Thursday, October 29, 2015

Slight Shower Risk Halloween - Mellow Start to November

49 F. high in the Twin Cities yesterday.
52 F. average high on October 29.
43 F. high on October 29, 2014.

.01" of rain fell at MSP International Airport Thursday.

October 30, 1951: A early snow storm dropped as much as 8 inches of snowfall in north central Minnesota. Mora had 8 inches, while Long Prairie received 6 inches. Glenwood, Little Falls, Morris, and New London all had 5 inches of new snow. Meanwhile, surrounding areas received a couple of inches.
October 30, 1936: Gale dust storm causes damage in Central Minnesota. Heavy wind damage is reported in Stearns County.

Mostly Mellow, No Weather Drama In Sight (Yet)

"Sometimes I wish that I was the weather, you'd bring me up in conversation forever. And when it rained, I'd be the talk of the day" sang John Mayer. I'm feeling a little better about my low self- esteem issues.


Plan on talking about the Gophers, Donald Trump, traffic headaches, Halloween candy hangovers, 56 days until Christmas, etc. - because there will be precious little to complain about in the weather department.

My semi-educated hunch: El Nino will result in a very active, wet and stormy winter from California across much of the south and then right up the east coast. Many of the biggest, wildest storms may sail to our south - a milder, westerly breeze from the Pacific keeping Minnesota a bit milder and drier than average.

There will be stormy exceptions, but odds favor this won't be a harsh pioneer-winter. Famous last words.
50s return today; models hinting at showers tonight with a few instability showers during the PM hours Saturday - but no steady, soaking rains for Trick-or-Treating. 60s return next week, maybe 70F on Wednesday.

A soft, lukewarm start to November.

First Snow. has a photo from Wednesday night that caught my eye and sums up the reaction from a resident of White Bear Lake: "Rita in White Bear Lake is not ready for the white stuff." 

Halloween Climatology in the Twin Cities. Here's an excerpt of a timely post from the Minnesota DNR: "... The last fifteen years have had some balmy Halloween afternoons with a 71 degrees in 2000, and some quite cool ones as well with a 34 in 2002. There hasn't been a Halloween washout since 1997. Measurable precipitation has occurred on Halloween only 26% of the time in the Twin Cities, or 37 times out of 143 years. The most rain recorded was in 1979 with .78 inches. In 1991 .85 inches of precipitation fell, which was snow. In spite of the 1991 Halloween Blizzard, measurable snow on Halloween is about as rare as getting a full sized candy bar in your trick or treat bag. Since 1872 there's been enough snow to measure only six times: .6 in 1884, .2 in 1885, 1.4 in 1932, .4 in 1954, .5 in 1995 and of course 8.2 inches with the Halloween Blizzard of 1991..."

Showery Friday Night. Models show most of the rain coming from this evening into the early morning on Saturday; amounts in the metro area generally under .20". Yes, it will be mild enough for rain. Source: Aeris Enterprise.

Warming Trend. What a fine way to start November: in the 60s, with an outside chance of 70 degrees in the Twin Cities next Wednesday; more than 20F milder than average.

84-Hour Accumulated Rainfall. A major storm will push into the Pacific Northwest, while a fast-moving plume of moisture sparks a few showers across Minnesota tonight. Skies clear Saturday with a few instability showers possible by late PM, especially north of MSP. Sunday still looks like the drier, nicer day of the weekend. Source: AerisWeather.

Easing Into Winter. Forecast 500 mb winds (18,000 feet) valid Thursday evening, November 12, continue to show a modified zonal flow; prevailing winds aloft howling from Seattle, not the Yukon. Not yet. We'll still see cold swipes but I don't see any prolonged or unusual cold spells looking out 2 weeks.

