Thursday, November 20, 2014

Historic Buffalo Lake Effect Snow - Cold Turkey for Central Minnesota This Year


Cold Turkey

Think of the 7-Day as good incentive to bulk up to your winter weight. Go for that extra slice of pumpkin pie! What I lack in warmth & sunlight I plan to make up for in sugar and cool calories.
Welcome to the 11th day in a row below freezing; typical for January - a bit unusual for November. No match for 1874-75, when the Twin Cities enjoyed 83 days in a row colder than 32F. Ouch.
A few friends are freaking out, huddled in their weather bunkers, expecting another winter identical to last year. It may be more prayer than prediction but I still think we'll see more variability, more swings in temperature.

El Nino appears to be strengthening in the Pacific, increasing the odds of milder air pushing into the western half of the USA from time to time, reducing the odds of another perpetual polar vortex blocking pattern similar to last winter.

Place your bets.

We finally thaw out Saturday. Rain stays to our east on Sunday - a snowy coating Monday. The risk of snow on Thanksgiving has dropped off a bit; there may be too much cold air pushing the storm track well south of Minnesota. A cold smack late next week gives way to 30s, even a few 40s the first week of December.

Get ready for some BIG ups and downs over the next 3+ months.

Serious Lake Effect. This brief time lapse of the snow squalls rolling across the south side of Buffalo is pretty amazing. I can't recall ever seeing such a sharp cut-off, almost resembling the edge of a line of severe summer T-storms. Details via Facebook: "This may be the coolest thing you see all week. Video from downtown Buffalo looking south toward the monster lake effect snow band over Lake Erie." (Courtesy: Joseph De Benedictis and Jason Holler).

Snowstorm Again Pounds Western New York. Here's an excerpt of an update from The New York Times: "...The snow fell so fast that it quickly packed into a solid mass, making plowing impossible. The only option is to use heavy machinery to pick up snow and haul it away, a slow, grinding effort. But unlike a typical winter storm, the snow caused by the “lake effect” — in which cold, dry winds sweep across bodies of warmer lake water — was not felt equally across the region. The divide was so stark that someone on a tall building in downtown Buffalo had clear skies overheard but could see a menacing gray wall of moisture and snow swept up off the lake and driven south..."

Unraveling The Mysteries of Deadly "Firehose" Lake Effect Snow Events. Every lake effect snow event is different, but what are the ingredients that go into historic snowfalls? Are lake effect snows downwind of Erie and Ontario some of the heaviest on earth? Andrew Freedman has a fascinating story at Mashable; here's an excerpt: "...Jim Steenburgh, a meteorology professor at the University of Utah, said the Buffalo storm's first round confirms some of what he and his colleagues observed in high-resolution last year. These storms can have a “structure that’s really incredible… a structure that you sometimes see with severe thunderstorms,” he told Mashable. From Tuesday through Wednesday, the narrow band of heavy snow that targeted towns such as West Seneca, New York, on Tuesday night, was barely 15 miles wide but more than 100 miles long. In chilling photographs, it resembled a wall of snow more closely akin to a broiling dust storm than a snow squall..."
 
Image credit above: "Radar imagery from the Doppler on Wheels (DOW) mobile radar, operated by the Center for Severe Weather Research, collected during the NSF-sponsored OWLeS project. Left panel is radar reflectivity (length scale is added); Right panel is Doppler velocity. Arrows show location of small vortices. X marks location of radar." Image: Karen Kosiba/CSWR.


Global Warming Is Probably Boosting Lake Effect Snows. Here's an excerpt of an excellent article from meteorologist Eric Holthaus at Slate, showing how a gradual warming trend (and less ice cover) is creating conditions more favorable for more lake effect snows: "...Another massive early-season lake-effect event occurred in Buffalo back in October 2006, when Lake Erie water temperatures were even warmer than they were this week. Almost a million people lost power. Lake Erie is warming (along with the rest of the planet) by a steady but measurable amount. Since 1960 that trend has been about a half of a degree Fahrenheit per decade. More important than this, though, Lake Erie has been losing its ability to freeze over in the winter, with a decline of about one sub-freezing day per year in recent decades..."

