Monday, November 10, 2014

More Climate Volatility - Taste of January Next 2 Weeks

31 F. high in the Twin Cities Monday.
45 F. average high on November 10.
42 F. high on November 10, 2013.

November 10, 1940: Great Armistice Day Blizzard. 49 people died in Minnesota. Food dropped by Pilot Max Conrad saved stranded hunters. Barometer fell to 28.66 inches at Duluth. Some roads were so badly blocked with snow they weren't opened until Nov. 22.

Instant Winter of '14

On Sunday I looked at the maps and groaned. My wife was having none of it. "You love snowstorms" she sighed. "They make you feel important". Maybe 30 years ago, but today? Not so much. Every storm is a new lesson in humility.

Technology helps, no doubt. We now have scores of weather models to choose from. We look for continuity, agreement between the various simulations. We pay attention to model trends. As early as Sunday models were pulling back on the most extreme snow predictions for the Twin Cities.
My forecast called for a foot for far northern suburbs, a few inches south metro. A sharp snowfall gradient did set up right over the metro area; a huge contrast from Shakopee to St. Cloud & Anoka. Every winter storm is uniquely fickle, this one was no different.

Accumulating snow is over. Now the cold settles in. If it's any consolation the pattern won't favor any big storms anytime soon. It's just going to be too cold; January-like air pushes the main storm track well to our south. Expect a streak of 20s this week; a few nights below zero possible next week.

I sure hope this is payback for a stunning October, not an omen of another bitter, polar vortex winter to come.

Happy Veterans Day.

Snowfall Totals. The map above shows amounts as of 8:30 pm Monday evening. My forecast Sunday called for 5-10" as a metro-wide average. A little high, yes. The correct range would have been 2-16", the contrast between Eden Prairie and St. Augusta. Anoka picked up a cool 10" of snow; 6-9" amounts pretty common across the north metro. A few hours of freezing rain and sleet Monday morning helped to keep amounts a notch lower than forecast for the rest of the metro. Still plowable, but hardly the end of the world. Click here to see the latest NOAA snowfall map.

