Forecast Dilemmas – Maps Look Like Late March
The forecast is rarely simple, cut and dry. Unless you’re a comatose weather dude in Phoenix or San Diego during the summer months.
Predicting temperature is more straightforward than precipitation. Timing is easier with fall, winter and spring storms, when rain and snow is “stratiform” – widespread smears of moisture, as opposed to random, hit or miss “convective” summer thundershowers.
And do you predict the forecast high/low at MSP International Airport, where the official recordings are taken? Downtown temperatures can be 3-8F warmer than outlying suburbs due to the urban heat island.
One of many meteorological quandaries we deal with on a daily basis.
There’s little doubt temperatures will mellow into next week; probably an extended run of 50s with a 1 in 3 chance of 60F on Tuesday. That’s 20F warmer than average, coming after a February 4F warmer than normal. I detect a trend.
No mega-storms brewing, maybe a light mix Friday night; the atmosphere warm enough for generic rain showers by Monday – thunder by Tuesday.
On the blog below: are extreme tornado outbreaks becoming more common – and February was the warmest month in the satellite record.
“The Old Normal is Gone” : February Shatters Global Temperature Records. Meteorologist Eric Holthaus has a summary at Slate; here’s the intro: “Our planet’s preliminary February temperature data are in, and it’s now abundantly clear: Global warming is going into overdrive. There are dozens of global temperature datasets, and usually I (and my climate journalist colleagues) wait until the official ones are released about the middle of the following month to announce a record-warm month at the global level. But this month’s data is so extraordinary that there’s no need to wait: February obliterated the all-time global temperature record set just last month…”
February Was Earth’s Warmest Month in the Satellite Record. It didn’t just break the record – it blew it away. Meteorologist Jason Samenow reports at The Capital Weather Gang; here’s the intro: “The temperature of the lowest section of the atmosphere hit its highest level on record in February, as estimated by weather satellites. The planet was 0.83 degrees Celsius warmer than the long-term average, according to Roy Spencer, research scientist at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, who worked with John Christy to develop the original analysis of satellite-derived global temperatures. The February reading is remarkable in that it rose almost 0.3 degrees from the warmest level in January on record, established last month…”
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Transitioning Back to Spring. A few more seasonably chilly days, and then temperatures ramp up next week with a string of 50s; even an outside shot at 60F by Tuesday afternoon. A light mix is possible Friday night, the atmosphere warm enough for a few rounds of rain showers next week.
Mid-60s in 2 Weeks? Don’t circle your calendar just yet, but NOAA’s GFS model shows another surge of springy air pushing into Minnesota 2 weeks from now with highs forecast to reach the mid-60s. Amazing.
Cold Air Retreats North. 2-meter temperatures (NOAA GFS) show a lobe of subzero air pushing across Hudson Bay into eastern Quebec as a shift in upper level steering winds pushes 50s and 60 across the Plains next week. Perfectly normal for late March or early April.
What Happened to Normal? Here is the projected temperature trend for highs and lows for the next 2 weeks, showing the departure from normal readings (shaded red). On a few days temperatures may run 20-25F warmer than average. Source: AerisWeather.
Spring Outlook from NOAA. Continuing the trend we’ve seen in recent months NOAA CPC is predicting a better than 50% probability of warmer than average temperatures into May; a slight dry bias for the Great Lakes, Wisconsin and Minnesota. That sounds about right.
Outlook Calls for Extreme Rains. 10-Day accumulated rainfall amounts are off the scale for portions of the west coast and Mid South; as much as 8″ or more near Little Rock and Memphis. Flash flooding is likely from the Bay Area to Seattle over the next week or so. Source: NOAA GFS and AerisWeather.
Energized Pattern. Whether it’s a fading El Nino or symptoms of an MJO signature pushing across the eastern Pacific a parade of storms is likely for the far west; another storm pushing out of the Gulf of Mexico, dropping excessive rains from Louisiana to Arkansas and Tennessee. A fast-forward spring indeed. Isobars and precipitation type: NOAA GFS and AerisWeather.
