Deathly Afraid of Winter? Take a Chill Pill

Chapman University asked 1,190 Americans what they are most afraid of. At the top of the list: corruption of public officials. Next came pollution of oceans, rivers, lakes and drinking water. Fear of winter didn’t show up on the list, but even in Minnesota I detect a twinge of weather-induced anxiety this time of year.

Will my commutes be an unholy nightmare? Will I remember how to drive on snow? A little paranoia is probably a good thing. Me? I’m more afraid of slipping on ice while walking the dog or getting the mail.

November brings an average of 9 inches of snow in the Twin Cities; the 4th snowiest month of the year – if anyone asks.

It will certainly be cold enough for snow into early next week, but I don’t see any significant slugs of southern moisture capable of whipping up a real storm. Flurries may coat the ground Thursday and Friday, and ECMWF (“Euro” model) prints out a couple inches of powder up north. Readings may not climb out of the 20s Friday, with a wind chill in single digits.

A welcome thaw arrives late next week with 40s, even a shot at 50F. Woo hoo!

File photo: Pietro Zanarini.


What Are Americans Afraid Of? Here’s an excerpt of a study conducted by Chapman University: “…For the fourth year in a row the top fear of Americans is corrupt government officials. And as in the previous four years, the fear that our government is corrupt far exceeds all others we asked about. Nearly 3/4 of Americans said they are afraid or very afraid of corrupt governmental officials in 2018. By comparison, the next highest level of fear was more than 10 points lower at 61.6% (pollution of oceans, rivers and lakes). Government corruption aside, our top ten list suggest that Americans are preoccupied by fears of three different types. Americans fear for the environment (#s 2, 3, 7, 8, 9), fear bad things happening to loved ones (#s 5 & 6) and worry about their finances (#s 4 and 10)...”



A Touch of Late December. Highs today range from mid-20s to low-30s, with a wind chill forecast to dip into the teens at times, even single digits over the Red River Valley. Map credits: AerisWeather and Praedictix.


Couple Inches Up North. Hunters may be happy to see fresh snow helping with tracking, a few inches possible north of Alexandria and Brainerd by Sunday morning. ECMWF Map credit: WeatherBell.



Moderating Temperatures Last 10 Days of November. No shirtsleeve weather is returning anytime soon, but after this cold spell you may be reassured how good 40s feel; even a shot at 50F by the end of next week.



Various Flavors of Snow Storms. Clippers tend to produce light, powdery snow (more prone to blowing and drifting), but since there are no large moisture sources in central Canada amounts tend to be light. Storms originating from Colorado can tap moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in more heavier, wetter, more formidable amounts. Graphic credit: NOAA.


Nighttime Tornadoes More Than Twice as Likely to Be Deadly. A combination of factors are in play: people are sleeping/distracted and storm spotters have a much tougher time confirming a tornado circulation is on the ground after dark. Here’s an excerpt from a post at weather.com: “Perhaps the only thing more frightening than a tornado is one that strikes while you’re asleep. Tornadoes occurring at night are more than twice as likely to be deadly as those during the day, according to a recent study. Examining roughly 48,000 tornadoes in the U.S. from 1950 to 2005, a 2008 study led by Walker Ashley from Northern Illinois University found roughly one in every 20 overnight tornadoes were killers, compared to roughly one in every 50 daytime deadly tornadoes…”


New Experimental Radar Could Lead to Earlier Severe Weather Warnings. Even Doppler is being disrupted – get ready for “phased array” Doppler Radar, according to NOAA: “NOAA researchers recently unveiled “the radar of the future” – a new $38 million prototype that could improve warnings, protect lives and property, and reduce the economic impact of severe and hazardous weather. Weather radarsoffsite link consist of a transmitter that bounces radio waves off clouds and storm systems, and a receiver that detects precipitation and winds. Unlike today’s weather radars that use a dish antenna that tilts and rotates to collect data, the new experimental radar called the Advanced Technology Demonstrator (ATD) has a flat panel with a grid of thousands of small antennas that transmit radio waves and receive reflections back from the atmosphere. This phased array allows the radar to be steered electronically with no moving parts, collecting and updating information more rapidly…”


