Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Sunshine Is Still The Best Medicine - Unusual Warmth Continues Into Sunday

60 F. high in the Twin Cities Wednesday.
45 F. average high on November 9.
62 F. high on November 9, 2015.

November 10, 1999: Late season hail falls in Eden Prairie. Pea size hail (0.25 inch. in diameter) up to one foot deep collected near storm drains near Hennepin Technical College and Hwy 212. Pea size hail about 4 inches deep was also reported on grass near Hwy 5 and Mitchell Rd. The hail and torrential rains forced drivers off the road in Bloomington.
November 10, 1998: A potent storm nicknamed a 'land hurricane' sets a new all-time record low pressure for Minnesota around noon at Albert Lea and Austin as it passes overhead. The automated weather observing equipment at both airports measured a barometric pressure of 28.43 inches, which broke the previous record of 28.55 inches set on 11 January 1975 in Duluth. The new record for the Twin Cities was set with a reading of 28.55 inches. The previous record was 28.77 inches, set on April 13th of 1964. 10 inches of snow fell at Madison, MN and St. Cloud State University had a wind gust to 64 mph.
November 10, 1975: The Edmund Fitzgerald sinks off Whitefish Bay, causing 29 fatalities.
November 10, 1913: A severe windstorm occurs on Lake Superior. Three ships were lost. Winds were clocked at 62 mph at Duluth.

Another Welcome Dose of Lukewarm Sunshine

"It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future" said Yogi Berra.

Leave it to the pundits, pollsters and talking heads to make the meteorologists look good. I'm mourning a sudden lack of political ads on TV, but a booster shot of vitamin D from the sun is helping my mood swings.

New research confirms that the number of hours of sunshine during a given day has more impact on our mental health than rain, wind or even pollution. Then again we've known about SAD (seasonal affective disorder) for some time and light therapy and melatonin can help.

An article on the weather blog caught my eye: falling back 1 hour for daylight saving time can speed up symptoms of depression. "The shift to standard time essentially steals an hour of daylight from the evening, when most of us are awake, and tacks it on to the early morning hours, when many of us are not."

I want that hour of sunshine back.

Blue sky spills into the weekend; 60-65F today (20 degrees above average) before cooling off Friday. A shower pops up Tuesday with heavier rain late next week.

A series of Pacific storms will pull increasingly cold air south. Jackets and slush by Thanksgiving?

Sunshine Matters A Lot to Mental Health; Temperature, Pollution, Rain Not So Much. Almost time to put your therapist on speed-dial. Here's a fascinating nugget, courtesy of EurekAlert! Science News: "...That's one of the surprising pieces of our research," said Mark Beecher, clinical professor and licensed psychologist in BYU Counseling and Psychological Services. "On a rainy day, or a more polluted day, people assume that they'd have more distress. But we didn't see that. We looked at solar irradiance, or the amount of sunlight that actually hits the ground. We tried to take into account cloudy days, rainy days, pollution . . . but they washed out. The one thing that was really significant was the amount of time between sunrise and sunset."Therapists should be aware that winter months will be a time of high demand for their services. With fewer sun time hours, clients will be particularly vulnerable to emotional distress. Preventative measures should be implemented on a case-by-case basis...."

Does The Switch to Daylight Saving Time Increase Risk of Depression? Here's an excerpt of an interesting article focusing on new studies, courtesy of The Washington Post: "...One possible explanation is that the sudden advancement of sunset from 6 p.m. to 5 p.m . . . which in Denmark marks the coming of a long period of very short days, has a negative psychological impact on individuals prone to depression, and pushes them over the threshold to develop manifest depression,” the authors write. We know, for instance, that long days and ample sunshine are protective against depressive symptoms. The shift to standard time essentially steals an hour of daylight from the evening, when most of us are awake, and tacks it on to the early morning hours, when many of us are not. The net effect is that many of us lose an hour of daylight..."

