All Weather News

Cold Clippers Push South; 2012 still on track for warmest year in recorded U.S. history

3.8 F. The national temperature of 59.8 F. (January thru September, 2012) was 3.8 F. above the 20th century average, and 1.2 F. above the previous record warm January – September of 2006. Source: NOAA NCDC. Details below.

Driest year since 1988. The first 9 months of 2012 were the driest in 24 years. Source: NCDC.


Severe risk Saturday? Right now I don’t see it for most of Minnesota, the threat greatest from Missouri into Iowa. Details below.

53%As of last week, more than 53 percent of the corn had been harvested, the earliest that has happened in at least 50 years — and maybe ever. “We’re about three weeks ahead of normal,” said Doug Hartwig, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service in St. Paul. “It’s been pretty amazing.” – details in The Star Tribune. Photo: Nati Harnik, AP.

Rain Needed To End The Drought. The Palmer Index tells the tale, a fairly tall order, meteorologically speaking. Anywhere from 5 to 11″ of rain is needed to eliminate the drought, closer to 3″ near Sandstone and Hinckley. Map above: NOAA, USDA and Ham Weather.

National Palmer Index. At a glance you can see which parts of the USA are suffering through major to extreme drought. Over a foot of precipitation is needed from Iowa and northern Illinois to Omaha and Kansas City, closer to 17″ for Texarkana. Map above: NOAA, USDA and Ham Weather.


Weather Highlights:

* The average contiguous U.S. temperature during September was 67 F, 1.4 F above the 20th century average, tying September 1980 as the 23rd warmest such month on record. September 2012 marks the 16th consecutive month with above-average temperatures for the Lower 48.

* According to the October 2, 2012 U.S. Drought Monitor, 64.6 % of the contiguous U.S. was experiencing moderate-to-exceptional drought, slightly larger than the extent of drought at the end of August. The percent area of the nation experiencing exceptional drought, the worst category of drought, remained nearly constant at about 6%. Exceptional drought conditions improved across the Lower Mississippi Valley and Ohio Valley, while drought conditions deteroriated across the Central and Northern Plains.

* The January – September period was the warmest first 9 months of any year on record for the contiguous USA. The national temperature of 59.8 F. was 3.8 F. above the 20th century average, and 1.2 F. above the previous record warm January – September of 2006. During the 9 month period, 46 states had temperatures among their ten warmest, with 25 states being record warm. Only Washington had statewide temperatures near average for the period.

* January – September 2012 was the 11th driest such period on record for the contiguous U.S. with a precipitation total 1.98″ below the average of 22.67″. The central portion of the country, from the Ohio Valley to the Rocky Mountains, was drier than average. Wetter-than-average conditions were observed along the Gulf Coast and in the Pacific Northwest.


This year, the harvest is way earlier than usual, which will tip the advantage to hunters.” – more on Saturday’s Minnesota Pheasant Opener from the Star Tribune below. Photo:

In hotter weather, the pitcher on the team whose player was hit is more likely to retaliate by hitting a batter on purpose.” – from a Huffington Post story on how climate change is changing behavior on the field, and how Major League Baseball is becoming a national leader in energy efficiency.


5,000 scientific papers every year substantiating the connection between human activity and climate change. – from a “Climate of Change” post by Doug Craig, details and links below. Image above: Colorado State University.


It was always the case that extreme weather was going to be the way that most people were going to experience climate change directly—that seemed clear to me from all my research. Extreme weather is very random, but it is on top of a climate signal that continues to grow. So over time, you get more and more extreme events that are way above the natural variation.”

Indeed, Romm has called Obama’s failure to speak out about global warming, loudly and often, his “biggest communications mistake.” Now, a raft of new polls are showing that this issue has the potential to move independent and swing voters..” – both excerpts above from a story at Mother Jones; details and links below.


Saturday Severe Risk. SPC has an “enhanced” risk of severe storms over much of the Upper Midwest, from Kansas City and Des Moines to Tomah, Wisconsin and parts of southern Minnesota. The reason? Southern moisture surging north, coupled with wind shear and instability aloft. A major tornado outbreak? Doubtful, but a few storms may spark hail and damaging straight-line winds, especially south/east of Minnesota.

Saturday Soaker? The ECMWF (European) model is showing some 1 to 1.5″ rainfall amounts from the Twin Cities into northern Iowa Saturday. Let’s hope the models are right.

Continuity. The GFS is also showing significant rainfall amounts by midnight Saturday, close to 1″ for the MSP metro, as much as 1.5 to 2″ farther north, from near Brainerd to Duluth, a second streak of moderate to heavy rain over central Wisconsin.

