Beautifully Boring – Barely White Christmas – and a Numbing New Year

30 F. high in the Twin Cities Friday.

26 F. average high on December 19.

28 F. high on December 19, 2013.

December 19, 1989: Hard pressed to find snow cover in Minnesota. Only good places to cross country ski are at Grand Marais and along the Gunflint Trail.

 

Beautifully Boring

 

I guess it’s human nature to assume the grass is greener elsewhere, to want what you don’t have. My youngest son is a Naval Academy grad. He flies helicopters for the Navy, training with the 5th Fleet in San Diego. Yeah, that San Diego, the city with the best climate in the USA.

 

He’s coming home for Christmas and he can’t wait to see snow again. “Dad, it’s boring out here. Every day is the same. I miss the seasons, the lakes, the people.”

 

Really?

 

I’d like to be bored for a year or two, just to sample that sensation.

 

The approach of colder air will set off a series of storms in the coming weeks. An inch or two of slush is possible Tuesday; just enough to (possibly) qualify as a white Christmas. A major Christmas Eve storm out east dumps out mostly rain, but heavy snow pinwheels into the Great Lakes and New England Christmas Day. I expect dry weather and 20s here on December 25, but latest ECMWF guidance spins up a major storm late next week. I could see a plowable snowfall next Friday into early Saturday, followed by a few subzero lows as we welcome a numbing New Year.

 

All I want for Christmas is El Nino. That, and a 3-day weekend in San Diego might cure what ails me.


Pre-Christmas Thaw. A Real Storm Next Friday? Temperatures stay at or above 32F from this afternoon into much of Wednesday before tumbling late next week. European guidance is hinting at subzero lows by the end of next week, maybe a few days with highs in single digits by the end of December. Drizzle Sunday gives way to a cold rain Monday, possibly ending as an inch or two of snow Tuesday. I don’t see any travel problems close to home Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, but next Friday may be a subtle (yet blunt) reminder that winter is still very much alive and well. Graph: Weatherspark.


Christmas Eve Coastal Storm. ECMWF (European) guidance shows an impressive storm wrapping up near Detroit by midday next Wednesday, Christmas Eve, with a trailing front pushing impressive volumes of Atlantic moisture into the east coast and New England. The atmosphere will be warm enough for rain from Boston and New York southward to Raleigh, but winds will be strong and I could see delays at many airports out east. Snowy headaches are possible from the eastern suburbs of Chicago to Detroit, Indianapolis, Columbs and Louisville on the cold, backside of this powerful storm. Map: WSI Corporation.


Hold The Presses – A Real Storm Next Friday? It’s too early to get too excited, but the latest run of the ECMWF takes a storm south of Minnesota, pushing from near Des Moines to the Quad Cities and Milwaukee, a potential storm track that favors significant snow for the Twin Cities. What can go wrong between now and then? Plenty. But make an entry in your diary: it may actually snow enough to shovel and plow next Friday. Map: WSI.


Roller Coaster Temperatures in December. Here’s an excerpt of this week’s WeatherTalk Newsletter with Dr. Mark Seeley: “…After starting the month with many sub-zero F temperature readings around the state during the first week, including a national low of -12 F at Embarrass on the 6th, many Minnesota observers reported 11-12 consecutive days with above normal temperatures and several new daily record warm minimum values and record daily warm maximum values were set over the 13th to the 15th.  In addition MSP set a new all-time record high dewpoint for so late in the month with a reading of 49 F on the 15th, that corresponds to the average dewpoint for early June or mid-September…”


Nature’s Own Tornado Detector Saves Migrating Birds, Study Finds. Is it possible (some) birds can detect the faint vibrations of a distant tornado, one that’s hundreds of miles away? I wouldn’t rule anything out after reading this story at tucson.com: “…The data showed that five of his recently returned golden-winged warblers fled their Appalachian Mountain breeding ground and winged back to the Gulf of Mexico a day or two ahead of a massive thunderstorm cell that would later spawn 84 tornadoes and kill at least 35 people. Streby, a National Science Foundation visiting research scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, thinks the birds may have been reacting to very low-frequency sound waves produced by the distant, approaching storm, according to a study published online Thursday in the journal Current Biology…”


Tipping Point Nears For “Emerging Flooding Crisis”. Sea levels are rising, that’s not a computer model, that’s reality, with is increasing the frequency of tide and storm-related coastal flooding, as reported at Climate Central – here’s an excerpt: “…Flooding has already become 10 times more likely in Baltimore and Honolulu and five times more likely in Philadelphia, Norfolk, Va., and Charleston, S.C., since 1930. That’s in large part because since the start of the 20th century, sea levels have risen by about 8 inches globally due to human greenhouse gas emissions that have caused oceans to warm and land ice to melt, swelling the seas. “It’s an emerging flooding crisis,” William Sweet, an oceanographer with NOAA who led the new report, said…”

 

Photo credit above: “Flooding on San Francisco’s Embarcadero during the 2012 King Tide.” Credit: Sergio Ruiz/Flickr.


From The Extreme To The Mean: Acceleration and Tipping Points of Coastal Inundation from Sea Level Rise. A link to the research referenced above is here.


Heart-Pounding Video Documents American Airlines Flight Turbulence. The home video is troubling, a vivid reminder of why you always want to have your seat belt fastened when you’re in a metallic tube traveling at 500+ mph. Here’s a clip from The Washington Post: “Video of the American Airlines flight that was rocked by severe turbulence on Tuesday will make your heart skip a beat, and might even convince you to keep your seat belt fastened snug on your next plane trip. American Airlines flight 280, which was on its way from South Korea to Dallas, Texas, was diverted to Tokyo on Tuesday after plane-jarring turbulence injured several people, some of whom were later hospitalized for injuries that were not life-threatening..”


The Sony Hackers Are Terrorists. Sony’s corporate security was thought to be average, and if it can happen to them, it can happen to pretty much any company out there today. Here’s an excerpt from a story at Slate: “…This is the real story. Sony Pictures’ systems were not just compromised but obliterated, with the company now sent back to what’s comparably the technological Stone Age. Because of the centrality of IT infrastructure to every aspect of a company’s functions, it’s not even clear whether Sony has the ability to pay people accurately at the moment, as its payroll system has been reportedly destroyed…”

 

Photo credit above: AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File.


The Lesson of the Sony Hack: We Should All Jump to the “Erasable Internet”. Are we moving toward the Snapchat Internet? At this point nothing would surprise me; here’s an excerpt from The New York Times: “…Because here’s the thing about the digital world that we must remember. Nothing you say in any form mediated through digital technology — absolutely nothing at all — is guaranteed to stay private. Before you type anything, just think: How will this look when it gets out? What will Angelina Jolie think if she finds out about this? If Angelina won’t like it, don’t send it. Because Angelina will find out. So will the rest of the world…”


Deloitte’s Amsterdam HQ Becomes World’s Most Sustainable Office Building. Gizmag has the details; here’s a clip: “…The building’s south façade is covered with solar panels on all surfaces that aren’t windows. In order to generate enough electricity to meet its level of consumption, though, developers OVG partnered with the University of Amsterdam and the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences to install a further 4,100 sq m (44,100 sq ft) of solar panels on the rooftops of the schools. The heating and cooling of the building is catered for in part by orienting it to benefit passively from the path of the sun and also by using an aquifer thermal energy storage system…”


The 33 Craziest Fast Foods of 2014. As Buzzfeed rightfully points out, “pray for humanity”.


 

TODAY: Cloudy with patchy fog. Winds: South 5-10. High: 33

SATURDAY NIGHT: Clouds and fog. Low: 30

SUNDAY: Fog and drizzle. Another thaw. High: 37

MONDAY: Mostly rain – wet roads. Light mix by Monday night. Wake-up: 33. High: 38

TUESDAY: Inch or two of snow? Cooling off. Wake-up: 31. High: 33

CHRISTMAS EVE: Cold wind, flurries. Risk of Santa late. Wake-up: 23. High: 29

CHRISTMAS DAY: Dry & quiet. Few peeks of sun. Wake-up: 18. High: 27

FRIDAY: Potentially plowable snow event? Wake-up: 22. High: 23 (falling)

 


Climate Stories….

 

NASA Reveals What Carbon Dioxide Looks Like From Space. Meteorologist Andrew Freedman has the article for Mashable; here’s the intro: “NASA revealed the first-ever images of the global atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, the key long-lived global warming gas. The imagery, taken over the course of three months, reveals details about springtime biomass being burned in the Southern Hemisphere, as well as photosynthesis from plants worldwide. The data comes from a new NASA satellite known as the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) that was launched on July 2 of this year…”

 

Image credit above: “Global atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations from Oct. 1 through Nov. 11, as recorded by NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2. Brighter colors show high CO2 concentrations.” Image: NASA JPL.