"Atmospheric Rivers" Soak Pacific Northwest and Western Canada. Discover Magazine has a good explanation of the meteorology powering persistent streams of deep moisture impacting the northwestern USA; here's a clip: "During this past weekend and into Monday of this week, parts of British Columbia were hosed with copious, flood-inducing precipitation, thanks to at least two so-called ‘atmospheric rivers’ originating far to the south and west. You can see them in the animation above, which shows the amount of precipitable water in the atmosphere. Watch for long, thin plumes depicted in green, yellow and orange, stretching from near Hawaii and hitting the Pacific Northwest. Atmospheric rivers contain an almost unimaginable amount of moisture. A strong one can move water vapor “roughly equivalent to 7.5–15 times the average flow of liquid water at the mouth of the Mississippi River, according to NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory..."

Animation credit: "The amount of precipitable water in the atmosphere over the northern Pacific is seen in this animation created using data from microwave observations by polar orbiting satellites. The animation covers the period between Nov. 5th and 7th, 2016." (Source: Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies.)

Northwest Soaker. NOAA's 7-Day Precipitation Ensemble model prints out somme 5-10" amounts north and west of Seattle over the next week. Click here to check out the latest outlook.

10-Day Snowfall Potential. Winter has been delayed, but make no mistake: it's still coming. Again, I've found that the other shoe (boot) often drops around Thanksgiving, when Mother Nature can wreak the most havoc on travel plans. This is the GFS snowfall outlook thru November 19, hinting at a few inches of sloppy snow along the U.S. - Canadian border. Map credit: WeatherBell.

Where's The Cold Air? This has to change in the coming weeks as long nights spark an eventual cool-down, but I'm struck by how pervasive the warmth is across North America - a huge area with temperature anomalies well above average. The Arctic region is averaging 5-6F warmer than normal for this date. Graphic: Climate Reanalyzer.

Toasty October Keeps U.S. On Track for 2nd-Hottest Year. Climate Central reports: "The U.S. is still cruising toward its second-hottest year on record going back more than 120 years, with every state in the Lower 48, as well as Alaska, recording well above-average temperatures through October. This October was the third warmest on record, and 37 states had one of their five warmest January-October periods in the books, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced on Tuesday. Those elevated temperatures have exacerbated the drought that has taken hold in several areas, particularly in the Southeast. The near-record U.S. heat comes amid a year that will easily be the hottest on record for the planet as a whole, surpassing 2015. The excess heat trapped by ever-rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is tipping the scales in favor of more record heat..."

Hurricane Sandy Was a 260 Year Storm - Here's What That Means. For the record 2012's Superstorm Sandy wasn't even (technically) a warm-core hurricane when it struck New Jersey. But the storm was huge, it carved out an impressive storm surge that hit at astronomical high tide during a full moon. Here's an excerpt from Yahoo Finance: "... The total damage to New York City was worth $19 billion and to New Jersey $29 billion. Now, the big question is: How likely is it that a Sandy-level storm will happen again in our lifetimes? In the past, studies have pegged Sandy as anywhere from a 100-year storm to a 1,500 year storm. That means that in any given year there's a 1/100 to 1/1,500 chance of a storm causing Sandy-level flooding. A new paper accepted for publication in the Journal of Geophysical Research October 21 offers a more precise estimate: Sandy was a 260-year storm, based on current ocean conditions. That includes tropical cyclones like Sandy as well as winter storms like northeasters, lead author Philip Orton, who studies ocean physics at the Stevens Institute of Technology, told Business Insider..." (Superstorm Sandy file image: NASA).

Flood of Weather Warning Terms Fuels Confusion. Is there a smart way for NOAA to streamline watches, advisories and warnings? USA TODAY reports: "...One simple reason for the confusion is that both watch and warning start with the letters "wa," while another is that advisory "doesn't have any specific connotation," Jacks said. Not only are the three levels befuddling, there are also too many of them: In all, the weather service transmits a whopping 122 different watches, warnings and advisories, all the way from Air Quality Alert to Winter Weather Advisory. Some of the more obscure ones include Ashfall Warning, Freezing Spray Advisory and Lakeshore Flood Watch..."