California Officials Outline Preparations for El Nino Flooding. Reuters has an update on the potential for more serious weather-whiplash, in this case going from historic drought to flood as the symptoms of El Nino become more apparent. Here's an excerpt: "As California braces for torrential downpours this winter from El Nino, authorities have stockpiled extra sandbags across the state while putting hundreds of personnel through flood-control training, officials told state lawmakers on Wednesday. Water engineers and emergency managers addressed a state Senate hearing in Los Angeles on preparations for the El Nino phenomenon, a recurring climate pattern that warms parts of the Pacific and is expected to bring severe weather to California and other regions. The latest El Nino, with forecasts of powerful winter storms and drenching rains, is seen as a mixed blessing for California, which is struggling through the fourth year of a record drought..."

File photo credit from February 2, 1998 in Ventura, California: AP Photo/Nick Ut.

El Nino Could Push CO2 Permanently Above Milestone. Climate Central has the story - here's a link and excerpt: "El Niño has its fingers in a lot of pies this year: Not only is it helping to boost 2015 toward the warmest year on record, but it is also a major factor in blockbuster hurricane activity in the Pacific and is contributing to a major worldwide coral die-off. By this time next year we’ll probably be able to add another effect to that list: This El Niño is likely to tip us over into a world with carbon dioxide concentrations permanently above 400 parts per million..." (Image credit here).

Half Million Die in Decade of Disasters in Asia Pacific: UN. Thompson Reuters has the details; here's a clip: "The Asia Pacific region, the most disaster-prone part of the world, suffered 1,625 disasters in the decade through 2014, and needs to spend more on adapting to climate change and preparing for more extreme weather, the United Nations said on Tuesday. The region's disasters - 40 percent of the global total - claimed half a million lives over the decade, affected 1.4 billion people and caused $523 billion in economic damage, the 2015 U.N. Asia-Pacific Disaster Report said..."

Photo credit above: "Residents walk on a road littered with debris after Super Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city in central Philippines November 10, 2013." REUTERS/Erik De Castro.

Could Hurricane Patricia Be A Harbinger of Storms in a Warming Climate? The oceans are warming - that's not a climate model, that's based on direct observations. Here's an excerpt at The Conversation: "...This time, the near-record warm waters arose at least in part from El Niño. Greenhouse warming may also have played a role, since the waters in Patricia’s path were warmer than in previous El Niños, and have been warmer-than-normal since even before this El Niño formed. The crucial question moving forward, though, is not what roles greenhouse warming and El Niño played in this particular storm. Instead, we should focus on the fact that the largest amount of warming and its impacts are yet to come. Warming to date has been about a degree Celsius overall, and slightly less over oceans..."

White House Releases Plan to Deal With Space Weather Threat. It would be ironic if the grid went down from an X-Class solar flare, and not a hacker in a basement somewhere in Russia or China. Here's an excerpt from USA TODAY: "Space weather, which can disrupt satellites, stifle communications networks and paralyze the electric power grid, is getting some special scrutiny from the Obama administration. The White House announced a new strategy Thursday to identify and respond to interstellar phenomena such as solar flares that pose a looming threat to national security and the global economy. The plan calls for clearer identification of space weather events, improved protection of vulnerable targets, and better forecasting..."

Is America Completely Unprepared for a Power Grid Cyberattack? The short answer appears to be yes. I watch the PBS Newshour every night and was surprised, no, shocked to see Ted Koppel warning of an almost inevitable attack on the grid. I worked with Ted a few times on Nightline; he's not prone to hype or exaggeration - I have a tremendous amount of respect for his journalistic instincts. He wrote a book on the potential for a hack that could bring down significant portions of the electrical powergrid, and basically said, on live TV, that everyone who can afford to do so should have a 3-6 month supply of food and water, just in case. Before you laugh it off or dismiss it as "just another guy selling a book" check out the interview and video. Here's an excerpt: "...Several of them know that the likelihood of it happening is great. When I spoke to Janet Napolitano just after she left as secretary of homeland security — and she had been on the job for five years — I said to her, what do you think the chances are of a cyber-attack on the power grid? She said very, very high, 80 to 90 percent. It seems to me inevitable that we have to deal with this. But maybe, because we don’t know what the answer is, we have not even begun to do so..."

