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A September-like Thanksgiving for Much of the U.S. then Reality Sets In

21 Nov 2012, 7:07 am

Thanksgiving Day Weather: Remarkably Quiet. Dry, quiet, unusually mild weather will be the rule over most of the USA east of the Rockies, a few spotty showers from St. Louis to Chicago. A colder front pushes into Montana and the Dakotas, but the 18z forecast map (above) could be right out of early or mid October. Model guidance: WSI.

Two More Mild Days – Then Reality Sets In. The latest ECMWF guidance for the Twin Cities suggests highs topping 60 today, near 60 tomorrow, then 30 degrees colder on Friday. Factoring in a 20-25 mph wind it will feel 40-45 F. colder by “Black Friday”. Dry weather persists over the next week, the chance of light snow next Tuesday seems to be fading.

The Big Tumble. Welcome to Minnesota. If you don’t like the weather, don’t complain, just wait a few hours – it’ll change. After peaking in the low to mid 60s today temperatures fall off by Thursday afternoon. By Friday there will be NO doubt in your mind that the sun is as high in the sky as it was the third week of January. Graphic: Iowa State.

Friday: A Whiff Of Winter. Projected wind chills show teens and 20s from the Dakotas into Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa by Friday. If you’re shopping you’ll need a heavy jacket or coat. After a recent mild spell I’m a little worried that some power-shoppers may not take the cold seriously and may come home with numb fingers and toes. Map: Ham Weather.

Expected Total Snowfall By Friday Evening. A symptom of our drought, Friday’s cold front will whip up plenty of cold, but precious little moisture. Any significant snow will track north of the U.S. border, maybe a coating by Friday evening from Duluth to Marquette, Michigan – heavier snow above 6,000 feet over the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies. Map: WSI RPM Model.

Drought Shows Little Sign Of Easing. Worried about plants, trees and shrubs with our ongoing drought? Here is some good information from The Garden City Telegram: “…spruce trees in particular have been hard hit by the dry weather that has plagued Kansas for most of the past year, Upham said. New plantings and new trees are the most are the most vulnerable to these dry conditions, he said, because their root systems haven’t had a chance to extend deep into the ground. For trees to benefit most from watering, he said, the soil must be soaked as much as a foot below the surface. “The rooting hairs that actually take in water close to the surface have gone dormant,” Upham said. “You need to get that (water) down to where there are live feeder roots that can pick it up.”

* the latest NOAA U.S. Drought Monitor is here.

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)

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)

Outsmarting The Surge. How do we build more surge-resilient communities along the coast? Is it even theoretically, and cost-effectively possible to do so? Here’s an excerpt of a terrific article at Time Magazine: “After Hurricane Sandy hurled the Atlantic at the Northeast coast on Oct. 29 and 30, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo returned from touring a shell-shocked New York City to face reporters. The storm surge had inundated lower Manhattan, Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn and Queens. It had obliterated the New Jersey shore. Across more than a dozen states, from North Carolina to Maine and as far west as Michigan, it left more than 50 people dead and more than 8 million without power, and it likely caused more than $20 billion in damage. Sandy, a seemingly minor Category 1 hurricane, was a major catastrophe...”

Photo credit above: Andrew Quilty / Oculi for Time.

Hurricanes And Climate Change. An estimated 90% of warming has gone into the world’s oceans. Are those (increasingly warm) ocean waters helping to spike the hurricanes that do get going? Here’s a clip from PBS NOVA: “When it engulfed swaths of coastal New York and New Jersey, Hurricane Sandy became an instant symbol of a new age of extreme weather fueled by climate change. New York Mayor Michael Bloombergendorsed President Obama to nudge him to address climate. Bloomberg Businessweeksummed up this sentiment with its Sandy cover story, “It’s Global Warming, Stupid.” But is it, really? As one of the most extreme kinds of extreme weather, hurricanes already pose a mortal threat to anyone living along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts and other tropical cyclone trouble spots. If we face the prospect of routine superstorms amped up by the extra heat and moisture from global warming—or, in the case of Sandy, merging with other systems into freakish weather hybrids—that’s a truly apocalyptic threat.…”

NOAA Scientist; 80% Percent Chance Recent Heat Records Due To Climate Change. Is it possible to connect the dots and link attribution to a warmer atmosphere? The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang has the story – here’s an excerpt: “Is climate change giving our weather just a little nudge to make setting heat records – like Washington, D.C. just experienced – vastly more likely? That’s the opinion of one NOAA scientist. Meet Martin Hoerling, a research meteorologist at NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory. I recently participated with him and several other climate scientists in a Google Hangout conversation. What Hoerling had to say about climate change and record-setting temperatures was fascinating. He makes a compelling case that human-caused climate change isn’t causing heat waves, but – in many instances – adding to their intensity. Consider these excerpts from his commentary, about 34-38 minutes into the 60 minute panel discussion. “….the globally averaged temperature of the planet has risen beyond any doubt beyond where you would expect … with natural variability alone...”

About Face: U.S. Tornado Activity Near Low Point In Modern Record. The always prolific, always-interesting Capital Weather Gang summarizes America’s tornado situation for 2012. It turns out the drought and excessive heat had at least one silver lining: “After one of the busiest years for tornadoes in 2011, tornado numbers in 2012 have come crashing down to historic lows. In 2011, there were 1692 twisters – second most on record. This year, only 882 tornadoes have touched down. (Tornado records date back to 1950*). “[W]e are approaching a theoretical minimum in the annual tornado count for the modern era,” said Greg Carbin, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Ok. What’s especially remarkable about the year’s depressed numbers is that tornado activity got off to a red-hot start. Through mid-April, tornado counts were highest on record. But then, an extended tornado drought struck and the count ranking plummeted...”

Graphic above courtesy of SPC, NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center.

Happy Thanksgiving



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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 And if you’re on Twitter, you’ll find me @pdouglasweather


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