Monday, December 21, 2015

Couple of Stormy Near-Misses; 45F Warmer Than Average in Eastern Canada Christmas Eve!

33 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities Monday.
25 F. average high on December 21.
39 F. high on December 21, 2014.

December 22, 2000: A chilly day in Minnesota, with a high of zero degrees in Minneapolis, and a low of 14 below.

Snow Drought Continues
Glancing Blows of Cold Air

"Oh the weather outside is frightful..." Not so much. Old Man Winter has joined the witness protection program, hunkering down somewhere in the Yukon. The odds of a white Christmas in the MSP metro are slim to nil. That won't stop Santa, but kids of all ages are flummoxed at the thought of the second brown Christmas in a row at MSP.

Yes, the lack of ice has helped commuters, and MnDOT is going to throw a huge statewide party with the money they're not using to plow metro roads, but a snowy no-show at Christmas just
If we're lucky we might wind up with a shoe-full of slush by Christmas Eve. Today looks dry;  

Wednesday's anemic storm starts as rain and changes to a coating of slush by nightfall, but the brunt of the "storm" stays east over Wisconsin. If you squint and pretend - there may be Tulsa-like smear of white on your lawn Christmas Eve, but I suspect this will be a brown Christmas in the Twin Cities.

Another inch or so of slush is possible on Saturday but no problems getting home on Sunday. The remnants of a big, southern storm may push a swirl of rain into town next Tuesday.

No polar plunges, just dribs and drabs of snow - and an occasional, obligatory cold front.

Winter Lite.

Waiting for Winter. Models show highs in the upper 60s and low 70s as far north as New York City on Christmas Eve. Or is it Halloween? Labor Day? Winter is still missing in action. Graphic: Aeris Enterprise.

Two Chances for "Precipitation". I don't see any big snowfalls looking out into next week, but there is a potential for a light, slushy accumulation Saturday, maybe a mix of icy precipitation again next Tuesday.

Perpetual Spring. 2-meter temperatures are forecast to surge over 70F across much of the eastern seaboard Christmas Eve; hundreds of cities will set records for daytime highs (and record warm nighttime lows). Meanwhile the 32F isotherm continues to oscillate back and forth across Minnesota. 84-hour NAM forecast: NOAA and AerisWeather.

Couple of Slop-Storms? Daytime highs run consistently above freezing into early next week; the best chance of a 40F high today. Models show a noticeable cooling trend by the end of next week, even a few days below average. Watch for a little slush Friday night into Saturday, a good travel day on Sunday, maybe another icy mix by Tuesday of next week. Source: Weatherspark.

Couple of Near-Misses. Today's weak system may drop a couple inches of snow on the Red River Valley, on Wednesday a few inches may fall near Eau Claire, Spooner and Hayward, Wisconsin - the brunt of any moisture passing east of MSP. 84-hour snowfall potential. NAM and AerisWeather.

Glancing Blows of Colder Air. A Pacific flow lingers across much of America into the first week of January, but surges of colder, Canadian air will brush the far northern USA; the thrust of the cold fronts aimed at New England, not the Midwest. We'll see a few cold corrections, but the overall pattern is still milder than average looking out 2 weeks. Source: GrADS:COLA/IGES.

In Search of Subzero. During a typical winter MSP enjoys about 30 nights below 0F. This winter: maybe 5 or 10 (in late January?) We may not even see that many nights of negative numbers. GFS guidance keeps us above zero looking out 2 weeks, metro temperatures coming close to 0 around New Year's Day - followed by another warming trend.

A White-Hot Christmas Wraps Up Earth's Hottest Year on Record. Bloomberg has the story; here's an excerpt: "Frosty didn’t stand a chance. This has been by far the hottest year on record, and it’s ending with an exclamation point. Holiday shoppers in New York’s Rockefeller Center have been checking off their lists in weather that’s an eerie 20 degrees warmer than normal. Meanwhile, another stack of global temperature records has fallen. Last month was the hottest November in 136 years of data, according to U.S. figures released on Thursday, making it the ninth record-breaking month of 2015. This year has been so far off the charts, it’s certain to go down as the hottest year on record even if December turns out to be unusually cool (it won’t)..." (Photo credit: Akio Kon, Bloomberg).

