NOAA Releases Winter Outlook – Closer to Average for Minnesota?

52 F. high yesterday at KMSP.
56 F. average high on October 20.
59 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities on October 20, 2015.

October 21, 1916: A three-day blizzard ends. Also, a sharp temperature drop occurs at Bird Island, falling from 65 to 13.

Will Winter La Nina Trigger La Snowfall?

Every year people ask me what winter will bring. I take a deep breath, stare out the Amish Doppler (a window) and tell them the truth. “Colder…with some snow.” I stand by that prediction.

NOAA just released their official winter preview; La Nina cooling of Pacific Ocean water favoring cooler, wetter weather for the northern tier states, including Minnesota. My gut: the upcoming winter will be colder and snowier than last winter.

There’s a better chance of “average snowfall”, which is close to 55 inches in the MSP metro area. But I doubt we’ll see as much as 2010-2011, when a whopping 87 inches dazzled snow lovers. Keep your expectations low and you’ll never be disappointed.

A stray shower is possible this evening but most towns stay dry through Monday night. The mercury brushes 60F on Saturday before cooling off early next week. There’s a better chance of heavier/steadier rain by the middle of next week. The Halloween outlook is better: near 50F with a Severe Ghoul Advisory.

The coldest reading at MSP Airport so far this fall is 36F. The last (official) sub-freezing low temperature was April 12. Wow.
NOAA’s Winter Outlook Predicts Warmer, Drier South and Cooler, Wetter North. Will that translate into more snow for Minnesota and Wisconsin? How ’bout those Vikes! Here’s an excerpt from NOAA: “Forecasters at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center issued the U.S. Winter Outlook today, saying that La Nina is expected to influence winter conditions this year. The Climate Prediction Center issued a La Nina watch this month, predicting the climate phenomenon is likely to develop in late fall or early winter. La Nina favors drier, warmer winters in the southern U.S and wetter, cooler conditions in the northern U.S. If La Nina conditions materialize, forecasters say it should be weak and potentially short-lived…”
Early Look at Halloween. Thanks to Planalytics for passing along their preview for October 31 weather from coast to coast. No big blizzards brewing this year: “Weather plays an important role on Halloween as it affects what trick-or-treaters will be wearing as well as the types of food and beverages to serve at parties and gatherings. For Halloween Monday (October 31st), expect temperatures to be cooler than normal in the West, supporting demand for light jackets and warm beverages. Near to above normal temperatures are anticipated in much of the Northeast. Markets in the Plains, Midwest, and Deep South are expected to remain warmer than normal, creating “spooktacular” conditions for trick-or-treaters...”
Stronger Than Expected La Nina May Be Brewing. Reuters has an update and context: “Many have doubted forecasts calling for the onset of the first La Niña in almost five years, believing that its failure to materialize in convincing fashion last summer – as originally predicted – means that it may be off the table for 2016-17. But in recent weeks, the oceans and atmosphere have been pulling everything into place to facilitate a potentially stronger La Niña than previously thought, so those who follow commodities markets may want to take a second look. Last Thursday, the U.S. Climate Prediction Center reissued the La Niña watch that was removed in early September. The watch indicates that conditions are favorable for the phenomenon’s development within the next six months...”
ENSO Model Plume: Earth Institute, Columbia University.
Hard Freeze Week From Sunday – 60s in 2 Weeks? GFS shows temperatures above average this weekend; a streak of 50s next week before a more significant cold front the last weekend in October. But the very same model hints at a 61F high on Thursday, November 3. Source: Aeris Enterprise.
Dry Into Monday Night. Take advantage of this dry spell; 5-6 days in a row with no measurable rainfall for most Minnesota towns. Rain is likely next Tuesday, again the last weekend in October.
Extended Outlook: Stormy Trough Great Lakes and New England. Will weather be a factor for Election Day? Still too early to say, but looking out 2 weeks the GFS forecast carves out a big, stormy trough of low pressure for the Great Lakes and New England; relatively dry and mild for the Plains and Rockies.
Record Warmth – But Is This Indian Summer? Highs in the 80s and 90s from the east coast into much of the southern USA? More typical of early September than late October. USA TODAY has interesting perspective: “…In New England, according to the glossary, at least one killing frost and preferably a period of normally cool weather must precede this warm spell in order for it to be considered a true “Indian summer.” The term is most often heard in the Northeast, but other English-speaking countries also refer to it. It dates back at least to 1778, the glossary notes, but its origin is not certain; most likely it’s the way American Indians used this extra opportunity to increase their winter stores. So far this year, the U.S. is sweltering through its second-warmest year on record, the National Centers for Environmental Information said. Only 2012 was warmer...” (Map credit: WeatherBell).
Hottest Months on Record Have Something in Common. Climate Central reports: “…The run of record-setting months means 15 of the most abnormally warm months have occurred since March 2015. Accounting for ties, the only exception is January 2007 which came in tied for 11th. There has never been a run of hot months like this in the 1,641 months (or 136-plus years) of data at NOAA’s disposal. March 2016 tops the list with a global temperature 2.21°F (1.23°C) above the 20th century average. Even though September 2016 is the second-warmest September on record, it’s still on the list clocking in at 11th with temperatures 1.6°F (0.89°C) above average…”

