Friday, September 18, 2015

Comfortable Sunshine - A Super-Sized Summer This Year?

61 F. high temperature on Friday.
71 F. average high on September 18.
75 F. high on September 18, 2014.

.07" of rain fell yesterday at MSP International Airport.

September 19, 1998: 1 to 1 3/4 inch hail fell in Meeker, Wright, Todd, and Wilkin Counties winds were also estimated over 50kts.
September 19, 1980: Golfball to baseball sized hail hit St. Paul. One company had 75 to 95 percent of the glass in their greenhouses smashed

Raining Cats and Dogs....

Extended Summer Hangover?

In the 1500s houses had thatched roofs of thick straw. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the pets - dogs, cats (and mice, rats and bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained roofs got slippery, and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off. Thus the saying, "it's raining cats and dogs".

That sure summed up Thursday's deluge, when a record 2.37 inches fell at MSP; Doppler estimated over 5 inches in parts of western Wisconsin. There was a remarkable amount of water in the air for mid-September. More details below.

In spite of this morning's jacket-worthy breeze I see a warm weather bias spilling into at least early October. 70s return next week, maybe 80s next weekend. NOAA's GFS guidance shows an almost August-like bubble of warm, stagnant air over the eastern 2/3rds of America into the first week of October.

In previous years we've seen flurries and hard freezes by the third week of September. Expect the unexpected, right?

Enjoy a weekend of cool, comfortable sunshine. I suspect air conditioners may be chugging away into October. Winter is coming, at least on paper.

* Photo credit: Flickr.

Thursday Rainfall Amounts. Residents of the northern and western suburbs may be scratching their heads. They missed the heaviest rains, which fell over the downtowns and eastern suburbs. Here are 24-hour rainfall amounts, courtesy of NOAA and AerisWeather.

Clarity on Thursday's Torrential Rains. Dr. Mark Seeley has more detail on the tropical deluges that fell Thursday in this week's Minnesota WeatherTalk: "...The warm weather also brought with it higher dew points which reached into the 70s F on the 16th and 17th.  The precipitable water measured in the Chanhassen balloon sounding on September 17th was a record amount at 1.91 inches, a remarkably large number for the month of September.  This helped fuel some thunderstorm activity that dropped significant rainfall in many places.  Many observers reported from 0.50 inches to 1.50 inches of rain, and Stillwater received between 2.50 and 3.00 inches.  Mahtomedi reported 3.43 inches, and MSP airport set a new daily record with 2.37 inches.  In some areas the National Weather Service put out flash flood warnings..."
Map: AerisWeather.

Thursday: "Almost a Top 10" Wettest September Day. AerisWeather meteorologist D.J. Kayser compiled the data and made the map. At 2.37" we came very close on Thursday.

Unusual Jet Stream Configuration for Early October. NOAA's GFS forecast of 500mb winds shows an odd, blocking high pressure bubble of unseasonably warm air stretching east of the Rockies; temperatures may be 10-20F warmer than average IF this forecast verifies.

Symptoms of El Nino. NOAA CPC (Climate Prediction Center) predicts a mild bias for Alaska, the west coast, the northern USA and much of New England for October (top graphics) and October thru December (bottom graphics). At the rate we're going, with the temperature anomalies we're seeing across the northern hemisphere, that's not hard to believe.

Less Snow This Winter for Minnesota and Wisconsin? That's a hypothetical, I don't pretend to have the answer, but I'd bet a stale bagel that we'll wind up with less snow than average, as El Nino shifts the main branch of the storm track south of Minnesota; more mild, Pacific air penetrating well inland than during a typical winter (when polar winds dominate). My confidence level is low, every El Nino is different, but the probability of a milder winter is significantly higher. Snowfall could go either way (there's no obvious correlation with El Nino) but NOAA CPC predicts drier weather from January thru March, 2016 from Montana to Minnesota to the Great Lakes. Californians are hoping this forecast verifies, with wetter than normal weather predicted from the southwest USA to Florida and the East Coast.

97% Odds 2015 Will Be Warmest Year on Record. Where have I seen the 97% number before? Right, that's the percentage of published, peer-reviewed climate scientists who see a human role in the warming underway, worldwide. El Nino is turbocharging that warming as unusual warmth in the Pacific juices the atmosphere. Here's an excerpt from NOAA's "...These circumstances raise an interesting question: given the global surface temperature data through July 2015, what is the likelihood that 2015 will be the warmest year on record? A few of us at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) decided to investigate. To answer this question, we consider two approaches that rely only on historical statistics that describe how the remainder of the year may play out. In other words, we don’t rely on any physical predictors such as El NiƱo conditions or forecasts of future weather or climate. We use only the well-documented, quality-controlled historical monthly global surface temperature data archived at NCEI...."

* More perspective on a very hot summer (and year) from Mashable.

Hottest August on Record, Worldwide. It was also the hottest meteorological summer. Here's an excerpt from NOAA NCDC: "...The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for August 2015 was 0.88°C (1.58°F) above the 20th century average of 15.6°C (60.1°F) and the highest August in the 136-year record. This value surpassed the previous record set in 2014 by 0.09°C (0.16°F). Most of the world's surface was substantially warmer than average and, in some locations, record warm during August 2015, contributing to the monthly global record warmth. This was the sixth month in 2015 that has broken its monthly temperature record (February, March, May, June, July, and August)..."

