First Slush Up North – Chilly & Wet Pattern

I don’t want to bury the lead: chilly, wet weather lingers into the first half of October, but NOAA models hint at a few 60s by the third week of this month. I don’t see any frost for the MSP metro through the end of next week. No frozen water (snow) either.

The day’s news may be stressful, but there’s no good meteorological reason to hyperventilate. Yet.

The northern third of Minnesota may see a couple slushy inches this morning, but whatever falls will be mostly-gone by the dinner hour. Just a warning shot across the bow.

A fresh push of Canadian air clears us out on Saturday, and the atmosphere overhead will be mild enough for all-rain from Saturday night into early Wednesday. ECMWF (European) guidance hints at 2-3 inches falling on the MSP metro the first half of next week,bwith over 5″ for far southeastern Minnesota. It may be cold enough for a few flurries by the end of next week, even in the metro.

If you have a morbid curiosity: last year the first coating (1/10th inch) of snow at MSP was October 27. If only we could use last winter’s weather to predict this winter. We can’t.

Photo credit: Tofte Peak, Minnesota, courtesy of Praedictix meteorologist D.J. Kayser.

First Slush? ECMWF guidance suggests an inch or two of slushy snow for Bemidji and parts of far northern Minnesota today (roads should be generally wet with air temperatures above 32F). Rapid melting is likely with mostly rain Sunday into the middle of next week. It’s the first shot across the bow. Map: WeatherBell.

No Shortage of Puddles. The European model prints out some 2-3″ rainfall amounts for the MSP metro and southeastern third of Minnesota, most of that falling Sunday PM into Wednesday of next week. 5″+ for far southeastern Minnesota? At the rate we’re going I wouldn’t rule anything out.

Milder by Mid-Month? GFS forecasts for 500mb (18,000 feet, give or take) show a warm ridge ofhigh pressure influencing weather over roughly the eastern half of the USA 2 weeks out, with a parade of storms digging into the Pacific Northwest and Rockies.

El Nino Likely to Boost High-Tide Flood Days Along East Coast in 2018. NOAA’s climate.gov has the story; here’s an excerpt: “High-tide flooding—sometimes called nuisance flooding—washes into U.S. coastal communities every year, disrupting storm- and wastewater systems, damaging roads and infrastructure, and straining city budgets. Thanks to NOAA scientists, the seasonal risk of these events doesn’t have to come as a surprise. This year’s outlook predicts an above-average number of high-tide flooding days from May 2018-April 2019 for spots on both coasts. Overall, high tide flood frequencies are predicted to be 60% higher this year across U.S. coastlines compared to the year 2000. This interactive map shows the predicted number of high tide flooding days for almost 100 locations, represented by colored dots, along the East and West Coast of the United States, the Caribbean, and Pacific Ocean. Blue colors represent a higher number of predicted flood days while green-yellow colors represent a lesser amount...”

NOAA Updates Texas Rainfall Frequency Values. Hurricane Harvey (and other recent major flooding events) have forced a recalculation of return rates of 100-year and 500-year floods. Here’s an excerpt from NOAA: “A NOAA analysis released today finds significantly higher rainfall frequency values in parts of Texas, redefining the amount of rainfall it takes to qualify as a 100-year or 1000-year event. The study, published as NOAA Atlas 14, Volume 11 Precipitation-Frequency Atlas of the United States, Texas, found increased values in parts of Texas, including larger cities such as Austin and Houston, that will result in changes to the rainfall amounts that define 100-year events, which are those that on average occur every 100 years or have a one percent chance of happening in any given year. In Austin, for example, 100-year rainfall amounts for 24 hours increased as much as three inches up to 13 inches. 100-year estimates around Houston increased from 13 inches to 18 inches and values previously classified as 100-year events are now much more frequent 25-year events…”

Map credit: “Graphic of Texas shows the updated rainfall values in inches that define certain extreme events, such as the 100-year storm.” (NOAA)

What is a 100-Year Flood? For much of southern Minnesota, including the Twin Cities metro, a 7″ rainfall in 24 hours can be expected to occur once every 100 years.

Pairing Wind + Solar for Cheaper, 24-Hour Renewable Energy. InsideClimate News takes a look one of the utilities pairing the 2 clean energy sources to create reliable energy for their clients: “…The benefits of wind-solar hybrids start with a simple idea: Solar power is strongest when the sun is brightest, often in the middle of the day. Wind power is stronger at night in many areas of the U.S. By combining the two, a hybrid project has the potential to produce power around the clock. This is important because one of the challenges of managing a power grid is dealing with the intermittent nature of renewable energy. Power grids have to provide the right amount of power to match customers’ power demand moment-to-moment, so natural gas power plants are often kept at the ready to power up when needed. That could include being used on a cloudy day when a region’s solar power output is down…”

Photo credit: “Invenergy’s Grand Ridge project in Illinois is one of a small number of hybrid power projects to combine wind and solar energy in one site. A larger one with more solar is planned for Ohio.” Credit: Invenergy.

