Saturday, December 31, 2016

Welcome 2017! Couple of Arctic Adventures Next 2-3 Weeks

+ 1.3 F. As of December 30 St. Cloud temperatures in December are running over one degree above average.
5 minutes of additional daylight since December 21 in St. Cloud (!)
28 F. high yesterday in St. Cloud
22 F. average high on December 31.
19 F. high in the Twin Cities on December 31, 2015.
January 1, 2003: On this date there is an inch or less of snow on the ground from Duluth to the Iowa border. In the Twin Cities there isn't even a dirty snowbank to be found.
January 1, 1997: Freezing rain causes numerous accidents along the North Shore. In Lake County, vehicles could not get up hills and were blocking roads. Highway 61 was closed for several hours from Two Harbors to Silver Bay.
January 1, 1864: Extremely cold air moves into Minnesota. The Twin Cities have a high of 25 degrees below zero.

First Week of 2017 May Be Coldest Of The Year

So it's 2017, and still no flying car or robotic assistant, Westworld Edition. I can check Doppler on my watch, ask my phone questions and stream myself into a stupor. This is progress?

I predict another head-scratching year of weather in 2017; not quite as warm or wet as 2016. More flash floods, a better chance of late summer drought. Strangers will shout out "hot enough for 'ya?" The 7-Day will still be wrong. An inch of snow will lead area newscasts. Outdoor weddings will continue to attract severe thunderstorms. Some things never change...

No record cold is brewing, but this should be one of the coldest weeks of winter; temperatures dipping below zero at least 4 nights, starting Wednesday. The arrival of brittle air sets off a little snow and ice from Sunday night into early Tuesday. An inch or 2 of slush may fall in the MSP metro; possibly enough to plow closer to Crosby and Duluth, but this doesn't look like The Big One.

Models pull another swipe of numbing air into Minnesota next week, but I see a shift in the pattern by mid-January. 30s by the 3rd week of January will restore your faith in 2017.

Weather Map Into Tuesday Night. The next storm pushes accumulating snow across the northern Rockies and Plains into the Upper Mississippi River Valley Sunday night into Monday night; plowable accumulations likely from Montana and North Dakota into northern Minnesota and the U.P. of Michigan. Meanwhile showery rains and T-storms push from the Mid South and Gulf Coast to the East Coast by Monday and Tuesday. Heavy rain showers push across Arizona and New Mexico today; the next storm approaching northern California by the middle of next week. 84-hour NAM guidance:

"Cold Enough". Not even close to record-setting, but considering we've gotten a little soft the past 2 winters temperatures later this week will get your attention. Thursday looks like the coldest day on GFS and ECMWF model guidance with air temperatures struggling to rise above 0F in the metro area. Graphics: WeatherBell.

Couple of Minor Canadian Invasions. The first push of subzero air brushes the northern tier of the USA this week. Temperatures mellow early next week before the next wave of numbing air by the middle of next week. Freezing temperatures are forecast to reach the Gulf Coast and Florida Panhandle by next weekend. 2-meter GFS temperature forecast:

Character-Building. Wednesday thru Friday will bring the coldest air temperatures across Minnesota and Wisconsin, but the lowest wind chills may come Thursday morning, dipping into the -25F range. GFS guidance hints at -15 to  -17F by the middle of next week. Excuse me while I check my frequent flier miles. Source: NOAA and Aeris Enterprise.

84-Hour Snowfall Forecast. This time we've dialed up 12 KM NAM model guidance, which prints out plowable amounts of snow from Bozeman and Billings to Bismarck, Fargo, Bemidji, Brainerd, Hibbing and Duluth. Another 6-18" snow may pile up from the Colorado Rockies to the Cascades

Pattern Shift Third Week of January? It may be wishful thinking, but the pattern appears progressive. Unlike 2013-14 when patterns stalled, keeping a lobe of polar air over much of the USA from January into February, there's no evidence (yet) that steering winds will stall in a pattern that prolongs bitter cold. There's some evidence milder, Pacific air will thaw things out during the third week of January.

January Preview. Much of the USA will have to experience significant warming the latter half of the month for this forecast to verify, but latest CFSv2 (Climate Forecast System) data from NOAA shows very cold weather lingering from western Canada and the Pacific Northwest into the Northern Rockies; generally milder than average east of the Mississippi River. Confidence levels are VERY low. Map: Weather Bell.