Op-Ed: Flood, Drought Risks Must Be Managed, With Or Without Climate Change. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Los Angeles Times: “…Climate change is increasing the risks of future droughts and floods. The sea will continue to rise, increasing flood risk along the East Coast, perhaps made worse by intensifying hurricanes. And the best science indicates that California’s wet season will become shorter and sharper. Spring drying will be exacerbated as more water is lost to evaporation into a warmer atmosphere and less is stored as winter snow…”


EPA Chief: Extreme Weather Boosting Climate Change Plan. Some Americans may still be skeptical of a man-made component to climate change, but there’s little doubt that the frequency and intensity of the extremes is increasing over time. Here’s an excerpt from USA TODAY: “Extreme weather events from typhoons to heat waves are helping make the case to Americans on the need to address climate change, the head of the EPA says, although opposition from congressional Republicans to the Obama administration’s ambitious plan remains unrelenting. “You have fires; you have droughts,” Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said in an interview with Capital Download. “People may not call it climate change,” but they feel the consequences from changing weather patterns, including on the economy. “This is about their own jobs, their own health, their own kids…”

 

Graphic above: Union of Concerned Scientists.


The People Have Spoken: This Is The Most Brazen Lie of 2014. ThinkProgress has the post; here’s the introduction: “Earlier this year, readers of the Tampa Bay Times’ fact-checking project PolitiFact were asked to vote on what they believe was the year’s biggest lie. And as of Wednesday, the results are in: “Climate change is a hoax” was the overwhelming choice. Over nine other options, almost 32 percent of the PolitiFact’s 14,467 poll voters chose the “hoax” claim, which was the title of a video released this summer by failed congressional candidate Lenar Whitney...”

Photo credit above: “Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), one of Congress’ most outspoken climate deniers, has often claimed that global warming is a hoax.” CREDIT: Office of Senator Jim Inhofe.

* The Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact article at Tampa Bay Times is here.


How Germany Banishes Climate Myths. CNN has the video and story – here’s an excerpt that caught my eye: “…Of course, doubts remain. Yet 15 years after we launched our “Energiewende” — the move away from an energy supply based on fossil and nuclear fuels — the economic impact has been broadly extremely positive: Renewable energy sources now account for nearly 30% of our electricity demands, and by 2050, our energy supply will be based almost completely on renewable sources. Indeed, the boom in environmental technologies is one of the reasons Germany made it through the economic crisis relatively unscathed...”

0

Weekend Thaw – Barely White Christmas – Numbing New Year?

21 F. high in the Twin Cities Thursday.

26 F. average high on December 18.

37 F. high on December 18, 2013.

1″ snow on the ground at KMSP.

December 18, 1983: Record lows were set across central Minnesota with temperatures ranging from fifty degrees below zero to the upper twenties below zero. Mora set their record with a low of 52 below, with 42 below at Little Falls, 41 below at Jordan, St. Cloud, and Cambridge, and 39 below at Long Prairie, Milaca, and Stillwater.

December 18, 1922: Heat wave across Minnesota. Temperatures climb into the 60′s at New Ulm.

 

Icy Paranoia

 

When I talk to older Minnesotans it’s not the snow or biting wind chill that makes them nervous. It’s ice. Falling on ice can spark debilitating injuries for young and old alike; hitting your head on icy ground can trigger concussion, even death.

 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention an older American is treated in a hospital emergency room for injuries related to a fall every 15 seconds. Falls are the leading cause of injury for adults older than 65, accounting for 95 percent of hip fractures. Every winter 1 in 3 Americans over the age of 65 will fall down.

 

Why do some Minnesotans become snowbirds and flee south for the winter? It probably has more to do with fear of ice than fear of the cold. Adequate footwear, exercises to maintain balance, and monitoring any medications that might spark dizziness can help lower the overall risk.

 

A weekend thaw melts much of the ice out there right now. A coating of snow is possible before Christmas, but this year Santa may show up in a red SUV.

 

A touch of arctic air is on tap for late December and early January, but the pattern appears “progressive”.

 

Translation: no sign of subzero air stalling for weeks on end.

 

* Photo credit: Steve Burns.


Falls Common Cause of Serious Injury, Death Among Elderly. Some of the CDC stats referenced in today’s column were from a recent article at Bangor Daily News; here’s an excerpt: “…CDC statistics show that each year, one in every three adults age 65 and older falls. Falls can cause moderate to severe injuries, including hip fractures and head injuries, and can increase the risk of early death. In 2010, 2.3 million nonfatal fall injuries among older adults were treated in emergency departments and more than 662,000 of those treated required hospitalization. Public health statistics show that 20,400 older adults died in 2009 nationwide from fall injuries, with deaths among men 34 percent higher than deaths among women...”


Nagging Snow Drought. Snow lovers aren’t terribly pleased with the state of our winter. After a promisingly cold and snowy start in November the mid-December thaw, 3 days in a row at or above 50F, has put a major dent in snowcover amounts. Thursday morning estimated snow reports courtesy of NOAA.


I’ll Be Home For Christmas – Maybe. ECMWF (European) guidance shows a major east coast storm, another nor’easter spreading soaking rains into the Mid Atlantic and New England next Wednesday, changing over to snow over central Pennsylvania and New York State. Midday Christmas Eve map courtesy of WSI.



CryoSat Records Small Decrease in Arctic Ice Volume. Here’s an excerpt from an update at Gizmag: “…Long-term satellite records show that Arctic ice volume fluctuates from season to season, but details a consistent downward trend throughout the year. The new CryoSat measurements, which were recorded in October and November 2014, show a 6.4 percent decrease in the volume of arctic sea ice, with 10,200 cubic km (6,338 cubic miles) now remaining…”


Persistent Warming Driving Big Arctic Changes. The Arctic is warming twice as fast as mid latitudes, and this is impacting not only the rate of ice loss but the configuration and speed of jet stream winds blowing high overhead. Here’s an excerpt from an update at Climate Central: “…One of those areas of importance is understanding if the drop in sea ice and rising temperatures are also steering extreme weather toward the continental U.S. and other parts of the lower latitudes. Some research has tied the rapid changes in the Arctic, known as Arctic amplification, to creating a wavier jet stream that can stall weather patterns. Jim Overland, a scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said a wavy jet stream has been in place at times for each of the past five winters and the potential for an Arctic connection is there, but the jury is still out on directly attributing it to warming in the Arctic…”


2014 Will Be The Hottest Year On Record. This news comes from Dr. John Abraham, a climate scientist at St. Thomas, via a story at The Guardian. Here’s the intro: “For those of us fixated on whether 2014 will be the hottest year on record, the results are in. At least, we know enough that we can make the call. According the global data from NOAA, 2014 will be the hottest year ever recorded. I can make this pronouncement even before the end of the year because each month, I collect daily global average temperatures. So far, December is running about 0.5°C above the average…”


Denmark Has Its Hottest Year On Record. The Local has the story – here’s a clip: “Although it is not quite over yet, 2014 has secured itself a place in the record books as both the hottest year in recorded Danish history and the first year ever to end with an average temperature in the double digits. According to meteorology institute DMI, 2014’s average temperature will end at 10.0C. The record heat is “unthinkable without climate change”, DMI spokeswoman Katrine Krogh Andersen said…”


Hotter Ocean Waters Give Typhoons A Boost. Scientific American has the story – here’s an excerpt: “Also rare for the Atlantic would be the five Category 5-strength storms that have spun up in the West Pacific this year, the most in that basin since the 10 seen in 1997, according to Steven Bowen, an associate director and meteorologist with the reinsurance group Aon Benfield. The record for Category 5 storms in a single season in the Atlantic is only four, which has only happened once, during the blockbuster 2005 season. The West Pacific, on the other hand, has averaged about three Category 5 storms a season since 2000, Bowen said…”


Drones Might Help Explain How Tornadoes Form. If, that is, you can prevent the drones from being battered by large hail, there may be something here to further the science of tornadogenesis. Here’s an excerpt from CBS Denver: “…Scientists have no other way to get instruments deep inside a storm. Drones can take measurements at any altitude up to about 2,500 feet — higher than measurements by ground stations and storm-chasing vehicles, said Adam Houston of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, co-director of the research group. They can also measure wind below 300 feet, lower than radar can reach. Drones can cover more territory than a ground-based storm chaser, and they don’t need an airport to take off or land. A drone can fly into the strong winds, downdrafts, rain and hail of a powerful storm without putting a human pilot in danger…”


NASA Analysis: 11 Trillion Gallons To Replenish California Drought Losses. NASA has the story; here’s an excerpt: “It will take about 11 trillion gallons of water (42 cubic kilometers) — around 1.5 times the maximum volume of the largest U.S. reservoir — to recover from California’s continuing drought, according to a new analysis of NASA satellite data. The finding was part of a sobering update on the state’s drought made possible by space and airborne measurements and presented by NASA scientists Dec. 16 at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco…”

 

Graphic credit above: “NASA GRACE satellite data reveal the severity of California’s drought on water resources across the state. This map shows the trend in water storage between September 2011 and September 2014.” Image Credit: NASA JPL.


