Monday, October 5, 2015

Mild Bias Continues - Were 18-26" Rains in South Carolina Evidence of a Warmer, Wetter Atmosphere?

62 F. high in the Twin Cities Monday.
63 F. average high on October 5.
49 F. high on October 5, 2014.

October 6, 1997: Hail, wind, and an F0 tornado was reported in the early morning hours in several counties in west central Minnesota. Near Canby in Yellow Medicine County, hail combined with wind gusts nearing 60 mph damaged the roof of bus garage, elementary school windows and a school vehicle. Renville, McLeod, Carver, Scott, and Dakota counties also received hail and strong winds. Widespread pea to marble size hail accumulated to three inches deep in several areas, and severely damaged crops over a large part of Renville county. Also, power lines and trees were blown down. Southeast of Bird Island, a barn collapsed and killed over 100 pigs. Near Brownton in McLeod County, hail accumulated to a depth of 3 inches with one foot drifts. A brief tornado touched down near Stewart in McLeod County, damaging a few trees.

October 6, 1987: Snow falls over Arrowhead region.

Thousand-Year Rain Event Swamps South Carolina

26.88 inches of rain just fell at Boone Hall Plantation, South Carolina in about 3 days. That's 2 hurricanes worth of rain; roughly the amount of precipitation MSP sees in an entire YEAR!

Weather systems stalled; a firehose of tropical moisture from "Joaquin" focused on the Carolinas. When the weather stalls bad things often result, in this case historic, unprecedented rains.

I've seen a few conspiracy theories, suggesting a government cover-up: "HAARP weather modification gone bad". Uh huh. Yes, climate change is a hoax, the Apollo moon landings were faked and Washington D.C. is run by a race of lizard-people.

Well, that last one may be true.

Extreme rains are on the rise. For the record, Minnesota has experienced 4 separate 1-in-1,000 year flash flood events since 2004.

The mercury flirts with 70F today & Wednesday; 80F is not out of the question Sunday. Technically we can't call it Indian Summer until the first frost, which may be 2 weeks away by my calculations.

Rain settles the dust Thursday; otherwise dry with a mild bias. It's still October, right? Just checking.

* Birmingham TV meteorologist James Spann (highlighted in a tweet above) is a living legend, not only in Alabama, but across much of the USA. He knosw his stuff - and updates a daily weather blog.

The Meteorology Behind South Carolina's Catastrophic 1,000-Year Rainfall Event. Here's excellent perspective from The Capital Weather Gang at the Washington Post; an excerpt: "...As Hurricane Joaquin tracked north, well east of the coast, a separate, non-tropical low pressure system was setting up shop over the Southeast late last week. This system drew in a deep, tropical plume of water vapor off the tropical Atlantic Ocean. At the same time, this upper-level low pressure system tapped into the moist outflow of Hurricane Joaquin. The moisture pipeline fed directly into a pocket of intense uplift on the northern side of the non-tropical vortex. Within this dynamic “sweet spot,” thunderstorms established a training pattern, passing repeatedly over the same location and creating a narrow corridor of torrential rain stretching from Charleston to the southern Appalachians..."

Map credit above: "A preliminary map of rainfall totals, estimated from radar, shows the vast extent of the deluge across most of South Carolina and parts of coastal North Carolina. The National Weather Service notes that these radar estimates have likely under-estimated the regional rainfall totals by a factor of 30 to even 50 percent in some locations." (Jordan Tessler/Capital Weather Gang)

