No Holiday Snowstorms Are Imminent At This Time
Years ago I discovered that slow-dancing to Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” is a bad idea. Think of a snowstorm as a delicate dance, requiring a perfect balance of Canadian cold and southern moisture. Too much of either ingredient spoils the recipe.
Meteorologists look at multiple weather models before making a forecast. Do models agree? What are the trends over time? Wetter, drier, warmer or colder? Will the lowest mile of the atmosphere be colder than 32F? Even a thin layer of temperatures above freezing spells rain or an icy mix.
The sun should be visible much of today with highs in the 30s. Odds favor a dry weekend with 40s both days. Not too shabby for late November.
It should feel like winter by early December, but temperatures may be too warm for snow next week. Odds of a major snowstorm are now much lower.
ECMWF spins up a Wednesday storm over the Great Lakes, but good travel weather here. Thanksgiving Day may bring heavy drizzle versus heavy snow. Blame (or thank) a mild Pacific breeze.
Map above: ECMWF total snowfall forecast between now and Thanksgiving (Thursday evening), courtesy of WeatherBell.
Wintry Shot. Each successive run of NOAA’s GFS looks colder and colder for the first week of December as jet stream winds buckle, plunging nanook air south of the border. It will undoubtedly be cold enough for snow, but significant moisture/storms may be whisked mostly south and east of Minnesota.
Thanksgiving Day Climatology in the Twin Cities. Yes, it can snow a fair amount on Thanksgiving Day, but that hasn’t been the case in recent years. Here’s a clip from The Minnesota DNR: “…Measurable snow fell on 29 of the past Thanksgivings back to 1884, about every five years or so. The most snow that fell on Thanksgiving was five inches in 1970. The last time there was measurable snow on Thanksgiving was in 2015 with 1.3 inches of snow. Historically, about one in three Thanksgivings have at least one inch of snow on the ground. The deepest snow pack is a tie with 1921 and 1983, both with 10 inches on the ground by Turkey Day. It occasionally rains on Thanksgiving Day as well. In 1896, a two-day event in the Twin Cities doused Thanksgiving travelers with nearly three inches of rain.”
Secretive Energy Startup Backed by Bill Gates Achieves Solar Breakthrough. A newer/better way to do solar? Here’s an excerpt from CNN.com: “…Essentially, Heliogen created a solar oven — one capable of reaching temperatures that are roughly a quarter of what you’d find on the surface of the sun. The breakthrough means that, for the first time, concentrated solar energy can be used to create the extreme heat required to make cement, steel, glass and other industrial processes. In other words, carbon-free sunlight can replace fossil fuels in a heavy carbon-emitting corner of the economy that has been untouched by the clean energy revolution. “We are rolling out technology that can beat the price of fossil fuels and also not make the CO2 emissions,” Bill Gross, Heliogen’s founder and CEO, told CNN Business. “And that’s really the holy grail...”
Philippine Students Turn Dog Poo Into Bricks. Great idea, but I wonder what it smells like when it rains? Reuters has the story: “A group of secondary school students in the Philippines has found a way to convert poo from stray dogs into a mixture for bricks, aiming to rid city streets of excrement and potentially even lower construction costs. As part of a research project, eighth graders in the Payatas district north of the capital Manila gathered and air-dried dog faeces, which were then mixed with cement powder and moulded into rectangular “bio bricks”…”
Solar Thermal Tech Heats Up: Climate Nexus has links and headlines: “A new startup backed by Bill Gates says that it has developed a system to push solar thermal technology forward, potentially revolutionizing the use of clean energy to create industrial materials and solve a big emissions problem. Founders of the company Heliogen said Tuesday that it has developed artificial intelligence to better concentrate the sun’s rays with mirrors used in solar thermal plants. The company says it has created solar energy up to 1,000 degrees C–nearly double the heat other solar thermal projects have generated. This heat opens the door for the technology to be used in industrial processes like the manufacturing of steel and cement, which represent around 20 percent of global carbon emissions.” (Vox, CNN, CNET, Popular Mechanics, Gizmodo, Ars Technica, MIT Technology Review)
Can America’s First Floating Wind Farm Help Open Deeper Water to Clean Energy? Some days it’s hard to keep up – I had no idea they could put a wind turbine on floats, but why not? InsideClimate News explains the advantages: “…Conventional offshore wind farms require foundations to be built in water no deeper than 196 feet, limiting the number of sites feasible for construction. Floating platforms would open up site development in deeper waters like Maine’s, and farther away from shore. The technology could be particularly useful in California and other states that have a lot of coastline but face fierce political pressure to maintain property values, said Clifford Kim, an analyst with Moody’s Investors Service who specializes in wind energy. “People don’t want to see a big offshore wind turbine right outside their oceanfront property,” Kim said. “It has to be much further offshore. That means deeper water, and fixed bottom technology doesn’t work…”
Photo credit: “Hywind, the world’s first commercial-scale floating deep-water wind turbine, launched in Europe in 2009. The University of Maine is now preparing what would be the first full-scale offshore floating turbine in the United States.” Credit: Lars Christopher/CC-BY-SA-2.0.