NASA's TIMED Satellite Identifies Unexpected Carbon Dioxide Trends. Here's an excerpt from Gizmag: "NASA has analyzed 14 years worth of data collected by its Thermosphere, Inonosphere, Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics (TIMED) satellite, revealing a surprisingly fast increase in carbon dioxide levels in the upper atmosphere. The stats also reveal that the gas is more localized to the Northern Hemisphere than predicted by climate models. Human activities like deforestation and burning fossil fuels are pumping huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the Earth's atmosphere. The gas is responsible for raising temperatures close to Earth's surface, but it has a very different effect in the upper atmosphere, reducing air density and actually having a cooling effect..."

Image credit above: "Data from NASA's TIMED mission is forcing us to reassess our knowledge of the relationship between the Earth's lower and upper atmosphere." (Credit: NASA).

IBM to Buy Digital Branch of Weather Company, Leaves Weather Channel Behind. I predict The Weather Channel will be just fine, in spite of all the hype, hoopla and understandable paranoia. Here's an excerpt from a story at Capital Weather Gang: "In a major shakeup to the weather industry, IBM announced on Wednesday that it will purchase the Weather Company’s digital assets, including, WSI and Weather Underground, as well as all of the Weather Company brands. It did not, however, include the Weather Channel TV network in the agreement, leaving the future uncertain for the network’s meteorologists and employees. IBM is particularly interested in the company’s “big data” platform, which powers both the in-house Weather Company apps in addition to serving up data for 26 billion third-party requests each day..."

High Water. Here's an excerpt of an interesting analysis at Open Mind: "...Don’t let the name “nuisance flooding” fool you. It’s more than just a nuisance, making roads impassable, backing up storm drains, seriously hurting local businesses, actually threatening important infrastructure, and in some places (like Miami) it’s a major threat to the local water table. Just because it doesn’t threaten to cause local chaos or immediate loss of life, doesn’t mean it won’t cost. Big. In Miami, they’re already spending hundreds of millions of dollars trying to deal with it. Hundreds of millions — and that’s just the beginning. When they’re done with their hundreds-of-millions-of-dollars pumping station installation it won’t be enough, because sea level will already be higher than it is now..."

We Need a Federal Plan for Flood Preparation. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed from the former mayor of Portland, Oregon at The New York Times: "...The risks are mounting. Climate change is warming our oceans, making extreme storms more likely, and rising seas are increasing the threat to coastal communities. FEMA and other federal agencies should be empowered to adopt a more progressive system that rewards cities and towns for investing in resiliency measures. We also need the U.S. government to follow-through on its goals to cut emissions and make our shores and communities safer for the long run. A growing number of voices at the state level are looking for a better national response. This past weekend, elected officials from 18 of the 23 coastal states, with views across the political spectrum, gathered in New Hampshire to discuss the increasing economic costs of sea level rise. But we still need an overarching federal strategy to address this national problem..."

Weather on Demand: Making it Rain is Now a Global Business. Bloomberg Business has a fascinating article about what is, and what is not, possible with cloud seeding. Which gets back to a previous thought: any weather modification business would have a handful of mad scientists, and 50 lawyers to deal with the steady stream of lawsuits. Pleasing all the people all the time is just not possible. Trust me. Here's an excerpt: "...There’s little dispute that if you can actually get the seeding material inside the clouds, it will enhance precipitation,” says Dan Breed, a scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research. “The question is, by how much?” Just as it’s hard to predict the weather, it’s hard to really know if you’ve made it rain or not. Breed’s own research—a nine-year, $14 million government-funded study he completed last year in collaboration with WMI and the University of Wyoming—found that seeding increased snowfall 5 percent to 15 percent from clouds in two Wyoming mountain ranges..."

