Monday, October 19, 2015

Like Two Septembers In A Row - Mild Bias Spills Into Early November

76 F. high at MSP International Airport Monday.
57 F. average high on October 19.
69 F. high on October 19, 2014.

October 20, 2002: Heavy snow across central Minnesota. It fell in a 10-20 mile wide band from southeast North Dakota to around Grantsburg Wisconsin. Little Falls picked up nine inches.
October 20, 1916: Snow fell in south central Minnesota with 4.5 inches recorded in New Ulm, 4 inches in Farmington and Hutchinson, 3.5 inches in Montevideo, and 3 inches in Faribault.
October 20, 1835: 6 inches of snow fell at Ft. Snelling.

Super-Sized September
Winter on Indefinite Hold

Every day is a gift. Even the lousy ones. Every day I can torment my neighbors wearing shorts and t-shirts is a good day, in my humble estimation.

NOAA informs me that half a foot of snow fell on Fort Snelling on this date in 1835. Yes, we could be ankle-deep in slush on the 20th day of October. My father, who lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, reported flurries on Sunday. "No snow in the Twin Cities yet, Dad!" sounding a little like a hyperactive kid at Christmas. Yes, it's been an amazing autumn, coming after a memorable summer.

Early cold fronts often set the tone for the winter to come. Not always, but many winter. At the rate we're going this may be one of the milder, drier autumns in Minnesota history.

To date the entire state is experiencing the 4th driest October since 1895, according to AerisWeather meteorologist D.J. Kayser. Symptoms of El Nino kicking in; warm water in the Pacific penetrating unusually far inland? Probably.

For the record the average date of first flurries at MSP is November 4. First inch? November 18. Just trying to cheer you up.

Today's weather may put a spring in your step: another shot at 70F. Rain arrives Friday but skies clear in time for another fine fall weekend.

Unusual warmth spills over into at least the first week of November. No complaints here.

* Kayaks and cruisers on the lake....on October 19? Nothing like a 5 month boating season. In Minnesota. The high at MSP yesterday was 75F, 1 degree warmer than LAX, Los Angeles International Airport. You don't see that very often in late October. Source: NOAA.

Rare Model Alignment. Yes, the models are almost unanimous that (in theory) temperatures should top off around 66F in Maplewood at 4 PM this afternoon. We'll have to be content with afternoon temperatures only 10F warmer than average. Source: Aeris Weather.

Wintry Weather Tracks North of USA. NOAA NAM guidance shows accumulating snow (shaded in blue) tracking well north of the U.S. border - treating our Canadian friends to a winter wonderland. A strong zonal flow is keeping much of the USA milder than average, but at some point the law of averages will catch up with us. Source: AerisWeather.

Texas Soaking? 10-Day GFS guidance prints out some excessive amounts of rain near Corpus Christi and Houston, where the risk of flash flooding will be significant by the end of the week. According to NHC there is still a 0% risk of tropical storm formation over the next 48 hours. You can also see the plume of tropical moisture surging north across the Great Plains, treating us to a much-needed dousing on Friday.

Mild Start to November - Thanks to Persistent Zonal Flow. Whether it's the first symptoms of El Nino or just random atmospheric variability, 500 mb winds aloft are forecast to blow from west to east, a relatively mild, dry pattern for most of the USA as we sail into November. Source: GrADS:COLA/IGES.

Average Date of First Trace of Snow. Although flurries are common in mid and late October the average (median) date of the first trace of snow, enough to ice up sidewalks and side streets, is November 4 in the Twin Cities, according to NOAA records. Source: meteorologist D.J. Kayser at AerisWeather, who adds: "If MN saw no more rain this month, and it did average out to be 0.40" across the state, it would be the fourth driest October since 1895 on record for the state."

Average Date of First Inch of Snow. Hey, I'm just trying to cheer you up. Imagine what a treat I-494 in Maple Grove will be in a month or so? God help us. The average date of the first inch of slush in the metro is November 18. Circle your calendars. Does anyone use calendars anymore?

