83 F. high in the Twin Cities Saturday.
88 F. record high on September 27 (1987).
67 F. average high on September 27.
86 F. high on September 27, 2013.

September 27, 1983: Late summer with 91 degrees at Montevideo and 90 degrees at Elbow Lake.

Window Seat

Grown-ups have an innate ability to make a hot mess of the world. What transforms you into a wide-eyed, wonder-filled kid again? Fishing with dad? Wandering the State Fair? Christmas morning?

For me one antidote to stress is staring out the window at 39,000 feet, munching on peanuts, problems and stresses shrinking into a storybook landscape below. I’m most at peace when I’m IN the weather, not tracking it from below. Being a pilot might have been a smart career choice – funny how my youngest son inherited that itch.

FAA data confirms that summer T-storms are more disruptive than fog or winter snow & ice, especially at small airports in the south. If you’re a pilot (or farmer/gardener) a healthy respect for the weather isn’t optional. Your job depends on it.

Today: the last day of atmospheric magic – highs near 80F as showers spread into far northern Minnesota. Canadian air dribbles into town Monday; the best chance of rain comes late Wednesday into Thursday. It’ll feel like October by late week – a slight risk of frost next weekend; close to average for the immediate MSP metro area.

In an increasingly weather-on-steroids world I’d love to track some “average weather”.

Sunday Weather Map. A bloated (August-like) bubble of high pressure centered over the Plains hangs on one more day with enough subsidence aloft for highs near 80F once again; the last day of our summerlike fling. Cooler air pushes south tonight; Monday should be 15-20F cooler with highs stuck in the 60s. The chance of rain increases by midweek. 18z Sunday weather map prediction: NCAR.

Summerlike Kink in the Jet Stream. Here are the winds at 500mb, about 18,000 feet aloft, valid yesterday morning, showing a deep low pressure system pushing into California, pushing a ridge with unnatural warmth into the Upper Midwest, responsible for temperatures 15-20F above average. A pattern that favors troughs and rain for the west coast would tend to favor a milder pattern for Minnesota into autumn and winter. We’ll see. If the ridge becomes stalled over the Pacific Coast the potential for deep intrusions of bitter air east of the Rockies increases. Map: GrADS: COLA/IGES.

Rocky Mountain Soaking. A deep trough of low pressure, a cold wrinkle of air aloft, sparks soaking rains from central Arizona north to Montana over the next 60 hours. Heavy T-storms sprout from the Gulf Coast to Florida; dry and pleasantly warm weather lingers from the Ohio Valley into the Northeast. 4 KM NAM accumulated precipitation loop: NOAA and HAMweather.

Minor Reality Check. One more day of summer bliss, followed by a cooling trend this week; a midweek ripple of low pressure capable of more significant rain late Tuesday into Thursday; then clearing next weekend. European model runs keep flip-flopping between 50s and 60s next weekend – the latest run trending a bit milder for next weekend, especially Sunday. The potential for a metro-wide frost Sunday morning has diminished slightly. Source: Weatherspark.

Super-Sized Autumn? I wouldn’t bet the farm on (any) long range forecast, but GFS guidance shows consistent 60s, even a few 70s into the second week of October. An omen of a milder winter to come? I wouldn’t read too much into a 1-2 week trend, but I still believe the odds of two (30-year) winters, back to back, are small. We’ll see snow and cold but everything I’m looking at suggests a slightly more tolerable winter to come.

Ask Paul. Weather-related questions, comments and rants:

Love your column. Any early predictions for weather for Twin Cities Marathon Oct 5th? ? ? Possible stocking caps and gloves the whole 26.2 miles? Wind on our back? (that would be great).”
– Sharon Hanson

Thanks Sharon – I appreciate your loyalty very much. Right now the early word for next Sunday morning, October 5 is bright sun, a light breeze and temperatures rising from the upper 30s at 7 AM to 50s by late morning, so not nearly as warm and sticky as recent days. Not sure about the wind at your back but I’ll kick the Doppler and try to make it happen. Good luck.

September: Big Moisture Variations. It’s been a strange month for rainfall, trending drier than average for much of Minnesota, but much wetter over parts of northern and western Minnesota. Here’s an excerpt from this week’s edition of WeatherTalk, courtesy of Dr. Mark Seeley: “Just like the August rainfall pattern, September has been mostly drier than normal across the state, but intense thunderstorms have brought well above normal rainfall to some areas of the state. In the northern counties Hawley (3.08″), Lake Winnibigoshish (3.28″), Thorhult (3.42″), and Tofte (4.23″) have all reported well above normal rainfall for the month. In western counties a number of observers have reported over 4 inches for the month including Pelican Rapids, New York Mills, and Slayton. Lamberton has reported their 2nd wettest month of the year with 5.70 inches…”