How to Kill Your Tech Industry. Is computer-related discrimination in Great Britain a lesson for present-day Silicon Valley? Here’s a cautionary tale that filled me in on computing details I didn’t know, courtesy of Logic; here’s a clip: “…The stock market bubble of the first internet boom did not herald a warmer, fuzzier era of more democratic computing. It inaugurated a new era of “greed is good,” and in the process, Silicon Valley learned that it could actively profit from social inequality. The only catch was it had to be willing to manufacture ever more of it, selling technological “advances” that were actively harmful to a progressive civil society under the guise of technosocial progress. The dynamic continues to this day. Silicon Valley reaps enormous profits at the expense of the majority of users, and calls it progress. But technology’s alignment with actual progress has a long and uneven history, and its effects are rarely straightforward or fully foreseen. Real progress isn’t synonymous with building another app—it involves recognizing the problems in our society and confronting the uncomfortable fact that technology is a tool for wielding power over people. Too often, those who already hold power, those who are least able to recognize the flaws in our current systems, are the ones who decide our technological future...”

Image credit: “Steve Shirley, Ann MOffatt and their coworker Dee Shermer.”

USA Ranked 27th in the World in Education and Health Care….Down From 6th in 1990. Big Think has the story: “…The United States fell 21 spots over the years from 6th to 27th. This places us in the company of Germany (24), Greece (25), Australia (26), and the Czech Republic (28). The top spots are dominated by Western European and Nordic countries, with Finland topping the list both in 1990 and 2016. South Korea and the Republic of China are the only non-European representatives in the top 10 for 2016, edging out Canada, which fell to 11th place. It’s not that Americans don’t spend a lot of money on these things. As a matter of fact, the U.S. spends more per student than almost any other country on education and way more than anybody else on healthcare. The problem, or at least part of it, is that much of this money is spent inefficiently...”

Forecast Calls for More Hugs. These days we all need extra hugs. A story at CNN.com reports on new research: “…”Results indicated that there was an interaction between hug receipt and conflict exposure such that receiving a hug was associated with a smaller conflict-related decrease in positive affect and a smaller conflict-related increase in negative affect when assessed concurrently,” the study reads. In plainer English, hugging helped people feel less poorly after some kind of conflict or negative event during their day. This effect was seen across all genders and ages in the study, although women reported more hugs than men. “Our results are consistent with the conclusion that both men and women may benefit equally from being hugged on days when conflict occurs,” the study reads…”

File image: Shutterstock.

Source of Flaming Hole in Northern Arkansas Remains Mystery. Possibly the best headline of the week; AP explains: “Officials in northern Arkansas are investigating the cause of a mysterious hole in the ground that spouted flames into the air for more than 40 minutes. Investigators have ruled out methane as the source of the fire that erupted from the hole on Sept. 17 in Midway, a community near the Arkansas-Missouri border. Farfetched suspicions, such as meteorites, have also been proven unfounded, Baxter County Judge Mickey Pendergrass told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The judge acknowledged other theories, too: “As far as the spiritual Satan goes, we’ve ruled that out. … He didn’t come up and stick his pitchfork in the ground and blow that hole out.” The flames flared up to 12 feet (3.6 meters) high from the hole, which has been on the private property for at least 10 years, Pendergrass said…”

YouTube has more on this odd mystery.

49 F. maximum temperature in the Twin Cities on Thursday.

64 F. average high on October 4.

60 F. high on October 4, 2017.

October 5, 1963: A heat wave hits part of Minnesota with highs of 98 at Beardsley, 96 at Madison, and 94 at Elbow Lake.

FRIDAY: Cool. Risk of a shower or 2. Winds: E 7-12. High: 55

FRIDAY NIGHT: Partial clearing. Low: 45

SATURDAY: Partly sunny and brisk. Winds: NW 8-13. High: 54

SUNDAY: Intervals of sun. Showers at night. Wake-up: 40. High: 56

MONDAY: Periods of rain, possibly heavy. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 46. High: near 60

TUESDAY: Rain, a few T-storms far southeast. Winds: NE 10-15. Wake-up: 53. High: 58

WEDNESDAY: Showers taper, cooler breeze. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 52. High: 55

THURSDAY: More clouds than sun, chilly. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 41. High: 49

Climate Stories…

Record 2017 Hurricane Season Driven by Warm Atlantic Ocean, Study Says. Carbon Brief highlights a new study; here’s the intro: “Last year’s record hurricane season – which saw Hurricane Harvey, Irma and Maria cause devastation across North and Central America – was primarily driven by “pronounced warm conditions” in the tropical Atlantic Ocean, research finds. The study shows that high sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the Atlantic played a larger role than other possible drivers, such as La Niña, a natural climate phenomenon that is known to affect hurricane seasons, and air pollution. Climate change is likely to have played a role in driving the unusually warm Atlantic, the lead author tells Carbon Brief, although natural factors could have also had an influence. The research also finds that hurricanes on a similar scale to those of 2017 could become 1.5-2 times more frequent by 2080 – depending on how much action is taken to tackle climate change…”

Photo credit: Hurricane Irma hitting Miami Beach, Florida, USA. 10 September 2017.” Credit: EFE News Agency / Alamy Stock Photo.

