Saturday, October 17, 2015

Maps: More Late September Than Late October - String of 60s and 70s This Week

31 F. morning low at MSP International Saturday morning, coldest since April 23 (29F).
56 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities.
58 F. average high on October 17.
58 F. high on October 17, 2014.

October 18, 1950: Record high temperatures were set across the area as highs reached the mid to upper 80s. Minneapolis and Farmington saw highs of 87 degrees Fahrenheit, while Albert Lea reached 86 degrees.
October 18, 1916: Blizzard over Minnesota. Hallock's temp is in the 60s. Drops to 2 above by the 20th

Another Warming Trend
Why I Fear the 7-Day Outlook

My wife is not happy. "If it rains on our son's wedding day I will kick you right in your Doppler." I shrugged. "I'm just the messenger, honey. I don't make the weather, I just try and predict it" I stammered. "Try harder."

An outdoor wedding in late October in northern Minnesota; what can POSSIBLY go wrong? At least it won't snow at the Grand View Lodge next weekend. I consider that a personal victory. But if there's a suspicious drowning on Gull Lake, if you turn to the weather page and find a crossword puzzle, you'll know what happened.

I'm living the 7-Day, hyper-analyzing every model run, praying for a meteorological miracle, a wedding day reprieve, a pardon from eternal, spousal damnation.

Please God.

It's back to the 60s this week; 70s possible tomorrow & Friday. Not bad when one considers the sun is as high in the sky as it was in late February.

We're heading into a wetter pattern as an atmospheric tug-of-war plays out overhead. All rain; no snow in sight just yet.

If my better half is reading this (doubtful) both the GFS and ECMWF hint at some cool sun on Saturday.

So Long Ragweed. Most of Minnesota and western Wisconsin experienced a hard freeze overnight; several hours at or below zero, cold enough to kill off most plantlife, including ragweed (and poison ivy). Hallelujah. Most of the bugs are gone too - one benefit of freezing. Source: Twin Cities National Weather Service and Twitter.

Urban Heat Island - And Lake Effect. Screen left shows temperatures early Saturday morning, subfreezing for most suburbs, but readings stayed just above 32F in the downtown core, the result of the urban heat island: concrete, asphalt, homes and office buildings re-radiating warmth stored during the daylight hours, keeping temperatures 3-6F warmer than the outlying suburbs. Screen right shows a plume of warm air downwind of Lake Mille Lacs, where water temperatures in the low 50s kept nearby readings considerably warmer. Source: Aeris Enterprise Mobile.

Late Week Plume of Moisture. The best chance of showers this week come Tuesday night, again Friday night, as tropical moisture surges north - a bit odd for late October. GFS guidance prints out some 6-8" rains for Texas by late week; the risk of tropical development in the Gulf of Mexico has diminished, but a soaking is still likely. Source: NOAA and AerisWeather.

Lake Effect Snows - Winter In Full Swing Across Canada. The 10-day accumulated snowfall product (NOAA's GFS model) shows heavy snows for Quebec and the coastal range of British Columbia. Short-term lake effect snows will slush up a few roads near Cleveland and Buffalo.

Record Setting Warmth on October 11. From upper 90s to a hard freeze in less than a week - that's pretty impressive, even for Minnesota. Here's the intro to this week's edition of Mark Seeley's Minnesota WeatherTalk: "Strong south winds, bright sunshine, and a relatively dry landscape helped produce widespread record-setting warm temperatures on Sunday, October 11th.  On a statewide basis it was the warmest October 11th in Minnesota history with a new statewide record of 97°F reported from climate stations at Sabin (Clay County) and Wheaton (Traverse County), breaking the old record of 92°F at Canby on October 11, 1928.  It was also 97°F at Fargo, ND.  Many observers also reported the highest temperature ever measured so late in the autumn season..." (Map credit: DNR-State Climatology Office).

Hundreds of People Rescued After Mudslides Bury Parts of California Highways. Freakish, slow-moving thunderstorms Thursday dumped torrential rains in a very short period of time, closing I-5. Here's an excerpt from CBC News: "Rescuers threw ladders and tarps across mud up to almost two metres deep to help hundreds of trapped people from cars that got caught in a roiling river of mud along a major southern California trucking route, a California Highway Patrol official said Friday in what he and other witnesses described as a chaotic scene. Amazingly, officials said, no deaths or injuries were reported. The people rescued from State Route 58, about 50 kilometres east of Bakersfield, were stranded in a powerful storm on Thursday evening..."

Photo credit above: "In this photo provided by Caltrans, vehicles are stopped in mud on California's Interstate-5 after flooding Thursday." (Caltrans/Associated Press).