A Stunning New Photo from the Moon: Earthrise. Phil Plait takes a look at what made this remarkable photo possible at Slate; here's an excerpt: "Holy sweet mother of Earth. This incredible photo was taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been mapping the Moon since it achieved orbit in 2009. Its cameras are usually pointed straight down (what’s called nadir viewing), but sometimes the whole spacecraft is rotated to point them toward the horizon, or even up into space, to measure the Moon’s incredibly thin atmosphere (called an exosphere, which, c’mon, is an extremely cool word) or to take calibration measurements..." (Photo credit: NASA).

El Nino Forecast to Remain Strong into the Winter Months. NOAA's Climate Prediction Center forecasts a return to ENSO-neutral conditions by late spring or early summer of 2016. For more details click here.

Climate Change and El Nino Fueled 2015's Record Heat. Here's an excerpt from Climate Nexus: "...While the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is responsible for a large part of the variation in weather we see in the global climate from one year to the next, a study conducted by scientists with the World Weather Attribution (WWA) initiative finds that climate change is the dominant cause of 2015’s record warmth. Using well-established techniques from peer-reviewed literature, the scientists estimated 2015’s global temperature anomaly to be 1.89°F (1.05°C) above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial baseline and determined that roughly 1.8°F (1.0°C) of 2015’s temperature anomaly was due to human-caused climate change. The WWA analysis found that El Niño was responsible for 0.09°F to 0.18°F (0.05°C to 0.1°C) of 2015’s record warmth. This means, El Niño caused at most 10 percent of the warming, with the other 90 percent being due to climate change..."

2015: The Hottest Year on Record. Climate Nexus produced a companion video and excellent overview with more detail on the record-warm anomalies and the additional heat manifested itself with record heat, drought and severe storms. This is 1C of warming, imagine what 3C warming might do: "2015 will be the hottest year on record - and the impacts related to warming have been devastating."

As Sea Levels Rise, Are Coastal Nuclear Plants Ready? National Geographic takes a look - here's an excerpt: "...The industry is now reevaluating its flood risks, and hatched a strategy it calls FLEX, where key backup equipment is stationed at multiple locations so it can be shuttled to a distressed plant. This way, instead of defining a theoretical crisis—a storm surge of a certain height, a hurricane by category—ahead of time, says Jim Riley of the industry's Nuclear Energy Institute, "we're saying, give us the event and we'll deploy the equipment." Some think more needs to be done, faster. "The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been slow to implement those Fukushima lessons learned," says Matthew McKinzie, nuclear program director at the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council. "Nuclear safety is a work in progress..."

Graphic credit above: Andrew Umentum, NG Staff. Source: Climate Central; Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

AP Investigation: U.S. Power Grid Vulnerable to Foreign Hacks. Another argument for not only emergency generators, but micro-grids and solar power back-up. Here's an excerpt from Yahoo News: "...About a dozen times in the last decade, sophisticated foreign hackers have gained enough remote access to control the operations networks that keep the lights on, according to top experts who spoke only on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the subject matter. The public almost never learns the details about these types of attacks — they're rarer but also more intricate and potentially dangerous than data theft. Information about the government's response to these hacks is often protected and sometimes classified; many are never even reported to the government..." (File image: NatGeo).

How To Talk To Your Kids About the Weather - Really. TIME has the story  - here's a link and excerpt: "People talk about the weather all the time. But is it ever really interesting? In the winter, actually yes! Winter’s a great time to get elementary kids hooked on meteorology, says Bob Henson, a meteorologist and blogger at Weather Underground: “With all the variety and rapid changes, it’s one of the coolest times to watch the weather.” And there’s no better lab, he says, than the atmosphere around us every day..."

2015: The Best Year in History for the Average Human Being. News tends to focus on the negative, but the overall picture for much of the planet is positive, argues this story at The Atlantic. Here's an excerpt: "From Paris to Syria through San Bernardino to Afghanistan, the world witnessed obscene and unsufferable tragedy in 2015. That was on top of the ongoing misery of hundreds of millions who are literally stunted by poverty, living lives shortened by preventable disease and malnutrition. But for all of that, 2015 also saw continued progress toward better quality of life for the considerable majority of the planet, alongside technological breakthroughs and political agreements that suggest the good news might continue next year and beyond. Tragedy and misery are rarer than they were before 2015—and there is every reason to hope they will be even less prevalent in 2016..."

