A Chilling Halloween

49 F. high in the Twin Cities Thursday.
51 F. average high on October 30.
50 F. high temperature on October 30, 2013.

Chilling

My very own, personal Halloween Nightmare? Predicting 4 to 8 inches of snow, only to wind up with closer to 30. That happened in 1991 – the remarkable “Halloween Superstorm” – which broke multiple records.

My personal paranoia peaks when weather stalls – that’s when bad things often unfold. Usually weather is progressive, systems move along at 10-30 mph, depending on the time of year. In late October, 1991 a storm stalled off the coast of New England, the “Perfect Storm” popularized in Sebastian Junger’s book and subsequent movie. That stalled storm caused a deepening storm over Minnesota to stall over Lake Superior, prolonging our snow an extra 2 days, resulting in jaw-dropping snowfall amounts.

According to the Minnesota DNR there have been only six Halloweens with measurable snow since 1871. We won’t add to that list today. Expect clear skies with diminishing winds – temperatures falling through the 30s by late afternoon. We’ve seen worse.

No big storms (of any flavor) are brewing into the second week of November. A windy weekend gives way to a few days in the 50s next week. Not exactly a warm front, but considering we could be mired in hip-deep drifts I won’t complain.
* Thanks to Tom Oszman at TC Media Now for archiving TV broadcast footage from KARE-11, WCCO and KSTP, giving a glimpse of how all 3 stations covered the 1991 Halloween Superstorm. Nice hat Paul. What were you thinking?
A Storm For The Ages. Check out the snowfall amounts from the 1991 Halloween storm; as much as 3 feet along Lake Superior’s North Shore, but 28″ amounts into the Twin Cities metro. Map courtesy of the DNR and Minnesota State Climate Office.
Halloween Climatology In The Twin Cities. Here’s an excerpt of a detailed look at Halloween weather over the years in the metro area, courtesy of the Minnesota DNR: “…Measurable precipitation has occurred on Halloween only 26% of the time in the Twin Cities, or 37 times out of 141 years. The most rain recorded was in 1979 with .78 inches. In 1991 .85 inches of precipitation fell, which was snow. In spite of the 1991 Halloween Blizzard, measurable snow on Halloween is about as rare as getting a full sized candy bar in your trick or treat bag. Since 1872 there’s been enough snow to measure only six times: .6″ in 1884, .2″ in 1885, 1.4″ in 1932, .4″ in 1954, .5″ in 1995 and of course 8.2 inches with the Halloween Blizzard of 1991…”
Not So Fast Polar Vortex! Why This Winter Might Not Be So Brutal After All. Note to self: don’t bet the farm based on a 5 month forecast. Here’s an excerpt from a story at Salon that does a good job summing up what we know, and what we are pretending to know about the winter to come: “…Sobel says that despite the headlines, it’s doubtful we will be seeing a winter as cold as last winter was in the eastern U.S. “Last winter was very extreme by historical standards, so it is improbable in any year,” says Sobel. “No information currently available (including the state of El Niño), or that will be available ahead of time, is strong enough to change that. It’s not impossible that this winter will be as cold or colder than last, it’s just very unlikely.”
The U.S. Is Losing The Battle To Predict The Next Hurricane Sandy. Have we closed the gap with ECMWF? Not yet, explains meteorologist Andrew Freedman at Mashable; here’s an excerpt: “…The storm shined a spotlight on the superiority of a computer model run by a European weather center, known as the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF), which, more than a week in advance, pinpointed Sandy’s infamous left hook track directly into New Jersey. Now, two years after that monstrous storm, the same computing gap remains — in some cases growing even wider. In addition, the Weather Service is trying to shore up even more basic elements of its infrastructure, like satellites and computer networks. These issues raise the question of whether the agency is ready to face another Sandy…”
2 Years After Sandy U.S. Disaster Policy Is Still A Disaster. What have we learned from Sandy – are we better prepared for the next, inevitable superstorm? Here’s the intro to a story at Huffington Post: “Two years ago, Superstorm Sandy devastated the northeastern United States, killing more than 70 people, causing $60 billion in damage and exposing major gaps in federal disaster preparedness and response. But there has been little movement in Congress to change policies to prepare the country for future disasters. One thing Congress did was approve billions in aid for storm-struck areas — but not until nearly three months after Sandy, on Jan. 28, 2013. And that package has been criticized in some corners for being both too slow and for including too few directives on rebuilding to make communities more resilient in future storms…”
Hurricane Sandy’s Lesson: Resilience Isn’t Enough. Here’s a clip from a post at the Harvard Business Review that caught my eye: “…Building resilience and adaptability are necessary actions and great to see. But there is more than a hint of a defensive posture here – we’re being reactive. Adaptation is critical, but as a sole strategy, it’s kind of silly and potentially devastating. We can build some walls around lower Manhattan but where will the water go? I don’t think New Jersey will appreciate the extra dose of storm surge. And how high a wall can we even build? If we continue with business as usual and think we’ll just adapt, we will be sorely disappointed…” (File photo: AP).

Hoboken Oceanographer Dreams of Slowing Hurricanes Before Landfall. There are some practical considerations here, including what 30-50 foot seas might do the pumps required, but under the headline of vetting all ideas, here’s an interesting one – an excerpt courtesy of NBC New York: “…His plan is to slow down a hurricane by deploying hundreds of thousands of floating tubular pumps — directly in the path of an approaching storm. Each pump would be upwards of a thousand feet long, using the kinetic energy of undulating waves to draw cold water from the depths of the ocean all the way to the surface. By cooling the surface water just two degrees, Blumberg estimates a storm could be reduced from a category-3 to a category-1 designation. From a category-5 to a category-3 designation…” (Hurricane Igor file: NASA).