New Weather Satellites Could Improve Tornado Warning Times By Several Minutes. A post at KOMO.com caught my eye; here’s an excerpt: “…Penn State University researchers were able to take some of the enhanced weather data coming in via the new GOES-16 satellite, and incorporate it into new forecast models to try and better predict severe thunderstorms and tornado development in the Midwest. Their experiments were done in reverse — they ran model simulations on past events to see if the models would accurately predict how the storms eventually formed. And the results were promising: The model was indeed able to forecast supercell thunderstorms with atmospheric conditions that are very conducive to tornadoes, researchers said...”


Italy Floods: Death Toll Climbs to 17 – As 14 Million Trees Destroyed. The Independent has an update on last week’s massive flooding: “Heavy rain and gales lashing parts of Italy have killed at least 17 people and razed thousands of hectares of forest, destroying 14 million trees. Areas across the country have been affected by the storms this week, which created landslides in the northern regions of Trentino and Veneto before moving south over the weekend. Nine people from two families were also killed on the island of Sicily after a river burst its banks and flooded a house outside Palermo…”

Credit: “Three-quarters of Venice flooded as six die in storms across Italy.”


A $6.5 Billion Sea Wall Was Supposed to Stop Venice From Flooding. Business Insider reports on a massive sea wall that would have come in handy during last week’s historic flooding: “…Though the flooding is the worst the city has seen in a decade, it isn’t entirely unexpected: Autumn to spring marks flooding season in Venice, or “acqua alta” — a period of exceptionally high tides in the Adriatic Sea. In 2003, Italy began building a massive flood barrier designed to isolate the Venetian Lagoon, the enclosed bay where Venice is located. The project, known as Mose, is one of the largest civil engineering endeavors in the world. The design consists of 78 mobile gates stationed at three different inlets. When the tide reaches 43 inches (which happens around four times a year), the gates will rise above the water’s surface and protect the lagoon from flooding...”


Big New Challenge for Insurers: Extreme Weather. I found a Wall Street Journal post published on August 12 that caught my eye: “…Still, Mr. Greenberg has big concerns about the increased frequency and severity of natural catastrophes. In his annual letter to shareholders earlier this year, he said, “The evidence of climate change is immediately apparent, profound and disturbing.” In speaking out, he put Chubb among other multinational insurers that are giving a higher profile to concerns about extreme weather events. Mr. Greenberg, who has more than four decades of experience in the property-casualty insurance industry, says the risk environment is becoming more complex, due both to nature and man-made activity: climate change combined with people’s growing preference for homes near coastlines. He believes these risks are exacerbated by government policies that subsidize development and shield people from the true cost of their living choices...”


Hot Days in the City? It’s All About Location. Yes, the “urban heat island” is real and pervasive. Here’s an excerpt of an explainer at NOAA: “…The detailed maps are the result of a NOAA-funded project to map urban heat islandsoffsite link – the places where people are most at risk during extreme heat. A corps of 25 volunteers drove along designated routes through each city on two consecutive days to collect temperature data using specially designed thermal sensors mounted on their own cars. Vivek Shandas of Portland State University and Jeremy Hoffman of the Science Museum of Virginia then used these data to create detailed maps of the hottest and coolest places in both cities…”

Map credit: “This Washington, D.C. map reveals a range of temperatures on the afternoon of Aug. 28, 2018, from a low of 85 degrees F to a high of 102 degrees F.” (Climate.gov/ Portland State University).


AUTOS: Links and headlines via Climate Nexus: “How Tesla made a record profit (Wall Street Journal $), the $6 trillion barrier holding electric cars back.” (Bloomberg).


