A Few Slushy Inches on Lawns – Mainly Wet Roads

This is how we thin the herd in Minnesota. So, do you REALLY want to live here? Let’s see how your coping skills have evolved. It’s worth remembering we don’t get earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis or lava.

According to the local National Weather Service only 3 of the last 20 Octobers have seen measurable snow, for a total of 3.5 inches. Some towns west of the MSP metro will pick up 2-5 inch amounts today; mainly on lawns & fields.

Ground temperatures are still mild, so snow will melt on contact for a time. And air temperatures above 32F will keep most roads wet until tonight, when the mercury dips below freezing. A rain/snow mix could mean less than an inch east of St. Paul, while far western suburbs of Minneapolis pick up 2-4 inches of slushy fun.

Does it mean this winter will be severe, Paul? Not necessarily. My hunch: more snow and cold than last year, but probably not an extreme “polar vortex” winter, similar to what we endured 4 years ago.

Any slush should be gone by Sunday as 40s return, but Halloween looks chilly and dry with Trick or Treat temperatures near 40F.

European Solution. ECMWF guidance is similar to NOAA’s models, showing the heaviest snow bands setting up over the western suburbs of the Twin Cities, as much as 5″ from St. Cloud to Brainerd, maybe 8-10″ for the North Shore. There will be some melting with relatively warm ground temperatures, but a plowable snow is expected for parts of central and northern Minnesota. Map: WeatherBell.

GFS Solution. NOAA’s Global Forecast System prints out some 2″ amounts across the metro, closer to 4″ toward Willmar and Alexandria.

3km NAM Solution. The high-resolution NAM/WRF weather model prints out 3-4″ amounts for much of the  metro into central Minnesota; lesser amounts east of the St. Croix.

November Comes Early. Temperatures run 10-15F colder than average into the first week of November; readings more typical of Thanksgiving than Halloween. ECMWF guidance for the Twin Cities: WeatherBell.


Minnesota: Relatively Safe from Natural Disasters. GoMN reports on a little bit of good news: “The forest fires in California and the devastating hurricanes that hit Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico have cost billions of dollars in damage and put natural disaster preparation back in the spotlight. But Twin Citians at least can sleep easy, as they live in one of the metro areas least at risk from natural disasters. That’s the finding of ranking website Sperling’s Best Places, which identified the Top 10 Safest Cities from disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding and earthquakes. Sperling’s analysis weighed eight risk factors by severity and frequency of the threat, with tornadoes and hurricanes considered the biggest threat, followed by flooding and earthquakes, then drought, hail, wind and wildfires. The Twin Cities ranked 7th safest on the list, which was topped by Portland, Seattle and Salt Lake City…”
Map credit: Sperling’s Best Places.

Deep Impact of Flood Insurance. A post at Realtor Magazine caught my eye: “...Unfortunately, large numbers of uninsured Houston-area residents, as well as those in Florida, Puerto Rico, and other devastated areas, are facing bleak prospects for repairing or rebuilding their homes. Especially vulnerable are those who reside in areas outside of designated flood zones, which are increasingly affected by extreme weather. Stronger storms are bringing more widespread devastation, yet a long-term reauthorization of the NFIP remains in limbo. In September, Congress extended the program, which provides flood insurance policies to 5 million property owners, through Dec. 8. But such a short-term fix gives little certainty to owners who may lose access to any insurance option if the NFIP lapses. A growing number of private insurers are offering flood policies, but not in every state...”

Biggest Wave Ever on the Great Lakes. Wind gusts up to 77 mph on the U.P. of Michigan with waves as high as 29 feet? Bill Steffen at WOOD-TV explains: “Very strong winds in Upper Michigan downed trees and powers lines, leaving thousands of customers without power.  The Alger Co. Sheriff is urging residents to stay home.  A man and women got swept off Black Rocks by the waves of Lake Superior on Tuesday afternoon around 1:35 p.m. The U.S. Coast Guard helicopter from Traverse City has arrived in the area to assist with the rescue operation.  Marquette City Police have advised that anyone who attempts to go out to Presque Isle Island could be arrested.  Several shelters have been opened to aid those without power…”
Frequency of Extreme Summertime Heat Seen Rising Across U.S. Reuters reports: “Nearly two-thirds of Americans, mostly in Western states and on the Eastern seaboard, have endured more days of extreme summer heat over the past 10 years than in previous decades, a leading environmental group said in a study unveiled on Tuesday…The study, issued by the Natural Resources Defense Council, identified 21 states and the District of Columbia as being the hardest hit. In each one, at least 75 percent of residents now face more than nine summer days in which temperatures are higher than the top 10 percent hottest days of June through August during the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s, according to the report...”
Map credit: Natural Resources Defense Council.

