Record Cold Possible Early Next Week

Everyone has weather stories. Some are more harrowing than others. At a fundraising dinner in Montgomery for Ney Nature Center, a couple came up and told me they had just moved back to Minnesota from the Bay Area. “We had apps on our phone. One monitored air pollution levels from fires” they said. “The other listed addresses of homes on fire. At one point our home came up on the app!” They were relieved to be back in The Land of Frozen Water.

Again, remind me not to whine about a little snow.

The brunt of today’s clipper passes south of the Twin Cities; a coating locally with plowable amounts from Mankato to Albert Lea and Rochester.

Cold front #1 arrives tomorrow (but at least the sun will be out). The Mother Lode of numbing air arrives early next week.

The local National Weather Service sees similarities with November 1986, when a few record lows were set. Good times.

The pattern isn’t ripe for any big, beefy storms. A few showers sprout Saturday afternoon; more slush possible next Thursday.


Metro Dusting? ECMWF guidance from Tuesday had accumulating snow passing south of the metro area, and that’s pretty much exactly what happened. European guidance: WeatherBell.




January Jolt. We get a taste of December by tomorrow, and early next week will feel more like January than November. Nothing like tip-toeing into winter. Maps above: Praedictix and AerisWeather.





Some Recovery Third Week of November. I don’t see any signs of Indian Summer, but temperatures may return to average within 2 weeks as the coldest air (temporarily) lifts into Canada and winds aloft become more zonal, blowing west to east, suggesting moderation. That would be nice.

A Cool and Wet October. Here are a few highlights from Mark Seeley’s latest installment of Minnesota WeatherTalk: “…Average temperatures for the month ranged from 3 to 5 degrees F cooler than normal. This ranked as the 21st coolest October in state history back to 1895. Extremes for the month ranged from 91°F at Thielman (Wabasha County) on the 1st to just 12°F at Brimson (St Louis County) on the 29th. October of 2019 ranked as the 6th wettest in state history, with a statewide average precipitation of just under 4.5 inches. Portions of Faribault, Lake, Todd, Mower, and Hennepin Counties reported over 7 inches for the month. Across the state’s climate station network 34 daily precipitation records were set or tied during the month, including 2.09 inches at Caledonia (Houston County) on the 2nd…”


Winter Yard Work Checklist. Lake Minnetonka Patch has a few timely tips. Frankly, I’m looking forward to not weeding for the next 6 months: “…If you didn’t reseed in the fall, it’s not too late to start the lawn renovation process. This begins with a thorough raking to open up the ground and expose the soil. Next, the lawn should be leveled and reseeded as needed. Add fertilizer and humus or compost to keep birds from ripping up the seeds before they can germinate. The advantage to renovating your lawn in the winter is that nature typically provides enough water to germinate the seeds by the spring. If you don’t want to take a DIY approach to lawn renovation, there are plenty of lawn care professionals available for the job this time of year, many of whom offer special pricing and deals during the off-season…”


These Songbirds Seem Eerily Good at Predicting Hurricane Seasons, Delaware Researcher Finds. Yes, but can they point to a green screen? USA TODAY reports on a head-scratching correlation: “…It turns out that in years they stop breeding earlier, there’s more tropical storm activity on their migration route,” Heckscher said. “I thought of that idea, I tested the hypothesis, I looked at the data, but I really wasn’t expecting there to be any relationship there. “And it was a really strong relationship.” Nearly 20 years of data showed Heckscher that not only does the length of the veery’s breeding season relate to future tropical storm activity, but the average number of eggs in each nest could also signal whether the season will be normal, slow or overly active. He found that females produce more eggs when an active hurricane season is in store…”

Photo credit: “The veery thrush migrates every spring from the southern Amazon basin to northern breeding grounds stretching from Delaware to Canada.” Kyle Grantham – The News Journal.


Impact-Based Flash Flood Warnings. NOAA’s National Weather Service is making a few tweaks, using language that better frames the threats to life and property. Right now the perception is that NWS issues too many Flash Flood Warnings, when in fact all warnings are not created equal. Some scenarios are far more dangerous than others.


All Hail the Weather Ball! Yes, Doppler radar has taken meteorology to the next level. Mark Olson at Channhasen News reminds us what life would be like without Doppler: “…Radar is the most useful tool we have to monitor all modes of precipitation, ranging from severe thunderstorms with tornadoes to light snow and drizzle. By using the dual-polarization and Doppler radar capabilities of our radar, we are able to see signatures of tornadoes forming sometimes half an hour or more before they actually touch down. The number of casualties from tornadoes would certainly increase, as lead time on our warnings would drop. Our radar is essential during heavy rain and flooding events, as well as we can estimate how much rain is falling in areas where we have no measurements of rainfall…”

File photo image: Twin Cities National Weather Service.