Map credit: “The year-to-date heat has the world on track for its hottest year on record.”
1 in 1,000 Year Flood for North Carolina. Rainfall from Hurricane Matthew did, in fact, reach “thousand-year rainfall” criteria, according to NOAA. This is the 6th thousand-year flood to strike the USA since October, 2015. The list includes South Carolina, Maryland, West Virginia, Louisiana, Texas, and now North Carolina.
GPM Sees Hurricane Matthew’s Life Cycle. NASA has a terrific explainer on YouTube: “Hurricane Matthew dropped a lot of rain, caused flooding and deaths in the state of North Carolina. Flooding is still widespread in North Carolina. Some rivers in North Carolina such as the Tar and the Neuse Rivers were still rising on Oct. 12, 2016. At NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, a rainfall analysis was accomplished using data from NASA’s Integrated Multi-satellite Retrievals for GPM (IMERG). The GPM, or Global Precipitation Measurement, mission is a joint mission between NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). This rainfall analysis was created using IMERG real time data covering the period from Sept. 28 through Oct. 10, 2016. The totals included some rain from a low pressure area that moved through the area near the end of September...”

Animation credit: “NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Ryan Fitzgibbons, producer.
Hospitals Really Believe Bad Things Happen On a Full Moon. Add meteorologists to the list. Here’s an excerpt from The Wall Street Journal: “…Since the Middle Ages, full moons have been associated in the popular imagination with spooky occurrences: Werewolves. Vampires. The word “lunacy” derives from the bizarre effects that full moons supposedly have on behavior. In hospitals all over America, doctors and medical staffers—supposedly pragmatic professionals rooted in science—are convinced that full moons are harbingers of chaos in their emergency rooms and delivery wards. Doctors and nurses say a full-moon night, particularly right before Halloween, triggers a flood of admissions, notably among patients suffering psychotic episodes, sporting strange injuries or going into labor under unusual circumstances…”
Crash: How Computers Are Setting Us Up For Disaster. Imagine life without your smart phone or Google. Are computers making us (dangerously) lazy? Here’s an excerpt from a story at The Guardian: “This problem has a name: the paradox of automation. It applies in a wide variety of contexts, from the operators of nuclear power stations to the crew of cruise ships, from the simple fact that we can no longer remember phone numbers because we have them all stored in our mobile phones, to the way we now struggle with mental arithmetic because we are surrounded by electronic calculators. The better the automatic systems, the more out-of-practice human operators will be, and the more extreme the situations they will have to face. The psychologist James Reason, author of Human Error, wrote: “Manual control is a highly skilled activity, and skills need to be practised continuously in order to maintain them…”
U.S. Health Insurers Are In a State of Denial About Climate Change. MarketWatch reports: “The biggest health insurers in the U.S. show little understanding or concern about the risks to their business posed by climate change, even though warmer winters and springs are already causing spikes in conditions such as allergies, asthma and Lyme disease. That’s one of the findings of a report from non-profit Ceres that ranks the 148 largest insurance companies in the U.S. on their response to climate risks, including severe weather events. The report is based on a climate risk survey developed by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, or NAIC, and first conducted in 2014...”
Minnesota Power Shutting Down 2 More Coal Generators. Duluth News Tribune has details: “Minnesota Power announced Wednesday that it will shut down two more of its coal-fired electrical generators, Boswell Units 1 and 2 in Cohasset, as the utility continues its move away from coal. The Duluth-based utility said it will idle the 1960-vintage units by the end of 2018 as it moves toward more natural gas and renewable energy from solar and wind generation. The changeover is part of the utility’s long-term Energy Forward focus and helps it comply with state regulations to get more energy from renewable sources…”