Report: Drought is “Misery in Slow Motion”: From Climate Nexus Hot News: “Worldwide droughts destroy enough food crops to feed 81 million people each day for a year, according to new research. A new report from the World Food Bank calls droughts “misery in slow motion,” finding that deadly droughts are four times more costly for economies than floods. The report also lists several examples of the devastating impacts of drought, including increased deforestation as farmers expand crop area and fewer opportunities and more health problems for women born during drought. Climate change helps to drive several factors that can lead to severe drought. “This is not a problem for the future — it’s a problem for the here and now.” lead author Richard Damania told CBS.” (The Guardian, CBS, Thomson Reuters Foundation. Background: Climate Signals on drought risk)
File photo: Associated Press.
Hurricane Season 2017: “What Just Happened?” Here’s an excerpt of a good summary at Grist: “…Since the beginning of the season, Klotzbach has been obsessively keeping track of the storms in a way, he says, that straddles the line of work and hobby. And he’s compiled a lot of records. Here are a few, by his count, as of October 15:

  • 2017 ranks among the highest in terms of number of major hurricanes, with six achieving Category 3 (111-plus mph winds) or higher. The record since record-keeping began in 1851 is seven. (Though keep in mind we’ve only been tracking hurricanes with satellites since the 1970s, so the early records likely aren’t very comprehensive.)
  • 2017 had 19.25 days with a major named storm in the Atlantic, the sixth-highest number of such days.
  • 2017 is the seventh highest for accumulated cyclone energy in the Atlantic.
  • Here’s the entire record sheet compiled by Klotzbach...”

Image credit: NOAA, NASA.

Graphic credit: Philip Klotzbach.

Down Hundreds of Staff, Weather Service “Teetering on the Brink of Failure”, Labor Union Says. The Capital Weather Gang has the post: “After the onslaught of devastating hurricanes and wildfires, the United States is enduring one of its most costly years for extreme weather.  A near-record 16 separate billion-dollar weather disasters have ravaged the nation. Meanwhile, the National Weather Service workforce is spread razor thin, with hundreds of vacant forecast positions. The National Weather Service Employees Organization, its labor union, said the lack of staff is taking a toll on forecasting operations and that the agency is “for the first time in its history teetering on the brink of failure.” Managers are being forced to scale back certain operations, and staff are stressed and overworked. “It’s gotten so bad that we’re not going to be able to provide service that two years ago we were able to provide to public, emergency managers and media,” said Dan Sobien, the president of the union. “We’ve never been in that position before…”

How Trump is Crippling Storm Forecasting Just When It’s Getting Good. New times and an apparent uptick in extreme weather events calls for new techniques and technologies just to keep up, argues Eric Holthaus at Rolling Stone: “…The president’s budget proposal would slash the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s budget by 16 percent, including 6 percent from the National Weather Service. Besides hampering climate research, the cuts would jeopardize satellite programs and other forecasting tools – as well as threaten the jobs of forecasters themselves. And they may undermine bipartisan legislation Trump himself signed earlier this year that mandates key steps to improve the nation’s ability to predict disasters before they happen. It’s hard to overstate how backward that seems after the hurricane season we’ve just witnessed, as well as the deadly wildfires in California, the climate-charged droughts and deluges and, well, you name it. Just when we need forecasting to be better than ever – and need our forecasters to be able to go even further, using those predictions in ways that protect people’s lives and livelihoods – the Trump administration wants to cut back?…”
Hurricane Harvey file photo: NASA’s International Space Station.
Atlantic Hurricanes Wipe Out Reinsurers’ Profits in Europe. The New York Times reports.
Same Lake, Unequal Rates. Why are some of the poorest neighborhoods in the Chicago area paying more for the (same) water from Lake Michigan? Here’s an excerpt from The Chicago Tribune: “Lake Michigan water rates have been surging throughout the Chicago region in recent years, squeezing low-income residents and leaving them with little, if any, recourse, a Tribune analysis shows. In this tangled network that delivers water to the vast majority of the region’s residents, the Tribune found an upside-down world, one where people in the poorest communities pay more for a basic life necessity than those in the wealthiest. And the financial pain falls disproportionately on majority-African-American communities, where residents’ median water bill is 20 percent higher for the same amount of water than residents pay in predominantly white communities, the Tribune’s examination revealed...”
Photo credit: Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune.

