Another 2-3 Inches of Rain Early Next Week?

From all the chatter on social media you’d think we were tracking bubbling rivers of toxic lava, plagues of locust or clouds of radioactivity. Friday morning I awoke to a strange, cold slippery substance on my yard up on Pelican Lake; just a coating. Bemidji reported a couple inches of this crunchy, crystalline material.

In Palm Springs or San Diego they’d be activating the National Guard, but snow in Minnesota – in October – is hardly newsworthy. It’s not necessarily an omen of what’s to come, but rather a reflection of the scientific fact that the sun is as high in the sky as it was on March 5.

That low sun angle could make it tough to burn off today’s scrappy stratocumulus clouds, but peeks of blue sky are possible, as the mercury struggles toward 50F. Sunday starts out dry for the Twin Cities Marathon, but more showers arrive by afternoon.

A series of southern storms soak Minnesota Monday into Wednesday; ECMWF prints out 2-3 inches of rainfall for most of Minnesota.

A colder, drier wind kicks in late next week with a metro frost risk by Saturday.

Avoid an urge to call 911.

ECMWF Predicts Another Soaking. The 12z Friday run of the “European” model prints out 2-3″ of rain from Sunday PM into Wednesday; the atmosphere warm enough for rain across most of Minnesota. Map: WeatherBell.

Southern Minnesota Unable to Catch a Crop Break This Year. A good summary at the DTN Market Matters blog caught my eye: “…Liz Stahl from the U of MN Regional Extension Office in Worthington, Minnesota, told DTN by email Sept. 28 that, “I do not have a good feel for how big the area was where corn and soybeans were blown down. That is another story as yield impacts could be significant, depending on if the crop is flattened and not able to be harvested, or if it is just lodged and they can still combine it.” Stahl noted that the recent rains did not really affect yield in most of southwest Minnesota and much of south central Minnesota, since areas where water ponded had already drowned out earlier in the year. “If wet conditions persist and people can’t get into the fields before we have a lot of downed corn or pod shatter in soybeans that is another story. But fortunately we haven’t had much rain recently, and hopefully the weather will cooperate so harvest can continue. I did see some corn getting combined this morning, so that is a good sign…”

Photo credit: “Corn crops in southern Minnesota were compromised by bad weather as far back as early summer, as shown on Lyle Wessel’s fields in Watonwan County.” (Photo courtesy of Lyn Wessel).

A Sloppy Start to October. Here’s an excerpt from Minnesota WeatherTalk: “The month of October has begun with plenty of moisture, measured in terms of rainfall, cloudiness, humidity, and dew points. Cloudiness has been persistent across much of the state just as it was in the beginning of October 2005. Most days have had complete or near-complete cloud cover, with relative humidity ranging from 70 to 95 percent. The majority of climate stations in the state have reported rainfall on at least one day and for some on three days so far in October, with many places already seeing a total of over 1 inch (2 to 2.50 inches is the range of normal total precipitation for the month of October in Minnesota)…”

Hurricane Sergio. As of Friday morning “Sergio” was a Category 3 hurricane; not expected to impact Mexico. Image credit: NOAA and AerisWeather.

Swarms of Supersize Mosquitoes Besiege North Carolina. Thank you Florence. WIRED.com reports: “...On September 26, North Carolina governor Roy Cooper ordered $4 million in relief funds to combat invading swarms of the nickel-sized bloodsuckers, known to scientists as Psorophora ciliata and to everyone else as gallinippers. “They’re just everywhere,” says Tom Turturro, an environmental health program specialist with Cumberland County. The area gets a small amount of gallinipper activity each year during the rainy season, but this has been an especially bad bout. His office has gotten more than 500 calls in the last week. Worried it will hamper clean-up efforts, the county sent out pesticide-spraying trucks this week, and is looking into aerial efforts as well. While not known to transmit human disease, the supersize skeeters are quick to mob any mammal they can find, any time, day or night, and deliver a fearsome bite. “It’s like somebody shoving a hot poker in your arm,” says Turturro. “It burns like hell…”

Red Tide is Plaguing Beaches on Both of Florida’s Coasts. The Washington Post reports: “Many of Florida’s famous beaches were empty Thursday because of a red tide outbreak that for the first time in decades is plaguing both the Gulf and Atlantic coasts at once. While the Gulf Coast has suffered the brunt of the toxic algae outbreak all summer, it only just showed up this week on the Atlantic beaches of South Florida. Miami-Dade County closed Haulover Beach — including a popular nudist section — early Thursday and the growing crisis prompted Gov. Rick Scott to announce $3 million in state assistance for five counties in the region. “It’s very rare for us to have it over here,” said Lieutenant Matthew Sparling of Miami- Dade Fire Rescue Ocean Rescue…”

Photo credit: “In this image made from video, a Miami-Dade police officer is seen wearing a gas mask and riding an ATV in Miami Beach, Fla., on Thursday. Oct. 4, 2018. Many of Florida’s beaches are empty because of a red tide outbreak on both the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. While the Gulf Coast has been plagued with the toxic algae outbreak all summer, it only just showed up in Miami this week.” (Josh Replogle/Associated Press).

