My (Revised) Christmas List
Dear Santa – I just woke up from a Thanksgiving food coma. Yep, I’ve been good this year.
No iGadgets, bad ties or cologne this year, please!
The only thing I want under the tree is a Guardian Series Generac emergency power generator, made in Waukesha, WI. For the next time winds gust over 40 mph and a toppling tree 30 miles away plunges my home back into the 19th century. Home generators are flying off the shelves in the wake of record summer derechos and Sandy.
Details below: anyone under the age of 27 has never experienced a colder-than-average month, worldwide. According to NOAA October was the 332nd month in a row warmer than the 20th century average.
If You’re 27 Or Younger, You’ve Never Experienced A Colder-Than-Average Month. Well this statistic puts things into perspective. Grist.com has more details: “Nowhere on the surface of the planet have we seen any record cold temperatures over the course of the year so far. Every land surface in the world saw warmer-than-average temperatures except Alaska and the eastern tip of Russia. The continental United States has been blanketed with record warmth — and the seas just off the East Coast have been much warmer than average, for which Sandy sends her thanks. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration summarizes October 2012:
The average temperature across land and ocean surfaces during October was 14.63°C (58.23°F). This is 0.63°C (1.13°F) above the 20th century average and ties with 2008 as the fifth warmest October on record. The record warmest October occurred in 2003 and the record coldest October occurred in 1912. This is the 332nd consecutive month with an above-average temperature…”
Parka Weather. I’ll be shopping for a new heavy coat today. The combination of 20s, and winds gusting over 20-30 mph will make it feel like +5 to +15 F. Nothing we haven’t experienced countless times over the years – but coming after a spell of early October-like warmth it’ll feel like a slap across the face. NOAA forecast map above valid 1 pm today.
Frostbite Potential. We’ve been thru this drill before, hundreds of times. But coming after a run of near-record warmth I’m concerned that some power-shoppers won’t take the cold front seriously. The combination of 20s and winds gusting to 30 mph will make it feel like +5 to +15 F. at times. If you’re outside (with exposed skin) for 20-30 minutes you could become a candidate for a mild case of frostbite. Slap on a few extra layers before hitting the malls today.
The Making Of The Hottest Year On Record: USA Temperature Update. Here’s an update on 2012, which will most likely go down into the record books at the warmest year of the last 115 across the nation. In fact there is a 90% probability 2012 will set a new record for warmth. 10 of the 11 warmest years have been observed since 2000. NOAA’s ClimateWatch has more: “…Now how does 2012 fit in? Well, 2012 has been warm, and the first driver of the extreme warmth was March. March was the warmest March on record by far, and this caused 2012 to leap out way ahead of the pack. We had the warmest spring on record, the warmest July on record, the third warmest summer on record. All of these together helped 2012 maintain a huge lead throughout the year. Average temperatures in October pulled 2012 back to the pack ever so slightly, but you can see that the year-to-date temperature not only remains well above average, it remains well above history. So we will most likely finish with the warmest year on record—and by a huge margin. Go to the CPC web page to see their outlook for yourself, and while you’re at it, check out all our climate records at the climate monitoring web site. Keeping the big picture in perspective is a big part of being “climate smart.”
Thanksgiving Warmth. Before the icy front arrived Thursday afternoon temperatures were unseasonably mild statewide. The mercury hit a record 60 in the Twin Cities, breaking the old record of 59 set in 1998.
How Does The Jet Stream Work? The U.K. Met Office has an informative YouTube clip focused on explaining the how’s and why’s of the ubiquitous jet stream steering currents aloft: “What is the jet stream? How does the jet stream affect our weather in the UK? This animation explains how the jet stream works.”