Cuomo To Ban Fracking As Health Officials Call It Unsafe. Here’s the introduction to a story at Bloomberg: “The New York state Health Department said fracking for natural gas can’t be done safely, dooming prospects that Governor Andrew Cuomo will end a six-year moratorium. Acting Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said at a cabinet meeting in Albany today that studies on the extraction technique’s effects on water, air and soil are inconsistent, incomplete and raise too many “red flags” to allow…”


Why Media Shouldn’t Glorify Pennsylvania’s Fracking Industry. Media Matters takes a fair and balanced look at the pros and cons of fracking; here’s an excerpt: “…But Pennsylvania may actually be more of a testament to why New York’s health concerns surrounding fracking are warranted. Oil and gas operations have damaged Pennsylvania’s water supply over 200 times since 2007, according to an investigation by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and a recent report from the Government Accountability Office found that the state’s drinking water is at risk from poor wastewater disposal practices. One Pennsylvania town, Dimock, has been dubbed “Ground Zero” in the battle over fracking’s safety by NPR. The town has seen particularly high rates of water contamination, with a methane leak causing a resident’s backyard water well to explode, tossing aside a concrete slab weighing several thousand pounds in one instance…”


Christmas Lights Can Be Seen From Space By NASA Satellites. Good news for Santa. Here’s an excerpt from Huffington Post: “It’s not just your neighbors who can see your Christmas lights. The combined effect of holiday lights in cities and suburbs is so powerful that the difference from normal lighting conditions can be detected from space. NASA reports that satellite images show certain cities shine between 20 percent and 30 percent brighter during the holiday season. And out in the suburbs, some areas shine as much as 50 percent brighter...”


How To Be A Survivor: Flu Season 2014-2015. An article at Huffington Post has some good reminders of steps you can take to lower the risk this winter; here’s the intro: “Each year, many myths and misconceptions circulate about “flu shots.” People tend to have a variety of opinions about whether they are worthwhile and whether they actually make a difference in terms of protection against the flu. One reason for this is that the effectiveness of the flu vaccine can vary from season to season. Additionally, there are a number of factors that contribute to the likelihood that the flu vaccine will protect from the flu…”


The Top 10 Things You Can’t Have for Christmas 2014. Check out Gizmag’s list of decadent options, including a hurricane-proof tent that will make you the envy of your peers during the next BWCA camping trip: “…While it may amount to spare change compared to many of the other items on this list, €4,999.00 (US$6,730) still seems like quite an outlay for a tent. Designed specifically for the Red Bull Storm Chase windsurfing competition, Heimplanet’s 10-person Mavericks geodesic inflatable expedition tent can cop winds of up to 112 mph (180 km/h) while campers dance about (read huddle with fear) in its spacious 142 sq ft (13 sq m) interior…”


 

TODAY: Mostly cloudy, a bit milder. Winds: SE 5-10. High: 32

FRIDAY NIGHT: Cloudy, not as cold. Low: 29

SATURDAY: Thawing out. Clouds and fog linger. High: 34

SUNDAY: Clouds, fog, drizzle possible. Wake-up: 31. High: 36

MONDAY: Mix changes to wet snow. Slushy? Wake-up: 32. High: 37

TUESDAY: Light snow tapers. Coating possible. Wake-up: 31. High: 33

CHRISTMAS EVE: Colder wind, few flurries. Wake-up: 27. High: 29

CHRISTMAS DAY: Cloudy Christmas Day, chilly. Wake-up: 22. High: 27

 


Climate Stories….

 

Sea Change: The Pacific’s Perilous Turn. In case you missed the award-winning series on ocean acidification at The Seattle Times; here’s an excerpt of a sobering, in-depth look at what’s happening to the world’s oceans: “…Imagine every person on Earth tossing a hunk of CO2 as heavy as a bowling ball into the sea. That’s what we do to the oceans every day. Burning fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and natural gas, belches carbon dioxide into the air. But a quarter of that CO2 then gets absorbed by the seas — eight pounds per person per day, about 20 trillion pounds a year…”


The Snow Whisperer. What will winters in the Northeast be like 30 years from now – will there still be a viable ski industry? Here’s an excerpt of an interview at Powder Magazine: “…Because of the inertia of the climate system and the long atmospheric residence time for carbon dioxide, we are committed to warmer winters across the U.S. Northeast over the next 30 years. Overall, average winter temperatures will warm by 2 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit, there will be fewer cold days and fewer days with snow on the ground, and reduced annual snowfall. And more winter precipitation will likely fall as rain…”


Opinion: GOP Senators: Climate Skeptics? Or Deniers? No, Big Oil Lobbyists. Rule #1: don’t bite the hand that feeds, right? Flushing all that campaign cash into Washington D.C. has a way of changing how you feel, even about basic science, data and facts on the ground. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed from MarketWatch: “…Yes, Big Oil is big business in Big Jim’s Big Oklahoma. So no surprise Inhofe wrote the bible on the subject a couple years ago: “The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future.” Yes, that’s effectively the GOP election platform. So why even question Inhofe’s motivation? Old news. A ClimateProgress reviewer of “The Greatest Hoax” noted that over the years Inhofe’s received “$1,352,523 in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry, including $90,950 from Koch Industries.” And in the 2012 elections, 90% of the entire industry’s donations went to GOP candidates…”


The High Price of Cheap Oil. Great news for commuters short term, but the longer-term implications aren’t necessarily so good, according to a story at The Christian Science Monitor; here’s an excerpt: “…But, low oil prices will make it even harder to secure future oil supplies. The oil industry was already cutting back its exploration budgets before the price plunge. The industry said that there were not enough profitable prospects available even at $100 per barrel. What happens to industry exploration and development budgets with oil prices now around $60? Without exploration there can be no new production; and without new production, oil supply falls automatically…”


Climate Change Driving Fish North, Rutgers Research Shows. Here’s a clip from a story at NJ.com: “…Last week, the Rutgers team released data and charts to the public showing more than 60 species and how they migrated over the last 40 years. The average drift northward is 0.7 of a degree latitude, and 15 meters deeper in the water, Pinsky’s work found. “We’re seeing a trend of many species shifting northward and shifting deeper,” said Malin Pinsky, a marine biologist leading the Rutgers team. “It is a sea change – and it affects fisheries quite a bit…”


Research Eyes Global Warming – Extreme Weather Links. Here’s a clip from a story at Summit County Citizens Voice: “…But decision makers need to appreciate the influence of global warming on extreme climate and weather events. “If we look over the last decade in the United States, there have been more than 70 events that have each caused at least $1 billion in damage, and a number of those have been considerably more costly,” said Diffenbaugh. “Understanding whether the probability of those high-impact events has changed can help us to plan for future extreme events, and to value the costs and benefits of avoiding future global warming.”


These Cities Might Be Seeing More Power Outages, Thanks To Climate Change. Warm up the air, warm up the oceans and you wind up with more intense storms with stronger winds capable of bringing down portions of the power grid. Here’s a recap of recent research published at Climate Change, highlighted in an article at Huffington Post: “How likely is it that climate change will leave your city in the dark? Researchers at Johns Hopkins University asked just this question, analyzing which cities will be more likely to suffer from hurricane-related power outages in the future. Using historical data and a range of potential future storm scenarios, researchers created a computer model to predict which cities will likely see the greatest increases in power outage risk. Seth Guikema, associate professor at Johns Hopkins and co-author of the report, said in a press release that the information will be able to help cities make plans now to reinforce their systems...” (File photo: AP).


Most Americans Are Clueless About How Climate Change Will Affect Their Health. Here’s a snippet from a Grist article that made me do a double-take: “…Even many respondents who recognized that climate change poses health threats didn’t understand which threats were likely to affect American communities in the next 10 years. For example:

  • Allergies? Correct answer: yes. Percent who said yes: 38%
  • Asthma? Correct answer: yes. Percent who said yes: 37%
  • Heat stroke? Correct answer: yes. Percent who said yes: 36%
  • The flu? Correct answer: no. Percent who said yes: 29%
  • Depression? Correct answer: yes. Percent who said yes: 26%
  • Ebola? Correct answer: no. Percent who said yes: 22%
0

Tough Sledding – Beige Christmas – Numbing New Year

Tough Sledding

Abe Lincoln was right – it’s impossible pleasing all the people all the time. Don’t even bother trying. Good news for commuters is a tough sell for skiers and anyone trying to fire up a snowmobile.

At a recent Christmas party a friend pulled me aside. “Paul, what are the local TV meteorologists thinking? They’re calling green lawns, fog and 50 degrees in December good news. This is NOT what Minnesota is supposed to look like in late December. Where’s the snow? Stop the insanity!”