Study Says Upgrading Infrastructure Could Reduce Flood Damage. Phys.org has the article which includes this interesting nugget: “…From 1980 to 2007, about 90 percent of all global disasters were caused by flooding either by rain, tsunami, hurricane or some other natural event. At the same time, the American Society of Civil Engineer’s 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure gave the country a dismal D+. The group said $3.6 trillion was needed by 2020 to address the most serious problems…”

File photo credit: Virginia Department of Transportation.
Version 3.0 of Aeromobile Flying Car Unveiled. Where’s my flying car?!! Another step closer to reality? Here’s a clip from Gizmag: “It may still sound like the stuff of science fiction, but the AeroMobil flying car is close to a final design. The AeroMobil 3.0 prototype was premiered today at the Pioneers Festival in Vienna. The roadster-cum-light-aircraft is being tested to refine final performance and features...”
TODAY: Chilliest Halloween since 2006. Sunny and colder than average. Winds: N 5-10. High: near 40
TONIGHT: Clear, light winds. Low: 25
SATURDAY: Hard freeze early. Partly sunny, windy. High: 44
SUNDAY: Plenty of sun, stiff breeze. Wake-up: 35. High: 51
MONDAY: More clouds, stray shower possible. Wake-up: 40. High: 55
TUESDAY: Partly sunny and cooler. Wake-up: 38. High: 48
WEDNESDAY: Clouds increase, showers north. Wake-up: 41. High: 57
THURSDAY: Sunny and brisk. Less wind. Wake-up: 37. High: 46

Overall, the researchers revealed a much wider problem.
From 1980 to 2007, about 90 percent of all global disasters were caused by flooding either by rain, tsunami, hurricane or some other natural event.
At the same time, the American Society of Civil Engineer’s 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure gave the country a dismal D+. The group said $3.6 trillion was needed by 2020 to address the most serious problems.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-10-infrastructure.html#jCp

Climate Stories…

Get Off The Beach? Hell No. Why Shore People Don’t Get Climate People. Bloomberg has an interesting article about sea level rise and denial; here’s an excerpt: “…Yet adapt they must. An overheating planet is melting glaciers, raising sea levels and threatening cities from Mumbai to Guangzhou. Half the world already lives within 60 kilometers (37 miles) of the sea, according to the United Nations. Waters creeped up an average 3.2 millimeters a year between 1993 and 2009; sea levels may rise by between 26 centimeters (10 inches) and 82 centimeters this century, the UN estimates...”
Fox News’ Parent Company Is Really Worried About Global Warming. Mother Jones has the curious details; here’s a clip: “…But Fox’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, sees things differently. Earlier this month, a London-based organization called CDP released hundreds of questionnaires it collected from corporations—including 21st Century Fox—that had agreed to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions and outline the risks global warming could pose to their business. In its submission to CDP, 21st Century Fox noted that climate change “may increase the frequency and power of tropical cyclones” and that the resulting storms could hurt its bottom line. And the company cited Sandy as a prime example…”
Bangladesh Leads 32 Nations Hit By Extreme Climate Risk. Bloomberg has the story; here’s the introduction: “Bangladesh, Sierra Leone and South Sudan led a ranking of countries facing extreme risks as a result of climate change, exacerbating the chances of civil conflict, according to a study by U.K. researcher Maplecroft. A total of 32 countries out of 196 surveyed face that level of threat, the Bath, England-based analyst said today in an e-mailed statement. Nigeria, Chad, Haiti, Ethiopia, the Philippines, the Central African Republic and Eritrea rounded out 10 most at risk…”

* The report referenced in the Bloomberg article above is available at maplecroft.com.
An Ill Wind Blows in Antarctica, Threatens Global Flooding. What’s happening in Antarctica, and why should people living within a few feet of sea level be paying attention? Here’s an excerpt from Climate Central: “…The Southern Ocean’s legendary winds have been blowing more fiercely and in a more poleward direction since the 1950s. Temperature observations are sparse around the hostile continent, but scientists recently modeled the ocean current knock-on effects of these wind changes, which have been caused by ozone thinning and by the buildup of greenhouse gases. The scientists were blown away by the vicious climate change feedback that they unearthed…”

Photo credit: “Antarctic tempest.” Credit: Eli Duke/flickr.
Superstorm Sandy Anniversary: “It’s (Still) Global Warming, Stupid” A higher sea level, more water vapor, warmer sea surface temperatures and a highly unusual tropical track for late October – a warming climate made Sandy worse. Here’s an excerpt from Think Progress: “…So we have nearly doubled the chances for a Sandy-type storm surge with just the modest several-inch sea level rise we have caused to date with carbon pollution. This study points out future Sandy-level storm surges will result from weaker storms than Sandy as sea levels rise. The NOAA study has an “intermediate high scenario” of 2 to 4 feet of sea level rise by 2100 and a “High scenario,” where sea level rises 4 to 7 feet by 2100…”
What Caused The “Pause” in Global Warming? Air temperatures have leveled off; additional heat being pumped into the oceans, according to climate scientist Kevin Trenberth. Here’s an excerpt of his explanation at The Conversation: “…These changes in the atmosphere cause changes in the ocean and have led to heat being stored deeper than 700m in the ocean. while heat has also been carried down deeper in the subtropical Pacific, away from the surface.  The largest region of the planet that has not warmed in the 2000s is the eastern half of the Pacific Ocean. The planet is warming, but heat is effectively being dumped deeper in the ocean…”

Graphic credit above: “Global mean surface temperatures as anomalies relative to 1900-99, plotted with linear trends for 1970-2013 (blue) and 1998-2013 (red), (from Trenberth et al. 2014).” Trenberth et al (2014) Nature Climate Change