What Does a "100 or 1000-Year Rain Event" Really Mean? Marshall Shepherd does a good job breaking this down at Forbes; here's an excerpt: "...However, as I watch the media and social media, it is apparent to me that many people still do not understand the concept of what 100- or 1000-Year rain event means. Many people literally assume it means this event “can only” happen every 1000 years (in the case of a 1000-year event). Here is what it actually means as described on the NOAA National Center for Environmental Information (NCEI, but formerly NCDC) webpage:
…it is a statistical way of expressing the probability of something happening in any given year. A “100 year” storm event has a one in one hundred or 1% chance of happening in any given year. A “500 year” event has a one in five hundred or .2% chance of happening in any year.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley: Floods are Regions "Worst in 1,000 Years". I've seen other references to a 1-in-1,000 year rainfall event for portions of South Carolina, as much as 24" in a few spots as of Monday morning; 3-4 month's worth of rain falling in the better part of 3 days. Here's a clip from The Guardian: "South Carolina governor Nikki Haley paused in efforts to cope with the record-breaking rain that hit her state over the weekend to say the resultant floods were “the worst in a thousand years”. “This is the worst flooding in the lowcountry [the region around the South Carolina coast] for a thousand years, that’s how big this is,” Haley said at a Sunday afternoon press conference. “That’s what South Carolina is dealing with right now. The Congaree river is at its highest level since 1936..."

Photo credit above: "Flood waters climb up the walls of homes in Columbia, S.C., Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015. The rainstorm drenching the U.S. East Coast brought more misery Sunday to South Carolina, cutting power to thousands, forcing hundreds of water rescues and closing many roads because of floodwaters." (AP Photo/Chuck Burton).

South Carolina Flood is 6th, 1000-Year Rain since 2010. Doyle Rose has the story at USA TODAY; here's the introduction: "The biblical flooding in South Carolina is at least the sixth so-called 1-in-1,000 year rain event in the U.S. since 2010, a trend that may be linked to factors ranging from the natural, such as a strong El Niño, to the man-made, namely climate change. So many "1-in-1,000 year" rainfalls is unprecedented, said meteorologist Steve Bowen of Aon Benfield, a global reinsurance firm. "We have certainly had our fair share in the United States in recent years, and any increasing trend in these type of rainfall events is highly concerning," Bowen said..." (File photo: USGS).

How To Survive a Flood. Treehugger has some timely advice; here's an excerpt: "...The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) came up with the phrase "Turn around don’t drown" (and then registered it as a trademark) to further the National Weather Service’s (NWS) mission to help save lives. As it turns out, the CDC reports that half of all flood drownings happen when a vehicle is driven into hazardous floodwater. As mentioned above, 12 inches of moving water can take a small car; two feet will sweep away a larger vehicle. People think they can pass a puddle in the road, only to have their car stall and then ... whoosh. Turn around, don't drown!..."

Photo credit above: U.S. Geological Survey/flickr

Flood Insurance: 5 Things You Need to Know When The Water Hits. NBC News provides perspective, including the fact that most homeowner's insurance policies don't cover flooding, as amazing as that is to ponder. Here's an excerpt: "...If you're a homeowner, you have homeowner's insurance, and if you're a renter, you might even have renter's insurance. That's great, but unfortunately, your policy probably doesn't cover flooding. "The thing is, flooding is excluded under a standard homeowner's insurance policy," said Loretta Worters, VP of Communications for the Insurance Information Institute. "It's really something that everyone should think about. And if you don't live in a high risk area, you're not going to pay much, anyway..." (File photo: AP).

Belated Reprieve for the Carolinas. NOAA's 7-Day rainfall forecast shows a drying trend for the East Coast, the best chance of half an inch or more of rain over far northern Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Relatively Mild Into Monday. The GFS model drags colder air south of the border early next week (we're due for a real cool front). The best chance of showers comes on Thursday of this week - otherwise it's a basically dry forecast into mid-October. Source: NOAA.

1 PM Sunday. Models show a ridge of warm high pressure that might feel right at home in early September by Sunday, October 11 - 70s pushing into Duluth and Bemidji; with an outside shot at 80F over southern Minnesota Sunday afternoon. Not too shabby considering the sun is as high in the sky as it was the first week of March. Source: NOAA and AerisWeather.

Where's The Frost? The graphic above shows predicted temperatures looking out 16 days; nighttime lows mostly in the 40s. I still think there's at least a chance of a frost by the middle of next week, but no rude Canadian smacks of (really cold) air are brewing.