Forest Fires Stoke Record Loss in World Tree Cover: Monitor. Reuters has the details: “Forest fires in Brazil and Indonesia contributed to a record loss in global tree cover in 2016, equivalent to the size of New Zealand, that could accelerate deforestation blamed for climate change, an independent forest monitoring network said on Monday. Man-made global warming increased the risks of wildfires by adding to extreme heat and droughts in some regions, according to Global Forest Watch (GFW). This year, California and Portugal have been among places suffering deadly blazes. The combination of forest fires with land use change and climate change could speed destruction in areas like the Amazon and contribute to emissions of carbon dioxide, one of the gases that contribute to global warming, the report said...”

File photo credit: “Police and a fire fighter from a local forestry company try to extinguish a forest fire in the village in Rokan Hulu regency, Riau province, Sumatra, Indonesia August 28, 2016 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Picture taken August 28, 2016.” Antara Foto/Rony Muharrman/via REUTERS.

Electric Cars Emit 50% Less Greenhouse Gas Than Diesel, Study Finds. The Guardian reports: “Electric cars emit significantly less greenhouse gases over their lifetimes than diesel engines even when they are powered by the most carbon intensive energy, a new report has found. In Poland, which uses high volumes of coal, electric vehicles produced a quarter less emissions than diesels when put through a full lifecycle modelling study by Belgium’s VUB University. CO2 reductions on Europe’s cleanest grid in Sweden were a remarkable 85%, falling to around one half for countries such as the UK. “On average, electric vehicles will emit half the CO2 emissions of a diesel car by 2030, including the manufacturing emissions,” said Yoann Le Petit, a spokesman for the T&E think tank, which commissioned the study…”

Tesla Turns Power Back on at Children’s Hospital in Puerto Rico. Here’s an excerpt from NPR: “Tesla has used its solar panels and batteries to restore reliable electricity at San Juan’s Hospital del Niño (Children’s Hospital), in what company founder Elon Musk calls “the first of many solar+battery Tesla projects going live in Puerto Rico.” The project came about after Puerto Rico was hit by two devastating and powerful hurricanes in September, and Musk reached out about Tesla helping. Musk’s company announced its success in getting the hospital’s power working again less than three weeks after Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello tweeted on Oct. 6, “Great initial conversation with @elonmusk tonight. Teams are now talking; exploring opportunities...”

