Friday, October 31, 2014

A Tepid Start to November - More 50s On The Way

40 F. high in the Twin Cities.
51 F. average high for October 31.
50 F. high on October 31, 2013
8.2" snow on October 31, 1991 as the Halloween Blizzard started up.

October 31 in Minnesota Weather History. Source: Twin Cities National Weather Service:
2000: An F1 tornado touched down on a farm east of Prinsburg in Kandiyohi County destroying a small storage shed. It also tipped another shed on its side, and ripped off a portion of the roof of a third shed.
1999: High winds were reported in central Minnesota. The St. Cloud State University Meteorology Department in Stearns county recorded a 65 mph gust. Morris AWOS in Stevens county, posted a 62 mph gust and Willmar AWOS in Kandiyohi county recorded a 59 mph gust. Area wide sustained winds of 40 mph occurred, with gusts in the 45 to 50 mph range.
1991: Classes were canceled across the state due to the Halloween Blizzard. Three foot drifts across I-94 from the Twin Cities to St. Cloud.

Cool Perspective

Yes, our cold fronts can be annoying, but Minnesota has an abundance of fresh water, no hurricanes, volcanoes or earthquakes to worry about, and far fewer billion dollar disasters than the southern USA.

According to the World Meteorological Organization weather, climate and water-related disasters are on the rise worldwide. From 1970 to 2012 the WMO counted 8,835 disasters, 1.94 million deaths and U.S. $2.4 trillion in losses from cyclones, floods, droughts, temperature extremes and related health epidemics. Those who have the least are most vulnerable to this new level of volatility we're witnessing, worldwide.

No weather drama close to home anytime soon, just a windy weekend after an early morning freeze. Weak frontal passages kick up a few light (rain) showers Monday and Wednesday. Halloween was about as chilly as it's going to get looking out into next week. ECMWF (European) guidance is hinting at 4-5 days above 50F next week. I'm betting on at least one more day above 60F.

It's November and it has yet to snow in the Twin Cities. Last year the first flakes arrived October 19. No snow for deer tracking next weekend, but a stronger cold front arrives in roughly 10 days.

* Graphic above: NOAA NCDC.

** Rising November wildfire risk across Minnesota? Details at The Star Tribune.

Snow! Or Not. Why Snow Is Hard To Forecast. Climate Central takes a look at some of the variables that go into snow predictions, in light of the close call with a nor'easter this weekend along the East Coast. Here's a clip: "...Some of this has do to inherent limitations. Models are run using current atmospheric conditions, gathered by sampling efforts like weather balloons launched from NWS offices to see what’s happening in the atmosphere at a certain time. But those sampling efforts don’t cover the whole planet, and the Earth’s atmosphere is a large, interacting system — what’s happening on the West Coast today will affect the East Coast a few days later, for example. “If we could sample the entire globe perfectly, we’d have a perfect forecast,” Oraveck said. But meteorologists can’t do that, so they’re left with the imperfect simulations they can get..."

* 60-hour accumulated snowfall prediction courtesy of NOAA and HAMweather.

Top Allergy Cities in America? Dr. Mark Seeley included this interesting nugget in his weekly Minnesota Weathertalk Newsletter; here's an excerpt: "... The top three allergy cities in America this autumn season are Louisville, KY (score 100), Wichita, KS (score 95.76), and Oklahoma City, OK (score 92.00). Minneapolis ranks 35th this autumn with a score of just 66.96. Last year Minneapolis ranked 37th highest. Among upper Midwestern cities this autumn, both Des Moines, IA and Madison, WI have higher scores than Minneapolis. So I guess we should feel good about that..."

Our Failing Weather Infrastructure. Something to truly worry about, or just part of the challenge of running a big weather service with a lot of moving parts? Here's the intro to an Op-Ed at The New York Times: "Last week the National Weather Service’s satellite network crashed, leaving forecasters without crucial data as a large nor’easter swirled across the East Coast, dumping record levels of rain and leaving thousands of residents without power.This network shutdown was the latest in a string of failures that has left the agency unable to meet the needs of the nation. Earlier this year, the service’s website collapsed under the weight of data requests from a single Android app..."

Severe Flooding Hits Western Norway. The flooding has been extensive, even historic in several areas, as Norway's The Local reports: "...Kronen said: “The situation is far from being under control. The houses being taken by the river will soon come to a closed off bridge south in Odda, and we are paying close attention to the situation together with the army and the fire department..."

Photo credit above: "A house on the River Opo, Odda, during the recent floods." Photo: Marit Hommedal/NTB scanpix.

Warmest UK Halloween On Record. Britain's BBC has the story - here's a clip: "...A temperature of 23.5C (74.3F) was recorded in Gravesend, Kent, surpassing the previous record of 20.0C. Other parts of the south of England and the north coasts of Wales and Norfolk also broke the 20C mark. The previous record was set in Dartford, Kent, in 1968 and was matched in north-eastern parts of Greater London in 1989..."

Photo credit above: "The sun rises above a graveyard in Normanton, West Yorkshire on the UK's warmest recorded Halloween." Credit": Michiko Smith.

These Maps of California's Water Shortage are Terrifying. Mother Jones has the story - here's an excerpt: "...The maps come from a new paper in Nature Climate Change by NASA water scientist James Famiglietti. "California's Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins have lost roughly 15 cubic kilometers of total water per year since 2011," he writes. That's "more water than all 38 million Californians use for domestic and municipal supplies annually—over half of which is due to groundwater pumping in the Central Valley." Famiglietti uses satellite data to measure how much water people are sucking out of the globe's aquifers, and summarized his research in his new paper..."