Weather and Climate Memories of 2016. Dr. Mark Seeley has a very good recap of a warm and wet year across Minnesota in this week's installment of Minnesota WeatherTalk:

* Minnesota reported 37 tornadoes in 2016, the first on May 25th in Pope County, and the last on September 9th in Beltrami County. The majority were short-lived and EF-0 rated ( winds 65-85 mph), and there were four storms rated EF-2 (winds 111-135 mph).
* Early planting for Minnesota farmers, followed by a generally favorable growing season with mostly excellent crop yields around the state.
* 2016 was the first year ever to bring two mega-rain events (1000 square miles covered by 6 inches or greater) to the state: one in east-central counties over July 11-12; and one in west-central counties August 10-11. Widespread flash flooding resulted.
* Latest ever autumn killing frost in the Twin Cities on November 18th
* Tied for warmest ever autumn season (September-November) on a statewide basis with 1963.
* Overall on a statewide basis 2016 delivered the 3rd warmest year in history to Minnesota (only 1987 and 2012 were warmer) and the 2nd wettest year (only 1977 was wetter)

Top Story of 2016: Thousand Year Flood. Southern West Virginia was hit especially hard in late June. Here's a recap from "A day that dawned with severe thunderstorms and torrential downpours and ended in tragedy, June 23 undoubtedly will go into the Mountain State's history books as the day of the thousand-year flood. Southern West Virginia's hardest hit area, Greenbrier County, saw 11 inches of rain fall in less than 12 hours that Thursday, according to Emergency Management director Al Whitaker. Affecting 44 of the state's 55 counties, the downpour caused flash flooding of small streams through neighborhoods that had never before seen a flood. In many places, that water drained into nearby rivers; the Greenbrier, Meadow, Elk, Gauley, Cherry and New all peaked above flood stage. Swept away in the floodwaters were roads and bridges, parks and schools, homes and businesses and, most dear, 23 lives — 15 in Greenbrier alone..."

Photo credit: Rick Barbero, The Register-Herald. "A house was forced from its foundation and floated onto Anjean Street in Rupert had to be cut in half to open up the lane."

Tracking Trends in U.S. Flood Risk. Eos connects the dots: "For 16 consecutive months in 2015 and 2016, Earth’s climate repeatedly broke global temperature records, in keeping with global warming trends observed over the past century and counting. During that period, there were major floods across the United States, including events in Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Maryland, and Louisiana. Warmer temperatures are associated with more frequent extreme precipitation events, and they increase the atmosphere’s water-holding capacity, suggesting that flooding across the globe will become more frequent in coming decades. Such an increase would have costly consequences for agriculture, water resources management, ecology, insurance, and transportation and navigation industries, as well as for civilians living in flood-affected areas. In light of this, hydrologists and atmospheric scientists are working to develop a more nuanced understanding of projected flooding changes to accurately communicate risks to the public..."

Photo credit: "Flooding near Houston, Texas, in April 2016." Credit: Tom Pistillo, USGS

After a Disaster, Families Rebuild an Even Better House. There are steps you can take to retrofit your home to make it more disaster-resistant. Some require money, others require attention to detail, reports The Wall Street Journal: "...Hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, floods. An average of 120 major disasters have struck somewhere in the U.S. every year since 1996, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Catastrophic events can wipe out entire neighborhoods and cost millions of dollars in property damage. But those with the resources and the fortitude to rebuild can end up with an even better house, one that has stronger defenses against acts of nature and is more suited to families’ changed needs..."

Photo credit: "After Jennifer and Ben Deneen’s Houston home was destroyed in a flood, they built this new two-story home in its place." Photo: Casey Woods for The Wall Street Journal.

Bill Gates Knows What Could Threaten The Human Race In The Next Decade. Thank you Esquire for a little light reading that helped me fall asleep: "...Gates has funded research into an algorithm predicting how quickly an epidemic would spread across the world. "Within 60 days it's basically in all urban centers around the entire globe," Gates told Vox last year. "That didn't happen with the Spanish flu." Spanish influenza killed as many as 50 million people in a year. Gates' algorithm predicted that a similarly deadly epidemic today would kill more than 33 million people in only 250 days, especially considering how mobile people have become..."

Solar Looks to Outpace Natural Gas and Wind. Scientific American reports: "2016 is shaping up to be a milestone year for energy, and when the final accounting is done, one of the biggest winners is likely to be solar power. For the first time, more electricity-generating capacity from solar power plants is expected to have been built in the U.S. than from natural gas and wind, U.S. Department of Energy data show. Though the final tally won’t be in until March, enough new solar power plants were expected to be built in 2016 to total 9.5 gigawatts of solar power generating capacity, tripling the new solar capacity built in 2015. That’s enough to light up more than 1.8 million homes..."