736 PM CST MON NOV 10 2014




 INCHES  LOCATION                 ST  COUNTY           TIME
 ------  -----------------------  --  --------------   -------
 16.50   CAMBRIDGE                MN  ISANTI           0530 PM
 16.50   ST AUGUSTA               MN  STEARNS          0302 PM
 15.00   STARBUCK                 MN  POPE             0337 PM
 13.00   MILAN                    MN  CHIPPEWA         0700 PM
 13.00   KIMBALL                  MN  STEARNS          1210 PM
 12.50   5 NW MADISON             MN  LAC QUI PARLE    0300 PM
 12.50   NORTH BRANCH             MN  CHISAGO          0300 PM
 12.10   ST CLOUD                 MN  STEARNS          0600 PM
                 MEASURED AT THE PRISON.
 12.00   8 ENE NORTH BRANCH       MN  CHISAGO          0600 PM
 12.00   ST FRANCIS               MN  ANOKA            0401 PM
 11.30   ELK RIVER                MN  SHERBURNE        0620 PM
 11.00   ANNANDALE                MN  WRIGHT           0630 PM
 11.00   MADISON                  MN  LAC QUI PARLE    0420 PM
 11.00   3 N BECKER               MN  SHERBURNE        0403 PM
 11.00   5 SW FOLEY               MN  BENTON           0310 PM
 11.00   RICE LAKE                WI  BARRON           0254 PM
 11.00   ISANTI                   MN  ISANTI           1235 PM
 10.50   ST JOSEPH                MN  STEARNS          0542 PM
 10.50   MURDOCK                  MN  SWIFT            0255 PM
 10.50   1 ENE BRAHAM             MN  KANABEC          0120 PM
 10.10   WILLMAR                  MN  KANDIYOHI        0445 PM
 10.00   SAUK RAPIDS              MN  BENTON           0325 PM
 10.00   ANOKA                    MN  ANOKA            0310 PM
 10.00   5 NNE WILLMAR            MN  KANDIYOHI        0230 PM
 10.00   KINGSTON                 MN  MEEKER           1258 PM
 10.00   BENSON                   MN  SWIFT            1225 PM
 10.00   ST CLOUD                 MN  STEARNS          1210 PM
  9.50   4 SE OTSEGO              MN  WRIGHT           0337 PM
  9.50   MURDOCK                  MN  SWIFT            1100 AM
  9.40   MONTICELLO               MN  WRIGHT           0615 PM
  9.40   LONG PRAIRIE             MN  TODD             0355 PM
  9.00   3 N ALEXANDRIA           MN  DOUGLAS          0525 PM
  9.00   CUMBERLAND               WI  BARRON           0222 PM
  9.00   MORA                     MN  KANABEC          0217 PM
  9.00   5 NE RUSH CITY           MN  PINE             0200 PM
  8.50   WILLMAR                  MN  KANDIYOHI        0430 PM
  8.00   ST MICHAEL               MN  WRIGHT           0456 PM
  8.00   MORA                     MN  KANABEC          0223 PM
                 RELAYED BY NWS DULUTH.
  8.00   LADYSMITH                WI  RUSK             1200 PM
  8.00   5 SW FOLEY               MN  BENTON           1115 AM
  7.80   2 N SAUK CENTRE          MN  STEARNS          0215 PM
  7.60   OTSEGO                   MN  WRIGHT           0336 PM
  7.50   WAVERLY                  MN  WRIGHT           0454 PM
  7.00   MORA                     MN  KANABEC          0258 PM
  7.00   RICE LAKE                WI  BARRON           1230 PM
  7.00   CUMBERLAND               WI  BARRON           1210 PM
  7.00   ST CLOUD                 MN  STEARNS          1000 AM
                 STATE UNIVERSITY AS OF 10 AM.
  6.70   COSMOS                   MN  MEEKER           0330 PM
  6.00   CIRCLE PINES             MN  ANOKA            0610 PM
  6.00   COON RAPIDS              MN  ANOKA            0303 PM
  6.00   MONTICELLO               MN  WRIGHT           1045 AM
  5.50   1 SW LITTLE FALLS        MN  MORRISON         1120 AM
  5.10   5 NNE BIG LAKE           MN  SHERBURNE        0900 AM
  5.00   ENE BRAHAM               MN  ISANTI           1000 AM
  4.50   MAPLE PLAIN              MN  HENNEPIN         1145 AM
  4.00   1 N CAMERON              WI  BARRON           1052 AM
  3.60   NEW HOPE                 MN  HENNEPIN         0100 PM
  3.40   WSW LITTLE CANADA        MN  RAMSEY           0957 AM
  3.10   1 NNW NORTH ST PAUL      MN  RAMSEY           0230 PM
  3.00   3 SW MSP INTL AIRPORT    MN  HENNEPIN         0310 PM
  3.00   8 NW MSP INTL AIRPORT    MN  HENNEPIN         1224 PM

Time Warp. The maps look more January than November, at least looking out into the end of next week. In a pattern vaguely similar to last winter polar air becomes temporarily trapped over the USA and southern Canada. Expect highs in the 20s this week; next week looks a notch colder with a couple days in the teens and a subzero low or two possible. Unusual for mid-November, but not unprecedented.

Accumulating Snowfall Potential. The 4 km NAM from NOAA shows heavy snow pushing across northern Wisconsin into the U.P. of Michigan; major cities in the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley avoiding accumulating snow, for now. 60-hour snowfall: NOAA and HAMweather.

Leading Edge of Bitter Air. The storm spreading heavy snow across the Upper Midwest into the Great Lakes and eastern Canada marks the leading edge of a polar airmass that would feel right at home in January. I could see a few record cold temperatures by early next week from the Upper Midwest to the Ohio Valley; a possibility of a major nor'easter spinning up as numbing air pushes farther south and east.

A Numbing Couple of Weeks. The map above, courtesy of Climate Reanalyzer, shows unusually cold air rotating into the USA next Monday while the Arctic region is 6-7F warmer than average. Another upside-down weather map. Yes, it brings back some memories of last winter, but will this pattern become locked, stalled like last winter? It's too early to say, but I doubt it. Some strange things are happening with the world's weather patterns, but two 30-year winters, back to back? The odds are small (but not zero).