A "Wall of Mud" in California, and Warnings to Heed El Nino. Some of the first tangible symptoms of El Nino? Here's a clip from The New York Times: " With strong El Niño conditions now established in the Pacific Ocean, Southern California has been getting a taste of what might be in store this winter: lots of desperately needed rain, but also dangerous mudslides and flash flooding. After several hours of heavy rain, mud and debris cascaded down hillsides north of Los Angeles on Thursday, blocking two freeways, including Interstate 5, the critical artery linking this city with San Francisco, Sacramento and Seattle. Mud, sometimes up to windshields, swallowed hundreds of vehicles across the region. Traffic coming south toward Los Angeles all but stopped, stranding travelers far from home..."

Photo credit above: "About 115 cars and 75 tractor-trailers were stuck on State Route 58. “It’s a miracle no one was seriously hurt,” Ray Pruitt, a spokesman for the Kern County sheriff, said." Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times

El Nino's Rains Forecast To Reach Into Northern California, Where They're Most Needed. Here's an excerpt from The Los Angeles Times: "...If El Niño acts as it has before, “there will be a number of significant storms that will bring heavy rains. What that brings will be floods and mudslides,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center. “We're more confident we're going to be seeing El Niño through this winter.” This prompted officials, who had generally been reluctant to predict El Niño's effect on the drought, to say they expect the rains will ease the drought conditions but won't end them. “If the wettest year were to occur, we still wouldn't erase the deficit that's built up in the last four years,” said hydrologist Alan Haynes for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration..."

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..."

Weather Impacts On Your Winter Commute. Beginning this winter the Twin Cities National Weather Service will issue a Winter Travel Impact Index, predicting how the combination of snow, ice, temperatures and traffic will ultimate impact your commute. I can't wait.

Unlocking Our Nation's Wind Potential. We're just scratching the surface of what is possible - and inevitable. Here's an excerpt from The U.S. Department of Energy: "...An Energy Department report released today shows how the next generation of wind turbines could make reliable, cost-effective wind power a reality in all 50 states. The report, Enabling Wind Power Nationwide, explains that advanced wind turbines with taller towers and longer blades will allow us to reach stronger, more consistent winds found high above the ground, unlocking wind energy’s potential across an additional 700,000 square miles—roughly one-fifth of the land area of the United States..."

Map credit above: "New map shows how taller wind turbines could help unlock wind's potential in all 50 states, especially in the southeastern U.S." | Map courtesy of National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Online Attacks on Infrastructure Are Increasing at a Worrying Pace. The first time a hacker brings down portions of the grid, derails a train or crashes an airplane in flight there will be collective outrage. But we've been warned for some time now. Here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "Over the last four years, foreign hackers have stolen source code and blueprints to the oil and water pipelines and power grid of the United States and have infiltrated the Department of Energy’s networks 150 times. So what’s stopping them from shutting us down? The phrase “cyber-Pearl Harbor” first appeared in the 1990s. For the last 20 years, policy makers have predicted catastrophic situations in which hackers blow up oil pipelines, contaminate the water supply, open the nation’s floodgates and send airplanes on collision courses by hacking air traffic control systems..."

Toyota Maps Out Decline of Conventionally Fueled Cars. Will our grandkids or (God-willing) great grandkids ask us why we put smelly "dinosaur juice" into our cars? Great question. Toyota seems to believe the answer is yes. Here's an excerpt from The Wall Street Journal: " Toyota Motor Corp. is plotting a road to near extinction for its conventionally fueled cars as the industry grapples with the fallout of Volkswagen AG’s diesel-emissions scandal. The world’s best-selling auto maker said Wednesday that by 2050, gas-electric hybrids, plug-in hybrids, fuel-cell cars and electric vehicles will account for most of its global vehicle sales, without giving a detailed breakdown. That means gasoline- and diesel-engine powered cars, currently accounting for roughly 85% of Toyota global vehicle sales, would be near zero, Senior Managing Officer Kiyotaka Ise said..."

Image credit above: "Toyota’s 2016 Prius hybrid vehicle on display in Las Vegas in September. Toyota sees near zero sales for its conventionally powered cars by 2050." Photo: Bloomberg News.

TODAY: Sunny, windy, milder. Winds: SE 15-25. High: 62

SUNDAY NIGHT: Clear and milder. Low: 50

MONDAY: Lukewarm sun, nice. Winds: W 10-15. High: 74

TUESDAY: AM sun, late showers. Wake-up: 52. High: 64

WEDNESDAY: Damp start, then clearing. Wake-up: 49. High: 62

THURSDAY: Sunny and beautiful. Wake-up: 48. High: 68

FRIDAY: Mild sun, late shower? Winds: SE 10-20. Wake-up: 49. High: 71

SATURDAY: Partial clearing, cooler. Winds: N 8-13. Wake-up: 52. High: 61

Climate Stories...

