Conservation Minnesota

Near 70 Today; Slush Up North Thursday? ("Sandy" may threaten east coast by next weekend)

64 F. high in the Twin Cities Monday.
 

55 F. average high on October 22.

61 F. high on October 22, 2011.

Today: mildest day in sight – if skies brighten 70 is possible later today.

30 degrees colder by Friday.

October Surprise? It’s still (very) early, but the fairly reliable ECMWF model raises the distinct possibility of a hurricane hitting coastal New England by Halloween of next week. Residents of the east coast should pay attention. Details below.

Wet Halloween – Dry, 50-Degree Hunting Opener? The extended forecast is below, potentially scary weather (soggy with a cold rain) on October 31, but temperatures may mellow a bit for the first weekend of November. Pumpkin photo: lolpranks.com.

“…As the World Bank’s World Development Report 2010 argues, “Economic growth alone is unlikely to be fast or equitable enough to counter threats from climate change, particularly if it remains carbon intensive and accelerates global warming.” The World Bank goes on to say, “climate policy cannot be framed as a choice between growth and climate change. In fact, climate-smart policies are those that enhance development, reduce vulnerability, and finance the transition to low-carbon growth paths…” – from a Think Progress post on pro-business climate policies. Details below.

Halloween Hurricane?
Late October can be a harrowing time to be a meteorologist. Huge north-south temperature extremes can brew up massive storms. Exhibit A: Halloween Superstorm of 1991, which dumped nearly 30 inches of snow on MSP. The storm stalled, because “The Perfect Storm” stalled off the coast of New England. None of the computer models picked it up.
Two big weather stories today: a November-like slap is shaping up later this week; a cold rain Thursday may end as a little slushy snow up north.
The other story that has me pacing: a potential hurricane landfall for the east coast within 8 days. 
What? Late October hurricanes are rare, but not impossible; water temperatures still abnormally warm after 2012′s record summer heat. The fairly reliable ECMWF (European) model brings a hurricane into New England on Halloween. Talk about an unpleasant “October Surprise”. The truth: it’s too early to know with any confidence, but check the blog for frequent updates.
Showers give way to a mild south breeze today; a shot at 70 F. Wednesday may be just as mild with a few PM showers, even a clap or two of thunder.
Heavier, steadier rain arrives Thursday AM (.5 to 1 inch possible), heralding the arrival of a REAL cold front. Dig out the heavy jackets for next weekend.
Here we go!

Tropical Storm Sandy. As of Monday night Sandy’s circulation was getting better organized, a lack of wind shear coupled with unusually warm sea surface temperatures providing a ripe environment for strengthening. Here’s more on this growing tropical storm from NHC. Image above courtesy of the Naval Research Lab.

“Sandy” Hits Jamaica As Tropical Storm. Models show Sandy hitting Jamaica as a strong tropical storm Wednesday, with sustained winds of 65-70 mph, hurricane-force gusts over 80 mph. Map: NHC and Ham Weather.

New England Landfall Next Week? It’s early, and the track will change over time, as new data refines and improves computer model accuracy. But we’ve had a few runs/row with the ECMWF model pulling “Sandy” close to the coast, with landfall possible near Providence or Boston by Wednesday of next week. If this forecast verifies, still a big if, it will be a very rough Halloween for New England.

Continuity. As meteorologists, our comfort level rises when the weather models agree. Such is the case above, the Canadian forecast (upper left) and the NOGAPS (Navy) model (upper right) both valid Sunday morning at 7 am – showing a MAJOR Hurricane Sandy east of North Carolina, with hurricane-force winds and extensive beach erosion and coastal flooding possible from the Carolinas into the Tidewater of Virginia.

Much of Caribbean Spared. Sandy will produce serious flash flooding for Jamaica, Cuba and the Bahamas, as well as Haiti, but Puerto Rico and other island nations should avoid the worst of the storm. All the models track Sandy due north. Some models whisk the growing hurricane into the Atlantic, and there’s a 40-45% chance this could still happen. But some of the more reliable models show Sandy much closer to the east coast of the USA.

Complicating Factors. The Canadian GEMS model, valid Sunday morning at 7 am, shows “Sandy” being pulled into a large and deepening trough of low pressure approaching the east coast. Normally hurricanes would veer quickly out to sea. This may not be a normal late October hurricane scenario. Map above shows predicted Sunday winds at 500 mb, roughly 18,000 feet above the ground.

