Hold The Presses: Winter Outlook Just Released

Maybe it’s the way we’re wired – part of the human condition. We tend to fear change, and there is a very real fear of the unknown. Take winter in Minnesota, for example. “Paul, is it going to be a fierce winter this year?”

How ’bout those Vikings! I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you above the sound of my teeth chattering.

You may find some solace in NOAA’s latest winter outlook. Based on a brewing El Nino mild phase in the Pacific Ocean, odds favor a milder than average winter season for the northern and western USA, including Minnesota – with the greatest warm bias predicted for the Pacific Northwest.

Confidence levels are low, but an El Nino winter often means stronger “zonal” winds blowing from Seattle, keeping some of the coldest air bottled up north of Minnesota.

We will have snow. We will experience eye-watering cold fronts. Will it be a harsh, pioneer winter? The writing on the wall suggests no.

The arrival of a blustery clipper turns on the wind machine today; flurries race past your window Saturday, but next week looks quiet with highs near 50F – some rain by late next week.

File photo above: NOAA.

Milder Winter For Much of the USA? Place your bets. Based on a brewing El Nino NOAA is predicting a milder than average winter, with the best chance of a mild bias in the western USA: “A mild winter could be in store for much of the United States this winter according to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. In the U.S. Winter Outlook for December through February, above-average temperatures are most likely across the northern and western U.S., Alaska and Hawaii. Additionally, El Nino has a 70 to 75 percent chance of developing. “We expect El Nino to be in place in late fall to early winter,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “Although a weak El Nino is expected, it may still influence the winter season by bringing wetter conditions across the southern United States, and warmer, drier conditions to parts of the North…”

Whispers of El Nino? The winter precipitation forecast from NOAA (above) bears all the hallmarks of an El Nino winter, with a wet bias from southern California into the Deep South, and a slight dry tendancy for many northern states.

Saturday Coating? Flurries are likely Saturday, even a few heavier snow showers. Temperatures should be above 32F across most of the state during the daylight hours, but a dusting or coating can’t be ruled out in a few spots. Note the lake-effect snow bands forecast to set up southeast of Lake Superior. Map: WeatherBell.

Why Am I Even Showing This? Confidence levels are very low with the 2-week GFS forecast of 500mb winds. Yesterday’s solution carved out a huge trough over from the Great Lakes into much of the eastern USA; today’s forecast shows more of a zonal solution with a warm start to November for much of the USA. Place your bets.

Designers Are Reinventing Hurricane Maps For An Era of Extreme Weather. To this day many people still misinterpret NHC’s “cone of uncertainty”, as pointed out in a post at MIT Technology Review: “…First, people assume that the cone delineates the area under threat, and that its boundaries indicate how big the storm will grow. Second, people rarely realize that the cone represents a 67% confidence interval—a detail disclosed within the map’s documentation rather than on the map itself. Third, people often believe that the white and dotted regions signify something more than just a division between the days of the forecast. Some, for example, think the dots indicate the area that will be affected by heavy rain. Fourth, people don’t understand the difference between watches and warnings, or whether one is more severe. And finally, people don’t know what the letters mean within the black and white circles—again, because an explanation doesn’t appear on the map itself…”

Image credit: Hurricane Harvey. NASA/NOAA GOES Project.

Fighters Downed by Hurricane. How vulnerable is the military to extreme weather events, in the USA and abroad? Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed from The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board: “Hurricane Michael did terrible damage in Florida last week, and that may include some of the world’s most capable military aircraft left in its path. But why can’t Air Force F-22 jet fighters, of all things, escape a storm? Answer: They lack the parts to be operational and so were stuck in hangars to take a beating. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said Sunday that the damage to an unspecified number of F-22s on Tyndall Air Force Base was “less than we feared.” But maintenance professionals will have to conduct a detailed assessment before the Air Force can say with certainty that the planes will fly again. Press reports estimate that at least a dozen planes were left on the base due to maintenance and safety issues...”

Photo credit: “An aircraft hangar damaged by Hurricane Michael is seen at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 11. Photo: jonathan bachman/Reuters.

