Sunday, October 19, 2014

Extended Outlook: More September than November

69 F. high in the Twin Cities Sunday.
57 F. average high on October 19.
49 F. high on October 19, 2013.

October 19 in MInnesota Weather History:

2002: Heavy snow across central Minnesota. It fell in a 10-20 mile wide band from southeast North Dakota to around Grantsburg Wisconsin. Little Falls picked up nine inches.
1916: Snow fell in south central Minnesota with 4.5 inches recorded in New Ulm, 4 inches in Farmington and Hutchinson, 3.5 inches in Montevideo, and 3 inches in Faribault.
1835: 6 inches of snow fell at Ft. Snelling.

Analog Method

How can you get a slight edge on predicting the winter to come? Nutty squirrels? Colorful caterpillars? Aunt Mabel's annoying bursitis? An analog forecast looks at previous years when weather was vaguely similar. "The maps are similar to 2006 and here's what happened that winter". It's a start, but every pattern is slightly different.

We factor everything from ocean water temperatures to melting arctic ice, looking at blocking patterns with acronyms like PDO, NAO & AO. And we wait for a sustained El Nino warming signal to finally kick in over the Pacific, which tends to keep much of the USA downwind a bit milder; wetter and stormier from the Gulf to the East Coast.

The last 2 winters brought more than 67 inches of snow in the metro. 3 years ago: a paltry 22.3 inches. My hunch? We wind up with average snowfall (in the 50s) with fewer subzero attacks - a bargain compared to last winter.

Showers don't return until late Wednesday and Thursday; otherwise a bloated ridge of high pressure treats us to Indian Summer into much of next week. 5-6 more days above 60F, maybe a day above 70F next week?

With all the bad news floating around I'm happy the weather is cutting us a break.

MSP Snowfall Trends. The graph above shows seasonal snowfall for the Twin Cities since 1883; a slight uptick in amounts since the 1950s, but considerably more volatility too, greater swings and extremes since the early 80s. Go ahead, flip a coin. Chance are it won't be "average". Graphic: Twin Cities National Weather Service.

Skipping Into November. Nothing ominous (or tragic) showing up on the weather maps looking out 2 weeks or so. A longwave ridge remains over the Rockies and Plains, meaning a milder bias into early November. The best chance of rain comes late Wednesday into Thursday, otherwise sunshine is the rule.

New England Nor'Easter - Heavy Rain Lashes Pacific Northest. GFS data also shows possible tropical development over the Gulf of Mexico by Saturday, possibly brushing south Florida before pushing into the Atlantic. Relatively warm weather lingers from southern California into the Plains and Mid South. Loop: NOAA.

Winter Precipitation Trends. The map above shows NOAA's winter overview: drier for the Pacific Northwest and Great Lakes; El Nino creating a split jet stream flow that tends to keep the southern USA and East Coast wetter. NOAA adds: "Last year’s winter was exceptionally cold and snowy across most of the United States, east of the Rockies. A repeat of this extreme pattern is unlikely this year, although the Outlook does favor below-average temperatures in the south-central and southeastern states..."

December - February Temperatures. A few private forecasting firms are still predicting another bitter "Polar Vortex 2" winter, but I'll be amazed if we fall into the exact same block that set up last winter. Yes, there was early snow coverage across Siberia (sometimes a cue of harsh winters to come downstream over North America) and persistent ridging continues in the Gulf of Alaska, which may eventually turn on a northwesterly flow aloft east of the Rockies. That said, I still think we'll see more of a zonal influence over the central USA, with or without El Nino kicking in.

Two Years After Hurricane Sandy Hit The U.S. What Lessons Can We Learn From The Deadly Storm? National Geographic poses the question, taking another look at Superstorm Sandy; here's a clip: "...In the case of Sandy, the European model was the outlier for days. The great irony with Sandy was that it went exactly where the European model said it was going to go. All the other models, including the ones the National Hurricane Center has come to regard as very reliable, were consistently saying, No, the storm is going to go out to sea. It really wasn't until the 25th of October, just four days before the storm made landfall, that the other models started to join the European model in saying that it was going to make this crazy arc into land..." (Sandy image: NASA).