Similarities To Hurricane Grace? The remains of “Grace”, which formed in late October, 1991, eventually got sucked into an extratropical low pressure system, mutating into a nearly stationary super-storm that became “The Perfect Storm” – the storm that proved to be the inspiration for the book and the movie. How quickly “Sandy” will weaken as it pushes north remains to be seen, whether it’s even possible to push into New England as a full-fledged hurricane is uncertain. More details on Hurricane Grace from Wikipedia: “Hurricane Grace was a short-lived Category 2 hurricane that contributed to the formation of the powerful 1991 Perfect Storm. Forming on October 26, Grace initially had subtropical origins, meaning it was partially tropical and partially extratropical in nature. It became a tropical cyclone on October 27, and ultimately peaked with winds of 85 knots (100 mph; 160 km/h). The storm had minor effects on the island of Bermuda as it passed to the south. A developing extratropical storm to the north turned Grace eastward; the hurricane was eventually absorbed into the large circulation of the larger low pressure system. Fed by the contrast between cold air to the northwest and warm air from the remnants of Hurricane Grace, this storm became a large and powerful nor’easter that caused extremely high waves and resulted in severe coastal damage along the U.S. East Coast.


A Real Rain Event? I’m tempted to discount this, because we haven’t been very lucky in the rainfall department in recent months, but the models all print out roughly a half inch of rain late Wednesday into Thursday. I hope the models are right.

Thursday Touch of Slush? The NAM model shows a cold rain ending as a little slusny snow, a narrow stripe of wet snow from Marshall to Willmar, St. Cloud and Brainerd, where wet snow may accumulate on lawns and fields by Thursday evening. With recent warmth much of this snow may melt on contact.

Near 70 Wednesday, 30 Degrees Colder By Sunday. The ECMWF continues to print out a significant amount of rain late Wednesday into Thursday afternoon, as a surge of Canadian air plows south. By Saturday temperatures may struggle just to reach 40. Some moderation is likely next week, 50+ readings by Tuesday and Wednesday.

Soggy Halloween – Dry For Hunting Opener. The long-range outlook is changing, morphing, as new data arrives. Making a semi-accurate forecast beyond 3-4 days is problematic when jet stream steering winds are howling almost directly overhead. The GFS is suggesting a cold rain for Halloween (30s north, 40s south), but dry weather and 40s and 50s for the first weekend of November, for the Firearms Hunting Opener in Minnesota. Stay tuned…

State: Walleyes On Mille Lacs Down In Numbers, Condition. Dennis Anderson has a story in the Star Tribune; here’s an excerpt: ”Mille Lacs walleye abundance has fallen to its lowest level since 1972, according to surveys completed this fall by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The disappointing survey results further complicate the lake’s walleye management. DNR fisheries researchers have worried for some months that the lake’s male walleyes were perhaps in short supply. Test nettings found 4.8 walleyes per net, compared to 9.7 a year ago, an unexpected decline, DNR fisheries managers said in a letter to the Mille Lacs Input Group, a consortium of area resort owners, bait businesses and others. And walleyes caught in the nets “were in poorer condition than what is typically seen, especially for the larger fish,” the DNR said…”

“Ask Paul”. Weather-related Q&A:

For the Twin Cities, are we looking at a winter closer to that of 2010-11, or a more mild winter such as last year (2011-12)?

David Carroll
Lions Share Maintenance

David – I’ve mentioned it a few times on the weather blog. I suspect our dry bias will hang on into at least the first half of winter, thru December. A weak El Nino may steer the most significant storms well south and east of Minnesota, but my gut (a “wish-cast”?) is that we’ll see more plentiful snows after the first of the year. I refuse to believe that we could see two 20″ winters, back to back. The odds of this happening are slim. If I had to throw out an inch figure (dangerous) it would be in the 40-45″ range, so more than last winter, but still almost half the snow that fell during 2010-2011, when a strongly negative NAO (North American Oscillation) blocking pattern kept a fresh supply of sloppy, southern storms pushing north across the Plains. My gut is telling me this winter will be closer to last winter than the 86″ winter of 2011-2011, but I still suspect we’ll see more snow (and more cold) than last winter. Stay tuned…

Favorite Pics…

California Funnel Clouds. This photo was taken in Elk Grove, California.