Will Tesla Deliver Full “Self-Driving” Capabilities Within a Few Weeks? Fortune has a long post; here’s an excerpt: “…Any release of Full Self-Driving (FSD) this year would be a massive public relations coup, giving Tesla at least some claim to be the winner of the decade-plus race to create a self-driving car. As a sizable bonus, the company says it would also allow nearly $500 million in revenue from pre-orders of the self-driving features, held off the books for years, to be recognized in quarterly earnings statements. This has the potential to transform Tesla’s near-term financial outlook. Tesla did not respond to multiple requests to comment for this story. But it has admitted that cars will not be fully autonomous when Full Self-Driving is released. “There’s the car being able to be autonomous, but requiring supervision and intervention at times…”
Tesla has more details on the just-unveiled Cybertruck here.
Greener, Longer Life: More Trees Reduce Premature Deaths in Cities. Thomson Reuters Foundation has a summary of new research: “City dwellers tend to live longer if they are in leafy neighbourhoods, according to a study published on Wednesday that linked green areas to lower rates of premature death. Trees in cities are already credited with cooling and cleaning the air and absorbing planet-warming gases, now researchers at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health have found they also keep death at bay. “More green space is better for health,” said Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, director of the institute’s urban planning, environment and health initiative. “People actually live longer if there is more green space around.” The research, which pulled data from nine other studies involving more than eight million people in seven countries from China to Canada, was the largest ever conducted on the subject, the authors said…”
Photo credit: “A woman walks under the trees with autumn coloured leaves in Moscow, Russia October 8, 2019.” REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov.
Flat Earth Conspiracy Spreading Around the Globe. Does it Hide a Darker Core? An update at CNN.com caught my eye: “…But flat Earthers don’t pretend to have all the answers. “People don’t really know 100% what (the Earth) is, we’re just questioning what we’re being told it is,” Davidson explains. Several members of the community have carried out their own experiments, like bringing spirit levels onto airplanes, that have supposedly proved their thesis. They haven’t. To be absolutely clear, the Earth is not flat — as NASA explains in a fact sheet aimed at fifth to eighth graders. But most adherents say they’re just curious, as all good scientific minds should be. “We love science,” Davidson insists…”
File image: NASA.
Why Do We Eat Pumpkin Pie at Thanksgiving? I learned something at Mental Floss: “…Abraham Lincoln eventually declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863 (to near-immediate outcry from Southerners, who viewed the holiday as an attempt to enforce Yankee values). Southern governors reluctantly complied with the presidential proclamation, but cooks in the South developed their own unique regional traditions. In the South, sweet potato pie quickly became more popular than New England’s pumpkin pie (mostly because sweet potatoes were easier to come by than pumpkins). Now, pumpkin pie reigns supreme as the most popular holiday pie across most of the United States, although the Northeast prefers apple and the South is split between apple and pecan, another Southern staple.”
Tom Hanks Just Found Out He’s Related to Mr. Rogers. Life imitates art, again. CNN.com explains the crazy coincidence: ” Tom Hanks is taking getting into character to a whole new level. He’s actually related to one. Hanks just found out Sunday that he’s related to Fred Rogers, who played Mister Rogers on the children’s TV show. The two are sixth cousins, Ancestry.com discovered. “It all just comes together, you see,” Hanks told Access Hollywood when the show informed him of the relation…Here’s why it’s especially notable: Hanks is playing Mister Rogers in the upcoming film, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood…”
44 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities.
38 F. MSP average high on November 21.
32 F. high on November 21, 2018.
November 22,1996: Heavy snowfall accumulates over the same areas that were hit two days earlier. Four to seven inches of snowfall are reported across the area. Heavier snowfall occurred during the daylight hours of the 23rd. Snowfall totals of six inches were reported in the Twin Cities, Chanhassen, Stewart, St. James and Redwood Falls.
November 22, 1970: Gale-driven snow falls across Minnesota. 45 mph winds are reported over Rochester and Duluth.
