Sunday, September 13, 2015

Warm and Windy - What Pause? - El Nino Accelerating Warming Worldwide

75 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities Sunday.
73 F. average high on September 13.
60 F. high on September 13, 2014.

September 13, 1994: Lightning struck and injured a 35 year old man in Stearns county as he opened the door of his truck. Witnesses said he was thrown 10 feet when the lightning bolt struck him.
September 13, 1834: Smoky skies at Ft. Snelling due to fires burning nearby.

Back It Up

If the house burned down, if (God forbid) an EF-5 tornado came streamrolling through the neighborhood, I wouldn't miss our "stuff". That can be replaced. The only thing I would anguish over is lost family photos and videos. That's irreplaceable.

That's why I'm backing up all every jpeg and movie onto Dropbox, Picasa and YouTube. That's my fall and winter project - making sure there's a Plan B.

Which got me thinking about our postcard-worthy weather; how lucky we've been here at our lofty latitude. The western USA is suffering through historic drought, running out of water, wildfires blazing. Dust from the Sahara Desert and El Nino teamed up to disrupt hurricane formation in the Atlantic; we've dodged a bullet again this year.

The older I get the less I take for granted, and that applies to quiet, drama-free weather. Storms may be good for business, but I'm just fine with sedating Mother Nature for an extended period of time. It all evens out in the end.

Warm, gusty winds blow 80s back into Minnesota this week; late-week thunder giving way to more quiet, sunny, lukewarm weather next weekend.

NOAA's GFS model hints at frost for the suburbs in about 2 weeks. Take a mental snapshot.

Nothing But Lakes. It's rare that the entire state of Minnesota is this cloud-free, but Sunday's midday visible satellite loop (courtesy of WeatherTap) shows the crystal clear conditions we enjoyed yesterday. With the dry, Canadian air the lakes really pop from a lofty altitude of 22,300 miles.

Windblown. A lukewarm wind from the south is forecast to gust over 30 mph at times by 1 PM today, according to AerisWeather. A strong pressure gradient resulting from rapidly retreating cool air will put the squeeze on the atmosphere, whipping up a few whitecaps on your favorite lake.

4 Western States Could See Warmest Year on Record. Here's a clip from Climate Central that made me do a double-take: "...Except for a relatively cool oasis at the center of the country (created by copious rainfall that helped keep temperatures down), most of the country had above-normal temperatures for August, as well as the summer as a whole. In particular, parts of New England, Hawaii and the Southern Plains roasted in sometimes-record heat during the month. Two western states — Washington and Oregon —­ had their hottest summers on record, driven in part by stifling August weather. Those two states, along with California and Nevada have recorded their warmest January-August, and are poised to potentially see their hottest years ever..."

Image credit above: "How temperatures departed from average during summer 2015 for the contiguous U.S." Credit: NOAA

New Model Could Provide Tornado Forecasts Months in Advance. Good luck with that. We may be able to forecast, with some vague skill, when conditions are ripe for tornado formation, weeks or even months in advance, but I'm a bit skeptical on this one. Here's an excerpt from Business Standard: "A new model for predicting tornado activity could allow experts to prepare forecasts months or even seasons in advance, scientists say. "The aim is to predict ahead to the following year or subsequent years about whether we'll get above or below average tornado activity in a given area," said Vincent Cheng, a postdoctoral fellow in University of Scarborough (UTSC) Ecological Modelling Lab..."

Graphic credit: NOAA Storm Prediction Center.

Supernaturally Quiet in the Tropics. Historically, September 10 is the date hurricane landfalls are most likely in the USA. It's been very quiet in the Atlantic and Caribbean, the result of 3 factors: a building El Nino (which tends to increase subtropical winds, shredding storms before they can really wind up), too much dry air and too much Saharan dust. Even so, it would be premature to let our guards down just yet.

What's The Prediction for Hurricane Forecasting? Predictions are improving over time, especially track forecasts. Intensity remains problematic. Here's a clip from a story at The Charlotte Observer: "...Improvements in observation systems – especially in research aircraft – and more sophisticated data for projections have been prominent. “There are NASA satellite sensors with much higher spatial resolution today as compared to 2005,” said Venkat Lakshmi, a professor and hydrometeorology expert at the University of South Carolina. Also, “input into numerical models, the boundary layer and initial conditions has improved, making predictions much better. As a matter of fact, now we have five-day forecasts as compared to three-day forecasts in 2005...”