Early Harvest Signals Excellent Pheasant Hunting. Low clouds and rain Saturday may help to bring those pheasants closer to the ground for the Pheasant Hunting Firearm Opener. Doug Smith has more details at The Star Tribune; here’s an excerpt: “When Minnesota pheasant hunters begin the 2012 season on Saturday, they will see one of the most unusual openers in history. Pushed by an early spring and drought, harvest of virtually all the state’s crops likely will be completed, leaving ringnecks more vulnerable to hunters and their dogs. And with the pheasant population up 68 percent from last year, that could mean excellent early-season hunting.” Photo above courtesy of meteorologist Tony Barlow at

50 Years Later, Memories Of The Pacific Northwest’s “Storm Of The Century’ Hold Strong. Here’s a harrowing account of a storm that still haunts some residents of the Northwestern USA, as described by Randi Bjornstad at the Register-Guard: “As young as a year then or approaching a century now, most people who lived in Oregon 50 years ago this week seem to have a personal tale to tell about the Columbus Day Storm of Oct. 12, 1962. They describe where they were and how they felt, in much the same way that most people throughout the nation vividly remember one year, one month and 10 days later, when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. Among those in their 70s or older, the even more inescapable memory is the shock of the news on Dec. 7, 1941, that Pearl Harbor had been bombed by Japan’s air forces, catapulting the country into the horrors and triumphs of World War II. The storm itself was a losing battle of sorts against Mother Nature as men, women and even children fought their way through the gale home to their families, battened down their personal hatches as best they could and then watched breathlessly and helplessly as the ferocious wind toppled trees and sent roofs, signs, sheets of plywood, garbage cans — and even lightweight people — flying through the air…. Photo courtesy of OSU, Oregon State University, which has another perspective of the historic, 1962 super-storm here.

Pilots Get New Tool To Avoid Bumpy Flights. All pilots are in search of smooth air, to keep the customers in the back as contented as possible. New tools are being tested to increase the odds of avoiding the big jolts that can turn a typical flight into a (bad) lifelong memory. AP and have more details: “JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Sam Gottstein has had some memorable flights, but nothing like the nail-biter coming into Alaska’s capital city earlier this year. The flight between Anchorage and Juneau was uneventful until the final descent, he said, when visibility was cut to almost nothing and the plane shook. “There was definitely a collective sigh of relief after we successfully landed, and I feel as if a number of the passengers felt like we bonded together over it,” Gottstein said. It is experiences such as this that aviation officials hope to avoid, or at least limit, with a new system that alerts pilots to pockets of turbulence and highlights corridors of smoother air.” Photo: Owen Humphreys, AP.

Florida Woman Photographs “Fireball” In Thunderstorm. ABC News has the story, and video clip; here’s an excerpt: “Rita Krill, 53, of Naples, Fla., got a little more than she bargained for while shooting a severe thunderstorm in her backyard Oct. 5. “It was about 100 feet from my yard,” Krill said. “I was out there videoing it. My puppy was out there. She usually doesn’t flinch too much at storms. She’s used to it. And then, boom, the lighting struck and you could obviously hear my reaction.” Krill can’t believe she captured the lightning striking the up-lighting in her next door neighbor’s yard on camera, which blew out the light and caused large electrical sparks….”

Video credit above: Rita Krill.


Lightning Deaths On The Decline In U.S. Here’s an excerpt from a fact-filled story at Huffington Post: “…So why are lightning-related fatalities falling off? The population has been increasing, which would seem to make for more lightning targets and more fatal run-ins. Is lightning striking less frequently? Lightning expert Douglas Jordan says no. “Statistically I don’t think anything’s really changed, lightning flash density or anything like that,” Jordan, director of operations at the International Center for Lightning Research and Testing, a joint project of the University of Florida and Camp Blanding Florida Army National Guard Base, told Life’s Little Mysteries. “My guess is that it probably has more to do with education than anything else. I think a lot of people are getting the word out [on lightning safety].” Lightning photo above: NOAA.

Disaster Tourism: How Bus Trips To The Scene Of Hurricane Katrina Make A Profit From Loss. Ghoulish? Absolutely, but good taste has rarely gotten in the way of making money, as described in the U.K. Independent; here’s an excerpt: “Planning your next holiday? If it’s a cultural experience you’re after, forget Athens or Istanbul, Grey Line Tours suggests a visit to the scene of Hurricane Katrina “the most devastating natural disaster on American soil!” In between choosing souvenirs, you can take a quick whizz through the streets of the most devastated areas of New Orleans and watch surviving citizens pick their way through the rubble from the comfort of your air conditioned bus.  I’m exaggerating, slightly, but as news last week emerged that New Orleans’ residents and city officials were hitting back at tour operators who have, since shortly after Hurricane Katrina, carried out tours of the worst hit areas of the city, it elicited what I imagine to be a pretty common gut response. Tourism that profits from the struggle and loss of others seems intuitively distasteful, not least because the tour buses have been criticized for blocking roads for the residents…” Photo: The Independent.