* graphic above from a 2003 paper by Burnett, et all available via PDF here.

Weekend Thaw, Then (Very) Cold Turkey. Although not as cold as January or February, temperatures dip into the teens again late next week with a chance of subzero lows Friday morning. Make the most of 40F warmth Sunday (the best chance of rain stays east of Minnesota, but a little drizzle or very light rain is possible). A coating of snow is possible Monday, maybe an inch or two of powder Wednesday as a reinforcing clipper arrives. Behind that next swirl of low pressure temperatures tumble in time for a brisk shopping experience on Black Friday.

Lake Effect Fire-Hose Shuts Off, For Now. Residents of Buffalo are pleading for mercy, and icy winds begin to ease a bit today and Friday; in fact temperatures rise into the 50s by Monday across western New York, sparking flooding concerns. A Pacific storm spreads heavy snow into the higher terrain of Washington state, Idaho, Montana and Utah's Wasatch Range within 36-48 hours. Source: NOAA and HAMweather.

Southern Surge. Soaking rains push across northern California and much of the Pacific Northwest, another developing storm sending a streak of heavy rain from Texas right up the Mississippi River Valley toward Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan over the weekend. 4 km NAM guidance: NOAA and HAMweather.

Freezing On East Coast? Blame a Super Typhoon and Maybe Global Warming. Ex-Typhoon Nuri helped to energize the jet stream as it curved to the north last week, speeding up and amplifying jet stream steering winds, building a massive, record-setting (5.5 sigma) ridge of warm high pressure over Alaska and the Arctic; this buckling of the jet stream plunging polar air southward into the USA. Here's a clip from a story at NBC News: "...The cold front this month, however, appears to have a different birth. The events "started with exceptionally warm sea temperatures in the Pacific that led to the super Typhoon Nuri," says Kevin Trenberth, an atmospheric scientist at NCAR. On Nov. 8, the typhoon became "incredibly intense … advanced to the north and brought very warm air up into Alaska and into the Arctic." "The cold air had to go somewhere else and it did: down across the U.S.," says Trenberth. "By Nov. 12 the very cold air over North America was matched by very warm air over Alaska and the Arctic..."

Temperature anomalies (departure from average) for November 20 obtained using Climate Reanalyzer (http://cci-reanalyzer.org), Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, USA.

Tropical Pacific Ocean Moves Closer to El Nino. The odds of an El Nino have risen to 70% according to Australia's Bureau of Meteorology; here's an excerpt of a recent release: "The Pacific Ocean has shown some renewed signs of El Niño development in recent weeks. Above-average temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean have warmed further in the past fortnight, while the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) has generally been in excess of El Niño thresholds for the past three months. Climate models suggest current conditions will either persist or strengthen. These factors mean the Bureau's ENSO Tracker Status has been upgraded from WATCH to ALERT level, indicating at least a 70% chance of El Niño occurring..."

2014: On Track For The Warmest Year, Worldwide, On Record? It may be close, but what makes this even more unusual is that 2013 and 2014 weren't El Nino years, no Pacific warmth turbocharging the atmosphere. Here's an excerpt from NOAA NCDC: "The years 2013 and 2014 are the only years on this list not to begin during a mature El Niño event. The years 1998 and 2010, each of which became the warmest year on record at the time, ended the year in a strong La Niña event, as evidenced by the relative fading of global average temperature later in the year. The anomalies themselves represent departures from the 20th century average temperature. The graph zooms into the warmest part of the entire history. For a broader perspective on how these five years relate to the long-term record, click here..."

Winter Outlook from Columbia University. This is from The International Research Institute for Climate and Society, at Columbia Unversity's Earth Institute. Of course all long-range seasonal outlooks should be taken with a big grain of salt, but I couldn't get over how much red (warmer than average) is predicted for the planet from December into February.

