Monday, November 17, 2014

Weekend Thaw - After Longest Sub-Freezing November Spell since 1996

15 F. "high" in the Twin Cities Monday.
40 F. average high on November 17.
46 F. high on November 17, 2013.

November 17, 1994: 58 to 69 mph wind gusts resulted in isolated damage to structures across south central and southeastern Minnesota. Some of the counties included were Blue Earth, Faribault, Freeborn, Goodhue, Le Sueur, Nicollet, Rice, Steele, and Waseca.
November 17, 1979: Heat wave continues in Southwest Minnesota. Temperature hits 70 degrees at Browns Valley.

No Problem

Do you think settlers at Fort Snelling in 1830 complained about cold weather? Yep. Did those hardy farmers, trappers and timber barons threaten to move to Florida after every cold front? Probably not.
Dear God, grant me a stoic constitution. Help me to accept the things I cannot change. Even big things, like Canada.

This is now the longest stretch of sub-freezing weather I can remember going back to the early 80s. Observe the no-exposed-skin rule this morning, with strong winds whipping up a wind chill of -15F at the bus stop. Temperatures run 20-25F colder than average into Friday, when temperatures dip below zero again in the suburbs.

Meteorological Thanksgiving arrives this weekend as Pacific air returns, with highs pushing well into the 30s Saturday & Sunday. It may be just mild enough aloft for a cold rain Sunday, before a major storm, a potential "bomb", spins up over the Great Lakes, yanking enough cold air south for a changeover to snow by Monday. It's too early to debate snow amounts, but at this point nothing would surprise me. After that: relatively quiet, storm-free weather for Thanksgiving travel from Tuesday on.

With an autumn like this who needs winter?

Most Sub-Freezing November Days in a Row Since 1996. I suspect we'll go 13 days in a row below freezing - which is impressive for November. Here's an excerpt of a post from the Minnesota DNR: "A strong January-like area of high pressure settled in across a large part of the central United States in the wake of the November 10, 2014 storm. Twin Cities began a streak of "at or below 32 degrees" for a maximum temperature on Monday, November 10 with a high temperature of 31 degrees. The longest stretch of 32 degrees or colder is a cold spell that began on November 16, 1880 and lasted for the rest of November for a streak of 15 days. 11 days has also been reached in 1911, 1985 and 1996. In order to break the all-time November consecutive maximum temperatures of 32 degrees or colder it would have to stay at or below freezing through November 25..."

Weekend Warming Trend. The last time temperatures rose above 32F in the Twin Cities was November 9, with a high of 39F. Since then we've been enjoying a premature taste of January, but models are pretty unanimous pulling milder, Pacific air into Minnesota by the weekend with highs well into the 30s to near 40F. Possibly mild enough aloft for a little rain Sunday changing to wet snow Monday as an impressive storm winds up over the Great Lakes. Graphic: Weatherspark.

Harsh Winter Outlook Made A Bit More Dire By Siberia Snow. Could the rate and extent of autumn snows across Siberia be a (reliable) indicator for the severity of winters from the USA to Europe? At least one researcher in Massachusetts believes the answer is yes. Here's a clip from Bloomberg: "...About 14.1 million square kilometers of snow blanketed Siberia at the end of October, the second most in records going back to 1967, according to Rutgers University’s Global Snow Lab. The record was in 1976, which broke a streak of mild winters in the eastern U.S. In addition, the speed at which snow has covered the region is the fastest since at least 1998. Taken together they signal greater chances for frigid air to spill out of the Arctic into more temperate regions of North America, Europe and Asia, said Judah Cohen, director of seasonal forecasting at Atmospheric and Environmental Research in Lexington, Massachusetts, who developed the theory linking Siberian snow with winter weather...

Image above courtesy of Rutgers University Global Snow Lab.

Warm Arctic, Cold Continents. A Common Pattern Related to Arctic Sea Ice Melt, Snow Advance and Extreme Winter Weather. What's happening in the Arctic is having a domino effect farther south, impacting the configuration of the jet stream, helping to spark more frequent and extreme weather events. A link to Dr. Judah Cohen's research is here.

5 Standard Deviation Event? This was from Saturday, but I wanted to include this - more energy in the system is creating some eye-popping anomalies that just can't be ignored or dismissed. The ridge over northwest Canada and Alaska over the weekend was a highly unusual and improbable event, helping to create the conditions necessary to push abnormally cold air into the USA. Source: Capital Climate.

Yes, The Weather Is Polar. No, It's Not The Vortex. NPR corrects some misconceptions about the (alleged) polar vortex, which has become a catch-all for every significant cold front that sails south of the Canadian border. No, this is not the Polar Vortex. Here's an excerpt: "...The polar vortex is a constant flow of arctic air circling in the upper atmosphere above the North and South Poles. The cold is usually corralled up there — but sometimes little bits of the arctic air escape. "It's just the ordinary sort of weather you expect in winter," Masters says. "Every now and then you get a big trough of low pressure. It dips down from the pole and it allows arctic air to seep southwards..."

Jet stream (GFS) winds obtained using Climate Reanalyzer (, Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, USA.

This Was The Polar Vortex. NOAA's takes a look at semantics and the "wobbly" nature of the jet stream over high latitudes on January 8, 2014. Brings back nice memories huh?

