Feeling Chilled? It Could Be (Much) Worse

On this date in 1985 Twin Cities residents were still buzzing about the half inch of s-s-snow that fell the previous day. It was yet another atmospheric exclamation point. September can bring 80s and 90s…and snow.

Think of it as an exotic weather smorgasbord.

Nothing nearly that traumatizing in the 7-Day, just a cooling trend and a few surges of rain. Instability showers linger today, but we salvage a fine Wednesday, before a reinforcing smack of Canadian air squeezes out more showers Thursday and Friday.

It’s only Tuesday, but who isn’t daydreaming about the weekend? Models suggest a fairly nice Saturday, with blue sky and 50s, but more showers may arrive during the day Sunday.

On average the MSP metro area experiences the first frost of the season during the first week of October. NOAA’s GFS model hints at a frosty episode between October 6-9. Circle your calendars.

At least we won’t be tracking tornadic T-storms anytime soon. In what may be the biggest outbreak of September tornadoes on record in Minnesota, the NWS now reports 10 confirmed twisters. Stay tuned.


Roll Cloud photo courtesy of Praedictix meteorologist Susie Martin.




Future Radar. NOAA NAM’s 00z 12 KM run shows a few showers today, another clipper-like system pushing more showers into Minnesota Thursday and Friday. We get a break on Wednesday, and my fingers are crossed we’ll salvage a cool, but dry Saturday. Guidance: pivotalweather.com.



Temperature Recovery. After a potentially chilly first week of October model guidance hints at some moderation by the second week of the month, as prevailing winds become more zonal, west-to-east, implying temperatures at, or even a few degrees above normal.


October Preview. My confidence level is still low, but Monday’s climate model (CFSv2) from NOAA CPC shows a warm bias formuch of the western USA, but temperatures slightly cooler than average from the Upper Midwest into the Great Lakes. Map: Weatherbell.

10 Tornado Touch-Downs Last Thursday? Here’s the latest summary of (confirmed) tornado touchdowns in southern Minnesota last Thursday, courtesy of the Twin Cities National Weather Service.


Photo: The Aftermath of Hurricane Florence. It’s not over yet. Here’s a link to a haunting photo essay from The Atlantic showing the extent of flooding in the Carolinas: “Hurricane Florence has now weakened to a tropical depression, and forecasters are warning of continued heavy rainfall and flooding still to come. When the hurricane came ashore on Friday, the National Hurricane Center said it had sustained winds of 90 miles an hour, and a reported 11 deaths have been blamed on the storm. Utility crews are out in force today, working to restore power to the more than 1 million houses that lost electricity during landfall. Gathered here, a collection of images of the immediate aftermath of Florence.”

Photo credit: “A pickup truck drives on a flooded road past a farmhouse that is surrounded by flooded fields from Tropical Storm Florence in Hyde County, North Carolina, on September 15, 2018.” Steve Helber / AP.


A Broad View of Flooding in the Carolinas. Check out the before/after images from NASA’s Earth Observatory: “The National Weather Service office in Raleigh offered a preliminary estimate that nearly 8 trillion gallons of rain fell on North Carolina from Sept 13 to 17, 2018. That led to catastrophic flooding across many parts of the state. Before and after Hurricane Florence swept through the Carolinas, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite observed several residential areas and major rivers. The image pair above shows the Trent River on July 14, 2017, and September 19, 2018. These false-color images use a combination of visible and infrared light (OLI bands 6-5-4) to make it easier to distinguish between flood waters and land…”

Image credit: Left image from July 14, 2017. Right image from September 19, 2018. Courtesy of NASA.


Hurricane Florence Reveals Flaw with Saffir-Simpson Scale. The scale takes wind speed into account, but not speed of the storm or the potential for devastating inland flooding. Here’s a clip from The Washington Post: “…The central problem with the Saffir-Simpson scale is that — as its full name clearly states — it measures only wind. It doesn’t capture such threats as coastal storm surge and heavy rainfall or say anything about the size of a hurricane. “It’s almost as if they need to come up with a new code system. Category 1 hurricane and category ‘something’ for the rainfall,” said Corinne Cutler Corr, a resident of New Bern who chose not to evacuate. She and her husband, a contractor, live on relatively high ground and thought they could help their neighbors who were riding it out. The National Weather Service labored in advance of Florence to warn residents about the likelihood of record rainfall, catastrophic flooding and a potentially lethal storm surge, said Bill Lapenta, director of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction. But Florence will spur discussion in the scientific community about how to describe hurricane threats in the future, he predicted...”

Image credit from September 14: NOAA.