Drought Conditions Threaten Mississippi River Transport. There just isn’t enough water in the Mighty Mississippi, the result of one of the worst droughts since the 1930s. Details from The Epoch Times: “Persistent drought conditions in the upper Midwest are threatening the nation’s waterways, with the mighty Mississippi River so low that barge traffic has been affected and may be forced to halt. Over 90 barges have been either stranded or grounded due to low water in recent weeks, according to the Waterways Council Inc. (WCI), a public policy organization representing shippers and ports. Low water levels are also likely to increase due to continuing dry conditions, compounded by the actions of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who have orders to reduce water flow from the Missouri River into the Mississippi…”
Photo credit above: “A Coast Guard boat patrols in the foreground as a barge makes its way down the Mississippi River Friday, Nov. 16, 2012, in St. Louis. A top Corps of Engineers official has ordered the release of water from an upper Mississippi River reservoir in an effort to avoid closure of the river at St. Louis to barge traffic due to low water levels caused by drought.” (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Can We Engineer Storm-Proof Metropolitan Areas? Will we go the way of the Dutch, building huge seawalls, dikes and levees to keep the sea out? Huffington Post has a very interesting story focused on possible ways to mitigate the next (inevitable) storm surge; here’s an excerpt: “…Next time the damage done in dollars and in lives could be far worse. At its peak, Sandy was only a Category 1 storm. Its winds never went above 90 miles per hour near New York. Were something like a Category 4 storm, with winds of 131 to 155 miles per hour, to make landfall near the city, the devastation would be awful. Many more would die. Houses would be toppled over by sheer windforce, subway tunnels could be flooded for months instead of a week, and the economic capital of the United States could be paralyzed. The city would incur $500 billion worth of damage, according to a 2006 analysis by the Department of Homeland Security. As the climate continues to change, the damage could be even worse. According to a 2007 report by Risk Management Solutions and the University of Southampton, by 2070 the New York area will have 2.9 million people and $2.1 trillion in assets exposed to coastal flooding...”
How To Build A More Resilient Power Grid. Here’s another thought-provoking article from Scientific American: “In the days leading up to Hurricane Sandy’s destructive march on the East Coast, utilities warned customers to prepare for widespread outages and potentially extensive power failure. The question was not if the grid would fail, but to what extent. The storm highlighted an already well-known problem: The U.S. power grid is vulnerable to extreme weather. As officials from New York to Venice, Italy, have acknowledged in recent weeks, climate change is likely to increase the prevalence of such weather. And according to analysts and outside groups working on the problem, there is no one-size-fits-all remedy that can insulate the ailing grid against an escalation of the elements…”
Photo credit above: “Technology such as smart meters and micro-grids can help the vulnerable U.S. electric grid weather extreme storms.” Image: Flickr/Christopher Schoenbohm
Vetoing Business As Usual After The Storm. Rebuilding in high-risk coastal areas after each and every hurricane is not only futile, but expensive, considering (all) U.S. taxpayers are picking up the tab. Here’s an excerpt of a story at The New York Times: “Not a month after Hurricane Sandy there’s a rough consensus about how to respond. America is already looking to places like London, Rotterdam, Hamburg and Tokyo, where sea walls, levees and wetlands, flood plains and floating city blocks have been conceived. New York clearly ought to have taken certain steps a while back, no-brainers after the fact. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority ought to have installed floodgates and louvers at vulnerable subway entrances and vents. Consolidated Edison should have gotten its transformers, and Verizon its switching stations, out of harm’s way, and Congress should have ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to study the impact of giant barriers to block parts of the city from the sea…”
Photo credit above: “One of the largest piles of storm debris at the Jersey shore is shown in this Nov. 15, 2012 photo in Long Branch N.J. Superstorm Sandy created tons of debris that towns in New York and New Jersey are still struggling to dispose of weeks later. Three weeks in, the round-the clock effort to remove storm rubble has strained the resources of sanitation departments and landfill operators, and caused heartaches and headaches for thousands of families.” (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)
Welcome to the WeatherNation blog. Every day I sift through hundreds of stories, maps, graphics and meteorological web sites, trying to capture some of the most interesting weather nuggets, the stories behind the forecast. I’ll link to stories and share some of the web sites I use. I’m still passionate about the weather, have been ever since Tropical Storm Agnes flooded my home in Lancaster, PA in 1972. I’ve started 5 weather-related companies. “EarthWatch” created the world’s first 3-D weather graphics for TV stations – Steven Spielberg used our software in “Jurassic Park” and “Twister”. My last company, “Digital Cyclone”, personalized weather for cell phones. “My-Cast” was launched in 2001 and is still going strong on iPhone, Android and Blackberry. I sold DCI to Garmin in 2007 so I could focus on my latest venture: WeatherNation. I also write a daily weather column for The Star Tribune startribune.