The California Wildfires: What's Making This Season so Wild? The New York Times has a good explainer and interview; here's a snippet: "...Two reasons: drought and heat. Vegetation in California, from the mesquite scrub in the desert to the tall pines in the Sierra Nevada, is as dry as kindling after a yearslong drought, the worst in the state’s recorded history. So fire catches more easily, spreads faster and carries farther on the wind. The state’s major reservoirs hold less than half the water they typically contain at this time of year, many wells have run dry, and underground aquifers are so depleted that in some places, the ground has been sinking as much as two inches per month..."

Photo credit above: "A news crew runs from flames southeast of Middletown, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015, as winds kick up the Valley fire." (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

A Wet Winter Won't Save California. El Nino inspired rains may settle the dust, but the pattern appears to be shifting in a way that favors more heat and drought for the western USA. Catching up in the rainfall department. Here's a snippet from The New York Times: "...The second is that California is facing a new climate reality, in which extreme drought is more likely. The state’s water rights, infrastructure and management were designed for an old climate, one that no longer exists. Our research has shown that global warming has doubled the odds of the warm, dry conditions that are intensifying and prolonging this drought, which now holds records not only for lowest precipitation and highest temperature, but also for the lowest spring snowpack in the Sierra Nevada in at least 500 years. These changing odds make it much more likely that similar conditions will occur again, exacerbating other stresses on agriculture, ecosystems and people..." (Photo credit: NOAA).

Linkage Between Efficiency and Connectivity? Everyone seems to be taking a cue from Tesla, which may be wondering if imitation is, in fact, the most sincere form of flattery? And I didn't connect the dots between making cars more fuel efficient and rolling smartphones until I read this article at The New York Times; here's an excerpt: "...Even without competition from Apple and Google, the carmakers are under extreme pressure to change the way they build cars. Regulators in Europe and the United States are demanding that cars emit less carbon dioxide, a culprit in global warming. The only way the automakers can meet increasingly stringent emissions standards is by selling more hybrid vehicles, and eventually all-electric cars. Both technologies require more software than gasoline or diesel engines. Technology that links cars to data networks, so-called connectivity, also plays a role in reducing emissions and satisfying regulators. Systems that help drivers quickly find a parking space or avoid traffic jams, besides being convenient, help limit unnecessary driving and save fuel..." (Is that driver on her phone AND reading a book?)

Which Cities In The World Are Closest to Nixing Fossil Fuels? National Geographic has more details; here are two snippets: "...Cities like Reykjavik and Zurich have already quit using fossil fuels to produce power, and others plan to cut back. A new survey reveals just far 162 of them have gone....Also this week, officials in Aspen, Colorado said their city became the third in the United States— after Burlington, Vermont, and Greensburg, Kansas—to run entirely on renewable energy. They’re boosting wind power, which emits zero carbon dioxide, and eliminating coal, which produces more CO2 than oil or gas when burned..."

Image credit: Data provided by cities, NG STAFF. SOURCES: CDP; AECOM.

No Red or Blue Divide When it Comes to Renewable Energy Innovation and CO2 Rules. Andrew Revkin has a story at The New York Times: "...First, most states are in the pastel middle ranges in terms of voters reporting that they are worried about global warming. That’s a finding that can be interpreted differently, in Rorschach ink blot fashion. But I think it’s most meaningful considered in the context of Gallup findings showing global warming still at the bottom of environmental concerns. The bottom line is “meh” finding, as my younger son’s generation might say.But now look at the breadth of support across the United States for using pollution regulations to curb carbon dioxide, the main human-generated greenhouse gas..."

Map credit above: "Voters in every state supported regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant in 2014, according to a new study." Yale University.

Found: A GoPro That Went to the Edge of Space and Got Lost for Two Years. How cool is this? Details via Atlas Obscura: "In June 2013, after months of planning, five friends launched a GoPro to the edge of space. They attached the camera to a weather balloon, along with a phone that logged the contraption's location and was programmed to send back a message once it returned to cell phone range. They sent the phone off from a spot about 20 miles from the Grand Canyon. It went up, up, up…and then disappeared. They never heard back from the phone about its location and figured they'd miscalculated at some point..."

Photo credit above: "What the GoPro saw." (Photo: chanmnb/Imgur)

The Art of "Farecasting" the Lowest Airfare. There's some good advice in a recent New York Times story; here's a clip: "...My go-to tool is Google Flights. It’s swift yet comprehensive. And it has the essential filters (like fare class and stops) but requires few keystrokes to unearth all that information. Plug your travel dates into the search box and monthly calendars pop up with fares on each day (green fares are lowest), so you’ll instantly know if you should tweak your arrival or departure to score a better deal. Google Flights is also my top pick because it makes searching for premium economy, business and first class fares simpler than most of its competitors, thanks to a drop-down menu on its landing page..."