Life in Plastic: Headlines and links via Climate Nexus: “Increased demand for plastics and other petrochemical products will keep global demand for oil high and could offset progress to cut emissions elsewhere, the International Energy Agency said Friday. The IEA’s new analysis finds that while oil demand for transportation will slow by 2050, petrochemical products will account for 30 percent of demand by 2030 and 50 percent of demand by 2050. While high-income economies like the US and Europe currently use 20 times as much plastic as other regions, high plastic use in growing economies like India and China will be key drivers of increased demand through 2050, the agency finds.” (New York Times $, ReutersBloomberg).

Everything You Wanted to Know About Tesla’s Model 3. Matthew DeBord has a long and detailed review about his experiences; if you’re considering a Model 3 you’ll want to check out this article at Business Insider: “…But what’s really so hypnotically and addictively compelling about the Model 3 is how many great ideas have been crammed into one automobile. This is a car that’s absolutely bursting with thought, about the present and the future — and the distant future. Those ideas are overwhelmingly optimistic. Clearly, because it creates no tailpipe emissions, you can buy a Model 3 to feel better about yourself and your life on the environmentally embattled Earth. But you can also feel better about yourself because the Model 3 by its nature makes you feel better about yourself. It is intellectually stimulating, a mood-improvement machine. I perked up every time I slipped behind the wheel, and most days I had to deal with rainy Northeast gloom. Gray skies weren’t going to clear up, but it didn’t matter, because the Model 3 helped me put on a happy face...”

Photo credit: “Yep, it’s really that good.” Matthew DeBord/BI.

Solar Power is Saving This Farmer Money. Yale Climate Connections has the article: “…Federal grants and tax credits reduced the farm’s up-front investment. But Hood says the real advantage was making his electric bill more predictable. Hood: “We want to know what input costs we’re going to pay year-in and year-out.” The solar installation was recently completed. Hood says it takes up less than two acres of land. And yet it now offsets 100% of the grain storage facility’s power. He expects that will save the farm 30 to 35 thousand dollars a year, and make the farm’s grain business more profitable. Hood: “I would highly encourage any grower, no matter the size, to explore solar. The financial aspect of it just makes sense.”

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.”

Iceland Knows How to Stop Teen Substance Abuse But the Rest of the World Isn’t Listening. A story at Mosaic caught my eye; here’s an excerpt: “…People can get addicted to drink, cars, money, sex, calories, cocaine – whatever,” says Milkman. “The idea of behavioural addiction became our trademark.” This idea spawned another: “Why not orchestrate a social movement around natural highs: around people getting high on their own brain chemistry – because it seems obvious to me that people want to change their consciousness – without the deleterious effects of drugs?” By 1992, his team in Denver had won a $1.2 million government grant to form Project Self-Discovery, which offered teenagers natural-high alternatives to drugs and crime. They got referrals from teachers, school nurses and counsellors, taking in kids from the age of 14 who didn’t see themselves as needing treatment but who had problems with drugs or petty crime…”

Photo credit here.

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...”

A Cautionary Tale About Selfies. Ars Technica takes a look at selfies gone (very) bad: “…A group of health researchers in India have tried to tally the death toll from selfie taking, counting 259 deaths worldwide from October 2011 to November 2017. In doing so, they also caught a blurry glimpse of the leading ways in which people perish during dicey photo ops. The top three were drowning, transportation related (mostly being hit by trains), and falling off of things, such as cliff edges… Risk-taking men accounted for 72.5 percent of the fatalities with gender data. Of those with age data, the mean age was about 23 years old. The majority of deaths were of those aged 10 to 29. India had the most deaths in the survey, with 159. That was followed by 16 in Russia, 14 in the US, and 11 in Pakistan. The rest were scattered in various countries. The top way to go while snapping a self-portrait was drowning…”

The Birds are Buzzed. Here are a few clips from a Star Tribune story: “The birds in Gilbert, Minn., are berry, berry drunk. With the town buzzing about erratic avian behavior, the police chief in the Iron Range city of 1,800 residents took to Facebook this week to let the public know what was going on. Turns out, the birds have been getting tipsy on fermented berries. Police Chief Ty Techar wrote Tuesday. “The reason behind this occurrence is certain berries we have in our area have fermented earlier than usual due to an early frost.”… In fact, a number of animals seem to enjoy fermented fruit. According to National Geographic, white-tailed deer in apple-growing regions have been seen stumbling through the forest after eating overripe apples. Butterflies are attracted to beer, and moths to wine, while bats are known to feed on fermented fruit and nectar...”

Photo credit: Jim Williams – Special to the Star Tribune. “Cedar waxwings like this one are among the few migratory birds that eat fruit, which has led to problems in Gilbert, Minn.”

Serious Multitasking. Praedictix meteorologist Susie Martin had an assist from her son, Ansel, the other day. I’ve seen a lot of things in front of a chroma-key green-screen, but this is a first. Nicely done!

.09″ rain fell yesterday at MSP.