2 Years After Raising Taxes on the Rich, Here's the "Hellscape" Minnesota Has Become. Don't be mislead by the headline. Actually, we're doing pretty well in Minnesota, all things considered, according to a story at; here are a couple of excerpts: "...The critics who feared Dayton's campaign to have the top 2% pay their fair share would ruin growth and cause business interests to flee appear to have been crying wolf. Minnesota's labor market is healthy. Minnesota was ranked one of the fastest-growing economies in the country by the Bureau of Economic Analysis in 2013. Gallup found economic confidence in the state to be the highest in the nation...But here's what we can say: Dayton's progressive vision for Minnesota has not ruined the economy, and has likely helped it. Walker's conservative vision has clearly not ushered in the free market paradise he envisioned. And it's noteworthy that since the Great Recession and the implementation of their divergent philosophies, Minnesota's economy has pulled further ahead of Wisconsin in several areas..."

How America Became Addicted to Air Conditioning. And I'm just as guilty as the next guy. Here's some perspective in an excerpt from a story at The Guardian: "...Only now is the US waking up to the environmental cost of such massive energy consumption – and to the chilling prospect that the rest of the world may follow its example. The proportion of homes in Chinese cities with air conditioning rocketed from 8% to 70% between 1995 and 2004. US statistics are bracing. A nation with 318 million people accounting for just 4.5% of world population consumes more energy for air conditioning than the rest of the world combined. It uses more electricity for cooling than Africa, population 1.1 billion, uses for everything..."

Image credit:

Something is Going to Kill You. Life is About What Happens Before That. Everything in moderation, right? Pass the bacon, please. Here's an excerpt of a helpful Op-Ed at The Guardian: "...Living a healthy life seems hopeless because it is. And as long as doctors exist to help people life longer, humanity will be continually told about every potentially proven deadly substance, and the carefully measured amounts that have been proven to show a link to increased contraction of a certain disease. It can make life gloomy – but it needn’t. Just, you know, try to lead a happy and productive life without focusing on how soon that which makes you happy will cause it to end. Have fun, make friends, and splurge every so often on that really good bacon..."

TODAY: Some sunshine, feeling better out there. Winds: S 10-15. High: 53

FRIDAY NIGHT: A few showers likely. Low: 43

HALLOWEEN: Early sun, late PM shower risk. Winds: S 8-13. High: 57

SUNDAY: Partly sunny, drier day of the weekend. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 44. High: near 60

MONDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, still mild. Wake-up: 45. High: 63

TUESDAY: Lukewarm with intervals of sunshine. Wake-up: 49. High: 66

WEDNESDAY: More September than November. Mild sunshine. Wake-up: 51. High: near 70

THURSDAY: Some sunshine, turning cooler. Wake-up: 46. High: 53

Climate Stories...

A Few Questions for Those Who Think Global Warming Isn't Real. The accumulation of coincidences continues, in fact its accelerating. Here's an excerpt from Slate: "If global warming is a hoax ...
… then why was this September globally the hottest September on record by a substantial margin?
… then why were seven of the months in 2015 (so far!) the hottest of those months on record (February the hottest February on record, and so on)?
… then why is 2015 on track to be by far the hottest year on record?
… then why was the last warmest year on record just last year?
… then why are the 10 hottest years all since 1998?
… then why are we seeing far more high temperature records broken than lows?..."

Image credit above: Shutterstock/Barnaby Chamber.

Ignorance for a Price: How the Fossil Fuel Industry Pays Politicians to Doubt Science. When in doubt follow the money. Here's an excerpt from DeSmogBlog: "...As Open Secrets reports, the oil & gas industries have pumped more than $36 million into the upcoming 2016 elections, with 93% of that money going to Republicans. In 2014, that total was $64 million, and 87% went to Republicans. In 2012, a presidential election year, the amount from these two industries topped $76 million, with 89% going into the campaign coffers of Republicans. The coal industry is also a major player in American politics, and for 2016, 2014, and 2012, the industry donated $2 million, $11 million, and $15 million, respectively, with an average of 94% of that money going to Republicans. This money buys so much more than political favors..."

