Thursday, November 5, 2015

Minor League Cold Front - New York Attorney General Launches Investigation into Exxon Mobil

65 F. high on Thursday in the Twin Cities.
48 F. average high on November 5.
45 F. high on November 5, 2014.

.01" rain fell at MSP International Airport yesterday.

November 6, 1993: Heavy lake effect snow falls over the eastern portion of Lake of the Woods. 3-4 inches around Baudette.
November 6, 1947: A snowstorm moves through Minnesota with high winds, causing a million dollars in damage.



Minor Reality Check
5th Warmest Start to November Since 1872

Yesterday felt like something out of early May: sticky with spurts of sun and a few grumbles of thunder. Odd weather for November. Data from NOAA confirms a tie for 5th warmest start to a November since 1872. If anyone asks (doubtful) the first 4 days of the month were 14.1 degrees warmer than average.

The next time our weather is "average" would someone please send me a fax - or maybe call me on my Bell Telephone rotary phone?

So THIS is what November feels like! Drag a jacket out of cold storage and get ready for 40s (above zero) with a wind chill in the 30s. Hardly polar. This might be a big deal in Atlanta or Phoenix, but Minnesota?

Tom Kelly lives in Minneapolis's Powerhorn Park. "We still have perennials blooming, including roses, forsythia, mums, asters, and shasta daisies. Very bizarre, to say the least" he e-mailed, sending me the photos above. No hard freeze as of November 5? More Kansas City than Minneapolis.
Metro locations stay above freezing into next week with another string of 50s, starting Sunday. The ECMWF model hints at a rain storm next Thursday.

Am I crazy? The maps almost look like spring. Where's November?

No Snow for Tracking This Year. The Firearm Deer Hunting Opener starts sunrise Saturday morning, and stating the obvious: there won't be a lick of snow for tracking. Nada. There's a little slush north of Williston, North Dakota but even that may be gone by tomorrow. NOAA reports 12.7% of the Lower 48 has snow on the ground as of November 5.

Fifth Warmest Start to November on Record for Twin Cities. Actually it's a tie with 1981, but certainly the mildest first 5 days of November since 2008. Data: NOAA.

Glancing Blows of Canadian Air. No polar plunges, not yet. Today will feel like November, but temperatures moderate over the weekend with 50s the first half of next week, an outside shot at 60F Monday. The flow is still modified zonal, prevailing winds from the west to west-northwest, allowing swipes of chilly air to come south, but not the Mother Lode. 2-meter GFS temperature forecast for the next 10 days: NOAA and AerisWeather.

Trending Colder. A mild bias lingers into mid-November, but the GFS 500 mb forecast for Thursday evening, November 19, shows a cut-off low centered over Hudson Bay, a noticeable slap of chilly air pushing across the Upper Midwest into the Great Lakes and New England. No more 70s for awhile.


The Northern Hemisphere's Record-Shattering Tropical Cyclone Season, By The Numbers. A few eye-opening stats from Capital Weather Gang; here's an excerpt: "...Adding together the storms across all ocean basins, the number of intense tropical cyclones to form in the Northern Hemisphere in 2015 is unprecedented in modern records. 27 major tropical cyclones (winds greater than or equal to 111 mph) have occurred this year which is seven more than any other year. Year-to-date, Accumulated Cyclone Energy,  a metric that measures overall hurricane season levels through a combination of frequency, intensity and duration, is at record high levels..."

Image credit above: "Northern Hemisphere Cat. 3+ TCs by year since 1970.  There is the potential for significant underestimates in the data in the early portion of the record."

Cyclone Chapala's Record Strike on Yemen Seen in Images. WXshift has a recap of Chapala with some amazing tweets and meteorological imagery; here's an excerpt: "...Cyclone Chapala is now in the books as the first hurricane on record to hit the Arabian Peninsula country of Yemen. As forecasters feared, the storm’s torrential rains are wreaking havoc on the arid landscape, inundating coastal cities, destroying homes and leaving dozens missing, according to news reports. The scale of the flooding and the unusual path of the storm are put in stark relief in photos being spread across news sites and social media. Satellites captured stunning images of the storm nearing landfall as it entered the Gulf of Aden, something never before recorded..."

Moon Over Boston. Yes, with rising sea levels tidal flooding is possible - in fact it's happening, even without any storms nearby. Here's an excerpt of a post at Open Mind: " ...That answers the question. Yes, tide alone is sufficient to cause flooding in Boston, even without storm surge or precipitation. It didn’t used to be. In fact, it wasn’t this way until 2011. These data end with 2012, but it has continued to be that way, and will continue to be so. In fact it will get worse because sea level rise continues. It may get especially worse for Boston, because at the moment, sea level rise there is happening faster than the global average, by quite a bit..."