Climate Scientists are Struggling to Find the Right Words for Very Bad News. Here’s an excerpt from a Washington Post story: “…And if we can’t cut other gases — such as methane — or if the Arctic permafrost starts emitting large volumes of additional gases, then the budget gets even narrower. “It would be an enormous challenge to keep warming below a threshold” of 1.5 degrees Celsius, said Shindell, bluntly. “This would be a really enormous lift.” So enormous, he said, that it would require a monumental shift toward decarbonization. By 2030 — barely a decade away — the world’s emissions would need to drop by about 40 percent. By the middle of the century, societies would need to have zero net emissions. What might that look like? In part, it would include things such as no more gas-powered vehicles, a phaseout of coal-fired power plants and airplanes running on biofuels, he said…”

The Archipelago of Hope. Guernica has an important story that frames the climate challenge for the planet’s inidigenous people: “Climate change is here, and no one knows it better than the Indigenous peoples. While industrialization is encroaching on their traditional territories, temperature increases, precipitation changes, and seasonal shifts are affecting the natural systems they rely on for their livelihoods. They have been living with accelerating climate change for several decades now, and are increasingly bearing the disproportionate burden of its impacts.A mere 5% of the world’s population, the Indigenous peoples represent a large part of global cultural diversity, speaking the majority of the world’s 7,000 languages. Though Indigenous groups only inhabit a bit more than 20% of the Earth’s surface, near 80% of the planet’s remaining biodiversity is found in their territories. Over millennia, these stewards of biocultural diversity—the inextricably linked and co-evolved varieties of species, cultures, and languages—have developed an intimate relationship with our earth, backed by a track record of living on the planet without leaving a trail of devastation…”

Rising Tides: How Near-Daily Flooding of America’s Shorelines Could Become the Norm. The forecast calls for a steady increase in “nuisance flooding” in the years to come. Climate Central takes a look at coastal flooding trends in light of rising sea levels: “…From 2005 to 2015, the median annual frequency of flooding days more than doubled along the stretch of coast from Florida to North Carolina, according to an analysis by scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The coast between Virginia and Maine saw a median increase of 75 percent during the same period. (The trend was more limited on the West Coast, in part because of the region’s coastal topography, ocean currents, and the uneven distribution of sea level rise around the world.) Further increases are likely coming. In an average year this decade, 30 sites selected by Climate Central saw a total of 153 days of floods, according to data from NOAA. (Sites were selected based on geographical representation and data availability.) In an average year in the 2040s, those 30 locations would see around 2,850 floods. In the 2070s, the numbers would be higher still, at 8,873. While flood counts for future decades include the effects of sea-level rise and high tides, flood counts for past and present decades are also shaped by storm surges. These projections assume a sea-level rise of 3.3 feet over the course of the century — what NOAA calls an “intermediate” scenario.  The United States seems set for a major increase in minor flooding…”

Will Climate Change Turn Miami Into a “Future Atlantis”? Click here for a link to a video and transcript from PBS NewsHour: “Florida research professors studying climate change have serious warnings for the Magic City. They say that Miami’s buildings have come a long way in becoming more resistant to sustained, heavy winds. However, the city’s infrastructure may not be prepared to protect it from a huge hurricane storm surge. Science correspondent Miles O’Brien reports...”

Image credit: Florida Center for Environmental Studies.

Climate Change is Forcing the Insurance Industry to Recalculate. At some point fairly soon you won’t be able to buy insurance (at any price) in highly vulnerable areas prone to repeated flooding. Here’s a clip from a Wall Street Journal article that is a must-read: “…The price of homes on the U.S.’s eastern seaboard battered by fiercer storms and higher seas is lagging behind those inland. The price of farmland is rising in North America’s once-frigid reaches, partly because of bets it will become more temperate. Investors are turning fresh water into an asset, a wager in part that climate change will make it scarcer. Insurers are at the forefront of calculating the impact. “We don’t discuss the question anymore of, ‘Is there climate change,’” says Torsten Jeworrek, chief executive for reinsurance at Munich Re, the world’s largest seller of reinsurance—insurance for insurers. “For us, it’s a question now for our own underwriting...”