A Little Defensive About Minnesota Weather? You ‘Betcha

Meteorologists like to talk smack. “My hometown is the most difficult on Earth to forecast the weather!” Really San Diego? I went to school with The Weather Channel’s Mike Seidel, who has filed 21,763 live shots from blizzards, floods and hurricanes. He lives in Atlanta, which is to summer what Minnesota is to winter. After giving me a hard time about the early chill I texted him back. “We are still hurricane/quake/wildfire-free”. The glass is definitely half full (of ice).

This taste of December is annoying – much of the state is brown, which will be surreal early next week as temperatures sink to single digits. Monday’s wind chill may go below zero at times, but temperatures rebound into the 40s later next week.

In the meantime clouds increase today; a fleeting (rain) shower is possible Saturday before the Canadian floodgates open up. Monday will be the coldest day.

Then again, we can slap on more clothes. During an Atlanta heatwave you can only remove so many clothes before the police show up. Your move, Mike.










Snowfall Totals Last Winter – Winter Weather Survival Tips. Good timing: this is Winter Hazard Awareness Week in Minnesota. Here are some timely reminders from The National Weather Service:

Winter Weather Preparations

  • Keep ahead of the winter storm by listening for the latest weather statements, watches and warnings.
  • Your vehicle should also be ready. Get it winterized, before the onset of winter weather.
  • Be equipped for the worst. Carry a winter survival kit in your car, especially when traveling in rural or open areas. Try to travel with others.

When Driving

  • Yield to snowplows, and give them plenty of room to operate.
  • If your vehicle becomes stranded, stay with it until help arrives.
  • Do not try to walk for help during a blizzard, you could easily become lost in the whiteout conditions.

Outdoor Activities

  • If you will be outside during storms or extreme cold, dress in layered clothing and avoid overexertion.
  • Do not kill yourself shoveling snow. Shoveling is very hard work and may induce a heart attack.
  • If you will be snowmobiling, avoid alcohol. Most snowmobile deaths are alcohol related. Take a snowmobile course offered by the DNR or check with your snowmobile dealer.
  • Every year, there are fatalities in Minnesota when people fall through thin ice.


Study Says “Specific” Weather Forecasts Can’t Be Made More Than 10 Days in Advance. Wait, a 90-day weather forecast for a specific city is rubbish? Here’s a clip from Capital Weather Gang: “...A skillful forecast lead time of midlatitude instantaneous weather is around 10 days, which serves as the practical predictability limit,” according to a study published in April in the Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences. Those limits aren’t likely to change much anytime soon. Even if scientists had the data they needed and a more perfect understanding of all forecasting’s complexities, skillful forecasts could extend out to about 14 or 15 days only, the 2019 study found, because of the chaotic nature of the atmosphere. “Two weeks is about right. It’s as close to be the ultimate limit as we can demonstrate,” the study’s lead author told Science Magazine. The American Meteorological Society agrees. Their statement on the limits of prediction, in place since 2015, states that “presently, forecasts of daily or specific weather conditions do not exhibit useful skill beyond eight days, meaning that their accuracy is low…”



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.


Human Activities Are Drying Out Amazon: NASA Study. Here’s the intro from NASA: “A new NASA study shows that over the last 20 years, the atmosphere above the Amazon rainforest has been drying out, increasing the demand for water and leaving ecosystems vulnerable to fires and drought. It also shows that this increase in dryness is primarily the result of human activities. Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, analyzed decades of ground and satellite data over the Amazon rainforest to track both how much moisture was in the atmosphere and how much moisture was needed to maintain the rainforest system. “We observed that in the last two decades, there has been a significant increase in dryness in the atmosphere as well as in the atmospheric demand for water above the rainforest,” said JPL’s Armineh Barkhordarian, lead author of the study. “In comparing this trend to data from models that estimate climate variability over thousands of years, we determined that the change in atmospheric aridity is well beyond what would be expected from natural climate variability...”

Image credit: “The image shows the decline of moisture in the air over the Amazon rainforest, particularly across the south and southeastern Amazon, during the dry season months — August through October — from 1987 to 2016. The measurements are shown in millibars.” Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech, NASA Earth Observatory.


Tesla Pickup (Cybertruck) Unveiled November 21. The design is an acquired taste, but if Elon Musk can pull off 400-500 mile range and price this under 50K he may have something here. Details via insideevs.com: “…The Tesla truck will make the RAM seem toy-like and will beat the Ford F-150 too. Lofty goals, but Tesla really never fails to deliver on the performance front.In top-level trim, the Tesla truck should boast a range of between 400 and 500 miles, possibly more. As one might suspect, it will be all-wheel drive with a motor for each axle. Musk also noted that the suspension will dynamically adjust according to its load. Being electric and a truck means it will have gobs of torque. Musk once tweeted that it could tow 300,000 pounds. Some additional features include 240-volt power for all of your work tools, a unique drop-down tailgate and it will parallel park automatically & have 360-degree cameras & sonar…”


Do You Suffer From General Anxiety Disorder? Here are a couple of excerpts from a Washington Post article: “…A 2018 Gallup poll found that 45 percent of Americans said they felt worried a lot, more than in any year since 2006. patients worry about work, relationships, children, health and money. When worrying becomes persistent, long-lasting and difficult to control, it can seriously affect daily life. And if the unrelenting worry is accompanied by anxiety symptoms such as irritability, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension, fatigue and poor sleep, that person may be suffering from something called generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)...”

