Models Hint at a Relatively Mild Thanksgiving

Here in a Land of Low Weather Expectations, after the chilliest start to November since 1995, the prospect of 50 degrees has left some in our midst positively giddy. Which is a sad, sorry state of affairs. But that’s another reason why Minnesota peaks the Awesome-O-Meter. When it comes to weather, it’s inhabitants take NOTHING for granted.

On this date in 1996 half an inch of ice coated much of central and southern Minnesota, gumming up commutes and delaying flights at MSP International Airport. No such weather complications are brewing into next week; just a couple of garden variety cold fronts spaced about 2-3 days apart. A little light rain may fall later today as the mercury approaches 50F. More (rain) showers sprout Friday ahead of a weekend cold front (30s for highs Saturday and Sunday).

The pattern favors big, windblown storms for New England and the Pacific Northwest next week. European (ECMWF) guidance hints at 40s here on Thanksgiving, even a few 50s close to home late next week.

The atmosphere has a way of “evening things out”. We’re due for a mild end to November!

Flashes of October. Temperatures run closer to average looking out the next 1-2 weeks with highs mostly upper 30s and 40s – a few more days in the 50s are possible next week. Twin Cities ECMWF data: WeatherBell.

Late November: Zonal Flow. The pattern may not be ripe for major storms the last few days of November as jet stream winds aloft blow from west to east – a steering wind pattern that favors temperatures near normal for this time of year, even a slight mild bias for much of the lower 48 states.

Milder December? Confidence levels are low, but after a colder than average November for many northern tier states NOAA’s Climate Forecast System (CFSv2) outlook calls for considerably milder than average east of the Rockies. At this point nothing would surprise me, La NIna or no La Nina. Maps: NOAA.

Year to Date Numbers. NOAA has perspective on January through October of 2017: “The year to date (January–October 2017) average temperature for the contiguous U.S. was the third warmest on record at 57.5 degrees F, 2.5 degrees above average,. Every state across the contiguous U.S. had an above-average temperature for the first 10 months of the year.  The year-to-date precipitation was the second wettest on record for this period at 28.93 inches, 3.57 inches above average…”

Weather and Climate Disasters on the Rise. Here’s an excerpt from a story in Denver: “This year has been the most disastrous weather and climate year on record – and it’s not even over yet. The California Department of Insurance just announced that losses incurred from the October wildfires exceeds 3 billion dollars, and is expected to rise even further. That has now become the sixteenth billion-dollar disaster in the United States this year, tying the 16 from 2011. The National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) says that these billion-dollar disasters are on the rise. Mother Nature has cost Americans more than a trillion dollars since 1980 according to the NCEI database, that lists all the country’s billion-dollar disasters since 1980, including tropical cyclones, severe weather, floods, droughts, freezes, wildfires, and winter storms.

Map credit: NOAA NCDC.

Scientists in Houston Tell as Story of Concrete, Rain and Destruction. Here’s an excerpt of a story at NPR worth your time: “…Sam Brody, a flood scientist at Texas A&M University, says Houston has grown to a size where it can’t handle these kinds of record rainfalls. “We’re piling in people with roads and rooftops and parking lots into these low-lying coastal areas and exacerbating these problems,” he says. “And that is an urban, human development, built-environment problem.” You can’t move Houston. So what’s to be done? Officials are now talking about building that third reservoir and demolishing houses that repeatedly flood. Brody’s team is advising those officials. He says the city needs more radical changes, like requiring new homes to be built 3 feet above flood level. He says yes, preparing for future floods will be expensive — but cheaper than paying up after the next one.

Lessons from Hurricane Harvey: Houston’s Struggle is America’s Tale. Check out the New York Times article.

Air Quality So Bad in India That Flights Were Suspended. Bloomberg reports: “United Airlines resumed the Newark-New Delhi flight after temporarily suspending the service because of poor air quality in India’s capital…Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the leader of Delhi, called the capital a “gas chamber” as thick toxic smog continued to envelop the mega-city of around 20 million people on Sunday. The levels of the deadliest, tiny particulate matter — known as PM 2.5, which lodges deep in a person’s lungs — was at 495 as of 9 a.m. local time Monday, according to a U.S. embassy monitor. The level had soared to 721 as of 1 p.m. Sunday. World Health Organization guidelines suggest levels above 300 are “hazardous…”

Photo credit: “A man wearing a face mask crosses a road shrouded in smog with a dalmatian dog in New Delhi, India, on Nov. 11.” Photographer: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg.

