Thursday, January 26, 2017

Supernaturally Quiet for Late January - Vacation Weather Shaming

51 additional minutes of daylight in the Twin Cities since December 21.

30 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities.
24 F. average high on January 26.
28 F. maximum temperature on January 26, 2016.

2" snow on the ground at MSP International Airport.

January 27, 2006: A record high temperature of 50 degrees is set at the Eau Claire Regional Airport.

Only You Can Stop "Vacation Weather Shaming"

I do the weather for free because I'm smitten by Mother Nature. They pay me to put up with the abuse.

This is the time of year when friends, family and utter strangers share warm weather vacation taunts - there's more than a little gloating going on.

"Paul, it's Tom in Scottsdale, where it's a balmy 66 degrees. How's the weather up in Minnesota?" Click. "Hi Paul, it's Joan in San Diego, where my 4-year old actually FORGOT how to put on a jacket. Isn't that PRECIOUS?" Uh huh. Heidi texted me from Cabo, complaining about high winds and rough seas for fishing. "Is your weather app right? Will winds die down?" God help me.
My favorite is spring break trips in March. The greater the difference in temperature between Minnesota and the destination - the happier they are. Sad!

We all enjoy a vacation from the wicked winds of winter for the next couple of weeks. Expect 20s and a few 30s; European guidance keeps MSP metro temperatures above 0F thru February 11.

Heavy snow? Are you kidding me? I see a few scrawny clippers Sunday and Monday, but the pattern isn't ripe for a snowy dumping anytime soon.

Screenshots above: Aeris Pulse Weather.

Friday Morning Slush Hour. Our internal models show slushy, snowy roads from Lower Michigan into western New York and the highest terrain of western Pennsylvania. Otherwise temperatures aloft should be warm enough for most rain from the Ohio Valley into central Florida. Forecast road conditions: AerisWeather.

Enjoy the Brief Break. Lake effect snows downwind of the Great Lakes dominate the pattern into the weekend; a badly-needed dry spell for much of the western USA. GFS guidance shows new storms slamming into California by the middle of next week with snow spreading across the Rockies and Plains into the Midwest just in time for Super Bowl Sunday on February 5. Future radar: NOAA and

10-Day Snowfall Potential. Lake effect towns from Erie and Buffalo to Watertown, New York will pick up significant snows into early next week; the next round of heavy snow the latter half of next week as another wave of storms push across the USA. A carpet of new (plowable) snowfall from Pierre and Des Moines to Peoria and Indianapolis for the first weekend of February? We'll see.

Perfectly Average. I wouldn't mind seeing more snow, but I'm relieved not to be tracking serious negative numbers for the next 15-20 days. My hunch: the coldest days and nights of winter are already behind us. Famous last words. We thaw out slightly early next week before temperatures retreat to average much of next week. Not bad, considering we could be hip-deep in snow, enjoying -20F. ECMWF numbers for the Twin Cities: WeatherBell.

So Long Exceptional Drought. The recent parade of storms off the Pacific has put a serious dent in the drought. Here's an overview from AerisWeather meteorologist D.J. Kayser: "This weeks Drought Monitor marks the first time since the March 29, 2011 issuance that there is no exceptional drought anywhere in the U.S. For California, it is the first time since the January 21, 2014 issuance with no exceptional drought in the state. California is also down to only 2.16% of the state under extreme drought this week. The last time they had no extreme drought across the state was the August 6, 2013 issuance."

Map credit: Aeris Maps Platform.

29 Weekend Tornadoes in Georgia Alone. Meteorologist Dan Lilledahl helped me count up the tornadoes just in Georgia, which is 29 at last report. It validates a total of 50-60 or more across the Deep South last weekend, including Florida. Here are Dan's comments: "Here's what I could gather from the other NWS offices that service Georgia:

22+ tornadoes in the Peachtree City, GA NWS service area - covers most of central and northern GA.
4 tornadoes in the Tallahassee, FL NWS service area (3 in GA, including one that killed 11 people, and 1 in AL) - they cover SW GA and west FL and far southeast AL.