October Daydream. Larry G. Laird snapped this photo in Center County, Pennsylvania over the weekend. Very nice.

Rapid Ripening. Timothy Garlick captured this photo near Altoona, Pennsylvania Sunday. Yes, I’d say it’s close to peak color in the hills of south central PA.

Sun Valley Panorama. The snow line is coming down – looks (increasingly) like winter out there. Thanks to the Sun Valley, Idaho Resort (and Instagram) for this one.

Looks Like Winter. Rachel Ward snapped this photo in North Lake Tahoe Monday. Looks like it might snow…?

NASA Working On Refueling Satellites. Gizmag.com has the interesting details – here’s an excerpt: ”Geostationary satellites cost a fortune and, despite their sophistication, they break down or eventually run out of propellant to keep them oriented. This is unfortunate when the nearest garage is back on Earth, so NASA wants to remedy this with an orbital version of roadside service. The space agency is developing a service robot that can visit ailing satellites and refuel or even repair them on the spot. Geosynchronous satellites are a vital part of the modern world. Orbiting 22,300 miles (35,800 km) above the earth, they are a key link in global telecommunications, and keep a constant eye on the planet’s weather...” Image above: NASA.

Scientists Convicted Of Manslaughter For Failing To Predict Italian Quake. Wait a second. Do the Italians realize it’s still scientifically IMPOSSIBLE to predict a quake in advance? This one is a head-scratcher, and may have a chilling effect for seismology; here’s an excerpt from a story at ABC News: “…Before the verdict, 5,000 scientists from around the world signed a letter supporting those on trial, arguing it was impossible to predict an earthquake and accusing the court of putting science on trial. “It is manifestly unfair for scientists to be criminally charged for failing to act on information that the international scientific community would consider inadequate as a basis for issuing a warning,” said the letter, signed by Alan Leshner, the CEO and executive published of the journal Science. “Subjecting scientists to criminal charges for adhering to accepted scientific practices may have a chilling effect on researchers, thereby impeding the free exchange of ideas…”

Spain Earthquake, Drilling Wells Linked In New Study Of Lorca Tragedy. A link between drilling deep wells for water extraction and possible earthquakes? Here’s an excerpt of a story at Huffington Post: “Farmers drilling ever deeper wells over decades to water their crops likely contributed to a deadly earthquake in southern Spain last year, a new study suggests. The findings may add to concerns about the effects of new energy extraction and waste disposal technologies. Nine people died and nearly 300 were injured when an unusually shallow magnitude-5.1 quake hit the town of Lorca on May 11, 2011. It was the country’s worst quake in more than 50 years, causing millions of euros in damage to a region with an already fragile economy. Using satellite images, scientists from Canada, Italy and Spain found the quake ruptured a fault running near a basin that had been weakened by 50 years of groundwater extraction in the area…” Photo above: AP.

iPad Mini Pricing May Have Been Leaked. More details on the forthcoming announcement from Apple from gizmag.com; here’s an excerpt: “Like most of Apple’s recent products, many of the iPad Mini’s details have leaked. It will probably sport a 7.85-inch display with narrow bezels, share many internals with the iPad 2, and be ridiculously light and thin. The biggest remaining question, then, may be the tablet’s price. If a new report has any legs, we may now know that too. As reported by 9to5Mac, the base model of the iPad Mini (or iPad Air?) will ring up at US$329. The tablet would also be available in models with extra storage, each of which would add $100 in increasing increments..”

A Diamond Bigger Than Earth? I hope my wife doesn’t read this post. Details from Reuters; here’s an excerpt: ”Forget the diamond as big as the Ritz. This one’s bigger than planet Earth. Orbiting a star that is visible to the naked eye, astronomers have discovered a planet twice the size of our own made largely out of diamond. The rocky planet, called ’55 Cancri e’, orbits a sun-like star in the constellation of Cancer and is moving so fast that a year there lasts a mere 18 hours. Discovered by a U.S.-Franco research team, its radius is twice that of Earth’s and its mass is eight times greater. It is also incredibly hot, with temperatures on its surface reaching 3,900 degrees Fahrenheit (2,148 Celsius).”

Feeling Better About My Commute. This photo was taken in India. Good grief…

An Easy Monday. Mondays are rough enough – at least the weather cooperated. Skies were gray, but temperatures were 5-10 degrees warmer than average, ranging from 56 at St. Cloud to 61 Alexandria to 64 in the Twin Cities. Over a quarter inch of rain fell at Eau Claire.