Hurricane Michael Damage: Up to $3 Billion in Georgia Agricultural Losses. The storm was still a Category 3 hurricane when it pushed into southern Georgia. Here’s an excerpt from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Damage from Hurricane Michael to Georgia’s agriculture industry could reach nearly $3 billion, according to new state assessments. “These are generational losses that are unprecedented and it will take unprecedented ideas and actions to help our farm families and rural communities recover,” Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black said in a statement. Timber losses alone are estimated at $1 billion, as about 1 million acres were destroyed, state figures show. Cotton, peanuts, pecans, vegetables and poultry also were hit hard. “Unfortunately, our worst thoughts were realized,” Black said. “We saw months and sometimes years of work just laid over on the ground in a matter of seconds…”

Death Toll From Michael Rises: Headlines and links via Climate Nexus: “The official death toll from Hurricane Michael rose to at least 26 Tuesday after Florida rescuers announced they had recovered a number of additional bodies as cleanup and rescue efforts continue. Florida officials say Bay County, where the storm first made landfall, had at least 12 deaths, and rescuers caution that more bodies may be found as the waters recede. Dozens are still missing in hard-hit areas like Mexico Beach as cell service remains spotty and residents return to survey the extensive damage. Before Tuesday, the national death toll from the storm stood at 18.” (New York Times $, CNN, USA Today, AP. Background: Climate Signals)

Dr. Lackey said he and Mr. King, who jointly own the Mexico Beach house, did not even refer to the minimum wind resistance required in Bay County. They built the sand palace to withstand 250 mile-an-hour winds. The house was fashioned from poured concrete, reinforced by steel cables and rebar, with additional concrete bolstering the corners of the house. The space under the roof was minimized so that wind could not sneak in underneath and lift it off. The home’s elevation, on high pilings, was meant to keep it above the surge of seawater that usually accompanies powerful hurricanes…”

Photo credit: The elevated house that the owners call the Sand Palace, on 36th Street in Mexico Beach, Fla., came through Hurricane Michael almost unscathed.” CreditCreditJohnny Milano for The New York Times.

Tornadoes Are Spinning Up Farther East in U.S. and Scientists Don’t Know Why. Fluke or a trend? NBC News has the story: “Over the past few decades tornadoes have been shifting — decreasing in Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas but spinning up more in states along the Mississippi River and farther east, a new study shows. Scientists aren’t quite certain why. Tornado activity is increasing most in Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa and parts of Ohio and Michigan, according to a study in Wednesday’s journal Climate and Atmospheric Science. There has been a slight decrease in the Great Plains, with the biggest drop in central and eastern Texas. Even with the decline, Texas still gets the most tornadoes of any state...”

Image credit: Bloomberg.

Jamal Khashoggi: What the Arab World Needs Most is Free Expression. This is the last column Jamal Khashoggi wrote for The Washington Post before he was murdered. Here’s an excerpt of that column, which was just published: “I was recently online looking at the 2018 “Freedom in the World” report published by Freedom House and came to a grave realization. There is only one country in the Arab world that has been classified as “free.” That nation is Tunisia. Jordan, Morocco and Kuwait come second, with a classification of “partly free.” The rest of the countries in the Arab world are classified as “not free.” As a result, Arabs living in these countries are either uninformed or misinformed. They are unable to adequately address, much less publicly discuss, matters that affect the region and their day-to-day lives. A state-run narrative dominates the public psyche, and while many do not believe it, a large majority of the population falls victim to this false narrative. Sadly, this situation is unlikely to change...”

Image credit: Jamal Khashoggi (Illustration by Alex Fine for The Washington Post).

Nebraska’s Message for Tourists: It’s Not For Everyone. Gotta give ’em points for candor and honesty. Personally, I think it’s brilliant. Here’s a clip from AP: “…The slogan, which the Nebraska Tourism Commission unveiled Wednesday at a Nebraska City conference… State tourism director John Ricks told the Omaha World-Herald that because Nebraska consistently ranks as the least likely state tourists plan to visit, the marketing campaign needed to be different. “To make people listen, you have to hook them somehow,” Ricks said. “We had to shake people up….”

Image credit: Adweek.

72 F. maximum temperature in the Twin Cities Thursday.

57 F. average high on October 18.

73 F. high on October 18, 2017.

October 19, 2000: The warmest October 19th in Minnesota history occurs for many towns. Many cities had highs in the 80s, with the Twin Cities hitting 84. Appleton in Swift County reported 90 degrees.

October 19, 1972: A cold snap moves through Minnesota, with lows of 1 above in Tower and 9 in St. Peter and Luverne.

October 19, 1916: Redwood Falls receives a record-setting 7 inches of snow.

FRIDAY: Early shower, a blustery day. Winds: NW 15-30. High: 62

FRIDAY NIGHT: Patchy clouds, cold wind. Low: 34

SATURDAY: Touch of November. Gusty with flurries. Winds: NW 15-30. High: 39

SUNDAY: Blue sky, kinder and gentler. Winds: SW 10-20. Wake-up: 29. High: 53

MONDAY: Partly sunny and pleasant. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 40. High: 57

TUESDAY: Bright sunshine, less wind. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 33. High: 54

WEDNESDAY: Clouds slowly increase. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 36. High: 52

THURSDAY: Light rain and drizzle possible. Winds: E 10-15. Wake-up: 38. High: 48

Photo courtesy of Pat Collins, a 7th grade Life Science Teacher in Lindstrom, Minnesota, who snapped this at Standing Cedars Community Land Conservancy, near Osceola Wisconsin.