Xcel Energy Adding 175 New Wind Turbines. Associated Press picks up the story: “Xcel Energy is adding to its wind power. The utility company is partnering with Wanzek Construction of West Fargo to build a wind farm in Dickey County and another in Iowa with some turbines located in Minnesota. Construction of the Foxtail Wind Farm in Dickey County is planned for 2018. The Freeborn Wind Farm, mainly in Iowa, will begin construction in 2020. The 175 wind turbines together will deliver 350 megawatts of power. KVRR-TV reports Xcel Energy hopes to build and acquire 1,850 megawatts of new wind energy in the Upper Midwest by 2022...”
File image: Star Tribune.
These Are The Fastest Growing Jobs in the U.S. Bloomberg has the story: “Home health aides, statisticians, solar-panel installers and software developers are among the 15 fastest-growing occupations in the U.S. and reflect the needs of an aging population, a shift to clean energy and employer demand for science, technology and math talent. The number of solar photovoltaic installers — responsible for installing systems on roofs or other structures, and earning a median annual wage of $39,240 in 2016 — is projected to more than double from 2016 to 2026, according to data from the Labor Department’s biennial employment projections released Tuesday…”
Eugene Shoemaker Is Still the Only Man Buried on the Moon. I had no idea, but a story at Atlas Obscura set me straight: “…On January 6, 1998, NASA’s Lunar Prospector blasted off for the south pole of the moon, looking for ice, and carrying an ounce of Shoemaker’s ashes. According to a memorial website set-up by Porco, the ashes were carried in a polycarbonate capsule provided by Celestis. It had been wrapped in a piece of brass foil, laser-etched with his name and dates over an image of the Hale-Bopp Comet; an image of Arizona’s Meteor Crater, where he had trained the Apollo astronauts; and a quote from Romeo and Juliet. On July 31, 1999, the mission ended when NASA deliberately crashed the craft on the surface of the moon, taking Shoemaker with it, and making him the first and only person to be buried off-world…”
Image credit: “An artist’s rendition of the Lunar Prospector orbiter.” NASA/Public Domain
Air Force Plays Grinch, Briefly Denying Existence of Santa Claus. CNN breaks the news: “The US Air Force shattered the magic of Christmas for millions of children Wednesday by publicly denying the existence of Santa Claus on its official Twitter account, before eventually retracting the controversial statement. A full two months ahead of the winter holiday, the Air Force invoked Santa Claus — a magical figure who runs a toy factory from the North Pole — in an attempt to mediate a Twitter feud between two of its bases. Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri and Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota had been trading barbs over the merits of their respective fleets when the official Air Force Twitter account stepped in with a stern warning. “We didn’t want to have to do this, but if you 2 can’t get along we must…Santa will bring you nothing this year…becuase [sic] he isn’t real!…”

58 F. maximum temperature yesterday in the Twin Cities.
53 F. average high on October 26.
46 F. high on October 26, 2016.
October 27, 1943: Residents would describe this event as ‘one of the worst fogs in the Twin Cities in memory’. A very dense area of fog blanketed the area. In the thickest fog, street lights could not be seen 25 yards away. Drivers refused to cross unmarked railroad crossings and traffic was brought to a standstill.
October 27, 1931: An intense area of low pressure moves into the Duluth area. The barometer falls to 29.02 inches.

TODAY: Mix changes to mostly snow. Couple slushy inches expected, less east metro. 2-5″ possible far western metro into central Minnesota. Winds: N 15-30. High: 38
FRIDAY NIGHT: Flurries taper; many wet roads will become icy. Low: 28

SATURDAY: Slick start? Partly sunny, drying out. Winds: NW 8-13. High: near 40

SUNDAY: Milder with increasing clouds. Winds: SW 10-15. Wake-up: 30. High: 46

MONDAY: Colder wind, few flakes. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 33. High: near 40

TUESDAY: Peeks of sun, a chilly (but dry) Halloween expected. Winds: SW 7-12. Wake-up: 29. High: 42

WEDNESDAY: Light rain or mix possible. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 31. High: 44

THURSDAY: Flurries taper, feels like November. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 30. High: 41
Climate Stories…
Was the Extreme 2017 Hurricane Season Driven by Climate Change? Scientific American looks at what, if any, role warming oceans are playing with storm frequency and intensity: “…Many experts are confident that a warmer world will create stronger storms—and already is doing so. Since 1981 the maximum wind speed of the most powerful hurricanes has risen, according to research (pdf) by Jim Elsner, a climatologist at The Florida State University. That’s because higher ocean heat provides more energy for storms, fueling their intensity. Hurricane Patricia, in 2015, set the record at the time for top wind speed—215 miles per hour—in the north Atlantic. The next year Winston shattered records as the most intense cyclone in the Southern Hemisphere. The dynamic between storms and warming oceans occurs in part because of the role hurricanes play in our climate system: they rebalance Earth’s heat. The storms remove heat from tropical oceans in the form of moisture and pump the heat up into the atmosphere, where heat is redistributed and radiated out into space...”
September 24 Hurricane Maria file image: Praedictix and AerisWeather.
Rising Seas Are Flooding Virginia’s Naval Base, and There’s No Plan to Fix It. Seas are warming and rising; that’s not a climate model, but based on actual observations. InsideClimate News explains the challenges the U.S. Navy is facing: “…Once or twice a month, seawater subsumes steam lines that run along the bottom of the piers where the fleet’s ships are moored. It bubbles up through storm drains and closes roads. “It can actually shut down operations, or make it very difficult for people to get around,” Bouchard said. Climate change poses an immediate threat to Norfolk. The seas are rising at twice the global average here, due to ocean currents and geology. Yet while the region is home to the densest collection of military facilities in the nation, the Pentagon has barely begun the hard work of adaptation. A detailed study in 2014 by the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center identified about 1.5 feet of sea level rise as a “tipping point” for the base that would dramatically increase the risk of serious damage to infrastructure. But there is no plan to address this level of rise, which scientists expect within a few decades. The city of Norfolk, which surrounds the base, is also under siege. Sections of the main road that leads to the base become impassable several times a year. Some residents check tide charts before leaving for work or parking their cars for the night…”