Massive Wedge Tornado That Hit Rome November 6. This Kansas-size tornado left 2 people dead; the flashes high tension lines being brought down by winds that may have approached 150 mph. Click here to see the video from

New Weather Satellite Set to "Revolutionize" The U.S. Weather Forecast. That may be a bit strong, but there's little doubt that GOES-R is another big step forward, giving us a much more powerful, high-resolution eye in the sky. Details via Yahoo Finance: "...NASA is currently preparing the launch pad at Cape Canaveral to send the first satellite, known as GOES-R, into orbit on November 16 at 4:42 p.m. ET. According to NOAA, the new weather station will contribute to more accurate weather forecasts and better predictions of severe storms. "Without a doubt, GOES-R will revolutionize weather forecasting as we know it," Stephen Volz, assistant administrator for NOAA's Satellite and Information Service, told reporters earlier this month. "For weather forecasters, GOES-R is like going from black and white television to super-high-definition TV, and for the American public GOES-R will mean faster, more accurate weather forecasting and warning..." (Artist sketch of GOES-R: Lockheed Martin).

Why Scientists Are So Worried About Sea Level Rise in the Second Half of This Century. The water is rising - that's no a climate model, but based on observations, worldwide. Here's an excerpt at The Washington Post: "...But the new research just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences notes that if we stay on a current, high-emissions pathway and do not achieve the cuts that the Paris agreement seeks to institutionalize, then we could hit 2 degrees Celsius by 2040 or so. For the planet’s sea level, this would mean over a half-foot rise averaged around the globe, in comparison with average sea levels from 1986 to 2005. The sea-level increase, however, would be far worse in certain places, such as the U.S. East Coast, where it could be over a foot..."

Photo credit: Andrew Demp, Yale.

Incoming! How NASA and FEMA Would Respond to an Asteroid Threat. That's right - don't sweat the thundershowers! Fox News has an interesting, vaguely terrifying story - here's an excerpt that left me wanting to check my fantasy football stats: "...NASA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) came together Oct. 25 to plan a response to such a hypothetical event. In a "tabletop exercise," a kind of ongoing simulation, the two agencies tested how they would work together to evaluate the threat, prevent panic and protect as many people as possible from the deadly collision. "It's not a matter of if, but when, we will deal with such a situation," Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's Science Mission Directorate's new associate administrator, said in a statement..."

Photo credit: "A near-Earth object on course to hit the planet would require nationwide or global coordination to minimize threat." (NASA/JPL-Caltech).

Sunny Disposition: Falling Prices Fuel Solar Boom. With costs dropping rapidly why wouldn't you want to take advantage of the free energy falling on your yard? Here's an excerpt from Milwaukee's Journal-Sentinel:
  • A new forecast by the U.S. Energy Department says the amount of solar energy produced nationwide is poised to triple between 2014 and 2019.
  • Nationally, solar installations jumped 45% in the first half of this year compared with the same period in 2015.
  • Cutting-edge technology could give solar power an even bigger "wow" factor. Elon Musk, known for developing electric-powered Tesla cars and pushing for commercial space travel, sees the potential for solar-powered roof tiles, such as those made by his company SolarCity, that resemble conventional shingles.
"I really think it's going to get to the point where if you get a normal roof it's sort of odd," Musk, founder/CEO of Tesla, said during an interview last week on CNBC..."

Photo credit: Apple.

Red Lake Band of Minnesota Plans For All-Solar Electric Generation. Why? Because it'll help clean up the air AND save them money over the long haul - there's a significant ROI. Here's more information from The Star Tribune: "The Red Lake Band of Chippewa in northern Minnesota intends to build enough solar energy capability on tribal lands over the next several years to free itself from electricity generated from fossil fuels. And, thanks to outside investors who can tap a variety of tax credits, depreciation and deductions, it should cost the tribe very little to eventually become owners of the solar arrays, power-storage units and related equipment..." (File photo: Utility Dive).

November's Supermoon Will Be Bigger Than It Has Been Since 1948. The Washington Post has more details on the upcoming "spotlight moon"; here's the intro: "November’s full moon is special. Not only is it a supermoon — which appears larger than a “regular” full moon — it will be the closest such moon to Earth since January 1948. We won’t see the full moon this close again until Nov. 25, 2034, according to NASA. In the middle of November, we savor the splendor of a full moon. With any luck, this awe-inspiring moon will lure people outside to breathe the crisp air of the autumnal night sky, spark people to hold hands and spur interest in relishing the heavens..."

