Thursday, September 10, 2015

Fresh Front - Heating Up Next Week - Update on Super El Nino

71 F. high temperature yesterday in the Twin Cities.
74 F. average high on September 10.
68 F. high on September 10, 2014.

.02" rain fell Thursday at MSP International Airport.

September 10, 2002: A late-season tornado strikes Albertville just after midnight .According to a damage survey conducted by NWS personnel, it touched down on the eastern edge of Cedar Creek Golf Course, then it moved straight east and dissipated in a city park just west of the railroad tracks. It completely tore the roof off of one home. Roofs were partially off a number of other homes, many attached garages collapsed, and a couple of houses were rotated on their foundation. About 20 homes were damaged, nine of which sustained significant damage.
September 10, 1986: 3 inch hail fell in Watonwan County.
September 10, 1947: Downpour across the Iron Range. Hibbing got 8.6 inches in three hours.
September 10, 1931: St Cloud's high was 106 degrees, while it reached 104 degrees in Minneapolis.
September 10, 1910: Duluth had the shortest growing season ever with frost free days from June 14 to September 10 (87days). Normally the frost-free season is 143 days.

Wardrobe Malfunction

"We know that in September we will wander through the warm winds of summer's wreckage. We will welcome summer's ghost" wrote Henry Rollins. I'm an unabashed cheerleader for September. I suspect it may be the most beautiful and underrated month of the year in Minnesota.

Think about it. The kids are back in school, the lakes are serene, water just warm enough for one last (quick) dip. No mention of dew point; humidity levels are trending lower. The risk of encountering a wild thunderstorm are small. Days are lukewarm, nights "good for sleeping". The atmosphere is shifting gears, but simmering summer warmth means numerous streaks of 70s and 80s.

The Super El Nino we're tracking in the Pacific may be historic, forecast to peak between October and December. The atmospheric equivalent of an electric blanket, unnaturally warm water should provide a mild bias thousands of miles downwind, well into winter.

Most NOAA climate models keep us milder (and wetter) into February. Maybe we'll get the snow without the crippling cold?

Hey, a guy can dream.

We stay cool and dry into the weekend but 80s return next week. I predict wardrobe malfunctions: shorts and jackets in the same closet. Why not?

Hints of Cold Fronts To Come. Good sleeping weather, right? A southward wobble in the jet stream will flush cool, clean (refreshing!) Canadian air south of the border, allowing nighttime lows to dip into the 40s. I could see some frost over the Minnesota Arrowhead the next couple of nights. Graphic: Twin Cities National Weather Service.

Summer Precipitation Anomalies. Rainfall since June 1 has been above average over central and southern Minnesota, as much as 4" wetter than average over western Wisconsin and far southwest Minnesota. But it was a drier meteorological summer from Fargo and Moorhead to Bemidji and Duluth. Source: Midwest Regional Climate Center.

Severe Storm Update. As of September 10 Minnesota has hosted a total of 24 tornadoes, mostly small and brief - no monsters this year. That's fewer than average, to date. A couple of wild squall lines created numerous reports of hail and damaging winds; 213 separate reports of wind damage so far in 2015. Source: SPC.

Fresh Front. NOAA's 12 KM NAM model shows a push of cool, Canadian air reaching the Upper Midwest, Great Lakes and New England over the next 36 hours; dry weather predicted for Minnesota into early next week. Enjoy the low dew points; the first half of next week brings highs in the low 80s with a noticeable dew point near 60F.

Late September Warming Trend. The predicted 500 mb jet stream map for Thursday evening, September 24, looks like something out of mid or late August; the core of prevailing winds lifting north into Canada, allowing summerlike warmth to sweep into much of the central and eastern USA. Yes, we will see more 80s, as early as next week. Source: GrADS:COLA/IGES.