Scientists Say Hurricane Rating System Fails to Convey Danger of Deadly Rain. A story at CBS News provides more perspective and clarity on the call for a revised rating system for hurricanes: “…People like Mills can be lulled into thinking a hurricane is less dangerous when the rating of a storm is reduced. But those ratings are based on wind strength, not rainfall or storm surge — and water is responsible for 90 percent of storm deaths. Several meteorologists and disaster experts said something needs to change with the rating system, the 47-year-old Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, to reflect the real risks in hurricanes. They point to Florence, last year’s Hurricane Harvey, 2012’s Sandy and 2008’s Ike as storms where the official Saffir-Simpson category didn’t quite convey the danger because of its emphasis on wind. “The concept of saying ‘downgraded’ or ‘weakened’ should be forever banished,” said University of Georgia meteorology professor Marshall Shepherd. “With Florence, I felt it was more dangerous after it was lowered to Category 2...”


Carolinians Are Under Water. What’s Your Flood Risk? Many people don’t even realize they live in a flood zone, according to a story at Emergency Management: “…One of the key issues is the lack of knowledge of the risk. “Everyone lives in a flood zone and with flooding being the most common natural disaster in the U.S., it is critical that property owners understand their level of risk,” said Patty Latshaw, senior vice president of compliance and principal NFIP flood coordinator at Wright Flood. With NFIP nearly $20 billion in debt and $16 billion having been forgiven last year, many say the program needs to be reformed for viability. The NRDC advocates for improving the knowledge that homebuyers and renters have about their flood risks. “It’s a big problem,” Scata said. “There’s just not enough information out there to help people who face these risks, especially when you’re moving into a new area, you should be fully informed about the flooding risk and a lot of this can be directly influenced by the NFIP…”

Photo credit: “Floodwaters inundate homes after Florence struck the Carolinas, Monday, Sept. 17, 2018, in Conway, S.C.” AP/Sean Rayford.


Five Things That Must Change After Hurricane Florence. Dr. Marshall Shepherd makes some good points in a post at Forbes: “…Clearly, one thing that needs to change is how people perceive floodwaters. The “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” slogan seems to ring hollow. As I monitored Florence, I saw video after video of trucks and cars plowing through flooded roads. In a previous discussion, psychologist and meteorologist Castle Williams, a doctoral student at the University of Georgia, told me:

I think flood messaging is a great parallel between my research on forgetting children in hot cars. When driving in a car, you have several memory systems at work. Therefore, even though these individuals may be receiving the flood message there are other factors that play into their final decision……Additionally, this idea that individuals often focus on getting to a safe, familiar place may override their risk perception of the water on the roadway. They may be trying to get to work or pick up a child, and those actions are prioritized in their minds…”

Map credit: “Road closures on September 16th in North Carolina from Florence.” NCDOT.


How Dutch Stormwater Management Could Have Mitigated Damage from Hurricane Florence. CBS News 60 Minutes had an eye-opening report on how the Netherlands has gone of the offensive; no major floods in that country (most of which is below sea level) since 1953. Here’s an excerpt: “…

Bill Whitaker: But how do you go about preventing a disaster like Katrina, Harvey, Sandy? It– it just doesn’t seem possible.

Henk Ovink: We can’t prevent them from happening. But the impact that is caused by these disasters, we can decrease by preparing ourselves. I think the catastrophes we see in the world are all man-made. The storms are perhaps man-caused and you can debate that. But the catastrophes because of the storms? Uh. Those are man-made.

It’s a radical statement. We went with him to the Netherlands to learn what shaped his thinking: it’s water. Water is everywhere in this country known for its charming canals, picturesque dikes and windmills. But they’re not just quaint tourist attractions. For centuries the canals and dikes have held back water, the windmills pump it away. Ovink took us up in a helicopter so we could see it from above...”

Photo credit: “Manmade dunes protect the town of Katwijk from the sea, underneath the dunes is a large parking garage.”


Record Rainfall in Texas Blamed for One Death, Flooded Homes. The flash flooding around Dallas was quite extraordinary over the weekend; details via The Weather Channel: “Flooding in Texas is being blamed for one death and damage to dozens of homes. More than 8 inches of rain fell at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport between Friday and Saturday, the Dallas Morning News reported. In Arlington, authorities are investigating the death of a 23-year-old man who was swept off a bridge near the University of Texas at Arlington campus. His body was recovered about 2 a.m. Saturday. His identity has not been released. Tom Bradshaw, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth, told the Star-Telegram that Friday night’s rain set a new record for the wettest September in the area. The previous record, 10.8 inches of rain throughout the month, was set in 1932. After Friday’s rain, this September has seen 11.03 inches of rain so far…”


Professor Helps Develop Fire-Weather Tool. I thought this was pretty cool. Details via St. Cloud State University: “A tool that could improve forecasting of wildland fires has been protoyped by a St. Cloud State professor, in concert with the U.S. Forest Service. Alan Srock, associate professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Hydrologic Sciences, is the lead author of the Hot-Dry-Windy Index (HDW), which could help fire managers anticipate days when weather conditions would have the greatest potential to make wildfire erratic or especially dangerous. “We’re still rolling this out. It’s still preliminary,” said Srock. “But, we’ve got some folks that are out in the field, using HDW and learning about it, and we’re responding to their needs.” Srock is a meteorologist by training. He holds a master’s degree and doctorate from University at Albany, State University of New York.  The HDW is based on atmospheric variables that affect wildland fire: temperature, moisture and wind...”