Ocean Methane Release Points to Global Warming. What other tipping points are lurking out there? Expect more holy-crap moments. Here's an excerpt from "Climate change isn't just affecting the temperatures above ground. According to a recent research project by the University of Washington, the Pacific Ocean's deep-water temperatures are rising enough to thaw out ancient deposits of frozen methan. A recent report noted that the scientists discovered the methane thaw when they observed plumes of methane bubbles rising up from the ocean flood off the coast of Washington and Oregon..."

Image credit above: "Sonar image of bubbles rising from the seafloor off the Washington coast. The base of the column is 1/3 of a mile (515 meters) deep and the top of the plume is at 1/10th of a mile (180 meters) depth." Credit: Brendan Philip/University of Washington.
Sonar image of bubbles rising from the seafloor off the Washington coast. The base of the column is 1/3 of a mile (515 meters) deep and the top of the plume is at 1/10 of a mile (180 meters) depth. Credit: Brendan Philip/University of Washington

Read more at:
Sonar image of bubbles rising from the seafloor off the Washington coast. The base of the column is 1/3 of a mile (515 meters) deep and the top of the plume is at 1/10 of a mile (180 meters) depth. Credit: Brendan Philip/University of Washington

Read more at:
Sonar image of bubbles rising from the seafloor off the Washington coast. The base of the column is 1/3 of a mile (515 meters) deep and the top of the plume is at 1/10 of a mile (180 meters) depth. Credit: Brendan Philip/University of Washington

Read more at:

Climate change isn’t just affecting the temperatures above ground. According to a recent research project by the University of Washington, the Pacific Ocean’s deep-water temperatures are rising enough to thaw out ancient deposits of frozen methane. A recent report noted that the scientists discovered the methane thaw when they observed plumes of methane bubbles rising up from the ocean floor off the coast of Washington and Oregon.

Read more at:
Canada's Frozen North Feels Financial Burn of Global Warming. Here's an excerpt from Reuters: "Climate change is taking a heavy economic toll on Canada's far north, with buildings collapsing as melting permafrost destroys foundations, rivers running low and wildfires all a drain on the region's limited finances, senior government officials said. A sprawling area spanning the Arctic Circle with a population of less than 50,000, Canada's Northwest Territories has spent more than $140 million in the last two years responding to problems linked to global warming, the territory's finance minister said. "Our budgets are getting squeezed dramatically from climate change," Finance and Environment Minister J. Michael Miltenberger told the Thomson Reuters Foundation..."

Why Solving Climate Change Will Be Like Mobilizing for War. I have a little more faith, however misguided, in technology and the power of the markets to come up with the solutions we're going to need. Here's an excerpt of a rather sobering piece from The Atlantic: "...It’s clear that the market is unlikely to solve the problem of climate change on its own. If scientists are right, and there is no reason to think they aren’t, averting climate change will require such large-scale, rapid action, that no single energy technology, new or emerging, could be the solution. Neither could any single non-energy technology, such as video-conferencing as a substitute for travel, solve the problem on its own. There is always a possibility that a single cheap and effective solution will emerge, rendering expensive interventions moot, but few climate experts are willing to trust the future to that unlikely prospect..."

Image credit: Zak Bickel / The Atlantic.

Editorial: Exxon's Damaging Denial on Climate Change. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed from The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board: "...Exxon had the foresight and commitment to invest in understanding the problem back when few were mentioning it. And if it had given its weighty endorsement to the warnings of academics, this nation and the world might have started taking action in the 1990s that would have made the battle against global warming less daunting. Instead, Exxon — now ExxonMobil — used its research to figure out how to pull yet more fossil fuels from the earth to be burned. The company now acknowledges — just as most Americans do — that the problem of climate change is real (though only half of Americans understand that it is largely caused by human activity)..."

ExxonMobil's Commitment to Climate Science. In a rebuttal to multiple reports of ingoring their own scientists and putting out a different (skeptical) narrative here is how ExxonMobile responded to a growing chorus of critics: "Some recent critics of ExxonMobil, notably Bill McKibben and Naomi Oreskes, are expressing surprise to hear that ExxonMobil helped pioneer research into climate change science in the 1970s and ’80s. They claim that evidence of our climate research was unearthed recently by InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times after being suppressed as part of a conspiracy to deny the existence of climate change. Nothing could be further from the truth. ExxonMobil is a science- and engineering-based company and we employ roughly 16,000 scientists and engineers who every day explore the boundaries of scientific knowledge in order to develop the energy supplies that power the modern economy..."

* For the record, in May of 2008 ExxonMobile publically agreed to stop funding groups that question the scientific validity of climate change, the institutes, think tanks and individuals perpetuating misinformation and doubt, as reported by The Guardian. At the time ExxonMobile stated:

"In 2008 we will discontinue contributions to several public policy research groups whose position on climate change could divert attention from the important discussion on how the world will secure the energy required for economic growth in an environmentally responsible manner."

National Geographic: Climate Change is Here. NatGeo has produced a visually stunning online primer on climate change: how and where it's already showing up, and what we can do about it. Highly recommended.

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