Mother of All El Ninos? We'll see, but many forecasters believe this year's warm-up of the Pacific may exceed 1997-98 and 1982-83. Hopefully that will mean a parade of storms for drought-stricken California and a milder winter, overall, for Minnesota and much of the USA. We will have winter this year, but El Nino may take the edge off the worst of the chill. With any luck no Polar Vortex to point to in a few months.

Milder Bias into December? No, I wouldn't bet the farm on a 4 month outlook, but NOAA CPC's NMME climate ensemble continues to show a warmer than average bias for Minnesota and much of the lower 48 states from October into December, a cool temperature anomaly for the southern Plains states, symptoms of a supersized El Nino and a much more active southern branch of the jet stream. Source: NOAA.

Trending Wetter? The same NMME climate model ensemble (October into December) shows wetter than average conditions from the Great Plains to the East Coast; a continuation of drier than average for much of the western USA, which is somewhat out of character for a typical El Nino winter. Then again all El Nino events are different.

Japan Floods: City of Joso Hit By "Unprecedented" Rain. The BBC reports; here's an excerpt: "...Television footage from Joso in Ibaraki showed people clinging to the rooftops before helicopter rescue teams winched them to safety. Entire homes and cars were carried away on the torrent as the Kinugawa River burst its banks after two days of heavy rainfall. The flood waters reached as far as 8km (5 miles) from the breach. In Tochigi, more than 500mm (19 inches) of rain fell in 24 hours in places, double the amount that normally falls there throughout the whole of September, according to Japanese public broadcaster NHK..."

Photo credit above: "The Kinugawa River in Joso burst its bank on Thursday, flooding homes." AP photo.

The Mothers of All Disasters. The Atlantic has a sobering look at worst case disaster scenarios. Katrina was a walk in the park compared to what could happen; here's an excerpt: "...The biggest disasters seem so far out of the range of the normal possibilities of daily life that it’s nearly impossible to even envision the scale of the destruction and upheaval, even for people who have survived one. Huge hurricanes could all but wash major cities away. Earthquakes on the West Coast and even in the center of the country could knock out power for months, make running water a distant memory, and deprive residents of the roofs over their heads. A deadly epidemic, such as the U.S. hasn’t seen in 97 years, could take the lives of tens of thousands. A terrorist could unleash an improvised nuclear device in a major city, killing thousands—an event without historical precedent. The people who try to keep the nation ready for these doomsday scenarios call them the Maximums of Maximums, or the MOMs..."

Illustration credit: Tom Reichner / Bonita R. Cheshier / Dustie / Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock / Reuters / Zak Bickel / The Atlantic.

More Coastal Nuisance Flooding Forecast for Coming Months. AP has the details on how El Nino and higher sea levels may contribute to flooding into spring of 2016; here's the intro: "Federal scientists said Wednesday they expect nuisance flooding to increase in many places along the nation's coasts in coming months. A combination of sea level rise from human caused global warming and the giant El Nino will likely combine to increase the type of minor street flooding that causes much inconvenience but no major damage, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In 10 of the 27 coastal communities that NOAA examined, scientists predict the number of nuisance flood days to increase 33 to 125 percent with the current large El Nino. And it's likely to be the worst in the Mid-Atlantic region where nuisance floods could happen about once a week from New Jersey to North Carolina. The nuisance flood season runs mostly from fall to early spring..." (File photo: AP).

El Nino Impacts on Nuisance Flooding. Here's an excerpt of an interview at NOAA's "...El Niño will likely increase the frequency of nuisance flooding days on both the East and West coasts by anywhere from 25% to 125% compared to the baseline number of days that would be expected based on recent rates and long-term trends...During El Niño, warmer than average surface waters and higher than normal sea levels persist along the U.S. West Coast. These higher sea levels set the stage for typical "king tides" and normal winter storms to have a bigger impact than usual. Along the East Coast, El Niño-related atmospheric "teleconnections" help establish a more zonal (west-to-east) jet stream and storm track, which results in higher-than-normal storm surge frequencies along much of the Mid-Atlantic Coast (see related research by Sweet and Zervas, 2011). As a result, historically both the West and East Coasts experience more nuisance-level flooding during stronger El Niños..."