0 tornadoes in the Jacksonville, FL NWS service area - covers far southeast GA and northeast FL

4 tornadoes in the Charleston, SC NWS service area - covers area around Savannah, GA and far south SC. So the total for GA alone is 29..."
A 75-Year-Old Took a Bathtub Ride to Survival during ETX Tornado. KSLA-TV in Shreveport, Louisiana has the story: "...About a half hour later, another EF-2 touched down near Smithland, also in Marion County. It was that tornado that crossed Marion County Road 3300 then took the roof off a house, the Weather Service reports. "A woman inside took shelter in a bathtub," says the storm damage survey team's report. "The tornado lifted the tub out of the home and deposited it in the woods with the woman still in the tub." The woman was not injured. At 130 mph, the Smithland tornado had the fastest peak winds the Weather Service has reported thus far from storms that also spawned tornadoes at Plain Dealing and Natchez in neighboring Louisiana..."

Photo credit: "Storm damage along Kellyville Road in Marion County, Texas." (Source: Submitted by KSLA News 12 viewer

Hail and High Water. Daily Devotional from Peter Kennedy had a recent post that made me do a double-take. Here's an excerpt: "On April 12, 2016, San Antonio, Texas was barraged with a hailstorm. Stones up to 4.5 inches in diameter, or the size of grapefruits rained on the city. More than 110,000 vehicles were damaged, and thousands of homes suffered roof damage. Police said the hailstorm led to windshield damage for several of their cruisers. The loss was projected at $1.4 billion in estimated insured losses, making it the costliest hailstorm in the Texas’ history. Insured losses to automobiles from the April 12 storm reached $560 million, while damage to homes approached $800 million. More than 110,000 vehicles were damaged, and thousands of homes suffered roof damage. If that wasn’t bad enough, San Antonio was struck again with hailstorms on April 17 and 25. Total losses from commercial businesses, including schools, retailers and office buildings from the three storms exceeded $2 billion..."

File Photo credit: Jerry Lara, Staff - San Antonio Express-News. "A car and residence show damage from a severe hailstorm in the Northeast Crossing neighborhood in the city’s northeast side, Wednesday, April 13, 2016. A severe hailstorm affected the area Tuesday night damaging houses throughout the city's northeast and northwest sides. National Weather Service meteorologist Jason Runyen said the largest recorded size of hail came when the storms were near Helotes. The hail measured 3.5 inches in diameter. "That's basically the size of a tea cup and grapefruit just south of Helotes," Runyen said."

The Power of Water. NOAA explains how major winter storms can create winds and battering waves resulting in damaging storm surge conditions for coastal communities: "Longtime residents who live in US coastal communities know the danger of storm surge damage all too well. Sure, it’s the tropical storms and hurricanes that get named and categorized. However, if you ask those same coastal residents, ones who’ve experienced dozens of ocean storms, what their memories are of the most destructive storm surge events, you likely won’t hear them rattle off any hurricane names. It’s the large winter ocean storms that send a flood of bad memories. Take January 2016 as an example. As a large and powerful blizzard blanketed much of the east coast with several feet of snow, the storm was churning up the ocean waters with tremendous ferocity, pushing massive amounts of water and waves toward the coast of New Jersey. At Cape May, NJ, it wasn’t the snowfall amounts that worried them. Water levels swelled to 6.61 feet, setting an all-time record for water level height and resulting in major coastal flooding. More record flood levels fell farther down the east coast as residents were left in awe at the amount of flooding that a winter storm caused..."

Study Focuses on Contaminants Lurking in Urban Tidal Flooding. With rising sea level inland tidal flooding is becoming more common and severe. No storm necessary, a full moon will do the trick now in places like south Florida. Here's an excerpt from NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory: "Tidal flooding from events such as the so-called “King Tides” and “Super Tides” are flooding urban coastal communities with increasing frequency as sea levels rise. These tidal flood waters can acquire a wide range of contaminants and toxins as a result of soaking in the built environment of urbanized coastlines. A multi- institutional, interdisciplinary research team, including scientists from AOML, is examining the types of contamination picked up from the urbanized coastal landscape and transported into coastal waters through tidal flooding. For the past 3 years, a team of microbiologists at AOML has been investigating the types of bacterial contaminants, including fecal-indicating bacteria and disease-causing pathogens, carried back to the marine environment from tidal flood waters, causing potential exposure to both human populations and marine habitats such as coral reefs, beaches, and estuaries..."

