Sunday, December 6, 2015

Average Weather - For 3rd Week of March

40 F. high in the Twin Cities Sunday.
30 F. average high on December 6.
32 F. high on December 6, 2014.
45 F. high yesterday at International Falls. 1" snow on the ground.
0" snow on the ground as of 7 PM Sunday.

December 7, 1982: Due to unseasonably mild temperatures during the preceding weeks, a farmer near St. Bonifacius is able to bail his 4th crop of alfalfa hay on this day.
December 7, 1927: A blizzard hits the Arrowhead region with heavy snows and 70 mph winds at Duluth.

Winter No-Show: 40s This Week
Cooling to "Average" Next Week

I had an out-of-body experience yesterday. "Honey, the lawn needs mowing" my wife suggested. Glancing at the Vikings score it almost seemed like a good idea.

AerisWeather meteorologist Todd Nelson told me outdoor hockey rinks aren't open yet. Here's a thought: flood the rinks and try paddle-boarding. Ice fishing, snowmobiling, cross country skiing?
These are tough times for Minnesota snow-lovers.

Our luck should change - unless it doesn't. The atmosphere is locked in a persistent rut; prevailing jet stream winds hijacked by El Nino. More Pacific air - less Canadian air; fewer opportunities for big storms to spin up - and not nearly enough cold air in place for snow to stick around.

Yesterday's stubborn stratus and fog should give way to sunshine and 40s today; a few rain showers push

across the state Tuesday. A streak of 40s this week gives way to a feeble push of cooler air by the weekend with highs near freezing - still a few degrees above average.

Could the pattern shift in January with a conga-line of storms and bitter blasts? It's possible - but don't hold your breath.

Forecast Challenge. Sunday afternoon's visible satellite loop shows the blanket of stratus and fog over eastern Minnesota with skies clearing from west to east. With a sun angle as low as it ever gets it's difficult for sunshine to burn away stratus and it's challenging trying to predict the timing of any clearing trend. After patchy clouds and fog we stand a better chance of seeing some 40-degree sunshine later today.

37 Degree Temperature Anomaly. Based on GFS guidance models are consistent in showing temperatures early Saturday morning as much as 37F warmer than average near Madison, Milwaukee and Chicago, a mere 20-26F warmer for Minnesota. Map: NOAA and WeatherBell.

10-Day Snowfall Potential. It's cold enough for snow across the Rockies and Intermountain West, a smear of accumulating snow forecast to spread across the Dakotas into parts of central and western Minnesota next Tuesday. Source: GFS guidance from NOAA, animation from AerisWeather.

Nothing Polar Brewing Yet. Temperatures cool back down to average by the weekend and much of next week, and I still see no evidence of bitter air looking out 2 weeks or so. 500 mb winds predicted Sunday evening, December 20, show a wind flow from Portland and Seattle, not the Yukon. Again, the persistence of this zonal flow is impressive; the most likely explanation is a hyper-charged El Nino.

Attribution Studies Home in on Climate Change Signal. A warmer climate (and ocean) is flavoring all weather now, but some specific weather events are easier to link to a changing climate than others. The emerging field of study is "attribution studies" and it turns out (as you might expect) unseasonable warmth and record heat is the easiest phenomena to link to a warming atmosphere; here's an excerpt from WXshift: "...How much of that was tied to climate change is what scientists around the world tried to answer in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society’s annual attribution report, which was published Thursday. What they discovered was that the clearest impacts of warming could be found in heat-related events, from heat waves on land to unusually hot ocean waters. Other events, like droughts in East Africa and the Middle East, California’s intense wildfires, and winter storms that continually swept across the eastern U.S., were harder to pinpoint. In part this is because such events are inherently complex, with a multitude of factors influencing them..."

Global Warming Key Driver of 2015's Record Heat. Is it El Nino, or global warming, or some symbiotic mash-up of both? Here's an excerpt from Climate Central: "It is virtually certain that 2015 will be the warmest year on record, with one of the strongest El Niños ever recorded combining with manmade warming to send global temperatures soaring. But which of these is more responsible for the record heat this year? Global warming fueled by the buildup of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere is the overwhelming contributor, according to a new analysis by scientists involved with Climate Central’s World Weather Attribution program and at the University of Reading. That analysis, which broke down the effects of a number of different possible influences on the global temperature, found that El Niño provided only a relatively small, though still noticeable, assist. And with 2015 not even officially yet in the record books, 2016 could see even more of a warming boost from El Niño, thanks to the delayed effect it has on temperatures..."