Imagine if Exxon Had Told The Truth on Climate Change. Bill McKibbon ponders the imponderable at The Guardian; here's a snippet: "...And if you think it’s just scientists and environmentalists thinking this way, it’s actually almost anyone with a conscience. Here’s how the editorial board of the Dallas Morning News — Exxon’s hometown paper, the morning read of the oil patch— put it in an editorial last week: “With profits to protect, Exxon provided climate-change doubters a bully pulpit they didn’t deserve and gave lawmakers the political cover to delay global action until long after the environmental damage had reached severe levels. That’s the inconvenient truth as we see it.” Those years weren’t inconvenient for Exxon, of course. Year after year throughout the last two decades they’ve made more money than any company in the history of money. But poor people around the world are already paying for those profits, and every generation that follows us now will pay as well, because the “Exxon position” has helped take us over one tipping point after another. Their sins of emission, like so many other firms and individuals, are bad. But their sins of omission are truly inexcusable." (File photo: Jamie Rector, Bloomberg).

Now That We Know What Exxon Knew, What Should Exxon Do? Pivot, aggressively support a price on carbon pollution, lobby legislators and put their money where their mouth is by getting behind cleaner energy alternatives, and quickly. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Star Tribune: "...The good news, and it is good, is that current CEO Rex Tillerson has publicly endorsed a carbon tax, or fee, saying in 2009 that “a carbon tax is also the most efficient means of reflecting the cost of carbon in all economic decisions — from investments made by companies to fuel their requirements to the product choices made by consumers.” He is right. Now the public has a right to expect that, in private as well as in public, Exxon will support the politics as well as the policies to bring about such a tax or fee, to efficiently bend the curve of carbon pollution away from climate calamity and turn Exxon toward becoming a global energy, not just a fossil energy, company."

File photo credit above: "Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson in 2009 endorsed a carbon tax, or fee, saying it “is also the most efficient means of reflecting the cost of carbon in all economic decisions.” LM Otero • Associated Press.

Agency Won't Give GOP Internal Docs on Climate Research. The fishing expedition continues -  along with harrassment of climate scientists trying to do their jobs. Here's an excerpt from TheHill: "The federal government’s chief climate research agency is refusing to give House Republicans the detailed information they want on a controversial study on climate change. Citing confidentiality concerns and the integrity of the scientific process, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said it won’t give Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) the research documents he subpoenaed. At the center of the controversy is a study that concluded there has not been a 15-year “pause” in global warming. Some NOAA scientists contributed to the report. Skeptics of climate change, including Smith, have cited the pause to insist that increased greenhouse gas emissions, mostly from burning fossil fuels, are not heating up the globe..."

Climate Change is Real, and Important. Here's an excerpt of a post at Medium, debunking an eloquent (but factually incorrect) essay from yet another science denialist: "...In his article, David Siegel makes false accusations that scientists are fudging and cherry picking data. This is a red flag warning that he knows little about climate science. It’s a clue that he has fallen for climate conspiracy theories. Even bigger red flags pop up when you read that David Siegel doesn’t “trust” the most prestigious general science journals, Nature and Science. You start to wonder what sources he does use for science. When he says that some of the most highly regarded scientific institutions, NASA, NOAA and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are not to be trusted, then you begin to realise that he must not understand what he is reading about science. When he rejects mainstream science outright you have to wonder what he replaces it with..."

Climate Change: The $44 Trillion Question the GOP Wouldn't Answer. Here's an excerpt from MSNBC: "In a debate framed by economic issues and hosted by a business network, only one of the leading GOP candidates took up perhaps the single biggest economic issue of the day: climate change.  CNBC moderator John Harwood asked the right questions, pressing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for details on how he would address the problem of dangerous, man-made global warming. Experts say that greenhouse gas emissions are heating the planet, roiling the atmosphere and setting up the world economy for a $44 trillion loss unless governments act..."

Climate Change and Creation Care. World religions have been at the forefront of moral awareness and climate change is no different. Leith Anderson, National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) president recently said “We need to move past debating and focus on the poorest of the poor who are neither scientists nor politicians but are the most affected by how we care for God’s creation.”