I feel your pain, Jim.

El Nino tends to detour the biggest Pacific storms south and east of Minnesota. El Nino winters are usually stormier than average from Los Angeles, Dallas, and Atlanta to New York and Boston – but drier/milder/quieter for much of the Upper Midwest. El Nino is still kicking in, and I’m seeing early symptoms on the weather maps.

The whopping inch of snow in your yard will probably melt over the weekend with highs in the 30s; a rain/snow mix on Monday – but no major storms in sight here, just a much colder surge in about 8 days.

St. Thomas climate scientist John Abraham predicts 2014 will be the warmest year, worldwide, on record; even warmer than 1998, 2005 and 2010.

* Photo above: Mike Hall.


Weekend Thaw. Temperatures climb into the mid 20s today to near freezing tomorrow, but we should see 3-4 days with temperatures (mostly) above 32F from Saturday into Tuesday of next week. A light mix Monday gives way to light snow and flurries Tuesday into Christmas Eve. White Christmas? We’ll be lucky to have an inch of snow on the ground by next Thursday.


60-Hour Accumulated Precipitation. A streak of light snow pushes across Kansas into Missouri today, while the next sloppy front pushes onto the west coast, sparking more (minor) flooding problems across California. Animation: NOAA and HAMweather.


A Numbing New Year? Our westerly wind flow aloft takes a turn to the northwest by the end of 2014, setting the stage for a spell of days in the teens and single digits, nights dipping below zero. Historically January is the coldest month of the year, and 2015 will probably be no exception. Graphic: GrADS:COLA/IGES.


Reality Check. GFS numbers show highs in the teens and single digits the last few days of December, spilling over into the first week of January. Not exactly polar-vortex-cold, but it should get our attention.


2014 Will Be The Hottest Year On Record. This news comes from Dr. John Abraham, a climate scientist at St. Thomas, via a story at The Guardian. Here’s the intro: “For those of us fixated on whether 2014 will be the hottest year on record, the results are in. At least, we know enough that we can make the call. According the global data from NOAA, 2014 will be the hottest year ever recorded. I can make this pronouncement even before the end of the year because each month, I collect daily global average temperatures. So far, December is running about 0.5°C above the average…”


The Scientific Way To Stay Warm This Winter. Mashable has an interesting article with some good tips; here’s a clip that made me realize how little I know about staying warm: “…Being well-fed — meaning consuming more calories than you’re burning — will help your body handle the cold better, according to Greenway. “It always helps to be well-fed in the backcountry when it’s cold,” he said. “This is all-important, to keep your blood sugar up enough to provide the energy you need to keep warm in a cold situation.” Staying hydrated is also key, Greenway said. “Your body will tolerate the cold much better if food and water balance are maintained...”


Hotter Ocean Waters Give Typhoons A Boost. Scientific American has the story – here’s an excerpt: “Also rare for the Atlantic would be the five Category 5-strength storms that have spun up in the West Pacific this year, the most in that basin since the 10 seen in 1997, according to Steven Bowen, an associate director and meteorologist with the reinsurance group Aon Benfield. The record for Category 5 storms in a single season in the Atlantic is only four, which has only happened once, during the blockbuster 2005 season. The West Pacific, on the other hand, has averaged about three Category 5 storms a season since 2000, Bowen said…”


National Hurricane Center to Issue New Storm Surge Watches and Warnings in 2015. Here’s a clip from a story at The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang: “…A hurricane’s surge — or ocean water inundation onto land — is the product of a number of variables, including the storm’s wind speed and direction, minimum central pressure, and the shape of the shoreline and ocean floor right off the coast. All of these factors come together to create a unique storm surge in every hurricane landfall. And historically, storm surge has been the biggest tropical cyclone killer around the world...”

Map credit above: “A prototype of the new hurricane storm surge watch and warning graphic to be issued by the National Hurricane Center beginning in 2015. Red indicates areas under a storm surge warning, and orange indicates areas under a storm surge watch.” (NOAA/NHC).


Hurricane-Forecast Satellites Will Keep Close Eye on Tropics. A new constellation of microwave-oven-size satellites in low-Earth orbit will look for signs of rapid intensification with tropical systems and help meteorologists get a jump on storms that are strengthening rapidly. Here’s an excerpt from The University of Michigan: “…Conventional weather satellites only cross over the same point once or twice a day. Meteorologists can use ground-based Doppler radar to help them make predictions about storms near land, but hurricanes, which form over the open ocean, present a tougher problem. “The rapid refresh CYGNSS will offer is a key element of how we’ll be able to improve hurricane forecasts,” said CYGNSS lead investigator Christopher Ruf, director of the U-M Space Physics Research Lab and professor of atmospheric, oceanic and space sciences. “CYGNSS gets us the ability to measure things that change fast, like extreme weather...”

Graphic credit above: “A set of eight satellites – each abou tthe size of a microwave oven – will launch in 2016 and provide scientists unprecedented information about the formation and evolution of hurricanes.” Image credit: Aaron Ridley.


Inside Beijing’s “Airpocalypse” – A City Made “Almost Uninhabitable” By Pollution. This is what happens when there’s no EPA-like entity to keep polluters in check, something  you might see in a dystopian science fiction movie, as documented by The Guardian: “…Beijing’s air quality has long been a cause of concern, but the effects of its extreme levels of pollution on daily life can now be seen in physical changes to the architecture of the city. Buildings and spaces are being reconfigured and daily routines modified to allow normal life to go on beneath the toxic shroud. Paper face masks have been common here for a long time, but now the heavy-duty kind with purifying canister filters – of the sort you might wear for a day of asbestos removal – are frequently seen on the streets…”

Photo credit above: “A man wearing mask visits Jingshan Park in the haze on February 24, 2014, in Beijing, China. Altogether 1.43 million sq km of China’s land territory, nearly 15 percent of the total, have been covered by persistent smog in recent days, according to news report.” (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images).


Brazil Olympics: Super-Bacteria Found In Rio Sea Waters. BBC has the not-so-savory details; here’s an excerpt: “Researchers in Brazil have discovered drug-resistant bacteria in the sea waters where sailing and windsurfing events will be held during the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The “super-bacteria” are usually found in hospital waste and produce an enzyme, KPC, resistant to antibiotics. Researchers found the bacteria in samples taken from Flamengo beach. Nearly 70% of sewage in Rio – a city of some 10 million people – is spilled raw into the waters of Guanabara Bay...”

File photo above: “In this Nov. 19, 2013 file photo, small boats sit on the polluted shore of Guanabara Bay in the suburb of Sao Goncalo, across the bay from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A drug-resistant “super bacteria” that’s normally found in hospitals and is notoriously difficult to treat has been discovered in the waters where Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic sailing events will be held, scientists with Brazil’s most respected health research institute said Monday, Dec. 15, 2014.” (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File).


Denmark Claims The North Pole? Not to hold Santa hostage, it seems, but for all the oily wealth under the (shrinking) ice cap. Here’s an excerpt from Quartz: “…The race for ownership of the North Pole is hotting up. After 12 years and $50 million of research, Denmark has surveyed the 2,000-kilometer-long underwater mountain range that runs north of Siberia and concluded that it is geologically attached to Greenland, the huge autonomous territory that, along with the Faroe Islands, is controlled by Denmark. (Denmark’s broader strategy on the Arctic can be found here. (pdf))…”


Christmas Lights Can Be Seen From Space By NASA Satellites. Good news for Santa. Here’s an excerpt from Huffington Post: “It’s not just your neighbors who can see your Christmas lights. The combined effect of holiday lights in cities and suburbs is so powerful that the difference from normal lighting conditions can be detected from space. NASA reports that satellite images show certain cities shine between 20 percent and 30 percent brighter during the holiday season. And out in the suburbs, some areas shine as much as 50 percent brighter...”


The Top 10 Things You Can’t Have for Christmas 2014. Check out Gizmag’s list of decadent options, including a hurricane-proof tent that will make you the envy of your peers during the next BWCA camping trip: “…While it may amount to spare change compared to many of the other items on this list, €4,999.00 (US$6,730) still seems like quite an outlay for a tent. Designed specifically for the Red Bull Storm Chase windsurfing competition, Heimplanet’s 10-person Mavericks geodesic inflatable expedition tent can cop winds of up to 112 mph (180 km/h) while campers dance about (read huddle with fear) in its spacious 142 sq ft (13 sq m) interior…”


20 F. high in the Twin Cities Wednesday.

26 F. average high on December 17.

33 F. high on December 17, 2013.

December 18, 1922: Heat wave across southern Minnesota. Temperatures rose into the 60′s at New Ulm and St. Peter.

December 18, 1917: Milaca had its fifty-ninth consecutive day with no precipitation.