Average Winter Temperatures for Minnesota? It's too early to celebrate, but at least one longer-range climate model from Columbia University is forecasting a notable lack of polar air for much of North American from December into February; warmer for much of the western USA (consistent with a developing El Nino), warmer for much of Canada, the Arctic and Greenland, colder than average for the southern USA.

NOAA: Globe Sets 5th Hottest-Month Record of 2014. Some temperature "pause". The eastern USA has had a chilly year, but that's more than compensated for by the rest of the planet, on it's way toward what may be the warmest year on record. The 6 warmest months on record for global ocean water temperatures have been in the last 6 months. Here's an excerpt from the AP and wsbtv.com: "Despite a bitter U.S. cold snap, the globe is rushing hell-bent toward its warmest year on record with last month setting the fifth monthly heat record of year. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday that last month was the hottest October on record worldwide. The 58.43 degrees Fahrenheit (14.74 Celsius) beat out October 2003. "It is becoming pretty clear that 2014 will end up as the warmest year on record," said Deke Arndt, climate monitoring chief for NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina. "The remaining question is: How much?..."

How To Protect Your Phone In Cold Weather. Here's an excerpt of a CNN story that made me do a double-take: "...Some smartphones list the optimum range of temperatures in their technical specs. For example, when it's turned off, the iPhone 5S can withstand temperatures between -4° and 113° Fahrenheit. When it's turned on, the range is much more narrow. Apple suggests 32° Fahrenheit as the lowest operating ambient temperature. Other phones are rated for much lower temperatures, and some can go as low as -4° Fahrenheit while in operation..."

Are Our Buildings Prepared For Natural Disasters Bigger Than Hurricane Sandy? Technically Sandy wasn't even a hurricane when it hit coastal New Jersey on October 29, 2012, rather a massive mash-up of nor'easter and ex-hurricane. Is New York City better prepared? Here's an excerpt of a story at The Guardian: "...What if you have Sandy, but it’s an actual hurricane, with hurricane-level winds? The first generation of skyscrapers was not designed for windloads. So would we see facades being pulled off in Midtown Manhattan? That’s something we don’t understand yet. We recommended the city study this, and legislation passed – the results of their study is due on October 2, 2015. Also, in a modern city, everyone’s reliant on power – and all the more so in a vertical city. We’ve facilitated a change that makes it easier to install backup generators, but what happens if we get two weeks without power next time instead of a week?..." (Image above: NOAA).

America's Toughest Commutes, Charted. I love Quartz's information-dense maps - here's an excerpt of a story focused on commute times across the USA: "...But it turns out that of the 20 counties with the longest commutes, nine are among the 100 wealthiest counties in the US. And where are all the well-off commuters going? Washington, DC. When we only look at the 100 wealthiest US counties, 13 of the 20 longest median commutes are in the Washington area. The remainder of the list is comprised of counties in the New York, Chicago, Denver, and San Francisco areas..."

Map credit above: Quartz. Data: 2013 American Community Survey.

18 F. high in St. Cloud Thursday.
36 F. average high on November 20.
46 F. high on November 20, 2013.

November 20, 2001: Record highs were set in west and north central Minnesota with highs in the upper fifties to lower sixties. Redwood Falls set their high with 68 degrees Fahrenheit and Little Falls had a high of 65 degrees.
November 20, 1980: On this date, around 28 thousand Canadian geese spent their nights on Silver Lake in Rochester.


TODAY: Clouds increase, not as cold. Winds: S 15. High: 28
FRIDAY NIGHT: Mostly cloudy, not as chilly as recent nights. Low: 25
SATURDAY: First thaw in 12 days. Gray skies - not as numb. High: 37
SUNDAY: Cloudy, chance of drizzle. Wake-up: 30. High: 38
MONDAY: Coating of flurries, light snow. Wake-up: 26. High: 31 (falling)
TUESDAY: Clearing skies, chilly again. Wake-up: 12. High: 19
WEDNESDAY: Inch or so of snow showers? Wake-up: 9. High: 24
THANKSGIVING: Feels like January again. Mostly cloudy. Wake-up: 1. High: 14


Climate Stories...