Winter’s a great time to get elementary kids hooked on meteorology, says Bob Henson, a meteorologist and blogger at Weather Underground: “With all the variety and rapid changes, it’s one of the coolest times to watch the weather.” And there’s no better lab, he says, than the atmosphere around us every day.

 Winter’s a great time to get elementary kids hooked on meteorology, says Bob Henson, a meteorologist and blogger at Weather Underground: “With all the variety and rapid changes, it’s one of the coolest times to watch the weather.” And there’s no better lab, he says, than the atmosphere around us every day.

How To Live to 100: Researchers Find New Genetic Clues. TIME has another interesting article; here's the intro: "In a new analysis, researchers explore whether people live longer because they avoid disease or because they possess some anti-aging secret. If you live to be 100, you’re in a special group, one that longevity scientists are eagerly studying for clues to battling aging. But are these centenarians long-lived because they don’t get the diseases that fell the rest of us—heart problems, diabetes, dementia, arthritis and more—or because they are protected somehow against the effects of aging?..."

Has Capitalism Devoured Christmas? Here's a snippet of an interesting Op-Ed at The Washington Post: "...We also shouldn’t forget the many virtues of markets. Markets generate wealth on a vast scale, which, used properly, enables the Christian life: It is much easier to live the Christian virtues and to meet our obligations to family and community when we aren’t worried about finding our next meal or freezing to death on a cold winter night. Markets require freedom, which is a virtue too easily overlooked. Markets are structured to enable the mutual benefit of participants..." (Image credit: Mark Conner's Space).

Boy Scout Leader Fights Off Bear Attack with Hammer in New Jersey. Good grief, this takes "Be Prepared" to a whole new level. Here's an excerpt from TIME: "He was in the cave with the bear for about 80 minutes. A New Jersey Boy Scout leader fought off a black bear with a hammer after the animal dragged him into a cave by his foot while he was hiking with three young Scouts, authorities said. Christopher Petronino, 50, suffered bites on his leg and both shoulders but managed to fend off the bear during the Sunday attack by hitting it twice in the head with a rock hammer, reports..."

Image credit:, which has more details. "A Boy Scouts leader was attacked by a bear while he was with three scouts in the woods near Splitrock Reservoir, Mayor Mike Dachisen confirmed." (Marisa Iati | NJ Advance Media for

My favorite headline comes from Dave Pell at Nextdraft:

"Host Steve Harvey nearly blew up the Internet over the weekend when he named Colombian contestant Ariadna Gutierrez Arevalo as this year's Miss Universe. He had to return to the stage -- as Arevalo's crown was removed -- and report that he meant to say Miss Philippines. In fairness to Harvey, it's a giant universe and he successfully narrowed it down to two people..."

Image credit:

TODAY: Gray skies, dry roads. Winds: SE 10-20. High: 39

TUESDAY NIGHT: Overcast, a little ice possible by daybreak Wednesday. Low: 33

WEDNESDAY: Rain ends as a little slushy snow. High: 37

THURSDAY: Mostly cloudy, dry Christmas Eve. Winds: W 8-13. Wake-up: 24. High: 31

CHRISTMAS DAY: Overcast, light mix possible Friday night. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 26. High: 36

SATURDAY: Period of wet snow, a little slush? Winds: NE 10-15. Wake-up: 28. High: 33

SUNDAY: Sunny breaks, better travel day. Winds: N 10-15. Wake-up: 21. High: near 30

MONDAY: Clouds thicken, dry roads. Wake-up: 19. High: 32

* Photo credit here.

Climate Stories...

Freakish Winter Warmth: It's Not (not) Global Warming. The long-term warming we've been experiencing set the stage; El Nino was merely the hot icing on the cake, according to The Union of Concerned Scientists; here's a clip: "...The specifics of what’s happening where El Niño, Arctic dynamics, and underlying warming meet are, in a word, complex, and scientists are actively discussing how things might play out. But the collective bottom line recognizes that global warming plays a role. NOAA’s Deke Arndt puts it this way, as reported by the Guardian: “Long-term climate change is like climbing a flight of stairs: over time you get higher and higher. El Niño is like standing on your tippy toes when you’re on one of those stairs. Both of those together work to create the warmest temperature on record. We would not be threatening records repeatedly if we had not climbed the stairs for decades...”