FRIDAY: Partly sunny, brisk. Winds: NW 7-12. High: 36
SATURDAY: Blue sky, almost pleasant. Winds: W 7-12. Wake-up: 26. High: 43
SUNDAY: Sunny spurts, clouds increase. Winds: W 5-10. Wake-up: 30. High: 45
MONDAY: Light mix. Roads should stay wet. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 34. High: 40
TUESDAY: Mostly cloudy and chilly. Winds: N 8-13. Wake-up: 28. High: 37
WEDNESDAY: Some sun. A good travel day locally. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 25. High: near 40
THANKSGIVING: Cloudy, windy and drizzly. Winds: SE 15-25. Wake-up: 32. High: 43
World’s Fossil Fuel Plans Will Shatter Paris Climate Limits, UN Warns. InsideClimate News explains: “The world’s top fossil fuel-producing nations are on track to extract enough oil, gas and coal to send global temperatures soaring past the goals of the Paris climate agreement, according to a United Nations report published Wednesday. If countries follow through on their current plans, they will produce about 50 percent more fossil fuels by 2030 than would be compatible with the international goal of keeping global warming under 2 degrees Celsius, the report said. They would blow past the more ambitious target of keeping warming under 1.5°C, the report found, with countries poised to produce twice as much oil, gas and coal by 2030 than would be allowable to meet that goal…”
Climate Emergency. The Guardian reports: “Oxford Dictionaries has declared “climate emergency” the word of the year for 2019, following a hundred-fold increase in usage that it says demonstrated a “greater immediacy” in the way we talk about the climate. Defined as “a situation in which urgent action is required to reduce or halt climate change and avoid potentially irreversible environmental damage resulting from it”, Oxford said the words soared from “relative obscurity” to “one of the most prominent – and prominently debated – terms of 2019.” According to the dictionary’s data, usage of “climate emergency” soared 10,796%...”
Minneapolis Fund Recognizes Efforts to Fight Climate Change. Star Tribune reports: “A Minneapolis fund capped off its first year of awarding grants with recognition of three community organizations for their creative efforts to counter climate change. The Minneapolis Climate Action and Racial Equity Fund, a partnership of the city of Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Foundation and the McKnight Foundation, issues grants for community-driven initiatives and projects that show results in reducing greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency, renewable energy and other means. The fund received more than $240,000 in requests from 11 applicants in this second round of grants in its inaugural year...”
Photo credit: “Richard Tsong-Taatarii • email@example.com. “Dream of Wild Health’s seed database received $15,000 from the Minneapolis Climate Action and Racial Equity Fund.”
Climate Change and Dark Money. Because no industry wants to be disrupted, including the fossil fuel industry. Here’s a clip from The Boston Globe: “The earth is spinning toward climate catastrophe. The international community has about a decade to take the steps necessary to avoid breaching the 1.5 degrees Celsius safety zone that the scientific community has established. It will take American leadership to achieve that goal, which means not only bold action in Congress, but meaningful leadership from the president, our allies around the globe, and leadership from powerful forces like major corporations. Unfortunately, much of corporate America so far failed to step up and sufficiently support policies that would begin to address the existential threat of climate change. Many individual corporations, perhaps out of conviction, perhaps out of the desire to keep and win over new customers, profess to be on the side of fighting climate change…”
File image: Ars Technica.
We’re Living Through the Earth’s Second Hottest Year on Record, NOAA Reports. Here’s the intro to a summary at Capital Weather Gang (paywall): “This year is increasingly likely to be the planet’s second- or third-warmest calendar year on record since modern temperature data collection began in 1880, according to data released this week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This reflects the growing influence of long-term, human-caused global warming and is especially noteworthy, as there was an absence of a strong El Niño in the tropical Pacific Ocean this year. Such events are typically associated with the hottest years, since they boost global ocean temperatures and add large amounts of heat to the atmosphere across the Pacific Ocean, the world’s largest...”
It’s Not Just Venice. Climate Change Imperils Ancient Treasures Everywhere. Grist puts the threat into perspective; here’s a snippet: “…It’s a vivid testament to the risks climate change poses to many of the world’s cultural treasures. In a fitting irony, minutes after Venice’s regional council rejected measures to fund renewable energy and replace diesel buses with cleaner ones, the council’s chamber was swept by floodwaters. Since 2003, the city has been working on an infrastructure project known as Mose (as in Moses) for protection against high tides, but it’s still not up and running, having been bogged down in scandal, cost overruns, and other delays. Venice has plenty of company — some 86 percent of UNESCO World Heritage sites like Venice in coastal regions of the Mediterranean are at risk from flooding and erosion, according to a study last year in the journal Nature…”
North America’s Economy is the Most Resilient Against Climate Change. Here’s a clip from a post at CNN.com: “…Global GDP growth will be 3% lower by 2050 thanks to the impact of climate change, and that means the developing world will bear the brunt of the bad news. Africa is the most vulnerable to negative economic impact, according to the EIU report. The continent’s economy stands to shrink by 4.7% over the next 30 years. It is already at a disadvantage because average temperatures are higher and economic development is lower compared to the United States, for example. Latin America and the Middle East are rounding out as the top three of the least resilient regions. Asia-Pacific falls in the middle, with an expected hit of 2.6% to its economy thanks to climate change…”