Image credit above: "Images by J.T. Reager, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, from "The Global Groundwater Crisis," Nature Climate Change, November 2014, by James S. Famiglietti."

The Global Groundwater Crisis. Famiglietti's research referenced above is available at

Think Progress has a slightly different perspective on groundwater aquifer depletion here.

Why The U.S. Has Fallen Behind In Internet Speed and Affordability. Where are the broadband disruptors? Because, according to this article at The New York Times, America's internet providers are providing substandard speeds at inflated prices; here's an excerpt: "...Downloading a high-definition movie takes about seven seconds in Seoul, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Zurich, Bucharest and Paris, and people pay as little as $30 a month for that connection. In Los Angeles, New York and Washington, downloading the same movie takes 1.4 minutes for people with the fastest Internet available, and they pay $300 a month for the privilege, according to The Cost of Connectivity, a report published Thursday by the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute..." (Graphic above: Mikey Burton).

London Police Raise Privacy Hackles With Gang Violence Software. Is Minority Report coming true; being able to predict crimes in advance. It sounds like science fiction, but we may be one step closer, according to this story at Engadget; here's a clip: "London's Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has completed a 20-week study in a bid to more accurately predict whether specific gang members are likely to commit violence. The software, developed by Accenture, pulls data together from systems already used by the MPS and runs it through an analytics engine..."

There's a Virus Living In Your Throat That Could Sap Your Brain Power. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. More details from Healthline News: "...Traces of chlorovirus ATCV-1, commonly found in freshwater lakes, turned up in the throat swabs of more than 40 percent of the participants in the study. Volunteers who had traces of the virus living in their throats performed slightly worse on tests of cognitive function than those who did not, even though there were no differences in education level or age that would account for the lower scores...."

Couple With 12 Sons Hoping Lucky 13 Will Be A Girl. Can you even imagine...? Here's a clip from Huffington Post: "Kateri and Jay Schwandt, the Michigan couple who have 12 sons, are expecting another child. Will baby number 13 mark the end of their all-boy streak? The couple says they’re not holding their breath. “I just don’t think it’s in the cards,” Jay told WXMI recently of their daughter-bearing odds..."

TODAY: Cold start. Sunny & windy. Winds: SE 10-20+ High: 44
SATURDAY NIGHT: Clear and chilly. Low: 33
SUNDAY: Partly sunny, breezy and milder. High: 54
MONDAY: Clouds, period of PM rain. Wake-up: 40. High: 53
TUESDAY: Intervals of sun, fresh breeze. Wake-up: 38. High: 49
WEDNESDAY: Clipper arrives, few showers. Wake-up: 41. High: 53
THURSDAY: Sunny start, increase in PM clouds. Wake-up: 35. High: 50
FRIDAY: Breezy, stray shower late. Wake-up: 38. High: 52

Climate Stories...

Hagel: "Climate Change Presents Security Issues" for U.S. TheHill has the story - here's an excerpt: "...When asked if people would be more responsive to climate science because the military is, Hagel agreed that the Pentagon is taken more seriously, and its work on climate change would likely be received well. “There is more of an awareness and an edge put on an issue when it comes to the Pentagon,” Hagel said.  “Because the military and Pentagon has maybe — at least perceived by other people — a more serious look at the world.”

The Weather Channel's Climate Challenge. Now anyone with a computer (or window) can pretend to be a climate scientist! Founder and meteorologist John Coleman still believes that climate change is a hoax. The channel he helped to launch respectfully disagrees. Here's a clip from The Atlantic: "...John Coleman, a retired television meteorologist and founder of The Weather Channel, appeared on Fox News on Monday and claimed that he does not believe in climate change. "Well, there are 9,000 Ph.D.s and 31 scientists who have signed a petition that says [carbon dioxide] is not a significant greenhouse gas. Oh it's a teeny, itsy-bitsy greenhouse gas, but it's not in any way significant," said Coleman. "And we are sure of it. It's not like something I just made up or just thought of. I've studied and studied and studied..."

* The Weather Channel's official Position Statement on climate change is here.

Climate Change Impacts on NASA Facilities. Here's an excerpt from a report released by NASA: "The impacts of a changing climate are affecting NASA's properties and operations. In response, NASA is implementing policy addressing climate change adaptation: Apply NASA's scientific expertise and products to incorporate climate information into its decision making and planning; create innovative, sustainable, and flexible solutions; and share best practices, in order to create climate-resilient NASA Centers..."

38 Federal Agencies Reveal Their Vulnerabilities to Climage Change - And What They're Doing About It. Here's a clip from a story at The Washington Post: "...In sum, the reports represent over a thousand pages of climate change threat assessment and sustainability planning by a vast federal complex that collectively operates 360,000 buildings, maintains 650,000 vehicles and spends $25 billion on energy costs per year. In many cases, the vulnerabilities revealed are stark. The Department of Agriculture, for instance, sees "the potential for up to 100 percent increase in the number of acres burned annually by 2050" by wildfires, according to its new adaptation report..."

Why Republicans Keep Telling Everyone They're Not Scientists. They're not economists either, but the last time I checked many of them were voting on economic policy. Here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "...It’s got to be the dumbest answer I’ve ever heard,” said Michael McKenna, a Republican energy lobbyist who has advised House Republicans and conservative political advocacy groups on energy and climate change messaging. “Using that logic would disqualify politicians from voting on anything. Most politicians aren’t scientists, but they vote on science policy. They have opinions on Ebola, but they’re not epidemiologists. They shape highway and infrastructure laws, but they’re not engineers....”

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