Photo credit: "Saltwater tidal flooding along Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale at Las Olas Isles durinng the King Tides of October 17-18, 2016." Image credit: NOAA.

Minnesota's First State Sustainability Director Talks Solar, Efficiency Potential. Here's an excerpt of a Q&A session at Midwest Energy News: "...It was up to Herke to establish strategies for reducing energy use and creating opportunities for clean energy at Camp Ripley Training Center and in the Guard’s dozens of other sites. Now he’s planning to do the same on a much larger scale for state government — among the largest employers in the state, with 39,000 workers. The state looks to have 25 percent of its operations fueled by renewable energy by 2025 — the same renewable energy standard required of investor-owned utilities in Minnesota — as well as reduce greenhouse gases by 80 percent by 2050. That involves making as efficient and clean as possible the state’s 4,377 buildings composed of 88 million square feet. The Office of Enterprise Sustainability monitors the energy use of about a third of the square footage in slightly fewer than 3,000 buildings..."

New York State's First Offshore Wind Farm Gets Green Light. The Wall Street Journal reports: "The Long Island Power Authority completed an agreement Wednesday to build New York state's first offshore wind far 30 miles east of Montauk, N.Y., the latest effort by the industry to gain traction in the U.S. market. The authority, known as LIPA, signed a 20-year contract wiith Deepwater Wind LLC, a Rhode Island-based developer that began operating the first offshore wind far off Block Island, R.I., in December. Construction of the $740 million project will start in 2020 and it aims to be operational by 2022...."

The New York Times has more perspective and details here.

Americans Overwhelmingly Support Clean Energy. Quartz reports: "...Just 27% of Americans surveyed this month by the Pew Research Center, a think tank, said they thought the US should prioritize expanding the coal, oil, and gas industries, while 65% thought alternatives like wind and solar should be the priority. (The remainder of the 1,502 US adults Pew surveyed didn’t express an opinion.) Those under 50, in particular, leaned toward cleaner forms of energy, with 73% favoring renewables. In the over-50 age group the majority was still in favor of expanding renewables, though by a smaller margin..."

Photo credit: "Which do you back?" (Reuters/Brian Snyder).

Interview with Elon Musk. In a chat with Gizmodo Musk shares his views about pricing carbon and Exxon's Rex Tillerson at Secretary of State: "...My tweets speak for themselves. Please read them exactly as they are written. Tillerson obviously did a competent job running Exxon, one of the largest companies in the world. In that role, he was obligated to advance the cause of Exxon and did. In the Sec of State role, he is obligated to advance the cause of the US and I suspect he probably will. Also, he has publicly acknowledged for years that a carbon tax could make sense. There is no better person to push for that to become a reality than Tillerson. This is what matters far more than pipelines or opening oil reserves. The unpriced externality must be priced..."

The 100 Worst Traffic Bottlenecks on U.S. Highways. Did your city make the cut? Here's are a couple of excerpts from The Washington Post: "...Yes, there are some of the expected heavy-hitters on the list of the top bottlenecks: Houston (five times), Atlanta (three times), Chicago (three times), and Los Angeles (twice)....The worst bottleneck in the country is in Atlanta, where northbound Interstate 85 conspires with Interstate 285 to snarl traffic in what’s known as “spaghetti junction.” Fort Lee, Chicago (I-290 and I-90), Louisville (I-65 and I-64), Cincinnati (I-71 and I-75), Los Angeles (State 60 and State 57), Auburn, Wash. (State 18 and State 167), Houston (I-45 and U.S. 59), Atlanta (I-75 and I-285) and Seattle (I-5 and I-90) round out the top..."