How Tesla Made a Record Profit. Here’s a clip from a Wall Street Journal story: “…There is no doubt that Tesla delivered a record number of cars, grew revenues by 70% from the second quarter and kept costs down. Tesla booked $271 million in pretax income in the quarter. The biggest boost to profits came from the sale of government credits, which Tesla earns by producing clean energy products like electric cars and can be sold to other companies to satisfy regulatory requirements. Tesla booked $189.5 million in credit revenue in the quarter, an unusually high result. Tesla had booked a total of about $135 million in the first two quarters of the year. These credits are almost pure profit for Tesla...”


How Everything Became the Culture War. Here’s a clip from a story at Politico: “…As long as America keeps sorting itself into two factions divided by geography, ethnicity and ideology, pitting a multiracial team of progressives who live in cities and inner-ring suburbs against a white team of conservatives who live in exurbs and rural areas, this is what debates about public policy—or for that matter about the FBI, the dictator of North Korea and the credibility of various sexual assault allegations—will look like. We will twist the facts into our partisan narratives. The self-inflicted wounds will infect more and more of our lives. And if you want something else to worry about, consider where it might be spreading next…”

Illustration credit: Ben Fearnley.


What Does Working From Home Do To Your Immune System? Shy of barricading yourself in your basement, is there anything we can do to avoid the flu, or worse? Here’s an excerpt from The Atlantic: “...I think it’s fair to say that in general, the flu and colds and other things are spread person to person,” Morse told me. “There’s no question that the more contact you have with people, the greater likelihood you are exposing yourself to infection. If you are a hermit and presumably have no contact with people, you are at very low risk.” As with so many things in my past, leaving my house, in general, is probably where I went wrong. Before we get too finger-pointy at the subway, though, Morse cautions not to assume causation where mere correlation might be at hand. The main risk factor for contagion is proximity to other potentially sick people, no matter whether those people are on the train, in your office, or standing in line to get a lunchtime chopped salad just like you…”

Image credit: Andrew Kelly / Reuters.


Harvard Astronomers Think They May Have Spotted an Alien Spacecraft. Don’t sweat the snow flurries (or election results) too much, according to The Daily Beast. Then again, if these alleged aliens are advanced enough to reach our solar system, why on Earth would they want to visit us. Morbid curiosity? “We know everyone has a lot on their minds already on Election Day but, just so you know, some elite U.S. astronomers believe may have discovered evidence of alien life. Harvard University astronomers say a mysterious cigar-shaped object that was spotted hurtling through our solar system at 196,000 mph last year may have been an alien spacecraft sent to investigate Earth. Scientists have argued over the nature of the object since it was first discovered in October 2017. Now a new paper by researchers at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics suggests the dark-red object, which was named “Oumuamua,” meaning “a messenger that reaches out from the distant past” in Hawaiian, might have an “artificial origin…”

Image credit: “Reuters / European Southern Obervatory.” If you care to click, CNN.com has more info on Oumuamua here.


10 of Europe’s Weirdest Laws. I’m feeling even better about living in the USA, after reading a post at Big Think: “…If the zombie apocalypse ever actually happens, there’s a good chance none of them will be taking a taxi. . . thanks in large part to the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act of 1984. The law is actually somewhat more specific in regard to the transport of sick passengers: you have to tell the driver you’re ill, and then it’s up to them to let you in. Then the taxi driver must tell the authorities, who in turn will disinfect the taxi. Bus drivers are forbidden from taking anyone with a “notifiable” disease, which includes the plague…”

File image: Wikimedia Commons.

.29″ rain fell yesterday at MSP International Airport.

43 F. maximum temperature yesterday in the Twin Cities.

47 F. average high on November 6.

33 F. high on November 6, 2017.

November 7, 1844: A large prairie fire at Fort Snelling occurs, followed by more fires later on in the week.