Smart Robots Could Soon Steal Your Job. The pace of disruption is increasing - no industry is immune from globalization, automation and robotics. Reinvent - or die. Harsh, but that's the world we're living in now, as reported by "...Experts are warning that skilled jobs will soon start disappearing because of the rise of artificial intelligence. So far, robots have mainly been replacing manual labor, performing routine and intensive tasks. But smarter machines are putting more skilled professions at risk. Robots are likely to be performing 45% of manufacturing tasks by 2025, versus just 10% today, according to a study by Bank of America. And the rise of artificial intelligence will only accelerate that process as the number of devices connected to the Internet doubles to 50 billion by 2020. By the same year, nearly half of all U.S. jobs will be at high risk of being lost to computers, according to experts at Oxford University, with an additional 20% facing medium risk. Jobs previously thought of as secure and now considered at risk include data analysts and bankers..." (Image credit: Sofia Ordonez, CNN Money).

Remembering the Notable People We Lost in 2016. Next Avenue tallies up a very tough year: "Starting with the loss of David Bowie and ending with the passing of Debbie Reynolds, perhaps from a broken heart, 2016 was a heartbreaker for many of us. It was a year riddled with sad - often shocking - newsof celebrity deaths. We didn't know about Bowie's cancer, Patty Duke's sepsis, Prince's painkiller addiction, Gene Wilder's Alzheimer's or Carrie Fisher's heart disease until these icons were gone. As we marked the passing of these and other notables - Alan Rickman, George Michael an Merle Haggard, to name a few - we at Next Avenue looked for ways to shed light on their lives and deaths that would inform our readers and help them lead healthier lives..."

America's Mood Map: An Interactive Guide to the United States of Attitude. TIME reports; here are a few enlightening excepts: "...According to the study, the winners (or losers, depending on how you view these things) were in some cases surprising and in some not at all. The top scorers on extroversion were the ebullient folks of Wisconsin (picture the fans at a Packers game — even a losing Packers game). The lowest score went to the temperamentally snowbound folks of Vermont. Utah is the most agreeable place in the country and Washington, D.C., is the least (gridlock, anyone?)...The study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, was an exhaustive one, spanning 13 years and including nearly 1.6 million survey respondents from the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia..."

Check Out "Eagle-Cam". A couple of bald eagles sitting on a nest in Fort Meyers, Florida are whipping up a lot of online interest, as reported at NBC News: "...The eagle cam, hosted by a real estate company, has been chronicling Harriet's nesting seasons since 2012. Then, 16 million people tuned in to watch Harriet and her former mate Ozzie raise two eaglets from their birth to fledge, according to the company's website. This year, the stream has amassed more than 57,670,000 views so far, according to the site. "We have a PIP in one egg!! The hatching process has begun," read a post on the eagle cam website Thursday afternoon..."
The Live Camera link is here, courtesy of Dick Pritchett Real Estate. Talk about good advertising!

NEW YEAR'S DAY: Clouds increase, milder. Winds: SE: 5-10. High: 34
SUNDAY NIGHT: Light snow develops, mixed with sleet. Low: 28

MONDAY: Wintry mix, slushy inch or so. More north. Winds: E 10-20. High: 34

TUESDAY: Much colder with flurries. Slick spots. Winds: NW 15-30. Wake-up: 20. High: 23 (falling rapidly)

WEDNESDAY: Cold breeze with peeks of sun. Feels like -20F. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 2. High: 7

THURSDAY: Coldest day, bright sunshine. Feels like -25F. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: -7. High: 2

FRIDAY: Clouds increase, few flurries. Winds: W 7-12. Wake-up: -4. High: 12

SATURDAY: Blue sky, more fresh air! Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: -3. High: 6

Climate Stories...

Climate Change Highlights in 2016. Here's an excerpt from Huffington Post: "...May saw yet more records broken around the globe. In India, temperatures reached an incredible 51 degrees Celsius (124 degrees Fahrenheit) in Rajasthan, breaking the previous record high. Severe drought followed the extreme heat ― at least 330 million people were without sufficient water. The heat and drought compounded the misery for many people, especially in rural parts of the country, who were already dealing with several years of below-average monsoons, which are becoming more erratic because of climate change..."