“Night and Day.” New Radar Allows Scientists to Peer Inside California Wildfires Like Never Before. I had no idea, but a story at SFGate got me up to speed: “…But while tens of thousands fled the flames, there are a handful of researchers who have driven towards them. Scientists with San Jose State University’s Fire Weather Research Laboratory have been deploying to the blazes, taking advantage of the dire fire weather to test an experimental Doppler radar capable of peering into wildfire smoke plumes at unprecedented resolution. Researchers hope the system will yield new insights into the inner structure and evolution of the most dangerous blazes. This could lead to better tools for tracking and forecasting fires, thereby reducing damage and casualties. “This system is unique,” says Craig Clements, the director of the Fire Weather Research Laboratory who’s led deployments of the new radar over the last few weeks…”

Image credit: San Jose Fire Weather Research Laboratory.


“Extreme Flooding Event” at Mohave River Dam Could Put Thousands of Californians at Risk, Officials Say. Here’s an excerpt from ABC News: “An “extreme” flooding event at the Mojave River Dam could put hundreds of thousands of Southern California residents nearby at risk, according to officials. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Friday that it has changed the risk characterization of the dam, located in San Bernardino County, from low to high urgency of action after assessing that water during an extreme flood event could exceed the design capacity of the dam and overtop it. The dam failure that could possibly result would flood the communities adjacent to the Mojave River, such as Hesperia, Apple Valley, Victorville and Barstow, according to the news release…”

File photo credit: “The Mojave River Dam is pictured in this undated photo.” U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District.


Top 3 Plastic Polluters on the Planet? OneGreenPlanet has the story; here’s an excerpt: “An annual global audit from the Break Free From Plastic movement has found the largest sources of plastic pollution. Coca-Cola, Nestlé, and PepsiCo are the top three most identified companies as sources of plastic pollution around the globe. As part of their audit, Break Free From Plastic conducted 484 cleanups in 50 countries, on six continents. According to the audit, part of the problem is that plastic is not recyclable. Only 9% of plastic produced since 1950 has been recycled. The rest is incinerated, in landfills or left pollution in oceans, land and other areas. When plastic is burned it causes toxic pollution. If not incinerated or recycled, it breaks down into microplastics, which cause harm to ocean life…”


The First Map of America’s Food Supply Chain is Mind-Boggling. Buy local whenever possible; it’s good for your local community (and the environment). Here’s an excerpt from Fast Company: “…Now, residents in each county can see how they are connected to all other counties in the country via food transfers. Overall, there are 9.5 million links between counties on our map. All Americans, from urban to rural are connected through the food system. Consumers all rely on distant producers, agricultural processing plants, food storage like grain silos and grocery stores, and food transportation systems. For example, the map shows how a shipment of corn starts at a farm in Illinois, travels to a grain elevator in Iowa before heading to a feedlot in Kansas, and then travels in animal products being sent to grocery stores in Chicago…”

Image credit: “This map shows how food flows between counties in the U.S. Each line represents the transportation of all food commodities, along transit routes, such as roads or railways.” [Image: Environmental Research Letters (2019)]


A French Space Startup is Launching Wine Into Orbit. Sounds smart to me. Tastes like stupid-money to me. Here’s a clip from Quartz: “…Now, the French entrepreneur and his co-founder Emmanuel Etcheparre have a new company, Space Cargo Unlimited, which aims to perform biological research in the microgravity of Earth’s orbit. Begun in 2014, it plans to fly experiments on rockets made by Blue Origin and SpaceX as soon as next year. But, first, on Nov. 2, they will launch a dozen bottles of the finest wine to the International Space Station on a rocket built by Northrop Grumman. They are believed to be the first glass bottles flown to the orbiting laboratory…”

Photo credit: “Sunlight, held together by water.” Space Cargo Unlimited.


Careful With Those Overdue Library Books. CNN.com reports: “A woman failed to return two public library books on time and was faced with an arrest warrant. The Charlotte, Michigan resident checked out two books from her local library in 2017, and says she didn’t know about the overdue fines until a few months ago, according to CNN affiliate WILX. Melinda Sanders-Jones was told in person that her books were late when she was barred a few months ago from using a printer at Charlotte Community Library. Once Sanders located them on her son’s bookshelf and returned them, she figured she would be notified of the fees, she told the station.  It wasn’t that simple. Sanders was in line to receive a promotion at her job, but her boss called her last week and said a background check revealed she had an open arrest warrant...”


32 F. maximum Twin Cities temperature on Tuesday.

48 F. average high on November 5.

45 F. high on November 5, 2018.

November 6, 1993: Heavy lake effect snow falls over the eastern portion of Lake of the Woods. 3-4 inches around Baudette.

