Saturday, October 4, 2014

Chilly Marathon Then Hints of a Warmer Front

51 F. high in the Twin Cities Saturday.
64 F. average high on October 4.
59 F. high on October 4, 2013.
.03" rain fell yesterday.
No snow reported Friday night at MSP International.

.6" snow reported at Eau Claire, Wisconsin yesterday, earliest measurable snowfall on record.

October 4, 1963: Heat wave across area with 98 at Beardsley, 96 at Madison, and 94 at Elbow Lake.

Running in Place

My dream is to one day finish the Twin Cities Marathon in first place in my age division - cheerfully waving to the crowd from a Segway Scooter. It probably won't happen, but it's good to dream.

My wife is a marathon runner and after consulting her I've reached the conclusion that weather should be nearly ideal for today's Twin Cities Marathon: temperatures rising from the mid-30s into the mid-40s with a mix of sunshine and scrappy cumulus clouds; a west breeze at 5-15 mph pushing you toward the finish line in St. Paul.

Good luck.

We will all participate in the annual Minnesota Winter Weather Marathon, which runs about 6 months or so. Last winter's pattern became locked in a blocking pattern that funneled arctic air into much of the USA. The QBO, or quasi-biennial oscillation, tracks winds near the stratosphere that increase the risk of these stubborn blocks forming. So far the trends are diametrically opposite of last year, to date. I don't think this winter will be nearly as harsh as last.

A cool, dry week gives way to showers next weekend. Just rain, no snow in sight. No warm fronts brewing but no drama either.

Today Tokyo may see a direct hit from Typhoon Phanfone.

Perspective. Thanks to the Twin Cities National Weather Service for putting Friday night's snowy near-miss into perspective. The earliest trace of snow on record: September 15, 1916. Nearly 2" of snow fell on September 26, 1942. I can only imagine how thrilled the locals were back then.

October Extremes. Here's a good, day-by-day analysis of daily snowfall records for October. Of course the record goes to Halloween, 1991, as the (memorable) Halloween Superstorm kicked in: 8.2", on our way to close to 30" over 3 days as a storm stalled over Lake Superior. I'll take that one to my grave...

707 AM CDT SAT OCT 4 2014 /807 AM EDT SAT OCT 4 2014

Chilly Sunday, Then Slight Moderation. I'm not sure I'd call a shot at 60F Tuesday a warm front, more of a not-as-cold front, but the next few days should feel a little more like October. Highs clip 50 today, then rise to near 60F Tuesday before cooling off slightly late in the week. Any significant rain passes south of Minnesota until a more formidable front arrives next weekend. Graphic: Weatherspark.

Continuing Cool Bias Northern USA. An intense storm rotating around Hudson Bay keeps cool exhaust flowing into the Upper Midwest, Great Lakes and New England in the coming days, unusually cool air pushing as far south as Florida. Any significant rains pass well south of Minnesota until late week, when the next long-wave trough pushes showery rains into Minnesota. Yes, the atmosphere should be warm enough for liquid precipitation. Source: NOAA ARL.

Wet Start to October - Will Harvesting Be Impacted? Dr. Mark Seeley takes a comprehensive look at weather trends; highlighting a possible impact/delay on the corn harvest due to a very wet start to October. Here's an excerpt of this week's WeatherTalk Newsletter: "...Winona reported 1.36 inches and Caledonia 1.81 inches, while in the Twin Cities Metro Area MSP airport reported 1.47 inches and the University of Minnesota St Paul Campus 1.20 inches. Well over half of the state's corn crop has reached physiological maturity now and a majority of the soybeans have dropped their leaves. As the corn and soybean harvesting season gets underway in earnest this month Minnesota farmers will be hoping for a series of dry days to get some harvesting done. It appears that patience will be required waiting for a warm and dry interval of weather..."

