Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Indian Summer Spills into Next Week - Details on Second Annual Minnesota Climate Adaptation Conference

65 F. high in the Twin Cities Tuesday.
59 F. average high on October 14.
55 F. high on October 14, 2013.

October 14, 1968: Short-sleeve weather across central and southern Minnesota. The high was 85 in the Twin Cities.
October 14, 1899: Heavy precipitation with 3.2 inches of rain in the St. Cloud area and 2.1 inches in Willmar.

Frozen Flashbacks

It's cliche but what a difference a year makes. Or 194 years, for that matter. On this date in 1820 dazed settlers at Fort Snelling were digging out from a freak 11 inch snowfall. Yes, mid-October blizzards are rare - but not unheard of. NOAA confirms a white-out on October 13, 1880 shut down much of southwest Minnesota. The town of Canby experienced 20-foot drifts "which lasted until the next spring."

Insert gasp here.

And here we are in 2014, mowing our lawns, raking leaves, admiring a streak of 60s under a flawless sky.

It's looking more and more like a Super-Sized September. Expect Indian Summer to spill over into Thursday before a late-week temperature correction. Highs hold in the 50s Friday into the weekend, a slight chance of a shower on Sunday. But no major storms or fronts are brewing - prevailing jet stream winds aloft blowing more from the Pacific than the Arctic Circle - more of a "zonal flow" which results in milder, drier weather for Minnesota.

60s return next week; 70F a possibility within 1 week. Halloween weather? It's too early for specifics, but I suspect 50s; probably milder than average. Not the 9 inches of wet snow we saw on Halloween 1991.

'Oy vay.

More September Than November. Today and tomorrow will bring back memories of September, and after cooling off Friday into Sunday the mercury rebounds into the 60s again next week. I wouldn't be surprised to see a 70-degree high by Thursday or Friday of next week. Graphic: Weatherspark.

East Coast Soaker. The same storm that sparked scattered severe storms from the Mid South to Georgia will push a band of heavy showers and T-storms into the East Coast today; some 2-4" rains are possible with flash flooding and isolated severe storms. Glorious weather lingers over Minnesota and the Dakotas, a band of moderate rain approaching the Pacific Northwest and northern California. 4 km NAM accumulated precipitation product: NOAA and HAMweather.

September Sets New Temperature Record. Here's a clip from The Hill: "Last month was the hottest September on record on the Earth's surfaces, according to NASA. September's data, released Sunday, follows a summer of new record high temperatures for most months. NASA's data showed that Earth's average temperatures was 58.586 degrees Fahrenheit, or 1.386 degrees above the average for 1951 to 1980, which NASA uses as a benchmark..."

Odds Still Favor El Nino. A warming of the equatorial Pacific usually correlates with less severe winters for Minnesota and the Upper Midwest. Usually. The west coast ridge appears to finally be breaking down; that could mean a more zonal, progressive flow - with lower odds of a stationary blocking pattern capable of a perpetual Polar Vortex dipping into the USA. We'll see. More details than you ever wanted to see on the developing El Nino from NOAA CPC.

Time For Your Brazilian Model. The AGCM Ras model, courtesy of Brazil's National Weather Service, shows a (very) warm bias from December into February, evidence of a "Rex Block" setting up across North America, favoring stormy weather over the Pacific Northwest and New England, with a relatively mild ridge of high pressure over the midsection of the USA. No, I wouldn't place a big bet on this forecast, but I still have a strong hunch the upcoming winter won't look anything like last winter.

Northern Californians Prepare for Megafires. Jefferson Public Radio at Southern Oregon University has the story; here's the introduction: "California is in the midst of one of the worst droughts in its history and has seen 1,000 more wildfires this year than last. In 2013 the largest wildfire ever in the Sierra Nevada, the Rim Fire, took two months to fully contain and seared more than 250,000 acres. Scientists warn that Californians should prepare for a future of more Rim Fires, fueled by climate change, drought, and forest mismanagement. California Burning is an examination of how Californians are coping with the increased threat, technologies being developed to fight and predict fire, and how we can make forests less prone to megafires in the future...

Photo credit above: "USFS research scientist Malcolm North examines a tree killed in the 2013 Rim Fire." Credit Amy Quinton/CPR.

The Risks of Cheap Water. Innovation becomes more difficult if prices are kept artificially low, as reported by The New York Times: "...But the proliferation of limits on water use will not solve the problem because regulations do nothing to address the main driver of the nation’s wanton consumption of water: its price. “Most water problems are readily addressed with innovation,” said David G. Victor of the University of California, San Diego. “Getting the water price right to signal scarcity is crucially important.” The signals today are way off. Water is far too cheap across most American cities and towns. But what’s worse is the way the United States quenches the thirst of farmers, who account for 80 percent of the nation’s water consumption and for whom water costs virtually nothing..."

Photo credit above: "Interstate 5 in Del Mar, Calif., in September. California is in an extended drought and has introduced fines to foster conservation." Credit Mike Blake/Reuters.