Graphic credit above: "The gray line on this graph shows observed surface temperatures from 1880 to 2015. The red line shows the effective temperature forcing of greenhouse gases and aerosols (converted to CO2), and the blue line shows the forcing from both those manmade sources and natural factors, like solar radiation. Early on in the temperature record, the red and blue lines diverge because natural factors meant the full impact of greenhouse gases on temperatures wasn't being felt, but in recent years, the two lines match closely, showing how much greenhouse gases are dominating global temperatures. 2015 is slightly above the red line because of a small push from El Niño as well as even smaller contributions from solar radiation and random weather variations."

El Nino to Interfere with Florida Holiday Vacationers. Yes, the southern branch of the jet is (far) more active than usual, a pattern which may linger much of the winter. Here's an excerpt from AccuWeather: "The winter holidays are an ideal time for vacationers to head to warmer destinations in Florida, but some plans can be spoiled this year as the effects of El Niño ramp up. While occasional dry days will prevail, rain events will be on the increase across Florida as the holidays approach and new year gets underway. Vacationers envisioning spending days soaking up sunshine and lounging on the beach may find themselves making alternate plans for a least a portion of their vacation. The effects of a strong El Niño ramping up will be the culprit behind the turn to stormy weather..."

This Remarkably Strong El Nino Has Topped Yet Another Significant Record. The Capital Weather Gang has more details on the persistent and near-record setting warm phase in the Pacific and the implications for the rest of the winter. It is winter, right? "The exceptionally warm waters of the tropical Pacific Ocean have surpassed yet another milestone, pushing this El Niño one step closer to becoming the strongest on record. The strength of El Niño is measured by how abnormally warm the ocean water is in the equatorial Pacific. There are many zones in the Pacific that are used to quantify the strength of an El Niño, including the often-cited Niño 3.4 zone. Ocean surface temperature is measured and averaged over the entire region in periods of a week, a month and three months. The records in this region are typically broken by fractions of degrees..."

Devastation Unfolds as Flood Recedes. The Hindu has an update on the extreme flooding gripping parts of India; here's an excerpt: "...With many parts of Chennai, Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur and Cuddalore still submerged, it is feared that the scale of such human tragedy could be higher. Sunday’s rains and the forecast of a wet Monday and Tuesday have heightened the anxiety of the National Disaster Response Force, the Coastal Security Group and the Tamil Nadu Fire and Rescue Services personnel making their rescue and relief missions much more complex..."

Photo credit: PTI. "A Coast Guard chopper drops relief materials to the residents in Chennai on Sunday."

The Chennai (India) Floods are a Devastating Preview of Unnatural Disasters to Come. Here's an excerpt from meteorologist Eric Holthaus at Slate: "...But there are deeper reasons these floods happened where they did. Like New Orleans in 2005, Chennai has a sharp and growing rich-poor divide, and is near sea level—at the front lines of climate change. Photos of people awaiting rescue from rooftops and highway overpasses are eerily similar to post–Hurricane Katrina New Orleans 10 years ago. Unlike New Orleans, Chennai has a booming economy. Chennai has become one of India’s primary information technology and health care hubs, though like many developing country megacities, its infrastructure has strained to keep up with the rapid growth. For a city built on a floodplain, development has essentially gone unchecked: Critical infrastructure—like the airport, automobile manufacturing plants, and IT centers as well as countless houses—has been built over streams and marshes, and plastic bags clog drainage networks.."

Photo credit above: "A residential area is seen surrounded by floodwaters in Chennai, India, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015. Although floodwaters have begun to recede, vast swaths of Chennai and neighboring districts were still under 2 1/2 to 3 meters (8 to 10 feet) of water, with tens of thousands of people in state-run relief camps." (AP Photo/Arun Sankar K).

'Tis the Season of Audi. It's hard not to be swept up in the commercialism and materialism of Christmas. Doing otherwise feels a little like swimming upstream. Craig Bowron pushes back against the art of the sale at Sojourners; here's an excerpt: "As in Biblical times, the Christmas season officially begins the day after Halloween, and that's when the holiday catalogs started showing up. Gird your loins, folks: the Season of Audi has arrive. The deep introspection, the "Emmanuel, God with us" soul-searching can wait until January, when all the hubbub has passed and the bills start arriving. We piled the catalogs up on the dining room buffet as a visual warning against the coming materialistic storm...