Most death and destruction inflicted by tornadoes in North America occurs during outbreaks—large-scale weather events that can last one to three days and span huge regions. The largest outbreak ever recorded happened in 2011. It spawned 363 tornadoes across the United States and Canada, killing more than 350 people and causing $11 billion in damage. Now, a new study shows that the average number of tornadoes in these outbreaks has risen since 1954, and that the chance of extreme outbreaks —tornado factories like the one in 2011—has also increased. The study’s authors said they do not know what is driving the changes. “The science is still open,” said lead author Michael Tippett, a climate and weather researcher at Columbia University’s School of Applied Science and Engineering and Columbia’s Data Science Institute…” (The paper below is available at Nature Communications).
Photo credit above: Meteorologist Aaron Shaffer, minnyapple.com.
In Depth: How Technology Is Helping Save Lives During a Tornado. It’s all about debris management, and tightening building codes to make homes and businesses more tornado-resistant. Here’s a video link and excerpt at KXAN.com: “…How are we going to resist all this debris that impales all our structures? So, that’s how the Debris Impact Facility was birthed,” explains Tanner, who now manages the Texas Tech Debris Impact Facility, the world’s leading wind damage research program. Originally known as the Wind Science and Engineering Research Center, it has evolved into the study of all things wind, and is now the National Wind Institute. And the best way to study debris impact was through the development of a pneumatic cannon, which fires projectiles at speeds found in EF-5 tornadoes. Professor Tanner operates the cannon, which he affectionately calls “a potato gun on steroids…”
Isotopes in water molecules act like a “chemical fingerprint,” said Jeff Welker, a UAA biology professor involved in the project. Analysis by Welker, UAA postdoctoral fellow Eric Klein and their research partners at the State University of New York and other institutions parsed out the isotopes associated with the Arctic — considered a cold, dry source of water — and matched them to the heavy precipitation events at the New Hampshire location. The analysis also tracked increasing incidences of Arctic-marked rain and snowfall over time with reduced Arctic sea ice — and with polar vortex events like the one that warmed Alaska but chilled the U.S. East Coast in the winter of 2013-14. The chemical evidence backs up the emerging theory that the rapid warming of the Arctic is slowing the jet stream, causing a wavy pattern that brings warm weather to the far north and cold weather to the middle latitudes, Welker and Klein said...”
Photo credit above: “ Elise Amendola / Associated Press file photo
Instead of Record Rains, L.A. Gets the Hottest February on Record. Rains have hit northern California and the Pacific Northwest, but it’s been unusually hot and dry for an El Nino winter in SoCal. Here’s an excerpt from The Los Angeles Times: “…The atmosphere is chaotic and has a certain randomness to it,” said Nicholas A. Bond, a research meteorologist at the University of Washington. In that regard, the no-show of the El Niño rains was no more surprising than the summer heat. “All this is kind of — in mathematical terms — a probabilistic thing,” Bond said. “It’s not like El Niño dictates these weather patterns. It just favors certain types rather than other types.” As might be expected, more historic temperatures fall in the latter half of the 20th century, reflecting the warming of the climate. The 1980s and the 1990s have the highest number of record hot days…” (File image credit here).
El Nino Eases to Moderate Levels. Reuters has the story.
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Syria’s Drought Has Likely Been Its Worst in 900 Years. Climate Central takes a look at new research trying to put a mega-drought into historical perspective; here’s an excerpt: “…Using tree ring data that covered 900 years of drought history, Cook led a team of researchers to look at drought across different regions in the Mediterranean. Dry spells in parts of the western Mediterranean have been severe but still within the range of natural variability over that 900-year span. What stands out is the drought in the eastern Mediterranean, which includes war-torn Syria. Drought has had a firm grip on the region since 1998 and Cook’s findings show that the recent bone-dry spell is likely the driest period on record in 900 years and almost certainly the worst drought in 500 years. In either case, it’s well outside the norm of natural variability indicating that a climate change signal is likely emerging in the region…”
Photo credit: “A Syrian refugee camp in Turkey.” Credit: European Parliament.
Vietnam Hit By Worst Drought in 90 Years. Here’s a clip from Channel NewsAsia: “Vietnam is suffering its worst drought in nearly a century with salinisation hitting farmers especially hard in the crucial southern Mekong delta, experts said Monday (Mar 1). “The water level of the Mekong River has gone down to its lowest level since 1926, leading to the worst drought and salinisation there,” Nguyen Van Tinh, deputy head of the hydraulics department under the Ministry of Agriculture, told AFP…”
Photo credit above: “A man feeds shrimps at a farm in Vietnam’s Mekong delta province of Ben Tre August 22, 2015.” REUTERS/Kham.