Did Climate Change "Juice" The Buffalo Snow Amounts? Water temperatures in Lake Erie were in the low to mid 50s earlier this week, almost 50F warmer than the air passing overhead. There's considerable evidence that warmer water in the Great Lakes is resulting in more extreme lake effect snow events earlier in the season than 30-50 years ago. What influence did climate volatility play in the (incredible) snowfall amounts and snowfall rates since Tuesday. I had a chance to chat with Ed Schultz at MSNBC Thursday; the clip is here.


There's Growing Evidence That Global Warming Is Driving Crazy Winters. Here's an excerpt of a story from Chris Mooney at The Washington Post: "...According to Francis, the extreme U.S. winter of last year and now, the extremes at the beginning of this season, fit her theory. "This winter looks a whole lot like last winter, it’s a very amplified jet stream pattern," she says. "We know that when we get these patterns, it tends to be very persistent. And it is definitely the type of pattern that we expect to see more often as the Arctic continues to warm so fast." To be sure, Francis acknowledges that our recent bout of extreme cold was kickstarted most directly by Typhoon Nuri, which swerved up into the mid-latitudes and exploded into an atmospheric bomb over the Bering Sea..."

Significant Global Climate Anomalies and Events in October. NOAA NCDC has the high-resolution graphic with more details here.

Climate Change To Increase Flood, Crop Insurance Losses. USA TODAY has the story - here's an excerpt: "...For agriculture, the report cites research that predicts changes in temperature and precipitation can be offset over the next 25 years by technological advancements, expansion of irrigation and shifts in crop production. But by mid-century, weather and precipitation extremes could intensify and cause yields and farm profits to decline, despite these adjustments..."

States Can Bring Clean Energy to 21st Century. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Hill that resonated. Many of the new, disruptive energy alternatives are also zero-carbon, and they're scaling up faster than predicted: "...The U.S. electric power system is facing serious challenges today, with innovations disrupting old ways of doing business, infrastructure showing its age and customers looking for new forms of service. Fortunately, we have the tools to address these challenges: demand response to maintain reliability at times of peak load; combined cycle natural gas to provide flexible electricity generation; solar power and wind power for zero emission generation with no fuel cost; more efficient lighting, appliances and industrial motors that use less energy and reduce demand; and smart meters to provide better data and more control for consumers. In short, we have more ways to make, manage and use electricity than ever before — and many of these technologies also reduce carbon emissions..."

"Merchants of Doubt" Film Exposes Slick U.S. Industry Behind Climate Denial. The Guardian has details; here's an excerpt: "...With the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center occupying attention, Americans For Prosperity, a powerful, fossil-fuel lobby group founded by the billionaire Koch Brothers, launched a decade-long, multi-pronged campaign to sow doubt about the reality of climate change. By equating the findings of climate scientists as an attack on personal freedoms, they cleverly shifted the focus away from science to political opinion. “Creating a focus point away from what is actually going on is how magicians pull off their tricks,” said Kenner who directed the Oscar-nominated documentary Food Inc. The deception has worked well. Few Americans know 97% of scientists agree climate change is caused by human activity and is happening now..."

Photo credit above: "Robert Kenner’s documentary Merchants of Doubt looks at professionals working for the fossil fuel industry to sow doubt in the US climate change debate." Photograph: Sony Pictures Classics.

A GOP Generation Gap on Climate Change, Similar to Gay Marriage? Chris Mooney takes a look at a growing gap between younger and older Republicans and their expectations about curtailing greenhouse gases at The Washington Post; here's the intro: "Congressional Republicans want to make fighting the Environmental Protection Agency's climate regulations and President Obama's greenhouse gas reduction targets a centerpiece of their agenda over next two years -- now that they have wrested control of the Senate as well as House. But how will the politics of that look 10 years from now? Several commentators have suggested that climate change could become the gay marriage issue of the future for the GOP..."