Warmest October on Record. Greg Laden has an overview of last month's global temperatures; here's an excerpt: "...The data for October has just been added to the NOAA GISS instrument record, which runs from 1880 to the present. October was the warmest on record, just beating out 2005. Overall, it is looking increasingly likely that 2014 will tie or beat the record for warmest year in the instrumental record, in terms of surface temperature..." (Graphic credit above: Japan Meteorological Agency).

A Quake Warning, Before It Strikes. Yes, there may (soon) be an app for that too. Here's an excerpt from a story at The New York Times: "...The MyShake app, still being tested, uses smartphone accelerometers and locaters to augment the information on quakes that comes from 400 seismometers in California, Mr. Allen said. Eventually, the app could warn users and provide huge amounts of additional data on earthquakes, he said..."

The Web Is Dying; Apps Are Killing It. We're transitioning from the wild, wild west to more of a walled garden, as described by The Wall Street Journal - here's the intro: "The web - that thin veneer of human-readable design on top of the machine babble that constitutes the Internet - is dying. And the way it's dying has farther-reaching implications that almost anything else in technology today. Think about your mobile phone. All those little chiclets on your screen are apps, not websites, and they work in ways that are fundamentally different from the way the Web does..."

21 Ridiculously Hot Products That Every Ridiculously Cold Person Will Want. A few of these sound pretty good, like a heated steering wheel cover and heated pants. Listen up Santa. Here's an excerpt from Huffington Post: "...And we want to make this life easier, so we've found 21 heated gadgets that will help you cruise through all your blistering cold days ahead. Soon enough, you'll be feeling like you're vacationing on a tropical island, sun, sand and actual time off work not included. Behold, a day in the life of someone who is never cold..."

80 Million Bacteria In One Intimate Kiss? Next time settle for a firm handshake. Microbiome has the technical, gawk-worthy details.

TUESDAY: Numb and number with intervals of sun. Wind chill: -15F early. High: 14
TUESDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy and unnecessarily cold. Low: 3
WEDNESDAY: Mostly cloudy, few flurries in the air. High: 22
THURSDAY: More sun, trying not to scream. Wake-up: 4. High: 17
FRIDAY: Cold start, promising finish. Wake-up: 1. High: 22
SATURDAY: First thaw in 13 days. Mostly cloudy and milder. Wake-up: 20. High: 36
SUNDAY: A cold rain may develop. Some icing possible. Wake-up: 29. High: 39
MONDAY: Windy with a changeover to snow. Tricky travel? Wake-up: 33. High: 34 (falling during the day)

Climate Stories...

Where Is Global Warming's Missing Heat? Here's the introduction to a story at Science Magazine: "Call it the climate change conundrum: Even though humans are pumping more greenhouse gases than ever into the atmosphere, the world’s average air temperature isn’t rising as quickly as it once did. Some scientists have proposed that the missing heat is actually being trapped deep underwater by the Pacific Ocean. But a new modeling study concludes that the Pacific isn’t acting alone. Instead, it finds, several of the world’s oceans are playing a role in the warming slowdown by absorbing their share of the “missing” heat..."

The Ocean Is Now Warmer Than Ever Before In Recorded History. The vast majority of extra energy and warmth is going into the world's oceans and we're not exactly sure what that means, longterm. We're (quite literally) in uncharted waters. Here's an excerpt from Quartz: "...Over the past ten years, great amounts of heat had become locked up in the the West Pacific, which is a planetary hot spot of sorts. At the same time, eastward-blowing summer trade winds and other factors kept that cauldron of balmy water contained—and kept the sea’s surface relatively cool. As Timmermann describes, starting in Jan. 2014, the North Pacific started heating up unusually quickly..."

Why Is Beijing Downplaying The Supposedly Huge Climate Change Deal? Here's a clip from a story at Foreign Policy: "...Alex Wang, a law professor at University of California Los Angeles and expert on China's environment, told Foreign Policy that "the idea that China should have no limits simply has become an untenable position." China's emissions, he noted, now "far exceed everyone else, per capita emissions have surpassed the EU, and historic emissions will soon catch up with the United States." So why isn't Beijing celebrating and advertising its new willingness to do something for the greater good?..."

Global Warming Could Increase U.S. Lightning Strikes by 50 Percent. Here's the intro to a Washington Post story: "In a study just out in the prestigious journal Science, a team of researchers deliver an alarming prediction: A global warming world will see a major increase in lightning strikes. "Even with the warming of a few degrees Celsius, you can get some very large climate impacts -- in this case, a 50 percent increase in lightning," says study author David Romps, a climate researcher at the University of California, Berkeley..."

* 2014 U.S. Lightning Fatalities, To Date. 3 lightning-related deaths in Wisconsin, none in Minnesota. Details from NOAA.

Can Climate Change Cure Capitalism? Here's an excerpt of a review of Naomi Klein's new book at The New York Review of Books: "...Klein doesn’t just disagree with Carter; she sees this line of thinking as a big part of the problem. Climate change can’t be solved within the confines of the status quo, because it’s a product of the status quo. “Our economic system and our planetary system are now at war,” she writes. The only hope of avoiding catastrophic warming lies in radical economic and political change. And this—again, according to Klein—is the good news. Properly understood, the buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere represents an enormous opportunity—one that, well, changes everything..."

Will GOP Put Climate Science Back on Trial? The Hill takes a look at the political football that climate science has become and whether majorities in both houses of Congress may embolden Republicans to question the science on a national stage: "...Senate Republicans appear likely to use their majority status in the next Congress to attack the argument behind climate change in an attempt to undercut environmental policies. But some GOP strategists wonder whether such an offensive might backfire..."

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