WEDNESDAY: Mostly cloudy, chilly. Winds: NW 10-15. High: 35

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Patchy clouds. Low: 24

THURSDAY: A generous smear of clouds, few flakes. Winds: W 7-12. High: 33

FRIDAY: December-like. Coating of flurries? Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 21. High: 29

SATURDAY: Clouds increase, partially numb. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 16. High: 30

SUNDAY: Cold wind, handful of flurries. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 26. High: 34

MONDAY: Mostly cloudy, feels like low teens. Winds: NW 15-25. Wake-up: 21. High: 28

TUESDAY: Glimmers of sun. No bugs or pollen. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 14. High: 27

Image credit: NOAA.


Climate Stories…

How Climate’s Changing Votes in Florida: Climate Nexus has the headlines and links: “As Americans head to the polls for midterms, climate change may be shaping voter turnout in Florida in more ways than one. NPR’s Morning Edition reports from a Democratic rally in Miami, where young voters tell her climate change is their top concern this year following devastating hurricanes and toxic algae bloom. “I want to see a future where laws are made based on science and equality, and not on what some rich guy thinks,” a young voter tells NPR. Elsewhere in the state, the impacts of climate change may dampen voter turnout: residents of the conservative-leaning Florida Panhandle say they are too busy recovering from the impacts of last month’s Hurricane Michael to vote, and GOP leaders are worried about the impact the hurricane will have on the state’s tight races. “I don’t think this storm said, ‘Oh we’re going to tear up Republicans’ houses and not Democrats,'” Sissy Karr, a Trump supporter and landlord living in Panama City, told Reuters. “It didn’t matter if you were a poor person renting a manufactured home or a wealthy doctor…The storm tore your stuff up.” (NPR, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Fox).


In Bloom. Many Floridians are scratching their heads and wondering if this year’s red tide is a fluke, or a trend? Here’s more perspective from Marcus Stern at The Weather Channel: “…Even before climate change began exacerbating the threat of destructive water flows and algae blooms, the dominance of “Big Sugar” was an irritant to its neighbors. For decades, the sugar companies have staved off much of the financial responsibility for their pollution and thwarted efforts to send the water south. They did it by spending tens of millions of dollars buying political clout in Tallahassee, the state capital, and Washington. People have toyed with Florida’s natural plumbing for more than a century. For 6,000 years, water has drained south from Central Florida into the 730-square-mile Lake Okeechobee. After heavy rains, water would overflow the lake’s soft, southern banks, allowing excess water to drain south through the Everglades into the Florida Bay…”

Image credit: “The dual catastrophes of red tide and blue-green algae on Florida’s Gulf Coast have made residents fear for the viability of their communities — and look for someone to shoulder the blame.”


Historic Flooding in Italy: What Role Has Climate Change Played in the Destruction? USA TODAY connects the dots: “…Venice’s location on Italy’s northeastern coast has already left it vulnerable to the effects of sea-level rise from climate change. The average water height in Venice has increased nine inches since 1897. Forty percent of that is attributable to worldwide sea-level rise from melting polar ice, according to Weather Underground. “This is yet another time we’re seeing the consequences,” Chatterjee said. “I think for most people the signals are becoming quite clear that we need to have emergency action.” Ken Berlin, president and CEO of the Climate Reality Project, said Venice’s flooding shows climate change will continue to have significant effects worldwide...”


We’re All Climate Catastrophe Preppers Now. Here’s a snippet of an Op-Ed at Bloomberg Opinion: “…So how much of the global stock of financial assets is at risk of destruction due to climate change? An Economist Intelligence Unit study found that $4 trillion of wealth (in today’s money) could be obliterated by 2100 and perhaps as much as $14 trillion (or 10 percent of the total) if the planet warms by 6 degrees. How come? In a warmer world, the economy will probably grow more slowly. 3 Humans are far less productive at high temperatures. There will be periodic losses of infrastructure and real estate assets through storm damage. Government budgets will also be battered by the cost of rebuilding and damage-prevention efforts, just as tax receipts decline. At some point, society may decide there’s no point in rebuilding, leading to a permanent loss of productive capacity. Hence returns from equities and other financial assets will probably be lower

