropical cyclones could cost the global economy over the next century, especially if climate projections of fewer but more intense cyclones are accurate. In comparison to those losses, the cost of action to reduce emissions and beef up coastal preparedness is relatively cheap say researchers..."

Why Climate Change Litigation Could Soon Go Global. Canada's Globe and Mail has an intriguing story, one that should give trial lawyers a cheap thrill. Class action lawsuits down the road? Count on it. Here's an excerpt that caught my eye: "...Canadian oil and gas companies could soon find themselves on the hook for at least part of the damage. For as climate change costs increase, a global debate has begun about who should pay. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu recently called on global leaders to hold those responsible for climate damages accountable. “Just 90 corporations – the so-called carbon majors – are responsible for 63 per cent of CO2 emissions since the industrial revolution,” Tutu said. “It is time to change the profit incentive by demanding legal liability for unsustainable environmental practices...”

Coal, Not Fracking, Blamed For U.S. Methane Hot Spot. Bloomberg has the story - here's an excerpt: "...The gas measured in the study comes from leaks in processing equipment. Environmental groups have pushed Obama to regulate methane leaks as drilling using hydraulic fracturing has boomed. Eric Kort, the paper’s lead researcher, said it’s a mistake to focus only on fracking rather than existing industries. The results indicate “that emissions from established fossil fuel harvesting are greater than inventoried,” Kort, an atmospheric researcher at the University of Michigan, said in the statement. “There’s been so much attention on high-volume hydraulic fracturing, but we need to consider the industry as a whole.” Natural gas is about 98 percent methane, according to NASA, which assisted in the study. While less long-lived than carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, methane is about 25 times more potent in trapping heat..."

Image credit above: "NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Michigan. "The Four Corners area (red) is the major U.S. hot spot for methane emissions in this map showing how much emissions varied from average background concentrations from 2003-2009 (dark colors are lower than average; lighter colors are higher)"

Republicans Have No Idea What They Believe About Climate Change. Can you get elected as a Republican who acknowledges science and the reality of man-made climate change? Not sure, probably not, at least not today. Here's a clip from a story at Salon: "...According to Bloomberg, McCain’s current position is the one most Republicans have found themselves caught in: believing that not much is going to happen, legislatively, to make a significant difference in greenhouse gas emissions. So they’re better off, the thinking goes, keeping the Tea Party happy by bowing out of the debate entirely — by trying to change the subject, by using their lack of scientific degree to disqualify them from stating an opinion and by hedging, avoiding, at all costs, that yes-or-no question. But here’s the problem for these politicians: 400,000 people marching in the streets of New York say leaders can no longer ignore the issue and hope it goes away..."

Moon and Rain Prove Global Warming Isn't Real. Leave it to Wonkette to tee up a little well-timed parody.

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