Climate Stories….

In North Carolina, Hurricanes Did What Scientists Could Not: Convince Republicans That Climate Change is Real. Will a new generation of super-sized storms help to convince skeptics that weather is – increasingly – being disrupted by a wetter, more volatile climate? Here’s an excerpt from The Washington Post: “…An Elon University survey taken in early October, after Hurricane Florence hit, showed that 37 percent of Republicans believe global warming is “very likely” to negatively impact North Carolina coastal communities in the next 50 years. That is nearly triple the percentage of Republicans — 13 percent — who felt that way in 2017. The percentage of Republicans who felt climate change is “not at all likely” to harm the state’s coastal communities dropped by 10 points over the past year — from 41 percent in 2017 to 31 percent now. “That suggests to me that there’s a very large minority within the Republican Party who are at least open to the first steps to accepting that climate change is a possibility,” said Jason Husser, a political-science professor who directs the Elon poll. “It signals some sort of tipping point…”

Photo credit: “A man crosses a flooded street in downtown Wilmington, N.C., after Hurricane Florence made landfall on Sept. 14.” (Chuck Burton/Associated Press).

The Hurricanes, and Climate Change Questions Keep Coming. Yes, They’re Linked. The New York Times connects the dots: “Scientists are increasingly confident of the links between global warming and hurricanes. In a warming world, they say, hurricanes will be stronger, for a simple reason: Warmer water provides more energy that feeds them. Hurricanes and other extreme storms will also be wetter, for a simple reason: Warmer air holds more moisture. And, storm surges from hurricanes will be worse, for a simple reason that has nothing to do with the storms themselves: Sea levels are rising. Researchers cannot say, however, that global warming is to blame for the specifics of the latest storm, Hurricane Michael, which grew to Category 4 with sustained winds of 155 miles an hour, as it hit the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday...”

Photo credit: “A storm chaser returned to collect his things after debris collapsed on his car Wednesday in Panama City, Fla.Credit: Gerald Herbert/Associated Press.

Exposed by Michael: Climate Threat to Warplanes at Coastal Bases. The New York Times has the story: “…Michael’s devastation of Tyndall raises question about how well the bases are defended against the elements. “This threat is not new to the military — they’ve been talking about climate change for decades — and they generally learn from the latest storm,” said Lt. Gen. Arlen D. Jameson, who is retired from the Air Force and was a former deputy commander of the United States Strategic Command. “The problem is, the lessons learned going forward may be almost too painful to wait for the next lesson.” Several factors conspired to put a tenth of the nation’s F-22 fleet at risk in Hurricane Michael. The sophisticated jets are notoriously temperamental, and at any given time, only about half the them are mission-ready, according to a recent Air Force report. The storm appeared and developed swiftly, giving maintenance crews only a few days’ warning to get as many jets airworthy as they could…”

Photo credit: “Hurricane Michael caused catastrophic damage to the U.S. air force base in Panama, Fla.Published On.” Image by Terray Sylvester/Reuters.

Climate Change Policy Remedies: Which Do You Favor? What policies will move the needle (faster) toward sustainable, cleaner, renewable technologies? A price on carbon to place a definable, predictable signal in the markets? Something else? Here’s an excerpt from Countable: “…Importantly, carbon pricing schemes are technology-neutral. They directly target the actual problem – carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to atmospheric warming – rather than favoring a particular solution, such as solar panels or smart meters. The approach thus encourages the marketplace to develop the best possible tools and systems to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. pioneered market-based approaches to pollution. A program to curb sulfur dioxide, the cause of acid rain, was created in 1990 by a bipartisan Congress and launched by President George H.W. Bush. Emissions were cut about twice as quickly as predicted at a fraction of the cost of traditional regulation…”

Warmer Fall Nights. Climate Central has a post about the trends: “Warming fall nights mean more than just a delay in pulling out those comfortable sweaters and drinking hot apple cider. The lack of cool nights effectively lengthens the summer, as the first frost of the year also comes later. While warm-weather fans may celebrate, this also means that disease-carrying pests like mosquitoes and ticks will persist longer before dying off in the winter. Nationally, the long-term warming trend has lengthened the growing season by two weeks compared to the beginning of the 20th century. The allergy season is also getting longer, with ragweed pollens not disappearing until the first freeze of the fall. Each ragweed plant can produce up to one billion pollen grains, which can cause sneezing, itchy eyes, and worsening asthma conditions. Hospital visits related to asthma spike during periods with high pollen concentrations...”