Scientists Accidentally Discover Efficient Process To Turn CO2 Into Ethanol. These are the kinds of breakthroughs that will allow us to start removing CO2 from the atmosphere in the years to come. Popular Mechanics reports: “Scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee have discovered a chemical reaction to turn CO2 into ethanol, potentially creating a new technology to help avert climate change. Their findings were published in the journal ChemistrySelect. The researchers were attempting to find a series of chemical reactions that could turn CO2 into a useful fuel, when they realized the first step in their process managed to do it all by itself. The reaction turns CO2 into ethanol, which could in turn be used to power generators and vehicles…”

Kansas Town Decimated by EF-5 Tornado Now Runs on 100% Renewable Energy. EcoWatch has the uplifting article: “But from the rubble, opportunity emerged. Greensburg is now one of the greenest towns in the U.S. and serves as an actual role model for renewable energy and sustainable development. Greensburg could also teach its frack-happy, earthquake-riddled home state a lesson or two about better energy choices. Greensburg—the second U.S. city to go 100 percent renewable after Burlington, Vermont—has an impressive list of green bonafides thanks to its master sustainability plan. After the tornado struck, the city picked itself up and rebuilt every building to LEED-platinum standards and converted every streetlight to LEDs, the first in the nation to do both…”

Photo credit upper left: “Greensburg, Kansas is the second city in the U.S. to convert to 100 percent renewable energy after it was devastated by a powerful tornado in 2007.” Wikimedia Commons.
Photo credit upper right: “A hospital turbine in Greensburg, Kansas.” The City of Greensburg.

When Does an Artificial Intelligence Become a Person? How We Get To Next has another compelling, though-provoking, vaguely terrifying story; here’s the intro: “The things that define something as someone — as a person — are complex, contested, and mutable. Thinking about the moral, legal, and philosophical arguments around who does and does not get to be a person is a crucial step as we move ever closer toward the birth of the first truly sentient machines, and the destruction of the most highly sentient, endangered animals. What level of sophistication will artificial intelligences need to attain before we consider them people — and all the rights that entails? And at what point on the spectrum of intelligence will we be creating machines that are as smart, and as deserving of legal rights, as the sentient animals we’re driving to extinction?...” (Image credit: Exosphere).

Will Driverless Cars Really Save Millions of Lives? Lack of Data Makes It Hard to Know. Here’s an excerpt of an interesting post from The Washington Post: “…One of the hardest questions to answer is, ‘How do these cars compare to human drivers?’ ” Chris Urmson, then the chief of Google’s self-driving car project, told transportation engineers in Washington this year. “And part of the reason why that’s hard is we don’t actually have a good understanding of how good human drivers really are.” One problem is that the U.S. government keeps no comprehensive database of crashes. That complicates what otherwise might seem to be a simple task: figuring out which vehicles are more likely to crash, human-driven ones or those run by software and sensors…”
He Ate a Pepper So Hot It Tore a Hole in His Esophagus. Why do people do this to themselves? Here’s a clip from The Washington Post: “…For the 47-year-old man whose esophagus was damaged, though, ingesting the pepper burger was less a bear chase and closer to an attack. As physicians at the University of California at San Francisco reported in the case study, he consumed the burger and attempted to quench the heat in his mouth with six glasses of water. When that failed the man began to vomit, which gave way to abdominal pain. He dialed emergency help. At the emergency department, he received Maalox and painkillers. After his condition worsened, doctors moved him to the operating room, where they discovered a “2.5-cm tear in the distal esophagus,” about one inch, as the case report authors noted...”

Let’s Choose a New Name for “Indian Summer”. Yes, the name is something of a head-scratcher. Here’s more perspective from Atlas Obscura: “…In his extremely thorough research, though, Matthews never discovered a convincing explanation for what the phrase meant. Why associate Native Americans with warm days in fall? There were plenty of ideas floating around: Native Americans had predicted the warm spell to settlers; they used that time of the year to extend their harvest; a tribe’s mythology connects the weather to the sigh of the personified southern wind. “Indian summer” may have had a tinge of colonial nostalgia to it, too. Some of the examples Matthews found argued that by the 1800s “Indian summer” had disappeared. “This short season of mild and serene weather, the halcyon period of autumn, has disappeared with the primitive rest,” wrote one 19th century author. “It fled from our land before the progress of civilization; it has departed with the primitive forest…”
Man, This Guy Really Likes His Coffee. Typhoon? Flood? What stinking flood! I’m not going to let a little moving water get between me and my tall soy latte! Here’s an excerpt of a funny story at TIME: “A Hong Kong man, affectionately dubbed “Starbucks Uncle” by social media, had one strategy when the coffee shop began to flood: keep calm and hang out. As it became flooded with standing water, he sat reading his newspaper, unperturbed by the typhoon raging outside, leading swirling waters to infiltrate his caffeine sanctuary. This week, Hong Kong has been dealing with torrential rainstorms and gale-force winds from Super Typhoon Haima, leading to flash flooding across the city…”