Flash Flood Chaser. This is a new one. There are thousands (?) of tornado chasers, professionals and amateurs, hurricane chasers, even people who try to put themselves in the path of a developing blizzard. But flash flooding? That requires a level of patience I can only dream of. Here's an excerpt of a wild story at High Country News: "...Sometimes, after waiting four hours in 95 degree heat with nothing for company but a CamelBak and his own thoughts, Rankin begins to wonder: “Am I just hoping for the impossible?” A trail sign rattles in the wind; nothing moves. And then, finally, he hears a soft rumbling in the distance. The banks of the dry wash tremble underfoot. Just as he catches a wafting scent of fresh, wet, gritty earth, the flood rolls around the corner, gnashing and crunching at an unmistakable pitch. It’s laden with debris carved from miles of canyon and riverbed, black as solidified lava and thick as wet cement. But instead of fleeing from the deadly flow, Rankin leans in closer to film it, sometimes hopping to high ground just as the water lips over his shoes..."

University Researchers Develop International Flood Monitoring System. The Diamondback at the University of Maryland has the article; here's an excerpt: "...The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a report this summer analyzing nuisance flooding — named for the infrastructure headaches it causes, such as road closures and building damage — in 45 NOAA water level gauge areas across the country. The report found flooding had increased in each of the studied areas — sometimes by more than 900 percent — over the past 50-plus years..."

Edward Snowden's Privacy Tips: "Get Rid of Dropbox", Avoid Facebook and Google. Well that should be easy. Techcrunch has excerpts of a recent interview; here's an excerpt of an excerpt: "According to Edward Snowden, people who care about their privacy should stay away from popular consumer Internet services like Dropbox, Facebook, and Google. Snowden conducted a remote interview today as part of the New Yorker Festival, where he was asked a couple of variants on the question of what we can do to protect our privacy. His first answer called for a reform of government policies. Some people take the position that they “don’t have anything to hide,” but he argued that when you say that, “You’re inverting the model of responsibility for how rights work...”

My Battle With Depression and Anxiety. Admitting you have an issue is step one. Help is available for depression and anxiety disorder, what one therapist called flip-sides of the same coin. Here's an excerpt of a brave Op-Ed from at Huffington Post: "...But lately, it's more than panic plaguing me. An encompassing sadness has attached itself to me like a shadow -- following me wherever I go, no matter what I do. I've had this feeling before, it's certainly not new to me. It's just been a while. I know it's depression waiting in the wings. I know that if I don't fight it hard enough, it will envelope me completely. So everyday I force myself out of bed and go to work. I force myself to keep plans and socialize because I know that if I don't, I'd spend my weekends in bed, reading or watching TV until Monday..."

This New Battery Charges to 70% in Two Minutes, And Lasts For 20 Years. It's appropriate to be a bit skeptical about such claims, but it's the exponential breakthroughs in clean-power technology that will accelerate our shift away from fossil-fuel powered energy. Here's an excerpt from Science Alert: "...The new battery drastically improves this process, and will allow you to charge your phone while you look for your keys on the way out the door. It would also help make electric vehicles a more viable alternative to fossil-fuel-powered cars, by reducing battery replacement costs and allowing drivers to recharge their cars in minutes.  “Electric cars will be able to increase their range dramatically, with just five minutes of charging, which is on par with the time needed to pump petrol for current cars,” said Professor Chen Xiaodong who led the study, in a press release. “Equally important, we can now drastically cut down the toxic waste generated by disposed batteries, since our batteries last 10 times longer than the current generation of lithium-ion batteries...”

* More details from Nanyang Technical University.

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: bit.ly/morcGALA

The Most Rat-Infested City in America? Here's one list I'm glad Minneapolis - St. Paul isn't on, but the #1 spot goes to a big city about 7 hours away. Huffington Post has the cringe-worthy details: "New York City might be infamous for its massive -- and apparently growing -- rat problem, but it was a different city that took top honors in a new ranking of America's most rat-infested cities. According to a Monday news release from pest control company Orkin, Chicago holds the distinction of being the nation's "rattiest" city. And if the mere thought of a horrific rat problem isn't enough to make one's skin crawl, the rodents are about to enjoy a seasonal surge: "Fall is a prime time for commensal rodents to actively seek food, water and shelter when temperatures drop and before the winter weather arrives," according to Orkin..."

113 Year Old Woman Lies About Her Age To Get Facebook Account. I suspect she's not the only one lying on Faceplant either. Here's an excerpt from a head-shaking story at the UK's Metro: "Anna noticed 1900, the year she was born, was not listed as an option when she registered her date of birth to the site – that only stretches as far back as 1905. So she was forced to do what countless other youngsters do every day to join the site, and lie about her her age. She got around the problem by knocking 15 years off her age and becoming, in the eyes of Facebook at least, a sprightly 99-year-old.

Photo credit above: "Anna Stoehr lied about their age to join Facebook… because she was too old." (Picture: Mayo Clinic / YouTube).