* The 2014 National Hurricane Center Verification Report is here.

Read more here:

Rain and a Hurricane Almost Changed The Course of History on September 11, 2001. Dennis Mersereau has an interesting story about the weather 14 years ago - one of the few times a close encounter with a hurricane might have been a good thing - possibly thwarting the 9/11 attack. Here's an excerpt from The Vane at Gawker: "...If the cold front had moved just a bit slower, the weather might not have been as beautiful as it was on September 11. The timing of the frontal passage cleared the skies and allowed the hijacked flights to depart without delay, also affording those bastards clear visibility along their flight paths. Not only that, but the cold front also kept Hurricane Erin from drawing closer to the United States, which likely would have affected both weather and air travel in New York and Boston as airlines prepared for a potential strike from a formidable hurricane..."

TODAY: Warm sun, gusty winds. Winds: S 15-30+ High: 82

MONDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear and mild. Low: 64

TUESDAY: Sticky sun, still windy. Winds: S 15-30. High: 83

WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny, hello July. Dew point: 63. Wake-up: 65. High: 84

THURSDAY: Unsettled, few T-storms likely. Wake-up: 67. High: 82

FRIDAY: PM showers, thunder. Wake-up: 64. High: 76

SATURDAY: Lukewarm sun, pleasant. Wake-up: 57. High: 72

SUNDAY: Good timing. Mild sunshine. Wake-up: 58. High: 74

Climate Stories....

Global Warming Alert as El Nino Returns with a Vengeance. Here's the intro to a story at Financial Times: "The world is starting to heat up again, say British scientists, raising speculation that a 15-year slowdown in the rate of global warming could be coming to an end. A pause in the rate of global temperature rises since the late 1990s has baffled climate scientists and led some to question whether man-made climate change was a serious problem. But last year was the warmest on record, according to the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation, and scientists at the UK’s Met Office say both this year and 2016 are shaping up to be just as hot..."

The Refugee Crisis is a Portent. A fluke or a sign of things to come as climate refugees flee regions hit by perpetual drought and water shortages? We'll see. Here's a clip from Daily Kos: "...In 2011, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that climate change was "a major factor in more frequent Mediterranean droughts." By 2013, researchers were linking the drought in Syria to its civil war. A year ago, the Emmy Award-winning documentary Years Of Living Dangerously further fleshed out the link between climate change and the war in Syria, as well as growing violence over increasing water scarcity in Yemen. Last spring, a peer-reviewed scientific study explicitly linked the Syrian war to climate change:

“It’s a pretty convincing climate fingerprint,” said Retired Navy Rear Adm. David Titley, a meteorologist who’s now a professor at Penn State University. After decades of poor water policy, “there was no resilience left in the system.” Titley says, given that context, that the record-setting drought caused Syria to “break catastrophically...”

The "Fat Tail" of Climate Change Risk. Here's an excerpt of a story at Huffington Post: "...The "insurance policy" analogy is appropriate here. We don't purchase fire insurance on our homes because our homes are likely to burn down. Far from it in fact: less than one-in-four homeowners are likely to ever experience a house fire. We purchase fire insurance because we understand that, even though such a catastrophic event is unlikely (less than 25 percent chance of happening), if it did happen, it would be catastrophic. So it is worth hedging against, by investing money now -- in the form of fire insurance..."

The Coming Of The Glacier Men. BBC News has a story about rapidly melting ice in the Alps, and what it's leaving behind; here's an excerpt: "...All sorts of things have been retrieved from Alpine snow and ice over the year, from the remains of a crashed World War Two American bomber, to a cache of emeralds, rubies and sapphires being carried on an Air India flight which came down on Mont Blanc in 1966. But over the last two decades the glaciers have retreated more rapidly, says Martin Grosjean, a glacier specialist at the University of Berne's Oeschger Institute. Even ice which has been permanent for thousands of years has started to melt, giving rise to a new scientific discipline - glacial archaeology..." (Image: NASA).

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