TODAY: Clouds increase, light shower or sprinkle late. Winds: S 7-12. High: 55

FRIDAY NIGHT: Few sprinkles. Low: 42

SATURDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, milder. Winds: SE 7-12. High: 62

SUNDAY: Mostly cloudy, cooler breeze kicks in. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 47. High: 58

MONDAY: Bright sunshine, quite pleasant. Winds: SE 5-10. Wake-up: 39. High: 56

TUESDAY: Gray with light rain developing. Winds: SE 10-20. Wake-up: 45. High: 53

WEDNESDAY: Delightfully foul. Periods of rain. Wake-up: 43. High: near 50

THURSDAY: Scrappy clouds, few sprinkles. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 38. High: 54
Climate Stories….

9 Cities To Live In If You’re Worried About Climate Change. I’m surprised the Twin Cities didn’t make the cut. My theory, my hunch is that Minneapolis, St. Paul and all of Minnesota will be in relatively good shape for one big reason: an abundant supply of clean water. Here’s an excerpt from The New York Times: “It’s hard to imagine that any city in North America will escape the effects of climate change within the next 25 years. But some will be better positioned than others to escape the brunt of “drought, wildfire, extreme heat, extreme precipitation, extreme weather and hurricanes.” Those were some of the climate change-related threats listed by Benjamin Strauss, who focuses on climate impacts at Climate Central, an independent nonprofit research collaboration of scientists and journalists. Dr. Strauss, 44, identified cities where people could settle in the next two decades if they are aiming to avoid those threats…”

Climate Change: Extreme Environments to Require New Equipment, Tougher Ships. Here’s an excerpt from National Defense Magazine: “…Areas where planning could be improved include disaster relief, emergency response, weapon system acquisition, theater campaign and installation master planning, he said in an email.We need to build resiliency into our efforts to adapt to a ‘normal’ that will continue to change over time,” he said. “Climate is not stationary and neither is national security.” The Defense Department is working with the office of science and technology policy, and the interagency science and technology community through the department’s research and engineering organizations to bring a “whole of government approach” to identifying technology needs and how they may be satisfied, he said. “Preparing for climate change, it’s actually not as much about the equipment; it’s about the mindset,” Holland said. “It requires foresight and thinking and planning.” (File photo: Associated Press).
Greenland Is Melting. Check out Elizabeth Kolbert’s article at The New Yorker; here’s a clip: “…In recent years, as global temperatures have risen, the ice sheet has awoken from its postglacial slumber. Melt streams like the Rio Behar have always formed on the ice; they now appear at higher and higher elevations, earlier and earlier in the spring. This year’s melt season began so freakishly early, in April, that when the data started to come in, many scientists couldn’t believe it. “I had to go check my instruments,” one told me. In 2012, melt was recorded at the very top of the ice sheet. The pace of change has surprised even the modellers. Just in the past four years, more than a trillion tons of ice have been lost. This is four hundred million Olympic swimming pools’ worth of water, or enough to fill a single pool the size of New York State to a depth of twenty-three feet...”

Photo credit: “When water accumulates on the surface of an ice sheet, more sunlight gets absorbed, which results in more melt, in a cycle that builds on itself. This year’s melt season began so early that many scientists couldn’t believe the data they were seeing.” Photograph by Daniel Beltrá.
Exxon Boss: Climate Change is “Real” and “Serious”. Here’s the story intro at ThinkProgress: “Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson said Wednesday the company backs a price on carbon and believes climate change brings “real” risks that require “serious” action. Speaking at the Oil & Money conference in London, Tillerson also noted that the Paris climate accord set to kick in this November is unlikely to limit near-term consumption of oil and gas, Climate Central reported...”

Photo credit: “ExxonMobil Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson.” CREDIT: AP/Evan Vucci.