TODAY: Lukewarm sun. Clock out early. Winds: N 5-10. High: 66
WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Clear and cool. Low: 40
THURSDAY: Pinch me. I must be dreaming. Warm sun - feels like early September. High: 69
FRIDAY: Windy & cooler. Showers up north. Wake-up: 52. High: 57
SATURDAY: Plenty of cool sunshine. Wake-up: 40. High: 53
SUNDAY: Some sun, isolated shower. Wake-up: 34. High: 56
MONDAY: Mild sunshine, beautiful. Wake-up: 35. High: 61
TUESDAY: Indian Summer. The Sequel. Wake-up: 38. High: 65

Climate Stories...

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."

Oceans Experiencing Largest Sea Rise in 6,000 Years, Study Says. Here's a story excerpt from The Washington Post: "...Over the last several thousands of years, has the ocean risen and fallen and risen again? A new study, just published in PNAS, suggests that the ocean has been surprisingly static since 4,000 B.C.. But that changed 150 years ago. Reconstructing 35,000 years of sea fluctuations, the study, which researchers say is the most comprehensive of its kind, found that the oceans are experiencing greater sea rise than at any time over the last 6,000 years. “What we see in the tide gauges, we don’t see in the past record, so there’s something going on today that’s wasn’t going on before,” lead author Kurt Lambeck, a professor at Australian National University, told the Australia Broadcasting Corporation..."

* the paper referenced above is here, courtesy of PNAS, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Do We Dare To Question Economic Growth? What will sustainable capitalism look like? How do we reach a balance between Earth's finite resources and lifestyle aspirations, job creation and the drumbeat for more? Will technology save us? Here's an excerpt from an intriguing Op-Ed at The Guardian: "...There’s plenty of evidence that we are pushing up against and exceeding several critical boundaries of global sustainability: by which I don’t mean some tree hugging idea of sustainability, I mean we are taking actions that cannot be supported by the earth’s systems in the long term. We’re already exceeding the earth’s adaptive capacity with respect to greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity loss and the nitrogen cycle and we’re approaching critical limits in both the phosphorous cycle and ocean acidification. Our use of fresh water is also approaching or exceeding sustainable limits in many parts of the world and we’re systematically destroying our arable land. These are critical life sustaining global processes that cannot be ignored without severe consequences..." (File image above: NASA).

Paul Ryan Thinks Humans Might Not Be The Cause of Climate Change. Here's a clip from a story at AP and Huffington Post: "...Ryan has previously questioned the climate scientists' research and data and, on Monday, said that the high costs associated with proposals to fight climate change ignore that "we've had climate change forever." "The benefits do not outweigh the costs," Ryan said. Zerban disagreed, saying spending on energy research would prove wise. "This is an opportunity to invest a dime to save a dollar," he said..."

Hagel To Address "Threat Multiplier" of Climate Change. Here's an excerpt of a story at defense.gov:

"....Uncertainty is no excuse for delaying action. "While scientists are converging toward consensus on future climate projections, uncertainty remains. But this cannot be an excuse for delaying action," Hagel said. "Every day our military deals with global uncertainty. Our planners know that, as military strategist Carl von Clausewitz wrote, "all action must, to a certain extent, be planned in a mere twilight." It is in this context, he said, that he is releasing DoD's Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap today...."

Department of Defense 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap. In fairness, the Pentagon has recognized the risk posed by climate change since the late 90s. What is different about the 2014 report is the sense of urgency. The term "immediate threat" is invoked twice in the first 4 paragraphs. That is new. The 20-page PDF from the DoD is here.

Pentagon Signals Security Risks of Climate Change. Here's a clip from a New York Times story: "...The report is the latest in a series of studies highlighting the national security risks of climate change. But the Pentagon’s characterization of it as a present-day threat demanding immediate action represents a significant shift for the military, which has in the past focused on climate change as a future risk. Before, the Pentagon’s response to climate change focused chiefly on preparing military installations to adapt to its effects, like protecting coastal naval bases from rising sea levels. The new report, however, calls on the military to incorporate climate change into broader strategic thinking about high-risk regions — for example, the ways in which drought and food shortages might set off political unrest in the Middle East and Africa..."

Pentagon Unveils Plan For Military's Response to Climate Change. Here's a clip from a story at The Los Angeles Times: "...The Pentagon’s “2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap” describes how global warming will bring new demands on the military. Among the report's conclusions: Coastal military installations that are vulnerable to flooding will need to be altered; humanitarian assistance missions will be more frequent in the face of more intense natural disasters; weapons and other critical military equipment will need to work under more severe weather conditions..."

What Would Milton Friedman Do About Climate Change? Tax Carbon. Here's an excerpt from a story at Forbes: "...What’s happening when we turn on the lights, when the power is derived from a coal plant, or when we drive our car, is that carbon dioxide is emitted into the air, and that’s sprinkling around damages in Bangladesh, London, Houston,” said Michael Greenstone, the Milton Friedman Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago and the director of the Energy Policy Institute of Chicago. “And those costs are real, and they’re not being reflected in the costs of that electricity or the tank of gas. Emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere does allow you to produce electricity more cheaply, but there’s a whole other set of people who are being punished or penalized. It’s a poor idea of economics...”

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