TODAY: Intervals of sun, light winds. Winds: S 5. High: 25

THURSDAY NIGHT: Patchy clouds, not as cold. Low: 21

FRIDAY: Mostly cloudy and milder. High: 31

SATURDAY: More clouds and fog. PM thaw. Wake-up: 25. High: 34

SUNDAY: Winter solstice. Shortest daylight. Clouds, fog and mist lingers. Wake-up: 30. High: 37

MONDAY: Light mix, mainly wet roads. Wake-up: 32. High: 36

TUESDAY: Light snow, coating to 1 inch? Wake-up: 29. High: 33

CHRISTMAS EVE: Windy with flurries, wind chills dipping into the teens. Wake-up: 27. High: 29


Climate Stories….

Climate Change Driving Fish North, Rutgers Research Shows. Here’s a clip from a story at NJ.com: “…Last week, the Rutgers team released data and charts to the public showing more than 60 species and how they migrated over the last 40 years. The average drift northward is 0.7 of a degree latitude, and 15 meters deeper in the water, Pinsky’s work found. “We’re seeing a trend of many species shifting northward and shifting deeper,” said Malin Pinsky, a marine biologist leading the Rutgers team. “It is a sea change – and it affects fisheries quite a bit…”


Research Eyes Global Warming – Extreme Weather Links. Here’s a clip from a story at Summit County Citizens Voice: “…But decision makers need to appreciate the influence of global warming on extreme climate and weather events. “If we look over the last decade in the United States, there have been more than 70 events that have each caused at least $1 billion in damage, and a number of those have been considerably more costly,” said Diffenbaugh. “Understanding whether the probability of those high-impact events has changed can help us to plan for future extreme events, and to value the costs and benefits of avoiding future global warming.”


These Cities Might Be Seeing More Power Outages, Thanks To Climate Change. Warm up the air, warm up the oceans and you wind up with more intense storms with stronger winds capable of bringing down portions of the power grid. Here’s a recap of recent research published at Climate Change, highlighted in an article at Huffington Post: “How likely is it that climate change will leave your city in the dark? Researchers at Johns Hopkins University asked just this question, analyzing which cities will be more likely to suffer from hurricane-related power outages in the future. Using historical data and a range of potential future storm scenarios, researchers created a computer model to predict which cities will likely see the greatest increases in power outage risk. Seth Guikema, associate professor at Johns Hopkins and co-author of the report, said in a press release that the information will be able to help cities make plans now to reinforce their systems...” (File photo: AP).


Most Americans Are Clueless About How Climate Change Will Affect Their Health. Here’s a snippet from a Grist article that made me do a double-take: “…Even many respondents who recognized that climate change poses health threats didn’t understand which threats were likely to affect American communities in the next 10 years. For example:

  • Allergies? Correct answer: yes. Percent who said yes: 38%
  • Asthma? Correct answer: yes. Percent who said yes: 37%
  • Heat stroke? Correct answer: yes. Percent who said yes: 36%
  • The flu? Correct answer: no. Percent who said yes: 29%
  • Depression? Correct answer: yes. Percent who said yes: 26%
  • Ebola? Correct answer: no. Percent who said yes: 22%...”

Europe’s Record Heat Directly Tied To Climate Change. We’re still on track for 2014 being the warmest year, worldwide (land and ocean) on record, in spite of a chiller year for Minnesota and much of the eastern USA. Europe had an historically warm, wet year, as documented in this article at Climate Central; here’s an excerpt: “As 2014 comes to a close, Europe is virtually certain to lock in its hottest year in more than 500 years, and according to research by three independent teams of climate scientists, the record can be closely attributed to climate change. The three groups, from the UK, the Netherlands and Australia, each using a different method, found that Europe should best its previous heat record set in 2007, and that setting that record has been made at least 35 to 80 times more likely by the manmade rise of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere…”

Graphic credit: “Temperature anomalies across Europe for the year from January-November, as compared to the 1981-2010 average.”


Climate Change Plays Major Role In Record European Heat. Here’s more background on research demonstrating how climate change loaded the dice in favor of 2014′s record warmth across Europe, courtesy of Climate Central.


If You Don’t Accept That Climate Change Is Real, You’re Not a Skeptic. You’re A Denier. Here’s an excerpt from a story at Slate: “…Skepticism is all about critical examination, evidence-based scientific inquiry, and the use of reason in examining controversial claims. Those who flatly deny the results of climate science do not partake in any of the above. They base their conclusions on a priori convictions. Theirs is an ideological conviction—the opposite of skepticism…”


Earth’s Future? Ancient Warming Gives Ominous Peek at Climate Change. Again, it’s the rate of carbon release into the atmosphere that is historic and problematic. Here’s an excerpt from a story at NBC News: “…The rate at which carbon was being released leading up to the PETM was pretty close to the rate being released now, which is 20.9 trillion pounds (9.5 petagrams) per year, the researchers found. “We are doing some crazy things with the carbon cycle,” Bowen says. “Carbon naturally moves back and forth between rocks and the atmosphere at a steady slow rate. What we are doing by burning fossil fuels is accelerating the pace by about 30 times over the natural rate...”


The Lima Climate Deal Is Largely Voluntary. That May Be Its Biggest Strength. Here’s a clip from a story at Vox: “…Victor has long argued that UN negotiators would never be able to impose a climate plan on reluctant countries from on high. Instead, any climate deal should work from the bottom up — start with what countries are actually willing to do and slowly build from there. And that’s essentially taken in these latest climate talks. It’s not enough to avoid drastic global warming — not yet, at least. But it may be a step forward from past gridlock…”


The New Climate Denialism: More Carbon Dioxide Is A Good Thing. Yes, and while you’re at it I’d like an extra serving of mercury and carcinogins, topped off with a tasty sample of plutonium! Never let reality get int he way of a good argument. Here’s an excerpt from The Washington Post: “…And though Bezdek is an economist, not a scientist, he played one on Monday — showing a PowerPoint presentation that documented a tree growing faster when exposed to more carbon dioxide. “CO2 increases over the past several decades have increased global greening by about 11 percent,” the consultant said. Higher carbon levels in the atmosphere will boost worldwide agricultural productivity by $10 trillion over the next 35 years, he added…”

0

Rare Sunshine Sighting – Weekend Thaw – Odds Favor Brown Christmas

30 F. high in the Twin Cities Tuesday.
27 F. average high on December 16.
22 F. high on December 16, 2013.
1″ snow on the ground at KMSP.

December 16, 1996: 20 to 40 mph winds combined with recent snowfall produced blizzard like conditions for about a 36 hour period over much of the area. Whiteout conditions were common in rural and open areas. Every county road in Yellow Medicine county was impassable by the morning of the 18th. Travelers heading west were stranded in Clara City as plows were pulled off the road. Wind chills were as low as 60 degrees below zero.
December 16, 1946: Heavy snow with wind across northern Minnesota. Duluth has winds up to 62 mph.

Sun Starved

“Sometimes, flying seems too godlike to be attained by man. Sometimes, the world from above seems too beautiful, too wonderful, too distant for human eyes to see” wrote the pride of Little Falls, Minnesota, aviation icon Charles A Lindbergh. I think I’m happiest when I’m in the air, up in the weather, my problems shrinking into a miniature landscape below.

Last week I boarded a Delta flight, just to see the sun. I’m happy to report our nearest star is still intact, still shining brightly. And a rare December sunshine sighting is possible the next few days as high pressure settles overhead; lighter winds & less wind chill as temperature creep above freezing by the weekend. No more 50s are in sight, but the scrawny coating of snow in your yard may be gone by early next week.

I’m close to giving up on a white Christmas. ECMWF guidance hints at a light mix on Monday, then cooling into the 20s for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day – close to average for late December.
The rumors are true: after being pampered for the last 2 weeks 2014 will end on a numbing note. The leading edge of colder air spins up a much better chance of snow in the days leading up to New Year’s.

We’re due.


Photo credit of squall line approaching Kansas City here.



Risk of Sunshine – Weekend Thaw. Enough dry air may percolate southward out of Canada to scour away a very persistent (and depressing) layer of low stratus clouds. The sun may peek out from time to time today, again Thursday, before temperatures return to the 30s this weekend; readings above 32F from Saturday afternoon into midday Tuesday before tumbling back down to average around Christmas. A light mix or rain is possible Monday before cold exhaust behind a clipper sparks flurries on Tuesday.



Holding Pattern. Another bubble of high pressure stalls over Minnesota Thursday and much of Friday, keeping winds light with a chance of spying the sun. As that high pressure bubble drifts east winds at the surface become more southerly, luring the mercury into the 30s this weekend, possibly topping 40F Monday before cooling back down next week. The pattern isn’t ripe for major storms looking out the next week or so. NAM guidance above: NOAA.