This Is What It’s Like To Be a Young Climate Scientist. Here’s an excerpt from Climate Central: “…It’s an interesting time to be alive, but perhaps an even more interesting time to join the climate science field. We’re at a crucial turning point for both the field and humanity. Scientists entering the field now are standing on the shoulders of more than 150 years of climate change research. Our scientific knowledge of climate change has expanded tremendously since John Tyndall’s work on greenhouse gases starting in the 1850s (and even since James Hansen’s 1988 testimony before Congress for that matter). Yet there are still questions to be answered about climate change, in particular pinning down what comes next for the world and the people, plants and animals that call it home. To get a sense of what comes next for field and how it feels to start a career at a time when so much is clearly at stake, Climate Central talked with a handful of early career researchers on how they view the field…”
Mike Huckabee Rebuffs Apocalyptic “Religious Cult” Global Warming Predictions but Doesn’t Deny Climate Change. Well I guess this qualifies as “progress”. A cult? I believe in God – I don’t believe the science, I test the science, and so far all the observation, the data, the evidence, confirms the theory that the release of man-made greenhouse gases (about a trillion metric tons of CO2 and methane since 1965) is warming the planet over time. It’s not the end of the world, but our world is, in fact, running a mild fever. Here’s an excerpt from Christian Post: “…The National Association of Evangelicals recommended four steps that Christians can take when engaging with climate change issues, as found in “Loving the Least of These:” “First, dig deeper into the facts and scientific evidence. Second, avoid polarizing voices of ‘angry people who call others names or refer to conspiracy theories.’ Third, look at joint statements from professional societies that represent the collective wisdom of a large number of experts,” the recommendations state. “And fourth, get to know a Christian scientist that can help you understand the scientific information…”

Image credit: NASA.
The Conservative Christian Case for Climate Change Action. My sincere thanks to Minnehaha Academy, which is hosting a book-launch event the evening of November 15.The first 500 people who RSVP will receive a complimentary copy of Caring for Creation. Details are here. Here’s an excerpt of a Time Op-Ed written by “Caring for Creation” co-author, Methodist minister, former coal industry employee and EEN (Evangelical Environmental Network) President Mitch Hescox:”…Food and water scarcity are made worse across the developing world. Sea-level rise, increased asthma, and disease carrying insects across the U.S. are just a few of the other climate-related impacts. The good news is that overcoming climate change presents us with a tremendous opportunity to create a better world. In order to realize it, we must end the partisanship and dump the denial. The scientific debate about climate change is over. We might not know all the particulars about how quickly the oceans will rise, but the causation is clear. One only has to open a window to know that our environment has changed. We must honor our past, but we cannot live in it. Coal mining jobs continue to disappear. The blast furnaces of Pittsburgh and elsewhere won’t be rebuilt. We’re in the middle of an economic disruption…”

The West Is Burning, and Climate Change is Partly To Blame. Here’s an excerpt of an analysis at FiveThirtyEight: “…With wildfire, such superlatives have, paradoxically, become normal. Records are routinely smashed — for acreage burned, homes destroyed, firefighter lives lost and money spent fighting back flames. A study published earlier this year found that, between 2003 and 2012, the average area burned each year in Western national forests was 1,271 percent greater than it was in the 1970s and early 1980s. Like the extreme hurricanes, heat waves and floods that have whipped, baked and soaked our landscape in recent years, such trends raise the question: Is this what climate change looks like? In the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science this month, two researchers took on the tricky task of apportioning blame…”

Arctic Sea Ice Trends Near a Record Low For This Time of Year. Tom Yulsman has the story at Discover Magazine: “Arctic sea ice has been been growing much more slowly than average during October. Its geographic extent is now in a rough tie with 2007 and 2012 for the lowest in the satellite record for this point in the year. The chart at right compares the evolution of Arctic sea ice extent during 2007, 2012 and 2016. This year is plotted in red. Note how slow the growth of ice has been during October. (Please click on the thumbnail to enlarge it.) Also check out just how low Arctic sea ice extent went during September, at the end of the warm season. In fact, 2016 tied with 2007 for the second-lowest extent in the satellite record...” (Graphic credit: NSIDC).

September An Exclamation Point on String of Hot Months – 2016 Will Be Warmest Year on Record. Here’s a clip from a story at Climate Central: “…To say there’s never been a stretch like this may sound like stating the obvious, but let’s recap for the heck of it. The September mark comes a month after the world tied the record for the hottest month ever recorded in August (the month it tied was this July). As early as May, there was a 99 percent chance that 2016 was going to go down as the hottest year on record, besting 2015, which bested 2014, because the planet has been on a heat bender since last year. With September’s record, the odds crept a little higher still. NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt said on Twitter that 2016 “seems locked in” to set a record for hottest year with it likely to end somewhere around 2.25°F (1.25°C) above the late 19th century average…”