A Big Storm The Day Before Thanksgiving?

Mother Nature is a drama queen. Yes, it’s been a cold November, and where are we living when 40s feel like sweet relief? In spite of a few feeble clippers, November has been storm-free and snowfall amounts are running below average, to date.

Cue the trumpets and drum roll please. Models spin up an impressive southern storm one day before Thanksgiving. It’s way too early for specifics – the storm track and forecast will change over the next week. Count on it. But one of the biggest travel days of the year may be complicated by heavy wet snow close to home.

Why should any of this be easy?

In the meantime skies dry out and brighten up a little today. 50F is possible tomorrow (be still my heart) before the next storm drags cooler air into town Thursday. The atmosphere should be mild enough aloft for rain in the metro with a couple slushy inches north

The mercury flirts with 40F next weekend before cooling off Monday, setting the stage for a potential slush-fest next Wednesday.

May I please be excused?

Dueling Models. Temperature forecasts for MSP (GFS up top, ECMWF bottom). Graphics courtesy of WeatherBell.

Why You Shouldn’t “Heat Up Your Car’s Engine” in Cold Weather. A post at Mental Floss explains”…In older car models that relied on carburetors to run, frigid weather did pose a threat to engine performance. Gasoline is less likely to evaporate in colder temperatures, which would have led to carburetors failing to get the right mixture of air and fuel into the engine. This sometimes caused cars to stall out, and that’s likely what led to the practice of heating up our vehicles in our driveways in the winter. But if you’re driving a car that was made in the past few decades, this is no longer something to stress over…”

Near-Historical Cold During First 2 Weeks of November. Dr. Mark Seeley has interesting context in Minnesota WeatherTalk: “…As a result of the unusual cold, agricultural soils are beginning to freeze up for the winter season with frost depths in some areas already down to 6-12 inches. Lake ice cover has begun to form as well. But is still quite unsafe for human traffic. You can keep track of lake ice-in dates at the DNR Climate Office web site. One further note: the compilation of seven colder than normal months across Minnesota during 2019 (Jan-May, as well as Oct, Nov) has produced a mean statewide temperature for the year that ranks among the 15 coldest in history, a real aberration in the context of our multi-decade long warming trend in the state…”

“Dreariest Place in America?” Amazingly, it’s not Minnesota! The Pacific Northwest gets top honors but parts of Appalachia come in a close second. Here’s an excerpt from CityLab: “…Using a formula that takes into account annual precipitation, number of days with precipitation, and cloudiness, Brettschneider has determined that the “dreariest” place in the United States to live is … Seattle. At least it has company. Seattle shares the dishonor of Nation’s Gloomiest Suck-Pit with Buffalo, according to this index, with each city logging high dreary scores of 27. Coming in second are Pittsburgh and Portland, Oregon, followed by Cleveland, Cincinnati, Lexington, and Boston—ensuring Brettschneider will now be hated on both coasts...”

Map credit: Brian Brettschneider

IBM Launches New Weather Model. Does ECMWF (European model) have a worthy new competitor? Here’s a clip from CNBC.com: “In a potentially historic marriage of supercomputing and big data, IBM goes live Thursday with a global weather model that it says can provide far more accurate forecasts for the entire world. Called GRAF — Global High-Resolution Atmospheric Forecasting — the new model offers high resolution weather forecasts globally with a detail for areas as small as 2 miles wide, compared with 6 to 9 miles for weather models covering parts of the world outside such advanced regions as Europe, the U.S. and Japan. IBM says its new supercomputer, DYEUS, built just to run the model, will issue 12 trillion pieces of weather data every day and process forecasts every hour, while many global weather models update only every six to 12 hours...”

When the U.S. Tried to Control Hurricanes. The Wall Street Journal (paywall) had a fascinating article over the weekend that caught my eye; here’s an excerpt: “…It was decided to attempt to modify hurricanes only in a safe zone far enough from coastal regions that inadvertent landfall would be avoided. In 1963, the Stormfury team decided to carry out two modification attempts on Hurricane Beulah, even though the storm was relatively weak and had an indistinct eye. On the first attempt, the seeding material missed the giant clouds, and the storm remained unchanged. On the second, the seeding was on target and maximum winds declined by 20%. A lack of suitable hurricanes for seeding frustrated further attempts to refine or ratify the hypothesis until 1969, by which time researchers had revised their understanding of the storms. Rather than trying to cause instability in the inner eyewall, they focused on injecting a massive amount of silver iodide to stimulate the formation of a second, outer rainwall that would weaken the original eyewall by cutting off its supply of heat and moisture...”