“Grotesquely Beautiful” Psychedelic Neon Sunset! Yes, the sky over Loveland, Colorado really was this shade of neon orange. The result of jet contrails? Not sure, but the YouTube clip is pretty amazing.

iPad Mini Images Leaked. This looks like the real deal. An iPad you can slip in your sport coat? Looks like it. Here’s a clip from iPhone Informer: “Ahead of the long rumored announcement of the iPad Mini this week, brand new images of the device has found its way online thanks to an anonymous tipster from the assembly room floor. The images found their way through all the typical channels until it ended up in Sonny Dickson’s possession, which was immediately posted online for everyone to see…”


Overworked, Overwhelmed, Overscheduled? Work More. All of us are juggling. Technology was supposed to set us free – instead it’s given us the tools to do 4 jobs (simultaneously), and feel like we can never get off the digital treadmill. Here’s an excerpt of an Op Ed that caught my eye at “You are overwhelmed, overscheduled, and dejected, because you keep trying to have it all—or at least most of it. You want a fulfilling job and personal life, and it’s not working. The way out? Work more. Hate to break it to you, but career and home aren’t the only poles. There is another: all those beautiful, disregarded side projects. Does that make you want to pitch your desk lamp straight into my face? Fair. But that itchy desire only means I’m right. Obviously, neglecting your family and home eventually gets them both confiscated by people with clipboards and badges. But if you want to be a maker of things—or at minimum avoid a quietly desperate life in front of the television—you have a responsibility to head down to the workshop. Even the coolest jobs get stultifying with repetition, and the only way to break that cycle is to bring another job into the mix...”

The “Fitwet” Jetbike Combines An Excercise Bike And A Hot Tub. This is just what I need, the ultimate mash-up. No, when I soak in a hot tub the last thing I want to do is peddle like a maniac, but just in case you do – here’s more information from “Relaxation and vigorous exercise rarely coexist, but the FitWet Jet Bike brings them together – sort of. The contraption is a unique piece of exercise equipment that combines a stationary (underwater) bike with a personal jetted tub. Exercise just got a little more attractive.”


Change in the Weather?

Our last significant rainfall in the metro? Way back on August 15, when .73 inches fell. Since then: dribs and drabs of moisture. Yes, our drought is getting worse.

Based on NOAA and USDA Palmer Index data (check the blog) most of Minnesota needs 5 to 11 inches of rain to end the drought. That won’t happen anytime soon, but I’m detecting subtle shifts in the pattern that may help to pump Gulf moisture northward with greater frequency into November. A dry, “zonal”, west-to-east steering flow aloft shows signs of buckling; high amplitude dips & bulges in the jet stream, increasing the chance of beefier storms reaching our lofty latitude.

Both the ECMWF and GFS models print out over 1 inch of rain Saturday and Sunday; close to 2 inches Brainerd to Duluth. That’s encouraging.

Pheasant hunters may have ideal conditions Saturday.

It’ll feel more like Halloween out there the rest of this week; another hard freeze Friday. Time to take out the dock and winterize your yard. Ugh.

If I don’t rake – will the leaves in my yard wind up in Madison? A worthy experiment.

We may hit 60 early next week, but long-range models show a cold, blustery end to October. Flurries by Halloween?

Could be.


Climate Stories…

Major League Baseball Copes With Climate Change. Here’s an excerpt of a fascinating story from the Union of Concerned Scientists at Huffington Post: “…In April 2011, Larrick and three of his colleagues at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business published a paper in the journal Psychological Science that analyzed data from more than 57,000 baseball games from 1952 to 2009, which included 4.5 million at bats. Of the approximately 190,000 at bats that happen every season, roughly 1,550 result in a pitcher hitting a batter. After factoring out such variables as wild pitches and fatigue, they superimposed game stats over weather data and found that batters had a 27 percent chance of being hit by a retaliatory pitch when the temperature topped 90 degrees, but only a 22 percent chance when temperatures dipped into the 50s…”

Photo credit above: “Temperatures approaching 120 degrees on the field in Atlanta on June 30 sent Washington Nationals power pitcher Stephen Strasburg to the showers after only three innings.” (David Tulis/AP)

Norwegian Brings Arctic Circle Climate Change To South Dakota. Here’s another must-read story, an excerpt from an article at Sioux Fall’s Argus Leader: “…The impetus for this trip was simple, Thorleifsson said: “I wanted to see the world (as it was) before the Arctic melted. I wanted to tell my kids about it.”Indeed, Thorleifsson supplemented the scientific case for a changing climate with firsthand observation of the melting ice cap.“We might argue about why it’s happening,” he said. “But there’s no doubt it’s happening. … The question is, do we have the mission right, as human beings?