Temperature anomaly map obtained using Climate Reanalyzer (, Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, USA

Behold The Most Accurate Simulation of an F-5 Tornado Ever. Gizmodo has an interesting story about scientists pushing the envelope by simulating tornadogenesis; here's an excerpt: "As awful as the movie Twister was, it helped bring to light the challenges of researching tornadoes. Namely, how do you get close enough to study something that's powerful enough to kill you? One obvious solution is to simulate them, and thanks to recent advancements, a team of researchers was finally able to create a deadly F5 tornado in a computer and keep it alive for an hour and forty minutes, providing countless insights as it tore its destructive (but simulated) path..."

These Beautiful Images Made International Space Station Astronauts Into Social Media Stars. Quartz has the story and links - here's an excerpt: "...Their mission underlines how social media has become a crucial component for space programs—especially for the International Space Station, which has struggled to obtain US funding and define what, exactly, it is for. But now the growing online popularity of Twitter-savvy astronauts (not to mention the interest in privatizing and commercializing space exploration) has renewed interest in the ISS. Canadian Chris Hadfield kicked off the phenomenon last year with a social media blitz cooked up by his two twenty-something sons, resulting in thousands of gorgeous images, and a cover of “Space Oddity” that was watched 28 million times..."

Photo credit above: "NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman works outside the space station." (Reuters/Alexander Gerst/NASA).

52 Of The World's Most Widespread Myths and Misconceptions, Debunked. has the story and infographic; here's the intro: "A dropped penny won't kill you, alcohol doesn't keep you warm, and swallowed gum doesn't take seven years to digest. These are just three of the more than fifty rumors debunked in this compendious collection of common myths and misconceptions. Created by London-based data journalist and information designer David McCandless, the chart is organized by color into sections ranging from science to history, with each myth sized proportionally to its "virulence," i.e. how many hits it turns up on Google.."

Middle Eastern Authorities Are Cracking Down On Audio That Gets You "High". NOW I get the attraction to those fancy headphones! This head-scratcher of a story comes from Quartz: "...Binaural beats are audio files that are meant to induce a state of ecstasy. They include two tones at slightly different frequencies, and are listened to through headphones. The audio is generally used to help with meditation, alertness, and even as a sleep aid. But the producers of some tracks claim to induce the same effect as chemical drugs. The audio files are available on YouTube, or for a small price on retail websites like I-Doser. Although there is no evidence that people can actually get high from binaural beats, they’re alarming authorities in the Middle East..." (Photo credit: Skull Candy and Snoop Dogg).

Interview With a Madman: 207 MPH on a Bicycle? I'm betting this guy doesn't qualify for life insurance. Here's an eye-opening account at Gizmag: "...Dialing in a massive 4.5 kN of thrust, which generates roughly the equivalent of 560 horsepower, Gissy took his rickety-looking rocket bike up to a monstrous 333 km/h (207 mph), hitting top speed in just 4.8 seconds and generating about 1.96 Gs worth of acceleration. We had a quick chat with Gissy, who tells us he's hoping his next run will put him over 400 km/h (249 mph) in less than two seconds on a machine he's calling the "Spine Crusher."...

911 Calls From Inside Corn Mazes. Officially A Thing. Because maze panic is no joking matter. Just when you thought you've seen everything along comes this story at Modern Farmer; here's the intro: "The Cool Patch Pumpkins maze, located just outside Sacramento and deemed the largest corn maze in the world by “The Guinness Book of World Records,” has stymied a number of fall wanderers who can’t navigate themselves out of the husky abyss they paid $12 to wander into. Their only seeming recourse? Bring in the authorities. “I think they are overwhelmed,” Daryl Snedeker, a deputy from the Solano County Sheriff’s Department, told CBS Sacramento. “You can get a little worked up when you can’t get out of a place and everything looks the same...”

