Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Mild Bias Next 10 Days? Wells Fargo and Citigroup Step Up on Climate Change

69 F. high in the Twin Cities Tuesday.
63 F. average high on October 6.
63 F. high on October 6, 2014.

October 7, 2003: Record high temperatures were seen across the area. St. Cloud's high was 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Minneapolis tied their record of 85 degrees set in 1997, and Alexandria set their record with 88 degrees. Forest Lake reached a record-setting 82 degrees, along with Stillwater at 84 degrees.
October 7, 1980: Summer-like heat over Minnesota with 92 at Montevideo and 84 at the Twin Cities.

A Fine October: More 70s Brewing for The Weekend

"There was something horribly depressing, she felt, about watching the weather report. That life could be planned like the perfect summer picnic drained it of spontaneity” wrote Galt Niederhoffer.
I'm a big fan of spontaneity; there's far too little of it in my life. I'm a slave to my calendar and to-do list. We schedule and plan, but sometimes the weather gets in the way.

My oldest son is getting married at the end of the month up on Gull Lake. I'm hoping for the best. It could be 60F or snowing - or anything in-between. The accuracy of a 2 week forecast for a precise location is close to 50-50; the rough equivalent of a coin-flip. Honey, in the unlikely event you're reading this the forecast is "changeable".

Ask me in November.

Exhibit A: 4 years ago today the high was 85. In 2002 it snowed at MSP on October 7. Yes, October can be a manic month, but I still don't see any weather drama. Showers brush the state late Wednesday into early Thursday, but weekend highs surge well into the 70s. Long-range guidance hints at a frost risk late next week.

It's too quiet. I'm waiting for the other shoe (or boot) to drop.

Rainfall Accumulations. NOAA's NAM model shows the best chance of rain coming north and east of MSP from a clipper-like system tonight and early Thursday. Source: Aeris Enterprise.

How Much Rain? Probably not much for the metro, although the 4 KM NAM model tries to print out an inch of rain tonight and Thursday morning. I suspect it will be closer to .1 to .3", if that.

70+ A Week from Saturday? I certainly wouldn't take this to the bank - but models hint at 70-degree temperatures October 16-17 in the metro area. Circle your calendars - our long, luxurious, vaguely unsettling autumn continues.

State Capitals: Hot Septembers. Statewide, Minnesota was roughly 6F warmer than average, possibly the warmest September on record for Minnesota. Here's an excerpt from Climate Central: "...A sampling of state capitals reveals that 17 of the 50 capitals had one of their 5 hottest Septembers on record. Two of these (Cheyenne and Denver) had their hottest September on record. Globally, 2015 is the hottest year on record so far – and it’s been running that way nearly all year. Nationally, we’re on pace to be one of the top 10 hottest years...."

What The European Model "Win" Means for Weather Forecasting. No weather model is infallible, but the ECMWF seems to - fairly consistently - do a better job with the tracks of tropical systems. Even so, as highlighted in a good article at The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang by Jason Samenow, the GFS has had its moments: "...There have been notable recent cases in which the GFS model provided a better forecast. For example, in 2012, the GFS model offered a more accurate track forecast for Hurricane Isaac which tracked through the Gulf of Mexico. The GFS model also provided a better forecast last January when New York City city was supposed to be buried under more than two feet of snow according to the European model. In reality, only eight inches fell, closer to the GFS model forecast..."

Image credit above: "Hurricane Joaquin." (Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.)

Dam Danger: South Carolina Crews Checking Flood Levels "Minute by Minute". Here's a snippet of an update on the ongoing danger in South Carolina from Fox News: "Officials across South Carolina were monitoring the state's historic flood levels "minute by minute" Tuesday, according to Gov. Nikki Haley, as crews work to protect several dams from potentially catastrophic breaches. More than a dozen dams have burst across the state. Some of the breaches forced officials to evacuate neighborhoods east of Columbia from the rushing water. A solid week of rainfall has sent nearly 1,000 people to shelters, and left about 40,000 without drinkable water..."

Photo credit above: "Water pours from a gate in the Lake Murray dam in Columbia, S.C., Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015. Despite an improving forecast, it will still take weeks for the state to return to normal after being pummeled by a historic rainstorm." (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

"1000-Year" Flood: Hyperbole or Hard Science? CNBC takes a look at whether the 1-in-1,000 year figure really holds up; here's a clip: "...The estimates vary depending on whether or not a region typically sees a lot of rain. A community prone to heavy flooding will have a lower threshold, measured in inches of rainfall, for a 1,000-year event. The threshold for a 1,000-year event in Charleston County, South Carolina over a three-day period is 17.1 inches. The recent flooding in South Carolina actually surpassed this figure. It is of such a high magnitude, (there's been more than 20 inches of rainfall in some areas and the total rainfall has been calculated at 4.4 trillion gallons of water), that its probability of occurring was less than a 10th of a percent...."