Trump Slightly Revises His Views on Climate Change. The Atlantic has the story – here’s a snippet: “…On Sunday evening, in a lengthy interview on 60 Minutes, President Trump clarified that he no longer believes climate change is a hoax. “I think something’s happening,” he told the journalist Lesley Stahl. “Something’s changing, and it’ll change back again. I don’t think it’s a hoax. I think there’s probably a difference, but I don’t know that it’s man-made. “I will say this,” he continued. “I don’t wanna give trillions and trillions of dollars. I don’t wanna lose millions and millions of jobs. I don’t wanna be put at a disadvantage...”

Photo credit: “President Trump held a press conference as Hurricane Michael made landfall last week.” Jonathan Ernst / Reuters.

Response to President Trump’s Comments from the American Meteorological Society:

Mediterranean World Heritage At Risk of Coastal Flooding and Erosion Due To Sea Level Rise. Here’s a recent paper from Nature Communications: “UNESCO World Heritage sites (WHS) located in coastal areas are increasingly at risk from coastal hazards due to sea-level rise. In this study, we assess Mediterranean cultural WHS at risk from coastal flooding and erosion under four sea-level rise scenarios until 2100. Based on the analysis of spatially explicit WHS data, we develop an index-based approach that allows for ranking WHS at risk from both coastal hazards. Here we show that of 49 cultural WHS located in low-lying coastal areas of the Mediterranean, 37 are at risk from a 100-year flood and 42 from coastal erosion, already today. Until 2100, flood risk may increase by 50% and erosion risk by 13% across the region, with considerably higher increases at individual WHS. Our results provide a first-order assessment of where adaptation is most urgently needed and can support policymakers in steering local-scale research to devise suitable adaptation strategies for each WHS…”

Map credit: UNESCO.

Book Your Vacation Now: Book your tickets soon, according to Climate Nexus, which links to the following headlines/links: “Some of the world’s most important historical sites, including Venice’s canals, the old city of Dubrovnik in Croatia, and numerous Roman ruins, are at serious risk from unchecked climate change, according to new research. A study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications finds that of the 49 UNESCO World Heritage sites in the Mediterranean, 40 are vulnerable to the impacts of unchecked climate change, including sea-level rise and coastal erosion. “It’s our heritage—things that are signs of our civilization,” lead author Lena Reimann told the Washington Post. “It cannot really be put in numbers. It’s more an ethical question, a moral question. We will not be able to replace them once they are lost.” (Washington Post $, CNN, New York Times $)

Miami Meteorologist John Morales is Looking for Higher Ground. Kudos to Mr. Morales for connecting the dots and speaking truth to power. Here’s an excerpt from HuffPost: “…Explaining climate change and how it can affect weather is only going to grow more urgent and painful, especially in Miami. For now, anthropogenic warming remains context for how storms fit into long-term weather patterns. But the effects of climate change are already present. A study published in April found that home values along Miami’s coveted waterfront are starting to suffer. King tides, a term for exceptionally high tides, are flooding the city even on sunny days. And even if, down the road, scientists and policymakers discover a safe and reliable way to deploy geoengineering ― chemically cooling the environment, sucking carbon dioxide out of the air or spraying light-reflecting aerosols into it ― it won’t help Miami. The city sits atop a porous limestone. The water isn’t only coming from the shore; it’s rising from beneath the city itself.  “This is an existential threat,” he said. “Someday we’ll need to retreat from Miami Beach. But nobody gives it the serious level of thought…”

IPCC Report: Going From Climate Theory to Reality. Here’s a link to an interview I gave to Ali Velshi at MSNBC Sunday morning from Washington D.C.: “The Hurricane Michael devastation is highlighting climate change, with meteorologist Paul Douglas telling Ali Velshi, ‘We’ve had four Category 4 or stronger hurricane strikes in the U.S. in the last 14 months,’ because of, ‘additional warming from greenhouse gases.”

Is Extreme Weather Really Becoming More Common? Some perspective from SciLine: “…The scientific consensus is “yes,” though details vary from region to region around the globe. Among the documented increases:Since 1991, the number of U.S. extreme downpours has increased by more than 30 percent compared to the 1901 to 1960 average, contributing to increased flooding. Extreme heat waves and droughts in Europe have more than doubled since 1980. Atlantic hurricane frequency, intensity (Category 4 and 5 storms) and duration have increased substantially since the early 1980s; North Atlantic tropical storm frequency over the years 2000 to 2013 increased by about 50 percent compared to the long-term (1966 to 2009) average…”