Image credit: Giphy.

With Enough Evidence, Even Skepticism Will Thaw. A scientist who was skeptical of the changes taking place in Greenland changed his mind after seeing the changes in person. Here's an excerpt of a gripping account at The Washington Post: "...Greenland is the largest island on Earth and home to its second-largest ice sheet after East Antarctica. It’s pouring 281 billion tons of that ice into the ocean each year, a major contribution to rising seas. Much of the loss comes from some 200 outlet glaciers, which extend out to the sea like fingers of the larger ice sheet. The great fear is that Greenland’s ice loss is accelerating, and that’s why much attention has been directed at Petermann. One expert has called it one of the island’s three major “floodgates,” and the only one that has not yet opened. In part, the Petermann Ice Shelf has been slower to disintegrate simply because it is in a much colder place. But that is beginning to change, and Muenchow and Nicholls are trying to understand the mechanics of how it might break apart..."

Photo credit: "A deep gulley with rushing water feeds into a river on Petermann Glacier. The shelf has reached a record low size after losing pieces larger than Manhattan in recent years." (Whitney Shefte / The Washington Post)

Former Bush Advisor: Climate Change Threatens National Security. POLITICO has the story; here's the intro: "Climate change will be one of the top national security issues for the next administration, a former national security adviser to President George W. Bush said Thursday. Stephen Hadley, who served both as deputy and top adviser through Bush’s administration from 2001 to 2009, said climate change has resulted in massive refugee flows that have threatened European unity. “I have not been particularly sensitive to the climate change issue,” he said at a POLITICO Playbook event in Washington. “Climate change and a lot of other economic dislocations have put a lot of people out of work, they are on the move and they have no place to go and it means they are recruiting grounds for terrorists and extremists and potential refugee flows that will tax Europe even more...”

Photo credit: "Stephen Hadley said climate change will be one of the top national security issues for the next administration." | RODNEY LAMKEY JR. for POLITICO.

These Are The 10 Most Important Climate Stories of 2016. Climate Central has a good overview of another jaw-dropping year tracking symptoms of a rapidly changing climate system: "...The Arctic was probably the weirdest place on the planet this year. It had a record-low peak for sea ice in the winter and dwindled to its second-lowest extent on record. The Northwest Passage also opened in August, allowing a luxury cruise ship to pass through. Those milestones themselves are a disconcerting harbinger of a warming world, but November brought an even more bizarre event. Normally it’s a time when night blankets the region and temperatures generally plummet to allow the rapid growth of ice. But a veritable heat wave ratcheted temperatures 27°F above normal, hitting pause on ice growth and even causing ice loss for a few days. December has seen a similar warm spell that scientists have found would be virtually impossible if it wasn’t for climate change. The Arctic is the most rapidly warming region on the planet and 2016 served as a reminder that the region is being dramatically reshaped by that warming..."

Europeans Ask: Where's The Snow? Ski Resorts Severely Impacted. The Daily Mail Online has a photo essay showing area ski resorts; a lack of snow has left an estimated 45,000 people unemployed. Here's an excerpt: "...Unusually high temperatures and a lack of snow is threatening the ski season as popular resorts in Europe have completely shut down. Some resorts in France have not seen so much as a snowflake in almost a month, leaving pistes completely bare. An estimated 45,000 workers have been left temporarily unemployed, lifts remain stationary and nobody is skiing on the slopes in the worst-hit areas in Massif Central, The Vosges and The Jura in France as well as Charmey in Switzerland..."

Photo credit: "A closed ski slope in Charmey, Switzerland on Boxing Day where the resort is closed due to the lack of snow." EPA.

7 Places That Will Change Because of Global Warming in Our Lifetimes. Here's an excerpt from Bustle: "As we're selfish creatures, however, it's often difficult to make clear how intensely bad this is without talking about how it affects us: our cities, our food, our holiday destinations, our ability to stay safe from conflict and natural disaster. The real nature of global warming is, unfortunately, global. And the impacts will be devastating: a study released this year noted that some places will likely see ocean rises of six meters or more as ice sheets collapse and melt, and by 2050 it's estimated that areas currently inhabited by 150 million people will be either flooding regularly or underwater. That's a lot of humans with nowhere to go and a lot of land that can't produce food. We're headed for a very bumpy ride; here are seven of the places that will be hit particularly hard by global warming in our lifetimes..."

File photo of Miami Beach: Daniel Chudosov, Flickr.

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