Graphic credit above: Washington Post-ABC News poll - Click for details

Dear Snow Trolls: Winter Weather Does Not Refute Global Warming. The Washington Post hosts an obligatory story about the difference between weather and climate; here's an excerpt: "...Indeed, much evidence suggests that we may be experiencing this stark cold while en route to the warmest year in recorded history. Just recently we learned that at least according to data from the Japan Meteorological Agency (which may soon be confirmed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), October 2014 on a global level was the hottest October on record. And even before we knew what October's temperatures looked like, NOAA had shown that there was a very good chance of 2014 setting an overall temperature record...."

More Frequent Wave Resonance in the Atmosphere. The number of planetary wave resonance events (which lead to exceptional weather extremes) is shown as grey bars for each 4-year intervals. For comparison the red curve shows the change in Arctic temperature relative to that in the remainder of the Northern Hemisphere. Rapid Arctic warming since 2000 could explain the increasing number of weather extremes. Source: Coumou et all, PNAS 2014.

The Moral Issue of Climate Change. Climate change is a moral and even a spiritual issue, as much as a scientific and economic issue. Here's an excerpt of a David Ignatius Op-Ed at The Washington Post that caught my eye: "...They reject or minimize the arguments of leading scientists that such emissions are directly linked to global warming and climate change and could have catastrophic long-term consequences. The doubters question the data, to be sure. But their basic argument is political: Action to protect the environment will hurt “my state.” But what if the climate change problem were instead treated as a moral issue — a matter like civil rights where the usual horse-trading logic of politics has been replaced by a debate about what’s right and wrong?..."

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Better than Buffalo: Weekend Thaw - Cold Rain - Snow for Thanksgiving?


5 Sigma

Minnesota is freckled with lakes - with the exception of Superior none of them large enough, with a long enough "fetch", to spark lake-effect snows.

Yes, it could be worse. You could be stuck in Buffalo. As much as 70 inches of snow has piled up on the south side of the city. Roads are impassable, the National Guard has been called out - this is one of the biggest dumpings on record, coming unusually early.

What's going on? We're seeing more instability and volatility in the weather than ever before. On Saturday I witnessed a "5.5-Sigma event" over Alaska; a bubble of amazing warmth for mid-November. According to local science writer Greg Laden the odds of a 5.5 Sigma event, more than 5 standard deviations from the mean, is about 1 in 26 million. Incomprehensibly small. Extremes are becoming more extreme.

The odds of El Nino have risen to 70 percent; I'm still not convinced this winter will be a carbon copy of last winter. More details below.

A weekend thaw is still likely; a cold rain Sunday ending as a couple inches of snow Monday. I expect good travel weather Tuesday & Wednesday, but latest ECMWF guidance hints at more accumulating snow for Thanksgiving Day.

I picked a bad winter to sell my snowmobiles.

The Squishiness Of The Phrase "Polar Vortex". What's the difference between a severe cold front and the much-maligned (and overused) "polar vortex" terminology? Meteorologist Eric Holthaus does a good job explaining the differences and complexities for Slate; here's an excerpt: "...To say there’s been a bit of discussion for the last 10 months or so about the polar vortex would be an understatement the size of the Arctic. The phrase is now a permanent part of our wintertime vocabulary. But the term is also somewhat nebulous. That’s led some journalists and meteorologists to get pretty bent out of shape about its resonance in popular media, even coining an unwieldy hashtag: #StopPolarVortexAbuse..."

* Map above courtesy of mesonet.org.

Definition of Lake Effect. Temperatures in the teens passing over open lake water (no ice yet) with temperatures in the 40s continues to create white-out conditions downwind of the Great Lakes; closing in on 7 feet of snow for some communities south of Buffalo. Lake effect continues today before finally winding down on Friday. 60-hour NAM snowfall prediction: NOAA and HAMweather.