Image credit: National Institute of Mental Health.


“Fail Faster – Fail Better”. A story at Newsweek.com caught my eye (I suspect it’s on the right track). Here’s the intro: “Scientists have calculated what they say is the percentage of times we need to fail in order to most efficiently learn something new. In what researchers have dubbed the Eighty Five Percent Rule, failing 15 percent of the time and succeeding the remainder is the optimum way to gain new skills and information. Otherwise if the challenge is too easy we don’t learn. Too hard, and we’re likely to be put off and give up. To arrive at this percentage, the authors of the paper published in the journal Nature Communications taught computers simple tasks, like telling the difference between patterns or reading and sorting handwritten numbers. They found the machines learned fastest when they got the task wrong 15 percent of the time, and succeeded 85 percent...”


I’m Not Single – I’m “Self Partnered”. OK. I’m just trying to keep up. Washington Post (paywall) has the story: “…For years, people have been looking for alternatives to describing themselves as “single,” and now Emma Watson has a new one: “self-partnered.” In an interview with British Vogue, the “Beauty and the Beast” actor, who’s 29, describes her stress around turning 30 while still figuring out things such as navigating her love life, starting a family and building a home. She’s very happy being single, she said, adding, “I call it being self-partnered.”… Whether “self-partnered” speaks to you or not, it harks to the larger trend of sologamy, or marrying oneself. Japanese travel agencies offer “solo wedding” packages: wedding dress, bouquet, limo, hotel stay and photo album included. An Italian woman hosted a “fairytale” wedding, sans prince, for herself and 70 guests…”

Photo credit: “Actor Emma Watson, right, has coined a new term for single: “self-partnered.” (Francois Mori/AP).


Sometimes Doodling Pays Off. Upworthy has the unlikely story; here are a couple of clips: “…So when nine-year-old Joe Whale was caught, on multiple occasions, doodling in his notebooks during class, he got into quite a bit of trouble. He was constantly reprimanded by his teachers and told to focus on his lessons. However, little Joe prevailed. Now, he’s landed his very first job decorating a restaurant with his doodles…His art teacher recognized his talent and decided to post pictures of some of his work on social media platform Instagram. This is when something truly amazing happened…”


28 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities.

46 F. average high on November 7.

33 F. high on November 7, 2018.

November 8, 1999: A November ‘heat wave’ impacts much of the state. Temperatures in the 70’s and 80’s are recorded in Minnesota with records shattered in many places. The Twin Cities had 73 degrees, while Canby saw 82.

November 8, 1943: A severe ice storm hits the Twin Cities, and heavy snow falls over southwest Minnesota. One person died in St. Paul as a trolley car slid off the tracks and hit a pole. A Minneapolis man died shoveling snow. Many telephone poles were down due to the ice. Places like Worthington, Windom, and Marshall saw 14 to 16 inches of snow.

November 8, 1870: The first storm warning for the Great Lakes is issued by the U.S. Army.


FRIDAY: Clouds slowly increase. Winds: S 10-15. High: 36

SATURDAY: Welcome thaw. Passing rain shower. Winds: SW 8-13. Wake-up: 29. High: 42

SUNDAY: Colder wind, few flakes. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 29. High: 33

MONDAY: Coldest day. Feels like -5 to 5F. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 12. High: 22

TUESDAY: Numbing start. Partly sunny. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 8. High: 28

WEDNESDAY: Rain or snow shower. Winds: W 8-13. Wake-up: 22. High: near 40

THURSDAY: Partly sunny, more tolerable. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 25. High: 41


Climate Stories….

