A Mellow Pacific Breeze Lingers Into Sunday

If, by some strange quirk of fate, you don’t like winter, 2 dates stand out in my muddle mind. December 21: the Winter Solstice, when the sun is lowest in the southern sky. A few days later, daylight begins to increase again, for the first time since June.

The other date is January 17. Digging through stacks of musty weather records and climate statistics, that’s the date, on average, when Minnesota temperatures bottom out. By late January average temperatures are on the rise again.

Feel better? Me neither, but I tried.

Latest models bring a quick shot of arctic air into Minnesota by the middle of next week; maybe 1 or 2 days of highs in single digits. In the meantime a Pacific breeze keeps highs mostly above 32F into the weekend. Nights will be sub-freezing, so unless you want to get nearer-my-God-to-thee, stay off the ice.

A coating of flakes is possible next Monday, but big storms detour south and east of home into next week. Another big snowstorm before Christmas? I certainly wouldn’t rule it out.

Too Conservative? NOAA NDFD data suggests mid 30s this afternoon in the Twin Cities, but if the sun stays out 40F is not out of the question close to home. Map credit: Praedictix and AerisWeather.

Fairly Good Continuity. Both ECMWF (top) and GFS (bottom) show a large, but relatively brief polar smack by the middle of next week. Wednesday may get your attention, but temperatures rebound into the 20s (above zero) by Saturday, December 14. Model data: WeatherBell.

Mid-December: A Vague Pacific Influence. After a large temperature dip the middle of next week temperatures may moderate a bit the week before Christmas. I don’t see any big snow-makers, at least not yet.

2010s Was a Roller Coaster Decade for Hurricanes. Here’s What It Means for the Future. Here’s an excerpt from Yahoo! News: “Dec. 1 marks not only the official conclusion of the 2019 hurricane season, but the final month of another decade we failed to name before it ends. A decade in which cellphones became just phones, more millennials visited Iceland than Sears, and politely declining to join your co-worker Janet’s essential oils MLM became increasingly difficult. The 2010s were a decade of contrasts for Atlantic hurricanes. Despite darkest timeline storms like Sandy, Irma and Michael, it was an era of remarkable luck for the continental U.S. coast. Cumulative Atlantic tropical cyclone activity in the 2010s tallied 20% above long-term norms, but there were only three U.S. major hurricane landfalls – around half the average...”

Successes, Pitfalls of Modern Hurricane Forecasting. The Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville has a very good summary; here’s a clip: “…Over the past five years, hurricane forecasting has seen an influx of meteorological tools meant to improve the way powerful storms are predicted. In November 2016, a new forecasting empire was born: One of two new geostationary weather satellites, GOES-16, rocketed toward the atmosphere from Cape Canaveral, carrying with it an “advanced baseline imager.” This high-resolution camera, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials said, helps to identify tropical systems with new weather images as often as every 30 seconds. Less than two years later, GOES-17 followed in its robotic sibling’s footsteps, setting up a digital observatory in outer space. Together, the two satellites have opened a new window into hurricane forecasting…”

Hurricane Season Ends, but Dorian Left a “Massive, Massive Crisis” in the Bahamas. Here’s a clip from a heart-wrenching post at Miami Herald: “…While the island nation is out from under the gun of another potentially punishing storm for the next six months, the grueling task of getting Bahamians back into their homes and jobs has barely begun. In Grand Bahama, business takes place in tents these days. They’re found at airport customs, at the public hospital and in front yards along the outer streets of Freeport. Joyce Tate, 48, and her family now live in a white dome tent with a view of the rubble that once was their four-bedroom home on Sweetings Cay, on the southern end of the island. Her husband, Robert Tate, a 48-year-old fisherman, lost his two boats and many of his lobster traps in the storm, so he’s trying to earn his living on someone else’s boat for now...”

Image credit: “Great Abaco Island and Grand Bahama Island before and after Hurricane Dorian. The images show the landscape changing from green to brown and brightening of the reefs and shoals from sediments stirred up around the island.”