Where Is El Nino? Why Do We Care? Climate Central explains the correlations between El Nino warm phases and weather downwiind across the USA. Although it turns out every El Nino is a bit different; here's an excerpt: "That El Niño we’ve been tracking for months on end — the one that is taking its sweet time to form — still hasn’t emerged, forecasters announced Thursday. But the reason we still care so much about it, following all of its tiny fluctuations toward becoming a full-blown El Niño, is that it can have important effects on the world’s weather, including in the U.S. It can even boost global temperatures, helping set the planet on the course to be the warmest year on record..."

Tornado "Clusters". It's A Thing. USA TODAY has a good summary of a new paper showing recent tornado trends; here's an excerpt: "...Now, on the days when tornadoes do occur, the twisters happen in greater number, according to the study published by NOAA researchers in the journal Science. For example, in the 1970s, there were only about 0.6 days a year on which more than 30 tornadoes were spotted. But that leaped to about three days per year in the 2000s. "There is a lower probability of a day having a tornado, but if a day does have a tornado, there is a much higher chance of having many tornadoes," the study found..."

Why I'll Think Twice Before Using A Public WiFi Network. At least one that isn't encrypted. Medium dives into the deep end of the pool describing, in vivid real-world details, how your personal information is put at risk in many public WiFi networks; here's a clip: "...The idea that public WiFi networks are not secure is not exactly news. It is, however, news that can’t be repeated often enough. There are currently more than 1.43 billion smartphone users worldwide and more than 150 million smartphone owners in the U.S. More than 92 million American adults own a tablet and more than 155 million own a laptop. Each year the worldwide demand for more laptops and tablets increases. In 2013, an estimated 206 million tablets and 180 million laptops were sold worldwide. Probably everyone with a portable device has once been connected to a public WiFi network: while having a coffee, on the train, or at a hotel..."

Fracking To Make U.S. "Energy Superpower". Saudi Gazette has the story. What, you don't find time to read Saudi Gazette on a regular basis? What's wrong with you! Here's an excerpt: "...Surging shale output has put the United States on track to pass Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world's largest producer of crude oil and to become a major exporter of natural gas. The Environmental Protection Agency is working to cut carbon emissions from the country's largest source, power plants. Still, green groups warn that those gains could vanish without reductions in methane emissions from oil and gas production. Environmentalists have urged the EPA to issue mandatory curbs on the industry's emissions of the potent greenhouse gas..."

20th Anniversary Gala for MORC. MORC is a non-profit organization dedicated to "gaining and maintaining trails" since 1994. These are off-road mountain and bmx bike trails for all ages to enjoy around the Twin Cities metro. With 2014 being our 20th anniversary as a non-profit we are celebrating by throwing a BIG party! The Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists are hosting the 20th Anniversary Gala Sunday, November 9th from 2-7 pm at the Varsity Theater. This event will be aimed at raising funds for our 2015 season. We are currently developing the Three Rivers Park area at Lake Rebecca as well as new trail at Theodore Wirth Park. Developing these new trails will take a lot of blood, sweat, tears and dollars to complete but it is sure to be amazing!

This will be a black tie dinner event that includes guest speakers; Paul Douglas, local meteorologist, Steve Flagg (President QBP), Matt Andrews (International Mountain Bicycling Association) and Libby Hurley (MN High School Mountain Bike League) as well as live and silent auctions to support MORC’s efforts moving forward. Also excited to announce "The Lost Wheels" providing live musical entertainment for the evening!

Tickets are now on sale here:

TODAY: Plenty of sun, cool breeze. Winds: NW 15. High: 60
MONDAY NIGHT Clear and cool. Low: 39
TUESDAY: Blue sky, still pleasant. High: 59
WEDNESDAY: Clouds increase, PM showers. Wake-up: 41. High: near 60
THURSDAY: Showers slowly taper, cool and damp. Wake-up: 48. High: 57
FRIDAY: More mild sunshine. Wake-up: 44. High: 63
SATURDAY: Sunny, still spectacular. Wake-up: 47. High: 64
SUNDAY: Weather on hold. Sunny, less wind, a bit cooler. Wake-up: 39. High: 60

Climate Stories...