TODAY: Flurries taper. Cold wind. Winds: NW 10-20. High: 27
TUESDAY NIGHT: Partial clearing, colder. Low: 8
WEDNESDAY: Mostly cloudy. Feels like 10F. High: 25
THURSDAY: More clouds than sun. A bit numb. Wake-up: 10. High: 23
FRIDAY: Partly sunny. Sure missing November. Wake-up: 6. High: 21
SATURDAY: Light snow possible PM hours. Wake-up: 12. High: 26
SUNDAY: Mostly cloudy and breezy. Wake-up: 14. High: 29
MONDAY: An even colder front. Wind chill: 5. Wake-up: 8. High: 19

Climate Stories...

Climate Tools Seek To Bend Nature's Path. If we continue to wait, make continuous excuses and point the finger elsewhere, at some point the temptation will be high to roll the dice and gamble on a short-cut to cool things down, hacking the climate. What can possibly go wrong there? Here's a clip from a story at The New York Times: "...Once considered the stuff of wild-eyed fantasies, such ideas for countering climate change — known as geoengineering solutions, because they intentionally manipulate nature — are now being discussed seriously by scientists. The National Academy of Sciences is expected to issue a report on geoengineering later this year. That does not mean that such measures, which are considered controversial across the political spectrum, are likely to be adopted anytime soon. But the effects of climate change may become so severe that geoengineering solutions could attract even more serious consideration..."

A Tricky Transition From Fossil Fuel. Denmark already gets 40% of its electricity from renewable sources; and hopes to bring that number up to 100% by 2050. Can they do it? Justin Gillis at the New York Times reports; here's a clip: "... Denmark, a tiny country on the northern fringe of Europe, is pursuing the world’s most ambitious policy against climate change. It aims to end the burning of fossil fuels in any form by 2050 — not just in electricity production, as some other countries hope to do, but in transportation as well. Now a question is coming into focus: Can Denmark keep the lights on as it chases that lofty goal?..."

This Chart Shows Just How Much Humans Are Driving Global Warming. Business Insider has the article; here's the introduction: "Despite overwhelming scientific evidence that humans are responsible for climate change, debate still exists in the general public. In the United States alone, at least 15 states are currently governed by known climate deniers, and several states have taken measures to keep the best climate science out of public policy. But a quick look at the science leaves little doubt that the rising temperatures we've been observing for decades now are our own fault..."

Voters Put Climate Change Policy In The Hands of Climate Change Denier. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed from David Horsey at The Los Angeles Times: "...Actually, what he calls a “conspiracy” is more a threat to the future of the big oil and gas companies that have been the most generous contributors to Inhofe’s reelection campaigns. As far as actual danger, there are few places in the country more in peril than Inhofe’s Oklahoma and the lower Great Plains. Record temperatures, drought and water depletion are already big problems in the region. If climate scientists are correct and the current crisis is just a hint of worse days to come, one would think Inhofe might want to open his mind to the possibility he could be wrong about how wonderful climate change is going to be for his constituents..."

Colleges Tackle Climate Change. The Minnesota Daily has the article; here's an excerpt: "...University of Minnesota Water Resources interim director Faye Sleeper said the number of people interested in climate change and its damaging effects is growing, especially on college campuses. “Many people don’t know where to start, but I think the public is finally starting to understand that it will impact their lives,” she said. Sleeper nodded to the Twin Cities campus’s various projects, like its push to reduce gas emissions in its buildings and its kick-starting the “It All Adds Up” campaign, as examples of how colleges can aid in solving global problems..."

The Fact That Climate Change Lost Big In This Election Could Be A Huge Win. Interesting spin. We'll see, I want to remain optimistic, no matter which party is in power, but we're still just spinning our wheels, and so is every other country on Earth. Here's an excerpt of an Eric Holthaus article at Slate: "...But this election cycle, campaigners concerned with the future of the planet also won a subtle but extremely important victory: Climate change is something people are finally talking about. According to exit poll data, global warming is now the most polarizing issue to Republicans—beating even Obama’s signature health care laws. But at least it’s an issue. This is in sharp contrast to 2012, when the two presidential candidates barely mentioned the issue at all. Even if the 2014 election wasn’t primarily about climate, it was one of the social issues that resonated most strongly with voters..."

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