Power Utilities Are Built for the 20th Century. That's Why They're Flailing in the 21st. Vox has an interesting story about the economics and monopolistic power of utilities, and how that may not make much sense going forward. Here's an excerpt: "...Utility regulations haven't changed much in the past decade. But technology has. On the generation side, the pressures that began facing big baseload coal and nuclear plants in the 1990s have only grown more intense, as natural gas gets cheaper and is joined by wind and solar. Meanwhile, regulatory mandates at the state and federal level, sophisticated demand management, and larger economic shifts have meant that ever-expanding demand — a key premise of the early regulatory model — has finally plateaued and even begun to fall. There is no longer any need for a stampede of new power plants. Economies of scale are no longer the overriding influence in electricity markets. But perhaps most importantly, there has been a remarkable surge of innovation at the "distribution edge," which includes the interface between the grid and the customer and everything "behind the meter," where customers manage and use electricity..."

Spygate to Deflategate: Inside What Split the NFL and New England Patriots Apart. Here's an excerpt of an interesting article at ESPN: "...Interviews by ESPN The Magazine and Outside the Lines with more than 90 league officials, owners, team executives and coaches, current and former Patriots coaches, staffers and players, and reviews of previously undisclosed private notes from key meetings, show that Spygate is the centerpiece of a long, secret history between Goodell's NFL, which declined comment for this story, and Kraft's Patriots. The diametrically opposed way the inquiries were managed by Goodell -- and, more importantly, perceived by his bosses -- reveals much about how and why NFL punishment is often dispensed..." (ESPN illustration above).

Giant Prehistoric Viruses Could Be Awakened by Oil Drilling in Siberian Permafrost. Don't sweat the thundershowers. VICE News has the details; here's the intro: "French scientists have announced the discovery of a giant 30,000-year-old virus, which was found buried 100 feet deep in the Siberian permafrost — a thick layer of soil that remains frozen year-round. Mollivirus Sibericum — "soft virus from Siberia" — measures 0.6 micrometers, which means that, unlike normal virus specimens, it can be observed under a regular microscope. Viruses larger than 0.2 micrometers in diameter are considered "giant" viruses..."

Image credit above: IGS CNRS/AMU. More perspective from Popular Science.

Futurists Predict What Boomers Will Live To See. Next Avenue has a hopeful, optimistic vision of the near future. A brain similar to what I enjoyed in my 20s? Be careful what you wish for. Here's an excerpt: "...Goonan thinks there’s a good chance that boomers will live significantly longer than expected, based on “what we’re learning about longevity and our increasing ability to respond rapidly to trauma.” And, she added, “because this is the ‘Century of the Brain,’ it seems likely that information garnered by the U.S.’s BRAIN initiative and the European Big Brain Project will lead to a new understanding of how learning occurs and how we can harness neuroplasticity to all be as smart as we were in our 20s..."

File image above: Thinkstock.

Apple's iPhone Keeps Going Its Own Way. Will the iPhone ever become a commodity? Here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "...In many fundamental ways, the iPhone breaks the rules of business, especially the rules of the tech business. Those rules have more or less always held that hardware devices keep getting cheaper and less profitable over time. That happens because hardware is easy to commoditize; what seems magical today is widely copied and becomes commonplace tomorrow. It happened in personal computers; it happened in servers; it happened in cameras, music players, and — despite Apple’s best efforts — it may be happening in tablets.In fact, commoditization has wreaked havoc in the smartphone business — just not for Apple..."

TODAY: Cool, fresh sunshine. Winds: NW 10-15. High: 64

FRIDAY NIGHT: Clear and comfortably cool. Low: 44

SATURDAY: Chilly start, bright sun. Winds: NW 5-10. High: near 70

SUNDAY: Sunny and warmer. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 50. High: 77

MONDAY: Partly sunny, July-like. Wake-up: 58. High: 82

TUESDAY: Hazy sun, sticky again. Wake-up: 61. High: 84

WEDNESDAY: Humid, few T-storms. Wake-up: 63. High: near 80

THURSDAY: T-storms, then gradual clearing. Wake-up: 61. High: 78

Climate Stories....