What Do You Want To Watch Now? TheTV [R]evolution Continues. Here's an excerpt of an interesting post from Alan Wolk at LinkedIn: "...The bundle as we know it is about to change rather dramatically because TV is about to change rather dramatically. Over the next 18 to 36 months, it will go from a primarily linear medium to a primarily library-based one, a change that’s both inevitable and beneficial for everyone involved. This is not to say that linear TV will disappear entirely. There will still be news and sports and event shows (e.g. Oscars) that happen in real time. Networks will be able to premiere new episodes of series at specific days and times every week. What will change however, is that all that filler, all those shows that have already run, either an hour earlier or a decade earlier, will now be available on an On Demand basis..."

The True Story of the Umbrella Gun, A Surprisingly Serious Weapon. Atlas Obscura has the curious details: "...Umbrella guns are by no means the only type of disguised weapon. “Man has attempted to disguise firearms into just about everything you can possibly imagine,” says David H. Fink, a collector in Georgia who has written about disguised guns for the American Society of Arms Collectors. Guns have been hidden in pillboxes, a scribe’s casing, a flute, a pencil, a Pepsi can. There have been pocket-watch guns, ring guns, bike-pump guns, and lipstick guns. But perhaps no other type of disguised gun has caught the imagination of spies, writers, and conspiracy theorists as the umbrella gun. As a weapon, it is both a little bit ridiculous and deviously clever, and since its use in Markov’s assassination, it had taken its place in the villainous weapon hall of fame..."

Photo credit: "A replica of the “Bulgarian umbrella” used to kill Markov." The International Spy Museum

TODAY: Mix of clouds and sun. Winds: NW 10-15. High: 30

FRIDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy. Low: 23

SATURDAY: Partly sunny, not bad for late January. Winds: NW 8-13. High: 31

SUNDAY: Quick clipper. Coating of flurries? Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 22. High: 29

MONDAY: Milder, few inches far northern MN. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 19. High: 33

TUESDAY: Clouds, flurries linger. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 25. High: 30

WEDNESDAY: Mostly cloudy, drier sky statewide. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 16. High: 26

THURSDAY: Tranquil Ground Hog Day with fading sun. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 13. High: 23

Climate Stories...

Exxon Praises "Monumental" Paris Agreement in Signal to Trump. Call me crazy but this is a pretty big deal. Bloomberg has the story: "Exxon Mobil Corp., the U.S. oil giant that’s facing investigations over what it knew and when about climate change, sees the Paris agreement to mitigate global warming as a “monumental” achievement, according to a top executive. The company supports the December 2015 Paris accord as a “very meaningful and constructive process,” William M. Colton, Exxon’s vice president for corporate strategic planning, said in an interview in Berlin on Wednesday. Adhering to the accord’s commitments are achievable and compatible with Exxon’s business strategy, he said. President Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of state, former Exxon Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson, cleared a key confirmation hurdle Tuesday in Washington, overcoming objections that his appointment would threaten climate-change efforts..."

Photo credit: "An Exxon gas station in Richmond, Kentucky." Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg.

We May Be Closer Than We Thought to Dangerous Climate Thresholds. Dr. John Abraham at the University of St. Thomas reports for The Guardian: "...When you use the recommended time period, it turns out that 2015 was the first year on record that passed the 1°C (1.8°F) mark. It means that 2016 was approximately 0.1°C (0.2°F) warmer than we had thought relative to the pre-industrial time period. To put this in perspective, it is almost an extra decade of warming. Why does this matter? Well it means that we have about a decade less time to act on climate change if we are going to avoid the most serious consequences. It means we simply have no time to waste, and no room for error. It also means that even if we take action right now, there will be consequences. That said, it is better in the long run to act now than to wait. The people denying or delaying action are costing us, and our future generation much in terms of financial, social, and human capital..." (File image: University of Wisconsin - Madison CIMSS).

Good Luck Silencing Science. Here's an excerpt from "...There’s a word for that — a word frequently misused these days, but the correct word in this case: censorship. Unfortunately for the would-be censors, the days when that sort of thing worked are long past. The Streisand effect has for years proven the stronger force than even the most dedicated of information wranglers. But it won’t even get to that stage. You can’t just tell science to shut up. Climate change in particular is a nasty one to try to put to bed. It’s taken decades of research by thousands upon thousands of scientists all over the globe to arrive and strengthen the theory (in the sense that gravity and evolution are also theories) of anthropogenic climate change, or global warming if you prefer. (A climatologist I spoke to likes “global weirding.”)..."