Photo credit: "The moon will be larger in the sky than it has been in decades — but not quite this big." (Charlie Riedel/AP)

An Illustrated Guide of the World's Weirdest Panics, From A to Z. No publication could possibly do this story any better than Atlas Obscura: "From Anti-Arcade Initiatives to Zeitoun Maries, we have been freaking out about nonsense for time immemorial..."

TODAY: Mild sunshine, not bad for second week of November. Winds: W/NW 10-15. High: 64

THURSDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear and cooler. Low: 39

FRIDAY: Bright sun, cooling off a little. Winds: N 7-12. High: 51

SATURDAY: Early frost in the 'burbs, then breezy and milder. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 34. High: 56

SUNDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, not bad at all. Winds: W 8-13. Wake-up: 41. High: near 60

MONDAY: Partly sunny, still above average. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 42. High: 52

TUESDAY: More clouds, few showers possible. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 40. High: 55

WEDNESDAY: Sunny and pleasant. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 37. High: 52

Climate Stories. Because weather and climate are flip-sides of the same coin.

Caring for Creation: Community Conversation and Book Release November 15 at Minnehaha Academy. If you're interested in this topic (and most everyone should be) I hope you'll consider coming out next Tuesday evening, November 15, to Minnehaha Academy to hear co-author of "Caring for Creation" Mitch Hescox and me discuss why climate awareness and a push toward clean energy are essential, and why people of faith should pay attention: "Minnehaha Academy Welcomes Meteorologist Paul Douglas and Evangelical Environmental Network Director Mitch Hescox for a Compelling Climate Change Conversation and Book Release Event. Join us for this not-to-be-missed community conversation and book release event about climate change and the Biblical call for Christians to care about the earth. 

In this free evening conversation, you’ll learn:
- Why Christians should lead the charge for caring for God’s creation.
- How climate change goes beyond politics and affects the health, economy, and stability of future generations.
- Tips to help your family and those around you care for the earth.

Global "Greening" Has Slowed Rise of CO2 in the Atmosphere, Study Finds. Here's an excerpt from a story at The Guardian: "A global “greening” of the planet has significantly slowed the rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere since the start of the century, according to new research. More plants have been growing due to higher CO2 levels in the air and warming temperatures that cut the CO2 emitted by plants via respiration. The effects led the proportion of annual carbon emissions remaining in the air to fall from about 50% to 40% in the last decade. However, this greening is only offsetting a small amount of the billions of tonnes of CO2 emitted from fossil fuel burning and other human activities and will not halt dangerous global warming..."

The Arctic: A Bellwether of Climate Change. Maryland's Point News has a story that made me do a double-take; here's a clip: "...The Arctic is a bellwether of climate change,” explained Dr. Walsh. He said that scientists can use observations from the Arctic to identify trends and indicate the future of climate change for the rest of the world. “What happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic,” a playful phrase that Dr. Walsh coined to describe the importance of studying this region, was substantiated by data correlating temperature changes in the Arctic to rising sea levels, feedback to greenhouse warming, and extreme weather around the midlatitude regions on the globe. However, Dr. Walsh explained, the cause for concern is not based solely on the global impact, but on the impact local to the Arctic as well. According to Walsh, 50% of all ice in the Arctic has melted in the past thirty years due to rising temperatures..."

File photo: Huffington Post.

Pentagon Report: U.S. Military Considers Climate Change a "Threat Multiplier" That Could Exacerbate Terrorism. Here's an excerpt from Newsweek: "A report released Monday indicates the Department of Defense has dramatically shifted its views towards climate change, and has already begun to treat the phenomenon as a significant threat to national security. Climate change, the Pentagon writes, requires immediate action on the part of the U.S. Military. The report is a “roadmap” of the Department’s future needs and actions to effectively respond to climate change, including anticipating that climate change may require more frequent military intervention within the country to respond to natural disasters, as well as internationally to respond to “extremist ideologies” that may arise in regions where governments are destabilized due to climate-related stressors..."

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