Photo credit above: "Jeanni Adame rides in her boat as she checks on neighbors seeing if they want to evacuate in the Ashborough subdivision near Summerville, S.C., after many of their neighbors left, Monday, Oct. 5, 2015. South Carolina is still struggling with flood waters due to a slow moving storm system." (AP Photo/Mic Smith).

Forecasting Hurricane Joaquin and Other Storms is Hard. How Do Scientists Do It? No kidding. Here's an excerpt from a story at CNN: "...Adding to the challenge for scientists is climate change. Because hurricanes are powered by the heat in the ocean, researchers concede it's growing more difficult to predict where or when storms will pop up and strengthen. Haus points to another issue. "I think what is clear for coastal areas is that sea levels are rising. There's no way we're going to get around that," he said. "So the risk that coastal communities are facing is just going to be getting higher and higher, particularly in low-lying areas -- Miami, Tampa, Houston, Washington D.C., the Northeast. These areas, like you saw with Sandy, are very vulnerable..." (Image credit: NOAA).

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 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).

Climate Change is Turning 500-Year Floods into 24-Year Ones. Smithsonian takes a look at how warmer air and oceans may be "juicing" the frequency and intensity of rain events; here's an excerpt: "...People have long referred to the severity of floods in terms of their recurrence interval: the probability that a flood might reach a certain level within a certain number of years. Now, writes Tim Darragh for NJ.com, those designations are getting even more confusing — and more dire — as scientists warn that residents of the Atlantic coast could witness storms with the magnitude of what were once “500-year floods” every 24 years. New research shows that flood risks in New York City and along the Atlantic coast has “increased significantly” during the past millennium. The change is due to a combination of rising sea levels and an increase in the kinds of storms that produce widespread flooding..."

Photo credit above: "A statue in flood waters in the Ashborough subdivision near Summerville, S.C., Monday, Oct. 5, 2015. South Carolina is still struggling with flood waters due to a slow moving storm system." (AP Photo/Mic Smith)

Climate of Doubt. While record floodwaters paralyze much of the Carolinas Californians are becoming increasingly desparate - some turning to dowsers to find water. Here's an excerpt of an article at Aeon: "...Of course, there are people who doubt Hope’s abilities. According to the United States Geological Survey: ‘The natural explanation of “successful” water dowsing is that in many areas water would be hard to miss.’ But the state is now entering its fourth year without enough rain, and this summer struggling farmers will let 620,000 acres lie fallow, losing an estimated $5.7 billion dollars. As increasingly desperate Californians turn to dubious and expensive long-term projects like piping water 1,400 miles from Alaska or building a billion‑dollar desalination plant in San Diego, dowsing for a well looks downright sensible..."

Photo credit above: "Dowser King Faria, a former dairy farmer, during a drought in Marin County, California. February 2nd, 1977". Photo by Bettmann/Corbis.

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 climate.gov: "...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..."

No, You're Not Imagining It - The Fall Weather Really Can Trigger Migraines. Many of us are walking, talking barometers - here's a clip from a story at Yahoo Health: "...It’s true: Seasonal changes really can provoke migraines — those severe, throbbing headaches that are often accompanied by auras, nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound. In fact, research suggests that weather is a trigger for around half of migraineurs who are aware of their triggers. While it’s clear that outside ambience can cause head pain, figuring out what it is about the change in season that is the culprit is harder to do, says Lee Peterlin, DO, associate professor of neurology and director of headache research at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine..." (Image: NASA Earth Observatory).

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).

Xcel Energy Plans to Retire 2 of 3 Coal-Fired Sherco Units. Details via The Star Tribune; here's a clip: "Xcel Energy announced plans Friday to retire two of the three units at its huge Sherco coal-fired power plant in Becker, the largest power plant in Minnesota, as part of a strategy to cut its carbon emissions 60 percent by 2030. Sherco's two oldest units would shut down in 2023 and 2026. Other components of the proposal filed Friday with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission include more wind and solar energy so that in five years, 28 percent of Xcel's energy mix could come from renewable sources, rising to 35 percent by 2030. And the company said its upper Midwest system would deliver 63 percent carbon-free energy by 2030..."