The Great Northern Celebrates Minnesota Winters. Winters that are changing faster than ever. Will Steger's Climate Generation reports on the upcoming celebration of authentic Minnesota snow and cold: "...We’re excited about the Great Northern, taking place January 27-February 5 around Minneapolis and St. Paul because it provides us with an opportunity to both celebrate and reflect on Minnesota winters. At a time when our state’s winters are warming faster than anywhere else in the country, this season is no longer something we can take for granted – at least, not in the ways that we used to know it. Anyone who’s lived in Minnesota for a while will tell stories of epic winters past, and most folks have already intuited that a change is happening before their eyes: a rainy Christmas, freeze-thaw cycles that disrupt outdoor recreation, later ice-in and earlier ice-out dates. These stories are common..."

Even 3 Scorching Years Don't Make a Trend. Here's an excerpt from Faye Flam at Bloomberg View: "...Still, an impressive number of record years have been piling up in the 21st century, with 16 of the 17 hottest years on record having occurred since 2000. What, if anything, does this mean? Two years ago, the Associated Press generated some controversy by quoting a statistician who claimed that the odds were only one in 650 million that without man-made global warming we’d have observed what was then nine of the 10 hottest years on record having occurred since 2000. Climatologists say the odds such a streak are not quite that low, because yearly variations in global temperature aren’t independent, like coin tosses, but tend to cluster. A hot year is more likely to be followed by another hot year than a cool one..."

Graph credit: NOAA.

The New Battle Plan for the Planet's Climate Crisis. What worked in the 19th century may not work as well in the 21st, argues Bill McKibbon in a post at RollingStone: "...The moral case for fossil fuels has its roots in the idea that coal, and then oil and gas, transformed civilization. Which is true: When we learned, early in the 18th century, to burn coal, it gave each of us in the Western world the equivalent of an entourage of slaves. A barrel of oil, by some calculations, is equal to 23,000 hours of muscle-powered work. Suddenly we could move ourselves great distances, and most of us could abandon the farm. One could argue whether these were changes for the better; some of our sense of rootlessness and disconnection comes with this freedom. But it was transformational – that part of the argument is undeniable. For Trump's crew, however, the past is forever prologue. If fossil fuel was good in the 18th century, it must be good in the 21st. They can't imagine, for example, that the rest of the world might develop without coal and gas and oil..." (File photo: Skip Brown, National Geographic).

South, Southeastern Europe Face Greatest Climate Change Disruptions. Here's an excerpt of a recent report from the European Environmental Agency (EEA), summarized by Reuters: "Southern and southeastern regions of Europe will face the continent's most adverse effects from climate change as heatwaves and droughts become more intense and frequent, the European Environment Agency (EEA) said on Wednesday. Climate change is causing more frequent and severe flooding, droughts, storms and heatwaves throughout Europe as global temperature rise hits new records, sea levels rise and sea ice melts in the Arctic. World temperatures hit a record high for a third year in a row in 2016, scientists said last week, with extremes including unprecedented heat in India and ice melt in the Arctic. Climate-related extreme events accounted for nearly 400 billion euros ($430 billion) of economic losses in EEA member countries from 1980 to 2013, and were responsible for 85,000 deaths in the same period, the EEA said in a report..." (File image credit: NASA).

Heat Record: How NASA Knows 2016 Was The Hottest Year. Here's an excerpt from Live Science: "...NASA and NOAA both found a high likelihood that 2016 was the hottest year: a 96 percent chance according to NASA and a 62 percent chance according to NOAA. The only other contender — with a much lower probability — was 2015. The differing estimates come from different extrapolations of data about the warming Arctic. The region has warmed significantly, the panelists said, and how that's quantified can have a big effect on the average. But overall, the estimates are very similar, they said..."

Graph credit: "A chart released by NASA and NOAA shows global temperature analyses from several different data sets. They are clearly all "singing the same song," researchers said." Credit: NASA/NOAA.

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