Inside the Core of "Patricia"; the Strongest Recorded Hurricane to Strike Mexico's West Coast. The (amazing) video and story is at Capital Weather Gang; here's an excerpt: "...What’s it like to withstand the brunt of a ferocious and historic Category 5 hurricane? Josh Morgerman, an extreme storm chaser from Los Angeles, intentionally positioned himself to intercept the landfall of Patricia, which just hours prior attained the greatest intensity of any hurricane ever measured by the National Hurricane Center. His footage of the storm making landfall, complemented by his compelling first person narrative, is absolutely riveting..."

Scientists Study Links Between Climate Change and Extreme Weather. This is an area I've been focused on for the better part of 20 years. John Schwartz has the story looking at a possible link between climate change and extreme weather events in 2014 at The New York Times; here's the intro: "Did climate change cause that heat wave? That hurricane? That drought? A new collection of studies examined extreme weather events last year, including drought, floods and storms, to look for signs that climate change was a cause or contributor. The papers are part of a broader effort to recognize the effects of climate change as the world warms, and to tease out those factors from other possible causes of extreme events. Climate change is often discussed in terms of predictions about what may happen in the next 100 years or more as average global temperatures rise. But an emerging field of science is dedicated to discerning whether climate change is already having effects, and what they might be..."

* The report(s) from the American Meteorological Society are available here.

Warming's Fingerprints Are All Over Recent Extreme Weather, Research Shows. Climate attribution is emerging science, but researchers are using all resources available to see which events in 2014 can be linked to a warmer atmosphere and ocean. Here's an excerpt of a very good summary from Andrew Freedman at Mashable: "...Specifically, tropical cyclones in the central Pacific, deadly heat waves in Australia, Asia and South America, and a deadly snowstorm in the Himalayas, were each in part the result of human activities, the studies show. “For each of the past four years, this report has demonstrated that individual events, like temperature extremes, have often been shown to be linked to additional atmospheric greenhouse gases caused by human activities, while other extremes, such as those that are precipitation related, are less likely to be convincingly linked to human activities,” said Tom Karl, director of the National Centers for Environmental Information in Asheville, North Carolina..."

Found: A 2,250 Foot-Long-Crack in Wyoming. Atlas Obscura has a story about an odd geological formation - here's a clip: "...As far geologists can tell, the crack formed as the result of a landslide: water under the ground weakened the land and helped it slip from its previous configuration. The result: the giant, mysterious crack. It's "not uncommon," CBS Denver reported, for this type of slide to occur, but it's also not wise for anyone to go near it right now—no matter how amazing it might be..."

Sweden: Solar Flare Causes Flight Delays. This is a new one; a story from Business Standard News: "A solar flare briefly disabled radar at Sweden's largest airports today causing significant flight delays, the Civil Aviation Authority (LFV) said. "At 3:45 p.M. (2:45 p.M. GMT), solar storms had disrupted the Earth's magnetic field, causing radar malfunctions here in Sweden," said LFV spokesman Per Froberg. "We had to close the airspace," he added, which delayed airplane departures and landings at several airports. Traffic was delayed at Stockholm's two main aiports Arlanda and Bromma, as well as at Malmo and Gothenburg. Air traffic control was restored after about an hour..." (File photo: NASA).

Greens: U.S. On Track for 20-Year Low in Carbon Emissions. TheHill takes a closer look; here's the introduction: "The United States’ power sector is on track to hit a 20-year low in carbon dioxide emissions, thanks largely to massive numbers of coal power plant closures, an environmental group said. The Sierra Club’s report, prepared with the help of Michael Bloomberg’s Bloomberg Philanthropies, concluded that since 2010, a third of the nation’s coal plants have closed or announced closure, driving down carbon output..."

* More details from The Sierra Club in a paper (PDF) here.

Vancouver May Become Petroleum-Free by 2050. The Vancouver Sun takes a look at that city's lofty goals for a renewable energy future; here's an excerpt: "Vancouver councillors are set to vote on an ambitious energy strategy that would see the city getting every last joule of its power from renewable sources within 35 years. This glistening green vision of the future would see Vancouverites going about their daily business by bike or electric car, while hydroelectricity and solar panels help power single-family homes and apartment buildings extract home heating from the sewage system..."

Photo credit above: "Malcolm Shield, Vancouver’s climate policy manager, stands by an electric car charging station near city hall. The Renewable City Strategy, which aims to wean the entire city off fossil fuels, is scheduled to go before council next Tuesday." Photograph by: Mark van Manen , PNG.