How Energy Efficient Is Your State? Minnesota is #3! Wisconsin is #4! US News has the story; here's the introduction: "The Empire State is also America's most energy-efficient. New York tops a new list of the most efficient U.S. states in 2015 based on home- and car-energy consumption, followed by Vermont, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Utah. Warm-weather states rounded out the bottom of the list – compiled by the personal finance site WalletHub – with South Carolina finishing last, preceded by Louisiana, Texas, Kentucky and Arkansas. (Alaska and Hawaii were not counted due to "data limitations.")..."

Scientists in Antarctica Drink a Lot. Maybe Too Much. You could sort of see this coming - WIRED reports; here's a clip: "...So to stay sane, many scientists, technicians, cooks and drivers at the main US bases—McMurdo Station and the South Pole—employ the social lubricant of alcohol to decompress. But as the austral summer research season gets underway this month, a new teetotaling mandate from Washington may dampen the spirits of the tight-knit Antarctic community. And to enforce it, the National Science Foundation is thinking about deploying breathalyzers to the driest, coldest, weirdest continent..."

Photo credit above: "McMurdo Station on Ross Island experiences 24 hours of darkness in the middle of winter. The lights from the largest research station in Antarctica illuminate Observation Hill just to the south of town." Joshua Swanson/NSF.

TODAY: Sun fades as clouds increase. Winds: SE 5-10. High: 66

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Cloudy with a chance of showers, heaviest north. Low: 60

THURSDAY: Showers taper, drier PM hours. Winds: NW 10-15. High: 67

FRIDAY: Sunny and pleasant. Wake-up: 48. High: 62

SATURDAY: Lukewarm sun, windy. Winds: SW 15-25. Wake-up: 47. High: 72

SUNDAY: What October? Warm sun. Winds: SW 10-15. Wake-up: 57. High: near 80

MONDAY: Windy, turning cooler with lingering clouds. Wake-up: 59. High: 66

TUESDAY: Mix of clouds and sun. Wake-up: 50. High: 65

Climate Stories...
Wells Fargo Statement on Climate Change. Full disclosure: I am a Wells Fargo client, and my business provides services for Wells Fargo. Here is an excerpt recent statement from Wells Fargo: "...We join with the growing number of businesses, customers, and communities in expressing our view that we all need to do our part to find solutions to the climate change challenge. Specifically, we believe non-governmental organizations (NGOs) must continue to work constructively and collaboratively with private and public sectors to develop viable climate solutions; and governments need to establish clear climate change policy frameworks thta provide the market with the certainty it needs to increase investment in low-carbon solutions and innovation..."

Citigroup, Citing Climate Change, Will Reduce Coal Financing. Here's an excerpt from a story at Bloomberg Business: "Citigroup Inc., the third-biggest U.S. bank, said it will cut back on financing for coal mining projects, in the latest blow to the industry that’s viewed as a key contributor to global warming. Citigroup said its credit exposure to coal mining had “declined materially" since 2011 and that the trend would continue into the future. The policy applies to companies that use mountaintop removal methods as well as coal-focused subsidiaries of diversified mining companies, according to the New York-based company’s Environmental & Social Policy Framework guidelines posted online Monday..."

Disaster Resilience Key to Managing Climate Change, Say Insurers. The insurance industry is sitting up and paying attention to the trends. Climate disruption is already hitting them (and their clients) in their wallets. Here's an excerpt from The Sydney Morning Herald that got my attention: "...Mr Carney pointed out that the number of weather-related loss events has tripled since the 1980s. Inflation-adjusted insurance losses from these events had increased from an annual average of about $10 billion then to about $50 billion over the past decade. "While there is still time to act, the window of opportunity is finite and shrinking," he warned..."

Photo credit above: "The number of weather-related loss events has tripled since the 1980s. Inflation-adjusted insurance losses from these events have increased from an annual average of about $10 billion then to about $50 billion over the past decade." Photo: Mark Nolan

What The Historic South Carolina Floods Can - and Can't - Tell Us About Climate Change. Here's a snippet of additional perspective from The Washington Post: "...Thus, you can certainly say for the South Carolina floods — as you can for the 2013 Boulder, Colo., floods, and the Texas and Oklahoma floods earlier this year — that they are consistent with what we would expect in a warming world. “As the world warms, more water evaporates from the ocean, as well as lakes and rivers,” says  Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist from Texas Tech University. “That means that, when a hurricane or a storm system comes along, there is on average more water vapor available for it to pick up and dump on us than there would have been 50 or 100 years ago...”

Map credit above: "The map shows percent increases in the amount of precipitation falling in very heavy events (defined as the heaviest 1% of all daily events) from 1958 to 2012 for each region of the continental United States." Source: U.S. National Climate Assessment

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).

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