You’ll Be Amazed How Good 40s Will Feel

I woke up yesterday to the “Today Show” trumpeting an “Arctic Invasion” with tips on how to survive an early cold wave. Here in Minnesota we call that…Tuesday. We’re all pleasantly surprised when Canada ISN’T leaking cold air south of the border.

One thing I’ve learned over the years: extreme temperature swings in one direction are often followed by swings in the opposite direction, as the atmosphere tries to regain equilibrium. I can’t promise a balmy front anytime soon, but 40s will be the rule from Friday into much of next week; possibly spilling into Thanksgiving week as well.

We had our our weather excitement for the week, a whopping half inch of traffic-snarling snow. With steering winds blowing from the west for the next 2 weeks, moisture from the Gulf of Mexico will be unable to reach Minnesota anytime soon, and that should limit travel headaches close to home.

This premature slap of wintry air iced up some ponds and lakes, but buyer beware: with 40s looming ice won’t be safe anytime soon.



Slow Moderation. The sun should be out today with highs near 30F. By Friday afternoon most of the snow that fell Wednesday, that whopping half inch, should be gone. Maps above: Praedictix and AerisWeather.



Temperature Forecasts. ECMWF (top) and GFS (bottom) courtesy of WeatherBell.


Relatively Mild Thanksgiving Week. I still see evidence of weak ridging for the central USA 2 weeks out, implying temperatures a few degrees above average for Thanksgiving. Right now I don’t see any evidence of major storms in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, either. I know. That would be miraculous.


Tips for Winterizing Your Car. The Washington Post has some timely advice: “…Ensure your tires are properly inflated. Low tire pressure affects braking distances and makes a car harder to steer, and the wild temperature swings we see in the winter can wreak havoc on our tires. According to Tom Williams, Discount Tire’s senior vice president of customer experience, for every 10 degrees the temperature drops, tires lose one pound of pressure per square inch. During a cold snap, your vehicle’s tire pressure-monitoring system light could start flashing on your dash. Head to your local tire store or, if you are a DIYer, consider buying a portable electric air pump from an auto-supply or home-improvement store. You can find your vehicle’s recommended tire pressure on a placard on the driver-side doorjamb…”


It’s Freezing, You Guys: Climate Nexus has links and headlines: “Temperatures plunged rapidly across the United States this week and around 70 percent of the population is expected to experience temperatures around freezing Wednesday. A dip in the jet stream is bringing Arctic air to states across the country, with snow falling in the Midwest and Northeast and parts of the South under freeze watches. “Many of the unprecedented weather extremes we’ve seen in recent years have been extreme summer events—heat waves, wildfires, et cetera—but we’re also seeing increases in extremes during the fall and winter and spring…there is a signature of human-caused climate change,” scientist Michael Mann said in a video on this fall’s extremes from Climate Signals. “The unusual warming of the Arctic appears to be influencing the behavior of the northern hemisphere jet stream in a way that gives us those large undulations where you see big peaks and troughs in the jet stream.” (New York Times $, CNN, Washington Post $. Video: Climate Signals. Background: Climate Signals)




Worst Venice Flooding in 50 Years. Daily Beast has the story: “The worst flooding to hit Venice in over 50 years is a direct result of climate change, the city’s mayor has said. Severe flooding has left much of the iconic Italian city submerged, with the waters peaking at 1.87 meters—the worst since a catastrophic flood reached 1.94m in 1966. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro tweeted that the floods will leave a “permanent mark,” adding: “Now the government must listen… These are the effects of climate change… the costs will be high.” Shocking pictures showed famous tourist sites completely flooded, including St. Mark’s Square and St Mark’s Basilica, which was flooded for only the sixth time in 1,200 years. Two people died on the island of Pellestrina—one man was electrocuted as he started a pump in his home and a second person was found dead elsewhere…”
Photo credit: Reuters / Manuel Silvestri.