Rainfall Since September 1. The Twin Cities, Duluth and Eau Claire have picked up ample moisture, but note the sharp drop-off in precipitation north and west of the Twin Cities. Source: AerisWeather.

Rainfall Deficit Since September 1. It dries out the farther north and west you go across the state. St. Cloud reports a 2.26" rainfall shortage since September 1; well over 3" for much of South Dakota.

A Dry, Lukewarm October To Date. Symptoms of El Nino kicking in? Perhaps. Warm phases in the Pacific often result in drier, milder weather downwind across the Upper Midwest. Source: AerisWeather.

October Moisture Deficit. Although a boon to farmers trying to get out into their fields with harvest, the top layers of topsoil need to be recharged with moisture before the ground freezes solid, or there may be issues for spring planting in 2016.

Friday Soaking? All or nothing. A stray shower can't be ruled out today, but the best chance of rain all week comes Friday; some models printing out over 1" of rain during the PM hours on Friday. Skies still clear out on Saturday behind a cool frontal passage. Please God. Graphic: Aeris Enterprise.

Driest October on Record for Iowa, Missouri and Illinois? As of October 19 that's the case, according to The Midwest Regional Climate Center.

Driest Harvest in Decades - Are Flood Gates About To Open Up? Harvest weather has been near-perfect for farmers in the corn belt; here's an excerpt from "We've had the holy grail of exceptional harvesting weather with the Corn Belt trending the driest in over 25 years with near record dry weather over the past 30 days. Temperatures up until this most recent cold snap have also been well above average for the Corn Belt, especially the Western Corn Belt and Plains. The maps/charts (above) show the weather trends over the past month with the major Corn Belt counties outlined..."

Worst Flooding Still To Come in Philippines from Koppu; Champi Now a Super Typhoon. Here's the intro to an update at Weather Underground: "Although it has weakened to Category 1 strength since making landfall, Typhoon Koppu continues to hold high potential for catastrophic multi-day rainfall in the large Philippines island of Luzon. Koppu edged into the east-coast province of Aurora around 1:00 am Sunday local time as a super typhoon, packing top winds estimated by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) at 150 mph. Fortunately, this part of Luzon is fairly sparsely populated, though two fatalities had been reported by Sunday evening local time. Tree and structural damage and power outages are widespread. At least 9 million residents of Luzon--close to 10 percent of the population of the Philippines--were without power as of Sunday afternoon local time (midnight Saturday night EDT), according to data from the Philippines National Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Council..."

Image credit above: "MODIS image of Typhoon Koppu over Luzon Island in the Philippines as seen from NASA's Terra satellite on Sunday, October 18, 2015. At the time, Koppu was a Category 2 storm with 105 mph winds." Image credit: NASA.

* Reports of 31"+ rains (and the rain continues to fall) from Typhoon Koppu, details via Mashable.

Tropical Storm Koppu (Lando) Drenching the Philippines; Flooding, Mudslides Possible. More perspective from The Weather Channel; here's the intro: "Tropical Storm Koppu, known as Lando in the Philippines, is drenching the country's main northern island of Luzon and will continue to do so through early this week, bringing a risk of life-threatening flash floods and mudslides. More than 2 feet of rain has been reported so far in the northwestern part of the country, and more rain is likely into Wednesday. Among the hardest-hit areas are the eastern coastal towns of Baler and Casiguran, where significant building damage has been reported. Some of the most widespread flooding has been reported in the province of Nueva Ecija, including the inland city of Cabanatuan, about 60 miles north of Manila. The Associated Press reported that some villagers in the province were trapped in their homes and on rooftops..."

Image credit above: "This infrared satellite image is enhanced to show colder, and therefore higher, cloud tops in various shades of red and violet. Such clouds are associated with vigorous thunderstorms. Wind data may disappear if the observing equipment is damaged."

