Monday, October 6, 2014

Cool & Dry into Sunday - Are Scientists Underestimating Ocean Warming?

63 F. high in the Twin Cities Monday.
63 F. average high on October 6.
55 F. high on October 6, 2013.

October 6, 2003: Record high temperatures were seen across the area. St. Cloud's high was 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Minneapolis tied their record of 85 degrees set in 1997, and Alexandria set their record with 88 degrees. Forest Lake reached a record-setting 82 degrees, along with Stillwater at 84 degrees.
October 6, 1980: Summer-like heat over Minnesota with 92 at Montevideo and 84 at the Twin Cities.


I'm a sucker for summer but October is a tonic for the soul: one last grand finale of color, light and magic before the sudden flush of winter. Maybe it's the low sun angle, casting long shadows across a ripening landscape. A lack of haze, humidity, bugs and pollen offers up a crystal clear sky, sharp visibility all the way to the horizon.

Driving out to Willmar yesterday I couldn't help but notice an endless sea of crunchy corn waving in the wind. Harvest has begun over Iowa, but a record wet June has set Minnesota'a corn harvest back 7-10 days.

Good news for farmers: our pattern looks relatively dry for the next week; west to northwest winds aloft keeping big storms south of Minnesota until next week, when moisture from the Gulf of Mexico may surge up the Mississippi by Wednesday.

We may see another 70-degree day or two, but 80s may not come around this way until May. Highs brush 60F today before cooling off slightly later this week - no more cold, rainy or snowy windblown blasts are brewing anytime soon.

Keep an eye on California. If Pacific storms break down a stubborn ridge and it rains on Hollywood starlets it's a good omen for a milder, tamer winter here at home.

Most Days With 1"+ Snow in December? I was a little surprised, thinking it might be March or even January, but data from the National Weather Service confirms a 30-year average of 4 days with 1" or more of snow, just enough to turn your commute into a bad dream.

In Virtual Mega-Drought California Avoids Defeat. What would happen if the current drought gripping California lingered for 60-70 more years? Here's an excerpt from a story at The Los Angeles Times: "...The state's system of capturing and moving water around is one of the most expansive and sophisticated in the world. But it is based on a falsehood. "We built it on the assumption that the last 150 years is normal. Ha! Not normal at all," cautioned paleoclimate expert Scott Stine, a professor emeritus of geography and environmental science at Cal State East Bay. "The weather record that we tend to depend on in California for allocating water … is based on about 150 years of really quite wet conditions when you look back at, say, the last 8,000 years or so," Stine said..."

Photo credit above: "The banks of Diamond Valley Lake in Hemet are dry and cracked. Though agriculture would shrink under chronically dry conditions, California on the whole wouldn't collapse." (Allen J. Schaben)

Hiker Captures Volcano's Eruption on Video. This is video from the Mt. Ontake eruption in Japan in late September, but you may not have seen the ash cloud sweeping in. Here's a link to the video and story at NPR: "A huge cloud of rolling ash and dust poured down the side of Mount Ontake in central Japan on Saturday, as the volcano erupted and coated the surrounding area in ash. The sudden eruption initially stranded more than 250 hikers; one of them managed to shoot video of the shocking sight of an immense billowing gray cloud speeding toward them..."

Common MythConceptions. Here's an excerpt from David McCandless's new book, debunking many myths that keep getting repeated. Check out the list at

Coast Guard Rescues Man Running Across Ocean in Bubble. So far this story is way out in front for having the most quotable news headline. Good grief. Someone didn't really think this through very well. Here's an excerpt of a head-scratching tale from NBC News: "A marathon runner who tried to run his way around the Bermuda Triangle in an inflatable bubble was rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard on Saturday about 70 miles off the coast of Florida after he became exhausted, authorities said. Reza Baluchi, a runner who advertised his human-powered trip across the ocean to Bermuda, down to Puerto Rico and back to southern Florida on his website, gave up his voyage and activated a locating beacon Saturday morning, days after refusing earlier requests to abandon the voyage, the Coast Guard said..."

TODAY: Partly sunny and windy. Winds: NW 15-30. High: 59
TUESDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy, winds ease up a bit. Low: 38
WEDNESDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, less wind. High: 58
THURSDAY: Partly sunny, lot's of fresh air! Dew point: 28. Wake-up: 36. High: 55
FRIDAY: Blue sky, still calm and quiet. Wake-up: 34. High: 57
SATURDAY: Dim sun, breezy and milder. Wake-up: 39. High: near 60
SUNDAY: Clouds increase, showers far west. Wake-up: 45. High: 62
MONDAY: Lot's of clouds, a few few hours of rain. Wake-up: 46. High: 57

* Photo credit: Timothy Butz.

Climate Stories...

Past Measurements May Have Missed Massive Ocean Warming. Science Magazine has the update; here's the introduction: "Earth’s oceans have absorbed more than 90% of the warming caused by greenhouse gases, researchers estimate, with the stored heat showing up as warmer seawater. But a new analysis suggests scientists may have underestimated the size of the heat sink in the upper ocean—which could have implications for researchers trying to understand the pace and scale of past warming. Seas pose a formidable challenge to climate scientists. On one hand, they are as big a player in the global climate system as the atmosphere. As a result, “global warming is ocean warming," oceanographer Gregory Johnson writes in a commentary on the new study, appearing today in Nature Climate Change. But vast swaths of the ocean are poorly measured, particularly in the Southern Hemisphere..."

Image credit above: "The ocean stores much of the warming caused by the buildup of greenhouse gases." Daniel Ramirez/Flickr.

A Word From Our Sponsor. The New Yorker has an interesting article about David Koch's contributions to PBS, and Koch's inclusion in a recent documentary, "Park Avenue". Here's a clip: "....“Park Avenue” includes a multifaceted portrait of the Koch brothers, telling the history of their family company and chronicling their many donations to universities and think tanks. It features comments from allies like Tim Phillips, the president of the Kochs’ main advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity, and from activists in the Tea Party, including Representative Michele Bachmann, of Minnesota, who share the Kochs’ opposition to high taxes and regulation..."

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