The Scientific Way To Stay Warm This Winter. Mashable has an interesting article with some good tips; here’s a clip that made me realize how little I know about staying warm: “…Being well-fed — meaning consuming more calories than you’re burning — will help your body handle the cold better, according to Greenway. “It always helps to be well-fed in the backcountry when it’s cold,” he said. “This is all-important, to keep your blood sugar up enough to provide the energy you need to keep warm in a cold situation.” Staying hydrated is also key, Greenway said. “Your body will tolerate the cold much better if food and water balance are maintained...”


Negative Phase Of AO and NAO = Colder Fronts. The last couple of weeks the AO (Arctic Oscillation) and NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) have been strongly positive, correlating with strong west to east (zonal) winds pushing relatively mild, Pacific air into much of the USA. NOAA forecasts both AO and NAO to become strongly negative again by the end of December, meaning a higher amplitude pattern capable of pulling in much colder air. Not polar-vortex cold, but cold enough to get your attention.


Climate Model Consensus: Mild Bias First Quarter of 2015. We’ll see, and no, I wouldn’t bet the farm on a 90 day extended outlook, but most of the climate models run by NOAA CPC (Climate Prediction Center) show a mild bias for much of North America January, February and March of 2015. Only the GFDL FLOR and NASA’s GEOS5 climate models show a chilly bias east of the Rockies. Either way, El Nino should reduce the odds of an extended blocking pattern capable of creating the polar pain we enjoyed last winter.


Earth Had 7th Warmest November on Record; Still On Track For Warmest Year. Meteorologist Jason Samenow at The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang has an update; here’s an excerpt: “…After achieving its warmest August, September and October on record, the Earth’s temperature stepped back from record-setting levels in November, NOAA reports.  It was the 7th warmest November on record (dating back to 1880), but the planet remains on track to have its warmest year – though just barely. The average temperature of the oceans remained at record-setting levels in November, extending the streak of record warm seas to six straight months (May-November).  But land areas only ranked 13th warmest…”

Map credit above: “November 2014 temperatures difference from 20th century average.” (NOAA).


Heart Attacks, Strokes Surged In Hard-Hit Hurricane Sandy Counties. Stress from major weather disasters can be as deadly as the storm itself, based on new research highlighted at NJ.com; here’s an excerpt: “…In a study published last week in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the researchers said New Jersey residents in the hardest-hit counties suffered 69 additional fatal heart attacks in the two weeks after the storm compared to previous years. “This is a significant increase over typical non-emergency periods,” said lead researcher Joel N. Swerdel, an epidemiologist at the Cardiovascular Institute of New Jersey and the Rutgers School of Public Health…” (Sandy file: New Jersey Air Force Reserve, AP).


NOAA Looks To Build The Next Generation Of Hurricane Planes. TBO.com, The Tampa Tribune, has news of an RFP from NOAA for a (sturdy) new plane capable of sending back even more data; here’s an excerpt: “…But Kermit and its sister Orion, Miss Piggy, are getting long in the tooth. Each plane, which came on line in the mid-70s, has flown more than 10,000 hours and into more than 80 hurricanes. With the pounding they’ve taken, the planes are undergoing a $35 million refurbishing job to extend their service lives for another 15 to 20 years. Given that there will still be hurricanes to hunt past the year 2030, NOAA is looking to develop the next generation of Kermits and Miss Piggys. To that end, it has put out a solicitation looking for companies that can help figure out what kinds of sensors and other data-gathering equipment will be needed in the future…” (WC130 “Hurricane Hunter” aircraft photo: NOAA).


Brazil Olympics: Super-Bacteria Found In Rio Sea Waters. BBC has the not-so-savory details; here’s an excerpt: “Researchers in Brazil have discovered drug-resistant bacteria in the sea waters where sailing and windsurfing events will be held during the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The “super-bacteria” are usually found in hospital waste and produce an enzyme, KPC, resistant to antibiotics. Researchers found the bacteria in samples taken from Flamengo beach. Nearly 70% of sewage in Rio – a city of some 10 million people – is spilled raw into the waters of Guanabara Bay...”

File photo above: “In this Nov. 19, 2013 file photo, small boats sit on the polluted shore of Guanabara Bay in the suburb of Sao Goncalo, across the bay from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A drug-resistant “super bacteria” that’s normally found in hospitals and is notoriously difficult to treat has been discovered in the waters where Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic sailing events will be held, scientists with Brazil’s most respected health research institute said Monday, Dec. 15, 2014.” (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File).


Denmark Claims The North Pole? Not to hold Santa hostage, it seems, but for all the oily wealth under the (shrinking) ice cap. Here’s an excerpt from Quartz: “…The race for ownership of the North Pole is hotting up. After 12 years and $50 million of research, Denmark has surveyed the 2,000-kilometer-long underwater mountain range that runs north of Siberia and concluded that it is geologically attached to Greenland, the huge autonomous territory that, along with the Faroe Islands, is controlled by Denmark. (Denmark’s broader strategy on the Arctic can be found here. (pdf))…”

The One Word That Sums Up Everything You Need To Do To Be Happier. Hey, it’s worth a shot. Details from Time Magazine; here’s the intro: “That word is “PERMA.” It’s an acronym for:

  • Positive Emotion
  • Engagement
  • Good Relationships
  • Meaning
  • Accomplishment

Martin Seligman is a professor at the University Pennsylvania and one of the foremost experts on the study of happiness. He gave the following talk in 2011 explaining “PERMA”, the research behind it, and how we can use it to improve our lives…”


TODAY: Rare sunshine sighting? Less wind, seasonably chilly. WInds: NW 10. High: 23
WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Partial clearing late. Low: 15
THURSDAY: Few puddles of blue sky, quiet. High: 26
FRIDAY: Some sun, above average temps. Wake-up: 18. High: near 30
SATURDAY: More clouds than sun, PM thaw. Wake-up: 22. High: 34
SUNDAY: Gray, light mix possible. Wake-up: 28. High: 35
MONDAY: Light mix, mainly wet roads. Wake-up: 29. High: 39
TUESDAY: Mostly cloudy, few flurries. Wake-up: 27. High: 32

* Long range models are hinting at 20s on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, within a few degrees of average.


Climate Stories….

Earth’s Future? Ancient Warming Gives Ominous Peek at Climate Change. Again, it’s the rate of carbon release into the atmosphere that is historic and problematic. Here’s an excerpt from a story at NBC News: “…The rate at which carbon was being released leading up to the PETM was pretty close to the rate being released now, which is 20.9 trillion pounds (9.5 petagrams) per year, the researchers found. “We are doing some crazy things with the carbon cycle,” Bowen says. “Carbon naturally moves back and forth between rocks and the atmosphere at a steady slow rate. What we are doing by burning fossil fuels is accelerating the pace by about 30 times over the natural rate...”

The Lima Climate Deal Is Largely Voluntary. That May Be Its Biggest Strength. Here’s a clip from a story at Vox: “…Victor has long argued that UN negotiators would never be able to impose a climate plan on reluctant countries from on high. Instead, any climate deal should work from the bottom up — start with what countries are actually willing to do and slowly build from there. And that’s essentially taken in these latest climate talks. It’s not enough to avoid drastic global warming — not yet, at least. But it may be a step forward from past gridlock…”

The New Climate Denialism: More Carbon Dioxide Is A Good Thing. Yes, and while you’re at it I’d like an extra serving of mercury and carcinogins, topped off with a tasty sample of plutonium! Never let reality get int he way of a good argument. Here’s an excerpt from The Washington Post: “…And though Bezdek is an economist, not a scientist, he played one on Monday — showing a PowerPoint presentation that documented a tree growing faster when exposed to more carbon dioxide. “CO2 increases over the past several decades have increased global greening by about 11 percent,” the consultant said. Higher carbon levels in the atmosphere will boost worldwide agricultural productivity by $10 trillion over the next 35 years, he added…”
“CO2 increases over the past several decades have increased global greening by about 11 percent,” the consultant said. Higher carbon levels in the atmosphere will boost worldwide agricultural productivity by $10 trillion over the next 35 years, he added.

Climate Change Economics. Here’s an excerpt of a very interesting nugget from the professional statisticians over at FiveThirtyEight: “…In this paper, the researchers question that assumption and find that warmer temperatures slow economic growth. They examined how the variation in daily temperatures of U.S. counties affects income per person, controlling for other possible confounding factors in the area. They find that productivity declines 1.7 percent for every 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) increase in temperature above 59 degrees Fahrenheit. All of the effects come on weekdays, not weekends. The optimal temperature range is 48 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit, with productivity declining significantly when it’s hotter...”