Venice is Drowning: More perspective via Climate Nexus: “The city of Venice is preparing to declare a state of emergency following record-breaking flooding Tuesday night that has killed one and flooded 85 percent of the city. As the high-water mark hit 74 inches Tuesday–the highest tide in 50 years, and the second-highest flood ever recorded–St.Mark’s Square was flooded by more than 3 feet as tourists and residents waded through knee-deep water. St. Mark’s Basilica was flooded for just the sixth time in 1,200 years, but four of these floods have occurred within the past 20 years. “These are the effects of climate change… the costs will be high,” Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said in a tweet.” (Washington Post $, New York Times $, BBCHuffPost, AP, Bloomberg, CNN)
Associated Press and NBC News has video and perspective on Venice flooding here.

Firestorms and Flaming Tornadoes: How Brushfires Create Their Own Ferocious Weather Systems. Phys.org has an interesting post; here’s a clip: “...In the case of a pyrocumulonimbus, these downbursts have the added effect of bringing dry air down to the surface beneath the fire. The swirling winds can also carry embers over huge distances. Ember attack has been identified as the main cause of property loss in bushfires, and the unpredictable downbursts make it impossible to determine which direction the wind will blow across the ground. The wind direction may suddenly change, catching people off guard. Firestorms also produce dry lightning, potentially sparking new fires, which may then merge or coalesce into a larger flaming zone. In rare cases, a firestorm can even morph into a “fire tornado.” This is formed from the rotating winds in the convective column of a pyrocumulonimbus. They are attached to the firestorm and can therefore lift off the ground…”
Photo credit: “A firestorm on Mirror Plateaun Yellowstone Park, 1988.” Credit: Jim Peaco/US National Park Service.

Workshop Calls for More Investment in Flash Flood Guidance Systems. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has details: “Flash floods cause more than 5,000 deaths worldwide annually, exceeding any other weather-related event. As the global population increases, especially in urban areas, and societies continue to encroach upon floodplains, the need for flash flood early warning systems becomes more paramount. In response to this need, the World Meteorological Organization, the U.S. National Weather Service, the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, and the Hydrologic Research Center formed a partnership in 2007 to develop and implement an early warning flash flood forecasting system (Flash Flood Guidance System – FFGS) for global application. By 2019, over 3 billion people in 67 countries are being provided early warnings of potential flash flooding through their National Meteorological and Hydrological Services working in concert with their National Disaster Management Agencies…”
File image: NOAA.

AP: At Least 1,680 Dams Across the U.S. Post Potential Risk. Associated Press explains: “A more than two-year investigation by The Associated Press has found scores of dams nationwide in even worse condition, and in equally dangerous locations. They loom over homes, businesses, highways or entire communities that could face life-threatening floods if the dams don’t hold. A review of federal data and reports obtained under state open records laws identified 1,688 high-hazard dams rated in poor or unsatisfactory condition as of last year in 44 states and Puerto Rico. The actual number is almost certainly higher: Some states declined to provide condition ratings for their dams, claiming exemptions to public record requests. Others simply haven’t rated all their dams due to lack of funding, staffing or authority to do so...”

File photo: “This photo provided by the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources shows the Spencer Dam near Spencer, Neb., in March 2019, after the dam failed during a flood.” (Nebraska Department of Natural Resources via AP).


Neglected Dams Across the U.S. Kudos to Associated Press for diving into dam safety. Check out an interactive map here: “Thousands of people in the U.S. may be at risk from dams that are rated in poor or unsatisfactory condition. An AP analysis found 1,688 dams in these conditions are high hazard, meaning their failure can cause human death.”

Map credit: Sources: State Dam Safety Departments; Location intelligence company, Esri.


State Finds 56% of Minnesota’s Lakes and Streams are “Impaired”. A troubling new report highlighted at Star Tribune: “More than half of Minnesota’s lakes, rivers and streams — including a popular stretch of the St. Croix River near the Twin Cities — fail to meet water-quality standards for protecting aquatic life and human health and are classified as “impaired.” The St. Croix is one of 581 new waterways added to the state’s impaired waters list for 2020, due for release Wednesday by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). With the new list, the state has finished a 10-year sampling effort and now has a complete inventory of contaminated waters, a tool that can be used to track future progress in reducing water pollution…”

Photo credit: David Joles – Star Tribune. “A boat cruising the St. Croix River is seen from the St. Croix River bridge in Stillwater in 2018.”