Record Warm September, Statewide? Here's an excerpt of the latest HydroClim update from Greg Spoden, Minnesota State Climatologist: "Average monthly temperatures for September were well above historical averages across Minnesota. Preliminary data indicate that the statewide average temperature for September 2015 was nearly six degrees above normal and may set an all-time high record for the month. Extremes for September ranged from a high of 94 degrees F at Marshall (Lyon County) on the 3rd, to a low of 18 degrees F in Isabella (Lake County) on the 29th.
  • The October precipitation outlook tilts towards below-normal conditions for all Minnesota counties. Normal October precipitation ranges from one and one-half inches in northwestern Minnesota, to over two and one-half inches in portions of northeastern Minnesota.
    [see: Climate Prediction Center 30-day Outlook  | October Precipitation Normal Map]
  • The October temperature outlook favors above-normal conditions across Minnesota. Normal October high temperatures fall from the low to mid-60s early in the month, to the upper 40s by month's end. Normal October low temperatures drop from the low 40s early in the month to near 30 by late October..." (Map above: Midwest Regional Climate Center).

WATCH: Killer Tornado Tears Through Chinese Town. Pretty amazing footage; tornadoes formed in the outer spiral bands of a landfalling typhoon - details via Daily Star: "The amazing footage captures the huge twister wreaking havoc in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong (Sunday) afternoon. It came hours after after Typhoon Mujigae landed in the region sparking off a series of tornados. Videos of the terryifying 300 ft twister began appearing online as frightened residents took cover..."

Meet The International Ice Patrol: Stopping Ships From Running into Icebergs Since 1913. I had no idea. Atlas Obscura has the details; here's a snippet: "...Using satellites to identify ice was a early and obvious application of the technology: the IIP works with agencies like the Canadian Ice Service and the National Ice Center that have a long history of spying ice from above. The Canadian Ice Service is charged with understanding ice conditions in Canada's navigable waters, which include parts of the Arctic Ocean, and the vast and remote nature of that region means that it’s almost impossible to survey with planes alone. But there are different types of ice to spy on: sea ice—frozen ocean water—is relatively easy to distinguish from above. Icebergs are whole different story. “We're looking for a tiny moving dot in the ocean,” says Hicks..." (File photo credit: Wikimedia).

Not What I Ordered: How El Nino Is Like a Bad Bartender. Great analogy. Or maybe a good bartender with a very bad memory. Bottom line: it's dangerous to generalize; every El Nino is different. Here's a clip from a good post at NOAA's "...If you’ve been following along over at The ENSO Blog, you know this El Niño event is already one of the big ones. And, it will very likely take its place among the pantheon of El Niños of the last 60-70 years. But the expectations in some places aren’t as cut and dried as you might think. Let’s say you have a favorite establishment, where everybody knows your name, and they bring you “your” beverage on sight. And then one night you go in, and based upon your past experience, you sorta expect the bartender to bring you your favorite beer. Instead, maybe he unexpectedly brings you a warmer-than-normal beer, or even a wine cooler. El Niño is like that bartender. Seeing him when you walk in may tilt your odds toward getting your favorite beer, but it’s not a guarantee. In other words, sometimes El Niño is the bartender who doesn’t bring you what you ordered..."

Tech For A New Age. Philips sponsors a look at ways in which new technology are helping us live longer, fuller lives, and new advances that may be coming. Here's an excerpt at The New York Times: "A century ago, few folks lived past the age of 50. Most reached the milestones of young adulthood — new jobs, marriage or kids — absent their mom, dad or both. Today’s millennials are more likely than not to have both parents as well as living grandparents. This profound shift — the triumph of a century’s work in medicine, public health and technology — is rewarding us in countless ways: a great aunt’s bedtime stories, a grandfather’s passion for model trains, or a master’s skills passed in person to younger generations..."