November 6, 1947: A snowstorm moves through Minnesota with high winds, causing a million dollars in damage.


WEDNESDAY: Slushy start. Flurries taper. Winds: NW 10-15. High: 32

THURSDAY: Sunny with plenty of fresh air. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 18. High: 29

FRIDAY: Partly sunny, not as numbing. Winds: S 7-12. Wake-up: 16. High: 37

SATURDAY: Clouds increase. Few PM rain/snow showers. Winds: SW 7-12. Wake-up: 27. High: near 40

SUNDAY: Flurries taper, partial clearing. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 25. High: 32

MONDAY: Glimmers of sun, a cold wind. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 13. High: 23

TUESDAY: Coldest day. Windchills near 0F. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 9. High: 18


Climate Stories….

U.S. Tells UN It Is Pulling Out of Paris Climate Deal. Unfortunate, especially considering every country could set its own non-binding targets for emission reductions. It was, in essence, an agreement to agree. AP and Star Tribune reports: “The United States has begun the process of pulling out of the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that he submitted a formal notice to the United Nations. That starts a withdrawal process that does not become official for a year. His statement touted America’s carbon pollution cuts and called the Paris deal an “unfair economic burden” to the U.S. economy. Nearly 200 nations signed the climate deal in which each country provides its own goals to curb emissions of heat-trapping gases that lead to climate change…”


Trump Starts Paris Pullout… Climate Nexus has links and headlines: “The Trump administration on Monday initiated the process to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement by formally submitting a letter to the UN. This puts the US on track to officially stop being a party to the Paris Agreement on November 4th, 2020—one day after the US general election. The move was met by a loud chorus of disapproval from members of Congress, governors, mayors, and private sector leaders, among others, who called the decision bad for America’s economy, health and security. American leaders committed to upholding the Paris Agreement have increased to represent two-thirds of the US economy the second largest economy in the world—and will be represented at this year’s UN climate talks in Madrid.” (New York Times $, CNN, AP, Reuters, Politico, Washington Post, Fortune, Gizmodo, CNBC, NPR, ABC, Newsweek, The Hill, Climate Home. Commentary: Washington Post, John Kerry and Chuck Hagel op-ed $, LA Times editorial $. Backgrounders: What Experts Say v. What the White House Says, Paris Agreement Withdrawal FAQ)

File image: Reuters.


Climate Crisis: 11,000 Scientists Warn of “Untold Suffering”. The Guardian reports: “The world’s people face “untold suffering due to the climate crisis” unless there are major transformations to global society, according to a stark warning from more than 11,000 scientists. “We declare clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency,” it states. “To secure a sustainable future, we must change how we live. [This] entails major transformations in the ways our global society functions and interacts with natural ecosystems.” There is no time to lose, the scientists say: “The climate crisis has arrived and is accelerating faster than most scientists expected. It is more severe than anticipated, threatening natural ecosystems and the fate of humanity...”

Photo credit: “A man uses a garden hose to try to save his home from wildfire in Granada Hills, California, on 11 October 2019.” Photograph: Michael Owen Baker/AP.


Googlers Demand Company Do Better On Climate: Climate Nexus reports: “More than 1,000 Google employees sent an open letter to the company Monday demanding that it cut its greenhouse gas emissions and stop funding climate denial organizations. The letter, organized by Google Workers For Action on Climate, calls for the company to reach zero emissions by 2030 and cut all business relationships with fossil fuel extraction companies, and references recent Amazon and Microsoft movements making similar demands within their companies. Google came under fire last month after reports on its continued contributions to organizations funding climate denial.” (The Verge, APFast Company, The Guardian, Gizmodo, Business Insider, Daily Beast)


Business Increasingly Accepting Reality of Climate Change. Here’s an excerpt of an interview at IMF, the International Monetary Fund: “…Everybody that I’ve talked to, with very few exceptions, accepts the fact that climate change is occurring. Some subset of that group, maybe 15 percent, are not yet convinced that it’s man-made as opposed to naturally occurring. That means, therefore, at least from the people I’ve talked to, 85 percent of them believe that man-made factors are contributing to climate change and that something needs to be done about human behavior. What is the best thing to do about this, though, is not easy to figure out. One of the problems is that if you go through history, it’s rarely been the case that humans have said, “I’m going to take action that will be important for my great, great grandchildren, but I will not be alive to see the benefits, and maybe my children and grandchildren will not be alive to see them either...”