As Seas Rise, King Tides Increasingly Inundate the Atlantic Coast. A post at Scientific American caught my eye; here’s an excerpt: “…The same is true for communities along the middle and south Atlantic seaboard, where tidal flooding is “becoming a way of life” in Annapolis, Md.; Norfolk, Va.; Charleston, S.C.; and South Florida, said William Sweet, author of NOAA’s annual high-tide flooding report. According to NOAA, high-tide flooding is accelerating in more than 40 coastal communities, and 25 of those are seeing linear growth in such events, meaning tidal flooding will become “more chronic than sporadic.” “When the tides start flooding you regularly like this, it’s a telltale sign that there are bigger problems ahead,” Sweet said in a telephone interview. “And it speaks to the vulnerability of [coastal areas] where people are living. It’s unfortunate, but the reality is that sea levels are going up and our lives and livelihoods are being affected by it…”


Americans Start Adapting to Climate Change. They’re Doing It Wrong. Here’s a snippet from Bloomberg: “…Even as the pace of climate change accelerates, planners and emergency managers across the country still have time to make well-considered decisions. “Ideally, you’d want a leader to sit down and say, ‘Should we build a wall? Should we retreat? Consider all of the options,’” said A.R. Siders, assistant professor at University of Delaware’s Disaster Research Center and lead author of the study on how North Carolina has dealt with the issue. “But that’s not really what happens.” The research finds that adaptation projects “disproportionately benefit the wealthy and increase the vulnerability of poor and historically marginalized communities...”

Map credit: “Ocean and Coastal Management. Siders and Keenan. “Variables shaping coastal adaptation decisions to armor, nourish, and retreat in North Carolina.”


Climate Change Deniers May Be Propping Up Home Prices in Waterfront Communities, Research Suggests. MarketWatch reports: “The fate of home prices in real-estate markets that have a high risk of being affected by climate change could come down to how many local residents actually believe in climate change. A new study from researchers at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business in Canada examined the role climate change denial plays in the pricing of these homes. The researchers compared sea-level data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), current real-estate transaction data from Zillow, and geographic data about climate change attitudes from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, which estimates opinions on climate change based on a national data set of 24,000 people. Having a higher concentration of people who deny climate change will cause home prices to be higher in at-risk areas, the study found…”

File image: North Carolina Department of Transportation.


Honolulu Takes a Stand: Climate Nexus has links and headlines: “Honolulu will become the latest city to take action against oil and gas companies for their role in perpetuating the “costs and consequences” of climate change, city officials said this week. Mayor Kirk Caldwell said in a press conference Tuesday that the city will file suit against companies including Chevron, Shell, BP and ExxonMobil as rising seas and extreme weather threaten the Hawaiian islands. “We’re struggling with providing more housing at an affordable level, and we’re going to be losing homes,” Caldwell said. “They need to pay just like Big Tobacco needed to pay.” The county of Maui announced similar plans to sue Big Oil last month.” (Hawaii News Now, Bloomberg BNA, Honolulu Civil BeatHonolulu Star Advertiser)

Image credit: Clean Technica.


“Like the Moon Landing”: 8 Candidates Confront the Next President’s Most Urgent Task. Mother Jones has the story and review; here’s an excerpt: “What’s your plan? How much will it cost? Where will the money go? Which regions require the most aid? These are questions that politicians across the political spectrum will need to answer when it comes to climate change, one of the most defining issues not only for the 2020 election but for the future of the planet. That’s why the Weather Channel, Mother Jones, and Climate Desk have teamed up: to have thoughtful conversations with 2020 hopefuls from both parties, to see up close places across the country that have been affected by extreme weather, and to discuss policy proposals and personal insights about the climate crisis. The result is a one-hour special, “2020: Race to Save the Planet,” which airs on Thursday, November 7 at 8 pm ET.  The Weather Channel’s hurricane expert and broadcast meteorologist Dr. Rick Knabb will host the segment, which will feature five Democrats and three Republicans…”


Can Farmers Sow Their Way Out of Climate Change? And still make a profit, which is becoming more difficult to pull off. Here’s a clip from a story at CBS News: “…The principle is simple, according to Russell: incentivize farmers and ranchers to reduce their carbon emission production and they’ll see improved water quality and better soil health while capturing more carbon from the atmosphere. In practice, though, it’s still not an easy choice for farmers. Russell makes the case that more farmers need to embrace practices like extended crop rotation, conservation tillage, which means farmers would rarely or never till soil, and keeping the soil covered with winter and perennial crops. He also says other agricultural methods would also have to be adopted, including putting livestock back on the land, practicing more rotational grazing, and generating green energy on farms...”

File image: meteorologist Rob Koch.


Does Extreme Weather Convince Conservatives That Climate Change is Happening? Oregon State researchers have some interesting findings, highlighted in a post at Willamette Week: “Conservatives are more likely to support action to fight climate change if they report being harmed by extreme weather events, Oregon State University researchers found in a study published this month in the journal Global Environmental Change. The OSU researchers surveyed 1,600 residents in 10 communities across the United States with at least four fatalities due to extreme weather from 2012 to 2015. “There’s been a lot of speculation that extreme weather could have this impact,” said Hilary Boudet, an OSU public policy professor. “Now we have evidence that personal harm may be moving the needle on a person’s beliefs, particularly those with more conservative political orientations.” The survey did not explicitly link weather to climate change, so the researchers believe people were making the connection on their own...”

Photo credit: Duke University.