University of Maryland Used a Private Company for a Tornado Warning. That Can Be Problematic. If everyone starts issuing their own warnings the result can be anarchy and confusion, according to a post at Capital Weather Gang. Here’s an excerpt: “…On Aug. 21, AccuWeather issued a tornado warning to rail lines in the Chicago area, which subsequently halted service during a busy, rainy rush hour. The National Weather Service issued no warnings that evening, and no tornado was confirmed in the Chicago area. In January 2016, managers of the Pennsylvania Turnpike relied on outdated forecasts from AccuWeather during a blizzard, leading to more than 500 vehicles being stranded for as many as two nights. Gary Szatkowski, a former meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service in Mount Holly, N.J., said having multiple warning sources — especially regarding tornadoes — can sow confusion…”

Photo credit: “The tornado warning that prompted sirens on the University of Maryland campus was issued because of information from a private company, AccuWeather.” (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post).


New Study Suggests Male Investors Are Prone to Panic, While Women Play it Safe. A story at Quartz made me do a double-take: “Ample economic literature suggests there are real differences between the sexes when it comes to trading and investing. The key takeaway from the research, as Matt Phillips once explained in Quartz, is that pretty much everything on Earth, including financial markets, would run better if women were in charge. The conclusion is grounded in repeated findings that women tend to have lower financial risk tolerance than men and make smarter, more calculated decisions about their investments. What’s more, women tend to be less competitive than men, who are disposed to competing even when they’re more likely to lose…”

Photo credit: “Listen to her.” Nesa by Makers/Unsplash.


September 25, 1998: A wind gust to 78 mph is reported at Staples Municipal Airport, just to the north of Staples in Wadena County. In Todd County, trees are blown down in the city of Staples. Buildings are damaged at a farmstead on the northwest edge of the city. A roof is torn off of Stern Rubber Company, and rooftop heating and cooling units are ripped off McKechnie Tool and Engineering. In Mille Lacs County, 3 inch hail is reported, damaging many automobiles.

September 25, 1929: Willmar experiences a deluge that produces 5.22 inches of rain in 24 hours.


“No man was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.” – Calvin Coolidge.




TUESDAY: Damp, few showers. Winds: NW 8-13. High: 57

TUESDAY NIGHT: Clearing and cool. Low: 45

WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny and pleasant. Winds: NW 10-15. High: 62

THURSDAY: Showers taper, cool breeze. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 50. High: near 60

FRIDAY: Fairly raw. A cold rain possible. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 44. High: 53

SATURDAY: Partly sunny, nicer day of weekend? Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 41. High: 55

SUNDAY: Dry start, showers during PM hours. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 40. High: 57

MONDAY: Rain slowly tapers, still chilly. Winds: NE 10-15. Wake-up: 43. High: 52


Climate Stories…

National Parks Bearing Brunt of Climate Change, Scientists Find. Here’s an excerpt from a new study highlighted at The San Francisco Chronicle: “…A study released Monday finds that the country’s national parks, which were designed to set aside and protect the most pristine and coveted spots in the United States, are being hit disproportionately by climate change. Temperatures across 417 sites managed by the National Park Service, from the Florida Everglades to Yellowstone to Alaska’s Mount Denali, have increased at twice the rate as the rest of the country, the study finds. The parks also have experienced greater declines in rainfall. Such hotter, drier conditions are expected to persist in many of the parks, probably magnifying the harm that’s already begun to afflict mountains, forests and the coast as well as the plants and animals that live there. The Trump administration’s unraveling of global warming policies and the National Park Service’s backsliding on climate programs under President Trump stand only to exacerbate the risk...”



Climate Change is Real. Welcome to the New Normal. The Washington Post reports: “…The most ambitious attempt to quantify the link between climate and weather — a blue-chip international consortium called World Weather Attribution — has not yet made an attempt to estimate any possible effect that global warming may have had on Florence or Mangkhut. But another group of researchers, the Climate Extremes Modeling Group at the Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, estimated Sept. 12 that Florence would produce 50 percent more rainfall than if human-induced global warming had not occurred…”

Photo credit: “Hurricane Florence is one of many signs of climate change, and those who deny it are complicit in the destruction, meteorologist Eric Holthaus says.