51 F. maximum temperature Friday in the Twin Cities.

63 F. average high on October 5.

65 F. high on October 5, 2017.

October 6, 1997: Hail, wind, and an F0 tornado are reported in the early morning hours in several counties in west central Minnesota. Near Canby in Yellow Medicine County, hail combined with wind gusts nearing 60 mph damage the roof of a bus garage, elementary school windows and a school vehicle. Renville, McLeod, Carver, Scott, and Dakota counties also receive hail and strong winds. Widespread pea to marble size hail accumulates to three inches deep in several areas, and crops are severely damaged over a large part of Renville county. Many power lines and trees are blown down. Southeast of Bird Island, a barn collapses and kills over 100 pigs. Near Brownton in McLeod County, hail accumulates to a depth of 3 inches with one foot drifts. A brief tornado touches down near Stewart in McLeod County, damaging a few trees.

October 6, 1987: Snow falls over the Arrowhead region.

SATURDAY: Mostly cloudy, cool. Winds: NW 8-13. High: near 50

SATURDAY NIGHT: Clouds linger. Low: 42

SUNDAY: Dry start. PM showers expected. Winds: NE 8-13. High: 54

MONDAY: Steadier rain arrives. Winds: SW 10-15. Wake-up: 46. High: 57

TUESDAY: More rain and drizzle. Winds: NE 8-13. Wake-up: 48. High: 53

WEDNESDAY: Heavy rain, few T-storms. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 51. High: 68

THURSDAY: Mostly cloudy, a raw breeze. Winds: W 10-20. Wake-up: 43. High: 49

FRIDAY: Partly sunny and chilly. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 36. High: 45

Climate Stories…

Wind Farms May Actually Warm the U.S., Controversial Study Finds. By stirring up the air in the vicinity of wind turbines are we keeping some surface temperatures milder? Here’s a clip from Earther: “Climate change? Bad. Wind farms to fight climate change? Maybe…also bad? That’s the weirdly veiled and instantly controversial conclusion of two new papers out on Thursday in Joule and Environmental Research Letters. The twin papers look at how wind power could create localized warming and how much energy wind farms produce. The results show that wind farms generate comparatively low power for the area they take up, and that installing a bunch of wind farms could heat up the surrounding land. The papers don’t say wind energy is therefore bad, but it’s hard to not feel that hanging over the proceedings or becoming a takeaway for bad faith actors looking to kneecap renewable power...”

File image: Greentech Media.

At Season of Creation’s End, Know This: Climate Change is Here. Here’s the intro of an Op-Ed at National Catholic Reporter: “As the liturgical Season of Creation for 2018 draws to a close, the serious need for prayer, study and widespread action in response to the destructive threats of climate change has never before seemed so urgent. Through all that I have heard through the years about the dangers of climate change and ecological degradation, I have never quite been able to imagine a possible end to human life or destruction of life as we know it on the planet. Until now. In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence and Typhoon Mangkhut, the aerial views of whole cities flooded brought back images of whole Mayan and Incan cities overgrown now by jungle, human life and developed civilizations completely and mysteriously gone. How many more “once-in-a-century” or “once-in-a-thousand-years” storm or fire disasters (that are now striking practically every year or every few years) will it take before people will no longer have the will or ability to rebuild?...”

Photo credit: “Water remains on a window sill in a middle school classroom Sept. 28 at St. Mary School in Wilmington, North Carolina, the first Catholic school in the state. The school sustained significant damage from Hurricane Florence.” (CNS/Bob Roller)

Climate Change Apathy, Not Denial, Is the Biggest Threat to Our Planet. The Guardian has an interesting Op-Ed focusing on changing behavior to influence outcomes; here’s a clip: “…Cutting emissions further to stop dangerous warming will depend on people changing how they live: flying less and eating less meat and dairy, for example. There’s no way this can be done as quietly as what’s been achieved so far. Persuading people to cut down on things they enjoy for the sake of the climate might seem impossible. In most European countries, about three-quarters of the public say they’re worried about climate change, yet less than a third would accept higher taxes on fossil fuels to cut emissions. But this climate apathy can be overcome if it’s tackled in the right way. The first step is to understand the psychology behind apathy. Climate change is exactly the kind of threat our minds aren’t equipped to worry about. It seems distant, happening mostly in the future and to other people. The widespread tendency to think “I’ll be OK”, known as optimism bias, makes it easier for people to assume such distant problems won’t affect them…”

Photo credit: “Cutting emissions will depend on people changing how they live: flying less, for example.” Photograph: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian.

With the World on the Line, Scientists Outline the Paths to Survival. Here’s an excerpt of a summary of an upcoming IPCC report from Grist: “…The report will be released on October 8. From leaked drafts, we know the basics of scientists’ findings: World greenhouse gas emissions must peak by 2020 — just 15 months from now. The scientists also show the difference in impacts between 1.5 and 2 degrees would not be minor — it could be make-or-break for the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, for example, which would flood every coastal city on Earth should it collapse. “The decisions we make now about whether we let 1.5 or 2 degrees or more happen will change the world enormously,” said Heleen de Coninck, a Dutch climate scientist and one of the report’s lead authors, in an interview with the BBC. “The lives of people will never be the same again either way, but we can influence which future we end up with…”

Photo credit: AP Photo / Rob Griffith.

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…”