A Photographer Spent 7 Years Chasing Storms through Tornado Alley. His Photos Are Amazing. Insider has the story, and a terrific collection of remarkable photos: “Eric Meola has been a respected photographer for 50 years, working with artists like Bruce Springsteen, and brands like Timberland and Porsche. But photographing the Great Plains has always been something of a passion project for him. This November, Meola released “Fierce Beauty,” a book dedicated to the awe-inspiring severe weather events that occur in the Midwestern, western, and southern United States. Meola spent years traveling through Tornado Alley, capturing storms, rainbows, and everything in between. Here are 15 of the most breathtaking photos from “Fierce Beauty...”

Photo credit: “Rainbow and Falling Hail in Keota, Colorado,” on June 21, 2018.” Courtesy of Eric Meola.


Target Needs to Get Serious About Reducing Plastic. Star Tribune has an Op-Ed; here’s an excerpt: “For years, corporations have told us that if we recycle more and do our individual parts, we can help tackle plastic pollution. But we now know that this will never be enough. Only 9% of all plastic ever made has actually been recycled. To truly stem the tide on plastic pollution, we need the corporations that rely on cheap throwaway plastics to stop producing them to begin with. And we need major retailers, like Target, to shift toward reuse systems. It is time for a reckoning that moves the world beyond single-use plastics…”

Photo credit: David Denney • Star Tribune. “Target’s aisles are filled with plastic-wrapped food, and often those items get placed in plastic bags at the checkout.”


The Promise of Virtual Power Plants. A story at CNN Business discusses the challenges facing renewable energy (including baseload power): “Virtual power plants could solve one of renewable energy’s most vexing challenges: the weather. By supplying electricity from renewable sources even when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing, virtual power plant technology could help tackle the climate crisis. “If you can’t rely on renewable energy and other technologies to provide the energy you need in a controllable way then you are always going to have to carry fossil fuel plants to make up for the unpredictability,” Phil Taylor, professor of energy systems at Newcastle University in England, told CNN Business. Conventional power plants can account for fluctuations in demand and supply by, for example, burning more coal, Taylor said. But clean energy sources, such as wind farms and solar plants, are weather dependent and therefore much more difficult to control, he said...”

Image credit: MN.gov.


How America Ends. The Atlantic addresses the tectonic demographic shift underway; here’s an excerpt: “…Within the living memory of most Americans, a majority of the country’s residents were white Christians. That is no longer the case, and voters are not insensate to the change—nearly a third of conservatives say they face “a lot” of discrimination for their beliefs, as do more than half of white evangelicals. But more epochal than the change that has already happened is the change that is yet to come: Sometime in the next quarter century or so, depending on immigration rates and the vagaries of ethnic and racial identification, nonwhites will become a majority in the U.S. For some Americans, that change will be cause for celebration; for others, it may pass unnoticed...”


Try to Avoid Dr. Google. The New York Post reports: “Two in five Americans have falsely convinced themselves they have a serious disease, after turning to “Dr. Google” – according to new research. A survey of 2,000 Americans found that 43 percent have looked their symptoms up online and ended up believing they had a much more serious illness than in actuality. Sixty-five percent of respondents have used the internet to self-diagnose themselves, but the results show typing your symptoms into the search bar might do more harm than good…”


Relax Boomers. You’re OK, Just Old. The truth hurts, but it also sets you free, right? Right? Here’s a clip of a column at The Los Angeles Times: “…So come on, boomers, stop being snowflakes. You are OK, you’re just getting old. Yes, we’re all a long way from the Haight and most of us never got there in the first place. But Jane Fonda was arrested for protesting and anyway, “OK, boomer” is not an insult, it’s a badge of honor. The fight continues. Go ahead and argue that social media and the digital economy have as many dangers as benefits. Texting your emotions and taking naked selfies can get folks into trouble. But just remember that “free love” and “turn on, tune in and drop out” did too. Seventy isn’t the new 30, but it is a very new kind of 70, which is why the young folk even bother talking about you. So take the win. And know that the moment boomers understand how to use TikTok, TikTok is done.”


Talking Dog. Big Think had a post that blew me away: “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.


.6″ snow fell at MSP International Airport yesterday.

28 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities.

43 F. average high on November 13.

23 F. high on November 13, 2018.

November 14, 2002: A magnitude 7.9 earthquake in Alaska turned some well water black in southeast Minnesota due to magnesium particles that were shaken loose.