Earth's Ice Is Melting Much Faster Than Predicted. Here's Why That's Worrying. If anything climate models have been conservative, underestimating the rate of melting in Greenland and Antarctica, as Jason Box explains at Huffington Post: "...Glaciologists became oceanographers when they realized, in 2008, the trigger effect for galloping glaciers was warm pulses of subtropical waters that undermine glaciers at great depth in the sea, at the grounding lines where this warm water can invade. Indeed, ocean warming is arguably the climate change story. The planetary energy imbalance due to the enhanced greenhouse effect is loading far more heat into the oceans than the atmosphere or land. The world is 70 percent ocean-covered after all. While there were signs of a warming hiatus in air temperatures from 1998 to 2012, the ocean continued to heat up, an equivalent of four Hiroshima bombs, per second, all day, every day. The increase is continuing as we load the atmosphere with CO2..."

The Simple Statistic That Perfectly Captures What Climate Change Means. The ratio of record highs to record lows is out of whack, worldwide. New research from Australia shows that gap widening. Another fluke? Here's an excerpt from Chris Mooney at The Washington Post: "...Lewis and King looked at how often Australia set hot and cold temperature records from the year 1910 through 2014. They only considered temperature records across the country as a whole and in each of its states or territories (except Tasmania), and only examined monthly, seasonal and annual records. Thus, the study did not examine daily records or records in individual locations. (This was in part to avoid problems introduced by the fact that over time, the number of individual temperature recording stations changes.) Sure enough, the study found that from 1910 to 1960, the ratio of hot to cold records was close to 1 to 1. From 1960 to 2014, however, that changed, as hot records started to happen much more frequently than cold records — and from 2000 to 2014, outnumbered them by more than 12 to 1..."

Image credit above: "Land surface temperature anomalies for Australia from January 1–8, 2013." (NASA)

Moral Case To Tackle Climate Change Overwhelming, Says Lord Stern. Here's a clip from an article at The Guardian: "...Speaking at an international meeting in Rome on environmental justice and climate change attended by senior Vatican officials, Stern said that the “moral arguments” for action to combat climate change were overwhelming. “Discounting future welfare or lives means weighting the welfare of lives of future people lower than lives now, irrespective of consumption and income levels, purely because their lives lie in the future,” he said. “This is discrimination by date of birth, and is unacceptable when viewed alongside notions of rights and justice...”

How Climate Change Deniers Sound to Normal People. Kudos to Girl Pants Productions for a funny and effective video at YouTube: "In light of the recent Primary cycle, climate change has been a topic of hot contention. Right Wing candidates typically take a stance of denial, especially the more extreme. This is how they sound to the rest of us."

The Sunniest Climate Change Story You've Ever Read. New York Magazine has an optimistic look at where things stand, and whether we will find the will to accelerate into a clean energy future; here's an excerpt: "...The cost of transitioning away from fossil fuels, measured as a share of the economy, may amount to a fraction of the cost of defeating the Axis powers. Rather, it is the politics that have proved so fiendish. Fighting a war is relatively straightforward: You spend all the money you can to build a giant military and send it off to do battle. Climate change is a problem that politics is almost designed not to solve. Its costs lie mostly in the distant future, whereas politics is built to respond to immediate conditions. (And of the wonders the internet has brought us, a lengthening of mental time horizons is not among them.) Its solution requires coordination not of a handful of allies but of scores of countries with wildly disparate economies and political structures..."

1 comment:

  1. I love reading the interesting links to thoughtful articles that expand my horizons on what's possible. Keep those articles coming. My world would not be nearly as interesting without them. I love your posts, Paul.