Graphic credit: NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information. 2015 temperature trend in green.

Exxon Uses Weapons of Mass Confusion on Climate Change. Here's an excerpt of a Jim Hightower Op-Ed at Lubbock Online: "...Their strategy was to create an incessant noise machine, fueled with hundreds of millions of industry dollars, to spread the false narrative that scientists are “uncertain” about climate change. In a confidential 1998 memo, ExxonMobil’s senior environmental lobbyist stated the Orwellian goal of this corporate campaign: “Victory will be achieved when ... average citizens ‘understand’ uncertainties in climate science,” and when “recognition of uncertainty becomes part of the ‘conventional wisdom.’” Their many tactics included: forming a lobbying combine in 1989 to sow doubt among public officials about the need for government action; placing a very costly, decade-long series of essays in newspapers denigrating the very scientists it previously nurtured and the science reports it published..."

Exxon's Support of a Tax on Carbon: Rhetoric or Reality? InsideClimate News takes a look; here's an excerpt: "...Greg Dotson, vice president for energy policy at the Center for American Progress, a public policy organization supporting a list of progressive issues, urges a close study of what Exxon is saying. The company isn't explicitly saying it wants a carbon tax, but is saying it prefers a carbon tax to other options in the face of regulatory intervention. "Are they saying this is the best of bad options, or are they saying we support a carbon tax?" Dotson said. "The full understanding of what they support has not come to light..."

People Who Were Certain Climate Change is Fake Are Now Certain Paris Can't Stop It. Call me crazy but conservatism should apply to the very thing that sustains us. New York Magazine takes a look at the fall-out from COP21, the new climate deal negotiated in Paris; here's an excerpt: "...Conservative economic thought is structurally different from liberal thought. Liberal support for expanded government is based entirely in practical expectation that new programs can deliver concrete results — cleaner air, healthier children, higher wages for low-income workers, and so on. Conservative antipathy to expanded government is based ultimately on philosophical opposition. For that reason, data can change liberal economic thinking in a way it can’t change conservative economic thinking..."

Climate Change - A Mom's View. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Tallahassee Democrat that caught my eye: "...All parents want to provide a safe place for our children to grow, live and to reach their God-given potential, but by no fault of their own, their future is threatened by the effects of climate change. We read stories about epic storms and their human toll, droughts that turn fertile land into deserts, and California water reserves drying up. We see images of skinny polar bears and melting arctic ice, bleached coral and dying oceans. And closer to home, we hear about sunny-day flooding in Miami Beach, experience record high temperatures and prepare for super storms. It’s no wonder busy parents just tune it all out and hope for the best – a feeling of helplessness has set in..." (File image:

We're Doomed - Now What? Not my take on what is possible or even inevitable, but here's a snippet of an interesting perspective in an Op-Ed at The New York Times: "...We all see what’s happening, we read it in the headlines every day, but seeing isn’t believing, and believing isn’t accepting. We respond according to our prejudices, acting out of instinct, reflex and training. Right-wing denialists insist that climate change isn’t happening, or that it’s not caused by humans, or that the real problem is terrorism or refugees, while left-wing denialists insist that the problems are fixable, under our control, merely a matter of political will. Accelerationists argue that more technology is the answer. Incrementalists tell us to keep trusting the same institutions and leaders that have been failing us for decades. Activists say we have to fight, even if we’re sure to lose..."

Why We Shouldn't Confuse Climate and Weather. Here's a snippet from The Guardian: "...We have always been baffled by the weather and have often used strange arguments to explain its unexpected behaviour. More than 2,000 years ago, one hapless Roman citizen was so worried that unusual gales and storms might be due to the impiety of the nation that he asked the gods for guidance via a carved lead tablet which he left at a local oracle. Today we have a better idea of the factors that influence our weather, though we still struggle to make sense of the reams of data – wind, pressure, sunshine, temperature, moisture levels, and other factors – that we now know influence the daily regimes of rain and sun that we experience..."

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