November 14, 1996: An ice storm moves through much of central and southern Minnesota and west central Wisconsin. Schools closed or began late over much of southern Minnesota the morning of the 15th due to a 1/2 inch thick layer of ice that covered much of the area. Flights were canceled at Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport due to ice forming on airplanes and runways, although mainly sleet was reported in the Twin Cities.

November 14, 1833: A spectacular meteor shower is witnessed at Ft. Snelling. Source: Twin Cities National Weather Service.


THURSDAY: Partly sunny, breezy. Winds: SW 10-15. High: 31

FRIDAY: Intervals of sun, trending milder. Winds: NE 3-8. Wake-up: 25. High: 41

SATURDAY: Plenty of cloud cover, more tolerable. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 29. High: 43

SUNDAY: Morning shower, clouds linger. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 32. High: 39

MONDAY: Mostly cloudy, temps. close to average. Winds: SW 5-10. Wake-up: 29. High: 41

TUESDAY: More clouds than sun, quiet. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 28. High: 43

WEDNESDAY: Clouds increase, late showers? Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 30. High: 45


Climate Stories….

If The US Military is Facing Up to the Climate Crisis, Shouldn’t We All? Here’s a snippet of an Op-Ed at The Guardian: “…Equally worrisome, in the generals’ view, is the likelihood that climate change will cause grave harm to the homeland. The nation’s East and Gulf Coasts are highly exposed to powerful hurricanes while its West and Southwest are vulnerable to prolonged droughts and forest fires. To make matters worse, scientists fear that extreme events of this sort will increasingly occur in clusters, with one disaster following immediately after another—much as Hurricanes Irma and Maria followed Harvey in August-September 2017. For the US military, the prospect of an increasing frequency of storm clusters is deeply troubling, as the armed forces will repeatedly be called upon to assist local authorities in providing relief services, diverting them from other core responsibilities...”

Photo credit: “The storms that devastated much of the southeast in 2017 also battered numerous bases, resulting in the mandatory evacuation of most personnel.” Photograph: Eduardo Munoz/Reuters.


Google’s Employees Demand Climate Action. Details via TheHill: “If more than 1,000 Google employees get their way the tech company will have zero carbon emissions by 2030 and adopt an aggressive climate action plan. The tech workers have all signed a public letter addressed to Google’s chief financial officer, Ruth Porat. The letter contained a variety of requests including the cancellation of the company’s contracts with the fossil fuel industry and cessation of any donations to climate change deniers. Further demands touched on themes that weren’t climate related, such as, “zero collaboration with entities enabling the incarceration, surveillance, displacement or oppression of refugees or frontline communities...”

Image credit: Scott Kelly, ISS – NASA.


Climate Change Lawsuits Are Not Going Away. Vox reports: “…These cases are part of a rising tide of litigation instigated by young people, local governments, cities, and states seeking to hold private companies and governments accountable for contributing to climate change, misleading the public about it, and profiting from it. Once viewed as a longshot tactic for spurring action on climate change, several of these lawsuits have overcome attempts to dismiss them. However, many remain in uncharted legal territory that are applying existing laws in new ways. And some courts, including the Supreme Court, have voiced their skepticism about the merits of these cases. At stake is billions of dollars in liabilities for fossil fuel companies and legal precedents that could burst the dam and pave the way for even more lawsuits. So it’s worth paying attention to how these climate lawsuits are proceeding. Here are some of the bigger recent developments...”


Can Batteries Help Power Our Climate Solutions? Here’s an excerpt from Climate Central that caught my eye: “…Just as the cost of solar and wind energy has dropped in recent years, the price of battery energy storage is also declining—with a 76% drop in U.S. prices since 2012. While prices of battery-plus-solar technologies are not yet cheaper than other generation technologies, it is worth considering the present value they may add in mitigating financial losses from grid outages. It’s not just homes and businesses that batteries can power, but electric vehicles, too. Batteries supplied by low-carbon electricity sources have the potential to significantly decrease the 29% of US carbon dioxide emissions produced by the transportation sector. Work is ongoing to make battery technology safer, more powerful and more accessible, bringing a carbon-free energy system ever closer to reality…”



