Another Quiet Week – Big Weekend Thaw

Indelicate question: would you rather endure an endless streak of gray, Seattle-like, 30-degree days? Or would you prefer a brilliant blue sky….and 20 below? There is no wrong answer, by the way.

I’m impressed by the sheer duration of milder than average weather here in Minnesota. By my rough, back of the envelope calculations, today is the 19th day of above average temperatures in January. The air temperature could easily be 15 to 20 below zero right now, but a persistent flow from the Pacific is shoving the coldest outbreaks of winter well to our north.

I’m fine with freezing this time of year, but relatively mild air passing over cold snow cover cools the air from below, resulting in a soggy stew of low clouds and fog.

Another quiet week is brewing: no major storms, but the sky may leak flurries late Wednesday into Friday. The big story is next weekend’s thaw: 40s are likely by Super Bowl Sunday.

Iowa may see 60s next Monday! Almost makes me want to drive to Iowa. I’ll resist the urge and be patient.

Walk Like a Penguin. Not an Egyptian, but a penguin, to reduce the risk of a dangerous fall on ice or snow. Graphic above courtesy of Tablet Infographics.

Anatomy of a Warming Trend. Looks like a super-sized January Thaw this year, spilling into at least the first few days of February. 40F high on Super Bowl Sunday? There’s a very good chance. Maps above: Praedictix.

Mild and Wet Sliding Into Mid-February? I keep waiting for a long-overdue correction; weeks of subzero weather to make up for a relatively mild December and January. But I don’t see it, not yet. Looking out nearly 2 weeks NOAA’s GFS model carves out an impressive trough of low pressure over the southwest USA, capable of ejecting a snow/ice/rain storm northward across the Plains. Too early for details, but suffice to say this pattern is something you would expect to see in mid-March.

Spotify Launches Playlist for Dogs Left Home Alone. Because, why not. Fox Business has the story: “Spotify has made playlists and a podcast for dogs to listen to in their owners’ absence, after finding that nearly 74 percent of UK pet-owners play music for their animals. The Swedish audio-streaming business company said it has launched a podcast featuring soothing music, “dog-directed praise”, stories, and messages of affirmation and reassurance narrated by actors to alleviate stress for dogs who are home alone. Meanwhile, playlists aimed at pets offer tracks selected by algorithms to match pets’ characteristics such as energetic or slow. Spotify said it found in a survey that one in four pet-owners play music for their pets to listen to for company when they are away from home, with 42 percent of owners saying their pets have a favorite type of music...”

Lego Sets Its Sights on Stressed Out Adults. The Washington Post (paywall) reports: “Lego, the world’s largest and most profitable toymaker, is zeroing in on a growing demographic: stressed-out adults. The 87-year-old Danish company increasingly bills its brightly colored bricks as a way to drown out the noise of the day and perhaps achieve a measure of mindfulness. The company’s newest kits — which include the Central Perk cafe from the sitcom “Friends” and a vintage 1989 Batmobile — tap into Gen X nostalgia, while its Ideas and Forma lines are being targeted to adults who want to occupy their hands but keep their minds loosely engaged…”

If NFL Quarterbacks Were Paid by the Hour. I thought this was an interesting post, courtesy of Mental Floss. Here’s a clip: “…When it comes to playtime earnings, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo beat Tom Brady and every other quarterback by millions—he landed in first place with an average of more than $27.6 million per hour on the field. Compared to Garoppolo, the $8.8 million of runner-up Aaron Rodgers practically seems like pocket change. Most of the other quarterbacks earn somewhere between $1 million and $4 million per hour of playtime….”

7″ snow on the ground at MSP.

27 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities.

24 F. average high on January 27.

6 F. high on January 27, 2019, after waking up to -9 F.

January 28, 1914: A very rare thunderstorm (for this time of year) is observed at Maple Plain during the evening. Heavy thunder and vivid lightning was observed.

January 28, 1846: Temperatures are not too shabby for a January day. The high in the Twin Cities was 50, which is the normal high for the beginning of March.

TUESDAY: Mostly cloudy, cool. Winds: NW 3-8. High: 25

WEDNESDAY: A few sunny breaks. Winds: SE 3-8. Wake-up: 17. High: 28

THURSDAY: Clouds and flurries. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 19. High: 30

FRIDAY: Coating of flurries, milder. Winds: W 7-12. Wake-up: 26. High: 33

SATURDAY: Clouds increase, flurries possible. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 28. High: 36

SUNDAY: Brighter and milder. Super slushy? Winds: W 7-12. Wake-up: 27. High: near 40

MONDAY: Sunny peeks, feels like late March. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 30. High: 43

Climate Stories…

Germany Rejected Nuclear Power – and Deadly Emissions Spiked. (paywall) has a cautionary tale: “…To uncover the hidden costs of denuclearizing Germany, economists used machine learning to analyze reams of data gathered between 2011 and 2017. The researchers, based at UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, and Carnegie Mellon University, found that nuclear power was mostly replaced with power from coal plants, which led to the release of an additional 36 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, or about a 5 percent increase in emissions. More distressingly, the researchers estimated that burning more coal led to local increases in particle pollution and sulfur dioxide and likely killed an additional 1,100 people per year from respiratory or cardiovascular illnesses...”