Electric Cars Aren't So Green In Some Areas of the Country. It depends where you live, and how the power generated to fuel your electric vehicle is created. Here's an excerpt from Michigan Public Radio: "...So an electric car in Indiana might be pulling energy from a coal-burning power plant in Michigan, for example, but Michigan gets the pollution.  Mansur says the current one-size-fits-all $7,500 federal subsidy for buying an electric car may need to be modified to account for this effect, since it may give some states an incentive to export the environmental consequences of vehicles to other states. Mansur acknowledges the electric grid is slowly becoming cleaner, as coal-burning power plants are shut down.  So over time, electric vehicles will have a greater positive effect on the environment."

Map credit above: "Graph showing environmental benefits and damages from electric vehicles." Credit Erin Mansur / Dartmouth College.

9 out of 10 Of The Internet's Top Web Sites are Leaking Your Data. As I've said before, if the product or service is "free" YOU are the product. Here's a snippet from Motherboard: "The vast majority of websites you visit are sending your data to third-party sources, usually without your permission or knowledge. That’s not exactly breaking news, but the sheer scale and ubiquity of that leakage might be. Tim Libert, a privacy researcher with the University of Pennsylvania, has published new peer-reviewed research that sought to quantify all the “privacy compromising mechanisms” on the one million most popular websites worldwide. His conclusion? “Findings indicate that nearly 9 in 10 websites leak user data to parties of which the user is likely unaware...”

* The paper referenced above is available here.

Sugar Has Caused a Global Health Crisis, And Should Be Regulated Like Tobacco. Quartz has food for thought; here's an excerpt: "It seems as though no other substance occupies so much of the world’s land, for so little benefit to humanity, as sugar. According to the latest data, sugarcane is the world’s third most valuable crop after cereals and rice, and occupies 26,942,686 hectares (66576827 acres) of land across the globe. Its main output—apart from commercial profits—is a global public health crisis, which has been centuries in the making. The obesity epidemic—along with related diseases including cancer, dementia, heart disease and diabetes—has spread across every nation where sugar-based carbohydrates have come to dominate to the food economy..."

Photo credit above: "A big headache." (Elisa Azzali/Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-2.0)

Still No Flying Cars? The Future of Transit Promises Something Even Better. Wait, better than a flying car? I like Uber, but it's a poor substitute for a flying car. Here's an excerpt from The Guardian: "...According to a recent study from the UCLA’s Institute of Transportation Studies, vehicle travel has declined among millennials – individuals born roughly between the early 1980s and early 2000s – compared to previous generations. According to the study, those born in the 1990s are making 4% fewer car trips and traveling 18% fewer miles per year, on average, than members of previous generations did at the same stage in their lives. “What we’re seeing is a tremendous willingness of the younger population to really adapt to this, to use these car sharing models as a way of avoiding car ownership,” Clelland said..."

Image credit above: Terrafugia, which IS building a flying car. My faith in progress is renewed.

No, Hot Dogs Do Not Contain Human Meat. I've saved the best news for last. But it sure does give us something to chat about around the water cooler (or grill). Here's the intro to a refutation from The New York Times: "The eye-catching headlines on the new findings started coming in waves. “Report: Human DNA Found in Hot Dogs” said USA Today, in a typical example. This bizarre information came from a single document released on Oct. 17 by the consumer marketing arm of a company called Clear Labs, which had found traces of human DNA in 2 percent of the products sampled. But don’t worry: There’s no evidence that hot-dog lovers are unwitting cannibals. It’s more a matter of hygiene in food production. The tiniest particles of hair, nails and skin could show up in these tests..." (File photo: AP Photo/David Banks).

One Way to Avoid The TSA. Dear Santa, now I know what I want under the tree for Christmas. A shiny new jetpack and an updated passport. No lines, no pat-downs at airport security. What's the range on these babies? This is worth your time - a link to a remarkable video from Laughing Squid: "Jetman Yves Rossy and Vince Reffet from Jetman Dubai use their jet packs to fly in formation with an Emirates Airbus A380 over Dubai in a thrilling new video. A separate video details the thorough planning that had to go into the flight to make sure it was done safely for all those involved..."


TODAY: Mix of clouds & sun, brisk. Winds: W 10-20. High: 47

FRIDAY NIGHT: Clear and cool. Low: 34

SATURDAY: Cool sunshine, feels like November. Winds: NW 10-15. High: 48

SUNDAY: Sunny, windy and milder. Winds: S 15-25. Wake-up: 36. High: 56

MONDAY: Blue sky, feels like early October. Wake-up: 40. High: 59

TUESDAY: Partly sunny, less wind. Wake-up: 41. High: 57

WEDNESDAY: Sunny start, clouds increase PM hours. Wake-up: 40. High: near 50

THURSDAY: Heavy, soaking rain possible. Wake-up: 44. High: 46


* Photo credit above: Mike Hall Photography.

Climate Stories...

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.”