Warmer Pacific Ocean Could Release Millions of Tons of Seafloor Methane. We are conducting an experiment on Earth’s cryosphere, atmosphere and oceans, and we’re not exactly sure how this will all turn out. The University of Washington has an article focused on warming seas, and the implications of warmer ocean water; here’s a clip: “…Off the West Coast of the United States, methane gas is trapped in frozen layers below the seafloor. New research from the University of Washington shows that water at intermediate depths is warming enough to cause these carbon deposits to melt, releasing methane into the sediments and surrounding water. Researchers found that water off the coast of Washington is gradually warming at a depth of 500 meters, about a third of a mile down. That is the same depth where methane transforms from a solid to a gas. The research suggests that ocean warming could be triggering the release of a powerful greenhouse gas…”

Graphic credit above: “Sonar image of bubbles rising from the seafloor off the Washington coast. The base of the column is 1/3 of a mile (515 meters) deep and the top of the plume is at 1/10 of a mile (180 meters) deep.” Brendan Philip / UW.


Past Global Warming Similar To Today’s: Size, Duration Were Like Modern Climate Shift, But In Two Pulses. Here’s an excerpt from a very interesting story at phys.org: “The rate at which carbon emissions warmed Earth’s climate almost 56 million years ago resembles modern, human-caused global warming much more than previously believed, but involved two pulses of carbon to the atmosphere, University of Utah researchers and their colleagues found. The findings mean the so-called Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum, or PETM, can provide clues to the future of modern climate change. The good news: Earth and most species survived. The bad news: it took millenia to recover from the episode, when temperatures rose by 5 to 8 degrees Celsius (9 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit)….”

The rate at which carbon emissions warmed Earth’s climate almost 56 million years ago resembles modern, human-caused global warming much more than previously believed, but involved two pulses of carbon to the atmosphere, University of Utah researchers and their colleagues found.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-12-global-similar-today-size-duration.html#jCp

The rate at which carbon emissions warmed Earth’s climate almost 56 million years ago resembles modern, human-caused global warming much more than previously believed, but involved two pulses of carbon to the atmosphere, University of Utah researchers and their colleagues found.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-12-global-similar-today-size-duration.html#jCp


A Single Word In The Peru Climate Negotiations Undermines The Entire Thing. Here’s a clip from a story by Eric Holthaus at Slate: “...In the final version of the text, developing countries largely got their way—including language referencing a temperature rise of just 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, a target so ambitious that it would likely require a single-minded global focus—but one key word related to international oversight of the emissions reductions plans was changed from “shall” to “may” at the request of China. Had the re-write not occurred, a leaked strategy document showed a coalition of some influential developing countries, including India, were prepared to scrap the entire agreement...”

* The final U.N. statement from Lima, Peru is here.

0

Record 51F Monday – Amazingly Snow-Free, Statewide, for December 16

51R. Monday’s high of 51F broke the old record of 49F set in 1923.
27 F. average high on December 15.
4 F. high on December 15, 2013.
.15″ rain fell yesterday at KMSP. St. Cloud picked up .38″ of rain.
0″ of snow on the ground at MSP International Airport. First time 0″ reported since November 9.
Trace of snow on the ground at Duluth, where .51″ of rain fell yesterday.


December 15 in Minnesota Weather History. Source: Twin Cities National Weather Service:
2000: A surface low pressure system tracked east-northeast through Iowa on the 18th and then into western Illinois during the early evening hours. Extreme south central and southeast Minnesota received 6 to 10 inches of snow, including Albert Lea with 10.5 inches, Kiester and Bixby with 6.0 inches.
1972: Fairmont had its fifteenth consecutive day with lows at or below zero degrees Fahrenheit.
1940: Snowstorm hits state. Water equivalent of the snow was 1.27 inches at Winona.

Wacko Weather

So let me get this straight. After a cold, white Thanksgiving, and a 3-day stretch of Easter-like 50s and rain in mid-December, odds now favor a cold (brownish) Christmas? No wonder we’re all so confused.

And yes, just about any other December yesterday’s precipitation would have translated into a cool half foot of snow. Not this year. Slushy exhaust at the tail-end of Monday’s storm creates a few icy patches this morning with highs stuck in the mid-20s, close to average for December 16. A dry, seasonably chilly sky lingers into Sunday. Good news for Christmas travel across the Upper Midwest.

“A day without sunshine is like, you know, night” Steve Martin said. He was onto something. The recent canopy of crud, fog and mist – coupled with the usual holiday insanity and stress – has left many of us in a deep, dark funk. The sun may peek out by Wednesday & Thursday as drier Canadian air finally breaks up a very persistent inversion.

The Winter Solstice arrives Sunday at 5:03 PM CST, the least daylight of the year – and the worst day to get a tan in the northern hemisphere.

We thaw out again early next week before a cold front swoops in Christmas Day, with highs in the teens & single digits. Ouch.


Slightly Warmer Than Average Next 9 Days. Although we won’t be flirting with 50 again anytime soon I do see another thaw Sunday into Tuesday of next week, followed by a potential temperature tumble by Christmas Day. I’m not convinced the high on December 25 will be 7F in the Twin Cities, but there’s little doubt it will cool off around Christmas. Right now I don’t see this cold surge spinning up any significant snowstorms, but a light mix is possible by Monday and Tuesday of next week.


Extended Outlook: Colder, But Not Exactly Frigid. Temperatures above 0F in late December? After last winter that seems almost reasonable. The first surge of colder air arrives around Christmas Day, a second reinforcing shot of chilly air around New Year’s Eve. The pattern looks very dry for the next 2 weeks; I see no evidence of significant snow accumulation through the end of 2014. NOAA GFS guidance.


Prevailing Jet Stream Winds December 21-25. I still don’t see any evidence of the supernaturally strong ridge of high pressure returning for western North America, which would, in turn, increase the risk of a Conga-line of cold fronts hurtling southward direct from the Arctic Circle. Whether it’s a symptom of a brewing El Nino or just natural atmospheric variability there is a tendency toward troughiness and more major Pacific storms pushing into California, with a more persistent west-northwest pattern than we saw last winter.


Shrinking Snow Pack. Winter is in reverse, at least for the next week to 10 days. Here’s the latest USA snowcover map from NOAA – which reports that the percentage of the USA (lower 48) with snow on the ground fell from 28.5% on November 15 to 27.6% yesterday. Blame (or thank) a developing El Nino warm phase in the Pacific for hijacking jet stream winds aloft and keeping them blowing more from the west than northwest in recent weeks.


Where’d The Snow Go? Snowmobilers are not happy. Neither are area ski resorts and cross-country skiers. Hockey players looking for ideal conditions on area rinks and ponds aren’t thrilled either. The snowcover map looks more like late October than mid-December. Source: NOAA.


Negative Phase Of AO and NAO = Colder Fronts. The last couple of weeks the AO (Arctic Oscillation) and NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) have been strongly positive, correlating with strong west to east (zonal) winds pushing relatively mild, Pacific air into much of the USA. NOAA forecasts both AO and NAO to become strongly negative again by the end of December, meaning a higher amplitude pattern capable of pulling in much colder air. Not polar-vortex cold, but cold enough to get your attention.


Climate Model Consensus: Mild Bias First Quarter of 2015. We’ll see, and no, I wouldn’t bet the farm on a 90 day extended outlook, but most of the climate models run by NOAA CPC (Climate Prediction Center) show a mild bias for much of North America January, February and March of 2015. Only the GFDL FLOR and NASA’s GEOS5 climate models show a chilly bias east of the Rockies. Either way, El Nino should reduce the odds of an extended blocking pattern capable of creating the polar pain we enjoyed last winter.


Earth Had 7th Warmest November on Record; Still On Track For Warmest Year. Meteorologist Jason Samenow at The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang has an update; here’s an excerpt: “…After achieving its warmest August, September and October on record, the Earth’s temperature stepped back from record-setting levels in November, NOAA reports.  It was the 7th warmest November on record (dating back to 1880), but the planet remains on track to have its warmest year – though just barely. The average temperature of the oceans remained at record-setting levels in November, extending the streak of record warm seas to six straight months (May-November).  But land areas only ranked 13th warmest…”

Map credit above: “November 2014 temperatures difference from 20th century average.” (NOAA)


NOAA Looks To Build The Next Generation Of Hurricane Planes. TBO.com, The Tampa Tribune, has news of an RFP from NOAA for a (sturdy) new plane capable of sending back even more data; here’s an excerpt: “…But Kermit and its sister Orion, Miss Piggy, are getting long in the tooth. Each plane, which came on line in the mid-70s, has flown more than 10,000 hours and into more than 80 hurricanes. With the pounding they’ve taken, the planes are undergoing a $35 million refurbishing job to extend their service lives for another 15 to 20 years. Given that there will still be hurricanes to hunt past the year 2030, NOAA is looking to develop the next generation of Kermits and Miss Piggys. To that end, it has put out a solicitation looking for companies that can help figure out what kinds of sensors and other data-gathering equipment will be needed in the future…” (WC130 “Hurricane Hunter” aircraft photo: NOAA).