Thaw - Rain - Snow - Repeat? European model data confirms a welcome weekend thaw; temperatures may top 40F by Sunday (grilling weather!) before cooling down again next week. The lowest mile of the atmosphere should be warm enough for rain Sunday, ending as a period of wet snow Monday. Travel conditions improve Tuesday and Wednesday before the next storm sliding south of Minnesota pushes a shield of accumulating snow into town Thanksgiving Day. Great timing! Monday and Tuesday appear to be the windiest days right now. Source: Weatherspark.

Tropical Pacific Ocean Moves Closer to El Nino. The odds of an El Nino have risen to 70% according to Australia's Bureau of Meteorology; here's an excerpt of a recent release: "The Pacific Ocean has shown some renewed signs of El Niño development in recent weeks. Above-average temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean have warmed further in the past fortnight, while the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) has generally been in excess of El Niño thresholds for the past three months. Climate models suggest current conditions will either persist or strengthen. These factors mean the Bureau's ENSO Tracker Status has been upgraded from WATCH to ALERT level, indicating at least a 70% chance of El Niño occurring..."

Buffalo Area Braces For Even More Snow. The heaviest amounts, anywhere from 5 to 7 FEET, have fallen on the south side of the city, moist, unstable air rising up and over hilly terrain adding to the totals; snow falling at the rate of 5-7" an hour at times with thunder and lightning. Snowmageddon? Yep. Here's an excerpt from Democrat & Chronicle: "...Unofficially, though, 70 inches of snow would about equal another mega-event — a weeklong burst of snow in December 1958 in the same southern reaches of the city, and approach an even more jaw-dropping multiday storm in December 2001 that reportedly left 80 to 90 inches in places. Additional snowfall later this week could challenge that highly unofficial record..."

Snowvember in Buffalo. Monster Storm Dumps Historic Amount of Snow. Here's a clip from a story at The Buffalo News: "...Dave Zaff of the National Weather Service in Buffalo said there’s no meteorological term for the phenomenon that created that strikingly pronounced wall of clouds and churned out the unbelievable amount of snow. “Whiteout to blue sky in a very, very short distance,” he said. It’s not unheard of when it comes to lake-effect storms. But the snow totals? They may be for the history books. “This will be a historic event,” Zaff said. “Absolutely. It is a historic event...”

* The Washington Post has some amazing time-lapse footage of snow squalls setting up over the southern suburbs of Buffalo. I can't recall ever seeing such a sharp cut-off to the heaviest snow bands.

Lake Effect Snow Band. The bright white band is the thickest cloud cover, dropping the most intense snow. Prevailing winds in the lowest 5,000 feet of the atmosphere have kept the heaviest snows just south of Buffalo, but this Modis Aqua high-resolution image shows just how close downtown Buffalo came to getting smacked. Image: National Weather Service.

Greatest 24-Hour Snowfall on Record For The U.S.? Christopher C. Burt has the story at Weather Underground; here's the introduction: "This past week some exceptional snowfall amounts were reported in northern Wisconsin (50.1” at Gile) and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (42.5” at Ishpeming 7 NNW) largely the result of some intense lake-effect snow squalls coming off Lake Superior. The accumulations occurred over approximately a 96-hour period from November 11-14. Amazing as these totals were they couldn’t compare to the official U.S. record of 75.8” at Silver Lake, Colorado in 24 hours on April 14-15, 1921, or another contender for such: the 78” at Mile 47 Camp in Alaska on February 7, 1963..."

Ice Safety. With our extended spell below freezing lakes are freezing us rapidly; there's a temptation to get out and ice fish or skate sooner rather than later. But the Minnesota DNR reminds you that the guidelines above are minimums, assuming new, clear ice. Be careful out there.

How To Protect Your Phone In Cold Weather. Here's an excerpt of a CNN story that made me do a double-take: "...Some smartphones list the optimum range of temperatures in their technical specs. For example, when it's turned off, the iPhone 5S can withstand temperatures between -4° and 113° Fahrenheit. When it's turned on, the range is much more narrow. Apple suggests 32° Fahrenheit as the lowest operating ambient temperature. Other phones are rated for much lower temperatures, and some can go as low as -4° Fahrenheit while in operation..."