What It’s Like to Live in the World’s Most Polluted City. NatGeo has details: “From the skies above to the ground below, Delhi is polluted. This Indian territory, which includes the capital city of New Delhi, is half the size of Rhode Island, and is home to twice the population of New York City. Beijing, China, often makes headlines for its polluted air, but a global study of air pollution in 2014 by the World Health Organization found that Delhi’s air contained several times more fine particulate pollution than Beijing’s. By most measurements, it’s the most polluted area in the world…”

Photo credit: “In a dump in Bhalswa, Delhi, that seems to stretch for miles, a young girl searches for plastic.” Photograph by Matthieu Paley, National Geographic.

Rolling Back the Clean Power Plan is a Losing Proposition for America. WRI, World Resources Institute, has the article: “… It is undeniably true that coal employment has fallen considerably in recent decades, and that the communities left behind deserve our attention and need economic development. However, solving these challenges requires a real, honest discourse grounded in facts. That discourse must begin with the acknowledgment that the main drivers of change in the coal industry have been increased productivity and low natural gas prices. Consider that even with recent production declines, the nation produces nearly 50 percent more coal than we did in 1940, but employs one-eighth the number of miners. The underlying shift to less labor-intensive methods of mining coal means that the industry will never see employment levels comparable to where they were decades ago…”

Fossil Fuel Emissions Hit Record High After Unexpected Growth: Global Carbon Budget 2017. The Conversation has the story: “Global greenhouse emissions from fossil fuels and industry are on track to grow by 2% in 2017, reaching a new record high of 37 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, according to the 2017 Global Carbon Budget, released today. The rise follows a remarkable three-year period during which global CO₂ emissions barely grew, despite strong global economic growth. But this year’s figures suggest that the keenly anticipated global peak in emissions – after which greenhouse emissions would ultimately begin to decline – has yet to arrive…”

Are We Becoming Less Neighborly? Here are a couple excerpts from a Washington Post article: “Sen. Rand Paul sustained five broken ribs after an assault by a neighbor last weekend. The alleged assailant, Rene Boucher, released a statement through his lawyer calling the incident “a very regrettable dispute between two neighbors over a matter that most people would regard as trivial… In 2016, the share of Americans who say they “never” socialize with their neighbors hit an all-time high of 34 percent, according to the General Social Survey. That number’s been rising steadily since 1974, when just 21 percent said they never hang out with their neighbors…”

NASA Just Blasted Nearly 4 Tons of Groceries Into Space. Quartz has the story: “More than 7,400 pounds of groceries rocketed toward the International Space Station today, Nov. 12, part of an eclectic cargo shipment that also included E. coli, science experiments, and a kit to figure out if beans can convert atmospheric nitrogen into soil nitrogen under a low-gravity environment. The Orbital ATK’s Antares 230 took off from Wallops Island, Virginia, with a 139-foot Cygnus cargo container attached, and is expected to reach the orbiting space station in about 46 hours, or on Tuesday. Once the cargo-hold is emptied, astronauts will fill the container with tons of space station trash—which will burn as it re-enters Earth’s atmosphere several weeks from now...”

Photo credit: “Spacebound.” (Photo courtesy of NASA).

Exit Interview: Scott Kelley, an Astronaut Who Spent a Year In Space. No, being in space for a year isn’t for everyone, as a story at Atlas Obscura explains:  “Being an astronaut is not all zero-gravity gymnastics and big blue marble flyovers. There’s also all the time spent repairing the urine collector and hunting for lost screws. Scott Kelly’s delightful new memoir, Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery, chronicles the mundane, frustrating, and surprisingly funny reality of life on the International Space Station (ISS). Endurance recounts his year up there—including the Sisyphean struggles to fix the urine collector—his unlikely career as an astronaut, and his partnership with identical twin brother and fellow astronaut Mark Kelly. Kelly retired as an astronaut in 2016, shortly after the end of his year-long mission, but NASA continues to monitor his health. They’re examining specifically how his year in space affected Scott compared to his ground-bound twin, Mark…”

Photo credit: “Astronaut Scott Kelly inside the Cupola, a special module in the International Space Station that provides a 360-degree view of Earth.” NASA/ Public Domain

46 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities.

43 F. average high on November 13.

62 F. high on November 13, 2016.

17 days in a row of colder than average temperatures in the Twin Cities.

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.