You Remember Winter, Don't You? My 85-year old father forwarded me this YouTube clip (from The Poke) that reminds us why we love our northern climate. I suspect the Florida Chamber of Commerce is behind this.
As in biblical times, the Christmas season officially begins the day after Halloween, and that’s when the holiday catalogs started showing up.
Gird your loins, folks: the Season of Audi has arrived.
The deep introspection, the "Emmanuel, God with us" soul-searching can wait until January, when all the hubbub has passed and the bills start arriving.
We piled the catalogs up on the dining room buffet as a visual warning against the coming materialistic storm
- See more at:

TODAY: Sun reappears, mild. Winds: S 10-20. High: 45

MONDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy. Low: 32

TUESDAY: Clouds, few rain showers possible. Winds: S 8-13. High: 44

WEDNESDAY: Intervals of sun, feels like March. Wake-up: 31. High: 43

THURSDAY: Cooler front arrives, few showers likely. Winds: W 15-25. Wake-up: 34. High: 45

FRIDAY: More clouds than sun, cooler. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 35. High: 39

SATURDAY: Mostly cloudy, seasonably cool. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 29. High: 34

SUNDAY: Storm probably stays east. Peeks of sun. Winds: N 7-12. Wake-up: 26. High: 32

Climate Stories...

Chasing a Climate Deal in Paris. Here's the latest on efforts by 180 countries to agree on limiting greenhouse gas emissions, an excerpt at The New York Times: "...Climate Interactive, an American group with ties to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, projects that by the end of the century, the deal would allow the planet to warm about 3.5 degrees Celsius (6.3 Fahrenheit) above the level that prevailed before the Industrial Revolution. That is an exceedingly worrisome number that would mean an extensive melting of the polar ice caps and a large rise in sea levels. A coalition of European think tanks, operating under the name Climate Action Tracker, projects an increase of 2.7 degrees Celsius (4.9 Fahrenheit) under the deal — still pretty worrisome, but closer to the two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) that countries agreed five years ago would be a climatological red line.

Graphic credit: The New York Times has a late update on Paris talks here.

Science to the Rescue on Climate Change. Here's the introduction to an Op-Ed from the Wisconsin State Journal at "In the hit movie “The Martian,” an astronaut played by Matt Damon is left for dead on the Red Planet. “So in the face of overwhelming odds,” Damon’s character says, “I’m left with only one option: I’m going to have to science the sh-- out of this.” And he does, growing potatoes using Martian soil to stay alive and recycling a space probe to communicate with NASA, among other feats of knowledge. It’s Hollywood fantasy. Yet a similar can-do attitude (minus the naughty words) has pervaded Paris in recent days, thanks in large part to billionaire technologist and investor Bill Gates. Here on Earth, the reality of climate change demands American ingenuity to dramatically reduce carbon pollution that’s warming our planet and jeopardizing our environment, the economy, and the future of our children and grandchildren, Gates told world leaders at the Paris climate summit..."

Growing Connection Between Climate Change, Terrorism Affects Politics. If you're dismissive of climate science, odds are you won't connect the dots. Like our military is doing at the present time, according to Newsweek. Here's an excerpt: "...Earlier this year, the Pentagon released a detailed report on the security risks of global warming, concluding that “climate change will aggravate problems such as poverty, social tensions, environmental degradation, ineffectual leadership and weak political institutions that threaten stability in a number of countries.” The intelligence community agrees: Former CIA Director Leon Panetta, current Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and current CIA Director John O. Brennan have all weighed in on climate-related political destabilization in resource-poor countries. In a report to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Clapper’s office wrote that “extreme weather, climate change, and public policies that affect food and water supplies will probably create or exacerbate humanitarian crises and instability risks,” citing climate change as a potential cause of water scarcity in dry regions like the Middle East..."

Photo credit: "The Eiffel Tower is lit with blue lights as part of the events in the French capital to mark the World Climate Change Conference. The terror attacks that shook Paris in November led to increased security at the climate change talks." Eric Gaillard/REUTERS.

