A year ago today it snowed in the Twin Cities, just a trace of flurries, a high of 40F after waking up to 26F. This year temperatures are 20F warmer; a few rain showers in the forecast later today.
Does that imply a milder winter to come? You can't look out your window and make an accurate 3-4 month forecast. As much as we all want to know, the severity of winter cold and snow will depend on how fast El Nino can warm up the Pacific Ocean, and blocking patterns over North America that have yet to show up.
Weather rarely repeats itself from one year to the next - everything I'm looking at leads me to believe this winter won't be as rough as last, with more of a milder, Pacific flow than last year.
Winds pick up today ahead of a sloppy front; a few hours of rain by tonight. Friday will feel like early September with a shot at 70F. Expect 70-degree warmth again Sunday before jackets return by Tuesday. Next week's predicted weather map looks more like mid-September than late October, dominated by a zonal, west to east wind flow. That should mean 50s on Halloween.
I expect a mild bias to spill over into at least mid-November. After that? "Partly to mostly with a chance."
When in doubt, mumble.
A Retreat From Weather Disasters. There is no constitutional right to property insurance or flood insurance. What happens when enough insurance companies reach the conclusion that risks are just too high to insure specific communities? It's already happening, as reported by The New York Times; here's an excerpt: "...As the damages wrought by increasingly disruptive weather patterns have climbed around the world, the insurance industry seems to have quietly engaged in what looks a lot like a retreat. A report to be released Wednesday by Ceres, the sustainability advocacy group, makes the point forcefully. “Over the past 30 years annual losses from natural catastrophes have continued to increase while the insured portion has declined,” it concluded. Last year, less than a third of the $116 billion in worldwide losses from weather-related disasters were covered by insurance, according to data from the reinsurer Swiss Re..."
Image credit above: "On Oct. 16 at 17:45 UTC (1:45 p.m. EDT) NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this image of Hurricane Gonzalo (08L) in the Atlantic Ocean." (Credit: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team)
Animation credit above: "A map showing sea surface temperature anomalies leading up and during the 1997-98 super El Nino." Credit: NOAA View
Image credit above: " Photograph: ISS/NASA.
Image credits above: "Scientists scanned nearly 40,000 images taken from Nimbus 1 to create the earliest satellite views of Antarctic sea ice and land (left and center). Using computer programs to pick out ice-covered areas was much more challenging than when using modern satellite images (right)." Photographs by (left and middle) NSIDC; (right) NASA/Reuters.
* EarthSky has an image of the first documented 5th order rainbow, sunlight reflected 5 times within raindrops, creating a fairly amazing optical illusion.
Photo credit above: "Paul Colbert hands a shovel to Alex Foarde to clear fresh asphalt off of a manhole cover as Cedar Rapids Street Maintenance workers repair Meadowbrook Drive SE from flood-related damage in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, October 08, 2014." (Sy Bean/The Gazette).
Elephants Able To Detect Rainstorms 150 Miles Away. Forget Doppler, I'm buying an elephant. Here's the intro to an explanation at Popular Science: "Lions may be the kings of the animal world, but at least elephants could make for spunky meteorologists. New research is revealing that elephants have a radar-like spidey sense, capable of detecting an approaching rainstorm up to 150 miles off. While this may seem like an impractical talent, researchers say elephants' weather-predicting could help human conservationists save the animals from poachers. The elephants’ abilities are rooted in their excellent hearing skills..." (File photo: Wikipedia).
A U.S. Court Thinks The Most Famous Song in History Might Be Stolen. Was "Stairway to Heaven" an original Led Zeppelin masterpiece, or borrowed in bits and pieces from another band that opened for the legendary rockers a long time ago. Here's the intro to a story at Music.Mic: "Everything you know about classic rock music history may be a lie, according to one federal lawsuit. Years ago, a relatively unknown '70s band called Spirit accused Led Zeppelin of stealing the famous opening riff to "Stairway to Heaven" from Spirit's song "Taurus." The claim was mostly overlooked at the time, but now descendants of Spirit's founders have taken the accusation to a Pennsylvania court, where the surviving members of Led Zeppelin are being tried for the "falsification of rock history...."
60 F. high in St. Cloud Tuesday.
54 F. average high on October 21.
39 F. high on October 21, 2013, with a trace of snow (flurries).
October 21, 1913: Long Prairie had a record low of a chilly 8 degrees Fahrenheit.
TODAY: Clouds increase, late PM showers. Winds: S 15+ High: near 60
WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Showers likely. Low: 50
THURSDAY: Damp start, then slow clearing, still mild. High: 66
FRIDAY: Lukewarm sunshine. No complaints. Wake-up: 38. High: 68
SATURDAY: Sunny, slightly cooler breeze. Wake-up: 42. High: 62
SUNDAY: Summer in late October. Sunny and warm. Wake-up: 43. High: 68
MONDAY: Unsettled, isolated shower possible. Wake-up: 44. High: 56
TUESDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, cool breeze. Feels like October again. Wake-up: 33. High: 49
Coldest Winter Temperatures at MSP Since 1962. Jack Falker is an investment banker (Falker Investments) and prize rose grower, based in Edina. He sent me a graph he completed, showing the coldest nighttime temperatures every winter going back to 1962. Of couse this makes a difference in what will grow in the Twin Cities, an even specific varieties of roses that are more cold-tolerant. In spite of last winter's big dip you can clearly see the trends. As a rule, winter temperatures are not as cold as they were 30-50 years ago, especially nighttime lows. Here's an excerpt from Jack's latest post: "The Minnesota Rose Gardener: Winter Protecting Roses in a Climate-Change Environment: "...(above) is my recently updated Minnesota climatology chart showing the Extreme Minimum Temperatures (EMT) for the last 53 years at MSP airport. This is the statistic the USDA uses to determine the cold zones. As you can see, the Twin Cities are no longer consistently in USDA Zone 4b. As a matter of fact, there have only been three nights in Zone 4 in the Twin Cities, since 1999! That hardly puts us in Zone 4 and, as you can see, the mathematically determined trend-line has an upward slope of about 25 radian degrees. If you project that trend-line off the right side of the chart, it would appear that the Twin Cities will begin to see more winters in zone 6 than in zone 4, within the next five years..."
Similar Trends. Jack Falker created similar graphs for other cities across the Midwest and Great Lakes, and found a similar warming trend over time. Nature never moves in a perfectly straight line, but if you draw a smoothed line over the actual observations you can see the trends fairly clearly. Which underscores something I tell people in my talks: don't look at your thermometer for day to day evidence of warming. Look at the new plants, shrubs, flowers, trees (and pests) that in your yard that weren't there 40 years ago.
East Coast, Gulf Coast Should Get Used to Tidal Floods. Here's a snippet of an Op-Ed at CNN: "...Global sea levels rose approximately 8 inches from 1880 to 2009 as global warming hastened land-based ice melt, and seawater expanded as it absorbed heat from a warming atmosphere. Sea level rise worldwide is now accelerating, and at an especially fast rate along parts of the East Coast. This reality is captured in a report we co-authored earlier this month, analyzing how often flooding occurs at 52 sites along the Eastern seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico and estimating the frequency and extent of flooding over the next 15 and 30 years. We found that many East Coast communities now experience dozens of tidal floods every year. In some places, there has been a fourfold increase in the number of days per year with tidal flooding since 1970..."
Photo credit above: Trip Advisor.
Map credit: NOAA NCDC.