TODAY: Sunny and beautiful/ Winds: W 8-13. High: near 70

SATURDAY NIGHT: Clear and cool. Low: 50

SUNDAY: Blue sky, milder breeze. Winds: S 10-15. High: 72

MONDAY: Warm sunshine, very nice. Wake-up: 57. High: 78

TUESDAY: Patchy clouds move in. Wake-up: 58. High: 72

WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny, still mild. Wake-up: 61. High: 79

THURSDAY: Sticky sun, T-storms north. Wake-up: 63. High: 77

FRIDAY: What September? Storms around town. Wake-up: 61. High: 79

Climate Stories....

10 Largest Companies "Obstructing" Climate Policy. Here's an excerpt from a story at EcoWatch: "...The companies receiving the lowest grades come as no surprise. Among them are major fossil fuel companies such as Chevron, BP, Duke Energy and Phillips 66. And at the bottom of the list is climate denying extraordinaire Koch Industries. Interestingly, two media companies even make the list: 21st Century Fox and Comcast. Here are the 10 worst companies on InfluenceMap’s list..."

11 Republicans Vow to Fight Climate Change. A crack in the armor? Here's an excerpt from TheHill: "...Led by Rep. Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.), the lawmakers want the House to go on record to generally agree with the overwhelming consensus of scientists that human activity, through greenhouse gases, is warming the globe. The resolution frames climate change as an issue of environmental stewardship, which it says has a long history in the United States. They’re introducing the non-binding legislation a week before Pope Francis speaks to Congress. He is expected to call for action on climate change, following up on his encyclical earlier this year asking world leaders to fight global warming..." (Image: NASA).

David Letterman Will Explore Climate Change for National Geographic Docu-Series. If you didn't see Season 1 of "Years of Living Dangerously" it's worth tracking down. Here's the intro to a story at Variety: "David Letterman has a new hosting gig – of sorts. The veteran late-night comedian will in 2016 journey to India to examine how that nation is trying to bring solar power to its entire population within the next decade. It’s a far cry from rattling off the popular Top Ten Lists and Stupid Pet Tricks that were so much a part of his more than three decades of wee-hours television for CBS and NBC. But it’s a chance for Letterman to give voice to the issue of climate change on a new, albeit temporary, home: National Geographic Channel..." (Photo credit: CBS).

"Years of Living Dangerously". National Geographic has more information on season 2; here's a clip: "...Correspondents will cover crucial issues like severe hurricanes, historic droughts, and the rapidly increasing extinction rate of our planet’s wildlife through emotional first-person accounts. Jack Black, Ty Burrell, James Cameron, Thomas Friedman, Joshua Jackson, David Letterman, Aasif Mandvi, Olivia Munn, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ian Somerhalder and Cecily Strong will share their personal stories surrounding the effects of climate change..."

Trump Mostly Dismisses Climate Change, Blames China. Here's an excerpt from The Sun Times Network: "...I consider climate change to be not one of our big problems,” Trump said. “I consider it to be not a big problem at all.” “I think it’s weather; I think it’s weather changes,” Trump said.“There could be some man-made something. But, you know, if you look at China, they’re doing nothing about it, other countries are doing nothing about it...”

Photo credit: Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist/The New York Times.

Two Powerful Studies Expose Manipulation of Climate Debate. Why? Big companies that rely on fossil fuels are worried about their stock price and being disrupted. Here's a clip from Clean Technica: "...Two extensive studies released yesterday (September 16, 2015) reveal a long-term betrayal of the truth about climate by major US business identities. Make-believe corporate “persons” have knowingly undermined the health, safety, and even short-term survival of real humans and other living things. One of the studies explores the metamorphosis of ExxonMobil to “the dark side” over the past 40 years. The other implicates almost half of the world’s 100 largest companies, including Procter & Gamble and Duke Energy, in obstructing climate change legislation..."

Photo credit above: "Exxon’s Richard Werthamer (right) and Edward Garvey (left) aboard the company’s Esso Atlantic tanker measuring carbon dioxide levels in the ocean and atmosphere during a 1979-1982 project." (Richard Werthamer, via ICN).

Exxon Believed Deep Dive into Climate Research Would Protect Its Business. Here is an excerpt from the second installment of an investigative series from InsideClimate News: "...Exxon documents show that top corporate managers were aware of their scientists' early conclusions about carbon dioxide's impact on the climate. They reveal that scientists warned management that policy changes to address climate change might affect profitability. After a decade of frank internal discussions on global warming and conducting unbiased studies on it, Exxon changed direction in 1989 and spent more than 20 years discrediting the research its own scientists had once confirmed. After reading the first chapter of InsideClimate News' series on Exxon's carbon dioxide research, the company declined to answer specific questions. In an email, Exxon spokesman Richard D. Keil said he would no longer respond to inquiries from InsideClimate News, and added, "ExxonMobil scientists have been involved in climate research and related policy analysis for more than 30 years, yielding more than 50 papers in peer-reviewed publications..."

Photo credit above: "Researchers conducted Exxon's first climate-related project aboard the Esso Atlantic tanker, pictured here, between 1979 and 1982."

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