Who Is Winning the Thermostat War? CNN.com has an interesting story; here’s an excerpt: “According to a 2015 paper, temperatures in office buildings appear to be based on the heat needs of a 40-year-old, 154-pound man. That gender bias actually has an effect on worker productivity. Prior studies have shown that women perform at higher levels on mental tasks when they are warmer, while men tend to function better at a cooler temperature. One study tested verbal and math skills of Berlin college students and found that increasing the temperature from the 60s to the 70s Fahrenheit improved female math scores by 15%. Men’s scores dropped by 3% with the same temperature variation. Clothing didn’t explain the differences — both sexes wore T-shirts and shorts during the exams…”

Introducing the Mustang Mach-E. A story at Fortune has details: “...Enter the Mustang Mach-E, a gamble so great for the world’s sixth-largest automaker that the galloping horse on the vehicle’s grille is one of the few things in common with its predecessor. The Mustang’s slinky silhouette—long hood, short rear deck—has been altered to accommodate the bulbous curves of a four-door, albeit still rear-wheel-drive, utility vehicle. Its signature snarl, courtesy of the internal combustion engine, has been replaced by the subtle whine of a battery-powered electric motor. (Ford will add an artificial sound for the benefit of unwary pedestrians and U.S. regulators.) It’s expected to retail in the $40,000 range with a $7,500 federal rebate, a substantial premium over the $27,000 gasoline-­powered base Mustang but competitive with electric-auto maker Tesla’s popular Model 3 sedan. Its range is approximately 300 miles, also on par with the Model 3...”

Photo credit: “The lines shaping the nose of Ford’s new Mustang Mach‑E reserve the family likeness but drop the usual honeycomb grille—after all, there’s no internal combustion engine to cool.” Photograph by Marvin Shaouni.

Wired.com (paywall) has more information on the Mustang Mach-E.

“Range Anxiety”. As Electric Vehicle Use Grows, Charging Areas Lag Outside Metro. A story at Star Tribune resonated (with my own personal experience driving an electric vehicle). Here’s an excerpt: “...Encouraging electric vehicle use and build­ing the ancillary char­ging in­fra­struc­ture is one way, they say, to com­bat cli­mate change. The num­ber of e­lec­tric vehi­cles reg­is­tered in Min­ne­so­ta was 9,401 last year, more than double the number in 2017. Some 10,495 have been reg­is­tered this year, although the overall number registered statewide is still under 2% of all vehicles, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. To sup­port them, more than 300 charg­ing stations of vary­ing ca­pac­i­ty are lo­cat­ed through­out the state, ac­cord­ing to the National Re­new­a­ble Energy Laboratory. Most places to plug in are clus­tered in the Twin Cities met­ro area. Drivers outside the cities just have to try a little harder to find their electrical boost…”

Photo credit: Alex Kormann – Star Tribune. “George Host charged his Tesla at the ChargePoint e-vehicle station near Canal Park Lodge in Duluth.”

In 2029, the Internet Will Make Us Act Like Peasants. Oh really? Intelligencer has an eye-opening prediction: “…The structure of the internet is headed toward an arrangement the cybersecurity expert Bruce Schneier calls “digital feudalism,” through which the great landlords, platforms like Google and Facebook, “are becoming our feudal lords, and we are becoming their vassals.” We will provide them with the data-fruits of our browsing, in a nominal exchange for vague assurances of their protection from data-breach marauders. The sense of powerlessness you might already feel in the face of a megaplatform’s opaque algorithmic justice — and the sense of mystery such workings might engender — would not have seemed so strange to a medieval peasant. (Once you explained, you know, what an algorithm is.)…”

Talking Dog. Big Think had a post that blew me away. Stella appears to have a better vocabulary than I do: “A speech language pathologist (SLP) has taught her puppy Stella to use 29 words. Stella “speaks” by stepping on large buttons programmed with recordings of words. The dog expresses her desires, comments on household events, and offers opinions. SLP Christina Hunger remarked: “If Jake and I were distracted, Stella began saying ‘play’ repeatedly until we threw her toy or engaged in tug of war. Stella would walk to her water bowl, notice it was empty and say ‘water.’ If we had finished dinner and didn’t mention going for a walk yet, Stella would say ‘walk’ multiple times while staring at us. If her toy was stuck under the couch, she would say ‘help’ and stand right where she needed Jake or I to look. When our friends were putting their jackets on or were standing by the door, she would say ‘bye’ to them. Jake and I were simply amazed.”