Your E-mails are Ruining the Environment. The New York Post has the surprising results: “Your pointless emails are aren’t just boring people — they are ruining the environment. Sending email has such a high carbon footprint that just cutting out a single email a day — such as ones that simply say “LOL” — could have the same effect as removing thousands of cars from the street, according to a new study of habits in the UK. The study, commissioned by OVO Energy, England’s leading energy supply company, used the UK as a case study and found that one less “thank you” email a day would cut 16,433 tons of carbon caused by the high-energy servers used to send the online messages. That’s the equivalent of 81,152 flights to Madrid or taking 3,334 diesel cars off the road, the research said...”

Staggering Levels of Debt. I almost fell off my (heavily financed) sofa after reading a story at Bloomberg: “…A decade of easy money has left the world with a record $250 trillion of government, corporate and household debt. That’s almost three times global economic output and equates to about $32,500 for every man, woman and child on earth. Much of that legacy stems from policy makers’ deliberate efforts to use borrowing to keep the global economy afloat in the wake of the financial crisis. Rock bottom interest rates in the years since has kept the burden manageable for most, allowing the debt mountain to keep growing...”

Cheap at Last, Batteries Are Making a Solar Dream Come True. WIRED.com runs the numbers: “…Todd Karin was prepared when California’s largest utility shut off power to millions of people to avoid the risk of wildfires last month. He’s got rooftop solar panels connected to a single Tesla Powerwall in his rural home near Fairfield, California. “We had backup power the whole time,” Karin says. “We ran the fridge and watched movies.” Californians worried about an insecure energy future are increasingly looking to this kind of solution. Karin, a 31-year-old postdoctoral fellow at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, spent just under $4,000 for his battery by taking advantage of tax credits. He’s also saving money by discharging the battery on weekday evenings, when energy is more expensive. He expects to save around $1,500 over the 10 years the battery is under warranty…”

“Advanced Fission” Clean Energy Plant. The future of nuclear 2.0? We’ll see, but a recent press release at Business Wire caught my eye: “…The Aurora offers a number of unique capabilities. Among these are the ability to produce power for decades without needing to refuel, the small size of the Aurora design, the placement of the Aurora fuel underground, the ability to operate without needing cooling water, the demonstrated natural shutdown behavior of the fuel, the use of a fission spectrum which can recycle fuel and ultimately convert nuclear waste to clean energy, and many more unique and beneficial attributes. “For years we would not put out renderings, waiting instead until detailed analytical work behind it was completed. We are happy to share that the art and the engineering have come together at this point to launch the Aurora and share renderings of the Aurora powerhouse,” said DeWitte…”

File image: “Oklo Aurora powerhouse rendering – arctic night.” (Photo: Business Wire)

All-Electric Snowmobiles Are a Thing. Check out offerings from Taiga Motors, featured in this post at Electrek: “With little to no standards and many two-stroke engines, current gas-powered snowmobiles are generally incredibly polluting – sometimes 50 times more polluting than an average car. People operate the machines to experience the great outdoors and it’s a shame to have to pollute your environment to do it. An electric snowmobile would result in a zero-emission riding experience and it would also greatly reduce the noise pollution on snow trails since gas-powered snowmobiles are extremely loud. As you can see, some of these models have impressive specs, including 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration in just 2.9 seconds. I experienced the acceleration of Taiga’s last electric snowmobile prototype and it was exhilarating…”

Smart TVs May Be Spying On You. Be careful what you wear sitting on the sofa. CNN.com has the wonderful news: “...In a pre-holiday message to consumers, an FBI field office is warning that “smart TVs” — televisions equipped with internet streaming and facial recognition capabilities — may be vulnerable to intrusion.  In addition to outlining how new advanced technological features risk allowing television manufacturers and app developers to snoop on consumers, the bureau says malicious cyber actors can also take control of unsecured smart TVs and potentially wreak havoc on unsuspecting owners…”

38 F. maximum Twin Cities temperature yesterday.

31 F. average high on December 3.

28 F. high on December 3, 2018.

December 4, 1886: Minneapolis hits a record-setting 15 degrees below zero.