This Realtor Wants to Make Money Off Climate Change. Is That So Bad? Seas are rising - it only makes sense to factor in projections of sea level rise and how they might impact beachfront properties. Dollars and sense. Here's an excerpt from Grist: "...The idea for Higher Tides, Collins told me, came after his family’s home was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. Afterward, Collins realized that not only is climate change a real and present danger, it’s also a business opportunity: “I wanted to say something about climate change and apply my skills as a real estate agent as well. I found that this is a viable business opportunity. Yes, it’s obviously ridiculous but it is a niche market that hasn’t been tapped yet, so we decided to run with it.” What Higher Tides does, in essence, is help people decide where to move based on climate models and projections. “We are looking for clients that either want to relocate because the water level is rising or the temperatures are changing or the ecosystems around them are completely dying off,” Collins said..."

Liberals and Conservatives vs. Climate Change. As if often the case the right answer is somewhere in the middle, as the author of this (brilliant) Op-Ed argues at The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; here's a clip: "...On the other hand, the most effective climate-change solutions marry liberal and conservative thought. Under carbon fee and dividend, for example, the government would charge carbon-emitters a fee to reflect the damage that fossil fuels do to both the environment and to human health. This would give them a huge, market-driven incentive to reduce their carbon emissions. The fee would be refunded to households so as to not grow the size of government. This would also help the poor. A border adjustment fee — a tariff on imports based on the carbon emissions and policies of importing countries — could ensure that U.S. manufacturing would not be disadvantaged and would give other countries an incentive to institute similar policies. Subsidies and regulations could be scrapped — market forces would render them unnecessary — so as to create a level playing field..."

4 Cities That Are Leading The World on Climate Action. Washington D.C. made the cut; here's why - courtesy of ThinkProgress: "...In 2015, Washington, D.C. made history when it entered into an agreement with Iberdrola Renewables LLC to supply 35 percent of the government’s electricity with wind power from a 46-megawatt wind farm. It was the largest purchase of wind energy by a U.S. city to date, and also made D.C. the first city without a municipal utility to enter into a long-term wind power purchase agreement. The agreement — which only applies to the D.C. government’s electricity, not all of D.C. — will reduce the D.C. government’s greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent annually, saving some 10,000 tons of carbon emissions per year. That’s the same as taking nearly 2,000 passenger vehicles off the road..."

Senator Vows to Shield U.S. Climate Funding from Republican Cuts. Bloomberg Business has the article; here's an excerpt: "Senator Tom Udall vowed to protect $500 million of U.S. climate aid from cuts sought by Republican lawmakers as a delegation of 10 Democratic senators endorsed efforts by 195 nations to forge a new United Nations-sponsored global deal on climate change. “That would be included in the omnibus, and we are going to protect those” appropriations, Udall said Saturday in an interview in Paris, referring to spending legislation being prepared in Congress. Udall, a New Mexico Democrat, was in Paris where two weeks of UN discussions on global warming are at their mid-point..."

Arnold Schwarzenegger: Simplify the Message on Climate Change. Here's a clip from The Sacramento Bee: "...We’ve just got to simplify the message,” he said. “We need to have the general public become part of the movement, and the only way the general public becomes part of the movement is if it is a simple message, and if it’s an uplifting message, and if they know that if we don’t go in the right direction it goes south and we’re going to have the consequences of all these people dying. And I think we can do better than that...”

Read more here:
A Lesson from Kyoto's Failure: Don't Let Congress Touch a Climate Deal. Here's a clip from an article at FiveThirtyEight: "...The Paris approach is less ambitious, but it’s probably more realistic. The pledge that his administration submitted to the climate conference — to reduce emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 — relies on actions administered through the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy, which gets around the need for congressional ratification. Republican members of Congress are already fighting these measures, and if a Republican takes the White House, the administrative actions could be undone. While politicians talk about what to do, greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. Since the Kyoto Protocol was negotiated, the number of weather and climate disasters worldwide has risen 42 percent, and the seas have risen nearly 6.2 centimeters, on average."

Climate Change and Choosing Where to Invest. Here's an excerpt of an interesting story at The New York Times: "...Because climate change is happening slowly, Mr. Richardson said, the urgency to act immediately doesn’t seem as great. “One of the challenges the world has had in addressing climate change is that it’s viewed as a long-term problem,” he said. Investors, he said, “say, ‘Yes, it’s a long-term problem, and it’s not going to affect my portfolio anytime soon.’ We’d say you’re right. Climate change as a weather phenomenon isn’t going to affect your portfolio in five to 10 years. But in the shorter term, there is policy and regulatory risk to climate change.” By regulatory risks, he was referring to a possible carbon tax on carbon-heavy industries like those in oil and gas, energy and transportation. Any tax could be a drag on the returns of companies in those industries..." (Image credit: NASA).

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