TODAY: Cloudy and mild, a little light rain and drizzle. Winds: S 8-13. High: 49

TUESDAY NIGHT: Lingering clouds. Low: 34

WEDNESDAY: Mostly cloudy, colder breeze kicks in. Winds: NW 10-20. High 39

THURSDAY: Sunny start, then clouds increase. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 27. High: 41

FRIDAY: Damp, a little light rain. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 38. High: 45

SATURDAY: Mostly cloudy and chilling. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 29. High: 37

SUNDAY: Partly sunny – still brisk. Winds: SW 5-10. Wake-up: 19. High: 38

MONDAY: Some sun, touch of Indian Summer? Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 32. High: 50

Climate Stories…

Can Carbon Dioxide Removal Save the World? A story at The New Yorker caught my eye: “…Carbon-dioxide removal is, potentially, a trillion-dollar enterprise because it offers a way not just to slow the rise in CO2 but to reverse it. The process is sometimes referred to as “negative emissions”: instead of adding carbon to the air, it subtracts it. Carbon-removal plants could be built anywhere, or everywhere. Construct enough of them and, in theory at least, CO2 emissions could continue unabated and still we could avert calamity. Depending on how you look at things, the technology represents either the ultimate insurance policy or the ultimate moral hazard.Carbon Engineering is one of a half-dozen companies vying to prove that carbon removal is feasible...”

Image credit above: “Carbon-dioxide removal could be a trillion-dollar enterprise, because it not only slows the rise in CO2 but reverses it.” Photo-illustration by Thomas Albdorf for The New Yorker.

We’re Not Even Close to Being Prepared For The Rising Waters. Bill McKibbon has a book review for The Washington Post: “…These effects were somewhat harder to calculate than other impacts of climate change. In particular, scientists were slow to understand how aggressively the poles would melt, and hence the main international assessments, until recently, forecast relatively modest rises in sea level: three feet, perhaps, by century’s end. That’s enough to cause major problems, but perhaps not insuperable ones — richer cities could probably build seawalls and other barriers to keep themselves above the surface. Yet new assessments of the disintegration of glaciers, and more data from deep in the Earth’s past, have convinced many scientists that we could be looking at double or triple that rate of sea level rise in the course of the century. Which may take what would have been a major problem and turn it into a largely insoluble new reality…”

Photo credit: “The shoreline in Miami, a low-lying city threatened by rising sea levels.” (Joseph Michael Lopez/For The Washington Post)

Climate and National Security With Maj. General Rick Devereaux. Here is an excerpt of an interview at Citizens Climate Lobby: “…Devereaux offered four caveats to be aware of when talking about climate and national security. He said:

  1. “Our military is not interested in entering the debate on human-caused climate change.” Instead of a debate, they’re more focused on preparedness and resilience.
  2. “Our military is not interested in taking the lead in solving the problem of global climate change.” They may be taking steps that are “green,” but their mission isn’t to fix climate change.
  3. “Be careful about overstating the relationship between climate change and national security,” Devereaux advised. “I talk about the linkage, but don’t overstate it.”
  4. Finally, he said, “It’s always good to use expert opinions from national security experts, rather than environmentalists.” He cautioned that there will be skeptics on both sides of the debate, but referencing material from the original source is a good way to start...”

Pope Denounces “Shortsighted” Human Activity for Warming. Here’s a clip from The Washington Post: “Pope Francis on Saturday blasted “shortsighted human activity” for global warming and rising sea levels and urged leaders at climate talks in Germany to take a global outlook as they negotiate ways to curb heat-trapping emissions. Francis met with a delegation of Pacific leaders and told them he shares their concerns about rising sea levels and increasingly intense weather systems that are threatening their small islands. He decried in particular the state of oceans, where overfishing and pollution by plastics and micro-plastics are killing fish stocks and sea life that are critical to Pacific island livelihoods. While several causes are to blame, “sadly, many of them are due to shortsighted human activity connected with certain ways of exploiting natural and human resources, the impact of which ultimately reaches the ocean bed itself,” the pope warned…”

Photo credit: ”

The Tipping Point of Climate Change. Arkansas Online has the Op-Ed: “…A tipping point, in the context of climate change, is a point of no return when our climate system will be changed irreversibly. It is like the game children play with a seesaw: putting a heavy child on one end and seeing how many of his friends can get on the other end before their collective weight tips his end up. The professor said that he thought the earth had passed the tipping point. The other panelists agreed.  A stunned silence fell over the large conference hall. It was obvious that the audience didn’t expect to hear that answer. And it’s not surprising that the audience reacted in that manner. The possibility that the earth was undergoing climate change first came to public attention in the late 1970s and early 1980s...”