Paul’s Conservation Minnesota Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:



TODAY: Morning showers, skies brighten a bit by afternoon, still mild. Winds: South 5-10. High: 69

TUESDAY NIGHT: Mild with clouds and patchy fog. Low: 58

WEDNESDAY: Last warm day. Few showers, passing T-storm? High: 64

THURSDAY: A cold rain tapers, Windy & much colder (rain may end as a little wet snow up north). Low: 42. High: 48

FRIDAY: Chilled sunlight, heavy jackets return. Low: 30. High: 44

SATURDAY: A brisk blue sky – feels like early November. Low: 28. High: 43

SUNDAY: More clouds than sun, chilly. Low: 29. high: 49

MONDAY: Fading sun, not as cool. Low: 33. High: near 50

Climate Stories…

DVR-Worthy. Be sure to tune in or record “Climate of Doubt“, a Frontline documentary on PBS tonight, focused on the climate denial machine. Here’s a preview in a Frontline press release: ”…Climate of Doubt describes the individuals and groups behind an organized effort to attack science by undermining scientists, and to unseat politicians who say they believe there is current climate change caused by human activity. Andrew Dessler, a climate scientist at Texas A&M, says, “I fully expect that after this program airs I’ll get another FOIA request for all of my emails with you. And you know, I’ll just deal with that. As a climate scientist, I think a lot about the future. It goes with the job. And I want to make sure that in 50 years or 100 years or 200 years, nobody could ever say we didn’t warn them.” FRONTLINE also investigates the funding that powers the skeptic movement in the name of free market, anti-regulation, small government causes. Hockenberry finds that funding has shifted away from fossil fuel companies to more ideological, and less public, sources. According to Robert Brulle, a sociologist studying the funding patterns of these groups, “The major funders of the climate counter-movement are ideologically driven foundations that are very much concerned about conservative values and world views…”

Study Finds “Climate Change Footprint” in North America, “Continent With The Largest Increases In Natural Disasters”. Some interesting trends from global reinsurance company Munich Re, as reported in this Think Progress story: “

Climate­-driven changes are already evident over the last few decades for severe thunderstorms, for heavy precipitation and flash flood­ing, for hurricane activity, and for heatwave, drought and wild­-fire dynamics in parts of North America.”

So concludes Munich Re, a top reinsurer, in a major new study that, for the first time, links the rapid rise in North American extreme weather catastrophes to manmade climate change. At the same time non-climatic events (earthquakes, volcanos, tsunamis) have hardly changed, as the figure shows. Prof. Peter Höppe, who heads Munich Re’s Geo Risks Research unit, said:

“In all likelihood, we have to regard this finding as an initial climate-change footprint in our US loss data from the last four decades. Previously, there had not been such a strong chain of evidence. If the first effects of climate change are already perceptible, all alerts and measures against it have become even more pressing.”

Communicating Climate Science. I don’t pretend for a second to have the Answer Key about the best methods for communicating climate science, but I’ve been asked to put down my ideas on paper for TV meteorologists interested getting up to speed and accurately communicating the state of climate science in their markets. Here are a few ideas that are top of mind:

Here is my “Top 10 Suggestions for Communicating Climate Science” list:

1). Stick to the science; peer-reviewed climate science. Avoid policy discussions with anchors.

2). Keep it current. Viewers have become conditioned to expect breaking news. If there isn’t a major storm bearing down, consider a :15 to :30 update on climate headlines. Sign up for (free) Google Alerts for climate change and global warming will keep a steady stream of timely articles coming to you every day. Which ones strike a nerve and might be interesting/relevant for your viewers?

3). Bring it home. Changes in the Arctic may not resonate with viewers. What does it mean for me and my family? Show how polar amplification may be slowing weather patterns, making droughts drier and storms even wetter. How will this impact rising sea levels and possible water shortages? There are always effective ways to personalize and localize the science.

4). Communicate with your News Director. Local stations are licensed by the FCC to serve the public interest. That means holding up a mirror to your community and showing the changes taking place, and how climate change may impact your market in the years to come. Remind your managers that you have an obligation, as meteorologists, to communicate the science.