WEDNESDAY: Sunny, feels pretty good. Winds: W 8-13. High: 38

THURSDAY: More clouds, flurries north of MSP. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 20. High: 33

FRIDAY: Brilliant sunshine, a bit chilly. Winds: SW 5-10. Wake-up: 14. High: 28

SATURDAY: Partly sunny, go play in the snow. Wake-up: 18. High: near 40

SUNDAY: Clouds increase, probably dry. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 29. High: 34

MONDAY: Coating of flurries possible. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 24. High: 27

TUESDAY: Arctic breeze kicks in. Few flurries. Subzero wind chills. Wake-up: 12. High: 16

Climate Stories….

Past Decade “Almost Certain” to be Warmest on Record, UN Agency Says. CNBC.com has an update; here’s a snippet: “The past decade is set to be the warmest on record, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said Tuesday. According to its “Provisional Statement of the State of the Climate 2019,” this year is “on course” to be the second or third warmest on record, with the global average temperature around 1.1 degrees Celsius higher than the pre-industrial era. Overall, the report, which was released during the COP25 climate summit in Madrid, paints a stark picture. Ocean heat is found to be at record levels, while sea water is now 26% more acidic than it was at the beginning of the industrial period, according to the WMO…”

File image: Climate Nexus.

Millions Are Fleeing “Climate Chaos” According to Oxfam Study. A study highlighted at Thomson Reuters Foundation found that people are now 3 times more likely to be displaced by cyclones, floods or fires than by conflicts. Here’s an excerpt: “...Fiercer weather and worsening wildfires drove more than 20 million people a year from their homes over the last decade – a problem set to worsen unless leaders act swiftly to head off surging climate threats, anti-poverty charity Oxfam said on Monday. Much of the displacement caused by cyclones, floods and fires appeared temporary and in some cases due to better efforts to evacuate people ahead of danger, Oxfam researchers said. But its “sheer scale” was a surprise, said Tim Gore, Oxfam’s climate policy leader, with island nations like Cuba, Dominica and Tuvalu seeing on average close to 5% of their people out of their homes in any given year. “This is the warming world we have long been warning about. Now we’re seeing it play out before our eyes,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation…”

File image: NOAA.

Warming Toll: 1 Degree Hotter, Trillions of Tons of Ice Gone. AP has a recap of changes since 1992; here’s an excerpt: “…The Greenland ice sheet lost 5.2 trillion tons (4.7 trillion metric tons) of ice from 1993 to 2018, according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The Antarctic ice sheet lost 3 trillion tons (2.7 trillion metric tons) of ice from 1992 to 2017, according to a study in the journal Nature. The global sea level has risen on average 2.9 millimeters a year since 1992. That’s a total of 78.3 millimeters, or 3.1 inches, according to NOAA...”

File photo: “In this Oct. 31, 2019, file photo, a firefighter battles the Maria Fire in Somis, Calif. Since leaders first started talking about tackling the problem of climate change, the world has spewed more heat-trapping gases, gotten hotter and suffered hundreds of extreme weather disasters. Fires have burned, ice has melted and seas have grown.” (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, Fire).

Heat Makes More Preemies: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “As the planet warms, rising temperatures and extreme heat could lead to more premature births, new research shows. A study published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change looked at county-by-county birth rates and temperature readings over a 20-year period for 56 million births in the United States, estimating that an average of 25,000 babies per year are born premature due to heat. While the study used an older dataset from 1968 to 1988–mandated by changes in data collection in 1989 that made it harder to pinpoint birth location. But the findings add “one more study showing a high-level message, which is that extreme temperature is more and more associated with obstetric outcomes, including preterm births and low birth weight,” Dr. Nathaniel DeNicola, an OB-GYN at George Washington University Hospital and an environmental health expert with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, who was not involved in the research, told TIME.” (TIME, NBC, US News & World Report,