Water Wizards: Dutch Flood Expertise is Big Export Business. ABC News explains: “We live here in a very vulnerable place,” said Roeland Hillen, director of the Dutch Flood Protection Program. “We have to adapt to survive.” That message resonates with many other flood-prone countries now attending climate change talks in Bonn, where delegates from some 195 nations have gathered to discuss rules for implementing the 2015 Paris climate accord. The meeting in the former German capital, which runs until Friday, is being presided over by Fiji, one of the many small island nations threatened by rising sea levels. “We will feel the impact of climate change all over the world most profoundly through water,” said Henk Ovink, the Netherlands‘ Special Envoy for International Water Affairs, who is at the Bonn conference…”

Photo credit: “In this Nov. 6, 2017, photo, a self-raising dike is seen in the Dutch fishing village of Spakenburg. The 300-meter long dike that is raised by the very flood waters it is designed to hold back is an example of Dutch ingenuity in flood prevention that is becoming a major export earner for this low-lying nation.” (AP Photo/Mike Corder).

From the Everglades to Kilimanjaro, Climate Change is Destroying World Wonders. The Guardian reports: “From the Everglades in the US to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, climate change is destroying the many of the greatest wonders of the natural world. A new report on Monday from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reveals that the number of natural world heritage sites being damaged and at risk from global warming has almost doubled to 62 in the past three years. Those at high risk include iconic places from the Galapagos Islands to the central Amazon and less well known but equally vibrant and unique sites such as the karst caves of Hungary and Slovakia and the monarch butterfly reserves in Mexico...”

Asthma and Climate Change. A story at Yale Climate Connections points out that a warming climate is increasing smog and pollen and increasing risks of more asthma attacks: “Bad news for all of us who breathe. Climate change may contribute to more asthma attacks. Longer, hotter summers are increasing smog and pollen while decreasing air quality. Ozone and pollen can worsen existing allergies and trigger asthma attacks. “Climate change is going to make it more difficult for people who struggle with respiratory illness to stay healthy.” – Kim Knowlton, Asst. Clinical Prof. of Environmental Health Sciences, Columbia University. More than 24 million Americans suffer from asthma. Children are particularly vulnerable, especially black and Puerto Rican children.“As a pediatrician, I worry most about children, because their lungs are still growing and because they breathe faster than adults.” – Dr. Perry Sheffield, Mt. Sinai Doctors Faculty Practice..”

Final Defense Policy Bill Mandates Pentagon Climate Change Study. TheHill reports: “A compromise defense policy bill released by congressional negotiators on Thursday calls for the Defense Department to conduct a study into the impacts of climate change on American military operations. “Climate change is a direct threat to the national security of the United States and is impacting stability in areas of the world both where the United States Armed Forces are operating today, and where strategic implications for future conflict exist,” the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) says. The bill requires the secretary of Defense to submit to Congress “a report on the vulnerability to military installations and combatant commander requirements resulting from climate change over the next 20 years...”

U.S. House Science Committee Just Had a Rational Hearing About Climate. Ars Technica has the highlights: “…The committee members questions for the expert witnesses were equally serious. Several Democrats did make a point of emphasizing that climate change is human-caused and that geoengineering cannot replace emissions cuts—a point the experts made clear, as well. But generally, the committee members asked questions because they genuinely wanted to learn the answers. The witnesses summarized several possible geoengineering techniques, including the seeding of low clouds over the ocean, injection of aerosol particles into the stratosphere to reflect a little sunlight back out to space, and actively removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Afterward, the committee wanted to learn about how the field has progressed. Many seemed quite surprised to learn that the topic had received almost no federal research funding and has only been studied by a handful of scientists. There was also concern about whether other countries were further along. (They aren’t.)…”

CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS: Climate Nexus Hot News has links to the following stories: “New Zealand’s winter shorter by a month over 100 years (The Guardian), Haiti tops index of nations worst-hit by extreme weather in 2016 (Thomson Reuters Foundation), Chad grapples with climate damage (Thomson Reuters Foundation), how climate change is aggravating Pakistan’s water crisis (Deutsche Welle), climate migration muddied by legal confusion in Pacific islands (Thomson Reuters Foundation), how responsible is each country when an extreme climate event strikes? (InsideClimate News), algae are making Greenland darker, and that’s probably a bad thing (Earther)”