Philippines' Typhoon Koppu Brings Severe Floods. Here's an excerpt from The BBC: "...Unlike previous tropical cyclones, the threat from typhoon Koppu is not so much from the wind but from the massive amount of rain. More than a metre of rainfall is forecast in just a few days in Luzon province. That is double what London gets in an entire year. In the south of Luzon, it has brought severe flooding with whole villages under water. But perhaps more dangerous are massive landslides. The fear is that with the ground heavy and saturated with water, whole hillsides could collapse..."

Image credit above: "With rains still falling, the risk of flooding is even greater than during typical storms and typhoons." Source: EPA.

While Atlantic Has Been Mild, Pacific Storm Season Has Been Wild. A warmer Pacific is brewing up more severe hurricanes and typhoons. ACE values are off the scale, as highlighted in a good summary at USA TODAY; here's a clip: "...The best way of measuring a season's ferocity, Klotzbach said, is by "Accumulated Cyclonic Energy" (ACE), a measurement that takes into account the number, strength and duration of all the storms put together. "ACE is not only a measure of tropical cyclone activity, but a measure of the damage potential of an individual cyclone or a season," according to the Weather Underground. The ACE  this year in the Pacific is 615, which is the highest for this period since accurate records began to be kept in 1971, Klotzbach said..."

El Nino Lifts Odds of Wetter South, Drier North This Winter. Which is the official NOAA forecast for the winter months; here's an excerpt from Climate Central: "...Overall, though, winters across the U.S. are trending warmer, as global temperatures rise due to the buildup of heat trapped by increasing amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Last winter was the warmest on record globally, in fact, and 2015 as a whole is very likely to be the hottest year in the books. While El Niño is a cyclical climate phenomenon marked by unusually warm waters in the eastern tropical Pacific, it can affect the weather around the globe because it alters the transfer of heat from the ocean to the atmosphere. This shifts around wind patterns there and has a domino effect through the atmosphere; over the U.S., it causes a shift in the position of the wintertime jet stream, which controls how storms move across the country..."

Change in the Growing Season. It's not a climate model, it's reality - the growing season is already longer in Minnesota, to the tune of at least 2 months. Here's an excerpt from Climate Central: "As the planet warms from the burning of fossil fuels and the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the length of the growing season will continue to be affected. Nationally, the growing season is already about 15 days longer than at the beginning of the 20th century. Western states have seen the greatest changes since that time. Arizona, California, Nevada, and Oregon now have growing seasons that are more than a month longer than they were a century ago. In turn, this will influence when, where, and what types of food crops are planted and harvested – meaning agricultural practices will have to adapt – and impacting the types of produce available at your local supermarket..." (graphic above and below: Climate Central).

El Nino Impacts on Ocean Warming. El Nino warming is superimposed on a global warming trend of the world's oceans. Here's an excerpt from Climate Central: "This year is on track to be the hottest on record globally. The strong El Niño is likely playing a role as the average global temperature of an El Niño year is 0.4°F higher than a La Niña year. However, the strong El Niño is not solely responsible for the warming planet. Global temperatures have been trending upward since 1950, regardless of whether or not the Pacific Ocean was in an El Niño, La Niña, or neutral phase. In fact, La Niña years in the 21st Century are now warmer than El Niño years just 30 years ago. Similarly, the long term trend of global ocean water temperatures is on the increase, emphasizing that El Niño is only magnifying the ongoing warming trend..."

How Accurate Are Solar Flare Detection Technologies? Short answer: not very, and the really big solar storms, the X-level events, may not be detected in advance, according to a story at RedOrbit; here's an excerpt: "A new study from the Tihany Magnetic Observatory in Hungary has explained why solar weather indicators wouldn’t have been able to predict the Carrington Event, a large solar storm that occurred in 1859, according to a press release from the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT). Predicting solar flares is important for keeping power supplies and communication networks safe, as the flairs can disrupt or even damage electronics. However, the methods currently used to predict solar storms aren’t perfect..." (Image credit: NASA).