Listen Up Candidates: Science Matters, and Here’s Why. Scientific American has a link to a good explainer video: “Because researchers work on solving problems that every politician should care about—including climate risks, clean energy, new materials, emerging diseases and a wide range of technologies that can fuel economic growth—the Science Coalition, a group of universities that lobbies for federal investments in research, is sponsoring an event called Super Science Tuesday. It’s a video compilation in which scientists tell the candidates why they need to pay attention…”
Image credit: National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health.
Humans Can’t Keep Trashing the Oceans Forever. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Japan Times: “The importance of the world’s oceans cannot be overstated. They supply 50 percent of the oxygen we breathe, feed billions of people and provide livelihoods for millions more. They are the great biological pump of global atmospheric and thermal regulation, and the driver of the water and nutrient cycles. And they are among the most powerful tools for mitigating the effects of climate change. In short, the oceans are a critical ally, and we must do everything in our power to safeguard them. This is all the more important, given the unprecedented and unpredictable threats that we currently face. Though the ocean has been integral to slowing climate change, absorbing over 30 percent of the greenhouse-gas emissions and 90 percent of the excess heat generated since the Industrial Revolution, the cost has been huge…”
File image: NASA ISS.
Wind on Track to Top Hydro as the Leading U.S. Renewable After 2017. Here’s the intro to a story at Utility Dive: “Hydropower, long the leading source of renewable energy in the United States, is slated to be overtaken by wind generation by the end of 2017, Generation Hub reports. At the end of 2015, wind accounted for 6.33% of the U.S. power mix and hydro made up 8.41%. There are 12,329 MW of wind in construction or planning but only 317 MW of hydropower capacity in construction or planning at present, according to recent FERC numbers. By the end of 2017, wind is likely to account for about 8.4% of the U.S. electricity supply and challenge hydro for the U.S. renewables lead...”
Unilever CEO: Why Sustainability Is No Longer a Choice. Here’s an excerpt from LiveScience: “…As the head of a company operating in more than 190 countries and whose products are used by 2 billion people every day, I’m convinced that businesses have both a responsibility and an interest in supporting sustainability. There is overwhelming evidence that the transition to a thriving, clean economy is inevitable, irreversible — and irresistible. Last year, for the first time, the global economy grew without materially increasing carbon dioxide emissions. In many of the world’s major economies, including China, India, France and the United States, renewable energy is now able to produce electricity for the same cost as traditional technologies…” (Image credit: U.S. Department of Energy).
Best Pictures from #YearInSpace. Check out some amazing photos taken by NASA astronaut Scott Kelly on the International Space Station, courtesty of Flickr.
Where Chicago Hides Its Snow. Atlas Obscura has an interesting tale focused on snow removal. No, they can’t just push it into the Chicago River or Lake Michigan. Here’s a clip: “…Since the 1960s, though, it’s become clear that snow cleared from the street can pick up pollutants and trash, and dumping it into waterways is an environmental hazard. Instead, cities have had to come up with new strategies for dealing with excess snow–which often means stockpiling it, in designated locations, until spring, or at least the next big thaw. Some cities keep their snow locations secret, but Chicago shared its list of lots identified as excess snow disposal locations with Atlas Obscura and DNAInfo. Altogether, the city has 530 locations where it can pile snow, across the city’s 50 wards…” (Image credit:
FRIDAY: Light mix possible, wet roads. Winds: S 10-15. High: 38
SATURDAY: Blue sky, warmer than average. Winds: W 7-12. Wake-up: 29. High: 41
SUNDAY: Mostly cloudy, milder and gusty. Winds: S 15-25. Wake-up: 31. High: 53
MONDAY: Feels like late March, few showers. Winds: SE 10-20. Wake-up: 36. High: 54
TUESDAY: Some sun, risk of a T-shower. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 47. High: 58
WEDNESDAY: Intervals of sun, no sign of winter. Winds: NE 5-10. Wake-up: 32. High: 48
Pending Prosecution of Fossil Fuel Companies Over Climate Denial? Here’s an excerpt from Bloomberg BNA: “…I’m confident the U.S. Department of Justice will also do an investigation, and they in fact may be doing one now. In my experience, they typically don’t say they’re doing investigations. Same with the Securities and Exchange Commission—they may not say they’re doing an investigation. If you look at what the fossil fuel companies—and I specifically say companies because now there’s evidence that it wasn’t just Exxon Mobil who knew about climate change—planned for it and then denied it. Shell also knew about climate change, planned for it and then publicly denied it. That set back the fight against climate change for decades, which is unfortunate because [the necessary action] is not just merely taking carbon, methane and other greenhouse gases out of the air. It’s taking it out of the air within a certain amount of time…” (File image: LM Otero, AP).