Image credit: Hunger4Words.

One Way to Protest a Losing Season. A story at The Washington Post (paywall) caught my eye – I guess we can all feel this guy’s pain. Here are a few excerpts: “…After watching the Pittsburgh Steelers dominate the Cincinnati Bengals for the umpteenth time, all Bengals season ticket holder Jeff Lanham wanted was a little attention from his wife. Instead of grabbing her attention through conventional means, Lanham winked at a friend, who had joined him at his sports bar in Milan, Ind., about 40 miles from Cincinnati. Then he jokingly proclaimed he would live on the roof of the restaurant if the Bengals lost to the Arizona Cardinals the following week… Since Oct. 7, the day after Cincinnati’s loss to the Cardinals, the 42-year-old father of two adult children has only taken half a day off, to honor a previously arranged cooking agreement to help a family friend’s sick child...”

Photo credit: “Jeff Lanham and Dennis Walker, who previously waited out Bengals misery.” (Lanham family).

37 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities.

40 F. average high on November 18.

27 F. high on November 18, 2018.

November 19, 1981: Heavy snow with near blizzard conditions is observed over parts of the state. A two day total of 10.4 inches of snow was received at Minneapolis, which caused the inflated fabric of the Metrodome to collapse and rip.

November 19, 1957: Snowstorm in Southeast Minnesota. A foot is dumped at Winona. Heavy crop losses.

TUESDAY: Early shower. Cloudy skies. Winds: NW 8-13. High: 42

WEDNESDAY: Milder. Rain arrives Wednesday night. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 34. High: 48

THURSDAY: Metro rain tapers. Slushy north. Winds: NW 15-25. Wake-up: 36. High: 40

FRIDAY: Mix of clouds and sunshine. Winds: W 5-10. Wake-up: 25. High: 35

SATURDAY: Intervals of sun, a little milder. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 26. High: near 40

SUNDAY: Gray, few rain showers possible. Winds: SW 7-12. Wake-up: 29. High: 42

MONDAY: Mostly cloudy, few flurries. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 31. High: 38

Climate Stories….

Conversations, Opinions are Core to Curbing Climate Change. Check out this post at The Minnesota Daily: “…I think society has had this assumption that if you are trying to convince people of something, all you need are facts,” Blumenfeld said. “It’s much harder than just standing at a lecture and yelling facts to an audience, then hoping that … everyone goes home and changes their lightbulb.” Scientists and educators at the University of Minnesota are finding ways to connect Minnesotans to the global conversation about climate change. This is part of an effort to explain its local impacts. University Extension, whose mission is to share research knowledge across the state, is trying to make climate change data more relatable. According to a 2019 Yale University study on climate opinion across the United States, 66 percent of adults in Minnesota think global warming is happening. At the same time, 64 percent say they rarely or never discuss it as a topic…”

Image credit: Hailee Schievelbein.

What’s Driving Antarctica’s Meltdown? InsideClimate News highlights sobering new research: “…Now, new research is highlighting another threat: Since 2000, moist and warm tendrils of air known as atmospheric rivers have been swirling toward the coast more frequently, bringing more rain and surface melting. Antarctica has been losing about 250 billion tons of ice annually in recent years, and research shows the rate has increased sixfold since 1979. At this pace, researchers have suggested, West Antarctica’s ice shelves may reach climate tipping points and crumble, sending sea level rise surging well beyond current projections. The floating ice shelves, partly frozen to the sea floor or to fjord walls, hold back vast quantities of land-based ice that could raise sea level more than currently projected if the ice’s flow to the sea speeds up, said Penn State climate researcher Richard Alley...”