Cybersecurity Firm Says Chinese Hackers Keep Attacking U.S. Companies. Here's a clip from The New York Times: "...In a blog post on Monday, the security services provider CrowdStrike, based in Irvine, Calif., said that it had tracked a number of attacks on American tech and pharmaceutical companies leading up to and after Mr. Xi’s visit to the United States last month. (Mr. Xi has been logging airtime, making his first state visit to Britain this week.) “We detected and stopped the actors, so no exfiltration of customer data actually took place,” according to the post, written by the CrowdStrike co-founder and chief technology officer Dmitri Alperovitch..." (Image credit: Georgetown Law).

Why You Didn't See It Coming. Nautilus has a long (but brilliant) article about scale, cognition and the ability to sense big changes coming. Or not. Here's an excerpt: "...We do have a way to “see it coming,” whether it’s environmental tipping points or financial ones. It’s science. The whole point of science is to penetrate the fog of human senses, including common sense. Ingenious experiments and elegant equations act as extensions of senses that allow us to see farther and more precisely—beyond the horizons of what we think we know. Calculations predict possible futures, find clear signals in the almost constant noise. Science predicted that massive stars would implode, nuclear bombs would explode, and humans could well destroy their own habitat (if they didn’t begin to take seriously problems like overpopulation and resource depletion). Sometimes science requires us to accept the unacceptable, certainly the unpalatable: What? Drive smaller cars? Give up my lawn? Be satisfied with a small house?.."

Wealth Therapy Tackles Woes of the Rich; "It's Really Isolating to Have Lot's of Money". Yes, we should all have such problems - maybe Oprah will highlight the travails of the 1% Here's an excerpt from The Guardian: "...And as they stroll through Manhattan, what issues are America’s 1% struggling with? There is guilt over being rich in the first place, he said. There is the feeling that they have to hide the fact that they are rich. And then there is the isolation – being in the 1%, it turns out, can be lonely. It seems F Scott Fitzgerald was right, the very rich “are different from you and me”. Especially in 2015..."

An Amphibious...Motorcycle? It's official; now I really have seen everything. Details at Gizmag: "Serial amphibian creator Alan Gibbs has used the American International Motorcycle expo in Florida to launch three new outrageous recreational vehicles. Not satisfied making ridiculously fun-looking amphibious quadbikes, cars and trucks, Gibbs has now built two-and three-wheeled motorcycles that you can ride straight down a boat ramp into the water. At the touch of a button they convert to jet skis, retracting wheels out of the way and switching to jet propulsion..."

* Photo above courtesy of AerisWeather meteorologist Todd Nelson, who snapped this in Surprise, AZ.

TODAY: Intervals of mild sun, isolated shower possible. Winds: E 8-13. High: 69 (70s southern MN)

TUESDAY NIGHT: Patchy clouds, few showers. Low: 53

WEDNESDAY: Early shower, PM clearing. Winds: NW 10-15. High: 63

THURSDAY: Sunny, light winds. Wake-up: 43. High: 62

FRIDAY: Dry start to the day. PM showers likely. Winds: SE 10-20. Wake-up: 49. High: 59

SATURDAY: Partly sunny, breezy and cooler. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 48. High: 57

SUNDAY: Plenty of cool sunshine. Winds: E 7-12. Wake-up: 41. High: 54

MONDAY: More clouds, few showers likely. Wake-up: 43. High: 52

Climate Stories...

Congressmen Want Probe of Exxon Mobile "Failing to Disclose" Climate Change Data. Here's an excerpt from The Los Angeles Times: "Members of Congress are asking for a federal investigation into Exxon Mobil. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles) and Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Walnut Creek) wrote a letter Wednesday to Atty. Gen. Loretta Lynch asking the Department of Justice whether the company violated the law by “failing to disclose truthful information” regarding climate change. The letter cites recent investigations by the Los Angeles Times, Columbia University’s Energy and Environmental Reporting Project, and Inside Climate News, which showed the company incorporated climate change research into its operations while publicly casting doubt on that very same science..."