Vikings Stadium Crane Operators Swing Carefully From 300 Feet In Air. And you thought you had an interesting gig? Here's a snippet from a Star Tribune article: "...The highest point of the structure — the west prow, which is now in place — soars to 270 feet. The cranes Koebnick and his colleagues run go even higher than that, reaching 300 feet and providing a panoramic view of car crashes, police chases and the incoming weather system at the farthest reaches of the horizon. The crane operators make the long climb to the top each morning and don’t return to earth until quitting time, often 12 to 14 hours later. Their lunches go up with them, and they tend to nibble all day rather than take a break or relax over a sandwich. For the call of nature, they each have a 5-gallon bucket..."

NASA Satellites Put California Drought Into Shocking Perspective. Mashable has the story - here's the introduction: "Newly released images created from NASA satellite data illustrate the staggering effect the California drought has had on groundwater supply in the state. The images show the amount of water lost over the past 12 years, with different colors indicating severity over time..."

Image credit: UC Irvine, NASA.

2014 Hurricane Season Winding Down With Only Five Named Storms. It's been a very busy hurricane/typhoon season in the Pacific, but unusually quiet (again) in the Atlantic. Here's an excerpt of a good recap from meteorologist Steve Rudin at WJLA-TV in Washington D.C.: "...With less than two months to go, the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season has been lackluster at best. Earlier this year, NOAA predicted near-normal to below-normal tropical season. One factor could be the development of El NiƱo along with cooler Atlantic water temperatures. The original forecast was for eight to 13 named storms, three to six becoming hurricanes and one or two becoming major hurricanes..."

The Freak Hurricane of 1821 And Why It Should Worry Every Mid-Atlantic and Northeast Coastal Resident. I'm feeling better about living in the Upper Midwest, in spite of the fresh slaps of Canadian air. Here's an excerpt from meteorologist Jason Samenow at The Capital Weather Gang: "Nearly 200 years ago, a devastating hurricane with sustained winds up to 130 mph crashed into the North Carolina Outer Banks.  This beast of a storm than roared up the East Coast, inflicting immense damage in Norfolk, swamping Cape May and raising New York’s East River 13 feet in one hour. Re-insurer Swiss Re, which analyzed this storm, says such a storm today would cause over $100 billion in damages, and prove 50 percent more costly than 2012′s Superstorm Sandy, in a recent report “The big one: The East Coast’s USD 100 billion hurricane event...”

The Human Factor. Automation in the cockpit is generally thought to be a good thing, but is too much automation making it difficult or even impossible for pilots to cope when things go really wrong? Here's a summary of a long, but excellent article at Vanity Fair: "Airline pilots were once the heroes of the skies. Today, in the quest for safety, airplanes are meant to largely fly themselves. Which is why the 2009 crash of Air France Flight 447, which killed 228 people, remains so perplexing and significant. William Langewiesche explores how a series of small errors turned a state-of-the-art cockpit into a death trap..."

Image credit above: Sean McCabe. "TROUBLE AHEAD Inside the automated cockpit of an Airbus A330—like the one belonging to Air France that crashed into the equatorial Atlantic in 2009."

The World's Loudest Sound. has a fascinating story about the debilitating and life-threatening impact of unimaginable noise at close range. Imagine the loudest concert you've ever attended. Multiply by 100. Here's an excerpt: "The sound made by the Krakatoa volcanic eruption in 1883 was so loud it ruptured eardrums of people 40 miles away, travelled around the world four times, and was clearly heard 3,000 miles away. Think, for a moment, just how crazy this is. If you're in Boston and someone tells you that they heard a sound coming from New York City, you're probably going to give them a funny look. But Boston is a mere 200 miles from New York. What we're talking about here is like being in Boston and clearly hearing a noise coming from Dublin, Ireland..."

Failing Sense of Smell May Predict Sooner Death. Nose, don't fail me now. Here's the intro to a fascinatingly troubling article at The New York Times: "A defective sense of smell appears to be a good predictor of dying within five years, a new study has found. Researchers tested a nationally representative sample of 3,005 men and women aged 57 to 85 on their ability to identify five smells: rose, leather, orange, fish and peppermint. The study appears online in PLOS One..."