The AI Revolution Could Kill Fossil Fuels. But I suspect it won’t go down without a prolonged fight. No industry wants to be disrupted. Here’s an excerpt from Markets Insider: “…Now, two and a half years later, the technology has advanced considerably, along with the urgency of finding a wide-scale solution to making variable renewable energies like wind and solar a viable replacement for high-polluting fossil fuels. As reported by the World Economic Forum, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that lobbies for deregulation on behalf of a consortium of 1,000 multinational corporations, “the pressure is on to cut carbon emissions and, as a result, methods must be found to manage the increasing gigawatts of unpredictable, weather-dependent renewable energy flowing on to power grids. The cost of electricity is also a concern, not just for consumers, but for governments keen to keep their voters happy. In short, there is a global demand for clean, cheap, reliable energy – and artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly being used to help meet this need. Enabling the growth of low-carbon, green electricity is an AI application with a potentially huge long-term impact…”


Climate Change is Burning Down California. It’s Time We Stop Adding Fuel to the Fire. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at Newsweek: “…Once a fire ignites, the conditions fostered by climate change increase the size, frequency, and intensity of wildfires, and lengthen the fire season. A slew of studies have identified these climate change signals in recent western wildfire trends. Climate change has led to an average temperature increase of 2°F in the western U.S., and this is making fires worse by heating up and drying out the landscape. When the ground is parched and plants are dry, it’s far easier for fire to spread further, and faster. In the Western US, climate change has increased the risk of fire weather fivefold and has doubled how much land has burned. Wildfire frequency has quadrupled since the 1980s, and fire season has lengthened by more than two months (78 days). These changes are largely linked to warmer temperatures and earlier snowmelt. Both ingredients (warmer temperatures and earlier snowmelt) have in turn been directly attributed to climate change...”


The Ice Used to Protect Them. Now Their Island is Crumbling Into the Sea. The Washington Post has the story; here’s a clip: “…The sea ice that used to encase the islands most winters, shielding them from the brunt of fierce storms and pounding waves, is shrinking at a rate of about 555 square miles annually, data shows. That’s a swath of ice larger than Los Angeles. Even as that natural defense collapses, sea levels have been rising at a rate roughly twice the global norm in recent years, researchers say. The result is an escalating battle against erosion and flooding — one that a growing number of coastal populations face, from islands in the South Pacific to communities along the U.S. East Coast…”

Photo credit: “An abandoned road is crumbling into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Adele Chiasson, a widow who lives nearby, said visitors “are shocked at the changes” that erosion has wrought on the cliffs.”


How to Understand Natural Disasters in a Climate Change Age. Some good perspective at FiveThirtyEight; here’s a clip: “…Behind every natural event that becomes a disaster is a tangle of causes — some natural, some man-made. Climate change might be a part of it, but it’s never the only thing going on. “When I look at any of these events and see the headlines, it’s almost always a situation where [the disaster] is caused by natural variability … and the climate change part of it is making it worse,” said Lisa Goddard, director of the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University. For example, drought in the West is linked to an increased risk of wildfire, but the droughts we’ve seen over the last couple decades are natural cycles, Goddard said. Combine those with climate-change induced higher average temperatures, though, and you’ve got a natural problem made bigger by human-caused change…”

File image: NOAA.



The California Fires Show How Unprepared We Are for Climate Change. Because climate change doesn’t hit home until…it hits home. Here’s a clip from a post at The Verge: “…The slow-moving nature of the climate crisis means that, under even the best scenarios, these fires will keep growing for the next 40 years. The longer we keep going this way, the more powerful they’ll get. If a foreign country had caused something like this, we would be mobilizing for war. If the threat had appeared suddenly, you might expect emergency declarations from Congress and wall-to-wall press coverage. But the response to the fires has been strangely muted. There’s been no address from the president and no particular attention from lawmakers. After last year’s Camp Fire, Congress was unable to pass a disaster relief bill until the following June, and Congress’ looming appropriations fight suggests it will be no easier this time around. California’s governor has called for a state of emergency and FEMA has pledged funding, but there’s a creeping sense that our institutions just aren’t up to a challenge of this magnitude. As the fires grow, that’s a profoundly frightening thought...”

File photo: Michael Owen Baker, AP.


Blame Climate Change for More Frequent California Fires. Star Tribune’s Editorial Board has an Op-Ed; here’s an excerpt: “…It’s clear that conditions are getting worse throughout the state. Five of California’s 20 deadliest wildfires have occurred during the last two years. And 10 of the 20 most destructive wildfires, in terms of structures lost, occurred over the last 10 years. And it’s also woefully apparent that the state’s infrastructure cannot handle this new normal. The power outages left many regions without cellular service, emergency information, traffic lights or the other essentials of a modern, functioning community. Roads clogged as people tried to evacuate. And the fires have proved again and again that even homes and commercial areas in suburban-style neighborhoods seemingly far from forests or chaparral can be torched by embers carried for miles by hurricane-force winds...”

Photo credit: Noah Berger • Associated Press. “Flames from a backfire consume a hillside in Santa Paula, Calif., on Friday.”