Photo credit above: "Imperial Oil’s Dartmouth refinery in Halifax, Canada. Exxon Mobil owns about 70% of the company." ((Andrew Vaughan / The Canadian Press, Associated Press)).

Can Oil, Gas Companies Really Be Climate Leaders? Here's a clip from an Op-Ed at USA TODAY: "...Some skepticism is understandable. Of the three pillars of a successful energy system — security, affordability and sustainability — the industry has been more adept at responding to consumer demands for security and affordability than addressing concerns over sustainability. Some may wonder if big oil is trying to secure a seat merely to slow the process down. I believe we should listen and examine how these CEOs plan to address the issue. As a former employee, I know that oil companies are used to thinking big and acting big — bigger than most companies in most sectors, and often bigger than many states..."

The Bahamas: There's No Forgetting the Role Climate Change Played in our Destruction. Hurricane Joaquin was the first Category 4 hurricane to hit the Bahamas since 1866. has the story - here's an excerpt: "...For The Bahamas, climate change is an issue of access. More than access to adaptation funding, but access to food security, access to adequate public health, access to the fisheries and access to a Bahamian way of life that has existed for generations. Our country is fighting what appears to be a losing battle with the elements that have supported our existence for centuries. The sea is reclaiming the land; the ocean is killing off its contents through ocean acidification, the temperature is leading to disease (vector borne and heat related). We are finding it difficult to keep up..."

Photo credit above: "The remains of a house in Long Island, The Bahamas." Source: Long Island Hurricane Relief Facebook Page.

Is Climate Change The New Big Election Issue for Latino Voters? Here's a snippet from a story at PRI, Public Radio International: "...Latinos live in areas that are vulnerable to climate change. In fact, if you look at the Latino population, 49 percent of us live in coastal shoreline counties, compared to 39 percent of the general population. So we are starting to see the impacts, and we are starting to see them in our communities,” says Nicole Hernandez Hammer, a southeast climate advocate with the Union of Concerned Scientists. Another poll from The New York Times and Stanford University, conducted at the beginning of 2015, found that 54 percent of Latinos rated global warming as being extremely or very important to them personally, compared with 37 percent of white respondents..."

Photo credit above: "Following what the National Weather Service described as "high astronomical tides due to the lunar cycle," a coastal flood advisory was put in place for South Florida early this week. Pictured above is flooding that occurred in Miami Beach at Indian Creek Drive and 30th Street on September 28, 2015." Credit: Photo by Emily Michot/Miami Herald Staff.

Climate Realities Sink In. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed from The Baltimore Sun: "...Meanwhile, University of Maryland researchers used satellite data to judge how warm the Chesapeake has gotten, and the outlook isn't good. Not only have average temperatures risen 1.2 degrees per decade since the 1980s, but there are areas such as Baltimore where it's gotten even worse. That warming is likely to bring fundamental change to the marine ecology and exacerbate some of the worst impacts of water pollution such as "dead zones" and an overall loss of the dissolved oxygen needed to sustain life underwater..."

Image credit: NASA Scientific Visualization Studio.

How Do You Make Conservatives Care About Climate Change? An expert has tips at Grist; here's an excerpt: "...What we found is that when you present a message that clearly states the extent of the consensus — a sentence like “Over 99 percent of climate scientists are convinced that human-caused climate change is happening,” when it is represented as coming to them from AAAS [the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences] — it has a powerful impact on resetting people’s understanding. Which then has a secondary benefit of making them a little more likely to believe that climate change is happening. We have found that it is particularly impactful when resetting conservatives’ beliefs..."

John Kerry Urges Unity on Fighting Climate Change. The major theme: more climate volatility and water shortages (and excesses) is already impacting food production; here's an excerpt from The Wall Street Journal: "...The theme of the expo is food security, which Mr. Kerry said is threatened by climate change. “We cannot have food security if farmers and fishers around the world are having a more difficult time growing crops, catching fish, raising livestock—it just doesn’t happen, it won’t compute,” he said. “The hard truth is that unless the global community comes together to address climate change, every one of these challenges—droughts, floods, extreme weather, ocean acidification, hunger, malnutrition—all of them will only become more pronounced...”