Polls Show Jump In U.S. Climate Awareness. Extreme weather is doing what legitimate, peer-reviewed climate science couldn’t – convince a significant majority of Americans that our climate is, in fact, changing – becoming more extreme with time. Here’s an excerpt from Climate Denial Crock Of The Week: “Nothing like getting slammed with a 2 x 4 to focus the mind. As I promised, here’s new polling data shows that weather extremes are finally starting to be recognized as symptoms of climate change.  At last spring’s Heartland Institute Denia-Palooza, a high profile disinformer told me in a candid moment that one of his biggest concerns was extreme weather events, and their power to change people’s minds. This is indeed what we are seeing – and with this recently passed historic drop in arctic ice cover, they are not going away any time soon.   Arctic expert Jennifer Francis told me in a recent Skype conversation that given the projected effects of newly open water on the jet stream,  we should, indeed, expect “very interesting” weather in coming months…”

How To Build A Cooler City. Here’s an interesting article at PBS – an excerpt: “…”Climate change basically exacerbates the effect at night,” Fernando said. As the global temperature increases, a city’s developed areas will retain even more nighttime heat than other areas. To battle the heat, city officials have undertaken an ambitious $7 billion plan to build a “new Chicago,” said Karen Weigert, the city’s chief sustainability officer.  That means renovating citywide infrastructure from sidewalk to rooftop. Central to the city’s plan is adding green space and vegetation wherever they can, which has a natural cooling effect Chicago’s City Hall, for example, contains a spectacular rooftop garden. From native woodland grasses to sunflowers and asters, plants arranged in radiating bands of color bloom throughout the seasons in a sunburst pattern. The roof, 12 stories high, contains 23,000 square feet of more than 100 plant species…”

Who Are The Climate Change Deniers? Here’s a snippet of an article written by Doug Craig at “Climate of Change”, which can be found at “These prominent deniers deny because it is good for their personal and professional bottom lines. ExxonMobil, for example, financed “the most sophisticated and most successful disinformation campaign since the tobacco industry misled the public about the scientific evidence linking smoking to lung cancer and heart disease” in a concerted “effort to deceive the public about the reality of global warming.” And who did they give millions of dollars to promote their climate change denying agenda? Try over 40 different conservative organizations like the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Cato Institute,Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), George C. Marshall Institute,Heartland Institute,Heritage Foundation and Tech Central Station. In turn, these organizations funded a small handful of scientific spokespersons such as Sallie Baliunas,Robert C. Balling, Jr.,John Christy,Sherwood Idso,Richard Lindzen,Patrick J. Michaels,Fredrick Seitz, S. Fred Singer, and Willie Soon.

Why Aren’t Politicians Listening To This Guy On Climate? Mother Jones has the story; here’s an excerpt: “Joe Romm has been called “America’s fiercest climate blogger.” And as a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a former Clinton administration official on clean energy, and an MIT trained physicist, the subjects he covers are vast—ranging from energy policy to the role of rhetoric in communications, as discussed in his new book Language Intelligence. But there’s been a recurrent theme over the years at Joe Romm’s popular blog Climate Progress—the argument that political leaders, and perhaps most prominently President Obama, need to step up and explain to the public why global warming is such a dramatic threat to our livelihoods and future.” Photo:

Sea Level Rise Will Make Several Islands Uninhabitable Within A Decade. The story from Business Insider; here’s an excerpt: “Sea level rise and extreme weather is going to get so bad, that some island nations may need to evacuate within a decade, Micheal Mann, a lead climate scientist, told the Guardian at the SXSW Eco conference. Mann is the director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State. He suggests that new data indicates that our models of climate change are incorrect and have been underestimating the rate at which the Greenland and Antarctic Ice sheets are melting...”

Sub-Tropical Dry Zone Is Expanding South. Here’s evidence of a warming atmosphere; details from Red Orbit: “New research reported in the journal Scientific Reports claims that the southern hemisphere is becoming drier. The researchers wrote that a decline in April-May rainfall over southeast Australia is associated with a southward expansion of the subtropical dry-zone…”

Photo credit above: Lightspring / Shutterstock

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