Global Warming is Messing With The Jet Stream. That Means More Extreme Weather. I’ve been talking about this for nearly 20 years. Why would uneven warming have an impact? Because northern latitudes are warming much faster than mid latitudes, which appears to be impacting steering winds aloft. Here’s the intro to an explainer from InsideClimate News: “Greenhouse gases are increasingly disrupting the jet stream, a powerful river of winds that steers weather systems in the Northern Hemisphere. That’s causing more frequent summer droughts, floods and wildfires, a new study says. The findings suggest that summers like 2018, when the jet stream drove extreme weather on an unprecedented scale across the Northern Hemisphere, will be 50 percent more frequent by the end of the century if emissions of carbon dioxide and other climate pollutants from industry, agriculture and the burning of fossil fuels continue at a high rate. In a worst-case scenario, there could be a near-tripling of such extreme jet stream events, but other factors, like aerosol emissions, are a wild card, according to the research, published today in the journal Science Advances...”

Graphic credit: “The speed and waviness of the northern jet stream, a river of wind across the Northern Hemisphere, is affected by the temperature difference between the Arctic and mid-latitudes.” Credit: NASA.


FEMA Flood Maps Ignore Climate Change and Homeowners Are Paying the Price. InsideClimate reports that FEMA is behind the curve on areas increasingly prone to flooding. Wait, Have We Really Wiped Out 60% of Animals? is the topic tackled at The Atlantic. The real (adjusted) number is closer to 17% – still troubling, but not as dire as the headline suggests. The 5 Most Important Data Sets of Climate Science is a good overview of the large (and growing) mountain of evidence, courtesy of Tamino. Freak Summer Weather and Wild Jet Stream Patterns Are On the Rise Because of Global Warming. Jason Samenow has more perspective on “arctic amplification” at Capital Weather Gang. Greenhouse Gases Like Steroids for Extreme Weather. Earth Institute at Columbia University explains. Los Angeles Must Pay Billions to Adapt – Or Slip Into The Sea. Media Hype? I sure hope so, but a story at WIRED.com caught my eye. Redrawing the Map: How the World’s Climate Zones are Shifting. We’ve gone from theory to reality, according to Yale E360. America’s Weather is Warming. See How Your City’s Weather Will Be Different in Just One Generation. Vox has the details for your town. The Big Meltdown. Changes are taking place in parts of Antarctica much faster than even the most aggressive models predicted. National Geographic documents the trends. Some Minnesotans Find Ways to Take Action on Climate Change Challenges. Matt McKinney reports for Star Tribune.


Coastal Property Was Once King. Fears of Climate Change are Undermining Its Value. One serious quibble with the article at (paywall) Wall Street Journal article. Among serious scientists, not armchair pundits, the causes of a rapidly changing are not debated. Here’s an excerpt: “…The effects of the planet’s slow heating are diffuse and its causes are debated. That hasn’t stopped climate-change expectations filtering into business decisions and values of financial assets. In coastal residential real estate, those expectations are turning an old dictum on its head. “Location, location, location” is receding from the waterline. Up and down the eastern seaboard, many home prices near water’s edge aren’t doing as well as homes inland in the same county, a Journal examination found. Real-estate brokers, homeowners and prospective buyers say a big reason is the perception that climate change is making such properties a riskier investment. To compare changes in waterfront single-family home prices with those inland for the Journal examination, the real-estate information provider Realtor.com analyzed median prices per square foot in and out of designated high-risk flood zones in 16 coastal states between 2012 and 2017…”


10 Ways to Combat Global Warming. A few good tips in an article from The Washington Post and SFGate.com: “…These are good small steps, environmental advocates say, although for a private citizen, the most effective action is to elect politicians who share your concerns and push local leaders to pursue climate-friendly policies. But you can make a difference in global warming at home and in your community – and save yourself money in the process.

1. Commute like a European.

Transportation accounts for the biggest share of America’s carbon footprint. Traditional cars burn fossil fuels, causing air pollution and contributing to smog, acid rain and global warming. Biking, walking or taking public transit are the best alternatives…”

Map credit: NOAA.