Would you like to explore where your faith intersections with weather and climate change? On Saturday, November 7th at 9a in Prior Lake, Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church is hosting a Creation Care event that will examine the intersection of faith, climate change and weather. The event is free. Childcare is provided for those that RSVP. Presenters include faith leaders from the Lutheran, Methodist, MCC and Catholic church, Dr. John Abraham (climate scientist from the University of St. Thomas) and me. RSVP at: http://www.sollc.org/creationcare.


Exxon Mobil Under Investigation in New York Over Climate Statements. Here's a late update from The New York Times: "The New York attorney general has begun a sweeping investigation of Exxon Mobil to determine whether the company lied to the public about the risks of climate change or to investors about how those risks might hurt the oil business. According to people with knowledge of the investigation, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman issued a subpoena Wednesday evening to Exxon Mobil, demanding extensive financial records, emails and other documents. The focus includes the company’s activities dating to the late 1970s, including a period of at least a decade when Exxon Mobil funded groups that sought to undermine climate science..." (File photo: AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar).


The Harm Exxon Mobil Has Done. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at TheHill: "It may be hard to accept, but a single company may have set back all of humanity. Had Exxon Mobil listened to its own scientists rather than spread disinformation on climate change, the world might not have wasted three crucial decades during which global warming went from a prediction to a fact. Rather than apologize, Exxon Mobil’s reaction to recent investigations that detail the corporation’s deception on climate science has been both profane and righteously indignant. Exxon Mobil is now denying it denied climate change. The corporation’s actions, however, demonstrate something else entirely: An extensive and expensive campaign to deny climate science, deceive the American people about the health and environmental ruin caused by global warming, and stop action by governments to address Earth’s rapidly accelerating climate crisis..."

Long List of Unusual Weather Events - Link to a Warmer Atmosphere and Oceans? Hot Whopper lists some of the more jaw-dropping weather events of the last few weeks, in a year that has brought a fair number of unusual weather phenomena:
This is the same month that saw:
File image montage above: NOAA.

U.S. Could Gain Trillions from Global Climate Action, Study Finds. Here's a snippet from Huffington Post: "The U.S. stands to gain up to $10 trillion by 2050 if other countries take action against climate change, a new report finds. The economic analysis, which was released Thursday by the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University School of Law, argues that this financial benefit is reason enough for the U.S. to take the lead on securing ambitious carbon reduction pledges from countries like China and India. The U.S., the study explains, is "particularly vulnerable to effects that will spillover from other regions of the world" because it is the world's largest economy and a military superpower with widespread trade deals and investments across the globe..."

Republicans Are Going To Hate This Chart. It seems that (most) Americans are happy to breathe cleaner air with fewer short-term health threats and long-term risks associated with climate change. MotherJones has the story; here's a clip: "...On Tuesday, after the House of Representatives resolution was approved in committee, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) claimed a victory for all Americans. The vote, he said, shows that "the American people are not happy with President Obama's climate change policy." Except that, they kind of are happy about it. That's according to new polling by Yale University's Project on Climate Change Communication, which found that 61 percent of residents in the states suing the Obama administration support tight limits on emissions from coal-fired power plants. Individual state results are listed in the table above. Even in Kentucky, home to the plan's biggest opponent, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R), most residents support the plan..."

Graphic credit above: "Yale Project on Climate Change Communication."

How to Profit from Global Warming. It's a threat, and it's an opportunity. As Sir Richard Branson famously said: it's the greatest wealth-generating opportunity the world has ever seen - coming up with the new energy sources, resilient infrastructure, water technologies and storm-proof agricultural practices that will propel the USA into a new orbit; innovations we will develop and export to the rest of the world. Here's an excerpt from CNN Money: "Here's a dirty little secret: companies that are cleaning up their carbon act are also cleaning up in the stock market. There are lots of ideological reasons to invest in companies committed to being a part of the solution to climate change. But there's also a greedy reason. Companies that have been the best at improving their carbon efficiency since 2012 have dramatically outperformed the ones that have been the worst at it, according to a new report published on Wednesday by the world's largest asset manager BlackRock (BLK). The report analyzed the stock market performance of the more than 1,850 companies that have entered into the Carbon Disclosure Project..."

As Scientists Worry About a Warming World, U.S. Public Doesn't. Until the symptoms start hitting home with greater frequency and ferocity, then they'll pay attention. Here's an excerpt from AP: "Americans are hot but not too bothered by global warming. Most Americans know the climate is changing, but they say they are just not that worried about it, according to a new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. And that is keeping the American public from demanding and getting the changes that are necessary to prevent global warming from reaching a crisis, according to climate and social scientists. As top-level international negotiations to try to limit greenhouse gas emissions start later this month in Paris, the AP-NORC poll taken in mid-October shows about two out of three Americans accept global warming and the vast majority of those say human activities are at least part of the cause..."

Image credit: NASA.

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