Google Glass Now Plays Movie Trailers, Close Captions Your Conversations. If done right this could be a big breakthrough for the hearing-impaired. Gizmag has the details; here's a clip: "Google Glass hasn't exactly set the world on fire – or, for that matter, even left beta status. But that doesn't mean there aren't still some cool potential uses for the headset. Today Glass has two big new apps: one that can turn it into a life-changing tool for the hearing-impaired, and another that, erm, helps movie theaters sell tickets..."

TODAY: Partly sunny, brisk. Winds: 8-15. High: 52
SUNDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy. Low: 37
MONDAY: More clouds, stray shower possible. High: 57
TUESDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, still cool. Wake-up: 40. High: 56
WEDNESDAY: Intervals of sun, winds ease. Wake-up: 36. High: 55
THURSDAY: Blue sky, mosquito-free! Wake-up: 35. High: 57
FRIDAY: Blue sky, still pleasant. Wake-up: 37. High: 56
SATURDAY: Showery rains push in. Wake-up: 41. High: 55

Climate Stories...

Why Climate Change Affects Poor Neighborhoods The Most. Those who have the least will be the first to suffer the impacts of a rapidly changing climate, worldwide. Here's an excerpt from Time Magazine: "Scientists frequently tout new evidence that climate change will drive some of the most populated cities in the United States underwater. New York, Boston and Miami are all at risk. But the impact of climate change varies even within cities, putting residents of poor neighborhoods at greatest risk of suffering from heat-related ailments, researchers say..."

NASA Explains How Climate Change Is Like The Flu. It's an analogy I use often when I speak in public about climate change. When's the last time you were 2-3 degrees warmer - how did you feel? Chances are there were symptoms to go with the low-grade fever: chills, a cough, maybe a rash or sniffles. We are experiencing the symptoms of a warmer atmosphere - it's showing up in the weather. Here's a clip from National Journal: "For NASA, climate change is kind of like flu season. In a new animated video, the space agency calls the warming phenomenon "planetary fever." Just as the human body heats up in response to an infection or illness, Earth has warmed from the accumulation of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide in its atmosphere. The average temperature of the planet has increased more than 1 degree Fahrenheit in the last century, according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, which tracks global temperatures..."

A Cargo Ship Just Completed A Historic Trip Through The Northwest Passage. Business Insider has the eye-opening story; here's the introduction: "The hazardous Northwest Passage is open for business. The MV Nunavik left Canada’s Deception Bay on September 19 and rounded Alaska’s Point Barrow on Tuesday – without an icebreaker escort. Owned by shipping firm Fednav and built in Japan, the Nunavik is the first cargo ship to make the trip unassisted, although technically, she is rated as a Polar Class 4 vessel, and can withstand year-round operations in first-year ice..."

Map credit above: "The ship's route through the Northwest Passage." CNA.

Travel Scene: Global Warming Opens Northwest Passage to Pleasure Cruises. If anyone onboard is sober enough to pay attention they might be a little distressed at the ability to cruise NORTH of Canada, but maybe that's just me. Keep the champagne flowing. Here's an excerpt from "Global warming and the resultant melting of parts of the Arctic icecap have opened a new world of travel — a 900-mile, 32-day luxury cruise with fares starting at $20,000. Crystal Cruises, one of the world's top-rated cruise lines, has announced that one of its ships, the Crystal Serenety, will traverse the fabled Northwest Passage on this Pacific-to-Atlantic voyage, beginning from Seward, Alaska, through the north part of mainland Canada and the Arctic Ocean to New York City..."