Here’s What Super Tuesday Voters Think About Climate Change. Mother Jones has a sobering update; here’s a clip: “…According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, scientists are 95 percent certain that human activities are responsible for most of the dramatic warming since the 1950s. But according to Yale’s estimates, that opinion is shared by less than half of adults in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wyoming. Overall, just 48 percent of adults in the Super Tuesday states accept the scientific consensus…”
Canada in 2015: Land of Climate-Change Extremes at Current Emissions Levels. Here’s the intro to a story at The Vancouver Sun: “Canada is a land of extremes, from car-freezing cold to crop-searing heat and drenching rains to drought. But you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. By 2050 — within the life expectancy of most Canadians — scientists say that if current emissions levels remain unchanged, climate change will be well established. It will be warmer: a cross-country summertime average of about two degrees. It will be wetter, mostly, by about five per cent. Those modest figures may sound good to a country that describes summer as four months of poor sledding. And global warming will bring perks, such as the chance to grow different or more abundant crops…”
Critiquing Climate Coverage. Science AAAS has the story; here’s a link and introduction: “A solitary bear peers into the ice melting under its feet. A short skim through the text below this classic climate change image is often all it takes for glaciologist Twila Moon to find the words that set her teeth on edge: polar ice caps. “I’m amazed how many people say ‘polar ice caps’—it’s totally unscientific and not, not something we ever talk about as researchers!” says Moon, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oregon in Eugene. She rarely encounters such errors in papers and presentations, but they’ve grown familiar through her participation in Climate Feedback, a project where scientists provide feedback about media coverage of climate science. The goal, explains founder and University of California, Merced, project scientist Emmanuel Vincent, is to give scientists a voice and a means to impact the quality of the information that reaches the public…” (File image: Shutterstock).
The Crucial Point Warren Buffet Does Not Understand About Climate Risk. Here’s a clip from ThinkProgress: “…With all due respect to Buffett, climate change isn’t a limited one-time risk to Berkshire, a la Y2K, since, as we’ve seen, climate change is not like Y2K at all. It is much more like the collapse of the housing, mortgage, and financial market — an existential threat to the national and global economy, with broad and deep impacts to most Americans that can even hit a shrewd investor like Buffett hard. Had governments not intervened at the height of that crisis, we might have entered a long-lasting depression…”
Photo credit above: Nati Harnik, AP.
Large Group of Pro-Life Christians in Texas Campaigning for 100% Clean Energy by 2030. Here’s an excerpt from Clean Technica: “…It is time to stop poisoning the womb and our environment and create a cleaner, brighter future for our children, free from pollution,” explained the Reverend Mitch Hescox, President/CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network. “Over 638,000 kids in Texas have asthma, and pollution makes it hard for them to breath [sic]. That’s not right.” “The Holy Bible testifies to God’s mandate on all Believers to care for Creation. Industrial pollution is clearly harmful to the environment and threatens to harm human lives. That is why Christians in Texas are asking policy makers to make creation care a priority,” stated Reverend Dr Daniel Flores, The Hispanic Wesleyan Society, Fort Worth, Texas…”
Image Credit: Leaflet via a Wiki CC BY-SA 3.0 License
Can Miami Beach Survive Climate Change? Or will it morph into Venice, or the Lost City of Atlantis by the 22nd century? Here’s a clip from a CNN story: “…Pull up a map of projected sea level rise, and it’s easy to see why. At even 2 to 4 feet of sea level rise, the island will be considerably flooded. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says 6 feet of sea level increase is possible by century’s end. These are long-term trends — measured in decades and generations — but they’re certainly frightening. Others in Miami Beach, however, are vowing to stay and fight. The city is regarded by many as a proactive leader in efforts to hold back the threats of rising tides. How are they doing it? And what are the limits of engineering fixes to climate change and rising seas?...” (File image credit: Wikipedia).