A Road Test of Alternative Fuel Visions. Will some of us be driving hydrogen-powered cars in the very near future? Here's an excerpt of a story at The New York Times: "...After many years and billions of dollars of research and development, hydrogen cars are headed to the showrooms. Hyundai has been leasing the hydrogen-powered Tucson sport utility, which it describes as the world’s first mass-produced fuel cell car, since June, for a $2,999 down payment, and $499 a month. (That includes the hydrogen. A lease on a gas-powered Tucson is about half as much.) This week, Toyota is introducing a sedan called Mirai, which means “future” in Japanese..."

* CNET has more on the Toyota Mirai here. Geek.com has more details here.

The Fall of Facebook. Can the social media giant remain on top, or will privacy concerns nudge us all in a different direction - is the platform sustainable over the long term? Here's an excerpt from The Atlantic: "...And yet, significantly, people haven’t let go of their unease about Facebook’s core idea. “In three years of research and talking to hundreds of people and everyday users, I  don’t think I heard anyone say once, ‘I love Facebook,’ ” says Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology Is Changing Our Minds for the Better. Like a New Urbanist dream neighborhood where every lamppost and shrub seems unnervingly designed to please you, there’s a soullessness about the place. The software’s primary attributes—its omniscience, its solicitousness—all too easily provoke claustrophobia..."

Lake Effect Surf's Up. There's crazy, and then there's Buffalo-crazy. Check out this jaw-dropping video at Digg: "It's about 26 degrees outside. Winds are at 35 MPH. With the windchill, it says it feels about 13. We're gonna go check out the waves."

A Tiny Hamster Thanksgiving. If you're bored beyond recognition and want a good chuckle check out this YouTube clip. A group of polite hamsters enjoying a Thanksgiving feast. It's dawning on me that too many people have way too much free time on their hands.

25 F. high in St. Cloud Wednesday.
37 F. average high on November 19
46 F. high on November 19, 2013.

.3" snow fell yesterday at KSTC.
7" snow on the ground.

November 19 in Minnesota Weather History. Source: MPX National Weather Service:
2006: Lake effect snow occurred on the larger lakes in Minnesota. Northwest winds from 8 to 12 mph accompanied an air mass in the single digits. This moved over lakes with water temperatures near 40 degrees. A cloud plume from Mille Lacs stretched all the way Siren Wisconsin. Snow from Ottertail and Lake Lida reduced visibilities at Alexandia to a few miles. Even some low clouds formed from Lake Minnetonka and were observed at Flying Cloud Airport.
1996: Heavy snowfall accumulations of four to eight inches occurred over much of Central Minnesota. Some of the heavier amounts included 8 inches at Montevideo and Gaylord, 7 inches at St. James, Mankato, Madison and Stewart. Six inches was reported in the Twin Cities and Glenwood.
1953: Freezing rain hits parts of Minnesota. 3 inches of ice on wires at telephone wires at Lake Benton.


TODAY: Partly sunny, a brittle breeze. Winds: NW 10-15. Wind chill: -8. High: 15
THURSDAY NIGHT: Clear to partly cloudy and chilly. Low: -3
FRIDAY: Cold start. Milder finish with intervals of sunshine. High: near 30
SATURDAY: Peeks of sun, long overdue thaw! Better travel day. Wake-up: 17. High: 37
SUNDAY: Rain developing. Some icing possible, especially outside the metro area. Wake-up: 30. High: near 40
MONDAY: Rain changes over to snow. Couple inches? Wake-up: 28. High: 31
TUESDAY: Flurries taper. Better travel conditions. Wake-up: 14. High: 21
WEDNESDAY: Clouds increase, still dry. Wake-up: 11. High: 25
THANKSGIVING DAY: Period of accumulating snow possible. Wake-up: 18. High: 26


Climate Stories...