Big Utility Pushes “Renewable Gas” – Urges Cities to Reject Electrification. Here’s an excerpt from a post at InsideClimate News: “…Fearing an existential threat may be on the horizon as California races toward a future without fossil fuels, SoCalGas has been exerting its financial and political muscle on multiple fronts, including in at least 40 local governments and inside one of the nation’s leading universities, to promote biogas—which the industry markets as “renewable gas”—as a better solution than renewable electricity. “Natural gas doesn’t have to come from the ground,” Cruz told Duarte’s city’s leaders when he addressed them in February. “Just like electricity, it can be generated from renewable sources.…”


Five Strategies for Buying Beachfront Property Amid Climate Change. A post at Forbes caught my eye; here’s a clip: “...Because it’s impossible to predict the future with 100% accuracy, home insurance rates are determined by current, not future risk. Tools like FEMA’s Coastal Hazard Analysis Modeling Program can help homeowners assess their current flood risk, though it’s important to remember that flood insurance could always change as risk increases or decreases over the coming years. While it still costs more to insure coastal homes, climate change hasn’t caused a dramatic surge in prices, yet. However, FEMA reassesses flood plains every five years. As rising temperatures brew heavier and more destructive storms, insurance policies are subject to change. All homebuyers need to read the fine print on their insurance policies for gaps and exemptions. Often, homeowners find themselves in situations where water damage from flooding isn’t covered, because each situation is unique…”


Hurricanes on the Scale of Harvey or Katrina Are Now 3 Times More Likely Than a Century Ago. Business Insider takes a look at the trends: “…According to a study published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, extremely destructive storms like Harvey and Katrina — hurricanes that decimate large coastal areas to the tune of billions of dollars  — have gotten far more common in the US relative to their less damaging counterparts…So Grinsted coined a new metric: “area of total destruction,” or ATD. It’s a measurement of how big an area a given hurricane would have to destroy to equal the associated economic losses. The study authors concluded that the frequency of the most damaging hurricanes (defined as ATDs exceeding 467 square miles) increased 330% century-over-century. Moderate storms with an ATD of 50 square miles or less, by comparison, increased at a rate of 140% per century…”

Graphic credit: Shayanne Gal/Business Insider.


As Climate Change Threatens Midwest’s Cultural Identity, Cities Test Ways to Adapt. InsideClimate News focuses on how cities (including Rochester, Minnesota) are trying to become more climate-resilient: “…From her office window, Norton has a clear view of how close the Zumbro River is to overflowing downtown flood walls. The city has an enviable level of flood protection, installed after the devastating flood of 1978, but the walls were just barely enough to handle high waters last year. Torrential rains are happening more often in the city, part of a pattern seen across the Midwest. The government’s National Climate Assessment issued last year described how heavy rain events are increasingly causing disruption to transportation and damage to farms, property and infrastructure across the region, and it warned that that will continue to worsen in a warming world. Norton has put climate change at the forefront of her agenda since taking office in January...”


Climate Change Could End Mortgages As We Know Them. CBS News reports: “Climate change could punch a hole through the financial system by making 30-year home mortgages — the lifeblood of the American housing market — effectively unobtainable in entire regions across parts of the U.S. That’s what the future could look like without policy to address climate change, according to the latest research from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. The bank is considering these and other risks on Friday in an unprecedented conference on the economics of climate change. For the financial sector, adapting to climate change isn’t just an issue of improving their market share. “It is a function of where there will be a market at all,” wrote Jesse Keenan, a scholar who studies climate adaptation, in the Fed’s introduction…”


To Survive Climate Change, We’ll Need a Better Story. CityLab has a post drilling down into the power of effective framing and storytelling: “…Telling tales might seem an odd priority in a fast-transforming climate but, talking to CityLab by telephone, Grankvist insisted that such an approach was vital, for the simple reason that facts alone are not something people engage with. “We need storytellers because generally when scientists come up with conclusions, they are very non-personalized,” he says, “When you take research out into the public and you want people to connect with it, you have to involve an ‘I,’ a ‘we.’ My job is helping people to emotionally connect. When they emotionally connect with an issue, then they engage…”

Photo credit: “Swedish journalist Per Grankvist, AKA the “Scandinavian Malcolm Gladwell,” is the Viable Cities program’s chief storyteller.” Anna Hållams.