Sloppy Election Day – Will Weather Impact Voters?

Does foul weather affect voter turnout? It depends who you believe. A 2007 Journal of Politics study drew a link between wet weather and suppressed voter turnout, to the benefit of Republicans. But a 2016 paper from a Princeton professor found that the effect of rain on voter turnout has weakened over time. It makes sense (at least to me) that people lukewarm about the prospect of voting might look out a rain-splattered window and decide to stay on their couch.

Then again, we can psychoanalyze the weather until we’re all blue in the face.

Rain tapers as a light mix in some towns today, but with air temperatures near 40F I expect mainly wet roads. I can’t think of a good weather-reason not to vote today.

Waves of colder air splash south of the border into early next week, sparking a few flakes. No mega-snowfalls are brewing just yet, but this weekend would feel right at home in mid-December.

Models continue to show some moderation as we get closer to Thanksgiving; maybe 40s? That’s the new definition of a “warm front”.

Mea culpa: I pounded in my driveway stakes yesterday. It’s time.

Sloppy, But More “Nuisance” than “Storm”. Models suggest mostly rain in the MSP metro, maybe a slushy coating parts of central Minnesota – even an inch or two from near Bemidji to Ely. With highs in the 30s to near 40F I expect most roads to be wet across the state on Election Day. Maps: AerisWeather and Praedictix.

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...”

Devastation in Italy: Perspective on the recent Venice floods via Climate Nexus: “The death toll from intense weather in Italy rose to 29 this weekend after a week of devastating storms continued to cause serious flooding and high winds. In Sicily, two families–a total of nine people–were killed when floodwaters from a nearby river overran the villa where they were staying. Widespread flooding and storms have battered the country over the course of several days, leading to serious destruction in several areas, including dramatic flooding in the historic city of Venice. The devastation from the flooding “is happening as part of a climate that we have altered through the burning of fossil fuels,” US Climate Action Network executive director Keya Chatterjee told USA Today last week. “Unfortunately, it it totally consistent with what has been predicted for decades and decades at this point.” (CNN, Al Jazeera, Time, BBCUSA Today, ReutersThe Guardian).

New Weather Satellites Could Improve Tornado Warning Times By Several Minutes. A post at 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...”

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.” ( Portland State University).

The Economy Still Matters for US Election, but Not in the Way Many People Think. Here’s a clip from an interesting post at Quartz: “…Even so, research suggests that there is a relationship between economic conditions and how Americans vote in national elections. Work by political scientist Seth Masket shows that growth in real disposable income per capita is a good indicator to watch. Stronger growth in real income is linked to fewer seats lost by the president’s party in the House of Representatives, since midterm elections almost always punish the party in power. Real disposable income captures “the ‘lived’ economy,” Masket says. It reflects “how much more money people have in their pockets than they did last year, which is something people have a strong sense of,” he adds. The average voter doesn’t experience the unemployment rate or GDP growth as directly in their daily lives…”

“Blowing Smoke”: Sorry Pundits, But You Have No Clue What Will Happen on Tuesday. Pollsters make the meteorologists look good, which is quite a feat. Here’s a snippet from Vanity Fair: “…Polls remain our best tool for reading the electorate and discerning important trends, which is why journalists, handicappers, and campaign managers depend on them so much. Entire media companies are devoted to explaining them. But polls are not predictive. They are wobbly around the margins. Pollsters, the honest ones at least, know this and repeat the warning over and over again. Yet even the shock of 2016 hasn’t stopped people in the media from making predictions about next Tuesday. Journalists, at least on their Twitter accounts, have started to write off certain Senate races…”

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.

The Surprising Power of the Long Game. Making short-term sacrifices for long-term gains may have gone out of favor, but there’s an argument to be made, according to Farnam Street; here’s an excerpt: “…In its simplest form, the long game isn’t really debatable. Everyone agrees, for example, we should spend less than we make and invest the difference. Playing the long game is a slight change, one that seems insignificant at the moment, but one that becomes the difference between financial freedom and struggling to make next month’s rent. The first step to the long game is the hardest. The first step is visibly negative. You have to be willing to suffer today in order to not suffer tomorrow. This is why the long game is hard to play. People rarely see the small steps when they’re looking for enormous outcomes, but deserving enormous outcomes is mostly the result of a series of small steps that culminate into something visible…”

44 F. maximum temperature yesterday in the Twin Cities.

48 F. average high on November 5.

43 F. high on November 5, 2017.

November 6, 1993: Heavy lake effect snow falls over the eastern portion of Lake of the Woods. 3-4 inches around Baudette.

November 6, 1947: A snowstorm moves through Minnesota with high winds, causing a million dollars in damage.

TUESDAY: Light rain tapers by afternoon. Wet roads. Winds: W 15-25. High: 41

TUESDAY NIGHT: Mostly cloudy. Low: 30

WEDNESDAY: Few flakes, colder wind kicks in. Winds: NW 10-20. High: 34

THURSDAY: A few squirts of sunshine. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 21. High: 33

FRIDAY: Another clipper. Few flurries. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 22. High: 31

SATURDAY: Light snow or flurries. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 17. High: 33

SUNDAY: Sunny peeks, still chilly out there. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 22. High: near 30

MONDAY: Sunny intervals. Hints of January in the air. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 15. High: 27

Climate Stories…

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 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 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 “…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.

SCOTUS Gives Kids’ Climate Suit Green Light: Climate Nexus has the headlines and links: “The Supreme Court on Friday rejected the Trump administration’s request to block a lawsuit brought by 21 young people against the US government for failing to act on climate. In an unsigned order, the court suggested that the administration appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which has refused to intervene in the past. The Supreme Court had put a temporary halt on the case, which was scheduled to begin last week in Oregon, while it considered the administration’s request. “The youth of our nation won an important decision today from the Supreme Court that shows even the most powerful government in the world must follow the rules and process of litigation in our democracy,” co-counsel Julia Olsen said in a statement. “We have asked the District Court for an immediate status conference to get [the case] back on track for trial in the next week.” (Washington Post $, USA Today, AP, ThinkProgress, CNN, Vox, Earther, The Hill)