Dear Snow Trolls: Winter Weather Does Not Refute Global Warming. The Washington Post hosts an obligatory story about the difference between weather and climate; here's an excerpt: "...Indeed, much evidence suggests that we may be experiencing this stark cold while en route to the warmest year in recorded history. Just recently we learned that at least according to data from the Japan Meteorological Agency (which may soon be confirmed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), October 2014 on a global level was the hottest October on record. And even before we knew what October's temperatures looked like, NOAA had shown that there was a very good chance of 2014 setting an overall temperature record...."

Northern Hemisphere temperature anomalies for November 19 obtained using Climate Reanalyzer (http://cci-reanalyzer.org), Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, USA

More Frequent Wave Resonance in the Atmosphere. The number of planetary wave resonance events (which lead to exceptional weather extremes) is shown as grey bars for each 4-year intervals. For comparison the red curve shows the change in Arctic temperature relative to that in the remainder of the Northern Hemisphere. Rapid Arctic warming since 2000 could explain the increasing number of weather extremes. Source: Coumou et all, PNAS 2014.

The Moral Issue of Climate Change. Climate change is a moral and even a spiritual issue, as much as a scientific and economic issue. Here's an excerpt of a David Ignatius Op-Ed at The Washington Post that caught my eye: "...They reject or minimize the arguments of leading scientists that such emissions are directly linked to global warming and climate change and could have catastrophic long-term consequences. The doubters question the data, to be sure. But their basic argument is political: Action to protect the environment will hurt “my state.” But what if the climate change problem were instead treated as a moral issue — a matter like civil rights where the usual horse-trading logic of politics has been replaced by a debate about what’s right and wrong?..."

China To Cap Coal Use by 2020 To Meet Game-Changing Climate, Air Pollution Targets. Think Progress has an update on the historic changes taking place in China - here's an excerpt: "The Chinese government announced Wednesday it would cap coal use by 2020. The Chinese State Council, or cabinet, said the peak would be 4.2 billion tonnes, a one-sixth increase over current consumption. This is a staggering reversal of Chinese energy policy, which for two decades has been centered around building a coal plant or more a week. Now they’ll be building the equivalent in carbon-free power every week for decades, while the construction rate of new coal plants decelerates like a crash-test dummy..."

11 Year Old Takes Vow of Silence Demanding Climate Action. Will it take a mass, grassroots effort and civil disobedience to get the attention of politicians worldwide? Some days I wonder. Here's an excerpt from Ecowatch: "Eleven-year-old Itzcuauhtli Roske-Martinez is proving to the world that sometimes the most powerful thing you can say is absolutely nothing. Today marks Day 22 of the indigenous eco-rapper’s silent strike demanding science-based climate action. His T-shirt explains, “I am taking a vow of silence until world leaders take action on climate change.” After classmates suggested that one sixth grader in Colorado couldn’t influence leaders, Itzcuauhtli added, “When I say world leaders, I’m talking about us...”

Here's How The U.S. Can Adapt To Climate Change. Climate Central has an interesting story - here's a clip: "...Climate change poses heat- and flood-based risks to roads, power plants, harbors, water delivery systems, rail lines, water treatment facilities and bridges. The group urged the federal government to reduce those risks by building in low-risk areas, where possible, and by retrofitting vulnerable infrastructure that can’t be relocated. The group also called for a boost in spending on green and natural infrastructure, such as the replanting of wetlands to buffer against flood surges and sea level rise..."

7 Solutions to Climate Change Happening Now. Here's an excerpt from an article at Scientific American: "...More than 20 percent of new, large power plants built in the U.S. in 2013 employ sunlight to generate electricity. And that does not include solar panels on people's rooftops, which alone added nearly two gigawatts of capacity last year. In addition, natural gas replaced coal as the largest source of new electricity generation. The shale revolution enabled the U.S. to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions “while maintaining economic growth by switching from coal to gas," notes Nobuo Tanaka, former head of the International Energy Agency (IEA) and a now a visiting fellow at Columbia University..."