Photo credit: “The water was a foot and a half lower when the naval station was established at Norfolk. Today, parts of the base are close to sea level.” Credit: U.S. Navy.

Climate Change Journalist Warns: “Mother Nature Is Playing by Different Rules Now”. Here’s an excerpt of an interview with Jeff Goodell at NPR: “…We’ve seen – in 2012 there was a record ice melt up there. And, you know, we’re seeing acceleration of the glaciers in Greenland. But ice physics is very complex and, you know, scientists up until recently sort of had this idea that they could calculate how fast a big ice sheet like Greenland can melt and have a good idea of what sea level rise rates might be like in the future. But recently, a lot of attention is being focused in West Antarctica, especially this couple of glaciers there called Thwaites and Pine Island Glacier where the real problem is that you have a warming ocean – the ocean absorbs a lot of the heat of – as the atmosphere warms. And that warming ocean is getting underneath the ice sheets there, and that can cause big problems because you have melting from below. And one of the things that scientists are figuring out is that you can calculate to a pretty good degree how fast an ice sheet will melt, but calculating how fast it can collapse is a whole a different thing. And some of the ice sheets in West Antarctica are a mile or two high. And if the water gets underneath them and they start to collapse, that could mean very rapid sea level rise...”
Should States Rely on Nuclear Power to Combat Climate Change? Here’s the intro of an interview at PBS NewsHour: “As older nuclear energy plants approach retirement or are threatened by closure, states worried about climate change are figuring out whether to keep them running. While they are cleaner for the environment, they are radioactive and significantly more expensive than fossil fuels. NewsHour Weekend’s Christopher Booker reports on the debate from New York…”
Climate Change Will Bring Major Flooding to New York Every 5 Years. The Atlantic reports on new research highlighting The Big Apple’s vulnerabiliity to rising seas: “New York is a city on the water. For hundreds of years, its rivers and harbor have worked to its advantage, bringing it speedy transportation and pleasant temperatures. The next couple hundred years may not be as smooth sailing. Global warming, caused by the release of carbon-dioxide pollution into the atmosphere, will cause the seas to rise and the storms to intensify around the city. A new study from an all-star list of climate scientists attempts to estimate how a few of climate change’s symptoms—higher seas, large storm surge, and more intense hurricanes—will intersect in New York over the next 300 years...”
Photo credit: “Joseph Leader, the vice president of the New York MTA, inspects a flooded escalator down to a subway platform in the days after Hurricane Sandy.” Mike Segar / Reuters.
Murkowski’s Message at AFN: “Climate Change is Real”. Alaska Public Media reports: “On stage at the Alaska Federation of Natives convention Saturday, Sen. Lisa Murkowski did not mince words.Climate change is real,” Murkowski told the audience firmly. “Climate change is real.” Murkowski wasn’t the only one delivering that message. Climate change was very much on the agenda this year, as delegates passed a resolution asking the federal government to make climate impacts in rural villages eligible for disaster relief. Murkowski opened her speech Saturday with a discussion of healthcare, but quickly pivoted. “While healthcare has been the issue that has been dominating our days, it isn’t the issue that is defining our time,” Murkowski said. “Our world is changing. The world around us is changing: socially, economically, and ecologically. And we all know that climate change is at the heart of this change...”