On Saturday, November 7th at 9a in Prior Lake, MN Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church is hosting a Creation Care event that will examine the intersection of faith, climate change and weather. Presenters include myself, Dr. John Abraham (climate scientist from the University of St. Thomas) and faith leaders from the Lutheran, Methodist, MCC and Catholic church. RSVP at:

Climate Deal More Important For Your Health Than You Realize: WHO. I think we can all agree that less pollution is a good thing. Here's an excerpt from Reuters: "A new global agreement to combat climate change, due to be reached in December in Paris, is more important for everyone's health than many people realise, a senior World Health Organization (WHO) official said on Tuesday. Apart from the direct impact, disasters like heatwaves and floods increase the risk of infectious diseases spreading, while air pollution in cities causes diseases such as lung cancer and strokes, said Maria Neira, the head of public health at WHO. The WHO estimates that 7 million people a year die as a result of air pollution, which is made worse by rising temperatures, especially in cities..." (File image: NASA).

Climate Villains. Are we being too tough on ExxonMobil? They protected their bottom line, but did they protect the common good? Do they, as corporate citizens, have a responsibility to protect the common good. Wait, corporation are now "people" (thank you Citizens United) so this could make for an interesting legal showdown. As usual the lawyers will make out very well in this case, and litigation to come. Here's an excerpt of a Paul Krugman Op-Ed at The New York Times: "...First, it’s now very clear that Exxon has been spending millions of dollars to prevent public action against a slow-motion catastrophe it itself was well aware was on its way. The company’s own research pointed to global warming as a serious problem almost 40 years ago — but it has gone all out to confuse the issue, basically trying to get itself another few decades of profits at humanity’s expense. The cynicism is remarkable. Meanwhile, David Roberts has a piece pointing out the McCarthyite tactics the House science committee has been using to persecute and intimidate scientists, especially but not only those working on climate..."

File image: Don Ryan, AP.

ExxonMobil's Funding of Climate Science Denial. Why? Perhaps because acknowledging their own in-house scientists' growing concerns about fossil fuels warming the planet might be bad for business and the bottom line. Here's an excerpt from DeSmogBlog: "...As Bill McKibben summed it up best, 
“ExxonMobil, the world’s largest and most powerful oil company, knew everything there was to know about climate change by the mid-1980s, and then spent the next few decades systematically funding climate denial and lying about the state of the science.”
But nobody has spent more time and energy researching and exposing Exxon's climate denial campaign than Kert Davies, the creator of ExxonSecrets while he served as research director of Greenpeace USA. Davies, who now runs the Climate Investigations Center and continues to expose climate denial and attacks on solutions to global warming, worked with many researchers over the years (including DeSmog's Brendan DeMelle and Kevin Grandia) to assemble a clear record of Exxon's extensive funding of organizations and think tanks responsible for spreading doubt and denial about climate science..."

U.S. Agency Refuses Request for Climate Records. Is the political process hijacking sound science? Are scientists "cooking the books" to further a specific policy agenda? The agency in question here is NOAA. A valid conspiracy theory (oxymoron) or a witchhunt (with all due apologies to witches)? Here's a link from Nature News & Comments "...The analysis, published in Science in June1, analyzed NOAA's temperature records and found that global warming has continued apace in the early twenty-first century. The study contradicts previous findings — often cited by global-warming sceptics — suggesting that warming has slowed since the 1990s. Representative Lamar Smith, the Texas Republican who leads the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, asked NOAA in July for the data used in the study and for any internal communications related to it. NOAA has provided the committee with the publicly available data and has briefed committee staff on the research, but the agency has not turned over the communications. Although NOAA’s latest response to the committee skirted the issue, the agency suggests in a 27 October statement to Nature that it has no intention of handing over documents that reveal its internal deliberations..." (Image credit above: NOAA News).

* Did NOAA or NASA cook the books? Ross Myers takes a look at why new datasets, and including 2013 and 2014 into the equation, shows continued steady warming of the atmosphere and oceans.

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