A Fried Chicken iPhone Case? Why not, although I fear I’d be nibbling away at my protective case as the munchies set in. Thank KFC for this advancement in technology; details from cnet.com: “Some of the most unusual and amusing digital accessories in the world are coming from the Japanese arm of Kentucky Fried Chicken. The fast-food chain already unveiled a fried-chicken keyboard, computer mouse and USB drive as part of a Twitter promotion and giveaway. KFC Japan looked upon its mighty works and said, “Yes, this is good, but we can do better.” And then it introduced a fried-chicken iPhone case.…”

TODAY: Early patches of fog, then warm sunshine, August-like. Winds: S 10. High: 81
SUNDAY NIGHT: Clouds increase, showers possible, mainly north of MSP. Low: 59
MONDAY: More clouds, cooling down. High: 65
TUESDAY: Intervals of sun, breezy. Wake-up: 51. High: 68
WEDNESDAY: Rain develops late, thunder rumbles. Wake-up: 54. High: near 70
THURSDAY: Soggy. Showers linger. Wake-up: 57. High: 69
FRIDAY: Cold wind, showers linger. Wake-up: 51. High: 58
SATURDAY: Mostly cloudy, feels like October. Wake-up: 43. High: 57

Climate Stories…

The Natural Gas Boom Could Accelerate Climate Change. That is, if methane leakage around wells isn’t adequately addressed in a rush for profits. Here’s a snippet that made me do a double-take from FiveThirtyEightScience: “…Policymakers have hailed this revolution as beneficial in the fight against climate change, but natural gas does have a dark side: It is composed primarily of methane, which has a much stronger climate-warming effect than carbon dioxide. Unburned methane that leaks into the air from anywhere in our natural gas infrastructure has a potent climate-warming effect, and global methane levels have been steadily increasing since 2007. The only way to know whether switching to natural gas will worsen climate warming, rather than lessen it, is to accurately assess the scale of methane leakage…”

10 Fact Checks About Climate Change. PolitiFact has the analysis – here’s an excerpt: “…U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse delivers regular Senate speeches about the dangers of climate change and authors commentary on the topic. In May, he argued that addressing climate change makes economic sense, adding, “There are already more American jobs in the solar industry than in coal mining.” PolitiFact Rhode Island found that the most recent data from three objective sources support his claim. We rated his statement True.”

Opinion: A $65 Trillion Global Warming Gamble in a $75 Trillion GDP World. Marketwatch has the Op-Ed; here’s a clip: “…One final observation on the world’s new love of free-market capitalism and its blind obsession with economic growth at all costs: BusinessWeek quoted David Owen from his “The Conundrum”: “As long as the West places high and unquestioning value on economic growth and consumer gratification — with China and the rest of the developing world right behind — we will continue to burn the fossil fuels whose emissions trap heat in the atmosphere.” Unable to stop. And eventually the addiction to ‘growth at all costs’ will itself destroy the planet’s collective conscience … because history keeps repeating… until there is nothing left to repeat.”

Why The Political Winds are Shifting on Climate Change. The Globe and Mail has the article – here’s a clip: “…First, climate change is imposing real costs on economies now. While the competitiveness neurosis of imposing carbon costs on industry remains, there is a stark realization that climate induced damages are impeding economic growth and risking human health. This is as true for small island states facing sea-level rise, for African countries experiencing drought and in North America, where more frequent and intense storms are wreaking havoc. Second, GHG mitigation costs are not what we thought, while innovation is creating market opportunities…”

Inside the Koch Brother’s Toxic Empire. Rolling Stone has an eye-opening story; here’s an excerpt: “…The volume of Koch Industries’ toxic output is staggering. According to the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute, only three companies rank among the top 30 polluters of America’s air, water and climate: ExxonMobil, American Electric Power and Koch Industries. Thanks in part to its 2005 purchase of paper-mill giant Georgia-Pacific, Koch Industries dumps more pollutants into the nation’s waterways than General Electric and International Paper combined...”

Illustration credit: Victor Juhasz.

Graphic: A Farmer’s Guide to Global Warming – Go North. Bloomberg has the infographic and story; here’s an excerpt: “Land in Canada, China, and Russia that cannot be farmed now may become suitable for agriculture as warmer climes creep north over the next 90 years, according to a new study from Germany’s Ludwig Maximilian University. The developing world is projected to lose the most, as 2.6 million square miles of usable land become too dry or hot to farm.”

Map credit above: Bloomberg Businessweek.

Study Finds Global Sea Levels Rose Up To Five Meters Per Century At The End of The Last Five Ice Age Cycle. Yes, the climate has changed before, but never at the rate we’re now witnessing. Here’s an excerpt of a story at phys.org: “Land-ice decay at the end of the last five ice ages caused global sea-levels to rise at rates of up to 5.5 meters per century, according to a new study. An international team of researchers developed a 500,000-year record of sea-level variability, to provide the first account of how quickly sea-level changed during the last five ice age cycles….”

Photo credit above: Tiago Fioreze/Wikipedia.