Trillions and Quadrillions: Numbers Tell U.S. Energy Story. 10 years ago who would have predicted that North Dakota would become the rough equivalent of an energy superpower? Here’s an excerpt from Climate Central: “…Just as the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that the crude oil production in the U.S. is expected to continue booming even as oil prices decline, the federal government put out an interactive map showing just how production of energy of all kinds has increased over the past 20 years or so, and where those production hotspots are. For example, in 2012, the U.S. produced a total of about 79,000 trillion Btu or about 79 quadrillion btu of energy, up from about 68 quadrillion Btu in 1993. By comparison, the average U.S. household burns about 89.6 million Btu of energy each year…”

Map credit above: “The largest energy producing hotspots in the U.S. as of 2012, part of a new U.S. Department of Energy interactive map showing the growth in energy production across the U.S.”Credit: DOE.


“Sunn Light: An Artificial Sun In Your Family Room?” I am tempted to run out and buy one of these to help with my SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), but it’s a Kickstarter project – those of us who are sun-deprived will just have to be patient. Here’s an excerpt from Gizmag: “…There are two sizes of Sunn Light: the smallest measures 48.6 cm (19 in), contains a total of 240 LEDs, and outputs a maximum of 3,300 lumens, while the larger measures 60 cm (24 in), features 330 LEDs, and outputs up to 5,500 lumens. Both can be hung on a wall like a picture frame or professionally fitted, and you can install essentially as many Sunn Light units as you’d want (at least 100). Once paired with an iOS or Android device via Bluetooth, a Sunn Light detects its latitude and longitude, and mimics the natural rhythm of the sun in that area…”


15 Fun Facts About Fruitcake. Yes, how bored are you right now? For more than you EVER wanted to know about fruitcake check out this link from mental_floss; here’s a clip: “Loved or hated, but very rarely anything in between, fruitcake has long been the holiday season’s favorite neon-dotted loaf, joke, and re-gift. But in addition to being the baked good that never dies (literally—there are a couple century-old fruitcakes in existence), it has also traveled to space, become some towns’ claims to fame (“Fruitcake Capital of the World,” Home of the “Great Fruitcake Toss”), and, somewhat recently, suddenly gave an 89-year-old woman a brand new career…”


The 4 Stages of Life. No explanation required.


TODAY: AM slushy roads – slick spots, clouds linger with a cold wind. Feels like 10F. WInds: NW 10-20. High: 25
TUESDAY NIGHT: Partial clearing, colder. Low: 15
WEDNESDAY: Rare sunshine sighting? Less wind. High: 23
THURSDAY: Peeks of sun, chilly and dry. Wake-up: 14. High: 26
FRIDAY: Mostly cloudy, good travel weather. Wake-up: 17. High: near 30
SATURDAY: More clouds than sun, no drama. Wake-up: 20. High: 32
SUNDAY: Still gray, with a welcome PM thaw. Wake-up: 22. High: 33
MONDAY: Cloudy, breezy and milder. Wake-up: 29. High: 38


Climate Stories….

Warmer Pacific Ocean Could Release Millions of Tons of Seafloor Methane. We are conducting an experiment on Earth’s cryosphere, atmosphere and oceans, and we’re not exactly sure how this will all turn out. The University of Washington has an article focused on warming seas, and the implications of warmer ocean water; here’s a clip: “…Off the West Coast of the United States, methane gas is trapped in frozen layers below the seafloor. New research from the University of Washington shows that water at intermediate depths is warming enough to cause these carbon deposits to melt, releasing methane into the sediments and surrounding water. Researchers found that water off the coast of Washington is gradually warming at a depth of 500 meters, about a third of a mile down. That is the same depth where methane transforms from a solid to a gas. The research suggests that ocean warming could be triggering the release of a powerful greenhouse gas…”

Graphic credit above: “Sonar image of bubbles rising from the seafloor off the Washington coast. The base of the column is 1/3 of a mile (515 meters) deep and the top of the plume is at 1/10 of a mile (180 meters) deep.” Brendan Philip / UW.


Past Global Warming Similar To Today’s: Size, Duration Were Like Modern Climate Shift, But In Two Pulses. Here’s an excerpt from a very interesting story at phys.org: “The rate at which carbon emissions warmed Earth’s climate almost 56 million years ago resembles modern, human-caused global warming much more than previously believed, but involved two pulses of carbon to the atmosphere, University of Utah researchers and their colleagues found. The findings mean the so-called Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum, or PETM, can provide clues to the future of modern climate change. The good news: Earth and most species survived. The bad news: it took millenia to recover from the episode, when temperatures rose by 5 to 8 degrees Celsius (9 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit)….”

The rate at which carbon emissions warmed Earth’s climate almost 56 million years ago resembles modern, human-caused global warming much more than previously believed, but involved two pulses of carbon to the atmosphere, University of Utah researchers and their colleagues found.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-12-global-similar-today-size-duration.html#jCp

The rate at which carbon emissions warmed Earth’s climate almost 56 million years ago resembles modern, human-caused global warming much more than previously believed, but involved two pulses of carbon to the atmosphere, University of Utah researchers and their colleagues found.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-12-global-similar-today-size-duration.html#jCp


A Single Word In The Peru Climate Negotiations Undermines The Entire Thing. Here’s a clip from a story by Eric Holthaus at Slate: “...In the final version of the text, developing countries largely got their way—including language referencing a temperature rise of just 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, a target so ambitious that it would likely require a single-minded global focus—but one key word related to international oversight of the emissions reductions plans was changed from “shall” to “may” at the request of China. Had the re-write not occurred, a leaked strategy document showed a coalition of some influential developing countries, including India, were prepared to scrap the entire agreement...”

* The final U.N. statement from Lima, Peru is here.


We Could See More And More “Hot Droughts” Like California’s. Here’s an excerpt from an interesting read at FiveThirtyEight: “…But it’s not merely low precipitation levels that make the current drought extraordinary, Griffin said. It’s also exceptionally hot temperatures. California’s dry spell qualifies as a “hot drought,” where high temperatures evaporate whatever moisture is trying to make its way into the soil. The researchers calculated that record-high temperatures may have exacerbated drought conditions by about 36 percent. (The chart [above] is based on California temperature data from NOAA.)…”


“Climate Change” or “Global Warming?” Two New Polls Suggest Language Matters. Here’s an excerpt from a blog post at Scientific American: “...Several academic studies have attempted to measure whether there is a difference in how we perceive or respond to “climate change” and “global warming” with mixed results. Poll responses can also be influenced by where a question appears in a survey and several other factors. Still, we do know Democrats and Republicans certainly use these terms differently….”


China’s Glaciers Shrink By 18 Percent In Half Century. China’s media outlet, Xinhua, has the story – here’s the introduction: “China’s glaciers have retreated by about 7,600 square km, an 18 percent retreat since the 1950s, Chinese scientists have found. A survey using remote sensing data between 2006 and 2010 showed China had 48,571 glaciers covering 51,840 square km in the west region, according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), which released its second catalog of the country’s glaciers on Saturday. An average of 243.7 square km of glacial ice had disappeared every year over the past half century, according to the survey by the CAS Cold and Arid Regions Research Institute…”


How The “War on Coal” Went Global. Politico has the story – here’s a snippet: “…Just a few years ago, domestic producers had high hopes for selling coal to energy-hungry Asia, but prices in those markets are plummeting now amid slowing demand and oversupply, ceding much of the market space to cheaper coal from nations like Indonesia and Australia. Meanwhile, a lot of U.S. coal can’t even get out of the country, thanks to greens’ success in blocking proposed export terminals in Washington state and Oregon. And China, the world’s most voracious coal customer, just pledged to cap its use of the fuel and is promising to curb its greenhouse gas pollution…”


Whaaat? 20 Percent of Americans Still Don’t Believe in Global Warming. I’m not a fan of the word “believe”, as if there’s something subjective to talk about here. It’s more acknowledging the mountains of scientific evidence, and avoiding conspiracy theories. Here’s a clip from Fusion which provides a little perspective: “…Some experts suggest that most global warming or climate change deniers cannot or will not accept scientific findings because of closely held ideological or religious beliefs. It’s also worth pointing out that 36 percent of Americans believe in UFOs, and that 15 percent of U.S. voters say the government or the media adds mind-controlling technology to TV broadcast signals…”


Climate Change Takes a Village. Huffington Post has the article; here’s an excerpt: “…The remote village of 563 people is located 30 miles south of the Arctic Circle, flanked by the Chukchi Sea to the north and an inlet to the south, and it sits atop rapidly melting permafrost. In the last decades, the island’s shores have been eroding into the sea, falling off in giant chunks whenever a big storm hits. The residents of Shishmaref, most of whom are Alaska Native Inupiaq people, have tried to counter these problems, moving houses away from the cliffs and constructing barriers along the northern shore to try to turn back the waves. But in July 2002, looking at the long-term reality facing the island, they voted to pack up and move the town elsewhere…” (File image of Shishmaref: NOAA).

0