Where Flooding is Most Affecting Property Values. Here’s a snippet from a story at CityLab: “…But she says if she knew then what she knows now, she wouldn’t have bought it. She understood the risks of hurricanes and storm-driven flooding, but she didn’t anticipate the persistent inundation of water that even a stray breeze off the Gulf of Mexico can bring. Unfortunately, her home has gotten harder to sell. Crowe lives in a region of southwestern Mississippi that includes Bay St. Louis, which has experienced one of the most dramatic losses of flood-impacted real estate value in the United States, according to an analysis by Nexus Media in collaboration with CityLab. The city, population 13,000, lost out on more than $122 million in real estate appreciation due to the impacts of flooding. While that’s a smaller total than coastal areas like Jacksonville, Florida; or Charleston, South Carolina; the losses in Bay St. Louis likely hurt more in relative financial terms, because the median home value in Bay St. Louis is just $136,700…”

Photo credit: “A house built to withstand a storm surge and hurricane-force winds.” (Nexus Media).

UN Climate Talks Begin in Madrid… Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “The UN’s annual climate change negotiations kicked off Monday morning in Madrid, where representatives from hundreds of countries will meet to refine the rules of the Paris Agreement. In an opening speech to delegates, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres criticized the lack of “political will” in advancing the Paris Agreement’s goals. “Do we really want to be remembered as the generation that buried its head in the sand, that fiddled while the planet burned?” Guterres asked. In the wake of the Trump administration formally beginning the process to pull out of the Paris Agreement last month, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Monday she would be leading a delegation of 14 members of Congress to the talks, while over 70 leaders from US cities, states, businesses and other institutions are also attending.” (COP: AP, Politico, Financial Times, BBC, The Guardian, Reuters. Guterres: AP, Reuters, Slate, AFP. Pelosi: CNN, CBS)

Scientist’s Theory of Climate’s Titanic Moment the “Tip of a Mathematical Iceberg”. The Guardian explains: “…There is a time lag between the rapid cuts to greenhouse gases and the climate system reacting. Knowing if you have enough time tells you if you’re in an emergency or not. Schellnhuber used “standard risk analysis and control theory” to come up with the formula, and he was already putting numbers to it. “As a matter of fact, the intervention time left for limiting global warming to less than 2C is about 30 [years] at best. The reaction time – time needed for full global decarbonisation – is at least 20 [years].” As the scientists write in Nature, if the “reaction time is longer than the intervention time left” then “we have lost control...”

Climate Change Threatens Nearly 80% of Superfund Sites in Houston Area. The Houston Chronicle reports; here’s an excerpt: “Rising seas and more intense flooding caused by climate change could put nearly 80 percent of the Superfund sites in the Houston area at greater risk of releasing toxic pollutants into waterways and nearby communities, data from a congressional watchdog agency show. A report by the Government Accountability Office found that more frequent or intense extreme-weather events such as flooding, storm surge and wildfires could affect 60 percent of the contaminated sites nationwide — and 67 percent in Texas — overseen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The GAO recommended that the federal agency do more to manage the risks from climate change. The EPA largely rejected the report’s recommendations…”

File photo credit: “The San Jacinto Waste Pits superfund site on the San Jacinto River in Channelview, Monday, Sept. 9, 2019.Photo: Mark Mulligan, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer

One City’s Plan to Combat Climate Change: Bulldoze Homes, Rebuild Paradise. The Washington Post reports on Charlotte, North Carolina trying to go on offense with a rapidly-changing climate: “...But the Queen City has also been steadily unbuilding itself, bulldozing houses and razing apartment complexes along its creeks, ripping up a mall parking lot to reveal a hidden waterway and then stripping away its concrete banks, all in a bid to prevent the flash flooding that turns communities into deathtraps. The North Carolina county has removed 460 structures and replaced them with absorbent grasslands, winning national praise as a prototype for regional flood planning that anticipates the impact of projected development and the growing effects of extreme weather. The innovative strategy was ahead of the curve when it launched in the 1990s, by calculating future flood risk and then purchasing — and demolishing — vulnerable homes, businesses and office buildings...”

Photo credit: “Young trees are protected at the Chantilly Ecological Sanctuary along Briar Creek in Charlotte.” (Eamon Queeney/For The Washington Post).