Tim Cook's Apple Has Forced the Whole Tech World to Realign. Now that we're all walking around with shiny supercomputers in our pockets and purses the world really has changed, opening up new opportunities for business. Here's an excerpt from WIRED: "...The theme of the Box conference was mobile technology, and Cook asserted that businesses still have only a halting grasp of mobile’s potential. At the moment, he claimed, most businesses think of mobile tech as little more than a portable way to check email. “To take advantage of it in a huge way you have to rethink everything that you’re doing,” he said. “There’s no doubt in my mind the best companies will be the most mobile....” (Image: AerisWeather).

USA vs. Russia: What a War Would Look Like Between the World's Most Fearsome Militaries. I'm wide awake after reading an analysis at Military Times; here's an excerpt: "...Moscow’s military campaign in Syria is relying on supply lines that require air corridors through both Iranian and Iraqi air space. The only alternatives are naval supply lines running from Crimea, requiring a passage of up to 10 days round-trip. How long that can be sustained is unclear. That and other questions about Russian military capabilities and objectives are taking center stage as Putin shows a relentless willingness to use military force in a heavy-handed foreign policy aimed at restoring his nation’s stature as a world power. In that quest, he has raised the specter of resurgent Russian military might — from Ukraine to the Baltics, from Syria to the broader Middle East..."

Self-Driving Truck Hits the Highway in World First. What can possibly go wrong? Details via Gizmag; here's a clip: "Daimler Trucks has shifted gears in its ongoing effort to develop autonomous vehicles. By fitting its Highway Pilot self-driving system to a Mercedes-Benz Actros truck and steering it down a stretch of Autobahn 8 near Stuttgart, the company has marked the first time an autonomous production semi has been tested out on public roads..."

4 Things Businesses Can Learn from Disneyland. Here's an excerpt from Fortune: "...So why is the pricing so complicated? Why not just stick with one price? Because Disney knows that different people want different things, so it’s created a pricing structure that allows for maximum profit spread out over the greatest number of people. Some people are bound to buy the cheapest option, but many will pay more—a lot more. Does your business offer multiple pricing packages? Chances are, a small percentage of your audience would be willing to pay significantly more for your product or service if you offered more value, exclusivity and luxury..."

No Sweat? An Excercise Pill May Be Right Around the Corner. Oh happy day. Quartz tells us what we want to hear - including this tantalizing excerpt: "Imagine if, instead of sweating on the treadmill and forcing yourself through repetitive sit-ups, you could have the benefits of exercise without any of the effort. That scenario isn’t a ridiculous fantasy but a serious scientific goal, and researchers have recently published a major breakthrough: They have created a blueprint of the molecular reactions to exercise. The findings, published in Cell Metabolism on Oct. 2, show that exercise causes 1,000 molecular changes in skeletal muscles. Dr. Nolan Hoffman, an author of the study and a research associate at the School of Molecular Bioscience, University of Sydney, says that the goal is to identify the most important changes, so that these can be replicated using drugs..."

Winners of the 2015 World Beard and Moustache Championship. Perhaps the one sport not covered by ESPN; here's an excerpt (complete with unretouched photos) from Quartz: "Over 300 men competed in the 2015 World Beard and Moustache Championships, hosted in Leogang, Austria, on Oct. 3. European Press Agency photographer Angelika Warmuth was on the scene to snap portraits of the hirsute contestants, their facial hair shaped and coiffed into everything from Salvador Dalí’s famous pencil-stache, to something not unlike a pair of water buffalo horns..."

Photo credit above: "Over 300 men from around the world compete for hirsute supremacy at the World Beard and Mustache Championship." (EPA/Angelika Warmuth).

TODAY: Mild sunshine - distractingly nice. Winds: W 5-10. High: 70

TUESDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear. Low: 51

WEDNESDAY: Sunny start, PM clouds. Winds: SE 7-12. High: 69

THURSDAY: Showers taper, slow PM clearing. Wake-up: 57. High: 65

FRIDAY: Plenty of sun, very nice. Wake-up: 47. High: 62

SATURDAY: Sunny, mild breeze. Winds: SW 10-20. Wake-up: 49. High: 71

SUNDAY: October sweat. Warm sunshine! Winds: SW 10-15. Wake-up: 56. High: 78

MONDAY: Sunny, too nice to work. Wake-up: 60. High: 75

Climate Stories...