Arctic Outbreak May Have Toppled 400 Records, But Over the Long Term Warm Records Rule. Long-term global perspective is required, according to Capital Weather Gang: “…In Chicago, the period from 2010 to Nov. 14 of this year also shows way more record daily highs compared with record lows, when viewed as raw numbers or as a percentage basis. Percentage-wise, the disparity is 74 percent for record daily highs and 26 percent for record lows. Interestingly, the 1990 to 2000 period in Chicago had more daily record lows compared with record highs. In Minneapolis, which is often significantly affected by Arctic outbreaks, record highs are beating out record lows by 92 percent to 8 percent since 2010, the NOAA/Climate Central data shows. And in Houston, which was also affected by the current cold snap, the current decade has a 89 percent to 11 percent split between daily record highs and record lows, through Thursday…”

Climate Crisis Will Profoundly Affect Health of Every Child Alive Today, Report Says. Here’s an excerpt from CNN.com: “...A warmer world means more disease, famine, early death from natural disasters such as fire and heat waves, and more major mental health problems. Everyone will be affected, but the most vulnerable will be disproportionately threatened: children, the elderly, people with underlying health conditions and the poor. “The public doesn’t fully see this as a human health crisis. Maybe polar bears were our early indicator — the proverbial canary in the coal mine. But when you talk about this crisis, the bear images should be replaced with pictures of children,” said Dr. Jonathan Patz, a professor and director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who was not involved with the new report. “Children are suffering from the climate crisis. They are suffering with asthma, diarrheal disease, dengue fever. It is so important for the public to understand the climate crisis is absolutely a human health crisis...”

New Crop of Pests Invades. If you missed it, Jennifer Bjorhus’s story at Star Tribune, deserves a read. Here’s an excerpt: “…The spotted wing drosophila is just one of several destructive invasive insects, weeds and diseases moving in on Minnesota as climate change brings warming winters, longer growing seasons and increased rainfall. To the general public, these invasive insects may be most obvious in their destruction of trees: Eastern larch beetles have decimated stands of tamaracks, and the emerald ash borer has ravaged city canopies. But the damage to agriculture could turn out to be just as serious. The drosophila cost growers $2.4 million in crop losses and spraying costs in just one year and quickly forced some Minnesota fruit orchards out of business, according to a recent study. Some produce operations might be forced to install elaborate netting and other costly techniques to protect their crops. And farmers are on alert for another invader, the brown marmorated stink bug, which caused “catastrophic damage” to the produce harvest in several mid-Atlantic states in 2010, according to the University of Massachusetts Amherst...”

Photo credit: “Ryan Femling of Afton Apple Orchard is battling the spotted wing drosophila, an invasive fruit fly that destroys his raspberry crop.” Photo by Mark Vancleave • Star Tribune.

How to Cut U.S. Carbon Pollution by Nearly 40% in 10 Years. The Atlantic has the story; here’s a clip: “…The research is promising. Last week, a study from economists at Columbia University found that the tax plan with the most support in Congress would slash American carbon pollution by almost 40 percent within a decade. It would outperform any Obama-era climate policy and go well beyond the United States’ 2015 commitment under the Paris Agreement. There’s only one hitch: the politics. There is a popular, revenue-neutral carbon-tax bill in Congress, but it is only “bipartisan” on a technicality. Dozens of Democrats support the plan. Its sole GOP backer is planning to leave politics…”

Photo credit: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters.

How Climate Change Will Change Kids’ Reality: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “Babies born today will face unprecedented health risks and life-long health consequences from rising temperatures, according to new research published Wednesday from The Lancet. The 2019 Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change, a comprehensive yearly analysis tracking the impact of climate change on human health across 41 indicators, finds that under a business-as-usual scenario, a child born today will face a world on average 4˚C warmer by their 71st birthday. They will face life-altering consequences including food shortages, spread of disease, lack of safe drinking water, increasingly deadly fires and floods, and increasing numbers of days across expanding regions where temperatures and air pollution make it unsafe to go outside. “Without immediate action from all countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions, gains in well being and life expectancy will be compromised, and climate change will come to define the health of an entire generation,” Lancet executive director Nick Watts told CNBC.” (AP, New York Times $, USA TodayThe Guardian, Vox, Wired, NPR, CNN, CBS, Reuters, Gizmodo, Fast Company, CNBC)

Flood, Fire and Plague: Climate Change Blamed for Disasters. Reuters connects the dots: “…In China, health officials have reported a rare outbreak of pneumonic plague after two cases were confirmed this week in Beijing. The two were infected in the province of Inner Mongolia, where rodent populations have expanded dramatically after persistent droughts, worsened by climate change, state media said. An area the size of the Netherlands was hit by a “rat plague” last summer. The wider implications for health are sobering. The Lancet medical journal published a study this week saying climate change was already harming people’s health by increasing the number of extreme weather events and exacerbating air pollution. A warmer world brings risks of food shortages, infectious diseases, floods and extreme heat…”

File image: NOAA.