In The Midwest, In The World, The Only Doubt Is In Our Minds. Here's a snippet from a story at The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette: "...But one finding during the national and international studies of the past few years surprised even the scientists. “We're seeing strong trends in extreme events,” Wuebbles said. “We expected to see an increasing trend for heat waves and generally a decreasing trend for cold waves. “But what we didn't realize, and we should have, is that more precipitation is coming in larger events – a very clear trend that's occurring, particularly here in the Midwest..."
Image credit above: "These are just some of the indicators measured globally over many decades that show the earth's climate is warming. Red arrows indicate increacing trends, blaok arrows indicate decreasing trends. All the indicators expected to increase in a warming world are increasing, and all those expected to decrease in a warming world are decreasing."

Second Annual Minnesota Climate Adaptation Conference. Tickets are still available for the November 6, 2014 conference at the Hyatt in Minneapolis. Last year's conference was eye-opening with useful, actionable information across multiple industries and agricultural concerns. Here's a draft agenda and overview of what to expect this year: "The 2014 Conference on Climate Adaptation is designed for local officials, planners, engineers, natural resource practitioners and others who want to know more about climate adaptation strategies. Learn about new plans that have been implemented or tested in various sectors, including human health, local governmental entities, college campuses, resources, recreation, and agriculture. Discover ways in which individual action could impact climate change. Our keynote speakers will provide updates on the increasing number of severe storm events, with continuing discussion in breakout sessions in the morning and afternoon. Registration is 95.00, which includes lunch, breaks and parking."

Barrow's Dramatic Autumn Warming Linked to Sea Ice Shrinkage. Here's an excerpt of a story at Alaska Dispatch that got my attention: "...While average annual temperatures in Barrow increased by 2.7 degrees Celsius (4.86 Fahrenheit) from 1979 to 2012, October temperatures rose by a whopping 7.2 degrees (12.96 Fahrenheit) over that period, according to the study, published in the Open Atmospheric Science Journal. “I was actually astonished about it,” said Gerd Wendler, lead author and a professor emeritus at the Arctic Climate Research Center, part of UAF’s Geophysical Institute. “I think I have never, anywhere, seen such a large increase in temperature over such a short period...”

Photo credit above: "Chukchi Sea waves crash on the coast at Barrow on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013." Marc Lester / ADN archive.

Study: Natural Gas Surge Won't Slow Global Warming. US News has a summary of recent research findings; here's a snippet: "...Computer simulations show that emissions of heat-trapping gases to make electricity would not decline worldwide and could possibly go up, says the study, released Wednesday by the journal Nature. Unconventional techniques such as high-volume hydraulic fracturing and ultra-deep water drilling have increased global supplies of natural gas so much that prices are now expected to remain relatively low for years to come. That makes generating electricity with natural gas cheaper than it otherwise would be, and makes it harder for wind and solar to compete..."

File Image Credit: "In this Aug. 6, 2011 file photo, a natural gas well operated by Northeast Natural Energy is seen in Morgantown, W.Va. Cheap and plentiful natural gas isn’t quite a bridge to a brighter energy future as claimed and won’t slow global warming, a new study projects. Abundant natural gas in the United States has been displacing coal, which produces more of the chief global warming gas carbon dioxide. But the new international study says an expansion of natural gas use by 2050 would also keep other energy-producing technologies like wind, solar and nuclear, from being used more. And those technologies are even better than natural gas for avoiding global warming." (AP Photo/David Smith)

When Our Responses to Drought Make Things Worse. Here's a clip from Peter Gleick writing for Huffington Post: "...In a new study just published by the journal Sustainability Science (Springer), analysis from the Pacific Institute shows that many of the fundamental responses of California water users to severe drought actually make the state's overall water conditions worse -- that in the end, many of these actions are "maladaptations." Water is a complex resource; and water problems are an equally complex mix of natural resource, technology, social, economic and political conditions. When water is limited, such as in water-short areas or during extreme events such as droughts, society puts in place a variety of responses..."

Churches Go Green By Shedding Fossil Fuel Holdings. Here's an excerpt from a story at The New York Times: "...But churches can lend a powerful moral sway to the movement, said Marion Maddox, an expert in religion and politics at Macquarie University in Australia. “The amount of money we’re talking about isn’t going to bankrupt any fossil fuel companies,” Dr. Maddox said. Divestment by the churches, however, “has the effect of getting people to stop and think, ‘Is this respectable to be involved with?’ .

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