South Carolina Flooding is the Type of Event Scientists Have Warned About for Year. Andrew Freedman has the story at Mashable; here's the intro: "The epic amount of rain that led to deadly, catastrophic flooding across large parts of South Carolina and North Carolina is an example of exactly the type of supercharged storm system climate scientists have been warning about for years as a likely consequence of global warming. This storm, like others that have come before it — from a massive deluge that flooded Oklahoma City to a flooding event in Houston, both of which occurred earlier this year — are examples of how the atmosphere is behaving in new ways now that there's more water vapor and heat for weather systems to work with..."

Photo credit above: "Hunter Baker surveys flood damage to his neighborhood near the flooded Black Creek, following heavy rains in Florence, South Carolina, Monday, October 5, 2015."

Hurricane Joaquin Helps Fuel Record Rains, Damaging Floods. Was record warmth in the Atlantic (according to NOAA) a factor in fueling extreme rains over the Carolinas? Here's an excerpt from Scientific American: "...Joaquin’s emergence led some to posit that the record-high sea surface temperatures this year, linked to climate change, may have played a role in its development. There is some indication that the intensities of Atlantic hurricanes have been increasing since the 1980s. Climate scientists remain unsure, however, that climate change is presently affecting hurricanes. There is simply not enough data available to separate the contribution of natural variability in the occurrence of such storms, said Thomas Knutson, a research meteorologist with NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory..."

Photo credit above: "Overall aerial view shows historic Charleston at the Battery with minor flooding still visible in Charleston, S.C., Monday, Oct. 5, 2015. The Charleston and surrounding areas are still struggling with flood waters due to a slow moving storm system." (AP Photo/Mic Smith)

Enemies of the Sun. Here's an excerpt of a Paul Krugman Op-Ed at The New York Times: "...Part of the answer is surely that promotion of renewable energy is linked in many people’s minds with attempts to limit climate change — and climate denial has become a key part of conservative identity. The truth is that climate impact isn’t the only cost of burning fossil fuels, that fossil-fuel-associated pollutants like particulates and ozone inflict huge, measurable damage and are major reasons to support alternative energy. Furthermore, renewables are getting close to being cost-competitive even in the absence of special incentives (and don’t forget that oil and gas have long been subsidized by the tax code.) But the association with climate science evokes visceral hostility on the right..." (File image: SolarCity).

New Study: Emissions From Thawing Permafrost Add Trillions in Economic Impacts. Here's the intro to a story from The National Snow and Ice Data Center: "Greenhouse gas emissions from thawing Arctic permafrost could result in an additional $43 trillion in economic impacts by the end of the twenty-second century, according to a new study by researchers from the University of Cambridge and the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). These extra impacts justify the need for urgent action to reduce emissions from thawing permafrost. The study was published today in the journal Nature Climate Change. Permafrost or frozen ground, which contain about 1,700 gigatons of carbon in the form of frozen organic matter, have begun to thaw in response to Arctic warming over the past few decades..."

Photo credit above: "The village of Qannaaq, Greenland, in the Arctic, is built on permafrost." Credit: Andy Mahoney/NSIDC.

Characteristics of Climate Science Denial. I found this post at Scisnack fascinating; here's an excerpt: "...It is important to mention that not everyone that denies climate science intends to do so. Science denial can be the result of a person not having the right background knowledge to understand the issue, unconscious psychological processes that reinforce previous existing ideas, political preference or religious beliefs. However, there are science deniers who actively and publically fight the scientific consensus. That is because creating doubt about this consensus within the general public has been shown to be the single, most successful strategy to delay action. Science denial is not a recent development. There are numerous examples of society rejecting science, sometimes with horrible consequences for the scientist involved (think of Galileo Galilei). The Earth revolving around the Sun, biological evolution, and more recently, smoking causing lung cancer or the effect of vaccinations… new scientific evidence is often met with doubt in society..."

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