Photo credit above: "U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at the Milan Expo on Saturday." Photo: Associated Press.

Voters to GOP: "I'm Not a Scientist" Won't Cut It on Climate Change. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed from The L.A. Times: "...We also found that 75% of adults, including 63% of Republicans, support regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant. And yet Republicans have been making the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan their latest punching bag. That may help primary candidates, but it will cost the GOP in the general election. The most conservative Republicans — those who oppose climate action — hold sway in primaries. But against a Democratic candidate, the GOP will have to appeal to a wider audience to succeed..."

Photo credit above: "Republican presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush talk during a break at this year's first Republican presidential debate in Cleveland." (Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

Trouble At The Edge of the World As Antarctica's Glaciers Are Undermined by Warm Water. Here's an excerpt of a story at The Sydney Morning Herald: "...The overall loss of ice from the Antarctic ice sheet is contested. A NASA report this month challenged the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's conclusion that Antarctica is losing 147 billion tonnes a year, suggesting instead it may have slightly gained overall. Even so, NASA report author Jay Zwally​ says losses from the West Antarctic sheet will likely outweigh East Antarctic gains in a couple of decades. His colleague, Eric Rignot, says of the key Amundsen Sea sector: "The collapse of this sector of West Antarctica appears to be unstoppable ... At this point, the end of this sector appears to be inevitable..."

Photo credit above: "Great rifts are visible beneath the wing of a NASA aircraft flying over a glacier feeding the Amundsen Sea." Photo: NASA JPL

Sid Miller Sees Human Role in Climate Change. Here's an excerpt of an article at The Texas Tribune: "Human actions have contributed to climate change, according to the majority of climate scientists — and now, apparently, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller. Asked specifically if he believed human beings have played a role in climate change, Miller said he's come to believe so, especially after seeing the level of air pollution in Beijing and Shanghai during a recent trip to China..."

Photo credit above: Bob Daemmrich. "Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller at Texas Republican Convention in Fort Worth, June 5th, 2014."

L.A. Times Says Climate Not to Blame for More Wildfires. They're Wrong. Here's a clip from Mother Jones: "...In other words, virtually everyone quoted in this article either (a) says nothing about climate change or (b) says climate change is an important factor in the rise of wildfires in California and the West. And yet, somehow all of this is written in a way that makes it sound as if climate change has nothing to do with wildfires, and it's topped by a headline that says in no uncertain terms, "Gov. Brown's link between climate change and wildfires is unsupported, fire experts say." Very peculiar."

It's Far Worse Than It Sounds: Climate Change Is Making Our Winters Shorter. Not every winter, but most winters are trending shorter (as defined by extreme low temperatures). It may be making winters snowier for coastal cities, especially New England and Mid Atlantic. A warmer ocean and atmosphere means more water vapor floating overhead, more fuel for not only extreme summer rains but heavy winter snows. Here's an excerpt from Salon: "If winter comes… spring’s going to be closer-than-usual behind. New research shows that as a result of rising temperatures caused by global climate change, the first leaves and buds of spring will begin arriving at least three weeks ahead of time in the United States. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison examined the variations and trends in the onset of spring across the Northern Hemisphere’s temperate regions and calculated that the onset of spring plant growth will shift by a median of three weeks earlier over the next century. Their findings were published in the journal Environmental Research Letters yesterday..."

No Warming in 18 Years? That's one of the popular memes from professional skeptics, but when you factor oceans (92% of warmth trapped by greenhouse gases goes into the oceans) the Global Land-Ocean Temperature Index is ever upward and onward, probably setting a new temperature anomaly record in 2015. Graph courtesy of Dr. John Abraham at The University of St. Thomas.

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