Earth Losing A Trillion Tons of Ice A Year. Antarctic sea ice may be increasing (due to ocean warming and changes in wind circulations in the Southern Hemisphere) but it's not close to making up for ice loss in the Arctic and Greenland, according to this post at Quark Soup by David Appell; here are a few excerpts: "At Slate, Phil Plait notes a new paper that finds the Antartic is losing 159 gigatonnes of land ice a year. How does that compare to the increase in Antarctic sea ice, a favorite talking point of [fake] skeptics?...So unless the frozen bus stop puddles of the world are gaining over a 1,000 gigatonnes of ice a year -- doubtful even in Canada -- the world is definitely losing a lot of ice. And Greenland's loss is accelerating..."

Global Warming: A Battle For Evangelical Christian Hearts and Minds. I talk frequently in public about Creation Care and stewardship - we are called to care for God's Creation, and that means not shrugging your shoulders and lapsing into conspiracy theories when the subject of environmental responsibility to future generations comes up. Here's an excerpt from The Guardian: "...Many evangelical Christians recognize this moral angle of human-caused climate change, and also view the issue as one of stewardship of the Earth. For example, climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe is an evangelical Christian herself, and often speaks to like-minded groups. She recently did an interview with Bill Moyers that’s well worth watching. Hayhoe told me,
The foundation of the Christian faith is about loving others as Christ loved us, and it is clear from the work that I do myself as well as I see from other colleagues that those with the least resources to adapt to a changing climate will be most affected by our actions.
Map credit above: Top frame: national per capita carbon pollution emissions. Bottom frame: Vulnerability Index from Samson et al. (2011). Source: Skeptical Science.

Explaining Extreme Events of 2013: Limitations of the BAMS Report. Greg Laden has perspective on attribution and causation, taking a closer look at a recent BAMS (Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society) report linking climate change to 9 of 16 global weather extremes last year. Here's an excerpt at "...There was a pattern in the results. The studies looking at heat all suggested a link to anthropogenic global warming (AGW). This is not surprising because AGW has involved a global increase in average temperature which is manifest across a variable climate, so even a modest increase in global temperature, bunched up in to places that are a bit cooler or warmer than average (at a given moment in time) is going to be blatantly obvious when picking out heat events. Some of the studies that looked at the California drought and drought in New Zealand attributed these conditions to climate change, others were more ambiguous or suggested that there was no link. All of the studies that looked at extreme precipitation events concluded that there was no way to make a connection, except one (in Northern India) which as ambiguous..."

If A Tree Falls In The Forest, But No Scientist Says So... Dr. Michael Mann at Penn State has an article at Huffington Post, talking about climate change impacts on major global weather events, including the perpetual, ongoing drought gripping California. Is there a link? Here's an excerpt: "...The California drought is of particular interest since it is both an unprecedented and absolutely devastating ongoing event. The thread potentially connecting that event to climate change is the unusual atmospheric pattern that prevailed during winter 2013/2014. That pattern was associated with a persistent "ridge" of high pressure over the western U.S. (see my previous Huffington Post piece) that caused the jet stream to plunge southward over the central U.S., chilling the eastern third of the country, and to veer northward over the west coast, pushing the warm moist subtropical Pacific air masses that would normally deliver plentiful rainfall (and snowpack) to California well to the north, resulting in bone-dry conditions in California and balmy weather in Alaska. In fact, there are at least three different mechanisms that are potentially relevant to the connection between the 2013/2014 California drought and human-caused climate change..."

South Florida at Forefront of Climate Planning, Top U.S. Scientist Says. Here's an excerpt from a story at The Miami Herald: "...In his address, Holdren ran down a laundry list of climate-related risks from rising temperatures to worsening storms. Sitting just feet above sea level, South Florida is particularly vulnerable to both flooding and saltwater tainting water supplies. Because porous limestone lies under Florida, controlling water can be tricky, Tommy Strowd, director of operations for the Lake Worth Drainage District and a former deputy director at the South Florida Water Management District, told the group. The system of canals and flood control structures built a half century ago to drain the Everglades that covered much of South Florida only made matters worse..."

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