5). Your local Climate Office is a gold mine of data. All TV meteorologists want to go beyond the 7-Day to provide analysis, context and perspective. Tap data (and graphics) from your local climate office to show how extreme rainfall events are increasing, winter nights are trending warmer, with longer growing seasons for farmers.

6). Tease on-air, drill into details on-line. We know you don’t have enough time to explain all the science during your regular TV weathercast. But you can share a couple of headlines, and then point viewers to your web site for more details. Jim Gandy, Dan Satterfield and Mike Nelson have done a good job of explaining the science on-line, and helping to build an audience in the process. On my Star Tribune blog I mix meteorology with climate science and articles that catch my eye, addressing questions, comments and criticisms. On our new national weather channel, “WeatherNation TV”, we include brief climate science headlines with longer 3:00 segments focused on the trends. This is a chance to show your scientific credentials and push back against misinformation.
 
7). Look for local hooks. How are farmers, fishermen, hunters, gardeners, insurance agents and other people who spend extended time outdoors personally experiencing climate change. A 20 second sound bite and one simple graphic can tell the story; again – directing viewers to your station’s web site for more detail.

8). Weather is not climate. It’s tempting to look out the window and make global assumptions. Using NOAA, NCDC and NASA tools you can help viewers keep a global perspective, using temperature anomaly maps to explain the trends.

9). Dig into the science. The debate is over. This is more than a “natural cycle”. What we’re seeing, worldwide, was predicted 30 years ago, and changes are accelerating even faster than predicted. Remind viewers not to rely on dubious blog links or talk radio to get their science. It should come from you, and the only way to make it accurate and timely is to spend the time and get up to speed on peer-reviewed climate science yourself. Become the local climate expert. It will only add to your credibility and the trust and equity you’ve built up in your market.

10). Take advantage of resources. NOAA and NASA have comprehensive resources. Consider the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication and the Global Climate Change Impacts in the US, United States Global Change Research Program to get started. There is no ambiguity or confusion on the part of the AMS about the State of Climate Science. We have an obligation to accurately communicate (all) science, including longer term climate trends.
Good luck!

Addressing Climate Change Is Pro-Business. Here’s an excerpt of a timely article at Think Progress: “An ongoing argument in the presidential election campaign is whether Gov. Romney’s or President Obama’s positions are better for small businesses on issues such as government regulation and energy policy. I asked David Levine for his opinion. Levine is cofounder and CEO of the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC), a growing non-partisan coalition of business networks and businesses committed to creating a vision, a framework and policies that support a vibrant, just and sustainable economy. Founded in 2009, ASBC’s mission is to inform and engage business leaders, and to educate policy makers and the media, about the need and opportunities for a sustainable economy...”

Nobody Mentions Climate Change. But Somebody Did Something About It. Here’s a clip from a “Swampland” post at Time Magazine: “I constantly whine about the Beltway media, and I believe global warming is the most important issue facing humanity. So I was infuriated but not surprised to hear Candy Crowley explain after the last debate that she considered a question for “you climate change people,” but ditched it because “we knew the economy was still the main thing.” Actually, the technical term for people affected by climate change is “people.” It’s already an economic issue—drought is overwhelming the middle of the country—and, memo to Bob Scheiffer, it’s a foreign policy issue, too. But unless Schlieffer asks about it tonight in Boca, this will probably be the first election since 1984 that climate change doesn’t come up in a debate, and the candidates certainly haven’t been raising the issue themselves…”

Is Patrick Michaels Trying To Pass Us a Counterfeit $20 Bill? An explanation from Global Warming, Man or Myth – here’s an excerpt: “What if I were to tell you that the one on the left was provided by a member of the United States Treasury and had the endorsement of virtually every currency expert on the planet? What if I told you that the one on the right was passed by a guy who has a history of deception and that virtually every currency expert thinks the one on the right is fake? I am guessing that you think the one on the left is real and the one on the right is a fake because you considered the credibility of the people who passed that bill to you. Now keep your “credibility eyes” open when Patrick Michaels tries to pass you a counterfeit document that is supposed to make you and our elected officials believe climate change is not a major concern for the United States…”

Scientific American has more on the Cato “report”, designed primarily to confuse members of Congress, here.

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About Paul Douglas

Paul Douglas
Paul Douglas is a meteorologist, author, entrepreneur, and software expert in Minneapolis-St.Paul, Minnesota. He is a nationally recognized meteorologist with over 30 years of broadcast television and radio experience.
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