The Rainfall Map That Can Tell If Your Home is Doomed. Bloomberg Green has a post that made me do a double-take: “What would happen if we all had clear information about current and future flood risks to our properties? First Street Foundation wants to answer that question. The climate and tech non-profit is building up-to-date flood maps to estimate what could happen to homes and businesses in an era of rising sea levels and more frequent, stronger storms. The New York-based foundation says the free-to-use maps are based mostly on open source data and will eventually be granular enough to cover every property in the U.S. Through its recently announced Flood Lab project the foundation is now partnering with researchers from eight top universities—including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School—to analyze the data for broader social and financial impacts…”

Coastal Flooding Risk. Pondering an ocean-front purchase? Check out the (free) online tool from which helps to quantify risk. Minnesota’s lakes are looking better with every passing day.

With 130-Mile Coast, New Jersey Marks a First in Climate Change Fight. Other states will catch on quickly. Here’s the intro to a New York Times story: “New Jersey will become the first state to require that builders take into account the impact of climate change, including rising sea levels, in order to win government approval for projects, Gov. Philip D. Murphy plans to announce on Monday. The move by Mr. Murphy, a Democrat, is part of a widening effort by states to use regulations to address worsening climate conditions and to aggressively counteract the Trump administration’s push to roll back environmental regulations. “This is not abstract for us,” Mr. Murphy said in an interview. “This is real. The dangers are there.” New Jersey’s initiative is believed to be the broadest, and most specific, attempt to leverage land-use rules to control where and what developers can build, and to limit the volume of emissions that are spewed into the air...”

Shorter Cold Snaps. Does it still get cold in Minnesota? Uh, yeah. But the intensity and duration of cold has dropped off significantly since the 1970s, according to Climate Central.

Amazon Workers Not Staying Silent: Climate Nexus has links and headlines: “Hundreds of Amazon workers publicly criticized the company’s climate policies Sunday, showing open defiance of the company following its threats earlier this month to fire workers who speak out on climate change. Employee activist group Amazon Employees for Climate Justice published more than 350 critical quotes from employees, all who signed with their full names and positions, in a Medium post Sunday. Earlier this month, the group reported that several of its members had been contacted by representatives from human resources about speaking out on climate in relation to the company’s external communication policy, including two employees who were warned that “violation” of the policy could result in their being fired. “Amazon, the Earth is our only home,” Virginie Muzereau, a data linguist, said in the Medium post. “Spend more money on fighting Climate Change than on space exploration!” (AP, Recode, Washington Post $, Axios, Gizmodo)

Move to Buffalo? With Earth Warming, Northern Cities Could Become Oases. Here’s a clip from a story at NBC News: “…Keenan listed off what makes these cities so appealing: access to bodies of fresh lake water, distance from the coast, elevation from sea level, and colder weather that will become a little more temperate. “If you’re a Duluth, Minn., or a Buffalo or a Burlington, Vermont, there’s an opportunity,” he said. “You have a potentially superior place to live in the face of climate change.” Stephen Vermette, a professor of geography at SUNY Buffalo State, used climate data from 1965 to 2018 to analyze the impact of changing temperatures in Western New York. The models showed rising regional air temperatures and longer growing seasons. More surprising, however, was the discovery that severe weather indices, precipitation and extreme heat were largely unchanged over those years…”

Image credit: Duluth Chamber of Commerce.

Another Example of Climate Dislocation. A story at Raleigh News & Observer caught my eye; here’s an excerpt: “A driver’s license office along the South Carolina coast is closing next month in part because increasing flooding from the sea is closing nearby streets needed for road tests. The Lockwood Boulevard branch of the state Department of Motor Vehicles in Charleston will close in mid-February, agency spokeswoman Lauren Phillips told The Post and Courier of Charleston. The building is near the Ashley River on the downtown Charleston peninsula and in an area especially susceptible to flooding. And rising sea levels are causing more floods in that part of Charleston. The National Weather Service reported a downtown tidal gauge went above flood level 89 times in 2019…”

Read more here:

The Winning Conservative Climate Solution. Makes perfect sense to me. George Shultz and Ted Halstead have an Op-Ed at The Washington Post; here’s an excerpt: “...Thus, our carbon fee would be self-financing and revenue-neutral, making it the fiscally conservative choice while eliminating any risk of a fiscal drag. Instead of growing the size of government, our approach would “finance” the transition to a low-carbon future by harnessing the power of the market and leveraging the vast resources of the private sector for innovation and investment. In fact, carbon pricing could actually shrink the size of government by rendering less efficient regulations unnecessary. This would provide businesses the regulatory certainty they need to make long-term investments in clean energy, further turbocharging the innovation engine…”

The paper from George Shultz and Ted Halstead is here.

Microsoft Raises Stakes in Corporate Climate-Pledge Race. The Wall Street Journal (paywall) reports: “Microsoft Corp. is pledging to eliminate its carbon emissions and invest $1 billion as part of a wider climate commitment, raising the stakes in the corporate race to show greater awareness of environmental concerns. The software company said Thursday that it would become “carbon negative” by 2030—taking more carbon out of the air than its operations and those of its supply chain produce. This goes a step beyond promises made by some of its high-profile Silicon Valley rivals. By 2050, Microsoft said, it plans to eliminate all emissions it has produced since its founding in 1975. Companies are increasingly feeling pressure to take action on emissions...”